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October 17, 2014

Mary's web gal here. Mary is out of town this week and having problems with her computer and can't send blog content for this week. :) She wants to know how many of her readers have mastered Windows 8.1 and how long did it take to do so? :)

Pop over to her Facebook Page and let her know.

Portland Architecture

October 10, 2014

Clearly in a past life I was an architect or should have been one in this one. Unfortunately I graduated from a liberal arts college where all I could do was study architecture from afar. My senior paper was on Nineteenth Century American Architecture and that’s as close as I came to the field.

This past summer I spend two weeks in Portland Oregon in the SW quadrant of the city, locally know as Hawthorne named for the avenue that runs the length of it.

Portland is a regular on my list of places to visit since my oldest son lives there. For years I have wanted to do a photographic survey of the house of Hawthorne and share them with anybody willing to read or look.

I've wanted to do this since I first came here years ago. This time I have taken photos and am finally writing a brief the commentary as the pictures tell the story.

Portland had several building booms but the biggest was from 1900 to 1924. At that time Craftsman style homes (Arts and Crafts in Europe) were the style. The porches, exposed beams and gables are unmistakable but like rooflines they vary wildly and widely.

Today these homes, in Hawthorne at least, are in various stages of repair, restoration, disrepair. Some are truly tear downs, some have been converted into apartments and some have been lovingly restored.

The houses pictured I thought were worth noting for the way they represented a house adapted to another use (the Portland Hostel), beautifully restored (the red bungalow) and what went up after a tear down (price $777,000).

These are only three of hundreds of craftsman houses. I am going to do a Pinterest Board soon and I will let you know when it is up.

Do you like the Craftsman style? Which one you would want to live in? Pop back over to my Facebook Page and tell me.

Lost Houses

October 3, 2014

Research on the fire at Braemoor for HIS LAST LOVER was fascinating. This story was written before Google when writers doing research relied on books from interlibrary loan or bookstores like Powells in Portland, Oregon where you can find books on any subject you can imagine.

My best resource came from a small second hand store in Cleveland: LOST HOUSES OF BRITAIN by Anna Sproule, published in 1982. Most of the houses in Sproule’s book are lost to development. The death duties of the modern era made it increasingly difficult for heirs to maintain the great houses that were their homes.

But not all were lost for financial reasons. According to Sproule “the most common accident of all” was fire. And in the destruction of Alloa House I found my template for the fire that destroyed the Marquis Straemore’s house, Braemoor.

Alloa House, located in Scotland was the home of the Earl of Mars, whose mandate was to see to the safety and well-being of Scotland’s heirs. Despite Alloa Houses’s fortress like construction, in the summer of 1800 a servant looking for something under a bed held his candle too close to the covers and a fire started and, apparently, took hold with alarming speed.

It was August and lack of water was an issue as the nearby Brathy Burn was dry. By morning, in less than ten hours, the roof was gone and only the Old Tower remained. (In the interests of a happy ending, the tower was restored to its 1712 image and has been open to visitors since 1997.)

The tower of Alloa House (restored) is all
that was left after a fire in 1800.

Braemoor, is of course, completely fictitious. But according to HIS LAST LOVER in the spring of 1810 it burned not quite to the ground. The servants were able to save some of the most valuable pieces and no one was injured but it brought home to James Braedon, the heir to the Straemore title, that he finally had the “compelling proof” he needed to convince the trustees of the estate that he should be put in charge despite the fact that his father was still alive.

For you see it was the marquis himself who started the fire that destroyed his family’s home.

To learn how and why you are just going to have to read HIS LAST LOVER.

Have you ever visited a great house aka mansion (or the ruins of one?) Pop back over to my Facebook Page and tell me where and when.

Characters Who Rule

September 26, 2014

Every writer has one (or more): a character that has to be reined in because they want to hijack the story and take over the page. For me it’s a short list but I love it when it happens. Heroine Marguerite Voisson in HIS LAST LOVER is one of them.

Lucky for me she is also one of the happiest characters I have ever created. No matter what difficulties life sent her way, she made the most of every opportunity and created a few when none were to be found.

I know the back story of my characters, even some of the secondary ones. I even know how happily-ever-after their lives are and how long they live (these are historicals after all so since I do not write paranormal they are no longer in this world.)

Marguerite’s early years were so clear to me that I wrote a novella about how she came to England, when and why. CHILD OF HER HEART was originally published in the anthology A Husband for Mama, but like my other Kensington titles I was able to secure the rights to it. First and foremost CHILD OF HER HEART is a romance but it is built around Marguerite’s childhood. Yes, she tried to run the show even in the novella!

The view from the village as Braemoor burns. One of many challenges the amazing Marguerite Voisson must deal with.

CHILD OF HER HEART will be available as an ebook in mid November. It’s the perfect holiday read as it is about 100 pages and Marguerite would be so disappointed if you did not want to know more of her story. In the meantime check out HIS LAST LOVER when it goes on sale next week and get to know Marguerite as an adult.

Some blog I will tell you about William Bendasbrook from the Pennistan Saga that I wrote for Bantam. He was never a main character but talked his way up from a walk-on spot in LOVERS KISS to also appear in STRANGERS KISS, a mention or two in COURTESAN’S KISS until he finally found his true love in ONE MORE KISS. William was one persistent guy.

Can you name a character who has truly come alive for you?

Visit me on my Facebook Page and let me know!

Seminal Ideas

September 19, 2014

Readers ask “Where do idea come from?” Well here’s my stab at an answer. Every story has a seminal idea (my term). There’s that “what if” moment that grabs your attention when you see a person do something, watch a TV show and are inspired, see something out of context and it becomes the focus of your world for a minute.

The seminal idea for HIS HEART'S DELIGHT, now available as an eBook, was Paris Hilton. And if you don’t remember who she is check this out. Not being much of a party girl myself I was fascinated by the way Hilton created a world where she was queen.

Wondering what that would translate to in the Regency, I decided to explore it in a series I was about to begin for Kensington. As Christiana Lambert took shape I realized that she and Paris do not have much in common besides loving a good time. Seminal ideas don’t always make their way onto the page but they are the embryo of the story. I don’t think I ever would have come up with Miss Lambert were it not for Miss Hilton.

The Braedon Family who are the family at the heart of this series grew from the story of the sixth Duke of Somerset who disinherited his daughter who did not remain standing in his presence when he nodded off (in a chair.) The fictional Marquess Straemore is every bit the dictator that sixth Duke was but his son and heir, James, is a strong enough force to keep his aging, ill father under control. Most of the time.

How’s that for an answer, readers? Writers, please share a seminal idea for one of your books.

Visit me on my Facebook Page and let me know!

Favorite Summer Movies
September 12, 2014

Will someone please explain to me where all the ideas go when you sit down to write a blog? Brilliant ideas are everywhere when I am waiting on line at the grocery store, on the elliptical when I am trying to meditate.

But hey, I sit at the desk and not one idea seems viable.

I’m sure that no one wants to hear about my summer vacation or my favorite movies. But at this very moment it occurs to me, what the heck, if they aren’t interested they don’t have to read it and only my ego will suffer.

So let’s go back to my favorite movies of the summer which I will limit to three. THE LEGO MOVIE was brilliant – 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. They had me when they announced they had to find “the piece of resistance.” I usually groan at puns but this one was spot on perfect. The fact that this film works for people of all ages amazes me. How do they do that? Maybe they had a long conversation with JK Rowling before they sat down to write the script...

Next THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY, a 7.5 on my scale, but still worth your attention. Why 7.5 – cause it’s a little slow. My sister and I tried to figure out ways to edit the film to move it along but really could not pick a scene. So maybe the problem was my inability to slow down enough to take the slow train. Helen Mirren does a wonderful job as the owner of a snobby restaurant and Manish Dayal with his soulful brown eyes is fabulous as the Indian chef who challenges her on many levels.

Finally GURADIANS OF THE GALAXY which I rate at 8.5. A few too many, too long fight scenes but maybe I didn’t need that much catharsis the night I saw it. Fun, fun, fun characters, misfits ranging from a human to a talking raccoon, work to save the universe from certain destruction with an interesting twist at th end. What’s not to like?

So it’s your turn tell me what your fave movies were this summer and what are you waiting to see?

Visit me on my Facebook Page and tell me all about it!

Writing compelling stories of love, hope and family.
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