Saturday, August 17, 2019

What About Series - Janet Lane Walters #BWLPublishing #MFRWAuthor #Series #Writing

What About Series
 Forgotten Dreams (Moonchild Book 5)

I once had a discussion with a friend about trilogies versus series. She believed trilogies were series. I thought series should be beyond three books. Though we never settled the argument, we did talk a lot about series. One of my favorite authors has a long and wonderful series. There’s another book due in this series in January and I did a pre-order for a lot of money. I believe this is book 20 or maybe 21.

During the discussion, we discovered there are many kinds of series. One type focuses on a group of friends and their lives. Many of these are romances.  My series Opposites in Love and the Seduction series fall into this category.
 The Leo-Aquarius Connection (Opposites in Love Book 5)

Opposites in Love and Moonchild series fall into something different. They have Astrological Signs as a foundation. Moonchild also has the same large town or small city, not sure what it is. The use of Affinities in the basis for the YA Series.
 Affinities Escape

Murder and Tea all belong to the same character. So does the YA fantasy series Affinities. But this is many of the characters as they grow and come into their powers.

 Murder and Sweet Tea (Mrs Miller Mysteries Book 6)
So series can be based on a single character and continuing adventures. There are series placed on location. All taking place in the same general area. There are series based on something like astrology, or other like kind of subjects. The great thing about series is keeping them fresh and also knowing when a series might end.

Now some questions I’d like you to give your opinion.

Are trilogies series?
What are your favorite kind of series?
Do you have a series to plug?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Good at The Bad, by J.C. Kavanagh

Book 2 of the award-winning The Twisted Climb series

Peace and tranquility are by-products of sailing. Capturing these serene moments are difficult. You have to choose between ‘leaving’ the moment to concentrate on a photo/recording device, or, still your soul to imprint the moment on your mind.

Georgian Bay art in the sky
Imprinting these special moments adds to the hundreds if not thousands of imprints in the playground of your mind. As I write this, I’m on week two of a month-long sailing vacation in Georgian Bay, Ontario. I’ve mentally captured hundreds of images and stored them all over the playground in my mind. Some are on the ladder steps leading to the zipline platform; some are tied to a slim-shady bridge made of vines, and others are stored in the dark recesses of an old wooden cupboard. All patiently waiting for the perfect moment, for the perfect scene, for the perfect character.


I’m anchored at The Bad River on the northeast side of Georgian Bay. When the weather is bad here, it’s really bad. But when it’s good, it’s an earthly paradise. This is the place that jumped from reality and into the playground of my mind – and then leapt into the pages of my award-winning sequel, The Twisted Climb – Darkness Descends. There you will find the Devil’s Door Rapids. There too, you will find the treacherous waterfall and the great cliff.

Devil's Door Rapids at The Bad River
Georgian Bay, Ontario

My sailboat, Escape Route II,
anchored at the cliffs of The Bad River

Adventures are calling. Who will respond?


J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2)
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2018, Critters Readers Poll and Best YA Book FINALIST at The Word Guild, Canada
The Twisted Climb,
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Weird Television Shows

Television has given us some of the strangest ideas in entertainment. Here are eight of the most bizarre shows ever:

1) The most tone-deaf concept: Heil Honey I'm Home! 

Hitler getting his ears chewed off by Eva Braun
A British sitcom, written by Geoff Atkinson and produced in 1990, which was cancelled after one episode. It centers on Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, who live next door to a Jewish couple, Arny and Rosa Goldenstein. The plot?  Hitler's inability to get along with his neighbours (you think?) It caused controversy when broadcast and has been called "perhaps the world's most tasteless situation comedy".

2) Love me, Love My Car: My Mother, The Car

As its title suggests, My Mother The Car dealt with a talking automobile. Jerry Van Dyke starred as David Crabtree whose mother, Gladys, has been reincarnated as a 1928 Porter car. Announcing the show’s cancellation in May 1966, The Chicago Tribune’s television critic Clay Gowran called My Mother The Car “a horror that defies description.” A total of 30 episodes were broadcast: the last new episode aired on April 5, 1966.

3) Cook and Vomit: Close to the Bone: Surgeons and Chefs

This is pretty much what it sounds like. Chefs, surgeons, a lot of edible anatomy, plus a dose of hard-body doctor windsurfing footage--turns out the show's resident surgeon, Dr. Hu, knows how to cut through both cervical fascia and sick waves. Everyone involved in this is Canadian, and an article from Dr. Hu's medical alma mater reports that the show actually aired on the Canadian Learning Channel in 2004. Good thing restaurants don't provide health care.

Brutal humiliation of Earthlings by Alien Monkey News Anchors
4) Alien Monkey New Anchors: Mikorte Informativo

Think our late-night comedians are harsh? This Mexican news-satire show has hosts that dress as monkeys from another planet and mock what’s going on with Earthlings.

5) Taking on the Russian Police: The Intercept

Who wouldn’t like to receive a brand-new car for free? That was the concept behind this Russian game show. A guest would come on to the show and drive off with a car. Of course, where’s the “game” in that? So the producers added this wrinkle: After you got your car, they would report it stolen to the police. If you avoided the cops for 35 minutes, the car was yours. The show included “losers” getting beaten by Russian cops.

6) Celebrity Executions: Ramez Galal's Prank Show

Paris Hilton on the Bus to Eternity
Ramez Galal, an Egyptian prankster who has the rapid intensity of someone who takes his Red Bull intravenously, is the star of the show and is accompanied by his crew of "sidekick terrorists." A bus full of actors and one mark (usually a celebrity or group of tourists) is hijacked by Galal and his team, who are covered in headscarves and wielding AK47s. The marks are then dragged out of the bus, blindfolded, forced to their knees and told they're about to be executed. Just before the trigger is pulled, Galal reveals himself and the prank.

7) The Bachelor” knock-off, starring Mothers-in-law: Perfect Bride

This show was what can be called the Indian version of Splitsvilla. Like Splitsvilla the male and female contestants were made to stay in a picturesque villa and performed brainless tasks. However, the winning jackpot, in this case, was not a date but a wedding. And the best part, the mothers of the prospective grooms were also to reside with the female contestants of the show and judge them to be worthy or not of their sons. For those who like romance served with a side of awkwardness, with tension thick enough to slice with a knife.

8) The never-ending drug-trip from the ‘70’s: Monkey

Who? What? Where? How? But mostly, WHY?
Attempting to sum up the plot is an exercise in futility, but needs must, so here goes: An immortal
human-monkey hybrid with magic powers who was born from an egg on a mountain top joins a Buddhist monk who’s actually a woman on a pilgrimage to India. They are accompanied by a water monster (Sandy) and a pig monster (Pigsy) and travel around either on a biddable cloud or a shape-changing dragon who serves as the group’s horse. The horse can talk, and is voiced in the English version by Andrew Sachs. From China.

 Mohan Ashtakala is the author of "Karma Nation," a Literary Romance, and "The Yoga Zapper," a fantasy. Check him out at: or at Books We Love,

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A modern Miss and a modern Sheila Claydon

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With teenage grandchildren I am under no illusion that today's writers have to look to their politically correct credentials if their stories are to pass muster. My goodness how times have changed!

I was first published in the early 1980s when it was still entirely possible for the heroine to be kissed against her will or, through lack of a voice, be coerced into doing something that was anathema. Of course we all know this still happens in real life, in sad situations where women and, more often, young girls remain powerless, but there is no longer any place for this in the sort of escapist romances I write.  Nowadays the heroines are all feisty (and rightly so). They have careers and independence. Their sexual back history is usually alluded to sufficiently to make it clear they are not entirely innocent. They are also prepared to walk away from any romantic liaison that doesn't satisfy them emotionally.

They are, of course, also computer savvy, carry cell phones, drive, often own property and are frequently fearless when faced with either physical or emotional dilemmas.

The only way around this is to write historical romances when life and behaviours were very different, and this became very clear to me when I wrote Remembering Rose, the last book I had published.  It is a story of several romances, one of them being that of Rose who lived in the 1800s. The juxtaposition of Rose's life and that of her great-great granddaughter (researched from historical accounts by real people) is a real eye-opener. I am old enough to remember the attitudes of past times, however, and the practical reasons behind them, whereas modern teenagers and twenty and thirty somethings are not, and why should they be. Life has changed almost beyond recognition and is continuing to do so, and writers have to try to keep up with it.

Lisa, the heroine in that first book of mine, Golden Girl, now republished by Books We Love as a retro romance, is light years away from Rachel, the heroine of Remembering Rose. And so is the storyline. Nobody would ever try to push Rachel around whereas Lisa had to fight off unwelcome advances and suffer in silence when nobody would listen to her voice.

So what does that say about me? Someone who lived in London in the swinging sixties, which, unless you were part of a small coterie of celebrities, were far, far less swinging than history would have us believe! It says I started off as a Lisa but have ended up as a Rachel, something that has happened to many women of my generation but certainly not all. To keep up a writer needs to mix with people of all ages, especially younger ones, and learn from them, or become irrelevant.

I thought of this when I revisited the half written manuscript of my latest novel, the one that has been sleeping on my computer for almost two years while I concentrated on other things. After a hiatus I can feel the need to write stirring again but, because life changes are moving exponentially nowadays, I read it was some trepidation.  What was I going to have to change? Fortunately it looks OK. The language and attitudes are fine and the storyline is still relevant. I am having trouble with moving it forward though because this time there will be teenagers involved as well as the main protagonists who might end up as step parents ( a first for me)...oh yes, and a ghost as well...just like in Remembering Rose. It seems that the village of Mapleby, which is the setting for both books, and for a further one in the future, is haunted...not by ghouls or goblins but by the spirits of past romances. Writing again promises to be an interesting ride.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Romance Is My Passion

What is Romance?  Is it simply a love story?  While all romances contain a love story, not all love stories are romances. Romances are a genre of fiction. As any other genre, it has conventions, just as mysteries, science fiction or westerns do. 

I love reading good romance novels.  Why? How?  With a grateful nod to poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Let me count the ways….

1  Romances have no boundaries.

Romance novels can go back centuries, spanning right through the decades to the present, and into the future. Why? Because love hasn’t changed over the years, plots and genres from historical, to young adult, to paranormal, to romantic drama, comedy. adventure, to western to suspense.  All genres live inside romance.

Nowadays we can read much more about the varieties of love thanks to the LGBTQ community and erotic fiction. At the end of the day:  love is love.

2 Romances can teach 

I know a few things about women’s roles in the first and second World Wars, how women got away with posing as male soldiers in the Civil War…Also how to run a b&b and catch a thief.  Would I pick up a non-ficton book or manual on these subjects? Maybe not.  But through my love of romance novels, I am now far better informed on many subjects. If well-written, the product of the author’s research is in a romance fiction. If a book is set in the 1940s, for example,  you’ll find out the news, slang, what type of clothes people were in fashion, what technology people used to travel and communicate. And it’s all delivered painlessly, as part of a great story. I always value a well researched, informative style of writing, in any genre.

3 Romances feature strong women

Do you like to read about shrinking violets?  With women strictly in the background getting coffee? About women with no voice or opinions?  Well, romance is not your cup of tea.  A good romance novel will show the strengths of a woman, even against adversity. Women will never be stereotyped as weak or “arm candy” or insignificant in romance novels. They are HER journey’s story.

4 Oh, there’s….the sex
Yes, except for in the sweet, close-the-curtain variety, there is, as in life, sex in romance novels. And, as in life, when it comes with consent, and in the right moments, it pulses with joy and wonderful variety!

5 Also relationships
What makes a good relationship? That is a complex question with many answers that are right for different people. By reading romance novels we can compare to our life relationships. That’s why it’s always puzzled me why men who keep loudly wondering “what do women want?” don’t read romance novels.  The answer lies within, fellas. 

6 And always, hope.
Anything  wrong with a little daydreaming of the perfect mate?  How else do we to know what to look for in life?

7 Romances make us laugh, cry…and wait!
That is Charles Dickens’ prescription for good storytelling.  We all like a laugh. There is often humor in romance. The laugh out loud kind, the clever wit, the  sharp one-liners. And who doesn’t like a good cry? Sadness and setbacks get our emotions stirring. And mixing in in a good galloping plot full of conflict, make us wait for ….

8.  Oh, those happy endings
Finally there is that much-derided guaranteed “happy ever after. “  Yes, you’ll find happy endings in romances as sure as the murder will be solved in mysteries and the cattle delivered in westerns. If the romance is good, that happy ending will be well-earned and worth the wait!

Monday, August 12, 2019

How to Get Rich From Writing

1. Write a book series in a popular genre, with appealing characters and plot.
2. Set the books in a place people love to visit.  
3. Sell the series to a TV producer with a budget to film exteriors at your story locations.

When my husband Will and I travelled to Scotland last year, we were amazed by the number of 'Outlander' bus tours. These  3, 7 and 10 day excursions focused on sights associated with the time travel book series by Diana Gabaldon, set during the Jacobite risings in the 17th and 18 centuries.

History, romance, mystery, adventure, science fiction, Outlander has it all. The tours stop at locations mentioned in the books or used for filming. I don't know if Gabaldon makes money directly from the tours, but they help fuel her fans' enthusiasm for the novels and the television programs that earn her royalties and gain her new readers. In Scotland we met a man taking an Outlander tour solely for the history. We teased him about being stuck in a bus with obsessive fans, most of them women in love with stories' elusive hero, Jamie Fraser.
Eilean Donan castle, located at the bridge to the Isle of Skye, played a role in the highlanders' rebellion
Will and I opted for a less expensive tour through the highlands to the island of Skye. Our guide occasionally referred to the Outlander books and commented that they did a good job of portraying the feelings of the Scottish people of the time. This spring Will and I travelled farther south in Europe, to Sicily. While planning the trip, we searched the Calgary library for movies featuring Sicily and stumbled upon the Montalbano mystery series, based on the books by Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri. We started watching the DVDs and enjoyed the stories, their glimpses into Sicilian life, the scenery, and the characters -- loyal Fazio, Mimi the womanizer, comical Caterella and chief detective Salvo Montalbano, an intelligent, honest, determined man with commitment issues and a love of good local food.
Will playing Montalbano in Scicli 
When we arrived in the Sicilian city of Siracusa in April, we saw numerous notices by tour companies offering day trips to Montalbano film sites a couple of hours away. Since we were later renting a car and planned to drive through this part of the island we thought, let's visit them if we have the time. Brochures for Montalbano tours in subsequent cities made us more eager to fit the sites into our schedule.

On the drive, our first 'Montalbano' stop was Porto Empedocle, birthplace of author Andrea Camilleri and inspiration for Vigata, the fictional town in his detective series. In 2003 the city officially changed its name to Porto Empedocle Vigata to attract tourists, but reversed the decision a few years later, perhaps because the ploy didn't work or residents objected to the commercialism.

Porto Empedocle

Montalbano's house in Punta Secca
The next day, we drove to the seaside village of Punta Secca, the location of the fictional detective's home. This was May 1st, a sunny, warm Labour Day holiday in Italy, and it was hard to find parking. We followed the lighthouse landmark that appears in all the TV shows to Montalbano's house, in real life a bed and breakfast hotel. Crowds gathered in the adjacent square, everyone taking photos of themselves in front of Salvo's home. We walked along the beach, where he swims each morning, alone, except when he comes across a dead body or a crime being committed.

Montalbano's beach, with his home and the landmark lighthouse in the distance 
The Vigata police station scenes are filmed in nearby Scicli. Will and I arrived at the town's main square to find a sign for tours of the 'Vigata' police station. Since we were the only English speakers interested at the time, we got a private tour. The guide told us this was Scicli's actual police station until 2013, when the TV producers bought the locale for a permanent set to avoid having to rearrange items each time they filmed. I would expect the producers of the Montalbano series get a share of the money collected from the tours that pass through the fictional station each day.

Me and Will behind Montalbano's desk in the 'Vigata' police station
We spent the night in Ragusa Ibla. This hilly city and region is the location for all the other Montalbano show exteriors. On the main street, we passed a seafood restaurant announcing that 'Salvo Montalbano' eats here. That is, they claimed that Luca Zingaretti, the actor who plays the character, enjoys the food. The street's bookstore was full of items related to series: DVDs, guidebooks to the Montalbano film sites, all of Andrea Camilleri's novels plus other books written by him, including children's books (souvenirs for the grandchildren) and cookbooks of Montalbano's favourite recipes. A tip for writers: when your novel series goes big-time, make sure you write a non-fiction book about your protagonist's special interest. Camilleri could almost make a living from sales by this Ragusa Ibla store alone.
Poster in Ragusa: Montalbano actor Luca Zingaretti (man on the right hand side) endorses this local restaurant
Andrea Camilleri is far from the only person getting rich from Montalbano. Luca Zingaretti's career has taken off. Residents of Punta Secca, Scicli and Ragusa Ibla reap the multiple economic benefits of increased tourism. Sicily has always been a place tourists love to visit, for the beaches, the history, the food, the sunshine. Montalbano tourism gives the island a little more boost.

Riches aside, this must be enormously satisfying for an author.  
Ragusa's stunning hillside landscape is worth a visit even without Montalbano 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

What's the Hurry? by Karla Stover

Image result for wynters way

I picked up a book, recently, off a help yourself table at my garden club. The brief synopsis sounded promising and, yes, I did judge the book by its cover. I took it home to read.

Page 1. The protagonist loses her job.
Page 2. She finds a "Help Wanted" ad, applies for the job by phone and is hired.
Page 4. She is leaving her home and moving to another state.

Good Grief, that was fast, not to mention more than a little unbelievable.

The book made it to 298 pages but only because it was a small paperback. I compare it to the 454 page hard cover Rosamunde Pilcher book I saved from my mom 's estate. Pilcher was a master of letting her readers smell, see, hear, feel, and smell everything her characters did.

Among contemporary writers, Katherine Pym does a good job of creating the scene. Pym may be one of the only living writers who read Pepys' diaries to guarantee authenticity.
Anyway, I;m just saying, the senses are sight, sound, taste, smell, and feel. It behooves all of us who write to remember.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

State Fair Time

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It’s August, and for many that means county and state fairs. Living in Iowa, the state fair is a phenomenon people make plans for weeks before it begins and talk about it for months after it’s over. The smell of caramel corn, horses and livestock; the sounds of children squealing on the carousel and octopus rides, and the endless sights of people, colors, movement and lights are not something you forget. 

Even with that being said, I’ve yet to use a state fair for the setting of a book, but have used Independence Day celebrations, Christmas, a mermaid festival and the Kentucky Derby. Every celebration or holiday has specific details and rituals which, if the writer has studied well, bring the event to life for the reader. We feel the sweat trickle down our backs in the heat of a summer day and the press of people as we jostle in line for the rides. We smell the roasted corn; hear the vendors hawking the latest in veg-o-matics and massage chairs; see the beautiful quilts and food displays, and taste all there is to taste.

Ah, that’s where the Iowa State Fair shines! At one time, you could get a corndog, cotton candy or popsicle on a stick. Now, it has become a serious undertaking each year to come up with different foods, most of them “on a stick”. Everything from fried pickles to pork chops becomes easily portable so you can continue your walk along the midway and displays. This year’s fair is touting 57 different foods for you to try. (You’d better plan to be there for more than one day!)  Too many to list, I’ve picked a few that sound intriguing.

All things apples – cider, caramel apple bites and cider shakes, apple nachos and more. I think the “Boozy Pecan Caramel Apple” sounds very tempting.

All things bacon – (We’re known for our pork here in Iowa.) How about Berkshire Bacon Balls, on a stick, of course.

Other food on a stick include Brownie waffles, chicken Parmesan and the traditional corn dog, though this one is super sized.

And if it’s not on a stick (and often even when it is) you know it is fried. A few of the favorites this year include deep fried deviled eggs, fried avocado slices, and about ten or more flavors of funnel cakes. One year the group of us tried at least six different flavors of funnel cakes and I went home with powdered sugar all over my shirt.

Last year before my family attended the state fair, we spent the evening watching “State Fair”, the movie. Some of you are thinking Pat Boone and Ann Margaret; I know I was. But not with my brother-in-law at the helm. A movie aficionado, he chose the 1954 version which was set at the Iowa State Fair, while the Pat and Ann movie had actually taken place in Oklahoma. Besides the fact the father had been dousing the mother’s fruit cake entry with bourbon (or some such), the thing I found remarkable were the clothes they wore to the fair. Today you see everything, and quite often less than anything! Some outfits should not have been worn out of the bedroom. But in 1954, the men were in suits and flat-topped straw hats and the women wore heels and dresses with crinolines! Can you imagine riding the five cent Ferris wheel in a dress?

Come one, come all to the great state fair for family fun and entertainment. If you haven’t “done” a state fair, you are missing out on a great time.

I'll be there August 12!
Barbara Baldwin

Friday, August 9, 2019

So, You want to write a book? ~ by Rita Karnopp

So, You want to write a book?

So, you want to write a book … and you’re wondering if you should read all the ‘How To’ books out there before starting.  What about books on pacing, characters, grammar, setting the scene, mapping out the story, creating a beginning, middle, and an end . . . and it goes on and on and on and . . .
Yep, if you decide before you write word one – you are going to do nothing but research – then you’ll never write a sentence.  I call it procrastination.  Of course, this is my opinion.  I firmly believe we learn to write – by writing. 
When it comes to creative writing - I know there are authors who won’t agree with me.  They’ll ask; “Why reinvent the wheel?”  Don’t get me wrong, reading ‘how-to write’ books is a great way to learn – but it shouldn’t overshadow real writing. 
I believe if you start writing you develop a natural flow – your style – and no stack of books can teach you that.  Don’t taint your creative writing by trying to follow the steps of an established author.  That is her/his style – not yours.
Don’t get me wrong, a beginning writer will find invaluable writing skills in the ‘how-to’ books out on the market. These books can improve your technical abilities and improve your writing skills. Just remember they are training tools – and you must take your own creative license to make a story yours – writing in your ‘voice.’ 
You accomplish this by writing – writing – and writing.  Writing is 80% revisions – and that’s how you learn.  You’ll never type a book from start to finish without revising and even re-writing.  Each time you’ll learn something new … something that will polish the new story … something that you hadn’t mastered when writing before.
I must add, it’s wise listen to advice and comments from editors, agents, publishers, and established authors.  You can learn so much from them if you respond to criticism with an open mind.  Never take it personal.  If you feel the suggestion is an improvement … go for it.  If not … you have the right to ignore it.
When I first wrote my first book, Whispering Sun, my heroine was deaf the entire novel.  An agent loved the story – but said, “You realize this book would be so much better if you could figure out a way to have the heroine get her hearing back early in the book.”  OMG!!  All I could think about is, I will have to rewrite the whole book.  I didn’t want to do that.  But, after thinking about it long and hard – and even if I truly didn’t want to – I rewrote the entire book.  Best decision I ever made.  The story is 95% better!  It’s still my best seller year-after-year - even though I’ve written 19 books! 
Best writing advice I was ever given – and I want to share it with you;  “You’re only as good as your next book.”

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Sophie's Scoundrel by A.M. Westerling

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Sophie's Scoundrel
A Regency short story by A.M.Westerling

Sophie slid off her mare and looped the reins over a convenient shrub. 
Giving the horse a quick pat on the nose, she turned and began the familiar trip down the little path that meandered through the dunes to end up at the gravel and shell beach just on the edge of her family’s estate. When she neared the edge of the sea, she held out her arms and tilted her face to the sun before stripping off her bonnet. She tossed it in the air where the breeze caught it and whirled it about ribbons and all before it landed in a frivolous clump on the beach.
            She sat down and removed her riding boots and stockings and wriggled her toes with sheer delight. Then she unpinned her hair and gave her a head a shake so the chestnut curls spilled over her shoulders and down her back.
            “Aaahhh.” She sighed with pleasure. “I have missed this so.” Feeling a little foolish for talking to herself, she glanced around to be sure that she hadn’t been heard. It would not do to have the locals gossip that Lord Harrington’s eldest daughter was daft! 
Sophie gathered up the skirts of her velvet riding habit and crunched across the beach to the water’s edge, dabbling first one big toe then the other in the chilly waves. The gravel pricked against the soles of her feet, delightful in its intensity and for the first time in weeks she felt alive, well and truly alive. Not that she hadn’t enjoyed her stay at boarding school but it had been restrictive, to say the least.
She mimicked the head mistress. “Sophie, you must pour this way, Sophie, you must set a stitch that way, Sophie, mind that your voice is never raised.” Mama would be scandalized if she saw Sophie now, poking fun at Miss Smythe and standing bare foot in the sea.
“Your mama would be scandalized.”  A masculine voice interrupted her, echoing her thoughts perfectly.
She spun around, dropping her skirts into the water. Rueful, she glanced down for it was sure to leave a stain. Then she raised her gaze to the stranger before her. And raising her gaze it was for he stood at least a head taller than her. Her breath caught in her throat.
He was handsome, to say the least – tall, dark and lean with a rapacious air about him as if he would pounce on his prey at any moment. Judging by his burnished cheeks, tousled hair and the crop dangling from one wrist, he had also been out riding.
Sophie realized she must look a fool standing there dumbfounded and ankle deep in water. For once in her life she was completely nonplussed.
“You, you …”, she stammered, managing to wobble her way back on to the beach without incurring further damage to her frock.
“Yes?” Amusement tinged the stranger’s voice.
Bravado was her best option so she squared her shoulders and jutted her chin. “I meant to say you’re trespassing.”
“I think not.” He pointed to a marker just off to one side. “I believe that is the edge of my property. Indeed, you are the one who is trespassing, Miss…?”  The question dangled between them. When she didn’t answer, he swept forward in an elegant bow. “Allow me to present myself. I am Lord Bryce Langdon. And you?” Again he waited for a response and again she declined to answer.
            Oh dear, she knew very well who Lord Langdon was. He’d just acquired the adjacent land. In fact, they were all to meet him this evening for the first time.  However, if word ever got out that she’d met him in this situation, her reputation would be ruined. Anger at herself for the foolishness that had brought her here unchaperoned made her tongue sharp.
“You, sir, are an ill-mannered boor.” She spat the words at him. “Only an ill-mannered boor would compromise a young lady as you have just done to me.”
“I must beg pardon then for I had not recognized you as such.” He pointed to the ten toes peeping out from beneath the hem of her skirt. “I dare say your behaviour is sadly lacking.”
            “You, you scoundrel, how dare you insult me so,” she fumed.  “You, you -.” Her mind went blank, sucked bare by the devastatingly handsome man before her.
 “Wretch?”  He suggested, the corners of his mouth beginning to lift.
Sophie stared at him for a few seconds, watching the devilish grin threatening to take over his entire face. Her lips twitched and she scowled in a vain attempt to maintain her decorum. It didn’t work. 
Giggles burbled up and burst free and she began to laugh. He joined her, the sounds of their laughter mingling with the cries of the sea gulls circling above.  Bryce Langdon must be an astute judge of character for he was entirely correct in his assessment of her. She detested the rules and strictures of the upper class and it was that rebellious quality that had landed her in boarding school in the first place. There was no point in denying it.
“No, you’re absolutely right. I’m not behaving like a lady. That is,” she hastened to correct herself, squeezing out the words between giggles, “in the sense I do not enjoy sewing and such. Much to the dismay of my mother and sisters, I prefer to be outdoors.”
“And I am no drawing room fop. So I see we shall get along famously.  You have yet to introduce yourself?”
She curtsied. “Lady Sophie Harrington. We are to meet this evening for dinner at Harrington House.” A wry expression twisted her face.  “Please don’t mention to anyone that you saw me here today.”
Bryce took her hand and raised it to his lips. “Rest assured, I shall tell no one. Tonight when we meet, it will be as if for the first time.” His dark eyes were admiring and warm with promise as he kissed her hand again before dropping it. “I look forward to seeing you again, Lady Harrington.” He said her name carefully, rolling out the syllables as if he savored the cadence. He saluted her with his crop then turned on his heel.
Sophie watched him walk away, scuffing his polished black boots along the beach until he disappeared from view.
A secret smile curved her lips. Perhaps, she thought to herself, not everyone thinks I must conform to society’s rules. Perhaps I can be loved just the way I am. With a light heart she gathered her boots, stockings and bonnet and made her way back up the little path.