Friday, January 1, 2016

Thoughts on a New Year

For that last dozen years or so, Mark and I have spent the evening hanging out at home. Some years we've had party food and a movie. Some years, we just went to bed early. Last night we did something different and went out. Shocking. I guess the older we get, the less motivated we are by being sensible. We left the kids to fend for themselves with fishsticks and chicken nuggets.

We went to a club, sat by the dance floor, ate too much food and drank quite a bit. Well, one of us did. Okay, I did. I drank. The unfair thing is that I feel great today. I just don't do hangovers. Feel free to hate me.

There were plenty of drunks dancing. Some were particularly entertaining. One woman was super drunk by about 8 pm. I've no idea what time her party started, but every so often her girlfriend had to go rescue her from the dance floor or maybe rescue other people from her. There was some guy in a blue shirt who periodically tried to do his version of Riverdance. Yes, really.

I'm glad we went. It was fun, but it wasn't all that. It was just another party. We ate, drank, danced, chatted with friends, but in the end, just another party.

I mean, a new year is just another new day. I can't say today feels like a fresh start. People like to make promises of change for the new year, but you can change your world on any day, right? There doesn't need to be some magic date, just a decision to change followed up with action. I'm torn on the issue of resolutions. If it helps people focus, good for them. Not sure I've ever stuck to a resolution. I'm not going to make any. I think I'm going to set goals instead.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

10 Questions For Vonnie Hughes

Today, we have the a visitor from down under. Welcome to Vonnie Hughes! Since this is Summer in Australia, Vonnie's topic is all about travel, especially in warm climates. Who doesn't want a little tropics in their life right now?

1.      Can you tell us a little about yourself? 
I’m a New Zealander who is living in Australia with all her family. My husband and I moved over here just prior to retirement and our family followed post-haste. I’ve always written, even since I was seven years old. Poetry, short stories, now novels and novellas. For Musa and Robert Hale I write Regencies and for The Wild Rose Press I write romantic suspense with the emphasis more on the suspense. Here’s my website: I am also on  Facebook and have an author page on Amazon.
2. If you could spend a year on a deserted island, who would you take with you?
A deserted island...hmm, I think I’d take the dog. Hey, I’m a loner and the dog is young and strong.

3.      What food would you take? Do you have the recipe?
What food to take…well, if we’re being realistic, the most important thing would be the manual can opener. And some sealed, dried foods. But the main thing I’d take would be packets and packets of chocolate. A girl’s gotta live. And therefore my recipe is a simple Cadbury’s one. It’s Chocolate Raisin Hedgehog. Only takes 10 minutes to make. But of course, if I took it to a desert island, it would also only take 10 minutes to eat it too.

250g packet of dark chocolate melts (about 7 ounces)

125g butter (about 4 ounces)

¼ cup golden syrup (light treacle)

¾ packet of chopped-up shortbread biscuits

1 cup raisins

About 7 ounces of milk chocolate

Place the dark chocolate, butter and syrup in a saucepan and melt over a low heat until smooth, stirring all the time. Stir in the biscuits and raisins, (if not solid enough mixture add more crushed shortbread) and press it into a baking pan. Refrigerate until set.

Pour over the melted milk chocolate and refrigerate all until set. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Cut into squares when ready.


Oh, and you did say what food would I take, didn’t you? What about tequila? Surely that’s a food.

4.      What five books would you take with you? Yes, only five books. Choose! *cue evil laugh*

What five books to take? You don’t half like difficult questions, do you? Let’s say James McGee’s The Ratcatcher, Karen Rose’s Don’t Tell, J.D. Robb’s New York to Dallas, Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Blue, and Amanda Quick’s Crystal Gardens.

5.      Would you take a cell phone with you (assuming you had service there)?
Would definitely NOT take a cell phone with me. If it’s to be a desert island, let’s stick with the format.

6.      Say that you had a TV—okay, yes and you had power and a signal, yada, yada,yada—but you could only watch one show. What would it be?
One show I’d watch on TV would be Criminal Minds.

7.      Would you climb a tree for coconuts?
Climb a tree for coconuts? If I had to. Just think of the chafing.
8.      Pretend you’re on this island alone. Clothes or no clothes?

1.     On this island alone – if it’s hot, of course no clothes. Why on earth would you bother with the trappings of non-island dwellers? Unfortunate fools.

9.      Pimp it if you’ve got it. What’s new and next for you?

1.     What’s next for me? I have three Regency novellas in the pipeline for Musa. They are about two sisters and they are called A Tale of Two Sisters to be released on December 12, A Surfeit of Suitors to be released on January 31 and Sisters in Jeopardy to be released on April 25. I also have a New Zealand-set romantic suspense in the pipeline. It’s finished but a beta reader is going through it as we speak. It is about one of New Zealand’s Armed Offenders’ Squads i.e. a SWAT team.

10.   Would you write your rejection haiku before you left or after you got back? Yep. It’s time for the rejection haiku.

I’d write my rejection haiku when I got back. Nothing like 12 months alone to compose a truly startling haiku. Ah, did I tell you I won a trip to Japan 12 years ago with a haiku I wrote? No? Be very afraid.

Golden words are dust

Editors run free with glee

Can I overcome?

And for any Regency specialists out there, if you reply to this post, I’ll dig down and find the most original and outstanding post and post you a paperback copy of either The Second Son or Mr. Monfort’s Marriage, whichever you prefer.
No clothes. Did NOT see that one coming. Alrighty then. I actually have signed copies of both of The Second Son and Mr. Monfort's Marriage and I will send the copy when Vonnie tells me who she chooses.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

10 Questions with Nicky Penttila

1.      Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m curious about lots of stuff, and am always asking questions--How does that work? Why? Who said? College counselors steered me into journalism, where it’s OK to be curious (OK, nosy). Now I report and write about brain science during the day and make up stories with lots of history and ideas and love at night. My husband is my first reader, if you don’t count my rescue cat, who has to check up on me (see photo) from time to time.

2.      If you had a time machine, where and when would you visit?
So many choices! Today I think I’d go on a Regency tour (post-war). Arrive in Plymouth or Bath, take the stage to London for a bit, take in the theater and the opera, and then hop a swift cutter to France and see Paris. Then sail to India and see how the colonials lived.

3.      Would you stay there or come back?
I’d come back. So much is changing in our time—and we’re living longer so we can take part in more of it. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

4.      Who would you take with you?
My lovely husband, in case I ran into anyone who didn’t want to take a lady’s word for it. And a boatload of money, since it’s an age where it was far better to be rich.

5.      Say that your arch nemesis had a little accident and ended up unconscious on the floor of your time machine. Oopsie. When and where would you send him?
Salem, during the witch trials.

6.      If you could bring any historical figure back with you in time machine, who would it be?
It would be quite disturbing to them to bring someone forward, so I’d pick someone who has a reputation for serenity: the Buddha. I’d like to hear his ideas as he experiences our modern “enlightenments.”

7.      Which modern convenience could you never live without?
It’s a tie: vaccines, and modern bathrooms.

8.      Which modern convenience would you happily forgo?
Hand sanitizer.

9.      Pimp it if you’ve got it. What’s new and next for you?
An Untitled Lady, historical romance, releasing December 20 (11 days!). The story: News that she was adopted forces Lady Madeline Wetherby to lower her expectations and marry an upstart Manchester merchant. When she later discovers that her birth father is one of the weavers her husband is putting out of work—and a radical leader—Maddie must decide whether the family she longs for can be made of the man of her heart or the people of her blood.

INTRUSIVE REDNECK NOTE: Nicky also has a free short story featuring Maddie. Look for "The Last Stage" on the Musa Publishing website in December. That's FREE, y'all, which is totally my favorite price.

10.   Do you know what time it is? Trick question! It’s rejection haiku time.
From the chilly ether
yet another round
of  “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Your turn:

Tell us in the comments what modern convenience you could not live without, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of two copies of Nicky's first historical romance, A Note of Scandal (ebook or audiobook, your choice). As for me, I'm with Nicky. The flush toilet completely rocks my world.

Nicky Penttila writes stories with adventure and love, and often with ideas and history as well. She enjoys coming up with stories that are set in faraway cities and countries, because then she *must* travel there, you know, for research. She lives in Maryland with her reading-mad husband and amazing rescue cat. She’s chattiest on Twitter, @sunshinyday, and can also be found at

Friday, November 29, 2013

Rescuing Lady Rose Release Day!

Rescuing Lady Rose has escaped back into the wild. Run and be free, little book!

Rescuing Lady Rose: Mad Hatterlys 4

This hero business is harder than it looks.

Henry Hatterly is given an important mission by the Foreign Office. He must convince a notoriously reclusive and paranoid Viennese physicist to sell his plans for a flying contraption to England.  To keep from attracting the wrong sort of attention, Henry is ordered to pretend he is courting the scientist's great-niece.

Too bad Lady Rose already hates him.
When Lady Rose is taken hostage along with the plans, she is determined to rescue herself and see her kidnapper punished. She definitely needs a hero's assistance, but why--oh why?--is the only hero available that odious Henry Hatterly? And why can’t she forget the one delicious kiss they shared?

The book is on the loose and available for capture. Looking to trap yourself a copy? I've been told it's frequently at the watering hole of Musa Publishing. This book has also been known to linger at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

10 Questions with Susan Lodge

Greetings and salutations, or as we say in Redneck land: Howdy!  I'm sure you thought we were done with zombies and ghosts once we were past Halloween, but here in the South, we love us some scary stuff. It's never the wrong time for ghosts. This week, Aurora Regency author Susan Lodge has come a-calling and she is talking about things that go bump in the night.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I always cringe at this question. I would much rather have my characters doing the talking.

I have a husband, two grown up children, and reside on the South Coast of England. I worked in the Civil Service for many years during which I lived in several cities, including London and Bristol — so I have been spoilt for Regency locations to lurk in and find inspiration. 

I have always wanted to be an astronaut and would love to book a seat on Richard Branson’s space flight. However to find the funds I must first write a best seller.

 My first publishing success was a short story purchased by a national UK magazine. It was a moment of ecstasy. When the magazine came out I rushed down to the shops and bought loads of copies.


2. Everyone knows the Zombie Apocalypse is coming. Everyone. Shut up, they do so. What five skills do you possess that would help you survive?

I suspect you are just scaremongering. But I believe I would cope quite well because,

·       I like quiet people, and zombies don’t bore you with excessive chatter.

·       I have had previous experience in dealing with Zombies. Oh, yes, I have met a few. They don’t know that I know they’re Zombies—but I can tell by the way they look straight through me when I am talking. No! That is not because I am boring them.

·       We have a cat whose hiss is scary enough to deter troublesome intruders.

·        I have always been taught to encompass change, inclusion of all, and to think outside the box.

·       If all that fails, I can run quite fast. 

3. You know the game Keep, Kiss, Kill? Okay, so a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost walk into a bar. Who do you keep, kiss, and kill?

Ghosts Hmmm. Patrick Swayze comes to mind. If this Ghost bore any resemblance, kissing would not be a problem.

I don’t find excessive facial hair attractive, so I would keep the werewolf until he had shaved. Depending on the outcome I might kiss him and keep the ghost.

I would kill the vampire because they have far too much media attention at the moment.

4. Do you believe in ghosts?

I really don’t know. Many years ago I lived in a flat where, every night for a couple of weeks, I would wake up in the early hours unable to move— it was as if a cold invisible force had me trapped. I always wondered if it was a deceased tenant revisiting. But I have not experienced any out of body experiences since.


5. What if I said there was one right behind you?

 No! That is my husband. He is feeling a little fragile this morning.

6. Would you spend the night in a haunted hotel for five dollars?

You bet. That’s damn cheap for a night’s board. In the UK there are plenty of historic houses and castles where you can stay. And if there is the added attraction of a ghost roaming around the place the price would be hiked up from the normal rate.

7. What’s one thing that really freaks you out?

Hands around my neck. I think I might have been strangled in an earlier life.

8. Clowns. Freaky or funny?

Clowns! Where do I start? There are so many around at the moment— but I guess you mean the ones with painted faces, baggy trousers and enormous shoes. Even as a child, when circuses were quite popular, they were my least favourite act. I never found them remotely funny.

9. Pimp it if you’ve got it. What’s new and next for you?

I have another historical romance The Reluctant Heroine as WIP. Like my last historical, Only a Hero Will Do it has a lot of action based at sea. I like to get my Regency ladies out of the drawing room and see how they cope in more challenging surroundings.

I also have a contemporary romance just out The Man in the Buff Breeches which is a sequel to the Man in the Blue Flowered Shorts. Strangely enough all my books be it historical or contemporary have a Regency thread. It’s the breeches that do it for me—can’t resist them.

10. Would you use a “ghost writer” for your rejection haiku? I crack myself up. Time to open up a vein and share.

This Haiku was not written by a ghost writer (just me with a sheet over my head)

Keyboard spits me out

Body binned, shift and deletes

I stay undiscovered.

Here is a taste of her Regency novel   Only a Hero Will Do
Marriage to a cruel dandy, is not how Hetty Avebury envisons spending the rest of her life.  Determined to avoid the match she raises funds the only way she knows how – gambling. Her plans go astray and she finds herself on board a man-of-war under the care of its high handed physician. But Hetty soon realizes that Doctor Withington is not quite the stuffed shirt she had first imagined.         

If it wasn’t bad enough declaring one of the pressed men as a woman, Robert has been tasked with the tiresome job of returning her safely back to her dysfunctional family. It was ten years ago when his father gambled away his inheritance, home, and any chance of marrying the woman he loved. So when Robert discovers Hetty gambling he takes drastic action to cure her of the habit.   Click here to read an excerpt.

See more at Susan Lodge’s Amazon page  or visit her website  or Musa Publishing   for full details of my books.

Also by Susan Lodge The Man in the Buff Breeches and The Man in the Blue Flowered shorts. Two contemporary romantic novellas, with characters who have a soft spot for the Regency period.

Monday, November 4, 2013

10 Questions with Grace Gibson

Hey Y'all, Aurora author Grace Gibson has come to call. Grace lives here in Texas, but she's a lot less redneck than yours truly. Still, I bet she would sit on the tailgate and swig a few cold ones with us.
1.      Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Since this is a post about food, I will give you my food biography.  Almost everyone has a personal history with food, so here goes mine.  My parents were missionaries in Ecuador.  What we ate grew or roamed right outside, and, by the time I was five, I had witnessed the summary execution of a few of my little friends!  Naturally, vegetarianism was in my future.  At 14 I stopped eating meat, and many (MANY) years later, I still prefer plant based food and am mostly vegan.  Other than that, I’m a glass artist and sometime writer living in El Paso, Texas.  I teach mosaic occasionally, take a yoga class, putter in my studio and read a prodigious amount of regency romance.

2.      If you were a cake, what kind would you be?

An orange cake...hopefully a little variation from the ubiquitous chocolate. 

3.      Do you have the recipe?

Regrettably, no.  This is my fantasy cake - light, sweet, tart, and guiltless.  On the rare occasion when I do splurge, I always WISH there was something like it on the menu. 

4.      Who is your celebrity chef crush?

Hm.  Jamie Oliver.  Goofy, but he’s very sincere about healthy food and he makes some amazing vegetable dishes in his outdoor kitchen.

5.      What’s your favorite restaurant?

From a purely theoretical point of view, the restaurant at the Clarendon Hotel as depicted in Georgette Heyer’s many novels would have to be my favorite.  In False Colors Sir Bonamy hosts a little dinner party.  “They have a neat way of cooking semelles of carp which is better than anything my Alphonse can do...I thought I would have it removed with a fillet of veal.  We must have quails: that goes without saying – and ducklings; and nothing beside except a few larded sweetbreads and a raised pie.  And for the second course just a green goose, with cauliflowers and French beans and peas, for I know you don’t care for large dinners.  So I shall add only a dressed lobster, and some asparagus, and a few jellies and creams, and a basket of pastries for you to nibble at.  That,” he said, beaming upon his prospective guests, “is my notion of a neat little dinner.”

6.      Say you’re in that restaurant when the zombies come (you knew there would be zombies, right?) What five things would you grab to fight them?

To own the truth, I was never more shocked in my life when they arrived on the scene.  But when the Clarendon’s maitre d’ looked down his long blue nose at them, they were daunted, you know.  In his meticulous, cold voice, and with a lift of his right eyebrow, he politely  pointed them toward Seven Dials, where, he assured them, there would be plenty of choices to accommodate their, em, appetites.  To my amazement, they hung their heads apologetically and shuffled away.  No need for me to even grab my fork to stab them with.

7.      So now is when we play Keep, Kiss, Kill. The contestants are milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate (which really isn’t chocolate at all) So which one do you keep forever, which one is your one night stand, and which one must die a melting death?

Of course, white chocolate must die.  Nothing that starts out pleasurable but ends up coating the palette with a tasteless, lard-like substance should be tolerated.  Milk chocolate is sometimes a high treat, particularly when suffering what we regency fans call “a distempered freak”,  while dark chocolate, a powerful antioxidant and mind-altering substance, must be considered ESSENTIAL to one’s health and happiness.

8.      Pimp it if you’ve got it.

I have two published Regency romances with Musa.  The Lost Heir of Devonshire and The Count of Northumberland Abbey.  Here are some food ‘scenes’ from these stories…

In The Lost Heir of Devonshire, I started the story with one of Mr. Bennet’s lines in Pride and Prejudice, a wink at a line I have always loved.

“I hope, my dear, that you have ordered a good dinner for today,” said Mr. Fanley abstractedly, as he perused his newspaper in the breakfast parlor.

The heroine, Mary Fanley, being a country bred girl in charge of her father’s household, is often preoccupied with matters relating to the kitchen and the farm.  When asked to tag along to look over Lord Robert’s neglected estate,

“she felt a good deal of feminine chagrin that the men in her party - who availed themselves of astounding feats of cookery with nary a thought to who or
where it came from - would pass through such an ancient, unequipped cave as was Treehill’s kitchen and think only of horses.”

In The Count of Northumberland Abbey, Isabella Worth and her two sisters are soon sitting down to a very surprising meal.

Isabella had begun to dread the company in an inn, suffering many lewd remarks and, worse, the suggestive stares directed at her sisters. In particular, and for no sensible reason other than the fact she hated the feeling of obligation, she wished to avoid meeting the interesting person who had given up his private parlour and a shockingly expensive meal of raised pie, braised lamb with tiny potatoes, a soup of watercress, almond cream, and a plate of sweetmeats.

Esther, who was impressed with such power as would command that kind of feast and inclined to general nosiness, had interrogated Mr. Mills. “Who is that gentleman who gave up his parlour for us?”

Mr. Mills, who had undergone a transformation of manners, provided a most solicitous and detailed report. They had been the recipients of the benevolence of no less a personage than the Count of Northumberland Abbey. A heroic figure of these parts, duly attributed with dash (on account of his uncertain origins) and a staggering generosity. He was a great swordsman and horseman and generally a pluck to the bone, but not too high in his notions. The veriest gentleman’s gentleman for Northumberland, that was.

When Mr. Mills excused himself, Isabella laughed aloud. “And next we’ll hear he is Saint Cuthbert of Holy Island.”

9.      Rejection haikus. Sometimes being a writer is like being the steamed Brussels sprouts at a Sunday buffet. We can’t get no love! But we can get a rejection haiku, yes?
Wouldn’t you know it?  I am the ONE person in the buffet who is delighted with the Brussels sprouts.  Here goes:

Me and tiny cabbages in a Sunday buffet
Sniffed at, politely despised, passed over
Fresh, happy green turns grayish and cold next to the mac ‘n cheese

Lol! I confess, I love Brussels sprouts as well, but only if I cook them and eat them fresh. Mmm, with a little turkey bacon and...sorry. Having a moment.

Grace's stories are as delightful as she is and you deserve a treat, right? So pick up one of her stories, makes some hot tea and sit by the fire.  Check out her page at AMAZON, at B&N, or at the MUSA STORE.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Official Greeter

Say hello to my little friend. That adorable face you see when you log into my blog is Bear, our Lab/Rottweiler cross. 

That's a fairly old picture and the muzzle is more grey than black now, but that's one of the first things you would see if you actually visited my farm. 

My house is protected by a redneck burglar alarm, three large noisy dogs. They are all aging and not so on alert as they once were. In fact, some days it seems the dogs are more likely to sound the alarm if a squirrel or stray leaf ventures into the yard than a person--especially if it's a sunny day. 

But what's a redneck yard without a pack of mutts?