Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Regency Romance Turns 80

Did you know that the Regency romance, as pretty much invented by Georgette Heyer, is turning eighty this year? The Beau Monde chapter of the Romance Writers of America is celebrating this anniversary with a year-long series of articles about Heyer’s Regency novels, posted in the order of their publication. Rather than standard reviews, these posts range far and wide in the realm of the Regency romance in general. You can see my contribution here, and browse those of many other great writers as well.
Romances set in the Regency period have come a long way in those eighty years. I love the way authors are taking advantage of all the things happening outside aristocratic ballrooms for new plots and character types. And of course they’re also adding varying degrees of spice to the love stories – from warm to scorching.

I used that latitude in my Regency historical Charmed and Dangerous, being reissued June 2, which takes place in Vienna during the famous congress. As England and its allies discuss dividing up Europe after their first defeat of Napoleon, my hero and heroine investigate a plot that will ruin all. There’s time for some passionate exchanges when they’re marooned on an uninhabited island together. Which rather complicates their renewed hunt for a wily set of spies. 
What's your favorite thing about the Regency period?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Adventures in Cooking

I love cooking shows! Chopped is my favorite. Four chefs are presented with four weird ingredients per basket and somehow have to make the ingredients all work together through three rounds including (usually) appetizer, entree, and dessert. If you're the chef who fails to make a harmonious dish, you will hear host Ted say "You've been chopped!" Four goes to three goes to two, and one winner emerges. Fun!

I also love Master Chef, which just started a new season, featuring amateur chefs, Hell's Kitchen, and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. I've always liked trying new foods, no matter how weird or different.

 I guess it all started when I was a little kid and my grandfather would take me out to dinner to distract me when my older sister got cool party invitations that did not include tagalong me. I would order foods that would astound the grown-ups in my midst. I lived to hear "How old are you, honey? Are you sure you want escargot?" Yes, very sure. And always very happy to try something new.

Did I ever find a food I do not like? Hm. Not really. Though lima beans are not my favorite. I will eat almost anything. "Try it once," my grandfather would encourage. "You won't know if you don't try."

In keeping with my philosophy of trying new things, I recently joined Blue Apron. They deliver recipes and ingredients, some I've never tried, like Napoles (cactus). And I prepare and cook the food. The best part? No grocery shopping. I love food. I hate grocery shopping. And it has been fun to cook with new to me ingredients.


www.blueapron.com There are quite a few similar services around now, some with more homestyle meals, and some more gourmet. Have you tried any?

One of the things my hero does to impress his estranged wife in the upcoming The Great Estate is to learn to cook. In Italy. He makes gnocchi with a butter sage sauce. I love a man who can cook!

Do you love cooking shows? Trying new things? Can you recommend any romances involving cooking/food/chefs? 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day - Images from Bonaventure Cemetery

by Susanna Ives

As I was visiting friends in Savannah, I received a reminder that I would be blogging on Memorial Day, a day when we honor and remember our brave American soldiers who died in active duty.  Over one million soldiers have lost their lives in U.S. Wars. Our hearts go out to the families of the nearly seven thousand soldiers who perished serving their country in the war on terrorism. 

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day after the Civil War. The war between the states cost almost half a million lives. 

Savannah was part of that terrible conflict. So I decided to head over to the famous Savannah cemetery Bonaventure located on a bluff beside the Wilmington River and take some pictures. Below are images from the American Legion and Spanish American War veterans sections of the cemetery, as well as some veterans of the Civil War and images of the beautiful monuments.  



American Legion Field

American Legion Field


Spanish -American War Veterans

Spanish-American War Veterans


Civil War Veteran





Saturday, May 23, 2015

Savannah or a Little Regency in the South

I adore the city of Savannah. Every time I go there, I fall in love with it just a little more. The people are friendly, the whole downtown is relaxed and welcoming, and when I'm there, you can find me with a libation in hand, strolling the beautiful shady streets and taking in the historical loveliness.


My favorite place in Savannah so far is the beautiful Owens-Thomas House. One of the most well-preserved Regency homes in the US, this house boasts a beautiful garden as well as a lovely interior. I highly recommend a visit if you ever find yourself in the deep South.



When you visit this amazing city, you'll see why Sherman decided not to burn it.

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in  western North Carolina.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Interview with My Six-Year-Old Daughter

Not long ago, my daughter (known online as Little Miss R) brought this essay home from her first-grade class.

Look at that! I have a cool job! I was pretty delighted by this.

This past weekend, LMR picked up a pretty bad virus that kept her home with me for four days straight. To pass the time on one of those days, I decided to interview her. Here's how it went. I typed exactly what she said--except for the end, when she begged me to let her have a turn at the keyboard.

*     *     *
Me: You’re home today because you’re sick. And I’m home with you because this is where I do my work. What do you know about my work?

LMR: You write books. And you write them about ladies in dresses. They all have shiny words on the front.

Me: That’s all true. What are your favorite kinds of books?

LMR: Ones that are Garfield books and princess books. I like them because there are movies based on them and I like movies that are from books.

Me: So you like when you get a lot of a story you really enjoy.

LMR: Yeah.

Me: What are you reading this morning?

LMR: I finished reading Junie B., First Grader Aloha-ha-ha! and I’m more than half done with Wait Till Helen Comes. I like scary things and I like Junie B. books.

Me: What about books about boyfriends and girlfriends? Do you like those?

LMR: Gross.

Me: Well, that’s what I write.

LMR: Ok, then I probably won’t want to read your books until I’m like your age and I get to be married and stuff.

Me: That’s ok. My books are meant for grown-ups. But we can both enjoy looking at those pretty covers.

LMR: Yeah.

Me: Which book cover is your favorite?

LMR: I like Season for Scandal because it’s pink and it has a pretty dress. And The Chocolate Kiss because it’s pink and I love macarons.

  


Me: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re home sick?

LMR: Do perler beads and watch something. Like SpongeBob.

She picked these pieces as the ones she's most proud of. "Put them on the website so I'll be famous."

Me: Ok, maybe we can do that later. Before we end the interview, what’s the coolest thing about Mommy?

LMR: She is very nice. And she doesn’t care if I call her “man” or “dude.”

Me: Do you want to do some typing now?

LMR:  kljfghjhrjgjnjvcvnjvbvigjn jjjgjj hjhghgghhghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghghhghghhghgjghghgtuyghgrghj    
Hhjfencvbhgr ggnngbf

Me: No words? C’mon, you’re a big girl.

LMR: ok fine!12345678910 yo yo yo yo  LLLLMMMMMRRRR that's     MMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*     *     *
Ah, well. So my stories are still gross to my six-year-old. That's...actually ok with me for now. (We'll revisit in another twelve years or so, maybe.) 

Want to ask her a question of your own? She's home from school again today; her last day of first grade was yesterday. Or want to tell me about your favorite book cover? Little Miss R's favs are heavy on the pink. We'd both love to chat with you.

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest. Find her at theresaromain.com or on Facebook or Twitter.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

REGENCY BUCK 80th Anniversary



...by Deb Werksman

 

This year is the 80th anniversary of the publication of Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer—the very first Regency romance!




I’ve always thought of Heyer as the perfect combination of Jane Austen and William Shakespeare—wicked smart, clever and funny, with a profound understanding of human nature. 

A couple of my favorite passages are the one in The Talisman Ring where Ludovic and Sir Hugo Thane go into the cellar for a shooting competition (after Sarah Thane persuades them not to go into the courtyard, because Ludovic is, after all, a fugitive). Also the scene in The Foundling when Sir Lionel calls on his son Gideon and animadverts bitterly about the state of his son’s apartments, shattering the nerves of Gideon’s batman, who then vents on the hapless kitchen boy. And of course, there’s the denouement of The Unknown Ajax, and the highwaymen scene in The Convenient Marriage…I could go on and on…



To celebrate Regency Buck’s 80th year, we had tiaras to give away at RT, and I’m still in a giveaway mood.

First, post on this blog—tell us any or all of the following:
a)      Your favorite novel by Georgette Heyer
b)     Your favorite Sourcebooks Casablanca author of any subgenre
c)      Your favorite romance author of any subgenre, any publisher
d)      Anything else

Next, have one friend or relative who is not a Sourcebooks author post on this blog as well. She can say anything she wants (of course, you can too!)

Finally, send me an email to deb.werksman@sourcebooks.com and I will send you back a coupon code for you and your friend for one free ebook each.

If you haven’t tried a Heyer yet, go for it! If your daughter, niece, young next door neighbor, or anyone else you know and love, hasn’t tried a Heyer yet, and you need a printed book, email me at deb.werksman@sourcebooks.com –I’ll give away 10 print books by Georgette Heyer as well. Please specify which title you want to gift.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I'm totally jealous...

...of my big sister.

She's off on a HUGE adventure. I'm so excited for her, and at the same time, I'm really freaking envious that it's her and not me! 

She arrived at 3:00 a.m....

in Tokyo. Yup, Japan. 

It's something she's always wanted to do, and she's doing it. All by herself. She'll be spending the next 2 weeks on the other side of the globe, taking pictures, exploring new places, and soaking in all the culture she's been wanting to for ages. 
I'm not that brave. Heck, I get panic attacks when I go to writer's conferences! And I'm usually meeting people I know there. But she doesn't know a soul in Japan. She's just brave enough to go on her own and grab the experiences that she's wanted. I've never been farther away than the Bahamas. Of course, that's been my choice. And this is hers. And I couldn't be more proud of her. 

I've got adventures of my own coming up, but they are much, much different.

Have you ever been anywhere exotic? And have you gone anywhere on your own? Let me live vicariously through your experiences!

Visit Gina Lamm at her website, ginalamm.net, or 
You can also connect with Gina on:









Monday, May 18, 2015

Cheesy Manicotti Recipe

This is not enough cheese.

For some reason I tend to go crazy over cooking in the Springtime. It could be just because I don't have to walk and drive through snow and ice to get to the store. 

Anyway, if you're a cheese-lover, this recipe is for you!!


Ingredients:
1 package Manicotti noodles
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 container Ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg
1 1/2 jars marinara sauce
garlic powder
parsley
basil
oregano 
black pepper
seasoned salt

Prepare pasta according to the directions on the box. While the noodles are boiling, mix 2 cups mozzarella with 1 cup Parmesan, the ricotta, butter, and egg. Season with seasoned salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, oregano and basil to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Pour about 2/3 jar of marinara in the bottom of a large casserole dish.
Stuff noodles with cheese mixture and place carefully in the casserole.
Pour 2/3 jar of marinara over noodles and top with 2 cups mozzarella and 1 cup Parmesan.
Bake covered for 30 minutes.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Writer's Kitchen: Chicken Soup Fit For The (Greek) Gods

I do a lot of the cooking in my family, which is something I enjoy most of the time. After a day of wrangling contentious characters and problematic plots, it's almost a relief to go into the kitchen and start handling tangible things like ingredients and utensils. And to know that, within a relatively brief interval, there will be a finished project to show for my work.

Sometimes, I like to mess around, trying out a new recipe or tweaking an old one. Or cooking something complicated that requires my full concentration and tests my culinary skills, such as they are. At other times--when I'm on deadline or have multiple projects vying for my attention--I turn to dishes that are so easy and straightforward that I could prepare them in my sleep . . . and I'm not sure I haven't done just that, on occasion!

Avgolemono soup is one of my "go-to" recipes. I first tasted it at a small family-owned Greek restaurant--sadly defunct now--that opened in the university town where I was attending graduate school. And I loved it--tangy, velvety, rich without being cloying. Greek comfort food at its finest, and welcome in any season: hearty enough in winter,  light enough in summer.

I researched countless avgolemono soup recipes, trying to find one as much like the first one I tasted as possible. This one, which I found years ago on Epicurious, comes the closest, and it is as simple as it is delicious, taking half-an-hour at most to prepare. And it never lasts long when I serve it!



                                         
AVGOLEMONO SOUP WITH ORZO

4 1/3 c. chicken stock (or broth)
1/2 c. orzo (cooked rice may be substituted, but I think orzo is tastier)
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (I usually find two eggs sufficient--the yolk is for extra richness)
1/4 - 1/3 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice (strained of seeds and pulp)
1/2 c.  chopped cooked chicken
Salt, pepper to taste


Boil stock, add orzo, cook until tender.



Beat eggs, yolk, and lemon juice together. Add  1 cup of hot stock to egg mixture, stirring constantly.



Pour lemon and stock mixture back into pot, do not simmer. Add chicken, stirred until warmed through.



Season to taste, and serve hot. I like warm pita bread and hummus as accompaniments.



Bon appetit! Or should I say, Opa!

Do you have any "go-to" recipes that you can prepare on autopilot?

Pamela Sherwood

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Friday, May 15, 2015

The Ever-expanding World

by M. L. Buchman

You know that insulation that you squirt in and it just sort of expands? 


Yep! My Night Stalkers series just keeps doing that to me. So I've spent the last few weeks trying to figure out how to explain to myself (never mind my readers) just what the heck is going on in my world of danger and true love among the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR).

I think I finally got a handle on it mostly. What made me really think about it was that I had two recent releases (April and May), both in that world and neither in the main series(es). That makes an author spend some time thinking.

THE NEW RELEASES

This great anthology (in many ways, 472pp) of 8 original military romance novellas by a stunning cast of authors is to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. All profits are going to this great charity to aid disabled veterans. Buy it for that reason alone if no other. In my story NSDQ (short for the Night Stalkers unofficial motto: "Night Stalkers Don't Quit"), I follow a wounded woman pilot as she seeks a road to recovering her health, her purpose, and her heart. She meets a trainer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State where both the real 4th Battalion and my fictitious 5th Battalion D Company are stationed.

Then some of my more adventurous characters decided to found a whole new Night Stalkers Company, the 5E. Connie Davis and Big John crossed over from Wait Until Dark and my new cast has launched onto new adventures...something about surfing a helicopter in China?!

THE PUZZLE
So how to explain the myriad expanding-foam world of my Night Stalkers. I finally tripped upon the concept of "Sub-series."

  • Yes these books all stand alone and can be read in any order. 
  • Yes there is an order to them that provides little cool treats and cookies. The full order is HERE.
  • But, also yes, there are some books more tightly connected together than others. So here's my stab at explaining how the Night Stalkers world works.
THE EMILY BEALE QUARTET & THE MICHAEL GIBSON DUO

And this world will have a follow-on of the "Chinook Quartet" starting with By Break of Day next spring.

THE WHITE HOUSE TRILOGY & THE USS PELELIU TRILOGY (only 1 book so far in the latter -another coming this summer!)

THE 5E QUARTET (only 1 book so far -more this summer!)

THE NOVELLA & SHORT STORIES
I do love short fiction. I have origin stories for Emily, Mark, and Michael. Even future Night Stalkers.

There, now my head has stopped hurting so much.

...Did I mention that in June I'll be releasing Book #3 of my Smokejumper Trilogy sub-series to my Firehawks main series? (YOIKS! More fun awaits!)

And don't miss the Firehawks short story presently free on my website! Hurry, it goes away on May 20th! (Hint: Sign up for my newsletter at the same time so you don't miss a one!)




M. L. Buchman has over 35 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and Booklist “Top 10 of the Year.” He has been nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews. In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.


In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world. He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at www.mlbuchman.com.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Craft, research and learning new tricks

When readers pick up a book they read it in a few short hours. But behind every finished product there is professional editing, critiquing, the authors polishing, first draft, plotting, daydreaming, researching, hunting down an idea with a club and a machete…

The craft when the reader reads should be invisible, and yet if the craft wasn’t there the story wouldn’t hang together. Authors know about themes and motives (even if they aren’t there in the plotting or the first draft they appear gradually). They know about the three act structure and how to increase tension and also release it just a little. They know about end of scene and end of chapters so you turn the page because you have to know what happens even though you have to get up in six hours!

Even though I have been writing (as an adult) for a decade I still buy and read craft books. I read novels and try to work out why it worked…or why it didn’t (that is harder because sometimes the voice just wasn’t my thing, it happens as not every book is for every person and it would be a very boring place if we did all like the same things).

As an author I think it is important to keep learning.

As a person no matter what you do it’s important to keep learning and trying new things.

New ideas, and new subjects, are out there just waiting to be explored. I love coursera.org as there are all kinds of interesting subjects to study, for free.

I don’t want to be the same person ten years from now as I am today.

I know I am definitely not the same writer. No one ever needs to see that first manuscript. EVER. Or the one that followed it. Some things can’t be unseen.

What are your favourite ways to learn new things?
~~~


Singer of Death (Court of Annwyn 5)

Her voice is as seductive as it is dangerous…
Bronwyn Charow’s life had been destroyed even before the plagues came. In a fit of jealousy her ex threw acid on her face. But no one notices her scarred face when she sings. And no one is immune.

Coming June 18 Amazon

SHONA HUSK is the author of the Shadowlands, Court of Annwyn and the Face the Music Series. You can find out more information about Shona and her edgy romances at www.shonahusk.com or follow her on Twitter @ShonaHusk, Facebook www.facebook.com/shonahusk or join her newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/119074/join

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Unlocking History's Mysteries by Gina Conkle

Are you a fan of history?

Or do you pass it off as dates and dry-as-dust monarchs?

History moves in technicolor frames for me. Sometimes she's elusive pictures. Sometimes she's cold, harsh facts.

But, like a femme fatale full of drama, she's never dull.

One story I vividly recall comes from grade school. My teacher handed out a mimeographed worksheet on Erik the Red, the Viking known for his violent temper and settlement of Greenland. We read about his life, toned down for a ten year old's consumption. Then we read about his son, Leif Ericsson, famed for venturing south to undiscovered "Vinland" in AD 1000.

Yet, not one Viking woman was named as part of that adventure.

Is that because "it's a man's world?" Could be. Some well-respected historians adamantly denied a certain Viking woman named Gudrid traveled with Leif Ericsson to parts unknown. They claimed her an exaggeration of the Sagas. End of story.

Looking back, her omission taught me a valuable lesson: Dogmatic thinking can dangerous. Instead of investigating the past to prove a point, investigate to find truth. Leave the door open, and the impossible might just be possible.

So,who was Gudrid?

The sagas tell of a beautiful Viking maid named Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir who left Iceland
and lived in Vinland (southern Canada). As her story goes, she carved out a home in Vinland, fighting the skraelings (Norse name for the indigenous people), and gave birth to a child. After three years, she returned home to Iceland.

To live happily ever after? 

No. Her exploits in Vinland weren't enough. 

She'd heard of Rome and wanted to see it for herself. Tales were told of blonde Gudrid traveling south again, this time to the wilds of early 11th century Rome. She explored the city for about a year before returning to Iceland. 

Nancy Marie Brown chronicled Gudrid's life
and the evidence trail proving her existence.
Was all this too fantastic to believe? She did cover a lot of miles in her lifetime, and she did thrive in the Canadian wilderness. For these reasons, many labeled Gudrid of Iceland pure fable.

Then, archaeologists unearthed an Icelandic longhouse* unlike other Viking era longhouses. This new find shared similarities to L'Anse aux Meadows structures (name for historic Canadian Viking settlement). 

The archaeologist dug some more...and surprise! They found Gudrid's home. Evidence proved the adventurous woman exactly as the sagas painted her. 

History finally revealed her true colors with the Iceland maid, Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir. Mystery solved.

Stay tuned for future blog posts when I share more solved and unsolved enigmas of history.



                                                     ~ ~ ~

*Interesting nerd note: Viking longhouses shared cultural traits, but Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland all had their own unique regional demarcations. These clues help to understand Viking settlements.


I'm Gina Conkle, writer of Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side. If you'd like to connect, find me in these social places:



What about you? Are there any mysteries from times past that make you curious?