Saturday, July 26, 2014
Ah sweet love!
Love comes in many guises. In my life I’ve known three forms of abiding love. The kind that comes with always having a loving family around you—the kind that comes with a long and comfortable marriage with a steady, dependable man—and what is known as the “Grand Passion”. Hopefully everyone gets to experience this last one at least once in their life. My late husband was my best friend. He knew things about me no one else did, even my family.
Each love brings a certain amount of heartache and has varying degrees of laughter and tears attached. I know I’ve been blessed, as some people know no love at all in their entire barren lifetime.
Let’s face it, love as sung about in most songs, is a fleeting and fragile thing. Where would Country and Western singers have enough to write about without the heartache brought on by losing a lover. I likely chose romance as my choice of genre because of my smugness in having known great love. True enduring love as experienced by two people of whatever gender is a wonderful thing. Fate, Destiny, My Guardian Angel, call her what you will, has been more than kind to me. She’s always guided me to take the best and most rewarding fork in the road as I meander through the pathways that is life.
As for friends, I’ve been so lucky in my life as I’ve always had friends around me I can depend on. What is it they say? “A true friend is the one who will help you bury a body!” Well please let’s hope I never have to call on any of mine to do such a task. I have friends back home in England that I only hear from once a year (at Christmas) but these have been steady for over 50 years. Friends have come and gone in different stages of my life but some are constant. I have long-time friends who live interstate that I catch up with rarely but they still remain firm friends I can call on in an emergency (hopefully not one where a body is involved). I have a friend who has promised to care for my dogs should I die before them.
They say there is no such thing as a platonic friendship between a man and woman, but I think this not entirely true. Some of my best friends are male and truth be told I have always liked the company of these platonic ones. I like how men’s minds work (well the part that is understandable to a mere female). They have such a different way of looking at life to us females—more uncomplicated. And they take such pleasure in the simple things—such as absconding to their shed or workroom to potter about for hours doing who knows what. They don’t care if the dishes are left in the sink or if the bed is unmade at three in the afternoon, there’s more important things in life.
Then there’s my super cyber friends. Most of these live in far flung corners of the world and I will never get to meet them face to face. But they are also constant, some having been a guide and help to me through varying parts of my writing career, providing assistance and advice that helped me on the way to becoming better at my craft. I’ve always considered myself a simple story-teller, following my heart rather than my head, but without the advice gained via this wonderful world of the internet where would any of us be today.
Most of my characters have good friends to help them through their worst troubles. In Mystic Mountains Bella has Gracie who befriends her during the horrendous trip from England on the transport ship, then she has Thelma to watch over her when she arrives in the colony.
I love my family but…
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Friday, July 25, 2014
I listen to music when I write. Always have, probably always will. Once I get deep into writing mode, I can't say that I hear the music anymore, but it's always there.
Song lyrics have provided great inspiration for my stories, too. I have two different series which have song titles as the book titles.
My Darkness on the Edge of Town series is based on songs by Bruce Springsteen. Dancing in the Dark, Born to Run and Hungry Heart are three of my favorite stories, and some of the first where the book has been written to fit the title. They're also about gay cops, which are hands down some of my favorite subjects. LOL
Jude Mason and I each wrote two books in our Slippery When Wet series, based on Bon Jovi songs. I wrote Wanted Dead or Alive and Never Say Goodbye, and Jude penned Livin' on a Prayer and I'd Die for You. They are also particular favorites, these are about ex-cons which was new for me but great fun to write. For the BWL boxed set we added another set of novellas Jude and I wrote, Willing and Able, about (you guessed it) gay cops.
The advent of USB drives in cars has opened my music playlist to include all kinds of songs. With the availability of music on the internet, if I hear a song that I'd forgotten about, I'm able to get a copy and stick it in my playlist for posterity. This makes for some very random and unusual playlists.
I'm basically into oldies from the 70's forward and recent country music. My current likes also include Train, Jason Mraz, and anything Billy Joel or Keith Urban. The guilty pleasure songs on my current playlist include 'Something Stupid' by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, "Silhouettes' by the Herman's Hermits, 'I Say a Little Prayer' by Dionne Warwick and 'Conquistador' by Procol Harum. I mentioned random, right?
My husband prefers solid gold oldies and hard rock like CCR and Janis Joplin. Today when I drove his car and punched on his media drive, 'The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia' started playing. Not the classic Vicki Lawrence version, either, the Reba version. *sigh* I guess we all have our musical guilty pleasures!
What's the most unusual song on your current playlist?
~ Jenna Byrnes
Page Scorching Erotic Romance
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Diane Scott Lewis: Undergarments Revealed-what did people wear under their clothes in the 18th century?
In my research for my eighteenth-century novels, the most difficult but interesting task was to find out what people wore under their layers of finery.
Starting in the seventeenth-century, people were desperate to throw off the plain, ugly garments of the Puritans, and now produced underclothes with a sexual allure.
A man’s shirt became ruffled and more visible, with puffed sleeves tied in ribbons, to show him off as a fine gentleman.
Women’s dresses became less rigid, and cut away in front to flaunt pretty petticoats. The petticoat, often several of them, was worn to give the outer gown a better shape. It was often of embroidered or ruffled material in bright, attractive colors.
Sleeves were long and sometimes trimmed in lace. In the 1660’s dress sleeves were shortened to reveal the evocative chemise. Silk and linen were also popular materials because they harbored less vermin than wool.
Drawers, what we know today as underwear or knickers, were worn by French women, but there’s no evidence that Englishwomen wore such an item in this era. Although a country race where women ran to win a new smock said the girls wore half-shirts and drawers. So it is still a mystery.
In the eighteenth century the hoop came into fashion again, reminiscent of the farthingale of the sixteenth century. These pushed out dress skirts and the women walked holding them to one side like a bell to reveal their fancy under-petticoats, and the shape of their legs. This must have been dangerous considering the women wore no knickers. The hoop or pannier, especially in Court dress, pushed the sides of gowns out to ridiculous proportions where women had to walk sideways to fit through doors. Later in the century, panniers became narrower and the corset lighter, lacing in the front as well as back.
Men still revealed their fancy shirts by leaving their waistcoats unbuttoned to attract the ladies.
During the French Revolution after 1789 the classic style pervaded, and women discarded their corsets and confining gowns for simple, high-waisted Greek style chemises. Many women dampened these dresses to show off the fact they were naked beneath. It would take the stringent Victorian age to turn fashion to a more modest level and bring back restrictive undergarments.
Information garnered from my own research and The History of Underclothes, by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington, 1992 edition.
To learn more about Diane Scott Lewis' novels: http://www.dianescottlewis.org
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
By Victoria Chatham
OK, I admit it. I am a life-long groupie. Perhaps I should qualify that statement in that I believe we are all 'groupies' to one degree or another, as Webster's New World Dictionary classifies the word as 'a number of persons or things gathered closely together and forming a recognizable unit'.
This being so, the first group I was totally connected with was my family. Next, being an army brat, came my father's regiment. As a teenager, unable to resist the lure of being paid to learn to drive rather than paying someone to teach me, I joined the army reserves as a trainee driver and for two years thoroughly enjoyed being part of that group. During those years I joined groups within the group; namely the rifle club, self- defense club and saddle club. On any given Sunday I could be involved in target practice, learning a judo hold or throw, or horseback riding.
Apart from the reserves, my spare teen time was spent with a youth club, an archery club, various jazz clubs, a swimming club and a badminton club. After I was married I belonged to the Young Wives Club. When that faltered, what was left of our group was amalgamated into the Mothers Union under the aegis of a terrifyingly efficient lady named Mabel.
When my firstborn began school I joined the Parent Teacher Association and was a member of that group until my last born left school. In between times my neighbours and I formed a playgroup for our children. As the children grew they joined groups, which meant that ultimately so did I as I joined the committees that helped run Brownies, Cub Scouts, Junior Red Cross, then Scouts and a roller skating club.
Once my children's interests and activities were accounted for, I took care of my own with the badminton club and Women's League of Health and Beauty, now known as The Fitness League. Started in 1930 by Mollie (Mary) Bagot Stack, a young widow in poor health with a child to raise, this part dance, part exercise routine performed to live music, grew enormously in popularity and became an international organization within twelve months of its inception.
To indulge my life-long love of horses and improve my riding, particularly dressage, I joined my local family horse-riding club. Along with that came more committee work, more organizing and ultimately less horse riding until I learnt to say 'NO'! However, a group with the same interests as mine has a powerful pull and I remained on the committee for several years.
After moving to Canada I found groups galore in Calgary. I volunteered my time with an art gallery group by putting my records management skills to good use in their archives. With two dogs to walk on a daily basis, I joined the society who made it their mission to keep the park clean and educate users. I belonged to two direct sales organizations and then found a writers group and indulged another life-long love, writing. An entry in a short story competition garnered a $100 prize. With encouragement from the judges I developed my entry into a full length romantic suspense novel which may yet see the light of day.
I'm a great believer in fate, that things happen for a reason. Someone told me the Calgary Association of Romance Writers of America (CaRWA) was holding an information evening at a local library. I pounced on that news like manna from heaven. A group focusing on writing romance? How could I resist? Entry to CaRWA required membership of Romance Writers of America, so I joined another group.
Each of these writing groups and their members helped me along my writing path, through conferences, workshops and regular monthly meetings. I’ve received answers to questions, however trivial I may have thought them, when I’ve needed them. There has been a collective shoulder to cry on when rejections arrived. They sympathized when members lost loved ones, struggled with health issues, looked forward to weddings or welcomed newborns with open arms.
They made suggestions for getting back on track if the daytime job took precedence for awhile. It is a joy to be part of these dynamic, professional, friendly groups. As time has gone on I have joined another group, Books We Love, as my writing and publishing career has expanded. Some writers can and do make it on their own, but I’m not one of them.
Will I continue to be a groupie? Oh, yes. Where else, other than within a writing group can one find companionship and the understanding of the quirks and quarks of a writer's life? For me, nothing quite compares to the experience and fun in learning and growing with a number of persons who gather closely together to form a recognizable unit.
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