Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Revisiting and Revising by Prscilla Brown


From its first incarnation, this contemporary romance was ruthlessly reworked; 
the character on the cover received a new name and personality.

  
I've been involved in a textile arts exhibition showcasing items which the artist has revisited, upcycled, recycled, remodelled, or transformed in some way.  Think jeans cut off above the knee, rebirthed as shorts and decorated with bright fabric, or, with appropriate stitching, reappear
as a bag again embellished.A floral skirt way out of fashion is reconstructed into a shade for a table lamp; several kinds of textiles, fabrics, knitting, crochet, in pieces of carious sizes and colours, are hand-stitched together covering all surfaces of a second-hand wooden dining chair.
 
As I chopped up boring old scarves into sections and reassembled them onto a length of fabric, the new cloth to metamorphose into a wrap, I thought about how I use the rethinking terms for this kind of creativity in my fiction writing.

With all my novels, having reached what I initially consider to be the final draft, I print them out and put them aside for an indefinite time. I do enjoy editing and prefer to edit this "final version" on hard copy.
Write without fear. Edit without mercy. 
(Quotation found on Internet, source unknown.) 

For me, returning to a manuscript always reveals assorted plot holes, inconsistencies, repetitions,
weak characters and other glitches. Class Act (not its original name) remained in the drawer for the
longest period, four or five years. When I revisited it, I was shocked. Is this the best you can do?  Too long. Too much detailed backstory. Too many secondary characters. Extraneous events and trivia. Unbelievable female protagonist (insufficient qualifications and experience for the job she's appointed to). I wrote this while I was working in the same environment as the story is set, and this version now read as if I'd wanted to include several incidents which did happen but which were entirely out of place in the novel.

A major revision was required.

The prologue had to go, all 4000 words of it. Necessary information was salvaged and worked where appropriate into the first and second chapters, which also better defined the personalities of the protagonists. Realising I was making more changes to her than to him and to some of the scenes together, I severely chopped up and altered her backstory, reassembling the pieces into a shorter and more credible version (her one-time Mexican lover was not necessary), and stitching bits into the story where relevant.
 
A number of secondary characters lost their places (she did not need to have a childhood nanny with whom she keeps in touch). I found several scenes which did not move the story along. Some were beyond redemption and permanently discarded (whyever did they go to the zoo?); those I had fun writing and wanted to keep received remodelling so that they did provide forward momentum (adding a thunderstorm while they were eating outside at a restaurant nudged their growing attraction up several notches); others could be reconstructed and their timewise position in the story relocated. These and many other repairs, including a re-vamped ending, in this extensive revision transformed both the energy and the length of Class Act, sending about 30 000 words to the bin.

And now, it's time to take out another manuscript from its incubation in the drawer. I'm wondering how much editing will be required for this one!

Enjoy your reading. Priscilla.

 

 
 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Bananas by Margaret Hanna


Visit Margaret's BWL Author Page for Details and Buy Links


Bananas!

Yes, the fruit.

Several years ago, I was scheduled to present a paper at a conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In early May.

Those of you who are familiar with prairie weather know, only too well, that “spring” in the prairies can bring any and all kinds of weather. Including blizzards. That’s exactly what happened that spring.

Four days before the conference was to begin, a blizzard hit the southern prairies. It raged for three days. All highways, including the Trans-Canada Highway, were shut down. Nothing, not even semi-trailers, moved. Traffic stacked up at both ends of the blizzard zone.

By the second day, grocery stores were running out of fresh produce. A woman roamed through my local Safeway, crying, “Bananas! There are no bananas!”  The manger informed her, “I don’t know when we’ll get more, the trucks are stopped in Manitoba.”

The third day, the blizzard began to blow itself out. The fourth day, the sky was blue and the highways were clear. A friend and I jumped in the car and began the six-hour drive to Winnipeg.

East-bound traffic was bad enough, but the west-bound traffic was constant, and consisted mostly of semi-trailers. Suddenly, the Safeway truck screamed past. We yelled, simultaneously, “Bananas!” and laughed.

                                                                          * * *

Addie learned what a prairie blizzard was like during her first winter on the homestead. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter Nine: “First Winter” in “Our Bull’s Loose in Town!” Tales from the Homestead.

The first blizzard came in early January. The wind had been blowing from the southeast for a couple of days – a keening wind that didn’t stop day or night. It whistled and whined around our house and went straight through you. Abe brought extra coal into the house and banked snow around walls. He strung a rope from the corner of the house all the way over to the stable. “When the blizzard starts, sometimes the storm is so bad you can’t see more than a couple of feet. People can get lost trying to cross the prairies in a blizzard.” At first, I thought he was joking but he certainly sounded quite serious. I began to get a little worried.

The day the blizzard hit started off nice enough. There was hardly any wind and the sun was shining. “Seems that blizzard you promised has decided to stay away,” I teased.

“Just you wait, it’ll be here sometime today. Now come help me put extra bedding in the stable.”

We walked the few hundred yards to the stable and pitched a wagon load of straw and extra feed in for the livestock and chickens. It took only an hour or so, but the world changed in that time. The wind was stronger, from the northwest, and it sent snow snaking across the ground. And it was cold, much colder.

Then I saw the clouds, grey ugly-looking things coming in fast. They hung low over the world and looked angry. I wondered if this is how the last judgement would begin. The first snowflakes were not those huge soft things that fall like feathers; they were hard, stinging pellets that cut into your skin.

“It’s going to be a bad one,” Abe said as we scurried back to the house.



Monday, July 29, 2019

Sympathy for the Devil


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From childhood on I have been fascinated by myths. I wasn't selective; I began with the Greek and Roman ones, like any European American kid, but soon discovered a book in my mother's hand-me-down library called "Fairy Tales of All Lands" which was a thousand pages of stories from all over the globe. I read this during a long, long recovery from the German measles when I was not supposed to be reading at all because of “the strain on the eyes,” but of course books were my habitual refuge and it was just too hard not to sneak in a few pages during long lonely hours in my sick room.  In those days the world was black and white--the good guys and the bad guys--and the divisions were clear. 

In college, I read translations of the Icelandic Eddas. These stories have none of Wagner's Ring Cycle Victorian romantic overlay and many more god/demon characters. From these, I learned more about Loki, one of those ambiguous, powerful trickster figures that inhabit mythology world-wide. Loki, it seems, could be male or female at will. Sometimes, in the stories, he's helpful, usually pulling the wool over some antagonist's eyes to help out a more obviously central figure, like the Father God, Odin.

Loki, in different forms, had a whole series of monster children. As a mare, he conceived Odin’s horse, the eight legged Sleipner, but let’s not get bogged down in the fascinating details of that story. J The ones I’d like to discuss are Fenrir, a kind of wolf on steroids, Jormungandr, a serpent—also on steroids—and a little girl, Hel. Hel would be beautiful, if half of her face were not a skull. Hel gave her name to our Christian Hell.  


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Odin, after hearing a prophecy that Loki’s children will destroy him, Asgard, and all his god-kin, decides to kidnap them. This is a serious breach of Norse morality well beyond the kidnapping, because earlier Odin had sworn an oath of eternal brotherhood with Loki.  “Oathbreaker” was the most serious charge that could be leveled against anyone. (And it probably still should be!) Neverthless, Odin figures his first duty is to save himself and his kingdom, so he steals the children anyway. His first move is to co-opt the terrifying Hel with the gift of a kingdom of her own, Helheim. Hel is now ruler of the dead--the ordinary souls--not the few chosen warriors who will feast eternally in Odin’s royal hall of Asgard.

Fenrir is just a puppy when he is taken. He longs for his mother and he longs for someone to love him, as puppies do. The gods are all afraid of him, however, because of the prophecy. Only the God Tyr is brave enough to feed him and be kind to him, and so Tyr becomes the only god poor Fenrir trusts.  The snake, Jormungandr, Odin tosses into the ocean, but this doesn’t get rid of him or his propensity to grow. Jormungandr goes on growing until, hidden beneath the sea, he encircles the entire earth. Earth becomes his adoptive Mother, and he becomes her secret protector and friend.

Meanwhile, Fenrir goes on growing. More and more afraid of him, the gods go to the Dark Elves for a special magical chain capable of holding him. When they return, they pretend to play a game with Fenrir, putting on different chains and encouraging him to demonstrate how strong he is by snapping them. Every time he does do, they clap exclaim at his strength and power. At last, they bring out the Elven chain, but Fenrir senses their duplicity. He refuses to allow them to put this one on until Tyr puts his sword hand in Fenrir’s mouth as a show of good faith. “If you cannot break this chain, you may do with me as you will.” Such a heart-breaking story! Tyr has sworn loyalty to his master Odin but he’s also bonded with the wolf and he knows full well when he puts his hand in that hot mouth, what is about to happen.

The great wolf, trusting Tyr, allows the gods to “try out” the strength of their new chain. This one, so full of magic, cannot be broken. Tyr loses both his sword hand and his monstrous friend, while the hatred of Fenrir for the gods who have so abused him will now grow ever stronger. This is one of the saddest tales in the long string of the broken oaths and broken friendships which litter the ancient story.

Actions have consequences, although it seems the gods have so far believed these could be avoided. Too many rules have been broken, too many laws disregarded, and the finely balanced harmony of the universe goes spinning out of control. The time comes when Fenrir, as foretold, at last breaks even that magical chain. Then, he will kill the oath-breaker Odin and finish his vengeance by swallowing the sun. Jormungandr will arise, carrying the ocean over the land. Hel will unleash her army of the dead and the world-wide apocalypse the Norse called Ragnorak will bring utter ruin to gods and men.

When I was younger, I remember only being afraid of Fenrir,  Jormungandr and Hel, those black monstrous terrors, that break down of order. The rationalizations presented for Odin’s actions: “the ends justifies the means” seemed an inevitable part of the cruel, cynical "realism" that was part of adulthood.

Now, re-visiting the story, I have had the dizzying experience of seeing the old black and white change places. My heart breaks for Fenrir and the other stolen children; I can better understand the natural forces they represent. With a shock of recognition, I see Odin’s lies, his self-service, his delusion of total control, and also have a spine-tingling vision of how some forces are too huge for gods—or men—to imagine they can command.

  
 ~~Juliet Waldron

See all my historical + historical fantasy novels:



Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Art of Lying- (AKA Creating the Perfect Villain) by Connie Vines

A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive
way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right.

So, you have your “perfect” hero and “perfect” heroine’s character sketches and novel outline at your fingertips.  What about your “not-so-perfect” villain, aka the bad guy?  He’s just the bad guy.  Ah, but the villain is a key player in your novel.  And, you’d like him to be a compulsive liar.  However, you really want to keep the reader guessing. . .


In law enforcement, these actions are called “tells”.

How do you make the “perfect” liar?  You need to know the rules before you can break them.
What will your villain have perfected?  Why, the art of lying, of course.

Ten Tips your Villain Can Teach you about the art of lying

1. Keep your head up:

“In all shows, there is always that moment when the magician risks being discovered,” explains Jacques H. Paget*, illusionist and negotiations expert. For example, when he makes a ball “disappear” as it remains hidden in his other hand, he may tend to tilt his head to the side, a movement which, however small, may be unconsciously perceived by the viewer as an indicator of cheating. “This is an instinctive gesture that we all do when we are afraid of being caught.”
Conclusion: Your villain knows to keep his/her head straight up. This will prevent the other person from getting suspicious.

2. Use the phone:

Sometimes lying is much simpler over the phone.  Deception makes our voices drop a pitch, in order to sound more stable and assured, but lying also exposes us to three negative emotions – fear of getting caught, shame and guilt – and these may just manifest in our voices.  Your villain knows this.  Your hero/heroine may believe the action was unintentional—the first time.

3. Repeat the scenario:

If you are telling a story, the villain knows he/she first needs to integrate it as a complete theatre role. Being an actress does not mean just to learn words. It is also necessary to be at one with your thoughts and emotions. These are the things that will generally reflect your words. And some techniques can better reflect what it feels like:
– Begin and end sentences clearly.
– Take note of punctuation marks, especially full-stops.
– Sustain consonants that make words ring.
– Speak clearly.
– Work on your expressive diction.
Playing your role with sincerity.

 4. Control your actions:

“Our body speaks its own language and never lies,” says Dr. David J. Lieberman, hypnotherapist and a doctor in psychology. If you’re not careful, some little gestures will only end up betraying you.
Embarrassed by your hands, you slip them into your pockets or you lay them on your hips.
You sputter, your smile trembles and cracks as you declare how much you love the gift you received.
You touch your face, you scratch your ear, place a finger on your lips, you rub your eyes or nose to justify your delay in response.

Your face, your hands, your arms punctuate your words belatedly, and in a somewhat mechanical way.

You display a grimace instead of a grin while expressing your joy of learning promoting a colleague.
You pull a folder, a book and computer against your abdomen, as if it were a shield. Without understanding why your partner says there was something wrong with your story…

5. Do not say too much:

You call a friend to postpone a lunch for the third time. Listening to you presenting your perfectly oiled explanations, she begins to find this suspicious, there is just too much justification. To avoid getting caught, you think, better increase the size of your tale: the bigger it gets, the more credible it will seem. Because of its magnitude, it cannot possibly be invented. Your villain knows less is more. . .believable in this case.

6. Put on your sincere face:

Instead of looking your interviewer in the eye, aim for the tip of his nose. It is less destabilizing and you do not have the look diagonally, distant and elusive, whilst you spin your yarn. “Establishing good communication requires eye contact for 60-70% of the time of the dialogue,” says psychoanalyst Joseph Messinger. Also, be wary of your eyebrows wrinkling, your eyes crinkling and your eyelids blinking – they raise doubt.

7. Deviate from the truth:

A good lie always contains an element of truth. “In this case, the truth functions as a decoy.” For example: “I have an appointment with the dermatologist…” is a good primer. Then the embroidery comes in: “… to check my moles,” but you casually omit “…and to complete my Botox sessions.” It’s just a shot you have to take.

8. Do not say I:

Your villain knows to entrench himself/herself behind objective, impersonal, irrefutable facts.  “My company recruits only its sales executives with a certain diploma/certificate” … that your friend’s son happens not to possess, of course.

9. Camouflage:

Sharpen a pencil. Hang a picture. Drink coffee. Practicing an activity to pass the time is unquestionably the best camouflage for a lie. Is what any expert in non-verbal communication will tell you. The ideal situation? Lying whilst you are behind some sort of wall or partition, in order to neutralize body language, which is less controllable than words. It is essentially a way of saying that those with mowing the lawn or trimming hedges are at an advantage for if they want to lie.
Little lies?  Big lies?  Huge lies?

It’s your story.

It’s your chance to create the “perfect” villain.


Here are a few of my fave classic villains in literature:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The White Witch
Key quote: "You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill... And so, that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property."

The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Key quote: "[Moriarty] is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them."

Dracula by Bram Stoker


Key quote: "We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things"

Do you have a favorite villain?

Who was was your 'unexpected' villain is a story?


Happy Reading,



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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Are cats telepathic? Or is it just me? By Vijaya Schartz

Find NOAH's ARK and other BWL titles by Vijaya Schartz HERE



I have been accused of having a wild imagination, and I plead guilty. I’m a writer. It comes with the territory. I write strong heroines, brave heroes, and cats.

You may not know it, but in my world, real and imagined, most cats are telepathic and exhibit all kinds of special powers. Some are very judgmental, others just loving, and others yet very food motivated. They can read people’s thoughts and intentions and sense whether a person is good or evil. They can disappear from a room and reappear through closed doors, or vanish entirely… until they decide to re-materialize… usually around meal time. 

Jasmine never misses a meal, no matter how invisible she has become.

As I revisit the Chronicles of Kassouk for their second edition through BWL Publishing, I am thrown again into the sci-fi fantasy world I created for the series, Humans and their cats, fighting for their freedom against technologically advanced aliens with their own agenda. 

In the world of Kassouk, as you can tell by the book covers, cats are an important part of the culture. In Noah’s Ark, the hero’s companion is a fierce domestic cat named Viking. But all the following books eminently feature large felines, kept as pets and trained for battle. These cats are usually loyal companions, often heroic to a fault. 

Noah’s Ark is set against the dramatic background of Human scientists, runaways, fugitives, and settlers crashing on a wintry planet. The title of each following novel is the warrior name of its hero or heroine. White Tiger is the heroine of her book and all the stories after that have a corresponding big cat as a secondary character. In this series, each novel is a complete standalone with its own set of characters, its own romantic story and satisfying ending, and can be read independently from the others. 

  

 

As the population of Kassouk evolves, however, a few long-lived characters and continuing story threads develop through several novels, and have repercussions in more than one story. So, it helps to know what happened before. And if you are like me, you’ll want to read the Chronicles of Kassouk in the right order. 

I am thrilled with the republication of this series. NOAH’S ARK was just released in July 2019. WHITE TIGER is on pre-order, to be released August 1, 2019. And the following titles will come out back to back over the summer – RED LEOPARD – BLACK JAGUAR – BLUE LIONESS – SNOW CHEETAH. 

Here are the specifics of the first two novels currently available. Enjoy the read.




NOAH'S ARK
Chronicles of Kassouk - Prequel
Exclusive on amazon for a short time HERE

When Trixie's starfreighter, Noah's Ark, drops out of jump space in an uncharted part of the universe, she believes the Earth-like planet on her viewer represents hope and salvation for her motley crew and the ragtag settlers aboard her ship.

Kostas, ex Space Marine, the expert survivalist recruited for this expedition, doesn't believe in coincidences, and knows that when something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Everyone on this voyage to seed a new planet with life, is running from something, and harbors dangerous secrets... including Trixie, who vowed to never let a man control her life again. As for Kostas, he would get lynched on the spot if anyone suspected who he really is.

But on this seemingly abandoned planet, others are watching, herding them for evil purposes... And when the truth emerges and secrets unravel, Trixie and Kostas will have to fight for survival, for freedom, and for the right to love...

"Filled with action, adventure, greed, betrayal, and love..." 5-stars on amazon.



WHITE TIGER
Chronicles of Kassouk Book One
Exclusive on amazon for a short time HERE

On the frozen plains of Kassouk, where a few aliens rule a medieval Human world, Tora, Human warrior trained by tigers, seeks her father’s murderer. But what she finds at the point of her sword confuses her. How dare Dragomir, the handsome Mutant, question her bloodline and her loyalties? And could a new enemy control the savage hordes of the fringe?

Dragomir offers to help, but Humans and Mutants are forbidden to fraternize under penalty of death... Should Tora trust her mind, her instincts, or her heart?

In the vortex of war, treason and intrigue, among blizzards, avalanches and ambushes, Tora sets out to solve the mystery of her father’s death. When she unveils the secret of her birth, she realizes Dragomir is the key, and together, they must save their planet from the invaders and fulfill their destiny... if they can survive dire persecutions from those they mean to protect.

"...an exceptional tale that belongs in a place of honor on keeper shelves everywhere." Coffee Time Romance - 5-cups

"...this is one futuristic that you do not want to miss!" Fallen Angels Reviews - 5 angels - Recommended Read

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz, author
 Strong heroines, brave heroes, romance with a kick
 http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Friday, July 26, 2019

A short story by Tricia McGill

Buy this and any of my books here on my BWL author page
Because I am busily packing and am short on time, and on the day this post goes up I will be moving into my new home, I found this short romance I wrote years ago—see if you can guess who I had in mind when I created Jackson.

“I don’t want Daddy to marry that lady! Why does he have to get married anyway?” Joel grumbled.
      Rebecca helped the three children from the car. “Well, your father doesn’t have to marry anyone, but he will eventually find a new mother for you three so you might as well resign yourselves to it.”
    Why can’t we just stay as we are, Becky?” six-year-old Dylan asked as he straightened his small backpack.
       Rebecca sighed. Why indeed? But nothing ever stayed the same, did it?
     “Off you go, and have a good day.” Mae, just eight, flipped a braid over her shoulder and reached up, waiting for a kiss. Rebecca hugged the dark-haired imp, who then scampered after her brothers, turning to wave when they reached the school gate.
       Rebecca waited until they disappeared inside the school. As she drove to the place she’d called home for nine years she let her mind wander. Her boss, Jackson Hughes, would likely marry soon. This new female in his life seemed to be perfect for him—liked the children, and was obviously besotted by Jackson. His feelings for her were not so obvious.
     Rebecca entered the Hughes household as nanny to Joel soon after his birth, and was there for Jackson and the children when his wife succumbed to a rare disease and died two years ago.
   Being a concert pianist, and in the public eye, Jackson was automatically thrown into the arms of many willing women once the initial grieving period passed. He treated them all with amused aloofness. Rebecca knew it would only be a matter of time before one of the ladies hooked him.
      Jackson married young and at 35 now was a fine figure of a man. He made Rebecca’s heart flutter just looking at him. She was 31 when she first set eyes on him. Natalie, his darling wife, hired Rebecca, so she hadn’t seen Jackson until he returned from a concert tour a week after she settled into his home. It was love at first sight and that love never dwindled. Not only was he a gentleman in all senses of the word but a wonderful and loving father.
    After garaging the car, Rebecca went inside and up to the children’s rooms. As she tidied up their mess, she pondered on her next course of action.
* * *
“Daddy!”
    At Mae’s squeal, heralding the arrival home of her father, Rebecca’s insides did a complete somersault as she stared at her reflection. Women friends said she looked ten years younger than her 40 years, but were they saying that to be nice? There wasn’t a strand of grey in her shoulder-length auburn hair, and her skin was flawless. With a heartfelt sigh she straightened the collar of her neat light blue uniform, patted her chignon, and fixed a smile on her face before going out of her room. Going into the children’s study, she said, “Good afternoon, sir.”
Jackson sat at the long table, Mae on his knee, the boys either side of him. “Hi, Becky. Have a good day? Mae here tells me she got the highest score in the spelling test. Isn’t that great news?”
       Rebecca sat opposite them. “Yes sir, that’s really good news. And Joel is doing splendidly too.”
      “And me, Daddy,” Dylan piped in, not to be excluded from the praise.
      Jackson gave Mae a smacking kiss and hugged the two boys. “Yes, indeed, I’m so proud of my family.” His eyes wore a strange expression as he met Rebecca’s gaze. She wondered if he was remembering his wife who, although a lovely woman in all ways, could by no stretch of the imagination be termed a good mother. If she hadn’t gallivanted off on some obscure mission, and picked up a rare tropical disease, she might still be alive.     
      He visibly shook himself and said, “I have a tour booked for October.”
        “Where to this time, Daddy?” Dylan asked. They were so used to his regular trips away that they treated it nonchalantly. Rebecca’s insides dropped. Perhaps he intended taking this new woman in his life with him—after their wedding. That thought made her feel nauseous.
        “You all right, Becky?” Jackson asked, with left eyebrow raised.
      “Of course I am, sir. So where will you be going in October?” Rebecca crossed her arms in front of her chest and tried not to sound downhearted.
          “England.”
      Her insides plummeted even further. The other side of the world! “And how long will you be away, sir?”
          “About three months.”
         Rebecca rose and began to straighten books and writing pads that were strewn across the table. The children all loved to read and scribble, something she’d encouraged from the moment they could talk.
      “A long tour, sir. Does that mean you will be away for Christmas?”
         She caught sight of a touch of amusement in his expression. What was so funny?
         “Yes, indeed. But not sure about Christmas.” He gently put Mae off his knee and stood, kissing his daughter before she scampered off. “I’m going to have a shower, kids. Behave.”
           “Off out tonight, sir?” Rebecca asked, hoping she didn’t look too crestfallen.
           “Nope. Thought I’d have a night in. What say we all watch a movie?” Rebecca tried to take her gaze from the smattering of dark hairs peeking through the vee of his open-necked shirt, but failed.
         Luckily, giving her time to recoup control, the next few minutes were spent excitedly discussing what to watch, with no one agreeing. The children had varying tastes. Jackson shrugged and pulled a face behind their backs.
            “I might go and visit a friend then,” Rebecca said as Jackson made to leave the room.
             He turned back. “Oh? I meant you too when I said all of us to watch a movie.”
      “I thought you might like to spend time alone with the children.” Rebecca felt flustered.
      “Don’t be daft. You’re one of the family. When I say all I mean all.” He sauntered out.
        Rebecca stared mutely at the door after he’d gone.
* * *
After changing into a black skirt and pale green sweater Rebecca went downstairs. It was her custom to wear her own clothes in the evenings—a practice Jackson’s wife encouraged, thank goodness. If not for that rule, Rebecca might have spent her entire life in the plain daytime uniform.
        The children were chattering excitedly in the family room, still undecided about what to watch. The housekeeper had prepared the popcorn and left out chocolates and soft drinks before going off home.
       Rebecca loved the evenings when, even on the days Jackson wasn’t here, she could imagine she was the mistress of his house.
       Jackson glanced her way as she entered. “Ah, just in time. Settle this argument please. Why can’t kids agree on anything?”
       Rebecca shook her head, got the children to agree on the movie, and once it was playing sat on the long sofa that accommodated all five of them easily.
          Soon the boys slipped to the floor. Not long after, Mae, forever the follower, did the same, which left the two adults on the sofa. Jackson shifted so that he was within touching distance of Rebecca. If asked what the movie was about, Rebecca would have no answer, she was too aware of the man, so near yet so far.
* * *
Closing the door to Dylan’s room Rebecca breathed a soft sigh. Mae had fallen asleep long before the end of the movie and Dylan was asleep as soon as his head hit his pillow. Joel’s light was still on in his room, as was usual. He often read before falling asleep.
         “Want a night-cap?”
         Rebecca jumped at Jackson’s question. For such a large man he moved with extreme stealth. “I… I was off to bed.” She turned as if to go to her room.
         He glanced at his watch. “I know my kids are a handful, but it’s not even nine o’ clock. Surely they can’t have exhausted you that much?” He grinned.
         She smiled. “No sir, I’m not exhausted, it’s just that...”
        “That what?”
        She shrugged, lost for words. What was she doing, turning down an opportunity to sit and talk with him? Perhaps fear that he was about to tell her of his marriage plans made her wary.
        “Come on then. I’m having hot chocolate—you can make it.” He gestured for her to go before him down the stairs.
        “Aha, now I see why my presence is required.” She laughed and preceded him.
       Once the drinks were made, they went into the sitting room. Rebecca was about to sit on one of the chairs when he gestured for her to sit beside him on the sofa. He sat with relaxed ease, one leg tucked beneath him so that he faced her.
      They sipped their drinks in silence, but when he put his empty mug down he said, “I was thinking I might take the children on this tour with me.”
      “Oh.” That completely stumped Rebecca. He’d never taken them on a working tour.
       “Yes. I thought that way we could stay away for Christmas.” He traced the pattern on a cushion with a finger, and Rebecca had the feeling he was picking his words.
       Here it comes. Next he’ll tell me he intends taking his new bride with him and I won’t be required.
           “I shall want you to come with me of course.”
            Rebecca’s gaze shot to meet his. “I… I thought…”
            “Thought what?”
       “I had the idea that you were going to ask Miss Young to accompany you.” Rebecca cleared her throat. “You know—I thought you were about to tell me you intended to ask her to marry you.”
           His soft chuckle did things to her insides. “Funny you should say that. I am about to ask someone to marry me. But I can assure you it isn’t our delectable Miss Young.”
         “It’s not?” Rebecca frowned. Who could it be? Granted there were a few waiting in line who would be more than willing to become his second wife.
            “How would you like to be my wife, Becky?”
           That so stunned Rebecca she almost fainted. Eyes wide, she stared at him.
          “I realise that you don’t love me, but you love my children, and that’s good enough for me,” he said.
          “Is it?” she whispered, not knowing whether to be overjoyed that he wanted her as his wife because she would make a good mother for his children, or broken-hearted because he only wanted her as a mother to his family. “What gave you that idea?”
         “What idea?” He looked puzzled. “The idea that you love my children—it’s as clear as crystal.”
          Rebecca shook her head. “No—the stupid idea that I don’t love you.” She stared down at her hands, now nervously twisting on her lap.
          “Is it? A stupid idea?”
          “So utterly wrong and totally idiotic,” she said, lifting her chin and meeting his gaze. “I’ve loved you from the first moment I saw you, Sir.”
        His face split into a devastating grin. “That’s so good to hear. Because I love you, Becky, more than life. If you went out of my life and my children’s lives, we would all be broken-hearted.”
        “I would never leave any of you—unless you threw me out.” Rebecca reached out and did something she’d yearned to do forever—she ran a finger across his lips.
         He clasped her finger gently and pressed a kiss to it. “I think you can stop calling me sir now, don’t you?”

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Announcing a New Book by Victoria Chatham


There is nothing quite as satisfying for an author as to write THE END on a current work-in-progress as I have now done with His Unexpected Muse, Book 3 in my Berkeley Square Regency romance series.

When I started writing Book 1, I had no idea that it would expand beyond that. It wasn’t even Book 1 at that point, just an idea for a stand-alone Regency romance. My heroine in that book is Emmeline Devereux, whose best friend Lady Juliana intruded at every opportunity
but that’s what happens when characters almost jump off the page and demand their own books.

Okay, okay. Not literally, of course. It’s just one of those quirky writer’s
foibles. Non-writers rarely get the concept of having people wandering around in your head and whispering in your ear from the inside out. When I finally promised Juliana that I would write her story, His Ocean Vixen, Book 2 in the series, she went away and let me write Emmaline’s story in peace.

When that book was finished, and believing I had done with those characters, I started thinking about what else I could write. However, a reader query asking if Lady Rosemary Darnley, the villainess in Book 1, ever got her comeuppance, started me on another path which led to His Unexpected Muse, Book 3. This involves the unexpected (as the title suggests) romance between Lady Olivia Darnley (Rosemary’s daughter) and Lord Peter Skeffington.

Olivia and Peter, both characters from Book 1, are very different from the rest of the cast. Olivia is shy and retiring and Peter is painfully aware of his tall and very slender physique, nothing at all like your regular nonpareil Regency beau. How these two characters fall into romance was a very different path to take from that of Emmaline and Juliana, who were both pretty feisty females.

I am already at work plotting a new Regency series and am looking forward to meeting some new characters and telling their stories. But, for a few weeks at least, I’m going to enjoy kicking back and catching up on books on my To Be Read list.



 To be released August 3rd, 2019



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