November 30, 2008
American Red Cross: Holiday Mail for Heroes
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Compelling, Sensual Tales of Love and Forgiveness
November 29, 2008
SEE THE SIGHTS.
HEAR THE MUSIC.
NAME THAT CHRISTMAS CAROL!
In addition, each author will hold a daily contest they day they host,
How do you begin this incredible journey?
Start at http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/.
Each day, the link to the next blog destination will be posted.To enter to win the grand prize, you make a list of all the Christmas carols and submit the list as instructed. With 28 prizes, what have you got to lose? At least the cookies and drinks are calorie free
November 26, 2008
Because of the craziness that will be happening with all the relatives visiting, I won't do The Friday Record this week.
Don't forget to ENTER MY CONTESTS! What do you have to do to enter? For my blog, just leave a comment. I do a monthly drawing from all those who leave a comment. This month's prize will be a surprise package. My other contest can be found on my website, www.aklanier.com. All you need to do is sign in on my guestbook..the link can be found at the bottom of my home page. What comment do you need to leave? Just tell me the name of one of my November guest bloggers and the title of one of their books. The winner of that drawing will win a Holiday Package, including a PDF copy of my short stories: The Priceless Gift and Tempt Me Twice.
GAIETY PASTEL COOKIES
from Celebrating 100 Years of Jell-o cookbook
Note: in strawberry pink, lime green or berry blue, these cookies are sure to be a real hit.
3 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 sticks butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 4-oz package Jell-o, any flavor
1 teaspoon vanilla
additional Jell-o, any flavor (for best result use same flavor as above)
Heat oven 400 degrees.
Mix flour and baking powder in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer. Gradually add sugar and 1 package of gelatin, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a glass. Sprinkle with additional gelatin.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.
Makes about 5 dozen.
NOTE: the dough gets very thick, so be prepared for that when stirring.
I'll have my Wednesday's Chow recipe up very soon...I have to type it up, because 1) I can't find the recipe I had saved on my computer and 2) Skhye Moncrief has requested I post a cookie recipe anyway.
November 23, 2008
Many authors have said the urge to write was natural and a life-long goal. In fact, it seems that most writers “always had a dream.” This often made me wonder why I don’t fit the mold. Of course, I had an imagination, but don’t all children have one to some extent? Playing make-believe is as natural to little girls and boys as is breathing.
I grew up when paper dolls were popular. When I had a fifteen cents or a quarter, that’s what I bought—a paper doll book. My little sister and I spent many hours of our childhood cutting out the dolls and their clothes. Each piece of clothing had little tabs to fold over the doll’s shoulders or around her waist. We had boxes of paper dolls—Victorian ladies, teenage girls, little children, mommies, and Western cowgirls. We gave each a name, a personality, and emotions.
Shoe boxes held our paper doll sets, and heaven forbid we should ever mix up the dolls and their clothes. If my dolls became intermingled with my sister’s, that was cause for all-out war. The shoe boxes also made very nice homes for paper dolls. For a house, though, we needed beds, refrigerators, stoves, tables, rugs, and chairs. Mother gave us last year’s Sears and Roebuck catalog and we became the nation’s first recyclers. Never threw away a catalog. They furnished our doll homes perfectly. True, everything lay on the floor of the “home,” but that was all right because we played “make believe.”
The paper dolls lived in a world of grand adventures. Why, they went to parties, rode on trains to big cities, got married, went shopping, roped cattle and rode horses, met kings and knights, and became princesses and beauty queens. So, perhaps I carried the idea of inventing stories in my head and heart, after all.
Another writer I know calls herself The Accidental Reporter. Well, I suppose I’m The Accidental Author. The first pieces I wrote were scientific research papers and lab reports while attending school. Nothing else, not even a diary. After early retirement, I began to “dabble” in this and that, and one day just six years ago, I accidentally began to write a story. I say “accidentally” because I only intended to add to my miniscule store of knowledge about the computer, especially WORD 2002. Thus, many weeks later, I had a 90,000 word novel stored—yep, you guessed it—written in stiff, correct, scientific language. The first editor who rejected it said—“this reads like a textbook.”
Oh, I had much to learn, but fortunately, I have an attribute perhaps all authors have—persistence. Also, I’m a fast-learner, and most often, a self-learner. That first novel is under contract, by the way. Title? TEXAS BLUE.
Now, I am enjoying the giddy experience of my first release. ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS is a Western Historical, set in the far reaches of the Texas frontier in the Nineteenth Century. Please take a peek at my website- http://www.celiayeary.com/ and my publisher- http://www.thewildrosepress.com/ and my post for The Cactus Rose blog http://twrpcactusrose.blogspot.com/ . Thank you, Celia Yeary
November 22, 2008
November 21, 2008
Jean-Francois and the Marquis d'Arlandes weren't the inventors of the hot air balloon, however. The inventors were brothers Joseph-Michel (below) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier(left). Joseph noticed the hot air rising above a fire and filled a pouch with hot air. Sure enough, it rose. From there the brothers tried other experiments, including flying a 38-foot linen bag one mile on June 14, 1783. On September 19, King Louis XVI watched as the brothers sent aloft a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The balloon floated for about 8 minutes and landed safely about 2 miles from the launch site.
Finally, on November 21st, the first manned flight took place.
The two brothers were later honored by the French Académie des Sciences. They published books on aeronautics and continued their scientific careers. Joseph invented a calorimeter and the hydraulic ram, and Étienne developed a process for manufacturing vellum.
So, it's quite possible for an author to put a hot air balloon ride in a novel anytime after 1783. And of course, you could have a fictitious person making a hot air balloon anytime before that, as well. It is called fiction for a reason....
Photos of brothers courtesy of the Musee Carnavalet, Paris; photograph, © Jacques Buchholz. Photo of balloon © Photos.com/Jupiterimages
November 20, 2008
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Or send an email to : SeducedByHistoryfirstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Kathryn Lanier
November 19, 2008
Author Leah Smith has fantasized about her neighbor, Houston’s pro baseball player Marcus Slade, for years, but thinks it’s unlikely she’d catch the cowboy’s interest since her IQ is bigger than her bra size. Having already been hurt by a man who wanted size over substance, she’s not in a hurry to play in that ball field again.
When an unexpected opportunity gets Marcus inside his favorite author’s apartment, he’s not about to let a second chance at love pass him by. Their attraction is quick and electric and has him instantly thinking about something more long-term. But when a woman from his past intrudes, his hopes of a cozy Christmas with Leah are buried beneath her cold shoulder. Risking a strikeout, Marcus has one chance left...go for the grand slam of his life and crash Leah's annual Christmas Eve party in hopes of convincing her she’s this Cowboy’s Dream.
For this story, I broke the "rules." The hero is a pro baseball player and the heroine is a romance writer...two of the careers you're not supposed to write about. What odd or unusual career have you given a character or have read about in a book?
I'll have a special drawing on Monday for those who leave comments on this subject. You can win a 2009 "Spurs and Studs" calendar...twelve months of yummy cowboys for you to admire all year long!
For the blog, just leave a comment. At the end of the month, the lucky winner will a surprise package (because I haven't decided what it will be yet).
For my website, visit my guest book and tell me the name of one of my guest bloggers and the title of one of their books. My guest book link can be found at the bottom of my home page. The lucky winner will receive a Holiday Prize package.
2 cups cooked, smashed carrots
1 stick butter
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 tbls flour
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
Melt butter in warm carrots. In small bowl, mix dry ingredients and add to carrots, mixing well. Add eggs. Mix well. Pour into glass baking dish. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until set.
NOTE: I have a food processor, so I cook the carrots, put them in the processor to ‘smash’ them, then add the other ingredients and mix in the processor.
November 17, 2008
First off, thank you Anna for having me here today!
I’ve dabbled in different venues of writing over the course of my lifetime. First as a child writing plays for stuffed animals, then at thirteen writing stories of love and lust that my friends and I passed back and forth adding scenes, to witnessing what words can do when an English teacher read one of my assigned fiction projects to the class- all the way through writing children’s stories for my kids, writing murder mystery when I wanted to kill someone (killed that person off in two manuscripts), writing for the local paper when it fit my lifestyle, and then to finally settle into historical western romance.
Each stage of my writing had to do with what was going on in and around me at the time so it only makes sense that I find myself writing about history- American History, specifically the 1800’s has always been my favorite subject. I love museums, historical sites, and finding bits of history that were so integral to life when this country was spreading and growing.
I think having grown up in a semi –isolated part of the state that was slow to get technology it brought out the pioneer spirit in me. Until I was twelve, my paternal grandparents lived with us. There were seven people in a three bedroom, one bath farmhouse. We had a woodshed where we chopped kindling and stored the wood for the cookstove. When we did get an electric range we still had a wood heating stove and used the wood cookstove when the power went out which was fairly often when I was young. When the power went out we used kerosene and oil lamps, the outhouse, and hauled buckets of water to the house from the ditch. And it was usually in the winter that the power went out. And on many occasions the pipes from the well to the house froze, and we had to haul water to the house.
My family had a small herd of dairy cows and used an old hand crank separator to separate the milk from the cream. We used the milk for ourselves and the hogs we raised. We made our own butter from the cream and sold the rest to the creamery. We raised 100 chickens every year, butchering all but thirty, which were laying hens. I hated the smell of the wet feathers after you dunked them in the boiling water to loosen the feathers. And disemboweling them and cutting them up- I’d always offer to fold clothes, clean the bathroom or whatever other chore I could think of then spend hours smelling the feathers and butchered chickens. My grandmother sold extra eggs to neighbors and the local grocery store.
These are all events in my life that easily happened in the era that I write about. I can feel the woodstove, hear the clank of the metal plates as grandma put more kindling in the fire. Smell the acrid smoke that slipped through the chimney that went through my bedroom. I more or less lived the life I write about.
Now, the outlaws and heroes. Those are the characters I dreamed about while riding my horse in the Wallowa Mountains bareback, reclining with my head on my horse’s rump, staring up through pine trees at the blue sky accented by fluffy, white clouds. My heroes and outlaws were shaped by my over active imagination! They all thought I was gorgeous ( in reality I was an overweight child) So in my dreams I was slender and beautiful and had both the hero and the outlaw fighting over me.
And if you read Outlaw in Petticoats my latest release from The Wild Rose Press, you’ll see that Maeve, the heroine, indeed, is fought over by both the hero and the outlaw. Which doesn’t set well with her independent nature.
Here is the blurb for Outlaw in Petticoats, which is in contention at the Love Western Romance website for 2008 Best Western Romance. If you have read or read the book and like it please go to http://www.lovewesternromances.com/index.html in the month of December and vote.
Maeve Loman has had her heart crushed before; she isn't about to have it happen again. When she takes Zeke Halsey up on his offer to help her discover the truth about her father, she's sure she can control her traitorous body and not fall for the man's considerable charms.
Zeke Halsey has wanted Maeve Loman since he first set eyes on the prickly schoolteacher. Even as she thwarts his advances, he sees the desire burning in her eyes. He knows she feels abandoned and uses bravado to keep people at arm’s length. Offering to help her find her father, he hopes to prove he’s not going anywhere.
If you are a writer, what shaped the genre you write? If you are a reader, what is your favorite genre to read and why? I’ll pick a name from the comments and send the winner an outlaw candy bar and book of your choice.
November 14, 2008
November 13, 2008
According to Mike Flanngan in It's About Time: How Long History Took, Nellie's trip took 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds. However, according to Bly, she actually only "spent 56 days, 12 hours and 41 minutes in actual travel." She spent 15 days, 17 hours, 30 minutes in delays.
But, who was Nellie Bly? First, her real name was Elizabeth Jane Cochran, and she was the daughter of Judge Michael and Mary Jane Cochran from Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania, born in 1864. Though her family was well off and comfortable, all that changed when her father died when she was five. The family was forced to sell off their house because her father died without a will. The man her mother remarried was abusive. Some feel that it's these incidents in her life that made Elizabeth a fighter for woman's rights.
Her editor chose her pen name from the song Nelly Bly written by Stephen Foster some 30 odd years before. Read the lyrics here: http://home.att.net/~gapehenry/Song.html. I can't help but wonder if he was being a bit sexist by choosing the name from such a song, because it seems, Nelly's place was in the home and kitchen.
Elizabeth's first job was with the Pittsburgh Dispatch after she wrote a letter to the editor blasting a sexist piece written by one of their columnists. The editor liked it so much, he asked her to write freelance. After four columns, she was hired at $5 a week. She shied away from the normal women's stories of fashion and housekeeping. Instead, she went after the hard hitting social issues of working women, reform of divorce laws and factory conditions. She was sent to Mexico and did six months worth of columns from there. Returning to America, she headed for New York and its newspapers.
She was hired on with the New York World, where her first assignment was to be committed to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island. She continued such undercover work until 1888, when the idea of sending a man around the world to duplicate Fogg's journey was discussed by the newspaper. This angered Elizabeth to the point that she threatened to go to another newspaper and beat the World's man's record when she went around the world. So, the World sent her.
The story increased sales of the papers, but she received no special recognition or bonus. Shortly thereafter, she resigned from the paper, only to return a few years later and focus on women's rights.
She resigned again when she married in 1895. After her husband's death, she went to England, getting caught there when WWI broke out. She once again took up reporting, this time behind the scenes of the war. After she returned to America, she continued her reporting career until her death in 1922.
Here are two good websites where I gleaned information on Nellie Bly:
Which woman in history do you most admire and why?
P.S. I discovered after I posted this that Nellie Bly started her 'trip around the world' today, November 14, 1889. I'm sure I read that, I just didn't connect that today was the 14th....lol. So, quite by accident, I blogged about her on the anniversary of the start of her famous voyage.
November 11, 2008
Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole
1 lb pork sausage
6 white bread slices, cubed
½ cup cheddar cheese
1 (3oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 (4oz) can mushrooms
2 cups milk
1 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp salt
dash black pepper and red pepper
Brown sausage in skillet and drain off fat.
Place bread cubes in greased 2-qt shallow baking dish. Top with sausage, cheeses and mushrooms. Beat remaining ingredients together. Pour over sausage, cheeses and mushrooms. Cover with tinfoil and refrigerate overnight.
Bake, covered at 325° for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for 15 minutes. Serves 6-8 people.
Freebies, Give-Aways and Contests, too!!!
Main Street is also F.M. 518
Exit off I-45 at the F.M. 518 exit
LINDA MOONEY will be signing:
The Battle Lord's Lady
Runner's Moon: Jebaral
Runner's Moon: Tiron
Runner's Moon: Simolif
BESS MCBRIDE will be signing:
A Sigh of Love
Love of My Heart.
BETTY HANAWA will be signing:
Less Than Perfect Family
Falling Star Wish
More Than She Wished For
(EPPIE Winner 2007: Best Erotic Romance: Science Fiction—Furturistic)
ANNA KATHRYN LANIER will be signing.
Holiday in the Heart
Recipe of Love
No Law Against Love
The Priceless Gift
November 9, 2008
I get my children off to school (no small feat, considering I have six!), then get ready and do a little housework (and I do mean little) or run errands. Then I sit down at the computer and write, or edit, or do research. After lunch, I go to work at my part time job as a secretary. After dinner, we do homework (the children’s – not mine), and then I get them ready for bed. If bedtime goes fairly well, I have time to play the harp and then read my email or sometimes just read. I write or edit if I’m really in the “mood” or have a pressing deadline but usually I’m sorta burned out by night. Which is ironic in a way, because when my children were small, late at night was my best time to write. Must be getting old that I can’t say up half the night anymore. Having time to write uninterrupted during the day makes a big difference, too.
2. When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published? How many stories did you finish before you were published?
I wrote my first story when I was 8, and my first full-length novel when I was in 7th grade. They were both so bad that they will never see the light of day (and neither will my husband if he ever posts them on the net!) About five years ago, I really got serious about writing, and I got my first book contract roughly two years later.
3. How did you break into publishing?
The first thing I did was join a local chapter of Romance Writer’s of America. I took writing classes and workshops, got critiqued, entered contests, got more critiques, attended conferences, pitched to editors and agents, got more critiques, submitted my manuscripts to agents and editors, and found a critique group who I really trust. I never gave up, no matter how many rejections, or how discouraging the critiques were, and I kept working to learn the tools of the trade. Plus I got enough positive critiques that those helped me keep going. When I started winning writing contests that gave me a huge boost and I carefully considered the input I received from contest judges.
4. What influenced you to write?
I’ve always loved to read, and writing seemed the next logical step. It seems to be some weird, insane compulsion. It also got me through some serious bouts of clinical depression. When I wasn’t writing stories, I wrote in my journal. Now I write when I’m happy, or sad, or anything in between. And I still read voraciously.
5. What inspired you to write romance?
I feed off the euphoria of new love and I need a happy ending. It’s like having a piece of chocolate at the end of the day. Only not fattening. There are some great books out there, but if there isn’t enough romance, I’m disappointed. And if it doesn’t have a happy ending, I’m totally bummed out. Reading doesn’t feel like an escape if the book doesn’t end well and happy. Life throws so many challenges and disappointments that I need the escape of a great book with a satisfying ending.
6. What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?
I write fantasy and Regency, but so far, I’m only published in Regency. I love historical overall. I grew up on Little House on the Prairie books, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables. Historicals are like a whole new world, totally different from the modern world in which I live. Regency in particular is fun because the manners and mores of society are so formal and lavish (unlike my reality). Besides what’s not to love about men who can dance? Not to mention that there are few things as manly as a man riding horseback or fencing or willing to engage in a dual to protect his honor. Or that of his lady love. I have a thing for medieval romances, too. Love those knights. I might write medieval romances some day when I work up the courage to begin research into a whole new time period. The thought is totally intimidating at the moment.
7. What difficulties does writing this genre present?
I’ve actually wanted to write Regency for years, but was intimidated by the amount of research I’d have to do. The time I spend researching alone is daunting. Even after spending the last three years researching the Regency era, I learn something new almost every day. Some of my book ideas are simply not possible due to customs or laws of the day in that land. If I’d failed to adequately research, I would have spent all that time and effort writing them and learned my errors later. One of my biggest fears is that years from now, I’ll discover some historical inaccuracy in one of my books despite my efforts.
8. What motivated you to write your current book?
I’ve always been drawn to the arranged or forced marriage situation; two good people who are thrust together, not necessarily happy about it, but learn to fall in love and make the best of it. (No, it’s not based upon my real life!) I also enjoy love triangles. I’ve always kinda wondered what would have happened if Christine in Phantom of the Opera fell in love with the Phantom instead of the young handsome viscount. Or if maybe she’d felt really torn between them.
9. How much time do you devote to writing each day?
Generally 3 to 4 hours a day are spent in writing or editing. Back before I started working, I spent 5 to 6 hours a day writing.
10. Tell us about your other works, books, stories, etc.
I have a novella coming out in April. Here’s the backcover blurb: Desperate to escape her estranged husband and a home enshrouded with death and despair, Julia flees in the middle of the night. Little does she know, her determined husband is in pursuit. Along the journey, she discovers a telling revelation. But will it be enough to banish the ghosts of the past and quiet her troubled heart?
11. What are you working on now?
Book 2 of the “Rogue Hearts Series: The Guise of a Gentleman” which is about the brother of the hero in Book 1, The Stranger She Married. There are four books planned for this series, each about a brother of the same family, but each book is meant to be a stand-alone novel. Book two is about a spy infiltrating a pirate ring whose past comes back to haunt him…and endanger the life of the lady he loves.
12. How do you write? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?
I’m a combination writer. I have a pretty good general idea of what the book is about, and typically I know several key scenes along the way, but most of it develops as it goes along. I wish I were a plotter; I can see how that would make it easier to stay on track and spend less time revising. My characters influence me the most and sometimes won’t do what I want them to do. One of my secondary characters kept trying to take over as the hero. I had to have a heart-to-heart with him. We made a deal; he’ll stop trying to be the romantic lead, and I’ll let him be more of a tough guy – with the possibility that he’ll get his own book some day soon. He started behaving after that. But then he got really tough and conflicted so now I have to write his story.
13. What was the most usual way you came up with a story idea? I mean, I’ve gotten a plot idea from a song I heard, from brainstorming with a classmate. What unusual thing caused you to think, ‘hey, I could make that into a story?’
I don’t know how unusual this is, but I often wonder about a secondary or walk-on characters and start thinking about what their story is or could be. Sometimes I don’t like how a book ended, or how it deviated from what I thought was important, so I write it as it should have been. Right now I have one percolating in my head that was inspired by something my boss said he did when he was a young adult just before he met his wife. It’s a great concept for another series.
14. If you could spend an hour talking to anyone from any time in history, who
would it be? And Why?
Jane Austen. She was so witty and had a snarky sense of humor that I find highly entertaining. Plus I’d like to ask her some pointed questions that I haven’t been able to learn in my research.
15. Tell us some of the things interviewers are saying about your story or stories.
One of my interviews gave me such glowing praise I almost blushed:
“It is an exceptionally well written book, filled with mystery, high adventure, and most importantly of all, a wonderful romance. Ms Hatch creates a wonderfully atmospheric book and just when the reader thinks she might have the mystery figured out, she throws in a delightful twist that leaves the reader guessing all over again! Regency readers will love "The Stranger She Married." And I will be eagerly awaiting Ms Hatch's next book!”
16. What is your all time favorite book?
There are so many, it’s very hard to choose. Jane Eyre ranks way up there. I mostly have favorite authors such as Lynn Kurland, Candice Hern, Julia Quinn, to name a few, rather than favorite books. I have two criteria for a masterful book: 1. unforgettable characters who are deep and complex and 2. are beautifully written with gotcha phrases that demand I go back and re-read just to savor, like taking a walk in a garden and stopping to admire a single bloom.
17. How do you do research for your books? What’s the most interesting bit of research you’ve come across?
I take online classes, I read books – both fiction and nonfiction – written in the Regency era or thereabouts, and I belong to a Regency/Georgian online chapter of RWA and there are some really well informed authors there to guide me with questions and discussions.
I didn’t used to love research and saw it as a necessary evil. But I’ve learned to really love research and now I frequently uncover interesting facts. An interesting bit of research involved pirates, which was really fun. I also learned something about the way criminals were executed, (sounds morbid, I know) but if I tell you, it would be a spoiler, since I use it in my next book. Sorry.
18. What advice would you give aspiring writers today?
Be persistent and work really hard to continue to develop your craft. Great artists – whether they be painters, dancers, musicians, or authors – must spend countless hours learning and practicing. Then keep working at it and don’t give up. Lots of people want to be writers, but most don’t have the determination to ride through the rough times or do the continuing education.
19. How do you like your fans to contact you?
I have a place on my website that says “contact me” and I’m always happy to hear from readers (as long as they don’t bring up a research mistake I’ve made. Just kidding!)
20. Tell us about your newly released book.
My current novel, “The Stranger She Married” is a sweet, yet sensual Regency romance with adventure, intrigue, a love triangle, and a terrible secret.
Torn between a disfigured war hero with the heart of a poet, and a handsome libertine who may not be all he seems, impoverished Alicia must marry by the end of the month. Despite a murder threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger of all … to her heart.
Order on line at www.thewildrosepress.com. Look for The Stranger She Married under the category “Historical.” It’s also currently listed under “Best Sellers” on the right side of the home page.
November 6, 2008
"The Stranger She Married"a new Regency Romance Novel
In each section, she asks questions and gives brief answers. They are short, concise and great jumping off points for further research.
I decided to use one of her questions in War and Conflict for today's post. Ms. Ferguson asks: What happened at Trafalgar? The answer is three paragraphs long, not even an entire page. For those who don't know off the top of their heads exactly when, what, and where - Cape Trafalgar is in Spain and the naval battle happened during the Napoleonic War in 1805. To quote Ms. Ferguson, it was "the scene of a decisive victory for Great Britain over Napoleon Bonaparte's navy."
Napoleon Bonaparte had been conquering Europe for over 10 years at this time and he was determined to conquer England as well. The Brits, of course, had other ideas.
I'm going to step out of this discussion on Trafalgar for a moment and ask you all....do you think the fact that most of our history comes from the British POV shapes the way we think of Napoleon? We see him as a villain in these wars, but he actually was a great leader, a man who actually fought for the little guy (no pun intended here, because Napoleon was not that short of stature). So, that's the question of the day...what is your opinion of Napoleon and is it shaped because we see Britain as being the victim? (I think I might write a paper on Napoleon one day....now to find a history class where I can use for a grade.)
Okay, back to Trafalgar....This was a naval battle between Britain, led by Lord Horatio Nelson (left), against France, lead by Admiral
(right) and Spain, lead by Admiral Cisternas (I couldn't find a picture of him).
So, for two years, Nelson blockaded Villeneuve's fleet and kept it trapped in the Mediterranean near Toulon, France. Villeneuve finally managed to escape the blockade and headed out to sea. Nelson chased him all the way to the West Indies and back to Spain, where the showdown took place.
The British had 32 vessels while the French had 23 and the Spanish 15, for a total of 38 vessels.
On October 21, 1805, the French and Spanish fleets attempted to sail out of Trafalgar. Nelson formed his fleet into two columns, wanting to divide and conquer. Below, the British are to the left in two columns; the French and Spanish to the right in the long line.
As they prepared to do battle, Lord Nelson made one of the most famous commands in naval history: "England expects that every man will do his duty." And that's just what Lord Nelson did, his duty to England. He was shot during the battle and fell backward onto the deck and broke his back. He was carried below deck and continued to ask about the progress of the battle. He had vowed before the battle to take 20 of the ships, shortly before his death, he was told the British had taken 15. He knew he'd won and uttered the famous words, "Thank God, I have done my duty."
The website http://www.britishbattles.com/waterloo/battle-trafalgar.htm has an excellent (and I assume accurate) accounting of the battle, as well as descriptions of the ships, the guns and the pictures of ships, the battle and the above map. It says, "The battle reached its climax in the hour after Nelson’s injury. [The ships] Neptune, Leviathan and Conqueror, as they came up, battered Villeneuve’s Flagship Bucentaure into submission and took the surrender of the French admiral. Temeraire while fighting the Redoubtable fired a crippling broadside into the Fougueux. Leviathan engaged the San Augustino bringing down her masts and boarding her." It goes on to give the casualties: British casualties were 1,587. The French and Spanish casualties were never revealed but are thought to have been around 16,000.
And here's a "follow-up: Following the battle a storm blew up wrecking many of the ships damaged in the action. Of those captured only 4 survived to be brought into Gibraltar.
The consequences of the battle were far reaching. Napoleon’s plan to invade Britain was thwarted. He broke up the camp at Boulogne and marched to Austria where he won the great victory of Austerlitz against the Austrians and Russians. Trafalgar ensured that Britain’s dominance at sea remained unchallenged for the rest of the 10 years of war against France and continued worldwide for a further 120 years."
Admiral Villeneuve was taken a prisoner to England. On his release he travelled back to France but died violently on the journey to Paris. (I'm not sure what that means, "died violently.") Lord Nelson’s body was brought to England and the admiral given a state funeral. His body is entombed in St Paul’s cathedral in London. (I saw this tomb while in London).
So, here's a very short explanation of the Battle of Trafalgar. But if you want a more detailed one, check out http://www.britishbattles.com/waterloo/battle-trafalgar.htm. It looks pretty thorough to me.
Don't forget to comment - how well do you think history has portaryed Bonaparte? Was he a villain or a hero?
November 4, 2008
1 beef roast, 4 to 5 pounds
7 to 8 red potatoes, quartered
1 bag of baby carrots
5 to 8 small mushrooms, whole
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 Package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 20 oz Bottle of Coke
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pot roast in large baking dish. Add potatoes, onions, carrots, and mushrooms. In small mixing bowl combine Lipton Onion Soup Mix and Coke. Stir well. Pour over roast. Cover roast and slow cook for 3 to 4 hours or until roast is tender.
November 3, 2008
Hi, Lily Stone here, offering you a chance to win a copy of my e-book, Spark of Magic. I'll be selecting a winner from those who stop by today, Monday, November 3, 2008. Check back at 11 pm to see who the lucky person is. Meanwhile, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on plotting a novel. Hope it helps if you're writing one or gives you some insight into the writing process if you're a reader.
I recently returned from a weeklong novel-revising workshop. Spending time with other dedicated writers was energizing, but, even better, we each had our own small cabin in the woods and plenty of time to daydream and write. I found I wrote less in that environment than when I have to squeeze my writing into tiny slots between pressing deadlines. Not sure why that is, but I learned having unlimited time to write my own books isn’t a necessity. Perhaps those of you who are desperately seeking that illusive (and elusive) free time don’t need it either.
One great thing I picked up at the workshop had to do with revising novels (more about that later). To get to the revision process, you must first write the novel. And writing a novel means plotting. Or not.
Years ago when I first began writing novels, I plotted all my stories before I put pen to paper. I used different methods—writing all the main scenes on index cards and laying them out, using the Snowflake Method (http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php), following Robert McKee’s instructions in Story to have three acts with escalating tension, and reversing the emotional trajectory between the beginning and end of each chapter as recommended in The Marshall Plan Workbook.
Later I came up with my own method of plotting using multi-colored sticky notes. The three end-of-act climaxes were in pink. Yellow was for all the minor scene end climaxes. Green was for reversals, or “change bombs,” as John Vorhaus, the author of Creativity Rules calls them. Orange was for character growth. I highly recommend all of these techniques, especially for writers who are just starting out or for those who are struggling with plotting. Syd Field's Screenwriting is another gem. So is Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. A great online resource is http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/2005/01/ten-things-to-help-with-novel-plotting.html.
Now, however, I use a combination of methods that works better for me. First I begin with a suggestion from Robert Olen Butler’s From Where We Dream. He doesn’t believe you should put pen to paper until you’ve daydreamed the whole story into existence. He suggests taking weeks on this process. I’m sure he’s right, but I’m usually too impatient to get started. My adaptation is to visualize my beginning scene (so I have a starting point) and my ending scene (so I have a goal to head toward), then fly by the seat of my pants, which makes me mainly a pantser. I think, though, all that previous plotting information sank into my brain, so now I plot instinctively.
But a strong plot is not enough, I want my characters (or “people”—because they become so real they live with me off the page) to drive the novel, so while I'm daydreaming I ask myself two questions: What does my heroine want/What's the object of her desire (in addition to the hero, of course)? And what does she fear? Those are the two keys to developing plots. The goal is to keep her from getting what she really wants until the end of the novel and to force her to confront her deepest fear at some point in the book.
Those same questions should be asked about the hero (in a romance) &/or about the antagonist. It's best if the hero's desires are the direct opposite of the heroine's. That makes for constant tension. (It's much better than the artificial tension caused by misunderstandings.) Once all these questions have been thrown into the imagination soup, scenes rise magically to the surface of the cauldron that's brewing and bubbling with ideas.
At that point I write the beginning and the end as well as any other scenes that are vivid. I know many people say you should write straight through, but I can't punish myself that way. I let myself enjoy the process. And for me that means writing out of order. I'm not sure how it happens, but when I'm done, the whole thing works together and seems as if it had been intricately plotted. That's the power of the subconscious.
When I finish the first draft and am ready to revise, I learned a trick at the workshop I mentioned earlier: storyboarding. Take a large sheet of paper and block off squares for each chapter. In each square write the main event of the chapter (you can draw a little picture in the square if you'd like) & the purpose of the chapter. Under it write the dominant emotion. In my books, the chapter usually starts on one emotional note and ends on another, so I have two emotions with a little arrow between. Seeing the big picture reveals chapters where nothing much happens or that don't further the book's purpose. Look closely at the emotional trajectory too. Are there too many similarities (which can make the book feel flat and boring or irritating or exhausting)? Are emotions too high in the beginning, then do they trail off at the end? Are some emotions too great for the chapter event or too strong in the beginning of the story? Emotion should be plotted to build to a climax too.
Writing a book is similar to knitting a multi-colored sweater. All the emotions, plot points, symbols, desires, characterization, dialogue, setting details, etc. bring a different color to the surface. It's a challenge to be sure all the colors are equally distributed into a beautiful, compelling whole. But the end product is worth it. Happy knitting!
November 2, 2008
She turned. "That better?"
His eyes strayed to the deep V of the coverall. Her nipples poked out under the fabric.
He swallowed hard. "Not exactly."
He was obviously as aroused as she was. She had trouble thinking rationally, but managed to explain what had happened in the yard earlier.
"So you saved Raina's life twice today. How can I ever repay you?"
She lowered her gaze. "Actually, the kiss under the crib was payment enough."
His eyes lit up. "Really?"
When she nodded, he crossed the room like a tiger stalking its prey. "In that case, you deserve another kiss for saving Raina from the witch."
Because I write and edit for a living, I usually roll out of bed at 9 am or so and go straight to work in my pajamas. I schedule the rest of my life around my writing. Luckily, my family is tolerant of my odd hours, vacant stares, and habit of talking to myself. I prefer the wee hours of the morning for my personal writing, so I often do that from midnight to 3 AM.
When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published? How many stories did you finish before you were published?
I began writing years ago when I had 5 children under the age of 8. I needed to do something to keep my sanity. And I was often up in those wee hours anyway. My first published works were magazine articles. They were short enough that I could squeeze them in between doctor appointments, soccer practices, homework, and working full time.
Once I graduated to novels, I completed four of them before I felt one was good enough to send out. I consider the others my practice novels. Perhaps someday I may go back and revisit them, but most likely not. They helped me learn my craft. And each one was a little better than the one before.
How did you break into publishing?
I was lucky. The first article I sent out was accepted by Highlights. I thought I had it made. Little did I know that was only the beginning of the heartbreak of rejections. I'm guessing I probably have five rejections for every acceptance I've ever had, maybe more. (Some stories have received much more than their share!!) For every acceptance that came easily, I have a dozen more pieces that were difficult to place. And some, of course, may remain permanently hidden in that lower file drawer. Spark of Magic was another stroke of luck. The story came to me full blown, I jotted it down, sent it off, it was accepted a few weeks later. I wish it were all so easy.
What influenced you to write?
Books, books, and more books. I love them, can't get enough of them. From the time I learned to read, I've never been without a book in my hand, on my bedside table, in the car... I consider my life what happens between the pages of the books.
What inspired you to write romance?
I have to confess that I spent lots of time reading romances, and I love “sappy” movies, as my husband terms them. (Though I notice he doesn't mind them nearly as much as he pretends to, & they always bring out the romantic side in him, which is a big plus.) I guess romance is a natural when you have a thrilling, knight in shining armor at home as a model.
What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?
I came to romance late. I began by writing children's stories and books (picture books, YA, and non-fiction), and I still do a lot of that (under another name). I got hooked on Wild Rose Press, though, and it sparked an idea for my first story. I sat down and wrote Spark of Magic for fun. It was a short story based around our black Persian cat. Interestingly enough, it was a paranormal—something I'd never read or written before. I didn't really choose the genre, it chose me. And it was rather an odd choice as I also write inspirationals (yet another pseudonym) and non-fiction. I'm also in the midst of writing a historical romance and a time-travel fantasy.
What difficulties does writing this genre present?
One of the biggest difficulties I face is the different audiences I have for each genre. I need to keep my work and publicity for each separate. I don't think the editors for my children's books or those for inspirational would appreciate the public knowing that I also write sensual or hot romances. Thank heavens for pseudonyms! I have plenty. Biggest problem with that is remembering what name to sign when.
What motivated you to write your current book?
One of the books I'm working on now (I always have several projects going at once) is set in China during the Ming dynasty. I traveled to China a few years ago. As I stood in the Forbidden City, a concubine spoke to me, and I knew I had to write her story. It's been a long journey of love. The first draft is completed, but I still have a lot of research to do. I'd like everything to be accurate. I'm thrilled with the story, though, because I almost felt as if I were channeling the book. Perhaps I was.
How much time do you devote to writing each day?
It varies. I make my living by writing & editing now, so I'm technically always writing. I have to make time for my own work, though, in addition to the work I get paid for. Sometimes that's hard. When you set your own schedule, it's often easy to put your work in last place. I do make it a rule to write a minimum of 15 minutes a day. When I do that, I often end up getting lost in the story and sometimes work for hours.
What are you working on now?
In addition to the Ming dynasty romance, I have two inspirationals almost completed. I recently finished a fantasy set in 1050 AD, which I'm hoping to complete final edits on sometime soon. I have a humor book, a parenting book, and a few other non-fiction projects that I work on when time permits. Then, of course, there's always my children's stuff—a few picture books in the works, a middle grade novel that's been knocking around in my brain for a while, a celebrity bio coming out in the spring, etc., etc. And that doesn't include the 20 partially started novels sitting in their Word file folders waiting for me to get to them.
How do you write? Are you a panster or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?
I'm actually both. When I first started, I did a lot of plotting. Now I think I've internalized the basic story structure, so my writing process is more organic. Yet everyone who reads my first drafts comments on how well-plotted they are. I'd like to think that my characters hold center stage in the story, but a well-known author & editor recently read one of my novels and said she'd estimate it's 65% plot--45% character. Now I'm not great in math, but even I can see that it doesn't add up to 100%. I think she intended it as a compliment (unless she's as math-challenged as I am), but it's left me wondering ever since.
What was the most usual way you came up with a story idea? I mean, I’ve gotten a plot idea from a song I heard, from brainstorming with a classmate. What unusual thing caused you to think, ‘hey, I could make that into a story?’
Most of my stories come from hearing voices (I know, I know, I should see my psychiatrist more often). I'll be daydreaming—a great way to come up with plots—and next thing I know, I hear two characters talking. Then I rush to write down what they're saying.
If you could spend an hour talking to anyone from any time in history, who would it be? And Why?
Perhaps Empress Cixi, who was the power behind the Chinese throne for many years. I love to learn about women who knew their own strength and defied convention.
Tell us some of the things interviewers are saying about your story or stories.
Here are some of the reviews for Spark of Magic:
From Simply Romance Reviews: "...a fun read. With a hottie like Marc you don't have to be a cat for a man like that to make you purr."
From Manic Readers (Stevi B.): “This is a really cute and funny, short but sweet story!...If you are looking for a quick and humorous story to entertain you, you will enjoy Spark of Magic.” 4.5 books
From The Long and The Short of It (Narcissus): “With magic in the air and a bouncy little toddler you can’t help but love, Ms. Stone’s story was an effortless combination of humor and chemistry (even a little danger!) that became an instant winner and is sure to leave you smiling.” 4 books
Here are a few comments from advance readers on Red Beads, my novel set in Ming China. The first one is from an author who just flew to Rome last week to receive an Italian book prize for her latest novel. The second is from an Emmy-award-winning screenplay writer and actress who read the first few chapters.
“Red Beads was so absorbing that I sometimes found it difficult to put it down. I picked it up (it was going to be just for a moment) while I was working with my MFA students, and half an hour later I had to tell myself I had other work to do. Reluctantly I put it down, but every spare minute I got I picked up your story again. This is the magic you wield. You have the makings of a wonderful love/historical story here, and I enjoyed it immensely. I see a very big advance in your future.”
“This is a compelling story, and I love the setting....your writing is clean, with good action sequences. I love this survival/love story and definitely would like to read more!”
What is your all time favorite book?
I have so many of them, it's hard to choose. As a child, I loved A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I always planned to grow up to be a princess. I'm still working on it.
One book I read recently that is still haunting me is Seeking Sara Summers by Susan Gabriel (Wild Lily Arts). It's a different kind of love story, one that will cause you to redefine romance and reevaluate your life.
How do you do research for your books? What’s the most interesting bit of research you’ve come across?
I like to go to the places I write about—it's a great excuse to travel. Firsthand research is hard to beat—I immerse myself in primary source documents for my historicals. For contemporaries, I prefer to write about what I know (I've had a variety of jobs over the years) or to use a family member or close friend as reference material. Oh, and I LOVE libraries.
What advice would you give aspiring writers today?
Read, read, read...oh, did I say that before? I think one thing that every writer should do is join a critique group. It's absolutely essential to get feedback on your work before you send it out. Family members and friends are not good critique partners unless they're editors, agents, or English teachers. And even then, they may be prejudiced in your favor. A good critique group is honest about what works and what doesn't. Even more importantly, they understand when you start mumbling about how your characters ran away with your story and refuse to adhere to your carefully laid plotlines. They also need to be encouragers when you're discouraged and cheerleaders when you succeed.
How do you like your fans to contact you?
Feel free to email me at email@example.com
November 1, 2008
Don't forget that on Wednesdays I post Wednesdays Chow - recipes for anything from yummy desserts to side dishes to main courses. On one Wednesday this month, I'll post a recipe for Seafood Gumbo. And on Fridays, I do The Friday Record, a brief history post. I hope you'll stop and leave comments, because that will make you eligible for the monthly drawing (see below)
I have great lineup of Guest bloggers this month, too:
November 3 - Lily Stone
November 10 - Donna Hatch
November 17 - Paty Jager - Western Romance Writer
November 24 - Celia Yeary - Romance Writing
For my November 'leave a comment on my blog' contest, I'll give a lucky winner a Holiday Prize Basket, full of holiday gifts and fun. To be eligible, just leave a comment on any of the days I or a guest has blogged. Also, I have the 'leave a comment in guestbook' contest on my website. I usually ask a question and this month is no different. The question - name one of the author's I have as a guest this month, along with the title of one of their books. Go to www.aklanier.com and scroll to the bottom of my HOME page. The guestbook link is there. This month's prize is a surprise, mainly because I've been too lazy to choose one. But all the better, cause you don't know what you'll get....
Happy Fall, ya'll.