Thursday, August 25, 2016

Oh Those Characters Kate Loveday

It’s amazing how characters can worm their way into your mind. Take Kitty Morland, for instance. She first came poking herself into my consciousness when I was doing some research about Bulahdelah, a small Australian rural town about 145 miles north of Sydney. We’d recently moved to the area, and I was intrigued to know a bit about it, and its history.

 I’m a city girl, through and through, but history has always fascinated me, and I was keen to know about the early days of my new home. The local Historical Society was very helpful, giving me access to all their records and photos.
But as I set about my research I heard this voice nagging me like a drunken parrot. “What about the women. What about the women.”
Well, what about them? She gave me no peace until I started to investigate conditions for women at that time. And I found that many women were treated worse than a man’s pet dog. In fact, Rose Scott, a leader in the women's suffrage movement in Australia, wrote: "Men have come to look upon women as a sort of appendage to themselves, a sort of tail that can only wag when man - the dog - is pleased!’
It was the general belief before the twentieth century that women were inferior to men, in every way, with no rights whatsoever, and the law was framed to that effect.
Wow, no wonder she wanted me to do this research! But there have been powerful women in history. How come?
Because they were wives, mistresses or concubines of influential men. Many of them had great power, and were strong, powerful women.
Here Kitty chipped in again. “Hey, look at me, look at me, what about women like me?”
I supposed she was one of the ordinary, everyday women, who’d had the spirit to rebel against this injustice – women who refused to be browbeaten by the men? Was she? And if these women defied custom – could they face the results of going against the conventions of the day?
She gave me the answer. “Yes, I broke out of their male-imposed mould, and I can tell you I had a pretty rotten time of it.”
“I suppose you want to be in the story, do you? Is that what this is all about?”
“Yes, I want you to tell my story. It’s about time someone did.”
And so I’ve told her story, and I’ve called it ‘A Woman of Spirit.’
And if I thought I was going to tell it all in my own way, I was in for a surprise.
The trouble with characters is they take the story where they want to go. Forget your own pre-conce

And when I finished ‘A Woman of Spirit’ there was no way Kitty was going to let me put her to bed. No, she told me there was still much more to tell. And she still wanted to be #1 So it meant another book, Redwoods Book Two. And she is still a dominant character in that second book, alongside her daughter Joy.

ived ideas, if that’s what they want, you ignore them at your peril!
I’ve decided it’s time to move on and leave her behind. But she doesn’t agree. She has even infiltrated my dreams. Believe it or not, I dreamed of her last night. I was standing outside a room with a closed door, and inside that room someone was hammering on the door. “Let me out, let me out,” a voice was calling through the door. “You can’t keep me locked up in here.” It was Kitty. Believe me! So what am I to do? I suppose I’ll have to let her have her way, and put her in the next book in the Redwoods series.

Kate Loveday Facebook -

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chocolate, Coffee, Men – Some things are better RICH

Hello Readers and Fans:

Purchased this sign years ago as an inspiration piece for a future novel. It hung on the patio wall for a while. In an effort to bring you topics that are not stereotype, I held a coffee mug in my hand, and lo and behold, there was the sign. So, thought you might appreciate my research on chocolate.

I do feature the hot chocolate beverage in my books since it was the elite who served it to their family and guests, and the fad became popular among aristocrats.

The history of chocolate begins in Mesoamerica. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 1900 BC. It came from the Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, which means “food of the gods.”

The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Some enterprising Aztecs actually made counterfeit cocoa beans.

Cocoa bean exchange rate:
1 bean =     1 tamale
4 beans=    1 pumpkin
10 beans =    1 rabbit
10 beans =    1 lady to stay overnight!
100 beans =    A good turkey hen  (Interesting to note a woman had less value.)
Cocoa Beans, Cocoa, Cacao, Candy

Secrets of Aztec Dating
King Montezuma, the Aztec king, drank 50 cups of cocoa a day, and an extra one when he was going to meet a lady friend. Because of its stimulating effects, Aztec women were forbidden to drink it.

Unlike the Mayans, drinking cocoa was a luxury that few Aztecs could afford. Aztecs believed that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cocoa tree. The drink was so precious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after just one use!

When we hear the word chocolate, we visualize a bar, a box of bon bons, or a bunny. The verb that comes to mind is “eat” and not “drink”.   In Regency times, it was a highly coveted hot drink and not necessarily sweet. For about 90 percent of chocolate’s long history, it was strictly a beverage, and sugar didn’t have anything to do with it.

Mayan Civilization
The Mayans of Central America are believed to be the first to discover cocoa as early as 900 AD. (Note: The Aztecs claim it goes back to 1900 BC.) The Mayans learned that the beans inside the cocoa pods could be harvested and made into a liquid that would become a treasured Mayan treat.
Cocoa, Man, Colombia, Peasant, Hand
Cocoa was often consumed during religious ceremonies and marriage celebrations. All Mayans could enjoy cocoa, regardless of their social status.

Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. According to Chloe Doutre-Roussel’s book
The Chocolate Connoisseur, Aztec sacrifice victims who felt too melancholy to join in ritual dancing before their death were often given a gourd of chocolate (tinged with the blood of previous victims) to cheer them up!

In 1657,  way before the French Revolution, the first chocolate house was opened in London by a Frenchman.

By the 17th Century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe, believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties. It’s rumored that Casanova was especially fond of the beverage. But it remained largely a privilege of the rich until the invention of the steam engine made mass production possible in the late 1700s.

By 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing about half the natural fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, pulverizing what remained, and treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut the bitter taste. His product became known as “Dutch cocoa,” and it soon led to the creation of solid chocolate.

By 1868, a little company called Cadbury was marketing boxes of chocolate candies in England. Milk chocolate hit the market a few years later, pioneered by another name that may ring a bell- Nestle.

Did you know that in America, chocolate was so valued during the Revolutionary War that it was included in soldiers’ rations and used in lieu of wages? While most of us probably wouldn’t settle for a chocolate paycheck these days, statistics show that the humble cacao bean is still a powerful economic force. Chocolate manufacturing is a more than 4-billion dollar industry in the United States, and the average American eats at least half a pound of the treat per month.
Cocoa Bean, Black, Brown, Food, Healthy
So the next time you taste a fine chocolate, give a thought for the science and art that went into the creation of it.

Note:  Facts were compiled from the Smithsonian, Wickipedia, Godiva, The True History of Chocolate, Sophie D. Coe/Michael D. Coe, The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel, and various other documents.

Enjoy the read. I welcome all comments at You may subscribe to my newsletter at:
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, so you may think of me as a rebel author with a cause--and that is, I read and write all genres of romance. ♥
Dessert, Strawberries, Whipped Cream
Here’s a virtual cup of hot chocolate to all romance readers everywhere. Ciao.

Sandra Master's Novels:
Once Upon a Duke, Debut Book

My Divinely Decadent Duke, Book 2
Thorn, Son of a Duke at 99 cents - Prequel Teaser, Book 3 (A must read before you buy book 4.)

And: The DUKE'S MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, book 4, coming soon late 2016, reunites many of the characters in Book 2.  Stunning events have happened to affect the future of the dynasty.  Consider it a family reunion.  You'll be the first to know when it's available if you signed up for this newsletter on my website.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dark Brew by Diana Rubino

by Diana Rubino

Morgan D’Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody by Linda Nightingale

Morgan, as a character, came to me fully rounded and ready to speak, and speak, and speak. When I have writer’s block, I talk with Morgan and write something from his point of view. Dear me, that makes me sound as if I have MPD. This collection of novellas is a journey through time with him—vignettes of his many travels and many loves. I had a hard time juggling time periods because he is dedicated to one woman. He has everything except the woman he wants most and can’t have…Isabeau.

The cover artist captured the essence of this collection perfectly from the yummy handsome man to the grand piano. Morgan is an English lord, a vampire…and in this incarnation a renowned pianist. He studied with Mozart himself! In a review, Author Toni V. Sweeney called him “a tour de force of egotism, wit, sensuality, and talent.”
A few fun things about writing Morgan. He loves wine and classical music—I mean I like wine and classical music whilst writing Morgan stories.

He loves cars like antique Jaguar E-types and Aston Martins, and the Morgan with its gorgeous belted hood was named for him. He keeps a stable of them at his country estate in Devon, Royal Oak.

He fought in the English Civil War on the Royalist side with Charles II and fled with his King to Europe and became another unwelcome guest at the continental courts.

He was an RAF pilot during WWII, flying night missions over Nazi territories.

He keeps a stable of fine horses and was taught classical horsemanship by the Duke of Newcastle and later with the Frenchman de la Gueriniere. Morgan’s mother was from French.

My first Morgan manuscript grew to a whopping 1,000 pages because I followed him even to the bathroom.

I fell in love with him and looked for him ever since, but I’m getting a bit old to seek such a young long-haired gentleman.

As you can see, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool romantic and love to write about love and revenge in the past, the present, and the future. Immortals work well in my stories.

Available on pre-order at Amazon and online retailers.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Holidaying with Kate Loveday

Life on the road is fun. Two people, a caravan, a wagon, the open road. No worries, no commitments, just follow the sun and your own inclinations.

We were novice caravanners when we made the decision to opt out for a while and take to the road. We set out on our big adventure to see Australia, with a twenty five foot van, a wagon, and two small dogs.

Mimi is a miniature poodle, who’s been our good mate for ten years, since we rescued her from the dog shelter. The day we brought her home she was frightened from her ordeal, in need of a bath, and had a red and green ball clamped in her mouth, her “security blanket”.
I decided to nurse her on the trip home. She looked at me with trust in her eyes, put her head on my shoulder, and cuddled up to me. She won my heart then, and has been able to wrap me around her little paw ever since. “Saved from death row,” says my friend Maria, “to live a life of luxury.”
Lucy is a young Maltese-Shizu whom we inherited when she was two, and have grown to love equally with Mimi. The two are good pals, but Mimi lets Lucy know she is top dog, a fact Lucy accepts—for the moment.

Life on the road with two dogs is, well, still fun. But... Take the time in Nambucca Heads, for instance.

We arrived at the White Albatross Caravan Park with a sigh of relief, having made the trip from Sydney over two days. The entrance to the park is not well marked. Peter mistook the turn off and went into the parking lot for the local fishermen. A long narrow strip, lined with art works painted on boulders, sea ahead, fence on one side, cars parked on the other. No room to turn, so he had to reverse back about 500 yards. Not easy, with only two days experience of driving this 45 foot rig. Somehow he managed.
“I guess the locals enjoyed that and had a good laugh,” he said. I was just happy to arrive, find a good site and unhitch.
The next morning Peter was chatting to another traveler. “By the way,” he said, “I must thank you for winning me $5 yesterday.”
“How come?”
“A group of us were watching from up in the tavern when you came in yesterday, and took the wrong road. It was obvious you were fairly new to this. There was a lot of disagreement as to whether you’d be able to back up and turn, or not. I bet $5 you’d make it. Thanks.”
Well, nothing was hurt but his pride.

The next night Lucy decided, in the wee small hours, t
hat she needed to go outside. Peter took her out, and after she attended to her needs he was shepherding her back inside when disaster struck. In the next van was a fox terrier that had chosen just that minute to also feel the call of nature. He came by our van, a situation not to be tolerated by Lucy. She barked, and commenced to chase him away. Away they both went, and then decided this was great fun. We hadn’t nicknamed Lucy “the pocket rocket” for nothing. Round and round, in and out between the sleeping vans, those dogs raced, calls from their masters ignored.
Eventually two angry and flustered men collared their dogs and shoved them inside. Lucy settled down to contentedly sleep away the rest of the night, but we heard that foxie barking for the next hour.

I told you it’s fun!

Kate Loveday
Author of A Woman of Spirit
Available for pre-order on Amazon and online retailers

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Meet Ike McAlister, from The Reckoning

Blog: Ike, except for the war, you’ve always been in Kansas. What brings you to Colorado?
Ike: Feels like I wore my welcome out back there.
Blog: There’s rumors that you were a vigilante after the war.
Ike: Why would I be a vigilante? Just because Quantrill’s murderers killed my folks? And no one ever brought them to justice? Does that seem like a good enough reason to exact revenge?
Blog: Are you asking me what I’d do in the same situation?
Ike: Not really. Doesn’t matter to me what you’d do.
Blog: It’s obvious I’ve touched a nerve.
Ike: Anything else or are we done here?
Blog: Yes, there is. I heard that your sister recently disappeared here in Cottonwood. Do you have any clues about what happened to her?
Ike: She can take care of herself. Always has been able to do that.
Blog: Does that mean you’re not looking for her?
Ike: I’m looking for her. I’ll find her.
Blog: What if she’s…
Ike: Next question.
Blog: Back to my first question. What brought you and her out here?
Ike: And my brother Rob. We’re just looking for a good place to make a new start.
Blog: The word I hear around Cottonwood is that you’re looking for s
Ike: I’m looking to make things right. Anything wrong with that?
omething, but it’s not a new place to start.
Blog: So it’s true. You think your folks’ killers are here in Cottonwood, don’t you?
Ike: Hard to say.
Blog: Do you think your sister’s disappearance is connected to your search for them?
Ike: I’m about to find that out or die trying. End of interview.

Available for Pre-order at Amazon and major online retailers

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


This weekend I went to a Summer’s Night Festival held downtown in my area. Thousands attended, making it quite an evening of people watching, which is something I love to do. As an individual strolled past me, I found myself evaluating them as a character in one of my books, and I started to imagine how I’d build their profile.

 Our Creator, a Master character builder and author of life, cannot be duplicated. His outlining for humanity, of course, is varied beyond anything I could conjure up. But I took notes anyway.
Those passing me were tall, short, slim, and thick around the middle, as well as pear-shaped, squatty and stocky. Some had long noses, others small, some pug, some hooked, and some with wide nostrils or bumpy shafts. Long hair, short hair, no hair at all . . . straight, curly, in braids, dread-locks, or twisted into buns (even the men, as we now have some guys wearing their hair up in man-buns). Dark haired people, light haired people, even purple, green, pink, and orange haired people walked around the festival grounds.

Some people wore dresses or skirts; some were in shorts, many in blue jeans, and others in some of the craziest, most unique outfits you could imagine. Those who visited the face-painting vendor had their faces done up as cats, one a dragon, another as a devil, and many had unusual markings and designs painted upon their foreheads and cheeks.

Their food preferences ranged from fried dough to porta-bello sandwiches. And each and every one carried their drinks in different containers . . . ranging from bottles to specially-capped mugs of all colors and sizes.

They were bare-footed, in flip-flops, high heels, boots, clogs, moccasins, and sandals. A few even stayed comfortable by wearing only their slippers. And as this parade of humanity crossed my path I watched their facial expressions while they viewed their surrounds. I heard their voices as they spoke to a family member or friend. Their attitude and demeanors had me forming profiles, life-situations, and outlooks for them . . . my character imaginings working at a “full-speed-ahead” capacity. Many plots in stories are ripped from the headlines. Characters can be fashioned after those surrounding us. I enjoyed the festival, as the food was good, the music was great, and the firework display was beautiful. But it was the people who really made me smile. And I’ve stored away enough characters to fill many novels. Not bad for a night’s work!

Roberta C.M. DeCaprio