Follow

Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on BookBub
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on LinkedIn
Subscribe
Subscribe
Category: Chatting

Weekly-ish Wrap-up: Feb 10

The past couple weeks have been filled with productive but unexciting events of me with my head down, writing. This will undoubtedly result in die-hard readers of this blog turning to one another, if they could turn to one another, and muttering, “Why are we standing here peering through this window when all she’s doing is cursing at a computer screen?”  A fair question.

Rebranding Continues

The rebranding of the historicals continues apace.  And when I saw ‘rebranding,’ I  mean “branding for the first time ever.”  (Full disclosure: you’re in the presence of the worst marketer ever born.)  A couple covers and titles are being revamped, and the entire Renegades & Outlaws series is being renamed, along w/ a new logo.

Gee, I wonder what the new series title is…?  🤔  Okay, actually, I know.   Anyone want to take a guess, comment section is below!

I’ll announce & post pictures when all is done.

King’s Warrior (formerly The King’s Outlaw) off to edits!

Closing in on release date of Feb 28th…. 

You can check it out at Amazon & iBooks and soon, on GooglePlay!  The old title remains on booksellers for now, until the new cover is finished.

Knighting ceremony & Medieval Custard Pie

In the ‘If It’s Medieval, It Counts’ department…at my children’s school, they’ve been studying the middle ages, which includes a “Knight’s Challenge.” This involves the kids setting personal goals related to physical and character improvement (including a 3 hour stint of silence one day!)  and working it on for a month. They also had to do community activity, some service to others.

It’s all wrapped up now, and they’re ready for the solemn occasion of a knighting ceremony & feast to follow!  :rubs hands together:  The kids each make a medieval dish and the parents eat it all.

My child committed to making & bringing apple crisps, which involved very expensive saffron threads (!!) and a deep frying experience none of us will ever forget. Think ‘traumatic.’  It was difficult not to say “I told you so,” but I resisted.

A hasty conference ensued, and the new menu item is a Custard Pie.  Should be easier. And filled with more fat, so it’s a win-win.

A 15th c recipe for fruit daryoles (custard pie) which is NOT the one we used. And aren’t you glad romance writers don’t write in authentic period language??

 

If you’re interested, here’s the amount-adjusted recipe we’re using (God save us, I helped do the math to reduce the original recipe from 2 pies to 1. Will check in after and let you know how it went):

Ingredients FOR ONE PIE

• 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
• 1/4 cup blanched almonds
• ½ c + 1/8 cup cold water
• ½ cup half-and-half cream
• ½ pinch saffron powder
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 ½ eggs
• 3/8 cup white sugar (= 6 TBSP ?)
• ½ teaspoon rose water (NOTE: we may skip because I already bought saffron threads)
• Add all ingredients to list

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Press pie crusts into the bottom and up the sides of two 9 inch pie pans. Prick with a fork all over to keep them from bubbling up. Bake pie crusts for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until set but not browned. Set aside to cool.

Make an almond milk by placing almonds in the container of a food processor. Process until finely ground, then add water, and pulse just to blend. 

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth. Measure out 1 cup of the almond milk, and mix with half and half. Stir in the saffron and cinnamon, and set aside.

Place the eggs and sugar in a saucepan, and mix until well blended. Place the pan over low heat, and gradually stir in the almond milk mixture and cinnamon. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.

When the mixture is thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon, stir in rose water and remove from heat. Pour into the cooled pie shells.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is set, but the top is not browned. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until serving.

Weekly-ish Wrap-Up, Jan 27

Because I’m that sad, we can’t even have something nice occur weekly. It has to be “weekly-ish.”  You can’t take me anywhere.  

Books On Lists

I was incredibly touched to see all my books made it onto several of All About Romance’s mega lists of the best, noteworthy titles within the tropes we romance-loving souls so desire.  If you don’t know AAR, check them out. They’re one of the go-to sites to get reviews & information on the genre.

Tortured Hero

Jamie Lost (Defiant), Kier (Deception) and Griffyn Sauvage (The Conqueror) all made this list. Do you detect a theme? 

Irish Romances (set in Ireland)

Shockingly, The Irish Warrior is on here…  

Road Romances

The Irish Warrior and Defiant made this list.

These lists are only updated every so often, as in years, so it may be awhile until there’s another round.

Rebranding

I’m in the midst of rebranding my new series. I should just say ‘branding,’ because absolutely no thought ever went into answering the question, “How to let readers know what they’ll be getting in my books, and moreover, that it’s just what they’re looking for, and moreover-over, it’ll knock their socks (and corsets) off?”

That means covers, titles, series title…the whole works.  Stay tuned for more!

 

Glitch in Preorder

The preorder release date for THE KING’S OUTLAW (title to be changed, see above) was accidentally changed by 4 days at Amazon.  Amazon may have alerted anyone who preordered the book. So sorry about that!  I sent a note to my newsletter subscribers to update them, so they’d know it was just an error, and all sorts of sexy hijinks are still on their way. Now you know too.

If you’re not on my newsletter & want to be (it’s the best way get the latest news), you can sign up here.

If you haven’t preordered yet, you can do it here! AMAZON | iBOOKS

Onward to February!

Weekly Wrap-up: Jan 6

Weekly Monthly BiMonthly Wrap-up

I mistyped ‘wrap-up’ as ‘warp-up,’ and that about explains everything.  Also, my weekly warp-up is  stretched out into a monthly one, as warped things are wont to do…

Claiming Her recommended as 2016 Must Read Romance

USA Today’s® Happily Ever After column recommended Claiming Her as one of the Must Read Romances of 2016 by columnist Kathy Altman. So honored!

 
King’s Outlaw Pre-Order up

The King’s Outlaw  is now up for preorder at Amazon & iTunes!

 

Released Print Version of Claiming Her

It’s soooo pretty!  You can get it at Amazon or direct from Createspace, which publishes it.

 
Writing

Working on The King’s Outlaw,  fitting it in around lots of family, kids, and school events.  Let’s just say I’m not an effective creative multi-tasker. Creativity slows wa-a-a-a-ay down when I have to stop and restart.  Creativity is cumulative, like begets like, and breaking the spell does actually, well, break the spell.

Rediscovered brain.fm

If you don’t know about brain.fm, go check it out!  Super cool audio um…system?…to  help focus, sleep, and/or relax.  It’s astonishing how well it works.  I put on headphones, set it to ‘intense focus’ and start writing.  BOOM-words on the page.

 

 

 

Intro The Hero: Defiant

I was updating the ebook file of DEFIANT, and was reminded of what a bad man Jamie Lost is.  Really, not nice at all.  Eva is convinced he’s a menace cast up from Hell to plague her, thwart her, endanger her…tempt her.

True on all counts.

If you haven’t read DEFIANT yet and are in the mood for a big (110K words big!) adventure-strewn, road romance set in the time of King John and his not-so-chivalrous knights, go indulge yourself today!

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Here’s Eva’s first impression of the devil:

…The rogue’s thick fingertips touched the middle of her back and pushed her the rest of the way inside the tavern.  Then he stepped in too and pointed to a table by the far wall.

“Over there. Sit.”

Again with the commands.

She wanted to growl at him.

He tromped over the bulging plank floors toward the back counter that ran the length of the room, moving through flickering shadows of torchlight.

His hair-roughened square jaw could denote either a dull blade or a rough nature, but his hair, barely tethered by a leather strip, long and dark, bespoke only outlawry.

His cape was nondescript, calf-length. Beneath he wore a black, quilted surcoat, sleeveless, covering what she supposed was a mail shirt, although he wore a longer-sleeved tunic over it, as if to conceal what lay beneath. Both surcoat and tunic hung to mid-thigh, slit up the sides. Mucky knee-high boots completed the ensemble, but it was the dark hose, molded tight over his thighs, that kept Eva’s attention riveted far longer than was necessary.

He wore no insignia on his dark surcoat, bore no identifying colors, yet everyone either had a lord or was a lord. Even the most feared, ruthless mercenary, a Brabançon, identified himself with someone. Here in England, that usually meant the English king.

By the look in this one’s eye, ’twas a simple matter to place him there, among the terrible, ruthless sorts.

But somehow, she couldn’t believe something so…beautiful could be so awful.

And he was beautiful, to a hard line, masculine magnificence, all long, lean contours of hard heat and piercing eyes. A beast in his prime.

Her dark-eyed proteus looked over his shoulder, scowling when he saw she had not ‘come,’ was not ‘over there.’

“Sit,” he growled. “And stay.”

A fissure of anger opened up inside her. She narrowed her eyes and, very softly, barked.

***

For the record, Jamie didn’t like being barked at.

And so the adventure begins….

HAVE FUN IN THERE!

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Confession: I'm Addicted To Research

I’m addicted to research.  There, I admit it. 

I spend way too much money on research books, and way too much time reading them.  While Oxford University Press should just go ahead and open up a corporate account for me, my husband remains tolerant but unamused. Especially when half the books are for research on a book I’m not even writing. Yet. 

Partly, this is because an author has to know way more about the topics used in her books than she’ll ever actually put on the page, because after all, it’s a story, not a non-fiction treatise.  

This, of course, is my excuse.

It’s the way I permit myself to descend into the rabbit hole of Totally Unnecessary Research.  You can picture me leaping down a large hole, looking over my shoulder, smiling and waving, calling, “I’ll be just a minute!”

I’m never just a minute.  Go on and leave without me.

When I’m at work on the contemporaries, I find myself digging deep into crazy biotech, when I’ve already decided my tech-y secondary character will not be doing BIOtech, just straight coding, computer tech.

And yet…addict.  Because have you ever researched biotech, then thought of ways to twist it to nefarious purposes???  It’s insanely frightening and compelling.

A skirmish with smugglers from Finland at the Russian border, 1853, by Vasily Hudyakov

But my biggest weakness is historical research. Even when writing the contemps, I find myself on websites for medieval spice trade, or with a book sitting open beside me that discusses smuggling in 17th c.

 

These are not useful research topics for a contemporary story, not unless a character in the books happens to be studying the spice trade or the history of smuggling.  Which my hero and heroine are not. 

Although….wait a second….

This can become troublesome.  One must choose a story and proceed, not get distracted by all the other exciting stories she could be telling.

While writing CLAIMING HER, I found myself studying far more than was necessary about how

Wooden tankard found on board the 16th century carrack, Mary Rose.

alcoholic beverages were stored in the late 16th c.  I mean, really.  I needed my heroine to store whisky, and suddenly I’m learning about the history of bottling beer.

Fascinating stuff.

For instance, did you know bottled beer was already used by the late 16th century?  They even used expensive glass to do so (beer was sold in glass bottles in 1561 in Germany), although stoneware was more commonly used.  By the early 1600’s, the practice of bottling beer was well-established, and the debate was on: which is better, bottled beer or beer from a keg?

Do you have a preference?? 

(Note: in 1492, the Scottish Parliament prohibited any adulteration of beer or wine on punishment of death.  Careful out there, beer adulterers.)

Then there’s pocket watches.  Need I say more? 

Okay, I will.

Replica, German pocket watch, 1580.

Sweet, gorgeous, etched and carved pocket watches–with alarms!

By 1524, German inventor Peter Henlein used the invention of mainspring to create watches that did not require falling weights as the source of their power, and voila: portable clocks. 

They caught on quickly. Initially quite bulky and worn around the neck like a pendant, the later adoption of screws reduced their bulk, and by the third-quarter of the 1600’s, were small enough to be housed in, well…a pocket. (fyi, screws used to be made BY HAND, obviously, so individuals were doing the extremely time-consuming task of filing threads and cutting slots in the heads, so screws were of variable thread depth & quality.  The first screw factory in England, in 1776, with a patented screw-making machine, failed miserably. It’s not clear why, though, because…)

Gah!  See, it’s happening as I speak! So much for my parenthesis. One thing leads to another, to another…

Back on topic….I had a wonderful scene where the hero in CLAIMING HER (set in 1589) has a pocket watch, and it totally makes the heroine swoon. Unfortunately, I had to cut it. As it was one of the inspirations for the story, cutting it was like carving out a little part of me. But for various reasons, the pocket watch scene wasn’t going to work, so out it came.

But I kept researching the damned things. Because…addict.

Fortunately, not all is wasted. Maybe none is. Because if the historical detail is organically connected to the story, then it does more than just sit there as a prop.  It bolsters/reveals/reverses something that’s core to the characters. And so I learn something far more important that factoid A or B.  I learn about the hero & the heroine, even if the historical detail must be surgically removed. 

Writing the early versions of the pocket watch scene revealed Aodh & Katarina to me.  Katarina has been stuck out in her lonely castle beyond The Pale for many years, and did not expect this barbaric Irishman to upend her world. To be, in fact, the opposite of barbaric. To bring her etched silver and silk and news from faraway places from men he called friends. To show her maps of unknown worlds. To beam prisms of light into the dark corners of her life, and prove to her anything is possible. Anything at all. Even loving a rebellious, treasonous Irishman.

So, I guess this is why I waste my time.  Because it lights my fire.  And reveals the truths of my characters.

Which maybe doesn’t count as wasted time after all.  

Do you have interests that make you “waste your time”?