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You can ask me a question too!
The most-asked question of all time:
When is your next book coming out, what is it called, and who is it about?
Next up, Book 1 in the new Renaissance Chase Family Series, starring Adam Chase (the Marquess of Cainewood) and his four sisters. Teenage soon-to-be-Queen Elizabeth I appears in this book, along with many other real people. I’m writing this young adult series with my daughter, Devon Royal, and we are having so much fun!
After that I plan to release a new Chase Family Series book, in which you’ll see grown-up Jewel Chase and Rowan Ashcroft. Yes, finally! Yay!
The current most-asked question:
You call yourself an "indie author." What does that mean?
It means that—after twelve years and ten books—I've left my New York publisher (Penguin Putnam) to join the digital revolution as an independent author. I'm excited about this new chapter in my career, because it brings me closer to you, my readers, rather than having a ginormous corporate publisher between us. :-)
I am now responsible for working with my own cover artist to design my covers the way I'd like them; I now decide on my own titles; I now hire and pay my own editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders; I now write my own book descriptions (well, my daughter helps me with that, because she has a knack for it!); and I now set my own deadlines and release dates. Large publishers have total control over all of these things (did you know that most authors have no say at all in what their book is titled or what their covers look like?), so I'm loving my new freedom.
Of course, freedom to do things my way also means freedom to fail, and I no longer have a publisher to blame for failure should that happen. But so far I've been very lucky. I have the most wonderful readers in the world!
The most-asked question:
Do Jewel and Rowan from your Flower trilogy end up together? Are you ever going to write a story for them?
Yes, Jewel and Rowan have been destined for each other fro the first, and I am working on their story now!
I was going through the family trees of the Chases, and I was wondering…will there be books about all of their children?—Joe, Minnesota
At this point, I can't really say either way. It's certainly a possibility, but I don't plan books very far ahead.
How did you come up with the Chase family and their history?—Jenifer, Washington
The Chase family came to me all at once. I knew I wanted to set my series
in the late 17th century, and I wanted to write about people
who had been affected by their times. A family with Royalist sympathies
would have lived through a lot in those years—the English Civil War,
the Protectorate, exile on the Continent, the Restoration—and those
experiences would have forever shaped their personalities. So the Chases
came to me: Jason, the oldest son, who had responsibility thrust on him
too soon by the untimely deaths of their parents; Colin, a middle child
filled with resentment for what his parents had been and what that had
ultimately cost him and his siblings; Kendra, the only girl, raised by
imperfect but well-meaning older brothers; and her twin Ford, the
baby of the family, the happy-go-lucky one who was too young to
feel the burden of their circumstances.
I just finished reading (and very much enjoyed) Amber. Question: Were the descriptions concerning the wake festivities in Scotland authentic? I was particularly interested in the part where the recently deceased was propped up and people threw turnips to hit the pipe that had been placed in his mouth. Also the incident where Trick's mother's body was made to move in an effort to scare onlookers was treated as something that was not out of the ordinary. In your research, did you find that things like that really happened? What a hoot! If you tell me you just made it up, I'm going to be SOOOO disappointed.—Kay, Texas
I assure you I did not make any of that up. I don't have that good an imagination. ;-) I read about the pranks in general and the one with the pipe in specific while doing other research…then I knew I had to write a book one day with a Scottish wake. I was happy to get a chance in Amber, because I was just dying to put it in a story!
Where did you get the original idea for Amethyst?—Karen, Ontario, Canada
Well, I've always heard
write what you know, and what I know is
jewelry, having been in the business for many years. So it was natural
that my first heroine would be a jeweler. The time period also grew out
write what you know, since I'd read a lot of Restoration history.
Then it was mostly a matter of deciding what sort of unavailable man this
jeweler would be attracted to (wouldn't want to make it too easy for
them!), and what in this particular setting might throw them together (the
Great Fire of London).
In the acknowlegments in the front of Violet, you thanked Al Stewart for writing a song that inspired the book. What's the story behind that?—Sherry, Virginia
Al Stewart's song didn't inspire the book as a whole, but it did lead me to
change it a little! I had the first draft of Violet written
and was working on revisions when he released his album Down in the
Cellar. The song
House of Clocks sounded so eerily like Ford
Chase, the hero of my book, that I felt compelled to rewrite the beginning
of the story to make it start on St. Swithin's Day. It was a very small
change, actually—it didn't affect the plot or characterization in any
way—but it made me smile. You can read the song's lyrics
and you can see a picture of me with Al Stewart on the Photo
Album page of my site. (For those of you who might wonder who Al
Stewart is, if you're old enough—I'm dating myself here!—you
might remember his hit song
Year of the Cat.)
In Rose, I loved the scenes with I Sonetti Lussuriosi. Was that a real book, or did you make it up?—Alyssa, New York
I Sonetti Lussuriosi is indeed a real book. The pictures in it, known collectively as I Modi (The Positions), were drawn in the 1520s by Guilio Romano, a celfbrated artist of the time and the heir to Raphael's workshop. The pictures were first engraved and sold as prints before being published in book form, accompanied with sonnets by Pietro Aretino, which were written especially to accompany the images. Aretino was also well known, a writer of plays and political satire, but both he and Romano were severely castigated for their notorious prank. I Sonetti had a short shelf life—many books were confiscated and destroyed due to censorship, and the remaining volumes were hoarded by erotica collectors. A few reproductions are in public and private collections, but none of the original books are known to survive intact today.
Why did you choose to write Lily's book after Violet, even though Rose is older?—Christy, Pennsylvania
I could say I did it because it's unexpected (it
convention ;-)), which is true, but I had other reasons, too.
I felt that Lily was more mature than Rose, even though she was younger.
Rose needed more time to grow up. And also, since of all the sisters Rose
was the most interested in marrying, having both her sisters wed before
her would naturally be upsetting…and that sort of conflict makes
for a better story.
The most-asked question:
How are the characters in your Regency Chase Series related to the characters in your older books?
Or, as one reader put it:
I read all of the Chases and all of the Ashcrofts and I love them. But I was looking at what's new, and I noticed that it's a story about Griffin Chase and it's to take place in 1815, and, well, I've been doing the math, and from looking at the family tree I'm assuming that Griffin Chase is the oldest son of Jason and Caithren Chase and that he was born in 1668…well, if this new trilogy is to take place between 1815–1816, wouldn't that make him like 147 years old?—Kristina, Texas
This question gave me a good laugh (thanks for that, because, hey, we all need good laughs! :-)). The Griffin Chase in my Temptations trilogy is 28 years old in the first book…he's a descendant of the Griffin Chase on that Restoration Chase family tree. I've recently posted another family tree showing the generations in between, which I hope will clear up the confusion.
I've just read Lost in Temptation for the third time and I'm very interested in hearing the rest of Griffin and Rachael's story. Please tell me that you plan on writing a book for them and when.—Rosalynn, by email
Griffin and Rachael's story continues in Tempting Juliana, where it's a small part of the plot. Then their story concludes in The Art of Temptation, which, although billed as Corinna's book, is really a double romance. So their story is all written and ready for you to read—I hope you'll enjoy it!
In the back of Lost in Temptation, you say in your Author's Note that your website has pictures of the hydraulic ram pump Tristan built. Where can I find that?—Mary, Nevada
The pictures are actually engravings from an 1821 copy of a magazine called Ackermann's Repository. You can see them here.
I loved your books set in Restoration England. What made you decide to switch to books set in the Regency instead?—Eva, California
To be honest, my publisher no longer wanted books set in the Restoration. I chose the Regency for two reasons: because I like it, and because it was far enough in years from my other stories that I could write about descendants of my original families without having the current characters actually remember them. That would be too sad, I think!
I didn't mind the switch at the time, as it was a refreshing change. And I love my Regency characters and hope someday to write books about their cousins. But I'm happy to be revisiting my Restoration families soon. :-)
In The Art of Temptation, Lord Lincolnshire has dropsy. I've never heard of that disease—what is it?—Shirley, New Jersey
Dropsy is an old name for what we now call heart failure. Actually,
the physicians of the time didn't know that what they called dropsy involved
the heart—they just assigned that disease to anyone who exhibited major
edema (swelling), which is the most evident symptom of heart failure. In fact,
the heart was such a mystery that they had no term for
back then, either (which is why Lord Lincolnshire never says he had a heart
attack; he only describes his symptoms of great pressure in his chest and
such). Lucky for us, medicine has come a long way since the 19th century!
The most-asked question:
Are the recipes featured on your site real Regency recipes? Or made up ones? Or modern ones redone into Regency ones?—Catherine, by email
The recipes on this site are all real historical recipes from Regency times
and older—some go back as far as the Middle Ages! I collect old
recipe books and find them there (I love hunting for them in used
bookstores). I put the original recipes in the books, which is why some of
them have odd, older spellings and
bad grammar. Then my daughter
and I test them and figure out how to make them with modern measurements
and such, and those are the versions on my site.
I've finally decided to try some of the recipes on your site. I just have one question: WHAT is rose water? Is it something I can purchase or make? If so, where or how? My dear husband said,Well, we have some roses in the yard and we sure have water, stick a rose in the water and call it rose water.Somehow I don't think that's it exactly (but maybe it is, LOL).—Wendy
Your husband is not far off! I have some bottled rose water that I purchased at a specialty grocery store, but if you have roses, you can easily make some yourself. Here's the simple recipe:
Place the petals in the water in a small saucepan. Warm slowly, until the petals turn translucent. Strain and store rose water in the refrigerator.
I want to try some of your recipes, but I've noticed a few have instructions torub in butter.How do you rub butter into something?—Barbara, New Mexico
I don't know how other people do it, but I use my hands. Dump the flour (and/or whatever else) into a big bowl, and plop the softened butter on top of it. Then reach in and start mooshing, squishing the butter and dry ingredients between your fingers until the mixture becomes all crumbly and combined. Please note: if you have a nice gold ring of an intricate celtic knot design with lots of nooks and crannies, take it off first. Rubbed-in butter absolutely adores this sort of jewelry (whoever would have guessed?). Diamond tennis bracelets are not a good idea, either.
A lot of the Tempting Juliana recipes seem to be missing. Why is that, and are they ever going to be available?—Cindy, Kansas
I'm so sorry about this! What happened is that I lost them. I test the recipes before writing the book and including them, so the old-fashioned versions all got into the book just fine. But when Tempting Juliana was about to come out and I went to put the modern recipes up on the website, they were gone. Not on my computer anywhere that I could find, and I hadn't ever printed out hard copies. I quickly redid a few recipes and put them up, but figuring them out takes a lot of time, and…um…well, I just got busy. Writing the next book and then editing it and then…I'm sure you get the picture. Please accept my apologies. I really do hope to find the time to retest all the recipes and get them up on the site someday.
The most-asked questions (by far) all begin with
I'm writing a romance
I'm writing a romance novel…can you read some of it and tell me what you think?
I'm really sorry, but I can't. Between writing my own books, critiquing my writing partner's, and keeping up with all the many and varied non-writing tasks of a writer (like updating this website!), I barely have enough time to sleep! If you're looking for feedback, the best advice I can give you is to join Romance Writers of America. Despite the name, you don't have to be American to join, and you don't have to be already published, either. As a member, you'll be able to network with other romance writers to form critique groups and partnerships. You'll also get a great monthly magazine, access to local chapter meetings, and many opportunities to enter contests where the judges—usually published authors, agents, and editors—will share their opinions to help you make the most of your strengths and improve your weaknesses.
I'm writing a romance novel…can you tell me how to get published?
Here again, RWA can help you. In addition, if you want to go the traditional route rather than indie publishing, the book I found most useful when I was first submitting was Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents. It explains exactly how to submit and whom to submit to. It's updated every year, so be sure to use the newest edition.
I'm writing a romance novel…can you give me some writing advice?
The best advice I ever received was to leave out the boring stuff. I try to follow that advice religiously! I usually tell new writers to read a lot, write a lot, and finish that first book. So many people say they want to write a book, but very few of them actually ever finish one—they seem to get stuck writing the first few chapters over and over. Finishing a book is the first, most crucial step to successful publishing.
I'm writing a romance novel…can you tell me your favorite writing books so I can learn how to write better?
I know I'm in the minority of authors here, but I don't actually find most
books about writing very useful! Mostly they seem to confuse me and make me
worry I'm writing the
wrong way. Since I firmly believe that
everyone's brain works differently, and whatever you find that works is by
right way for you to write, I think practice (and
practice and more practice!) is more beneficial than reading writing books.
But here are the few writing books I've found most useful (which doesn't
mean they will work for you!):
Do I have to read your stories in order, and if so, which order do they go?—Jayne, Michigan
My books don't really have to be read in order, because I am careful to write them so each story stands alone and won't be at all confusing if you haven't read the others. But if you do want to read them in order, the order goes:
I'm confused about the ranking of titles. The only thing that has really become clear to me is that the title of Duke is the highest (under the king). If you could show a heirarchy of titles, that would be wonderful.—Merrilee, Washington
British titles go in this order:
high society,is not actually part of the nobility—he is a Sir rather than a Lord and doesn't sit in the House of Lords. His wife is technically a Dame but rarely called that—she'd usually just be referred to as Lady Lastname.)
Where does your inspiration come from and do you sometimes favour one character over the other?—Janice, New Zealand
Inspiration, hmm…do you mean where I get my ideas? From everywhere,
really—newspapers, books, movies, television, but mostly real life.
Just watching people seems to spark those
what ifs that lead to a
story. If by
inspiration you mean what leads me to keep writing,
the answer is definitely my readers. Writing is hard work, but just about
every time I start wondering why I do it, I'll get a letter from a reader
and that will remind me why. There really isn't a better job on Earth than
creating stories that take people from their real lives into a fictional
world for a while. I'm very fortunate to be able to do this!
I don't really favor one character over the other—since all my characters come from inside me, they are sort of like my children! And like my real children, I love them all for different reasons. At the beginning of writing a book, it will sometimes feel more like the hero's story or the heroine's story, but by the time I'm finished it always belongs to them equally.
What was the one thing that influenced you to write historical romances?—Diana, Illinois
To be honest, I've wanted to write historicals for so long I can't
remember when it happened! Certainly I can't think of
Although I read and love all sorts of romances now (as well as other
genres), historicals were the first romances I read and the ones that
really hooked me on romance. And I've always found history fascinating.
I just never seriously considered writing anything else!
How long does it take you to write a book?—Elaine, Louisiana
Unfortunately, I'm a slow writer, and I go through many, many drafts before I'm happy with a story. So although I write way more than 40 hours a week, it takes me a long time to finish a book. To more directly answer your question…
If I do nearly nothing else, I can write a book in nine months.
If I want to have a life, it takes me a year.
I wish that wasn't the case, but there you have it!
What kind of music do you listen to while you write?—Terri, New Jersey
My favorite is The Sound Of Silence. Not the Simon & Garfunkel song (although I do like it), but actual, lovely silence! I adore music—especially rock 'n' roll—but I find it too distracting. If there's enough noise in my house that I feel the need to block it out, I use a little machine that makes rain and ocean sounds.
Do you have to do a lot of research to write a book?—Tracey, Ontario, Canada
Oh, yes! But luckily, I am one of those strange people who read history books for fun. I actually have to stop myself from doing research and get back to writing the book.
One more from me: How come your characters never go to the bathroom?—Karen, Ontario, Canada
Of course they go to the bathroom…but you don't really want to read about that, do you? They do plenty of other things you probably wouldn't care to read about, either. Anyway, Amy does go to the bathroom on page 241. So there. :-P
Are the love scenes from personal experience or just the fruit of a very active imagination?—Taire, California
Wouldn't you like to know? You and a bunch of my husband's friends. :-)