Books, Writing Life

Exclusive Content And Where To Find It

This is what happens when I get organized, lol. I end up with lists! In this case, though, everyone benefits. In each place I live online, I post something you’ll only find there and something you’ll find other places but in that spot first. This list tells you what you’ll find and where, for those who’d like to follow me places other than here. Any content not mentioned is shared across platforms.

courtesy of Nick Youngson & Alpha Stock Images

The Regency Salon, a group for historical romance readers
Exclusive content: monthly article/blog/Q&A/poll
First Look content: covers & blurbs of new books
Posting Frequency: varies

Exclusive content: Retweets about history and the romance genre
First Look content: #1lineWed and #TeaserTues when I’m working on a book
Posting Frequency: daily

Exclusive content: electronic birthday gift (if you provide your birthday), $10 Amazon gift card giveaway, polls (different from the ones in The Regency Salon)
Posting Frequency: quarterly

Exclusive content: detailed info about all of my books
First Look content: upcoming events I’m participating in
Posting Frequency: as needed

You can also find/follow me on:
Amazon UK

And announcing a new feature!

Here on the blog, I’ll be posting author commentary on each of my books! I’ll do one chapter per month until a book is finished, then we’ll begin another book. I’ll talk about the choices I made in that particular chapter, Easter eggs, what the characters were thinking but didn’t say, and whatever else might be fun or interesting to know.

Which book would you most like to start with? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Books, Writing Life

Maitland Maidens Update and Cover Reveal

Hello my wonderful readers! How are you this fine spring (or autumn, in the Southern Hemisphere) day? I come bearing news today, both good and not good.

Let’s get the not good out of the way first. I was hoping to have Back In My Arms Again (Maitland Maidens Book 2) ready to release this month, but the bad old Chronic Fatigue Monster caught me (more than once) and I didn’t get to do much writing these past few months. I’m taking a couple of classes, too, this spring in order to keep my teaching certificate valid (my day job boss thinks it might be useful to have an employee who is a certified teacher, though I’m not sure why just yet). So I’m up to my eyeballs in Diagnosis and Remediation of Reading Disabilities and Classroom Assessment instead of spending time with Lady Cecilia and her hero James Fitzsimmons. 😦

The good news is that–barring any unforeseen circumstances–Cecilia and James should be ready to hit your e-readers some time this summer (if you subscribe to my newsletter you’ll get an e-mail when the book becomes available). And today you get to see their cover! Plus, the Maitlands have informed me that there will actually be four novellas in the series instead of the original three: Cecilia’s cousin Margaret has been whispering in my ear lately that she has a story to tell (which makes it hard to concentrate on my schoolwork, lol). You’ll meet Margaret and her hero Stephen in Back In My Arms Again, and should be able to read all about them this fall.


Books, Writing Life

Meet My Character Blog Hop & Cover Reveal

It’s finally happening! In just under two weeks, my debut novella hits the digital stands. And Paula Lofting tagged me in the Meet My Character Blog Hop, giving me the perfect opportunity to introduce you all to my hero and heroine.

What are the names of your characters? Benedict Grey is our hero, and Lady Honoria Maitland is our heroine. If their names sound familiar, it may be because you helped choose them way back in in February of last year. The story I’d originally intended for them didn’t work out, but they started whispering in my ear again earlier this year.

cover 2Are they fictional or historical people? They are both fictional.

When and where is the story set? The bulk of the story is set in London during the social season of 1813.

What should we know about your main characters? Benedict is a Regency-era archaeologist (known then by the broader term antiquarian) who has a small circle of relatives and friends he’s close to. Honoria is the daughter of a duke and Benedict’s childhood friend. They were very close until he sailed away to Greece to work on Lord Elgin’s expedition.

What is the main conflict? What messes up their lives? Honoria and Benedict both find themselves in need of a spouse, though they each react differently. Benedict is the last heir to an old title and needs to secure the succession, but he’s the male equivalent of a wallflower and is more than a little uncomfortable in social situations. He makes up his mind to do his best, however unpleasant it might be.

Honoria, on the other hand, loves Society. But her father is dying, and she’ll have no male relative to look after her when he’s gone. He makes her promise to find a husband before he dies, but instead she tries to find a way to keep her independence without hurting her father. That’s where Benedict and a sham courtship come in.

SSK coverWhat is the personal goal of the characters? Benedict and Honoria both want to do right by their families, but they also want to ensure their own happiness in the process. Benedict intends to look for a bride he likes, not just a girl who fits the profile. And Honoria decides that she’s better off on her own than with some aristocrat who wants a duke’s daughter to shore up the lineage of his future children or a large dowry to straighten out his finances.

Is there a working title for this novel? Can we read more about it? The novella itself is titled Save The Last Dance For Me, and can be found in the Sweet Summer Kisses e-book bundle. I’ll post links as soon as I have them 🙂 In the meantime, you can check out some “behind the scenes” stuff on my Pinterest board.

ETA: I have links now!
Amazon UK:
Google Play:
arnes & Noble:

When can we expect the book to be published? Tuesday June 23 is our scheduled release date.

Writing Life

My Writing Process Blog Hop

I was invited by Courtney Hall to participate in this continuous blog hop. You can check out her post (and other fun articles) here. The idea is for each author on the hop to answer the same four questions about his/her work in progress and they way in which s/he writes. Readers can then get insight into their favorite authors’ minds, and even compare the thoughts of different authors.

Pretty cool, right? Here’s my contribution:

Photo Credit: Antonio Litterio
Photo Credit: Antonio Litterio

1. What am I working on? I have several stories going, but at the moment two are getting the most attention: the Christmas novella you lovely readers helped me out with earlier this year, and the second chance romance I’ve been slowly writing for the past two years now. They’re both Regency romances, tangentially related to each other, but not in the same series.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? There are all kinds of Regencies out there, and both of mine seem to take a little from a couple of categories. They’re a little bit sweet (lighter on the sex content) and a little bit traditional (no spies or kidnappings or mysteries here, but lots of good character development). But romances tend to stick to two points of view (the hero’s and the heroine’s), which gives you a certain feel that’s common to them all. My two stories are still told from two points of view, but I grew up reading so many third-person novels that some of that style creeps in. That’s what makes me unique–you get a solid, lovely Regency atmosphere but it doesn’t feel like every other Regency you’ve read 🙂

3. Why do I write what I do? I write because I have to. Literally. I’ve tried to stop several times, because my life would be so much less complicated if I could just stick to teaching. But every time I put writing aside, I find myself going a little crazy–the characters and stories start piling up in my head, and I write to get them out. I started writing romance because I read quite a few bad ones and thought I could do better. Luckily I also found a multitude of great ones, so I have lots of wonderful role models as I work!

Title_page_of_OUR_HOME_CYCLOPEDIA,_printed_18894. How does my writing process work? It’s strange because my writing process is a lot like my lesson planning process when I’m teaching. Once I get an idea in my head (for a story, a chapter, a scene, a character), I throw myself headfirst into research. No matter how much I know about the Regency period (or any other era in history), there is always a bucket of details I need to figure out. When I can start imagining the story/chapter/scene in my mind, I write notes down in my trusty 3-ring binder (yes, I like plain notebook paper for notes and scribbles–I can draw arrows, use different colors, underline/circle/box certain words or phrases much faster than on a computer). When the outline feels solid, the words usually start to flow and I park myself in front of the computer. When I get stuck, I have found that housework actually helps me work out issues in the manuscript. Keeping my hands occupied while I talk out a problem has helped me untangle many a fictional knot over the years!

There you go–that’s my writer’s life in a nutshell. Minus all the complications, of course…those are a different story for a different post 😉

Books, Writing Life

Book Covers: The Good, The Bad, The Imaginary

Every unpublished author dreams about what his or her book cover will look like (maybe the published ones do too!). Something that sums up the story, of course. Perhaps the model(s) should resemble the main character(s) a little. If it’s a historical novel, any people pictured should be dressed in clothing appropriate for that period (though I’ve seen that thought ignored enough times).

But what else?

Bright colors or muted ones? Lots of skin or something more demure? Detailed or simple?

When I imagine my future book cover, I see something like this:


There are a lot of covers out there with sweeping scenery and heroines in vibrant flowing gowns, and they’re beautiful. But the uncluttered simplicity of this one appeals to me. I like the softness of the lavender, and the fact that it looks easy yet professional. The models are even wearing clothing that invokes a Regency frame of mind.

But my favorite part about this cover is the way the models are interacting with each other. I’ve always been more fond of beta heroes than alphas, so I like that he’s holding her gently instead of bending her over or pinning her against a tree. I also adore the expression on his face, eyes nearly closed as if he’s drinking her in with his other senses. That she is wearing a similar expression–and caressing him sweetly–seals the deal for me. In fact, it was part of the reason I bought the book 🙂

What are your favorite covers? Have you ever bought a book because of the cover? Have you ever not bought a book because of the cover? Is there anything special you look for in a book cover?

Books, Writing Life

Reading/Writing Fun: Quick 5

I saw the reading version of this on Carol Cork’s blog and thought, since I am both a reader and a writer, that I’d adapt it a bit and do both activities. Here’s what I’m working on. What are you reading and/or writing?

Photo Credit: Johannes Jansson
Photo Credit: Johannes Jansson

Reading Fun

1. Which novel are you currently reading and the author? Undeniable Rogue by Annette Blair

2. What is the opening line of the book? By this time tomorrow, he would be wed.

3. What are the hero and heroine’s names? (on the remote chance you’re not reading a romance, give the name of the main character). The hero is Gideon St. Goddard, Duke of Stanthorpe. The heroine is Mrs. Sabrina Whitcomb.

4. What is the first sentence of the second paragraph of Chapter 9? Then he placed her hand on his arm and covered it, possessively, with his own.

5. What’s next on your TBR pile? Any one of about 400 books!


Writing Fun

1. Which novel are you currently writing? A second-chance Regency romance titled The Only Exception.

2. What is the opening line of the book? Kate Sedgley stood in the center of her uncle’s study, waiting for him to finish writing in the leather-bound ledger on his desk.

3. What are the hero and heroine’s names? (on the remote chance you’re not writing a romance, give the name of the main character). The hero is John Kendall, Earl of Wrexham. The heroine is Miss Katherine Sedgley, otherwise known as Kate.

4. What is the first sentence of the second paragraph of Chapter 9? I haven’t gotten to Chapter 9 yet 😀

5. What’s next on your TBW (To Be Written) pile? The untitled Christmas novella I started working on a few weeks ago (I’m working on it simultaneously with this one, actually).

Contests & Giveaways, Writing Life

Character Names Revealed and Giveaway Winners

Thanks so much to everyone who suggested names! I had a lot to mull over this past week–and one very obstinate character–but I think we have a good result 🙂

Let’s start with the contest winners:

  • Janice, for her suggestion of George
  • Ella, for her suggestion of Maitland
  • Natasha, for her suggestion of Honoria

Congratulations! E-mail me ladies and let me know which of the four prizes you’d prefer, and what would be your second choice if your first isn’t available.

spy-wore-blue-300winningabride-300Royal RenegadeThe Hanover Square Affair






And an honorable mention goes to Carol (my wonderful friend in Wales), for her suggestion of Lady Felicia!


The stubborn character was my hero, Mr. Archaeologist. He informed me during the week that he was no ordinary archaeologist, but that he was the male-line heir to his cousin’s title and estates.

And his cousin has already introduced himself in my other WIP.

So Mr. Archaeologist became Mr. Grey, and clung to his own preference for a given name…which took me several hours to uncover 🙂

That makes our cast of characters:

  • Bad Guy: the Earl of Grimsby
  • Bad Buy’s sweet sister: Lady Felicia
  • Hero’s parents: Lord and Lady George Grey
  • Hero’s cousin: the Marquess of Whitby
  • Heroine’s parents: Duke and Duchess of Alston
  • Hero’s cute little brother: the Marquis of Stonehaven
  • Heroine: Lady Honoria Maitland
  • Hero: Mr. Benedict Grey

What a group, eh? And they’re all whispering in my ear, so I’m off to write. All I need now is a title!


Contests & Giveaways, Writing Life

Naming Characters: Like Naming Children? A Giveaway

Okay readers, I need some help.

Publisher Elora’s Cave is looking for sweet Regency novellas for their Christmas anthology, and I’m going to give it a shot. It will be good for my brain and creative process to work on something else for a while–and it will be good for my work ethic Almacks_with_Brummellto have a deadline that I can’t move!

Without giving too much away, I can tell you that the idea I have is for a male wallflower story. He’s a science geek who has been out of society on archaeological digs (things like excavating the Elgin marbles in Greece), and has only recently returned home. She is a duke’s daughter and a social butterfly who is being forced into a betrothal to a Bad Guy.

But neither of them have names.

Naming my characters is always one of the hardest parts of a story for me. I don’t Hello_my_name_is_stickerhave children of my own, but I imagine this is what it would feel like to name them (except that I get to know my characters as adults first 🙂 ). I agonize over baby name books, comb through lists of important and historical people. I dissect my family and friends–would I name a character after any of them?

This time, I’m enlisting help. Your help. I need a first and last name for my hero, Mr. Archaeologist. I also need a first and last name for my heroine, Lady Butterfly. Leave a comment on this post with your suggestion(s), and if I use yours you win a Kindle book!

Official Rules:

  • You may suggest first names, last names, or first + last names for either or both characters.
  • Repeated names will not be counted–please scroll through the comments to make sure someone else hasn’t already suggested the name you had in mind
  • You must be able to download e-books from (as opposed to,, or another of Amazon’s regional sites) [NOTE: This is not because Amazon in any way sponsors or endorses this giveaway, but simply because that’s where I bought the books.] If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon has free reading apps for various computers and tablets.
  • One book will be awarded for each first name and each last name I choose, for a total of 4 possible winners
  • One person may win more than one book
  • Comments must be left on this post by 11:59 pm EST on Friday, February 28, 2014 to be eligible for this giveaway


spy-wore-blue-300Royal Renegadewinningabride-300The Hanover Square Affair

Food, Writing Life

Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop: Miss Sedgley, Lord Wrexham, and Cherry Ratafia

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

Here’s how the hop works: each author invites up to five other authors to answer five questions about their current summer release or WIP, and to share a tasty recipe that ties into it. The list of participating authors can be found at the end of this post. As more authors join the hop, I will post links to their blogs so you can add these awesome treats (and reads) to your list.

My current work-in-progress is a two-fer: All You Wanted and The Only Exception. The Only Exception is the story of Miss Katherine Sedgley and John, Earl of Wrexham:

She knows his secrets…
Wealthy and powerful, the Earl of Wrexham commands the respect of the ton—but not the woman who knows his hidden vulnerabilities. He cut Kate out of his life years ago, but her sudden return to Town threatens his reputation and everything he’s become. Will she ruin his carefully crafted image and his family’s good name?

photo credit:
photo credit:

Will she destroy his chance to find a suitable bride? What is he willing to do to secure her silence…and his future?

He knows her heart…
Bluestocking Kate Sedgley fled to the country after her third disastrous Season, and hasn’t returned to Town since—until her uncle cuts her purse strings. With no talent or trade, Kate knows the only way to support herself is to marry. But who wants a disgraced spinster with no dowry and a frail, helpless mother? Lord Wrexham came to her rescue once, long ago. Can she convince him to do so again? How far will she go to ensure his help…and her security?

All You Wanted is a prequel novella that details Wrexham’s backstory with Kate, how they first met, what their relationship was like initially, and why it didn’t work out at the time. It also lets you in on one of his secrets 😉

Now for the Random Tasty Questions:

1) When writing are you a snacker? If so sweet or salty?

I don’t eat while I write–I always want to get the ideas from my head into their Word file before I forget the details, and I can’t type fast enough with just one hand. But when I’m revising, editing, or just re-reading, I will snack. For me that usually involves something sweet: iced animal crackers, dry cereal, any of the sweet Chex mixes, etc. In the summer fruit is easier to find, so I’ll end up with a bowl of sweet black cherries or a nice big apple, too.

2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants? And are they real pants or jammies?

With small pieces (like blog posts) I can just go with the flow. But anything that has more than one chapter gets an outline. First, an outline helps me to actually see the whole story. Second, it preserves whatever thoughts and ideas I’m having while I make the outline. It may change–sometimes drastically–later, but I don’t have to worry about forgetting where I was going with a certain piece of dialog.

3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it?

photo credit:
photo credit:

When I cook meals I stick to simple things (spaghetti, casseroles, burgers on the grill) that don’t really require recipes. When I bake things can get complicated. I like to use a recipe a few times and get a feel for it, then I’ll start making adjustments and additions. But chemistry is so important in baking that I don’t want to mess with the basic ingredients too much.

4) What is next for you after this book?

I have so many Regency plots floating around inside my head (and in my notebook), that I think I’ll be sticking around country estates and London drawing rooms for a while. Lord Wrexham’s brother Henry is the next hero on my horizon, a man who copes with OCD in a time when “madness” will get you locked up.

5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book?

When I started this story, I meant it to be kind of hot. But Miss Sedgley and his lordship have informed me otherwise, so it’s coming out somewhere just hotter than Georgette Heyer. I guess that makes it about a 3, maybe 🙂

And now for the really tasty part: Cherry Ratafia

If you’ve read Regency romance novels before, you’ve probably come across a scene involving ratafia. Ratafia is basically an infusion: fruit, vegetables, or herbs and spices are prepared and left to sit in in alcohol (usually wine, vodka, or brandy). It reminds me a little of sangria, which also involves fruit and alcohol but doesn’t require steeping.

Since Miss Sedgley and Lord Wrexham spend much of their time at social events, I thought ratafia would be the perfect accompaniment to their story. This particular recipe is a modern one that comes from the Abruzzo region of Italy, courtesy of Valerie Fortney-Schneider. Like sangria, there are dozens of recipes for ratafia, but this one seems the tastiest!

1 1/2 pounds pitted cherries
1 bottle Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
1 cup grain alcohol (or high-proof, good quality vodka)
1 stick of cinnamon

photo credit:
photo credit:

1 vanilla bean
a big glass jar or bottle that will seal well

Split the vanilla bean open and put it in the jar, along with the other ingredients.  Give it a shake and put it in a dark place for 40 days and 40 nights, shaking it gently every few days.  After the maceration period, strain it.

Combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan, bring to a gentle boil, stirring well to dissolve the sugar, then turn off the heat and let it cool.  Add it to the liqueur, stirring well.  Divide into bottles and keep in a cool, dark place.

While you’re enjoying your cherry ratafia, visit the other authors of the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop:

christy english
donna russo morin
nancy goodman
lauren gilbert
lucinda brant
prue batten
anna belfrage
ginger myrick
jo ann butler
kim zollman rendfeld
cora lee (you are here)