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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Guest NYT Author: Annette Blair

I’m so excited to have New York Times Best Selling Author Annette Blair joining us on Happily Ever After Thoughts. She is giving away a copy of PROPER SCOUNDREL to THREE lucky commenters!

Lexi: Hi Annette, thank you for chatting with us on HEAT. You have written so many subgenres of romance.  Which is your favorite subgenre to write in and your absolute favorite book you have written?

Annette: Not fair. That’s like Sophie’s choice. I find that falling in love with my characters and their story is paramount for me to write a good book, and with 40 books out there, it’s impossible to make a choice. I will say that I am so in love with my story and characters when I’m finishing a book, that it takes weeks to let them go. But I am most excited and falling in love, in that wistful delightfully distracted way, when I’m beginning a new story.

I do enjoy writing my contemporary bewitching romantic comedies.  But I also love a good Regency rogue or scoundrel sweeping his lady fair around the ballroom in a titillating waltz, where hearts are racing and hands where they should rarely be.  And then there are the mysteries and all my friends, ghosts and all, in Mystic, Connecticut.

Lexi: I can understand why it is so hard to choose. I noticed that both HOLY SCOUNDREL and SISTERS OF SPIRIT were just released. Can you tell us which was easier to write and which gave you, hmmm, headaches?

Annette: I wrote SISTERS OF SPIRIT with three very good friends—sometimes all of us sitting around the same kitchen table . . . sometimes writing the opposite halves of the same phone call for instance. We put a lot of ourselves in those novellas and I must say that mine, Moving Pictures, flowed from my fingertips and sometimes surprised me. I’m finding it difficult to let go of Max Peabody and Anastasia Jones. This quarter book/novella was easy for me to write.

As for HOLY SCOUNDREL, I plotted that Regency Historical in 2001 and before I sold it, I sold my contemporary witches to Penguin Random House, so I left my historicals and former publisher behind around that time. Fast forward eleven years to the age of indie publishing, and seven of my backlist historicals have been rewritten and given a new life: UNDENIABLE ROGUE, UNFORGETTABLE ROGUE, UNMISTAKABLE ROGUE & UNTAMABLE ROGUE. Then there’s SEA SCOUNDREL, CAPTIVE SCOUNDREL, PROPER SCOUNDREL and, oops . . . HOLY SCOUNDREL. I had to dust it off, and finish. I was shocked it was only half there. I thought I had finished it and just needed to polish. Not! I had forgotten the rules of Regency etiquette, titles, wording, etc. I did struggle with HOLY SCOUNDREL because I jumped an eleven-year bridge between genres. I knew what came next, sort of, but trying to figure out what I had in my brain back then was not easy. I was in labor, but it became a labor of love. And I did fall for Lacey, Gabriel, and little Bridget.

Lexi: Oh wow. I can’t imagine picking up a half finished manuscript and trying to remember where I was headed with it. You obviously have a very good memory :-) With so many stories running around in your head, how do you choose what to write next?

Annette: Oh, that is difficult. I have at least four new series that I could begin this minute, though I have narrowed it down to one that I’m feeling the itch to write. Readers write to me daily for more witches, dragons, angels, mysteries, rogues . . . you name it.

Lexi: And I don’t blame them! What was the strangest fan comment you have ever received?

Annette:  The strangest was in a fan letter, hand written, where the reader said I taught her that God would forgive anything. That made my hands shake, because I realized then how much power words can have. It’s scary. I write because I want to take my readers away from the difficulties of life, give them joy and hope for new beginnings, so they know better things can come, but that note just threw me.

Lexi: Oh, that is unsettling. But you already knew you had thousands of adoring fans because you made the NY Times Best Sellers List. I just have to ask. How did you find out you made the NYT Best Sellers List and what did you do to celebrate?

Annette:  My editor called me while I was at lunch with a bunch of my writer friends, so what do I do? Turn off the ringer and listen to the message alone later. Anyway, my husband heard the scream. At the time, my son was about to get married and I’d decided to be frugal and use my mother of the bride gown as my mother of the groom gown. When I hit the Times, I remembered a friend who celebrated each NYT hit with jewelry. Aha! Someone I love had a GEORGEOUS diamond ring and earrings set with negative memories that she never wore. She was going to lend it to me for my son’s wedding. But money was a struggle for her at the time, so I asked her if I could buy the set to celebrate hitting the Times, and I did. During the reception, she leaned over to touch the ring on my finger and with tears in her eyes, thanked me for erasing the bad memories and attaching such wonderful new memories to the set.  It will always be the NY Times ring that I wore to my son’s wedding.

Lexi: I got goosebumps from that story. That is absolutely wonderful. So what can we expect next from you? 

Annette:  A new contemporary romantic comedy series with heart and hope, love and laughter, and a touch of magic. 

Lexi: Sounds perfect! It has been awesome to have you visit us at Happily Ever After Thoughts. Thank you so much for chatting.

Annette:  Lexi, this has been fun. You asked some thought provoking questions. Thanks for the challenge.

Lexi: My pleasure, Annette. It is so exciting to have you with us! 

For a chance to win Annette’s PROPER SCOUNDREL, be sure to leave a comment for her.  Don’t forget to include contact info in your comment in case you win. There will be three winners!

Annette:  Feel free to ask more questions and I’ll try to answer them. 

For more information on Annette’s Romances go to
 To find out when a new book is available, sign up for Annette’s mailing list at:

Lexi: Check out this excerpt:
Knave of Hearts Series, Book 4
Arundel, The South Downs, West Sussex
England, Summer 1830

Lacey Ashton, unnoticed in the midnight shadows, fixed her hungry gaze upon Gabriel Kendrick, the most formidable of the ghosts she had come home to face.
Dwarfing his surroundings, Gabriel bent to keep his head from an intimate encounter with a raw-oak barn beam while protecting the newborn lamb in his keeping, a smile in his eyes, if not on his face . . . until he saw her. Gabriel the indomitable—named for the bright angel when he should have been named for the dark—stood frozen in vulnerability.
A heartbeat, no more, and the scoundrel narrowed his eyes, stepped forward, stretched to his full staggering height, and squared his shoulders to a stunning span. Lucifer, sighting prey, spreading charred wings.
His chiseled features, graven in shadow, sharpened to unforgiving angles as his dark-fire gaze seared her.
Lacey stepped back. In that moment, despite her resolve, she wanted nothing more than to turn tail and run . . . except that she could not seem to move.
Here stood the father of her child, while between them stood the lie she’d told to deny it—saving him and tormenting him in one horrific stroke.
A horse snuffled and shuffled in its stall, freeing the scent of hay musk into the grip of silence, injecting reality into unreality, replacing the past with the present, and allowing her finally to draw breath.
As forbidding as her nemesis appeared in lantern light, dressed entirely in black, the tiny white lamb tucked into his frock coat humanized him, the contrast bringing his cleric’s collar into conspicuous and bright relief.
A vicar’s trappings, a scoundrel’s soul, and no one seemed to know, save her.
He no longer fit the image of the young man she had carried in her heart. His features, familiar despite the firmness of his jaw, had been lined and bronzed by time and parish responsibilities to a mature and patrician air. His leonine mane, still an overlong tumble of sooty waves, thick and lush, bore strokes of gray at the temples. No phantasm here, but the bane of her existence in the flesh, more daunting, more vitally masculine. More a threat to her sanity than ever.
As if he could read her, Gabriel shifted his stance, on guard, watchful, yet before her eyes, a hard-won humility replaced his arrogance.
He did not do humble well, and his attempt jarred her.
He’d always been proud, even when they were children—he, the indigent son of a vicar who squandered parish funds; she, the daughter of a duke. But now, their roles had been reversed, and the duke’s daughter stood, impoverished, disowned, before the boy who’d adored her, then hated her, with all his heart, face to face for the first time in five years. “Gabriel,” she said, wishing her voice did not tremble and her body did not remember. 

Annette: I hope you enjoyed this peek at the first half of the first chapter of HOLY SCOUNDREL.

Lexi: Be sure to leave a question or comment for a chance to win one of three copies of PROPER SCOUNDREL.


  1. Well, I overslept, I'm sorry to say, because I stayed up all night writing. But I'm here and it's beautiful Alexis. Thank you for having me.

    1. I wish I had the same excuse for oversleeping, but I admit to reading not writing last night :-}

  2. If our readers already own Proper Scoundrel, direct them my way, Lexi, and I am willing to discuss which book they don't have.

    1. Whoohoo! How cool is that? Thank you, Annette!

  3. You can never go wrong with an Annette Blair story, no matter what century you may be visiting.

  4. I already own all of the Scoundrel and Rogue books by you, Annette...'cause I love your writing! I am commenting to let you know that I follow your stories and intend to get more of them when my budget permits. Keep up the great work so I can add to my collection! :-)

  5. What a fabulous excerpt! I am hooked. And it just made my day to find a new author I'm going to enjoy!

  6. Hi Annette,
    Powerful excerpt and I love your voice! Your path to writing forty books is so interesting. As is the celebration story you share about the diamonds. That really touched me. Obviously, you are a prolific writer. How many books do you produce in a year? Do you write one at a time or have several in the series going at once? I would be grateful to learn any tidbit you might share about your writing process.


  7. HoweHouse, You've made my day. Grinning here.

    Hugs, Annette

  8. Thank you Janice, another grin here, but if you already own the rogues an scoundrels...if you win, we can talk about any of my other books you might like to have as a substitute for Proper Scoundrel. THANKS! Hugs!

  9. Marie, hooking a reader is almost as much fun as writing a new book. LOL. So pleased you enjoyed the excerpt of HOLY SCOUNDREL. Hugs!

  10. Hello Anonymous, I can write 4 books a year. I know because I've done it, but I also burnt out on it and never wanted to write another. So after a very slow year, one book maybe, I'm happy to write two and a half maybe, depending on how much research I have to do. I have a lot of research to do for this new series I'm working on now.

    I don't necessarily have several stories going at once, but I might have a file open for each book in the series, because working on one character's story will inspire insight into the others. I will then jot down notes on future stores, though I will rarely find a complete conversation fills my head of someone else's story and I write that down too.

    One tidbit that I think is somewhat unique to my writing process is that I often write my first draft in dialogue--fast, no punctuation, tag lines, etc, I just run my fingers over those keys. I don't know why dialogue comes first with me. In one book, I planned a scene and discovered that my characters had nothing to say to each other in the context of that scene, so I skipped it. Obviously didn't belong in the book.

    Another tidbit of my process, because Point of View was a hard lesson for me is that I write my hero's POV in blue and my heroine's in red. If there's a third POV, I'll write that in green. This way I never lose track of whose head I'm in. I also print out my pages to edit them, and I print them in color for that very reason.

    For my part, I want to write a book in which my reader is living my character's fairytale. "Calgon/Annette take me away." My books are not gritty; I try very hard to fill them with hope and maybe keep you thinking about the positive side of life for a while.

  11. Your writing story is fabulous and the excerpt is so tempting! I added your name to my list for my next book binge.
    After writing so many novels, do you get any type of "tingle" or happy feeling when you finish the next story even though you've experieinced it dozens of times already? Is it ever difficult to keep up with so many contracts for all the different subgenres? And one more "just curious" question-How do you pick the names for your characters?

  12. I should add that when I "get into" my story, I can write for 24 hours at a stretch, because I can't tear myself away. Hubby brings food if I don't come out of my office often enough. :) I would caution anyone who does this to plan bathroom breaks, because sneezes can really put a dent in your momentum. :)

  13. That sounds fantastic, Annette! I've written and read for many hours, but I can't say that I've hit a 24 hour stretch.

    1. Hah, I just found the reply button. Sorry, the other replies are just at the end.

      I can't say I do 24 hours often, but 16 to 18 hours is a very normal day for me. And I'll do 24 mostly when I'm getting toward the end of the book, in the final draft, probably so I can celebrate and snoopy dance. :)

  14. Dawn, I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. When I finish a book, I run to tell my husband and do the snoopy dance of joy for him. I post it on the social sites, tell my brainstorming buddies, my writing sisters, and I grin about it for days, weeks, maybe. It never gets old, finishing your baby.

    Yes, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the deadlines/contracts, especially when I'm on a roll with one story and an editor wants me to drop that historical or romantic comedy and jump back into the mystery. Grr.

    Picking the names of my characters is so time consuming. I spent days and days on that, because I already know who the characters are on the inside and outside so the name has to fit and it has to work right, and sometimes it's just Serendipity when a name works. I hear somebody's name and I know which character it belongs to. Tiago from my novella in the HOT TICKET Anthology was one of those. In our SISTERS OF SPIRIT anthology, our characters would find an object on a beach that would change each life. While we were plotting, we ended up in St. Augustine FL & walking on Anastasia Beach, I found a camera chip. I knew then that my character should find exactly that and that her name was Anastasia. Anastasia Jones. You have no idea how perfect that name is for her.

  15. Thanks for the great explanations, and I'm excited to find out what a name means for you:)

    1. The frustrating part is when you can't find a name that fits, because I can't really start to tell their story until I know. For me it's part of bringing the necessary depth to my characters.

  16. I love that open up to your readers. Plus I have to like you because you like Snoopy. :)

    1. I am a very open person, which actually means I talk too much, tell everything. I won't let myself plot my mysteries because I'm afraid that I'll give away the killer too soon. So I just write the story with all the possible suspects and decide at the last minute, sometimes days before the book is due, who the killer actually is. :) True story. I plot the romances. Don't plot the mysteries.

  17. Hi again, Annette,
    Sorry that my other post came out as anonymous! I was signed in, but it didn't register somehow. I'm the person who asked about a tidbit and your writing process. I just read what you posted and I appreciate you taking time to answer my questions. I can understand how aggressive that must be to write four in a year! And the idea of writing a first draft in dialogue is really interesting. And great tip to write POV in color. Thanks so much! Lyndee

    1. Hi Lyndee, I'm always happy to share what I've learned on my writing journey, and those two things I think are rather off the beaten path, so they're good to pass on. Yes, 4 in a year is one every three months--ugh. No time to spend time with the family, and what else do we work for but to have a better family life? I may love what I do, but it is how I make a living. I want to play with the grands once in a while, well, more often than that, actually.

    2. Funny that you used the term 'off the beaten path' since I'm literally the author of the book "Off the Beaten Path Illinois." It usually takes me eight months to write my non-fiction books, so your schedule boggles me!

  18. Wow, Ruth, you ask difficult questions. Thanks. Thinking...thinking... They had tough beginnings, so I'll have to switch to considering the men in their lives and their Happily Ever Afters... I think Sabrina from Undeniable Rogue. I always had a thing for Gideon St. Goddard, Duke of Stanthorpe. Yum! What a hero.

  19. Cool you wrote the story with friends. Nice excerpt.


    1. I wrote Sisters of Spirit with three good friends, yes. We found our own hidden cove on a New England beach. One of my friends wondered what would happen if you found something that could change your life on a beach...and our individual stories emerged over time. Mine, as I said, didn't gel until we got together in Florida, later. Sisters of Spirit is a contemporary.

      The excerpt is of Holy Scoundrel, A Regency Historical, the 4th in my Knave of Hearts Series.

      Two very different stories, yet I love them both.

  20. Really enjoyed the interview..thanks for sharing so much with all of us. Love your books..can't pick a favorite yet