Shifting Gears and Finding My Voice

I have been MIA for the past two weeks, and for that, I apologize. If you aren’t aware, I am married to a military man. Which means, our lives revolve around his career. I embrace the life of a military spouse proudly. But the uncertainty that comes with it can be nerve-wracking on the best days.

waiting-for-orders

We had orders to a new base a few weeks ago. Then my husband made rank. Bonus! A promotion, a pay raise, and a new base. But it won’t be the one we had orders for, unfortunately. So we are in limbo at the moment, waiting to see where the powers-that-be will send us next.

My days have been spent sorting through my house, organizing and purging, preparing for the move I know is coming. So, I put aside my weekly posts until I found something worth sharing with you. I mean, really, sometimes I wonder if posting a weekly blog is even worth spending the time and energy.

Then I realized. If you’re a reader like me, then you just want to feel a connection with the author. I love hearing behind-the-scenes stories and snippets from an author’s daily life. I also enjoy when authors share their likes and dislikes. It makes them more relatable and human. Not that I think the authors I love are aliens or robots or anything so ridiculous. But, we do sometimes forget that authors have a life, a family, a home, friends, a social life, struggles, hopes, and fears. We forget there is a person behind the brand.

I adore the human connection. I long for the relationship between reader and author.

So, my wish is to do that here. I want to share bits of me with my readers. My question is, what do I share with you?

Well, it will not be my views on politics or religion. Sorry, while I hold my beliefs quite seriously, these are two topics that you will not see me talk about from this platform.

no-politics-or-religion-and-no-discussions-about-diets-or-gluten-jeeby-me

Earlier, I found a post on another page that had Questions to Ask an Author. I liked the idea, and I may run with some of those since each question could easily provide us with some conversation starters.

Next week, I’ll post a response to one of the questions on the site. Hopefully, I will have some questions from my awesome readers to answer.

images (2)

Do you have any questions to ask me?

Or do you have any suggestions for posts you’d like to see from me? Feel free to contact me using the form or send a message on Facebook or Twitter.

You are more than welcome to comment on this post with your ideas as well.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Confession of an Aspiring Romance Author

Time for a little confession. Okay, a big confession. I’m not always motivated to write. In fact, some days I’m downright discouraged. Being a self-published author is wonderful because I get complete creative control. The downside is…well, I feel like I’m standing in a crowd of thousands and my voice is being drowned out. I have a strong voice, solid stories, beautiful cover art, talented editors, and a supportive collection of family and friends. What more could a budding romance author want?

Readers. Faithful, engaging, loving, wonderful readers.

I have seen these types of readers. I’ve dined with them. I have laughed and conversed with them. They’re amazing people. I know, because I’m one of them.

The last two years I’ve had the fortune and opportunity to attend the Historical Romance Retreat. I attended strictly as a reader, but my little author heart couldn’t help but crave more. Seeing so many talented historical romance authors in one place. My poor fangirl self nearly imploded from the sheer pleasure of being in the presence of such talent.

Not only did I meet like-minded readers, I met authors I could have only DREAMED of meeting in person. Seriously, I could have died from pure bliss surrounded by people I admired and aspired to become. HRR has become the event of the season for me, and I will cherish every moment I spent traveling back in time and celebrating with my tribe of historical romance lovers.

Here are a few pictures from my adventure to HRR 2016:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And HRR 2017:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The costumes, the events, the interaction, the atmosphere. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, DO IT. It will be worth the expense and the time. (Here’s the link to the website: https://www.historicalromanceretreat.com ) The friends I made through this event have only fostered my desire to persist as a romance author.

Why do I bring up this conference? Because it energizes me. The thought of being at HRR gives me life. It gives my motivation life. I want to be these women. These passionate authors and voracious readers inspire me. They give me direction and purpose. I want to be them. I want to bottle their energy and drive and fuel my own goals. I came home feeling reinvigorated and ready to write my next book.

But coming back to reality is often jarring. And time away from such a positive and uplifting atmosphere seems to wear me down.

To be honest, I feel like I’m drowning right now. I’m drowning in hours of promotion and preparation. I feel like I’m sinking in the quicksand of social media trying to market myself and my brand. I can feel my motivation slipping farther away from my grasp.

My desire to write never dies, but it wavers, it falters. I find myself staring at the screen wondering if anyone can hear me. I wonder if anyone wants to read my work. The monsters of self-doubt and rejection and fear linger in the dark recesses of my mind waiting for the opportunity to prey on my insecurities.

I want to write. I want to publish my work. I want to bring joy to readers around the world who crave escape and romance and adventure if only for a few hours.

But how can I reach you, gentle readers? How can I prove myself to you?

Over the last five years, I have learned a great deal about writing and publishing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. I have grown, matured, and persevered. I’m damn proud of myself and my journey as an author. I will continue to grow and mature. I will continue to write. My passion for the written word and romance has never dimmed. I shall always be a reader first and an author second. Because that was where I began my journey.

My desire is to have a relationship with my readers. I love knowing that you enjoyed my work. I love hearing your feedback and constructive criticism. It helps me make my work better. I value your reviews and your recommendations. I absolutely adore hearing that you recommended one of my books to your friends. It makes my heart soar.

Your joy brings me joy.

I will soldier onward. My words will continue to flow. The stories will be told, come hell or high water. But I need you, darling readers, to do what you do best.

Read. Review. Recommend.

These three simple steps can mean the world to an author. Especially to this author.

My aspiration to join the ranks of Elizabeth Hoyt and Eloisa James and all the fabulous authors I’ve met at HRR has been my dream since I began this journey. And when I finally earn my place among them, I can truly say that it was you, my lovely readers, who helped me reach my goal. For that, I will be eternally in your debt.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNEAK PEEK at Deceiving the Earl

Hello, darlings. My latest novel, Deceiving the Earl, will be releasing in May! I’ve decided to share a little snippet from this Victorian romance. It has a dash of mystery and a hint of steampunk elements. If you’ve ever seen Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes film series with Robert Downey Junior, this book is similar in aesthetic.

Please keep in mind, this hasn’t been to my editor yet. So have patience with me. We’re still in the process of polishing the story. Thank you.

Allow me to introduce Adele and Christopher…

Spring 1895

Adele Prescott is the daughter of the Viscount of Longmont. After her family is killed in a house fire, Adele hides her identity and becomes a maid in the home of Lord Christopher Underwood, Earl of Dorrington. Why? Because she believes the fire was no accident and that the earl had some hand in her families deaths.

Lord Underwood is a man haunted by the past and laden with secrets. His reclusive nature leaves him to pursue his passion for science, but after the fire, he wishes for nothing but the blissful oblivion of opium and seclusion. Until he meets his new maid, and a plan forms in his mind. A plan that leads to an intimacy neither of them expected but brings them into the heart of danger.

Excerpt:

The sound of the door opening interrupted their solitary moment. A wave of fear forced Adele to spin around, turning her back to the door. She would not want to be caught idle while she was supposed to be working.

“My lord,” Elizabeth said behind her. “Pardon us.”

“Ah, yes, I had forgotten you would be here at this hour.” His voice tugged at her memories. While familiar, it echoed strangely in her mind, as though distant, foreboding, and strangely alluring.

Adele turned, keeping her head down. She bobbed a small curtsy and avoided meeting his gaze.

“Is this the new maid?” he asked.

“Aye, my lord, this is Anne.” Elizabeth stepped to the side as he approached them.

He paused before Adele. She studied his neatly pressed trousers and the tips of his polished shoes.

“If you will beg my pardon, my lord, I shall fetch some coal for the fire.” Elizabeth’s voice echoed from the doorway.

“Very well,” he said in dismissal.

Adele stood as still as her trembling body would allow. Her heart pounded. There would be no way to hide herself from him now. Most masters were satisfied when the work was completed and their servants remained silent. Adele closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What if he recognizes me?

“Anne.” Her alias on his lips sounded almost like a challenge.

“Aye, my lord,” she replied, her voice steady, unlike the emotions boiling beneath her calm exterior.

“Will you not meet my eyes?” he asked. When she hesitated, he tipped her chin up with his gloved fingertip.

With a deep breath, Adele met his gaze. She faltered only for half a second, not because of his familiar face, but because of the shock of his deep, soulful hazel eyes. Never in her father’s long acquaintance with him, had she taken the opportunity to converse with him, let alone share a lingering look.

Lord Underwood was even more handsome than she’d remembered. His dark hair lay in waves, longer than fashionable, but neatly kept. The strong lines of his jaw were shadowed by a days’ worth of stubble. It lent him a roguish air. Her breath caught. From his dark, penetrating gaze to the soft smile haunting his lips, Adele found herself mystified by the man before her.

He only ever visited her father to work in the laboratory. Everyone knew him to be a reserved sort, especially after he had returned from the war and inherited his brother’s estate. Adele wanted to despise him for the path he had led her father down. But finally seeing him, eye to eye, she saw the despair behind the gentleman’s façade.

His fingertips brushed along her scar. “An injury from the fire, I presume?”

“Aye, my lord.” Adele suppressed the sudden desire to run as he inspected her face.

“You were fortunate to escape with your life, my dear.” He nodded before dropping his hand. “How do you find your new post?”

“Very well, I thank you, my lord.” Adele tried to keep her answers direct and simple.

He tilted his head and regarded her closely. “Have we met before? Upon my visits to your former employer’s estate perhaps?”

“It is possible, my lord. However, I do not recall.” She bowed her head unable to bear the constant scrutiny, fearful he would remember her.

He exhaled sharply. “I shall leave you to your duties then, Anne.” He turned to leave before pausing in the doorway and gesturing to the cylinder in the corner of the room. “Oh, and careful as you dust the inverter. It is liable to produce an electric shock that may be uncomfortable.”

With those cryptic words, Lord Christopher left her.

Adele collapsed in a chair and pressed her hands to her cheeks. Relief flooded her as she realized he did not recognize her. The dye in her hair and the scarring from the fire must have altered her enough to allay any suspicions he might have. She allowed a smile to cross her lips. Surely she would be safe enough to discover what he had convinced her father to study in that laboratory.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Deceiving the Earl. I wanted to share the moment they first meet in the novel. What did you think?

I’m excited to share this novel with you. Keep an eye here for more details about the release date and special events.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

The Lost Art of Victorian Flirtation

Hello, darlings.

We all remember that tingle in the pit of our stomachs when the butterflies take flight at the thought of someone special. Especially when they enter the room. You’ve had your eye on them for weeks. They have been on your mind constantly and you cannot wait to see them again. They give you a feeling of elation unlike anything you’ve ever experienced in your life. But they don’t know how you feel.

What do you do?

Flirt, baby. Flirt like it’s the end of the world and this is your last chance to confess all those emotions you’ve kept bottled inside.

dbd12b_4f05708f39fb4fc79cf7f6195cce600e_mv2.gif

The art of flirtation is a delicate tightrope to walk just as much now as it was in the Victorian era. However, the methods have changed significantly.

W1TCpAS

While the prospect of leather-bound books and the scent of rich mahogany is appealing, the art of flirting wasn’t always so straightforward. The strict social etiquette of the Victorian era often limited the interaction between an unmarried woman and a prospective suitor. In fact, sometimes I think the possibility of being discovered was half the excitement of engaging in a flirtation.

Here are a few guides I found that provide ways of conveying your sentiments and flirting without ever using words. I thought you might find them interesting. I certainly did.

Honestly, I would be terrified that I would inadvertently send the wrong message. *gasp* How could you possibly undo that damage?

1790e0c04e346f2aef0db2000b56ae049c097dfa781d6bbf86972b9b587384bcf8

fan1

I would love to see these moves in action. Wouldn’t you?

But what about gentleman?

hat

eyeflirtation-1920s

Or perhaps you require another method to show your affections. Well, here are some signaling possibilities to take into consideration. Again, I would be extremely concerned about accidentally sending the wrong message. Or worse, sending one when I had not intended a message at all!

postage_stamp_flirtation

windowsignal

IMG_3899

Oh, sweet mercy, I’m exhausted. How could anyone keep up with all of this? Not only the etiquette but the flirtations!

And don’t even get me started on the American Escort Cards. Here’s a humorous look at their role in American Victorian history. CLICK HERE for article.

02escortcards.adapt.1900.1

Of course, one cannot forget to send flowers. But be aware, each flower holds a special meaning. It would be wise to choose flowers with care. Even the colors could represent a different emotion. Roses often came in a variety of colors and meanings.

languageofflowers

the-language-and-poetry-of-flowers-20-638

*collapses in a heap* I’m overwhelmed. I thought flirting today was difficult.

There is something to be said for the allure and romantic nature of such a flirtation. I’m not sure I appreciate the modern technique of flirting. It seems too impersonal and focused solely on instant gratification. I love the slow burn of a simmering attraction.

I think we should bring some of these techniques back. Not all of them, mind you, but I think it could be fun, even if I’m only flirting with my husband.

What do you think of Victorian flirtation? Do you prefer modern methods better? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Also, do you think I should make a video attempting to demonstrate some of these flirting techniques? If so, leave me a comment with your choice of flirtation to demonstrate. This should be fun.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Character Interview: James Bates

Welcome to my interview with James Bates, leading man in Winter’s Gentleman. We first met Bates in Jewel of Winter and followed him throughout the Thieves of Winter Series. I had quite a few requests for his story. I’m excited to say, his story is coming this summer!

I hope you enjoy this interview showing a deeper picture of the butler we all fell in love with in the Thieves of Winter.  If you’re curious as to who I would cast for Bates, the closest I can come up with is a cross between Gordon and Alfred from the TV show Gotham. Definitely more Gordon though. *wink* I’ve provided pictures of the actors from the show. Obviously not mine, just inspiration.

Me: Welcome, James, thank you for joining me today.

Bates: The pleasure is mine, my lady. How may I be of service?

Me: *blushes* Always the proper gentleman’s gentleman, aren’t you?

Bates: *smiles politely* It is my duty to be polite in address and serve as I can.

Me: You are a loyal servant of Lord Edmund Reddington, correct?

Bates: I am the head of the household staff, as well as Lord Edmund’s butler and personal valet on occasion.

Me: How long have you worked for Lord Edmund?

Bates: I have been in the employ of the Reddington house for fifteen years come September.

Me: That is quite a long time. Do you enjoy being a butler?

Bates: I have a generous employer and a stable position, I would be a fool to jeopardize it. To answer your question, I do, to an extent.

Me: Sounds like you’re being reserved in your response. This is a safe place, I promise I won’t tell Lord Edmund anything you reveal today.

Bates: While I appreciate the gesture, there are some secrets one cannot reveal. That would be—what do you call it, ah yes, spoilers.

Me: *laughs* Well, we appreciate your restraint. I’m sure readers would prefer going into your story spoiler-free. Would you be willing to answer some personal questions about yourself?

Bates: Within reason, of course.

Me: Of course. I’ll start off simple. What is your favorite food?

Bates: Roasted Duck with root vegetables. Although the occasional indulgence in chocolate never goes amiss.

Me: Do you know how to cook?

Bates: *pointed stare*

Me: I had to ask. *laughs* How about I ask about some firsts?

Bates: Very well.

Me: Tell me about your first crush. The first person you thought you loved.

Bates: That would be my governess. *heavy sigh* She was a lovely, young French woman, Mariette. I would have done anything she asked. She returned to France when I left for school at the age of eleven.

Me: Sounds like she made quite an impression on you.

Bates: She did.

Me: Do you have any siblings, James?

Bates: *shifts uncomfortably* I do. An older sister, Lilah.

Me: How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?

Bates: Thirty-five.

Me: I’m surprised you aren’t married. Do you have anyone special in your life?

Bates: Being a bachelor provides fewer complications. My employment is demanding of my time. It would be unfair to shackle some poor woman to such a life.

Me: You didn’t answer my question.

Bates: I believe you know the answer.

Me: Anna is quite young. Do you not find your attraction to her inappropriate?

Bates: In my era, it was not unheard of for a husband to be ten or twenty years his wife’s senior. Anna is nineteen. I have known her since she was a child. I admit only that she deserves better than me.

Me: Sounds like you have some heartbreak in your past. Did a first love break your heart?

Bates: A first love, no. But I made some poor decisions in my youth. Ones I will pay for until the day I die.

Me: So there’s no lost love you pine for?

Bates: No.

Me: Dare I ask about your first time making love?

Bates: That is quite a personal question, but if you insist on knowing, my first time was with a widow who lived in the village outside the school. She often brought treats for the boys. I shall leave the rest to your imagination.

Me: You are quite the tease, you know.

Bates: *takes a bow* So I’ve been told.

Me: *fans self with the interview papers* Let’s change the subject, shall we? *clears throat* Have you ever been in a fight?

Bates: Yes, several.

Me: Have you ever taken part in a duel?

Bates: *drops his gaze* Once, I would rather not discuss it.

Me: As you wish. Do you read?

Bates: When I find the time, I do enjoy a good read.

Me: Do you have a favorite author?

Bates: I am quite partial to Arthur Conan Doyle. His detective is quite an interesting fellow.

Me: You strike me as a highly educated man. Why are you working as a servant?

Bates: Penance. I am right where I need to be. *smiles half-heartedly*

Me: What can we expect in Winter’s Gentleman?

Bates: Answers, and a bit more insight into my past. I promise it will be more revealing than this interview.

Me: Well, thank you for joining me today. I shall leave the comments open for questions. If the readers have any questions for you, they can post them here. You can answer at your leisure.

Bates: My pleasure. I look forward to responding to their inquiries.

Thank you all for stopping by to check out my interview with James Bates, butler extraordinaire. If you’d like more interviews like this, please let me know. I had fun with this one.

Winter’s Gentleman is coming soon!

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

How to Write a Love Letter

This week, I’ve recorded a little video for you. Enjoy!

So, what are your thoughts? Are you going to write a love letter this year? Have you ever written one before? Share your experiences, suggestions, and thoughts in the comments below.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Love Romance? Love Movies? Check this out.

My family loves movies. But none of them loves them the way I do. While I’m a huge sucker for romance novels, I’m very picky about the romantic movies I watch. Especially if the chemistry between the love interests is non-existent or forced.

There are some films I saw as a kid that stuck with me. These are still on my keeper shelf. Most of these have distinct elements of romance in them that held my fascination well into adulthood.

I would love to share a few of those with you.

Gone with the Wind (1939) – It just. It’s a hot mess of volatile emotions, but it painted such a vivid picture in my young mind. I never sympathized with Rhett until I was older. Scarlett never deserved him.

 

tumblr_oi4c6kCV821vlcikso1_500
Yes, please.

 

The Mummy (1999) – Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell. *swoon* What can I say, I love the action, the adventure, and the smoulder. The attraction between Rick and Evey keeps perfect pace with the film. I love this film so much. Why do you think I named my daughter, Evelyn. *wink*

 

tumblr_nwq4f73Xya1sbqyzro1_r2_500
We totally understand why you’re flustered, Evey.

 

The Saint (1997) with Val Kilmer – What can I say, I love Val Kilmer. My dad recommended I watch this one when I was in high school. I fell in love with it. Not technically a romance, but the love story within the plot is memorable to me.

532-2
The Saint.

 

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Don’t even tell me that’s not a romance at its core, cause it is. That injured Indy kiss toward the end screamed it loud and clear. Indiana Jones and Marian had wicked hot chemistry.

 

giphy (9)
He’s milking this for all it’s worth. Smart man.

 

Persuasion (1995) with Ciarán Hinds – This adaptation of Jane Austen’s book by the same title will always have a special place in my heart. I picked up a copy of it on a whim when I was sixteen. I have loved it ever since. The slow burn chemistry in this one just has my inner romantic squealing with delight.

 

tumblr_mim3ubd4Vj1s5jeldo4_250
This scene though, it hits me right in the feels.

 

Oh, and how could I possibly forget to mention this little gem:

 

i5kZn9b
Madmartigan for the win.

 

Willow (1988) with Val Kilmer (again) – You see the trend yet? I love movies with action and adventure, but my favorites are the ones with well-placed, simmering, and believable romance bubbling on the back burner. This one still makes me laugh and swoon every time I watch it.

 

kilmer6
“You are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky, without you I dwell in darkness…”

 

 

tenor (2)
Me. Totally me.

 

Sorry, got a bit distracted there. *clears throat*

These films influenced the blossoming writer inside of me. They made me long to be like the independent heroines, full of sass and wit and fire. I fell in love with the snarky, dominant heroes who craved adventure and caved to the woman who enchanted them.

They helped mould the stories I wanted to write.

I’ve compiled a list of other films with strong romantic elements that have made an impact on me both personally and as an author of romance.

I realize that not everyone will enjoy the same movies I do. We’re not all wired to enjoy the same things. Recommendations for books or movies are tricky because of this. Still, I would love to share my personal favorites with you.

movies

So, I would love to hear from you. What movies would you recommend that aren’t on my list? Please post your suggestions in the comments.

Or, if you’d like to comment on my recommendations, I would love to hear what you have to say.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten