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Monthly Archives: April 2010

My husband leaves things around sometimes. And sometimes I pick up after him. One item he left around recently was a 1985 issue of National Geographic (because, doesn’t every husband?). Imagine my surprise when I leafed through it and found an article on England’s Country Houses, called The Great Good Places. I was even more surprised to see it was written by Mark Girouard.

Mark Girouard is more known to me for writing books on my research shelf, books like The Country House Companion or Life in the English Country House .

Girouard begins the article:

When I was an undergraduate in the 1950s, I used to stay with my old great-aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, at Hardwick Hall…

The idea of visiting such a house as a relation boggled my mind! Perhaps Girouard’s love of English architecture began with such visits. He later read the old account books, letters, and other documents from Hardwick Hall, piecing together what happened there.

In the time of Bess of Hardwicke, for example, Girouard described how, in the early 1600s, the Earl of Rutland would arrive on horseback, the gate opened by the porter, the servants who could take away the horses, the greeting by the Usher of the Hall. Girouard goes on to describe a meal and the entertainment.

In addition to Hardwicke Hall, the article includes photos (by Fred J. Moon) of several other Houses, such as Blenheim, Penshurst Place, Knoll, Burghley House, and Castle Howard, mentioning that Castle Howard was the location for the recent (in 1985) TV miniseries, Brideshead Revisited

Girouard talks about the 1700s as the most pompous age of the country house. He discusses Queen Victoria setting the style for “elegance and importance without ostentation.” He moves on to another country house heyday, the Edwardian Age.

What does he leave UNDONE?
Not a mention of the Regency era, not one. Not even a peep about the Pavilion.

Do you have a favorite English Country House? I remember loving Stratfield Saye, Wellington’s house, because it still seemed like a real home. In fact, members of the family still lived there. I also was amazed by Chatsworth.
How about you?

Remember, I’m still giving away prizes this week at Diane’s Blog. My plans for Wednesday are UNDONE, but Friday I’ll feature my story in Pleasurably Undone, The Unlacing of Miss Leigh.
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Kelley reinforces her deserved reputation for page-turning, exciting, humorous plots filled with sexual tension and populated by unforgettable characters readers can’t help but fall in love with.
— Romantic Times Reviews

Today we’re thrilled to have a return visit from Kensington author Christie Kelley who’s here to talk about her April release Something Scandalous and give away a signed copy! So please jump in and ask questions to be eligible for the drawing.

Raised as the youngest daughter of the Duke of Kendal, Elizabeth learns a devastating truth on his deathbed: he wasn’t her father at all. And because the Duke had no sons, his title and fortune must go to his only male heir: a distant cousin who left England for America long ago. Anticipating the man’s imminent occupation of her home, Elizabeth anxiously searches for her mother’s diary, and the secret of her paternity…

Arriving in London with his seven siblings, William Atherton intends to sell everything and return to his beloved Virginia farm, and his fiancée, as quickly as possible. But as Elizabeth shows William an England he never knew, and graciously introduces his siblings to London society, it becomes clear the two are meant for each other. Soon, Elizabeth finds herself determined to seduce the man who can save not only her family name, but her heart…

Christie, welcome back to the Riskies! Tell us about your new book.
Something Scandalous is the third book in the Spinster Club series. The Spinster Club series revolves around the lives of five Regency women who have all made up their minds not to marry. But one of the women is playing matchmaker without the others noticing.

When did we first meet the heroine in the series and did you find your ideas about her had changed when it actually came to writing the book?

Elizabeth is introduced to the readers in my debut novel, Every Night I’m Yours. I knew even when I introduced her that she was hiding a secret about her parentage. So my ideas for her didn’t change that much when it came time to write her book.

How do you keep track of characters throughout the series?

I wrote a character sheet that I keep in a MS Word document so I remember the basics of their coloring and characteristics. I’ve added to that as the heroes are introduced.

I love the idea of the culture clash between h/h. What research did you do for an American visiting 1817 London?

Actually, the biggest research I had to do was on immigration and laws of succession during this period. I had originally wanted William to spend most of his years in the US, but I discovered this wasn’t possible. In order for him (and his father before him) to continue to be the heir presumptive for the dukedom, I had to send his father to the US as an emissary for the British government. Unfortunately, a pesky little war popped up in 1812. So I had to move Will’s family to Canada.

Did you find it challenging that your hero might own slaves? How did you handle that?

Actually, my hero wouldn’t have had enough money to own slaves so it wasn’t an issue that came up in the story. Had he decided to sell all his properties in England and move back to the US, it might have become an issue.

Your heroine’s journey hangs on a family secret. Was there a particular event or character that inspired this, fictional or real life?

There was nothing but my crazy imagination that inspired this part of the story. I wanted to write a story such that my heroine, Elizabeth discovers something scandalous about her mother. Up until Elizabeth discovers she is not her father’s daughter, she had always believed her mother to be the perfect lady. Discovering this secret turns Elizabeth’s life upside down and makes her examine her own transgressions.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

I don’t want to give too much away but the scene where Elizabeth finally finds her mother diary always makes me giggle. 

What in the book gave you the most trouble?

Writing for Zebra, I wasn’t sure how my editor was going to react to the diary entries the hero and heroine read. I didn’t give him a heads up on the scenes because I really wanted him to read them first and then tell me if I’d gone too far. Thankfully, he only said “Wow.”

You have that rarity in romance publishing, a male editor. Does he give you any particular insights into the male mind (or whatever)?

I love my editor! He totally gets my voice and is enthusiastic about my writing. I can’t say he gives me any particular insight into the male mind but having five brothers and now a husband and two boys, I think I sort of understand their minds. I’m not sure any woman can ever completely understand them.

What’s next for you?

I have two more novels in the Spinster Club series coming out. Scandal of the Season will be an October release and the last book, tentatively titled Her Perfect Match, will come out in June 2011.

Christie will drop by to chat, so let’s get the conversation going!

Many times the discussion of romance dealbreakers comes up; for some people, it’s sleeping with someone else while the romance is building (not a dealbreaker for me; I just call that ‘being an entitled man.’).

For most of us, and why we carry the stigma of romance as long as anyone remembers the phrase ‘bodice-ripper,’ it’s rape.

For me (in addition to the rape, obviously), it’s adultery. It’s funny, I haven’t really thought of it before–after all, I am a “Risky” Regency, and not usually conservative in my views. But the other night, my husband and I were watching a 1966 movie called Grand Prix starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint and Yves Montand, among others. It was about the Formula 1 racing circuit, and my husband recalled loving it when young because of the racing footage.

We joined it midway, and there’s this romance going on between Garner and a woman who, it turns out, is married to another driver, a Scot who’s recovering from a race accident. Huh. Made me uncomfortable to see it all out there in the open, but whatever. Then Montand’s character is madly in love with Saint’s only, it turns out, he’s already married to another stunning blonde (man had a type, is all I’m saying).

“So,” I said, turning to my husband, “this movie is all about adultery.” I didn’t hate the film, but I didn’t like it that everyone seemed okay with the cheating. If that plot line had been in a romance story? Whoa, there would’ve been SUCH a kerfuffle.

‘Course, I’m a hypocrite, because one of my favorite series is Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne series. But there the characters know, and suffer for, what they’re doing.

I guess the difference for me is knowing that the characters are aware of their actions, and are making choices, not just falling into things because it’s convenient. Another example is one of my all-time favorite books, Jane Eyre. Rochester, of course, knew full well what he was attempting to do–but his love for Jane made him choose to live with damnation. I kinda respected that when I first read it, and still admire Rochester for choosing love over propriety (some would say morality, and that is a valid word, also).

Okay, so not a dealbreaker precisely, but if the hero or heroine is somewhat insouciant about their cheating–no matter how valid the reason–I’m not gonna like them.

We’ve all discussed the usual dealbreakers; do you have any unusual ones?


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The horror that is April 15 is now well behind us (I hope) so it’s time to take stock of the coming year. I’ve been fortunate enough to find some information that I think will be of great use to writers, instructions for Schedule OMG.HEA.2010. Remember, just like the contemporary hero with his well-stocked wallet, there’s nothing like being ready.

Turn to the Subgenre Definition pages beginning on page 17 and pick your subgenre. You may pick only one. If you write in a variety of subgenres, choose 21, Indecisive wallower, 22, Overachiever or 23, I’m just a girl who can’t say no. Enter in Box A.

Take your zip code, divide it by the number of pages completed in your WIP and enter the number in Box B.

On the following lines enter the following numbers from the first fifty pages of the book:

  1. Times your h/h have sex. If you are writing an inspirational, you should enter 10.
  2. Times your h/h have sex with another person(s) or being(s) (including, but not limited to, shapeshifters) and multiply by five. If you are writing an inspirational, you should enter 50.
  3. Heroic hair-raking within the first fifty pages.
  4. Mentions of hero’s eye/hair color.
  5. Mentions of heroine’s eye/hair color. Note: if colors for 2 or 3 change, please refer to Publication CE.AA.2010.

Enter your total for Box B.

Note: If your score is less than 2, please make sure you are writing within the correct genre. Refer to Publication WTF.2010 for more guidance and complete the appropriate Genre Form.

Now turn to your most recently published work. Enter its ISBN, page count, and predominant font family used on the cover in Box C.

Please check the appropriate box if your cover contains the following:

  1. Historically inaccurate shirt.
  2. Mullet.
  3. Green or blue eyeshadow (hero or heroine).
  4. Chandelier with lightbulbs instead of candles.
  5. Physically impossible stance.

Write the total number of checked boxes on the next line. On the following lines:

  1. Instances of egregious photoshop art, add 10 for each.
  2. *Extra nipples, limbs or digits (hero or heroine), multiply each by 10 and enter.
  3. Glaring typo on your back cover blurb, enter 20.
  4. Mantitty, enter 50.

* Unless you are writing paranormal romance and this is purely representative.

Enter your total for Box C.

If your cover art contains none of the above, please refer to Publication WTF.2010 as you may be writing a different genre.

The totals for Boxes B and C, plus the ages of your children and/or pets and your agent’s and editors’ heights in centimeters.
Multiply by 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375
Multiply by 10 to make a nice big fat number and round off to the nearest thousand. This is your estimated tax for 2010.

Please feel free to share your tax expertise with the rest of us. It’s never too early.

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