Archive for November, 2012

Sorry, but my guest author was not able to come. However, I’m all over the place today. Please join me at www.thedashingduchesses.com where I’m talking about marriage, divorce and annulments during the Regency, and at http://rueallyn.com/2012/11/30/please-welcome-ella-quinn-to-friendship-friday/ where I’m talking about myself. Not as interesting, I know, but I’d appreciate it if you’d drop by and say hello.

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This is another wonderful post.

Writers In The Storm Blog

We welcome back contributing guest, Susan Spann, with Part 3 of her Author Business Plans series.  If you missed  Part 1 or Part 2, they’re just a click away.

by Susan Spann

Today we continue our trek through Author Business Plans with a look at Part 3: Marketing.

The business plan section on Marketing Strategies has three sub-sections: pre-release, release phase, and post-release. Creating a specific plan for each phase helps keep the author – and the marketing efforts – on target and on track.

Pre-release Marketingfocuses on platform building and making connections. Advertising the book plays a role, but so does managing social media, writing, and connecting with readers, authors, and industry professionals.

Remember: the connections need to be real. You can’t just shout your name and book title into the Internet and expect a horde of readers to appear. (And if they do, they’re…

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Barbara Monajem

Please help me welcoming award-winning, multi-published author, Barbara Monajem. (applause)

Ella: Barbara, thanks so much for being here today. As you know, I am such a fan of your Regencies. Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to start writing?

Barbara: I’m an escapist from way back. I found that the best way to stop fretting about what I couldn’t control was to focus on something else. Reading worked for many years, but I realized that making up stories is an even better distraction from real life. Of course, now that I’m published, making up stories is real life, so I’m learning to accept that in the end there is no escaping. 🙂 Fortunately, making up stories is still a lot of fun.

Actually, I started writing when I was about eight years old, so I guess it was a love of stories that really started me—the escaping bit came later. From reading stories to writing them was a natural, inevitable step for me.

Ella: What drew you to the Regency era?

Barbara: Georgette Heyer. I have read most of her books over and over. Although I wrote in other genres first—children’s fantasy and paranormal mystery/ romance—I had always imagined writing in a Regency voice but didn’t quite have the nerve to try. Then, when Harlequin put out a call for short historical novellas for the Undone line, I couldn’t resist.

Ella: I love Georgette Heyer. Your latest book, A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction, was recently published. It’s your first Christmas novella. Why did you decide to take the plunge?

Barbara: My editor pushed me in. 🙂 Okay, to tell the truth, she asked politely, but she must have known I would agree. I have been fascinated by old-fashioned Christmas customs ever since reading a delightful children’s story called Hobberdy Dick by Katharine Briggs. Only a small part of that book is about Christmas, but it was my inspiration for A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction. I loved the little hobgoblin in Hobberdy Dick so much that I couldn’t resist having a similar sort of fellow lurking in the background in my novella.

Ella: What’s next for you?

Writing my Christmas story reminded me of how much I enjoy folk magic, so my next two Regency novellas are based upon a rather racy custom to do with finding one’s true love on May Day morning. 🙂 History and magic—what a fun combination (and an excellent escape)! I hope I get the chance to write more of the same.

Ella: That sounds like so much fun! On to the blurb.

A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction by Barbara Monajem – OCT 2012 undone

A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction:

Once a notorious rake, Camden Folk, Marquis of Warbury, is now consumed by desire for only one woman: beautiful young widow Frances Burdett. The Yuletide festivities at his country estate present the perfect opportunity for seduction…

After her brief, unsatisfying marriage, Frances swore never to become tied to another man. Then a passionate kiss under the mistletoe reawakens longings she thought buried forever. Can she give in to the pleasures of the body with a rogue like Cam—without losing her heart?


Frances should never have agreed to go to the orchard with the Marquis of Warbury—to gather mistletoe, of all things. She sent him a fierce, furious glare. “If you must have it, I don’t enjoy kissing.”

He eyed her from behind the apple tree. “Not at all?”

“No.” She pressed her lips together.

“Come now,” he teased. “Surely you’re exaggerating.”

Her voice was low, suffused with passion. “You can’t possibly judge how that—that invasion made me feel.”

“That bad, was it?” The marquis reached up and snipped with his shears. “You’re right, I can’t judge, but the general popularity of kissing tells me you were merely unlucky.” He came around the tree, a sprig of mistletoe in his hand.

What a fool she was; in spite of bitter experience, she wanted to kiss him, wanted kissing to be wonderful. How stupid! She was much better off—much safer—as she was.

He kissed the fingertips of his gloves and blew. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Frances huffed.

He picked a berry from the mistletoe and dropped it. “We’ll make it a very light kiss,” he said, coming closer. “Short and sweet.”

She didn’t trust him; she wanted yet didn’t want—

A flurry of snow tumbled from the branches above, distracting her. He swooped in, dropped a swift, cold kiss on her lips, and drew away—but not far. “Was that too unbearable?” Another mistletoe berry fell to the snow.

“No, of course not,” she said, “but—”

“Well, then.” He took her hand and pulled her behind the tree. “If you don’t want me to invade you—accidentally, needless to say—you’ll have to keep your mouth shut.”

“You mustn’t do this—”

“Of course I must. No talking.”

She gave up, shutting both her mouth and her eyes. It was her own fault for coming to the orchard this morning, but she’d enjoyed their time together in the middle of the night so very much. It was only a kiss.

Nothing happened. She opened her eyes again. He was contemplating her mouth from under his lashes. “You have lovely lips.”

Through her teeth, she said, “Get it over with.”

“I’ve never kissed a martyr before.” His lips curled in a lazy smile, and then he pressed his mouth coolly to hers and withdrew again. “It requires a more careful approach than we disgustingly hasty men are used to.” He flicked another berry off the sprig.

She couldn’t help but watch his mouth. What was he going to do, and when?

“Close your eyes, and whatever happens, keep your lips together.”

This time his mouth lingered on hers a few seconds, then pressed light kisses from one corner of her lips to the other. Kiss. “One.” Kiss. “Two.” Kiss. “Three.”



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I don’t usually reblog on Saturdays, but I can’t resist. Great post by Travels and travails.

Eighteenth-century recipes

Syllabub (or sillabub, and other variants) had been known in England since the sixteenth century, but by the eighteenth century this alcoholic dessert had become particularly popular, especially in its whipped variety.

Mrs Raikes’ ‘Everlasting sylabubs’ is a typical recipe:

a pint & ½ a Gill of cream a Gill of Rhenish ½ a Gill of Sack 2 Lemons half a pd of loaf sugar; sift the sugar, put it to the cream, put in the rinds of the Lemons grated, squeeze the juice into the wine, and put that to the cream. Whip it with a whisk just half an hour. (British Library, Add MS 69409)

Notice that deceptive ‘just half an hour’; another recipe suggests ‘beat it with a spoone an houer’ (Wellcome Collection, MS 8002), which must have been an arm-aching task.

And here is a recipe for ‘whipt syllabubes’, which makes it clear that it was…

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Alison and Anna Campbell

Please help me welcoming award-winning, multi-published author, Alison Stuart, who is talking about her new book Gather the Bones and has a giveaway. (applause)

Ella: Alison, thanks so much for being here today. Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to start writing?

Alison: Thank you so much for having me, Ella. To start with the easy question…I always wanted to be a writer. I recently found some letters I wrote as a young teenager in which I stridently asserted that was my intention.  All through my teens I scribbled historical “novels” in pencil in shorthand notebooks. My best friend and I spent our lunch hours writing away – her novel was sci-fi and mine, of course, English Civil War (“The Locket of Grace”…great title I must use it!).

University, career and family intervened. It was only when I dislocated a shoulder in a skiing accident (note to self…do not trust husband who declares a ski runlooks easy”) and found myself stranded in a snow bound chalet in the Australian Alps with nothing for company but a notebook computer, did I dare to write the story that had been tugging at my sleeve for so long. That story became my award winning novel of love in a time of civil war…BY THE SWORD.


My story is that my family had moved from Kenya, where I had been born, to Perth, Australia in the late 1960s.  After a rocky start we settled in Melbourne and I studied Law and Arts at university. Apart from a few years when we lived in Singapore, I have worked all my life as a lawyer, both in private practice and in a range of different organizations including the military and the emergency services. A fatal attraction for men in uniform (including my husband who I met doing officer training in the Army Reserve) may explain my leaning towards soldier heroes!

I finished my ‘career’ as a senior executive in a highly stressful job. The turning point in my life came the day I found myself without a job, an anniversary I am celebrating this week, Ella. (Tipped off the Hamster Wheel:  <http://alisonstuart.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/tipped-off-hamster-wheel-defining-who.html> ). With no children living at home any more, and a somewhat relieved husband, I am finally enjoying the freedom of actually calling myself a writer.

Ella: You’re here today to promote your newest release Gather the Bones, a historical-paranormal. What drew you to that genre?

Alison:  Several genres really…history, mystery, romance and ghosts… I started off wanting to write a ghost story. I’ve always liked ghost stories and have written a couple of short stories with a supernatural bent but never turned my hand to a full length novel. I thought a change from my beloved seventeenth century was called for and a recent tour of the battlefields of the First World War gave me the major plot for the story.  A story about the aftermath of the Great War.

Setting a book in 1923 allowed me to write an Australian character (my heroine, Helen) and I love archaeology so my hero (Paul) is an archaeologist.  Finally I wanted to try my hand at a mystery, because I actually read more mystery novels than romance!

Like the witches in Macbeth, I threw the whole lot in and stirred.

The result is GATHER THE BONES < http://www.alisonstuart.com/gather-the-bones.html>

One young friend described it “Downton Abbey with ghosts” but I am sure my editor would prefer…

The horrors of the Great War are not the only ghosts that haunt Helen Morrow and her late husband’s reclusive cousin, Paul. Unquiet spirits from another time and another conflict touch them.

A coded diary gives them clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul’s great-grandmother in 1812, and the desperate voice of a young woman reaches  out to them from the pages. Together Helen and Paul must search for answers, not only for the old mystery, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele in 1917.

As the mysteries entwine, their relationship is bound by the search for truth, in the present and the past.


When the turn of the handle still did not shift the ancient door, Helen leaned her shoulder against the wood and pushed. The door creaked reluctantly and opened on to a large room dominated by two massive bookshelves taking up the spaces on either side of an old fireplace. A long, low window looked out over the moat to the driveway. Ancient framed maps and paintings of Holdston Hall crowded the remaining wall space. Several smaller family portraits were dotted among the maps and watercolors, including two head and shoulders studies of a man and a woman painted during the Georgian era and a couple of later Victorian models with severe, frowning faces.

Helen walked over to the Georgian pair and studied them closely. She could see at once that they had been painted by different hands, probably at different times and yet they had been framed identically and hung together as if in life they had belonged as a pair.

The man had obviously been a Morrow. Like the other portraits of Morrow forebears, dark hair tumbled over his handsome aristocratic brow and he glared at the artist, his stiffness emphasised by the high collar of a scarlet uniform. Charlie’s fair hair, inherited from his mother, made him quite a cuckoo in the family portrait gallery.

In contrast to the formality of the male portrait, the woman beside him glowed with life. A fierce intelligence burned from her light grey eyes. A tangle of chestnut curls framed her face and her mouth lifted in a half smile as if any moment she would burst into laughter. She wore a green gown that exposed a great deal of décolletage in a manner fashionable in the early part of the nineteenth century and no jewelry except a slender gold chain, with a locket hanging from it, nothing more than a blur of gold under the artist’s brush.

Helen shivered and pushed the windows open, admitting a breeze that carried with it the waft of warm grass and the sounds of the country–birds and the distant hum of a steam engine driving a threshing machine.

Along with these comfortable, familiar sounds drifted another faint sound, a whispering, a woman’s voice half heard, the words indistinct and undecipherable.

Helen frowned and tilted her head to listen, turning back into the room.

“Can you hear something, Alice?” she asked.

Alice looked up from turning an old globe on the table.

“No,” she said.

Helen looked around. The whispering seemed to come from within the room, not through the open windows. She stood transfixed, staring at the two wing chairs by the fireplace. The whispering grew more insistent, more urgent. Wrapping her arms around herself, Helen gripped the sleeves of her cardigan. The back of her neck prickled, her breath almost stopped.

As she took a step toward the chairs, the whispering ceased and she let out her breath and straightened her shoulders before crossing to the windows and pulling them shut.

“Come on, Alice,” she said. “We’ll be late for supper and I don’t want to annoy your grandmother on our first day.”

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Gather-the-Bones-ebook/dp/B0091US8G8/ref=la_B004CB59LI_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1353543986&sr=1-3

Lyrical Press (for all eformats) where it is ON SALE 75% off Nov22-24!: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3_28&products_id=551

And in print:  See my website: http://www.alisonstuart.com/gather-the-bones.html

GIVEAWAY:  Tell Ella and I what genre of fiction is your preferred read and why and if I can get over ten comments, I will give away an e-copy of my latest book, GATHER THE BONES < http://www.alisonstuart.com/gather-the-bones.html> to one randomly drawn commenter.

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Another wonderful post.

Writers In The Storm Blog

Sharla’s been getting receiving tons of love at Writers In The Storm this week. As part of our “thank you,” we’re bumping this amazing post of hers up by several days. ~ Jenny


by Sharla Rae

The idea for this blog was generated at one our recent critique meetings. We were critiquing a first draft and whoa! I heard an echo of one particular word all over two pages.

As it happens, way back in June of 2010, I wrote a blog called Echoes – Repeat Offenders and explained that they are words and phrases writers over use. Sometimes echoes are caused by a writer’s own speech pattern, that is, words we use a lot when we talk. But sometimes they pop up because we used weak or lame verbiage.  And sometimes the lame verb “is” itself an echo.

Ladies and Gents – I give you GET! 

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Nanowrimo and Holidays

I shouldn’t say I almost forgot to post today, but I did. Between Nanowrimo and company in for the holiday, I’ve been in a fog. Additionally, my muse has taken this story in directions I didn’t expect. So today, you have a choice, you can post an excerpt from your WIP, preferably one you are working on for Nano that surprised you, or any holiday excerpt from your work or another that you like.

Here is mine from the tentatively titled Lord Merton’s Suitable Bride. Lord Merton (Dominic) has a reputation as being a prig. Against his better judgment he took in a child thief his betrothed, Miss Dorothea Stern rescued. They know the child’s mother is dead, but Dorothea finally got him to tell her who he is. This excerpt is a rough first draft.

Dom raised his eyes from the documents he’d been reviewing when Thea entered his study followed by his mother. He rose until they’d taken their seats on two chairs facing his desk. He was glad to see the two of them getting along so well.

He smiled, then noticed neither of them seemed particularly happy. Could it be the house, or God forbid, Mrs. Sorley. “Is anything wrong?”

Thea slid a small piece of paper across the desk. “Tom finally told me who he is. I’d planned to go directly his family’s rooms on St. George Street, but your mother convinced me to discuss it with you first.” Her voice hitched in anger. “I shall confront Mrs. White.”

Dom put down his pen. “The landlady?”

Thea’s lips formed a thin line. “The very one. I surmise she sold Tom to the blackguards who were teaching him to steal.”

Leaning back in the tufted leather chair, Dom tried to catch up with her. Whatever the boy had said obviously overwrought Thea’s sensibilities. “Start from the beginning and tell me what you know.”

It’s all on the paper. Mrs. Sorley was correct, he is gently bred.”

“If that is the case, we need to find his family.”

Thea rubbed her temples and shook her head. “What I do not understand is why the stupid woman didn’t contact the Earl of Stratton.”

Glancing back and forth between his mother and Thea, Dom interpolated, “Stratton?”

As if he hadn’t spoken, she continued, “Surely he would have paid her more than those blackguards.”

“I’m not sure, my dear,” Mama responded, “the earl a hard man. What if his son had married a woman of which he did not approve?”

“But to take it out on a child?” Thea clenched her small hands into fists. “That is criminal!”

Dom ran a hand over his face. What the devil were they talking about? “Would one of you please tell me what the Earl of Stratton has to do with Tom?”

Thea glanced at him with wide eyes as if Dom should know. “He is Tom’s grandfather, of course.”


“Dominic! You will not use that language in front of either me or Dorothea.”

He growled and grabbed the slip of paper from his desk. “Yes, Ma’am.”

James Cavanaugh and Sophia Cummings. He shook his head. Tom’s father was likely several years older than Dom and the only person he could think of to ask about it was Worthington. Damn.

“We could approach the earl first,” Thea said.

“I don’t know, my dear,” his mother responded. “Better to discover if there is any bad blood between them first. Oh, why have I spent so much time immured in the country and at Bath?” She stood. “Let us see this Mrs. White, though I’ll own myself surprised if that is her real name.”

Thea rose as well. What did they think they were doing? Hadn’t they come to him for advice?

“Dominic, I shall take Dorothea home after we visit St. George Street.”

Apparently not. Had all the women in his life gone mad? Well, he probably should have known Thea would go and confront the woman, but Mama?

His mother smiled as she was doing nothing more than paying a social call. Oh, hell. He’d sort them out later.

“Wait a minute. I’m going with you.” He jerked on the bell pull and a footman’s head popped in. “Get the town coach, immediately.”


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