historical fiction

>Interview + Giveaway with Diana Cosby and HIS DESTINY!

>

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling author (and fellow Margie Lawson grad) , is with me today talking about her upcoming release HIS DESTINY, on sale this October, and chocolate cake! Yes, you heard me right! Chocolate cake! In fact, she’s sharing her very own special recipe of chocolate cake! YUM!!
We’ve got lots of giveaways and lots to talk about!
Remember to leave a comment or ask Diana a question to enter for one of the following prizes:
1) An ARC of HIS DESTINY
2) Claymore letter opener with a sheath (shaped like sword)
3) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

THEIR SECRETS WILL DRAW THEM TOGETHER

As one of England’s most capable mercenaries, Emma Astyn can charm an enemy and brandish a knife with unmatched finesse. Assigned to befriend Dubh Duer, an infamous Scottish rebel, she assumes the guise of innocent damsel Christina Moffat to intercept the writ he’s carrying to a traitorous bishop. But as she gains the dark hero’s confidence and realizes they share a tattered past, compassion—and passion—distract her from the task at hand…

BUT THE TRUTH MAY TEAR THEM APART

His legendary slaying of English knights has won him the name Dubh Duer, but Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder is driven by duty and honor, not heroics. Rescuing Christina from the clutches of several such knights is a matter of obligation for the Scot. But there’s something alluring about her fiery spirit, even if he has misgivings about her tragic history. Together, they’ll endure a perilous journey of love and betrayal, and a harrowing fight for their lives…

Diana, tell us about your upcoming release.

His Destiny is Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder’s story about redemption. A tortured soul, he yearns for a family who believes him dead, and he is determined to somehow mend a bond he shattered. But he doesn’t count on saving a woman he believes is Scottish, her betrayal, or that amongst the setting of Scotland torn in a war for its independence, to find love.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

My favorite thing about His Destiny is the characters, their struggles, the challenges they overcome to find peace with self as love; Patrik as Emma both hold dark secrets that can destroy them.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?

I love fairies as crystals. I thought how neat to create a series where by inventive means, each heroine takes a crystal belonging to her respective hero before she flees. I’ve had a blast incorporating that aspect in each MacGruder brother book.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

As a child, Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder’s family was murdered before his eyes by English knights. Since, he’s despised the English. The heroine, an English mercenary, is hired by an English advisor to gain Patrik’s trust and learn the secrets he knows. His Destiny begins by the heroine pretending to be a Scottish woman in distress, setting up an event where Patrik ‘saves’ her. The biggest conflict is that Emma doesn’t count on falling in love with Patrik, and being forced to decide if she can walk away from her mission or tell him the truth.

Why did you put these two together?

Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder is a tortured hero, a strong knight who would easily overwhelm most women. So, I knew the heroine must be as strong as him, hence I made her a mercenary. Then, I knew his heroine must be English, whom he despises with his every breath. When I paired the two in a dynamic setting, sparks ignited.

What do you love most about this book/series?

That the common theme woven throughout the MacGruder brothers series is, “All is not what it seems.”

What is your writing routine?

Each day after my morning work, I write until I reach my daily goal. When I’m writing new pages, I write 5 pages a day. When I write, I normally have a Macintosh candle going and listen to soundtracks like Braveheart, Rob Roy, or Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?

Daily on Facebook. Otherwise, e-mail, newsletters, book signings, speaking engagements, and other venues. I love trying new things, and recently appeared at a wine festival where I performed the waltz with a local dancer. Too fun!

What would you like to tell readers?

To always follow your heart and believe in yourself. Dreams are vision of what you can become.

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?

Romantic suspense any setting.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?

I’m a retired Navy Chief, AGC(AW). I was a meteorologist/oceanographer.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing?

To trust myself. Each story is unique, and only we can tell our story.

How would you best describe your books?

Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Think Braveheart meets Romancing The Stone.

Claymore Letter Opener – Click for larger image

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

My life goal is to make a positive difference in others’ lives. In addition to volunteering for Habitat For Humanity as well as other charities, I donate 10% of my royalties to a charity of my choice. As my career grows, my dream of making a larger difference in others life is realized. It’s truly humbling. I have many future goals, buy a working dog for a local police station, buy a fire truck for a local fire department, sponsor an entire home for Habitat For Humanity, with my largest goal being to open a place where military members can stay for free with their families during rehabilitation.

International Food Bank Food Drive:
In addition, I have an annual International Food Bank Food Drive as when you give a person who is struggling a warm meal, you give them hope. To participate:

Between 1 November 2011– 4 December 2011, when you donate to a local food bank, post on my Facebook page or Facebook Fan page, then I’ll add you in the drawing. On 5 December I will draw a name from those received and post the winner’s name on Facebook. The winner will receive an autographed set of the MacGruder brother series: His Captive, His Woman, His Conquest, and His Destiny. I’ll sign the books and send them priority to whomever you would like to give a personal Christmas present!

What are your current projects?

I’m currently working on a story for a Highland Vampire anthology coming out in 2012. Other authors for the trilogy include Hannah Howell, who is an amazing story teller!

I’m preparing for a book signing tour in Scotland during the summer of 2012!

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?

I LOVE to bake, and I often create new recipes.  A favorite is, “Diana Cosby’s Awesome Texas Chocolate Cake.” It has layers of devil food cake, ganache, whipped topping, and shaved chocolate.  **Recipe below**

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Half full, rising, and I believe each day is filled with enormous blessings.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?

Introvert.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?

Each are amazing and inspire me.

Are you a night or a morning person?

Definitely a morning person!

At The Beach Would You Rather Play In The Sand, Or Play In The Water?

Play in the water.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?

Early.

Where can we find you online?

Website
Facebook

Diana Cosby’s Awesome Texas Chocolate Cake

Devil’s Food Cake mix
Ganache
Whipped topping
Chocolate shavings
Chocolate frosting (*I make homemade.)

Ganache:
.1/2 cup heavy cream
.1 lb. semisweet dark chocolate
*In a heavy saucepan, bring heavy cream to a boil. Remove from heat, mix in chocolate, stir until melted. Chill ganache until peanut butter consistency.

Directions:
Bake two 9” layer cakes according to directions. Once cooled, set first layer on a cake plate. Add coat of ganache. Layer with whipped topping. Next, add second layer of cake. Coat with ganache. Frost side of cake. Layer top with whipped topping. Sprinkle on top with chocolate shavings. Chill until served.

Note: I love baking as creating recipes. With a passion for chocolate, I thought the pairing of devil’s food cake, ganache and whipped topping would be yummy. The addition of the whipped topping cuts the sweetness of the cake, making it moist and rich and a perfect anytime cake.

Enjoy!

Most people think of retirement as a time to relax. For me, retiring from my job as a Navy Chief Meteorologist/ Oceanographer allowed me to pursue my passion—writing romance novels. With 33 moves behind me and having traveled through many more countries, I was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people I’ve met over the years.

My years of living in Europe drew me to write in the medieval time frame. After watching the movie Braveheart and with my passion for writing complex plots, I knew I had to write in this volatile medieval timeframe, hence the MacGruder brothers were born.

I have many passions in life, but one that resonates in my life is that of giving. I firmly believe that each of us can make a positive difference in another person’s life. There are so many charities that I believe in. With each book I sell, I will tithe ten percent of my royalties to a charity of my choice. Some of the charities I’ve chosen are:

-The National Trust for Scotland, which acts as guardian of Scotland’s magnificent heritage of architectural, scenic and historic treasures.

-Habitat For Humanity [http://www.graysonhabitat.org/], which gives a deserving family more than a home, but a foundation upon which to build their dreams.

-Ducks Unlimited [http://www.ducks.org/], which supports wildlife and wetlands conservation.

His Captive-Alexander MacGruder
His Woman-Duncan MacGruder
His Conquest-Seathan MacGruder
His Destiny – Oct 2011 Pre-Order now! 
Highland vampire anthology: Title/Release date TBA

Remember to leave a comment or ask Diana a question to enter for one of the following prizes:
1) An ARC of HIS DESTINY
2) Claymore letter opener with a sheath (shaped like sword)
3) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Book and bookmarks International
Claymore letter opener US/Can only
*MUST* leave contact email to WIN

If you have trouble commenting try :
~ a different browser
~ leaving a comment w name and URL
~ leaving comment as annonymous w email/name in message
~ email me and I’ll post your comment (joan @ joanswan.com)

Interview + Giveaway with Diana Cosby and HIS DESTINY!

>

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling author (and fellow Margie Lawson grad) , is with me today talking about her upcoming release HIS DESTINY, on sale this October, and chocolate cake! Yes, you heard me right! Chocolate cake! In fact, she’s sharing her very own special recipe of chocolate cake! YUM!!
We’ve got lots of giveaways and lots to talk about!
Remember to leave a comment or ask Diana a question to enter for one of the following prizes:
1) An ARC of HIS DESTINY
2) Claymore letter opener with a sheath (shaped like sword)
3) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

THEIR SECRETS WILL DRAW THEM TOGETHER

As one of England’s most capable mercenaries, Emma Astyn can charm an enemy and brandish a knife with unmatched finesse. Assigned to befriend Dubh Duer, an infamous Scottish rebel, she assumes the guise of innocent damsel Christina Moffat to intercept the writ he’s carrying to a traitorous bishop. But as she gains the dark hero’s confidence and realizes they share a tattered past, compassion—and passion—distract her from the task at hand…

BUT THE TRUTH MAY TEAR THEM APART

His legendary slaying of English knights has won him the name Dubh Duer, but Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder is driven by duty and honor, not heroics. Rescuing Christina from the clutches of several such knights is a matter of obligation for the Scot. But there’s something alluring about her fiery spirit, even if he has misgivings about her tragic history. Together, they’ll endure a perilous journey of love and betrayal, and a harrowing fight for their lives…

Diana, tell us about your upcoming release.

His Destiny is Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder’s story about redemption. A tortured soul, he yearns for a family who believes him dead, and he is determined to somehow mend a bond he shattered. But he doesn’t count on saving a woman he believes is Scottish, her betrayal, or that amongst the setting of Scotland torn in a war for its independence, to find love.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

My favorite thing about His Destiny is the characters, their struggles, the challenges they overcome to find peace with self as love; Patrik as Emma both hold dark secrets that can destroy them.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?

I love fairies as crystals. I thought how neat to create a series where by inventive means, each heroine takes a crystal belonging to her respective hero before she flees. I’ve had a blast incorporating that aspect in each MacGruder brother book.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

As a child, Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder’s family was murdered before his eyes by English knights. Since, he’s despised the English. The heroine, an English mercenary, is hired by an English advisor to gain Patrik’s trust and learn the secrets he knows. His Destiny begins by the heroine pretending to be a Scottish woman in distress, setting up an event where Patrik ‘saves’ her. The biggest conflict is that Emma doesn’t count on falling in love with Patrik, and being forced to decide if she can walk away from her mission or tell him the truth.

Why did you put these two together?

Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder is a tortured hero, a strong knight who would easily overwhelm most women. So, I knew the heroine must be as strong as him, hence I made her a mercenary. Then, I knew his heroine must be English, whom he despises with his every breath. When I paired the two in a dynamic setting, sparks ignited.

What do you love most about this book/series?

That the common theme woven throughout the MacGruder brothers series is, “All is not what it seems.”

What is your writing routine?

Each day after my morning work, I write until I reach my daily goal. When I’m writing new pages, I write 5 pages a day. When I write, I normally have a Macintosh candle going and listen to soundtracks like Braveheart, Rob Roy, or Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?

Daily on Facebook. Otherwise, e-mail, newsletters, book signings, speaking engagements, and other venues. I love trying new things, and recently appeared at a wine festival where I performed the waltz with a local dancer. Too fun!

What would you like to tell readers?

To always follow your heart and believe in yourself. Dreams are vision of what you can become.

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?

Romantic suspense any setting.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?

I’m a retired Navy Chief, AGC(AW). I was a meteorologist/oceanographer.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing?

To trust myself. Each story is unique, and only we can tell our story.

How would you best describe your books?

Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Think Braveheart meets Romancing The Stone.

Claymore Letter Opener – Click for larger image

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

My life goal is to make a positive difference in others’ lives. In addition to volunteering for Habitat For Humanity as well as other charities, I donate 10% of my royalties to a charity of my choice. As my career grows, my dream of making a larger difference in others life is realized. It’s truly humbling. I have many future goals, buy a working dog for a local police station, buy a fire truck for a local fire department, sponsor an entire home for Habitat For Humanity, with my largest goal being to open a place where military members can stay for free with their families during rehabilitation.

International Food Bank Food Drive:
In addition, I have an annual International Food Bank Food Drive as when you give a person who is struggling a warm meal, you give them hope. To participate:

Between 1 November 2011– 4 December 2011, when you donate to a local food bank, post on my Facebook page or Facebook Fan page, then I’ll add you in the drawing. On 5 December I will draw a name from those received and post the winner’s name on Facebook. The winner will receive an autographed set of the MacGruder brother series: His Captive, His Woman, His Conquest, and His Destiny. I’ll sign the books and send them priority to whomever you would like to give a personal Christmas present!

What are your current projects?

I’m currently working on a story for a Highland Vampire anthology coming out in 2012. Other authors for the trilogy include Hannah Howell, who is an amazing story teller!

I’m preparing for a book signing tour in Scotland during the summer of 2012!

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?

I LOVE to bake, and I often create new recipes.  A favorite is, “Diana Cosby’s Awesome Texas Chocolate Cake.” It has layers of devil food cake, ganache, whipped topping, and shaved chocolate.  **Recipe below**

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Half full, rising, and I believe each day is filled with enormous blessings.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?

Introvert.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?

Each are amazing and inspire me.

Are you a night or a morning person?

Definitely a morning person!

At The Beach Would You Rather Play In The Sand, Or Play In The Water?

Play in the water.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?

Early.

Where can we find you online?

Website
Facebook

Diana Cosby’s Awesome Texas Chocolate Cake

Devil’s Food Cake mix
Ganache
Whipped topping
Chocolate shavings
Chocolate frosting (*I make homemade.)

Ganache:
.1/2 cup heavy cream
.1 lb. semisweet dark chocolate
*In a heavy saucepan, bring heavy cream to a boil. Remove from heat, mix in chocolate, stir until melted. Chill ganache until peanut butter consistency.

Directions:
Bake two 9” layer cakes according to directions. Once cooled, set first layer on a cake plate. Add coat of ganache. Layer with whipped topping. Next, add second layer of cake. Coat with ganache. Frost side of cake. Layer top with whipped topping. Sprinkle on top with chocolate shavings. Chill until served.

Note: I love baking as creating recipes. With a passion for chocolate, I thought the pairing of devil’s food cake, ganache and whipped topping would be yummy. The addition of the whipped topping cuts the sweetness of the cake, making it moist and rich and a perfect anytime cake.

Enjoy!

Most people think of retirement as a time to relax. For me, retiring from my job as a Navy Chief Meteorologist/ Oceanographer allowed me to pursue my passion—writing romance novels. With 33 moves behind me and having traveled through many more countries, I was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people I’ve met over the years.

My years of living in Europe drew me to write in the medieval time frame. After watching the movie Braveheart and with my passion for writing complex plots, I knew I had to write in this volatile medieval timeframe, hence the MacGruder brothers were born.

I have many passions in life, but one that resonates in my life is that of giving. I firmly believe that each of us can make a positive difference in another person’s life. There are so many charities that I believe in. With each book I sell, I will tithe ten percent of my royalties to a charity of my choice. Some of the charities I’ve chosen are:

-The National Trust for Scotland, which acts as guardian of Scotland’s magnificent heritage of architectural, scenic and historic treasures.

-Habitat For Humanity [http://www.graysonhabitat.org/], which gives a deserving family more than a home, but a foundation upon which to build their dreams.

-Ducks Unlimited [http://www.ducks.org/], which supports wildlife and wetlands conservation.

His Captive-Alexander MacGruder
His Woman-Duncan MacGruder
His Conquest-Seathan MacGruder
His Destiny – Oct 2011 Pre-Order now! 
Highland vampire anthology: Title/Release date TBA

Remember to leave a comment or ask Diana a question to enter for one of the following prizes:
1) An ARC of HIS DESTINY
2) Claymore letter opener with a sheath (shaped like sword)
3) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Book and bookmarks International
Claymore letter opener US/Can only
*MUST* leave contact email to WIN

If you have trouble commenting try :
~ a different browser
~ leaving a comment w name and URL
~ leaving comment as annonymous w email/name in message
~ email me and I’ll post your comment (joan @ joanswan.com)

>Writing a Series with Elizabeth Aston + Giveaways!

>

My guest today is Elizabeth Aston, born in Chile to an impeccably English father and a distinctly un-English Argentine mother. Educated by Benedictine nuns in Calcutta, Fabians in London, and Inklings at Oxford, she has lived in India, England, Malta and Italy. Her Mountjoy books (originally published by Hodder) were inspired by years of living in York, where her son was a chorister at the Minster, and depict the unholy, unquiet, and frequently unseemly goings-on of an imaginary northern cathedral city and its peculiar inhabitants.

Her other books include the bestselling Darcy series – six historical romantic comedies set in the world of Jane Austen, and a contemporary novel, Writing Jane Austen. These were inspired by her love of Jane Austen – her heroes, her heroines and her wicked sense of humour.

Elizabeth Aston on Writing a Series:

What is it about a series that draws the crowds? Familiar characters? A familiar world? Stories that have a life beyond the last page?

The most usual series novels are found in the world of crime, where the same cop/PI/detective returns, book after book, to solve new crimes. We get to know the sleuths, with all their faults and fancies, vices and virtues, and we are happy to be able to spend more time with them and their circle than we would ever get in a single volume.

I’m not a crime writer, so my books are different. I’ve written two series: the first the Mountjoy sequence of romantic comedies, set a while ago in an imaginary city and county in the north of England. The other series of novels are six historicals set in a post Jane-Austen world, beginning with Mr Darcy’s Daughters, which are about the imaginary family that Darcy and Elizabeth have some two decades after their marriage at the end of Pride and Prejudice.

Neither of these series started out as such. The Mountjoys began with a single book, Children of Chance, now published as a prequel, and then, having created that imaginary world, I and my agent and publisher all wanted more of it. So I wrote a new book, with a new heroine and a new happy ending, but grounded the story once more in the city of Eyot (loosely based on York), and the surrounding countryside. Favourite characters from the first story came back: the cellist, Sylvester Tate; his witchy, second-sighted housekeeper, Lily; the wicked, amoral and fascinating Valdemar Mountjoy and his troubled son, Thomas.

Two more books were asked for, and by now I had quite a cast to draw on, who could return and feature in the new novel so readers can pick up on what happened to them after the end of their stories. It was the same with the Darcy series: one story led to another, each self-contained, but each enriched with characters and references to people and events in the other books.

For a writer, a series can be both a benefit and a restriction. Once you have your setting, once you’ve built your world, that’s what you write about. You can take your characters out of the main location, as I do in Volcanic Airs, where the Mountjoys and their friends and relations all decamp to an idyllic island of Sicily, but even so, part of the story still takes place in Eyot, and that’s where the roots of the novel are firmly planted. And the characters can – and should – grow and develop, but you have to work with what’s already happened to them. There’s no going back and inventing a different back-story for them.

How long should a series be? Both of mine came in at six books, and for me, that was enough. I felt it left both readers and author, satisfied but not sated, and, like a good guest, one shouldn’t overstay one’s welcome.

Might I return to either world, the delicious and intriguing city of Eyot or the fascinating and dashing world of London in the early nineteenth century?

Maybe. The characters and settings are alive for me as they always were, and questions come into my head, I wonder what happened to…? Maybe a novella or two, just to keep in touch, say hello, see how they’re all getting on.

As with all good friends, one never wants to lose touch.

What do you love about a series? What is your favorite series?

Comment for a chance to win 2 prizes:
1) A copy of Children of Chance, the prequel of the Mountjoy series.
Elizabeth will pick a winner of this ebook next week!

2) All commenters will be entered for the Grand Prize: a lovely hematite bracelet and earrings. Elizabeth will pick a lucky winner mid-October.
International
MUST leave contact email to WIN

Writing a Series with Elizabeth Aston + Giveaways!

>

My guest today is Elizabeth Aston, born in Chile to an impeccably English father and a distinctly un-English Argentine mother. Educated by Benedictine nuns in Calcutta, Fabians in London, and Inklings at Oxford, she has lived in India, England, Malta and Italy. Her Mountjoy books (originally published by Hodder) were inspired by years of living in York, where her son was a chorister at the Minster, and depict the unholy, unquiet, and frequently unseemly goings-on of an imaginary northern cathedral city and its peculiar inhabitants.

Her other books include the bestselling Darcy series – six historical romantic comedies set in the world of Jane Austen, and a contemporary novel, Writing Jane Austen. These were inspired by her love of Jane Austen – her heroes, her heroines and her wicked sense of humour.

Elizabeth Aston on Writing a Series:

What is it about a series that draws the crowds? Familiar characters? A familiar world? Stories that have a life beyond the last page?

The most usual series novels are found in the world of crime, where the same cop/PI/detective returns, book after book, to solve new crimes. We get to know the sleuths, with all their faults and fancies, vices and virtues, and we are happy to be able to spend more time with them and their circle than we would ever get in a single volume.

I’m not a crime writer, so my books are different. I’ve written two series: the first the Mountjoy sequence of romantic comedies, set a while ago in an imaginary city and county in the north of England. The other series of novels are six historicals set in a post Jane-Austen world, beginning with Mr Darcy’s Daughters, which are about the imaginary family that Darcy and Elizabeth have some two decades after their marriage at the end of Pride and Prejudice.

Neither of these series started out as such. The Mountjoys began with a single book, Children of Chance, now published as a prequel, and then, having created that imaginary world, I and my agent and publisher all wanted more of it. So I wrote a new book, with a new heroine and a new happy ending, but grounded the story once more in the city of Eyot (loosely based on York), and the surrounding countryside. Favourite characters from the first story came back: the cellist, Sylvester Tate; his witchy, second-sighted housekeeper, Lily; the wicked, amoral and fascinating Valdemar Mountjoy and his troubled son, Thomas.

Two more books were asked for, and by now I had quite a cast to draw on, who could return and feature in the new novel so readers can pick up on what happened to them after the end of their stories. It was the same with the Darcy series: one story led to another, each self-contained, but each enriched with characters and references to people and events in the other books.

For a writer, a series can be both a benefit and a restriction. Once you have your setting, once you’ve built your world, that’s what you write about. You can take your characters out of the main location, as I do in Volcanic Airs, where the Mountjoys and their friends and relations all decamp to an idyllic island of Sicily, but even so, part of the story still takes place in Eyot, and that’s where the roots of the novel are firmly planted. And the characters can – and should – grow and develop, but you have to work with what’s already happened to them. There’s no going back and inventing a different back-story for them.

How long should a series be? Both of mine came in at six books, and for me, that was enough. I felt it left both readers and author, satisfied but not sated, and, like a good guest, one shouldn’t overstay one’s welcome.

Might I return to either world, the delicious and intriguing city of Eyot or the fascinating and dashing world of London in the early nineteenth century?

Maybe. The characters and settings are alive for me as they always were, and questions come into my head, I wonder what happened to…? Maybe a novella or two, just to keep in touch, say hello, see how they’re all getting on.

As with all good friends, one never wants to lose touch.

What do you love about a series? What is your favorite series?

Comment for a chance to win 2 prizes:
1) A copy of Children of Chance, the prequel of the Mountjoy series.
Elizabeth will pick a winner of this ebook next week!

2) All commenters will be entered for the Grand Prize: a lovely hematite bracelet and earrings. Elizabeth will pick a lucky winner mid-October.
International
MUST leave contact email to WIN

Interview + Giveaway with Michelle Diener

>

My guest today is Michelle Diener, debut author of the historical fiction IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, published by Simon & Schuster and released earlier this month.

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **

Welcome, Michelle!  I’ve been seeing this gorgeous book everywhere!  Tell us about it.

My debut book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was released just over two weeks ago. It’s a historical novel set in the court of Henry VIII (before Anne Boleyn) and features the real historical figures of Flemish artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbow.

The quick blurb:

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . .

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . .

Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

That both my main characters, Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, were real people.

What sparked the idea for this novel?

I stumbled across a reference to Susanna Horenbout and just loved the idea of a woman artist, so good she gathered praise from many master painters across Europe at a time when women were not easily acknowledged in her field, who was sent to Henry’s court. That’s how my series was born.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

Initially Susanna knows something which Parker wants her to tell him, but she’s given her word not to talk and won’t. But after that is resolved the main conflict between them is that Parker needs the King’s permission to marry and Susanna has always thought her work as an artist makes her a very poor catch as a wife. That doesn’t stop them finding happiness with each other while they can, though.

Even more beautiful in person!
Click to see larger image.

Why did you put these two together?

Well, aside from the fact that they really did get together? 🙂 Obviously, I had to make up their characters, even though they were real people, and their past and their jobs made them natural outsiders. They are attracted to that in each other — they recognize it.

What is your strategy in creating villains?

I only create villains who have really solid motivations for what they do. In Henry VIII’s court, it was all too easy to find a number of people who would have enough motivation to try and undermine his reign.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?

The fine balancing act of keeping the complex court politics in the story, while still making the story easy to follow and keep the pace fast, even for people not familiar with this historical period.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the single most important element is author invisibility. The story should shine, and the reader shouldn’t be aware of the author at all.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read, walk, spend time with my family and friends and I bake. I love to bake 🙂 .

What are your current projects?

I’m about to dive into the copy edits of KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, the second book in the Susanna and Parker series.

Where can we find you online?

My website , blogging at Magical Musings, or socializing on Twitter and Facebook.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Definitely half full. I’m by nature optimistic and happy. Not very writerly, lol, no doom and gloom for me. 🙂

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **
Born in London and brought up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, reading and writing have always been my passions. I write historical fiction and my debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is set to release August 2nd, 2011 with Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

The second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, is scheduled for a February 2012 release.

I currently live on the west coast of Australia with my husband and two children.

>Interview + Giveaway with Michelle Diener

>

My guest today is Michelle Diener, debut author of the historical fiction IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, published by Simon & Schuster and released earlier this month.

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **

Welcome, Michelle!  I’ve been seeing this gorgeous book everywhere!  Tell us about it.

My debut book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was released just over two weeks ago. It’s a historical novel set in the court of Henry VIII (before Anne Boleyn) and features the real historical figures of Flemish artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbow.

The quick blurb:

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . .

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . .

Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

That both my main characters, Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, were real people.

What sparked the idea for this novel?

I stumbled across a reference to Susanna Horenbout and just loved the idea of a woman artist, so good she gathered praise from many master painters across Europe at a time when women were not easily acknowledged in her field, who was sent to Henry’s court. That’s how my series was born.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

Initially Susanna knows something which Parker wants her to tell him, but she’s given her word not to talk and won’t. But after that is resolved the main conflict between them is that Parker needs the King’s permission to marry and Susanna has always thought her work as an artist makes her a very poor catch as a wife. That doesn’t stop them finding happiness with each other while they can, though.

Even more beautiful in person!
Click to see larger image.

Why did you put these two together?

Well, aside from the fact that they really did get together? 🙂 Obviously, I had to make up their characters, even though they were real people, and their past and their jobs made them natural outsiders. They are attracted to that in each other — they recognize it.

What is your strategy in creating villains?

I only create villains who have really solid motivations for what they do. In Henry VIII’s court, it was all too easy to find a number of people who would have enough motivation to try and undermine his reign.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?

The fine balancing act of keeping the complex court politics in the story, while still making the story easy to follow and keep the pace fast, even for people not familiar with this historical period.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the single most important element is author invisibility. The story should shine, and the reader shouldn’t be aware of the author at all.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read, walk, spend time with my family and friends and I bake. I love to bake 🙂 .

What are your current projects?

I’m about to dive into the copy edits of KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, the second book in the Susanna and Parker series.

Where can we find you online?

My website , blogging at Magical Musings, or socializing on Twitter and Facebook.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Definitely half full. I’m by nature optimistic and happy. Not very writerly, lol, no doom and gloom for me. 🙂

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **
Born in London and brought up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, reading and writing have always been my passions. I write historical fiction and my debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is set to release August 2nd, 2011 with Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

The second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, is scheduled for a February 2012 release.

I currently live on the west coast of Australia with my husband and two children.

Review, Interview & Giveaway: The Queen’s Gamble by Barbara Kyle

>

Barbara Kyle’s upcoming release, The Queen’s Gamble, is as rich and intricate as it’s gorgeous cover. 
Before I forget, I have 5 beautiful bookmarks to give away!
AND a print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble!
Comment  or ask Barbara a questions to enter.
Open internationally.

I am the first to admit to a historical knowledge deficit, alarming (or maybe more embarrassing) considering my father was a history teacher for 30+ years. But I can’t deny my fascination with Barbara Kyle’s ability to weave true history with her own brand of fiction–complex story lines, unexpected twists, seething passion and drama galore. Add in rich characters with seemingly insurmountable conflict, stakes high enough to spear clouds and a smooth, engaging writing style … you’ve got a real can’t-put-it-down read.

I could go on and on about how this book held my attention and gave me a read beyond anything I anticipated, but RT Reviews and Publisher’s Weekly — the REAL reviewing professionals — already do it so well:

” … action-packed adventure that expertly blends fiction with history … a pulsating story of valor and greed, love and passion, and the tremendous cost of loyalty. – Publishers Weekly blog

Not only does Kyle create memorable characters, but she infuses her stories with lush historical detail, fascinating intrigues and court drama. History and romance merge, loyalty and passions run high and readers are riveted to the pages of her highly addictive novels.”  – RT Reviews

Young Queen Elizabeth I’s path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.

Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen’s loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth’s trust only goes so far—Isabel’s son will be the queen’s pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel’s husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.

Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen’s Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty…

Now, a little about Barbara
First let me say to Joan, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. It’s a pleasure to reach out to your readers. (Everybody, check out Joan’s upcoming novel, Fever.)

Q: You weave real history in with fiction to create your novels. That’s fascinating. What sparked that idea?
Movies. Filmmakers have used this technique forever; it’s a grand tradition that I’ve incorporated into my novels. I’m scrupulous about not deviating from the historical record – for example in 1558 Queen Elizabeth did secretly send money to help the Scottish rebels fight their French overlords, and when this “cold war” broke into a hot one she sent an army. Then, into real frameworks like this I set my fictional characters – members of the rising, middle-class Thornleigh family – to play crucial parts in the historical drama.

Q: What is your writing routine?
In the early morning I answer emails for about an hour. For the rest of the morning I fix what I wrote the day before. That’s my favorite thing to do – I could fix forever – so I have to cut myself off at noon. Quick lunch (often eaten at my desk: messy). Then I buckle down to create the next bit. I aim to create five pages a day, but rarely make it; usually it’s three or four pages. At about three o’clock I’m done, and I go for a walk or to the gym.

Q: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Great writers of big stories like Leon Uris, Margaret Mitchell, Herman Wouk. And fine writers of narrative non-fiction like David McCullough on John Adams; David Starkey on Elizabeth I; Adam Hochschild on WWI; Erik Larson on Berlin as Hitler came to power. I never tire of reading how we got where we are now, a.k.a. history. 

Even more vivid and beautiful in person.
Reminds me of red velvet cake – YUM!

Q: How does your family view your writing career?
My husband is my biggest supporter and best editor, really almost a co-author. We talk about my characters all the time. If people overheard us they’d think we’re brainsick. (Isn’t that a terrific word? It’s a 16th century word. I use it whenever I can in my Tudor novels.)

Q: How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My Facebook Author Page at http://tinyurl.com/3jljjrl is fun. I respond to almost every comment that readers post there. Also, I love running contests; the one I’m running now is to name the grand new manor house that my characters have built. I also send out a Newsletter every few months. And I adore Twitter and tweet every day. Follow me at @BKyleAuthor.

Q: What authors do you like to read?
Anyone, in any genre, who brings to life the human condition with grace and panache. I’m always reading, about half fiction and half non-fiction.

Q: Do you have a second career? If not, what did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I write full-time, plus every few months I run my “Master Class: Your Novel in Workshop” weekend for writers. I really enjoy helping emerging writers. Before I became an author I enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in theater and TV.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Characters that readers care about. And, always, characters who face huge challenges.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Perseverance. And a love of humanity. I don’t mean sentimentality, which is all surface, I mean a deep empathy for the shared values of all peoples in all times.

Q: Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Yikes, that’s like asking a mother which of her children she loves most! Truly, all of them. Except the work-in-progress, which at the moment is an unruly adolescent, but I have faith that it’s just a stage. Writing, like being a parent, takes a lot of faith.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I cannot write with any noise around; even a radio in the next room makes me crazy. I can, however, write anywhere, as long as I have silence, heat, and tea.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Walk, just about every day. Sail – my husband and I have a Cal-46 ketch and we sail her on beautiful Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. And I cook. I’m a very good cook. Vegetarian.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming release.
The Queen’s Gamble is the fourth book in my Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series. Isabel, the Thornleighs’ daughter, returns to London from the New World with her Spanish husband Carlos Valverde and their young son, and is swept up in the first international crisis of the young Queen’s Elizabeth reign: the French, who control Scotland, have landed troops along England’s border, threatening an invasion. The Queen recruits Isabel to take money secretly to aid the Scottish rebel faction trying to drive out the French. But when Carlos is sent to Scotland as a military advisor to the French troops, he and Isabel find they are on opposite sides in this deadly war – and the Queen has made their little boy her hostage.

Q: Where can we find you online?
http://www.barbarakyle.com. Do visit!

Comment or ask Barbara a questions to enter for a chance to WIN:



1 of 5 beautiful handmade bookmarks
A print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble

Open internationally
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN

Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era novels The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady, all published internationally, and she is pleased to have recently signed a 3-book deal to continue this series. Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’ including Beyond Recall, a Literary Guild Selection. Over 400,000 copies of her books have sold.

Her latest contemporary novel Entrapped is available as an e-book at amazon.com.

Barbara is passionate about helping emerging writers. She has taught her “Writers Boot Camp” for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. She offers her own Master Class workshops focused on each participant’s novel-in-progress.

Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. Visit www.BarbaraKyle.com

>Review, Interview & Giveaway: The Queen’s Gamble by Barbara Kyle

>

Barbara Kyle’s upcoming release, The Queen’s Gamble, is as rich and intricate as it’s gorgeous cover. 
Before I forget, I have 5 beautiful bookmarks to give away!
AND a print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble!
Comment  or ask Barbara a questions to enter.
Open internationally.

I am the first to admit to a historical knowledge deficit, alarming (or maybe more embarrassing) considering my father was a history teacher for 30+ years. But I can’t deny my fascination with Barbara Kyle’s ability to weave true history with her own brand of fiction–complex story lines, unexpected twists, seething passion and drama galore. Add in rich characters with seemingly insurmountable conflict, stakes high enough to spear clouds and a smooth, engaging writing style … you’ve got a real can’t-put-it-down read.

I could go on and on about how this book held my attention and gave me a read beyond anything I anticipated, but RT Reviews and Publisher’s Weekly — the REAL reviewing professionals — already do it so well:

” … action-packed adventure that expertly blends fiction with history … a pulsating story of valor and greed, love and passion, and the tremendous cost of loyalty. – Publishers Weekly blog

Not only does Kyle create memorable characters, but she infuses her stories with lush historical detail, fascinating intrigues and court drama. History and romance merge, loyalty and passions run high and readers are riveted to the pages of her highly addictive novels.”  – RT Reviews

Young Queen Elizabeth I’s path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.

Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen’s loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth’s trust only goes so far—Isabel’s son will be the queen’s pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel’s husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.

Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen’s Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty…

Now, a little about Barbara
First let me say to Joan, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. It’s a pleasure to reach out to your readers. (Everybody, check out Joan’s upcoming novel, Fever.)

Q: You weave real history in with fiction to create your novels. That’s fascinating. What sparked that idea?
Movies. Filmmakers have used this technique forever; it’s a grand tradition that I’ve incorporated into my novels. I’m scrupulous about not deviating from the historical record – for example in 1558 Queen Elizabeth did secretly send money to help the Scottish rebels fight their French overlords, and when this “cold war” broke into a hot one she sent an army. Then, into real frameworks like this I set my fictional characters – members of the rising, middle-class Thornleigh family – to play crucial parts in the historical drama.

Q: What is your writing routine?
In the early morning I answer emails for about an hour. For the rest of the morning I fix what I wrote the day before. That’s my favorite thing to do – I could fix forever – so I have to cut myself off at noon. Quick lunch (often eaten at my desk: messy). Then I buckle down to create the next bit. I aim to create five pages a day, but rarely make it; usually it’s three or four pages. At about three o’clock I’m done, and I go for a walk or to the gym.

Q: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Great writers of big stories like Leon Uris, Margaret Mitchell, Herman Wouk. And fine writers of narrative non-fiction like David McCullough on John Adams; David Starkey on Elizabeth I; Adam Hochschild on WWI; Erik Larson on Berlin as Hitler came to power. I never tire of reading how we got where we are now, a.k.a. history. 

Even more vivid and beautiful in person.
Reminds me of red velvet cake – YUM!

Q: How does your family view your writing career?
My husband is my biggest supporter and best editor, really almost a co-author. We talk about my characters all the time. If people overheard us they’d think we’re brainsick. (Isn’t that a terrific word? It’s a 16th century word. I use it whenever I can in my Tudor novels.)

Q: How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My Facebook Author Page at http://tinyurl.com/3jljjrl is fun. I respond to almost every comment that readers post there. Also, I love running contests; the one I’m running now is to name the grand new manor house that my characters have built. I also send out a Newsletter every few months. And I adore Twitter and tweet every day. Follow me at @BKyleAuthor.

Q: What authors do you like to read?
Anyone, in any genre, who brings to life the human condition with grace and panache. I’m always reading, about half fiction and half non-fiction.

Q: Do you have a second career? If not, what did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I write full-time, plus every few months I run my “Master Class: Your Novel in Workshop” weekend for writers. I really enjoy helping emerging writers. Before I became an author I enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in theater and TV.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Characters that readers care about. And, always, characters who face huge challenges.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Perseverance. And a love of humanity. I don’t mean sentimentality, which is all surface, I mean a deep empathy for the shared values of all peoples in all times.

Q: Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Yikes, that’s like asking a mother which of her children she loves most! Truly, all of them. Except the work-in-progress, which at the moment is an unruly adolescent, but I have faith that it’s just a stage. Writing, like being a parent, takes a lot of faith.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I cannot write with any noise around; even a radio in the next room makes me crazy. I can, however, write anywhere, as long as I have silence, heat, and tea.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Walk, just about every day. Sail – my husband and I have a Cal-46 ketch and we sail her on beautiful Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. And I cook. I’m a very good cook. Vegetarian.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming release.
The Queen’s Gamble is the fourth book in my Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series. Isabel, the Thornleighs’ daughter, returns to London from the New World with her Spanish husband Carlos Valverde and their young son, and is swept up in the first international crisis of the young Queen’s Elizabeth reign: the French, who control Scotland, have landed troops along England’s border, threatening an invasion. The Queen recruits Isabel to take money secretly to aid the Scottish rebel faction trying to drive out the French. But when Carlos is sent to Scotland as a military advisor to the French troops, he and Isabel find they are on opposite sides in this deadly war – and the Queen has made their little boy her hostage.

Q: Where can we find you online?
http://www.barbarakyle.com. Do visit!

Comment or ask Barbara a questions to enter for a chance to WIN:



1 of 5 beautiful handmade bookmarks
A print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble

Open internationally
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN

Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era novels The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady, all published internationally, and she is pleased to have recently signed a 3-book deal to continue this series. Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’ including Beyond Recall, a Literary Guild Selection. Over 400,000 copies of her books have sold.

Her latest contemporary novel Entrapped is available as an e-book at amazon.com.

Barbara is passionate about helping emerging writers. She has taught her “Writers Boot Camp” for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. She offers her own Master Class workshops focused on each participant’s novel-in-progress.

Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. Visit www.BarbaraKyle.com