Note: The giveaway is now closed. Winner will be announced tomorrow.
I can’t believe it– the sixth and final installment of the Six-Book Giveaway is here. But if, as they say, all good things must come to an end, at least we’re going out with a bang with… drumroll please… (Okay, I know you saw the title but play along anyway)…
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Joanna at RWA– we talked about classic black & white romantic comedies, the writing process, and the joys–ha–of writing under a deadline. I had just finished reading The Spymaster’s Lady the week before the conference and I couldn’t resist telling her how much I enjoyed the book. I found The Spymaster’s Lady to be clever, thrilling, and beautifully written. If you haven’t read this book, well, get yourself a copy, pour yourself a glass of Bordeaux, and enjoy.
After finishing The Spymaster’s Lady, I knew I’d quickly be picking up Joanna’s next book, My Lord and Spymaster. The book which– in case you hadn’t heard–just so happened to have won the RITA for Best Regency Romance of 2009.
He found the traitor, the man who killed his best friend.
Trouble is, he’s falling in love with the traitor’s daughter.
After her father is wrongly accused of selling secrets to Napoleon, lovely Jess Whitby infiltrates the London underworld for the real traitor—only to end up naked in the bed of a rude merchant captain. Not only is she falling in love with him, but he may be the scoundrel she’s looking for.
So today I have a signed copy of My Lord and Spymaster, generously donated by Joanna, for one of you. In addition, I asked Joanna if she’d be willing to talk a little about herself and her writing, and she very graciously replied. Here goes:
JJ: When did you first realize you wanted to write, and how did you get started?
JB: I don’t think I so much wanted to ‘write’ . . . as I wanted to tell stories. That goes back to the beginnings of memory.
I remember keeping my little sister up at night because I was telling her stories. I was about four maybe?
We used to take . . . oh, scarves and boxes and mirrors and our blocks and cans from the kitchen and make ‘kingdoms’ across the living room floor. We’d make up whole histories about what happened there.
Then we’d walk our dolls through the landscapes and the stories and give ’em dialog and action.
Not bad training for writing, actually.
JJ: What is it about writing romance that appeals to you?
JB: I’m a ‘happy ending’ kinda gal. I want the bad guys to slink away, defeated, and the heroic and virtuous, (more or less,) to be rewarded. I want to believe people can find happiness when they hold onto their courage and their ideals. I want my women to win.
That’s more of less the definition of Romance, right there.
JJ: What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
JB: Tell the story you have in you. Care about what you write.
On a practical note . . . the way to write is to write, write, write.
After you write, write, write, go back and edit, edit, edit.
JJ: What do you do on those writing days when you’re stressed, worn out, or distracted?
JB: Ummm . . . I write . . .?
I do pretty much what you do if you’re a bank clerk or a football player or a brain surgeon or the mother of a two-year-old. When you are frazzled and worn out and at the end of your rope, you just keep on adding up columns of numbers or slamming into 280-pound linebackers or slicing cerebrums or singing Marsy Dotes.
There is great advice on the writing life out there . . .
Carve out time for the hobby that refreshes your spirit. Exercise. Eat right. Hold onto your friends and family as if they were particularly buoyant logs and your boat was sinking. Be genuine in every encounter, unless it’s going to get you eaten by lions, of course. Be generous. Let go of grudges. Call your parents every week. Take Vitamin C.
But, y’know, I’d give the same advice to the mother of a two-year-old.
JJ: What can you tell us about your current (or next) release?
JB: This one is Maggie and Doyle’s story. It’s set in 1794, in Paris, during the French Revolution, at the height of the Terror. Think Tale of Two Cites and The Scarlet Pimpernel.
This setting allows me to have sufficient of what we call, ‘External Conflict’ — i.e. bad things happening to the hero and heroine because of outside forces — without expending any particular effort on my part.
JJ: What are you watching on TV these days? (Or what are you reading?)
JB: I am coming down to the finish wire on the Doyle and Maggie manuscript, so I’m not reading or watching anything right just along of now.
But when I do watch TV, I tend to like . . . I guess you’d call it ‘elegant puzzle’ TV. Bones. Burn Notice. CSI. NCIS. Criminal Minds. That sort of thing.
JJ: What are you listening to on your Ipod?
<jo looks around>
JB: Ipod? What Ipod?
I do have a playlist on the computer. When my surroundings become noisy, I turn that on so I can tune out the distraction.
Next up on the playlist is Bob Dylan’s Forever Young. Then Woodie Guthrie, in the wonderful Library of Congress recording of ‘Froggie Went a Courting‘, and then, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun‘, by the Beach Boys.
JJ: What is your biggest weakness (shoes, purses, chocolate, etc.)
JB: There’s books, of course. I would have every wall in the house covered with books if I didn’t hold myself back. And flowers. They are a great luxury, but I do love flowers on the table.
JJ: Complete this sentence: One fun thing about me that people might not know is…
JB: I almost became a marine biologist.
S’rsly. Fascinating work. I would have gone into it in a serious way if I had not been so very susceptible to seasickness.
There I’d be — pondering on how interesting all these luminous benthic bacteria were and admiring the beauty of the ocean with the sun hanging just on the horizon and feeling the sea breezes caress my hair — and I’d also be hanging over the side of the ship, sick as a dog.
“I want my women to win.” Well said, Joanna. I couldn’t agree more. And thanks so much for the thoughtful responses!
So now for the giveaway– one lucky person who comments below will win a signed copy of My Lord and Spymaster. The contest will run until 10pm CST on Tuesday.
Happy reading everyone!