Sneak Peek at FOREVER YOUR EARL

SNEAK PEEK!!!

Here’s the preliminary back cover copy for FOREVER YOUR EARL by Eva Leigh (that’s me!):

Eva Leigh’s irresistible new series introduces the Wicked Quills of London: a group of bold, brilliant female writers whose spirited allure is beyond seductive. . .

An Indecent Proposal

Eleanor Hawke lives for scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So Eleanor is stunned when the earl himself marches into her office and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades… What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?

Daniel has secrets and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. What better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and his desire for her threatens even his best laid plans

Eleanor cannot deny she’s falling for Daniel, but knows there is no future for a commoner and an earl. And when Daniel’s secrets are finally revealed, he will do anything to prove that their love is strong enough to last forever.

COMING SEPTEMBER 29, 2015

Changes

This year is going to bring a lot of changes for me! The first major change is that I will be writing Regency-set historical romances for Avon, using a new name: EVA LEIGH. In fact, you can already pre-order the first book in my Wicked Quills of London series, FOREVER YOUR EARL. As of this blog, I’m finishing the final draft of the second Wicked Quills book, SCANDAL TAKES THE STAGE.

Two incredible authors have given me amazing blurbs for FOREVER YOUR EARL.

“I loved this book! FOREVER YOUR EARL has it all-a dashing, rakish hero and a clever, ambitious heroine who is his perfect match. Delightful banter and delicious passion. Eva Leigh’s Wicked Quills are simply divine!” —Tessa Dare

“FOREVER YOUR EARL is a divine blend of depth, wicked heat and sparkling wit. Eva Leigh’s characters leap off the page and linger long after you’ve closed the book. She’s a wonderful writer.” —Julie Anne Long

As you might imagine, I was knocked out of my boots when I read these blurbs!

Does this mean that Zoë Archer won’t exist anymore? I don’t think so. But she will be taking a small break for a while while I continue writing as Eva Leigh. I’m going to be candid with you guys: I’m going to have to learn how to manage two pen names at the same time. This is brand new territory for me!

I’ve already established a strong Facebook Fan Page community as Zoë, plus I tweet regularly (perhaps too much!) at @Zoe_Archer. But now I’m going to be establishing a whole new identity, including a new FB Fan Page, a new Twitter handle, and even a new website. All of this will be coming soon in the next few months. I really do hope that all my wonderful readers will come with me on this new journey—it promises to be very exciting, while also opening up new horizons.

As for what Zoë plans on writing, well, that’s yet to be determined. But I do have a lot of ideas, so expect more books with more kick-ass heroines and the heroes who love them.

What’s the other big change that’s happening for me? I’m in the process of moving! I’ve lived in Los Angeles for most of my life, and now my husband, Nico Rosso, and I are finally pulling up stakes and moving to the country. It’s been 14 years since I last moved! They say that moving is one of the most stressful things a person can do, but since I’m very happy about a change of scenery, I hope it mitigates some of the stress.

Since this has been a text-heavy post, here’s a photo of my cats.

Whiskey and Phantom Bench
That’s Phantom on the left, and Whiskey on the right. You can’t be a romance author without at least one cat—that’s according to the Romance Writers of America bylaws. (Yes, I’m kidding.)

Do you have any big changes coming up?

What’s ahead in 2015

This year is going to be big! I will be writing a three-book historical romance series for Avon, and I’ll be using a new pseudonym, too.  Look for a new Eva Leigh website, Facebook Fan Page, and Twitter account. The Wicked Quills of London series will center around three female writers during the Regency period, beginning with FOREVER YOUR EARL (October 2015), and followed by SCANDAL TAKES THE STAGE (November 2015), and TEMPTATIONS OF A WALLFLOWER (tentatively set for May 2016).

Does that mean that Zoë Archer is going away? Not exactly. I’m still working on other projects, and will keep this website updated with the latest developments.

Have a wonderful 2015!

 

 

Give the gift of giving

I railed fairly recently on social media about how it seems that every year, the holiday season becomes more and more about consumerism for consumerism’s sake, and less about showing your loved ones that you care about them.  So, maybe instead of giving things, why not give the gift of giving?  I won’t endorse a specific charity, but here are some causes that could always benefit from donations (in no particular order):

  • Veterans
  • Animals
  • Children
  • Women
  • Social justice and human rights
  • Global development
  • Fighting poverty and hunger
  • Education and literacy
  • Medical research

This is just a beginning, of course. Make a donation in someone’s name, and spread love and compassion this holiday.

 

 

 

 

Avon Recipe Loop – Cranberry Chocolate Pecan Pie

I do love pecan pie, but it can get heavy and sweet. The addition of cranberry sauce helps temper the sweetness, and the addition of chocolate makes it awesome. This recipe is lightly adapted from Ken Haedrich’s Pie.

1 recipe of your choice single pie crust

Filling:

1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce (see note at the bottom)

1.  Prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

2.  On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch standard pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge so it is just slightly higher than the rim of the pan. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, then partially prebake (see note at the bottom). Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Rub them together well, breaking up any clumps of sugar. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the butter, corn syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest. Stir in the pecans, chocolate, and cranberry sauce. Carefully pour the filling into the cooled pie shell.

4.  Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake until the filling is set, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pie 180 degrees halfway through the baking, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. When done, the filling should not be soupy in the center. Give the pie a little nudge to check.

5.  Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Serve immediately, or cover with loosely tented aluminum foil and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Notes:

-Don’t measure the cranberry sauce directly from the can or container because the jellied part tends to settle to the bottom. Empty the entire can into a small bowl, stir well, and then measure it.

-I’ve used both fresh cranberry sauce and sauce from a can. The fresh is MUCH better. Trader Joe’s sells really nice cranberry sauce that works well for this recipe.

-To partially bake your pie crust, first preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Once it’s preheated, take your pie crust out of the freezer and line the whole crust with a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil (it should fit like a second skin, and let the excess foil extend out like wings). Fill the pie crust with pie weights or dried beans. (These hold the crust down so it keeps its shape as it bakes.) Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, carefully remove the foil and weights or beans from the pie shell. Prick the pastry all over with a fork. (This allows steam to escape as the pastry bakes.) Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake the pie shell for 10 to 12 minutes for a partially baked crust. Remove from the oven and let cool before adding the filling.

Happy holidays!

-Zoë

And don’t miss the next step on the recipe tour: LECIA CORNWALL’S QUICHE LORRAINE!

recipe loop

I’m Goin’ Back to New Orleans

Actually, I’ve never been there before! I can’t wait to join readers and authors down in the bayou for the RT Booklovers Convention from May 13-18. There will be books, beignets, and bon temps!

My favorite Cajun

If you’re heading to the convention, here’s where you can find me:

Thursday, May 15:

  • 10 – 11 am: Out of the Ballroom: Gritty Historical Romance panel (Studio 7, Preservation Hall)
  • 11:15 am – 12:15 pm: Avon’s Hats ‘n’ Tats (3rd Floor, Salon E, Mardi Gras Ballroom)
  • 12:30 – 2:30 pm: The Many Worlds of Worldbuilding panel (4th Floor, Regent Room)
  • 6:30 – 8:30 pm: Pub Crawl (from 6:30-6:50 at Tropical Isle, from 6:50 7:10 at Saints & Sinners, then back to Tropical Isle from 7:10-8:30)

Friday, May 16:

  • 10 – 11 am: Romance Pictionary (3rd Floor, Salon A, Mardi Gras Ballroom)
  • 6:15 – 7:45 pm: Avon’s Krewe of Muses Signing (3rd Floor, Acadia, Grand Ballroom)

Saturday, May 17:

  • 11 am – 2 pm: Giant Book Fair (3rd Floor, Grand Ballroom & Mardi Gras Ballroom)
  • 6:30 – 7 pm: FAN-tastic Day Party (2nd Floor, Preservation Hall)

Hope to see you there!  And if you can’t make it, be sure to follow me on Twitter and FB, where I’ll be posting updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenes from the Writing Life: Other Forms of Creativity

I love my job as a writer.  I get to wake up every morning and transport myself to distant lands and distant times, all the while making them accessible and relatable to readers.  I get to do research and live inside my head for months at a time.  But, let’s face it, after a long day of writing, it can be difficult to feel a sense of accomplishment.  I don’t have a newly-built bridge, or a painted wall, or even a stack of completed forms to look at.  Just a few more megabytes on my computer hard drive.

One of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is bake.  I love combining ingredients in specific combinations, I love the process, the meditation of it (as Nico Rosso might say).  I love that it gives me a sense of actually completing something.  And at the end of it, I have something delicious to eat.  But since Nico and I both work at home, I don’t get to bake very often, unless I want to risk him and I eating everything ourselves–which might taste good, but isn’t the healthiest option.

Cinnamon_roll_01

But I still need a creative outlet outside of my creativity.  Something that gives me that sense of achievement but without all the calories.  I’ve done a little painting (back when I was much younger, I was torn between visual arts and writing, then finally decided to pursue writing), but getting out my paints and canvases can be a little tedious.

A few months ago, my friends K.B. Alan and Vivienne Westlake introduced me to something called Artist Trading Cards–collages or works of art that measure about 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches.  They invited me over one afternoon for a day of crafting and making ATCs.  I was new to the art form, so I was overwhelmed and excited when I saw stacks of beautiful paper, rubber stamps, ribbons, metal charms, glitter, and glue.

I wasn’t sure exactly what making ATCs entailed, but K.B. and Vivienne soon showed me (and Nico) what the process was about.  Basically, anything goes.  Make them minimal or make them ornate. They can even extend off their tiny canvases.  It’s all about self expression.

SAMSUNG CSC Within moments, I was addicted.  I made ATC after ATC, cutting, stamping, gluing, and drawing myself into a creative frenzy.  And the more I made, the more inspired I got, until, within the span of just a few hours, I’d made over nine ATCs!

SAMSUNG CSC(Obviously, the goal isn’t to make as many as possible. One of the other crafters spent nearly an hour creating a tiny, perfect collage using cutouts and colored pencils. It’s all dependent on the individual.)

SAMSUNG CSCSince that fateful day, I’ve become mildly obsessed with ATCs. After a long day of writing, after dinner, I like to take out my tub of crafting supplies and let my imagination go.  And then, a few hours later, I look up and realize its time to go to bed, and now I have five or six brand new ATCs that are physical expressions of my creativity.  It’s an incredible thing to be able to hold your expressiveness and imagination in your hand, and I’ve found it to be a wonderful counterpoint to writing all day.

SAMSUNG CSCIf you’d like to learn more about what ATCs are or how to make them, you can find out more information here. And stores like JoAnn and Michaels sell the supplies*, but you might find yourself spending lots and lots of money (like a certain author whose initials are Z and A…ahem) in pursuit of this pastime.  And I do believe it’s helped my writing too; allowing me to express myself in new ways enriches everything I do.

SAMSUNG CSCTell me, what are some of your favorite forms of creative expression?  Since ATCs are meant to be given away, I’ll be giving some of my own creations out to commenters. Don’t forget to get creative in your responses!

*I’m not being compensated by either JoAnn or Michaels for mentioning them.

 

Imbuing Your Writing With the Personal

Before I delve into the meat of my blog post, I just want to say that the reason why my posts have been so scarce is that I’ve been hard at work on the next NEMESIS, UNLIMITED novel, and had to make a choice: write the book, or write blog posts. So now you know why it’s been a little quiet here lately.

I try not to do too much self horn tooting, but I’ve been receiving extremely positive reviews on the latest (and last) ETHER CHRONICLES book, SKIES OF GOLD.  The book actually received an A- from the esteemed Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and the reviewer said: “The only bad thing about this book is that it ends.” Wow! I was pretty floored by that review, and others that were very similar.

Skies of Gold CoverThe positive reviews have been something of a surprise for me, since I wasn’t certain about SKIES OF GOLD’s reception.  After all, while it’s definitely a steampunk romance, the steampunk elements are mostly in the background.  What the story is really about is two highly damaged people learning not only to trust each other, but accept themselves in the process.

This book is highly personal for me.  I wrote it during a time in my life when, like my characters, I was recovering from traumas and learning to overcome fear.  Sure, there are airships and ether rifles in the story, but mainly the narrative follows Kali and Fletcher on their personal journeys, and discovering love along the way.  And so far, it’s been one of my most well-received books.

There’s a lesson in here.  Writers often inhabit or put a little of themselves in their characters–even the villains exist somewhere in our subconscious.  But with Kali and Fletcher, I delved deep into my own personal experience, revealing much more of myself than I ever have before.  And maybe that’s why it’s been such an affecting book.  One of my readers is a rehab nurse.  She told me that she loved the portrayal of people learning to move on past trauma, and accept their changed bodies.  That, to me, is why I write.  To reach people and touch them, and maybe, just maybe, help them through their rough patches in life.

Recently, I got a new tattoo.  I only get tattoos at important junctures in my life, and this is what I had done:

bday tatA bird in flight. While it soars, it keeps its eyes on the ground, cautious and alert, but still in flight.  To me, this isn’t just the essence of SKIES OF GOLD, but my own journey–as a writer, and a person.

 

 

Sweet Revenge gets a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly!

“Prolific author Archer (the Hellraisers series) opens the Nemesis, Unlimited series, set in the grimy underbelly of 1886 London, with unforgettable characters whose connection sizzles. Escaped convict Jack Dalton plans to avenge his sister’s murder by hunting down her nobleman killer, Lord Rockley. When Jack reaches his target’s hiding place, he’s held up by Eva Warrick and the other members of the vigilante justice organization Nemesis, Unlimited, who want Jack to assist them in their own plans for Rockley. Jack reluctantly accepts their proposal, intending the alliance to be temporary; raised on London’s mean streets and embittered by prison, he doesn’t trust Nemesis’s do-gooding claims. More persuasive are Eva’s fierce intelligence, cool competence, and empathetic understanding, which compel Jack to undermine her civilian governess guise with dangerous passion. This bold mix of an unlikely romance, a gritty setting, and a page-turning thriller will leave readers craving more.”

Woo-hoo!

 

 

 

 

Guest post and giveaway with author Heather Snow!

I’m thrilled to have as my guest today romance author Heather Snow! Take it away, Heather!

Lunacy Hearings in Regency and Victorian England

Hello! I’m so excited to be here on Zoë’s blog today…I mean, it’s Zoë Archer!!! (I’m a huge fan. I’m sure you feel the same way!)

A little about me for those who don’t know me: I’m a sleep-deprived mother of two young boys, known affectionately on social media as The Heir and The Spare. I’m an avid reader…or at least I was before deadlines and diaper duty. Now I’m more of an avid listener—God bless audiobooks! I’m a cat person who somehow just got tricked into agreeing to get a dog this summer (rotten husband…and he said it in front of the boys, who are now over the moon. I would be an evil mommy to say no now…)—oh, and I write historical romance with heroines who put the blue in bluestocking, the men who love them and the mysteries they have to solve.

Heather Snow's Unconventional Heroines

Oh, and my latest novel starts in a sanatorium for the insane.

“What?”, you say.  “Don’t you write regency romance???”, you ask. “Shouldn’t you be putting your characters in a ballroom and make them be witty?”  Well, yes…and there are a couple of ballroom scenes, I promise.  But from the moment the story of SWEET MADNESS gripped me, it wouldn’t let me go.  And so I wrote it.

SWEET MADNESS is the story of strong man brought low, a traumatized soldier now facing the terrifying prospect of losing his mind. But Gabriel is a fighter…hope burns eternal in his heart and he’s willing to do what it takes to get well. Luckily for him, our heroine, Penelope, knows what it takes and is willing to fight by his side.

I did a lot of research about how “lunatics” were perceived and treated at the time, most of which couldn’t go into the book… It is a romance, after all, and as I’m sure you can imagine, the mentally ill were not dealt with in the most humane and compassionate manner in those days. But I thought I might share a little about it here with you today. Particularly about lunacy hearings.

You see, before a person could be declared an “idiot” or a “lunatic” (idiot being defined as someone who was born insane versus, whereas a lunatic is someone who has gone insane later in life), he or she had to be officially declared non compos, usually at a public hearing. These proceedings were overseen by the Court of the Chancery and normally went something like this:

A family member or concerned citizen would swear out an affidavit to the Lord Chancellor via the Master extraordinary. Once an affidavit was sworn, a petition would be made and a public commission appointed to determine the individual’s sanity—a writ de lunicato inquirendo.

And when I say public, I mean very public…a spectacle very often held in a local tavern (so that anyone who wanted to attend could.) People from far and wide came to gawk, particularly if the accused lunatic was a member of the noble classes. The hearings and testimony were also printed up as entertainment in the newspapers. Nearly two hundred such cases were featured in the London Times alone between 1820-1860, and about a dozen of them were considered the top news of their day, depending on how salacious the hearing was, how depraved the testimony, or how well known the lunatic. One of the most sordid was the 1823 hearing of the 3rd Earl of Portsmouth, which shocked the reading public with claims of abuse, adultery, threesomes, and which resulted in the earl’s marriage being set aside and his wife’s children being declared bastards.

You can imagine why my hero would like to avoid this at all cost! You’ll have to read the book to discover whether or not he and Penelope manage to keep him from such a fate…

Thank you so much for having me here today! While I’m here, I’d love to do a giveaway. One winner will get their choice of the first two books in the series, SWEET ENEMY or SWEET DECEPTION (which recently won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for published historical romance!).

Just answer a question for me: Nobility were sort of like the celebrities of their day, and we all know how the public likes nothing more than watching a celebrity meltdown…just ask the National Enquirer, TMZ and the slew of reality television shows! What do you think it is about us that makes us so fascinated?
Sweet Madness by Heather Snow

Ever since her husband’s sudden and tragic death, Lady Penelope Bridgeman has dedicated herself to studying maladies of the mind, particularly those of soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars, but Gabriel Devereaux’s unpredictable episodes are like none she’s ever seen. Even though she knows the folly of loving a broken man, she can’t help herself from trying to save him, no matter the cost…

Read the Prologue and First Chapter HERE…

*Sweet Madness is a story of the healing power of love, and just as important, of hope. Gabriel is a fictional war hero but there are many real life heroes and their families suffering today. Therefore, my husband and I have decided to donate a portion of all royalties earned from the sale of SWEET MADNESS to Hope For The Warriors®, an organization dedicated to “restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.” You can find out more at http://www.heathersnowbooks.com/Hope_For_the_Warriors.html

Rainy Day Books (my local indie)
Amazon (Kindle Edition)
Amazon (Mass Market Paperback)
Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million
IndieBound
Ibooks
The Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide)
Walmart

Romance Author Heather SnowHeather Snow is an award winning historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered she preferred creating chemistry on the page rather than in the lab. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two rambunctious boys and one very put upon cat. Mr. Snow has promised the boys a dog this summer. The cat is not happy.

The final book in her Veiled Seduction series, SWEET MADNESS, hit shelves April 2, 2013. RT Book Reviews Magazine gives it 4 ½ stars, saying “In this emotional, compassionate romance…the powerful love story will sweep readers away.”

Find out more at www.HeatherSnowBooks.com or connect with Heather at www.facebook.com/AuthorHeatherSnow , www.twitter.com/HeatherSnowRW or at her blog, Heather’s Historical Reader Salon at www.heathersnowbooksreadersalon.blogspot.com