Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Research is Hell...Okay. No, It's Not.


I just got back from a trip to England and Ireland. All right. I'll be honest. I would have gone no matter what. But this time I got a chance to research my new series, Drake's Rakes(why yes, that is the cover to the first book, BARELY A LADY, my July release).

What did I do in England? I walked. To be specific, I walked Mayfair and St. James. I had a backpack and my computer, my camera, a notebook and a cache of coins with which to buy myself a gin and tonic at select pubs, and I set off to walk the streets my characters walked. I peeked in windows and counted doors, I read all those cute blue plaques that denoted what famous historical person resided or visited or spoke of what building, and I sat on a sidewalk with my gin and tonic when I couldn't squeeze my way through all the London marathoners who were sidling up to the pubs(of course I picked the day that every public park was closed so people could limp and frown past with numbers pasted to their backs). I even rode a double decker so I could look down on the city my characters walked. And then when I was finished in London, I did the same thing in the Cotswolds(well, except for the double-decker. Precious few of those in Stow-in-the-Wold).

It's how I research. Oh, I read the books. I studied the colored plates and maps and the details of uniforms and pelisses and high perch phaetons. But if I really want to understand my characters' universe, I need to see it and hear it and smell it myself. If I want my heroine, Olivia Grace to walk Curzon Street, I need to walk it so I can see how it meanders uphill toward Hyde Park. I need to walk into Berry Brothers where the famous scale still resides that held Brummel and Poodle Byng. I need to know how to get to St. George's and what it feels like to sit in the park at the center of Grosvenor Square. What was it like to stroll up St. James(and you really do stroll UP St. James)?

I need to meander over the gentle hills of the Cotswolds and see how the buildings really do glow that buttery yellow in Burford and Bourton-on-the-Water. I need to sit in the pubs where centuries of people have sat, where the fires warmed the rooms and the floors soaked up the spills. It's like when I sit there I can actually hear what went on, and pass it on into my own books.

You see, I'm a global learner. Information just doesn't connect unless I can take it in through all of my senses. And if I'm quiet, I can hear the voices of the people who have been there before me, I can smell the fire that warmed the rooms and smell the ale that spilled on the wood floor. I can see the teams of horses swinging through the archway out onto the street and feel the shock of cold air as the door opens on the handsome loner, who is pulling off his driving gloves and removing his curly beaver hat as he steps into the crowded room.

But that book hasn't happened yet. Right now it's summer and Waterloo looms. I just wish I'd had the chance to walk the battlefield before I wrote about it. But I don't get always get the chance to do my favorite research. Which I why I took advantage of it when I could and spent time in England. I'll take any help in making my stories and characters more real. Even if I have to suffer through a wonderful trip to England in the spring.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day

Gah!! Tax day! I must confess that I actually mailed my taxes off yesterday (go me!), so I don't have to stand in the long post office lines today. If you've got a visit to the post office in your future, you do have my sympathy.

But, hey, once you get your taxes finished, I think you need to reward yourself. And what better reward is there than a good book? Books are my favorite rewards--and they also help me deal with stress (ahem, like the stress that comes during tax time). Books are the friends who are always there when I need them. No stress, no hassle--just my guaranteed happy ending.

What's your favorite reward? Or, what do you use to help you deal with stress? Books and chocolate? Sweet, sweet chocolate. Or do you like to head to the movies and enjoy a few hours of visual escapism? Tell me...what's your pleasure poison?

Thanks!

Cynthia Eden
DEADLY FEAR--Available 08/01/2010 from Grand Central Publishing (Forever)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boxes and unpacking and free books, oh my!


I don't know if I've mentioned on here before, but The Professor and I have been building a house the better part of the last six months. Okay we've been paying to have a house built, we never even lifted so much as a hammer. But this past week it was done and we closed and the U-haul came and now we live in a veritable maze of boxes.

The unpacking is going fairly well, but I don't seem to be making much of a dent. There are still so many boxes and Rubbermaid crates to go through. But one thing I have found are all my author's copies and well, I think it's time to get rid of some. So if you're interested then all you need to do is make a comment here and you might win an autographed copy of a book from my backlist. I'll pick 5 winners. Okay we need a topic, comment and tell me about your favorite or least favorite movie and what your favorite TV show is right now.

In addition to this spontaneous contest, I'm also running a Spring Fling contest with Fresh Fiction.

In the meantime, please allow me to share the first review for DESIRE ME.

"I did not just read this story, I inhaled it in one sitting. Danger, mystery, romance, suspense, and history all blend together with a healthy dose of the Atlantis legend. The result is a book destined for your Keeper shelf. Robyn DeHart has written a treasure trove of trouble that will have you reading at top speed!" ~ Huntress Reviews

Monday, March 15, 2010

Conference On My Mind

Hi, everyone! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend.

As I write this post, I am in serious writing conference mode. This year, I'm the conference chair of my local RWA chapter's Silken Sands Conference (it's a conference at the beach--score!). I've been to lots of conferences--big and small, and I always enjoy the energy level at these events.

Some other things I enjoy?

Well, I love hearing from the agents and editors--it's always great to get an inside scoop on the industry and find out what's hot right now in the publishing world.

I love meeting other writers and learning about their writing process. (It seems like we all do things a bit differently.)

I love meeting readers at the booksigning events. Total thrill for me!

I love the workshops because I always feel like I learn something new.

Ah, yeah, I enjoy the conferences.

What about you? Have you ever been a conference (either a reader-focused one or a writer-focused one)? And what did you like about the event?

Thanks!

Cynthia Eden
www.cynthiaeden.com
DEADLY FEAR--Available 08/2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Laurel McKee Winner!

The winner of a signed copy of Countess of Scandal is--Meljprincess! Please send your snail mail address to me at LaurelMckee7551 AT yahoo.com

Friday, March 05, 2010

Laurel McKee Talks St. Patrick's Day

Hello everyone! Newbie author (to Grand Central, anyway!) popping in to say hey. Last month was meant to be my blog debut here, but, well, life had other plans. I'm so happy to join you here for March, though, since one of my favorite holidays is coming up--St. Patrick's Day!

I grew up in a very Irish family where St. Patrick's Day was a big, fun deal every year. At my grandparents' house, they would hang out a big Irish flag (sort of like the giant Greek flag on the garage door in My Big Fat Greek Wedding), my grandmother would make bangers and mash and shepherd's pie along with soda bread, and the grown-ups would drink Guinness and hard apple cider while the Chieftains were on the CD player. Now I usually make it to a parade of some sort and a local pub (where I'm now allowed to drink Guinness myself, though I still really like the ginger beer of my childhood!). In my Daughters of Erin series about the Blacknall sisters and their heroes in late 18th/early 19th century Ireland (book one, Countess of Scandal, which is set around the Uprising of 1798, came out last month!), no one has a St. Patrick's Day party. I'm kinda sad about that, but we can have our own party right here!

St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday in Ireland (a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic), and strangely it's also a national holiday in Montserrat. Here it's just widely celebrated, though not "official" (I heard Australia has a big party that day, too!). It's officially a feast day celebrating Ireland's patron saint (St. Patrick, AD 385-461). It's a holy day of obligation for Catholics in Ireland, and usually falls during Lent (though if it falls on a Friday, the obligation to abstain from eating meat doesn't apply--lucky for all that corned beef and cabbage!).

St. Patrick's Day was an exclusively religious holiday in Ireland until it became a Public Holiday in 1903 (along with a law requiring pubs to close on March 17--boo! This was repealed in the 1970s). The first parade in the Irish Free State was in 1931, and in 1997, in an effort to use St. Patrick's Day to better showcase Irish culture, the first St. Patrick's Day Festival was held. By 2006 it was 5 days long, with over 675,000 at the 2009 parade.

In the US, the Irish Society of Boston held the first parade here on March 17, 1737. New York City's famous parade began in 1762. In 1780, General Washington allowed his troops a holiday on March 17 "as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence." Other early parades in the US include New Orleans (of course! Always on board with a party) in 1809, Savannah in 1813, and Philadelphia in 1771. Today St. Patrick's Day is widely celebrated by Irish and non-Irish alike, with hige parades in places like Seattle, Indianapolis, Chicago, and many, many others. Do you have one in your town?

How do you celebrate the holiday??? (To one commenter on today's post I'll give a copy of Countess of Scandal to celebrate the Month of Being Irish! And be sure and visit my website for more info on the "The Daughters of Erin"...)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sneak peek of Desire Me


Here it is, the first official excerpt from Desire Me, in a bookstore near you this June!

Max moved farther into the room. He wasn't even certain what he searched for specifically. But Sabine Tobias must know something about Atlantis. Why else would she be so secretive about her desire for his map?

He knew there were other people, besides himself, who sought the lost land. Some searched for treasure, as it was said that Poseidon had built the entire central palace out of gold. Some searched for ancient texts with secrets to medical cures because Atlanteans were rumored to have advancements in all areas of science. Still others sought the fountain of youth or healing waters that were rumored to be flowing through the canals in Atlantis.

Max, though, wanted it all. He wanted to find the actual city. Just as Pompeii had been lost beneath mounds of ash, so he believed Atlantis survived beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. He was not foolish enough to believe it would have remained unscathed. Water erosion certainly would have altered much of the rumored land. But something existed below the surface, and he intended to find it.

He couldn’t resist pursuing the possibility that there was a new clue. Especially not when it came wrapped in the tantalizing package that was Ms. Tobias.

He crept forward to better examine the items on the shelves. Along with dried herbs and oils, he found lanolin and glycerin and all other manner of ingredients. A basket of ribbons sat next to the empty jars.

What was the crème Cassandra had purchased? Some fashion of smoothing crème. And Sabine wanted his map. She too sought treasure, though of a different sort. She was after the fountain of youth, that had to be why she’d come in search of him.

He continued sifting through the shelves, but there were no secret texts or books or anything that would hint at what Sabine might know of the map.

Thus far his search had been futile. He should probably turn and leave. Chances were if Sabine had something to hide, she kept it upstairs in the living quarters and he couldn’t risk sneaking up there. But he’d never been able to walk away from a worthy puzzle, and it would seem that Sabine Tobias might be the most interesting mystery he’d come across in a long while.

He took steps toward the front of the shop. Perhaps there would be something hiding in those cupboards. The floor creaked beneath his weight. He stilled. There was yet another noise.

The doorknob jiggled from behind him. Someone else was trying to get in. Perhaps Miss Tobias returning home late from another game of chance? Quickly Max moved to the other side of the stairwell and hid in the narrow cubby beneath.

The door jerked open, and two men lumbered in. Max could hear a third voice outside the door. Three men, one outside to keep watch. Sabine Tobias' shop was certainly gaining in popularity. What a pity he hadn’t thought to bring along a couple of thugs himself. Max withdrew further into the shadows.

If he hadn't been certain before that Sabine Tobias was hiding something, now it seemed quite evident. From beneath the stairwell, Max couldn't see much of what the men were doing, but he could make out a few words of their hurried whispers. They didn't sound educated, and they didn't seem to know specifically what they were searching for. They'd obviously been hired to break into the shop. In Max’s experience, “employees” of that nature were highly unreliable. They took no personal interest in their assignments and generally proved to be rather unmotivated. Not to mention a bit dim. No doubt their search would not be thorough.

Max settled his back against the wall, prepared to simply wait them out. However, when the stairs above him shifted slightly, Max moved to the edge of the cubby to get a better glimpse. Delicate, pale ankles attached to feminine bare feet crept down the steps.

Bloody hell! Miss Tobias. Did the woman have no sense at all? What was she doing sneaking down to investigate? Surely she did not intend to fight off would-be thieves in nothing more than her nightrail.

He craned his neck, looking for the thugs in the unlit store room. Thank goodness, they were busy rifling through the cupboards. He positioned himself, and once the lady came within reach, he clamped a hand across her mouth and pulled her into his hiding place. Her muffled protests were punctuated by those delicate feet kicking into his shins. He stifled a groan of his own.

He turned her around to face him, careful not to uncover her mouth. Sabine Tobias stared up at him, her eyes wide and angry. He frowned at her, then leaned close to her ear.

"Kick me again, love, and I'll let the wastrels get you," he warned in a whisper.

Like what you've read? Well, you're in luck. One lucky reader will win an autographed advanced reading copy of Desire Me. All you have to do is tell me what Seduce Me is nominated for. (hint the answer is somewhere on my website....)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy (late) Valentine's Day

Did you have a great Valentine's Day? Did you get flowers, chocolate, or maybe a card that made you teary? :-)

I got one of my absolute favorite gifts--a bookstore gift card! Oh, sweet, sweet gift card!

Now, I get the chance to head out and find some great reads. Some wonderful happy endings that will make me smile for days.

I've been working on the page proofs for my first Grand Central release (DEADLY FEAR, available 07/27/2010), and as soon as I finish, I'll use that gift card to buy me some reward books. Because, yes, I believe in the reward system. As soon as I finish a project, I always reward myself by reading great books.

So tell me, what should I read? I'll be finished with the page proofs tomorrow and I can't wait to hit the bookstore. Give me some book recommendations!

And happy (late) Valentine's Day!

Cynthia Eden
www.cynthiaeden.com
DEADLY FEAR--Available 7/27/10
Face your fears.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Feelin' Good



There's a song I've always loved called Feeling Good. I first heard Sammy Davis Jr cover it(yes, I am giving away my age) when I was a teenager. It's about changing, about starting again. The refrain goes as follows:
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life for me
Feelin' good.

Kind of says everything about my first blog for Grand Central Cafe. Anybody who recognizes my name might know I've written a few forensic suspenses, some short stories and one romantic fantasy with Jen Cruise and Anne Stuart. If you know I also have a pseudonym, Kathleen Korbel, you'll know that I've also spent the better part of twenty years in contemporary romance, romantic suspense and again, romantic fantasy. Now, it seems, I'm moving off into another new direction. I'm wading right into historic romance.
It isn't a new story in publishing. We're always reinventing ourselves. Our muses have been known to skip around like toddlers in a park. Muses are like that. Certainly mine is. It might be because I'm a trauma nurse. We tend to be impatient and restless. It might be because I have ADD. It might be because I've always read every genre and wanted to write in them all. I guess it was only a matter of time before I stepped back in time.

So how did I arrive here? To tell the truth, I've been flirting with it forever. I love historical romance. I love the challenge of writing what is reallly a modern heroine within the limits of historical constraints. Okay, I even like the clothes. And my favorite period has always been the Regency era. Not just the Georgette Heyer and Austen Regency, the Richard Sharpe and Horatio Hornblower Regency. It's actually how I discovered the period. I'm from a family of 10, 7 of us men. I never knew who Shirley Temple was til she was a delegat to the UN. On the other hand, I know every movie John Wayne died in. So, yes, I love a little action. A bit of battle, a nefarious spy or two, a race against time. My problem was that I stunk at research.

It's only taken me twenty years to figure it out. Not only that, I learned to travel for research. Okay, maybe it's an excuse. But tell me what other job would encourage me to ride elephants in India and track fairies in Ireland. I can't think of anything I enjoy more, except writing the stories those experiences inspired.

So here I am, and my first book for Grand Central comes out in July. Entitled BARELY A LADY, it begins the DRAKE"S RAKES series with the story of Olivia Grace, who stumbles over her estranged husband on the battlefield of Waterloo...in an enemy uniform. After that, things get complicated. Yes, there is a battle, and there are nefarious spies, and a couple who has been apart for four years, but never really stopped loving each other. It's about survival and loyalty and okay, it's about the undying passion one man has for the woman he loved. It moves from Waterloo to the ballrooms of Mayfair, and introduces some of my favorite characters I've ever written. And it has given me an excuse to return to England and Ireland this spring, and hopefully, soon, India, where I plan to climb the Himalayas and discover more characters.

So it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, and yes. I'm feeling good. As for the photo, you're just going to have to settle for that until I can get my cover up. But I figure that if you aren't already in love with Regency adventure, Sean Bean should get you there.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Dreams, dreams, glorious dreams...

I want to write a book!

I can't remember the statistics now, but I heard once that the proportion between people who want to write a book and people who actually do is microscopically small. I looked for numbers on-line, but all I could find were advertisements for ghost writing and websites offering to show you how to write a book in 3 months. As soon as you start telling people that you are a writer (published or not) people say to you, like the cashier at Wal-Mart, "Oh, I've always wanted to write a book." I always find this odd because for me if you want to write a book, you generally end up on a journey to eventually writing one. I've never not wanted to be a writer, so it's just part of me. But this statement that comes from random people would be like me, upon meeting a doctor saying, "Oh, I've always wanted to be a doctor."

So why is writing so different? Why do we all feel as if we can all be writers simply by the act of writing? All good questions, and I'm not sure I know the answers, but I can give you my take on things. I think people assume that simply because they've been reading books their whole lives that they could put one together. I know that when I sat down and started my first book, I just started making stuff up. (which I realize is what you do with any sort of fiction, but there are times when it feels more like you're making stuff up and the rest of the time it feels as if you're telling a story – big difference) It didn't take me long to figure out, I had no idea what I was doing.

There is a great deal of talent involved with telling a good story and creating believable and memorable characters, but more than talent, there is hard work. And just as watching the Discovery Health Network doesn't prepare me to do surgery on your appendix, being a life-long reader doesn't prepare you to write a book. At least not entirely. Writing requires learning and honing just as any other profession. But once people realize this, the majority abandon their dreams of writing.

Sounds sad, but in reality, it mostly means they were just nice thoughts about wanting to be a writer, you know like, "Wouldn’t it be cool if I were a rodeo clown." But most people don't actually become rodeo clowns. Not to disrespect any rodeo clowns who might be reading this blog. But when it comes down to it, you have to want this so badly that you'll put up with a lot to achieve it. No different than my husband working his tail off to earn his Ph.D – hard work and perseverance.

But for those of you who haven't walked away, who have been bit by the writing bug and can't seem to shake the little critter loose, I say to you... Don't give up. Don't be afraid to want it all. Don't be afraid to reach for the stars. (Que: Disney music) Excuse my sappiness, but it's true. And frankly, it's really better advice for the non-writers out there. Chances are if you're on this journey, at whatever stage, you're a big dreamer. And I don't mean that in the, "If you actually think Johnny Depp is going to leave his wife for you…keep dreaming, sister!" I mean simply that, for whatever reason, being a writer seems as attainable to you as being an attorney or a school teacher. It might not always feel like this on the outside, but on the inside, it's all there. And the majority of people are not like this. Which is sad.

Case in point. One of the things that surprised me the most when I first sold was the reactions of non-writers. They were simply astounded that I'd had a dream and actually worked it into reality. They would say, "Wow, you've always wanted it and you just worked hard until you got there." Up until this point, I'd never really considered any other way. I guess I just had good parents because being an author never seemed like an unreachable goal. There were times along the journey where I was uncertain of whether or not I would succeed. I even quit twice (for one day each), but it never occurred to me that this was about dreaming big. It never occurred to me that wanting to be an author was like wanting to be the lead singer of a rock band. To me, that sounds far-fetched, yet some people achieve it because we do, in fact, have rock bands.

(The other thing that surprised me, and still does, was to have someone, upon learning that I'm an author, ask, "Where can I find your books?" To which I always want to give them a snarky reply. Seriously, where do you buy your books? But that's neither here nor there.)

Okay, now I'm just rambling. Blame it on the fact that I've been up since 4:15am and can't seem to go back to sleep. I just love mornings like this! In any case, I hope this makes some sense.

So what are your big dreams? (and did you see that beautiful cover at the top of the post? isn't it so pretty?)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Girl, Checking In...

Hi, everyone! My name is Cynthia Eden, and I'm the new girl. :-)

I currently write paranormal romances for Kensington Brava, but this August, I'll be taking the leap into romantic suspense with Grand Central Publishing. And--look! I've got my first romantic suspense cover! (Love it, btw.)


I'm used to writing about monsters--the creatures that can haunt our nightmares. But, for this book, the monster isn't a vampire or a demon. He's a serial killer. And, for me, it's those real-life monsters--those bad guys who *could* live down the street from you--well, those are the truly scary ones.

In DEADLY FEAR, my villain uses fear to torture his prey. He makes them face their worst fears, and they usually don't survive that face-off.

Do you have any deep, dark fears? Or perhaps some not-so-dark fears? Tell me about them. I'll pick one commenter to win an Cynthia Eden book of her/his choice.

And, in case you were curious about DEADLY FEAR, here's the blurb for the book:

TWO BRILLIANT AGENTS

FBI Special Agent Monica Davenport has made a career out of profiling serial killers. But getting inside the twisted minds of the cruel and the sadistic has taken its toll: She’s walled herself off from the world. Yet Monica can’t ignore fellow agent Luke Dante, the only man who ever broke through her defenses.

ONE DREAM TEAM

Luke has the unique ability to put victims at ease…professionally, he and Monica made a perfect team. Now they’re reunited to catch a murderer who uses his victims’ deepest, darkest fears for sport - but their investigative skills aren’t enough. Luke and Monica will have to face the secrets from their past, the ones that terrify them the most, if they are to have a future together.

But can they catch a killer whose weapon is…DEADLY FEAR

***

Happy Reading!


Cynthia Eden

www.cynthiaeden.com

ETERNAL HUNTER--available now from Kensington Brava