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 annasmallbooks@yahoo.com.