Monday, September 18, 2017

Writing from the Heart by Kate Loveday

As writers, we’re urged to write from the heart. If we search the innermost corners of our heart, what might we find? What might any of us find? Writing gives us an excuse to go to the deeper, darker parts of our heart, to dig deep and bring out parts that are buried deep. The parts that are kept hidden from everyday life, the parts we never reveal.

Is there anyone who has never done anything they regret, something they’d rather no-one know about, something to keep hidden? Who hasn’t lost someone dearly loved, and felt pain too sharp and intense to bring out and expose to the daylight?

These deepest parts of our hearts are part of life for all of us. Until you experience them you haven’t truly lived.
As writers we have the opportunity to reveal these hidden parts of our hearts under the pretext of imagination. And it’s the knowledge of life we gain from the secrets lurking in the recesses of both heart and mind that add poignancy to a story. Even the most light hearted tale benefits from a dollop of darkness. Too much sweetness and light is cloying.

Don’t we all love a villain? Don’t we revel in dastardly deeds? In the old-time melodramas the audience were encouraged to cheer the hero and hiss the villain. And they loved it! Don’t we all love a sad story? “It was wonderful – I cried all the way through it!” That used to be the catch-cry for the old sob-story movies. Is today’s reader so much different from those old-time audiences?

It’s the interplay of light and shadow that creates a story. And the blacker the shadow, the more intriguing the story. But that darkness must be real, it must come from the heart, because readers aren’t easily fooled. They can tell the real deal.
Are we all willing to bring out those buried secrets and expose them to the light of day? Or is that perhaps why we love to write - the opportunity to reveal so much of ourselves under the guise of fiction?

How much of YOU is in your writing?

Kate Loveday

Australian author
romance-mystery
historical-contemporary
https://twitter.com/LovedayKate

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ONCE UPON A DUKE BY SANDRA MASTERS

Setting: Regency England 1817
Serena, an artist and widow, has no desire for another husband. When she meets His Grace, Duke of Sutton, attraction sizzles to a scorch. Stolen days and nights ignite forbidden passion. On a first name basis now, Geoffrey asks Serena to be his mistress, but she wants commitment, love and marriage, not an affair with a notorious rake.
Geoffrey realizes Serena might be the one woman who can care for his tortured soul, and maybe release his demons. The magic they shared is shattered when he learns she has been forced into an engagement with another. He vows to save her even at the cost of his own life.
Will Geoffrey’s gallantry prove he truly loves Serena? If he survives, will Serena surrender all to him?

Author: I thought to have His Grace answer the questions from his viewpoint. Here goes.

Author: What is your main fear, my lord?
His Grace: Getting leg shackled by a woman. I feared commitment and what love can do to a man. My interaction with Lady Serena started out as just another notch on my bedpost, but somehow it grew into something profound when I saw the scars inflicted on Serena’s back by her sadistic husband. My heart melted at the sight and I found a need to show her tenderness. I demonstrated to her the gentleness of a man and woman who share a real relationship. In a caring gesture, I gifted her with a puppy, who she named Adonis, after me and the mythical God of Love.

Author: What is the main conflict?
His Grace: She wanted a commitment of marriage. I offered the position of mistress. She refused. I left without saying Goodbye. It was not a manly thing to do.

Author: What has messed up your life?
His Grace: When I arrived in sooty-air defiled London, I found everything a bore. My thoughts were consumed with Serena whom I left behind. I did return and visited her surreptitiously one night at the lakeside manor and it was comfortable. Her maid prepared a warm meal for me. Adonis, the pup I gave her, wagged merrily and tried to bite my shoe as usual. Serena said, “WE missed you.” I wondered how along the way I had acquired a family: woman, a maid and a puppy. Our lovemaking was unbelievable and this time I woke her up before I left.

Author: Did the thought of family scare you?
His Grace: Yes. I returned to London and all I could do with think of her. The concept of a future relationship started to intrigue me. I returned to visit her the next week, but she was gone. I met with her brother and he told me she was engaged to another man and that she only toyed with me to make him jealous enough to propose marriage. He did. She accepted. Her brother approved. They were to be married in three weeks. Her brother informed me she ordered the puppy drowned and my portrait burned because it only reminded her of how foolish she had been.

Author: What was your reaction to this horrendous news?
His Grace: You can imagine how outraged I was. I did not care about the portrait she burned, but to order Adonis killed—how could I have misjudged her? I drank myself into a stupor with a good friend and while I tried to find any woman who might ease the pain of her loss, they all were found lacking. And just when I thought there was no other choice than to forget her, all she said, all she did, and all she represented to me, visitors came to my London townhouse. It was Serena’s maid and the groomsmen who had returned the puppy to me, unharmed, the week before. Her maid handed me a personal letter written hastily by her mistress. Serena advised she was being held prisoner in an armed fortress and that the marriage was forced upon her, without her knowledge or consent. She reaffirmed her love for me and indicated she would throw herself from a parapet into the ocean rather than marry the monster of a man who was to become her husband.
It was then I realized, when I was shown a picture she had drawn of the three of us, as a family, Serena, myself and the pup, that her brother lied to me—about everything. To add to this, the maid brought the portrait she had painted of me, the one that was purportedly burned, and I knew that her brother lied for his own selfish purposes. Serena’s letter ended with the words that she would love me forever, in this world or the next.

Author: Did you have plans to save her?
His Grace: What else could a rake do but reply that Emma, the maid, should return to her mistress and tell her that she would either attend our wedding—or my funeral.
I leave you to come to your own conclusion on how the ending of the novel came about.

Author: For our readers, what is the name of this debut novel?
His Grace: ONCE UPON A DUKE. I think it’s a racy title and I like the double entendre meaning. I also like the way YOU tormented me with longing and desire to obtain the unobtainable.

Answer: You can visit the author’s website where there is an excerpt at sandramastersauthor.com and you are invited to leave a comment on the Guest Page.
http://amzn.to/2aOacuc US
http://bit.ly/2fwzqfi Wild Rose
$2.99
http://www.authorsandramasters.com
Once Upon A Duke
My Divinely Decadent Duke
Thorn, Son of a Duke
The Duke's Magnificent Bastard
One Night With A Duke (Release Date June 2017)
The Blue-Eyed Black-Hearted Duke (Release Date End 2017)
Amazon | Kobo | BN | Apple iBookstore | The Wild Rose Press
Follow Sandra Masters on Facebook
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Once in a while
In the middle of ordinary life
LOVE gives us a FAIRY TALE.




Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Character Profile: Pappy Cantrell


There's been some grumbling in the squad room. Apparently not everyone is pleased with the attention Jefferson Chene has been receiving.  So it seemed only appropriate that another primary character from "Why 319?" get his turn.   Here's your chance to learn about Captain Prescott "Pappy" Cantrell, the man in charge of Squad Six.



Tell us a little about yourself.

 (takes a drag on his ever present cigarette) Ah’m from the deep south of Tennessee.  After my hitch in the army, Ah moved to Michigan. Ah met a girl from Detroit when on leave. So Ah came here and started workin’ as a policeman for the state.  Ain’t never been married.  Ah’m too restless for it.

How did your background get you involved in this novel?  

More than twenty-five years chasin’ crooks mayhap somethin’ to do with it.  Me and my squad close cases. Keeps da Governor happy.

Who came first, you or the author?

(chuckles loudly) Well, he is ol’ as dirt, so probably was him.  Seems to me he was buyin’ drinks one night and we got to talkin’.  He liked hearin’ bout sum of our cases. He’s awright … for a Yankee.

What’s your greatest strength?   And of course, we want to know the opposite, your greatest weakness.  

(another puff on the cigarette) Ah’m good at pickin’ the best cops for my squad. They all different. But they git it done.  And it bothers me to admit, but Ah’m good at politics. Ah know how the systems works.  My biggest weakness?  Southern cookin’ and pretty women. Though not always in that order.

What is it about this mystery that sets it apart from the others?

Damn killings don’t make no sense. Ain’t no connection ‘tween the three girls. There’s more’n 2,000 square miles in them three counties we cover. And the killer leaves that message on the mirror ‘Why 319?’ The hell is that supposed ta mean?  But don’t y’all worry. We gonna find that sumbitch!

Tell us something about your background that may or may not be revealed in the book?

(chuckles) Y'all sure Chene ain’t gonna see this?  Ah read a lot of legal stuff. Court cases, lawsuits, government shit, stuff y’all might find borin’. And Ah won a boxin’ tourney back in the Army. It weren’t pretty, but it was a win. Ah’m also a pretty good dancer, if it’s real music.

Are you the type of person who always seeks out the company of others?

Ah do enjoy bein’ around a pretty woman or two. It’s hard work bein’ in charge of the squad. We works together to close them cases. But when the day’s over, y’all need some distance.

What do you do to relax after a day of fighting crime?

A thick steak, cooked rare, some fine Tennessee whiskey and… (chuckles) well, y’all figger out the rest.

What’s it like working with Jefferson Chene?

(hesitates and exhales a plume of cigarette smoke, watching it drift toward the ceiling) Chene’s awright. He’s stubborn.  But my daddy learned me long ago, y’all do better havin’ good people doin’ the heavy liftin’.  Chene’s smart. He kinda sees around the corners, diggin’ out the answers. He’s awright…for a Yankee.

Which do you prefer, music or television?
Ah don’t even own a television.  Music works just fine.   Like this one.






This blog originally posted on
http://motownmysteries.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 04, 2017

Interview With a Different Kind of Duchess

MY DIVINELY DECADENT DUKE BY SANDRA MASTERS [INTERVIEW WITH THE GRACIOUS DUCHESS OF ALTHORN 

Continuing on with our Bonus Materials that never made it into the Novel for various reasons, they still add dimension, and it is my romantic hope it will keep you involved enough to read the next book. Authors, at least this one, falls in love with all the characters, whether they’re the hero, heroine, villain, or a great secondary addition. Then I move on to the next book, and fickle me, I prepare for a new romantic venture with a different personality.

Today, I’ve chosen to interview Her Grace, Cassandra, who is married to the Duke of Althorn, whom she prefers to address as Gordon, throughout the book.

Enjoy the read. I welcome all comments at sanrdmastersauthor@gmail.com. You may subscribe to my newsletter at: http://authorsandramasters.com.

Sandra Masters, Unapologetic Story Teller

P.S. You might ask why I use the term Unapologetic Story Teller. In some venues, Story Tellers are not considered, for lack of a better word, legitimate authors. I believe in Fairy Tales and Romance, so you may think me of a rebel author with a cause--and that is, I read and write all genres of romance writing. ♥


MY DIVINELY DECADENT DUKE
BY SANDRA MASTERS

Orphaned and abandoned by family, Lady Cassandra Montgomery yearns for love. Beautiful and innocent, she attracts the attention of a renowned rake, the Duke of Althorn. When her security is threatened, in exchange for his protection, she offers him a proposal for an arranged marriage.

The Duke is at first enraged by the brazen behavior, yet he sees Cassandra as captivating
caretaker for his mother, and impossible to resist. He agrees. The arrangement becomes inconvenient because love and sex enter the equation. After her first taste of desire in his arms, she finds the sensual attraction powerful. Finding herself in a family way, she leaves his home, unsure of his love. Will he consider their child entrapment?

Will the Duke admit his love and use his rakish skills to woo Cassandra back to his bed?

Will she believe her husband truly loves her and return to his waiting arms?

[b]INTERVIEW



Q. Your Grace, when you first met the Duke of Althorn, what did you think of him?
A. I thought he was kind, courageous and wonderful when he came to my rescue in a quiet drawing room of the host at the ball I attended after my fiancé had broken our engagement, an invitation for ridicule by the ton society. The thought of my reputation in tatters at such a rejection, had me shed tears. It was then a handsome gentleman, heretofore unseen, rose from a wingback chair, and offered me a glass of port and his handkerchief. After I sipped the sweet wine in one gulp, and dabbed at my eyes, I spoke in anger and regret. I still remember my words exactly. “It was rude of you to have eavesdropped on an intimate conversation. Is this my evening to meeting nothing but scoundrels?”


Q. Oh my, when did your opinion change of him?

A. Imagine a young woman, inexperienced in the ways of men, being rescued by an acknowledged rake who felt sorry for her. I didn’t want his pity. Nonetheless, he handled the situation with risqué banter and a smile that could charm a nun. I do believe all his suggestions for scandalous behavior were intended to bolster my injured ego. He escorted me to my brothers. Quite a few tongues wagged at the sight of a supposedly engaged woman on the arm of the Duke of Althorn, renowned rake.

Q. When did you meet again?
A. Two weeks after that disastrous evening, I was on the beach looking through my telescope and he came upon me. We recognized each other immediately. His warm greeting pleased me. In conversation, I sensed a thread of interest when he asked the reason for my search. I mentioned I’d visited a gypsy fortune teller who claimed my life would take a momentous turn. She also foretold I’d meet a handsome prince who would come out of the ocean. Oh, I can see the duke’s salacious smile now. “I regret I’m not the prince you seek, although a duke is next in line of the honorific titles. Will I not suffice?” Not expecting such an offer, I changed the subject, but he immediately brought it back again. “If this god did decide to show himself, I would hope he’d be clothed. All the pictures I’ve seen of Neptune have him stark naked with a rather large…trident in his hands. He might shock you.”

He was so naughty…and invitational. A blush colored my cheeks at my answer at the vision he presented, “Now wouldn’t that be the talk of the ton.” I immediately took a last look at the horizon through my telescope and proceeded to fold it. Ever the gentleman, he assisted.


Q. How did the romance progress?
A. And therein lays the conflict for Cassandra. The last thing Gordon wanted was a future wife. He has a past but he is now the respectable, if not scandalous Duke of Althorn, a dukedom he inherited when his father and the elder brother died. As a second son he had no responsibilities, but now he has them all.
So we have the juxtaposition of two people with a dire need: Security and safety for myself, the sister of an Earl, and my ward, Alicia…the duke with a need for a compassionate, able caretaker for his mother. Desperation led me to offer a marriage of convenience to the duke. At first he was outraged at my arrogance and refused, but the latest caretaker had been dismissed for her callous care of his adored mother.
Orphaned at a young age, with two brothers in the university, I had no sense of family. Not that I blamed my brothers, they were young men intent on doing what such lads do. I spent five summers at finishing school as an instructor, learning how to cook in the kitchens, and in general, I read penny novels. I truly wanted to feel loved. I thought I could have him love me.

After his disastrous rejection of me, he became much too possessive when he saw me in the arms of another man as we danced at a cotillion. And that started it—all over again.


Q. Why did the author indicate you were a unique type of duchess? Aren’t they all the same?
A. I didn’t quite fit the mold for a duchess because I was happier in the kitchens baking rather than ordering staff around. I confess I didn’t cook as much as I used to, but when I needed solace or time to think, I baked. My specialty was Humble Pie Crust. The recipe is available on my author’s website. Ours was a marriage of convenience. The pictures you see below are of myself, and my ward, Alicia, with Alfie, my brother, the earl’s son.

Q. What would you like us to know about Gordon the man you did fall in love with?

A. His Grace emanated strong feelings. You see, one could say I had baggage—a ward who was the child of my best friend. At her deathbed, she begged me to raise her little girl. What else could I do, but give her my solemn promise. I would have someone all my own to love and to love me in return. Little did I know how the gossips would twist my good intention and slander me.

That didn’t stop Gordon. He was used to power and having his every wish performed. We had a business arrangement. I expected nothing in return except that he would keep my ward, Alicia, and me safe from a malicious sister-in-law of mine. I had my own quarters, next to his mother and my ward. He was determined to stay as far away from me as he could.
I functioned as the housekeeper, caretaker for his mother, but never as his wife in the beginning. I fell in love with him almost from the start of our “living together” under the same roof. Oh, he was so gallant and would speak of outrageous subjects.

It was my duty to report my activities of the household at 4 o’clock every day. On one weary such day, he offered me a drink. I accepted. Not used to such alcohol, I passed out. And thereby hangs a tale.


Other questions?

Where and why did he get a tattoo, most unusual for an aristocratic second son and most importantly, who inked him? What is the secret he harbors? What other startling revelations will he learn?

And what does Cassandra mean to him? What else has fate planned for the two of them?.

In a fertile mind, these are the situations which ferment and cause a novel to be written. The cover picture of the duke, with his lion clan tattoo, and Cassandra, his duchess, is in the background.

Happy reading.
SANDRA MASTERS
http://www.authorsandramasters.com

Friday, September 01, 2017

Let's Talk About Villains

You know, those nasty characters who bring conflict to the story with their dastardly deeds. The writer can pluck the worst and best emotions from a reader by creating believable villains. Readers will keep turning the pages to find out if these ne’er-do-wells get what he or she so justly deserves.

I’ve created a list of my Top Ten Villains from books and movies. I’m sure you have some hum-dingers of your own. Please share them!

10.) King Edward Longshanks: In Braveheart, how very villainous of the King to invoke Primae Noctis—the right of the a lord to take any newly married Scottish woman to his bed. The injustice is enough to make him despicable.

9.) Snidely Whiplash from Rocky and Bullwinkle: Snidely holds the mortgage to Nell’s home and threatens to evict her if the mortgage isn’t paid. I could never figure out why he tied her to the train tracks, but we children booed anyhow. Also, Snidely has a villainous sneer and is sneaky. More booing.

8.) The Sheriff of Nottingham: The nemesis of Robin Hood, the Sheriff upholds the law not because it’s the right thing to do but because he wants to curry favor with the King. We’ve all known people like him. My favorite sheriff was played by Alan Rickman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. (1991) Boo. Hiss.

7.) Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: First of all, lovely name. Second, greed isn’t good and if you shuddered when he gave his famous iconic speech, we are of the same generation. The oily hair helped make him a repulsive character.

6.) Fagen, from Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist: He did take in those street kids and teach them a trade. However, anyone who hurts children is a surefire villain. Unfortunately, we read about people like him too frequently in modern times.

5.) Boyd Crowder, the smooth-talking bad boy in Justified: (On the FX channel.) This character is taken from a book by Elmore Leonard called Fire in the Hole. Boyd is complicated because he’s so darn likeable and has some good traits, (and is a hunk with great hair) but the bad things he does are really bad.

4.) The Grinch created by Dr. Seuss: We laugh at his antics but the message is clear.

3.) Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum: Again a villain who wants to harm children. Her laugh gave me the chills. Bad dreams are made of this.

2.) Inspector Javert: In Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, no amount of sympathetic backstory makes up for this dude’s obsession with Jean Valjean, the man who stole a loaf of bread to feed his nephew and went to prison for his crime. Even after Valjean served out his prison sentence, Javert won’t give him any peace.

Number 1. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris: The devil himself. The Master Villain. Nothing redeemable there. A villain to keep us up at night.


There are so many more villains but these are my favorites! Who are yours?

Sarah Richmond
http://www.SarahRichmond.com

Sarah Richmond is the author of A Perilous Proposal and its sequel, A Secret Engagement. Two Edwardian mysteries/love stories with plenty of villains, and a heroine and hero working diligently to make sure they don’t win.
Visit the author at http://www.SarahRichmond.com

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

THE TRICKY FIRST CHAPTER by Linda Shelby

The first chapter’s job is to hook your reader. If you can’t get your reader past the first chapter, then it doesn’t make much difference how great the rest of the chapters are.

The chapter one problem I faced with A Splinter In Time was that most of it takes place with the two main characters, Audrey and Leigh, sitting in a cafe booth. How boring is that? Lucky for me, I had watched the director’s commentary of You’ve Got Mail in the CD’s special features menu.

Director Nora Ephron faced a similar problem in the cafe scene when Meg Ryan is waiting to meet - for the first time - a man she has been emailing. Tom Hanks shows up and sits down at her table. Of course, he is the man she has been emailing. He knows this, but she doesn’t. To her, Tom Hanks is the man whose mega bookstore is on the verge of putting her small bookstore out of business. Not only is he the last person she wants to talk to, but she is afraid her date will arrive and Tom Hanks will ruin her much anticipated meeting.

Nora Ephron creates a series of distractions to keep the viewer from becoming bored with the constant back and forth delivery of conversation. Meg Ryan hurls insults at Tom Hanks from the moment he sits down. But he is intent on antagonizing her—payback for her public campaign to make him look like the bad guy. He picks up and twirls a red rose she has lying on a copy of Pride and Prejudice – the agreed signal to her gentleman friend.

The cafe door opens – is it her date? No, two older women walk in. Meg’s relief is obvious. She changes course and pleads with Tom Hanks to leave. Tom gets up, but sits back to back at the table behind her. An over the shoulder conversation continues. He moves back to her table. You see her frustration. The door opens again, is this the date? A man in a magician’s cape walks in – not her date. In the end, of course, she is stood up.

The rose, the two women, Tom’s move from the table, his move back to the table, and the magician, all break up a constant flow of conversation.

Armed with this lesson, I tackled the rewrite of my first chapter. Although the scene was already set in Felony Fred’s cafe, I added a prohibition era decor and a few famous felons to make the scene more visual. A life-sized cardboard cutout of a machine gun welding Bonnie Parker stands guard at the cash register. Audrey glances at the clock above a black and white glossy of Al Capone. Add a snappy exchange between the waitress and Leigh, and the entrance of the antagonist—all break up continuous dialogue.

To read the first chapter of this award winning novel, click the following link, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MCTJ3EH then click “Look inside” just above the book cover.

@linda_shelby

Linda Shelby
A Splinter In Time - Civil War romance/Time travel

Friday, August 25, 2017

First and Second Natures

A while ago I watched Hitchcock’s film VERTIGO again. The more I watch his movies the more I love Kim Novak, more than other Hitchcock female leads such as Grace Kelly and probably right up there with the extraordinary Tippi Hedren. And the more I marvel at the way Hitchcock movies combines excellence with popular appeal...

Sometimes the director cleverly mined novels of the day when making his movies. I think most people know that THE BIRDS was based on a Daphne duMaurier novella. Fewer would know that he used Winston Graham’s book by that name as the basis of the script of MARNIE. And I bet almost no one knows that VERTIGO is based on a French novel called D’ENTRE LES MORTS (1954), by the highly successful French crime novel duo of Boileau and Narcejac (although the book is still knocking around—I saw a translated copy in a bookstore last week.)

This writing duo thought of themselves as anti-Golden Age crime writers, melding victim and perpetrator to the deliberate frustration of the reader. Their story is set in France during that strange period at the beginning of WW2 called the Phony War. They integrate the strangeness (real/unreal) of the time into their narrative of things and people not being what they seem. It’s an unsettling read. Hitchcock captures the sickly aspect of it in Jimmy Stewart’s romantic obsession, but it
’s Kim Novak’s louche and layered portrayal of Judy/Madeleine that stays with me when I watch VERTIGO nowadays.

Judy and Marnie? Don’t we really want these flawed enigmas to get away? I mean, really get away, not fessing up to Jimmy Stewart or forced into marriage with Sean Connery.

While I was writing AFTER THE WINTER, I had such a clear mental picture of the conniving and secretive “confidential secretary,” Janine Douglas, including every last lovely physical detail. It was only afterwards that I realized I’d based it on the Kim Novak character in VERTIGO, with some Marnie thrown in.

Remember those iconic scenes near the beginning of MARNIE, when we see her systematically disposing of her old identity and dressing for her new part, right down to the Albert’s “custom fit hosiery?” And then, a paragon of sixties fashion, walking away from us at the railway station, carrying her snazzy new suitcase light with embezzled cash? I don’t want to give away the ending of AFTER THE WINTER, so I’ll just leave you with this... What if the movie had ended there?

Anna Dowdall
www.annadowdall.com
To Purchase