Today’s Brew: Cocktails with Renee. Stick around for this one, folks. We’ve found another one of our own.
When Agent Extraordinaire Eric Ruben, Esq. put out a call for blog hosts for one of his authors this week, I wasn’t sure he’d trust me and Julie with the goods. Apparently, The Esquire has more faith in us than I thought. In the literary version of Plenty of Fish or OK Cupid, I have to ask myself where Renee Bernard has been all my life. I love this girl already. She is the perfect blend of Kristen and Julie. It’s like being a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. I’ve only had a chance to read a snipped from Desire Wears Diamonds, and you want check this book out. It’s available now, so you have no excuses. And if you don’t just take my word for it (WTF?), please let the fact that she is a USA Today Bestselling Author and that she has an author blurb from SHERRILYN KENYON sway you.
A blurb from Sherrilyn Kenyon. I’d cut a bitch for such a thing. Well, you know, figuratively. Before I get myself in any more trouble, let me turn this over to Renee….
What was I thinking? Kristen said, “just blog about whatever you
want!” and then I said something pretentious about talking about
writing and the “bones of it”. As if I’m a lofty expert on the Craft
and can wax poetic without sounding like a complete goof. As if Chuck
Wendig and I hang out and bash about the Big Questions of Literary
Worth every Thursday night over cocktails… (Okay, that might be a bit
of a personal fantasy of mine that I just accidentally let slip.
Let’s keep moving. Nothing to see here. Nothing to see.)
But I said it for a reason. I said it because as a romance writer,
it’s so easy to get trapped in lively conversations that invariably
revolve around sex. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad topic. It’s
just that it’s not the only topic in the world. EVEN when you’re a
Every romance has the heart-stopping kisses and scorchingly creative
sex scenes (gosh, I hope they do or I may have been doing it wrong)
but behind it, what do we say as writers? About what we want in our
heroes? About what we long for in our fiction? And what are the
I confessed to Kristen that I hated formula romances and have done my
as a writer, it’s to really make a run at original heroes and new
plots (even if we disguised them as ‘tried and true’ to get past a
publisher once or twice). And even if we use familiar constructions,
I still love trying to build something different.
I’ve written a series now and a trilogy and I don’t think a single
book was actually what it appeared to be on those covers—those lovely
traditional covers (you know the ones, with the wrong period costumes
on models with the wrong haircuts for the era you set your story
in…but they are pretty!) In the guise of writing historical romances,
I wrote about self-determination, how villains can be good guys (take
that Wreck-it-Ralph!), about perceptions of feminism and even about
real loss. Hidden in stories of surrender, there are always
conquests. And no, not a single bodice was ripped.
Okay. I did pop a busque once. But it was warranted. And that scene
worked. I stand by it.
I write romances. Romance is after all, the literature of women. It
is a fictional extension of our fantasies. Not necessarily in the
bedroom (although not excluding it) but how We Wish The World Worked.
So I write fewer Alpha males than most because I look at a real world
fraught with peril, a rape culture that makes me lose sleep as the
mother of two little girls, and I write what I want to see. Kindness.
Equality. Consideration. Respect. Humor. A Vibrant Exchange of
Power between my hero and heroine that isn’t about ‘winning’. True
Love, my darlings. True Love. If you do it right, it’s like a drug.
A very addictive drug.
Said the pusher.
And how’s that working out you ask?
Not bad. No NYT bestseller lists in sight but I’m beginning to
question where we set the bar for qualifying a book as a “success”.
No really. Sure, I’ll take a lottery win on Amazon and giggle off
into the sunset, but until then, something else has to drive you as a
writer. I’m driven to create a better story, to push myself and my
So, the ‘bones of it’. I’m at the turning point where I’ve given
myself permission to write the stories of my heart. (That’s a sweet
phrase writers use to refer to the books you’re dying to write but
can’t sell to Brick&Mortar publishers because: a) your story’s setting
is too exotic and will not sell despite readers clamoring for anything
set outside the British Isles, b) it crosses genres and they don’t
know how to market it, c) no one is reading ____ anymore ((insert
anything you like in that blank! i.e. vampires, westerns, zombies,
witches, fairies, shapeshifters, pick your poison…)), or my personal
favorite, d) they already have one just like it in the works. (They
never do, but it’s cute when they say it and don’t even bother to
think it through.)
I don’t think this will come as a surprise to many of you, but when
your brain refuses to fire up formula stories that neatly fall into
marketing labels, you’re often on your own. Self-publishing has
become a path to the reader that we could only dream of a few years
ago. Doesn’t mean it’s a smooth path or a pretty path or even a path
not strewn with the dead bodies of writers that really, really, really
needed an editor or at the very least, God help them, a better
spell-checker… But it’s a path.
Beyond the Jaded, I’m happy to say I’m working on quite a few things.
There’s a stand-alone historical romance (no one’s doing those anymore
so…) set in Meiji Restoration Japan and Victorian London; an erotic
romance with a pirate in it which I affectionately have dubbed my stab
at “Pirate Porn”; a historical romance series that is a cross between
‘Revenge’ and ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ with a very wicked female lead who
apparently refuses to play nice; a paranormal series I’m working on
called “The Eternity Gambit” which seems to playing out like ‘Office
Space’ meets Dante’s ‘Inferno’ and an alternative future/urban fantasy
series called “The Imbalance” because I was so tired of the same old
same old in post-apocalyptic stories I was getting migraines just
reading the cover flats.
As for the box, I can’t find where I put it. I’m working toward more
graphic novels, in the midst of an audiobook for “Desire Wears
Diamonds” and I don’t want to look back. All I know is that there are
stories I want to tell. Pray for me. I’m on my path.
Oh, God. Kristen is regretting this. She’s wishing she’d asked me
about Victorian sexual mores or birth control in the early nineteenth
century. I can tell. Sooo, this will be my first and last appearance
here, I have a sinking feeling.
But it was fun. Um… thanks for having me.
(Is it time for a cocktail yet? Can we just say yes to that and put
me out of my misery?)
I loved every minute of it! Thanks for visiting, Renee. You will be back. And now, here’s that blurb I was talking about and a little more about Desire Wears Diamonds:
“One of the freshest voices I’ve seen in ages.” –Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times bestselling author
WHEN BETRAYAL IS THE ONLY PATH OPEN AND PASSION IS THE ONLY ENEMY HE NEVER ANTICIPATED . . .
The shy soldier and self-appointed guardian of the Jaded, Michael Rutherford, is faced with the ultimate test of his loyalty and honor when he meets the woman who is at once his perfect match and the worst choice he could ever make. The final battle with the Jaded’s greatest enemy will force him to choose between the brotherhood he has vowed to protect and shielding the innocent lady he comes to love. For Michael, it is a dance with the devil for a chance to taste the kisses of an angel.
Grace Porter is no ordinary wallflower or shy spinster hiding in the shadows of her brother’s London home. She is a quiet rebel with secrets of her own and a woman who dreams of an independent life, free to pursue her dreams as a writer. Her imagination holds the key to her survival, but it fuels her retreat from the colorless world around her. Until Michael Rutherford’s arrival upturns her every fantasy and threatens her sanctuary with his lies. His embrace is intoxicating to her senses but Grace isn’t the kind of woman to lose her head—or her heart.
It’s a knuckle-biting race to the finish for fans of the Jaded as fan favorite, Michael Rutherford, discovers the identity of the Jackal and Michael learns that sometimes the price to pay for justice is the sacrifice of hope and happiness. He will risk everything as the Jaded call him out as a traitor and nothing is what it seems.
***BONUS MATERIALS WITH THIS PURCHASE***
An Original Penny Dreadful by Mr. A.R. Crimson! “Poseidon’s Curse or The Fatal Storm” – A fantasy serial from the creative mind of Crimson himself!
AND Special Reader Notes and Inside Information from the world of The Jaded Gentlemen!