A Gentleman and a Rogue

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Wednesday Hogdepodge - News & Promo


The News

Adventure in Moldavia

My blog will be hosting guest authors starting TOMORROW!! Our first author is MIRIAM NEWMAN and she'll be featuring her book - "The King's Daughter." I'm really looking forward to it!

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The News from Publisher's Weekly

The Small Press Expo will be held this weekend in North Bethesda, MD this year. It usually has a large visit from comics and self publishers.

Romance Editor Kate Duffy Dead at 56

Renowned romance editor Kate Duffy died Sunday at age 56, following a long illness. Duffy was well-known in the industry for her contributions to the romance genre, from the late 1970s and the “romance revolution” of the early ’80s through the present day. Duffy published and worked with Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, Lori Foster, Heather Graham, Judith McNaught, Mary Janice Davidson, Jacqueline Frank and Mary Jo Putney.

ME: I've read Judith McNaught, but I recongize a lot of good romance authors on this list.

Ebook Readers are expected to be in demand for Christmas this year.

ME: I'm definately putting one on my Christmas list!

******

PROMO MATERIAL FOR "THE WOLF'S TORMENT"

The following is a review from Forword Clarion Reviews done by Lee Gooden on my book, "The Wolf's Torment."

***

The Wolf’s Torment
Professional Review, Clarion/ForeWord Magazine

FICTION: ROMANCE / FANTASY

The Wolf’s Torment
S.G. Cardin
iUniverse
355 pages
Softcover $20.95
ISBN: 978-0-595-41733-9
4 stars

A good romantic novel is not the massed-produced formulaic massively consumed quickie book commonly known as a “Bodice Ripper.” A romantic novel is more than thin plot lines designed to get the main characters from one sexual congress to the next.

S. G. Cardin’s debut novel, The Wolf’s Torment, is a romantic novel without being a clichéd ridden “romance” novel. With elements of historical fiction combined with the gothic supernatural, The Wolf’s Torment is in the similar vein as Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witch Chronicles, but the story is also convoluted like Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations as well as dark Arthurian undertones. It is an erotically charged novel with powerful sexual scenes that are not gratuitous, but necessary for the development of character and plot.

Cardin’s hero, child Prince Mihai Sigmaringen of Moldavia in the 1800s, watches helplessly as his mother is murdered by an evil witch. An older Mihai realizes that he lives in country with real monsters, and the modernization and unification of Romania is the only way to rid Eastern Europe of these ancient evils. Cardin writes, “He had a future to fulfill… He would modernize the country and drive out such beings as witches and werewolves that would have the rest of the world think his country as uncultured.”

But the ancient evil persists, and Mihai’s best friend Victor, who he met in England while attending university, is bitten by a werewolf. When the beast overcomes the man, Victor’s werewolf nature invades his humanity and he betrays Mihai.

Mihai makes his own betrayals: to see his plans reach fruition he submits to an arranged marriage to the Lady Theresa von Kracken, even though Alexandra, his gold-digging mistress from London, is pregnant with his baby. Theresa believes that Mihai is the prince that her precognitive dreams had shown her as a child.

After the death of his father, Mihai is crowned King and Theresa becomes his queen. Like Lancelot and Guinevere who betray King Arthur’s trust, Victor has his way with Queen Theresa—the difference being Victor drugs Theresa and takes advantage of her vulnerability. Unlike Guinevere, she never stops being deeply in love with her husband.

The story turns desperate as King Mihai relentlessly drags a reluctant Moldavia into a modern age, even while chthonic forces attempt to pull Moldavia out of enlightenment and back into the darkness of magic, fear and superstition.

Cardin has provided a Q and A session as well as deleted scenes and discussion issues. Readers that enjoy fast-paced novels with some scares and mystery will find themselves waiting impatiently for a sequel to this historical and supernatural romance.

Reviewed by Lee Gooden

Monday, September 28, 2009

Belated Sunday Inspiration - NH Lighthouses


I know I'm late here, but I wanted to share my love of lighthouses with you.

For me, I've always been attracted to the sea. Growing up in Manchester, NH, I was only an hour west of the Atlantic Ocean. Going to Hampton Beach and playing in the surf are happy childhood memories for me. It wasn't unitl I was an adult though that I discovered lighthouses.

Lighthouses have a silent, romantic quality to me. They stand sturdy, lighting the way on the blacked nights and the roughest storms. They were a shing beacon of hope to travlers who passed by.

Lighthouses dot both our coasts and several of our lakes. I visited my 1st lighthouse in York, Maine when I was a young adult and was impressed by it's quiet strength and rich history.

Today, my husband and I have several lighthouses pictures and motifs in our home to remind us of our love for the sea.

Moving on to my old home...

While NH has the smallest coastline in the U.S. (only 9 miles) it has several lighthouses that embody the romance of the sea. White Island, one of the NH Isle of Shoals, was the first to have a lighthouse which was built in 1821. Originally, it flashed red, white, and blue, but the blue was stopped due to poor visibablity.

In 1838, Thomas Laighton become the lighthouse's innkeeper. His daughter, Celia Thaxter, gained widespread fame as a poet and author.

After a storm in 1839, the brig, Pocahontas, was wrecked on a sandbar inspiring Thaxtor's poem, "The Wreak of the Pocohontas."

In 1986, the lighthouse was automated. More recently, a restoration project was started on the lighthouse to preserve it's condition which was deterioting. The innkeeper's house was reroofed and painted. Rotting wood work was replaced. Bricks were also replaced. Now, in 2009, the lighthouse uses LED lights. It's come a long was from the first Fresnel lens to LED, but White Island Lighthouse still inspires as a rich gem on NH's Romantic seacoast.

Here's a poem in honor of the romance of the lighthouse, which I recently wrote:

The Romance of White Island Light

Bright white beams piereced the dark night.

A humble fisherman came bold,
wanting a reprieve ffrom the cold.
She took him in from the sea's sight.

A fire blazed in a warm room.

Bright white beams pierced the dark night.
A summer's gale whipped up fright.
The bricks stood the time under the moon.

Crack! Hiss! Pop! Cold flesh to shiver.

Arms entwined, seeking warmth, feeling right.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.

Passion flamed in blissful rivers.

He had to leave by the light of dawn.
Sweet promises he gave to return.
She closed the door, heart beating tight.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday's Adventures - Writers & California

Thursday Adventure - Writers

I've got great news! "Adventures in Moldavia" is going to be hosting romance guest authors in October!! Each author is going to discuss their lastest books. The fun starts 1 OCT and goes through 17 OCT right now, but I have several more dates open if anyone is interested.

Keep 1 OCT on your calendars. The fun begins then.

******

Now onto my California adventure. I mentioned in a previous post I wanted to talk about white wine that's made in California and I'm glad to touch upon it now.

Here's a list of the white wine made in California:
Chardonnay
Sauvignon Blanc
Reisling
Gewustizwer
Pinot Gringo

***

When it comes to chardonnay, I'm very picky and California chardonnays have a habit of being very oaky and full of buttery, or vanilla flavors. I prefer my chardonnarys a lot lighter. I like the wines from the Santa Maria region just north of Santa Ynez.



Sauvignon Blanc has a tendacy to be on the drier side. It's a dry white California wine made from a grape originally grown in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.

Though the variety was established in California in the late 1870s - initially brought from France and planted in the Livermore Valley - the state's Sauvignon Blanc production began to sort itself out stylistically in the 1990s. Toward the end of the decade, two main styles had emerged, each essentially split into two sub-groups.

In one school of winemaking, the wines are fermented entirely or mostly in stainless steel with winemakers intent on producing a crisp, expressive wine that emphasizes either the varietal's inherent grassy-herbal qualities or fruity flavors, ranging from citrus, pear and melon to tropical and passion fruit.

The other school employs barrel fermentation, with some in this group intent on letting the varietal grassiness express itself to varying degrees, while others employ secondary malolactic fermentation, lees stirring and extended oak aging to create a creamy, luscious Sauvignon that can give Chardonnay a run for its money. These winemaking style divisions work to the advantage of the savvy consumer, providing greater selection in a broad price range. Arguably, Sauvignon Blanc has long been America's best buy in white wine, offering varietal character and versatility, coupled with availability. What is more, it virtually defines the term "food-friendly."

You can reference the following site for information: http://thewinenews.com/junjul01/cover.html

Reislings

Reislings can be dry or sweet or somewhere inbetween. The following is information from "Wine Country Getaways"

Riesling is most famous in the wine regions of Germany and France’s Alsace. Riesling is not a hugely popular wine in California, but it is an absolutely refreshing and delicious wine. One only wonders why more people are not taking advantage of this wonderful wine. Perhaps it is the mythical notion that Rieslings are always sweet wines.

ME: I agree - it is a very refreshing wine.

Riesling in California can have many names. We have seen White Riesling, Johannesburg Riesling, Dry Riesling, and once way back in time Wente Brothers Grey Riesling. There are also late harvest Rieslings and they of course are always sweet.

Riesling can be various degrees of sweetness from very dry to sweet dessert wine. It depends on how the winemaker wishes to make Riesling wine. When ordering a Riesling in a restaurant, always ask about the sweetness of the wine.

Riesling is a crisp and refreshing wine. It has various floral aromas and flavors. The most prominent being apricot, peach, pear, and lemon.

ME: That's a perfect description of the wine!

Riesling pairs well with lighter foods. Serve Riesling with light to medium cheese, shrimp, and with cracked crab. Sausage and spicy foods work well with Rieslings that have some sweetness to them.

Riesling grows in cool climates. Monterey and Mendocino Counties have an ideal climate for Rieslings grapes.

Favorite California Rieslings
Chateau Montelena Winery – Potter Valley Riesling $18 only at the winery
Chateau St. Jean
Firestone Riesling - Bargain Wine at $8
Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling - Bargain Wine at $8
Greenwood Ridge
Handley Cellars
Trefethen Dry Riesling
Navarro Vineyards

I haven't tried any of these, but I have tried Fetzer and I like it. I'll be on the lookout for these.

Here's a link to: http://www.winecountrygetaways.com/riesling-wine.html Where the above information came from.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is a white Italian varietal that is exciting an increasing number of California winemakers. There are currently at least eighteen California wineries offering a PG, and for many of them the current release is their first venture with the varietal. California Pinot Grigios are a little softer than many Sauvignon Blancs, but they aren't as oakey as typical California Chardonnays.

I've had several out of the Santa Barbara area. I think the Santa Barbara has a nice offering. I find PG is rather on the drier side.

Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is one of the most pungent wine varietals, easy for even the beginning taster to recognize by its heady, aromatic scent. While the French have achieved the greatest success with this grape and its name may be German, the history of Gewürztraminer began in Italy's Tyrollean Alps, near the village of Termeno (Tramin) in Alto Adige.

The Following is information from Wine Country Getaways:


The Gewürztraminer grape is very popular in France (Alsace) and Germany.
ME: Yes! I first had the wine in Germany.

Gewürztraminer seems to be growing in popularity in California but there are only a handful of California wineries that produce Gewürztraminer.

Me: Yes - Fetzer does a Gewurztraminer.

Gewürztraminer wines come in distinctive tall, thin wine bottles.
Gewürztraminer is grown primarily in cooler climates.

Gewürztraminer can be made very dry to semi-sweet. Gewürztraminer can also be a late harvest desert wine.

ME: I prefer the semi-sweet.

The aroma of Gewürztraminer is distinctive. It is a mix of lychee nut, rose petals, peach, and spice.

The flavors are delicate with rich spice and fruit flavors of peach, apricot, and tropical fruit.
A dry Gewürztraminer is a good match with spicy foods found in many ethnic dishes.
You will find Gewürztraminer on our wine trails at these wineries:

Harvest Moon Winery - Russian River Valley
Martinelli Winery - Russian River Valley
Tom Fogarty - Santa Cruz Mountains
Chateau St. Jean - Sonoma Valley
Navarro Vineyards - Mendocino
Handley Cellars - Mendocino
Mill Creek Winery - Russian River West Side Road
Beringer Wines - Napa Valley
Firestone Vineyards - Foxen Canyon, Santa Barbara

I just had a Gewurztraminer from Chateau St. Jean and it was very well done. Very crisp, but a little on the drier side.

Here's a link to the following information: http://www.winecountrygetaways.com/gewurztraminer.html

*******

Well, I hope you liked your adventure through California white wines. I hope to tackle red wines in a future post.

What kind of wine do you like?
Smiles
Steph

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Tips - Types of Romance


Since I enjoy writing the romance genre, I thought I talk a little about some of the subgenres that romance encompasses.

Romance is a very big genre and you'll find there's a lot of romance novels on the market today. I thought I'd talk about some of the subgenres that are out there today.

CHICK LIT

Usually written in the 1st person. Chick Lit stories involve a young heroine, in her mid-20's, less well established, who usually lives with roommates and has an entry level job. The heroine is more interested in building a career than looking for Mr. Right. The heroine, however, maybe interested in Mr. Right Now.

This genre leans toward breaking more traditional rules. Heroines have been known to smoke, binge drink, and cuss. The writing style is up front, breezy, with less introspection. The end doesn't necessarily have the heoroine and hero together.

From what I've heard around the web, chick lit isn't as popular as it was when it was first introduced. While it's waning, I would say it still interests readers.

HISTORICAL

These romances are set in the past. There are even subgenres depending on the time period. The perferred setting is Europe or North America, but it could be anywhere including ancient Rome, China, or Japan. These stories are usually longer. Some "elements" are polished for modern readers. For example: heroines tend to be more independant and heroes are more enlighted than peopel of the time period actually were. Another point: In the Middle Ages, young women were married by 13, having children. By today's historical, heroines tend to be older.

REGENCY

A regency is a specific type of historical romance, usually set in England between 1811 and 1834. These stories focus on the upper classes and the characters ability to make or break a socially acceptable marriage. It's called a regency after the regency of Prince George (IV) and again, the time period is up until Victoria takes the throne. They are usually sweet, short novels, and less sensual. The darker side of life is seldomed mentioned.

That's 3 for now, but I'll cover more subgenres as the weeks go on. Do you like chick lit, historicals, or regencies? Do you have a favorite author in these genres? Share your thoughts!

**smiles**

Steph

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Excerpt - From Destination: Berlin

The set up: Sharon and Dimitri meet on the duty train.
************

East Germany,
July 1988

Chapter One

Spies. Espionage. Danger. The Berlin duty train hinted at it all, as it carried the four allies between the West and occupied Berlin. Corporal Sharon Cates was high on the potential thrill, but her military common sense kept her anchored to the fact that hints rarely ever gave way to facts.

She walked through the doors and into the duty train’s dining car, wearing her class “A” uniform. It was relatively empty. A lone concession window was open selling coffee and brötchen. She bought a cup and sat down next to a window. It was dark outside, and she couldn’t see much. Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was two o’clock. Sharon knew she should be asleep, but she was too excited. Soon she’d be in Berlin, and she was thrilled. Going to Berlin would be stepping into living history. She put her briefcase on the table and took out a guidebook to Berlin, thumbing through it as she drank her coffee.

A faint creak pierced the air. When Sharon looked up, she spied a Soviet soldier also buying a cup of coffee. A warm shiver slid down her spine. After all, she knew the Soviets also used the duty train; she just thought she’d never see one. He was tall and filled out his uniform well. From the markings on his uniform, she gathered he was a non-commissioned officer, but that was all. To her surprise, he approached her booth.

“Good morning, Corporal. I am Junior Sergeant Dimitri Nagory of the Soviet Army. May I join you?”

Sharon looked up. He was talking to her—in English! She motioned to him to have a seat.

Dimitri sat down and smiled. “If you don’t mind my asking, what’s your name, Corporal?”

“Sharon,” she answered, as distantly as possible. She never thought she’d meet a Soviet soldier on the Berlin Duty Train. This felt like a page out of a LeCarre spy novel. “Sharon Cates.”

“Is this your first time on the duty train?” he asked.

Sharon stared at him. Nosey Soviet. Cpt. Heathers had cautioned her about them during her security briefing.

“Because it is the first time I have seen you,” Dimitri continued, sipping his coffee.

“Ah, yes,” Sharon finally answered. Should she finally entertain those thoughts of espionage and secret spy scenarios? “It’s my first trip to Berlin,” she added.

“I see. Are you attending the Berlin Orientation Tour?”

“How did you know?”

“Most of the Americans I see on the train travel to Berlin for that purpose,” Dimitri explained, grinning.

“If you don’t mind my asking, why are you on the train?” Despite the desire to keep her composure, her lips curved into an inquisitive smile.

“I work in the Soviet embassy in London. My headquarters are in East Berlin. I travel between London and Berlin every two weeks,” he answered.

“And you can tell me that?” she asked, raising a surprised eyebrow.

“It’s common knowledge,” he added.

“Do you make it a habit to talk to Americans on the train?” Sharon asked.

“No, I don’t. I usually sleep in my train car, but I haven’t had much to eat today so they let me out to do that,” he replied.

“Touché,” she said curtly. “So, Jr. Sgt. Nagory, what do you do in your army?”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Book Review - To Love A Hero

I just got done reading this international romance and I enjoyed it! Here's my review...

****

Book Review for: “To Love A Hero”
Written by: Mona Risk
Cerridwen Press
ISBN: 978-141-9958-106
283 pages
$14.95
5 Stars


Risk crafts a sharp, international romance with “To Love A Hero.” Set in contemporary Belarus, Risk draws on the exotic locale to paint a modern romance between two highly driven people who crash into each other head long, sending sparks all over Minsk.

Dr. Cecile Lornier is hired to help establish a chemical lab to aid the Belarusians in cleaning up their environment. As soon as she steps off the plane in Minsk, she’s awed by the majestic setting and nearly crashes into the Major General of Belarus, Sergi Fedorin. Sergi is immediately taken with Cecile, and she with him.

As Cecile embraces the project, eager to prove her worth to the Belarusians, Sergi makes his interest known. Despite her better judgment, Cecile falls for Sergi’s charms and mixes business with pleasure. After a night of passion, the new lovers realize they’ll have to keep their affair a secret if they want the clean-up project to succeed. It’s a secret that isn’t easy to keep as Sergi’s nemesis hounds him and Cecile to the point of breaking. Pressure builds not only from outside forces, but from internal sources as Cecile believes her and Sergi’s worlds might be too far apart to make things work between them. Can Cecile and Sergi embrace the flames of love they’ve ignited, or will they be forced to put their relationship aside to keep their project from failing?

Risk writes a sharp, contemporary romance that grabs the reader as soon as Cecile sets foot off the plane. “To Love A Hero,” is an apt title; the hero, Sergi Fedorin, is admired by the people of Belarus and he desperately desires to clean up the county’s environment.

The plot is solid. The international setting is intriguing. The pacing is pitch perfect, slowing down at the right intervals so the reader can get a deep breath before accelerating again.

Risk’s love scenes are graphic and tasteful, capturing the deep feelings Cecile and Sergi have for each other. Cecile is a likable heroine and her flaw is her biggest strength – her dedication to those things she believes passionately in. Sergi is a man who captures a certain nobility even though he isn’t.

“To Love A Hero,” has a nice, original twist in that it’s set in Belarus, a country that isn’t heard of much. This romance is an exotic escape that will have the reader breathless as they turn the page.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CA Inspiration - The Golden Gate Bridge


The Golden Gate Bridge. Scenic. Wide. Beautiful. Gateway to California Wine Country. These are some words that come to mind when I think of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mind you, I'm not native to California. I first saw the Golden Gate Bridge when my husband and I took 13 month old Andrew up to visit his aunt who had a house in Lake County, in Lakeport, just north of the California counties, Sonoma and Napa. I can't begin to describe it. It was BIG. LARGE. Awe inspiring. It seemed to span FOREVER. It stood tall and proud, majesticly over the bay it watched, keeping silent vigil and inspiring...romance.

Juliet, my muse, whispered in my ear. Write. I envisioned a tale that took place right before World War II, in Napa. A young 18 year old man, heir to his family's well respected winery, falls in love with an exotic woman and then is drafted into the war. His love story with her unfolds in the last halycon days before the war. They have a passionate affair and then he's gone, leaving her to deal with his reluctant family.

Damn it, I didn't have a thing to write on. No napkin, no paper, no iPhone to put notes on. I still may write the story in the near future.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a wonderful setting for a romantic story. The view from one end of the bay to another is wonderful. And it really is the gateway to California wine country. Once you pass the bridge, in 10 minutes you're in Sonoma country. And what's more romantic than wine? **wink**

Just a little history:

Joseph Strass designed the bridge. He saw the site in 1919 and was inspired. Between 1919 and 1933, he drafted designs and went through the political processes to get the money to build the bridge. Golden Gate Bridge construction commenced on January 5, 1933 and lasted four and a half years.

For me, the Golden Gate Bridge embodies California romance.

**smiles**
Steph

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday NH Inspiration - Lilacs & CRR Contest


Ah, the smell of fresh lilacs - crisp, sweet, clean. I miss them.
Did I ever mention that my favorite flower is the lilac?

**grin**

Growing up in New Hampshire, every April/May/June the lilac bushes would grow and bloom, sending their sweet smells into the air. I found them soothing, and reassuring. Yes, things changed throughout the year, but always in the springtime, the lilacs would come out and bring a small smile to my face.

My grandmother had several bushes in her backyard, both purple and white, but mainly you find purple. Lilacs grow in the spring months. Their blooms only last about a month and then they go away to come back the following year. I loved growing up with lilacs. Surprisingly, I don't use them much in my writing.

Flowers are very inspirational in romance writing. I like using roses, jasmine (do they count?) gardenias, and lavender. I don't use lilacs simply because they are seasonal and very rarely do one of my romance stories take place in the spring.

I think flowers help to highten the romance of a story. They express sweet sentiments, like "I care about you," and of course, "I love you." The muse always challenges me to find a place to put flowers in my writing. Do you use flowers in your writing? How so? I What context?

There's inspiration all around us. Flowers can mean so many things. For me, lilacs remind me of home and of the fun times playing in my grandmother's back yard. Find inspiration in the small things around you.
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I also wanted to you know about a contest that CRR is hosting...
Desert Breeze Publishing, who is publishing my paranormal romance, "The Hungarian," is hosting two contests, one for readers and one for authors, on Classic Romance Revival this month. They're giving away a book a day, and authors have a chance to win a publishing contract. Here's the link if you want to check it out.http://www.classicromancerevival.com/
I blogged a little bit earler in the month about CRR for a bit. It's a great place where authors and readers can connect over romance writing. If you get a chance, head on over there and check it out!

Steph

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Inspiration - Wine


Nothing sets a romantic scene like wine. My husband and I used to sit on our porch at our little table and sip a glass, just hanging out, enjoying the company. It was relaxing. Two kids later we rarely get a chance to do that!

Wine has been around since, well forever. The earliest wine production was in Georgia and Iran, if you can believe that, dating back to 6000 BC. Since, wine has been found from Egypt to China and soon took a role in most ceremonial events.

Not surprising, wine was predominant in classical Greece and Rome. It was probably safer to drink than the water as it underwent some type of purification. The Catholic church came to use it in their early rituals and they still do today, however it was frowned upon in medieval Muslim society.

The French, of course, have turned wine making into an art. They have a rich history of blending grapes varietals. Germany also produces wine, but mostly sweet Rieslings and ice wine. Just recently I had an ice wine from Canada that was very good.

In America, specifically, in California, most vintners don’t mix varietals, keeping a bottle wine the same grape. Everyone has their own technique, and pairing wine with food can be as much as drinking it.

I prefer red wines myself. I find them more full bodied. I’m picky about my chardonnay, but I do enjoy a good Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

What makes wine special in writing? Wine is relaxing. People drop their guard a little when enjoying a glass. Their more prone to open about themselves. A scene in a story where a man and woman have a glass can be made into a good character driven scene where they find out something about the other they didn’t know.

When working on character scenes, including a glass of wine could be fun. It’s a good for a writer to connect with readers and characters to connect with each other.

In a future post, I’ll take a look a German white wines and how much fun they can be. I hope this inspires your muse to have a glass during your next project!

Smiles,
Steph

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review Friday - The Children of Henry VIII


Alison Weir is a historical author that I really enjoy. She infuses her writing with little behind the scenes happenings that make history fun!
Enjoy.
*****
Book Review for “The Children of Henry VIII”
Written by: Alison Weir
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-40786-3
394 pages
$16.00
5 Stars

Weir weaves a haunting tale of lost innocence in demanding times as Henry VIII’s heirs to his legacy make their way through persecution, intrigue, and deception. Weir tells each heir’s story with honesty and compassion against the conflicting religious backdrop and fanaticism of their father’s making. Edward VI embraces the new Protestant religion, but because of his minority, has to deal with a regency council. His sister, Mary, daughter of Katherine of Aragon, believes Catholicism is the true religion. She’s just as passionate about her religion as Edward is of his. Then there’s Jane Grey and Elizabeth Tudor, heirs to a Protestant religion which could prove their downfalls. Weir examines each of their actions and gives the reader a fascinating look into this dark period of Tudor history.

When Henry VIII dies, his son, Edward, who is nine, ascends to the throne. A regency council and Lord Protector, his uncle, Thomas Seymour, rule for him until he’s of age to rule for himself. Edward is well educated, but cold and aloof in his personality. He embraces the new Protestant religion founded by his father, and institutes reforms that are well received by England’s citizens. His relationship with his thirty-year-old sister, Mary, is strained since she embraces Catholicism. Edward is fifteen when he begins to assert himself, but just when he’s primed to take over the reigns of kingship, he’s felled by what appears to be consumption. His Protector, now John Dudley, appears to have poisoned him, worsening his condition. Edward dies before the promise of his reign can be realized.

John Dudley, fearing Mary’s stanch Catholicism is bad for the country, makes Edward name Lady Jane Grey as his heir. She is the oldest daughter of Francis Brandon, who is in turn, the daughter of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s younger sister. In Henry’s will he named Mary Tudor and her heirs in line for the throne after his heirs.

Unfortunately, the tide of support is against Jane. Mary claims her right of queenship behind the will of the English people. A reluctant queen, Jane is sent to the tower. John Dudley is executed and Mary assumes the throne.

The affairs of the realm had been neglected since Edward’s death. Mary forms a council and looks for a husband, realizing she has a duty to produce an heir for England. She promises no major changes in worship, but brings back Catholicism to the court. Soon, Mary is wedded to Phillip of Spain. It is the first of many faux pas committed by her. Her subjects don’t approve of their Spanish bridegroom. Phillip stays long enough to believe she’s with child, and then leaves to attend to his other affairs. Mary reinstates the old hearsay laws from the 1400’s and begins burning Protestants at the stake. This earns her the nickname, “Bloody Mary.” Weir notes the nickname is ironic since Mary is quite agreeable in person.

Unfortunately for Mary, she proves not to be with child. After a long separation from Phillip, he returns, only to leave weeks afterwards. Mary believes she’s with child again, but she’s not. Her ill health takes a toll on her, and she dies in November 1558. Her sister, Elizabeth, ascends to the throne.

Elizabeth has had a troubled life up to this point. Well educated, she also receives life lessons that sharpens her intuition. After her father dies, she goes to live with Katherine Parr and her new husband, Thomas Seymour. Thomas’s advances toward Elizabeth are inappropriate and force Elizabeth to leave her step-mother’s care. Elizabeth is devastated by this. During Edward’s reign, Elizabeth is left alone, but when Mary comes to the throne, Elizabeth must celebrate mass to keep her head. Like a skilled manipulator, Elizabeth avoids intrigue that would harm her. After stints in the tower and house arrest under her sister’s rule, Elizabeth comes to the throne. She immediately stops burning Protestants at the stake.

Weir’s writing never lingers. The books moves at a fast pace as she reveals little tidbits into Henry’s heirs. History comes alive under her storytelling. The Tudor children were never so passionate, compelling, or alive as they are in Weir’s skilled hands.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday's Stuff - The Writing World

Here's some items from the Writing/Publishing World.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Ebooks are picking up. "Books on Board" has grown into one of the largest independent e-book retailers in the country, offering more than 400,000 e-book titles. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have gotten back into the eBook business and with the Kindle growing in popularity, so are eBooks.

Why eBooks?

eBooks are green. No paper waste. With some readers you can set the font. Readers are easy to carry. You can get an ebook instantly.



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From Publisher's Weekly
Dan Sinker—founder, editor, Web designer and chief technologist of CellStories.net, a new digital reading venture that offers short narrative content to readers via their cellphones—believes that companies like Amazon and Sony have it all wrong. The future of digital reading, says Sinker, is the cellphone, not dedicated reading devices like the Kindle and the Sony Reader.

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I"d be curious to see how this is. There's an Amazon Kindle App for the IPhone - does anyone have it?

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What's trending right now? Taken from Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner's Blog.

Memoir is out unless you're famous.
Chick lit is dead.
Literary fiction doesn't sell.
Nobody wants books over 100k words.


Chick Lit had a good run and I don't think it's that dead, but quite honestly, I never read it. I do know a bunch of literary agents are sticklers for word counts. Especially with new authors who aren't so proven or tested. I can't comment on Memoir writing, it is simply not my forte.

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I'm getting in touch with my romantic roots. So what inspires my romantic muse? My Juno? I like international settings. I think that's why I enjoyed Mona's book so much. My book, "The Wolf's Torment" is setting in Constanta, which is in Romania on the coast of the Black Sea. My current novel I'm working on takes place in Budapest Hungary. I'm getting a flash a inspiration. Most all know how to write, so I'm going to back off tips and stragetries, per se, and look for inspirational posts. And inspiration can be found anywhere - the sea, a river, a gently running brook, flowers, wine, stars, a castle, music, yes, inspiration can be found in some of the most obvious places and some not so obvious places.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Writing Tips - Elements of the Action/Adventure Genre


Plan on writing an action/adventure short story or a novel? Here are some elements to consider when drafting your story together.


When one hears "Action/Adventure," the pulse- pounding James Bond cames to mind. Ian Fleming's novels are fast paced, plot driven, and give Bond a "quest" for him to prove his worthiness. All these are essential elements to telling an action/adventure story. Other notable action/adventure authors include Janet Evanovich and Pat Cornwall.


PLOT Most action/adventure stories have a plot that's based on events and action, as opposed to a character driven plot. (Where the character is motivated to learn something about his/herself.) Plots should be unpredicable, making the readers guess as to what is coming next.


PACE Action/Adventure stories are fast paced, moving from event to event quickly, hardly leaving the reader time to breathe.


SETTING Settings (time and place) are clearly established. Usually adventures take place in an exotic type setting. You can have historical settings, as well. The better researched and defined, the easier it is to picture the story's setting in the reader's mind.


HERO/HEROINE The action/adventure hero is not confined to being a man anymore, but the goal of the hero/heroine is the same: to go a quest to prove their worthiness. The hero has a moral code they won't compromise. For example, they won't kill unless in self defense.The hero has a least one exceptional skill. They may be an expert marksman, or run real fast. They may have exceptional vision. This skill helps them along their quest.


COMPLICATIONS The main complications to the hero is the immediate threat of physical danger. This heighens the action.


SUPPORTING CAST The hero has a good cast in support of the story. Everyone has a "defined" role. There's a best friend, a villian, an informant. The stronger the supporting cast, the stronger the story.


DESCRIPTIONS What embodies action is the description of it. What's a more effective description:#1 - Bond ran toward the helipad?#2 - Bond raced toward the helipad?


One word - one descriptive word choice can make the difference when it comes to action. Let's expand on this:#1 - Bond ran toward the helipad, his eyes on the helicopter.#2 - Bond raced toward the helipad, blood pounding in his veins.Which sentence captures the sense that it's imperative for Bond to reach the helipad? #2.


The description in an action/adventure story shouldn't be lengthy, but it should be enough to picture the sense of urgency behind the action.


For me, I think setting is important. It really gives the reader the "flavor" of the story they're reading. Just to bring up Mona again, her story, "To Love a Hero" is set in Bellarus. Enclosed is a picture of Victory Square from Minsk. It's a little dark, a little exotic, hinting of pride. That's setting. You don't need a lot. Just give the reader the taste of it and the imagination will do the rest!


Smiles

Steph
PS... I was just trolling my favorite blogs and I got a little early for Wednesday's pub News - What's NOT trending right now in the publishing world? Here's a sneak peek:
Unless your famous, Memoirs are on the out.
Chick lit is dead. ?? Really?? I'm shocked.
Literary fiction doesn't sell. I know it's tough in this category.
Nobody wants books over 100k words. I guess readers can't read past that? Hey, if it's too long...