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Monday, February 28, 2011

Excerpt Monday: Kiss of Scandal

The last day of February already? Didn't I just say this about January? Sheesh. This week I'll be talking about unusual settings for romances. We talk about that over on the Unusual Historicals site, which is a fantastic gathering for different romantic settings. You should check it out. :)

Tsarist Russia: the cold winters, the scathing heat of palace gossip. It's a wonderful setting for a romance.

Kiss of Scandal excerpt:

“Who else knows of this?” she asked her brother. “What did Father tell you?”

“The papers found with Peter indicated he may have been involved in sensitive financial matters within the Turkish borders. As far as I know,” Constantine admitted, “that information is staying between Father, me, Lazarenko, Terenov, and now you two.”

Frowning, Katria moved closer to Nikolai. “Financial matters? They could have been in place before the war. What exactly do they indicate?”

“I haven’t seen the papers myself,” Constantine admitted, and Nikolai dreaded what came next. “However, they may associate Peter with. . .questionable dealings.”

“Questionable?” Katria snorted in relief. “Constantine, there are few things in Russia that aren’t questionable. Politics are our life, we’re raised on intrigue. Every courtier in this Palace has something questionable about him.”

“On the surface, Father said, the papers aren’t proof of treason but they do raise questions.” Constantine approached him. “Peter’s dead. I’ve convinced Father that it makes no further difference. I agree with you; Peter was no traitor. But the best course of action now is to conceal it and all else you may find associated with these matters.”

Numb, Nikolai nodded. In his darkest nightmares, he hadn’t thought something this destructive could happen. The Orlovs had a pristine reputation with the Tsar. Katria’s voice brought him back to the matter at hand.

“Constantine,” he heard her say, “can you give us a moment?”

The door closed, and they were once again alone. Focusing, Nikolai saw her standing before him. Her warm hand cupped his cheek. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He took her hand, holding it for a heartbeat. In a move too swift to give her time to protest, he pulled her into his arms. Laying his cheek against the top of her head, he tried to think. His chest tightened with grief, but he ruthlessly tamped it down. Anger overrode grief, and he embraced it.

“Treason—it’s a lie against Peter.”

She matched his gaze. “I know.”

Katria’s utter acceptance snapped something in Nikolai. Crushing her to him, he sought her lips. She eagerly kissed him back, meeting his grief-fueled passion. With a growl, he picked her up, walking until her back hit the wall.

Looking down at her bright eyes, he retook her lips, needing to feel something—her—needing to claim her. Part of his life was ripped away with Peter’s death. She wanted to fill the void with her. He didn’t want to let her go, wanted to take her home. It was too soon.

Restraining himself, Nikolai managed, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right,” she said. Then, before he could walk away, she wrapped her arms around him and held him close.

Read Kiss of Scandal reviews

This week's Friday guest is Robyn Bachar. She'll talk about the thrill of publication & the stress of marketing. Blood, Smoke and Mirrors available from Amazon, B&N, and Samhain Publishing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Excerpt

This week's Saturday excerpt is by Caroline Clemmons as she talks her Civil War story, Long Way Home. Nominated for the EPPI awards, the anthology Northern Roses and Southern Belles covers a different locale and time during the war.

In a country torn asunder--from the Canadian border to Texas, from Maryland to Arkansas, from the battlefield of Antietam to the Red River Campaign--brave men and loyal women see their lives turned upside down.
Peril lurks behind every tree and near every homestead, but the hard-fought love of a man and a woman surpasses all.

Six talented writers provide stories of romance and danger centering on Union and Confederate soldiers, spies, blockade runners, renegades, and battlefield nurses during a period of corsets, hoopskirts, and gentlemen callers.

In e-book and paperback! (Also available from Amazon and B&N)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Guests: Wendi Zwaduk

Act Naturally

I wanted to thank Isabel for having me here today. I love stopping by the blog and seeing the cool things you’re talking about. So the question you’ve posed to me is, what television show I’d guest on. Whew...what a tough question. First thing that came to mind was that old Beatles song “Act Naturally”.

I know there were others that put the song out and I know the Beatles weren’t the first, but that’s the version I know. And yes, I think if I were on a Hollywood set, they’d say something like “the biggest fool to ever hit the big time and all I’ve gotta do is act naturally”. They just might be right.

So now I’m thinking, there are a lot of shows I’d love to be on if given the chance. I’ll list my top three and why.

1. I’d love to be on Ghost Adventures because they do go to some really cool places to gather evidence of the paranormal. It would be a lot of fun and scary as heck to go walking or wandering through an abandoned prison. Not sure I’d have the gumption to go through with it, but, hey, I’d love to collect my own proof ghosts and spirits really exist.

2. I’m a huge fan of the CSI franchise, CSI: Miami in particular. First of all, I’m in the land of snow and ice right now. Anywhere that’s a little warmer would be good for me. Second of all, I’m smitten with Jon Togo a.k.a. CSI Wolfe. The guy has some issues—gambling, temper, and his style is odd (I love Converse, but on a cop? While on duty?) I’m not sure what kind of part I’d like, but hey, it’s warm and there are hot bods around. A girl can’t ask for much more.

3. Criminal Minds is another can’t miss show. I’d love to be able to write characters as complex as the criminals they profile. Maybe one day. I also love that they show the story from both angles – the criminals and the profilers. In some ways, it’s like the head-hopping we’re all told not to do, but I still like it. I like knowing what both sides are thinking.

It’s kind of funny. The types of shows I’d pick to guest on are somewhat in line with the books I write and yet they aren’t. I love the paranormal, but I think a real vampire would scare me witless. I know people very close to me who have some proof of ghosts—did you know ghosts swear? I didn’t until I heard the recordings. Also, I have a thing for cops apparently, and I’ve written them in more than one book, but I’m still working on the level of complexity of those characters.

I’m glad I got to think about the shows. It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. So I ask the readers, what show would you be on?

Thanks, Isabel! Can’t wait to come back.


He’s her kinkiest desire, if she’s willing to open her heart and believe in him.

Blurb:
The dead don’t always rest in peace. Some stick around to make the lives of the living hell on Earth. Ryan Black knows the frustration of dealing with the dead. He’s a Ghost Explorer. He’s conquered houses filled with apparitions, abandoned school buildings that house angry vermin, and managed to woo the female population of Snake Falls, Ohio. But he’s about to face his toughest challenge, convincing sceptical Samara Jacobs she not only shares his gift, but holds his heart.

Women fall at Ryan Black’s feet and Samara’s determined not to be one of the many—that is until she’s forced to work with him. He’s certain ghosts exist and willing to prove it. The more she gets to know the man behind the television persona, she decides the handsome klutz who chases things that go bump in the night isn’t so silly after all. But is he worthy of her love?

Excerpt (PG):


“Look around at the scenery. Ohio girls are the stuff of legend. For example, Meredith has those legs a man fantasizes having wrapped around his waist.”

“Engaged.”

“Well, then there’s Caren. She’s got a nice rack and she’s single.”

“Implants.”

“Pick nits.” Eddie snorted and shook his head. “You’ll shoot down all my ideas just to be right.” He scoped the cafeteria room once more. “What about Samara? She’s cute in a girl-next-door kinda way. All peaches and cream. I’ve caught her checking you out once or twice—a day for the last year.” He pointed to Ryan. “She’d make a perfect forever girl.”

“I had my forever girl. But I could be wrong.” Samara checked him out? Hmm... Kinda nice to know the attraction wasn’t a figment of his undersexed imagination. He’d spent many a night fantasizing about her, holding her, making love to her, waking up in the morning and seeing her smile.

At her table across the room, Samara curled up in her chair, paperback book propped in one hand and concentration written on her face. From his position, he couldn’t read the title, but he’d passed her desk enough times to know she liked romance novels. In the two years he’d worked in the same building with her, he’d heard her speak a total of three times but he knew her voice like his own.

“Ryan?”

“What? I’m checking out the scenery. It’s—” he drew a breath, feeling more than the oxygen stirring something within his body. His sex drive? He shifted in his seat. Yeah, there was a definite tingle below the belt. “It’s intriguing.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Progress


Some days writing is harder than others. Those days it's better to walk away than continually bang your head against the keyboard.


Lately, life has not been that way. OK, to clarify, WRITING has not been that way. Writing has been flowing rather smoothly. Dark Inheritance is going along very well, I adore the plot and the characters, but mostly right at this moment I'm loving the way it's all flowing! Not just meshing together, not just the way it's all coming out, but the pace of it.
These are the days I love writing, the ones I brag about, the ones I'll look fondly back on in another couple of months and wonder what happened.

And this Friday, my guest will be Wendi Zwaduk who's talking about how to act naturally and her new release, Careless Whisper.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Review: In the Shadow of Freedom

I'm not big on biographies. I don't care about other people's lives, who slept with whom, why X became a chef and Y became an actor, or how Z didn't let alcoholism affect the rest of his/her life. I am not fascinated with the minutia of everyday celebrity living, nor do I care beyond the head-shaking headlines of the latest politician to disgrace him/herself.

In the Shadow of Freedom first came to my attention through Twitter; I follow Tchicaya Missamou's agent and when it was first released, she (naturally and as a good agent) announced it.

My internal debate raged. But I was in a non-fiction mood, first with The Tiger: a True story of Vengeance and Survival then the thinly veiled fictionalized version of Every Man Dies Alone.

Read the blurb, a couple reviews on Amazon and B&N, and decided why not? Not normally my kind of read, but Tchicaya's story (no idea how to properly pronounce his name) not only tells of his country, the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and its tragic story of war, but his own involvement in it from a VERY young age.

A child soldier who knew what he was doing but did it anyway to a young man who changed his ways and eventually made it to America. Here he lived in poverty and joined the Marine Corp where he rose in the ranks.

Tchicaya's story is a true American Dream story. I loved it.

And this Friday, my guest will be Wendi Zwaduk who's talking about how to act naturally and her new release, Careless Whisper.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pictures to Smile at

Thanks to Mary Ann who forwarded them!




Soccer Grandmom! I love it.




This one is just too cute.
And this Friday, my guest will be Wendi Zwaduk who's talking about how to act naturally and her new release, Careless Whisper.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Curiosities and reviews

Without fail, my post on Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife is the most popular thing on this blog. Over 400 views since March 31, 2010.

Is it because of the material-Jane Austen? Is it because I was less than polite in my review?
  • Yes I could have sugar coated it, and as I already admitted, I adored it the first time I read the book. Could have been because I was enamored with the first P&P variation I'd read, I don't know but the back story info dump was too much.
Because I changed my review between the two readings?
  • My original review stands on Amazon and I won't change it. There are over 500 reviews posted there now with a average of 3 stars. (Polarized almost evenly between 5 stars ad 1 star, with a smattering in the middle) All in all, I suppose my second review falls more in line with the majority, though I've never really cared about that.
Does anyone like the review? Hate it? Agree or disagree with it? Even read it or are they directed to my blog from elsewhere because of the topic and don't bother?

I'm so curious, I wish someone would tell me!!

And this Friday, my guest will be Wendi Zwaduk who's talking about how to act naturally and her new release, Careless Whisper.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Excerpts

This week at Slip into Something Victorian, we're highlighting Susan Macatee. A lover of time travel, the American Civil War, time traveling Civil War stories, and vampires, Susan's interestes span genres.


Her excerpt this week is from the Northern Roses & Southern Belles anthology that is a finalist in the EPPIC awards. Winner to be announced the weekend of March 12.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Guest: Dr. Laina Turner-Molaski

Welcome Laina! Thanks for stopping by today. :) And remember, Laina will give away three $40 Visa gift cards during her tour: one to a randomly drawn commenter in each of the following periods: January 31-February 25; February 28-March 25; March 28-April 22.


Now, what made you decide to write Chiczofrenia-Crazy Is an Art Form?
Writing is therapy for me and I was going through a really tough time in my life and starting just writing to get out the emotion. As I started telling other people about what I was writing I found they were interested and had many similar experiences. Here I thought I was alone. It made me think if I wrote about it and shared maybe it would help someone else not feel alone.

What else are you working on?
I am a big advocate for Multiple Sclerosis and I have a compilation of stories written by people who have MS coming out in March during National MS week. I am also work on my second fiction book, Handbags & Hooligans, to be coming out in summer.

I'll be sure to look out for both titles, thanks.

What’s your dream story? The one that becomes a New York Times runaway bestseller, the one you hope to one day write?
Great question as I actually have the title and outline for that book. I just am not ready to write it yet. Its about three women at three different stages in their lives and the story follows them through the triumph and downfalls. I realize the story has been done but mine is based on three actual women who have allowed me to be part of their lives to get the story. I feel that will bring closeness to the readers.

Ooh, sounds great!

Anything else you’d like to share?
Chiczofrenia is about women embracing their true inner voice. Sometimes we aren’t confident enough to really be the person we want to be. I say do it! Be that person. Don’t be shy or afraid. We all are and we can’ let our own head trash get us down.



Blurb:
Chiczofrenic is the term for the woman who is purposeful and intentional in how crazy her life may be. The goal with this book is to recognize many women drive themselves crazy, intentionally, by trying to be all they can. I firmly believe we can have it all. A great relationship, being a great mom, keeping a good house (if that’s important to you), being a career woman, following your dreams, working out, eating right, and many more. Women seem to have the knack for how to manage it all and not go crazy. Women seem to always take on more and more…and are successful at it.

Women have tried forever to pretend they fit in the norm even when the norm wasn’t what they wanted. I want women to embrace that more - without caring what anyone thinks. Learn to laugh at your own craziness and be cool at the same time. Be the strong individual you want to be while looking like a million bucks.

Being a woman is difficult and is a constant evolution and journey of self discovery. It’s not always an easy journey and through the process you realize everyone has her own issues. Her own brand of crazy, which is my own kind of normal. Crazy but embracing it.

ISBN: 978-0-578-07034-6
Book: $14.95 Available on http://www.lainaturner.com/
E-Book: $9.95 Available on Kindle and Smashwords


Be sure to comment! Laina will be giving away three $40 Visa gift cards during her tour: one to a randomly drawn commenter in each of the following periods: January 31-February 25; February 28-March 25; March 28-April 22.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Log off and read a book

Read this on BBC last week. It's called Divided Attention Disorder? Log off and read a book. I took a couple excerpts from it, and agree. A couple of weeks ago I read the rather detailed plot of To Kill a Mockingbird on wikipedia rather than read the book. (I'd seen the movie, years ago.)


If you work in an office it's quite possible that you suffer from a condition called DAD. Now don't panic it's not serious and nothing a good book or a long walk won't cure.

My Internet browser has 24 tabs open. Among them are three separate attempts to reply to the same e-mail. My online banking session has timed out, and in the corner of my screen a Twitter feed is a never-ending scroll of news and links. Which I click. And click.

What's wrong with me?

What's wrong, is that I may have Divided Attention Disorder, or DAD. DAD encapsulates the growing phenomenon whereby the constant stream of online information could actually be changing the way our brains work.

I first read about this in a magazine while waiting to get my hair cut. The article is quite lengthy. Ironically the only reason I had the attention span to read all of it was that my local barber-shop has no mobile phone reception.

The most unnerving thing that I've read about DAD is the theory that the rewiring of our brains caused by all that time online is affecting the rest of our lives. It is, apparently, encouraging us to seek instant gratification at the expense of deep thinking.

To assess the state of my brain I read a book. It's an Ian Rankin novel. The hero, Inspector Rebus attempts to solve a number of murders in Edinburgh against the backdrop of a G8 meeting.

I haven't read fiction in a while. Something has changed about my response to what I'm reading. Before, I loved to create a mental picture of Edinburgh, of its streets and courtyards. But now in my brain a voice is whispering: "Look it up on StreetView and see for yourself". The story alludes to Inspector Rebus' colourful past: "Google the plot of other books," says the voice.

"SHUT UP!" I scream inside my head.

Eventually, my old brain wins out. After about half an hour, I'm lost in the book. I've
forgotten that it's even possible to communicate through a web of interconnected
computers.

It's a relief to know that my brain is not permanently changed. I can't wait to tell everyone - on Facebook and Twitter.

So the bottom line is: reading helps us relax, reconnect with ourselves and the real world, and entertains us as well. But then we readers knew that, didn't we.


And don't miss my Friday Guest: Dr. Laina Turner-Molaski

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Romantic Times Everything Erotica

I'm featured on Romantic Times Everything Erotica! You can read the author's message here, and the excerpt here.


For the 4 star review on Dark Desires of the Druids: Sex & Subterfuge click here

For the 4 star review on Dark Desires of the Druids: Desert & Destiny click here

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Comings and Goings

Am I coming or going?

I have no idea.

But I am writing!

What about you?
Dark Regecy novel: Back to it! Writing goal this week: 12,000 words
Head-hits-desk...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day quote

Happy Valentine's Day! So what are you doing? Not necessarily for a loved one, but for whomever? Single gals like to be thought of, too. ;)


Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep... wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you' re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have YOU... The one who turns to his friends and says, thats
her...

~Unknown
Thanks to As A Man Thinketh

Aren't romances great? Yeah...

Love Birds, thus far my only Valentine's Day story. Are holiday stories still really popular? I mean I like to read them but do others?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Excerpt

Today's Scandalous Vic's excerpt is by Nicole McCaffrey. While this particular excerpt is't Victorian, it IS on audio! Always a thrill to hear that your book was chosen for a pilot program converting them into audio. Pretty cool, Nic!

The Model Man

Blurb:
Single mom and romance novelist Kelly Michaels has no time for a man in her life. But when mega-famous cover model Derek Calavicci puts the moves on her at a romance writers’ conference, she succumbs to temptation. Common sense prevails, however, and after a few passionate kisses she turns him down; she has impressionable teenagers at home, after all, she doesn’t need a one-night-stand with a much younger man, no matter how hot he is. When photos of their passionate moonlight kiss hit the tabloids, her agent has to do some fast footwork to save her reputation. Will the notorious bad boy go along with her scheme?

Derek rarely hears a woman say “no” – it’s been that way his entire life. If Kelly isn’t interested, he’s not going to push her-- even if she does melt like ice cream on a hot sidewalk every time he touches her. But when an unexpected opportunity falls into his lap by way of Kelly’s scheming agent, he jumps at the chance. Pretend he’s in love with Kelly Michaels for two weeks? No problem. After all, the lady may say she’s never going to sleep with him... but he's got two weeks to convince her otherwise.


The Romance Studio gave it 4 Hearts and said: I was entertained by every aspect of this story; the chemistry between this couple is hot. Their growing relationship kept me spellbound and I'm a sucker for a well-written older woman/younger man romance. The settings were perfect, the plot flowed so well that I didn't put the book down until the last page and was, in fact, sad when it was over.

Joyfully Reviewed said: In The Model Man all of the main characters are forced to grow, leaving you sad when the book is over because you like them so much. While Derek is a model he is never made to look too conceited. He has a great personality and is more then just eye candy. I found myself routing for Derek to win Kelly over. Kelly is a normal author, mom, and woman and has realistic issues. Her kids act their ages and cause a realistic amount of tension. Characters relate to each other naturally and never does it feel forced.



Friday, February 11, 2011

Traditional Regency

How traditional is too traditional? I'm plotting out a Regency romance, not paranormal, not erotica, not even a romantic suspense. I know what I like to read, and while my high school years saw me reading many a traditional Regency book, I'm into darker, more sexual stories now.

But I want to keep an aspect of the books I loved growing up in this story. So I'm making a list of what aspects I want in this story.

  • Heavy internal characterization. I want to know what both the hero and heroine are thinking and feeling.
  • Parties, balls, soirees, dances, the ton
  • Match-making mommas :)
  • Scheming heroines who need to marry for security
  • Heroes who need to marry to secure their title and produce an heir
  • The inevitable falling in love

Hmm, I guess there's nothing that's more traditional than not, is there. Only elements that mix to make a good story.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday Progress

Dark Inheritance, formerly known as Dark Regency, and open to title changes. I'm deep into it now, after a longer-than-I'd-like absence.

Jumping right in.

Screaming as I do so.

How do you dive into a story you've set aside for so long? Just do it? Read what you already have and go from there? Or don't you do that? Do you work on one story until it's finished and aren't sidetracked (like I am) by other projects?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quote of the Day

It's so easy, To think about Love, To Talk about Love, To wish for Love, But it's not always easy, To recognize Love, Even when we hold it . in our hands.

~Jaka

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Comings and Goings: Guest Blogging

Today I'm over at Unusual Historicals blogging about a day in the life of...a WWI soldier.

There are a lot of different soldiers: Americans, English, French, Flemish, Germans, Ottomans, Russians, Austrians, and Hungarians.



Then there are airmen, those in the trenches, sailors, and the various other fronts such as the Russian front or the Dardanelles and Gallipoli.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guests

Have a book to promote? Want to just get your name out there? I'm opening my blog up to all authors. Guests are usually on Fridays, but if you have another day of the week in mind, I'm all for that as well!

Just email me: ir@isabelroman.com and we'll schedule a date!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Excerpt

Every Saturday at Slip into Something Victorian we're posting excerpts from our books. Yes, they're mostly Victorian (1837-1901) America, England, wherever, but since we don't always stick to one time frame, there will be others, as well.


Today I'm over there with an excerpt from Dark Desires of the Druids: Murder & Magick. I hope you enjoy!

Leave a comment or ask a question to enter to win a free download of Tryst, the prequel to Murder & Magick!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Guest: Kit Marlowe

Kit, thanks for stopping by! Tell us a little about your diverse interests: Gothic romance, the Jazz Age, and Steampunk?

Oh gosh, so many things! I am always looking to be amused, so I seize on whatever excites me at the moment. When I started The Mangrove Legacy, I had a head full of Alice in Wonderland and Jane Austen, but then I learned about Georgette Heyer from Stephen Fry, so I had fun throwing in all the cant from the Regency era. That crazy slang makes me laugh. Pirates and the King of Naples—well, what's not to love? And spindly-legged insects I have a fondness for.


The Big Splash grew out of my fondness for P. G. Wodehouse and Winifred Watson, both very funny and writing in the early twentieth century. There's such an excess of wealth and wild behaviour in the Jazz Age, you can really go wild and still be within the realm of realism because rich people had incredibly bizarre adventures at that time. I've ventured into steampunk and magic with my new serial Airships & Alchemy and I have a new Constance and Collier story on the back burner. Airships & Alchemy will allow me to combine some steampunk motifs with a little magic and art (so The Art and the arts!) and a touch of Jane Eyre. You can read it as a work in progress right now.


It's a bit anxiety-provoking to put up a first draft in process, but I really think that doing things that terrify you will make you more fearless. And writers should be fearless!

What are your 2011 goals?
I want to get a full length medieval novel done and the next madcap Jazz age adventure. Under my other names I have a million billion projects and I need to figure out how to manage all the different personas and projects so we're all happy.

You do have a lot going on, and I'm in awe of the amount of work you do-teaching, writing under 3 names, plus you have to eat...and sleep one presumes! Where do you find the time and energy?

Anything else you’d like to share?
Please please please! Stop by my Facebook page and say you like me :) That's going to be the primary place that I will disseminate information about releases and appearances. I'd also love to see reviews on GoodReads and Library Thing and All Romance Ebooks and Amazon. It's tough getting word out on your books: authors need all the help they can get!

The Big Splash
The Mangrove Legacy
Kit Marlowe
Find me on Facebook
Airships & Alchemy

Excerpt:
From Chapter One:
From behind the door Caroline Alice Mangrove could hear the unaccustomed sounds of disagreement between her parents; which is to say, she heard her father’s throat clear and her mother’s gentle weeping. Lord and Lady Mangrove had been arguing in near silence for many days on end. Alice (as she had been called since childhood when her nurse trembled before the three syllables of her initial name and, struck dumb, failed to speak again until the child was weaned) feared that the topic of their disagreement was likely to be her impending marriage. To whom she had been given was not yet clear. Her parents had come to some sort of impasse and the meaningful glances exchanged that morning at breakfast could only signal that things had worsened to nigh on a fever pitch.

When she heard her father rustle his newspaper, Alice’s wide blue eyes brimmed with tears and she fled the chaos to take refuge in the solarium. The gentle green fronds of the ferns and orchids soon soothed her troubled nerves. Life was a harrowing prospect when you were seventeen, unmarried and wealthy. It was a very dangerous age—almost too old but still in the realm of possible. Her parents had been too protective, she thought for the hundredth time. As if to chastise her for this disloyalty, the bland face of Mr. Radley, the gardener, appeared before her.

“Evening, Miss,” he said, pulling at his cap, oblivious to the fact that it was only mid-afternoon. “Mind the orchids, they’re a bit stroppy today. Forgot to water them yesterday.”

“Yes, Mr. Radley, I won’t be a moment,” Alice said hastily, gathering up the pages she had spread before her and blushing with embarrassment that he might see what she had. Why do dresses seldom have pockets, she thought crossly, folding the papers roughly.

“The philodendrons are all right,” Mr. Radley called, but Alice had already scurried for the library, hoping to encounter a sanctuary at last. But as she opened the door, whom should she find but her cousin Elizabeth Jane, whom everyone called Lizzie. Well, not the servants, obviously—they in fact called her Miss Elizabeth Jane. As if to demonstrate the fact, Mrs. Perkins stepped in behind her and said “Miss Elizabeth Jane, a letter has come for you.”

Alice was unprepared for the sudden change in her cousin, whose handsome face had blanched white. While she remained unmarried still at the age of twenty, there were those in the family who held out hope for the lively woman.

To be fair, there were probably more who held that her very spirited nature was completely antithetical to the notion of marital union. Alice’s own father had set his seal upon her cousin’s fate at the St. Stephen’s banquet not three years past, when he had taken in his niece’s most recent witty retort and said, “Good god, woman, no decent man will marry you.” For some in the family, that was that.

Alice emerged suddenly from her reverie as her cousin gasped. Lizzie clutched the letter to her breast. “It’s from the King!”

"Our king?" Alice demanded breathlessly as Lizzie colored significantly.

"No, you -- you misunderstand me," her cousin stammered. "King, King -- I only meant...Mr. King. In Harlow. The collector of...spindly-legged insects. You know my interest in insects of all kinds, Alice." Lizzie seemed to have quite recovered herself, but for the slight pink flush at her neck. However, Alice did notice that she had also tucked the letter in question into the recesses of her sleeve. Hmmm, thought Alice, she had never considered the uses of sleeves. It would render pockets obsolete, although it would require one to wear unfashionably billowing
sleeves.

"Insects," Alice repeated with some suspicion still lurking in the shadows of her vocal tones.

"Insects!" Lizzie repeated with some of her former venom. "That will be all, Mrs. Perkins." Lizzie waved off the hearty domestic. "My cousin and I have much to do." The housekeeper looked distinctly disappointed as she curtseyed perfunctorily and slipped silently away, closing the library door with some evident reluctance. "I hope she's not going to go gossiping," Lizzie muttered once the door had whispered shut.

"I doubt Mrs. Perkins has much time for gossiping. There's the laundry to manage, dishes to wash, dinner to direct -- she has rather a lot to do," Alice said, suddenly realizing what a trying life poor Mrs. Perkins must have. I shall not complain about the lumpy darns in my stockings ever again, she thought with a surge of pity that would be forgotten within a fortnight.

"I can only hope so," Lizzie continued, oblivious to Alice's ruminations. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to read the King's letter."

"You mean Mr. King's letter," Alice corrected.

"Alice," Lizzie said, softly stealing a glance at the door, "I have a secret to share with you."

"Oh, I love secrets!" Alice crowed. "Tell me! Is it about that handsome young man we spotted talking to Mr. Bennett at the Assembly Ball last month?!"

Lizzie regarded her cousin with obvious puzzlement. "Why on earth should it be about him? No, no, it is about this letter."

"Oh." Alice had entertained many pleasing thoughts about that still nameless young man in the idle weeks since. "Oh, it's not from Arthur Boylett," she continued with dismay. She knew her father had leaned in his direction as far as her suitors went and was very cross to imagine that she may indeed have to marry that dull young man.

"Alice," her cousin said, rousing her from a growing despondency, "Not everything is about you. This letter is actually from --" and she paused again to ascertain that they were alone in the library, then whispered, "From the King of Naples!"

Alice paused thoughtfully. "Africa?"

"We paid Miss Travers far too well," Lizzie said, frowning as Alice's father was also apt to do when speaking of the recently sacked tutor. "No, Alice. Naples is in Italy."

"Ah."

"The King. Of Naples." Lizzie cocked an eyebrow at her younger cousin.

"Why is a king writing to you?" Alice asked at last.

Lizzie smiled. Alice had long ago noticed that when that happened, Lizzie looked very cunning indeed. It was most unbecoming in a lady. "We have worked out a plan to --"

Just then the door of the library flew open and very flustered Mrs. Perkins shot into the room again. "Oh, Miss Alice!" she sobbed, "Come quick, your mother needs you!"

"What is it, Mrs. Perkins," Lizzie said, somewhat cross at having her own revelation upstaged.

Mrs. Perkins was wringing her hands as she blurted, "It's your father, Miss Alice -- he -- he's dead!"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Writing Weekend

This weekend I'm getting together with several friends for a weekend of writing. What does this entail? Besides food? And a psychic?

Plotting, critiquing, 3 minute concept ideas, and helping writer friends do what we all love best. Writing.

Maybe it'll become an annual thing!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Reviews: The Perfect Mistress

Victoria Alexander is one funny lady. I had the opportunity to hear her speak at a conference once and she was a hoot! Very warm, personable, down to earth, and willing to share all about her husband's role in every one of her books. If you ever get the chance to meet her, do so. It's well worth it.

The Perfect Mistress is her newest Victorian novel.

Widowed Julia, Lady Winterset, has inherited a book — a very shocking book — that every gentleman in London seems to want. For a charismatic businessman, it’s a chance to build an empire. For a dashing novelist, it could guarantee fame. But to a proud, domineering earl, it means everything…

Harrison Landingham, Earl of Mountdale, can’t let the obstinate Julia release the shameless memoir that could ruin his family’s name. But the only way to stop her may be equally sordid — if far more pleasurable. For his rivals are intent on seducing the captivating woman to acquire the book. And Harrison isn’t the sort to back away from a competition with the stakes this high. Now the winner will claim both the scandalous memoirs and the heart of their lovely owner…
There are ghosts, seduction, desperate heroines, desperate heroes, desperate villains. With all that desperation, one would think it was a rather overwrought book, but it was funny, hot, and a fast read about Julia's quest to survive the treacherous world of publishing a sensational would-be best-seller...and to keep the dashing Harrison.

(P.S. I borrowed this book from the library.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday Comings and Goings

First day of February? I can't keep up with these quickly passing days.

Today in history:

1587 – The Colony of Roanoke Island is established by the landing of Sir Walter Raleigh. This Colony would become known as the "Lost Colony"
1790 – In New York City, the Supreme Court of the United States attempts to convene for the first time.

I like the attempts to convene...I can't find out why that is. Looks like it did convene on February 2, 1790.

1793 – French Revolutionary Wars: France declares war on the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
1796 – The capital of Upper Canada is moved from Newark to York.
1884 – The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
1893 – Thomas A. Edison finishes construction of the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria in West Orange, New Jersey.
1942 – World War II: Josef Terboven, Reichskommissar of German-occupied Norway, appoints Vidkun Quisling the Minister President of the National Government.

Why is that last interesting? Every heard of a quisling? It's not really used anymore, but a quisling is a snitch: a person who betrays his or her own country by aiding an invading enemy, often serving later in a puppet government. I learned it ages ago by watching Errol Flynn's Edge of Darkness. I guess sometimes Hollywood really can teach you something, huh.

2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

I remember watching this on TV because I had off for a snow day.

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