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Hello, Everyone! I’m back from the RWA conference in Atlanta where I had a wonderful time! It was truly a golden conference for me–or rather for Diane Gaston. My A Reputable Rake by Diane Gaston won the RITA award for Best Regency Romance. You’d think that would be enough good fortune for any one person, but The Mysterious Miss M won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency. Janet’s Dedication was also a finalist in the NRCA and it could very easily (and just as happily) been her book to win Best Regency.

It was a great conference for Riskies. Cara’s My Lady Gamester won the Booksellers Best Award for Best Regency and Amanda’s Lady Midnight won the Booksellers Best Award for Best Long Historical.

There were so many highlights of the conference I don’t know where to begin or what to include. The very best part is seeing all my Romance writing friends, some whom I only see at the national conference. It was fun seeing Megan and I had time to share Wet Noodle Posse fun with Janet and Amanda and I snuck in a short half hour for a “comfortable coze.”

The Mills & Boon editors were so cute. Well, Sheila Hodgson was elegant but Joanne Carr and Jenny Hutton were lovely, young, gorgeous and enthusiastic– and tall! All the Mills & Boon folks and the Harlequin folks were lovely to me, even before I won!

The whole atmosphere of the conference was exciting, supportive, and joyful. I loved every minute.

Blogger would not let me post photos but I will put them on a blog as soon as Blogger decides to behave.


To continue this week of updates on what we Riskies have been up to…

CARA PROJECT #1: A light-hearted Regency romance that’s a bit of a Cinderella story. My heroine Ruth (yes, she’s a poor parson’s daughter!) is clever and witty and quite underappreciated. She’s also stuck in the middle of the most lonesome part of Norfolk (full of pretty flint churches, like the Norfolk church pictured here). As she’s a proper young lady, she can’t escape except through marriage:

She could not travel without a husband, and she was not likely to find a husband while living in a nowhere part of England known only as “take the smaller road north from Little Ellingham, pass the village of Ipsham, and stop before you reach a large herd of sheep.”

There were few men in this corner of the world, and most of them owned more canes than teeth. And even if eligible gentlemen ever appeared–if they were lost, for instance–she knew they still wouldn’t want to marry her.

She had sense enough to know that men wanted more than just sense in a wife. They wanted a pretty face and a docile spirit, sparkling conversation and at least some semblance of a bosom.

This project is currently being considered by an editor at a publisher that will remain nameless, lest I jinx myself. (Knock wood, fingers crossed, et cetera.)

CARA PROJECT #2: Another Regency, this novel borders on farce, and is set in Bath, beautiful Bath. (My heroine will of course visit the Upper Rooms, pictured here — the photo’s from the movie of “Persuasion.”) My youthful heroine, Essie, has far more enthusiasm than prudence:

“I shall be so good, you will not even know me! I promise not to gossip, or get into scrapes, or complain about anything. That is, I shall certainly try,” she amended, recalling that she was also not to make promises she could not keep.

If the aforementioned publisher buys Project 1, then they will hopefully want Project 2 as well — which will be a lot of fun to write. (It’s only just begun, as the song says…)

CARA PROJECT #3: I have a young adult novel — partly a romance — that I am currently shopping about. This is about the adventures of a high school student who starts dating a college guy — and not just your average college guy, but an engineering student at a nearby technical college.

You could hardly call me cute. Stick-figure skinny is more like it. You ever heard of those things called breasts? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, my knowledge is entirely theoretical. It’s not like I’ve ever actually owned a pair.

( You may notice that this heroine has a similar problem to Ruth in Project #1! Ah, the concerns that span the ages…)

CARA PROJECT #4: I have begun a new young adult novel, this one with a paranormal twist. I can’t say any more — my muse has sworn me to secrecy…

Well, that’s (most of) what I’m up to, barring a few science fiction short stories, and a play I want to write. (What was that? Did someone say I’m writing in too many genres? No, surely not.) 🙂

Well, here’s a question for those of you who’ve actually read this far (or just skipped to the end): what young adult novels (if any) did you love when you were a teen? (Or which do you love now, if you are a teen, or if you’re still reading YA, as I am?)

MY LADY GAMESTER — Booksellers’ Best Finalist for Best Regency of 2005!

Posted in Risky Book Talk | Tagged | 14 Replies

Cara King is a native Californian who has a bad habit of moving every year or two. She has lived in London and Norwich in England, Pittsburgh and Princeton on the East Coast of the United States, and a number of places in Southern California, where she currently lives with her quantum physicist husband and far too many books.

For several years Cara was a film and theater critic for the Goleta VALLEY VOICE in Goleta, California, near Santa Barbara. Cara also writes young adult fiction, science fiction short stories, and children’s fantasy novels. Her hobbies include Regency dancing, Regency card games, reading books, buying way too many books (so she can read them), and acting in community theater productions (particularly Shakespeare, or anything else written before 1910).

Cara’s goals in life include reading all of Shakespeare’s plays, finding somewhere to put all her books, and never reading “Clarissa.” (She is most of the way to the first goal, knows the sun will implode long before she reaches the second goal, and has serious hope of achieving the last goal.)

Learn more at


“A well-polished jewel of a book, with a gem of a hero.” — Barbara Metzger

“This is a touching story. King does a fine job of intertwining Stoke and Atalanta’s lives, as past, present and future become linked forever.”
Romantic Times Bookclub 4 Stars

“(Cara King) has done her homework on the Regency era and the gambling scene that amused a large part of the ton and ruined not a few. She gives depth to her characters, especially Stoke and Atalanta, who are in for an up and down emotional ride that could end with them as enemies, friends, or more than friends. Neither the serious consequences of gambling addiction nor the tragedies of war are treated lightly, yet MY LADY GAMESTER is a highly entertaining novel. And a remarkable first book.”
— Jane Bower, for Romance Reviews Today

The Interview

Q. How did you think of writing this particular book? Did it start with a character, a setting, or some other element?

It all started with piquet. My husband and I were living in London, and as we knew few people there, we didn’t socialize a lot. And of course, there were only four channels of television! So we read, and we played cards. Piquet is a great two-person card game, and we’d play it at the tiny table in our tiny kitchen, keeping score on a cribbage board. When, a few years later, I was looking for an idea for a new Regency, I thought, “Why don’t I write what I know?”

The entire plot just flowed from there. If there was card playing, then either my hero or heroine needed to be great at cards, right? After thinking, I concluded it would be more unusual — and more interesting — for my heroine to be the expert. Dramatically, of course, she had to play against the hero — who also had to be good. But something more had to be at stake…someone had to want something…and bit by bit, my plot came to me, with that wonderful feeling that of course it had to be like that.

Q. How long did it take? Was this an easy or difficult book to write?

I didn’t write it all in one go — I took breaks, and life intervened (I move a lot, and moving from state to state and country to country takes a ridiculous amount of time, especially if you also have the crazy habit of buying as many books as my husband and I do). It might have taken a year, or thereabouts, in the end.

In a way, it was a difficult book. It was the most intense, most emotional thing I’d ever written, and in ways it demanded more from me than did the more comic novels I’ve written previously.

Q. Tell me more about your characters. What or who inspired them?

I don’t know that they were inspired, exactly…but my heroine did end up with my stubborness. (If you don’t believe me about my stubbornness, just ask my family. They’ll roll their eyes and tell you stories of my pigheadedness!)

Q. Did you run across anything new and unusual while researching this book?

One detail I discovered was that English playing cards during the Regency had plain white backs. I think it’s really interesting that they insisted on that because they thought it made cheating harder, and we use cards with intricately patterned backs for the same reason! Their playing cards also had an up and a down — you could not flip them upside down and have them look the same, as you can with modern cards. In other words, a King of Hearts card only had one head on it!

Q. What do you think is the greatest creative risk you’ve taken in this book? How do you feel about it?

I think my greatest risk was making my heroine so driven and determined. Some might even call her ruthless. I just think she’s interesting!

Q. Is there anything you wanted to include in the book that you (or your CPs or editor) felt was too controversial and left out?

Luckily, no! And I’m quite thankful that that’s the case. If you read a lot of Regencies and historicals that involve gambling, you’ll begin to notice a trend — the actual gambling is usually treated the way sex used to be treated in romances — it’s talked about in the book, it’s important, but anything that actually happens is off-stage. Then afterwards people say things like “that was so amazing” or “I was so shocked” but as readers we’re never allowed to partake in the excitement!

I didn’t want my book to be like that. I wanted the actual gambling drama to come across on the page, the same way it does in Georgette Heyer’s wonderful “Faro’s Daughter.” I spent a lot of time findings ways of getting the action and excitement of the gaming across on the page, without ever confusing readers who might never even have heard of piquet and whist. I had several non-card-players critique the novel at early stages, and they always told me which parts worked for them, and which confused them. My subsequent revisions must have worked, because my wonderful editor never suggested I trim the card playing…and none of the reviewers have complained!

Q.In the course of your research, did you find any real lady gamesters from the period?

Ladies gambled frequently during the period, but they also ran into interesting difficulties. It was thought that if a woman wagered a lot of money on a game, lost, and couldn’t pay what she owed, she would end up sleeping with the man to whom she owed the money in lieu of payment. (And I came across accounts of women who actually did this, too, so it wasn’t just a vicious rumor.) The result of this was that if a woman was known to gamble for high stakes, society tended to question whether she was a “virtuous” woman. I deal with this problem in my book, though it’s not a major issue for my heroine, who cares a lot less about gossip than she does about whatever truth lies behind it.

Q. In many ways, MY LADY GAMESTER is structured more like a suspense novel than like a traditional romance. Why did you make that choice?

Hmm… Let’s just say there are secrets in the book — things Stoke doesn’t know, things Atalanta doesn’t know, and things the reader doesn’t know — so the suspense structure seemed an obvious choice. It helped me keep the tension high throughout the book, and it (surprisingly, perhaps) was a great way to reveal character. (If someone is operating on incomplete information, the assumptions he or she makes reveal a lot!)

Q. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a young adult novel with a paranormal twist, and also a Regency historical. To keep my muse happy, I can’t share too many details of either, except to say that I’ve noticed my heroines in both are quite stubborn — no surprise, I guess!

My birthday present to you! My bookcover for Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady coming Dec 2009 from Harlequin Historical. I LOVE this cover

My real Risky Regencies birthday is April 17, because I joined this lovely group on April 17, 2006, but, the Queen doesn’t celebrate her birthday on the anniversary of her birth, so why should I? I choose to celebrate with my other Riskies.

I was so creative. I called my first blog “My First Time by Diane Gaston Perkins” (I was still writing for Warner Forever as Diane Perkins at the time). I talked about why I think the Regency is so popular as a Romance genre. And I sounded reasonably intelligent! Who knew?

Risky Regencies came about when there were still Signet and Zebra Traditional Regencies, but we all knew they would not last. Janet, Amanda, Elena, and Cara were innovating, trying to give the subgenre new life. It was a risk, but that was the reason to name the blog Risky Regencies.

I decided to see what these Riskies chose to write about for their first times.

Janet’s first blog was, as you might expect, extremely witty with creative surprises, telling what was risky about her first book, Dedication.

Megan talks
about her risky Regency, A Singular Lady, in the sassy slightly self-depreciating style we’ve come to love, admitting she made mistakes with titles.

Cara’s first blog was about cards! She talks about the idea that became My Lady Gamester. (I still miss Cara, so I’m including her here!)

Amanda’s first real blog (after a brief one about covers, citing both a movie and fashion, natch) was a cute Jane Austen quiz. We’ve had lots of quizzes since.

Elena does another thing we’ve repeated often–talking about other books and authors we admire. Elena will be blogging on Sept 26. Yay!!!

And finally our newest Risky, Carolyn, who started her time here with a quirky introduction in Regency-speak and her first real blog about The Regency Ottoman Empire. What could be more Risky than that???

Like the Regency genre, we’re still evolving. I love the community we’ve become, and that includes our commenters!

Do you have any Risky Regency blogs you remember? What ones have stuck in your memory?

My prize, awarded at the end of the month, like Janet’s, is a DVD: 1815 The Battle Of Waterloo. It is a documentary released by that I used in writing my Three Soldiers Series (and ordered twice because I forgot I already owned it). If you don’t win you can order your own from Amazon.

My website is updated! And there is a new contest there.
And I’m now on Twitter as well as Facebook.

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