Monday, March 23, 2009

Diary of Cozette

Please note: The winner of a shiny new copy of DIARY OF COZETTE has been won by Jane L, who left a comment on this post. Congrats, Jane!

Today, I'm featuring a guest--Amanda McIntyre! A connoisseur of life, Amanda has sampled everything from an office career and motherhood to being a newspaper columnist turned fiction writer. Her work is described as "superbly sensual, powerful, emotional, and character-driven." Hailing from the Midwest (Yay! Me, too!), Amanda McIntyre, aka Pamela Johnson, enjoys the change of seasons, her always busy family life, and writing. She is the multi-genre published author of several novels, anthologies, novellas, and short stories as well as non-fiction.

As always when I have a guest, my words are in bold. Amanda is speaking italics!

So why don't you share a blurb about your newest release, Amanda!

Passion knows no status or wealth.

True, I am but a mere maidservant from a great house, snatched from a wretched existence of poverty and desperation to serve noblemen of wealth and privilege.

And yet.

While I am indeed of lowly rank, I am also a young woman who allowed herself to sample life's greatest pleasures in the hands of these titled men. My tales overflow in this journal, penning my journey to becoming a woman of power of the most base, yet stimulating, breed.

Unmarried and twenty, yet betrothed to no man, I would be considered a spinster by most, yet this is of my own ardent intention. With my unabashed lushness and wisdom regarding a man's most vehement cravings, I am not lacking for suitors or proposals given in the heat of passion. No, I have yet to meet the man who will challenge me, satisfy me in all ways, not only of the flesh.

For where passion and desire are fleeting, my heart continues to beat..

Sounds like Cozette is a strong heroine who knows her own mind. My kind of gal. When I first saw the title I thought you might be doing a derivative story based on the Cozette in Les Miserables, but obviously no. Tell us what inspired this story.

I am inspired by many things in my writing; movies, music, art and research. I love to research obscure bits about history, legends and lore. I was on one of my rampades of researching Victorian England when I came across information about "white slavery" in England. Not only were there double standards when it came to men and women, but between social classes as well. As I continued my research I discovered some disturbing notions of the time. One, that it was healthy for men to have sex with virgins--and secondly, that there were some families , so poor and with so many children that they would sell their older daughters to brothels or direct to wealthy men for this very purpose. So I wondered what it must have been like to be a young woman at that time, perhaps the youngest daughter of a family beset with poverty and having no alternative but to send their daughter away to where they thought she'd be safe. I was troubled in reading how many young girls simply disappeared, sold to men and no one ever heard or saw them again. Maybe I wanted to know that one of them escaped and survived?

That is when I met Cozette. Her story is told in diary form and follows her from the time she is sent to an uncaring Uncle and Aunt, and then on to an orphanage where she meets her first love, and then her escape of being sold by the greedy orphange director, only to wind up on the streets of London, where she must learn how to survive. A chance kindness shown to a stately woman and her strange husband brings her to the station of maidservant at an English country manor. And this is where Cozette's life begins to blossom, becoming a lover, a friend, a companion, and a woman. But even as she enjoys the present , she ponders her future, and remains haunted by her past. Will she ever find a man who can accept her for all that she is and all that she's has been through?

And they claim romance is formulaic! This is a very fresh storyline. What's the coolest thing about your hero?

He has his flaws, both physical and emotional. He isn't perfect. He's made mistakes, but his love for Cozette never dies, even over a long period of time. He carries his pain and secrets that could do more harm than good to reveal, but he does so with compassion and honor. He is willing to sacrifice his own happiness for Cozette's. Though he is a patient, honorable man, he cannot deny the suffering of the passion re-awakened inside him, that he thought long dead.

Oh, yay! A tortured hero. Lots of my readers are also aspiring writers. What's the best piece of writing advice you can offer, Amanda?

Be flexible. Change is the only constant, I believe it's said. And never is it more true than the publishing industry. Not only is this true in writing that story that you desperately want to write, regardless of the market , but even more personally-for example revisions and reviews.

I once thought that to have to do "revisions" meant I was a "bad" writer. I have since come to learn that revisions are designed to strengthen the story, to make it the best it can be. Your editor, if she is a good one, will see with fresh eyes the things that you might not having been with the story 24/7 for 6 months. Don't go "diva" on your editor-make it a team effort. After all your goals are the same!

Having started out doing book reviews,(ina a galaxy far, far away) I have come to learn that reviews are subjective. Do we all hope for the stellar, top of the line all the time reviews? Of course we do! But I was told once that you are only as good as your next book, so don't rest too long on the laurels (or the bad reviews, god forbid) of one book, but get busy on that next book--and make it better, by what you've learned from your experiences with that first book.

What's next for you, Amanda?

Coming in August 2009 is TORTURED. It sounds interesting certainly, given its an erotic tale, but this is set in the Dark Ages and admittedly was a bit of a challenge to write! This is also where I have to credit my editor, Lara Hyde, for her eyes in seeing this story and helping me to create a fascinating story, full of the richenss and torment of that era. This is told in first person, from both the heroine and heroes POV's, which made an interesting journey of each of these characters to where fate finally brings them together and they will end up saving one another or killing each other. I am intrigued by medieval history. The stories are endless, of wars and feuds, of alliances, and arranged marriages. After going on a spree of watching every medieval age movie I could get my hands on, I was struck with how popular the events of beheadings were in those days. Entertainment for many, personal or political resolution for others I suppose. I wondered if there were ever such things as female executioners? Not many I discovered, but it was enough for me to ask, "what if" and that is when Sierra, my heroine who's life is spared, but who is sentenced by a ruthless Saxon king to become his executioners apprentice. A fate perhaps worse than death.
The title then depicts not only the obvious conotation of the word , but also the metaphorical defintion as well.

Regular readers of this blog know I'd rather be on a cruise ship (destination immaterial) that just about anywhere. Just for fun--what's your favorite place in the world, Amanda?

That I have visited ? Because the list of "not yet visited" favorite places to drool over is substantial!

I have plenty of "wanna-see's" myself but I can't claim them as favs till my feet actually walk the ground.

Okay, well I have to say, anywhere my family is (aww) but after that? I love the Great Lakes . In particular Mackinac Island, Whitefish Point and all along the western shore of Lake Superior. My favorite thing to do is to sit at twilight, wrapped in a blanket on a comfy adirondack chair and watch the sun set and listen to the waves lap the shore. I love walking the desolate beach at Whitefish Point, far from the museum oglers, clear down to the point where no one goes. There is something so powerful and ethereal there. The weather on the lakes can change at the blink of an eye and I am reminded of how very small I am in comparison to nature's majesty. I feel the same way about the northern Oregon coast.

Whitefish Point sounds splendid. Too often the Midwest is overlooked but there are some great get-away spots. My DH and I honeymooned on a remote lake in the north woods of Minnesota. It was late May, the ice had just left the lake and we didn't see another soul all week. Or maybe we weren't very observant at the time . . .

Writers always have a few pots boiling. What are you working on now?

My current WIP, THE MASTER & THE MUSES features my randy Pre-Raphaelite artist, Mr. Thomas Everett Rodin, from Cozette. This is a book of three novellas, three women selected By Mr. Rodin to be his muses for his artwork. Told from each of their perspectives from the moment they first meet, to how their lives are changed in the company of such a volatile and passionate man, and what eventually becomes of them.

Where can readers learn more about you?

My website is Amanda McIntyre

I am only recently beginning to put together my personal blog. but here is my myspace ;))

Sounds great! I adore art and stories about artists! Thanks for sharing with us today, Amanda.

Be sure to leave a comment or question for Amanda so you'll be entered to win a copy of Diary of Cozette!


Theresa N. said...

Your book sounds wonderful. I'm always shocked to hear how young girls are sold into slavery through out history.
Theresa N

EmilyBryan said...

Theresa--Unfortunately, it's still going on in some parts of the world. And not just with young girls.

But it's been used as a backdrop to a good story more than once. I remember reading a Mary Jo Putney novel once that dealt with a British sea captain who went through an "ordeal" in order to win the release of an English widow and her young daughter who were captives in a harem. Wish I could remember the title.

Amanda McIntyre said...

Good morning (please excuse typos,I was up late last night sewing a faery costume for the upcoming Romantic Times Convention)
*sips coffee*
Hi Emily! Thank you for having me here at your cyber home!

Though it makes me ill to think it possible, I fear you are right that this kind of thing still occurs.
But my reaction was much the same as yours, Theresa. Those are the little things left out of most standard history books.

I wanted to show the resilience of women through Cozette's story. How despite what life threw at her, she was able to survive. I can relate to that.(Many of us can, I suspect.) Though my circumstances were nothing at all like hers (and thankfully, most women's lives are not, unfortunately many are worse) Still, there are many obstacles that women of today face and as a rule, rather than exception, I think women are very strong creatures.

Back in that era, it wasn't considered "womanly" albeit allowed, to be strong, self-sufficient. Forget having a successful career, or heading up a group of men in business-or working outside the home and still having a viable , successful home and family life-I've done both and it isn't easy, it takes a lot of focus and tenacity.

There were social standards that many women simply accepted, while others rebelled against them (my hats off to each for we [as a whole society] would not be where we are today without those rebels)

I think thats what I like about Cozette-she was a rebel in her own way, but had a tenacity about her and a fairness in her heart, that I really came to admire.

I am not familiar with that book, Emily, but if its a Putney, it has to be good!


EmilyBryan said...

Unlike the Putney novel, it sounds like your Cozette saves herself! I'm so glad to see a strong heroine. There are too many limp lillies out there.

The Brunette Librarian said...

:) Amanda I'm a follower on your blog, so I'm glad I followed you here. LOVE Emily Bryan!! :)

I think the great thing about an author is when they can have a fresh storyline or at least put on a new spin..who wants to read the same thing over and over? Both you and Emily have fresh takes or entirely new takes on different ideas.

Diary of Cozette looks good!

Amanda McIntyre said...

HI Em and Rachel, agreed Rachel I highlky recommend Vexing the Vixcount! A wonderful heroine and a hero whom I just loved! I shan't go into my fav parts, but Im partiucularly fond of desks ;)

ahem.."limp lilies" well said Emily, nope, not really my style;) I like my heroines to have what my social studies teacher used to call, "Intestinal fortitude"-not kick-arse necessiarily, but able to face their demons as it were...

Cozette, while very worldly in many ways, still has an air of innocence to some things and I think that the kindness she is shown balances out the street learning she has learned to survive.

But she craves love, the closeness of a special person, a very human trait-and yet she learns the hard way, the difference between the real thing and the facade.


Margay Leah Justice said...

I think this sounds like an interesting read, too. Best of luck with it!

EmilyBryan said...

Rachie--Fresh seems to be the buzz word when developing a new story. I'm trying to put together a number of scenarios now, so I'll have plenty to choose from when I settle with my editor on the next book. As Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling said, "The best way to have a good idea is to have LOTS of ideas."

Amanda--Glad you liked the desk scene in VEXING THE VISCOUNT! :)
Sounds like you've hit the universals by focusing on the particulars with Cozette. Which of us isn't in some way damaged? Who doesn't crave the acceptance of love?

Margay--I agree. Amanda has crafted some complex characters and fashioned a story worthy of them.

Amanda McIntyre said...

I agree Emily on your points about "lots of ideas!" I heard Fern Michaels say once that she keeps a box near her desk and when an idea pops into her head m she scribbles it down and puts it in there. Later, she uses the seedlings to inspire her works. Course she also, I believe, has a ghost living in her old mansion . That has to help ;)

I think being an artist( painter) at first also aids in my perspective--art work and the message an artist conveys, as is true in music, is a very powerful tool for my imagination;)

So, I tend to look at the world askew (as if it needs my help LOL) and then ask, "what if?"


Amanda McIntyre said...

Beccause Emily and I both write in historical eras, I am curious what eras do you like reading about? And what eras or blend of genre with historical would you like to see, if any?


BrennaLyons said...

To be honest, I adore stories set in medieval era. I'm not a real Regency fan. Occasionally, later eras (early to mid 20th Century, for example) will catch my eye, as well.

Anonymous said...

Hello Amanda!
I think many of us grew up with the weaker heroine that seems to forgive everything the aplha male throws at her (even to this day I find books like this) so it's always nice to read about a strong woman and in historials romance to boot, because Good girls never make history! ;D

Anonymous said...

Emily! Whew! I was nervous for a moment, tried to link to your page and could'nt, I was certain you blocked me from blog stalking again! LOL!!

Hello to Amanda! I love your books, you are one of my insperations for wanting to write my own historical! I knew there was a reason I loved you so much we have one thing in common! My absolute favorite place in the WORLD in M Island, upper Michigan pennisula area! Ohhhh I so miss it there! I cant wait to go back this summer. Oh how fun so we will see you both at RT! I will be the one hounding Emily for every writing tip she will share! LOL! Have a great week ladies.

Genella deGrey said...

Hi Emily! Hi Amanda!
Two of my favorite romance writers in one blog - I'm a lucky gal - :)

This year's RT is going to be so great! (jumping up and down in my seat*) I can't wait to see your costume, Amanda - and I'll get to meet Emily for the first time - We should all get together for a drink!

Do you gals have any idea what you do to my TBR mountain? LOL


EmilyBryan said...

I'm so impressed by Amanda's fairy costume! Can't seem to get into the wing-thing myself, but I love seeing them at RT!

Orlando will be fabulous! We need to arrange a meeting. Maybe I'll make a big sign or something "BLOG TOURISTAS UNITE!"

Amanda McIntyre said...

HI Brenna
I love the mid to late 19th century, particulary England for soem reason, but I am fascinated with the earlier periods of the Celt-Roman Britannia to the Tudor era!
I also wrote an American historical set in Georgia, the summer before the Trail of Tears. That too, was another bit of history I hadn't read too much about. I felt rather ashamed of the fact after researching the topic more thoroughly.

I am always learning...


Amanda McIntyre said...

Thanks Ranearia for stopping by,its amazing how very few years it has been since women recieved very basic rights.

My MIL always says behind every successful man is at least one to six good women. I think that is true.


Lil said...

It sounds like you have had to do interesting research for your stories. Had not known that you had started out reviewing (long ago). With so much online conversation of how seriously to take reviews, it was refreshing to read your healthy attitude towards them.

Amanda McIntyre said...

Hi Jnae!
Thank you so much for your kind words *blushing
And once you've been to yhat part of Michigan and upper great lakes region, I think its hard NOT to fall completely in love with it!

But my husband swears I was a Great lakes lighthouse keeper in my former life ;)LOL

look forward to meeting you! Just smack me with a 2x4 if you see me running about! LOL

I would adore getting together for a drink name the time and place! and boy this place looks absolutely like paradise, doesn't it?


Amanda McIntyre said...

Genella, my TBR pile is listing...LOL But the weather is slowly warming to where I can put up my hammock on the deck (my reading spot and daydreaming/plotting spot)

No wings (I dont think) but I DO have ears this year! Hopefully I'll get them on correctly ;) If I dont just go along and try not to laugh, okay?

Im doing something different this year-going as a "wood sprite" ;)

no, this bod is not tink material, let that be understood LOL

but I sort of resemble an acorn shape--I figure thats close enough! heehee

no its coming along swimmingly really. I would love to paint my skin a pantene green color though- probably not a good idea before moderating an agent panel, eh?


Amanda McIntyre said...

Lil, thats not to water down the fact that I still go bonkers when I read a "good " one and have a pity party (though brief) when I not so great one occurs, but after a bit you do develop that understanding, that reviews are subjective. There are places that defintely boost your career to have good ones though!;)

But good or bad. move on. make thenext one even better.


Amanda McIntyre said...

ONe of the things I love best about writing historical is doing the research! A bit like an archelogy hunt! (Emily knows about those! Hey, question to my host--how did you research your dig scenes in VtV???)

Its like finding pirate treasure to me,to discover some obscure bit of information. Everyone knows the big stuff--I want to find out what no one else knows! LOL

Thats how I ran across female executioners in history(few that there were) and came up with a what if scenario for TORTURED, my dark Ages book coming out late summer.

I love movies like The Mummy and National Treasure as well--big surprise ;)


LuAnn said...

This sounds like a great book. It is indeed shocking that white slavery is still allowed to continue in some countries.

Amanda McIntyre said...

It is shocking , Luann, but I fear if the light were shown in all of the world's dark corners we might not be able to handle what we saw.

During my research of this era, I found out more disturbing aspects than what I was aware of. That usually happens when you start digging. There were/are many good things as well, but the world will always have its dark side.


Amanda McIntyre said...

Good morning ! I wanted to thank Miss Emily for having me here at her cyber bungalow! It was a blast to chat a while!

Still working on Faery costume, this will be my fourth year co-hosting RT's annual faery ball, so my need for whippig up the "best costume ever in all of history" comes with the territory ;) LOL

but that and Heathers vampyre gig are the only two I dress up for-its enough for me to coordinate my daily clothes! LOL

Thanks again for having me, Miss Emily ;)
See all you RTers soon and if anyone happens to be haunting the RWA convention this year in Wash, DC , I'll be making my virgin appearence at an RWA con this year!


EmilyBryan said...

Amanda has chosen Jane L as our winner today. Congrats, Jane! As a faithful blog tourista, you know what to do. Contact me through with your current mailing info! It pays to be a "EB Blog Tourista!"

Thanks for being such a lovely guest, Amanda! I look forward to meeting you at RT AND standing in front of your table at the bookfair with my wallet out so I can get my own signed copy of DIARY OF COZETTE!