Monday, November 29, 2010

Announcement of the Roses Christmas Blog Tour!

I just wanted to pop in quickly to let you know about the Roses Christmas Blog Tour that I am a part of along with another nine Wild Rose authors. The tour started on Wednesday 24th November and runs through to December 22nd.

The Roses involved write everything from historical through to contemporary, Suspense through to Paranormal so there is something for everyone. Each week we are hosting each other on a set theme.

Click here to find out when and where we are appearing as well as what is on offer as prizes before Christmas. We would love to hear from you!



Happy Reading! See you there!

Rachel x
www.rachelbrimble.com

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harvest Time

Regency Harvest Traditions


While the Americans were celebrating the harvest during November in a tradition that would later evolve into Thanksgiving, our British cousins had even older harvest celebrations.

Harvest celebrations have been held since the dawn of man and in England have traditional been held during the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox—the harvest moon.

Traditions dating back to the 16th century indicated the harvest celebration was often started by reapers accompanying a cart laden with the final harvest. The extravagantly dressed leader shouted “Hooky, Hooky” and acted as the lord of the harvest while asking for money from the crowd. In addition, a special, seed cake was often distributed to celebrating farmworkers.

Most farmworkers celebrated the end of the harvest with a big meal called the harvest supper. Cutting the last patch of corn or wheat in a field indicated the beginning of the feast. It was considered bad luck to be the person to cut the last stand of corn (“corn” was considered any grain, including wheat) so there was often a race against other harvesters on other farms to be the first to complete the harvest.

This idea of bad luck in cutting down the last stand of corn may have originated in the belief that a corn (grain) spirit hid in the last stand of grain to be harvested. To remain safe, harvesters wove some blades of the grain into a “corn dolly” to keep safe for luck until seeds were sown in the following ear. (A picture of a traditional corn dolly is shown on the right.) Then they plowed the ears of grain back into the soil to bless the new crop.

In Cornwall, the festival was further developed by “crying the neck” when the last sheaf of grain was cut. The reaper would cut the last handful, lift the bunch above his head and cry three times, “We have it!”

In response, the rest would shout three times, “What ‘ave ‘ee?” to which the reaper would reply three times, “A neck!” Finally, they would yell “Hurrah! Hurrah for the neck!” while calling the farmer by name.

This is obviously just a brief taste of some of the lovely traditions of our cousins “across the pond.” I find these small peeks into history and tradition irresistible. And while the lords and ladies so common in our historical novels were not directly involved in the harvest, they certainly would have had their own suppers and parties to celebrate the bounty of the season. These glimpses into the history behind our current traditions are very much part of why I love to research and write historical like “The Bricklayer’s Helper.” Our traditions and history illuminate not only how we are different, but how we are also the same.

Enjoy the autumn season and your very own harvest celebration!
Amy Corwin
http://www.amycorwin.com/

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breaking the Rules

 A few weeks ago I encountered a dilemma that I'm sure many writers have faced at one time or another; having written he "book of my heart" how much are you willing to change it for a sale.  As the 'Queen of Adverbial Excess" I am used to removing said adverbs and revising tenses and certainly I have become adept at spiffing up point of view.  Yet therein lies my dilemma-- How many points of view are acceptable in a romance novel?

Like many of us who began writing romance in the eighties, I scrutinized the tip sheets handed out at conferences to see what each publisher required in their books.  That is where I learned about the type of heroes and heroines that were acceptable, that sex was okay but not rape or anything kinky (Boy, has that changed), and of course, there has to be a happy ending.   The last hint was to write something new, different and that catches the imagination of the reader with sparkling prose.

So I wrote.  I wrote the book of my heart, set in my favorite part of Arizona, which my husband and I toured from beginning to end, gathering background. locations and esoteric information, all of which I worked into the fabric of Kate and Jake's story.   I even convinced my husband, who had never been on a horse, to take a trailride through the Kaibab Forest!  Anything for authenticity, right?

However, along with writing my lovely story, I proceeded to break several industry imposed rules.  First of all, I used more than two points of view.  I knew it was wrong, but...well, the dog had a lot of good observations, so why shouldn't he have a POV?  So did Kate's younger brother, Toby.  Most important, so did the three Bad Guys chasing our heroine for some nefarious purpose. 

I sent my baby out multiple times but heard only that "this would be perfect for our **** line, but we just closed it", or "Well-written but not right for our line,"  and more of the usual rejection letter verbiage.  Not until my most recent submission did I find out that I can't have more than two POVs.  Ouch!  What about my BAD GUYS?  

Converting the dog's and Toby's point of view to either Kate or Jake was easy.  Even making sure that Kate and Jake's viewpoint was accurate was not too bad.  But, there was absolutely no way to fix the chapters that are in the point of view of the  villians, unless I had Kate or Jake sneak up to spy on them.  Hum,  maybe that would work... but I think I'd rather break the rules.

PS- Sorry I missed last month but it was the eighth anniversary of my daughter's death and I just wasn't up to it.  Sometimes life intrudes, doesn't it? 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bad Guy with a Good Heart....Christmas for Ransom by Tanya Hanson

I didn’t date any bad guys in high school. Matter of fact, I didn’t date much at all, being a dork. (Although in a major coup, after college I married The Football Team Captain/Boyfriend of the Homecoming Queen and it’s lasted for 36 years.)

And I wasn’t attracted to hippies or bikers or Point Break surf dudes or anything like that. But I found myself more than interested in the outlaws of the Old West. I don’t know why. Maybe because many of them had been scarred by the horrors of the Civil War, parental abuse and deaths, or abandonment. Mental illnesses, which were scandalous and largely untreated at the time, likely played a part. And the dichotomy of the brutal James’ brothers dedication to their mom Zerelda and love for their wives let me think somewhere in the evil there maybe had been a spark of untapped good.




So when I was asked to contribute to the Lawmen and Outlaws Christmas Anthology from The Wild Rose Press (out this week), I decided to invent a hero who was an outlaw. My first time writing about a baddie. But I knew I personally couldn’t fall in love with a totally wicked guy, so I gave him some sparks of untapped good. Jack Ransom was raised by his beloved gram-maw and upon her death when he was 13, he promised her he’d live a righteous life and learn to read.

Abandoned and alone, though, he found “family” in a gang of other young hopeless, homeless lads, the notorious Ahab Perkins Gang that rides roughshod through the West in many of my stories and wips, stealing horseflesh. The story takes place in the 1880’s in a nebulous portion of Panhandle Texas with pretend places of such names as Cahoots, Frying Pan, Sweetcream and Pleasure Ridge.


Thieving the rich Stony Brook Ranch of its prize Morgans on a Thanksgiving night way back when stalls Jack in his tracks. The old lady owning them reminds him too much of his own gram-maw and his semi-evil heart starts to thaw.

Things really heat up when, unbeknownst, he hires her schoolmarm granddaughter to teach him to read…and she agrees. Only if he tracks the whereabouts of her granny’a missing horseflesh. And by now, Ahab Perkins is in hot pursuit of his runaway buddy.

Sigh. There is a shoot out, a blizzard, and a really bad guy on the way to the HEA.

I hope you’ll give Christmas for Ransom a whirl. It will releas tomorrow from The Wild Rose Press and will be available soon be on Amazon for those Kindles out there.

(Excerpt from Chapter Two)

Pinching herself, Eliza lost interest in everything except seeing what the stranger looked like in the lantern light. Brawny stalwart men were nothing new in a railroad town or on the ranch, but she never minded a good view.

Her breath caught so hard her sore rib tweaked. He was magnificent. The big-brimmed hat and flowing duster reckoned him a wrangler of some sort coming in from the range. Although he needed a bath and truly looked the worse for wear, she didn’t mind one single bit. The scruffy cheeks, the long rag-taggle coat, even the scent of masculine sweat were far more her style than the slick-haired dandies and overdressed fops she’d met at Boston cotillions.

“This here’s Ransom,” Ben said helpfully.

As the stranger moved closer, he removed his hat and tucked it under his arm with a polite half-nod. For a long luscious moment, eyes the color of manly liquor covered her with a mouth-watering gaze. Golden-brown hair touched the mountains of his shoulders like sunlight at dawn across the Guadalupe Mountains.

Air left her lungs. A slow burn started at the top of her spine, her flesh desperate for the days’ worth of roughness adorning cheekbones carved like crags and valleys. She had to hold her hand still to keep her fingers from caressing the deep etches of his face.

Eliza couldn’t move as she stared up at him, aching and eager. Oh, she was no stranger to fine-looking cowpokes and no simpering virgin to boot. Twice, to spite Granny, she’d lain with a hearty, handsome ‘hand from Desolation, but found the first time dreadful. So dreadful truth to tell, she’d been persuaded to try again a month later after she hadn’t turned up with child. Again, not so good. So what had brought on this urgent longing for a man she didn’t know?

Not knowing what else to do, she held out her hand, organizing her trembling lips. “How do you do, Mr. Ransom.”

“No mister, ma’am. Ransom’ll do.”

“Here’s Miz Eliza,” Ben said. “Our schoolmarm.”

Eliza silently thanked Ben for letting Ransom know she was unattached. Married women didn’t teach school.

Slowly he removed his gloves and pocketed them, his gaze never leaving her face. In spite of the cold, heat rushed down from her head to weaken her knees. When their fingers met, her toes exploded. “Where are you from, Ransom?” she managed.

“Sweetcream,” he said without hesitation, his voice low, mysterious, barely hearable. She liked it.

“Why, I’ve got kin there. Luetta Lodge.”

He stiffened at her words, from the cold most likely, and put his hat back on. “Good night now, Miz Eliza.”

The way he said her name, slow, low…why, she’d not be able to sleep well tonight.

If at all.

Some of it might be jitters due to the school’s Christmas pageant, but more was the skittering up and down her spine brought on by his gaze wafting over her like a velvet hand. Her breasts tingled as she imagined his fingers caressing them.

He tipped his hat. From the outdoors look of him, he was likely a wrangler or a drover. Maybe a bounty hunter. No. The strong chin bespoke the law. She reckoned him a Marshal or a Ranger. Someday soon she’d know for sure.

“’Night, Ransom.”


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spies in Corsets

My new release, Angel in My Arms, takes place in Richmond, Virginia during the last months of the Civil War. The central characters are female spies who funnel information, weapons, and Union prisoners through the city. They even visit the prison with baked goods as gifts. Steve Dunham, the Union officer enlisted to help them on their latest rescue mission is a Cavalry soldier who risks his neck even as he falls deeply in love with one of the spies, Amanda Emerson, while Rebel captain Will Reed is drawn despite his suspicions to another of the beautiful female spies, Kate Sinclair. Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, Steve and Amanda find a love worth fighting for, while Will and Kate set the stage for their own romance.

Heading the spy ring is Betsy Kincaid, known throughout Richmond as Crazy Betsy. Crazy as a Fox Betsy is a shrew operator who knows how to use her nieces' talents to their best advantage. Crazy Betsy is loosely based on a historical character, Elizabeth Van Lew. Elizabeth socialized with Jefferson Davis' wife, Varina, all the while using her connections to funnel information to the Union. An eccentric matron, she used her unusual behavior as a cover for her spying.

Who can know how many female spies operated during the Civil War - a female spy could certainly romance secrets out of lonely soldiers, even in the top ranks.

I hope you'll check out Angel in My Arms. Please check out my website at www.victoriagrayromance.com to learn more about the book and other Civil War romance, Destiny. Both books are available in print and e-book from The Wild Rose Press.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why do you Read Native American stories?


My blogging day always sneaks up on me.

My current release Spirit of the Mountain is set among the Nez Perce tribe in NE Oregon. All the characters are Native American. When I first came up with this idea and plotted out the trilogy, I was actually trying to do what the editors were asking for- a historical paranormal. But when I shopped it around to agents, I was told no one buys Native American stories.(Except my publisher Wild Rose Press) Yet, when I'd tell people about this series they became excited.

So my blog is about a discussion- Why do you think the agents feel Native American books don't sell and why do you pick up a book about Native Americans and or not pick up one?

Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain
Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, has been fated to save her people ever since her vision quest. When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, her world is torn apart.

Himiin is the spirit of the mountain, custodian to all creatures including the Nimiipuu. As a white wolf he listens to Wren’s secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he cannot prevent her leaving the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin must leave the mountain to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…

Excerpt
Wren’s eyes glistened with unshed tears. “My gift is to save The People. The weyekin who came to me in my vision quest said this.” She wrapped her arms around herself as if staving off a cold breeze.
Himiin hated that they argued when they should relish their time together. He moved to her, drawing her against his chest, embracing her. The shape of her body molded to his. Her curves pressed against him. Holding her this way flamed the need he’d tried to suppress.
He placed a hand under her chin, raising her face to his. The sorrow in her eyes tugged at his conscience. To make her leaving any harder was wrong. But having experienced her in his arms, he was grieved to let her go. Even for the sake of their people.
Her eyelids fluttered closed. Her pulse quickened under his fingers. Shrugging off the consequences, he lowered his lips to hers. They were softer than he imagined. Her breath hitched as he touched her intimately. Parting his lips, he touched her with his tongue, wanting to see if she tasted as sweet as she smelled.
Honey.
She tasted of sweet honey straight from the bosom of a bee tree.
One taste was not enough. He pulled her closer, moving his lips across hers, tasting and savoring the feel of them.
Her mouth opened and she sighed.
His body came to life. The sensations transcended anything he’d experienced before. How could one woman make him feel powerful and vulnerable at the same time? Why did he wish to crush her to him and never let go and yet feel compelled to treat her with the tenderness
one would give the tiniest of creatures? He couldn’t continue this way.
To hold her, to touch her soft skin. He would never be able to let her go.
He must.
He released Wren and stepped back, avoiding her eyes. How could he show her the sensations she brought to him then turn around and tell her they couldn’t see one another any more?
“Himiin? Did I do something wrong?” The pain in her voice drew his gaze to her face.
The anguish and fear in her eyes cut through him like a knife.
“You did nothing wrong. It is I. I should not touch you so. It is wrong.” He took one step forward, before remembering he could not touch her and remain sane. “You are spoken for. We should not be together.”

Paty Jager
www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Deadwood, South Dakota in the Black Hills

The settlement of Deadwood, named for the dead trees found in the gulch, began in 1870. When General Custer's expedition discovered gold near today's town of Custer, people flocked into the Black Hills searching for gold  and Deadwood quickly grew into a lawless town with a population of 5,000.
In this picture taken on our trip in October, you can still see dead trees on the hill. Curious about the reason they remained, I discovered that since 1970, woodland managers have enouraged leaving dead trees and woody debris to encourage organic forest regeneration.

In 1876 gamblers and prostitues folked into town contributing to its seedy reputation. In the pictures below are shots of Saloon Number 10 where Wild Bill was shot August 2, 1876 which led to the notoriety of Deadwood. He and Calamity Jane are buried in Mount Moriah Cemetary in Deadwood.

There are many old historic buildings, like the ones below, still in use today.



As a writer, I've always wanted a visual image of what hotels and saloons looked like in the back. Here is a photo of the rear entrances/exits of some old buildings. Can you see patrons sneaking down those stairs in hopes their activities will go unreported?
Deadwood lost its rough and rowdy character when the economy changed from gold rush to steady mining. A fire in 1879 destroyed 300 buildings and many citizens moved on to start over somewhere else. Another fire in 1959 came close to destroying Deadwood. In 1961, the town was declared a National Historic Landmark.  The economy continued to decline due to the Interstate 90 bypass and in 1964 its brothels were closed down after a raid. In 1989, gambling was legalized in Deadwood and now aids in maintaining the historic area.

I love to play the slots. Below is a picture of the Celebrity Hotel where I spent an hour playing the slots while Larry toured the Car Museum. The hotel lobby doesn't look like what we're used to seeing in hotels--a fancy check-in counter and large seating area. In the hotel I entered, the check-in desk was there, but the lobby was filled with slot machines. 

Deadwood is a quaint little town filled with historic places to explore and stories to unearth. If I'd been writing a story about the area, I'd have returned with a folder full of notes and pictures. But, I wasn't so we only spent half a day. I couldn't see driving all the way to South Dakota from Texas and not seeing the town that has made some books and movies so popular.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Linda

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MISTLETOE EVERYWHERE--Regency Christmas comedy, coming Nov. 3


Yes, I know I'm a day early, but today is my day to blog, so here's the blurb, excerpt, and my contest for Mistletoe Everywhere, which The Wild Rose Press will release on November 3.

CONTEST: Leave your name and email in the Guest Book on my website, http://www.lindabanche.com, for a chance to win a PDF copy of Mistletoe Everywhere. Contest runs through December 15. Note, all of you who entered my Pumpkinnapper contest are already entered to win a second copy of Mistletoe Everywhere.

BLURB:
A man who sees mistletoe everywhere is mad--or in love.

Charles sees mistletoe. Not surprising, since he's spending Christmas at Mistletoe Manor. But why does no one else see it? And why does it always appear above Penelope, the despised lady who jilted him after their last meeting?

Penelope wants nothing to do with the faithless Charles, the man who cried off after she accepted his marriage proposal. But he still stirs her heart--and he stares at her all the time. Or rather, he stares at the empty ceiling over her head…What does he see?

According to folklore, mistletoe is the plant of peace. Can Penelope and Charles, so full of hurt and anger, heed the mistletoe's message and make peace?

EXCERPT:

After Charles had heaped his plate with more food than he wanted, he took one of the empty chairs at the table bottom, as far from Penelope as possible.

His tensed muscles eased as he joked with his friends. Smythe made a comment and Charles turned to answer. He caught sight of Penelope…and a monstrous bunch of mistletoe above her.

"Gordon? What is it?" Smythe swiveled in the direction Charles was staring. He looked up and down, and from one side to the other. "I say, with your mouth hanging open like that, you must see something spectacular, but damned if I know what it is."

With an audible click, Charles clamped his jaw shut. "I thought I saw…" He forced his gaze back to his companion. "Nothing. I imagined I saw mistletoe."

Smythe's eyebrows rose. "Mistletoe?"

"Yes. The house is named 'Mistletoe Manor', so the place is filled with mistletoe decorations. Pictures, wall hangings, ceiling trim, whatnot."

"Indeed." Smythe's eyebrows rose higher. "That 'mistletoe' you saw is over that Miss Lawrence. Lovely little filly." His lips curved into a knowing grin. "My jaw dropped the first time I saw her, too."

Charles stiffened. "I was not looking at Miss Lawrence. I believed I saw mistletoe over her."

"'Mistletoe'." Symthe's grin widened. "Of course."

Buy Link: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/mistletoe-everywhere-p-4295.html (Buy Button not active until November 3)

And I hope you will get what you want for Christmas, too!

Thank you all,
Linda
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com