August 31, 2009

In Search of Pug Hill

Why are there no pugs at Pug Hill?

One of my favorite books is Pug Hill by Alison Pace. It tells the story of a young woman with an unrelenting crush on one of her co-workers who finds solace at Pug Hill in New York City. Pug Hill is a particular spot in Central Park where pugs and their pug-loving owners get together to romp and play.

After reading Pug Hill, I became fascinated with the idea of such a magical place. Well, magical for dog lovers, anyway. I googled pug hill to see if it was real. Turns out, yes, there was once an actual pug hill. Right there in Central Park, near the Alice in Wonderland statue. But, once Alison Pace wrote about pug hill in her book, the pug lovers pulled the pug – oops, I mean plug – and stopped going. That’s right. No more pugs.

I had hoped to visit pug hill someday. In fact, the next time I’m in New York, I’m going there anyway. Maybe I’ll find a few rogue pugs there. The thought of no pug hill made me sad. It also made me want to write my own book about a place as delightful as pug hill. My search for the elusive pug hill is, in part, what led me to write my new novella, Once Upon a Collar.

No, there aren’t any pugs in Once Upon a Collar. But a big part of the story – the better part of the romantic moments, anyway – happen at the dog park. The heroine meets her hero there. And it seems nothing can go wrong.

Until they bump into each other away from the dog park. And then all H-E-double hockey sticks breaks loose.

But, the best part about Once Upon a Collar is that it is FREE. Yep, that’s right. My publisher, White Rose Publishing, is serializing my novella. They’ll release it, one chapter at a time, beginning on Friday, September 18.

All you need to do is join the White Rose Publishing Yahoo Group to get the free weekly downloads. The link to join the group is:

So, come join the fun. We will also be having a fun discussion about the book along the way.

In the meantime, if you leave a comment on this blog telling me that you joined the White Rose Yahoo Group (or that you are already a member), I’ll put your name in a drawing to receive my two Hoofbeats & Heartstrings books from The Wild Rose Press, Do You Hear What I Hear? and Love, Lilies & the Unbroken Straw. Either the print or e-book versions. Be sure and check back here tomorrow (in the comments section) to see who won!

Here’s a little sneak peak at Once Upon a Collar…


Whenever Emilie Bonner meets a man, she can’t help but imagine what he would look like on top of a wedding cake. Since she spends most of her waking hours designing wedding cake toppers, it’s somewhat of an occupational hazard.

Somewhere along the way--perhaps after the first two hundred or so--hand-crafted bridegrooms, Emilie begins to doubt she’ll ever find her own happily-ever-after.

Then, after a mysterious encounter with a woman who could be an angel, Emilie meets a handsome stranger at the dog park. At first, it seems as though Matt, with his big dopey dog and irrepressible charm, is the Prince Charming she’s been waiting for. Not only is he a sweetheart, but he’d look great on top of a wedding cake.

Soon, however, she discovers something about him that changes everything and leaves her wondering…does God believe in fairy tales?


“Would you care for some company?”

Butterflies take flight in the pit of my stomach until I realize that no, God is not answering me in an audible fashion. Rather, someone is addressing me right here in the dog park. A man, if the deep voice is any indication. A man who is, apparently, not intimidated by outrageously large dogs.

Bright sunlight assaults my vision as my eyelids flutter open. I can’t see the stranger belonging to the manly inflection, only a dark shadow backlit by rays of glittering sunshine.

“I’m sorry to disturb you. I just thought you might enjoy some company.” The shadow gestures to the slightly smaller shadow next to him. “I figured we big dog people need to stick together.”

Big dog people? But I thought I was the only one, as in big dog person. Singular. I shift on the bench and squint at the smaller shadow. When the bright spots clouding my vision finally clear, I see a panting dog staring back at me. A very large, panting dog. Not a St. Bernard, but the next best thing.

“A Newfoundland!” I squeal, unable to contain my enthusiasm at finally finding a suitable buddy for Bernard. “I can’t believe it. You have a Newfoundland.”

I offer my hand, palm up, to the shaggy black dog for an introductory sniff. The Newfie responds with a long swipe of his tongue across my knuckles.

“Bear, didn’t anyone tell you it’s not nice to go around kissing strangers?”

At last, I tear my gaze from the Newfie and get my first glimpse of his owner. And, oh my, his shadow didn’t do him justice. Mr. Big Dog has soulful blue eyes and short, thick hair the exact same color as Annabelle’s chocolate ganache. I must say, it’s every bit as mouthwatering as a hair color. I am momentarily rendered dumbstruck, so I blurt out the first thing that enters my head. “Oh, it’s no bother. I don’t mind being kissed. I rather like it.”

I hope to see you at the White Rose loop!

Blessings, Teri

Teri Wilson ~ Romancing the pet lover's soul

Coming soon from White Rose Publishing:

Once Upon a Collar & Cup of Joe

August 28, 2009

CONTEST ALERTS -- Sign up now for prizes


Don't forget to enter the contests coming to an end on August 31st. You may just be the winner of a really great prize: Win a Victorian Bath Set from my blog. Just read the Click to Give post to learn how.

On my website during the month of August, I'll give away an RWA National book basket......some of those many freebie books available to one and all at National: Suddenly One Summer by Barbara Freethy; Traitor's Kiss and Lover's Kiss by Mary Blayney; The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross; An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James; Don't Bargain With The Devil by Sabrina Jeffries; and Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins. And I'll throw in a book bag...not sure which one, but one will be included in the prize. Just sign my guest book to be eligible for the drawing. The link can be found at the bottom my Home Page. More details can be found on my Contest page.

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate by leaving a writing tip at THE ROSES OF HOUSTON BLOG. Share Your Writing Tips By Aug. 31st

So, don't put it off any longer.....stop by and leave your comments today for your chance to win!

Anna Kathryn

August 26, 2009

Wednesday's Chow - Coconut Macaroons

Starting in September, I'm going to change things up a bit .... and try to get myself organized ... okay, you can stop laughing now. I'm going to do a certain recipe group each week, 1st week appetizers/soups/salads, 2nd week side dishes, 3rd week entrees and 4th week desserts and sweets. At least it'll seem more organized.

And I'm going to hold a recipe contest during September. You'll get your name in the hat if you send in a recipe for a prize drawing to be held each week. And if I post your recipe, you'll get an additional prize. So, for the first week of Setptember, you'll send in appetizer recipes, the second side dishes, etc. Each week, I'll hold a drawing from those sent in recipes. Then in October, I'll start posting the recipes sent to me. If I use your recipe in the future, you'll get a prize. Sound good? I hope so, because I just now figured it out, lol.

Here's today's recipe:


2 egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flaked coconut

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add salt and vanilla; gradually add sugar. Beat until stiff. Fold in coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

August 25, 2009

Blogging At Roses of Houston on The Mythological Woods

I blogged at The Roses of Houston on The Mytholoigal Woods and Your Hero. Stop by to see how to make things more exciting for your story.....

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Monthly Prizes to Win!

August 23, 2009

Guest Author - Believe it or not. Truth really IS stranger....

I'd like to welcome multi published author Blythe Gifford as my guest today. Thank you, Blythe for being here. She's done a great blog on women disguised as men in historical novels. Leave a comment and you could win Blythe's book IN THE MASTER’S BED.

Believe it or not. Truth really IS stranger

An poster has a put together a list of “woman disguised as a man” romances with the comment: “good for a laugh.” It does, indeed, require the reader to suspend a good deal of disbelief to accept that a woman could actually live hidden among men undetected, yet it remains a popular theme.

Perhaps even stranger, it has actually happened.

I took heart from that when I wrote my September release from Harlequin Historical, IN The MASTER’S BED. In it, my medieval heroine runs away from home disguised as a man in order to study at the University. At that time, women were not even allowed into the living quarters to do laundry, let alone into the classrooms to take courses. My heroine ends up living in the 14th century equivalent of a fraternity house, where she manages to maintain her secret for longer than you might expect.

To research how she might have done it, I read the biography of a real woman, Billy Tipton, who in the mid-twentieth century, managed to pass as a man for some 50 years. Reportedly, only when s/he died did his/her wife and adopted sons discover her real sex. I am not making this up! If you want to know more about Billy, read SUITS ME: The DOUBLE LIFE OF BILLY TIPTON by Diane Wood Middlebrook. As I read the book, I picked up several tips on how she fooled so many for so long and let my heroine in on the secrets.

Incredibly, it still happens today. While I was writing the book, I read a newspaper account of a 33 year old woman who attended school in Oslo, Norway, for months posing as a 13 year old boy. “It’s not easy to know,” the school principal said after the truth came out. “Children at that age can be so different.”

Very well, you might say, for the twentieth century, when women are accustomed to freedom. Surely it would be impossible in medieval times when pantsuits didn’t exist. Yet I discovered that Joan of Arc wasn’t the only medieval woman dressing as a man. There is a reliable account of a woman in medieval Poland who attended the university there for two years before she was discovered. This happened less than fifty years after my story is set, so I felt totally justified in thinking that it COULD have happened. In fact, I began to wonder whether that poor soul had tapped me on the psychic shoulder and asked me to tell her story.
Fooling the public is one thing. Fooling a strong, smart, sexy romance hero is much more challenging. Of course, my hero uncovers her identity before anyone else and then they must struggle to keep her secret while their growing feelings for each other threaten to expose all.
The woman-disguised-as- a-boy theme has been a mainstay of romance novels for years. What other classic themes are your favorites? Are there any conventions you find just too hard to believe or are you willing to go along with the story no matter what?

BLYTHE GIFFORD ( is the author of a four medieval romances from Harlequin Historical. She specializes in characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. A past president of Chicago-North RWA Chapter, she has given several online courses and spoken at numerous RWA Conferences, including the National Conference. When not nurturing her first love, writing historical romance, she feeds her muse with art, music, history, long walks, good food and good friends.


She's disguised as a man in a place where women are forbidden. Now, she's met a man who, for the first time, makes her want to be a woman. What will happen when he discovers her secret and she's discovered IN THE MASTER'S BED?

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ®and T are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license.

August 21, 2009

The Friday Record - The Pony Express

For today's blog, I'm once again turning to Mike Flanagan's book: IT'S ABOUT TIME: How Long History Took. I've done several blogs using this little book since I started The Friday Record and I recommend it for a quick look at history. The back blurb says that IT'S ABOUT TIME “chronicles nearly two hundred key events” which “offer an utterly unique and fascinating perspective on human history.”

(Pony Express Rider, Billy Fisher, right)

On page 94, Flanagan reports on The Pony Express, which existed in 1860-61 for 1 year, 6 months, 22 days. With the Westward Expansion off to a pretty good start and large settlements established along the west coast, it was important for business to be conducted in a timely matter. Back then, timely manner meant twenty days by coach from St. Louis, Missouri to Sacramento, California or thirty days by ship from New York City to San Francisco, California. So, William Russell, Alexander Majors and W. B. Wendell devised a plan to send mail via horseback, a much faster mode of transportation, which cut the time in half to only ten days. The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco has posted a reprint of the San Francisco Newsletter, September 1925, which says,

Six hundred broncos, especially chosen for fleetness, toughness and endurance, were purchased. Seventy-five men, none of them weighing over one hundred and ten pounds, were engaged as riders, being selected on account of their bravery, their capacity for deprivation and their horsemanship, as well as for their shooting abilities and their knowledge of the craft and the manner of attack of the Indians. One of these, Henry Wallace**, was selected for the signal honor of inaugurating the Pony Express on April 3, 1860. In one of the laced pockets of his mochilla (Mexican saddlebags) he carried a message of congratulation from President Buchanan to the Governor of California, the words having been telegraphed that very morning from Washington to St. Joseph.

**This is in dispute. On the City of St. Louis, Missouri website, it says “Historians have never fully agreed whether Johnny Fry or Billie Richardson was the first rider...” So, I have any idea who Henry Wallace is...

One hundred ninety (190) stations were set up over the 1,966-mile trail. According to the San Francisco Newsletter, the riders were given six hours to ride sixty miles on six different horses, which were traded at the stations. Other resource sites say the riders were allowed to travel up to 75 miles before trading off with another rider.

While The Pony Express was a huge and instant success, its days were numbered from the start. Already, transcontinental telegraph wire was being strung and railroad tracks laid. In addition, the cost of sending a letter was prohibitive, $5 a half-ounce (compared with our 44 cents for the first ounce). The founders, who already owned a freighting business, envisioned government contracts to be big money-makers. Unfortunately, that never came about and when the telegraph was finally finished, The Pony Express met its doom. So did the financial situations of its founders. All three died in poverty, having lost half a million dollars in the venture.

(Frank E. Webner, right)

However, during its short-lived life, The Pony Expressed covered over 650,000 miles and delivered 34,753 pieces of mail. Information in that mail included the election of Abraham Lincoln as president and the taking of Fort Sumter by the Confederates.
Anna Kathryn Lanier

August 19, 2009

Wednesday's Chow - No Bake Cookies

First off - Today I'm blogging at Seduced by History on doing Historical Research. If you leave a comment on your secret for doing research, you could win one of two books I'm giving away.

I don't know what it's like where you live, but here in south Texas, it's HOT! You wake up to 85 degrees and it only gets hotter as the day goes by. Not the time to be baking cookies in the oven. So, here's a no-bake cookie recipe.


2 cups sugar
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons cocoa
3 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a heavy saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Heat to a boil, then cook for 1 minute. Remove from stove. Add peanut butter, oatmeal and vanilla. Stir well. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let cool and enjoy.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Monthly Prizes to Win!

August 16, 2009

OMG What Have I Done?

OMG, What Have I Done?

First let me introduce myself. My name is Charlotte Parker. I write until the name C. J. Parker (paranormal) and Charlotte Parker (romance). I live in a north suburb of New Orleans, been married thirty years, no children except for my basset hound.

I, like most of us, have one good-hearted flaw. We volunteer when we actually don’t have the time or energy to spare, and often put aside the things important to ourselves.

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not a day person. My hubby is. If I sleep past 7:30 in the morning, the first thing out of his mouth when I get up is, “I thought you were going to sleep till noon.” I mumble something in return while I start coffee. Hubby doesn’t drink it, calls it my drug of choice.

While coffee gurgles, I shower, blow-dry my hair, brush my teeth and dress. I pour my mug of coffee (holds about four cups), set something out to thaw for dinner, boot up my computer and write until noon, even if it’s total garbage I’ll delete later, I put words on the screen. Some time during the day, I check my e-mail and blog.

Okay, that WAS my normal day. Let me explain. I belong to EPIC,, Last March they were gearing up for their yearly EPICon, this year in Las Vegas. I made an offhand remark that I wish they’d bring the conference to New Orleans someday.

“Volunteer to Chair the convention and it will be,” they said.

Yes, you guessed it. That little person who takes up space in the back of my head said, “Oh, go ahead and volunteer. How hard can it be?” It sounded like fun to me so I took on the responsibility.

First thing I had to do was come up with a budget. Now mind you, I’ve never done anything like this before, so I had no idea where to begin. I asked for the last couple of years’ budgets and went from there.

Then I was faced with trying to find volunteers to help with this project. Sounds easy, huh? Not! Seems most of my friends were too busy WRITING. Silly me. But I did eventually gather five people (need about 10) to help pull this thing together.

Hey! Got a little extra time on your hands?!!

Speakers: I knew I wanted Keynote Speakers who other writers had heard of and respected. I’ve been to a few writers’ conferences and met a few of the upper crust of the publishing world. I have one paranormal novel out in E-format (FUGUE MACABRE: GHOST DANCE), the second book of the trilogy coming out soon in E-format (FUGUE MACABRE: BONE DANCE -- Both from Sapphire Blue Publishing In November of this year, I’ll have a time-travel romance (Misty Dreams) coming out in print and e-book format through The Wild Rose Press ( So I’m not unfamiliar with the publishing world. But were they familiar enough with my name to take me seriously when I sent out invitations to do a workshop at EPICon 2010?

Answer: I signed Holly Jacobs, USA Today best selling Harlequin Romance author, Debra Dixon, of Goal Motivation & Conflict fame, C. T. Adams, best selling paranormal author for TOR Publishing, and Deidre Knight of The Knight Literary Agency.

Where will they stay? That was the next hurdle. I had to find a hotel. That turned out to be fairly easy. I called the tourist board and they sent out requests to all the hotels in the city. The hard part was touring all these hotels that made the cut, looking at their prices, and making sure they could handle our brood. We signed a contract with the Sheraton New Orleans; great location near all the city’s activities and absolutely beautiful.

What will they eat?
How will I advertise this thing on the shoestring budget?
Or find time to write an article for the local newspapers?
Canvas for sponsors for evening events. Oh! And plan those evening events.
Find a list of all the schools in the area and either visit or mail brochures to the literary faculty inviting the students to the New Voices Day for young adults.

Okay. You get the idea, right? Now all the while I’m doing edits for Bone Dance, working on a WIP (Work in Progress), promoting Ghost Dance and trying to be a good secretary for SOLA, local RWA chapter. Oh yeah, and be a good wife to hubby and good mommy to my very spoiled basset hound, Beau.

Sleep? What’s that? Coffee? I really should by stock in the company.

C. J. Parker

EPICon 2010
C. J. Parker

Chapter 1, Fugue Macabre: Ghost Dance
Chapter One
New Orleans
Reporters already clogged the cemetery entrance when Detective Derek Bainbridge pulled alongside the police units sitting end to end like a funeral procession down Basin Street. He leaned his head against the steering wheel. Bile burned his throat, and his stomach cramped from fighting nausea. He knew what awaited him¾another dead child and not a trace of evidence¾nothing to help him find the lunatic doing this.
A sharp knock at the window drew Derek’s head up with a snap. Detective Karney smiled through the glass like the brainless idiot he was. “What?” Derek shouted.
“Oh, nothing. Just wondered if you were going to get out of the car during this century. The kid is gonna start getting ripe.”
Gritting his teeth, Derek opened the door and exited his SUV. Karney’s dun colored eyes crinkled at the corners giving people the misguided impression he was jovial and kind, where in truth he was a mean son-of-a-bitch, his heart as black as his hair. “You got business here, Karney, or just sightseeing?”
“I heard the call and was nearby. I’m leaving now.” Karney jerked his head toward the scene. “Don’t envy you this one. The Governor’s giving the Chief a lot of shit.” His smile widened bearing crooked, stained teeth. “And, it’s gonna run downhill all over you, Bainbridge.”
Derek swung the car door shut, forcing Karney to move or be knocked down. Derek made his way to the yellow crime tape stretched around an area containing eight elaborate crypts and what he knew would be the body of ten-year-old Selma Fortier. Thunder rumbled overhead, echoing through St. Louis Cemetery Number One as though the occupants of this necropolis were angry over the intrusion of the living.
He surveyed the scene and pulled in a deep breath instantly regretting it. Musty scents of centuries-old tombs and ever-damp soil intermingled with the sticky-sweet aromas of gardenias and jasmine in bloom. Summer’s noontime heat settled over him in a humid, suffocating cloak, making the air seem that much more dense.
“Detective.” A uniformed officer stepped up beside him breathing hard.
Derek nodded once. “Who found her?”
Turning red-rimmed eyes to his left, the young officer indicated an old black man losing his lunch behind a grave. Sounds of his retching bounced from one tomb to another. The officer drew another deep breath. “Name’s Earl Levy. Came to visit his wife and found the girl’s body.”
“This your first murder?”
“No, sir. First kid, though. I got a son ‘bout that age.”
The officer swallowed so hard Derek heard his throat clench and then release. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I nearly got sick when I saw her, though. They’re not gonna let me live it down, either.” He gestured with a tilt of his chin toward two detectives trying to keep the press at bay. More reporters and cameramen jammed the wrought iron entrance of the concrete wall surrounding the cemetery, shouting questions and snapping photographs.
Anger tugged at Derek’s already sour stomach. Those barracudas thought of nothing but a byline, never considering those left behind. Common decency be damned, get the story. He shook his head. And people couldn’t understand why cops’ souls hardened? “Don’t let them fool you, kid. They’ve done their share of puking at crime scenes.” Derek swooped under the tape and strode to the remains of the murdered child. The killer had taken the time to pose the child’s nude body against a mold-blackened tomb¾legs crossed at the ankles, tiny hands folded in her lap and head tilted to one side. The pose would appear peaceful had her face not been streaked with dried blood from maroon hollows where innocent eyes once viewed her world. The girl’s injuries exposed raw, bloody bone and ragged-edged flesh where her scalp belonged. As with the five children murdered before her, elaborate symbols were carved into her torso.
Mrs. Fortier’s tortured expression flashed across Derek’s memory and tore at his gut. For the last three days, she’d come to the station begging for answers. Having to tell the woman her baby was dead made his insides twist painfully.
A cocksure photographer from some supermarket rag made it over the wall and dashed close enough to snap a shot of the naked victim before two officers tackled him to the ground and confiscated his camera.
Frustration and anger fueled Derek’s temper. “Why don’t we have a blind up? Hasn’t the ME been here yet?”
The young cop’s back stiffened. “No, sir. Not yet. I roped off the area and kept everybody away. Crime scene’s not been messed with.”
Derek’s eyes were drawn to the front of the crypt where words written in blood taunted him. Always the same enigmatic message: Ogou La Flambo, Lieutenant of burning battlefields, gorge with this blood and grant me my revenge.
He turned when Detective Frank Panner, approached. Running fingers through his sandy-blond hair, Panner shouted orders to nearby men to blind the scene with tarpaulins. He glanced at Derek. “Found out what that Ogou La Flambo shit is.” He flipped his cigarette beyond the cordoned area. “Voodoo head-honcho. Some war god or something.”
The scenario wasn’t a new one. Ten years ago a boy of thirteen started his own Voodoo doomsday. And then there was the old woman who read Tarot cards in Jackson Square. If the death card came up during their reading, she stalked them until she got her chance to carry out God’s wishes. “You think this could be a cult gone bad?”
Frank reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out another Marlboro. “Best motive I’ve heard so far. Isn’t this cemetery where Marie Laveau is supposed to be planted? Maybe¼” He wiggled his eyebrows, and the corners of his mouth twitched with mirth.
Derek felt the heat of rage sting her cheeks, and the pounding of his pulse in his brain. “I’m in no mood for jokes, Frank. We have another dead kid. Or didn’t you notice?”
“Yeah. Number six.” Frank lit his cigarette and drew in a smoke-clogged breath. “The Governor thinks you should be replaced, you know?”
Derek anger climbed another notch as he clinched his teeth so hard he felt a sharp pain shoot to his left eye. He brought his face so close to Frank’s he smelled a mixture of peppermint and smoke on the man’s breath. “I don’t give a damn what the Governor thinks. Let him come out here and see these kids. Then see if he can tell me what I’m not doing to find the son-of-a-bitch doing this.”
Frank held up his hands in stop-sign fashion. “Hey, man, I’m with you. Don’t kill the messenger. I’m just telling you what he said.”
Derek stepped away. “Sorry, man.”
“No need. I understand. This case is eating at everybody.”
“Have you talked to the guy who found her yet?” He took a deep breath trying to calm himself. It didn’t work.
With a shrug and a flick of his hand to dust away a smear of dirt from his shirt, Frank said, “No. Figured I’d let you talk to him first. But, Derek, do him a favor. Soften up that scowl. You look like you have a mad-on for the whole damned world.”
A shrill whistle drew their attention.
“Found something,” an officer yelled.
Detectives and officers converged on a pale yellow sheet of notepaper with two bloody orbs placed on top. Four words mocked them: She has to pay.
“Is¼is that¼?” The officer didn’t finish his question. “Oh, God.” He gagged and ran a few feet away before throwing up.
Frank whistled low. “You think those are the kid’s eyes?”
Derek gritted his teeth. “Bastard’s playing with us.”
Memories of a twenty-year-old unsolved murder teemed inside his skull like the buzz of a low-hanging power line. As with this one, the killer’s note baited him. The taunting message reverberated over and over like a mantra in his brain.
I couldn’t let you have her.

August 14, 2009

The Friday Record - Omens That Changed History

For this week's The Friday Record, I'm turning once again to Michael Powell's book CURIOUS EVENTS IN HISTORY. I spoke about this book a couple of weeks ago (see See Draco and Draconian Law). It's a fascinating little book with dozens of interesting historical facts. On page 36, Powell has an chapter on Edward IV's Magic Vision.

Now here's my disclaimer....I don't know much of the War of the Roses, but here's a brief history to set things up:

Edward's father, Richard, Third Duke of York. and his brother, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, had been killed in the Battle of Wakefield, leaving Edward as the head of the House of York and fighting for the throne of England in the War of the Roses. Margaret of Anjou was the wife of Henry VI and mother to the man who would be king (unfortunately, the son died in the battle of Twekesbury at some point in the war). Owen Tudor, Earl of Pembroke was the leader of the Lancastrians.

Margaret was advancing from the North with her army and Pembroke was advancing from South Wales with his army. They planned to meet up and advance together on Edward. Edward turned toward Pembroke, meeting up with him at Moritmer's Cross, before Pembroke could join forces with Margaret.

The day of the battle, Edward and his men witnessed a parhelion: “It occurs when sunlight is refracted through microscopic ice crystals, usually when wispy cirrus clouds high in the sky cover the sun, causing two ghost images to appear on either side of it,” Powell explains. In other words, the army witnessed what it thought were three suns raising in the sky, which then joined into one sun before their eyes. Now, this is 1461......the army was terrified and took it as an bad omen that they should turn tail and run. Edward, at the ripe old age of eighteen, saw it as a positive sign. He rallied his men with a speech quoted in Davies Chronicle (and Powell's book): “Beeth of good comfort and dreadeth not! This is a good sign, for these three suns betokeneth the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and therefore let us have a good heart, and in the name of Almighty God go we against our enemies!” (37)
With his army believing God was on their side, they went forth into one of the bloodiest battles of the War of the Roses. They did, however, come out the victors and two weeks later, Edward was crowned of England.

Powell goes on tell of two other “natural phenomena that altered the course of history.” (38) During the two-year siege of Syracuse on the island of Sicily by the Athenians during the 5th century B.C., an eclipse represented a bad omen to the Athenians. About to abandon the siege and return home, they decided the eclipse was telling them that was a bad idea. So they stayed. It was a major mistake. The Syracusans were able to slip through the blockades and “destroy the Athenian fleet and Army.” (38) This was the beginning of the end of the Greek empire.
Christopher Columbus used an eclipse to his advantage as well. Marooned on the island of Jamaica in 1504, he demanded food for his starving men. The Jamaicans told Chris where to get off and refused to give him any. Consulting his almanac, he discovered that an eclipse was predicted in just a few days. He told the natives that if they didn't give his men food, God would blacken the sky as punishment. Well, they scoffed, but after the eclipse, they supplied Chris and his crew with supplies aplenty until they were rescued several months later.
We know that omens, tea readings, bone readings and such have been around for ions. Which one in particular has caught your attention? Would you use it in a story? Leave a comment and a lucky winner will win a copy of Emma Lai's debut story HIS SHIP, HER FANTASY, which just came out on Wednesday and already has a 4 heart review from Night Owl Romance.

Anna Kathryn Lanier

August 12, 2009

Wednesday's Chow - Chilled Apple-Rice Salad

Welcome to Wednesday's Chow. Today I have a salad recipe. Add some marinated chicken breasts and a vegetable and you a cool summer meal.

Before we get to the recipe I wanted to remind you of my monthly contests:

The first one is for my blog. Win a Victorian Bath Salt set by leaving a comment on my "Click to Give" post (link on the right). The Second contest is on my website, You can win six romance novels by commenting in my guest book (Link found at the bottom of my HOME page). Just tell me who your favorite heorine is, real or ficition. More information and a list of the books can be found on the CONTEST page. Both contests run through August 31st.


3 cups chilled cooked rice
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 Granny Smith Apple, chopped into bite-size pieces
¼ cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 green inion, minced


3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix together salad ingredients and chill at least two hours. Combine dressing ingredients, chill 1 hour or more. Just before serving, toss salad with dressing.

Serves 6.

Anna Kathryn Lanier

August 11, 2009

Join the Roses of Houston at
this Saturday, August 15
1:00pm - 4:00pm


10 Books, DVD, chocolate, spa and bath products, picture frame, tea light set, crayons, play-doh, flash cards, Games That Go, Pre-school workbook, activity book, finger paints and paper,
bottle of Chardonnay


He, Arthur, is a reflection of luck, an abomination. He can feel the love, the pain, the sorrow, and the joy of all the ages. If he doesn't save the Druid he is sent to find, all known history could change. Some things are worth dying for. But first a man must live.
Arthur didn't count on becoming human. And now the fairies want him to break dragon law... He never expected his charge to push him to the edge of reason. But a man must live before becoming king.

Fear not. The fairies have a plan.

Trust not the fairies.

Druids wed one soul for eternity to protect the integrity of the timeline. Druid Solas’s soul mate was taken from her. Now, an 11th Century Irish bishop stalks her to serve as his mistress. She has nothing left yet everything to live for in creating the historical maps she was sent through time to make. She will break time-travel Code if she submits to another man by allowing even one paradoxical child to muddy history. Then Arthur arrives to save her. He is anything but a time guardian. And a fairy tells her to help him. To ignore a god’s instruction could prove detrimental. Yet, every time guardian knows believing the Gods is wielding a double-edged sword. Since it is forbidden for Druids to wield weapons, her future relies on He of the Fiery Sword.

King Arthur is born.


Construction tycoon Trevor Callahan returns to Stone Creek, Texas, to settle his grandfather’s estate. He wants to sell the Rocking C Ranch so he can put his unhappy past behind him and move on. Living with his stern grandfather taught Trev an important lesson: Caring makes a man weak.

Single-mom Beth Evans once confused lust for love and will never let it happen again. She drives the Stone Creek bookmobile and is trying to raise funds to build a new library. In his will, Hank Callahan bequeathed a million dollars for the project, but attached one stipulation: Do not let his grandson sell the ranch.


The hot dusty town of Salvation, Texas has more than its share of secrets in 1873 when Laura Ashton's stage rolls into town. Sheriff David Slade has no idea what baggage his mail-order bride is bringing into his life. Throw in the nightmares from his Civil War days and he's got more than courting to contend with. Laura's a woman ahead of her time, a woman trained in medicine. And she's got a will that could move mountains. Unfortunately, the only mountains in Salvation are in Sheriff Slade's memory. Can the determined doctor heal his pain, or will the dark secret in her past turn up to steal his Salvation Bride?


Ellie Woods is in love...with a ship. When an argument with the ship results in a bump on the head, she finds herself in the strong arms of Alastair. But who is he and where did he come from?

Alastair has loved Ellie from afar for years, but duty has kept him from revealing himself to her. When a grave threat reveals his true identity, he hopes that Ellie will choose reality over fantasy.

Boomerang Books
907 W Main St
League City, TX 77573

August 9, 2009

Ten Ways To Boost Your Creativity

As I’m blog-hopping, I read a lot about different kinds of creative endeavors and people wondering how to deal with getting stuck in the middle of a project. I don’t have that problem to any serious degree, my problem is more one of time management, (hence the blog-hopping), but I’ve uncovered a few things along the way that can help me get unstuck if I find myself wallowing around in a project that just isn’t going where I think it should.

I have a tendency to think too much, to not relax enough to let my creativity flow. So I procrastinate. But I’m not really blocked, per se, just stumped for a while. So here are a few things that have worked for me, to get me unstuck when my mind won’t cooperate. My muse would do just fine, if my mind wouldn’t keep getting in the way. It tends to want to micro-manage whatever I do.

Most of the suggestions below apply to writing, but they can also apply to any creative pursuit such as painting, music composition, organizing a spreadsheet, decorating a house, planning a meal, creating jewelry or other artwork, or just feeling stuck in your life in general.

Journal: It’s just for you, nobody’s going to read it, it doesn’t have to be perfect or even make sense. If you’re an artist, doodle. A musician, write nonsensical lyrics. A cook, write weird recipes. Give yourself time to let your mind roam free, without any goal of producing something worthwhile. Just sit down for five or ten or even twenty minutes and write whatever comes to mind. Do it several days in a row and see if a theme emerges. I bet it will :).

Free Associate with sticky notes: Get a pack of sticky notes and write just one thought or word on each. See what arises out of your subconscious. Then lay them out in some kind of order (but don’t stop to think about it or consciously organize the words), right on the spot. Do this on a piece of posterboard, or cardboard, whatever you have handy. Use different colors for different thoughts or moods if you want to. Stick them on the board where your impulse tells you that you need to put them, even if it doesn’t make sense. Later, you can go back and try to figure out the association(s) between the words.

Better yet, do this with a couple of friends. Each get a different color of sticky notes, and play it like a board game, where you each take a turn. One puts a sticky note in the middle, with a word or phrase on it, and you build a spider web of sorts from there, with words that come to you as a result of whatever you see on the board overall. You don’t have to respond to the last note posted. Again, later you can go back and see if any pattern has developed. But while you are posting the sticky notes, don’t stop to think. Just go with whatever comes into your mind.

Imitate/play with your pets: Animals have instincts. They don’t stop to think, should I do this, or should I do that? What if I make the wrong choice? They just “do.” Or, “be” as in the case of a cat basking it in the sun. When a cat basks, it basks. If a threat comes along, the cat will deal with it. If hunger arises, the cat will do the same. The cat doesn’t worry about what’s for dinner. The cat just “is.” And if a cat goofs up, misses the mark or whatever, they always shake it off, lift their heads and walk away unconcerned. I’ve always admired that skill.

Try being like a cat or a dog sometime, and just go with what your instinct tells you. If you goof, just shake it off like a cat does. Your instincts will get better over time.

In the short term, playing with a cat with something soft attached to a piece of string can be soothing and relax you enough to let your mind change gears. The same goes for rolling around on the floor with a puppy or playing fetch with a bigger dog. The point is to give your own mind a break.

Push a child in a swing: This is a wonderful opportunity to get some sunshine, exercise, spend quality time with your loved one, and make a child happy. Meanwhile your mind is free to wander. If you can do this while playing a simple board game or building blocks, more power to you. Or you can put on a video like Winnie The Pooh and hold the child in your lap. The child is thrilled you’re spending time with him or her and your mind is free to relax.

Clean your house: This includes folding laundry, sweeping the floor or (I recommend) washing it by hand (as opposed to just sailing through with the mop), doing dishes, dusting, or anything you can do without having to think about it. Your hands and body are in motion, you’re burning calories, your house is getting cleaner, and your mind is again free to wander. Painting walls works for this, too. Or gardening, or weeding. Or simply watering the plants.

Read/view/listen to something totally different from what you are working on: If you write non-fiction, read fiction. If you write fiction, read non-fiction, or read something in a genre totally different from yours. Good writing is good writing. Bad writing is bad. You can learn something from every book you read, good or bad. Reading is also a passive activity. Writing and editing are active. Again, it’s a way for your brain to switch gears and relax.

If you do art work, go to a show or page through books in a totally different medium. The same goes for music. Listen to something totally different from what you are trying to create. Either go to a concert you wouldn’t ordinarily be caught dead at or listen to some CDs. Not with judgment, but just for the experience. If you feel like your life is in a rut, go do something you’ve never done before. Just one step outside the box is enough to get you kick-started into trying new things again.

Take a nap: Pose a question in your mind about whatever is blocking you, ask for an answer to the problem, then forget about it, let it float away, put on some soft music and go to sleep. This does not always work the first time, or even the first few times, but eventually you will relax enough for your subconscious mind to come up with a solution.

Brainstorm with a friend: You can do this by phone or email. Play what if. What if my character did this? What if I re-wrote the scene from another point of view? What if I turned the painting upside down, or composed the song backwards? Think outside the box. Or, in a personal situation, play “What is the worst that can happen?” Eventually you’ll come up with scenarios so outrageous you’ll both be laughing, and who knows, you might unveil a kernel of truth or a new idea along the way.

Create a collage: This is one of my personal favorites. Get a piece of posterboard. You don’t have to use the whole thing. A half or a quarter will do—whatever you have time for. Go through magazines and tear out whatever appeals to you. Then arrange them on the posterboard, and see what emerges. If you do artwork, simply mix and match colors. If you write, you can create collages for your books, your characters, or yourself. This will work for any situation you can’t seem to get off of your mind. For more information on creating a collage, see my blog post and/or read my article on the Musings Page of my website.

Go to a conference or a workshop: Even if it’s not in the area you write or paint or cook or do crafts in. Learn something new, or revisit an old interest. Get inspired by what others are saying and doing. I’ve never been to a workshop or conference or class that I didn’t come home with a host of new ideas. Sometimes just being around real live people who do the things you do and think the way you think is enough.

Leave your own suggeston on boosting your creativity or comment on Liana's to be eligible for a copy of the DVD "Sleepless in Settle" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Liana Laverentz is the author of three contemporary romances with The Wild Rose Press, Thin Ice, Jake’s Return and Ashton’s Secret. Thin Ice is a 2007 New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Award winner, a 2008 EPPIE winner for best contemporary romance, and was a nominee for Best Romance of 2007 at Long and Short Reviews. Jake’s Return is a 2008 Golden Leaf Award winner. Her third release, Ashton’s Secret, is a murder mystery romance.

Liana is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Washington Romance Writers, and Pennwriters, Inc. Liana also hosts a monthly chat on the Long and Short Reviews Yahoo Group the first Thursday of each month, where we discuss ways to find our balance between writing and Life, which tends to get in the way of our writing more often than not. She does the same on Tuesdays at The Bookspa Yahoo Group. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, go to

August 7, 2009

The Friday Record - Naughty History

Today, I have a guest blogger, Diliah Marvelle, who will talk about NAUGHTY HISTORY....something she's researched in depth for her two books. Oh, and she's asked for your opinion on the subject of schools for love and seduction education, so be sure and leave a comment. Delilah will give away TWO copies of Lord of Pleasure to some lucky commenters......Anna Kathryn

I've always had a genuine interest in not just writing, but history. In particular, NAUGHTY history. Being first generation Polish and having been raised by a traditional European father who would rather gouge his eyes out than talk about sex, I have to say all things naughty naturally seemed exciting and forbidden. Which is why I was ultimately drawn to write about it. What sort of naughty history am I talking about? The sort that led to my series about a school in 1830 London England that educates men on the topic of love and seduction. Many will say that such a thing could have never existed. To those I say, you'd better brush up on your history. Enter Ninon de L'Enclos. A 17th century French courtesan who was renown for hosting "meetings in a classroom type setting" in her bedchamber with aristocratic men to conduct discussions on the topic of love, seduction, philosophy, and sex. Ninon understood something that many courtesans did of her day. That men had no form of "open discussion" with regard to sex with women. And that if given the chance, they'd flock to her. Which they did. She was brilliant. And apparently, the men who flocked to her thought so too. That said, I turned Ninon's little bit of history into an actual classroom setting trying to imagine what such a school for men would really be like in the time period I write in and what sort of men would show up. The result was MISTRESS OF PLEASURE (released September 2008) and LORD OF PLEASURE (to be released August 4, 2009).

That said, I turn this over to you, dear reader. If you could get your man to enroll in a school that would educate him on the topic of love and seduction, would you do it? And if so, why? I'll toss my garter in first. Yes, I would TOTALLY enroll my husband. Why? Because as amazing as he is during the day, I'm sorry but he needs to be reminded what is expected of him at night, especially after 15 years of marriage. The same old position simply won't do for this girl. (He'd kill me if he saw me post this, LOL) Oh. And by the by, if you're curious about naughty history (and I know you are!!) be sure to check out my blog, A BIT O'MUSLIN at

Delilah Marvelle
Lord of Pleasure, August 2009
RT Reviewer's Choice Award Nominee,
N.O.R's Best Historical Romance of the Year
& Booksellers Best Award Double Finalist!

August 5, 2009

Wednesday's Chow - Chocolate Cake

One thing I'd have a hard time giving up....for chocolate. Here's a delicious chocolate cake recipe.

Chocolate Cake

1-18oz box chocolate cake mix
1 cup mayonnaise
3 eggs slightly beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water
2-16 oz cartons prepared chocolate icing

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients, except icing, together. Pout into two 9-inch round cake pans. Bake according to cake mix package directions.

Let cool. Then spread one carton of chocolate icing on bottom layer. Place other layer on top and spread with remaining carton of chocolate.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Booksigning - August 15
FMI check out:

August 1, 2009

Click to Give - Win a Prize

Click to Give is a quick and easy way to help six causes with a simple click of your mouse. By going to each of the tabbed causes and click on the “Click Here – It's Free!” box you can help sponsor a mammogram for an under-insured woman, help a child in need of health care (world-wide), give the value of 1.1 cups of food to the hungry, help a child attain literacy, help protect 11.4 square feet of rain forest, and give the value of .6 cups of food for rescued animals.

In addition to the free clicks, there are also hundreds of items available for sale in their stores. Not only do you help give to the causes when you purchase these items, you also help impoverished men and women all over the world who are often the craftsmen.

There are gifts for those who have everything. Don't know what to give Great-Aunt Matilda for Christmas? How about donating $14 in her name help feed a rescued horse? Or what about $24.50 for a Sterile Child Birthing Kit for a third-world woman (where women often die from a simple infection after child birth)? Or $50 to make a trained mid-wife available for 10 pregnant women and their babies.

Other items in the stores range from jewelry to clothing to household items, many made from recycled material (purses made from rejected rice bags or beads made from magazine pages). The breast cancer tab has a whole shop on “pink ribbon” items.

So, to help make this site more known, I'm giving away a prize at the end of August (bought from the site). After you've visited the site, come back here and tell me the name of one item (any item) they have for sale. That will enter in a special drawing for Victorian Bath Salts that I bought from the Click to Give Store. I'll draw for the winner on August 30th.

Anna Kathryn Lanier

Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats