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Monthly Archives: April 2010

You’ve heard the ‘smooth sailing’ metaphor, as in it’s either smooth sailing or it’s not, right?

In writing, it’s our goal to make the writing as choppy as possible. For someone like me, whose whole goal in life is to make things comfortable for those around her, this is a hard idea to wrap my head around. So, in my fiction (as in my life), my characters often accept what others hand to them, reacting instead of proacting (yeah, I made the word up. So what?)

But that is dull. And makes for not very likeable characters, unless you happen to like super-neurotic, premise-accepting people (and if you do, you are likely a friend of mine).

So my goal in writing right now is to make my characters as feisty and proacting as possible. For example, the hero in my current WIP is going to kiss the heroine to get her to stop asking questions, but instead of leaning into the kiss, as she really wants to do (he’s smokin’!), she’s going to haul off and slap him, because she knows he’s only kissing her to shut her up, not because he wants to kiss her.

It’s an eye-opener, thinking of things to put my characters through I would never want a friend to experience. But it’ll make for better fiction. And maybe help me get more proacting, too.


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Greetings. I am having a tremendously busy time at the dayjob and I’m also on deadline, aargh. So this will be a quick post, sorry!

Here’s the cover for Bespelling Jane Austen, the anthology headlined by Mary Balogh that’s coming out in October. Isn’t it cute! And yes, there will be textual interest–embossing on the red. I’m very excited about it.

We all picked a favorite Austen novel and “bespelled” it. Mary’s Almost Persuaded is a version of Persuasion with reincarnation; Susan Krinard‘s Blood and Prejudice (I think you know what that’s based on!) is set in modern day New York (with vampires); and Colleen Gleason takes the Gardella vampire hunters out for another spin in Northanger Castle. Mine, based on Emma, is Little To Hex Her, set in the gossipy village of contemporary Washington, DC. The title is based on the opening lines of Emma:

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

I’m very pleased that this book is being released at the same time as Jane and the Damned (HarperCollins) about Jane Austen and the sexy, amoral, decadent vampires of Georgian England. Oh, and there’s a French invasion too. I have a killer cover for that but it’s still under wraps…

I’m managing to do some reading on my commute, when I’m not falling asleep. I’m reading The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan, a novel about the Brontes, which is phenomenal. It has already caused me to miss my stop. It’s released in the US as Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes (dumb title, but a better cover than the UK version which is the one I have. And what about Anne?).

What are YOU reading this week?

It so happens my birthday is Friday. Since I happened to have today off work I met some friends for lunch, shopping, chocolate and yakking.  I made the sort of a mistake of dragging my friend to the antique collective where I happen to know there is a man with a locked shelf of really good books. Good books for people like me.

What did I get, you ask me? Two books.

Brookes Gazetteer

Interestingly enough the title page says:

The General Gazetteer, or compendious Geographical Dictionary containing a Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States, Provinces, Cities Towns Ports Seas Harbours Rivers Lakes Mountains &c In the Known World with the Government Customs Manners and Religion of the Inhabitants; the Extent, Boundaries and Natural Production of each Country; The Trade, Manufacturing and Curiosities of the Cities and Towns; their longitude, latitude, Bearings and distances in English Miles from remarkable places and the various events by which they have been distinguished. Illustrated by Eight Maps.

The remarkable thing is that all 8 maps are still in the book! They fold out.

Another remarkable thing is that both New York (USA) and San Francisco seem to have been omitted. Huh? Nevertheless, I anticipate many happy perusals.

A Picturesque Tour Of The Thames

And here’s the corker: this book contains lists of the contents of rooms in Hampton Court and Windsor Palace plus a map of the Hampton Court area, though it doesn’t fold out.

But I am very pleased with my books, and I will share more from them if I can.

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Clio Chase is hoping for a quiet season in Sicily with her family. There she can forget all about the enigmatic Duke of Averton and the strange effect he has on her. That is until he unexpectedly arrives, shattering her peace and warning her of trouble…

The unsettling attraction is still strong between them, despite the secrets they hide. But as the unknown threat grows, they are thrown together in the most intimate of ways. Clio knows there is only so long she can resist her mysterious duke!

“Amanda McCabe has crafted a spell-binding, sensuous read grounded in Greek mythology. Filled with muses, romance, intrigue, and mystery, this thrill-of-the-hunt Regency historical evokes visions of Aphrodite and Apollo amongst the ton setting. Like any great read, I was sad for it to end!” –The Season on To Catch a Rogue (read full review here!)

Last month I launched the “Muses of Mayfair” trilogy with book one, To Catch a Rogue. Now it’s almost May, and I’m very excited to talk about book two, To Deceive a Duke! (Book three, To Kiss a Count, is out in June). One commenter today will win a signed copy of Duke

In Rogue we met the second-eldest Chase Muse, Clio, and saw her clash with the mysterious Duke of Averton. In Duke they meet again, and those sparks fly between them once more–only this time they have an even harder time keeping them contained! They have to learn to work together to save a rare and precious hoard of ancient temple altar silver–but can they do it while also keeping their hands off each other? I think not…

After meeting this passionate pair in Rogue, I was very eager to see what was really going on between them. As I made my way through their story they often surprised me–and I’m supposed to be their creator, the director of their story! Ha. They usually paid me no heed and went off on their own rollercoaster ride.

It was the middle of winter when I started writing this book, and I was sick of cold, gray skies. I needed some sun ASAP, even if it was just vicariously! So I sent Clio, the duke, Sir Walter Chase, and his fourth daughter Terpsichore (Cory) off to bright Sicily for an archaeological dig. It was so much fun to read travel and history books (and sometimes historical travel books!) about the island, and imagine being somewhere warm and filled with olive and lemon trees, flowers, beautiful architecture, and historic sites. The ancient city Clio and her family are excavating is based on a real place, Enna, which was colonized by the Greeks in the 6th century BC and became a sort of vacation resort for them. Destroyed during the Second Punic Wars with its inhabitants killed or enslaved, it was buried in a mudslide in the 12th century which preserved an ancient agora, theater, and gorgeous holiday villas under almond and olive orchards. The medieval castle Clio and Averton explore together is based on a real site, as if Clio’s farmhouse where the silver is buried and the silver itself. This altar set is based on the famous “Morgantina silver” now in the Met (a great article about it can be found here, and more info about the history of the Enna province here).

As we learned in Rogue, Clio is way passionate about what she believes in and is willing to go to great lengths to protect it–but so is the duke. What will happen if they again find themselves at cross purposes? (And I wish I knew where I could get Clio’s blue dress on the cover. It’s certainly impractical for excavation work but it’s so gorgeous!)

I have lots more info on my website, including some great sources for the history of the era in the History Behind The Book section. And if you don’t win today, you can enter the contest on my website or visit Kwana’s Blog before the end of of today to enter the contest there! (Giveaways galore!)

Where would you have a dream vacation? What are some objects you’ve seen in museums that have captured your imagination? And I have the potential to write more “Muses” books in the future–any ideas for possible settings for them? (I’d love to send Cory, who is an artist, to illustrate some sites in Egypt…). And on a completely unrelated note, how terrific was Small Island on “Masterpiece” last week??? I loved it.

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