Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feature: Historical Romance Author Kris Kennedy

Please welcome my friend and author, Kris Kennedy!
First of all, congratulations on your debut novel, The Conqueror! And can I just say: Wow! What a cover! Tell us about The Conqueror.

Ack! I stink at blurbs, but here goes . . .

THE CONQUEROR is a hot, sweeping medieval romance with a reluctant alpha hero, a desperate heroine, and a love that can unite a kingdom or bring it crashing to the ground.
After seventeen years of a civil war, a midnight rescue results in a night of unforgettable--and forbidden-passion. Their explosive reunion, a year later, follows betrayal and a bloody invasion. Someone has to win, after all. And the other person is very, very angry.

And it's full of an ‘adventure' piece, if you like that kind of thing. J Abductions, midnight rescues, sword fights. Hidden agendas. Betrayal. Revenge. Imprisonment. Buried treasure. Enemies on the prowl. And hot sex. Oh, it's fun! :-)

Uh, you did a pretty darn good job with that blurb...Michelle Buonfiglio over at Romance: B(u)y the Book ( says she's "pretty damn wildly excited about it" and that it's the medieval she's "been waiting for"! Have you always written medievals?

I was really excited to have Michelle love the book! Since then, it’s started receiving other reviews that have been pretty positive.

Dear Author named it a Recommended Read for May, and two other ‘tough’ review sites also seemed to like it: All About Romance gave it a B+ and Wendy the SuperLibrarian give it a solid B, and said “It's easy to see why this book finaled for RWA's Golden Heart award. It's really a very accomplished debut novel, and fans of medievals should just beat the Christmas rush and start rejoicing now.”

So, of course, I still go back and re-read that. LOL

As far as “have I always written medievals” . . .

My very first story was actually a very bad post-Revolutionary War era story. Let us hope it stays hidden in the vaults, because it is one scary piece of writing. ;-)

After that, I started writing stories based in Ireland, following an Irish awakening, which took the form of obsessive, unstoppable research into Ireland. J I was increasingly intrigued by the medieval era as a result, but when I read Marsha Canham’s Through a Dark Mist and In the Shadow of Midnight, that was the match that totally ignited my love of the middle ages. :-)

If (when?) I get a review like that, you can bet I'll have it committed to memory! :0) How is writing a medieval romance different than writing historicals from other eras?

I have to say, I don’t really know! LOL You have to do a ton of research, of course, but it’s so far in the past, and so much of the research is stitched together. Sometimes you’re writing between the lines of what’s known as historical fact and what’s simply believed to be true.

It was a wild time, with lots of approbations on behavior, but still so much leeway. There were fewer people, living further apart, and it was pretty easy to get away with outlawry. There were also lots of small battles and conflicts, legal and martial, and this just lends itself to drama and fiction. Even some of the things that came to be so accepted in Western culture were still being formalized in this time. For instance, in the era THE CONQUEROR takes place in, primogeniture—or the right of the eldest son to inherit the father’s titles and lands—was not solidly in place. Sometimes the eldest son inherited, but it was still debatable, and was most often settled by who was still standing at the end of the day; i.e. who won the fight? And legal disputes were still being settled by battle and torture.

So, all of these things lend themselves to writing a rich tapestry of fiction, with a variety of different outcomes that can be woven into the real history of the times, which I LOVE doing.

Sounds crazy! Tell us a little about how you research.

I read. Incessantly. :-) I’m the dork lugging around the big heavy research books. LOLI’ve also been fortunate enough to travel to Ireland, England, and Germany, so I’ve crawled all over the castles as much as possible, trying to imagine how it would have felt to be alive back then.

Some of my best friends are dorks lugging around heavy research books. :0) What's up next for you?

I recently turned in WANTING FINIAN to my editor, which is the story that won the 2008 Golden Heart Award for Best Historical Romance last summer. Here’s an excerpt: I did extensive revisions to it following the Golden Heart awards, and, barring additional revision suggestions from my editor, it’s essentially done. Hurray!

Of course, I don’t yet know what it will be titled. I doubt my editor will keep my title, so be sure to stay tuned for news on that. :0)

Otherwise, I’m back to working on another book which could follow THE CONQUEROR, but certainly works as a stand-alone book. It’s a medieval with a wronged & angry heroine, a very, very dangerous hero, and both of them with something precious to protect. My working title is simply: The Jamie Story.

Mmm, sounds intriguing. You have a page on your website called "My Girls". What's that all about?

Those are the other writers I know and think readers might enjoy. I actually have to update that page—thanks for mentioning it! LOL.

That’s the great thing about the world of fiction—there’s room for all of us. The whole genre improves when another great author comes along. :0)

I love that - "there's room for all of us"! I frequently comment on how wonderful it is that there are so many different books out there - something for everyone! :0) What have you found most surprising about being a published author?

How long it takes to do revisions when you realize (hopefully) thousands of people will be reading your book. Call it obsession or stark fear, whatever. :0) It makes me work very hard to do a fabulous job, making the revisions very time-consuming. :0)

I didn’t quite ‘get’ this with the first book. Before you sell a book, it’s all about the selling. Afterwards, it’s all about ‘OMG, how did I ever sell this thing??” ;-)

Now that THE CONQUEROR is out in stores, though, I realize what I really care about is the readers. I’ve received the nicest, most exciting letters form people who picked the book up in a grocery store, for instance, and just loved it. I can’t put into words what that means to me.

That's truly what it's all about, after all. What advice did your mother (or another close female, mom-like person) give you that you've found indispensable?

Hmm…I love the question, but I don’t have an answer. LOL I don’t think I categorize things in my mind like that: I don’t have a file drawer named ‘advice,’ that I can open and look at. Too bad, because I like the idea of it.

I do know I really like the idea of ‘guiding principles,’ and I use them to help me make decisions at hard times.

I think if I had to give advice to a younger female (totally not what you asked ), I’d suggest she work on discovering what she values, what & who she has respect for, then come up with some basic, ‘guiding principles’ that invoke those behaviors. Ex: “When in doubt, be compassionate in how you interpret someone else’s behavior.” Then, when she’s having her own ‘dark nights of the soul,’ J, she can fall back on these as a guide.

And finally, besides your new book :0) and loved ones, what's your most prized possession?

Holy cow, you ask the best questions that I have no answers for! LOL Possessions . . . Prized . .

I could say my computer, b/c of all of the info on it, but if the info were put somewhere else, I wouldn’t care about the computer at all.

Pictures. Pictures of my past, my family and friends.

Oooh, I love pictures (just take a look at my blog recently)! Thank you so much for being here with us today, Kris!

Thanks so much for having me, Tiffany! I’d love to ask your readers a question. Since I am apparently so deficient in recalling advice given to me, I’d love to hear some of your readers’ advice, about dreams.

If you have/had some advice--guiding principle—about dreams, what would they be? What would you tell a young girl about her dreams?

Look at you turning the tables! Great question. I can't wait to hear all of our armchair heroines' answers! And one of you will receive a copy of Kris's book. So let us know your thoughts on dreams and guiding principles.
Congratulations Lyoness2009! You are the lucky winner of The Conqueror. Email me your snail mail address at and I'll get your book headed your way!
Thanks to everyone who joined us for Kris's feature!
Watch the upcoming events for happenings here at AH. See you next Wednesday. :0)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Still Have Spring on the Brain...

For last week's "Seven Spring Things" post I went through my garden/nature pictures which got me pining for some time in my garden. I really needed to write, but I couldn't focus. So I took the weekend off and spent it working in our backyard garden with my family! Just for fun, I thought I'd share the pictures with you - mostly because I still have Spring on the brain.

Butterflies hanging out on our Butterfly Bush:

Bathtime for the neighborhood house sparrows:

Killdeer eggs in the field behind our house:

Do you have Spring on the brain? How do you like to experience the Spring?

Kris Kennedy author of The Conqueror will be here Wednesday!

Have a great Monday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Top Seven Spring Things!

Spring has finally sprung here in Colorado, and like my children who are counting the seven and a half days until school is out, I have Spring Fever! That means the last thing I want to do is sit inside in my home office behind my computer...

So to bring a little spring inside I'm listing my seven favorite things about Spring:

1. Coffee on the back porch...My husband and I have a cup of coffee together every morning. It's our little ritual, a small thing that keeps us connected during the craziness of two jobs, three children, family, friends and hobbies. I look forward to it every morning but especially so in the spring!

2. Backyard birds...During above mentioned coffee time, hubby and I love to watch the birds who come to visit our little ponds and stream and various feeders. The Goldfinches (our fave) have returned as have the Redwinged Blackbirds. I love listening to their songs - thankfully I can hear them through my office window!

3. Blooming flowers...Gardening is meditation for me so, of course, I love to watch my plants "come back to life" after the winter. My butterfly garden is full of green and a few colorful flowers are just starting to show their lovely faces.

4. Walking...Another form of meditation for me, I love it when the weather warms and I can get out of the basement, away from the treadmill to walk outside. I love the quiet of the mornings as well as watching activity in and around the homes of my neighbors when I walk in the evenings.

5. Longer days...We observe Daylight Savings Time here in Colorado and although it royally screws up my internal clock every Spring and Fall, I do love the longer periods of light.

6. Bird watching (especially raptors)...We live in a fairly rural area so bird watching involves little more than jumping in the car and cruising the county roads. Less than a mile away is a Bald Eagle nest. The Spring was so rough this year that the eagles lost their three babies, but we still see one of the adults fishing the river. Hawks and owls nest in trees along the mostly deserted roads so we can park and watch the little heads of the babies bop up and down and the parents taking shifts hunting and watching over the babies!

7. The nearing of summer...Spring means summer is just around the corner which, for us, is a completely different schedule and routine. No more rushing around in the morning, getting out the door to school. Our nights are still busy with kids' stuff but because we don't have worry about school in the mornings, activites take on a much more relaxed feel.

And for my little darlings...

7 ½. No more school, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks! :0)

Is it Spring in your neck of the woods? What are your favorite things about Spring?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spotlight On: Revealed by Kate Noble

I just finished reading historical romance author Kate Noble's latest release, Revealed. Kate was a guest here at Armchair Heroines back in September (you can read her interview here). I'm so thrilled her newest release is out, and that I've got it in my grubby mitts.

Here's the blurb:

"Everyone agreed that Mrs. Phillippa Benning was a beautiful young woman. Stunning even, with her cornflower blue eyes, and cornsilk hair. One poetic gentleman had likened her teeth in shape to perfect corn kernels, but that perhaps was taking the metaphor too far.

Mrs. Benning simply sparkled. Her wit and humor and gay joie de vivre, gave her entrĂ©e into the most exciting crowds in the Ton, a place that lady enjoyed and intended to stay. So, if she was occasionally seen as being too forward in her thoughts and too ambitious in her flirtations, it was easily forgiven as the capricious combination of youth and beauty. For when Phillippa Benning smiled, a sultry pout known to cause married men to forget their wives’ names, no one could find fault in her.

Indeed, everyone thought well of Mrs. Phillippa Benning. And certainly would have done so even if she were not so rich, and so conveniently widowed.

All the world knew Phillippa Benning’s short marriage had been the stuff of fairy tales, merely lacking the "ever after". And after mourning a full year her husband of five days, Phillippa had discovered it was exceedingly pleasant to no longer require that smothering protection unmarried ladies lived under and took to her life as a young woman of independent means with verve..."

I thoroughly enjoyed Revealed! Phillipa Benning makes no apologies about who or what she is, and I love that, although she grows and changes within the novel, she remains Phillipa at the core. Marcus Worth is an almost understated gentleman which nearly drove me mad! I was intrigued by the facets of his personality. At once, kind and indulgent yet a bit aloof, he was, at the same time, a man to be reckoned with. The story also provided a few surprising and refreshing twists and turns. Kate is definitely on my "must be read" author list and both Compromised and Revealed have found spots on my keeper shelf!

A special treat for all of you AH readers! I have a copy of Revealed to give away. Just post an answer to either of these questions:

1. Have you ever dreamed of being a spy? If so, what do you imagine would be your favorite talent or toy as a spy?

2. If you were the unrivaled beauty of the "Season", how do you imagine it would change your life?

I'll randomly choose a winner and post it right here by Saturday morning!

Happy Friday!
OK, ladies...I have a winner! Congratulations to:
You've won the copy of Revealed by Kate Noble! Email me at with your snail mail address, and I'll get Revealed headed your way. ;0)
Thanks to everyone who commented. See you all next week. And Happy Mother's Day to all of you women out there who play an important role in the lives of others.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Featured Author: Emily Bryan

Howdy, Armchair Heroines! I'm thrilled to host historical romance author Emily Bryan today. She's had some interesting experiences, and I love her books!

So, how about a round of e-applause for Emily?!

Welcome, Emily! Vexing the Viscount is your latest release. Please, tell us about it.

VEXING THE VISCOUNT is a sexy, light-hearted romp (with a more serious story-within-a-story embedded inside it.) It’s the tale of Daisy Drake, a well-born miss who developed a childhood infatuation for Lucian Beaumont, now Viscount Rutland. Unfortunately, his father holds a terrible grudge against her uncle, but Daisy doesn’t let that daunt her. She masquerades as a French courtesan to convince Lucian to let her help him find the lost Roman treasure he seeks.

The secondary love story explains how the Roman payroll went missing in the first place. Readers can sample a little of both on my website .

Sounds wonderful! Readers, you can purchase your very own copy of Vexing the Viscount here. You sang opera for awhile (in Colorado - my home state). Does that experience carry over to your writing? If so, how?

Yes, I confess, I was a schleppy soprano. I made my debut with the Denver Symphony and actually won the Metropolitan Opera auditions there in Colorado! My singing experience carries over to my writing because when I prepared an operatic role, I always devised a backstory for my character (you know what I mean, the whole “What’s my motivation?” dilemma actors go through!) I still love opera, though I always hate to see the soprano die just when the tenor finally figures out that he loves her! In my books, my heroines get to live AND keep the guy (who’s much smarter than the average operatic tenor!). It makes a nice change.

Getting to live and keeping the that's a happily ever after! :0) Did you always know you wanted to write historical romance?

I didn’t even know I wanted to write till 2001, but I was always a voracious reader and gravitated toward historicals. I love the whole “take me away” quality of a good historical. Sub-genres tend to go through cycles of popularity, but historicals are the “little black dress” of romance. They’re always in style.

I have to agree (although I love many different romance genres), there is something about historicals that really take me away from reality for awhile! Tell us a little about how you research your books.

Once I know when I’m placing my story, I start with TIMETABLES OF HISTORY by Grun. This is a quick overview of the political, cultural, religious and scientific events of any given year. I hit the internet for background material, of course, but I don’t take anything I find there as gospel unless I can confirm it with a 2nd citing.

I love to visit art museums and study portraiture to get a handle on how people presented themselves in different eras. You’d be surprised what you can glean about clothing, cosmetics, weaponry, even pets, from a study of the art of a period.

My old music history books even give me a peek into how people lived in other times. For instance, did you know that JS Bach walked 100 miles to hear his favorite organist, Buxtehude, play in recital? Now that’s a devoted fan!

Interesting approach, and I'd never heard that about Bach before! What can we expect to see from Emily Bryan next?

VEXING THE VISCOUNT is still available in bookstores now. My next release is A CHRISTMAS BALL, due out September 29th! For this holiday anthology, I’ve teamed up with USA Today Best Seller Jennifer Ashley and exciting new author Alissa Johnson. All our characters are attending Lord and Lady Hartwell’s grand Christmas Ball and YOU are invited too!

My current WIP, STROKE OF GENIUS is the story of a Bostonian heiress who takes courting advice from the brilliant artist who’s engaged to sculpt her hands. She attracts the attention of a duke, but finds herself yearning for the brooding, darkly dangerous genius who helped her transform from an ugly duckling into a social swan. Look for STROKE OF GENIUS in the summer of 2010!

Please sign up for my newsletter at for reminders of what’s coming next!

Both sound intriguing, and I love the idea of seeing an event through the eyes of three different authors and their characters. Can you tell us about some of your favorite interactions with readers?

Hand’s down, it’s got to be my 50day/50blog VEXING THE VISCOUNT tour! I set off on a whirlwind trip through cyber-space at the first of the year and picked up a fun core group of “blog touristas” who came along for the ride. We had a great time and still do, at my personal blog .

The high point of my recent Romantic Times Convention was meeting two of my touristas, face to face!

How fun! If you could lead a secret double life, what or who would you moonlight as?

Don’t look now, but I’m already doing it. Mild-mannered house-wife by day and romantic wild-child by . . . day, too. Actually I squeeze the wild-child in between loads of laundry and walking Susie the Wonder Dog.

We should start a secret sorority...Sisterhood of the Romantic Laundresses/Writers! ;0) Which of your characters are you most like? Most unlike?

That’s a toughie. Actually, there’s a little of me in all of them since they all sprang from my subconscious. (Which sort of makes me go “hmmmm” when I think about the less-than-nice villains who abound in my stories.)

I’d like to be more like Daisy Drake, who knows what she wants and is willing to go after it no matter what that entails. Admit it! Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like to wear a courtesan’s shoes? Daisy knows first hand.

I can't wait to read more about Daisy! With Mother's Day just around the corner, what is something invaluable you learned from an important woman in your life?

I have many incredible women in my life, including my two daughters. But I have to say I learned about keeping love alive from my mother. My dad was a railroader and she always made it an occasion when he came home. We’d all run to hug and kiss him. (I have 3 sisters—like I said, lots of incredible women in my life!) Every single time, it was as if the conquering hero had returned. She didn’t greet him with news of the leaking hot water heater or the trouble one of us girls might have gotten into while he was gone (remember I said incredible women, not perfect!)—no, she welcomed him like a king. She and my dad have been married for over 50 years and he’s always treated her as his queen.

‘Scuse me, my DH is at the door. Time to run for a hug and a kiss!

Thank you so much for being here, Emily! Any parting words?
Thanks again for having me, Tiff. Readers can learn more about my books at . I’ll be back to respond to comments or questions. As an added incentive, anyone who leaves a comment or question will be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE.

You heard her, AH Readers. Let us know what's on your mind for your chance to pick up a copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE. The winner be announced right here by Friday!

Happy Wednesday!
The winner of Pleasuring the Pirate, generated by is:
Congratulations, Mari! Email me at with your snail mail address and Emily will get your book "sailing" your way! :0)
Thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday - what fun! Be sure to stop by Emily's blog on Monday to say "hi" and then get your patooties back here on May 20th to meet historical romance author Kris Kennedy.