Friday, March 28, 2008

And the Winner Is....

Thanks to everyone who left a comment here on the Slip Into Something Victorian blogsite as part of my contest to win a free e-copy of The Model Man.

Release day is finally here and my five-year-old son is all set to draw a name from the basket as we speak.

And the winner is... Delilah Marvelle!

Congratulations, Delilah! Please contact me at and let me know where to send it!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Last Chance to Enter!

I can hardly believe release day is almost here! This is the last excerpt I'll be posting from The Model Man. Tomorrow I'll draw a name from all those who have commented here for the past three weeks to see who will be the winner of a free e-copy.


For a moment he stood there, watching her watch him. Electricity arced across the short distance separating them.

She lowered her gaze. Even though the shadows hid her face, she didn’t want to risk him reading anything in her eyes. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”

“No, that’s not your style.”

If he only knew her style. The one that had her secretly ogling his body whenever possible.

Okay, that was it. She was out of here. Uncurling her legs, she rose. “I was just going inside.”

“You don’t have to go because of me.”

Oh, yes I do. “I should get back to work. I do my best writing this time of night.”

He folded his arms over his chest. “It’s past midnight.”

“This is when I write. Usually until around two. And I’m near deadline.” She glanced down at his bare, masculine feet. Damn the man, even his toes were sexy.

“I won’t see you until tomorrow night so you should have plenty of time to write. I have an early tee time in the morning. Then I have to take care of some family business.”

She couldn’t help but smile. “With a last name like Calavicci, ‘family business’ sounds ominous.”

He laughed. “We’d be more likely to make a pizza for someone than break their thumbs.”

Thumbs. She refused to give into temptation and look.

“I’ll leave the limo in case you want to go somewhere.”

“I won’t. I really should spend the day working.”

He smiled. “I always had this image of you holed up in a cabin in the woods somewhere with an old typewriter.”

Derek had always had an image of her? The thought warmed her just a little. “No cabin, no typewriter. Just a golden retriever at my feet.” Sweet, lovable Barney. She hoped he wasn’t giving her mom too much trouble. “Are you getting ready to go out somewhere?”

He slid his hands into his pockets and stepped closer. “Where would I go?”

“I don’t know, out to a club or something.”

“When the whole world thinks I’m here making love to you?”

Heat flooded her cheeks, but then she suspected that was his intention. “I’m sorry. You’re doing this for me and here you are stuck in this hotel room.”

“I thought I was doing it so I wouldn’t get sued.” He closed the distance between them. Instead of sitting on the love seat or one of the other chairs, he sat on the table directly in front of her. The position brought his naked chest to her eye level, and she had to force her gaze to settle elsewhere. It flitted up, over his abdomen, his lips, his eyes before finally landing on the balcony railing over his shoulder.

“I had no idea what M.J. was up to. I didn’t know about any of it.”

“I know that.” His voice took on a gentle tone. “And I wouldn’t have agreed if I hadn’t wanted to do it.”

She pulled her gaze back to his and found the fire simmering there. “Because you didn’t want to get sued?”

He smiled almost boyishly. “No.” He reached out, capturing her wrist to pull her forward between his open legs. “Hell, no.” He brushed his fingertips from her cheek to her chin, his thumb tugging at her lower lip.

His gaze darkened, focused on her mouth. He bent toward her, and she tilted her head for his kiss. But he stopped and lifted his gaze, eyes locked onto hers. The thumb on her lip slipped lower, knuckles slowly brushing down her throat to follow the deep vee of her sweater.

She caught her breath as he grazed the hollow between her breasts. The touch sent a shockwave of pleasure straight through her.

“Am I still moving too fast for you?”

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday 10 Easter!

How many sound familiar to you?

10 Victorian Easter traditions:

Decorate Easter eggs – not from a kit, more’s the pity, but by using cranberries, beets, spinach greens and orange and lemon peels.
Greeting cards – bunnies, chicks, or a cross printed with a simple “Happy Easter” or spiritual greeting

Church – um…pretty self explanatory there.

Lilies – the flower of the holiday, according to the language of flowers, Lily (white) - Virginity; purity; majesty; it's heavenly to be with you

Panorama sugar egg – They look like they’ll rot your teeth in a second. Or break them. Can you eat these?

Easter bonnets – a traditional start to spring, any Easter bonnet would be guaranteed to be fashionable, flirty, and fun. And in the newest colors of spring.

Easter parades - The first public Easter parade in America occurred in 1860 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, when families strolled along the Boardwalk in their new spring finery after the Sunday service.

Chocolate eggs (and bunnies) - bunnies were symbols of fertility (you’ve heard the saying?), and chocolate eggs abound during the late 1800s.

Maundy Money - could be ordered from the bank or mint by anyone. The tradition dates to King Edward I or II, when the monarch washed the poor’s feet (not all of them obviously) and gave them money. This explains it much better than I could: Maundy Money an Easter Tradition

Easter Baskets – where else would you fit all the goodies in?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The latest style

I just got my hair cut. Ok, not just, 2 weeks ago, but am still getting used to it. I donated 13 inches of hair to Locks of Love, and regret only that last inch. I’ve never had hair this short…except possibly back in the day that whole Dorothy Hamill ‘do. But it’s best not to reminisce on styles better left to the history books.

During the long era of Victoria, there were many popular styles, you can’t have one last 60 some years, it just isn’t done.

But let’s talk about inventions. Crimping for instance. I know, I know, it harkens back to that ‘80s best left to the history books style. It was the rage for nearly 30 years.

Invented in 1872, by Parisian hairdresser M. Marcel Grateau, crimping pulled the hair over a hot iron, making it wave. The "Marcel wave" consisted of loose waves arranged around the head. Since there was no spring action on the curling iron/heating tongs, it was opened and closed by hand. The Marcel wave remained popular for almost half a century, and helped usher in a new era of women's waved and curled hairpieces, which were mixed with the natural hair.

The hot irons damaged hair, burning it with that nasty burnt hair smell. Since hair was never cut, heavy perfumes were used to mask the odor.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pearson's Soda Works

Built in 1859 Pearson’s Soda Works was used as a brewery, soda works, and ice cream parlor in the Gold Rush days. More often than not, ice blocks, beer, soda, butter and other perishables were stored in the 155 foot tunnel cut into the hill behind the place. The narrow mine tunnel at that time extended in a u-shape through the mountain, ending near the Empire Theatre down the street.

It’s rumored a second mine tunnel was started in an old house behind the Empire Theatre and ran under Placerville, California, coming out somewhere in the vicinity of what is now Coloma Street. Several years ago I had occasion to go into that old house. The shape of the roof makes it look Asian.
While I was inside, the owner started telling me about the history of the place. He took me into a back room and showed me a hole cut into a rock wall. As I remember it, the space was about two feet wide and maybe five feet long. He said the tunnel coming from the Soda Works was used by men who didn’t want to be seen coming in and out of the Chinese run bordello. There were several of these holes cut in the building and they were used by the prostitutes as their “beds” when the men would come for their “comfort.” It amazed me that anyone could be so desperate as to use the small, uncomfortable space.

An upper floor was added to the soda works building in 1897 and, although some restoration was inevitable, the majority of the original building is still the same along with fixtures and keepsakes. The beautiful stained glass doors were brought from a gambling hall in Montana, the hanging globes from the old San Francisco library, and marble bathroom fixtures from the ancient Tahoe Tavern.

The building is damp, it’s drippy, and from sunset to sunrise, it’s also dark. Shadows glide effortless through the old place. Spirits whisk by in the reflection as employees clean store mirrors and windows. Labored breathing is heard permeating the thick rock walls of the empty old mine shaft inside the structure. Stories about ghosts have been told for years.

There’s a burly man with a bald head in the mineshaft at the back of the main part of the building. He ordered psychic Nancy Bradley out of the tunnel. He told her women were not welcome past that particular point. She determined it was not a ghost, but a spirit. Two women spirits from the 1800’s sat in old chairs in the alcove to the right of the tunnel. They seemed to get a kick out of the old codger getting his comings up when Bradley told him he had no authority anymore. As it turned out, the spirit’s name was Charley and he was about 40 years old, but looked much older. He’d been a victim of a cave in. Several large rocks came down and hit him in the back of the head. Even though the wound was severe, he didn’t die immediately. Afraid to move him, the miners left him in the mine shaft as they ran to get the doctor. He told her he was dead before the doctor returned with the men. Bradley asked him why he stayed in the place where he died. “I am not always here,” he said, irritated. “I come and go when I want. I am here to protect people from the mine, but also because of THEM!” He pointed to the two women in the alcove.

Bradley inched her way past the spirit to the two women. “What are you doing here?” she asked. They were dressed in frills, full skirts and ragged stockings. One had a blouse that fell off one shoulder. They were clearly not washerwomen or wives. “We stay for the money,” the one that called herself Louise said. “And he’s one of our best customers.”

Information taken from “The Incredible World of Gold Rush Ghosts, by Nancy Bradley and Robert Repppert.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Ten—Victorian Disasters

In one of my manuscripts, my hero is haunted by a past in which he seems to be constantly surrounded by disaster (in truth, he subconsciously seeks them out). This required me to actually research disasters in the 19th century. Yes, there is actually a book about the history of disasters titled The Pessimist’s Guide to History by Stuart Flexner with Doris Flexner. It chronicles disasters from The Big Bang until 1991, along with some very, very funny commentary. There’s even a timeline of disasters in the back of the book broken out by the kind of disaster. For those of us with a wry sense of humor, this is pretty amusing.

So, without further ado, here are the 10 I chose from the Victorian period. I tried to stay within the boundaries of North America because that’s the area I write about.
I’m putting them in the order more of personal interest than anything else.

1.) 1883, Krakatoa Erupts—August 26th and 27. So explosive was the eruption that it shook houses a hundred miles away, and the most spectacular of the explosions were her 2,900 miles away. Worse, the ferocity of Krakatoa’s eruption induced another 15 volcanoes in the area to erupt. 50 square miles of land sank into the sea, along with 2/3 of the island of Krakatoa. And you know what happens then—a tsunami traveling as far as South America. In the end the volcanoes sent 5 cubic miles of debris into the area for a period of about 2 years, blocking out the sunlight. It was blamed for a drop in temperature in North America during the 19th century.

2.) 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Memphis Tennessee. It broke out in mid-august. 25000 people fled the city. 20,000 stayed behind, of which 5,000 died. Public disorder, resulted. It finally ended in October.

3) Ohio train wreck--1876. A blizzard hit on the night of December 29th, slowing the progress of the Pacific Express, carrying 150 passengers. For all that, it still left Ashtabula Ohio. Around 8:00 pm it crossed a bridge, 160 feet long. The bridge collapsed, plunging the train into Ashtabula Creek. The fall turned over heating stoves, which set parts of the train on fire. The passengers that managed to survive the fall, the fires, the freezing and crawl to safety then had to face the snow storm. 92 people died.

4.) Peshtigo Fire, 1871—The same winds that caused the Great Chicago Fire stirred this one up too. Drought had already caused tiny fires to spring up in the woods and grasslands surrounding Peshtigo Wisconsin. The winds hit, turning the tiny fires into walls of flame, of which the 2000 residents of the city had not warning. Worse, Peshtigo was surrounded by swamp—and swamp gas, methane. When the fire hit the swamp the gas exploded, making the air so hot that anything that was combustible burst into flames. In the end Peshtigo was destroy and about 1400 people died.

5.) Great Chicago Fire, 1871—There are sites and books dedicated to this. It was the most destructive fire in American history, basically burning Chicago to the ground on October 8th and 9th. 90,000 of the city’s 335,000 were left homeless. 17,500 buildings were destroyed.

6.) Explosion of the Sultana 1865—Susan Macatee might know more about this, since the Sultana was a steamboat transporting Union soldiers up the Mississippi after peace was declared. I actually have a book about this and hope someday to blog about it (don’t hold your breath, though—I’ve got quite a few blogs I’ve never done J). Anyway, the Sultana was carrying 2134 soldiers, although it only had a capacity of 376. It left Vicksburg for Cairo Illinois on April 24th. A leak in one of the boilers was repaired at
Memphis. To no avail. It blew on April 27th, 8 miles north of Memphis. Men were crushed under steam stacks, burned or drowned in the water after jumping over board or being pushed. It’s estimated 1,547 died. Ironically many of the passengers had survived as inmates of the infamous Andersonville prison, only to be subjected to this.

7.) 1851-1855 Tuberculosis Epidemic in Britain—I’ve blogged about TB before, the scourge of the 19th century. During this period it killed approximately 250,000 people.

Here’s an interesting fact that I discovered while checking out tuberculosis—Thoreau died of TB at the age of 44. But that’s not really part of the Tuesday Ten.

8.) 1848, The Voyage of the Omega—Lots of ship deaths on the list of disasters. In this specific case the ship, a British emigrant ship, lost its sails during a storm. The passengers were transferred to three other passing ships. One of those sank killing 115 people. Another ran out of water killing 70 of the Omega’s passengers. Interestingly enough, the Omega made it back to port safely.

9.) 1845 Quebec Fire—This is for Jenn who writes about Victorian Canada. On May 28th, a nasty wind whipped up a fire that started in a tanner, spreading it through parts of Quebec. The fire destroyed approximately 1,500 buildings, and killed some people, but exactly how many is not known.

10.) 1841, Hurricane in Saint Jo, Florida—Just because we can’t forget weather as a natural disaster. This one struck in September, destroying all the buildings and killing 4000 people. The town no longer exists.

And just because I found another natural disaster (so this is 11) a couple tornadoes destroyed Natchez Mississippi. One hit in May 1840, killing 317 people. The second one hit on June 16th 1842, killing another 500 people. I guess the 1840’s were not a good time to be living in Natchez.

Other interesting books:

Diesease and History Frederick F Cartwright, Michael D. Biddiss

Viruses, Plagues & History, Michael B.A. Oldstone

Living in the Shadow of Death, Sheila M. Rothman

The Sultana Saga, Rex T. Jackson

Braving the elements, The Stormy History of American Weather, David Laskin

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I’d like to wish everyone a very happy St. Patrick’s Day. And since this is the Scandalous Victorians blog, I’d like to tell you a little bit about Canada’s historical connection to my favorite country in Victorian times.

During the Great Famine of 1845-1850, thousands of starving Irish refugees fled to Canada, as well as the United States and Australia.

The conditions on the so-called “coffin ships” were brutal. Typhoid, dysentery, and other diseases ran rampant, and many died on the voyage that was supposed to take these people to a new and better life. Hundreds of children were orphaned, either on the ship, or later, at the quarantine station called Grosse Ile, not far from Quebec City.

But these children, as lost and bewildered as they must have felt, were not entirely alone. At that period in history, Quebec was mostly populated by French Catholics, who were eager to take in these children of their own faith. Not only were they welcomed with open arms, but most were able to keep their Irish surnames. So a little bit of Ireland survives in Montreal today.

It’s seen today in the Black Rock, also known as the Irish Stone, which stands at the approach of Montreal’s Victoria Bridge. During the construction of that bridge, the first bridge to span the mighty St. Lawrence River, workmen discovered human remains of Irish immigrants to Canada. They decided to erect a large stone that bears this inscription:

To preserve from desecration the remains of 6000 immigrants who died of ship fever A.D. 1847-8, this stone is erected by the workmen of Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts employed in the construction of the Victoria Bridge A.D. 1859

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Model Man - excerpt

Come celebrate with me!

To celebrate my first full length contemporary release, anyone who leaves a comment on our blog site between now and my release date, March 28th, will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-copy of The Model Man. If you’ve got the late winter blahs, this is just the story to heat up your nights!


Here is an excerpt from the opening scene of The Model Man:

Derek Calavicci opened the door to his penthouse apartment and stepped inside. Home, although it never really felt that way. At one time the navy and pewter color scheme, so carefully chosen by the designer, the expensive but tasteful furniture and state-of-the-art gadgets had soothed him. But not lately. He set his keys on the kitchen counter and picked up a stack of personal mail waiting there.

Gabrielle, his younger sister and personal assistant, strolled into the room. Dressed in her robe and fuzzy pink slippers, she had a toothbrush sticking out of one side of her mouth and a towel wrapped around her head. She often stayed at his place when he was gone, and judging from the clothes, shoes and magazines strewn about, she had done so this past week.

“So, how was Tokyo?” she asked around the toothbrush.

“Fine.” He put his hands to his hips and glanced around the apartment. “It’s a good thing I pay the cleaning lady so well.”

She moved to the kitchen sink to spit out a mouthful of toothpaste. “How did the bourbon commercial go?”

“It was fine.”

“Did you get lucky?”

He didn’t answer her, merely shook his head in wonder.

“Okay, for other guys it’s getting lucky. For you it’s par for the course. So… did you?”

“Would I tell you if I did?”

“You’re always so grumpy when you get home from these things.”

He headed for the sofa and flopped down, finally allowing the exhaustion of the long flight and the time change to overtake him. “There’s a fourteen-hour time difference between here and Tokyo. I’m beat.” He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, grateful that he was no longer in motion. Not in a plane, not in a limo, just sitting still.

“Hope you aren’t too jet lagged, you’ve got an early flight in the morning.”

He raised his head just enough to look at her. “Where the hell to now?”

She laughed and headed toward his desk. “You really are out of it. The Romantic Moments conference starts this weekend.”

“Christ.” He dropped his head back down. “Little wonder I’m more comfortable in hotels than in my own home.”

“You’re never here,” she agreed, holding out a note pad for his inspection.

“What am I supposed to do with that?”

“It’s your messages. Your voice mail filled up twice so I had to write everything down.”

“I’m too tired to read them. Anything important?”

“Mmm, depends on what you call important. Or who.”

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“Let’s see… Megan called. She’ll be at the conference in Florida; she’s really looking forward to ‘hooking up’. She’ll be in room eight-twelve. Amber, also going to the conference, is in five-seventeen. Oh, and Shannon is going to be in New York next weekend and she’d like to … well, I’m not about to repeat it. Is she double jointed or something?”

“Damned if I can remember.”

“Anyway, there’s another page and a half of these.”

“I’ll look at them later.”

“Good idea. Oh, and Frankie called. About nine times.”

“What the hell did she want?”

“You. Under her tiny, little thumb. When are you going to fire her and get a new manager? One who doesn’t want to run your life.”

“Why bother when I can just avoid this one as much as possible?”

“She wants to make sure you two are on the same flight tomorrow so she can go over a few things with you on the way down,” Gabby spoke over her shoulder as she headed to the kitchen. “Something about the ‘Flawless’ campaign. You know, that new line of men’s cologne and skin care products you’re promoting.”

He raised his head again. “And?”

She returned, holding out a bottle of water and gave him a triumphant smile. “And I made sure to book you on a different flight.”

“Good girl.” He unscrewed the cap and took a long drag. “What do I have going on today?”

“I canceled everything when I realized you were getting back so late. Thought you might want a little break.”


“Don’t forget Anthony’s engagement party is tonight.”

“I can’t believe my kid brother is getting married. Did I buy them something nice?”

“Besides paying for the wedding? Crystal. Expensive and impractical, just your style.”

“I’m such a nice guy.”

“Well, you’d better be prepared to answer the inevitable from the relatives tonight.”

“You mean the ‘and when are you going to settle down’ stuff?” Now that he’d turned thirty, that was all anyone wanted to know. His younger brother’s engagement had only made it worse.

“Exactly. At this point, I’m beginning to think you’re commitment-phobic myself.”

“I’ve got nothing against commitment.” He raised his feet to set them on the coffee table. “But whenever the urge strikes, I lie down until it passes.”

“Yeah, I know. Preferably with a blonde or a redhead.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

1860s Cosmetics

Although no respectable woman of the 1860s would be seen wearing "face paints", they did use some form of cosmetics.

Creams and lotions were used to soften skin as well as bleaching lotions to give the desired lily white appearance.

Moisturizers also were used to combat the effects of lye soap and cleaning chemicals, as well as other abrasives.

They used oil to dress their hair and keep it in place in the confined styles popular in that time period. Herbal rinses softened and brightened hair and henna and dyes were used for coloring.

Cologne and perfume in scents of Lavender, Rose, Orange Blossom and Gardenia were used lavishly.

They used powder beneath the clothing for comfort and to keep them dry and also used it on their face and hands to keep their skin pale, especially for evening events.

Rouge was the only color they applied and was used sparingly. Just a small circle beneath the outer corner of the eyes and a touch to the center of the lips. Full lips were not considered fashionable.

Source: 'Helpful Hints & Timely Tips', Fanny & Vera
The Citizens' Companion, Oct.- Nov., 2006, p. 43.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Bathing Machine

I’m on vacation in Puerto Rico this week, a working vacation – seriously! I am writing! 20 poages so far! Still, I thought I’d share a short cultural history of the beach while I’m enjoying the 80 degree sun and hiding from the cold winter the Northeast is experiencing.

You may now throw tomatoes at me, I’m ready.

Victorian beach goers typically wore a bathing costume that covered far, far more than it revealed, yet the outfit was still considered immodest. They exposed their legs, after all. I can only laugh at the image of a proper Victorian seeing a modern beach filled with skimpily clad people baking under the hot sun.

While researching the costumes, I came across the Bathing Machine, which I’d always heard of but never really understood what it did. I mean sure, they had to change someplace, but would they call it a machine?

Er, no, not exactly.

The picture is c1829 but not much changed between then and a century later.

I’m sweaty just looking at those outfits! Nothing refreshing about them.

In fact a Bathing Machine was a carriage you could stand up in. You entered it as you would a carriage, but then changed within its confines. Their clothing was stored high up to avoid getting wet, because it was then rolled into the water. I mean that quite seriously, since traipsing about the beach in your costume was scandalous.

So was traipsing about with a member of the opposite sex, since men and women enjoyed the ocean is separate areas. Hence the need for the machine, I guess, even though if they really were in different parts of the beach, you’d think it wouldn’t matter. Apparently, it did. This practice was mostly in Britain and her colonies, but popular in other Western countries as well.

By the 1920s the Bathing Machine was extinct, since frolicking in the water with your husband or wife - or, heaven forbid, a suitor - was more socially acceptable.,6051,126381,00.html

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Scandalous Victorian, Cynthia Owens

Why do you write historicals?

love history. I think it would be great to go back in time and experience it first-hand. There’s a story in my family that one of my ancestors on my dad’s side sailed up the St. Lawrence River and discovered Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier. Of course, Cartier got the credit! Another ancestor, this one on my mother’s side, was one of the Filles du Roi, a “king’s girl” sent from France to marry one of the habitants (settlers) in New France (now Quebec) in the 17th Century. So I guess it’s inevitable that I love history.

It’s the people in history that interest me. Ordinary people going through what were some pretty extraordinary times. My first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow (Highland Press, December 2006), is set in Ireland, just as the country was beginning to recover from the Famine. I took a cast of characters, all ordinary people, and plunged them into the extraordinary situation of trying to bring their little village of Ballycashel back to life after starvation, tyranny and betrayal had nearly destroyed it.

Ordinary people…

What part of the Victorian era/setting do you write in?

I’ve written two stories, In Sunshine or in Shadow and its sequel, Coming Home, that are set in post-Famine Ireland, 1850 and 1867 respectively. Playing for Keeps, a second sequel to In Sunshine or in Shadow, is set in 1860 Baltimore and Philadelphia.

After that, I’m planning a series of novels set mostly in Victorian-era New York City, just after the Civil War. They’ll still have an Irish theme, though, since the heroes are veterans of the Irish Brigade.

What is it about the era that most intrigues you?

Again, it’s the people. The ordinary people struggling to survive, the extraordinary people rushing through their social whirl. What went on behind the closed doors? What were their lives like, their hopes and dreams, their passions? That’s what I love to discover.

Where do you get your information?

Everywhere! Books, movies, magazines, and of course, the Internet. As far as the Irish part is concerned, it helps that my mother-in-law is Irish. While I’ve been writing Playing For Keeps, my current work-in-progress, I had an actor friend help me with research for the hero, who is also an actor.

What are you working on now?

Well, let’s see. Coming Home, a sequel to In Sunshine or in Shadow, is under consideration with my editor right now, and I’m revising the second sequel, Playing For Keeps.

I’ve starting researching a new five book series. The books will all be stand-alone stories, but will be interconnected by the heroes, who met as boys on a coffin ship to America from famished Ireland. They grew up together in New York, and fought together during the American Civil War in Thomas Francis Meagher’s Irish Brigade. Now that the war is over, the real stories begin. The first book, Deceptive Hearts, features an ex-boxer/cop and a wealthy society lady who seems to be running a high-class brothel.

How many books have you written?

In Sunshine or in Shadow is my first published novel, but it was the fourth full-length manuscript I’d written. Since then, I’ve completed a second and am working on the final draft of a third.

Do you write outside the Victorian era, genre?

No. I like the time, the glamour, and the excitement of new discoveries. It was a fascinating era.

What challenges have you faced in your career?

Probably a lot of the same challenges most writers face. Enough rejections to paper the walls of my office (or “creative corner,” as I like to call it.) Writer’s block. The busyness of a home life with a husband and kids. And self-doubt. Is my writing good enough? Will anyone want to read what I write?

What is your writing schedule like?

Total insanity! I’m an early riser, so I try to be at my computer by 5:30 a.m. I check e-mail, update my Myspace account, do promotional stuff – anything business related until about 7:30 or so, when my kids get up and get ready for school.

Once the kids are gone, I’ll get to the serious business of writing. I spend a few hours each morning, and at least one or two hours in the afternoon, either writing, re-writing, or researching, depending on what I’m working on.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

I'm Celebrating!

Come celebrate with me!

To celebrate my first full length contemporary release, anyone who leaves a comment on our blog site between now and my release date, March 28th, will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-copy of The Model Man. If you’ve got the late winter blahs, this is just the story to heat up your nights!

Single mom and romance novelist Kelly Michaels has no time for a man in her life. But when mega-famous cover model Derek Calavicci puts the moves on her at a romance writers’ conference, she succumbs to temptation. Common sense prevails, however, and after a few passionate kisses she turns him down; she has impressionable teenagers at home, after all, she doesn’t need a one-night-stand with a much younger man, no matter how hot he is. When photos of their passionate moonlight kiss hit the tabloids, her agent has to do some fast footwork to save her reputation. Will the notorious bad boy go along with her scheme?

Derek rarely hears a woman say “no” – it’s been that way his entire life. If Kelly isn’t interested, he’s not going to push her-- even if she does melt like ice cream on a hot sidewalk every time he touches her. But when an unexpected opportunity falls into his lap by way of Kelly’s scheming agent, he jumps at the chance. Pretend he’s in love with Kelly Michaels for two weeks? No problem. After all, the lady may say she’s never going to sleep with him... but he's got two weeks to convince her otherwise.


When Derek tipped her back in his arms and again took her lips, Kelly didn’t resist. Was it the champagne, the unreal feel of this night or had she completely lost her mind?

For a moment, she indulged herself. She tangled her fingers into his silken mane of hair and gave herself up to the ferocity of his kiss.

Somehow they had become entangled, his thigh between hers, her skirt hiked nearly to her hips.

He stiffened suddenly in her arms and pulled back from the kiss. “Did you hear that?”

The only sound she had heard was the blood rushing in her head. “I didn’t hear a thing.”

“Goddammit.” He rolled away from her.

A second later he lunged from the chaise and took off on a run. It was only when he rounded the corner that she saw he was in pursuit of a man with a camera.

From the hotel parking lot came the screeching of tires and moments later, a very frustrated-looking Derek returned. He latched onto her hand, pulled her from the chaise and urged her toward the doors. “Let’s get inside.”

“What was that all about?”

He darted a glance over his shoulder. “Just get inside; there are probably more of them.”

“More of who?” She stopped in the shadows cast by the awning hanging over the patio door to peek around him.

“Miz Michaels,” called an unfamiliar voice. “Over here.”

Derek stepped in front of her as a flash went off. “Will you just do what I asked?” Yanking on the doors, he scooted her through.

“Who was that man? How did he know my name?”

He had yet to let go of her arm, and she had to double her steps to match his as they passed party-goers and bar patrons on their way to the elevators.

When he stopped to press the call button, she wrenched her arm from his grasp. “What the hell is going on?”

“You don’t know what that was?”

“Would I be asking if I did? Photographers, obviously. But why would they—” Realization hit. “Paparazzi? You’re their favorite poster boy.”

“That’s putting it mildly.”

The elevator doors slid open, and she entered. “My God, you did it again.”

“Did what?”

“Made it look like we were—is that why you wanted to meet me someplace public?”

“You think I set that up?”

She placed a hand to her forehead. Between the kissing, the champagne, and the run through the lobby, she was almost dizzy. “I don’t know.”

The car dinged as it reached her floor, and she moved forward. Derek smacked a hand over the “close door” button.

“You’re the one who didn’t trust yourself alone with me.”

“Trust myself?” She squeezed her purse when she would have rather tightened her hands around his arrogant neck.

“We met there to make you more comfortable, remember?”

Trust myself?”

“Sweetheart, the sparks were flying from both sides. If we’d been in a room instead of the patio, we’d be in bed right now.”

“What did—you self-centered, pompous—I can’t even think of a name bad enough to call you!” She slapped his hand away from the elevator button. The doors opened, and she stormed past him, right into a startled Sharon.

“Hey, there you are, Kel.”

Ignoring her friend, she turned and faced Derek. “I was wrong to think you could embody the heroes I create. You aren’t fit to wear Captain Connery’s leather pants!” Turning to Sharon, she said, “You and every other woman on the planet can have him.”

Derek shoved his hands in his pockets, bracing the elevator door open with his shoulder. He watched Kelly until she reached her room, wincing as the door closed behind her with a bang that echoed down the empty hallway.

The redhead turned and gave him a wide-eyed look. “What did you do to her?”

“I kissed her.” He heaved a sigh. “Things sort of went downhill from there.”

She stepped on the elevator and took his arm, giving it a sympathetic pat. “Come on, big guy, lemme buy you a beer.”

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tuesday Ten: More Cowboy Slang

I’ve done some blogs on unique words cowboys used, but here are some phrases that are just as colorful!


She wasn’t ankle high to a June bug.

Looked like he’d been sawed off at the pockets

He couldn’t brag without a box to stand on.


So tall he couldn’t tell when his feet were cold

He sprung up like a spring toadstool

Built like a snake on stilts


If he’d a closed one eye, he’d look like a needle

So think you couldn’t a hit him with a fistu full of gravel

He had to stand twice in the same place just to cast a shadow


He was fat in the middle and pore at each end

Another twenty pounds and she could a joined a sideshow

Beef plumb to the hocks


He ain’t zactly tongue tied when it comes to makin’ chin music

As full of verbal lathers as a shavin’ mug

They ought to hire him to keep the windmill goin’


As quiet as a thief in a hencoop

So quiet yuh could hear daylight comin’

Quiet as a hoss thief after a hangin’


Grinnin’ like a jackass eatin’ cactus

He’s steppin’ as high as a blind dog in tall grass

Grinnin’ like a weasel peekin’ in a henhouse door


Looked as sad as a bloodhound’s eye

Happy as a hog bein’ dragged away from a feed trough

His luck was runnin’ kinda muddy


His neck was so short they took him out and stretched it

He climbed the golden stair on a rope

A case of a stiff neck an’ a short drop

Dude or Drugstore Cowboy:

One of them stall-fed tenderfeet

Never been closer to a cow than a milk wagon

He’s shore pea green if I ever saw one