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I’m home from the RWA conference in Washington, DC, after having a lovely time. I am still so tired from the festivities that all I can do is produce random thoughts.

1. The time started out in a very exciting way! We Riskies (except Janet who was squiring folks around on a Washington DC historic house tour)
were interviewed at XM Radio (more on that in upcoming days!)

2. I danced with Janet (and the Harlequin Historical editors) at the Beau Monde Soiree. But just one dance. We would not wish to set tongues wagging.

3. The Harlequin Party was held at the Ritz Carlton in a ballroom with a great dance floor and the same DJ as in San Francisco (He’s so good!). The theme was Harlquin’s 60 year anniversary, and they set up bars with a theme of the decade. For example, the 1960s bar served Singapore Slings. A video display of old covers was flashed on the wall and on monitors throughout the room. Needless to say, it was a wildly wonderful party.

4. Harlequin was a big presence at the conference and well they should be with the wonderful year they are having, sales-wise. They gave all conference attendees tote bags with a vintage Harlequin cover on them. Keep an eye out for more Vintage cover products, soon to be on sale in Barnes and Noble and Borders and such. Harlequin partnered with a stationary company to produce a bunch of very cool notebooks and things like that. To a few lucky early arrivers at the Harlequin party, I snatched a set of post cards with vintage covers on them. Here is an idea of the covers that will perhaps be featured.

5. The Mills & Boon editors (including Harlquin Historicals) are the BEST!! Not only did Joanne Grant (Historical) and Kim Young (Romance) attend (and dance in spike heels) at the Soiree, they also “made an offer” to aspiring writer and Golden Heart finalist (and later the winner) Jeannie Lin to buy her manuscript Butterfly Swords. Joanne and Kim gave a great workshop on avoiding cliches, a download of which should be available to purchase. (check the RWA site for more on that). I could go on and on about how much fun these two ladies are, but the other editors were equally as friendly. Sheila Hodgson (Medicals) greeted me like an old friend at our Mills & Boon Reception and editorial directo, Karin Stoecker, met me for a friendly drink. (Joanne, Karin, and Sheila also toasted me with champagne in 2006 after my RITA win). Tessa Shapcot (Presents) sat across from me at the Harlequin Historical lunch and was a delight to chat with.

6. Our Riskies get-together did not go as planned. Harry’s Pub was not conducive to such a gathering, but we made do in the Lobby bar and I had a great time chatting with Santa and Keira. Andrea Pickens and Miranda Neville, both past guest authors, also were there. Santa and I even did an impromptu plot-storming session. (Miranda Neville, by the way, helped me solve a sticky plot problem, as well, when we were just chatting at breakfast Sunday). Another Risky interviewee, Pam Rosenthal, won the RITA for BEST HISTORICAL Romance!!!

7. My very favorite part of the conference is running into old friends and making new ones. I love the mystery of why I sometimes see certain people everywhere (either Sandy Coleman and Amy of All About Romance were stalking me or I was stalking them, not sure which, but everywhere I went, they did too.) and others hardly at all. And I also love walking through the halls and greeting old friends.

8. I had great intentions of touring around DC with Keira and Amanda on Sunday, but I was so exhausted that I went home early and barely budged from my spot on the couch. So sorry, Keira and Amanda! I hope you had a good day.

How about you? If you attended the conference, what were your most memorable moments? If you didn’t attend, what else can we tell you about it?

Oh, I also met with Emily Cotler of Waxcreative Design so look for some new stuff at my website real soon. There is a new contest there right now.

Late again!

I thought I’d tell you about the writerly things I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks; and isn’t it funny how writerly things so often don’t include actually doing any writing? Although I did manage to squeeze some out. I’m so proud of myself.

Weekend before last I attended a writers’ retreat in Gettysburg, sponsored by my local chapter Maryland Romance Writers, led by the wonderful and inspiring Alicia Raisley.

Have you ever been to Gettysburg? It’s a town that was the center of a Civil War war zone, so as you approach or leave the town you drive through open country dotted with monuments; humbling and startling to see the extent of the battle and get an idea of the slaughter.

Our retreat was in the historic Gettysburg hotel. It’s haunted of course–everything in Gettysburg is haunted, and no wonder. I didn’t see any ghosts, though some of the other writers took a ghost tour.

I ploughed on through my novella which is to be published in an anthology with Mary Balogh, Susan Krinard and Colleen Gleason. We’re all doing paranormal takes on Jane Austen, and I’m doing Emma as a contemporary; lots of fun.

I finally finished the novella last weekend when I was at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference sponsored by New England Romance Writers. It rained all the time (it is mud season!) but I was cheered by meeting up with old friends and making new ones, like Miranda Neville who was a guest at the Riskies recently. And I ate like a pig. There was lots of food. Yum. I gave my servant workshop there, galloping through scads of material in record time.

So now I’m catching up. Taxes (ugh), laundry, books to read, and oh yes, one to write. And in a couple of weeks I’ll be in England, visiting my father and spending a weekend in London with my best friend. More on that later. What are you up to?

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Today our guest is Miranda Neville who offers us a tasty new Regency treat in Never Resist Temptation. Miranda originally hails from the UK but now lives and writes in Vermont. Her Avon debut promises to whet our appetites for more! Please give Miranda a delicious Risky welcome and one lucky commenter, chosen at random, will win an autographed copy of Never Resist Temptation.

1. This is your debut novel! Tell us about your book.

First, thank you so much for inviting me to visit the Riskies. A copy of Never Resist Temptation will go to one commenter.

Never Resist Temptation starts with that old romance staple—one I never get tired of—the heroine who is lost at cards by her wicked uncle. Jacobin, being a feisty lady, runs away and goes to work as a pastry cook at the Brighton Pavilion. Then her uncle is poisoned by a dessert she made and she’s on the run again. The good news is she’s been offered another job; the bad that her new employer is the winner of that card game. Anthony, the Earl of Storrington, has his own reasons for employing a pastry chef. He’s unaware of her true identity but things soon heat up between them.

“…genuine, lusty and fun.” Publisher’s Weekly

“…a delicious and delightful read.” Romantic Times 4 Stars

“I adored Never Resist Temptation.” Michelle Buonfiglio’s Romance B(u)y The Book

“Don’t resist the temptation – pick up the book!” Romance Novel TV

2. We love to hear about a new author’s journey to publication. Tell us about yours and include your “The Call” story!

I went into this as clueless as anyone. I’d always had the yen to write an historical romance so I did. Once I joined the RWA and tried to sell the book I discovered all the things that were wrong, like 10,000 words of backstory in the first three chapters. I did get some encouraging words on my writing from agents, editors and contest judges, but I gradually realized even the slimmed down version was unlikely to sell: it was too “traditional Regency.” I abandoned it, along with its half finished sequel, and spent a weekend thinking about a plot and characters that worked in what I’d learned about the current romance market.

I can’t really describe how the story evolved but it really came together. The first draft took six months and I enjoyed (almost) every moment. Then I went the usual route: appointments at conferences, contests, agent queries, and garnered my fair share of rejections. Once I won a contest and had an editor request the full, I began to get some interest from agents. Meredith Bernstein (what a great woman!) took me on and sold the book in three weeks. She called me one morning to say a couple of publishers had turned me down, then the same afternoon to relay an offer from Avon (thank you, most wonderful Lucia Macro). I went from wild despair to swilling champagne in a matter of hours.

2. Who can’t love a book that includes pastries? Tell us something about your research for the book, especially the cooking part.

Reading Ian Kelley’s biography of the great French chef Antonin Carême was the catalyst for the story. I wanted to incorporate his tenure as the Prince Regent’s chef. I was intrigued that female cooks were much more prevalent in England than on the continent. Carême didn’t like employing women as cooks and didn’t appreciate the female cooks who worked for Prinny. This gave me the idea of having Jacobin disguised as a young man. Cross-dressing roles are such fun, and Anthony is very confused by his initial attraction when he thinks she’s a boy. Most of the recipes described (and in some cases quoted) in the book come from Carême’s cookbooks. I tracked down details about period kitchens, stoves, utensils and so forth, though much of it never made it into the story.

4. We’re all about being risky here. What was risky about your book?

Hmm. I like to use a lot of humor, even in the sex scenes. Is that risky? And talking of risk, I am always aware of the chance of conception and I think the intelligent hero and heroine should be too. I like to see sex followed by pregnancy or fear of pregnancy, or use of some preventive measure. The rather crude forms of contraception available back then are perhaps given too much credence in romances, but that’s OK. I was nervous having my 88-year-old father read the book but he took it very well (of course, he thinks his daughter deserves a Pulitzer). We had an interesting discussion about coitus interruptus!

5. What is it about the Regency era that drew you to it?

My favorite historical eras have two things in common: great power and great clothes. The Regency saw Britain established as Top Country and its aristocrats wielded enormous influence. Masters of the Universe in fabulous costumes (yes, I loved Colin Firth in the wet shirt).

6. What’s next for you?

I’m contracted for two more books at Avon. The series (hopefully eventually a trilogy) is set in the world of Regency book collectors. Bibliophilia is a strange obsession, inspiring rivalries, murderous skullduggery and (a fact sadly absent from the historical record) sexual passion! I worked in Sotheby’s rare books department for several years so I’m returning to my roots here.

Miranda will be stopping by so feel free to ask her questions about Never Resist Temptation, French cooking, or working in Sotheby’s rare books department. And remember. One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Never Resist Temptation.

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