New Year, New Adventures

Andrea here who returned just days before Christmas from giving myself the early present of taking one of my top “bucket list” trips: an odyssey through the Greek islands. More on the fabulous details in an upcoming blog (pictured at left are the fabulous hilltop monasteries of Meteora) But as the new year dawns, it got me to thinking of how I want to do even more traveling in the coming year. Seeing new things, experiencing different cultures, getting to appreciate in person the great historic treasures of world history is inspiring in so many ways. It’s easy to keep putting things off—I’m too busy . . . I’ll do it next year . . . packing is a pain . . . the litany of excuses is legion. But losing several friends in the last year way too early in life was for me a real reminder to carpe diem. I have a wish list, and am determined to keep working through it.

What about you? Do you love to travel and are there places you yearn to visit? Do you have a bucket list, and if so, what’s #1 on it?

Guest Deanna Raybourn on Intrepid Heroines and Perilous Undertakings

APU_CoverRevealAndrea/Cara here, I’m delighted to kick off the new year with a bang—and a swoosh (you'll see why in a moment)—by welcoming the incomparable Deanna Raybourn as our guest on the Wenches. As most of you know, Deanna has won scads of awards and accolades for her writing, including the RITA. (For Deanna’s full bio, you can click here.) Her books feature a scintillating combination of mystery and romance, rich with intriguing characters and witty dialogue. Her settings take readers around the world—the Lady Julia series (fluttery fan-girl sigh) journeys through Victorian England, Europe and India, while A Spear of Summer Grass takes readers to Africa in the 1920s. With her new Veronica Speedwell series, (more fluttery fan girl sighs) Deanna returns to Victorian times—and the marvelously eccentric adventuring that only she can create. The second book in the series, A Perilous Undertaking, releases tomorrow (if you haven't met Veronica yet, you are in for a treat!) , and—well, I’ll now turn the pen over to Deanna and let her tell you more about it!

Raybourn MS-150 RET 3Deanna here, Oh, how I love a bit of banter between an intrepid heroine and a stubborn hero! In the case of my sleuthing pair, Veronica Speedwell and the Honourable Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, they are usually at it hammer and tongs—even on page one. In the opening of their second mystery together, A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING, Stoker is attempting to teach Veronica a few useful self-defense skills. Little does he realize, Veronica is even more adept and experienced than he is…

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Sailing Back in History with Guest Amanda McCabe

603px-Elizabeth_I_(Armada_Portrait)Andrea/Cara here, Today I'm welcoming long-time friend and honorary Word Wench Amanda McCabe as my guest. Many of you know Amanda for her wonderful Regencies, but she also writes marvelous Elizabethan romances, and she here to tell us a little about the inspiration for her latest release, The Queen’s Christmas Summons. Not only does it have a holiday theme, but it also features swashbuckling action on the high seas as the British navy clashes with the Spanish Armada. So batten down the hatches and set sail to a fascinating time in history, as Amanda  gives us some intriguing background on one of the biggest sea battles ever fought:

ChristmasSummonsCover1I’m so happy to be back at the Word Wenches today! I’m also so excited to have the chance to talk a bit about the history behind the book for my new release The Queen’s Christmas Summons. This story has been brewing in my mind for a long time, ever since I was a little girl and my grandmother (who was very proud to be Irish, and have the famous “black Irish” looks of dark hair, olive skin, and bright blue eyes) told me she was descended from a shipwrecked Spanish soldier who landed on Ireland’s coast in a storm and married a Galway woman. This story, while fantastic, is almost certainly a family legend, but it made me wonder—what would really happen if two such people met??? That’s how John (an English spy planted with the Armada) and his love Alys came to be. She saves his life on the Irish shore—and they meet up later at the queen’s own court for Christmas.

 

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Charlotte Betts on The Highways and Byways of Research

Charlotte_Betts-compressedToday it’s my great pleasure to welcome author Charlotte Betts to the Word Wench blog. Charlotte is a multi-award-winning author of historical novels who describes herself as a daydreamer and a bookworm (so she’s in good company here) who lives in Hampshire in a C17th cottage in the woods. I first met Charlotte years ago as a fellow member of the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I love that she has written in different time periods and very different settings, from the Great Fire of London, to Revolutionary France to the Regency. Her books are full of adventure, mystery and romance, with rich backgrounds that make the past come alive. Today Charlotte is talking about her research and her latest novel, The House in Quill Court. Welcome, Charlotte!

Recently I clicked ‘send’ and gave an exhausted cheer as my manuscript for The Dressmaker’s Secret flew off to my editor. As any author knows, that cheer isn’t a signal to take an extended break. The deadline for finishing the first draft of a novel always seems to coincide with the launch of the previous one, while the publishers are simultaneously asking for an outline for the next one. Non-writer friends sometimes ask how I manage to keep all the details of each story in my head at once but really it’s no different from watching several drama series on the television on consecutive nights; you simply jump from one world into another.

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Ask A Wench—an Exotic Question!

Old_globeCara/Andrea here, We were recently chatting among ourselves about and somehow strayed off topic (as we are often wont to do!) and the question arose: What is the most exotic place in which we have ever set a story? As we all started thinking back through our books, we decided it would be a fun thing to share in our regular "Ask A Wench" feature. So sit back and get out your atlas as we do a little globetrotting!

MaryJoPutney_SilkandSecrets_200pxMary Jo: As a kid in school, I was always fascinated by the map rack hanging at one end of the blackboard.  In particular, I'd wonder what was in the vast, empty expanses of Central Asia.  So it's probably not surprising that I headed there for my first historical series, the Silk Trilogy.
 
The first book, Silk and Shadows, takes place in England, but Peregrine, the hero, is a wealthy, mysterious prince from somewhere in Asia.  While researching his background, I came across the true story of an 1840s rescue mission to Bokhara in Uzbekistan, and was entranced.  That story because the inspiration for Silk and Secrets, second in the trilogy.  Which in turn led to Veils of Silk, which was set in India.
 

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