Monday, December 23, 2013

An Interview with Jane Austen

Every day as I write, Jane Austen is looking over my shoulder. I mean this literally, because I have the Jane Austen action figure on my desk shelf! Her friendly expression, saucy brown curls, and pen in her hand are my inspiration. When I get stuck in the middle of a scene, or can't think of the right word, I glance up at her brown-paint-dot eyes and ask, "What would you do?"

Sometimes, her plastic grin throws a challenge my way. I can hear a clipped English accent coming from her carmine lips as she scolds, "I wrote by lamplight without central air or heat. Figure it out!" Other times, when she is perhaps in a more charitable mood, she responds, "Move on to another scene until your mind clears."

Jane's birthday was this month. At the ripe young age of 239, she still has plenty of advice to give budding romance authors. Want a stoic hero with a heart of gold? Darcy's your man. Prefer an older hero who goes after what he wants? Knightley to the rescue! A spurned hero who still loves the heroine for your reunion story? That will be Captain Wentworth. And as for rogues - she has them in spades! Who is more despicable, Wickham, who uses girls for their money, or Willoughby, who seeks wealth over his heart?

If I could speak to her for only a moment, I would ask where she got her inspiration. From relationships she observed in her family and friends? Her own active imagination? Or her heart that dreamed of a love never attained? All of the above?

She looks at me from the shelf. A breeze from the a/c duct overhead stirs the plastic feathers in her quill. I think she just winked at me.

Dear reader, what is your favorite Austen book? If you haven't read the books but enjoy the movies or series, feel free to comment. Responders will be entered for a chance to win an adorable facsimile of a Regency dance card that is a little notebook. It features a cover inspired from Emma.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Welcome to the Blog Hop!

I was "tagged" on author Ronnie Allen's blog hop and will carry on hoppin'! The fun of this is to spread the word about new authors that readers may not yet know. So, for all of you who are finding me through this hop, here is some info about me!

1. What I'm working on now:
I'm finishing the first round of edits from my wonderful editor, Allison, at The Wild Rose Press on my latest historical romance, HOW TO MARRY A ROGUE. It's time-consuming, hair-pulling-out work, and my least favorite part of writing. Why? Because I second-guess every other sentence and end up rewriting more than I'm revising! One fun part of revisions, however, is discovering better ways of saying something once an editor has gone through and made corrections and suggestions.

2. How is my book different from others in the genre?
My books are high in tension and emotional drama. I love to cry during a great movie or while reading a wonderful book, and when readers tell me they cried during a particular scene of my book, it makes me very happy.

3. Why do I write?
My original purpose for writing a novel (officially 30 years ago!) was to write the kind of story I enjoyed reading. Books I read didn't have enough romance or emotion, or maybe the hero wasn't just right enough or the heroine was lacking something. To fill the gap, I literally started writing my own books. I used to read my manuscripts for my own entertainment before I considered submitting to a publisher. Once I discovered I have actual readers out there who also enjoy my books, I found a new audience to write for. YOU!

4.  How does my process work?
I take an idea from a picture, a plot point of a movie or book, or whatever and start imagining the characters. I usually see the conflict first - whether it's an "argument" scene or some other dramatic turning point. From there, I add in subplots and character details. I start writing at once, and it's usually the love scenes I write first! Then I do the beginning, most of the crucial scenes, and then the end. I go back and fill in the rest of the book. So I guess I do an "outline in progress." I generally know the ending of the story and how my characters will change. It's how to get them to that point that's the challenge.

Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear from readers and blog-hoppers, so please ask any questions or make a comment.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My New Book Cover is Born!

I haven't written on my blog for a few months because I've actually been doing what you want me to do - finish another book. I'm pleased to announce I signed with The Wild Rose Press again for a new Regency historical called HOW TO MARRY A ROGUE.
The release date will be sometime next year, and I'm in the middle of my editor's revisions and changes as I write this. Here's the story in a nutshell:

A trip abroad with her aunt is just what Georgiana Lockewood needs to forget her failed engagement.But her guardian brother insists Jack, his childhood friend, accompany them for protection.She enjoys renewing their friendship, but new emotions stir to make Georgiana question her resolve to remain single and independent.

His parent’s destructive marriage and a bitter grandfather have hardened Jack Waverly’s heart.He vows to remain a bachelor and never give up fighting or gambling.But that was before his trip to France.Mischievous Georgiana has grown up and is turning heads of various suitors.Jack has promised to protect her from all the men vying for her attention, but could he be the biggest threat?

Hope you like it! More info will follow, but I wanted to share the good news.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Unlikely Love Stories

What do I mean, unlikely love story? It's beyond the stiff-lipped Mr. Darcy and snappy comeback Lizzy Bennett. I was watching Corrina, Corrina the other day and was trying to figure out why I love this movie so much. It's not Ray Liotta's mournful eyes and sexy grin, or even Whoopi Goldberg's sassy dialogue. In their world, they're not supposed to be together. As Manny's (Liotta's) mother tells him, "A bird and a fish can fall in love. But where will they build their nest?"

The unlikely or unexpected love story between two different people is what's so appealing whether in books or movies. In the loosely biographical Becoming Jane, Jane Austen has a superior contempt over the fighting, womanizing Tom LeFroy. They fall in love despite their differences and circumstances.

Jane Eyre is another favorite depiction of unlikely love. The worldly and  jaded Mr. Rochester would never have looked twice at the plain governess half his age. They fall in love despite his secret, and despite Mrs. Fairfax's warning to Jane that "fine gentlemen are not accustomed to marrying their governesses."

In Water for Elephants, another unlikely love match is Jacob and Marlena. When I first read the book, I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out where and how these two would be able to live together. The surprise ending took care of that.

What is your favorite unlikely love match? Is there one in your own family? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Guest Author ELLA QUINN Is Here!

It's a great pleasure and thrill to host my first guest author interview with the lovely and talented Ella Quinn! Her newest book, The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh, is available for pre-order now from Kensington Books and will officially release on November 7, 2013. It is Book 2 in The Marriage Game series.

Ella will be giving away a copy of her new book to a lucky commenter. Please enjoy the beautiful cover, excerpt, and our interview!

“Let yourself be seduced by this sexy mix of spies, smugglers, and happily ever afters.” —Sally MacKenzie


     Since she was a young girl, Anna Marsh has dreamed of Sebastian, Baron Rutherford asking for her hand in marriage. But that was in another life when her brother Harry was alive, before she vowed to secretly continue the work he valiantly died for. Now as Sebastian finally courts Anna, she must thwart his advances. Were he to discover her secret, he would never deem her a suitable wife...

     Sebastian has always known Anna would become his wife someday. He expects few obstacles, but when she dissuades him at every turn he soon realizes there is much more to this intriguing woman. Somehow he must prove to her that they are meant to be together. But first he must unravel the seductive mystery that is Miss Anna Marsh…

What an intriguing premise! Ella, what is your writing day like?

After exercising (I learned the hard way I cannot skip that part), I do Twitter, Facebook and visit blogs. Then I write or edit. If one of my critique partners has chapters posted, I will work on those as well.
I need to start an exercise routine, too! Sitting at a desk all day takes a toll on my back. Tell us - was there something interesting or strange that you had to research for you book?

Quite frankly, I find all research interesting. The Secret Life of Miss Anna March takes place in 1814, when Napoleon was exiled in Alba, but not too long before he makes a comeback. I had to research the political climate of the time, the types of things being smuggled, who would have been working behind the scenes in preparation for Napoleon’s escape, and the geography of the area where I placed my story. I’d lived in England and had visited Kent several times, which helped, but it’s been a while and I needed a refresher.
I love researching a new book. Sometimes you find ideas for new stories amid all that history. Do your characters have any bit of yourself in them or are they unrelated to you?

Their desire to help their country might reflect something of me. I served in the Army during the 1970’s.
Authors are always discussing how much or how little they plot their books before writing. Are you a plotter or do you like to write as the ideas come to you?
I am not a plotter, unless you want to include plotting the next scene or the story arch in my head. I find it works better if I just type.

I write the same way. I think most writers do what is most fun for them. Speaking of fun, who is more fun for you to write: heroes or heroines?

My heroes. Most of the time, I bond with them much faster than I do with my heroines. I once went a full five chapters without my heroine’s point of view for the first few drafts.
If you could time-travel, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d visit the Regency, but I’d make sure I was a wealthy widow. That way I couldn’t shock anyone.
I'm sure you'd raise a few eyebrows at Almack's! Speaking of time travel, what is your favorite historical era?

LOL, need you ask? The Regency period.
That era is so popular, I think, because it was the dawning of so many new ideas and happenings around the world. What is your least favorite era?
Victorian. Though with the second series, I know I’ll get there at some point.

Sounds interesting! We need more Victorian-set romances. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

If you want to be published, treat writing as a job. Join a critique group, professional organizations, learn to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to critiques and contests, build your marketing platform, and be true to your voice.
Good advice, especially about it being a job. It's one of those professions that has more "on the job" training than most. What are you currently working on, and what are your future projects?

I’m working on the 5th book of my first series, The Marriage Game. It takes place in St. Thomas, where I live. For the 6th and 7th books I’ll be back in England. There is a second series, A Season for Love, which has some of the same characters as The Marriage Game. I’ve written the first two books, but have not edited them yet.
You are very busy, which is great news for your readers. You've inspired me to finish my projects. You must relax sometime! What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I walk, paddle-board, and read.
Thanks you, Ella, for chatting with us today! We wish you continued success with your new book and the books to come.
Ella Quinn has lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a loveable great dane. Ella loves when friends connect with her. Please visit her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.
Ella Quinn



Friday, June 7, 2013

Celebrating my New Book! Available in all formats and paperback!

It's been a while since I had a new book out, and I'm thrilled to say that IN THE ARMS OF AN EARL is now available in paperback and all e-book formats from The Wild Rose Press. If you'd like to buy an autographed copy from me, please email me at for special information.

I was inspired to write this story after seeing a photo of Talulah Riley, the actress who played Mary Bennett in the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. In the movie, Mary is plain and obscure, and a bit of a know-it-all. I always liked her! But then I saw the photo of the actress, all made-up and styled and glamorous, and thought, this is how Mary Bennett would look if she were loved by a wonderful man! So that's how I came up with the character for Jane Brooke.

I'm thinking of sending a copy of the book to this lovely actress so she knows that her portrayal of a character inspired a book!

Frederick was found in a similar way, that is, inspired by a real person. I've discussed before about seeing "Wounded Warriors" coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and how it touches me. Young, strong men missing limbs but still living their lives as much as they ever did. Being the daughter, sister, and wife of veterans, soldiers are dear to my heart. I was also tired of reading "perfect heroes" in other romances. If they are "scarred" it's always something superficial or something that can heal itself. I wondered what it would be like to have a romance hero be one-handed. How would the heroine feel about it? More than that, how is he coming to terms with the loss of a limb?

I've seen more books coming out now with non-traditional characters in the lead. Overly plump heroines. Heroes missing a limb. Authors are breaking the boundaries of the svelte-yet-curvy beauty falling for the tall, dark and handsome hero.

And readers are loving it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Take an Art Tour with Jane Austen!

I found this wonderful site from the University of Austin in Texas that takes you on a guided web-tour of an art exhibit that Jane Austen actually saw on May 24, 1816. Click on the link below, and go through the exhibit in a leisurely fashion. Leave the children with their nanny or governess, and tea and cakes will be waiting at the end. I'll be sure to have a barouche waiting outside the door to whisk you to Grosvenor Square, where a supper party awaits!

Jane Austen Art Show

Friday, May 10, 2013

After the "Happily Ever After"

Did you ever watch a movie that ended with the prince and his new bride riding into the sunset while a soaring orchestra played them off the stage? The audience goes home, content with the idea that the happy couple will only have bright days ahead. Or maybe the audience didn't care anymore - after all, the pursuit of happiness is what some people want to see.

Not me!

It occurred to me that most of my novels have a marriage in the early half of the book. It's usually a marriage of convenience, such as in Tame the Wild Wind, when Jed suggests Cassie marry him to keep her uncle from tearing her away from the ranch she loves. Of course, his ulterior motive is to secure himself to her so she won't take him to court, thereby exposing him for who he really is! In my new book, In the Arms of an Earl (available in paperback June 7th!), Jane and Frederick marry for love, but their trials begin after they say, "I do."

Some readers don't like weddings early on in the story - they see the wedding as the reward for persevering with the characters throughout the pages. I wondered why I like all these rushed weddings and I realized it happened when I was very young, watching Cinderella for the first time. Once the carriage pulled away and Cinderella waved goodbye, all I could think of was, what happens now?

Did they have kids? Did they live with his father? Was the evil stepmother a wicked stepmother-in-law? There were so many unanswered questions!

I used to "finish" fairy tales and romantic old movies with my dolls, making them pick up where the movie or story left off. Prince Philip awakened Sleeping Beauty with a kiss, and then in my world, they had lots of parties, explored all over Europe, and moved into their own castle. Snow White, ditto. I still like to imagine what happens after the curtain drops and the movie or story or musical is over. Sometimes, it even inspires a new story of my own.

I know other readers and authors feel the way I do. Some of my favorite romances involved plots where the couple was already married through a good part of the book. Eloisa James's This Duchess of Mine begins with an estranged husband and wife, and Lavyrle Spencer's classic, Twice Loved, was the story of a husband who was presumed dead and returns to claim his bride.

So, forgive me, gentle readers, if you'd rather cut the cake at the end of the book. Once I got married, I noticed my plots and characters have changed as I did. As any modern wife knows, there's more to come after the wedding gown is put away.

But that doesn't mean it's anything but exciting! Just a new adventure waiting to be had!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Growing Up in England

Surprise! I was an Air Force brat, and we lived in England for almost ten years. The first school I ever attended was at Feltwell, in Norfolk. In the beginning, I was the only American student in the school, and quickly adapted my speech patterns to fit in. For instance, "Mommy" became "Mummy," and I started asking "to use the toilet" instead of "I have to go potty!" With my ethnic background of Mexican/Filipino on my mom's side, boy, did I stand out among the redheaded and blond English kids!

We went to Peterborough one cold day and stood outside in the rain for 2 hours in order to catch sight of the Queen! On another occasion, we saw the Queen Mother, and my brother (then about 9) jumped out of the queue to touch the hem of her coat. We moved back to California a few years later, and when I was 13, we moved back to England, but in the Cotswolds region of Gloucestershire. I attended a U.S. owned boarding high school, which gave me an extraordinary education. All of the students were military or government brats like me, and there was a closeness I have never seen in kids since.

Going home to the serenity of the Cotswolds every weekend was the best part of the week. Mom and Dad would bundle us in the VW bus and we would go touring to the stately homes and castles and palaces in the area. I've stepped in sheep poop at Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill), laughed at the monkeys in the safari park at Longleat, and talked to a ghost at Berkeley Castle. At least, I think it was a ghost. It might have been my brother making a scary noise!

I once crossed a busy street in our local town of Cirencester to say good morning to HRH Princess Anne, who nodded politely and said good morning to me. I was floating in the clouds for months, thinking that I had actually spoken to a princess. I sent birthday cards to HRH Prince Edward when he was in Cambridge University, and hoped I'd be the first American princess! No luck.

England, Scotland, and Wales are beautiful places filled with rich history, culture, scenery, and with as many varied characters of people as you could hope to find anywhere. My first few romance novels I wrote are all set in England, and I believe it's because of the history and romance of the countryside as well as the towering spires of London that first inspired me all those years ago. If I close my eyes, I can picture myself in the hushed mezzanine at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden before the ballet starts. Or I'm in the National Portrait Gallery studying Richard III's piercing gaze. Or I'm wandering through a pasture, treading a well worn path that has been traversed by other walkers for the last few hundred years.

I hope to return some day, but in the meantime, please enjoy my little glimpse of English life in my books. I promise there will be more to come!

Friday, April 5, 2013

I'm #4 on Kindle's FREE e-books!

Thank you to all the readers and lovers of historical romance out there who have put IN THE ARMS OF AN EARL in the 4th position for free Kindle books! You've left some beautiful reviews that have truly touched me and reaffirmed my dedication to my art.

Notice that I say "art." Writing romance is not a hobby to me and not yet a full time career (are you listening, Fate?). Rather, it is the part of me that best expresses who I am.

One kind reader said that my characters from ITAOAE reminded her of those from Pride and Prejudice. The reason for it is this book was originally going to be the first of a "P&P Sisters" trilogy I hoped to write. The original title was MISS BENNET IN LOVE, featuring Mary's story. However, when I shopped it around to various publishers, none of them wanted to touch Mary, since the few previously published books about this character have not been successful. My choice was to either indie-publish (read, self publish!) or change the story to a stand-alone with nothing to do with P&P. Changing Mary Bennet into Jane Brooke wasn't very hard, since Mary is really a marginal character, but I had fallen in love with my version of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet that I had to keep them the way I'd written them! So, if my Mrs. Brooke sounds like Mrs. Bennet, that's why, although I've redeemed her a little at the end, and Mr. B. is not half as cynical as he is in P&P.

I have a deleted chapter I will make available to my readers, which is a love scene originally at the end of the book. I took it out when I submitted the book to my publisher, since I thought I had too many love scenes already! Look for the chapter on this page - I will alert you to where it is, since it is not PG-13!

I enjoy hearing from readers! Please leave a comment or feel free to email me at

Friday, March 22, 2013

Why We Love Bad Boys

I'll never forget the first bad boy hero I fell in love with. He was behind the steering column of the Milennium Falcon, barking orders at his hairy counterpart and a snarky princess. Yes, it was Han Solo! Can anyone forget the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when she says, "I happen to like nice men" and he responds, "I'm nice men." She then says, "No, you're not, you're...." And he kisses her. Be still my beating 10 year old heart!

So what is it about the Han Solos of romance fiction that we all love? Is it the loner who just wants to be loved? The wise-cracking but fearless warrior who will put himself between you and a bullet (or Darth Vader, for that matter)?

Most of the heroes I write tend to be good guys without much bad boy to them. You know, guys you would meet on the street and take a second look at only because they're drop dead gorgeous! But not really bad. So why is my new hero in the book I just finished writing such a gambling, fighting, womanizing mess of a hunk?

Jack Waverley will make his debut (hopefully) early next year or later in this one, in a new Regency Historical romance called In the Arms of a Rogue. Why rogue? He's every man your mama warned you about. The guy your older brother had to bust in the nose to make him stop sneaking to your window on sultry summer nights. He plays hard and always gets what he wants. Always? Well, not if our spitfire heroine has her way!

I'll be posting excerpts and "character interviews" and all sorts of tidbits and fun facts about this book in the coming weeks! Thanks for stopping by, and may the bad boys be with you!

Friday, March 1, 2013

In the Arms of an Earl release on Kindle!

Great news! My publisher released my new book 3 months early on Amazon's Kindle! So you no longer have to wait until June for an e-book. The paperback will still come out in June, however, for those of you who like to hold a "real" book in your hands!

Here's the link for IN THE ARMS OF AN EARL Kindle release

For my faithful readers, I will offer my short novel, MISTLETOE AND MONTANA, which is an exclusive Kindle e-book, for free for the month of March. Set in Montana, it's a love story about Joely and Ben, who are thrown together in the middle of a blizzard when Joely brings their kids up to visit Ben for Christmas vacation. Will they learn to heal the rift between them and become a family again? Now you can find out for free!

Here's the link for your FREE book!  MISTLETOE AND MONTANA

I haven't posted for a while because I've been busily writing my next historical regency - IN THE ARMS OF A ROGUE. I'm hoping to have it done by end of March - it was one of my New Year's resolutions to have it completed by February, but that didn't happen. I keep finding little twists and turns and surprises - and my ending is not what I originally planned, so I have to wrap that up! But I hope you will like it as much as my other books. It's a bit more humorous than the recent book, but just as steamy and emotional!

Thanks for stopping by, and please get your free copy of MISTLETOE AND MONTANA!