Filling in the gaps

Greetings!

I haven’t blogged since May and it’s now September, and where, exactly, did the summer disappear to? Mind you, if you do follow my blog you already know my output is sporadic at best!

Contrary to my lack of activity on my blog, it has been a busy time for me, so here is a whiz through my summer.

I’m delighted to say I signed another two book contract with Harlequin Mills & Boon at the end of April, plus a contract for a Regency novella which will be released for Christmas 2017. The deadlines for the 2 books were 31st August 2016 and 31st January 2017 – which seemed doable as I had already prepared outlines (unusual for me) – until I realised the deadline for the novella was 14th February 2017, just 2 weeks after the deadline for book #7!

So I have had my head down since then, writing book #6 (provisionally titled Duke in Disguise). It was hard going for a while and more than once I feared I would never make the deadline, which happened to be just two days before my husband and I set off on holiday, leaving me no room to manoeuvre. But I made it. Phew. Now my nerves are being soundly wracked as I await my editor’s verdict.

In the spring I was interviewed on our local BBC radio station as part of their community takeover event. I met Maggie, the interviewer, through a talk I gave to a writing group at my local library, and she asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by her on the radio. It took place at her house rather than at the radio station, which would have been more intimidating, and after our initial bout of ‘um’s and ‘er’s we managed just fine.

You can listen to me bumbling away here, if you so wish.

13450233_1069924789764564_7041841818167580376_nIn June I took part in a Love at the Library event at Harbury Library, with Ellie Darkins, who writes for the Mills & Boon Cherish line. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves despite our nerves beforehand. We spoke about the history of Mills & Boon and how we came to be writing for them (I’ve blogged about my journey before – you can read about it here) and then we held a Q&A session. The audience were lovely!

Then in July I sat on a panel at the inaugural Evesham Festival of Words with fellow local authors Alison May and Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn.

j-a-me-cropped1-250x1521Our event was ‘Inside the minds of three authors’ and, after each reading an excerpt from our work, we discussed why we write what we write and our different approaches to writing. Again, the audience were fabulous which helped to settle my nerves.

I found with all three events that my nerves vanished as soon as I got going, and I realised the same thing happens with many of life’s challenges – perhaps it is the surge of adrenalin as I swing into action ;-).

Does that ever happen to you?

Until next time,

Janice x

 

 

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Happy Publication Day – to Me…

…and a huge thank you to the readers who have bought and enjoyed my books and to the wider writing and blogging community who are ever willing to support and to cheer and to commiserate.

Today is the official publication day for Saved by Scandal’s Heir, and it feels like it’s been a long time coming! My deadline for the book was July 1st 2015, and I met it by the skin of my teeth. By the time I sent the ms off to my editor, I was so close to it I had no idea if it was good, bad or indifferent. But she loved it and after a few ‘tweaks’ (that’s ‘editor-speak’: they are never quite as benign as they sound!) it was done and dusted.

Saved by Scandal's Heir

This is a book close to my heart. It tells Harriet’s story (she was Richard’s former mistress in From Wallflower to Countess), and I knew she’d had a tragic past – one she kept bottled up – but until I started writing her story I had no idea how much heartache she had suffered. And, of course, I had the pleasure of writing more about Richard and Felicity from From Wallflower to Countess and also about Matthew and Eleanor from Return of Scandal’s Son.

I do love to visit old friends :-).

If you want to know more, you’ll just have to read the book ;-), but Harriet does get her happy ever after, of course, courtesy of hero Benedict. And I’m not going to apologise for writing books with happy endings. It seems some people are of the opinion that happy endings are, somehow, less worthy than unhappy endings or those that are left open for the reader to decide. I disagree. Would you be satisfied with a crime novel where the crime was left unsolved? Or a thriller where the bad guys won (unless there was a sequel planned, of course)?

I was also thrilled to read my first-ever review on a blog – the SweetisAlwaysinStyle blog run by the lovely Blossom Twins. Here is a link to their review. Thank you Kelly, who read the book and wrote the review.

As always, you can read the first chapter of Saved By Scandal’s Heir by selecting the Books tag at the top of this page, and following the menu.

Or you can buy your copy here!

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Janice x

A Peeress in her own right

NA Front cover Return of Scandal's Son

My new book, Return of Scandal’s Son, is out now.

It is the first of two linked books published under the title Men About Town, Traders in Temptation. The second book, Saved by Scandal’s Heir, will be out in the first half of 2016.

The heroine of Return of Scandal’s Son, Eleanor, Baroness Ashby, is that rarity: a peeress in her own right.

The earliest English baronies were created by a writ of summons to Parliament (rather than by letters patent as later became the norm). The remainders of these baronies by writ devolve upon the ‘heirs-general’ rather than being limited to male heirs, meaning an only daughter can inherit the barony (but not if there is any male progeny, even if he is younger than her). It’s interesting that, if there are two or more daughters the eldest does not inherit, but the title will fall into abeyance until the co-heirs can come to an honourable agreement as to which of them will claim the title. The claimant must then petition The Crown to have the abeyance terminated.

I really enjoyed writing about Eleanor – she is loyal, courageous and independent but her outer confidence masks a deep insecurity at her core. She is also impulsive at times, and I knew she needed a resilient hero. Enter Matthew:  strong and honourable, but with a secret in his past that could easily damage Eleanor’s determination to be fully accepted by Society and to gain admittance to Almack’s Assembly Rooms.

I thought it would be fun to see how a proud man like Matthew would cope with falling for a wealthier, higher-ranking woman than him.

If you have read Mary and the Marquis you might like to know that Eleanor is the cousin of Lucas, Marquis of Rothley. Lucas’s mother, Lucy, is Eleanor’s chaperone, and his younger brother, Lord Hugo Alastair, also makes an appearance.

You can read the first chapter of Return of Scandal’s Son by following the Books tab at the top of this page.

Available for purchase now:

  • Amazon.co.uk – click here
  • Amazon.com    – click here

I also wrote a book this summer!

In my last blog, I was all set to tell you what I have been up to all summer (writing-wise, I mean). Instead, it turned into a confession about my tendency to procrastinate and a (very) late snippet about the RNA summer conference.

So, back to the book I was writing, which is the second of two linked books published under the tagline Men About Town, Traders in Temptation… (shameless plug – the first, Return of Scandal’s Son, is out in October. Read the first chapter here).

There were times I despaired of finishing in time for the July 1st deadline. It’s strange, because it was a book I wanted to write. I knew the set up, and where the characters had come from, so in theory it should have flowed. It did not. I wonder if the mistake I made was in trying to plan it too much. I like the idea of planning – it seems the sensible, grown-up, professional thing to do – but when the incident I had planned to come towards the end of the book insisted on taking place in the middle, I decided to abandon the plan and follow my instincts as I have in the past and, finally, the story began to emerge. I managed to hit my deadline and sent it off to my editor with much trepidation. I was so close to the story by then I couldn’t view it with any objectivity and I didn’t have the time to allow it to ‘stew’ before the final read through.

Fortunately, my editor loved it. Inevitably, there were revisions.

Now, just to continue with the ‘this book did not behave as I expected it to’ theme – I looked at the revisions and thought ‘they’re not so bad’. Normally, I read the revisions and have a little cry and a little swear before knuckling down and discovering they’re better than I feared. These turned out to be trickier than I anticipated. The simple request to change the timings between two scenes quite early on in the book proved a real challenge, with changes of points of view and all that entails. There was also a new scene to write in the middle of the book and an epilogue to add, as well as the usual minor queries. I was asked if I could get the revisions back to my editor before she went on holiday, giving me a little under two weeks to get them done.

I started them in a state of calm confidence. By the time I finished them I was a gibbering wreck and my husband was treading very carefully indeed! But, luckily, my editor loved them and so, dear reader, my fourth book is now done and dusted. It is called Saved by Scandal’s Heir, will be out in the first half of 2016, and it will feature some old friends, so watch out for it!

Working with an Editor, Part 2

Last time I blogged, I had just submitted the manuscript of my third Regency to my editor and I was wondering how many, and how onerous, the ‘tweaks’ might prove to be. As it happened, I needn’t have worried as I’m pleased to say no major changes were required, just the fairly customary request to bring more emotional depth to the story. When I read my editor’s comments I was actually pleased to realise that she had picked up on a few aspects of the story that I knew, subconsciously, had become rather lost in the action.

With a series romance for a publisher like Mills & Boon, the story is driven much more by the inner conflicts of the hero and the heroine than by any external plot. I tend to do a lot of work on the back stories of my characters before I ever start to write so I know there is enough emotional depth to sustain the story. I also learn how they are likely to react in different situations – although they do sometimes surprise me! The problem is, I decide on something in, say, the heroine’s past that will stand in the way of her ‘Happy Ever After’ with the hero, but I then fail to make that ‘barrier’ seem important enough to her. So a gentle reminder from my editor that this is a strong part of her emotional conflict then prompts me to bring it to the fore.

Fortunately, my editor approved my revisions and the manuscript has already been line edited and is now with the copy editor. The last time I see it will be for the Author Alterations (AAs), when I will read it through carefully and make any final changes. It is expected at this stage that any changes are minor, and I treat this as a final proof read before finalisation.

The book has been retitled Return of Scandal’s Son, and it will be published in October 2015, meaning I’ll have two books published this year, which is great. I’m hoping that, with the change of title, there will be a hunky hero on the cover! I can’t wait to see who they choose!

Meanwhile, the publication date for From Wallflower to Countess is drawing ever closer, and I have a deadline of July 1st for book 4 – not only, as yet, untitled but also (apart from 3000 or so words) unwritten.

Yikes! I’d better get writing!

 

First kiss – excerpt from Mary and the Marquis

If you like Regency romance, or just romance in general, here is a passage from Mary and the Marquis in the hope of whetting your appetite. Chapter 1 can be read by following My Books/Mary and the Marquis/Chapter 1 from the menu above.

 

One dark brow lifted. He’s testing me, she realised, a slow blush heating her skin, unable – or unwilling? her inner voice teased – to tear her eyes from his. As she froze, his gaze focussed and intensified. His eyes gleamed and his sensuous lips curved as Mary, still bent over him, remained transfixed, her pulse racing as his masculine scent assailed her senses and pervaded her very being. She felt as she imagined a mouse must when confronted by a crouching cat, fearful of twitching the tiniest muscle lest it prove the wrong move: the move that would trigger the pounce. Every nerve of her being quivered, every sense was on heightened alert. The stillness of the house weighed heavily, the only sounds the soft crackle of the fire and the ticking of the clock.

The slow movement of his hand broke the enchantment for a brief moment, before he enmeshed her further in his spell.His finger touchedlightly at her temple, traileda path down the side of her face and followed the line of her jaw to her chin. It then lifted to caress her mouth, tracing the width of her trembling lower lip. Mary’s lids fluttered closed as his hand cupped her chin and urged her closer, ever closer. His breath whispered across her sensitised lips as he feathered a kiss across her mouth. Desire snaked through her as his hand slid round to cradle her head. The moist heat of his lips as they moved against hers was an impossible temptation. Without volition, Mary’s hand lifted to his cheek and she leaned into the kiss, lost in the moment, her whole body awakening and responding, every nerve tingling, anticipation flowing from a tiny pinpoint deep inside until it flooded every vein in her body. She trembled, the craving for more near overwhelming her, until the distant sound of a door banging roused her from her trance and, with a gasp of horror, she wrenched her lips from his. She scrambled away, her face a-flame, her hands flying to her cheeks in a vain attempt to cover her shame.

‘My lord…’ she gasped.

The heat in those ebony eyes was undeniable. He smiled at her: a slow, seductive smile that set her quivering with desire. Her heart was pounding and she could feel the pulse jump in her neck. How had he captivated her so very quickly? How had one kiss resurrectedthose feelings she had thought dead and buried long since?

She stiffened, angry and ashamed that she had become so mesmerised by the touch of this stranger’s lips that she had responded in a way no decent woman should. And she was furious she was now unable to conceal her embarrassment. Why should she make such a fuss over a stolen kiss that was no doubt a mere passing fancy to a rake such as he? She dragged in a deep breath to steady her nerves. It would test her ingenuity to its limit, but she must disabuse him of any notion she might be available for any sort of dalliance. Taking a moment, she smoothed her hands down her skirts. She then looked him in the eye, raising her brows in a way she hoped would make her appear unconcerned.

‘Well,’ she said, willing her voice to remain light and unconcerned, ‘I cannot pretend you did not catch me off guard, or I would not have allowed that to happen. However, although your kiss was pleasant enough, my lord, I shall be obliged if you will restrain your…  more basic urges in the future. I have no wish to be constantly on my guard if I am to assist in nursing you over the next week or so. As a gentleman, I am sure you will accede to my wishes.’

‘Ah… but can you be certain I am a gentleman?’

Mary raised her chin. ‘I make no doubt you were raised as such,’ she said, ‘and, no matter what direction your life has taken since then, I would urge you to remember that. I am here to nurse you, Lord Rothley, and that is all.’

If you’d like to find out more about Mary and Lucas, there is a link to Amazon on My Books/Mary and the Marquis above.