Meet My Character

My Facebook friend, fellow author, and like-minded history enthusiast Francine Howarth (do you get the idea that I like this lady a bit?) invited me to join the blog-hop Meet My Character.  Francine is not only a former mainstream-published author and former publisher, she’s now the self-published author of 17th century swashbuckling romances, lavish Georgian novellas, and romantic Regency murder mysteries.

I know.  She’s that awesome.

Find out more for yourself by visiting Francine at her website, where you can also find links to points of sale for all her novels.  You can even read sample chapters, view images of places featured within her novels, and discover links to more places of interest to historical novelists (like me!).

For this blog-hop, I’m to profile a main character from a current work in progress (WIP).  I classify my third novel, Earl Crazy, as a WIP, as I am currently putting the final touches on it before shipping it off to my editor.  When it returns with bleeding red wounds, I will definitely progress to working on it some more.  For now, let’s get to know my beleaguered, crazy Earl.

What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or historical?

Tobias Kitteridge, the Earl of Aylesford, is a most fictional character, although I picture him quite alive and well in my mind.  For each character in my book, I pick real titles, estates, and events, but I mix them up to fit my completely fictional story.  My Earl of Aylesford hails from Warwickshire rather than Kent.  He inherits his title after his father refuses to be the heir, forcing Aylesford’s grandfather to seek to have the Letters Patent for the earldom amended (which is very fictional, by the way; it could happen, and did in the 20th century, but not during the Regency). As for what Aylesford looks like, I picked a public figure that fit my idea of his characteristics.  On my Pinterest page, Novel Inspiration, I have tacked up pictures of close representations of my fictional characters.  Aylesford happens to look very similar to Tom Cullen, the dashing Lord Gillingham on Downton Abbey.

tom-cullen-actor

You can see why it’s quite easy for me to blur the line between figment and fiction, yes?

When and where is the story set?

Earl Crazy is set in the autumn months of 1814.  All the action takes place in London.  1814 was an unusual year in history in general, and London in particular.  February brought a Frost Fair to the Thames for four days as the river was frozen solid.  Napoleon was deposed, abdicated his crown, and set sail for Elba in April.  Louis XVIII decided it was safe to leave London, and departed with dreams of a triumphal return to Paris.  Universal peace was declared in May, and dignitaries from various countries began to find their way to the English capital now that the war had ended.  Wellington was made a duke, fêted formally in polite homes, and extremely informally at a masque held by The Dandy Club of Byron, Devonshire, Leinster, et. al.  The Glorious Peace was celebrated in multiple parks and ballrooms in August.  So unlike most years, the aristocracy stayed in Town throughout the summer.  It would not do to miss a thing this the happenings in London, despite the heat and unfortunate stench.

london 1814 closeup

What should we know about your character?

Tobias Kitteridge is a man who grew up without a childhood, inherited an earldom that should never have been his, and shouldered the responsibilities of an entire family.  His grandfather, having lost two sons to accident and war, and the third and youngest to a world-wide treasure hunt, pulled young Tobias from university to bring him home for study.  He petitioned Parliament to let the earldom bypass his living son – Tobias’s father – so that grandson Tobias could inherit.  His petition was granted, thus ending Tobias’s youth of school, friends, and frivolity.  Life soon became endless lessons on land management, book balancing, and sober living.  At the death of his grandfather, Tobias became Aylesford, and inherited the care of his grandmother and aunt in addition to his wealth, lands, and tenants.  When we meet Aylesford, he is desperately trying to balance the demands of the earldom and supervision of his relations with the understandable desire to pursue his own interests for a change.  Just when things seem to be working out, two of his closest friends marry; now even the landscape of his friendships is changing and adulthood is leaving him behind.  A drunken suggestion is made that the answer to Aylesford’s problems can be found in a wife: one who will manage his family and his household, and allow him some much-desired free time.  This leads to a drunken advertisement for a wife (another bit of real history coming to life in my fiction).  Mix in two scheming countesses, one daffy aunt, liberal drops of the machinations of well-meaning friends, and you have the picture of life for Aylesford in Earl Crazy.  Sounds like he only wants for the perfect – for him – woman.

ArmsOf3rdEarlOfAylesford

What is the main conflict?  What messes up his life?

I touched on this a little bit above.  Aylesford had to grow up too soon, and missed out on many of the classic youthful male pursuits of drinking, wenching, and gambling.  His main conflict comes in trying to find a balance between his responsibilities and needing a much-deserved break from those responsibilities.  He thinks he’s figured out a solution with the helpful prodding of his friends and family: a wife will take over the household concerns while his secretary and stewards will help with the earldom.  In reality, a wife complicates his life . . . but in a surprisingly satisfactory way.  He congratulates himself on finding a lady who needs help as much as he, thinking they can both do each other a fine turn.  Instead, he finds that he likes her, wants to spend time with her, and relishes taking on the burden of ridding them all of her horrid brother.  It ends up further “messing” up his life, eroding what little order he had managed to scrape together, but in exchange he finds much more than he ever thought he needed.

life messy love messier

What is the personal goal of your character?

This is a bit of a difficult question.  At the beginning of the story, I think Aylesford’s goal is simply to survive.  He wishes his life were simpler, and wishes his responsibilities were lighter, but he doesn’t necessarily want them to go away.  He wishes his problems were more self-solving and involved him less.  After he marries, thinking he has achieved his goal of simplicity, we see him start to look at his life from the outside in, taking stock of the things that are important and those that are secondary concerns.  Pretty soon, his goals becomes to nurture and protect.  First he wants to help his wife, to give her the things she has missed most her life.  Next he wants to protect her from her threatening, grasping brother, and the subsequent worries he causes.  This softening of Aylesford’s perspective leads him to trouble himself personally for people rather than just attempt to manage them – he begins to care for his wife, react tenderly to his aunt and grandmother, and cherish his friends.  Responsibilities become privileges.

love story

Is there a working title for this novel? Can we read more about it?

There is a working permanent title for Book Three in The Lords of Oxford series – Earl Crazy.  It will be published later this year.  Soon I’ll have the cover to reveal, chapters to share, and general newsy bits to discuss.  I do have an excerpt that well describes the heroine’s perception of Aylesford, and gives a bit of insight into how others see him.  Lady Margaret and her benefactor, the Countess of Ashford, with whom she is staying as her brother is threatening her safety, are on their way to Aylesford’s house.  The Countess has just read of the Earl’s need for a wife, and she thinks Margaret is the perfect candidate.

The Earl of Aylesford.

Margaret bit her lower lip in concentrated thought.  That man unsettled her, for some nameless reason.  The gentlemen of her immediate circle were affable and courteous, as was Lord Aylesford, but that gentleman also made her feel . . . something indefinable.

She usually avoided men as a general rue.  They were unpredictable, brash, hot-headed, and downright mean.  The men of her family had taught her early that their sex was selfish and impatient, and brooked no intelligence or impudence from their women.  So she became a great studier of persons – their character, actions, and expressions – and tried to blend in as much as was possible.  But the Earl of Aylesford was a mystery, other than seeming to be perennially frustrated or harried.

And those black, fathomless eyes.

“You are thinking of his lordship, yes?  Worrying and wondering what possible reason we have to visit him.”

Lady Ashford’s words scattered Margaret’s musings to the wind.  “I thought we visited his relations, his aunt and grandmother.”

The Countess’ knowing smirk faded to a look of chagrin.  “Yes, that’s what I meant.  I merely misspoke.”

“You never misspeak.”

The Countess now flushed.  “True.  You misunderstood, then.”

It was Margaret’s turn to color, but she paled instead, casting a quick eye down at her beautiful borrowed morning dress.  She raised a hand to her elegant up-do, brushing her fingers as well against the delicate gold earbobs the Countess insisted she borrow.  “Please, Lady Ashford, I beg you not include me in any scheme–“

“Scheme?  I also never scheme.  I plan, and would even admit to the occasional plot, but never would I be so vulgar as to scheme.”

Margaret leaned across the carriage to take her mentor’s hands.  “Then I do beseech you leave me out of any ideas that should arise from this morning call.  There is nothing I lack that Lord Ayesford, or his family, should be sought to provide.”

“So you want nothing to do with anything planned at Kitteridge House?” Lady Ashford queried, enunciating the last three words carefully.  Her eye narrowed under beetled brows as she waited for an answer.

“Yes–” Margaret began.

“Ha-ha!” the Countess interrupted in victory.  “All was conceived at my own dining table.  My plan is well in hand, and now allowed by your own concession.”  She squeezed Margaret’s hands in reassurance.  “Trust me, darling girl.  I have your best interests at heart.  Or if it makes you feel more at ease, this meeting is as much about what you can provide this family as they, you.”

Margaret swallowed painfully, and loudly.  “I am well and truly sunk.”

Lady Ashford smiled with tenderness and affection at the timid lady now slumped back in the squabs opposite her.  “No, my dearest.  You are saved.”

So there you have it.  I’m hard at work in the writing cave, creating like mad for release later this year.  If you’d like to stay in the know, do the clicky thingy on the follow buttons of your choice up there on the right side of this page.

But this tour isn’t over yet.

jane austen good company

There are two other lovely ladies participating today, and they would adore it if you’d stop by, browse a bit, and say “hi.”

sasha

Please visit Sasha Cottman to read about her upcoming new release.

She also has a giveaway going on here.

madame gilflurt

Finally, hop on over to meet Catherine Curzon, AKA Madame Gilflurt, of Covent Garden fame.

 

New Release and FLASH GIVEAWAY ~ Shelter Me by Kathy Coopmans

Shelter Me cover

Shelter Me, the brand-spanking new novel by author Kathy Coopmans, debuts on September 7.  Check out this sneak peek from Kathy:

At the young age of nineteen, Shayne Andrews thought she had it all. She had the love of her life, her high school sweetheart, and a bright future ahead of her. That is, until one day he just disappeared, leaving a note as his only goodbye. With her heart shattered and broken, Shayne did the only thing she could. She left her small town on the shores of Lake Michigan to start her life over, needing to distance herself from the memories she and Luke had made. At that time, she vowed to herself that she would never return to her hometown again. Seven years later, Shayne realizes that fate is not on her side as she returns home for her aunt’s funeral, bringing back the one secret she swore to protect.

kathy teaser

Luke Schavone has regretted every day that he had to leave Shayne behind. Though he didn’t have a choice, his heart still bore the scars from the impact. After five years, Luke returned only to find that Shayne was gone. His best friend was the only lifeline he had to finding her, but Adam wasn’t talking. When the one thing Luke has wanted everyday for the past seven years runs right into him one night, he becomes determined to make sure he doesn’t lose her again.

kathy teaser3

At first, Shayne is hesitant. She wouldn’t be able to survive losing him again, but the pull toward him is so fierce, she can’t deny herself the chance. With her decision to start over, Luke and Shayne must admit truths and come to terms with the events that forced them apart in the first place. When secrets are revealed and old threats come to pass, will Luke be able to shelter Shayne from the destruction, or will she become lost to him forever?

smteaser

Can’t wait one more day to snag your copy of Shelter Me?  You’re in luck!  Do the clicky thingy and pre-order now at Amazon.

You can also add Shelter Me to your list at Goodreads.

kathy teaser2

Don’t miss out and join in the fun to at the Facebook Release Party to get more behind-the-scenes scoops.

IMG_7254

Kathy is a Michigan native, where she lives with her husband Tony. They have two sons, Aaron and Shane.

She is a sports nut. Her favorite sports include NASCAR, Baseball, and Football.

By day she is a hairstylist and loves her job. She has always been an avid reader, and at the young age of 50 decided she wanted to write. She claims she can do several things at once and still stay on task.

Her favorite quote is, “I got this.”

 

Still need to know more?  Find Kathy on:

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

 

~~~~

Now for the FLASH giveaway.  You can see Kathy’s inspiration for her hero in the graphic above – the tasty Jake Gyllenhaal.  Who would be your lusty romantic inspiration?  Who are you sure would set the room on fire if he would only come on over?  Post a pic of your hunk in the comments below to be entered in the giveaway.  It’s that simple.  And if you want extra entries, tag your friends to come share their inspiration – just have them also mention that you sent them.  Winners will be drawn on Sunday, September 7, and will receive a free digital copy of Shelter Me straight from the author.

I’ll get us started with my obsession the inspiration for the hero of my coming release this autumn, Earl Crazy.  I call him Tobias Kitteridge, Earl of Aylesford.  Others know him as Tom Cullen (currently starring on Downton Abbey as Lord Gillingham).  Le sigh.

tom-cullen-actor

We’re Beautiful.

Beautiful.  What does that word even mean?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines beautiful as “excelling in grace of form, charm of colouring, and other qualities which delight the eye, and call forth admiration.”  Yikes.

look great see no one

The most popular definition at Urban Dictionary says, “Beautiful is a woman who has a distinctive personality, one who can laugh at anything, including themselves, who is especially kind and caring to others.”  Now this definition, I love.

sweat pants cheerleader

Different cultures have different standards of beauty, and those standards have evolved over hundreds of years under the such diverse influences as economics, norms, fashion, and even religious beliefs.

Author, historian, researcher, and all-around Wonder Woman, Geri Walton, blogged this week about Ideas of Female Beauty in the 1700s and 1800s.  It’s a fascinatingly specific essay on what people – and especially men – considered beautiful two and three hundred years ago.  Some ideals seem a touch odd today, like round knees, white shoulders, an unaffected air, or a smooth, high forehead.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of the characteristics called beautiful are still used as measures today: youth, smooth skin, straight teeth, and plenty of bosom.

If there’s one thing history can teach us about beauty, it’s that someone will always be around to judge who they think is or isn’t qualified to wear the adjective.  So it’s up to us to set our own standards, create our own definitions, and find what fits for us.

It’s just like Mr. Knightly said: “Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us perfect for one another.”  (For the purists: I know it was 1996 movie Mr. Knightly, or rather screenwriter Douglas McGrath, and not Jane Austen who gave us these words . . . but I’ll take them.  And Jeremy Northam.)

Do the clicky thingy and head over to read Geri’s post at 2Romance, and check out the beauty standards of yesteryear.  You might be surprised to see that a  few of the things we search for in our mirrors were the same things searched for in a foggy pier glass in a Georgian town house.

beauty isnt perfect

5 Easy Questions

RLF-Badge

Did you catch my answers to 5 Easy Questions at fellow author Kayelle Allen’s Romance Lives Forever blog?  The questions are designed to be easy and fun, and they were!

In case you missed the post, click here and find out some of my favorites, and if I have a book boyfriend.

It’s no surprise that I do, but who he is might be.  Here’s a hint: he’s never been repped on the big screen by Colin Firth – although that’s not a bad idea….

boyfriend material

An Irresistible New Release!

For your reading pleasure this weekend – the latest release from author Stacy Reid – a steal at 99¢ through Monday, August 18.  It’s on my kindle.  Go grab a copy for your e-reader, too! ~RR

The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell

A Scandalous House of Calydon novel by Stacy Reid

With a longing for adventure, the last thing Phillipa Peppiwell wants is to marry. After a painful betrayal by a man she trusted, she is wary when she unwittingly catches the attention of roguishly handsome – and sinfully tempting – Lord Anthony Thornton. Forbidden desires she secretly yearns for threaten to crumble her icy facade and reveal a past scandal best kept buried.

Dissatisfied with his empty life, Lord Anthony seeks a deep and lasting connection… and finds himself intrigued by the Ice Maiden of the haute monde. Undaunted by Phillipa’s aloof nature and her distaste for the idea of matrimony, he sets out to thaw the bewitching beauty by enticing her with adventures of the most sensual type. But he, too, hides a scandalous secret… and if it’s discovered it could rip them apart.

The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell
Order from

Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks kobo Amazon UK Amazon Canada Google books_logo_lg

About The Author

Stacy is an avid reader of novels with a deep passion for writing. She especially loves romance and adores writing about people falling in love. Stacy lives a lot in the worlds she creates and actively speaks to her characters (out loud). She has a warrior way, never give up on her dreams. When Stacy is not writing, she spends a copious amount of time drooling over Rick Grimes from Walking Dead, watching Japanese anime and playing video games with her love, Dusean Nelson.

Find her here:

@st_reid | Facebook | Website | Good Reads

Sign up for her Newsletter to be among the first to hear about her new releases, and read excerpts you wont find anywhere else. She also does giveaways for subscribers, a winner is chosen every month!

Stop, thief!

plagiarism

Plagiarism.  It’s not borrowing.  It’s not expounding.  It’s theft.

Fellow author Rachel Ann Nunes discovered something no writer ever wants to see: her work, slightly embellished, being passed off as another’s.  Third person voice was changed to first. Adjectives were rearranged. Sex scenes were added.

Ms. Nunes contacted the other “author.”  Multiple contradictory excuses were offered, but none rang true.  It was almost as if the other “author” couldn’t think up an original explanation; a sad reality for a plagiarist.

It’s unbelievable to think that thieves – because that’s what you call someone who steals – always think they will be the one to get away with it.

From Ms. Nunes’s blog (I added the italics):

It is with a very heavy sadness I take hours from my young children and my work to write this post. I rarely write such detailed blogs, and the necessity of it now breaks my heart. And if you read to the end, I promise, this is going to shock you that something like this really is happening. My life was torn apart this weekend when it came to light that an anonymous author on the Internet, who is known only by a logo and a fake name, had plagiarized my novel, A Bid for Love (formerly entitled Love to the Highest Bidder), which is the first of a trilogy.

It has been verified by four separate readers that Sam Taylor Mullens did, indeed, add steamy scenes to The Auction Deal, her revised version of my Christian novel, and claimed it as her own. Her subsequent emails to different people and contradicting statements online while trying to cover her tracks has shown a definite intent to do fraud. This path she has followed is far more outlandish than any novel I’ve ever read.

Excerpts from both books (see screenshots below for more):
Chapter Two, first paragraph, Rachel Ann Nunes 1998 – The Dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years. They puffed out from her scalp and plunged halfway down her back as if they had lives of their own, helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the double sink reflected from the brown tresses, bringing out the subtle gold highlights.

Chapter Two, first paragraph, Sam Taylor Mullens, Auction Deal 2014 – Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life. They puffed out from my scalp and plunged halfway down my back. They helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the sink reflected the brown tresses.

That ^^^ is plagiarism.

This Sam Taylor Mullens appropriated an original novel, written in 1998 and published in 1999, and attempted to pass it off as her own.  Did she think no one would remember a 15-year-old novel? Did she think readers and reviewers would not possibly connect a Christian Romance with her sexed-up NA offering?

Ms. Nunes decided to contact Ms. Mullens, and what followed were textbook examples of evasion, fraud, and cyber-bullying.  Please follow this link to read “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say.  It is well worth your time.

Excerpt taken from the blog of author Rachel Ann Nunes, post entitled “Standing Against Plagiarism,” at rachelannnunes.blogspot.com.

My Sexy Saturday

Every Saturday, a group of romance authors share sexy snippets from their published works or works-in-progress.  We share seven paragraphs, seven sentences, or seven words.  To read some selections from other authors, click here.

 My snippet comes from the second book in The Lords of Oxford Series.  I’m going to share seven paragraphs of a weak-in-the-knees moment from A Marquis For All Seasons.

 

A Marquis For All Seasons

“Close your eyes,” he commanded, chuckling slightly as she quirked her brows, both of course, without acquiescing. “Please.” He chuckled again as she harrumphed then closed her eyes. Stafford stepped closer until they were nearly touching from head to foot. He drew a finger up to stroke the outline of her countenance. “Your face is the shape of a heart, your jaw stubborn and proud, and the strength of your character and determination can be easily seen,” he began, “but it’s also soft as the finest silk, tempting a man to feel if it is as smooth as it seems.” He traced the line of her jaw, from ear to chin and back. She trembled slightly. He smiled. He moved his finger to her cheek.

“Your skin here is so fine, the color of the most delectable cream, and flushes a pretty pink with your every emotion.” At his words she pinkened but did not retreat from his touch.

“Your nose is neither aristocratically long nor snubbishly pert. I love the way it wrinkles when you have a problem to solve or find fault with something.” He drew his finger down the bridge, tapping her nose lightly on the end. He paused in his inventory, smiling to himself as she unconsciously scrunched her nose. He moved his exploration to her eyelid, tracing first one, then the other.

“These protective folds cover a most intriguing pair of eyes – blue as the most precious sapphire of India, yet bluer than the sky on the clearest summer day. They are as mesmerizing and captivating as water of the Channel you so love near your summer home.” A sigh escaped her and he moved to her brow.

“These specimens are most provocative; perfectly proportioned, slightly darker than your honey-colored hair, and so expressive.” He drew a light finger over each one, marveling at the tiny shiver it elicited from her. “I find it fascinating how they raise in simultaneous salute when you mock me, or think you return my quizzical stare.” She gasped and tried to open her eyes but he rested both forefingers against her lids. “You do, raising both brows rather than one, and it is most endearing. I hope that never changes,” he confided almost absentmindedly, distracted by his next object.

“Lastly, your lips . . .” he began softly, tracing first the top, then the bottom, slowly, deliberately, focusing intently on the path of his fingers. Her lips parted slightly under his touch, her tongue darting out to moisten them. Stafford’s gut clenched, and he leaned in to whisper, so closely his lips might have brushed hers with certain syllables, but he could not be sure. He was falling under his own spell, and could not find cause to care one whit. “These are most enticing to a man, like the petals of a bud that has yet to bloom, its promise of secrets hidden within more intoxicating than the strongest of spirits.” He brushed his lips across hers. Miranda gasped and grabbed his arms for support. Her eyes popped open to stare deeply into his. Stafford felt as if all the air fled from the room, his gut clenching awkwardly again.

“You are not merely pretty, Lady Miranda, nor beautiful. You are enchanting.” She stared deeply into his eyes, possibly his very soul, before dropping her gaze to his lips. He swallowed convulsively at the sight before kissing her lightly again. Where these words and feelings were coming from he knew not, but the compulsion to speak them, then drown in another of her kisses, was irresistible.

So, what do you think?  Sexy?  Smoldering?  Yes, please?