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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Friday, June 29, 2012

5 Days till DEFIANT is out — Hate the Wait? Here’s a help list



We’re in the final countdown for the release of Defiant.  Hate the wait? Here’s a list of 11 ways to make these five remaining days go faster.


11. Make sure to register for the pre-release video chat party today hosted by Shindig Events! 

I’ll be doing a reading and giving away five signed copies of the book to participants. Click here to reserve your spot. Registration is free and takes all of 30 seconds. We’ll count down the final hours by have some fun together!


10. Re-read your favorite MacKinnon’s Ranger book, whether it’s Surrender or Untamed.

Okay, so maybe you've already done this. Twice. If so, skip to No. 9.

If not, it’s your chance to refresh your memory and enjoy once more everything that made you love the series.



9. Eat chocolate.

One of the best coping mechanisms ever, chocolate is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy — and to enjoy the sensual things in life.



8. Visit the websites for Fort Ticonderoga and the Rogers Island Visitor Center to bone up on the history. 

There is nothing like visiting these places in person and feeling the history that resonates through them — echoes of lives lived and lost. The real places will be fresh in your mind when you read Connor and Sarah’s story. Click here for Fort Ti or here for Rogers Island Visitor Center.


7. Hold a kitten.

It is a scientifically proven fact that kittens make everything better.







6. Memorize the Rules of Ranging.

It’s what any Ranger would have had to do. Are you up to the challenge? The bonus here is that if you ever need to know how to cross a marsh in a way that confuses your enemies, you’ll be prepared. Just click here for the full list.


5. Listen to my Defiant iMix via Ping and be inspired by the music that inspired me.

There’s nothing like music when it comes to getting myself in the right mood — or should I say write mood? The mix of songs that helped keep me going during the wee hours includes Scottish folk performed by Old Blind Dogs, the soundtrack to The War that Made America documentary — and lots of Georg Friedrich Händel. Go to Ping I-Tunes and ask to follow me. The URL for the Defiant iMix is here. (Faves are “St. Kilda” and “Loch Erne’s Shore.”)




4. Make ash cakes.

Nothing says 18th-century Colonial American frontier like corn cakes cook in the ashes of a camp fire. Click here for the recipe and instructions. It’s not hard, and your kids will have a blast watching you make a mess. (Scroll down to the bottom for an awesome buckwheat recipe.) 




3. Go to my previous blog post with the stills from the video shoot to stare at sexy Connor in the flesh. Remember: The live-action trailer will be out on July 3, too!

Wait, did that just make the wait even harder?


God, Karl is yummy!

2.  Re-enact sex scenes from the series with your lover. 

Just be careful if you try a reenactment of Iain and Annie’s shaving scene. Straight razors are an acquired skill. Just sayin’.




1.  Watch Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis.


Although the film wasn’t the inspiration for the series — I loved the movie when it came out in 1992, and was inspired to write about Rangers from research I’d done for Ride the Fire — it’s the closest thing you can find to a visual window into the world of Connor MacKinnon and his brothers. Daniel Day Lewis isn’t a Ranger, but he is a frontiersman who would have likely known of the MacKinnon brothers and possibly have considered them friends. He might well have known Captain Joseph, too.

The soundtrack is among several I listened to while I wrote the first three books of this series, so you can also enjoy that fantastic and very evocative music.

And here we are — just a handful of days away from July 3 and the release of Defiant and the live-action Defiant trailer. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Now, tell me what you’re doing to beat the wait.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More trailer stills, a special video chat invitation & more!


Only six days till Defiant is out!

 I am so excited to share Connor’s story with you — and I’ve been busy with Benjamin and Jenn LeBlanc of Illustrated Romance finishing the live-action trailer.

We met Monday after Benjy got off work to shoot pickups for the trailer — little scenes we hadn’t shot before. After looking at the footage we had, we decided to add some voice-over and some very brief scenes with Lord William Wentworth and Connor.

Of course, we’re working on a non-existent budget and with models, not actors, so we couldn’t have Karl, who plays Connor, and Derek Hutchins, who plays Wentworth’s backside, reading lines from the book. So here’s how we did it...

We got Karl, Jenn, Benjamin, Derek and myself together at Jenn’s studio — #StudioSmexy on Twitter — and we put the guys into some creative costumes. Connor wore what he wore in the forest scenes plus a period accurate-ish shirt. Derek was self-sacrificing and wore a heavy British redcoat officer’s jacket, tight pants and boots despite the humid heat of the studio.

Then Benjamin took over from there, directing the filming of three shots — one of Wentworth reading a letter from his niece, the heroine, Lady Sarah; one of Connor and Wentworth face to face; and one of Connor praying with his wooden rosary.


Bit o’ trivia: The wooden rosary Karl/Connor holds is the very same wooden rosary I wore wrapped many times around my wrist like a bracelet while writing Untamed.

Now, back to our narrative...


We had a bit of extra help this time, with Kati and Jamie from Romancing Rakes working as Jenn’s assistants — moving lights, moving furniture, um... helping the guys with costumes. It was hard work, but someone had to do it, right?

For these scenes, we’d hoped to have the guys act out the physical aspects, while using the voices of people with very posh British accents for Lady Sarah and Lord William. Of course, I had no idea who would do the voices. It’s not like I keep a Rolodex listing actors by accent. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Benjy directed the first scene — a thorough filming of Lord Wentworth’s ass. This involved getting a candle set up, adjusting lighting so that it looked like the scene was lit only by the candle and so on. Then Derek gamely proffered his well-dressed and very firm backside.

Cut. Done. Next shot.

This involved adjusting lighting a bit and positioning the camera and the guys so that we could see past Wentworth’s hip and arm across the desk to Connor’s abdomen. And because they’re having a bit of a heated exchange in this scene in the book, there needed to be physical motion.

And I have to say this was the highlight, because Derek really got into it. We weren’t using sound from the shoot, so he could say whatever he wanted. So to make his gesticulations feel real, he started lambasting Karl/Connor.

“Hey, you know what? Fuck you! I hate you! And you hate me! And so there’s this feud between us.”

“You know I hate you, but I need you to find my niece. Go on! Go! You’re such a jerk!”

And my fave:

“I fucking hate you but I need you to save my niece. What? You’re just going to stand there?”

Trouble was, what Derek was saying was so funny that everyone was laughing, and you could tell from the footage that the men were laughing. So we had to do several takes.

Then we shot the scene of Karl/Connor alone praying with the wooden rosary.

It took about an hour altogether to get the footage we need, and then we had to break everything down, pack stuff up, and close down the studio.

By the way, I’ve really never seen anyone carry as much at once as Jenn. I think the few times in her life that she’s not carrying something must be really special for her.


Photo stolen shamelessly from Jamie

I showed Kati and Jamie how to load fire a real 18th-century musket — sans ball and powder mind you — and showered poor Kati in the face with sparks from the flint.

D’oh!

When we got home, I had a surprise waiting for me. Kate McDermott and Mike Gamache, two Shakespearean actors I’d gotten in contact with via Twitter (thanks to author Carolyn Jewel, who saw my Twitter plea for British accents), had emailed me sound files of them speaking Sarah and Lord William’s lines. They don’t say much — there isn’t time for much — but the voices were key. I got so excited listening to them that I had to keep pausing just to squeal. They each did several takes with different inflections and rhythms — very beautifully done.

So now tonight, Benjy and I are meeting Jenn and Cora in some stretch of forest that isn’t on fire to tape three brief shots involving Lady Sarah.

And then we’ll have everything we need ready for Benjamin to edit together in time for the trailer’s July 3 debut. I can’t wait!

But there is other important news! 

I will be doing a live video chat through Shindig Events on July 2 from 6-7 p.m. Eastern Time to talk about Defiant and answer your questions. Shindig Events contacted me and invited me to utilize their very special technology for conducting video chats. So this should be fun and exciting. You will be able to communicate directly with me, and I will be reading a scene from Defiant. I will also be giving away five copies of the book.

The event is FREE! To register, just click here. It takes about 30 seconds to reserve your free spot.

I will also be holding an After the Epilogue Spoiler Chat through Shindig events on Thursday, July 12, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time for those who have read the book and want to talk about it with me and other readers without worrying about spoilers. This even is also free, but it SOLELY for people who’ve already read the book. I’ll be giving away some Amazon.com gift cards and chatting with you about the story.

Sign up will be available for it soon!

Mark your calendar, because the beginning of July is going to be fun around here.

Isn’t it weird to think that the book is coming out on the anniversary of the first battle of the French & Indian War? July 4 marks the anniversary of the Battle of Fort Necessity. Gives me goosebumps!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Tomorrow=Party Time! (But, psst…we’ll go ahead and have a giveaway today!)




Hi, everyone! Please welcome the wonderful Cynthia Eden to our little corner of the blogosphere. She’s here to tell us that it’s

Party Time!

Take it away, Cindy...

Thanks so much to the always amazing Pamela for allowing me to come by and talk about my release party! 

On June 26, my next paranormal romance, ANGEL BETRAYED, will be out in the wild. To celebrate its release, I’m hosting an all-day party at my blog (www.cynthiaeden.com/blog).  On 6/26, the party will begin at 8 A.M. (Central time), and each hour, I will have a new guest author and a new giveaway for readers. We’ll spend the day talking heroes & heroines, books, favorite story lines — and there will be plenty of prizes!  The last guest post will be posted at 10 PM.  However, all of the giveaways will stay open until noon on June 27 — that way, people in all time zones will have a chance at the prizes.

Here are some of the fabulous authors who are attending the party:

Pamela Clare (rock star!)
Katie Reus
Marie Force
Manda Collins
Donna Grant
Joan Swan
Elisabeth Naughton
Julie James
Norah Wilson
Jennifer Haymore
Joyce Lamb
Janet Breakfield
Caridad Pineiro

There will be gift card giveaways, ARC giveaways, book giveaways — oh, I do love giveaways. ;)

If you have the chance, I hope you’ll swing by.

Thanks, again, to Pamela for letting me post about my party!   And, hey, how about we just go ahead and get the party started right here?  I’ll give a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate to one commenter. Just tell me…what do you like best about parties?  I’ll be back tomorrow at noon to announce the winner.

Best,
Cynthia Eden
www.cynthiaeden.com
ANGEL BETRAYED—Available 6/26/12
When you betray an angel, there’s all hell to pay…


Monday, June 18, 2012

A Day With Connor MacKinnon


You’ve read excerpts, gotten a glimpse of Lady Sarah Woodville’s world, and you’ve told me you can’t wait to get your hands on Connor MacKinnon. Today, you’re going to get as close as you can get to him until July 3, when Defiant is finally on bookstore shelves.

You haven’t read a word I’ve written, have you? Your eyes are glued on the amazingly handsome man with the freaking fantastic body in the image above. Can’t say that I blame you. I spent Saturday with him. I even drew on his skin. Whoa! That got your attention! Now follow along...

As I was saying, I’m going to give you a glimpse of Connor MacKinnon today, and there he is. It goes like this...


Author and photojournalist Jenn LeBlanc of Illustrated Romance is a friend of mine. We met at the journalism awards ceremony where I was given my Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2010 and Jenn picked up an award for photojournalism. Only we didn’t actually meet. We probably ended up competing for space at the very small bar at the Denver Press Club, but I didn’t stay long that night, hitting the town with my posse for champagne and overpriced food.

Jenn and I met again at Lady Jane’s Salon in Denver. I was there to read. I walked in, and this woman with lovely blond hair said, “Oh, my God! You’re her!” I was confused, and Jenn introduced herself, explaining that she’d been there that night and had heard my acceptance speech (which is on YouTube for those of you who are bored out of your minds at work on a Monday morning). 


Long story short, we both write romance. And she does something that I really appreciate: She takes photos of extremely sexy male models and couples for her books and for romance novel book covers. Jenn is the photographer who brought you the cover of Skin Deep — all that chiaroscuro and man muscle. Yes, that’s her work.

A few weeks back, she sent me a photo of ripped, half-naked man with the text, “Connor?” My response was something like, “Yum!”

The half-naked man turned out to be Karl — who was much hotter in person than that smartphone image could possibly convey. His presence, the fact that he largely fits the description of Connor, and my son’s film degree kind of coalesced into an idea: make a live-action trailer for Defiant.

And that, my friends, is what we’ve spent this past weekend doing.


Benjamin and I set out early Saturday — shortly after fuck-o’-clock in the morning — with some props, including my Brown Bess 1757 musket, lead balls (ammo for the gun), a powder horn, a leather medicine bag to use as a parfleche, and some other junk. We headed south to meet Jenn, Karl and Cora, another photojournalist who assists Jenn and often models for covers, at a park outside Lakewood where there was a lake. (Jenn had scouted out locations earlier in the week.)

Benjamin and I got there a bit early and sat there in the cool morning air watching a rabbit hop around and talking about firearms. Then Jenn pulled up in her Jeep with Karl and Cora. We were supposed to follow them, but I had left the lights on, so my car wouldn’t start. A sexy Ranger came along and gave us a jump — gotta love sexy Rangers — and we were off.


Now, when you’re in public and your grand plan is to get someone mostly naked in strange public places and to brandish firearms, you do wonder whether you’re going to end up getting arrested and making very awkward phone calls to family. We had this in mind as we reached the lake and hiked back to a less public beach. While Jenn, Benjamin and Cora talked about lighting, Karl took off his clothes, stripping down to a pair of swim trunks, and walked into the water.
 
God, I love my job!

 At that point, I could have started photographing the scene for a “making of” documentary. Instead, I was standing there trying not to stare, something akin to “Oh, holy God!” running through my mind as my estrogen levels abruptly shifted from “nice” to “very, very naughty.” I wondered for a few minutes how I was going to get through the day without acting like a 16-year-old in the midst of her first crush. (Jenn says I blushed. She does not have photographic proof of this, so I choose not to believe her. I do not blush.)

The water portion of the shoot lasted for close to an hour. There was chest washing, water trickling over pecs and abs, biceps washing. I gave Karl an overview of the story and what the hell Connor would be doing in a lake — taking a bath to wash away the blood of battle, it so happens — and then Benjamin coached Karl through some shots based on that bathing scene. It’s a good thing Benjy was directing, because I love men in water and would likely have kept reshooting those scenes until Karl’s toes turned to prunes.

While this was going on, Jenn was live tweeting it to an audience of our readers, who were waiting with photos on my Facebook page and on Twitter with the #StudioSmexy hashtag. 


When the water games were done, we packed up, remarking that we hadn’t yet been arrested, and headed off to our next location — where we found a sign telling us that we couldn’t use firearms. Since the legal definition of “use” is somewhat unclear and given that the place was crowded and that two Ranger vehicles were nearby, we decided that discretion really is the greater part of filmmaking and went somewhere else — Cora’s parents’ house. 

On our way, we passed what was clearly Jack West’s ranch, the Cimarron, but that’s another story.

Cora’s folks have a beautiful mountain home with lots of acreage of forest, where we set about the forest part of the shoot. Now, a Colorado forest looks nothing like a forest from upstate New York, but we couldn’t replant the whole thing. We had to make it work. We got out our props, had Karl switch from swim trunks to breeches, and got out Bess — my musket. 

Benjamin directed the shooting, while Cora helped with lighting and Jenn took photos. What did I do? Well, I drew the tattoos on Karl’s arms. 

This was not a hardship for me. Take an eyeshadow pen, draw designs on a sexy man’s muscular arms. Sure, okay. I’ll do that. I didn’t even lie and make up some story about Connor having extensive tattoos on his chest, thighs, back, butt cheeks, and lower belly. I could have done that, you know. (Sometimes, I’m too well-behaved for my own sake.)

 

The forest shoot lasted the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon as Karl was put through the paces of being Connor MacKinnon. Even though the costume was not historically accurate and the whole operation was ultra-mega-low-budget, there came a moment where Karl was running full-tilt through the forest when both Jenn and I got goose bumps.

There running through the trees was Connor MacKinnon, in the flesh. As Jenn later wrote on Facebook, it was like being in the forest with my muse.



Karl took the job very seriously, doing everything that was asked of him and handling the physical demands of it well. Fortunately, he has firearms experience, so we didn’t have to show him how to hold the musket. Working with people who’ve never held a gun and making it look natural is a filmmakers’s nightmare. We didn’t have to deal with that.

Benjamin came up with some clever ways of getting the footage he wanted, though I don’t want to give too much away. I won’t say more about that.


 After we were finished, I took everyone to lunch and got to talk with the man I’d spent the past six hours staring at. Karl is intelligent and concerned and fun — not at all self-centered or arrogant like some male models can be. We all had a great time.

And on July 3 to celebrate the release of the book, Reel Films (that’s Benjamin’s film company) together with Illustrated Romance (that’s Jenn), and I will bring you a live-action trailer for Defiant. I’ve seen the rough cut edit of the footage, and it’s fantastic. We’ll be getting together for some pickup shots next week — we’re adding Wentworth and Lady Sarah to the trailer — and then we’ll be down to sound and the soundtrack.

Only 15 days to go until Defiant is finally out and you get to read the book and see Connor in action!



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"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
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—Robert Frost.

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—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale