Category Archives: General

Rethinking what you may (or may not) know about JD Robb

Long time In Death readers are familiar with the story of how Nora started writing as JD Robb.  But as I learned yesterday, maybe we don’t know all the nuances.  At the 2012 RWA conference in Anaheim, Nora sat down with filmmaker Laurie Kahn whose current labor of love is The Popular Romance Project: Rethinking Love and Romance.

Yesterday, Laurie’s team sent us this clip in which Nora discusses how a projected trilogy has expanded to 38 books with February’s Concealed in DeathCreating JD Robb.

Enjoy!

 

3 QQ for Susan Donovan and Christi Barth

Since we’re all busy this holiday season, I’m going to pair up the 3QQs with the six authors who are signing at Saturday’s Turn the Page Bookstore event from noon – 2 pm.

1375251_710144875665704_1102425780_nSusan Donovan is another seasoned Turn the Page signing vet, but this is her first return since spring 2011.   Christi Barth is another TTP rookie who’s thrilled to be part of the Holiday In Boonsboro event.  Let’s meet Susan first.

Susan Donovan studied journalism in college and worked as a newspaper reporter for years, always certain she would write her first book by the time she turned 40. Before she knew it, that deadlines was a year away so she figured she’d better get started. A year later she’d written nearly three books and had a book deal soon after that milestone.

1. You introduce readers to Bayberry Island in your novella “A Seaside Christmas” in the book Christmas on Main Street.  What — besides a mermaid legend — are the other attributes of this small island?

ds-christmas-150Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard may be about regattas and cocktails, but nearby Bayberry Island is more the fishing-boat-and-cold-beer kind of crowd. The locals don’t fit the Yankee Puritan stereotype. Bayberry is home to a nudist colony, a weeklong festival that is known as the Mardi Gras of New England, and a history rich in eccentric souls who see the magic in everyday living. But when the book begins, Bayberry is at a crossroads:  Will they agree to commercial development plans that would rescue their economy yet destroy much of what makes their island unique? I have to admit that while writing this book I was struck with a sad realization – Bayberry Island exists only in my imagination. I really wanted to vacation there.

2. Sea of Love is the first full-length book set on Bayberry Island.  Could you tell us about the book?  What do you find appealing about a “coming home” sort of story?

ds-sea-150I am drawn to “coming home” stories because they explore the concepts of unresolved emotions, personal growth, and forgiveness. Fortunately, I’ve always found comic gold in those serious issues. When a character comes home after a long absence, they suddenly see their once-familiar world with the eyes of an “outsider.” When I send a hero or heroine home again, I make sure they have to summon the courage to clear the air with loved ones, seek a richer understanding of their own journey, and choose to move forward with love and forgiveness. In SEA OF LOVE, the heroine, Rowan Flynn, has spent her adulthood distancing herself from Bayberry Island, its fixation on the mermaid legend, and the Flynn clan, which she calls the “island’s first family of cray-cray.” When circumstances force Rowan to return and manage the family’s rundown Bed & Breakfast, she must face her demons before she can open herself to happiness again.

3. What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?

When my kids were little, I treasured all the little rituals that brought them joy, including tending to the Advent calendar every day, writing letters to Santa, leaving carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve, and watching NORAD’s real-time radar tracking of Santa moving through the sky. Seeing excitement and joy in their faces is still my favorite part of the holidays, even though my kids are now “adults” attending college. But no eggnog. Please, God, don’t make me drink eggnog.

4 . “A Seaside Christmas” and Sea of Love are your first stories in two years as your writing career was put on hold two years ago when you in your own words were ” bitch-slapped by a rare infection that should have killed you.”  You’re blogging about the illness and the long, slow road of recovery on Unbalanced: Diary of a One-Legged Romance Writer.  It’s a different kind of writing, but it’s compelling reading.  How do you find the experience of blogging so honestly about yourself, your family and your new normal?

I had no choice but to write about my illness. In fact, as soon as my brain started to function again, I began writing journal entries, just for myself. I found that all the trauma and shock had clogged my psyche, much like a cork in a champagne bottle. I had to clear my mind of some of the pain before I could start to write the “funny, sexy contemporary romance” that had become my brand. So within eight months after my return home from the hospital, I had completed a 120-page proposal for a memoir. It sat in a file on my laptop. I shared it with a few people, but that was it. I never really tried to get it published.

But about a month ago, I realized that my healing process was stuck. I was still carrying around a lot of anger and shame about what had happened to me, though I desperately wanted to move on. So I decided to share my story on blogspot.com. I write two or three short essays a week. I find it ironic that the blog has attracted thousands of readers though I’ve never once promoted it. From the comments I’ve received on the blog and in private, I can see that my story resonates with a lot of people who are struggling with some kind of life challenge – physical, emotional, or mental. Hey, and since that’s every single one of us here on earth I can expect my readership to increase, right?

I still hope to publish a memoir one day. And, just for the record, “new normal” is one of the many disability-related expressions that makes me cringe. Yes, I ’ll be writing a blog entry about it.

ChristiBarth-amyjphoto-680x1024Chrisit’s turn!  Christi Barth is the current president of Maryland Romance Writers.   After she earned a Masters in vocal performance and a career on the stage,  her love of romance drew her to wedding planning.  Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance.

1.  You’ve been a real-life wedding planner.  How did that translate to your Aisle Bound series?  Did you find truth really can be stranger than anything you can imagine?

bc-planning-150Nine out of ten people who learned I was a wedding planner would say ‘you should write a book’! Then they’d launch into elaborate eye winks about bridezillas, and mother of the bride horror stories.

Except, in my experience, 90% of weddings are wonderful. They are a celebration of friends and family and enduring love. Most people do pull it together and behave like grown-ups. So I didn’t want to write a scathing tell-all. But a series that focused on the wedding industry, showcasing people who spend every day creating the perfect happily ever after? That felt like a good place to start. And maybe a few crazy hijinks did slip into my book. It is a comedy, after all! You’ll have to guess which ones are real and which ones are just figments of my imagination….. I like to say all names were changed to protect the happily married.

2. Can you describe — in three sentences — your path from aspiring to published author?  And would you change anything?

Wasted too many years toying with a manuscript whenever the mood struck before getting the courage to just freaking finish it. Started writing as though contracted before I was, to treat it as a business. And now I’ve found my voice, I have an agent who believes in me, a wonderful editor, a great publisher, and I just finished my eleventh book.

3. What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?

The music. I spent years performing in Christmas choirs, and as a professional singer, in holiday shows. I love the magical way it infuses people with the spirit of the season.

Even if you can’t make it to the signing, you can take advantage of Turn the Page’s Virtual Signing feature by ordering a book and having your favorite author personalize it for you before the event is finished.

And where else can you find Susan and Christi besides the signing? Check out Susan’s Facebook page as well as Christi’s.  And you can follow them on Twitter: @SDonovanAuthor and @christi_barth. Enjoy! 

 

3QQ for Donna Kauffman and Kimberly Kincaid

Since we’re all busy this holiday season, I’m going to pair up the 3QQs with the six authors who are signing at Saturday’s Turn the Page Bookstore event from noon – 2 pm.

Donna Kauffkd_cookie-150man is a seasoned veteran of Turn the Page signings and — judging by the lines, laughter and photos taken — a reader favorite.  Kimberly Kincaid is a TTP rookie who’s thrilled to be part of the Holiday In Boonsboro event.  Donna and Kimberly contributed to The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, which serves as a launching point for Kimberly’s new series.  Donna’s also signing Pelican Point, the first of her Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series.

We’ll start with Donna’s 3QQ:1380808_415008305265309_854875575_n

1.  In Pelican Point, you leave behind all the sweet folks on Sugarberry Island, to bring us the Bachelors of Blueberry Cove.  How hard was it to say goodbye to a fictional place you’ve known for years?  And what can you tell us about Pelican Point?  (yes, that’s 3 questions in one, but I cheat.)

It was hard to leave the gang behind on Sugarberry Island, but have no fear, I’ll be back again!  It’s just a brief hiatus.  (I can’t leave Alva alone too long, goodness knows what troublekd_pelican-150 she’d get up to!)  I’ve spent a lot of time in Maine this past year and have been chomping at the bit to share my wee village of Blueberry Cove with readers.  Set on the northern stretch of coast, it’s above the more toursity towns, so a close-knit community and one of the oldest in Maine, home to sixth and seventh generation fishermen, shipbuilders, lighthouse keepers…   A little quirky, a lot of fun, with a rich history…and some pretty hot heroes!  It’s been an exciting tapestry to weave.  I hope everyone finds something to love there.

2. You blog a lot about pop culture shows like Dancing With the Stars, American Idol and Castle how did that start for you and what does it bring to your fiction writing?

It started as a fluke.  I began blogging in the dark ages of the concept, as a way to connect readers to a “Day in the Life…” of a writer.  Only our lives are just not that exciting.  (I got up.  I wrote.  I ate.  I wrote some more… )  So I was struggling to find other things to chat about and get a conversation going.  Back then I wasn’t comfortable with putting my family up for conversational fodder, so I talked about books, movies, music, popular culture, things we all have connections to, but it was still hard to find a new topic Every. Single. Day.  One morning, after a particularly shocking exit on American Idol the night before, I decided to make that my topic of the day.

Somehow I won the Google Search Lottery that day, as when anyone Googled the name of the surprise bootee, MY blog was the first thing that came up.  To say I saw a slight traffic increase from post the day before about what I was going to make for dinner would possibly be the biggest understatement in recorded history.  No fool I, the following week, though a more predictable episode of Idol, I posted about it again, and lo and behold, the numbers for that day were still huge.  Driving traffic through my website and exposing new faces to my books was the point of the blog, so once a week, I continued to chat about Idol.  It increased traffic and gave me one less day to agonize over what I was going to write about. Win-win!

When that show ended, readers begged to know what I was going to chat about next….and so it began.  I tied in giveaways and such to the recaps, and the audience has grown to the point that now,  many years later, I am a weekly contributor to USA Today, recapping various shows for them. (This season, it’s ABC’s Castle!)  They put my name in the headline and plug my books every week to their millions of readers, and I get to watch and chat about a show I watch and chat about anyway – Best. Gig. Ever!

3. What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?

This is where I’m supposed to say the joy of giving, and peace on Earth, right?  And, of course, I love giving presents. So much so, I can never wait until Christmas when I find just the right thing for the right person.  But my very favorite thing about the holiday season is the Christmas lights.  It was a big deal when I was a kid, my dad would drive me and my sisters around the neighborhoods, giving us a chance not only to look at lights, but to spend time and talk with him, and I did the same with my boys, who  are grown now and still talk about “going light looking” every season. I hope they do the same with their kids.  Pretty to look at, and some wonderful, wonderful memories.  It’s a holiday two-fer!

kimberly-kincaidKimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance novels.  She’s a strong believer  in fiery yet flawed characters destined for a crash-course in falling in love– usually the hard way– and injects humor and poignancy along the way.  Here are her 3 QQ plus 3 Quick Answers:

1. Your novella in The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap introduces readers to Pine Mountain, the setting of your 2014 releases.  What can you tell us about Pine Mountain and the people who live there?  (Bonus Q: and can you tell us a little about Sugar and Spice — your contribution to the book?)

Pine Mountain is a fictional resort town nestled in the (quite real) Blue Ridge Mountains. I am a sucker for “real” people in small-town settings finding extraordinary love. My heroes and heroines are all passionate about their careers and their families, even though those families rarely look traditional and some are even chosen families rather than blood ties. Everyone knows everyone else in Pine Mountain! Sugar and Spice introduces us to Lily Callahan, a cake caterer with her eye on the prize– the ten-thousand dollar prize in Pine Mountain’s Cookie Competition, that is. Of course, pastry chef Pete Mancuso wants the title, too. It’s just wanting each other that neither of them banks on!

2. Can you describe the journey — in three sentences — from aspiring author to published?  And knowing what you know now what would you differently?

I sat down to write my first book four years ago with no experience and no guidance, and it was eye-opening to say the least! But I joined the Romance Writers of America and took some classes, then landed my fabulous agent a year later. I sold the Pine Mountain series last July, and that was when the whirlwind really started! But I wouldn’t trade a single rejection or deleted draft. Even the frustrations were lessons, and I’m glad to have had them all.

3. What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?

My favorite part of the holiday season is baking cookies, of course! I love to bake, especially with my daughters (ages 12, 9 and 6) We put on holiday music and take out the butter and eggs and flour and make a holy mess. It’s a ton of fun, and we end up with lots of cookies to gift to friends. I look forward to it all year.

Even if you can’t make it to the signing, you can take advantage of Turn the Page’s Virtual Signing feature by ordering a book and having your favorite author personalize it for you before the event is finished.

And where else can you find Donna and Kimberly besides the signing? Check out Donna’s Facebook page as well as Kimberly’s.  And you can follow them on Twitter: @DonnaKauffman  and @KimberlyKincaid. Enjoy! 

Nora/JD’s 2014 release schedule

We always wait until the last new release of a given year is on the shelves/securely in e-readers before announcing Nora/JD’s release schedule for the upcoming year.  This way, the last book gets as much attention as the first one.

New releases: 

FEBRUARY       Concealed in Death (hc)

APRIL                The Collector (hc)

MAY                   Shadow Spell  Book 2 of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy (tr)

SEPTEMBER     Festive in Death (hc)

NOVEMBER       Blood Magick Book 3 of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy (tr)

Please note that there is NO In Death novella in 2014, but there will be one in 2015.

 

Reprints  — The 2014 reprints feature mass market editions of The Witness, Thankless in DeathConcealed in Death and The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy as well as gorgeous trade editions of The Villa, the In the Garden and The Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogies.  In addition Vision in White will be released in a deluxe hardcover edition with a ribbon bookmark in time for Valentine’s Day.

JANUARY
Blue Dahlia (tr)

FEBRUARY
Vision in White (hc)
Black Rose (tr)
The Witness (mm)

MARCH
Thankless n Death (mm)
Red Lily (tr)

APRIL
Whiskey Beach (tr)

MAY
The Next Always (mm)

JUNE
The Last Boyfriend (mm)

JULY
The Villa (tr)
The Perfect Hope (mm)

AUGUST
Concealed in Death (mm)

SEPTEMBER
Jewels of the Sun (tr)

OCTOBER
Tears of the Moon (tr)

DECEMBER
Heart of the Sea (tr)

Key:  hc  = hardcover   tr = trade    mm = mass market paperback

Dates are subject to change.

Nora’s Halloween 3 QQ

As Nora’s deep in the Christmas season with Eve and Roarke in 2060, she only has time for Quick Questions so I came up with a Halloween/autumn themed 3 QQ for a little bit of a treat:

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
halloween
Nora and Kat (the glamorous witch) after the 10/26 signing.

Dots–those little boxes of them–probably top my list  of Halloween candy, with mini bags of M&Ms close  behind.

 
What was your favorite Halloween costume, ever?

 

I made the boys Batman and Robin one year. Sewed the  little Bat cowl, dyed diapers for the pants, got tights, drew the emblems on  dyed shirts. They were young enough to think they were cool instead of lame and  home-made. Sweet.

What are your favorite fall flowers?

I like toad lilies–they’re interesting and  unexpected. I wonder if mine are blooming. And I like the way hosta foliage goes  gold this time of year (if the deer didn’t get to them  first).
We’ll have a few more 3 QQs through the rest of the year, but for now, I’ll let Nora get back to the writing.

A wedding at Nora’s

The Bride Quartet resonated with so many readers for a variety of reasons, mainly for how four women pooled their talents and friendship into a business meant to make wedding dreams come true.   To all the wedding suppliers, coordinators, florists, photographers and bakers out there – our hats are off to you!  The bywords of a wedding day for the behind-the-scene planners is organization and stamina.  And I say this with all the admiration and respect in the world.

Two years ago, Nora, her son Jason, daughter-in-law Kat, our good friend Sarah and I teamed up with some fabulous contractors to help create a picture perfect wedding for Nora’s older son Dan at Inn BoonsBoro.  Last Saturday, the team was back in action, this time for a backyard wedding for Sarah and her new husband Jack.  And it was a lovely family affair.

invite
Invitation created by Kathryn Pong

Nora and Bruce hosted the ceremony and reception up at their house. Nora worked with Sarah on the flowers; Jason handled the layout, tent, lighting and sound design; Kat hand-crafted the invitations, made candles, made bows, decorated the tent and came up with so many small touches to make the day lovely.  In the larger scheme of things, I had a small role – officiating the ceremony and doing the bride’s makeup.

Since there were no expectations of an impossible perfection, the day — the whole weekend — just ended up being perfect for them.

Set-up was scheduled for the Thursday and Friday.  The tent arrived early Thursday morning and Kat set about hanging tulle, fairy lights and the first of her ribbons and bows inside the perimeter.

Sarah washed all the pumpkins and Nora tied fabric ribbons around the stems.  The pumpkins lined the driveway wall, candles (mason jars filled the water/food color, olive oil and wicks) were added on Friday and flowers were added on Saturday.  Here’s the completed look.driveway

Thursday night was about Kat making bows from her bag of every single orange and hot pink ribbon in all the land.  The rest of us drank some champagne while watching in awe.

Friday morning Kat and Sarah had mani/pedis, Nora (who was getting over a bad, post September signing illness) worked out and then got the house and the yard ready for the rehearsal dinner.  Jason began hooking up the lights and the sound system, while I finished up writing the ceremony.

By 5 pm,  the lights were pretty much done to Jason’s satisfaction, the father of the bride was tying more ribbons and my daughter was enlisted to do the same. Here’s everyone at work.IMG_1504

After some get-to-know-you time, we had two rehearsals.  Homer (Nora and Bruce’s older yellow lab) decided the best place for him was lying in the aisle so Sarah had to step over him both times (I was afraid she would impale him since she rehearsed in her wedding shoes).  Pancho had a ball.  He dropped it whenever he could.

Here’s a glimpse of Homer and Pancho doing their thing on Saturday morning.the dogs

And here are the wedding shoes – the reason why I was afraid she’d impale Homer — B Brian Atwood ‘Baccina‘.DSCN0233

We had a nice dinner under the tent, simple food and lots of relaxed conversation as the day drifted into night.  Here’s what the tent, set up for the ceremony, looked like in the early evening.

IMG_1505

Saturday morning dawned early.  I took Sarah to get her hair done, while Nora, Kat and Jason worked with the florists, put linens on the tables and finished the many small tasks left before the 2 pm ceremony.  By the time we got to Nora’s house, the florists were just about finishing up.  Sarah had chosen hot pink and orange as her colors and Kat’s brilliance showed them to their best advantage.

IMG_1518

The bride remained calm throughout the day.  We’d done a trial run of the makeup on Friday so it went smoothly on Saturday.  IMG_1523Here’s how she looked 30 minutes before the ceremony, even with a minor crisis when Nora helped her into the dress which no longer had an eye for the hook above the zipper.  The bridal shop had forgotten it after some final alteration, but Nora and Kat solved the crisis within minutes.

Photos were pre-wedding so the bride and groom could move quickly to the party – and to respect that Sarah’s soon-to-be stepson is four and that early photos would be best.  By the time the ceremony started, we were all more than ready to celebrate the new family.

We kept it to a sweet minimum, vows for the bride and groom, rings for each and then a small ceremony with the groom’s son, LJ, in which they all promised to be good to each other as they formed a new team, then Sarah put a Green Lantern ring on LJ’s finger.

A quick benediction and then one hell of a kiss were all that were left before I introduced the couple and son.

The kiss2

Then the party started.  The groom and his band recorded a song for Sarah that was the first dance, then he had Sarah come up and duet on The Cure’s “Love Song.”

We danced and hung out as the sun went down on a truly lovely day. When it was time for the town car service in Houston Texas to drive our lovely newly weds home, everyone was in a blissful mood.

closeup

The only thing we didn’t cover were photos of the team.  As soon as I get some from Sarah, I’ll post them as well.

Questions?  Comments?

Laura

TTP Weekend

As we gear up for Nora’s travelogues from Florence, here’s a belated recap of the Turn the Page 18th Anniversary Weekend — a busy three days that led directly to the RWA annual conference for Nora (and me).

The weekend started with Nora’s final first pitch for the Hagerstown Suns who will be moving to Virginia next year.  We have a great shot of Nora on the mound, courtesy of Bruce Wilder’s friend, Richard Dougan.

130712-norasuns
Photo by Richard Dougan

The first order of business on Saturday was a sit down in the courtyard of Inn BoonsBoro for a radio interview with Jane Cowan of the Australian Broadcast Company that aired on July 23 (click here for the interview).  Some readers on Facebook asked why they sat so far apart and it was because Nora sat by the microphone and they filmed the interview.

IMG_1199Then it was onto the signing.  The line was around the corner when the staff at Turn the Page opened the door at 10.  The stellar lineup of authors included Kristan Higgins, Deanna Raybourn, Mary Blayney, Laura Kaye and Kathryn O’Sullivan.  They chatted with readers, signed books and had a fabulous time during the four-hour event, including the corporate entertainment photo shoot.IMG_1200

One of my jobs during a signing is to take photos of anyone who would like to pose with Nora.  Here are a couple from Saturday:

photo (43)

Amanda (with Nora) is a regular at TTP events.  She’s currently battling colon cancer and reads a Nora book at every treatment.  Her nurses now know to ask about which Nora she’s reading!

photo Donna

Donna (left) and Neva (right) are another set of pals who love to come to the events.  I’ll probably take their photo in September too!

IMG_20130713_143759 IMG_20130713_143444

Stacey (below with Nora and then Kristan) is another regular at the signings, but this time she brought work along with her and promoted the Howard County Library System.IMG_20130713_124508_826

Lora comes to nearly every Turn the Page event and this time she won a door prize (signed by JD herself).

1002765_740928781125_222761744_n

Jessie (right) brought her mom Becky (who was thrilled to meet Nora!) for the weekend.

Sunday was the first Fall Into A Brunch with Nora event at Dan’s Restaurant & Taphouse.  Seventy readers took up every available seat to enjoy a delicious meal and great conversations about books.  They also raised over $1000 for the Discovery Station in Hagerstown by vying for one of the four gift baskets on display.

Nora and I stopped at every table to chat and for photos, then everyone went out on Main Street for the official group shot.

IMG_20130714_131756(1)

The Fall Into A Brunch with Nora gathering at Dan's Restaurant and Taphouse.

 

IMG_1209

3QQ for Mary Blayney

Three Quick Questions (3QQ) is an ongoing feature at Fall Into the Story that highlights some of the authors scheduled to join Nora at a Turn the Page signing.  This week, we’ll meet three authors who will be at the Turn the Page’s 18th Anniversary signing on July 13 from noon – 2 pm.

mary Baboutphoto

Mary Blayney recently completed her Pennistan series for Bantam with One More Kiss, the fifth story about the Duke Meryon’s unconventional siblings.  After writing two books for Silhouette in the late 1980s, Mary has focused on one of her favorite times in history — England’s Regency.   She’s even brought the Regency to the novellas she writes for the annual anthologies with JD Robb.  Her six novellas have the continuing element of Poppy’s Coin, a magic coin that changes the lives of everyone who wishes on it, whether they know they are wishing on a magic coin or not.

When she’s not writing, Mary is an experienced and inveterate traveler.  Next week she’ll travel to Atlanta with Nora for the 2013 Romance Writers of America conference where they will join over 450 writers at the annual Readers for Life Literacy signing.  But one of Mary’s favorite places to visit is Inn Boonsboro where she’s been frequent and welcome guest since 2009.

Onto the questions:

1. One More Kiss is the last book in a long line of stories about the Pennistan family. Each book needs it’s own particular type of research, but overall what was it like to return to the world and characters you created.? And was there something new you learned as you wrote about Jess and Beatrice?

 bm_onemorekiss150

After five books going back to Derbyshire to see the Pennistans is like checking in with old friends.  I love the chance to think about and explore how their marriages have changed them and how the three brothers and one sister appear to the newcomer, Beatrice. But there was a long road to that final epilogue. Along the way it was tremendous fun to do my version of a Regency house party where more than one relationship is explored and where that perennial secondary character William Bendasbrook finally found his own happily ever after.

Something new I learned? No doubt about it.  The secret behind the brilliance of Rembrandt’s drawings fascinated me and the way Jess used it to explain his love for Beatrice was like icing on the cake, an idea that came out as though I was channeling his thoughts.

2. This fall you are reteaming with JD Robb, Ruth Ryan Langan, Mary Kay McComas and newcomer Elaine Fox for the Mirror, Mirror anthology coming in late September. The stories all take their cues from fairy tales — what can you tell us about yours?

hard at work
Mary signing The Unquiet anthology with Ruth Ryan Langan and Nora at RWA 2012

If Wishes Were Horses” in the MIRROR MIRROR anthology is a riff on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Yes, set in the Regency and yes the magic coin is an essential part of the story as it has been in all my novellas. Goldi is the maid Martha Stepp and the “Three Bears” is Sgt Jack Tresbere, a soon to retire infantry aid looking for someone with whom to share life’s next adventure. Jack and Martha get off to a rocky start when he realizes that she is the woman sleeping in his major’s bed the night he and the major arrive at Craig’s Castle

3. You’ve been a frequent guest at Inn Boonsboro since it opened in January 2009. Do you have a favorite room? And what is the ONE thing you recommend a first-time guest do while they are at the Inn?

 

It’s hard to pick a favorite room. All the beds are fabulous so it’s impossible to pick using that as criteria. I love Eve and Roarke. I do believe it has the best bathroom configuration. And I love the lighting, the covered grey button and the Galahad pillow. Of all of them it’s the one where I feel like Eve and Roarke are in the room next door. But then Elizabeth and Darcy has access to the fabulous front balcony where you can watch Boonsboro pass by and the most comfortable of reading chairs. No, I have never seen the ghost, not any of them. I think they understand that while I totally accept their existence I have no need to actually meet any of them.

My biggest recommendation is to treat the Inn like home. To ask for anything you need or want and not to miss the chance to talk with other guest at the wine and cheese service You’ll be amazed at how much you have in common. Yes I’m aware that’s TWO things and not ONE.

If you would like a signed copy of Mary’s books, just click on one of the links to Turn the Page, place an order and the fabulous TTP staff will make sure Mary signs them before she finishes up on Saturday.

And if you have any questions for Mary, post them here and I’ll be sure to ask her, then post the answers in the recap of the signing weekend (scheduled for the evening of July 14).

Three Quick Questions (3QQ) for Deanna Raybourn

Three Quick Questions (3QQ) is a new, ongoing feature at Fall Into the Story that highlights some of the authors scheduled to join Nora at a Turn the Page signing.  This week, we’ll meet three authors who will be at the July 13 signing (Turn the Page’s 18th anniversary signing) from noon – 2 pm.

DR headshot
Deanna Raybourn at RWA 2012

Deanna Raybourn is a New York Times best-selling author whose Lady Julia Grey series tells the stories of Victorian sleuth Lady Julia and her enigmatic partner, private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. The series has been a reader favorite since the first book, Silent in the Grave, was released in late 2007.  (You can include one Nora Roberts among those readers!)  Silent in the Grave won the 2008 RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

A Spear of Summer Grass, Deanna’s latest book, is set in 1923 Kenya where (after the uproar brought on by her latest exploits in Paris), Delilah Drummond is exiled to her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

This is Deanna’s third visit to a TTP signing and we are delighted to welcome her back.  Now, onto the questions.

1. You had a long career writing before you were first published.  Then your first book, Silent in the Grave, won the 2008 RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, beating one Nora Roberts’ High Noon.  How did you feel when you heard that Nora said if she had to lose, she was delighted that Silent in the Grave was the winner because she loved that book?

It was honestly one of the most phenomenal compliments I’ve ever received. I wrote for fourteen years before I got published, and I collected a lot of rejection letters. To go from that little bubble of isolation to someone like Nora Roberts knowing my name was surreal. I was shocked and delighted that she’d read the book, and even more excited that she liked it. She was just so enthusiastic and so gracious about my work—I realized she was not just a wildly successful writer but also a fabulous role model. To cheerlead newcomers in your field shows tremendous grace. I joke that I want to be her when I grow up, but it’s not really a joke!

2. When you go back to add another story to a series such as the Lady Julia Grey books do you immediately feel welcomed back into her world or do you have to take the time to re-transition?

At this point I’ve written more than half a million words in the Julia series, so it’s always like coming home to pick up her story again. It is an absolute luxury to be able to spend so much time with the same core group of characters—especially characters I’m so fond of. It took me two years to write the first book in the series, years I happily spent researching and world-building. The effort I put in at the beginning means I can just supplement with additional reading as I go along, adding even more detail and color to their late-Victorian world. Of course, the difficulty now is in making sure I don’t contradict myself throughout the series. It would be disastrously easy to forget a character’s eye color or how I killed them off!

3. Your current book, A Spear of Summer Grass, is positively modern as it’s set in 1923, compared the Victorian era of the Lady Julia Grey books.  What were the most interesting differences in writing about a woman living in the small British community in Africa during the roaring 20s compared to a woman like Lady Julia who had to wear a heck of a lot more clothes?  Or were there more similarities than one might think?

There was tremendous freedom in writing about Delilah Drummond, not only because she’s a woman of the 1920s but also because she is a particularly liberated sort of woman. Julia pushes the boundaries of acceptable behavior for 1890 at times, but she gets away with it because she is wealthy, titled, and from a notoriously eccentric family. (And if you are at all familiar with historical eccentrics of the English aristocracy, you know Julia is actually quite tame!) Delilah is a cat of an entirely different color. She has also had a privileged upbringing, but while Julia was the petted darling of a large family, Delilah has been essentially rootless. Her mother is dotingly neglectful, her father dead. In part to remedy the lack of a structured family life, Delilah lives large, doing exactly as she pleases—with whomever she pleases. She is a force of nature, damaged and self-absorbed, but also vital and dynamic and incredibly courageous. What they have in common is that they are both women pushing against the restrictions and expectations of their times—it just so happens that their times were very different.

Where else can you find Deanna other than Turn the Page this Saturday?  Take your pick of fun: on her delectably delicious blog, on her Facebook page or on Twitter, where she waxes eloquent about many, many things from style, to research to the Tour de France.

If you would like a signed copy of Deanna’s books, just click on one of the links to Turn the Page, place an order and the fabulous TTP staff will make sure Deanna finishes up on Saturday.

And if you have any questions for Deanna, post them here and I’ll be sure to ask her, then post the answers in the recap of the signing weekend (scheduled for the evening of July 14).