Posted by Diana Belchase
Ellen Byerrum is fantastic. She’s a novelist, playwright, reporter, Washington journalist, and a graduate of private investigator school in Virginia. Her Crime of Fashion mysteries star a savvy, stylish female sleuth named Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington D.C.
Her books are fun, sassy and unexpected. No wonder two of them have been made into Lifetime movies!
Ellen sat down with me to talk about Washington style (which she calls “The City Fashion Forgot”), the stress of Cherry Blossom season, and a haunted Russian shawl inspired by the Hillwood Museum collection.
(If you cannot view the video, please update your Adobe. For better quality, click the YouTube link on the bottom right of the video frame and then, once on YouTube, adjust resolution by clicking on the little tool cog wheel in the right bottom corner.)
Here is a blurb about Ellen’s latest book, Veiled Revenge
Washington, D.C., fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian has always believed clothes can be magical, but she’s never thought they can be cursed. Until now. Lacey’s best friend, Stella, is finally getting married, and at her bachelorette party, fellow bridesmaid—and fortune-teller—Marie Largesse arrives with a stunning Russian shawl. A shawl, Marie warns, that can either bless or curse the wearer. When a party crasher who mocks the shawl is found dead the next day, the other guests fear the curse has been unleashed. But Lacey has her doubts, and she must employ all her Extra-Fashionary Perception to capture a villain who has vowed that nobody at this wedding will live happily ever after….
So, what do you think? Is Washington, D.C. the least fashionable city on earth or do you have your own nominee for that distinction? What role do you think fashion plays in developing a character? (To leave a comment please click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom.)
Posted by Gwen Hernandez
Happy Valentine’s Day! A day that celebrates romance seemed like the perfect day to reveal the cover of my upcoming romantic suspense, Blind Fury. So, what do you think?
I’ll be back to talk about Blind Fury in more detail when it releases on Feb 25th. Want to make sure you don’t miss release day, and be entered for a chance to win? Sign up for my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/oLFjv.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Posted by Carey Baldwin
Michelle, please contact us here with your snail mail and email address to claim your prize.
Posted by Carey Baldwin
Today I’m thrilled to welcome USA Today Best Selling author Debra Webb. We’ve got a fascinating interview followed by a giveaway for you, but first I’d like to turn my spotlight on Vicious, the latest in Debra’s Faces of Evil series. I LOVED Vicious! So often we talk about a book that you just can’t put down, but in reality, those books are hard to find. Vicious grabbed me from the first page and I found myself putting off many other things, like say…eating and bathing…because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. This story weaves a fascinating, dark tale involving a very strange definition of art. Find out what’s really on this serial killer’s canvas in Vicious. Here’s the official blurb below, followed by the interview I promised you.
Serial killer Eric Spears is far from done. He has chosen his next victim and Deputy Chief Jess Harris knows it’s only a matter of time until he comes for her.
The murders are vicious, the killer relentless. Has Birmingham’s major crimes team run into its most baffling and deadly case yet?
Carey: Debra first, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s such an honor to have you with us. Your Faces of Evil series is an amazing journey for readers. What inspired the series?
Debra: Thank you! It’s great to be here! The Faces of Evil was inspired by a study I watched several years ago about the scale of evil by Dr. Michael Stone. I was so enthralled. I couldn’t get the concept out of my mind. I decided to write a series where the same heroine solves cases that climb the scale of evil! I started with Obsession and Vicious is the most recent release. Vile is coming in March, Heinous in July and Depraved in December!
Carey: You have two protagonists who appear throughout the series, Jess Harris and Dan Burnett. Please tell us what makes these two tick.
Debra: Jess and Dan have a long history. They were high school sweethearts with big dreams who went off to college together. But not all dreams come true and four years later Dan returned to Birmingham while Jess went on to become a celebrated profiler with the FBI. (You can read interviews with both Jess and Dan at Faces of Evil) Her return to Birmingham, along with an obsessed serial killer determined to haunt her, has turned both Jess and Dan’s lives upside down. No matter, the fact that they have always loved each other continues to triumph. I’ve really enjoyed watching their relationship evolve over the past seven books.
Carey: Is there something you can tell us about Jess that she’d never want Dan to learn, and vice versa?
Debra: We’ve been through some of that in the first six books! Jess is very independent and determined. I think she wouldn’t want Dan to know how much it really bothers her that his mother dislikes her. She doesn’t like anyone to see her weaknesses. Dan is the epitome of a good guy. But he has a few secrets of his own. A couple of those secrets are about to start haunting him and he would rather not have Jess learn about them.
Carey: Okay, you’ve got me determined to find out what Dan’s secrets are! I can’t wait to find out. Which of the Faces of Evil series was the most difficult book for you to write and why?
Debra: Ruthless, definitely. A serial killer known as the Man in the Moon abducted and murdered many, many children before he was caught. The abductions took place in the past so I didn’t have to put any of that on the page, which made it a little easier. I cried all the way through the scene where the remains were found. It was a very emotional story for me.
Carey: I can imagine how difficult that must’ve been. Sometimes the most powerful subjects are the hardest to write (and read) about. What’s up next for you?
Debra: I’m working on a follow up book to BONE DEEP. The story was so well-received, I decided to write BONE COLD which revolves around Special Agent Tom Cuddahy, a secondary character from BONE DEEP. Don’t miss my Faces of Evil short story in the My Evil Valentine thriller collection available now!
Carey: Has anyone ever given you a great piece of advice? What was it?
Debra: As long as you love what you do it will show in the work.
Carey: Your passion for storytelling certainly comes through in your books, so I’d say that was good advice. I’m sure many authors have inspired and supported you along the way. Can you tell us about one of them?
Debra: There are so very many! How about I name a few instead of one.
Vicki Hinze for her undying determination and sage words.
Peggy Webb for her incredible insights into life and invaluable friendship.
CJ Lyons, Cindy Gerard, Toni Magee Causey and Allison Brennan for being the best cheerleaders!
Regan Black for always having my back.
Kathy Carmichael and Rita Herron for always being happy to just listen.
Carey: A wonderful list! Ready for the lightning round? It’s easy- just name your favorite:
Fast Food Joint - Sonic
Vacation Spot – Anywhere in New England
Television Show – Rehab Addict
Song on your iPod (what’s the most played?) – Make a Memory by Bon Jovi
Valentine’s Day Gift - Roses
What’s the last book you read on your e-reader? Down and Dead in Dixie by Vicki Hinze
Carey: Ha! Debra, believe it or not Make a Memory by Bon Jovi is the second most played song on my iPod!
Readers do you have a question or comment for Debra? She’s giving away a Faces of Evil tote bag and a copy of Vicious to one lucky commenter. Fire away and good luck!
Posted by Rachel Grant
Originally posted on Rachel Grant:
Some secrets are worth dying for…
Military historian Trina Sorensen has a nearly impossible task before her: get recalcitrant but tempting former Navy SEAL Keith Hatcher to reveal what happened during a top secret Somalia op five years ago. Recent history isn’t usually her forte, but the navy wants an historian’s perspective and has given her the high security clearance to get the job done.
Posted by Krista Hall
Congratulations, Maureen! Erica Monroe is giving you an e-copy of A DANGEROUS INVITATION!! Be sure to contact K&T in the next 10 days with your email address and the format you prefer. For more information: K&T’s prize winner policies. Happy reading!
Next Tuesday, the fabulously talented Debra Webb joins us to talk about her new release.
Posted by Krista Hall
Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful (and well-researched) historical romance. In her atmospheric debut novel A DANGEROUS INVITATION, she takes us out of the ballroom and drops us straight into the labyrinthine alleys and gritty flash houses of London’s East End. Rather than manners and courtship, the first book in the Rookery Rogues series is a story of survival and the transformational power of love. Read on to find out you can become eligible to win A DANGEROUS INVITATION ebook…
Torn from her life of privilege by her father’s death, Kate Morgan relies on her knowledge of finery to survive in one of London’s dark and depraved rookeries as a fence for stolen goods . The last man she ever expects, or wants, to see again is Daniel O’Reilly, the man who promised to love, honor and protect her, but who instead fled amidst accusations of murder.
One drunken night cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved and the life he’d worked so hard to create. If he ever wants to reclaim that life—and Kate—he’ll not only have to prove he’s innocent of murder, but convince the pistol-wielding beauty to forgive his many sins.
With a killer on the loose, time is running out for them…
KH: Why did you choose to set Kate and Daniel’s story in 1832 during the short reign of King William IV rather than the more commonly used Regency time period between 1811-1820?
ERICA: I studied Victorian literature in college, and then I began to educate myself in the regency period when I started to write historical romances. The 1830’s represents the perfect merging of my two interests—it’s this strange period of social reform yet people are still trying to cling to what they used to have. The trade of corpses in the regency period is a big deal in the underworld, for a resurrection man could make far more selling bodies than he could in the honest work that might be available to an unskilled, uneducated laborer (read, not many jobs at all). The London Burkers (called that because their method of murder for dissection profit resembled that of legendary serial killers Burke and Hare in Edinburg, Scotland in 1828) were arrested in 1831. Two were executed, while another turned State’s Evidence and was released. I knew that I wanted to link my resurrection man villain to this case so I had to set it in January 1832 shortly after the executions. Mid-year 1832, the Anatomy Acts were repealed, and now surgeons had access to more bodies for dissection, so they didn’t have to use grave robbers to advance in their fields of study.
I found the idea of people being stolen from their graves to be sold as medical experiments to be utterly creepy and morbid, and admittedly, being a girl who grew up reading Edgar Allen Poe, I loved it. Resurrection men were considered to be one of the lowest types of thieves, reviled by everyone else in the London underworld. What better villains to use in the first book of my Rookery Rogues series, which centers on denizens of the London slum areas (called rookeries)?
KH: Your descriptions of daily life in the rookeries of London are vivid and create the dark, gritty atmosphere of A DANGEROUS INVITATION. You clearly spent a great deal of time researching the history, culture and geography of the East End—Bethnal Green, Jacob’s Island, and the St. Katharine Docks. What unexpected discoveries did you uncover that enriched or influenced the development of the characters and the suspense storyline?ERICA: The new system of policing fascinated me—far more like the Scotland Yard we know and love than the original regency policing system. Prior to 1829, London did not have a centralized police force. You had a bunch of little districts and constables and a Night Watch that really bordered on useless. But 1829 and Robert Peel’s act brought forth a new structure, a more vigilant way of policing. This of course meant that some of the attitudes toward crime in the rookeries changed. The Bow Street Runners (think London’s first detectives) allowed flash houses (meeting places of thieves, often functioning as brothels as well) to exist because it was easy to get at informants when they were all congregated in the same police. The Met Police didn’t really believe in that—they focused on preventing crime instead of solving it. I use this distinction in my next novella, Secrets in Scarlet, which features the Met Police officer I introduced in A Dangerous Invitation.
I also used the “Catholic Question,” which comes about throughout the 1800’s but really hit a breakthrough in 1829 when the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed, which removed a lot of the restrictions that were still on Catholics in the UK. This and the Sacramental Test Act were huge in getting rights for Catholics. Prior to this act, Catholics could not hold office. The relations between the English and the Irish were already strained at best. I use this in A Dangerous Invitation as my hero Daniel O’Reilly is Irish, but he has been raised since childhood in Sussex. He feels like a man of two nations. Daniel has been the victim of racial prejudice, for in 1832 the Irish were considered not much better than dogs in the street by a lot of England’s population. This plays into his interactions with Kate and his feelings toward himself. He has to learn that he is indeed worthy of love.
KH: Peelers, dimber morts, crank…uh, translation please Was it difficult to learn the street slang of the period?
ERICA: A Peeler refers to the Metropolitan Police Officers, called Peelers or Bobbies because of Robert Peel, who was the main person behind the bill establishing the new force. A dimber mort refers to a pretty wench, and crank is a cant term for gin (important because of Daniel’s struggle with remaining sober).
I actually really enjoy the slang. I’ve never had an aptitude for foreign languages, but thieving cant to me feels like a secret language based in English so I can understand it. It was important to me that my thieves sound like they grew up in the East End and not posh aristocrats. These are people deprived of formal education, growing up in neighborhoods where they pretty much had to steal to eat. They’re going to have their own set of words for things, jargon that’s been doctored so that the Police can’t fathom what they’re saying.
In writing A Wayward Man, my short story prequel to A Dangerous Invitation, it’s been interesting to write the dialogue for Kate because this is before she ends up in the rookeries. She doesn’t know those slang terms and she hasn’t changed to coarser language. I paid a lot of attention to dialects, trying to properly mimic what people would sound like in different parts. I’ve no idea if I got it all right, but it “feels” more authentic to me, at least.
KH: What is your favorite slang expression?
ERICA: There are so many good ones, and some really, really vulgar ones. There’s about 57 different terms for prostitutes, most of which end up being quite depressing.
Some of my favorite ones that I find can be used in historical romance are “collar day” for being executed at Newgate prison, “dive” meaning to pick a pocket, and Drury Lane ague meaning venereal disease (given that prostitutes often frequented Drury Lane).
KH: What’s next in The Rookery Rogues series?
ERICA: Two things. One, I’ve got the short story prequel to A Dangerous Invitation coming out in February, and it is titled A Wayward Man. This starts before Daniel leaves London, three years prior to the beginning of ADI. It’s about 10,000 words and I will be offering it up for free.
After that, I’ve got Secrets in Scarlet, which is a novella. I hope to have it out sometime around late March.
Here’s the blurb: When a girl is murdered at a factory in one of London’s rookeries, Thaddeus Knight comes in to investigate. But it’s not just the factory owners that Thaddeus wants information on–the devilishly intriguing Poppy O’Reilly is a puzzle he’d like nothing more than to solve. Protecting her young daughter is the most important thing to Poppy, and Thaddeus threatens the false identity she’s carefully constructed. The last thing she should do is allow Thaddeus close to her family, yet she can’t stay away from him. With danger around the corner, will the secrets of a scarlet woman lead to their undoing?
What are the elements you look for in historical romantic suspense? Do you have a favorite time period? House parties vs Ballrooms vs Gaming Hells? Do you like your stories filled with members of the ton? Can a housemaid become a duchess? Tell us what you like to read! Erica is giving away an e-copy of A DANGEROUS INVITATION to one lucky commenter!
Posted by Diana Belchase
Thank you so much, Manda Collins for such a great piece on the importance of setting in a book. After reading both the book and Tuesday’s post, I felt as if I’d had a mini-vacation, away from the stresses of my life. Bath sounds so lovely — I cannot wait to see it in person someday.
We had an amazing turn out for Manda’s release of Why Earl’s Fall in Love. The winner of a copy of this latest installment in the Wicked Widow’s series is: Diane Sallans! Please contact us within ten days to claim your prize.
In the meantime, the rest of you — perhaps not lucky enough to win — are still lucky enough to be able to go out and read this great book. For an excerpt, click HERE or on the photo below.
Pretty, practical Georgie is nothing like the women Con usually woos–especially since she seems blind to his charms. But his elderly aunt is so fond of her that Con is determined at least to be sociable…with the occasional flirtation thrown in just for fun. But things take a serious turn when a dangerous figure from Georgie’s unhappy past appears and threatens to bring her harm. Con will do whatever it takes to keep Georgie safe. And if he can show her that all men are not menaces, he might be able to keep her in his arms and never let go…
* * *
Author Erica Monroe joins us on Tuesday to tell us about her Rookery Rogues series. Read on for a sneak peak at what people are saying about her debut book: A DANGEROUS INVITATION.
“Dark and atmospheric. . . Erica Monroe delivers a different kind of Regency Romance. Weaving suspense and romance, A Dangerous Invitation takes you on a ride through London’s rookeries and into a unique new series.” – Deb Marlowe, Award Winning Author
“Fabulously researched with a fantastic love story and page-turning adventure. This promises to be a great series!” -Darcy Burke, Bestselling Author