Friday, January 27, 2012

Researching The Historical--The Human Connection

Its Friday, and that is research day for me!!! I love research, flipping through costume books, and English tourbooks. Surfing the net for bits of gossip, and snippets of reports.
It is usually a fun filled day where one fact leads me to another link, and then another, and then before I know it I am on a bender, completely off course, researching things I have no business researching! but that is not the case today. Today I am brushing up on my coal mining knowledge.

I come from miners. My great grandfather was born in Glasgow and worked in the mining industry. When he emigrated from Scotland to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, with his family they settled in Sydney Mines. he picked up his axe and headed down to the coal mines. Upon vacation there, I was struck by the desolation, the bleakness of it--as I recall in my eleven year old mind. And it was scary. Downright terrifying to be so far beneath the ground. But its a proud tradition to have in your family, and its a pride amongst the colliers.

As a nod to my family, the hero of my first Westlake book (yes, that new series) is a man of common birth, who as a young child was forced down into the mines at Newcastle. I have spent some time researching the mines, the equipment, the owners and their often brutal treatment of their employees. I have learned the conditions of the mines, and yes, it all gave me pause, thinking how horrible the conditions were that these men and women were forced into. I have jotted down the medical issues that plagued these human souls, and wondered how they continued to work while ill. No paid sick days then!

But then I came across some interesting links that talked about children working in the mines, some as young as five years old. I cannot imagine it. In fact cannot fathom the hell they endured. My daughter feels hell is having her iPod battery go dead during a game of Angry Birds for crying out loud!

So, today was the human condition when it comes to researching a historical novel. Often times these dark and gritty realities are glossed over, but I am never one to gloss over that. For me, being faithful to an era, or a vocation is th only way to be. That is the beauty of writing historical, the glamour and romance of an idealized era, juxtaposed with the grim, and harsh realities of those who are so often on the fringe of the romance novel, when in life, they were truly the backbone of the nation.

If you are looking for something truly fascinating, something to bring you immediately back in time, read these short accounts from the mines, all children, told in their own words. Fascinating...heartbreaking, and so inspiring!

Be Well!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Sinful Valentine From Matthew, Lord Wallingford, to Jane...his Beloved.

Ha! That got your attention! Eons ago I posted a question to readers, who would you like to read a short story about, Lindsay, from Addicted, or Matthew, Lord Wallingford from Sinful. Readers voted, and with an overwhelming margin they voted for more of that bady boy Wallingford! So, as promised, I do have something for readers. It took a bit, but I hope its worth the wait. So, where the heck is it you ask? Patience.....the story is a steamy Valentine's Day short that all begins with a very naughty letter and painting that Matthew has sent to his lady love. So, it would not be appropriate to release it until....well, just a bit closer to Valentine's Day. I just completed it last night, and was anxious to share the news that Matthew will be back in full seduction, bad boy mode!

So, how does one get ahold of this....well, just sign up for my newsletter. Please don't groan. Really, it's not bad or painful at all. I don't send out alot of newsletters. I am doing them quarterly this year, alongside two extra special ones. So six in all. I won't flood your inbox. I promise. I also won't sell anyone's name or private info.

Putting up a short story, because you guys would totally be killing me if there was no sex in it) makes more sense in a newsletter. It's private for one thing. Second, it allows me to make certain that little eyes aren't reading it, and third, it helps me to keep my readers informed of new releases, and it gives me something to tell my publisher--'yes, I do have readers, and yes, they do sign up for my newsletter'! Publishers like to know this sort of thing.

I have a couple of extra shorts planned for readers this year. Lindsay fans, do not despair! I have
 a fabulous autumnal story with Lindsay and Anais, and also, a nice short with the boys from the Brethren Guardian trilogy, along with a secondary character from Temptation and Twilight, that I fell in love with! And, I am thinking of a little Fey loving, too. My Sins and Virtues series has been pushed back by the publisher, and I am anxious to write a bit for them. So, maybe I will do a short, something to tempt and tease you with! So, there will be lots of juicy little things to tempt you in my newsletter. Plus, in my newsletters, I am planning on excerpts from upcoming books (sexy ones, because everyone wants the smexing) that will be found no other place than in my newsletter, as well as offers of early arcs to newsletter subscribers!!!

So, won't you be Lord Wallingford's Valentine and sign up? You can do so here

Thank you for supporting me.I truly have the best readers!
Be Well!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fun Friday!

Well, there is a blizzard outside my study window! My new study is done, and I am sitting down watching the electric flames flicker in the hearth, while pretending they are real! Fridays are edit and research days for me, and because its so nasty outside, and because I just yesterday made my final payment on a 10 day Southern Carribean cruise I have decided to do some warm weather research!

As you know, my new series has a West Indies tie-in, Barbados to be exact. Barbados is a stop on our cruise, and I have already booked a private tour quide who is a historian to tour me around and show me things I need to know to paint a historical, and authentic Barbadian atmosphere in my books. We leave in April, and frankly, I cannot wait! In my new series, the Westlake family has owned a plantation on the island since the early 1700s, so I will be researching plantations, the processing of sugar, and rum! My husband is especially looking forward to the rum tours! lol!

But research is needed before that, and because the wind is howling, I decided to pull out my copy of Wide Sargasso Sea. For those of you who do not know this, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is my ultimate favourite book! I adore it, and I love Rochestor. Those familiar with the book will know of the crazed wife of Jane Eyre hero, whom he acquired in Jamaica. Well, Wide Sargasso Sea is a prequel of sorts, written in 1966 by Jean Rhys that tells the story of how Rochestor became married to the woman. Being an Eyre fanatic, I read the book and enjoyed it. But strangely, I have not seen the movie adaptations. I have two to watch for comparisons, and for a bit of visual research. Jamaica is not Barbados, but still, I cannot help but think that scenery should provide great visual inspiration. I understand the older version of this DVD is quite steamy in its love scenes--an added boon!

So, I have my cuppa--Earl Grey--and a warm blanket, and now I shall indulge in Wide Sargasso Sea--all in the name of research, you understand! lol!

And then what will I do, I will be forced to wait till April until I can do my first hand research! In the meantime, does anyone have any recommendations for movies like this one that might work

Be Well! 

Monday, January 09, 2012

New Series Tease

Love is often gentle, desire always a rage--Mignon McLaughan

Well, here it is, as promised, a teeny-tiny glimpse into my new series. I am SO excited about it, its near and dear to me, and I hope it will be the same for readers, too. I think the above quote so fitting for this group of books. I love writing about the madness of passion, the fever of lust, and the emotions of falling deeply in love. I also like exploring the connectedness, and relationships between families, and in this case, it will be about a duke, and his five sisters, who he has raised after the devastating death of their parents. But he has help from a very lively and enchanting aunt, whom I know readers are going to adore!

This series is a mix of so many elements that I love. First off, it is a straight romantic relationship series. I loved writing the mystery subplot in the Brethren Guardians, but I missed writing those dark, emotionally intense love stories, so with the Westlake Series (as its known for right now) brings me, and readers back to that those deeply emotional, romantic, intense and yeah, sexy as heck books!

I pitched the series like this,  the haunting beauty of the Brontes brooding Yorkshire moors, meets Jane Austen lively Bennett family, in an intensely emotional and highly sensual Victorian-set series about forbidden love, passionate love letters, the exotic pleasures of a West Indies island, and a scandalous secret admirer, whose mysterious identity has set the Ton on its ear!

Phew! Right. Well, here are a few facts about the series.

It will be Victorian set, 1837, the very year Victoria came to the throne. So, really its very early Victorian. I love the decor at that time, the frilly, feminine dresses, the way they bare the shoulders and the decolletage (fabulous imagery for those heated love scenes). It still feels old, but so much change was just brimming, waiting to spill over. So, I had to take a risk, and write in an era that I have not done so before. The research is wonderful!!! And I am having waaaaay too much fun virtually shopping and surfing for my heroines wardrobes!

The series takes place in North Yorkshire, with the moody moors, the windswept coast, the haunting, often stark beauty of the landscape. I find that atmosphere so lovely and romantic, perfect for a family known to be eccentric, passionate, scandalous, and a touch wild, to hale from.

Another tie in with the series is the island of Barbados. I wanted something exotic to intersperse with the wildness of the moors. Not every book is going to be set in Barbados, but I know for sure two of them will have a hefty amount of island time represented. Think sultry nights, mahogany plantation furniture, four poster beds draped in white netting, two people admidst the crumbled white linen, the scents of the ocean, the exotic flowers, their passion between them. Beautiful men sweating working for their lovers know, you get the drift! lol! What is it, with that toe curling image of a beautiful male with a trickle of sweat glistening between his pecs! ;)

Another aspect that carries through this series, that I truly adore is the theme of the written--and whispered word! I am not ashamed that I have always longed to receive a love letter--a real passionate, soul bearing one. One that could sweep you off your feet, one that you would wrap in a pretty ribbon, and tuck away, to be pulled out and stroked, to be lovingly read and re-read, to be brought to your lips to kiss, and to be tucked beneath your hand and buried with you for all time.

With the way the world is, texting, emailing, twittering, the art of a love letter, carefully written with quill and ink, and scrolling words, folded, and sealed in wax is, for the most part, dead. I wanted to bring that back to readers. I wanted to explore the use of words to convey the most profound feelings and emotions, and yes, the most base desires beautifully, erotically written. I wanted all the longings of the heart and soul to be poured out onto a piece of parchment, written at a writing desk, with only candle light illuminating the black ink. So a series involving love letters, in varying shape and form, and manner were born! I have already written a few such letters for the first book, and I have to tell you, what fun and pure fantasy it was to write them! I hope you enjoy opening them up and reading them, right along with the heroine.

With love letters comes the very thrilling and yes, titilating idea of a secret admirer. Who has not wanted to be secretly admired. So, yes, there is an admirer in there!

Forbidden. I love that concept. We have all been tempted by something, have we not! These books are alot about the forbidden, about temptation, about giving into our desires that run soul deep and not worrying about the fall out. Forbidden, yes, I do love that word!

I hope you will stay with me as the series progresses, and that perhaps, I have tempted you today to keep an eye out for the new series comign from HQN books.

I do not have any release dates yet, or titles, but I will soon, and I will share those as soon as I know them. But for now, I can let you know that there will be a prequel for this series coming in Nov, 2012. It is a novella, entitled Missives and Mistletoe, and its in an anthology with Stephanie Laurens and Nicola Cornick! This will be a first glimpse into the world, and pleasures of the scandalous, and extremely passionate Westlake family!

I will leave you with these quotes, which my hero does use. What Romeo can resist quoting the bard....
I will live in thy heart,
die in thy lap,
And be buried in thy eyes....-Shakespeare

Or this one...
love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs....

Be Well!
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