Erica’s Dark and Dangerous Rogues

Amy here.  This is my last post with Teatime Romance. I thought I would write about what an amazing experience it’s been or all the great friends I’ve made, but that’s sappy. Instead I’m going out the same way I came in with a kick-ass great debut author: Erica Monroe.

I’ll still be around on my own blog and haunting Facebook and Twitter. Now, check out Erica and her amazing book. I’m not saying that because she’s my friend an critique partner, either. It’s truly a great read. Enjoy and stay in touch.

erica-monroeWhen we first launched Teatime Romance in September 2012, I had just started drafting what would become A Dangerous Invitation, the first book in my Rookery Rogues series. A little over a year later, I’m proud to be the final entry into Amy’s debut author series.

How did you start writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve told stories. I was blessed with teachers who not only realized that I had talent, but who nurtured me and helped me grow as a writer. In college, I started out as an English major but quickly switched to focusing on writing. (And ended up with an English minor anyhow, due to my love of Brit lit and Shakespeare!) I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do with my major, so I ended up in the secretarial field. About three years ago, I started to really read Regency romances when a friend introduced me to them. I was hooked. Previously, I’d dabbled in contemporary short stories and sci-fi, but the historical genre fit both my voice (all those years of reading Dickens, Eliot, Austen, etc.) and my love to research.

When did you realize you wanted to be a romance author?

 

RWA Together

RWA Together

I started seriously pursuing romance almost two years ago, when I moved to North Carolina. In January of 2012, I joined the Romance Writers of America and that really changed everything for me. I had joined Twitter the prior year, and through Twitter I’d started to talk to other authors with an interest in history. I queried them for advice, and they suggested I join RWA. Being part of RWA has given me access to such amazing resources and people.

Through Twitter, I met some members of the Heart of Carolina chapter, the Raleigh-Durham chapter of RWA. My husband and I were both trapped in jobs where we couldn’t move higher on the ladder. Raleigh promised growth for both of us. Because of HCRW, I suddenly had a bunch of people wanting to help me. I learned how to edit, when previously I’d just been free drafting. I learned to stick with a project.

But I think everything really started to click when I found about the rookeries in London. Those poorer areas seized hold of my imagination and wouldn’t let go. I read romances that had a darker voice—Meredith Duran, Cecilia Grant, Maire Claremont—and I realized hey! I could do that! I didn’t have to be completely traditional in my approach. I could show the emotional angst of a relationship.

That sold me.

Why did you decide to self-publish the Rookery Rogues?

As regular Teatime readers know, I am a control freak. I have a little trouble—okay, a lot of trouble, shut up MrMonroe—with the idea of other people handling things for me. It also makes me crazy to wait on things. Because of that, self-publishing appealed to me. I wanted to be the one in the driver’s seat, making the decisions about my craft. I also don’t like the idea of anyone telling me I can’t do something, so having to bend someone else’s will really annoyed me. I wanted to write the stories that I’M passionate about without having to consider if my agent or publisher would like it.

With Vanessa Riley at the Beau Monde Conference

With Vanessa Riley at the Beau Monde Conference

In that vein, when I started to plan out the Rookery Rogues, I realized this was going to be a series that would be a drastically hard sell to publishers. Not that it wasn’t good enough, or that it wouldn’t have a market—but the combination of suspense, darker elements, grit, and the lower class setting make it anything but your usual fare for historical romances. I could wait a long time, trying to convince people to take a chance on what is the very definition of a niche romance, or I could seize the opportunity and publish it myself.

So far, so good! I had a lot of help. I got a great photo from Jenn LeBlanc at Studio Smexy, and Rachel Rivera at Parajunkee Designs worked with me on my cover. Isobel Carr did my print layout, George from Dead River Books was amazing at formatting, Deb Marlowe advised me. Emma Locke and Darcy Burke have fielded all my self-pub questions and been invaluable to me.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on putting a short prequel to A Dangerous Invitation, which is called A Wayward Man. I want it to be available for free to readers as an introduction to the series. Then, I’m working on a novella called Secrets in Scarlet, which is Poppy O’Reilly and Thaddeus Knight’s story.
What kind of tea do you like?

Normally, I’m far more of a coffee drinker. But in the wintertime, there’s just something about hot tea. I’m drinking a lot of black teas lately. I have a soft spot for Bigelow because that’s what I grew up drinking. Raspberry Royale, Constant Comment, Lemon Lift, English Breakfast…all favorites.

About Erica..

Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance. Her debut novel, A Dangerous Invitation, Book 1 of the Rookery Rogues series, released in December 2013. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina, and the Beau Monde Regency Romance chapter. Erica can also be found blogging every other Saturday at Teatime Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.  Connect with her on her website.

You can purchase the e-book for A Dangerous Invitation at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksAll Romance E-Books,
or Smashwords.  Paperback is available through CreateSpace and Amazon.

A Dangerous Invitation

One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of three years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his Rookery_eBOOK_Smsins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

Excerpt

“What part of ‘I shall make you bleed’ did you not understand?” Kate kept her hands hidden behind the solid wood of the banister, preferring him to think she might be armed.

He rounded the last step, coming to a stop in front of her.

Kate retreated against the bannister, which came up to her hips. “Why are you here, Daniel? I already told you I wouldn’t help you.”

“I need to know.” Daniel took another step forward, effectively boxing her up against the bannister.

She leaned back further, unbalanced. What did he need to know? Who had killed Dalton? If she believed him? Or worse, if she still loved him?

Cold air swept in through a broken window on the first floor, ruffled the knotted ribbon of her straw hat underneath her chin. Her fingers clenched around the worn wood of the railing, gripped so tightly her knuckles became white.

She might never feel sure of her footing again.

“You let it pass for three years,” she charged. His urgency made no sense.

“I shouldn’t have. I won’t this time. Dalton deserves justice, and so do I. I’m going to investigate Dalton’s murder whether or not you help me.” Daniel brought his hand to rest on her arm, heat penetrating through her greatcoat. “But truly, I came back for you.”

He leaned his head down, so that their eyes met. His gaze pulled at her. Her body longed for his touch, craved it, as if he was the answer to every question she’d had in the past three years. He could not love a woman so wrecked.

She retreated back again. Bent against the bannister, it sagged against her weight and a threatening groan echoed from the wood. She didn’t move, knowing that if she did she’d be back in his arms within seconds.

He took one look at the bannister, then at her, and tugged her closer to him. His hold was strong, but not unrelenting. She was flush against him, so close she could feel the beating of his heart. Warmth replaced brisk wind, and his presence blotted out loneliness until she was part of something greater, something powerful beyond herself.

She feared that heady sensation. Passion didn’t stick to predetermined routes and checklists.

When he spoke, his breath tickled her skin. His voice rumbled in her ear. “I don’t want to lose you again.”

A tremble tore through her. In those few months after he left, she’d woken with those words on her lips, whispers from dreams wherein he’d fulfilled his promise to return for her. He was here, and she forgot the reasons why she should loathe him.

Everything but the smell of bergamot and cloves disappeared. An altogether familiar aroma, one intrinsically locked in her mind as his, yet different this time without the overlay of pine needles. It enveloped her, clouded her senses. She lifted her head from his chest.

She looked him in the eye. But that was a mistake, for his eyes shone with the same desire she kept trapped.

“If I didn’t know better, I might believe you.” She forced herself to step away from him. “I can’t be with you again.”

“Kiss me.”

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Chatting about Romantic Suspense

One of the questions I get asked the most when talking about the Rookery Rogues with readers is how I’m able to work in stories of suspense alongside the romance. I dabble in reading contemporary romantic suspense, but in truth my love for the grittier elements came from my intense love for Agatha Christie. Growing up, I read every one of Christie’s Poirot mysteries, often times more than once. Of course, my favorite is Murder on the Links, in which Captain Hastings falls in love. I love the way Christie was able to paint a picture of every secondary character, so insightfully that you knew who they were in just a few sentences.

Of course, as a romance writer, I’m more concerned nowadays with the relationships between characters than I am with the “whodunit.” I’m not a particularly clever person at solving mysteries, and I’ll admit I’m often along for the ride instead of actively detective solving. I never pursued a career in criminology because of this, despite my extreme affinity for crime shows. When I work on the suspense elements for The Rookery Rogues, what I want to create is a perilous situation—or a series of situations—that either furthers the bond between hero and heroine, or does something to estrange it. In A Dangerous Invitation, I use a combination of this. There’s a scene where Kate and Daniel are running from the villain and they’re trapped in a wool warehouse. A closeness grows between them, for they’re forced to depend on each other. This startles Kate, who isn’t willing to deal with her reemerging feelings for Daniel. So in a sense, not only has the chase brought in an element of action, but it has increased the conflict.

One of the books I read when drafting A Dangerous Invitation is Conflict and Suspense, which I’ve talked about before. I loved this book because not only does it give you exercises to work on, but it also examines different techniques. For me, I like to approach a book with both proverbial guns blaring. I don’t pull puns in the first draft—I’m going to throw everything I can at the book and see what sticks. Sometimes this means awesome scenes get cut, and sometimes it means I move things around so that I can include this new fight or mystery.

But what I really have to remember when I outline a book is that yes, this guns blasting approach is great, but you need to give your readers time to rest. There needs to be a break between the tense moments. I love emotional angst (no one is surprised) and that’s obviously one of my favorite things to write. Last Saturday at my chapter’s holiday party, I was talking to fellow author Kianna Alexander, and she mentioned that often the sex scenes in a book are the “rest period” for the reader. This is especially true in romantic suspense, when the stakes really are often life or death. The reader needs that time to breathe and recharge for the next crazy explosion.

Rookery_eBOOK_SmWhat I recommend to other romantic suspense authors is finding a critique partner who is as equally interested in all your action-centric elements as you are. I found that when I met Jennelle Holland through Teatime. As many of you know, Jennelle also writes romantic suspense and she’s a martial artist. I’m so fortunate to have Jennelle because not only does she correct the fight scenes I write but then she tests them out with her husband to make sure they’re feasible. Because I have no actual fighting training, this is so helpful to me. I run into a lot of problems visualizing just how a fight should go. I see the movements in my head, but I don’t always know the best punches or kicks to insert to get the right effect.

But mostly, I just love to write things that go boom.

 

A Dangerous Invitation is out in the wild! Get your e-copy today at the following vendors: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords |

A Lot Like Love

Let’s talk about love.

Okay, before you start humming because that totally sounds like a pop song, follow me here. So my mother visited for Thanksgiving, which was absolutely lovely. She lives in Florida so we don’t get to see each other as much since I’ve moved to North Carolina. Visiting with my mother was her fiancé and his family (son, daughter-in-law, and grandson). This was the first real holiday we’d shared as a blended family, at least for me, and I was a little nervous. My father passed two and a half years ago, and it still hurts that he’s not here to share my life. But there’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, brought on by this visit: love takes a lot of different forms.

Family = Love

Continue reading

It’s Okay to Know Nothing

The  only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
-Socrates

My name is Erica, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Question 3So if I say this to you, your first reaction might be to look concerned and go “Awh, honey, that’s not true. You totally got this.” Perhaps in time, that would be true. As I age and gain experience in this crazy world of publishing, maybe I’ll start to feel like I understand a little bit more.
Maybe each attempt at starting a new book won’t feel like I’ve forgotten every single thing I ever learned about writing and I’m again sitting in my Fiction I class during my freshman year of college, being told that I need to “write what I know.” (To read my thoughts on that, check out here). I’d like to think I’ll suddenly receive some sort of grail-like knowledge about writing that will convince me I’m not a hack, but I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. Continue reading

Staying on Task with Tech

In late August, I quit my full-time job as an Administrative Assistant to pursue what I’ve always dreamed of: a career as a writer. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and going after this “romance writing thing” since 2011. Finally, after years of trying to find my focus, I had a series (The Rookery Rogues, for those of you wondering) that I believed strongly in and a game plan. I would self-publish, thus giving myself the freedom to make my own decisions and go whole-hog on the crazy, untraditionally dark ideas I had in mind.

Writing In Her Journal 1

What I Expected to Be Doing

But quitting my full-time job meant I suddenly had no income until my first book, A Dangerous Invitation, debuts in December. While my husband devoted brings home the bacon with his career in computers, we still needed an extra bit of help. I accepted a part-time job two days a week working as a receptionist in another engineering firm. Getting out of the house for this job keeps me from becoming a hermit, and it keeps my skillset up and gives me a spot on my résumé should I ever decide to go back to full-time admin work. Continue reading

On Returning Home

As you read this, I am in my adopted home state of Florida, being the surprise visitor to my mother’s 60th birthday party. This visit came as a surprise to me too, when my mother’s fiance contacted me to ask if my husband and I would mind being flown into Florida for the party. Well, I never turn a trip down, so here I am, back from the big metropolitan areas (hey, if you could see where I lived in Florida, you’d know why these cities are huge to me) of North Carolina.

Key Largo Palms And Sky

Key Largo Palms taken by Sxc.hu user Winterdove

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A Most Devilish Interview with Ashlyn Macnamara

Ashlyn_Macnamara_Headshot_medWelcome back to Teatime Romance, Ashlyn! Many of you may not know this, but Ashlyn holds a special place in my heart because last year I won from the Brenda Novak Auction critiques from the Secret Curtsy Society (Ashlyn, Sara Ramsey, Anne Barton, Erin Knightley, and Valerie Bowman—all the 2011 Golden Heart Finalists). Ashlyn took a look at the very first draft of what is now A Dangerous Invitation and really helped me figure out where I needed to go in the story. Not only does Ashlyn write great books, but she’s a prime example of the supportive romance writing community.

Macnamara-AMostScandalousProposalCoverAs our readers may remember, Ashlyn talked with Amy when her debut novel, A Most Scandalous Proposal, released in February. We learned a lot about Ashlyn then—how she is agented by Sara Megibow and how her first book jumped off from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility—but today, we plan to delve into the deep, dark secrets of Ashlyn Macnamara. Her second book, A Most Devilish Rogue, released on August 27th with the most scrumptious cover I’ve ever seen. Continue reading