Today, I have two guest authors for you to meet. A result of demand + my oops! Please give both ladies your attention – there’s some good stuff to discover here.
Courtney J. Hall writes what she calls “novels with romantic elements”. I personally interpret that to mean “damned good story, and a romance, too!”
Courtney is giving away a copy of her debut novel to a commentor. Details below. Meet Courtney:
This is a really hard question to answer, as there are so many great authors out there! But I’ll try.
I’ll start with L.M. Montgomery, who created my all-time favorite heroine – Anne Shirley – and my first book boyfriend, Gilbert Blythe. I revisit those two every summer and the stories never, ever get old.
As for the rest, it depends on my mood. When I want great historical fiction I turn to Barbara Kyle or Diane Haeger – they write Tudor-era fiction that isn’t the same old, same old.
And when I’m feeling contemporary, it’s Jennifer Weiner (she’s from my hometown, so I have to, but I honestly love her books), Emily Giffin or JoJo Moyes. And Christopher Pike. I grew up on Christopher Pike, and those twisted stories of his remain some of my favorites.
What’s the best Hero Moment you’ve ever seen in film?
This might sound cliché at this point, but I think it has to be The Hunger Games, when Katniss volunteers to save her sister’s life. As someone who considers her younger sister her best friend, it was heartbreaking and horrifying but also something I could relate to, because I would do the exact same thing.
What’s the best Hero Moment you’ve ever read in a book?
My choice here is kind of a quiet one – but it comes from Anne of Green Gables, when Marilla tells Anne she can stay on a trial basis until she proves herself worthy. From that point on, Anne resolves to be the perfect child so Marilla and Matthew will let her stay. It’s m my favorite Hero Moment not only because of the hilarity that ensues as Anne tries to curb her inner nature, but also because you can see just how starved for love and affection that poor little girl was, and what it would mean to her if she succeeded.
What reading device do you use for reading ebooks on?
Being a traditionalist, I fought the e-reader for as long as I could, but I buy books more often than I buy groceries, so when the state of my bookshelves started to get ridiculous, I caved.
That was five years ago, and I still have it and love it – a 1st generation Nook. It’s starting to show its age, though. So I’m kind of hoping for a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Or at least something that will hold a charge.
What is your take on the indie author phenomenon? What do you think the book industry will look like in five years’ time?
I’ve been writing my entire life, and remember as a child finding an ad for Vantage Press in the local phone book. I was nine years old – nine! – and sent away for information. So I guess a part of me has always known I would go the indie route someday.
But I never could have predicted the explosion the industry has seen. I think it’s a great time to be an indie author. It’s a wonderful community and there are so many outlets available to help and support us. I’ve only been published since March and I’m still learning what to do (and what not to do), but I think it would be a lot harder if indie authors didn’t band together the way they have.
I don’t know if I can predict what the industry will look like in five years – it seems to be changing day to day and even experts have trouble getting it right – but I can say that I hope to see a revival of brick-and-mortar stores. For as long as I can remember, browsing bookshelves has been one of my favorite ways to spend my free time. The instant gratification of downloading to an e-reader is nice, but nothing beats walking into a bookstore, being hit by the smell of paper, losing hours in the shelves and walking out with a stack of new books.
Do you ever skip the “I love you!” scene in your novels? Do you feel you’ve been cheated if they’re missing in other authors’ books?
I’ve only written one book, but no, I didn’t skip the “I love you” scene. It’s important. Not only do readers expect to see it, but it’s the culmination of all of the emotional development of hundreds of pages. In my own book, Some Rise by Sin, it was especially important, as both my hero and heroine start out with some serious antagonism toward the whole institution of romantic love. Having them not only realize they feel it, but confess it to each other, completed their character arcs and made their happily-ever-after that much more satisfying.
What’s your take on eBook piracy? What would you do about it if you were given carte blanche?
I have mixed opinions. As a writer who took seven years to complete her first novel, I’m sure I’d be furious if I discovered my work was being illegally shared. I worked hard on that book, even spending several thousand dollars I didn’t necessarily have on a trip to England to make sure I got the details of certain things exactly correct, and I think if people want to read the book that resulted from that, they should be willing to compensate me for it.
On the other hand, I didn’t write my book to get rich. I wrote it because I felt I had a story to tell. Who can put monetary value on that? Regardless of how they obtained it, if people are reading my book, I’m grateful. But I certainly understand that eBook piracy is a real thing and devastating to writers, both indie and traditionally-published. I can’t say that if I actually found myself in that situation I wouldn’t start firing off DCMA notices to anyone and everyone.
If someone offered you immortality, but you could never write again…would you take the offer?
Not a chance. Writing makes me feel alive. What’s the point of living forever if you don’t feel alive?
What are you currently reading? How’s that going for you?
I’m about halfway through A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I promised myself I wouldn’t start watching Game of Thrones until I read all the books. I started back in 2011, set them aside to finish my own novel, then picked them back up. It’s going pretty well. This fifth book isn’t my favorite, but the finish line is in sight, so I’m plowing along. Hopefully by next season I won’t have to avoid my friends, Facebook or the Internet as a whole on Mondays in an attempt to avoid spoilers.
What will you be reading next?
I’m not sure. I’ve got about two dozen books on my Nook that I haven’t touched, books that have shown up on BookBub or that I bought to support author friends. I have a lot to choose from. I guess I’ll see what kind of mood I’m in when I finish A Dance with Dragons. Maybe by then The Winds of Winter will finally be out.
The Desiree Staccato
In honour of Desiree Holt who started this Saturday Night Live style tradition:
Favourite colour? Today it’s oxblood. Tomorrow it could be something totally different.
Favourite drink? English Breakfast tea
Favourite writing outfit? Pajamas
Favourite food(s)? It’s a tossup between pizza and a big fluffy scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam
Favourite music? Indie/alternative
Favourite sport? Baseball
Favourite body part? Eyes
Favourite spot in the world? London
Favourite movie? Splendor in the Grass
Favourite TV show? Friends
Favourite flower? Gerbera daisy
Favourite thing to do at knock-off time? Read or, if I have the energy, bake
Tell us about your book.
Cade Badgley has just returned from an overseas diplomatic mission when he learns that his father is dying. Cade has no interest in filling his father’s shoes, but the inheritance laws of sixteenth-century England leave him no choice: he is the new Earl of Easton, with a hundred souls dependent on him, a rundown estate, and no money in his coffers. A friendly neighbor offers to help, but at a cost: Cade must escort the neighbor’s daughter Samara to London and help her find a husband.
Samara, a tempestuous artist, would rather sketch Mary Tudor’s courtiers than woo them. But her beauty, birth, and fortune soon make her the most sought-after young woman in London. As Cade watches her fall under the spell of a man he has every reason to distrust, he must balance his obligations to Easton against the demands of his heart and the echoes of a scandal that drove him away from his family twelve years before.
The dark stone walls of Riverview House, Sir Cade Badgley’s family residence on the Strand, rose in front of his eyes. He lifted his face to the cool sting of rain that sputtered from the iron-gray sky. The months spent in prison at Castel Sant’Angelo seemed as if they’d happened to someone else, a long time ago.
He was home at last.
Three years and three months had passed since he’d set off for Rome at Her Majesty’s command. The hours had gone quickly now and then. At other times, they dragged to the point where Cade was afraid to look at himself in the glass for fear he would see a white-haired old man looking back at him.
But after five days of bouncing from bow to stern and back again—thanks to a thunderstorm-ravaged journey across the Channel from Le Havre-de-Grâce—and another three atop the borrowed horse that took him from Brighton to London, Cade found the vile stench of the refuse-strewn streets as welcome to his nose as a bouquet of fresh-picked Michaelmas daisies to that of a farmer’s daughter courted for the first time.
Cade allowed the exhausted horse to trudge into the courtyard. He slid from the saddle before tossing the reins to a young groom he’d never seen before.
“Welcome home, Lord Lunsford!” the groom exclaimed. Cade smiled a greeting, amused that the boy in his newness had mistaken him for Stephen, then entered the house and stopped inside the hall where he inhaled air fragrant with the sweet scent of familiarity.
Let Stephen have the earldom, the estates, and the responsibility that came with it all. Let him worry about keeping Easton’s people fed, its walls strong. Cade thanked God almost every day for making him the younger son and giving him the sense that had sent him running from the misery of his father’s home—without it, he never would have realized that he belonged in the city, serving Queen Mary and her court. His brother had done one wise thing in his entire life, and that was giving Cade free rein over Riverview House. Stephen rarely had need of it. He visited London only when duty forced him; he didn’t have a sophisticated bone in his pudding-soft body. But Cade couldn’t imagine life anywhere else.
“Welcome home, Lord Lunsford,” someone repeated as Cade moved in the direction of his library.
Lord Lunsford again? How many new servants had Jefferson hired in his absence? And why did they all seem to think he was Stephen? He’d sent word ahead. They should know it was he.
But when he turned to the source of the voice and saw that Jefferson himself had addressed him, he stopped short. Jefferson would not mistake him for Stephen. Cade’s belly twisted; his heart lurched in his chest.
No. I don’t want to hear it.
He swallowed hard and forced a grin, trying to pretend that his steward hadn’t addressed him by his brother’s title.
“Jefferson, you old dog, ’tis good to see you!” he said with false joviality. “Your hair’s gone gray and you’ve developed a squint, but other than that you haven’t changed a bit! You have no idea what a comfort that is. Thank you for keeping the house standing while I was away. I trust the man I sent ahead reached you a few days ago? I would sell my soul for a hot meal. I’ve had naught but stale oatcakes and dried meat for nearly ten days now. And please tell me my chamber is prepared! I long to sleep in a bed that doesn’t sway or smell of mildew. I must meet with Her Majesty tomorrow, and I would be refreshed.”
The easy tumble of words did nothing to relax the strangely pinched expression on Jefferson’s face. Of course, it wouldn’t, not if what Cade suspected was true.
“I apologize for the poor reception, my lord, but we expected you last week.” The steward cleared his throat.
“Of course, Jefferson.” Cade breathed with purpose, forcing the air into his nose before allowing it to pass slowly through his lips. He’d learned in Rome that this technique could calm even the most anxious man. It worked in prison. Why isn’t it working now? “The weather was poor. Our departure was delayed several times,” he added.
Jefferson nodded, his gaze fixed on a point over Cade’s left shoulder.
Cade clenched his fists. The pain as his nails dug into the flesh of his palms cleared his mind. “Let’s stop pretending, shall we, Jefferson? I’m not a stupid man. I’m not Viscount Lunsford unless my brother no longer holds the title. And the only way my brother loses the title is if he dies.” One more deep breath, in then out. “How did Stephen die?”
Jefferson twisted his hands in front of him. He appeared almost as terrified as Cade felt—if that were possible.
“An epidemic, my lord,” he confessed. “Not the sweat, but not unlike it.” Jefferson crossed himself. “It spread through the entire country but hit Worcestershire particularly hard in the late winter. Viscount Lunsford succumbed. Your father the earl took ill but has survived. Not knowing you were on the Continent, he sent a messenger here a few weeks ago to inform you of the viscount’s death. That’s how we learned.”
Cade struggled to absorb the words. Epidemic. Viscount Lunsford succumbed. In late winter? So Stephen had been dead for nearly three months, and his father had thought to inform him only a few weeks ago. Typical. He wondered why the old man had bothered to send word at all. He hadn’t wanted Cade to be earl any more than Cade had wanted it himself.
I will be earl. The world in front of him grew hazy-edged. Blood roared in his ears. He reached out to support himself on the first thing he could find, which happened to be Jefferson.
“My lord. My lord!” The steward, who was several inches shorter and of much slighter build, barely remained upright as Cade gripped him for support. He shouted to someone passing by. “Wine for his lordship!”
Something stronger, Cade shouted from inside his head. I’m my father’s heir. There wasn’t enough wine in England to dull the brutal impact of that ugly truth.
Courtney is kindly giving away a copy of her book, Some Rise by Sin, to a commentor, selected by random draw.
Entries close midnight MST on Wednesday and the winner will be announced on the blog (and contacted!)
Find out more about Courtney:
Buy Some Rise By Sin
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My thanks to Courtney for appearing here today!