In PRO-suit of Publication

Welcome to In PRO-suit of Publication, Regency Golden Heart® Edition. Today, I’m delighted to welcome Anne Kenny, whose story King of Swords is a finalist in the Regency Category.

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself, Anne?

I live in Madison, Wisconsin, with my husband and my cat, who plays my muse for me. Whenever I sit down to write on my laptop, she will sit between my feet on the ottoman and make sure I’m working. I belong to the WisRWA chapter of RWA, as well as Mad City Romance. I make my living schlepping papers across a desk for the City of Madison.

I’m so glad you could join me today. To start, what’s the twitter-pitch of your GH finaling manuscript (140 characters or less)?

To protect her fortune from her greedy brother, a fiercely independent spinster pretends to elope with the dashing lord who broke her heart years ago.

A pretend elopement! That’s awesome. I love pretend engagement stories and pretend marriage stories. There is an added excitement and originality to a pretend elopement that makes me want to say, more, please…now. You have a lot to work with there. What is it that you love most about this story? 

I love the two main characters the most. It was fun writing their interactions with one another because they start off loathing one another and end up loving one another. I especially enjoyed writing their dialogue throughout the story.

For example, here’s a little conversation between my two main characters, Lady Cassandra and Lord William. I borrowed the idea from Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Something-or-Other who didn’t much like each other and had a similar exchange at a state dinner (the last two sentences anyway, though I think the beverage was wine). At any rate, Lady Cassandra and Lord William had been discussing another lady over breakfast during a house party and engaged in the following exchange:

“As for myself, I think the lady should continue in her good works and not pay any attention to her husband,” said Lady Cassandra.
“Not pay any attention to her husband?” asked a mildly outraged Lord William.
“Yes. Pay him no attention whatsoever.”
“If I were your husband and I heard you say that, Lady Cassandra, I think I would put you over my knee,” came his reply.
“If I were married to you, Lord William, I think I would poison your tea.”
“And if I were married to you, I think I would drink it.”

So much fun! Witty dialogue and exchange is one of my favorite things in a historical romance–both as a reader and as a writer. That exchange has a special spark.

So, tell me a bit about your GH call. Where were you? 

I was standing in my underwear in my kitchen. I’d just come downstairs to weigh myself in the half-bath off the kitchen and was headed back upstairs when the phone rang. I probably don’t need to tell you that I was quite a sight jumping around half naked in my kitchen as I did the happy dance. My husband just stood there dumbfounded, completely unaware of why I was reacting so bizarrely to a telephone call.

*Claps* That is definitely something you will always remember! 

Can you share an ah-ha moment related to writing?

I lamented for 20 years that I never had time to write. The ah-ha moment came for me when I realized that I had to make the time to write. I know it sounds so simple, but believe me, it wasn’t a simple thing to learn or to put into practice. I had to forget all the turmoil going on around me, put all the chaos out of my mind, and just sit down and write.

Beautifully and succinctly put, Anne. There will always be a reason *not* to write–there will always be something more pressing, something with a greater immediate reward or need.  When crazy blossoms in my life, I like to break writing down into fifteen minute increments–with timer, if the day has been particularly challenging.  Do you have any suggestions for writers just starting to find time?

Don’t let the little things sidetrack you. Keep your focus, and you’ll reach your goals!

What’s your favorite romance?

My tastes change over the years, but right now, I would say that my favorite romance is The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt. I love great characters, and she drew such a delicious character in Simon Iddesleigh that I couldn’t put the book down. Simon is a bad boy, yet he has a deep sense of honor and a wicked sense of humor. It was thoroughly delightful!

I loved that series, though I think The Leopard Prince was my favorite. Elizabeth Hoyt creates such vivid images–not only can I see what’s happening, but I can smell, hear and feel her character’s experience. …for example, the heroine of The Leopard Princepeers over an upturned carriage and yells to the hero while the door flaps in the wind of a gathering storm. I can still see the whole thing, even though I read the book a several years ago. *sigh*

Any parting words of wisdom? 

Writing is hard, but not writing is even harder, especially for people who are driven to write. I would just remind everyone that they have the power to make it happen—no matter what.

Thank you for the inspiration and thank you for being here!

Leave a comment for Anne and you will be entered into a drawing for a paper copy of Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Serpent Prince.

I’m delighted to welcome Eileen Emerson, a fellow 2012 Golden Heart® Finalist in the Regency Category (and fellow Dashing Duchess) to the 2012 Regency Category Golden Heart® edition of In PRO-suit of publication.

I’ve come to know Eileen as a high-energy, tremendously talented writer and graphic artist. Her first manuscript, A Whisper to the Wild not only finaled in the 2012 Golden Heart®, it won the 2011 Emily (and that is one tough contest!) and finaled in the Marlene, the Sheila, the Royal Ascot, the Molly, and the Golden Pen–all equally large and respected contests. In addition, she finaled in this year’s Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot contest and the Sheila with her manuscript, Embracing an Unloved Earl.

So glad you could stop by for a visit, Eileen! To start, would you like to share a twitter-pitch of your GH finaling manuscript (140 characters or less)?

“A woman hiding a world of secrets must work with a nobleman to heal a damaged horse. To succeed, they have to heal their own wounds first.”

Marvelous! I love stories with horses. So, tell me, what do you love about this story?

The element that first drew me into this story is the very thing that makes it unusual for a Regency; the heroine’s dog. Yes, I know dogs abound in Regencies, but Tip has a very unique talent that many readers haven’t seen before; he’s slightly telepathic and inserts images into the heroine’s thoughts. I also love that the hero is a jolly, beta male who has to face some grim realities in order to make a life for himself. It’s the heroine who’s the strong, silent type (for good reason—she’s spent a dozen years hiding from a killer, and is loathe to reveal her true identity to anyone.) I’m a sucker for stories that turn a standard conceit on its ear.

OOOh, sounds fascinating. That trope-flip is sure to intrigue readers. Tip sounds like he’ll bring an additional twist to the story.

I also love call stories. Where were you when you received the GH call?

I was working on a new book in my tiny, red office. I didn’t anticipate the call, and was rocked when it came. I have no idea what I said to the poor woman, but I’m pretty sure I did the standard “shaking, crying, blathering” thing. The same board member who called me was the one to call my sister a few hours later—she told Elisa I was “fun.” Please tell me that that’s not a euphemism for “shockingly insane.”

For readers who may not know, Eileen’s sister is the talented Ruby sister and Regency Golden Heart® *Winner* Elisa Beatty! Congrats to you both!

You have reached the finalist milestone with multiple projects. Do you have any ah-ha moments related to writing that you can share with readers?

I’ve encountered so many ah-ha moments over the past two years that it’s almost like a string of pearls I’ve been counting off with each book I’ve opened or seminar I’ve attended. If I had to choose one mind-blowing thing, I’d have to say that Deanna Raybourn’s prose introduced me to a whole new way of writing. I’ve always liked dark, rich characterizations and lots of twisty, heart-clenching angst between the hero and heroine. But… ohhh…. Such gorgeous sentences, such complex, meaty construction! I found myself almost chewing the words to take them in fully.

Silent in the Grave has one of my all-time favorite opening paragraphs. It’s two sentences and it’s fantastic (No, Readers, I’m not telling).

Yes, yes, yes! I remember the thrill I got from reading that opening—it was like a lightning bolt to the brain. I seriously had the thought that this book would change my life, and all from those first twenty-seven words. I get shivers just thinking about it now.

Exactly! Do you have a favorite romance? 

Out of thousands of books I’ve read over the years, the one I keep going back to re-read is The Duchess of Asherwood by Mary A. Garrett. But I devour anything by Courtney Milan and Deanna Raybourn (obviously!) I’ve recently become a big fan of Cecilia Grant and Leigh LeValle for their excellent plotting and characterizations. I like sparkling, happy writing, too, and have read Julia Quinn for years and years.

I agree on all counts (although I haven’t yet read The Duchess of Asherwood). I just finished A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant and WOW. 

A Lady Awakened had the very best “black moment.” It was so very clear to me, as a writer, and deeply affecting for those characters. Really excellent, swoon-worthy stuff. And you totally have to go read A Gentleman Undone. I ached for their personal wounds, and adored the whole premise. Ms. Grant is on my auto-buy list forever!

A Gentleman Undone is on my to-be-read list and is soon to be in one lucky commenter’s mailbox! Leave a comment for Eileen and be entered to win a snail mailed copy of Cecilia Grant’s A Gentleman Undone. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow evening.

Any parting words of wisdom?

Keep writing – every day, even when you don’t feel like it. And get yourself a good set of critique partners. Each one can help you see what you do well and where you trip and fall in your writing. I’m blessed with my most excellent sister, who kicks my conflicts to new levels every time she reads what I send her. And I’ve connected with some beloved chaptermates and other writers through RWA, and they keep me honest, humble, and—most importantly—writing.

As Deanna Raybourn said on her blog recently: “there are really only two kinds of people in the world—diminishers and enhancers.” With every contest I judge and with every suggestion I make to my CPs, I do my best to always be an enhancer.

And I’d say you are succeeding!  Thank you so much for being here today.

I’d like to welcome Beau Monde PRO and former Beau Monde Secretary, the fabulous Angelina Barbin. Angelina spent two years volunteering as the Beau Monde Secretary, and is now transitioning into the role of Mentor Program Coordinator. While stationed for five years with the USAF in Suffolk, England, Angelina not only acquired a husband but a love of all things Regency. She is a full-time writer and lives in the beautiful American southwest.

Thanks for being here Angelina! In keeping with my earlier PRO interviews, let’s start with the twitter-pitch of your favorite manuscript.

A recovering alcoholic countess longing for a child helps an infertile prodigal son thwart a blackmailer.

Wow, I love it! You packed the promise of several heart-rending choices in that short pitch. I think it’s one of the best twitter-pitches I’ve ever read. So, tell me, what do you love about this story?

Neither of my main characters fit into society’s mold. One of my critique partners didn’t think a heroine who was a recovering alcoholic would work, but when she read the manuscript she loved it.

I love characters who learn resilience and over come their past weaknesses! What could could better express hope and love? It sounds like you’ve learned to honor your stories. Can you share any other ah-ha moments?

Most of my ah-ha moments come when I’m critiquing someone else’s work but my latest moment came at the RWA conference this year. After sitting in a roomful of writers waiting for my agent appointment I was shown to a waiting agent and she gave me the widest smile. I realized agents and editors don’t want my work to stink any more than I do. Industry professionals aren’t going to waste their time at conferences unless they want to find new writers. I have doubled my efforts in submitting and I’m not afraid anymore. Really. Take your best shot. Put yourself out there. The worst that can happen is your writing gets better.

I agree! A conference pitch room is a fantastic place to learn. It’s so helpful to “depersonalize” the process. Brenda Novak developed an awesome worksheet where she asks authors to think like different publishing professionals and answer the question: If you were an X, what would make you choose one author/book over another?

But, back to Romance. What’s your favorite romance?

My favorite book is Arabella because it was my first Georgette Heyer book. I came to Heyer only recently and everything I love in a book, Arabella has it: an impetuous heroine, a strong hero, witty dialogue and a Cinderella like story. If you love the Regency, a Heyer book completely immerses you in the era.

Absolutely! Heyer was a master. Any parting words of wisdom?

As so many have said before me, my advice would be to read and write as much as possible. Read to keep up on what the market is buying. Write because you‘re a writer and you can’t imagine doing anything else. 


Thanks for being here, Angelina! Best of luck.

A randomly chosen commenter will win a copy of Lady Dearing’s Masquerade an Ebook By Beau Monde Member Elena Greene!