The Male Voice of Choc Lit

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I’m not the first Choc Lit author to have a novel brought to life as an audiobook, courtesy of W.F. Howes at Whole Story Audiobooks. And I certainly won’t be the last.

But am I the first Choc Lit author to have one read by a man?

The bloke in question is called Jonathan Keeble and he’s currently the voice of Gareth Taylor in BBC Radio 4′s The Archers.
jonathan-keeble

More importantly, in The Importance of Being Emma he’s the perfect voice for Mark Knightley. I can only imagine it’s like being wrapped naked in warm ganache. (Wikipedia defines ganache as ‘normally made by heating cream, then pouring it over chopped dark semi-sweet chocolate … stirred or blended until smooth, with liqueurs or extracts added if desired’ – get the idea?)

The book alternates between the viewpoints of Mark and Emma, so there’s also a female voice. That’s provided by Melody Grove, who sounds as delightful as her name.

Of course, in my fantasy world, Jonathan’s voice would face strong competition – Richard Armitage, Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Benedict Cumberbatch for starters.

Whose voice would you like in the audio role of your favourite hero?

Happy Birthday, Jane! by Juliet Archer

austenbdaysoireepicture-1Today’s a very special occasion – Jane Austen’s Birthday Soirée! Around the worldwide web, 31 Austen enthusiasts are celebrating her 236th birthday and showering her with cards, gifts and letters. We’re also showering you, dear readers, with giveaways.

I’ve written a letter to Jane, and I’m giving away a signed copy of The Importance of Being Emma and a signed copy of Persuade Me – open worldwide.

Dear Jane,

When you described your books as your children, did you ever imagine that they would be the start of an ever-expanding dynasty of prequels, sequels, modernisations, mash-ups and other ‘what-ifs’?

Two hundred years after your ‘eldest’ was first published, you have thousands of ‘descendants’ inhabiting every continent. Although the world you knew has undergone huge changes, your stories, characters and humour are timeless. You understood all the magic ingredients of comedy romance long before anyone else did.

Thank you for believing in your writing and persevering to get published. Little did you know how many readers would enjoy your work.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Juliet Archer

To win a prize, leave a reply to the question below, giving your email address and indicating whether you’d like a copy of The Importance of Being Emma or Persuade Me. Giveaway closes at midnight on 23rd December.

Question: if a lost Austen novel was discovered, what do you think its title would be?

I’d like to thank the ladies who thought of this Soirée and organised it so beautifully – Maria Grazia – My Jane Austen Book Club and Katherine Cox – November’s Autumn (who also did the fabulous images). Finally, here’s the full list of participants and giveaways – feel free to drop by:

1. Sharon Lathan  Blog: Sharon Lathan Giveaway : Miss Darcy Falls in Love

2. Emily SnyderBlog: O! Beauty Unattempted Giveaway: Letters of Love & Deception

3. Laurel Ann Nattress Blog: Austenprose Giveaway: signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

4. C. Allyn Pierson Blog: SemiTrue Stories Giveaway: Mr Darcy Little Sister (open worldwide)

5. Cindy Jones   Blog: First Draft Giveaway: a signed copy of “My Jane Austen Summer” and a package of Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea by Bingley’s, Ltd.

6. Farida Mestek   Blog: Regency stories set against the backdrop of Regency England Giveaway: I was Jane Austen Best Friend by Cora Harrison

7. Marilyn Brant    Blog: Brant Flakes Giveaway : A canvas ACCORDING TO JANE tote bag and a pair of A SUMMER IN EUROPE luggage tags.

8. Prue Batten  Blog: Mesmered’s Blog Giveaway : Anna Elliot’s “Georgiana Darcy” (Kindle book)

9. Erin Blakemore Blog: The Heroine’s Bookshelf Giveaway : a set of Potter-Style Pride and Prejudice notecards

10. Velvet    Blog: vvb32 reads Giveaway: Jane Austen’s Little Instruction Book (Charming Petites) By Jane Austen Edited by Sophia Bedford-Pierce, Illustrated by Mullen &

Katz, Introduction by Barbara Paulding

11. Karen Doornebos  Blog: The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown Giveaway: 2 Jane Austen Candles and 2 signed DNMD books plus drink coasters and tea!

12. Regina Jeffers ReginaJeffers’s Blog Giveaway: An autographed copy of “Christmas at Pemberley “

13. Alyssa Goodnight    Blog: Alyssa Goodnight Giveaway: Jane Austen Action figure

14: Deb  Blog: Jane Austen in Vermont Giveaway: JASNA 2012 calendars from the Wisconsin JASNA Region

15: Laura Hile,  Susan Kaye, Pamela Aidan, and Barbara Cornthwaite Blog: Jane Started It! Giveaway:

· One copy of Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour by Pamela Aidan

· One set of Frederick Wentworth, Captain (Books 1 and 2) by Susan Kaye

· Two copies of Mercy’s Embrace: So Rough a Course (Book 1) by Laura Hile

· George Kinghtley, Gentleman (Books 1 and 2) by Barbara Cornthwaite.

16 . Juliet Archer   Blog: Choc Lit Authors’ Corner Giveaway: a copy of “Persuade Me” and one of “The Importance of Being Emma”

17. Jane Greensmith   Blog: Reading, Writing, Working , Playing Giveaway: a copy of “Intimations of Austen”, and Sense & Sensibility (Marvel Illustrated)

18. Jenny Allworthy Blog : The Jane Austen Film Club Giveaway: a copy of Northanger Abbey DVD starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild (The winner will choose region 1 or 2 DVD)

19. Sitio Jane Austen    Blog: El Salón de Té de Jane Giveaway: - Spanish edition of Sense and Sensibility for the 200th Anniversary + A DVD package with adaptations of Jane Austen

(It’s only zone 2, but it’s in Spanish and English ) + blu-ray of the BBC’s Emma with Romola Garai

20. Kaitlin Saunders    Blog : Kaitlin Saunders Giveaway: “A Modern Day Persuasion”

21. Becky Rhodehouse     Blog: One Literature Nut Giveaway: selection of Austenesque Reads

22. Patrice Sarath Blog: Patrice Sarath Giveaway: A copy of The Unexpected Miss Bennet

23. Adriana Zardini Site: Jane Austen Brasil Giveaway: DVD – Sense and Sensibility (1995) – English / Portuguese subtitles

24. Jane Odiwe Blog: Jane Austen Sequels Giveaway: a mug with one of Jane Odiwe’s illustrations and a copy of her “Mr Darcy’s Secret”

25. Courtney Webb Stiletto Storytime Giveaway: Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant (Regency Romance)

26. Jennifer Becton    Blog: Jennifer W. Becton Giveaway: An ebook of the Personages of Pride and Prejudice Collection, which contains all of my Austenesque works: Charlotte Collins, “Maria Lucas,” and Caroline Bingley. The giveaway will be open internationally.

27. Vera Nazarian    Blog: Urban Girl Takes Vermont Giveaway: a copy of Vera Nazarian’s gift hardcover edition of her inspirational calendar and diary, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

28. Abigail Reynolds   Blog: Pemberley Variations Giveaway: a signed copy of “Mr. Darcy’s Undoing”

29. Blog: AustenAuthors Giveaway: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester

30. Katherine Cox   November’s Autumn Giveaway :$10 B&N Gift-card (US only)

31. Maria Grazia  My Jane Austen Book Club Giveaway : A selection of Austenesque reads

Hallowe’en American-Style, by Juliet Archer

Just back from a holiday in the US – Ohio, where my sister lives and my son is studying (allegedly).

The fall colours were beautiful, although apparently past their best, and the weather unusually warm and sunny. But what struck me more than anything was the extent of the Hallowe’en celebrations!

halloween

At the local mall a whole shop – previously Borders, so you can imagine it was fairly large – was given over to Hallowe’en disguises and decorations. Outside there were pumpkins and scarecrows everywhere, even on the central reservations of suburban roads, and on the porches of almost every house. On Hallowe’en itself we saw lots of children going trick or treating, as I’d expected. But what I didn’t expect was that most of the outdoor decorations would still be in evidence when we left a week later!

I think the Americans are very shrewd. They make a big event of Hallowe’en at the end of October, then they celebrate Thanksgiving barely a month later, and finally Christmas a month after that. All the preparations must make the long winter nights pass more quickly – and keep consumer spending buoyant!

Juliet Archer’s Wednesday Hottie – The Heroic Heir of Downton

Just back from a holiday in the US – and almost my first act was to catch up on the last two episodes of That Series.

I’m not sure if Dan Stevens has featured on this blog before, but perhaps not as Matthew Crawley, the heir to Downton Abbey.

Here he is in regimentals …

dan-stevens-in-regimentals

And here he is without.

heir-to-downton

And, well, what a hero! Battling with WWI trenches, two would-be fiancees, a tingling manhood and a damned stick – not to mention a script that would reduce grown men to tears, for various reasons.

Only six weeks to wait for the Christmas special …

Drawing a Tickle, by Juliet Archer

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Mr Tickle, the first of the Mr Men, was 40 this week!

He was ‘born’ when six-year-old Adam Hargreaves asked his father, Roger, what a tickle looked like. And Roger drew one, just like that. The rest – lots of Mr Men books, and almost as many Little Miss ones – is history.

I read what seemed like every single one to my nieces and nephews, who loved the simple, brightly coloured drawings and could relate to each human characteristic personified. And it was the same with my own children.

As writers, we often have to rise to the challenge of ‘drawing a tickle’, using only words. Images can convey so much more, and instantly. In my latest Jane Austen modernisation, Persuade Me, I wanted to describe Lou Musgrove’s fall from the Cobb. It had to be a sketch rather than a detailed picture, to illustrate the suddenness and impact on the character who was nearest, Rick Wentworth. So every word had to earn its place, several times over.

What’s been your biggest ‘drawing’ challenge to date?

Book Lovers in Bromley by Juliet Archer

 

The first ever Bromley Literary Festival is underway!

The brainchild of local brother and sister Ali and Leila Dewji, it’s designed to appeal to readers and would-be readers of all ages. With Bromley Library as the main venue, it’s also a way of demonstrating the central role that libraries play in their local communities. Between 15th June and 10th July there’ll be something for everyone - history, crime, comedy and ROMANCE.

25th June is the big day for romance and three Choc Lit authors are taking part. Whether you’re a reader, a writer or a romantic, here are just THREE reasons to come and join us at Bromley Library: 

  • Christina Courtenay and Sue Moorcroft are giving a Romantic Heroes Workshop from 11.45 until 12.45. Christina and Sue will show how they create their irresistible heroes in this lively workshop - and you can have a go at making your own! (Ticket required.)  
  • Juliet Archer is appearing on the Ladies Who Love Panel from 2.00 to 3.15, along with Dorothy Koomson and Victoria Fox – your chance to ask us what we do and how we do it! (Ticket required.)
  • It’s the ideal opportunity to buy signed copies of our books!

Other events include a FREE self-publishing masterclass, and ‘Impromance’, where Exquisite Folly Theatre will create a romantic interlude inspired by whatever props and ideas the audience gives them. 

For more information and tickets, go to www.bromleylitfest.co.uk or phone 0208 249 7474

Juliet Archer’s Body Parts

Like mothers with their babies, authors are prone to parade their book covers in the shameless pursuit of praise and adulation. And I’m afraid that I’m no exception.

But, unlike babies, book covers result from a meeting of minds, usually ones with a good understanding of the more commercial aspects of publishing. It seems to be a real bonus if the author actually likes what her ‘baby’ looks like. I’m very fortunate, because I ADORE MY NEW COVER!

9781906931209I loved the first one, too, for The Importance of Being Emma. The legs summed up my heroine perfectly – elegant and sexy, with a hint of mischief. They were also the first thing that the hero noticed when he met her in the opening chapter.

In fact, I’d had so many compliments about this cover that I was a bit disappointed when Choc Lit decided on a change of body parts for my second novel.

So, no legs for Persuade Me.

But what would my publisher come up with? I had visions of a headless torso, which seems to be a growing trend for Regency romance. However, I’m writing modern stories – not a heaving bosom in sight. And this heroine, Anna Elliot, is a lot different from Emma Woodhouse – more restrained and romantic, longing for another life. Would there be a demure pair of folded hands, perhaps, or bare feet caressing the sand?

Finally, I heard from Choc Lit. ‘We think it should be a girl’s head, in soft focus,’ they said.

OK. I’d seen Margaret James’s covers for The Silver Locket and The Golden Chain, of course - gorgeous, and very evocative of their period. But would they work for a 21st-century heroine, even if she does prefer her men to stay between the covers of 19th-century Russian novels?

Then Choc Lit sent me this …

Persuade Me - Cover

 … and I thought, ‘Wow! It captures Anna’s fragile beauty, hints at her gentle nature - and shows off the neck that Rick Wentworth once found so irresistible.’

What more can I say? Except that, like any proud mother, I want a shower of compliments for my ‘baby’!

Of Choc Lit and Chocolate (by Juliet Archer)

Once upon a time, there was a Choc Lit author. That’s right – just the one. Me, Juliet Archer.choclit-logo2051

It was way back in December 2008 when Choc Lit published my debut novel – and for almost a year I was the only author. Then along came Sue Moorcroft, Christina Courtenay, Christine Stovell, Margaret James, Jane Lovering and Kate Johnson – and, as they say, the rest is history!

Now I’m delighted to announce that Choc Lit are bringing out my second book in September 2011! To continue the pregnancy/childbirth analogy that I used with The Importance of Being Emma, Persuade Me has taken over two years from gestation to delivery. That’s way beyond any comparison with humans and more in the league of elephants and whales. (Which is sort of how I feel now that I’m desk-bound in a London office every day, within far-too-easy reach of the sandwich trolley and vending machine.) Fortunately for Choc Lit, their other authors are nearer the rabbit end of the scale, procreating much more frequently.

This time round, it’s going to be a totally different publishing experience for me. First, Choc Lit itself has gone from strength to strength, with seven authors published so far and more in the pipeline. There’s now a larger team to support us, all professionals in different aspects of publishing. And we even have this fabulous blog (thank you, Christina!) for meeting readers and other writers online.

Next, bookselling. Back in 2009, I did around 30 events in bookshops – mainly Borders, who welcomed unknown authors with open arms. Will that be possible today, with book retailing in the grip of the supermarkets and ebook sales gathering pace? And because the libraries are under threat, other options are reducing – so we’re lucky to have a marketing-driven publisher, always on the lookout for new opportunities.

montezuma-chilli-trufflesFinally, when Choc Lit was promoting my first book, the chocolate choice was Thorntons. This was heavily influenced, I seem to remember, by the BBC’s dramatisation of North & South, where John Thornton was brought deliciously to life by a certain Richard Armitage. (In fact, product placement has come several years too late for Thorntons – they could have had a captive audience of drooling Armitage fans for their Dark Classics.)

Now we have Montezuma’s and I’m looking forward to tasting one of their Chilli Truffles. Like Dr Rick Wentworth, the hero of Persuade Me, I’m told it smoulders with fiery passion under a deceptively hard outer shell!

Which Montezuma chocolate is your favourite hero?