Friday, August 20, 2010

Newsletter, August, 2010


Although I know some of you will be fresh from the RWA conference, we in the UK have a big conference that month, too. Ours is the RNA Conference. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Romantic Novelists' Association, so we had it at the Old Naval College in Greenwich. In case you are unaware, this is the building designed by Inigo Jones in the early 1600's and the first pure Classical structure in England that survives today.
Frankly, it's an awesome sight. Huge, much bigger than it looks in the pictures. The weather was lovely and sometimes, crossing the quad to listen to another lecture, we could hear the music coming from the music college across the way. It was very tempting to get a bottle of champagne, a punnet of fresh strawberries and just lie on the grass by the Thames, enjoying the day.
Our bit of the college for the weekend was just across from the Chapel and the Painted Hall, so most of us took the chance to go and see them. We had a gala dinner on the Friday evening, a gorgeous sight of beautiful shoes and wonderful company. My friend Mandy (Amanda Grange) and I ended up on a table full of Harlequin Presents writers. Our banquet started demure enough, but it didn't finish that way! I met some wonderful women, and my special greetings to Sarah Morgan, who writes for Mills and Boon Modern, that end up as Harlequin Presents.
I also got the chance to visit the Thames River Police museum, site of the oldest police force in the country, dating from the 1790's. For those of you who have read my historical romances, you'll know that there was no such thing before then. Parish constables were something else entirely, and if your house was burgled, you had to prosecute the perpetrator yourself. If you could find him.
The custodian of the museum was Joss, a man with a chequered career, including bodyguard to the Queen. He had the information at his fingertips, and everything we asked him, he could answer. It was a delight to meet him.

And when I got home, I had to work. With "Hareton Hall" coming out, this month has been quite eventful, but highly enjoyable. It was such a treat to see the book out at last, and I celebrated by putting an extra out with Smashwords and Amazon. "Barbara's Wedding," it's called, if you want to hunt for it.
I've written the next Richard and Rose and sent it to my editor. Fingers crossed! I have one more in the series to write, then there should be a break. And since so many people have asked and he interests me anyway, I want to write Freddy's story. I have no idea what it will be, yet, but I have some thoughts. I also have another historical project in mind, but this year has been so busy, I haven't had time to get it off the ground, yet.

I'm currently writing what I hope will be the next Cougar book for Ellora's Cave. I do enjoy writing these stories about older women and younger men, because the conflicts involved are different. The women know how their lives are going, they are usually confident, have a career, even children, so they're looking for something different. Perhaps something that starts light-heartedly morphs into something deeper and they find what they haven't yet found. I've loved working with the women on the series. They were chosen very carefully, as professional writers who can put out a well-written story on the same theme but vastly different in theme and execution. It's been a sheer delight.

After that, I have a contemporary I dearly want to write. The idea came to me last year, and I've been working on it since. I have an idea of the publisher I want it to go to, but of course that's not my call.

On the big publisher front, there's no news, I'm afraid. I've had manuscripts requested through my agent, but I'm told that things are still very slow and publishers are loath to take on many new authors. Whatever the reason, I'm delighted to have made a career in ebooks, especially considering how the market is going!

I have two more releases this year for sure, but more about those as the time comes. I've just finished edits on "Emotion in Motion" so we'll have to see when that is going to be released! It's Jack's story, from the STORM series, but with the Ecstasy in Red series ending, I'm starting a new direction for the series. Britain, to be precise. There's a sexy vampire earl in this new book who I can see featuring in a book of his own, and I'm thinking about writing a sexy Scot. How do you all feel about Scotsmen, even if they don't usually wear kilts?

I'm still doing columns and reviews for The Good, The Bad and The Unread. I absolutely love Sybil, who heads the blog, and I enjoy writing about the publishing world. It keeps me on my toes, that's for sure! I also write for the Raven Happy Hour and UK Regency and Georgian authors, so don't forget to check me and the other contributors out there!


Since I gave you a historical excerpt last month, how about a contemporary this time? Or a paranormal?
Lest you forget, the Department 57 series is still going strong at Loose ID. My next release there is unconnected with the series, but I am planning another instalment, which hopefully I'll get written before the end of the year. Originally the Dept 57 was going to have an Arthurian theme, but a plethora of Camelot books at the time, made me think further and develop the secret agent aspect more. So here's a reminder of the first book I ever wrote for the Department 57 series, "The Chemistry of Evil."

Sophie tried to pull away, but Archie was having none of it. He dragged her back and angled his mouth over hers, settling in for a nice, leisurely kiss. The whistles and catcalls from the interested bystanders only served to encourage him. When he finally pulled away, she felt numb from the pressure of his arms and mouth. He waited for her reaction and gave her a cocky grin when she smiled at him. “I can’t wait to leave because of what happens next.”
He released her. Sophie took a deep breath, trying not to show her anger at his enforcing his so-called male superiority. Tonight. She would tell him tonight, as soon as she had a private moment with him.
The whistle gleamed evilly in the find tray, reminding her of her failure. Archie saw where her gaze went and picked it up, tossing it high into the air and catching it without looking at it. “Someone’s tried his or her hand at engraving this. I had a look earlier. But it’s not old.”
“How do you know it’s not old?” She wished she could take the words back. She knew.
Archie gave her a pitying glance. “Really, Sophie! If it’s silver, it would have tarnished and rotted. If it’s steel, then by definition it’s modern. Good steel didn’t occur on a regular basis before the nineteenth century. Take it as a souvenir. I’ll sign it out as irrelevant to the dig.”
Sophie felt hurt by his light response, as though he denigrated her efforts that day. Archie could still make her feel as though her achievements amounted to nothing. He did it to most people, and she suspected he wasn’t even aware of it. Defiantly she picked up the whistle and rubbed it against her T-shirt to polish it up. “I’ll use it when I need help. It might come in handy in New York.”
“Down those mean streets?” Archie laughed, just as a new voice, dark as night and twice as sinful, sounded from the open flap of the tent.
“I believe that quotation was about Los Angeles.”
The occupants of the tent fell silent, their end-of-the-day chatter stilled. Before them stood the embodiment of masculinity. Handsome, as dark as Archie was fair, tall, and whipcord lean.
Sophie lifted her gaze and met his dark stare. Now she knew where her restless feeling came from. This was her fate.

Sophie Adams is engaged, but the second she sees sexy Evan Howell, she wants him. When her fiancé dumps her, Evan is there to catch her. And show her a passion she'd never dreamed of before, drawn from his dark experiments into sexual magick, a magick that has driven more than one man insane.

Evil follows them across the Atlantic. From Arthurian Cornwall to New York, Mordred, cursed son of King Arthur, stretches his evil influence to encompass Sophie, Evan and everyone they love. Evan has already lost his sister to Mordred and his supporters--he refuses to lose Sophie, too. It will take all his skill to save Sophie from the danger threatening to take her over, body and soul. All his skill--in the bedroom as well as out of it.

Chemistry Of Evil - a Dept 57 book
A volatile mix of passion and danger detonates explosive desire
ISBN: 978-1-59632-845-7
From Loose-ID Publishing

newsletter July 2010

Newsletter, July, 2010

New Releases

One new release this month, and it's a biggie, for me, anyway. A brand new Richard and Rose, out on July 20th from Samhain.
These books always take a lot of writing. I have to immerse myself into their world before I start, and because the same couple feature in all the books, the continuity is a nightmare. I made one mistake, when I changed the name of Richard's sister, but when there's three years between books, as there was at one time with Richard and Rose, it's sometimes tricky to get everything right. And I made it right in the book I've just written (news below!)
After the relative tranquillity of Eyton, in which Richard and Rose concentrated on family affairs, as well as discovering the murderer of two footmen, Hareton Hall plunges them right back into their central struggle. Richard's vicious past comes back to bite him again, and threatens his present happiness. An enemy emerges, someone who has been there all along, but someone Richard only meets in this book. And, as usual, Rose isn't just there to make weight. She has her own decided opinions, and won't take the easy way out if it's not good for them.
I've given you the whole of chapter one as an excerpt! You won't see this anywhere else, so it's all yours.


I have a little news. First, yesterday I finished revising the next Richard and Rose story, and sent it into my editor. It's provisionally titled "Maiden Lane" and it's set in London. Now I have to wait and see if my editor likes it. It's always a nail-biting time! It takes me a long time to write these books, but I do love doing them.

On the weekend of the 9th July, I'll be in London, for the Romantic Novelists' Association conference. I love this annual shindig, and this year it's even more special than usual. It's our 50th anniversary. Luminaries like Denise Robbins and Barbara Cartland were members of this venerable association, and our current president is Katie Fforde, whose books and personal presence are both sheer delights. The conference is at the Naval College, Greenwich, and yes, it is that amazing place where Greenwich Mean Time originated. Here's a picture of the main building:

Awesome, yes?

I got the cover art for Emotion in Motion. Absolutely beautiful, but it might not be work safe in some places. I had one of those "stop the press" moments when I saw it:

My free Naughty Nooner from Ellora's Cave went live on Amazon this month. If you've read "Beauty of Sunset," or even if you haven't, it's a short story designed to enliven your lunch hour. And absolutely free. You can pick it up here:

Or here, for Kindle:

It was at number 23 in the Kindle list of free reads this week, something I'm really proud of. I'd love to do a Richard and Rose free read! There are some on my website, and maybe I should think of doing a few more.

I'm starting the next Cougar Challenge book this month, and then, I don't know. I'm really tempted to do a new contemporary romance. Ideas have been flowing for those recently, and I really need to let the contemporary muse run for a while. Any preferences?

Speaking of which, I have a release date for "Texas Heat" from Loose-Id. October! It's always nerve-racking, moving into a new genre, but exciting, too. But I don't plan to give up the paranormals or the historicals anytime soon!

As Richard returns with Rose to her childhood home of Darkwater for two weddings, romance is in the air—but so is trouble. It begins with Rose’s stolen watch. Tensions rise when they learn their old adversaries, the Drurys, have taken a house nearby. A series of attacks on those they love, plus a rise in smuggling activity, only add to the threat of violence.

Then illness strikes at the worst possible time, threatening everyone in the district—especially the children. Questions abound: Was the infection deliberate? Is someone striking at Richard through Rose, or are their enemies targeting Rose for information she possesses?

Richard calls on his resources, public and private, to counter an enemy that threatens to destroy his beloved Rose. Rose is no helpless victim, however, and refuses to let anyone—even Richard—take away her independence. She finds ways to fight that aren’t in his armoury. Whether he likes it or not…

Excerpt from Hareton Hall

Chapter One
"Rose, my love."
I opened my eyes to see my husband's face. Since we were alone in the coach, I'd pillowed my head on his shoulder, after having spent an indifferent night on a lumpy mattress in what was supposed to be a first-class inn.
"We're nearly there, my love. Should you like to stop somewhere to freshen up?"
I sat up. "Your shoulder must be numb."
"Not really," he said, but I didn't miss the way he flexed his arm as I took my weight off him.
"Liar." We exchanged wry smiles. "If you don't mind, I'd like to go straight there. I want to see what James has done to the manor."
His smile turned wicked. "I thought you didn't want to leave Oxfordshire."
"I didn't." I let my mind wander back over the last two blissful months. "It was wonderful. But I do want to see Tom get married-and Lizzie of course."
The coach jolted as the driver pulled on the reins to stop the horses so abruptly I was thrown forward, but I saved myself by seizing the strap above my head.
My husband grabbed me by the waist and restored me to my seat before he glanced out of the window. "It appears we're being held up." His voice sounded calm, but I knew him better than that and I noticed his note of alarm.
"What? Highwaymen?"
Almost without thinking I took off my ruby betrothal ring and slipped it down the front of my dress, but when I tried to take off the wedding ring, Richard put his hand over mine. "No. He'll expect to see a wedding ring, and if he doesn't find one he might go looking. I'll buy you twenty more, but let that one be."
I saw the sense of that and did as he bade me. Richard reached up and took the pistol that hung in its holster above us. He thrust it into his coat pocket then spoke over the shouting that was going on outside. "Give him your purse and anything else of that nature he asks for. If he tries to go too far-I'll deal with it." He gave me a smile of encouragement as the door was wrenched open.
Cold air rushed into the coach. A figure swathed in a greatcoat with a muffler covering most of his face stood silhouetted against the rain-spattered hedge and trees. He'd pulled his hat well down and had a pistol in each hand. His eyes were grey, but I couldn't see any more of his face.
I'd never gone through this experience before, but I'd read a lot about it in the papers. The country was currently at peace, the army mostly disbanded, and many disaffected soldiers had taken to crime. Highway robbery was on the increase, together with housebreaking and shoplifting, but we were usually better protected than this and hadn't been touched before. I could only thank God that our daughter and her entourage were a few miles behind us.
The man gestured, one pistol jerking towards us. "Get out."
Richard climbed down and held his hand out to help me down, then took a position slightly in front of me, shielding me as best he could.
The two postboys stood by the front of the vehicle. The robber kept one pistol trained on them and one on us, but when he moved we saw he had more flintlocks thrust into his belt.
"Your valuables, please. One person at a time."
He moved to the postboys and I examined him closer. He was a little shorter than Richard, and that glimpse of the weapons shoved into his belt also showed me his figure was actually quite slight. He might be young, but then highwaymen rarely lasted very long. They worked alone or in pairs, vulnerable to a determined person.
He took the watches and purses the postboys offered him without demanding more, and moved on to us. Richard silently handed him his watch and some guineas from his pocket. He wasn't wearing the diamond solitaire pin he used at his neckcloth, for which I was thankful. I'd have hate d to see that go.
I gave him my purse and the necklace I wore, part of an agate set I hadn't owned for long. He pointedly stared at my hand, and reluctantly I slipped off my ring. It was a plain gold band, but it had been engraved inside for me. I was sad to lose it, but Richard was right. It wasn't worth risking injury or abuse for. I handed the ring over, trying not to touch his hand. Highwaymen sometimes took more than items of monetary value. Rape and beating weren't unusual. Richard would kill him if this man attempted that with me.
I tried to meet his gaze steadily, although inside, fear was turning my stomach.
"There's more. Your pockets, if you please."
I'd hoped to keep it from him. Unlike some people, I didn't carry two purses, one for the robber and another for me, so I had my handkerchief, my necessaire and the watch Richard's brother, Gervase, had given to me, which was a fine item, a French enamelled repeater set with gems, but it wasn't the value I'd miss. Gervase had bought it for me in Venice in thanks for the help I'd rendered him there.
Reluctantly I handed the highwayman the watch. He turned it over in his palm to see both sides of the pretty toy. "Thank you. You can have this back." He gave me my wedding ring.
It hurt to thank the man who had just robbed us, but I managed it.
He indicated a space away from the coach with the pistol he carried in his left hand. "Move over there."
We obeyed him, Richard keeping his body between me and the highwayman, who climbed into the coach. I remained as still as I could, controlled my trembling and lifted my chin, just like the time when I'd been presented at court. The fear I felt seemed identical.
Ladies hid their more valuable items in secret compartments, but although he found the one in ours in a few moments, its vacant nature must have disappointed him. I was thankful he was on his own, for if he'd got down on his hands and knees outside the vehicle he might have seen the long box lashed to the underside of the coach. But on his own he would be too vulnerable in such a position, so he didn't make the attempt.
A fine bay horse stood by the side of the road gently cropping the grass, but there was nothing to be deduced in that. The horse was part of the highwayman's stock in trade, and he would acquire the best he could find. The chill left by the recent shower of rain raised goose bumps on my arms, but I restrained my shiver. I wasn't afraid, just cold. Not that I could fool myself with that notion for long. Highwaymen were brutal and unpredictable. He might take our valuables and then kill us anyway, since both offences carried the death penalty. Dead witnesses were safer than live ones.
Our horses champed at their bits and shifted, but the coachmen easily kept them under control. We'd collected them at the last inn, but they were a good team, and I doubted they'd bolt or panic. One blew down his nose, the harrumphing sound unnaturally loud in the still air.
Richard had attempted no violence, but he was ready if he needed to. I sensed his tension radiating through him, waiting for a chance. Although events had shaken me, I could still think, and I was pleased to discover that my hand remained steady after my efforts to control it. I wanted to reach for Richard's hand for comfort, but I knew better than to do so. He would need to be free of encumbrances if the man should offer violence to us.
A loaded pistol reposed in the pocket of my travelling cloak. It pulled that side of the garment.
We waited while the man searched the coach as well as he could, but he found nothing except the empty holder for the gun. He wrenched it down, the first time he'd done anything remotely violent, and despite my good intentions, I flinched. He glared at us. "Drop it on the ground," he ordered, looking straight at Richard. "And any others you have."
Richard kept his sangfroid as he took the gun out of his coat pocket and threw it to the ground a few feet from where we stood. The man didn't look at it. "Any more?"
"No," Richard lied. I don't know if the man knew he was lying, but he let it be. He climbed down from the coach.
"I'm going to ride away now. Count to a hundred, then be on your way. I have people watching you."
Richard nodded. The man went to his horse and mounted. If we planned to take him, now would be the best time, but neither Richard nor the postboys made a move.
In the saddle, he wheeled around to face us. "Goodbye."
We watched him ride up the road away from us, and Richard turned around and put his arms about me. I leaned my forehead against his shoulder and took a couple of deep breaths before I showed him an untroubled countenance.
"Spring 'em," he ordered the postboys. "I want her ladyship safe at Hareton as soon as possible."
The postboys nodded and climbed up to their seats on the box while Richard helped me back into the coach and pulled the steps up behind us.
The vehicle set off again with a jerk. The coach rocked as the driver whipped up the four horses and it moved faster.
Richard kept his arms about me, and I was grateful for the comfort. "All right?" I heard a note of anxiety in his voice.
I snuggled in to his warmth, feeling like a small child. "I'm fine. But I'm sorry he got my watch."
He sighed. "So am I, but we might yet get it back."
"If he sells it locally, it might reappear in Exeter. I'll send people to look. It's a distinctive thing, perhaps even unique." He cupped the back of my head in his hand in a soothing movement. I looked up at him to show him I was all right and he kissed me gently. "He didn't try to get the only thing I'd have killed him for."
I smiled at him. "I had a pistol too," I told him. "I might have killed him first."
"He wouldn't have got that far."
I tumbled against him when the coach went over a pothole in the road. This wasn't a good road, and our driver must have been very skilful to go over it at such a pace. "He didn't find the diamonds either," I pointed out.
"It would take two or more of them to get to that box." Richard kissed me again. "I might as well take advantage of this. We won't be alone again until tonight."
"No." I'd have consigned the robbery to history, but he drew back as though he'd thought of something. "What did you think of him?"
"The highwayman? He knew what he was about, that's for sure, but I don't think he was very old. Early twenties perhaps."
"Maybe younger," Richard commented. "But you're right-he's been doing this for some time."
"He's not a Devon man. He spoke with an accent, but it wasn't from here."
He nodded thoughtfully. "I think so too. His voice had the twang of the cockney about it, but there's something else there too-the north, maybe. Many of these men are disaffected Jacobites, so perhaps he's been in Scotland." Richard smiled. "We should wait for Helen's coach to catch up with us." He forbore from reminding me that I had been so anxious to press on that we'd left Helen's nurse changing her and letting her nap at the last inn. We should have waited, but in that case, she might have been held up too. "Shall we get you upstairs when we get there? For a rest," he added hastily, when he saw my raised brows.
"No indeed, what sort of person do you take me for? Of course I was afraid; what sane person wouldn't be? But we're not hurt and we have most of our belongings still."
"Such heart." He drew me to him again.
When I could, I smiled at him. "I've been through worse than that with you."
"Yes," he said regretfully. "And all I wanted to do was to look after you, cherish you and keep you from harm. I really think we should give up on Thompson's, give it back to Carier and Alicia." Richard's valet, his friend Mrs. Thompson and ourselves jointly owned Thompson's, one of the best domestic staffing agencies in the country. And sometimes our private spy network. Every household required a variety of servants and Thompson's could provide them all. Occasionally some of them had special duties to perform.
"That would be foolish. Thompson's is our protection, and as long as we have enemies it would be an act of great folly to give it up."
"But we don't have to get involved in the special activities," he pointed out.
"I enjoy it," I told him. "And I enjoy seeing what it does to you. You come alive, you know you do."
"And I'm not alive at other times?" His smile would have once made me blush, but not now.
"Very much alive. Richard?"
"Yes, sweetheart?"
"Will you comfort me again?"
The seat creaked as he drew me onto his lap and we forgot everything except each other for a time.

"Hareton Hall" will be out on July 20th from Samhain Publishing