Friday, July 30, 2010

From Emily Bryan . . .

You can't copyright a title. Good thing. Otherwise two of my Chatelaine buddies would have to duke it out right here. Both Joy Nash and Jennifer Ashley (writing as Alyson James) are up for Rita's at RWA Nationals.

And though you can't see it from the cover at right, the title for Jennifer's novella is A Little Night Magic. Very close, but not identical to Joy's contemporary offering A Little Light Magic.

I love both these titles because they sing to me. And maybe because they remind me of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music). It's a charming minuet and trio for two violins, viola and cello. Every note is exactly as it should be (sort of like every well-chosen word in Joy and Jenn's writing!) and when I listen to Mozart I am reminded that there is truth and beauty in the world.

I'm a music major, in case you couldn't guess. Not everyone would make that connection with these titles. But obviously readers respond to them. Other than the obvious observation that both Joy and Jenn are excellent writers, I think the reason these titles work is because of the rhythm inherent in the syllables themselves. Long-short-short-long-short-short.

The strength of Hemingway's writing isn't in his word choices. It's in the rhythm his words create, separate from their meaning. Jenn and Joy have discovered the power of words as percussion in these award winning titles.

Good luck, girlfriends. I hope you both win on Saturday!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Little Light Magic is a Fresh Fiction Pick of the Day!

Those of you who subscribe to Fresh Fiction's "Fresh Pick of the Day" newsletter saw my Jersey Shore romance A Little Light Magic come into your inbox this past Monday morning. The Fresh Pick is chosen completely by reader vote, so this is quite an honor!

Here's a snip from Fresh Fiction's review of ALLM :-)

"A moving story that will bring tears to your eyes and make you laugh out loud. Joy Nash is an absolutely brilliant genius. I laughed out loud, cried crocodile tears and had butterflies in my stomach while reading this beautiful story. I recommend it to everyone." For more, click here!

Okay, so no one has ever called me an "absolutely brilliant genius" before, and I have to confess I think that's just a wee bit exaggerated, but hey, it feels good!

Thanks to all of you who voted for my book at Fresh Fiction!


Monday, July 26, 2010


At the moment thousands of published writers, unpublished writers, editors, agents, reviewers, booksellers and librarians are descending upon Disney World for the 2010 Romance Writers of America conference. We'll be at the Dolphin conference center at the Swan and Dolphin resort. We'll be attending workshops, luncheons, dinners, and parties. The week will be full of writer talk, which inspires us to get home and get back to work. Where else can you hang out with people who share the same type of crazy?

Most of the Chatelaines will be there. Jennifer, Bonnie, Cheryl, Gerri and I will be signing for literacy on Wed. eve so come see us! We'll be missing Joy and Emily who are under deadlines and have to stay home and write. ;(

So I've got to get packing, figure out what I'm going to wear, how many shoes I can logically take, and how many power bars and 5 hour energy drinks I'll need to get me through the week.

Also hope to see Mickey Mouse. ;p

Friday, July 23, 2010

Making Memories

from Emily Bryan . . .

I hate to admit it, but summer is half gone already. I'm head down on my current WIP, but we try to work in some special pleasures during these halcyon days.

In June, I was back in the midwest for a family reunion, boating on the Lake of the Ozarks. Lovely.

Then closer to home, we made it out to Revere Beach for their annual sand sculpture competition. These were not your usual sand castles.

The sculptures soared 15-18 ft tall. Some of the designs were downright Dali-esque. And the detail was phenomenal.

First Place was captured by a huge breeching fish. Further down its scaly body, there were a series of porthole-like openings with a Jonah figure peering sadly out.

Next week, we plan to head for the Esplanade and listen to the Boston Landmark Orchestra on the banks of the Charles River.

I'm seeing a pattern here. All my summer fun seems to be on or near a body of water. How about yours? I hope you've done some special fun things with your fam. Why not share them here? Might give someone else an idea of how to make a memory with the ones they care for.

(BTW, all the pics in this post are courtesy of my daughters' cellphones. When they were little we took them to Disney World and gave them a disposable camera a piece to shoot pics of whatever they liked. We ended up developing a couple rolls of pictures of other people's bottoms and had a fresh appreciation of what the world looks like from a kid's level! Think their photography skills have improved over the years . . . )

How will you make a memory this summer?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I love you, I adore you, now I must kill you

Great news! Immortal Wolf has finaled in the 2010 Maggie Awards in the paranormal category! This is my Nocturne in which Raphael, the immortal Draicon Kallan, is charged with killing his destined mate in order to prevent the destruction of the entire Draicon race.

I think of this book as, "I love you, I adore you, now I must kill you." Of course it has a happy ending. It is a romance, after all!

I'm in Honduras right now for the day job. We are staying in San Pedro Sula and then moving south to the capital. This is the view from my hotel room. SPS is a very modern city. I think we are stopping for Dunkin Donuts before we trek out for our visits today. Ah, coffee!!

Next week I'll be at RWA. Look for Jennifer Ashley and myself at a workshop titled, "Put on your shorts" on Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Swept Away by a new release

I'm very excited to have my dear friend Katharine Ashe visiting the Chatelaines. Katharine is celebrating the release of her first historical romance, Swept Away By A Kiss. And here's an interesting fact about Katharine. She's a history professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. Katharine's first signing with her book will be in Orlando at the RWA national conference so I hope everyone will seek her out, buy her book, and congratulate her on this most special occasion in a writers life. Katharine's post is titled the gift. To celebrate her release I will gift one lucky poster with a copy of my latest release, Breath Of Heaven.

The Gift

Here’s a question: How much should a writer give to her readers? I raise it in complete sincerity. You see, I have given this matter A Great Deal Of Thought.

Allow me to explain how I came to this question.

Are you familiar with those sparkly wrapped Lindt chocolate balls you can only get at cafes (and now apparently at Michaels craft stores—who knew)? Well, years ago before Starbucks speckled the landscape, I was grinding espresso and inventing Cappuccinos Of The Day at the corner coffee shop not far from my apartment. I was in graduate school and struggling to make ends meet. To pay for tuition, books, and the heating bill, I spent loads of time at that cafe.

So did my friends, although not behind the bar. One of my buddies—an Anthropology student working on the next great American novel when he was supposed to be reading cultural theory—would bring in his laptop around mid-morning, tuck himself into his favorite window table, and write. And write, and write, and write.

This friend—David, we’ll call him, because, well, that was actually his name—was constitutionally pockets-to-let. (A little Regency parlance there for atmosphere.) He never had a dime. His roommate told me how once David and a few friends set off from New Jersey on a weekend car trip to Washington DC. About two hours into the drive David revealed that he had $10 in his jeans pocket. And no credit card.

In some matters, David depended upon his friends quite a bit.

At the cafĂ©, he depended upon me. I had the keys to the storage room and David had an insatiable desire for—you guessed it—chocolate Lindt balls. You can see where this is going. He bought a coffee, I gave him a chocolate—for free. The thing is, they weren’t really free. I paid for them. I loved those chocolates, and each shift I purchased a handful for myself. From this private store, I supplied David.

He never knew this. Why didn’t I tell him? Because I liked having that secret. David didn’t care where the chocolates came from as long as he got them. More to the point, I absolutely delighted in giving. (I would make a lousy shop owner, always giving stuff away. “Here, take this dress for free. It looks soo good on you!” And for that we have another useful Regency term: debtor’s prison.)

Some writers are like Santa Claus. They give because they love it and they don’t make a big deal out of it. But it’s a big deal to the people they give to. I appreciate it more than words can say when a fellow author passes on my name to an avid reader, or helps me work out a tough scene in one of my books, or invites me to guest on her blog (Thank you, Cindy!). Givers in the professional realm deserve a special spot in heaven.

So do writers who give to their readers. What I mean by this is writers who give everything inside themselves to write a beautiful story, a story that moves, a story that enthralls, touches the heart, and carries a reader away to a spectacular place. A writer who wants to give much more than she wants to get.

People who give like that—from the depths of the soul—amaze me.

In my debut Regency historical romance, SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS, Lord Steven Ashford is one of those people. Dedicated to a noble mission, he has given his entire life to helping others in danger upon the high seas and in foreign lands. When beautiful, headstrong Lady Valerie Monroe tumbles into that life, she turns it upside down. How can he continue his work when he longs to give everything he is and has to her now?

Love gives him the answer.

Love is, after all, the ultimate giver, the best Santa Claus, the chocolate-dispenser of eternal proportions. True love gives, and it gives everything.

When you are a romance author, you’re just giving back.

(By the way, David is now a successful author of award-winning novels and a professor at a distinguished university. But in my memory he’s still got $10 in his pocket and a pile of sparkly wrappers by his laptop.)

Let’s celebrate Christmas in July today. If you could give someone you love the perfect gift—any gift at all!—what would it be?

Katharine Ashe lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her husband, son, two dogs, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European history, she has made her home in California, Italy, France, and the northern U.S. RT Book Reviews awarded her debut historical romance, SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS, a “Top Pick!” review. Please visit her at

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Historical Beginnings: A Few of My Favorite Things

Anyone who writes historical fiction knows the amount of research you must put into some of the simplest things. There can be no assumptions about anything that was said or used or thought. It requires authors to spend hours and hours looking up little facts, but it's not as painstaking as you think. For those of us who love history, it can be hours of sublime happiness, especially when you find that one little fact that makes you say..."Wow! I never knew that."

In my research over the years, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite modern world discoveries. Though the nature of many of these items has changed significantly over the years, let's take a peek at where they came from...

Dark Chocolate: The first people known to make chocolate were the ancient Mayan and Aztecs of Mexico and Central America. The original recipe mixed ground cacao seeds with various seasonings to make a spicy, frothy drink. Spanish conquistadors eventually brought the drink back to Spain, where new recipes were developed and spread throughout Europe. New technologies have changed the texture and taste of chocolate, but it remains one of the world’s favorite flavors.

Purses: Louis Vuitton started as a luggage company in nineteenth century Paris, right around the time travel became popular in the modern world. When Vuitton’s son took over the company in 1892, he introduced the power and popularity of the handbag. Today, these posh purses attract a cult like following from celebrities, socialites, and fashionistas alike.

Lipstick: History tells us that 5,000 years ago, in the ancient city of Ur near Babylon, semi-precious stones were crushed and smeared on the lips. Ancient Egyptian women squeezed out purple-red color from iodine and bromine, which, due its dangerous nature, came to be known as “the kiss of death.” It is also said that Cleopatra’s lipstick was made from carmine beetles, which gave a red color pigment, and was mixed with a base of ant eggs. Henna was also one of the preferred substances among Egyptians, and fish scales were used to provide the shimmer to the lipstick.

Mascara: Ancient Egyptians play a large role in mascara’s history. Dating as far back as 3400 B.C., Egyptians used bone and ivory as mascara applicators, and blended kohl with crocodile dung, water and honey to create the first mascara. Because eyes were believed to be the windows of the soul, they used mascara and lined their eyes with kohl to protect them from evil spirits. It wasn’t until the Victorian era in the 1830’s that the practice of enhancing lashes was revived. In 1872, petroleum jelly was patented and eventually became the most prominent ingredient in modern mascara. In 1917, the founder of Maybelline Cosmetics created the first packaged cosmetic mascara.

Perfume: Though France is often considered the birthplace of perfume, it actually originated in Egypt, where it was used for a wide variety of reasons, such as cosmetics, medicinal, as toiletries, and even aphrodisiacs. The use of perfume spread to other countries across Europe and the Middle East, but it wasn’t until the reign of Louis XV in France that perfume became more popular and accessible to the masses.

Face Cream: Thank you, ancient Rome! When archaeologists unearthed a metal container - with the lid still on - researchers learned the ingredients, duplicated the recipe, and then rubbed it on. What it produced was a white layer with a smooth, powdery texture - thanks to the starch - and this is still used in modern cosmetics.
Nail Polish: Around 3000 B.C. in ancient China, the early mixture of nail polish included beeswax, gelatin, gum Arabic (found in African trees) and egg whites. They also often added rose petals and orchids for color. Around the same time, upper class Egyptians wore nail polish similar to lacquer paint as a symbol of money and prosperity.
Do any of these things surprise you? What have you discovered in your own research or even reading that has surprised you?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thoughts on True Blood and Color

I've faithfully watched all episodes of all seasons of TB thus far, and as I watched the latest episode, I got to thinking about color. It might just be HBO's broadcast, or my television, but TB has a black-and-white feel, with touches of color to emphasize certain characters or to play with viewer emotion.

For example, the vampires mostly wear black, white, silver, and shades of gray, with the few touches of color in their clothes or settings being red. See the pic of Eric here (with Pam? or the queen? behind him) to see what I mean. Likewise Fangtasia has a black, white, and red theme. "Behind the scenes" of Fangtasia everything is gray, beige--bland industrial colors, which contrasts "reality" with the image Eric wants to project in the bar itself.

Bill's house is mostly shades of faded gray and cream (I so long to go in there with a paint roller) and always dim, night or day.

The richest colors in the whole show are in Merlotte's bar. There you get warmth mostly from wood, plus the oranges and yellows of the decor. Sam always wears soft clothes--paid shirts and jeans. In fact, everything about Sam is soft and warm (mmm hmm).

Sookie's house is full of creams and light colors, almost like sweetness and light. The most colorful abode of all is Lafayette's, and it's no accident that he is a colorful, vibrant character (and gets the best lines).

Anyone else notice things like this? (Or care, LOL?)

Color and tone can make us perceive emotion when it's not there (or enhance emotion that is). Cold, fearful, angry, tense, warm, happy. I like that the creators of the show took the time on such detail.

(And I enjoy the excuse to post pictures of Eric and Sam.)

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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