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Meet Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie Rivers writes Regency romances that combine intrigue, humor, and love. Set against the backdrop of post-Napoleonic Europe, the heroines & heroes of “The Secret Lives of Regency Spies,” her current in-progress series, work to disrupt and uncover a mole within British intelligence who threatens Europe’s fragile new peace.

Anne-Marie was selected as the first chapter winner of Avon’s FanLit contest, where her work received praise from legendary romance authors Julia Quinn & Tessa Dare. Her work kicks off the story in the Avon novella “A Duke to Remember.”

Avon, romance author, historical romance

Find her on Twitter @authorannemarie or e-mail her at annemarierivers (at) gmail.com.

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Avon’s Amazing #AvonFanLit

Avon – the publishing powerhouse behind some of the world’s most beloved romances – brought back their much-beloved Avon Fan Lit¬†contest. Cue glee!

#avonfanlit #joy #romance
Carlton is courtesy of prhslibrary.com

Best known for discovering bestsellers Tessa Dare & Courtney Milan, Avon Fan Lit is a write-your-own-adventure extravaganza where each participant¬†writes their chapter based off a prompt, and the winning chapter determines where the story will go. Based on a combination of votes, story elements & writing style, Avon editors choose a winning chapter each round through July, when the five-chapter novella will be complete and the five chapter winning authors compete for the best prize of all – a shot at a publishing contract with Avon. It’s an incredible opportunity for aspiring authors and the community forum has been a wonderful place to network with so many talented writers. Oh, and no big deal, each submission period also has an Avon author mentor. Tessa Dare and Lorraine Heath mentored the first two chapters and (wait for it) THE LEGENDARY JULIA QUINN is mentoring the third. I was lucky enough to be chosen as the winning author for Chapter One, and Chapter Two has our hero and heroine, Maxwell & Felicity, up in the air in a balloon. Come join in the fun for Chapter Three! UPDATE: This happened today:

Julia Quinn Avon FanLit Regency Romance
WHAT THE WHAT!

Followed immediately by this at my house:

JOY
Image courtesy of Tumblr, csulaadmissions

Behind The Scenes from AvonFanLit

The last person Lady Felicity Stratford is expecting to see tonight is her childhood friend Maxwell Trent, the Duke of Highclyff. The dashing duke hasn’t been seen in London in ten years. But tonight, he’s back. And he’s so much more than Felicity remembers.

Before the dancing is done, we’ll find out where the duke has been and what happened the last time Felicity and Maxwell saw each other. And we may just learn that beautiful Felicity is hiding a secret.

Be sure to include a whispered argument, a daring waltz, and an oh-so-annoying interruption. The rest is up to you!

With these words, AvonFanLit was off and running this May.

I found out about the contest through authors I follow on Twitter, scarcely a week before it started. I had no idea what it would entail, but I knew I had to be part of it. Avon – the publishing house behind my absolute favorite authors and so many of my beloved romances – was looking for new writers.

There were a thousand reasons not to participate. My full-time job was especially busy. My toddler was in the midst of a growth spurt that led to tantrums around the clock. Life was getting in the way.

But I couldn’t get the first line of what became my entry out of my mind: “Highclyff is back.” 

What would that mean for Felicity? Who was this man she fell in love with and why did he leave? What was her secret?

From that first line, I wove my first chapter, writing early in the morning, late at night, on Evernote and scraps of paper and the Notes section of my iPhone.

Felicity would be engaged, to another childhood friend, Wakefield. With a huge nod to Sweet Valley High fans with his name, Wakefield is blond, handsome, and seemingly perfect. There’s just one problem: he’s not Maxwell.

Felicity’s best friend, Birdie (named as a nod to Don’s sweet nickname for Betty in Mad Men, which was ending right around the same time) was immediately in my mind. I had dreams of her being paired off with Wakefield by the end of the book, but will let you see where the other authors took it!

The conflict, for me, went a hundred different directions before I settled on a final. There would be a duel in Maxwell’s past, but infamously, I couldn’t decide if it should be with swords or pistols. I left it as pistols, but that left a lot of explaining for the other authors in Chapter Two as to how Wakefield’s injury didn’t kill him – you’ll have to read to find out!

As the characters became more real over the course of the contest, I created Pinterest boards to keep handy what Max & Felicity and Birdie & Wakefield looked like – at least in my mind.

In writing the first chapter, the difficulty was having so many avenues to take the story. I wanted to write something tense and dramatic, hinting at Felicity & Maxwell’s pasts, but leaving enough doors open for (hopefully!) the other authors to take the story in their own direction. After a fraught week begging friends to vote and revealing for the first time, to many of them, my secret life as a Regency romance novelist, I found out my chapter had won the first round. Words – and gifs from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – could not adequately convey my excitement.

And I truly believe Avon FanLit has already changed my life – I headed up to the RWA Conference in July, meeting with the other fabulous FanLitters and the amazing editors at Avon; we’ve launched an online community for 2015 FanLit contestants where we’ve shared resources, ideas, and support; and best of all, it’s brought us all one step closer to our dream of writing romance.

Check out the final book, which includes all the winning chapters for the first time in one FREE! e-novella, including a beautiful never-before-seen epilogue from contest winner Eve Marie Perry! A Duke to Remember is available for free on AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle PlayHarlequin, and from the publisher, HarperCollins.

Read more behind-the-scenes stories from the other Avon FanLit authors – here’s Eve Marie Perry’s piece on staying true to your own voice, Liana de la Rosa’s tale of how Felicity & Max had their own idea on how Chapter Three should go, Susannah Erwin’s beautiful take on how this contest makes for stronger writers, and Cheryl Tapper’s insight into how she ended the book, why Birdie & Wakefield gave her hell, and some awesome advice from the legendary Beverly Jenkins!

Sign up for news about my upcoming books and more fun facts here! And as always, thanks for reading.

RWA 2015

NYC 2015 was a banner year for RWA’s annual conference – just a few weeks after registration went on sale, the whole thing was sold out!

I kept my disappointment to myself and figured I’d try again another year. Until Avon FanLit happened, and editor Tessa Woodward asked to see who was in attendance at this year’s RWA and would any of us care to meet up in town?

For those of us who’ve grown up on Avon books, and whose idols and favorite authors write for that publication, an invite like this can’t be ignored.

So I called up a good friend from high school, and wrangled a place to stay in the city. Consolidated my airline miles, and booked a flight to the big city. And desperately emailed the good old folks at RWA, hoping a spot on the waitlist or a ticket opened up.

Keep your fingers crossed please, because either way – I’ll be in the city next week for a four-day getaway, hoping for fun with the Avon editors, my FanLit friends, and the passionate critters!

The Seeking Scandal Series

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing each book in The Seeking Scandal Series: Four men, full of temptation & trouble. Four women who ought to know better. The series mixes the high society hijinx of GOSSIP GIRL with the humor and romance of beloved authors such as Julie Anne Long and Julia Quinn.

The series includes THE DUKE’S MISTRESS, TO DANCE WITH A DUKE, ENCHANTING THE EARL, and the upcoming fourth and final in the series, TO MARRY A MARQUESS.

Hoping they find a home quickly – I’m excited for you guys to read them!

In the meantime, you can get a sneak peek at each of the couples, and those from #AvonFanLit, over at Pinterest. I spent a few fun hours creating dream casting lists for each of the books over on my Pinterest page here. Enjoy!

Regency Word of the Week: Curricle

When I first began reading Regency romance, there were so many new words and phrases I’d never heard before. Pre-ereaders and instant definitions, I mostly relied on context clues and guessing.

No more.

I bring you…

… (drumroll)…

The Regency Word of the Week!

Each week, I’ll be highlighting a word that might bear a little more explanation, saving you the trouble of Googling it yourself and bringing you the very best of the Internet’s free England photos to set the mood for whatever novel is currently occupying your shelf.

First up, the way less dramatic than it sounds ‘curricle.’

Regency England
Gorgeous English countryside image courtesy of Derek Voller [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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