Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Regan Walker's Best of the Regency with Becca St. John

Regan here with the Best of the Regency. My guest today is Becca St. John, author of eight books including three Medievals. Her Regencies are romance mysteries with a touch of Gothic. She considered writing a tool, not a toy, until a stay in a haunted hotel and a bookcase full of dog-eared romances changed her mind. Hooked, Becca read old romances, new romances, both sexy and sweet, until her own tales begged to be written.

Living in Florida, Becca divides her time between dreaming up stories, diving deep into history, kayaking, and swimming. Her husband gives her the space she needs by fishing in the mangroves and waterways, or watching football (the English sort) with his British buddies. Becca and her hubby break the routine with adventure travel; though, at heart, Becca is a homebody believing there is no greater playground than inside the mind.

Today she shares with us how her characters took over. And she is offering a giveaway... her book Summerton, so comment and leave your email! 
Lost in the storytelling: How characters take charge
by Becca St. John

My dirty little secret? Lord Stephen’s Lady by Janette Radcliffe, also known as Janet Louise Roberts, turned me into a Regency junky. Yes, I know, all good Regency authors adore Jane Austin, and I do, but Lord Stephen was the first straight-out romance I ever read. Since that first reading, I have craved the wit, the intrigue and, of course, the intricacies of Regency society.

What I hadn’t expected was the similarity between getting lost in reading a Regency and writing one. As you read, you immerse yourself in another world, solely designed by the author. On the other side of that, one would expect the author dutifully sets about to flush out a story with characters behaving exactly as the author pre-determined in an outline.

Except, characters are dreadfully stubborn. The cheeky devils have wills of their own.
They lure authors down difficult, unanticipated, paths, until the storyteller is as lost in the story as any reader could be. Worse, the characters are always right! It’s humbling.

Lady Eleanor played me like the proverbial fiddle. Stately, imperturbable, she entered the first draft of my Regency romance, Summerton, as a very minor character. With succinct remarks and pithy barbs, she nudged the young couple beyond their differences. What luck! I’d unearthed an elderly aunt with a delightful penchant for matchmaking. She needed to stay in the story.

A quarter of the way into the book, the romance took another unexpected turn: Lady Summerton’s abigail is murdered in her lady’s stead.  Lord Summerton is determined to protect his wife. Lady Summerton is just as determined to defend him. As the take their stances, neither wholly trusting the other, Lady Eleanor unearths the killer.
Apparently, she’d been solving crimes for decades. Nobody bothered to tell me this when I set out to write the book.  Characters are sneaky like that. But Lady Eleanor made her point.  She transformed a minor character into a series. A simple Regency romance, Summerton, took on mystery overtones with a female sleuth and created  Summerton - Lady Eleanor Mysteries book 1.

If you haven’t met this formidable woman, think Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie in mid-nineteenth century England. At least, the first two books take place in England. After that the series changes course and … Oh, dear … another twist in the path.

It came about in a short scene in The Gatehouse, book 2 in the series. It’s after dinner in a grand home. The ladies have left the men to their port. French doors are open to the terrace outside. Chandeliers, crystals glittering, illuminate the table, aided by candles in ornate candelabras.
The atmosphere is casual, smoke curling in the air, men leaning back in their chairs having discussed, in this instance, murder.  One gentleman leans over to Lord Bentwood, and asks a question that sets the dominoes toppling.

“What were you speaking to Lady Eleanor about?”

It turns out Lord Bentwood, a character in The Gatehouse, had invited Lady Eleanor on a trip to the Far East. He’s just learned his sister is there and has gone missing. He hoped Lady Eleanor would help him find her. During the exchange we learn that Bentwood loves his wife but believes she has always loved another man. A man she would have married if Bentwood hadn’t interfered. 

In one short scene, without plan, which would pose a problem later, book 3 was born.
Knowing nothing of the “Far East” I headed there, for three months’ worth of research. Total immersion in a world of temples, dynasties and, better yet, historical intrigue. Lower wives murdering those of a higher order, concubines drawing danger by earning too much attention and the ever-faithful eunuchs willing to do anything for the women they protect.

Back home, with piles of notes and even more ideas, that problem mentioned above? It re-emerged. This is 1816. The telegraph hadn’t come into use, the telephone not yet imagined. There were no steamboats or railroads to quicken travel. The missive Lord Bentwood received about his missing sister would have taken a good six months to reach him. Double that time for this trio, Lady Eleanor and Lord and Lady Bentwood, to reach the Far East. The story is unbelievable. Or is it?

This is where the author takes charge, dictates and molds the story to make it work. But let’s not spoil the chance to get lost in the reading. The Journey – Lady Eleanor Mysteries book 3 will be released in the summer of 2018.  There you can find out why Lady Eleanor was willing, even eager, to take such a long arduous journey, how much danger lurks aboard a ship and what the trio will do to sort it out, and experience both the best, and the worst, of Lord and Lady Bentwood.  

From there, the series will carry on with love knotted in impossible tangles, more exotic ports, strange lands and intriguing customs. At some point, Lady Eleanor will find her new home, far from the early days in England.

In the meantime, get acquainted with Lady Eleanor in the first two books of the series; Summerton and The Gatehouse.

Ta for now. I’m off diving into another story, sailing the high seas amid murder, and unrequited love. No telling where this will lead … 

Becca has a question for you: 
The first Regency romance I read was Lord Stephen’s Lady by Janette Radcliffe. What was yours? Let me know for the chance to win a copy of Summerton.

He married for money, she wed by force. Neither considered love part of the bargain.

On the brink of losing everything, the Duke of Summerton marries heiress Caroline Howlett, but at what cost? She wants neither his crumbling estate nor his title, and what is he, as a man, without them? Before he can resolve this dilemma, something more dangerous than doubt threatens their marriage.

When Caroline said she’d rather be dead than married to the duke, she hadn’t meant it literally. Forced into marriage by her guardian, Caroline doesn’t give a fig for the idle life of the aristocracy. She wants to run her father’s enterprises, and she will, once dead bodies stop getting in the way.

Aided by Summerton's widowed aunt, amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor, the duke and his reluctant bride scramble to discover just who is trying to kill them.

Buy on Amazon.

Keep up with Becca on her Website, Facebook, Twitter.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides: THE DRUM by E.E. Burke

Can Noelle be saved in just one day? 

Behind her back, they call her Bad Luck Penny. After being twice widowed before the age of thirty, misfortune follows her all the way to Colorado, culminating in humiliation when the third groom skips town on the day they’re to be wed.

Mayor Charles Hardt will do anything to save Noelle, the town he founded, as long as it doesn’t involve taking a wife. But then a jilted bride shows up at his door begging for a ride out of town on the day before the town must deliver twelve married couples as part of a deal to secure Noelle's survival.

Under no circumstances will Charlie allow the last bride to escape, even if Penny is certain Noelle can’t take any more of her bad luck. For that matter, neither can Charlie...

Here's an excerpt:

She reached to put a dried plate on the shelf. He turned and she nearly bumped into him, but he caught the plate before it dropped. “Oh goodness! You really ought to keep me away from anything that might break.”
He waggled the plate. “Nonsense, we make a good team. You throw it and I catch it.”
His good-natured teasing eased what could’ve been another awkward moment, and she found she could laugh about it because he didn’t act annoyed, or worse, scared.
“You have good reflexes,” she pointed out. “Maybe you should take up juggling.”
His lake-blue eyes sparkled with amusement as he picked up the second clean plate and tossed it upwards. Catching it, he sent the other plate airborne and snagged that one, too.
 “Shall I try?” She reached for one of the plates.
He pulled it back, and then put both plates on the shelf.  “Mm. I only have two. Maybe there’s something else we can do together that doesn’t involve breakables.”
“Such as?”
“How about this?” He circled his hands around her waist and drew her to him.
Kissing him seemed the most natural response in the world.
The touch of his lips reignited the fire he’d set the night before, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. Oh yes, this was something they did very well together, and it didn’t involve anything that could be broken.
Except for her heart.

Buy the book now!


What in the world inspired you to write about a bad luck bride?

Her name. When I first imagined Penelope or Penny, as she's known, I started thinking about the old ideas about good luck -- i.e., Lucky Penny. But then it struck me, now ironic if Penny thinks she has bad luck? She's twice-widowed before age thirty, and if that isn't bad enough, she's always dropping things or bumping into people. You'll meet her in the very first book in this series, and poor Penny continues to have bad luck all the way until...well, almost the very end. She's a perfect foil for my hero, Charles Hardt, who's suffered through serious misfortune, but refuses to accept the notion of bad luck--even when it seems to be following Penny every step of the way.

What's the biggest challenge in a project involving other authors?

Keeping up with everyone else's stories! We set out to write what is essentially one long story about a little town name Noelle and the residents who band together to save it. That involves a lot of interconnection between characters and plots, which means we were doing a lot of talking back and forth, as well as reading each other's books. I considered it an honor, as well as a challenge because in the process we helped each other out. One great example: I needed a scene where Penny takes action to do something about her bad luck, and author Mimi Milan shared with me about Mexican religious customs associated with ridding people of bad luck. The hilarious bath scene is a result of Mimi's brilliant inspiration!

Here's an inspiration board for how I see my two main characters, and also images of the mine, the town and a map of Noelle (very important for continuity).

πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„ If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the entire series! πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

Christmas, 1876: Noelle, Colorado is in danger of becoming a ghost town if the railroad decides to bypass the mountaintop mining community. Determined to prove their town is thriving, twelve men commit to ordering brides before the railroad’s deadline six days into the New Year.

Each of the twelve women has her own reason for signing up to become a mail-order bride. But after they arrive in the uncivilized settlement, they aren’t so sure they’ve made the right decision. Neither are the grooms.

Will the marriages happen in time to save Noelle? The countdown starts on Christmas Day.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, written by twelve bestselling authors, put a new twist on an old song in this heartwarming historical romance series.

The Partridge by Kit Morgan - A clever man’s plan becomes a matchmaking disaster…and the countdown begins to save the town of Noelle.

The Dove by Shanna Hatfield - A bewitching gypsy and a beguiled blacksmith tangle over a hidden treasure…with only eleven days left to save the town.

The Hens by Merry Famer - A wandering woman finds exactly who she was looking for, but not who she was expecting...with only ten days left to save the town.

The Calling Birds by Jacqui Nelson - A wanted woman's flight, a man in pursuit of honesty not stolen gold...and only nine days left to save the town.

The Gold Ring by Caroline Lee - A dangerous masquerade and a twist of fate put Noelle’s future at risk…with only eight days left to save the town

The Goose by Peggy Henderson - A woman on the run, a man who doesn't want to be caught—it's one wild goose chase…with only seven days left to save the town.

The Swan by Piper Hugely - A beautiful woman with secrets comes to Noelle to confront a powerful person with the truth...and only six days left to save the town.

The Maid by Rachel Wesson - A convicted murderer, a young maid on the run...and five days left to save the town.

The Dancing Lady by Mimi Milan - A desirous diner owner and a disguised dancer waltz their way to love... with only four days left to save the town.

The Lord by Danica Favorite - An assayer and a ladies maid, each living a lie. Will the truth ruin everything...with only three days left to save the town.

The Piper by Amanda McIntyre - A determined matchmaker, a stubborn mountain man...and only two days left to save the town!

The Drum by E.E. Burke - A bad luck bride, an exploding disaster…can Noelle be saved in just one day?

Get the series here:

Enter the Rafflecopter drawing below for a chance to win a special ornament, a copy of THE DRUM, or a $10 Amazon gift card!

If you had to pick one gift from the Twelve Days song, what would it be, and why?


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, December 11, 2017

It's my Book Birthday!!


What has been almost a year in the making finally came to fruition this past week. Starting on December 1, the first of twelve books by twelve talented authors in an unprecedented historical series was released. The Twelve Days of Christmas Mail- Order Brides series was the brainchild of historical author; Caroline Lee and it has been a journey that has been one of the most productive and inspirational in my writing career.

My book is THE PIPER; the Eleventh Day. And it tells the story of one of my favorite tropes—second chances.

Mrs. Genevieve Walters widowed at a young age by the War between the States, had been in an arranged marriage to a man whose mistress was the battlefield. Passion had not been part of their union. Nonetheless, Genevieve remained faithful, writing each day to her husband. 

Little did she know that the letters she wrote had been read aloud to her husband by a young soldier serving as his captain’s aid. Nor did she realize the impact her letters would have on the life of that young soldier…not until the unthinkable happens and, keeping true to the promise made to his captain he must deliver the news personally to his captain’s wife and return both the letters and a watch she’d given her husband on their wedding day.

But what if the  then, young soldier fell in love with the woman, even before meeting her? What happens if the attraction between them would turn out to be so strong that they'd succumb to a passionate, but forbidden kiss? Only to part ways out of guilt. 

It will be a dozen years before they face each other again—but their circumstances, their lives are now vastly different!

Genevieve has since moved to Denver where she becomes involved in the Benevolent Order of Lost Lambs, a church affiliated group started to help women in need, placing them through careful correspondence as mail-order brides in the new frontier!
Little does she know that he matchmaking journey will challenge her to examine her own happiness or that what fate has in store in the crystal blue eyes of a stranger may give her a second chance at the passion she once felt in the arms of a young soldier by the name of Christian Ezekiel Kinnison!

It is no coincidence that I've brought to my story a relative of the Kinnison Legacy stories in End of the Line, Montana! It's long been a dream of mine, to utilize the rough and tumble stories of the little historical Montana mining town and give further roots to the folks that live there!

To celebrate the union of history to the present, I am offering a FREE gift of my book featuring a young contemporary Kinnison Holiday story--

***ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS  from 12/11-12/15/2017***

I hope your holidays are merry & bright, blessed with good health, family , laughter, and friends~

And I hope you'll pick up each of the stories in this amazing 12 book series!!

Get them all HERE:AMAZON

The Partridge: Day 1 by Kit Morgan
The Dove: Day 2 by Shanna Hatfield
The French Hens: Day 3 by Merry Farmer
The Calling Birds: by Jacqui Nelson
The Ring: Day 5 by Caroline Lee
The Geese: Day 6 by Peggy Henderson
The Swan: Day 7 by Piper Hugely
The Maid: Day 8 by Rachel Wesson
The Dancing Lady: Day 9 by Mimi Milan
The Lord: Day 10: by Danica Favorite
The Piper: Day 11 by Amanda McIntyre
The Drum: Day 12 by E.E. Burke

Until next time,