Quint needs your vote!

My publisher, Kensington Publishing, has its annual HERO v. HERO Tumblr contest up and running this week. Lord Quint, Damian Beecham, from THE LADY HELLION is up for BEST HERO in the competition today. He needs your vote!

VOTE HERE: http://kensingtonheroes.tumblr.com/post/141070733464/the-viscount-vs-the-earl-which-high-class. (Also, you can vote more than once. Just sayin’.)

As a reminder, Quint is:

  • a genius
  • sexy
  • able to woo in 7 or 8 different languages
  • a great fencer
  • a (recent) lover of dogs

Need I say more? Sophie, Quint, and I all thank you for your vote!

When Disaster Strikes

We’re back! Thanks to Sandy, and lack of internet access, the Femmes took an unplanned break from blogging. Did you miss us? We missed you!

Don’t forget to enter our anniversary contest. There’s good news…because we’ve been on hiatus, we’ve decided to extend the entry period until the end of the month!  We can’t wait to award one of you a brand new NOOK SIMPLE TOUCH! To enter, click on the link below.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d514c70/

 

Surf already pounding the day before Sandy

 

Not too long ago, two Harlequin editors tweeted that they were looking for stories built around natural disasters. Having just been through a 7.6 magnitude earthquake while vacationing in Costa Rica, my thoughts immediately turned to how I could craft a story around an event such as that. Not once did I think a disaster right in my own backyard would give me fuel for a story. Things like that just don’t happen in New Jersey. When you think of New Jersey, you think of humid summers, sometimes nasty winters, glorious springs, sunny beaches and breathtaking fall foliage, but not natural disasters.

If you live on this planet, you can’t be unaware of the happenings in the northeast US over the past two weeks. Superstorm Sandy slammed the tri-state region, and our perspectives on life, weather, and the people of our area got knocked on their butts. Whoever would have thought a storm, creating damage of such epic proportions, could happen here?

Well, it did, and many of the citizens of the Garden State, as well as the neighboring states of New York, Connecticut and Delaware, will be brushing themselves off, cleaning up, and rebuilding for years to come. Living near the shore myself, I was without power for nearly two weeks. I am in a position to view, firsthand, the devastation in our area: the wrecked beaches and boardwalks, the destruction of some of my favorite restaurants, the washed-away homes, the depleted dunes and nesting grounds of various endangered bird species. Luckily, I can also help some of my unfortunate neighbors, people of all ages, races, and economic circumstances, to just get through one day at a time. Family and friends have endured such tremendous destruction, loss, and heartbreak, it is unimaginable, and yet, they persevere.

As I grumbled about not having power, my very helpful friend next-door said, “Just think. As a writer, now you have some inspiration for a story.”  She’s right. As I interact with the people around me, I am amazed to see the grace with which they are handling the adversity handed to them by Mother Nature.

In the grocery store yesterday, I thoughtlessly said to the cashier, “Can you believe I’ve been calling JCP&L every day for over a week, and they only just fixed my power today? All of my neighbors got their power back last week!”

She commiserated with me for a bit. Then I asked, “So, how did you make out in the storm?”

“Well,” she replied, “All the houses around me are condemned, but ours is okay. We have to gut the bottom floor, so we’re all crammed upstairs right now. Luckily, my dad is a contractor, so he can rebuild our house himself.”

Facepalm! Here I was, complaining about having to rough it without power for two weeks, and this young girl, who, I later found out, lives in one of the hardest-hit towns, was living in half her house!

I’ve seen and heard stories of people heroically coming from all over the country to help us. Then there are the stories of the looters, the criminals, the beating of a police officer at a local gas station when tensions got high, the stabbing of a clerk at a 7-Eleven. Disasters bring out the best and the worst in people. They exaggerate the human condition, in both positive and negative ways. And they provide tremendous fodder for us as authors.

The story I would have written about an earthquake is much different from the story I would write about a hurricane. Now, I have the firsthand memories of what it looks like, sounds like, feels like and smells like to live it. Before, anything I would have written would be based on research and imagination. Now, experience can inform my story. We are lucky as writers to have this kind of catharsis for our pain, and to be able to glorify the fortitude of the human spirit, so that perhaps others may have hope and begin to heal.

I leave you with a photo of the real Jersey Shore, the one that will soon be restored.

Hugs,

Jaye

 

Least terns on Sandy Hook

Snippet #2 – The Lady Wore High Heels

Welcome back, readers, to Snippet Month at The Violet Femmes. The NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is next weekend, and in tandem with the conference, we’ll be announcing an exciting new contest in celebration of our first year together. So make sure you’ve subscribed to our blog, because this contest has a great prize, and you’ll want to enter as many times as you can!

Hugs,

Jaye

The following is a snippet from my YA work-in-progress.

Nadine is a young lady whose family is on the fringes of the Court in Renaissance France. She has just been chosen to be the companion of the new princess, Catherine de Medici, as she adjusts to her surroundings. The adjustment to palace life proves just as difficult for Nadine, who is used to helping out in the palace kitchens which her mother oversees. Added to her unease is the unexpected attraction she feels for the Prince’s right-hand-man, Gilles de Nantes.

A light knock sounded on the dressing room door. Nadine moved to answer it.

“No, Nadine, you stay. I will get it,” Maman ordered. Nadine took the opportunity of her mother’s inattention to snatch up the ribbon from the previous night, and tuck it in her bodice.

Maman opened the door to the house maid, Julée. “There is a man at the door, Madame. He says he is here to collect Mademoiselle Nadine.”

Julée followed Nadine and her mother as they made their way to the salon. Butterflies suddenly threatened to break free from Nadine’s stomach. They paused in the hall just outside the open doorway. Maman squeezed Nadine’s elbow and gave her a look of encouragement. “Breathe. And remember, I love you.”

“I love you, too, Maman.”

“Ready?”

Nadine nodded.

They rounded the corner into the salon. A man stood at the window, his back to them as they entered. As he turned, Nadine gasped.

“Monsieur de Nantes,” Maman said. She and Nadine curtseyed.

Gilles gave a slight bow in return. “Madame. I trust you are well?”

“Quite well, monsieur. Thank you.”

“And you, mademoiselle?” He cocked one eyebrow questioningly.

“Yes, thank you,” Nadine replied.

“Good! Shall we go?” Gilles motioned to the door.

“Surely you are not escorting my daughter on your own?” Maman interjected.

“She is in no danger from me, Madame,” Gilles replied. Nadine looked up at him, her eyes meeting his defiantly. So, she was not worth his time, was that it?

“Danger or no, it is not fitting,” Maman replied. “Please allow Nadine’s maid to accompany you.”

“Are you not fearful then, for the maid, Madame?” Gilles asked.

“Of course. However, I know my daughter. If you were to compromise her in any way, she would scream bloody murder. And if you were to accost the maid, well, you would have to fight my daughter off,” Maman warned.

“Ah, so that is the way of things, is it?” Gilles’ eyes twinkled in amusement. “Then let the maid come, and you have my solemn vow, no screams will be heard from the prince’s hall.”

Maman turned to Julée. “Keep an eye on this one,” she said softly. “He has the devil in him.”

“Yes, madame,” Jolée replied. “I will keep Mademoiselle Nadine safe from harm, I promise.”

“You are a good girl,” Maman said. She turned to Gilles. “I trust I will not hear of any nonsense.”

“You have my word, as the prince’s representative, that your daughter and her maid will be safe from me. Further, I will not allow anyone else to harm them, either.”

“I believe you. Now, go. Nadine, make me proud,” the comtesse said, kissing her daughter’s forehead.

Tears welled up in Nadine’s eyes. “I will, Maman.”

Gilles went to the door and turned. “Shall we? Prince Henri is waiting.”

Nadine blinked several times before looking up at him. “Of course,” she said, forcing a smile.

She fell into step slightly behind him, as was her station. Julée trailed after them, a few steps back. They made their way across the street and through the courtyard of the Louvre Palace. The black sky had turned to midnight blue. The stars winked their last as the sun began to rise on the horizon, bands of yellow to orange to green and aqua. A chaffinch, waking to the dawn, bobbed on the dried seed head of a flower in the Palace’s winter garden. Its happy song lifted Nadine’s spirits. Surely the dread she was feeling was misplaced.

“Monsieur? Can you tell me why the Prince wants to see me?” Nadine asked.

Gilles slowed so that she could draw even with him. “Mademoiselle Mystery, surely you know better than to ask that,” Gilles replied sardonically. His use of the moniker got her back up.

“Since you obviously do know my name now, I would appreciate if you would stop using that ridiculous one,” she huffed.

“Ah, but perhaps it has nothing to do with knowing your name. Perhaps I call you Mademoiselle Mystery, not because I don’t know your name, but because you are an enigma to me.”

“I can’t imagine you waste any of your precious time thinking about me, one way or the other,” Nadine replied.

“Can you not?” he asked, shooting her a sidelong glance. “Is it equally hard for you to imagine that I can reflect on anything, while performing one of my many required duties?”

“Certainly not. I only meant that I am sure there are other, more important things to occupy your thoughts than a girl of my position in the Court.”

“Well, in that you are wrong, I assure you. A girl with charms such as yours,” he looked down at her bodice, “would occupy the thoughts of any man who might be lucky enough to make your acquaintance,” Gilles replied.

Nadine turned her face away to hide the blush that burned her cheeks, and tried unsuccessfully to take offense at his bold actions. “I can see now that Maman was wise to insist on a chaperone.”

Gilles stopped short and turned, causing Nadine to stumble. He grabbed her arm to keep her from falling. “I assure you, mademoiselle,” he said softly. “You are in no danger from me. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If anything, I feel an uncommon urge to protect you.”

Nadine looked up, her eyes locking with his. “Protect me from what?” she asked.

“There are all kinds of dangers in the Court. I urge you to stay alert, know your place, and listen to what your instincts tell you,” Gilles advised.

Why You Should Go to a Conference

With the one year anniversary of The Violet Femmes fast approaching, I’ve realized once again how blessed I am to have such a great group of women supporting me.

As you may or may not know, The Femmes came to fruition at last year’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, put on by New Jersey Romance Writers, an excellent sub-group of Romance Writers of America. Encouraged by a glass (or four) of white wine (it’s surprising how much wine can promote creativity), holed up in a hotel room after the awards ceremony, the Violet Femmes were born. It goes without saying that if we weren’t all at that conference, our little group might not exist. Which is what prompted me to write this blog.

First of all, I want to propose that we coin a new term…Pro-ference. Because, really, there are no “con”s to attending a writers conference.

So, here are my top five reasons for attending a Pro-ference…whether it be Put Your Heart in a Book, another local conference, or (gulp!), RWA Nationals:

1.  Camaraderie.  There is no better feeling for a writer than being in the company of others…lots of others…who understand the daily trials, self-doubt, and successes of being a writer. Plus, the sharing usually involves cocktails!

cocktails

 2.   Advice.  Michael Hauge recently spoke at a special event for New Jersey Romance Writers, and he made an observation I found to be true from my first NJRW meeting. Romance writers, he said, above writers of all other genres, are generous to a fault when it comes to sharing information about our business.  Sure, there are egos, but I have never met a romance writer who guarded trade secrets more closely than Colonel Sanders guarded his secret fried chicken recipe. For example, at my first NJRW conference a couple of years ago, USA Today bestselling author Leanne Banks gave the Special Presentation, reserved for the first 100 registrants for the conference. We spoke a bit before her presentation, and I actively participated in a little exercise she conducted.Photo: Me sipping a "Harlequin Heartbreaker" at the Harlequin bash.

Later, she sat on a panel with Susan Litman, of Harlequin, and they talked about what Harlequin looked for in its different lines. Susan had just requested a full manuscript from me when I pitched her my category romance, so I sat in on that session. Leanne greeted me when she came in the room. Afterwards, I cornered her (poor woman!) in the bar as she grabbed a quick glass of wine, and asked her a question that had been nagging me ever since I had pitched to Susan. Leanne spent about fifteen minutes with me, answering questions and giving advice. And I had just asked her one question!

3.  Pitches.  As Michele discussed in last week’s blog, pitching is a prime reason to attend a pro-ference. Where else do you have the opportunity to meet, chat with, and pitch to several editors and agents in one place? Most regional conferences offer pitch sessions. NJRW’s conference offers lots…probably aided by our proximity to New York City, that publishing mecca. This year, NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference offers a choice of almost 30 agents and editors…that’s a lot of potential to sell your manuscript!

 4.    Workshops. Probably the biggest draw for serious writers is the schedule of workshops offered. From the craft of writing, to resourcing, to brainstorming, workshops give us writers the tools we need to get the job done…not an easy feat, I can assure you. They help with confidence building, show us ways to get out of that corner we’ve just written ourselves into, and tell us what to do once we feel our manuscript is ready for someone’s eyes other than our own.

5.     Market knowledge. Whether it’s gleaned from editor and agent panels, or in conversations with other authors, finding out what agents and editors are seeking is invaluable information for aspiring and published authors alike. As audience demands are constantly changing, it is important to understand where the minds of the people helping you sell your book lay. Understanding the business of writing is instrumental in getting those books of our hearts published.

So, have you attended a pro-conference? What was your reason for attending, and what did you take away with you?

Hugs,

Jaye

p.s. Stay tuned for a special contest celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Violet Femmes! Thank you to everyone who has followed us over the past year. We appreciate your support!

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