Hundred Days of Story Telling

Rice_SecretsofWycliffeManor600Pat here, deep in writing mode and frantically trying to finish a draft before taking off for the jungles of South America.

Finishing a book would be much simpler if I could just plan ahead—especially if I could plan six books ahead. But I can’t plot even one book in advance. And so here I am at Book #4 of the Gravesyde Priory Regency mystery series and oddly enough, history is messing with me.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ve written enough Regencies to know when events take place, but there’s that planning thing that doesn’t happen. When I started the series, I knew how the first book needed to begin. I wasn’t thinking timelines. I just needed to have my heroine raising her  orphaned nephew six years after a riot in Egypt. So I simply checked when Napoleon’s troops left and dropped the story into 1815.

As my heroine reads the letter about her strange inheritance, Napoleon is escaping Elba. When she sets out for rural Staffordshire in March, she’s unaware that Louis XVIII has fled Paris. I knew it, but it didn’t matter to the story.

Just as we worry about putting gas in our cars, food in our pantries, and buying school clothes while we’re possibly on the brink of World War III, my heroine was worrying about her nephew, not Napoleon. We can’t do anything about it, so we stick to what we can control.

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Battle Babies!

TreeNicola here, talking about names. Back in July, Christina posted about names and saints’ days, and recently a previous Wench guest, Elizabeth Hawksley, wrote a fascinating piece on her own blog here about why the name Thomas fell out of popularity in 1532. It seems to me that whether we’re talking about about choosing names for characters in books or how we feel about our own names, it’s a perennially fascinating topic.

This time around, my interest was sparked by the BBC genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are, which returned to our screens in the UK last week with a new series. The first programme explored the family history of actress Jodie Whittaker. Among the family stories that emerged was one relating to her grandmother, who was called Greta Verdun Bedford. This was the moment I learned something completely new to me – that in the past, babies have been named after battles.

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Mary Jo Putney — Once a Spy

Anne here, and today I have the very great pleasure of interviewing Mary Jo about her new book, just published, ONCE A SPY, the fourth book in her "Rogues Redeemed" series. I thoroughly enjoyed it — so much so that I ripped through it the first time, just to gobble up the story, then had to read it again. MJPOnceASpy 

It's getting some lovely —and well deserved — reviews. Publisher's Weekly said: "Putney’s dramatic historical is filled with scintillating romance and tense danger."

Kirkus reviews called it "equal parts adventure and romance."

Reviewer Barbara Rogers said:"I loved that this book wasn’t about insta-lust. I loved that the love and intimacy grew over time until they were both ready for it. That made the romance so very believable."

ONCE A SPY is about a Frenchwoman, Suzanne, the young widowed Comptesse de Charbon, and Simon Charbon, half French, half English, her late husband's cousin. 

When the story opens, Suzanne is living in a boarding house in a poor part of London, trying to earn a living by sewing. Simon, having heard from a friend that his late cousin's widow, a woman he'd heard was dead, is now living in London, calls on her. And in a very short time he proposes marriage — a marriage of friendship and companionship.

Both hero and heroine are worn down by their experiences, and believe any sexual life is behind them, Simon because he's tired and disillusioned by years at war, and Suzanne, because after a brief, unhappy marriage, she was captured by corsairs and sold into a Turkish harem, where her experiences have put her off sex for life.

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A Question of Numbers!

A Question of NumbersAndrea here, and I'm excited to announce that today is Release Day for A Question of Numbers, the latest book in my Lady Arianna Regency mystery series. I've had such fun writing these characters and their adventures, so I thought I'd share a bit of backstory about why I love writing the mystery genre, as well as a bit about the inspiration behind this latest story.

I began my career as a published author (don't ask about the old manuscripts squirreled away in a desk drawer) Lawrence 2writing traditional Regency romances for NAL. I loved the era—and that's stayed with me to this day—and after glomming a number of books in the genre (including Wenches Mary Jo, Pat and Jo Beverley) I buckled up my courage and took a try at it, and to my surprise and delight . . . I got a contract. When the publishing world changed, I moved to sexy Regencies, which were fun, but I came to realize that my heart really lay in writing mysteries.

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In the Bleak Midwinter: The Last Chance Christmas Ball

Belsay Gloomed by AnneBy Mary Jo

Eight authors collaborating on an anthology is not the simplest of projects, but we Wenches thought it would be fun to work together, and The Last Chance Christmas Ball (now on sale for a mere 99 cents!) was the result. Our Kensington editor, Alicia Condon, suggested we might do something like a holiday ball where our characters can meet and mingle. This sounded like a fine idea, so we agreed. We had no idea how much work it would be to integrate the stories into a larger framework!

Jo Beverley created a wiki for us so we could add information about the characters and setting so instead of constantly asking things like the name of the butler or the village, we could look it up. This was very convenient.

Then the negotiations began! We talked about our requirements. Susan King, for example, specializes in Scotland so we created a setting in Northumberland, which is next door to Scotland in far northeastern England. A certain kind of great house was required. A promising house was found and modified. I casually talked about how we could have a wounded soldier in the tower as an example of what we could do, and then realized I really did want to write a wounded soldier in the tower!

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