Tag Archive | Cheryl Bolen

Cheryl Bolen: Ex-Spinster By Christmas (House of Haverstock, Book 4)

Interview with Cheryl Bolen

Susana: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Cheryl Bolen copyCheryl: When the nun who was my third grade teacher explained about paragraphs and asked us to make up one, I thought, “Wow! This is something I love to do!” I was one of those kids who spelled well and absorbed grammar and punctuation rules like some women collect shoes. Therefore, when I went to college, I decided to major in journalism so I could be paid for writing. (Until the Great Digital Disruption, it wasn’t easy to make it as a novelist in New York publishing.) I did major in journalism, with a double major in English. Then I got a master’s in education in case I ever wanted to teach. I worked for two decades as a journalist, and I also taught English for six years.

Susana: Tell us about getting The Call.

Cheryl: Sadly, I wrote seven complete novels before I got The Call 19 years ago from an editor at Harlequin Historical. I started in romantic suspense and won a lot of contests but never got a contract. Then I wrote a sweeping World War II love story which won even more contests but did not sell. It did, though, sort of get me in the back door at Harlequin because the editor judging the top three manuscripts in a contest in which it placed liked my writing and said if I wrote something that took place before 1900, she’d like to see it. The only historical genre I knew was Georgette Heyer. I’d read every one of her books; so, I sat down and began A Duke Deceived, entered the beginning in a few contests to see if it was good, and it placed in every contest I entered.  So I sent the first three chapters to that Harlequin editor, and she asked to see the complete manuscript. I sent it in and waited five months before I got The Call.

I was working as news editor of our community newspaper and came home for lunch, flipped on my answering machine, and there was a message to call the editor at Harlequin. I was shaking all over. I called my husband’s office to tell him, and he said, “Why in the heck are you calling me? Call her back.” I did, and she said they wanted to buy my book. “How does an advance of $5,000 sound to you?” she asked.  I was thrilled—and still shaking—but tried to calmly say, “That sounds fine.”

Susana: So how many books have you written now?

Cheryl: In August I received a pin from Romance Writers of America for writing 35 books. Since then, I’ve published two novellas. I’ve written for Harlequin, Kensington, Love Inspired Historical, and I’ve written one book for Montlake. It was a lighthearted, romantic contemporary mystery which I envisioned as the first book in the Stately Homes Murders, set in England. I began self-publishing in 2011 and have never been happier—and never made so much money! Of my 37 titles, all but five are Regency-set historicals.

Susana: What’s the heat level of your books?

Cheryl: My first ten years of publishing, I wrote to suit the New York publishers, and they wanted hot. Now that I’m my own boss, most of my books are sensuous with the bedroom door closed.

Susana: What’s next for you?

Cheryl: My next full-length novel will be the story of the third Birmingham brother—at readers’ request. The Birminghams, the richest bankers in England, were introduced in my Brazen Brides series. I haven’t started it and have zero plot ideas. This is a hybrid series, in that the first two (Counterfeit Countess and His Golden Ring) were written for Kensington in 2005, and I’m now continuing the series with my own imprint.

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About Ex-Spinster By Christmas

“Delightful author, delightful characters, delightful stories.”—Austintatious

Ever pragmatic, Lady Caroline Ponsby has given up hope she’ll ever receive a proposal of marriage from Christopher Perry, the wealthy man she’s adored for almost two years. She is determined to be an ex-spinster by Christmas. To that end, she has invited a prospective suitor to spend Christmas with her family. She knows very well that Lord Brockton would love to get his hands on her dowry, and she’d love to be a married woman with a home and family of her own.

The very idea of his Lady Caroline throwing herself away on the likes of the vile Lord Brockton rankles Christopher Perry. A pity he cannot offer for her himself, but a duke’s daughter is too far above his touch, given his family’s humble origins. Nevertheless, Christopher attends the Duke of Aldridge’s Christmas house party with the intention of thwarting Lady Caroline’s grave misalliance with Brockton. If only he’s not too late…

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Excerpt

http://www.cherylbolen.com/ex-spinster%20excerpt.htm

About Cheryl Bolen

Since being named Notable New Author for 1997, Cheryl Bolen has published more than 35 books with Kensington/Zebra, Harlequin, Love Inspired Historical, Montlake, and independently. She has broken into the top 5 on the New York Times and hit the USA Today bestseller list. Her 2005 One Golden Ring won Best Historical, Holt Medallion, and her 2011 My Lord Wicked was awarded Best Historical in the International Digital Awards, the same year her Christmas novella was chosen as Best Novella. Her books have been finalists for other awards, including the Daphne du Maurier, and have been translated into a dozen languages. She’s also been the number 1 bestselling historical romance author in Germany.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English from the University of Texas and a master’s degree from the University of Houston. Her favorite pursuits are reading diaries of dead English women, traveling to England, and watching the Texas Longhorns play football and basketball. She and her recently retired professor husband are the parents of two sons. One is an attorney, the other a journalist.

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Susana’s Adventures in England: Charlecote Park

In my mind, Charlecote Park will always be associated with buses—and the frustration of trying to find the one you need to take you to your destination. Maybe it’s not fair, since the problem I had was in part due to my own error, and it was certainly not the first time I’ve had issues finding transportation between train stations and stately manors, but it will forever be remembered as the place where I “lost it.” Or, as I put it when relating the story later to my friend Cora Lee, “I totally freaked out.”

rail-station

The rail system in the UK is fabulous, especially if you get a BritRail pass before you leave. The BritRail pass makes reservations unnecessary, so you can get on any train without having to worry about timing. Unfortunately, there is a little matter of the distance between the rail station and your destination.

I’ve found Cheryl Bolen’s England’s Stately Homes By Train very helpful in this regard because she gives specific instructions for buses and taxis. But things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to. For example, when you leave the train station and are confronted with a listing of buses that shows every number except the one you need, and nobody around you knows anything about that one, what do you do? My solution: find a taxi. The extra money is definitely worth the peace of mind.

bus

But you still have to find a way back to the train station. If you have a mobile phone, you can call the cab company that brought you there. Or you can make an arrangement with the taxi driver to pick you up at a certain time, but then you might have to cut your visit short, which is a shame, since these stately manors have so many sights to see besides the interior of the house.

So, make sure you have a mobile phone. Because you never know when you are going to find yourself at a station that has no taxi and no pay telephone. Even if the online information says there is a telephone there, it won’t help you if the telephone is inside a building and the building is closed for the weekend—or the bank holiday—or is just always closed and nobody bothered to update the information on the website.

So what happened at Charlecote Park?

At Leamington Spa, I walked outside looking for a bus station adjacent to the train station. (Later, I realized the directions said “bus stop”, but the bus stop in front of the train station did not list Charlecote anywhere, and the one across the road had a sign that said, “Check schedule,” which was not helpful, since I didn’t have one.) I walked around and asked several people if they knew how to get to Charlecote Park. They did not. So I returned to the train station and asked an employee at a window there where the bus station was. He said to take the path to the left, follow it around a bend, and it would be on the next street. Um, no. It was just a street.

I walked one way for a few blocks, then saw a bus going the other way, so I changed direction. On the way, I asked a construction worker, who scratched his head and said first one way, then the other. I kept walking. The road curved around and I asked an older couple who were getting out of a car with tennis racquets.

“The bus station? Oh, it’s right next to the rail station, right around this curve!”

Really? How had I missed it? I must be a real dunce. So I asked them if I should turn and go back the way I came or just keep going around the curve. They discussed it for a few moments, and then shrugged and said it was six of one and half a dozen of the other. So I decided to follow the curve rather than retrace my steps, which was probably a mistake, since I found myself on a busy highway that seemed to go on forever.

By the time I had reached the rail station again, I had already walked four miles and was about to lose my temper. But then I saw a taxi stand, and my problems were over. Or so I thought.

I did finally get to Charlecote Park. My first action was to get a latte and scone at the cafe and rest my aching feet. I did feel better after that, and kept telling myself the same thing I told my ten-year-old nephew when I took him and my sister to Mexico for two weeks: Think of it as an adventure you can brag to your friends about. What are a few hardships to a veteran traveler?

scone

But getting there is only half the problem. You always have to find a way to get back.

This time, I queried the staff in the ticket office, telling them the story of the non-existent bus station. They were sympathetic, but couldn’t tell me anything about a bus station. An elderly volunteer “who knows everything about the buses here” shook his head and said, “There hasn’t been a bus station in Leamington Spa for more than fifteen years.”

Aha! No wonder I couldn’t find it!

But there are buses to Leamington Spa. One employee got out the schedule to prove it to me. The bus stop is just around the corner. Turn right at the entrance and go around the corner and it’s right there. Such nice, reassuring people. This time I would find the bus stop!

But I didn’t. There wasn’t any bus stop. Had I misunderstood the directions? Or was this an unmarked bus stop that only locals knew about? By this time, I was really upset. Hopping mad, in fact.

But I had to do something. So I found myself at the Charlecote Pheasant Hotel. At first there didn’t appear to be anyone there. Really? This just wasn’t my day. Finally, I found a workman who directed me to the front desk, where, when I got there, I promptly burst into tears.

Humiliating, you say? I was way beyond that. The kind young woman at the desk offered me water and showed me to a place where I could sit and calm down. She was so helpful! When I was ready, she showed me where the bus stop was (and no, there wasn’t a sign), and I managed to get back to the train station all in one piece, and only slightly the worse for wear.

The moral of the story is—. Well, there really isn’t one. Having a mobile phone wouldn’t have helped in this situation. But when you travel, even if you have a great guidebook, expect to find unexpected difficulties. Do not expect that locals will always be able to help you—especially if you ask them for something that doesn’t exist. But do expect to find kind, compassionate people who will help you when you need it most. In the end, it will turn out to be a grand adventure you can tell all your friends and even laugh about. Maybe.

Charlecote Park

house

Charlecote Park was built by Sir Thomas Lucy in 1558. Located in Warwickshire, four miles from Shakespeare’s home, Stratford-upon-Avon, it is famous for having housed Queen Elizabeth I. According to legend, a young William Shakespeare was caught poaching deer here, and he took his revenge on Sir Thomas by portraying him as the fussy Justice Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor. The famous Capability Brown worked his magic on the landscaping here, but he had to do it without cutting down a single tree.

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George Hammond Lucy and his wife Mary Elizabeth refitted the house in the mid-nineteenth century in the style of “Good Queen Bess” or Elizabethan Revival. With the help of designer and heraldic expert Thomas Willement, they filled the new rooms with heraldic stained glass, early editions of Shakespeare, and ebony furniture (which they thought to be Tudor). Many tables and cabinets came from the bankruptcy sale of collector William Beckford.

Check out my photos from Charlecote Park here.

Cheryl Bolen: An Egyptian Affair

Tomorrow is release day for my fourth lighthearted Regent Mystery, An Egyptian Affair, so I’m especially grateful that Susana invited me here today. Just as an aside, I actually have two releases tomorrow. The second, One Golden Ring, Brazen Brides #2, is a re-release of a Christmas novel which was selected Best Historical of 2005 (Holt Medallion) and has been in and out of print (mostly out) ever since.

Many of you have been following my Regent Mysteries featuring Captain Jack Dryden and his wife, Lady Daphne. As their romance has already been told, each of the new Regent Mysteries, whilst featuring them as sleuths for the Prince Regent, features a fresh new romance.

In this book, Jack and Daphne must travel to Egypt to investigate the disappearance of an Indian Prince who was obtaining nearly priceless antiquities for the British Prince Regent. Since Daphne’s youngest sister, Lady Rosemary, is enamored of all things Egypt, they must take her along. Also accompanying them is Britain’s most imminent Egyptology scholar, Stanton Maxwell. Of course, Rosemary couldn’t possibly be romantically interested in such a nerd when one dashing captain of his majesty’s dragoons has captured her heart. Or could she?

Cheryl: Thanks, Lady Daphne, for visiting Susana’s Parlour today. So glad you’ve brought along your sister. I understand you’re just back from an exciting trip to Egypt.

Lady Daphne: Indeed. Rosemary and I have decided that since few British women have ever traveled to the Orient, we shall be have a little salon for the purpose of sharing our experiences in Egypt.

Cheryl: Are you going to tell the other ladies about the perils you faced?

Lady Rosemary: My brother-in-law Captain Jack Dryden does much clandestine work for the Crown and has sworn me to secrecy. However, I don’t mind sharing our experiences with things like crocodiles on the Nile or cobras.

Lady Daphne: (Scrunching up her nose and narrowing her eyes as she peers through her spectacles at her sister) Oh, but we won’t discuss the cobra that was intentionally placed in our bedchamber whilst we slept. I shouldn’t want to discourage faint-hearted ladies from traveling to Egypt. We loved it very much.

Cheryl: I suppose to you, Lady Rosemary, Egypt will always hold terribly romantic memories. Did you not marry your husband there before you had to return to England?

Lady Rosemary: Indeed I did. But I can say no more. We must save all the breath-taking details for the readers of your book.

An Egyptian Affair copy

Excerpt

You can read an excerpt of the book here http://www.cherylbolen.com/egyptian~ex.htm.

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About the Author 

Cheryl Bolen copyAn Egyptian Affair is the 30th book by Cheryl Bolen, a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. Many of her books have placed in contests, including the Daphne du Maurier (romantic suspense) and have been translated into ten languages. She was Notable New Author in 1999. In 2006 she won the Holt Medallion, Best Historical, and in 2012 she won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards and she’s had four other titles place in that competition. Her 2011 Christmas novella was named Best Novella in the Romance Through the Ages.

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