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This week some of us will be doing Announcements. Nice things have been happening to the Riskies and we want to share our good news with all of you.

Last Monday, I broke some of the good news from the RWA conference, but that really didn’t give it the attention it deserved, so we are going to toot our own horns just a little this week.

Of course, I’ve had lots to toot about. My A Reputable Rake winning the RITA for Best Regency Romance, brought me lots of emails from friends happy for my good fortune. This is truly a great honor and I am overwhelmed at receiving a RITA in only my second year of eligibility. My Rake was a truly a risky regency- a lady running a courtesan school right in the heart of Mayfair- but it won!

I’m also so happy that The Mysterious Miss M won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency. Before Mills & Boon bought Miss M through the Golden Heart contest, editor after editor from other publishing houses rejected the book, saying that readers would not accept my prostitute heroine. I always believed readers would love Maddie as I did and I felt the NRCA, judged by readers, finally proved it!

Life has a way of bringing a person back down to earth, however. As soon as I got home from the conference, there was a little family stuff to deal with. Nothing serious, but it needed me to rise from my laurels and do something! Then Melanie, my Warner editor phoned me about my revisions. LOTS of them. Major rewrite of Blake’s story, now titled Desire in His Eyes and slated for release sometime in 2007. And, of course, there is the next Mills & Boon/Harlequin Historical to write by the end of October. And the persistent congestion I was experiencing was a little sinus infection (much better now).

Last week blogger wouldn’t let me post photos, but this week is kinder, and I wanted to show off the real joy in this business – the people. The friends. So here are some photos from the conference.

Me, accepting the RITA. (for more on this moment, see my Wet Noodle Posse blog)

And the awards themselves, with lovely flowers sent by my friends.

Right after the RITA ceremony, the Mills & Boon folks took me in search of champagne for a toast to our good fortune. Here we are after our long and arduous search for bubbly. From Left to Right: Sheila Hodgson, Karin Stoeker (editorial director), Jenny Hutton, me, Joanne Carr

While we were on our search for champagne, I missed the annual Wet Noodle Posse photo with other WNP RITA winners Stef Feagan and Dianna Love Snell (The WNP are the Golden Heart finalists from 2003. We’re still together–except me, I’m still looking for champagne)

This is a photo of me with Kathy Caskie and Sophia Nash–now both Avon authors and my friends from Washington Romance Writers. In 2003 Kathy awarded me the Golden Heart for what became The Mysterious Miss M. This year Sophia awarded me the RITA!

Here am I with my dear friend Julie Halperson. Years ago, Julie and I met in a creative writing class at our local community college. She’s been a writing friend and critique partner ever since, with me through this whole journey.

Two more great friends from WRW. Mary Blayney (Poppy’s Coin in J.D. Robb’s anthology Bump in the Night)and Lavinia Klein, a double Golden Heart finalist in Long Historical this year.

And my wonderful Sisters of the Moon, my critique group including (R to L) Karen Anders, Blaze author; me and RITA; Darlene Gardner, Superromance (A Time to Forgive, July 2006); Lisa Dyson, about to break in at any moment!

And finally, three friends who came to the Literacy Booksigning. These are my high school classmates, Wayne, Sandy, and Peggy, who were surprised to learn at our high school reunion in June that the shy, studious Diane became a Romance Author. They were dear enough to come see me at the signing and were so happy for me. It was very touching.

The friends are the greatest reward! I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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.


Congratulations to the following Riskies, for reaching the finals of Greater Detroit RWA’s Booksellers’ Best Award!

In the Regency category:

“a well-polished jewel of a book,
with a gem of a hero” — Barbara Metzger
THE MYSTERIOUS MISS M, by Diane Perkins/Gaston
“Gaston’s strong, memorable debut provides new insights into the era and characters that touch your heart and draw you emotionally into her powerful story. — Kathe Robin, Romantic Times BOOKclub.

and in the Historical Romance category:

LADY MIDNIGHT, by Amanda McCabe
“Lady Midnight will enchant and enrapture readers with its great depth of character…a tantalizing plot with wonderful gothic overtones and a daring hero” — Kathe Robin, Romantic Times BOOKclub.
Way to go, Riskies!!!!!!!!


More great news for the Riskies!

THE MYSTERIOUS MISS M, by Diane Gaston (who also impersonates Diane Perkins on occasion) and DEDICATION, by Janet Mullany, are both finalists for Best Regency in the National Readers’ Choice Award, a contest judged by readers in every state.

View the complete list of finalists at

Go Riskies!

My husband bought me a floppy disk drive last weekend so that I could save my brazillion floppy disks on the big disk drive he also purchased for me, a place to back up my computer and avoid the potential tragedy of Losing Everything. This weekend (whoo hoo! What a holiday!) I spent my time looking through all those floppy disks and salvaging what could be important.

On these disks were all my first unpublished works as well as early versions of The Mysterious Miss M. I thought it would be fun to share my discoveries.

It turns out that my first version of The Mysterious Miss M, then titled Unmasked, started from Devlin’s Point of View:

“Unmasked” circa 2000

London, 1816

Devlin Sinclair glanced up from the cards in his hand. The acrid smoke and dim light muted the gaudy red velvet and gold gilt of the gaming room. He reached for his glass and set it down again. The prodigious amount of brandy he had already consumed threatened to fog his brain….

By the time I entered the manuscript in the 2001 Golden Heart contest, and again in the 2003 Golden Heart (when it won), I’d switched to Madeleine’s Point of View:

London, July, 1812

Madeleine positioned herself on the couch, adjusting the fine white muslin of her gown and placing her gloved hands demurely in her lap. The light from the candelabra, arranged to cast a soft glow upon her skin, enhanced the image she was bid to make. Her throat tightened, and her skin crawled from the last man’s attentions.
This wicked life. How she detested it.

I remember why I changed POV. I’d learned that having a woman who was the prize in a disreputable gaming hell was a risky move (unlike today!), so I thought I needed to put the reader directly in Madeleine’s mind so that the reader would understand her and sympathize with her right away. I suppose that was a smart move, because I sold the book.

The published version (2004) is only very slightly different. Can you see where?

London, September, 1812

Madeleine positioned herself on the couch, adjusting the fine white muslin of her gown and placing her gloved hands demurely in her lap. The light from the branch of candles, arranged to cast a soft glow upon her skin, enhanced the image she was bid to make. Her throat tightened, and her skin crawled from the last man’s attentions.
This wicked life. How she detested it.

The most fun in going through my old floppies was rereading my very first manuscripts. I started by writing contemporary romance.

Here is my very first effort, a romantic suspense featuring a mental health social worker (Hey, I believed in “write what you know”), who finds her client dead of apparent suicide. The policeman who investigates believes her that it was not suicide.

First version of “Faith’s Dream”, circa 1996:

Marian stood outside Faith’s apartment door wondering if she should knock or turn around to leave. The outside of the red brick garden apartment building was shabby and unkempt. It had not succumbed to the race to go condo that had swept through Arlington, Virginia, several years ago. Marian was glad. She liked the fact that her employer, the small county across the river from Washington, .D.C., had been able to remain economically and ethnically diverse. It meant someone like Faith, and now herself as well, could afford to live in the same county that had been home to the Vice President and, over a century ago, Robert E. Lee.

Notice how I am “telling” the story and not “showing” it.
Here is my final version, 1997:

I shouldn’t be here.
Marian stood in the dark hallway in front of Faith’s apartment door. Muffled sounds of televisions drifted from other apartments. She glanced up and saw a huge black spider busily cocooning a meal in a macabre web at the corner of the ceiling. Shivering, she adjusted her sleeveless cashmere sweater and the black linen skirt that had twisted around when she sat in the car.

Much more “showing.” I’m in her thoughts and showing what she is seeing and feeling.

The next book “Room for Rent” (1998) was targeting Temptation, but probably that was the wrong series, because my story had children in it. I was new and didn’t figure this out until later:

Room for Rent
An impatient Wesley Reed scanned the words on the grocery store bulletin board, his way blocked by a shopping cart filled to overflowing with stuffed brown paper bags. Next to it, a small boy slowly turned the knob of the bubble gum machine while his father looked on.
Wes had stopped at the suburban grocery store on his exploratory drive to Vexa, the most recent company to acquire his services as a reorganization consultant. The store seemed packed with crying infants and hyperactive children, and Wes felt as out of place as if he were on another planet. He read the rest of the index card.
Basement suite in comfortable suburban home….

He rents the room in the house of the company’s librarian, one of the positions he thinks should be cut.

The next manuscript, “Love Lesson,” was much more appropriate for Temptation, but it didn’t sell, alas!:

“This is going to be great. Sex. Four days of sex.”
Mellie Hamilton almost dropped her purse. Was Beck here already?
She looked up and saw the speaker was a shaggy-haired young man grinning at the pretty hotel clerk whose cheeks turned bright pink. Definitely not Beckley MacKinnon, but a lot like him.
Or like he had been.
The young man continued flirting with the clerk. A graduate student, Mellie guessed. He looked the type, eager and bold, not unlike she had been when she met Beck at that first Human Sexuality Conference.

I had a lot of fun with that one!

And my favorite beginning of all, “Love Ages”, a manuscript I never finished, another social worker working for Adult Protective Services. In the county where I worked our APS workers saw stuff like this:

“She’s over here!”
Mallory Faulkner shouted above the clatter of the rescue squad as they entered through the front door against the assault of overpowering stench. Their shocked expletives rose above the persistent whine of swarming insects as the men picked their way through precariously stacked piles of newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and carton after carton of rotting fruit. Mallory crouched down in a space cramped by more appalling clutter, while next to her the owner of the house moaned softly. She brushed the flies away from the old lady’s face and off the running sore on her leg. The woman’s frantic eyes darted around the room and her hands uselessly groped the air. Around the aluminum lawn chair where she sat, stinking crates of oranges, grapefruits and lemons, turned from fuzzy gray to oozing black.
The sounds of the men scraping, banging, and swearing grew closer. “Man, I’ve never seen anything like this. How are we going to get a stretcher in here?”

Honest. I’m not exaggerating!

A lot of romance authors comment about how their first books should remain hidden in closets or under beds, and they use words like “dreadful” to describe them. I don’t feel that way about these old gems of mine. I loved all those stories and it still mystifies me why they didn’t sell.

My lack of success with these treasures did lead me to try writing what I love most to read, however. The Silver Lining in my lack of success was that I turned to writing regency-set romance!

You know the commercial that says, “What’s in your wallet?” Well, I’m asking, what manuscripts are under your bed, in your closet, or hidden in old floppies? Do you think they are gems? Or are they “dreadful?”

Visit my website for news and my new contest! The prize is a copy of A Reputable Rake and one for a friend.

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