Monday, March 30, 2020

WHY I WRITE REGENCIES

by Vonnie Hughes

If you check the ‘historical background’ page of my website you’ll get a glimpse of my fascination with the Regency period.

It was such a short time in Britain’s history, but has given rise to many things such as the development of canals as trade with their partners hotted up after the imprisonment of Napoleon, freeing up trade routes, and resulting in large numbers of goods that needed to be transported all over England. The Royal Astronomical Society was founded, along with the early prototype of the bicycle, the development of the railway system, and the Act of Union with Ireland in 1801 etc. All this is from the British point of view. In the USA Whitney came up with the principle of manufacturing interchangeable parts as pertaining to firearms. The statue of the Venus de Milo was discovered in Greece (1820) and so it goes on.

And this is one of the prime reasons I enjoy writing Regencies. In spite of many Regencies persuading you that it was all about Almacks and dukes, the Regency era was actually a time on the cusp of great changes, not just in Britain but all over the world. Minds were opening up, no longer relying on the dogma of the past.

In 1814 The Times adopted steam printing. By this method it could print 1,100 sheets every hour, not 200 as before—a fivefold increase in production capability and demand. This development brought about the rise of the wildly popular fashionable novels.

I appreciate how the Regency era is also noted for its achievements in the fine arts and architecture (Nash springs to mind), and remember the striped wallpaper still known as ‘Regency?’ Those years encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic changes that shaped and altered the societal structure of Britain. Remember that in London alone, the population increased from just under one million in 1801 to 1.25 million by 1820.

One of the reasons that the arts flourished during this era was because of the patronage of ‘Prinny,’ the fact and at times ridiculous Prince of Wales. We might laugh at him, but it’s thanks to him that the development of British architecture flourished, even if his schemes often left the common people paying for his overblown designs.

The Regency era opened up the market for many authors including Sir Walter Scott, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley (who incorporated the general mistrust of science during the earlier part of the Regency era), John Keats, and William Blake. Then there were the playwrights and artists…the list goes on and on to confirm how minds began to open to new possibilities during that time.

And that, friends, is why I love to set some of my books during the Regencies. There are so many possibilities! Oh yes, there was a lot more to the Regency period than those autocratic dukes and the patronesses at Almacks.

Here's a brief look at my Regency novella. I hope you enjoy it.

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie, in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father for her actions, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie even though she knows that nothing will ever come of her dreams.

Injured and shackled in a stranger’s attic, Theo unexpectedly discovers the woman of his dreams. But how can he pursue those dreams when her bizarre family’s complex relationships threaten the very foundation of his existence? Somehow Theo must find a way through this maze to claim his lady.


BUY LINKS

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

DETOX WHILE YOU QUENCH YOUR THIRST

from Leigh Goff

These 4 Lemon Detox Water Recipes make it easy to increase your water intake, lose weight, and support your immune system. Things we need to concern ourselves with right now. They take only minutes to make and taste amazing! Look and feel great by adding detox water to your routine. The recipes come from Joyful Healthy Eats. Be sure to go to the website. Enjoy!

Lemon Mint Water
• 3–4 slices of lemon
• 3 sprigs of mint
• 8 oz. of purified water

Add fresh lemons slices, mint, and water to a large glass. Muddle the mint a little if you’d like to really taste the flavor. Chill and drink.

Image courtesy of  Distillata Healthy Living 
Lemon Blueberry Water
• 3–4 slices of lemon
• 10 fresh blueberries
• 8 oz. purified water

Add fresh lemons slices, blueberries, and water to a large glass. Chill and drink.

Cucumber Lemon Water
• 3–4 slices of lemon
• 4 slices of cucumber
• 8 oz. purified water

Add fresh lemons slices, cucumber, and water to a large glass. Chill and drink.

Lemon Ginger Water
• 3–4 slices of lemon
• 3 slices of fresh ginger root (1/4″ slices with skin on)
• 8 oz. purified water

Add fresh lemons slices, ginger slices, and water to a large glass. Chill and drink.

Please allow me to share a sneak peek of my Coming Soon Southern Gothic book while you enjoy your refreshing drink.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.


After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.



Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

by Yasmine Phoenix

Photo coutesy of Vinay Tadepalli Unsplash
For years I got up, showered, dressed, drove the kids to school, and then joined the masses riding the electric train to Chicago to work. Sweltering summers and below zero wind chill I walked to my office. Of course, I enjoyed city events during lunch time being in downtown Chicago was great. Then at the end of the day reverse commute back on the train, pick up kids, and then home to cook dinner. Friday was family pizza night.

Now I work from home, I don’t have to get all dressed up and drive in the insane Atlantic traffic. And my kids are grown. I’m also an author so sometimes I go to a local café or Starbucks. It’s an opportunity to get out of my four walls and interact on a somewhat personal level with people. In other words, listen in on random conversations.

Technology. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ to paraphrase Captain Kirk in Star Trek, Wrath of Khan who stole it from Charles Dickens. Writers are introverts and today’s technology is for us the best of times and the worst of times. We don’t have to leave our homes – almost ever. Everything we need is an App away from our finger. We can live our total existence – At. Home.

Want to move? You can sell your home online, buy another one online, and have a service pack and deliver your possessions to the new home. Online, folks.

We write, research, submit, publish, and promote our books from our desks. Gone are the days of submitting via snail mail, traipsing to the post office to mail synopsis, first three chapters, and query. We submit everything online.

It gets even better. Think about everything you can do from the comfort of your home, your bed, your car. Shopping malls are having a difficult time competing with online shopping and many stores are closing. When in Chicago, I go to Water Tower, sit, drink Starbucks, and watch shoppers, mostly young people, tourists, or city residents’ shop. I ride the CTA. Everyone is praying, their heads bowed, nope they’re staring down at their phones. It’s not just the young, older riders are playing games or are on Facebook.

How about attending a basketball or football game? Tickets are sky high, You have to be searched to get in. And it’s damn cold. Why not watch with friends? At. Home. The line to the bathroom is shorter. And of course – order food to be delivered. There’s Apps for that.

Hungry? Grocery shop? I hate walking down every aisle often impulse buying. Now I put together my Kroger grocery list, pay, and schedule a pick up day and time. And I don’t have to get out of my car. Whole Foods, Instacart deliver groceries as well. If I still lived in Chicago, I’d surely take advantage of this in the winter. At. Home.

Order out? Pick up or delivery. Restaurants, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell deliver. And we once believed the drive-thru was awesome. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Jenny Craig, online meal services that setup meals according to your dietary requirements and then delivered to your home. Even comes with cooking directions. Kroger and Publix have started meal service programs. Grub Hub, Door Dash are utilized by restaurants to deliver from a variety of restaurants. You can order Chinese, Thai, American, whatever and have it all delivered. Wait sixty minutes for a table? Late from work? Your family’s dinner can be timed to meet you at the front door. At. Home. And once we thought pizza delivery was a big thing.

Need a doctor? You can arrange – with an App a consultation with a physician via your smartphone. Your medication can be delivered. At. Home.

Need a car? In case you want to venture out of your home. There’s an App. When I lived in Chicago, I used Zipcar. I’d set up a location, day and time for a car. Car came with a gas card and a special parking space. I drove the Prius across the street from where I lived. I had a choice of vehicles luxury, compact. I test drove different makes in case I wanted to buy a car. Did you know you can purchase a car online and have it delivered? At. Home.

Don’t need a car? Lyft and Uber. I used both when I first moved to Atlanta because I had no idea where the hell anything was. Still don’t know, but being driven around gave me the opportunity to learn where places were and sightsee at the same time.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Let’s not forget Amazon. Believe me I’ve tried. The bane of my existence and yours too, admit it. I’d probably ball up in a fetal position if it disappeared. From books, to toilet tissue, toys, small appliances, clothing, food, handbags (yeah I know), items you didn’t even know you needed/wanted can be found and delivered – free (Prime) to your front door. I’ve found myself staring at the Amazon delivery app following the delivery route as they make their way to my front door. I think that would be called stalking if I weren’t paying for the goods. It’s amazing how many empty Amazon boxes I see on a weekly basis in the recycle bin. Prime. When I needed a particular type of bandage after my knee surgery, I couldn’t find it at any nearby drug store. I looked it up on Amazon and in two days it was delivered.

When my daughter’s orders are delivered – I’m not saying she shops a lot on Amazon, but she shops a lot on Amazon. At first, I was concerned but I understand why. She’s a busy professional with an active child and little free time. Having it delivered she saves precious time. As a writer the same applies. Need notebooks, goody bags, and of course copies of your book. There’s Amazon self-publishing.

Alexa. She’s in a lot of homes. Yeah, mine too. Echo show. I tolerate her. Don’t trust her. My eight-year-old granddaughter has Alexa and damn if mine doesn’t respond quicker to her. Netflix and Prime Video. Replacing traditional networks. You can subscribe to individual networks. More innovative and interesting series – no commercials. Plus note only can you watch at home – wait for it – also on your phone, iPad, or Tablet.

Hotspots. Remember when we made fun of the name ‘iPad’ when first introduced by Apple? I just binged Good Omens on Prime. I’m a Terry Pratchett fan. Networks run the same programs over and over and over again. Boring. On Prime Video I can watch the entire Farscape and any other beloved series without commercial interruption. At. Home.

Have you experienced or watched someone when the Internet goes down? Panic, heart palpations, loss of appetite, loss of mind. The world coming to an end? You’re trapped in your home, you’re all alone, isolated you’ll never receive another email again – and that’s just the first ten minutes.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay
Physical proximity is no longer necessary. We have to make time to be out with friends. The smartphone, smarter than us. Tethered to this little beast that weighs four to six ounces. We text each other even if we’re in the same building. Attending a workshop and a friend is sitting on the other side of the room? Text them. We conduct our lives on the phone and sometimes it plays out like a soap opera with no filter. Who hasn’t heard conversations that belonged behind closed doors? We write on our phones, save the document, send via email, and edit. Or play Candy Crush.

Face it we’re trapped in our homes, and its paradise. Need to clean? Roomba.

Next time you’re out with friends, count how many phones are on the table. One of my Sophisticated Ladies makes me put my phone away when we are together. It must be in my purse. So far, she hasn’t slapped my iWatch on my wrist. I FaceTime my cousin. At. Home. All from our personal space – no pants required.

For my call center job, we have meetings in an online meeting room. Easy way to get one hundred agents from all over the country together. One day we’ll have dinner with friends, each of us in our home, chatting away to holograms of each other.

You can hire fitness trainers to come to your home. Or…. I just saw a commercial for a fitness program called Mirror. It’s an interactive exercise program. No more going to the gym when you can work out in front of a six-foot mirror with others, in front of their Mirror, in real time classes or take one of the videotaped classes and then log in and post your results. No social interaction? If your friends have Mirror it’ll be just like going to the gym. Except you’ll be At. Home. In my sci-fi novel, my protagonist tries to avoid her fitness coach who appears in her home via hologram to remind her that she’s missed classes. The future is now people.

Not to be morbid but the old tradition of viewing the deceased in their home could return. Never. Leave. Home.

Like I said, it’s the best of times, we should embrace the goodies, especially now in these scary worst of times. When life is better and the bans are lifted, put on clothes, get out, enjoy the arts, look at real people, eat food in a real restaurant, and enjoy the world. Besides your Amazon order will be waiting when you arrive home.

If fantasy and futuristic romance are your thing then Book Two in my Witches Brew series, a stand alone novel, is a perfect read while you're at home. Here's a peek.

When love stalls, who are you going to call? Red a mystical and magical red dress created to help women discover love and recognize their self-worth.

Delphine Richards is the founder and CEO of Plum Events a successful party planning company in Chicago. The holidays are the busiest and Valentine's Day is the last one of the season. Her employees work hard to create spectacular parties and stay out of Delphine's way. She hates this day for lovers.

Kevin Poe, her fiancé, broke up with her a year ago on Valentine's Day. Since then she's dedicated her life to growing her business. Love won't destroy her again.

Kevin Poe loves Delphine but her constant interference in his teaching career drove a wedge between them. When one of Kevin's students needed him, Delphine neglected to tell him. That was the final straw. If Delphine couldn't stop trying to change him, then they shouldn't be together.

Enter Red, a mystical and magical red dress sent to help Delphine rediscover love and realize she can't control everyone and everything - including herself.


Yasmine 'Yas' Phoenix was born and raised in Virginia but calls Chicago home. She loves tennis, professional and amateur and plays in local leagues. Her writing block is the four major Grand Slams, Indian Wells, and other tournaments. No, she can't tape then watch. Yas loves to read, especially murder mysteries. She is a Terry Pratchett, Discworld fan, and scans the news for potential plot ideas. Melding romance and paranormal in her stories is her goal. Yas always asks the question, "What if?" She is a sucker for old black and white movies like Casablanca on one hand, and Deadpool on the other. She believes her family is her greatest gift and support.

Learn more about Yasmine Phoenix on her website. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

NEW RELEASE for GINA BRIGANTI

Saunders’ Choice is a standalone novella in the enchanting Natural Gifts fantasy romance series. If you like irresistible attraction, mystery, and love against the odds, then you will adore Gina Briganti’s tale of the deep.

She lives life below the waves. What will a man sacrifice to discover it’s not a dream?
Mermaid Velvet has always had a special fascination with the World. And studying its two-legged humans has given the aspiring comedian unique skills to make her audiences laugh. But when she saves a human who believes he’s drowning; she’s stunned by the magic that flows between them.

Saunders is trapped between two realities with no memory of his past. Lost in a strange, underwater domain, he comes face-to-face with an alluring goddess of the sea. When he disappears from her realm, he’s desperate to reunite with the entrancing beauty.

As Velvet continues to bring Saunders out of the darkness, her love for him grows along with her fear that his next disappearance might be his last. And as his memories slowly return, Saunders must decide if he is willing to leave the World permanently for a chance to be with the mermaid he desires.

Can Velvet and Saunders overcome his terrible fate and sink into each other’s perfect arms?

Buy Saunders’ Choice to dive into an ocean of passion today!

EXCERPT
Swimming along, Velvet continued to send a friendly wave to every creature she saw. She rounded the corner of a huge coral reef and saw a murky, shaded part of the coral ahead. If she had a middle name, it would be Curious. Velvet thought nothing of swimming into the darkened water.

A naked man was swimming furiously to the surface, struggling and thrashing in a panic.

He thinks he’s drowning.

If his panic didn’t give him away as a visitor to the Dreaming, his energy did. She didn’t know many visitors, but she had met more than anyone else she knew. Why did she find visitors so compelling? She often wondered about that.

Once, she had shared a romance with a visitor. His name was Joe, and he was sixteen years old at the time. For one whole summer, that was what he called it, they spent all of his time in the Dreaming together. Then Joe admitted to her that he felt weird about having an invisible girlfriend, and they stopped seeing one another in that way. They were friends now. He’d long since grown up and was happily married to a new visitor to the Dreaming. A woman named Dana.

Velvet stopped her reverie and flashed into action, quickly pushing the stranger to what would appear to be a surface to him. She held him while he gulped air, and spurted water from his mouth at the same time.

The stranger turned wild eyes to Velvet. He scanned her from head to tail, and then started racing away from her.

Velvet called out sarcastically, “Was it something I said? Most people have to know me awhile before they swim away at high speed.” As soon as she said it, she felt terrible and her compassion kicked her butt. She called out, “I’m sorry. I hope you’re okay.”

The visitor never looked back.

AMAZON BUY LINKS

A few days ago Gina Briganti had a poll website asking which of four tattoos readers thought this lovely mermaid would wear. Here's the winner.

Gina Briganti writes fantasy and sci-fi romance in north Texas. She also writes holistic health non-fiction because real life can be magic, too. Her credentials in holistic health include certification as a Reiki Master Practitioner and teacher, certification as a nutrition consultant, and a degree in holistic nutrition.

When she's not writing, eating delicious healthy food, reading, or making videos, she is spending time with family and friends. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a lab and chow mix.

Connect with Gina on Facebook, her Amazon Author Page, YouTube channel, InstagramTwitterBookbub, and on Goodreads.  There are exclusives and announcements that she shares only in her newsletter, which you can sign up for right here.

Monday, March 16, 2020

IT'S A WONDER TO BEHOLD

Presenting the traditional St. Patrick's Day meal most North Americans will enjoy with a cold Harp Lager, Guinness Stout, Killian's Irish Red Lager, or Smithwicks Ale. But here's a newsflash, Boyo, except for the beer you'll never find corned beef served anyway on the Old Sod. That's right. Our Irish brethren look at us in amazement, but that's never stopped us Yanks from creating traditions. So pour another wee dram and let's get cooking.

MENU
Corned Beef
Cabbage
Carrots
Potatoes
Bakery Rye Bread
Horseradish Sauce
Mustard
Irish Beer and plenty of it

Corned Beef
1 5lb. corned beef brisket*
2 med. onions, peeled and quartered
4 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 bottles of beer, not Lite
water to cover

Preheat oven to 300 F°.

Place beef in a Dutch oven. Add remaining ingredients, including spice packet that comes with the beef.

Bring to a boil on stovetop. Place in oven and roast for 3 hours or until meat is fork tender.

*Don't stint on the beef. It cooks down to approximately half. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Here's a tip from my butcher Raoul. Always buy corned beef flat cut. It has less fat than the point. Therefore you get more meat for your money.

Vegetables
6 med. red potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 carrots, scraped and cut into 2" pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 2" pieces
1 med. green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
1 cup corned beef cooking liquid
water

You can prep all the veggies and store in a large container covered by cold water until you're ready to cook them. Refrigerate so vegetables remain crisp.

Place veggies in a large pot. Stir in corned beef cooking liquid. Add water to cover vegetables by 2 inches. Cover pot. Set cooking temp at medium. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat so the pot doesn't cook over, but maintain a soft boil. Cook about 30 minutes or until veggies are fork tender.

Horseradish Sauce
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. fresh chives, snipped short

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir well.

Transfer to a serving dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dea Ithe!

Sloane

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Breakfast or Dessert? How About Both!

Our longtime friend Ann Druetzler is a creative cook and baker. She is always happy to share her delicious recipes, and I'm always excited to receive them. You are going to love her version of Blueberry Buckle so keep it recipe handy. You’ll want to make it many times.

Blueberry Buckle
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
⅓ cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 large egg
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen thawed

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Grease a 19 x 9-inch pan well.

Beat all ingredients, except berries, in a large mixer bowl on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bowl occasionally.

Gently fold in berries. Pour batter into pan.

Streusel
½ cup chopped nuts
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. firm margarine or butter

Mix all ingredients together in a medium size bowl until crumbly.

Sprinkle streusel over the blueberry batter.

Bake 40 – 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.