Last Year…

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India, Slovenia, Bahamas, United States, United Kingdom, Monaco, Curacao, Timor-Leste. Brazil, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Germany. Thailand, Indonesia, France, Australia, Turkey, Nigeria, Bangladesh Roumania, Philippines, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Netherlands,South Africa, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Nepal. Austria, Guatemala, Greece, Jamaica, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Poland, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, Serbia, Columbia, Norway, Croatia, Morocco, Malta, Czech Republic, European Union, Chile, Mauritius, Israel Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Switzerland, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Venezuela, Russia, South Korea, Albania, Iraq. Reunion, Qatar, Tanzania, Bahrain, Ukraine, Singapore, Albania, Egypt, Yemen, Peru, China, Mali, Hong King and SAR China, Denmark, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, Argentina, Armenia, Libya, Cyprus, Haiti, Benin, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Zambia, Kuwait, Guam, Azerbaijan, Ghana, Panama, SLovakia, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Hungary, Vietnam, Malawi, Sengal, Somali, Cambodia, Congo Brazzaville, Myanmar-Burma, Georgia. Angola, Ethiopia Taiwan, Syria, Zimbabwe. Gabon,. American Samoa, Kyrgyzstan.

A little slice of raunch.

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/

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Men in Kilts. Why do we love them? https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/men-in-kilts-why-do-we-love-them/ via @shehannemoore

Films and Box Sets Not To Watch in a Pandemic

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/films-and-box-sets-not-to-watch-in-a-pandemic/

One day in 1950s Korea

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/one-day-in-1950s-korea/

Sometimes In life ….

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This is a gift tag I put on the Mr’s present the first year we were married. It always reminds me of how, in common with many just setting out couples, we were not exactly well heeled.

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The tag is of course in pride of place and these are

some of this year’s decs.

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I have two books set against the backdrop of Christmas. Loving Lady Lazuli where a chance encounter one Christmas Eve leads to ten years of hell for hero and heroine,

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And of course, given backstory does not a book make, having history, they meet again, in October no less, leading to a spectacular going down in flames on –yep you’ve guessed it–Christmas Eve, after the heroine decides to go for broke at the local town ball, largely cos she feels like it. Haven’t we all at times and leaving her to wonder in the carnage afterwards…

‘Christmas Eves? Did they get any better or worse?’

The other book is O’Roarke’s Destiny, where–again in October and again, talking pasts–the high functioning depressive, heroine holds obsessively onto the little things in life having lost everything else.

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You can tell my books are chock full of Christmas cheer.

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In fact these books are probably like the year it’s been. Such a fabby one NOT, I know there were folks who not didn’t feel or see the point of decking their halls. And yet in some of the streets here the lights have never been brighter.

I guess an awful lot of us are holding onto the little things in order to hold onto something far bigger, and seldom has that been more important. Because neither lives, nor Christmases are perfect.

Wherever you are, in the world and in life, I wish you the best. Merry Christmas. And yeah, now I will clear off and let the little dudes open the voddie and get the cossack boots on.

When Leslie Met the Dudes

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

“How well can a wife ever know her husband?

Paula Arnett would swear she knows everything about hers, that is, until she gets the call that the love of her life was involved in a freak accident. She doesn’t think things could possibly get any worse. But, after his funeral, she’s blindsided when their lawyer informs her that, several months before, her husband liquidated their assets and purchased a run-down fishing resort in East Texas!

Worse yet, while searching for answers, Paula discovers a note from a mysterious woman whose name gives her reason to believe that her husband may have actually been married to this woman at the same time he was married to Paula! Determined to learn the truth, Paula enlists the help of her best friend, Cassie, and together they go undercover on the road trip of a lifetime.”

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I grew up in a small Texas farming community very much like the one my main character, Paula Jean Purdy Arnett, resides in. Floydada, Texas, is one of those places where everybody knows your business, and where people pull together in times of need. I’m very lucky to have been raised there by two loving parents.

A second grade teacher in Floydada put the idea in my head that I should become a writer, and while it took me most of my life, I’ve finally accomplished that goal. In the meantime, I’ve been a secretary, a dental assistant, a teacher, and a research assistant. I married my high school sweetheart, who I affectionately call Studly Doright, many, many years ago, and we have two beautiful, brilliant, grown children, and five equally beautiful and brilliant grandchildren. My cup truly runneth over.

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https://nananoyz5forme.com/

Now for a little snippet:

From Chapter Eight:

    Paula turned off the radio mid-song.  “Tell me the story of why Cal called me Goldilocks.”

    Cassie’s eyes twinkled. “You know darned good and well why.”

    “I know.  I just need to hear it today.”

    Cassie shifted in her seat.  “The fishing guys came up with it. Cal, Delbert, Mel, and someone else, I can’t remember who, went fishing right after you two got married.  Cal couldn’t stop talking about you. Everything you did was just right.  Finally, Delbert or Mel, one of the two, said, “Sounds like you found yourself a Goldilocks.  Everything is always just right.” Cal thought that was hilarious and started calling you that. The name stuck.”

    Paula shook her head.  “I still can’t imagine what it was he thought I was doing right.”

    Cassie rolled her eyes.  “C’mon now, Goldilocks, even you can’t be that innocent.”

    A rosy blush covered Paula’s cheeks.  “Oh my gosh!  Surely Cal didn’t talk to the guys about—you know—sex!”

    “Probably not, but then again, men will be men.  I’m sure they ribbed him about it.  And he really thought you could do no wrong.  That never changed as far as I could tell.”

    Paula hung her head.  “I always thought that about him, too.  Until yesterday.  Yesterday kind of changed everything, even if I’m willing it to be otherwise.”

    “It’s all going to be okay.  It really is.  Hey, could you pull over at the next rest stop? I need a potty break.”

    A few minutes later, they came to the town of Gallo and Paula pointed to a Dairy Queen sign. “How about there?  It’s a little early for an ice cream, but we could get a little snack.”

    “Suits me, but who says it’s too early for ice cream?”

    Paula parked and raised an eyebrow.  “First burritos, now ice cream, and all before noon.  None of my pants are going to fit.”

    Cassie opened the door.  “It wouldn’t hurt you to put on a few pounds, Goldilocks.  I’ll bet you’ve lost five just since…Well, since Cal’s—Um, speaking of that, have you heard from the highway patrol?”

    Paula pulled the Dairy Queen door open.  “They’re still investigating, but the preliminary report is that he just went to sleep and drove off the road.  Apparently, the way his car landed in that ditch, his airbag didn’t deploy.

    They remained silent as they took their place in line.  Paula gestured to a narrow corridor down the side of the dining area.  “You go on to the ladies’ room.  I’ll order your usual:  Hot fudge sundae, extra fudge, a smidge of whipped cream and a cherry on top.  No nuts. Right?”

    Cassie smiled.  “You know it.”

    As Cassie headed to the restroom, Paula watched a table of coffee drinking men turn their heads in admiration.  There was no doubt her friend was eye-catching.  She was a couple of inches taller than Paula and curvier.  Her gorgeous raven hair hung to her shoulders in soft waves, and the headband she wore added a touch of innocent sexiness. 

    Paula always joked that if she was Goldilocks, Cassie must be Snow White.  She always thought it was a shame that Cassie had never married.  She’d never even had a long-term boyfriend after high school, as far as Paula knew, and she knew Cassie better than anyone. 

    As the line moved along, she became caught up in her daydream….”There probably is a right man out there for her, but he’d have to be one perfect Prince Charming to match Cassie’s Snow White.”

    Paula was seated with their food by the time Cassie returned.  She nodded at the ogling men at the back and said, “Don’t look now, but those men are checking you out.”

    Cassie rolled her eyes.  “Yeah, I noticed, too.  Tried not to.  Obnoxious asshats.”

    Paula stifled a grin as she pushed Cassie’s sundae across the table, and they ate in silence until George Strait started singing about all of his exes living Texas as the juke box lit up in neon colors.

    Cassie pushed away her empty ice cream cup and wiped the corners of her mouth with a napkin.  “You want me to drive awhile?”

    “I’m good, but let’s plan on switching just before we get into too much Dallas traffic.  I sure don’t want to deal with that mess.”

    “No problem.  We’ll need to stop again anyway for gas pretty soon.  Maybe have a light lunch then you can nap while I navigate the jungle.”

    “We’re eating hot fudge sundaes at 11 a.m. and you’re already planning lunch?  I like the way you think.”

    They turned their heads when a man from the coffee drinkers’ table approached them.

    The man tipped his head and held his hat in his hand.  “Mornin’, ladies.  My name’s Derek Tuttle.  I’d like to welcome you to the fine town of Gallo, and invite you to attend services at the First Baptist Church on Sunday morning.  I’m the minister there.”

    Cassie pursed her lips.  “Thank you very much, Derek, but we’re just passing through.  And we’re heathens.”

    Paula’s hand covered her unexpected giggle.

    Derek’s jaw dropped open and he steadied himself on the back of the booth.  “Well, we welcome heathens.  Everyone is welcome.”

    Cassie collected her trash as she said, “Oh, we’re also communists.  Heathen commies.  And Wiccans, to boot.”

    Paula’s eyes grew large and she blushed.  “Uh, I think it’s time to go.  You know, before they bring out the pitchforks.”

    Cassie stood and batted her eyes at Derek then sashayed out the door.

    Paula, unable to make her feet move, or even find her voice, looked back and forth between Derek’s look of shock and Cassie’s confident strut out the door.  “Um, I’d better go chase after my heathen commie friend.”  She jingled her keys.  “It’s my car.”

I’m a terrible cook and baker, but this is one even I can’t mess up.

“Southern Pecan Balls”

1/2 cup margarine
3 T. Sugar
1 C. Flour, sifted
1 T. Vanilla
1 C. Chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. (148.889 C)

Cream the margarine and sugar together.  Add vanilla, flour, and then the nuts and mix well.  Roll into 35-40 small balls.

Noelle Clark and some Christmas Orphans….

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“G’day from Australia! Hello to Shey and the Dudes.

How grateful I am to visit once again my favourite hamsters!

I hope everyone reading this is staying well and safe. It’s been a terrible year. I watch the news from around the world, and I know many of you are suffering.

Here in Australia, we have been very fortunate and have mostly avoided the worst of the pandemic. We are a big country, big in square miles/kilometres. We are an island, and we share our borders with no other country. Our population is around 25 million, most of whom reside in seven major cities. We have seven States, (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia), and two Territories – Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

Outside of the cities, we have thousands of little country towns. Some are small hamlets or villages. Some, especially in the Outback, are just a pub. If you’re lucky they also sell fuel for your car.

I love the country towns. I love the people, the humour, and the culture of small towns.

During my brief lockdown period, I began writing some stories about life in small country towns. There’s no mention of Covid-19 –

I mean, why write about it when it’s more fun to escape inside a story and be uplifted by characters who manage to live their humble lives through thick and thin, in sickness and health, etc, etc.

After writing the first book, out popped a second. Yes, you guessed it, and a third.

My new series about life in a small Queensland town is called Thompson’s Ridge Series.

There are so far five novellas in the series – glimpses of life, happy times, sad times, tough times, and boom times. I think my characters are universal, in as much as even though they are fair dinkum Aussies, small towns in any country have similar big-hearted, quirky residents whose stories are similar.

So, the first book in the series starts a few weeks before Christmas. In Australia, Christmas is a big deal no matter what religious beliefs you have or don’t have. We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving. Christmas occurs in high summer, and Chrissy, as we call it, is often a gathering of family and friends outdoors or at the beach with lots of happiness, love, and warm feelings.

But in every country, the Holiday Season can be tough for people who are alone, lonely, and just plain sad.

Book number 1 is called ‘The Christmas Orphans’ Club’.

No prize for guessing what it’s about.

It’s a slice of Aussie life, and introduces the reader to an eclectic mix of characters who will travel through subsequent books in the series. They are short novellas, not hard to read, but hopefully hard to put down.

Here’s the blurb for The Christmas Orphans’ Club.

The festive season is coming, and so is the social event of the year for a group of residents in the country town of Thompson’s Ridge – a Christmas Day lunch for those without family. But while some members of The Christmas Orphans’ Club regard it with excitement and joy, others feel trepidation and uncertainty.

For reluctant bachelor Bob Wilson, owner of the local school bus, the end of the academic year sees him reflect on the slow demise of the timber town he grew up in – now a shadow of its thriving past.

Former primary school principal Maggie Hardcastle, regarded highly by the locals, rues the contraction of her old domain to a single teacher, one classroom school, while current teacher-principal Jamie Zammit worries the school will close completely if enrolments continue to fall. Jamie is also concerned for his star student, Becky Carmody, whose mother has become disturbingly reclusive since her husband’s death.

Joely Davidson, who hosts the Orphans’ lunch at her cafe, invites Kirsty McJames and Ruby Weston, to the event. Christmas to divorced Kirsty means separation from her beloved twin boys as their father, unconcerned the rest of the year, claims holiday custody rights to take the boys away.

Louise Smith is a newcomer to Thompson’s Ridge recovering from the shattering loss of her high-flying career in the city. Seen as standoffish by the locals, she is taken aback when Christmas Orphans’ Club founder Fran Hobart enlists her to take over running the event. It’s an opportunity for Louise to use her old skills, but can she take the baton and run with it?

Another resident seeking to revive old talents is retired stage actor Charles Davenport. His drunken behaviour at last years Orphans’ Club lunch appalled no one more than him. He’s cleaned up his act in the intervening year, but can he play the most difficult role of his career – his real self – and will Maggie Hardcastle forgive him for what he did?

Come Christmas Day, will the hopes and fears of The Christmas Orphans’ Club come to pass or fade away?

The Christmas Orphans’ Club

By Noelle Clark

Book 1 in the Thompson’s Ridge Series

Available now for Pre-Order    .99 cents US$     until December 1st, then $1.99 US$

Amazon.au      http://tiny.cc/yje1tz

Amazon.uk      http://tiny.cc/2ke1tz

Amazon.com   http://tiny.cc/jke1tz

Noelle Clark   www.noelleclark.net

Facebook        https://www.facebook.com/NoelleClark.Author/

Twitter            @noelle_clark

Instagram       clark.noelle

Noelle Clark is an Australian author of Australian fiction, contemporary romance novels, and historical fiction.
Her books feature characters who deal with love and loss; and who experience the often difficult facets of life, such as forgiveness and redemption.
Noelle lives in a secluded cottage in sunny Queensland, Australia, surrounded by lush rainforest.
She has two grown up children and four grandchildren.
When Noelle’s not writing and travelling, she enjoys growing her own organic vegetables and herbs, photography, bushwalking, playing guitar, reading and cooking.

Noelle is a proud member of Australian Rural Fiction; Queensland Writers Centre; Bathing Beauties Writing Group; YON Beyond Writing Group; Romance Writers of Australia; and Australian Romance Readers Association. She is currently published independently by Stop Press Publishing. 

Noelle is an author with the acclaimed Bindarra Creek Romance group.
Noelle’s books have been Finalists in several literary awards, including the Chatelaine Awards, and the ARRA Awards.

On joining the Whitby Ladies …..

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Shéy

“Lost boys almost always do need a good witch of a wife” – DS

BY DANIEL SWEARINGEN

https://danielswearingen.com/

Shéy does sing,

“Sing my name among the cosmos, the stars that drop to earth, and the ones who bear the wolf mark lost upon their birth. Dance, within the circle, make sure that life repeats, as it was from the first day desire makes breath complete. Count the many numbers as often as you can, oh great one you made the angels just a little lower than just I am.”

The Mr. finds her by the stones at dawn, her still radiant body warm to touch, wet with perspiration. He holds her close to him, feeling her breath against his grizzly cheek. “You are the most stubborn man Mr.”, she says to him, her voice carrying both wit and seriousness to it. “Could you not leave me to my tendencies for just one night”? The Mr. thinks about it for a moment and feels himself flush. “You give too much of yourself to this place”, he mutters, his brow growing stern. She thinks for a moment he looks like a wolf, not quite as lean and handsome as the ones who had surrounded her the night before. Still, The Mr. carries that glint still in his eyes, just as when she created it in him. When she brought him over. That was a long time ago she thinks. She wonders if she could do it again. Summon the craft, and give…

She writes on slates of Sandstone transported from some Moon, the images in her mind act out as if they are a rune. She sees the stars of Caledonia raining from the sky, painting her white naked body with the symbols, as old as Sodom and the tombs where stories lie. A pleasing aromatic of olden sage burns between her feet. An adoration of unseen tongues makes words she cannot repeat. An ancient revelator bends to what she seeks. She gives in to all temptation, as the dark angels sweep. The shadow of her book of sorrows burns and then it dies. The heavens open duly, and deep cries out against the sky. The sound of many spirits parade and march from ancient steeps. For there upon the Highlands, sums magic only secrets dare repeat.

She summons all her sisters, on the Southeast winds they ride, bringing rain and lightning, intermixed with starlit skies. The Bean Nighe and the Kelpies, and all the Wulver too, gather to the circle that spins in a darkened hue. For unto all that is madness in all that witches do, to bring forth life from that which is lost, and make it life anew. The earth is now opened. Between the times of man, as Whitby Ladies from all moments join the Clan at hand. And she who forms the circle, to bring forth someone new, screams her name into the chaos, as a new man walks on through.

The Mr. dances with her just beneath the circle beyond its still pulsating heat. “You gave again, didn’t you”, he whispers hoarsely in her ear. He is jealous, and to a certain extent, he feels his envy is righteous. “Just to the lost boys”, she whispers nuzzling the rough skin upon his neck. “You will always be my first”, “You will always be my first”.

Shéy does sing,

“Sing my name among the cosmos, the stars that drop to earth, and the ones who bear the wolf mark lost upon their birth. Dance, within the circle, make sure that life repeats, as it was from the first day desire makes breath complete. Count the many numbers as often as you can, oh great one you made the angels just a little lower than just I am.”

Shehanne Moore is an amazing accomplished author and I say with all intentions of being a namedropper, a friend (Please do check out all of her wonderful books). You can find Shey’s blog at https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/  Welcome to The Whitby Lady’s my friend. –דָּנִיֵּאל


ABOUT Daniel Swearingen


Boulder Colorado

Bio: I have wondered about too many things. Kept too many things inside. Distanced my dreams, until years have caught me. That time that catches us all eventually, where days go by so fast. The going to, becomes the meant to, the words of future, becoming like faded yearnings, hunger that no longer exist. So though the hour is late, I will write, though the minutes speed by casting quick shadows on my mind, I will maintain. I am a lonely writer, who has everything in this world. Everything, but the ownership of time, the deliberation of years. So of reflection and everything I shall write. Of dusk and resurrection, I will think, and when those items become beyond my containment I will be finished, and that will be enough. Thank you for reading. – Shalom – דָּנִיֵּאל

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Sin Eating with Cat Cavendish

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The Last Sin Eater—by Catherine Cavendish

 

 

 

My latest novella – The Malan Witch – features two of the most evil witches you could ever encounter. Their sins were innumerable and their possession of an ancient cottage on a remote and picturesque coastline spells danger not only for Robyn Crowe’s life but her soul as well.

In thee circumstances, she might have been well advised to call on the local sin eater – should she have been lucky enough to find one still around. You see, the last one died in 1906, and when you find our more, you’ll probably not be surprised that there was hardly a queue of people waiting to take up his discarded mantle.

You can still visit him -or rather, his grave – for he lies (we hope at peace) in the graveyard of the peaceful rural St. Margaret’s Church in the tiny village of Ratlinghope near Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England. He was evidently held in high esteem by local folk who restored his memorial stone and held a commemorative service for him on its completion on 2010.

 

His name was Richard Munslow and his occupation – if you could call it that – was to eat and drink over the body of a deceased person and, by doing so, take on the sins of the recently departed.

Their services were generally called on in cases of sudden death where the unfortunate person had been unable to perform their final confession and be shriven. The sin eater would ensure that the loved one would enjoy a smooth and untroubled passage to heaven.

Sin eaters were generally poor and would be paid to perform their services. Sadly, they were often shunned by respectable people as they also prevented the sin-ridden deceased from returning to the word of the living and were often associated with witches and all manner of evil spirits. No one wanted to know them – until they required their services. The wooden platter on which their food and drink was served was destroyed after the ‘ceremony’ of sin-eating was performed as it was believed it would be forever infested with evil. Even to look a sin-eater directly in the eye was considered exceptionally bad luck.

The practice of sin-eating is an ancient custom, its origins lost in the far-off mists of time. It was also fairly localized – being practiced mainly in Wales and the English border towns and countryside (known as the Marches). By the 19th century, it had largely died out.

Curiously, Richard Munslow was not of the poor and downtrodden classes. He was a well-off farmer of good social standing but it is believed that his four children all died of Scarlet Fever within one week of each other in May 1870 and this sent him into such a state of depression and mental anguish that he resurrected the already outdated ritual of sin-eating.

Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.’

 An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.

But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood – two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.

And the crow has returned.

You can order The Malan Witch here:

Amazon

About The Author

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include The Garden of Bewitchment. The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

 

In addition to The Malan Witch, her novellas include The Darkest Veil, Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

 

Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies including Silver Shamrock’s Midnight in the Graveyard. Her story, The Oubliette of Élie Loyd, will appear in their forthcoming Midnight in the Pentagram, to be published later this year.

 

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

 

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

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Tea, toast, trivia podcasts and some manga news.

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‘We are all the product of our experiences in life, of our upbringings, our hopes, dreams, failures, mistakes, needs, fears. Life shapes us and life is not always perfect.’ Shehanne Moore, Tea, Toast and Trivia podcast with Rebecca Budd.

Podcast.

Season 2 Episode 41: The Art of Romance with Shehanne Moore https://teatoasttrivia.com/2020/08/03/season-2-episode-41-the-art-of-romance-with-shehanne-moore/ via @chasingart

https://bit.ly/3arNB1H

mangatoon.mobi/en/detail/3985

 

 

 

The Anna Campbell books are coming….

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‘As many beginner romance writers do, I decided category would be an easy way into the industry. Even though my heart has always been with long juicy historicals.’ Anna Campbell.

 

 

SHEY. ‘As many beginner romance writers do, I decided category would be an easy way into the industry. Even though my heart has always been with long juicy historicals.’  Thrilling words from a thrilling lady and author Anna Campbell, our guest today. Anna, would you say that after a long journey to get into the industry,  and a career there that has now spanned thirteen years, that your heart is where it wants to be?

ANNA.  Hi Lady Shey! Hi Dudes! Thanks for having me to visit today. I love writing historical romance – I don’t think any genre sweeps you away into a larger-than-life world the way historical romance does. Having said that, I have a vague idea of writing a historical mystery series but I fear I’m never going to have the time when I’m so busy writing my Highlanders and my rakes and my smart-mouthed Regency ladies.

 

SHEY. Your first book, Claiming the Courtesan which has won numerous awards was  ‘dark and sexy,’

and very different from a number of historicals out there at that time.

Ignoring the dudes please tell us what gave you the idea to go darker?  Were there any true historical stories of dukes marrying their mistress that inspired you?

ANNA  – When I wrote CTC, I had pretty much decided I was never going to be published. I’d written for most of my life without getting a contract – the publishing world was very different back in the early 2000s! So I just went where my heart took me – and that was to a very dark story about a tormented duke and the courtesan he loves. The fashion when I started Courtesan was very much romantic comedy, Julia Quinn and Amanda Quick and all those sparkling Regencies. But as I wasn’t writing for a market but to please myself, that didn’t much matter (so I thought!). Verity and Kylemore’s story came from my imagination but I had a marvellous moment after I’d written the first draft when I read Katy Hickman’s book Courtesans and came across the story of the courtesan Elizabeth Armitage and her aristocratic husband Charles James Fox. These two had a lot in common with my made-up characters. It felt like a sign from the universe that I was onto something.

SHEY –Both  wonderful books for those who haven’t read them BTW. Claiming the Courtesan was the start of a rollercoaster ride where you released a number of books for many major publishers–again, all to tremendous acclaim–but for last few years you decided to go your own way, publishing your books yourself.  What was your thinking behind that move? And how has it worked out for you?

ANNA -I love being an indie, although I’ll always be tremendously grateful for my career in traditional publishing. I learned so much and I picked up a large readership which stood me in good stead when I went out on my own. A few things pushed me down the independent route – I wanted to write stories in a variety of tones. While I’d started my career writing dark stories, at heart I’m actually quite a jolly soul and I wanted to write some romantic comedy. I also wanted more releases a year than a trad career allows.

SHEY– You’ve also gotten deeply into Scotland, especially the unspoiled island of Eigg.

Not that I noticed. Which of your ultra sexy heroes would you want to spend a day with there and what would you do ……. ?

And can you tell us why you find Eigg so bewitching?

ANNA — Ha, all of my heroes! Although perhaps not at the same time. That’s just too much like hard work! Just because he’s the most recent and also because I developed a major crush on him as I wrote the story, I’ll choose Brock Drummond, Earl of Bruard, who stars in The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress, my latest release.

Brock is a wonderful mixture of heart and intellect and sexiness – so at least some of what I do with him on the Isle of Eigg will involve conversation! Really! I’ve included a picture of the view over to Rum from Laig Beach on Eigg.

It’s pretty obvious why I’m so in love with the place! I’ve always loved islands and this one has such a rich history and such glorious scenery. I also love that when I go there, I feel like the rest of the world is a million miles away (well, a couple of hours on a CalMac ferry, anyway!)

Shey–You know we were up for having our anniversary in Arisaig again,  heading over to Eigg for a day to bag the Sgurr, before winding up in Glencoe. RIGHT NOW ACTUALLY.  Oh well, the best laid plans of hamsters and women, but thank you for giving that wee flavour and here’s hoping for next year. Right now  I gather they are asking tourists to stay away from Eigg before you dudes get any bright ideas here. Anna, you’ve also moved into Scotland  as  a setting for many of your books. Give us the low down, is it the men in kilts, or something else that has drawn you in that direction?

ANNA–Well, a man in a kilt is always welcome!

Not to mention that wonderful accent. Sigh. Actually I’ve been in love with Scotland

since my very first visit back in the mid-1980s. I’ve been back numerous times since and the love affair has only intensified. I think it’s the most beautiful country on earth and the history is full of soul-stirring stories. Not to mention the music. That goes straight to the heart. When I first visited, I wondered if there was something in the idea of the blood calling me home. I am, after all, a Campbell, even if one raised on the other side of the world.

SHEY —How do you do your research for your novels?

ANNA– These days because I know the period I’m working in so well, I mostly do book-specific stuff. For example, with The Highlander’s Lost Lady, a lot of the plot hinged on issues like the age of consent in Scotland in the 1820s so I had a wonderful dive into marital law in the Regency period.

SHEY —What would you say has changed most about  the writing industry since you first started subbing your work?

ANNA — Ha, do you want a 10-page answer?

When I started writing, the only way to get published and find an audience was to get a contract with a traditional publisher, and books were available in print format only. Digital technology has created so many more ways for people to read and to publish. There’s a freedom now that there wasn’t back when I started writing as a teen.

Shey —Returning to that, you’ve written– in the hope of  getting published– since 3rd Grade, getting to the stage where   ‘under the bed was more crowded than the centre of Hong Kong at Chinese New Year,’ with manuscripts, finished, unfinished or rejected, you set yourself targets, goals, often doing mundane jobs,  did you ever think of giving up?

ANNA–I did! When I was in my late 30s, I was working in a dead-end job and nothing was happening with my writing career. I decided that wanting to be published was like wanting to dance for the Bolshoi (also a girlish dream for the young Anna!). It was time to put aside these silly fantasies of being a writer and start trying to build a proper life for myself. I lasted about 18 months and I was absolutely miserable. So when I went back to writing, I decided I needed to be a bit smarter about what I was doing. So I joined Romance Writers of Australia, and I started to write something that had a bit of commercial appeal. It still took a couple of years, but the decisions I made after giving up started me on the road to publication.

SHEY — Would you say that keeping your eye on markets and looking for the way in, with work that is marketable played its part and what tips would you give aspiring writers out there? I’d mention the worthy master here but as Bobby Bub ses, he can’t actually write. He can’t spell neither.

ANNA–The weird thing is I ended up getting published with a book I didn’t think any publisher would ever touch with a barge pole. At the time, the idea of a heroine who sleeps with men for money seemed very out there. I’d also advise against chasing trends. These days, trends come and go faster than a speeding bullet. My tip for aspiring writers is to read a lot in what’s being published now and take note of popular tropes (not trends). Marriage of convenience is a trope; hockey playing heroes is a trend. Also if you start a book, fight through the sagging middle to finish it.

Partly because there’s nothing you can do with the start of a book, but also because finishing a book will teach you more about writing than a million writing courses.

SHEY —What’s next for Anna Campbell?

ANNA–Lockdown has done wonders for the appearance of new Anna Campbell books! There are three more this year to finish up the Lairds Most Likely series. The Highlander’s Rescued Maiden is out at the end of September and as those who have followed me for a while know, I always do a Christmas story. The Highlander’s Christmas Countess should be out end of October. I’m also contributing a story to a Christmas historical romance anthology, but details of that are under wraps right now.

Next year I’m very excited because I’m starting a new series based back in Regency London, stories full of glamour and passion. Stay tuned for the announcement of details, but if you enjoyed my Dashing Widows series, I think you’ll be very pleased with this new direction.

If you’d like to keep up with the latest, why not join my mailing list? Just email me with your contact details: AnnaCampbellOz@hotmail.com Or I regularly update my website: www.annacampbell.com

Bio:

Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released 25 bestselling stories, including seven in her latest series, The Lairds Most Likely. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers’ favorite historical romance (five times).

Links:

Website: www.annacampbell.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnaCampbellFans

Twitter: AnnaCampbellOz

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/anna-campbell

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Anna-Campbell/e/B002NKV1HQ

Blurb for The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress:

A week to be wicked…

 Widowed Selina Martin faces another marriage founded on duty, not love. When notorious libertine Lord Bruard invites her to his isolated hunting lodge, he promises discretion – and seven days of hedonistic pleasure before she weds her boorish fiancé. All her life, Selina has done the right thing, but this no-strings-attached chance to discover the handsome rake’s sensual secrets is irresistible. She’ll surrender to her wicked fantasies, seize some brief happiness, then knuckle down to a loveless union. What could possibly go wrong?

 

In a lifetime of seduction, Brock Drummond, the dashing Earl of Bruard, has never wanted a woman the way he wants demure widow Selina Martin. When Selina agrees to become his temporary lover, he soon falls captive to an enchantment unlike any other. He sets out to slake his white hot desire until only ashes remain, but as each day of forbidden delight passes, the idea of saying goodbye to his ardent mistress becomes more and more unbearable.

When scandal explodes around them and threatens to destroy Selina, Brock is the only person she can turn to. After so short a time, can she trust a man whose name is a byword for depravity?

Will this sizzling liaison prove a mere affair to remember? Or will their week of passion spark a lifetime of happiness for the widow and her dissolute Scottish earl?

Excerpt from THE HIGHLANDER’S FORBIDDEN MISTRESS: THE LAIRDS MOST LIKELY BOOK 7

Derwent Hall, Essex, December 1823

Selina was too aware that it was late and that she was alone with a man whose reputation was bad enough to send respectable virgins shrieking for their mammas. Lord Bruard’s company was the closest thing to satanic temptation that she was ever likely to experience.

She swallowed to moisten a dry throat and set the book on the mantel. “I must go,” she said, and cursed the squeak in her voice.

“Must you?” Bruard didn’t sound as if he cared whether she stayed or went. He continued as if they were in the middle of a friendly conversation. “You shouldn’t let Canley-Smythe bully you, you know. If he bullies you now, before he gets his ring on your finger, he’ll turn into a domestic tyrant when you marry.”

She paused in the act of turning away toward the door. “This is none of your business, sir.”

Unfortunately, it was also a perfectly accurate assessment of her future. Selina was no fool, and she had few illusions about what life with Cecil was going to be. But what choice did she have?

With a leisurely grace that made Selina’s foolish heart skip around inside her tight chest, Bruard sat up. She thought she’d committed her whole self to marrying Cecil, but now it turned out that her heart hadn’t signed up to the arrangement. Her heart cried out that she was still young and at last she had the chance to flirt with an attractive man. It insisted that if she ran away now, she was a filthy coward.

“Oh, that’s true.” Again no shame. “But I’m telling you this out of pure altruism. Stand up for yourself now, or he’ll crush every ounce of spirit out of you.”

“Pure altruism?” She gave a snort of amusement that would have shocked Cecil. “It seems the world is completely wrong about you, Lord Bruard.”

The half-smile reappeared, deepening the creases around Bruard’s deep-set eyes. The breath jammed in her lungs. Dear God, no wonder the ladies went insane for him. He truly was extraordinarily attractive. He should have warning signs posted all over him.

Because he was right about her avoiding him, this was closer than she’d ever ventured to the wicked Lord Bruard. This was certainly the longest she’d spent talking to him.

And danger bristled in the air.

So remaining in this room made no sense. Yet remain Selina did.

His gaze fixed on her. “No, my lovely little ghost, the world isn’t wrong about me.”

The power of his attraction made her stomach cramp with nerves, as she remembered all those depraved fantasies that wore Lord Bruard’s intense dark face. Did he know she’d thought of him in the privacy of the night? She had a sick feeling that he must.

“G-ghost?” she stammered.

He shrugged. How could such a prosaic movement make her heart somersault? Except his shoulders were broad and hard, and she ached to run her hands along them and down those strong arms, displayed to advantage in the best of London tailoring.

He wore black. But then didn’t the devil always come in black?

“That’s how I think of you. With your neat little gray frocks, and the way you watch everything you say, and never miss anything that goes on around you.”

This time, genuine fear spurred the unsteady beat of the heart. She hadn’t thought she’d be of the slightest interest to such a famous libertine. It turned out she was wrong. Just as she’d watched him, he’d watched her.

She gulped for air to clear a swimming head and raised a shaking hand to her bosom, before she realized how revealing the gesture was. “You shouldn’t think of me at all.”

His expression grew more intent, and she faltered back a step. She should flee, pride or no pride, but it was as if her feet were tacked to the parquetry floor.

“Nor should you think of me, when you’re marrying that ponderous oaf in a fortnight, and you’re obviously a woman who guards her chastity the way a miser guards his gold.”

Heat blazed in her cheeks, and she avoided his eyes. How could he make her virtue sound like the worst of sins? “I don’t think of you. I…”

Oh, what was the use? Coyness suddenly seemed too shabby to countenance. As he uncoiled and rose to his feet, she made a helpless gesture. “I don’t want to think of you,” she mumbled.

The Gowns of Resa …

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Please meet Shehanne Moore: writer, author, publisher, wife, mother and one of the official Art Gowns models. By Resa McConachy.

 

SMART + SEXY = SMEXY

The Smexy Pen of Shehanne Moore

I just finished reading “Loving Lady Lazuli”

Cassidy Armstrong has had an unfortunate life, that has scarred her in more ways than one. Cast off from family as a baby, and her brother dead from beatings, she is pressed into being a jewel thief. Nonetheless, she has managed to hoard her virginity like it was a massive collection of fine Waterford Crystal worth more florins than any working class person would see in a lifetime

Now, she has returned to claim her birthright. As a fake widow, Lady Cassidy Armstrong can move around more freely, searching for her proof of heritage. Yet, even after 10 years of aging, donned in a widow’s “Crow Black” and with a new name; Devorlane Hawley (fifth Duke of Chessington) recognizes her.

I asked Shehanne: Devorlane Hawley – Fifth Duke of Chessington, was off at war for 10 years. Was it the Napoleonic Wars? If not, which war was he in, and can you give a bit of history of the war and/or London around the time of this story?

Answer: It was the Napoleonic Wars but he was in the military a little before they actually started in 1803, as an unwilling recruit shall we say?  And obviously since the book is set in 1810 and the wars didn’t end for another five years, he’s no longer a soldier, having been badly wounded and invalided out. The Wars came out of chaos that was the French Revolution and for some time, a long time, it looked as if Napoleon Bonaparte could become master of Europe, until he was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to Saint Helena. I imagine that life for people in London and indeed elsewhere, would–as  ever, even as we’re seeing today– depend on your wealth.  Whatever your class, most people had a relative in the army or navy and  would be anxious about that but that’s roughly where any kind of things in common would end.  For the rich there was the chance to make more money, for the women to adopt new fashions, go to charitable balls and see some wonderful re-enactments of battles etc onstage. For the poor–the usual struggle for survival. All the English counties had a militia, there to protect the county  and of course there was espionage, the suggestion of which the heroine of this book uses to her advantage at one point.

“Never judge a book by its cover, unless there’s a gown on it.”

I came up with that exceptionally memorable saying, after reading “Splendor”. It was the first book by Shehanne that I read. I pair it here with “Loving Lady Lazuli”, as they are both part of a series about London Jewel Thieves.

You can read my review, and mini interview with Shehanne by clicking on the drawing of “Splendor”, above.

I read “The Viking and the Courtesan” quite recently. It is definitely a bit of a departure from the other stories.

Malice Mallender is quite the piece of work. For the right price “Strictly Business” will destroy any marriage, usually by dealing with the wife nuisance. The right price; enough to buy the latest pair of shoes she covets in Madame Faro’s window. So, what happens when “Strictly Business” is inadvertently hired to destroy Malice’s own marriage to Lord Cyril Hepworth?

I asked Shehanne: In “The Viking and the Courtesan” – How did you come up with the idea of “time displacement” ?

Answer: My dearest, lovely Resa, first let me thank for all your kindness and especially for the gowns and asking me here today. You may know I must be amongst your biggest fans, not just as a mega admirer of your work but the fact you make gowns to be used for charity.

Okay, so to answer your question, I had a flash moment.  I never ever set out to write a time displacement  story.  Just like I never ever set out to write any book.  But I had written the first few chapters of this book exactly as they stand now, to the bit where she goes to her husband, Cyril’s flat. The story was to be a second chance love story between them but one day as I was belting away at the keyboard, I thought that idea was a bit  too similar to the Lady Fury book. Then the little voicewhispered… you know that Viking idea you have where you have the hero’s story but not the heroine’s? Hmm?? Well … why don’t you just bung that in here?  Quite understandably I thought, no way. Are you serious????  I mean, come on. Then I went and thought about it for a moment. And I thought, okaaaay. Maybe I should just give it a try for a chapter or so, no more? What have I got to lose really? And that was it. That’s the truth. It just popped into my head.

The moment I saw the new cover of Shehanne’s re-released tale of Lady Fury (Genoa 1820), I fell in love with the gown. I read chapter one on Shehanne’s blog.  Then I read the book.

“Rule One: There will be no kissing. Rule two: You will be fully clothed at all times… Widowed Lady Fury Shelton hasn’t lost everything—yet. As long as she produces the heir to the Beaumont dukedom, she just might be able to keep her position.” 

Perhaps ex-privateer Flint Blackmoore (a man she’d rather see rotting in hell than sleeping in her bed) has never been good at following the rules, still she decides to use him to produce an heir.

I asked Shehanne: In “Lady Fury” – What was your impetus for coming up with “the rules”? Did you have a reason for making Blackmoore a privateer… ie: a love of ships, a port you have been stimulated historically by?

Answer: Ooh, I have always loved pirate stories since I read Treasure Island as a kid. I was reared on all the old films and one of my fav board games was buccaneer.  I was gutted to learn it just wasn’t possible to pursue my chosen choice of career actually. But I did always want to write a book about a pirate or a privateer. As for  ‘the rules’, well, once again I had written first few chapters and I thought, now what? You can tell by now I never ever think anything out. And I thought, well, he’s got her cornered which she’s er…not going to take lying down. So what would she do here to pay him back and keep any feelings which she sees she sort of still might have, under wraps Then I thought I could maybe have a little fun dissecting a certain activity shall we say? I am a great believer in having fun especially with rules on anything. Let’s face it, I dunno about you but over here in Scotland right now, and England, well .. I never saw so many that were badly thought through.

his is my favourite book by Shehanne. It is her most recent, and proves that she gets better with time. As the ending demands a sequel, I am hoping there is one in progress!

You can read my review, some Q&A with Shehanne and see the gown drawings by clicking on my above rendition of Destiny

Shehanne’s titles are available worldwide on Amazon, Ingram Books & Barnes and Noble. If you click on the above banner, you will go to Amazon’s universal “select a country” page. Once there, select “Books”. In “Books” search “Shehanne Moore. It will take you to all of her titles.

LOVE!

https://artgowns.com/

One day in 1950s Korea…..

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One day in 1950, North Korean farmer, Lee Che Con, his wife and six children sat down at the side of the road for two days waiting for a miracle. And not just any old miracle either. The family’s paddy field and sole hope of surviving the oncoming winter had been mined by retreating North Korean troops. Many pursuing UN troops may have driven up, one look soon convinced them to drive on. Someone with a knowledge of explosives was needed. As luck would have it, in this mayhem, along came an explosives expert–a long way from his home near the ‘tap o’ the hill,’ in Dundee and a young Private from Spring Creek, Tallangatta, Victoria, who both then spent an hour expecting every second to be their last, defusing that field.  I felt quite sad today that I wasn’t able to get the usual local newspaper remembrance notice for that explosives expert—my dad—who died 27 years ago today, when he more than went out of his way to do what he did all these years ago.

Let me tell you it certainly wasn’t  for want of trying on my Mr and my parts. But I think I can tell you that my dad would have been the first to say that  a company that sends forth ‘respectful’ reminder letters in the middle of a pandemic when  the letters are clearly ‘spew outs’, their ‘open’ offices  are shut  and then expects you to listen to the complete works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on hold,  at three times the already exorbitant cost of that notice, is  a company to give the finger to. Not in these exact words of course.

But I sure have the memory of everything he taught me, his peony roses in full bloom right now and plenty stories to tell the grandies who I am pretty certain he’d have adored.