I write surrounded by the blue bags that contain our Christmas tree. I used to have a real one, but then we got children and a cat, and they really don't mix very well, so now we get the artificial kind. It looks fine. And while, when the children were young, we had lots of glitter and tinsel, now we tend toward the more tasteful. I don't miss the tinsel and the bits of glitter that my vacuum cleaner used to pick up well until April.
Thank you for helping me to have such a good year! Looking back, I had fewer releases, but great sales, so something nice must be happening! Like most writers I've met, I have that amazed feeling of "when did this turn into a career"? but I'm really glad it has.
I moved further into the contemporary this year, with the release of "Texas Heat" and "Unbroken." I really enjoyed it, and I'll probably do some more. Which is probably my cue to tell you that I'm currently doing the edits on "Sunshine On Chrome," the next Cougar book. I've been floored by the number of "Seychelles Sunset" downloaded (the Naughty Nooner that is the epilogue to "Beauty of Sunset") so I have great hopes for "Sunshine On Chrome." The hero is a company owner who secretly yearns to go around the world on his motorbike. And who can blame him? I have a cover for the book now, and I thought you might like to take a peek. I love it!
On the historical front, I'm shortly to begin edits on "Maiden Lane," the latest Richard and Rose book, and the penultimate one before I give the series a rest. I might start with a new cycle, set a couple of years later, but it's been an amazing journey and it's not finished yet. I plan to write Freddy's story, for instance, but I haven't yet found the lady for him, although a few have shown up. After the fiasco with Corin, where I originally paired him with the wrong woman, I'm going to write a few chapters of Freddy with one or two women, and see which one really sparks.
And I have a cover for "Maiden Lane" now as well, and it's gorgeous!
"Griffin's Treasure," the latest Dept 57 book, will be out at Loose-Id in April.
The recent controversy on writers who review was interesting. Since I review for two big sites (ERWA and The Good, The Bad and The Unread) it was of great interest to me. I was relieved to find that most people like them. I do it because I'm a reader, a passionate one, and when a book works for me I really appreciate the chance to tell people so. But I don't think that a series of "this is great" reviews would give readers a reference as to what I like and what I don't like. I get the occasional galley to review, and when I do, I feel as if I owe a review. Sadly, they don't always work for me, although I do try to choose them carefully. Maybe if I were cold-bloodedly planning a career, I wouldn't do it, but I tend to take things as they come.
Currently I'm in the process of planning my trip to the States next year. I love my trip and I've discovered the joys of solo travel. It really is marvellous - you can do exactly what you want to do, and if I can arrange to meet up with people while I'm there, so much the better. I'm having a week in San Francisco before I move to Los Angeles for Romantic Times, so if anyone is around, that's where I'll be! Booking for the visit is probably the hardest part, but once that's done, I can look forward to the visit.
This year we are led to believe that the ebook really took off. That means that the big publishers are finally taking it seriously, although they are still offering a small amount to their writers in compensation, and sadly, most are accepting it. But when there are hundreds of writers waiting to fill the spots of published writers, the publishers tend to use that, and the writer's basic insecurity.
I decided to just carry on enjoying it. I don't know how long it will last, or what tomorrow brings, but I still love writing and doing it for a career.
Since I don't have a new release this month, and the last two excerpts were contemporaries, I thought you might like an excerpt from Eyton, which is newly out in print. If you see it in a bookstore, let me know, because I don't see them until I go to the States!
When Richard and Rose visit his family estate in Derbyshire to celebrate the christening of their firstborn, Rose comes face to face with some hard realities about the powerful Kerre family. The vast majority of them are far from delighted with Richard’s choice of wife. Plus, they think a man who shares his bed with his wife every night must have something wrong with him.
Rose is driven half mad by Richard’s overly careful love for her. Somewhere underneath that smooth, sophisticated surface lies the passionate, intense lover she longs for—and she takes steps to seduce that savage lover back into her bed.
Their joyous occasion is marred by the theft of a valuable necklace. Richard’s family looks to him to solve the crime—but something isn’t adding up. Evidence pointing to two trusted servants seems too convenient…and then they’re murdered.
From the tangle of jealousies, secrets and desperate lies, Richard and Rose once again dance on the edge of danger to achieve justice—without dragging the family name into public scandal.
I made to leave the room, but turned back on an afterthought. “You’d better use my safe for that thing.” Although I trusted Carier, I didn’t like to think the necklace might go missing again.
I nodded to the two men with their captive. I was glad to see he was quiet now. I went down the same stairs I had gone up, but went in the opposite direction to which I had come once I reached my part of the house again. I hoped to avoid the awkward questions of my mother-in-law and Lady Kerre.
I headed downstairs towards a quiet room where I could get some peace for a while so I could think. I was passing through the great hall, past the painting of an ancestor from the previous century, a Cavalier. The man had been a follower of the King and had died abroad in penury, like so many of his kind, but his portrait from kinder times was set here. Like all the Strangs, he was fair-haired, and his eyes seemed to be of the same porcelain blue that I saw every morning. Around him was gathered his vast family, all of them in the ravishing silks of the time, the foundation of a dynasty which sometimes seemed to me to encompass the whole of society. Several people, including the housekeeper, stared up at the work. Part of the housekeeper’s privileges included any tips from tours of the public rooms of the house, and while I was surprised to see this while the family was in residence, it wasn’t my house, and I concentrated on getting past them before they turned around.
Too late to attempt stealth, my unguarded footsteps made them look around from their contemplation of the picture. The housekeeper swept me a curtsey and following her example, so did the visitors. I was forced to pause in my flight. I acknowledged the curtseys with a gracious bow, and I stepped forward to greet them before I made my escape.
It was then I realised I knew them. The Sturmans.
I was at a loss as to what could have brought them here but I gave them a pleasant smile. “Why, Mrs. Sturman, how pleasant to see you. How are you all?”
There were three of them, the mother, father and their only daughter who had been and probably still was a friend of Miss Terry. Eustacia Terry had terrorised me in my younger days. She had laughed at my shyness and lack of style, and gathered the younger set about her. Miss Sturman had for a few seasons been her particular favourite, but she was by no means as vicious as her mentor. I still felt strangely nervous before them. I hoped it didn’t show.
“Very well, your ladyship.” Mrs. Sturman waited politely for me to say something else. I was trapped.
I asked them if they would like some refreshment, to which they naturally replied they would love some, so I glanced at the housekeeper who nodded to a footman standing next to the door to one of the rooms. He went away to arrange the refreshment.
“We’ll be in the Green Drawing Room, Mrs. Gravelines,” I told her. The lady bowed and left, and I took the guests to the room I had chosen to use. We climbed the great staircase. “Mrs. Sturman, what are you doing here, so far from home?”
“We have been to visit my sister in Scarborough, and we could not miss the opportunity to call on you on our way home.” Mrs. Sturman’s attitude was as critical as if she were still my social superior back in Exeter. She glanced at my simple gown, and for once I had nothing to blush for; it might be simple but it was in the latest taste and finely made.
While we walked she looked about her, but I had to confess I knew very little at what we were looking at. “I know the major points of the rooms, of course, but we don’t spend much time here. We’re here to celebrate the birth of our first child.”
Mrs. Sturman’s face unbent into a smile, and I remembered she had always been particularly fond of babies. “I’m glad to see you so well."
Scandal, murder and passion - an ordinary day for Richard and Rose