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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Join in with the Christmas Carols on Ana's Calendar #Christmas #Videos #AdventCalendar2013

Today on Ana's Advent Calendar readers are pasting lyrics to well-known, and not so well-known Christmas carols as well as videos.  Below is a video posted there that is a sand painting done to "Do You Hear What I Hear?"  It takes awhile for the audio to load, but it's well worth the wait.

Someone else posted a computerized version of Carol of the Bells, which fascinated me.

For other amazing videos and lyrics, visit Ana's page at: http://governingana.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/christmas-carol-sing-a-long-advent-calendar-day-14/#comment-18858

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A little Christmas Cheer - #Christmas #Trees #AdventCalendar2013

I'm doing a series this season on the Christmas Tree that takes readers through history from its humble origins to the large displays visible in public squares today.  I'm not going to republish them here, since they are visible with a click.  Though I'm placing two on my Naughty Blog, there is nothing "naughty" about them.  I just have more visitors on that blog than this one, so that's where I'm doing most of my posting.

They don't have to be read in order, but there is a basic flow to the posts.  The first one is on Ana's Advent Calendar where Anastasia Vitsky is offering daily posts and prizes to readers during the first 25 days of December.  There's even prizes for readers who sign-up and comment every day.  Lots of authors and lots of books ranging from sweet to scorching.

For a preview into the history of the Christmas Tree and more information about the month-long event, please visit Ana's Advent Calendar.

For a glimpse at the more well-known public tree displays, our personal tree from last year, and information about the traditional times for putting up and taking down the tree, please visit The Christmas Tree's Public Persona on my Naughty Blog.  Again, nothing naughty or risque about the post itself.

And, the Story Continues....

For a glimpse into the checkered history of the Christmas Tree from the Egyptians to the 20th Century, please visit The History of the Christmas Tree (or how we decided to bring the outdoors inside) on Ana's Advent Calendar.  It's a month long event, with lots of prizes and stories to warm the cockles of your heart (wherever they are).

Victorian Ladies in the Parlor
Then, for a close-up look into how Britain reluctantly took the Christmas Tree into their homes and America copied what the Royal Family did visit The Christmas Tree's Story in Britain and America on my Naughty blog.  Though again, there's nothing naughty about it.

Hope you enjoy the stories, and have a wonderful holiday season, no matter where you live or which faith you follow...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Guest Post - Maggi Andersen - A Baron in Her Bed

Maggi Andersen, author of A Baron in Her Bed, has agreed to join us today to talk about Barons, Earls and other denizens of British nobility, who could have existed during the Regency period, even if they didn't.  We're so glad you could join us and encourage you to grab your favorite beverage and relax with your feet up.

Okay, Maggi, why don't you start off by telling us how long you wrote before you were published?
Some years, but it was time well spent learning about the industry, improving my writing and finding my voice.

I gather you love Regency England, and it's one of my favorite time periods, too.  But what other genres do you write besides Historical Romance?
I write contemporary romantic suspense, mysteries and young adult novels/novellas and short stories.

Research is essential for Historical Romances.  Tell us what sort of research you did for your book?  An enormous amount. Writing a historical requires a lot but my contemporary romantic suspense, Murder in Devon needed plenty too as it was set in England. I have shelves of research books here and there’s heaps of good sites on line. You can find some links on my blog.

What were the challenges you faced in bringing your latest book to life?
I had to make sure my facts about Regency customs, history, food, costume, houses, society were correct. I needed to know what a woman could get away with back then. Morals were strict, very different from today, and a woman’s freedom was limited. Horatia fought against these things by turning her back on the idea of marriage. She is a romantic who wants only to marry for love.

Who or what inspired your main characters?
I think reading Georgette Heyer ingrained a love of certain characters. Horatia is a bit Heyeresque in character. She’s energetic, sometimes rash, hurls herself into anything and is brave to the point of idiocy at times, but you can’t fault her good heart or her determination. She’s honest and loyal too.

For a little more personal flavor, tell us where you write.
I have a cozy little study off the kitchen. Bit close to the refrigerator unfortunately. The view from the window is lovely. I look onto a nice old house, a Himalayan Dogwood tree and a creek filled with ducks.

Confession time.  What is your best guilty pleasure? (And by best I mean worst, of course.)
Dark nutty chocolate. Once I eat a piece I have to have several more. It’s good for you isn’t it?

What are your current projects?
With Murderous Intent, a contemporary romantic suspense was recently released on March 16th with Black Opal Books. It’s set in Ireland and the Australian Outback. I’ve just completed Taming a Gentleman Spy – The Spies of Mayfair, Book Two, which will be released in September.  I’ve begun to write What a Rake Wants – the third book in the series.

Sneak preview time.  Can you share a little of your current work with us?
What I’m writing now? Here’s a taste of What a Rake Wants, featuring Althea, Lady Brookwood and Flynn, Lord Montsimon:

            Her aunt’s bright violet eyes fastened on hers. “I’ve seen the way Montsimon looks at you. If you play your cards right, you’ll be the one to tame him, my dear. Well worth the effort, I’ll wager.”
            Surprised and curious despite herself, she asked, “How do you suggest I do that?”
            “You take him into your bed. Eventually. But first, you play him like a salmon on a hook. You never promise what you won’t deliver, mind. That would not be sporting.” Her aunt fluttered her fan as if the thought made her too warm. “At first let him get to know you. Let him begin to want more from you than merely someone to warm his bed. When he can’t live without you, then….”
            Althea gasped. “Aunt…”
            Her aunt laughed. “You’re surprised?”
            “I knew you to be wise and shrewd, but I never suspected you capable of such….” She fell silent.
            Snapping her fan shut, her aunt nodded with a wink. “I’m as crafty as a fox, my dear. And you are my niece, just as intelligent and smart yourself.” She gazed over Althea’s shoulder. “The prey advances. No doubt to ask you to dance. I would advise you not to shun him.”
Althea turned. Lord Montsimon made his way towards her.

Did you learn anything special from writing your book?
I discovered I love to write series. I like my characters to appear at least briefly again in the next book. It gives a glimpse of how theirs lives have turned out after their happy ending.

What advice, if any, do you have for other writers?
Most new writers lack confidence and need to develop a thick skin. We are subjected to criticism and rejection during our careers. No one escapes, not even the bestselling writers.  If there’s a nugget of truth in the criticism, take it on board and ignore the rest. Take every opportunity to study and refine your craft, and never let go of your dreams.

Lastly, is there anything specific that you'd like to say to your readers?
If you get the opportunity to read A Baron in Her Bed and enjoy it, I’d love a comment or even a rating on Goodreads or Amazon. If you like the series, the next book Taming a Gentleman Spy is to be released in September with Knox Robinson Publishing. John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, appears first in A Baron in Her Bed with gun smoking. Strathairn shows up when Guy Trusedale, Baron Fortescue, is waylaid by footpads in a London alley:

A Baron in Her Bed Excerpt

            He’d come here to claim his inheritance, and claim it he would. There was no returning to France now.
            Dusk turned to evening, hastening his footsteps. Guy decided on a shortcut and hurried down a shadowy laneway which, by his calculations, would lead into a main thoroughfare.
He was halfway along it when the sound of running feet, made him spin around. Two men appeared out of the gloom and advanced towards him.
            Guy moved back until his shoulder brushed the wall. “What is it you want?”
            When neither of the men answered, cold sweat gathered on his brow.
            His glance flicked ahead to where the laneway joined a busy road. “Répondez-moi,” he demanded. His throat tightened in fear.
            “’e’s the one all right,” one of them murmured. They separated and each took a menacing step closer, blocking off any avenues of escape.
            The moon sailed above the narrow gap between the buildings and shone on the knife held by one of the footpads.
            Guy drew his swordstick. “Back away.”
            At the sight of it, they stepped back apace, hesitated, and stood regarding him.
            A feint might work. When he had them off guard, he would run for it.
            He moved away from the wall and drew circles in the air with his sword. “Come on, you want to fight? I’m willing.”
            “’e can’t take both of us,” the tallest of the two said.
            “Yer, but he could run one of us through,” the other replied. “And we weren’t paid enough for that.”
            “Shut up, you fool.”
            Surprised, Guy stilled, his heart thudding in his ears. “Who paid you?”
            “Say nothin’,” the tall man warned. He then whispered something to his companion.
            He watched them, his swordstick at the ready. Did they mean to kill him?
            As the taller man raised his arm to throw the knife, Guy lunged to the left. A pistol shot blasted through the confined space, rattling the nearby windows, and the knife clattered to the ground.
            The tall man shrieked. “I’ve been shot.”
            “Hey, you there!” Highlighted by the light from the street behind him, a caped figure strode towards them from the main thoroughfare, a pistol in each hand, one smoking. “Next time I’ll aim to kill.”
            The injured man snatched up his knife and the pair scuttled back the way they’d come.
            As their footsteps faded into the night, the gentleman tucked the pistols into the pockets of his multi-caped greatcoat. He walked towards Guy. “I saw them follow you. I’m sorry I didn’t get here faster, but I turned the corner and wasn’t sure which way you went.”
            With a swell of gratitude, Guy sheathed his sword, shelved his suspicion, and bowed. ”I am indebted to you, monsieur, one obviously needs to be well armed in London.”
            “It is wise to be on your guard; footpads will tackle an unarmed man.”
            Guy clutched his cane. He had been armed, and it had not deterred them.
            “We’d best get out of this dark place.” The man led the way towards the lit street. “New to London? I don’t advise you to walk alone around these parts.”
            “Oui. I arrived from France this morning.”
            “You can’t think much of us, an attempted robbery on your first day.”
            “There was more to it than a robbery.” Guy studied his rescuer. He was of a similar age to himself, mid-thirties.
            The big, fair-haired man raised his brows. “The war might be over, but not all of the English can forgive and forget.”
            A grim smile tugged at Guy’s mouth. “I’m sure that’s so, my friend.” He remembered the footpad’s words, he’s the one. It was him they were after. Who would want him dead here in England?
            “Where are my manners?” His rescuer held out his hand. ”John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn.”
            Guy shook his hand. “Guy Truesdale.”
            The earl’s brows met in a perplexed frown. “Truesdale? Why, that means you’re a…”
            Guy nodded. “Fortescue, oui.”
            “A relative of the baron?”
            “I am Baron Fortescue.”
            “Why this is grand news! Your father and mine were close friends.” John frowned. “But this means, of course, that your father is dead. I’m sorry. Not by the guillotine one would hope.”
            “Not directly.” They crossed the road. Under the circle of light from an oil lamp, Guy gazed into John’s smiling eyes. “I am indebted to you. I hope to repay you should we meet again.”
            John slapped him on the back. “Nonsense, Fortescue. Where do you stay?”
            When Guy told him, John said, “Not one of our best hostelries. You must come home with me.”
            “I couldn’t presume . . .”
            “Not another word. Father, if he still lived, would have been justifiably angry if I failed to offer you hospitality. We reside in Berkley Square and have plenty of room. Feel free to stay as long as you wish. I’ll send a servant around for your luggage.”
            “Merci. I plan to travel to the country in a day or two.”
            “Your seat is to the north, Hertfordshire I believe.”
            Guy nodded. “It borders Sherradspark Wood in Digswell.”
            An empty hackney turned the corner, and Strathairn stepped into the road to hail it. As the jarvie pulled up the horse, Strathairn gave directions and whipped open the door.
            Guy settled on the squabs beside him. “Je suis dans votre dette,” he said with warmth. “You are most généreuse.”
            “In my debt?” Strathairn dismissed the sentiment with a wave of his hand. “Nonsense, Baron. It’s been my pleasure. But once my sisters get a look at you, I may change my mind.”
            Guy frowned. “I’m not sure of your meaning.” He had always been proud of being half English, but since he arrived in England, he’d felt terribly French.
            “My dear fellow. If you aren’t used to ladies fighting over you, you soon will be.”
            Guy shook his head.


Maggi Andersen
I am an Australian author with a BA in English and an MA in Creative Writing. My lawyer husband and I live in a pretty, historical town in the Southern Highlands with our spoiled Persian cat, plus the assorted wildlife we feed: chickens wander in from next door and give us lovely eggs, ducks swim in our pool, parrots and possums line up for bananas and seed. I write historical romance, contemporary romantic suspense and young adult novels.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

The Holy Hell Tour - An Interview with the devil

Holy Hell Tour

We have on our couch today, two very special guests.  Although, if one doesn't behave himself, I may need to get the couch reupholstered.  Fire damage.  Please welcome, Viola Ryan, the talented author of "The Mark of Abel," and the devil himself.  Literally.

Viola Ryan: Thank you for being with us today, Lucifer. It’s quite an honor to interview the Prince of Darkness.

Lucifer: Not if you call me that. There’s nothing darker than what lies inside the human heart.

VR: I’m sorry. What do you prefer I call you?

Lucifer: I go by Luke now.

VR: All right, Luke. Thank you for being with us today. Shall we get started?

Lucifer: Whatever. Just as long as you agree to help me find the artist I’m looking for.

VR: You promised me earlier you won’t harm her.

Lucifer: You have my word.

VR: Pardon me if I’m skeptical.

Lucifer: I can always leave.

VR: Fine. Kathryn and her readers are more than happy to help you find this artist.

Lucifer: I only hope it’s in time.

VR: For what?

Lucifer: Before she dies. She keeps dying.

VR: Humans tend to do that. What’s it like to be immortal?

Lucifer: Tiring. Tedious. Lonely.

VR: Lonely?

Lucifer:  There aren’t too many creatures who are immortal. Why become attached to someone who is only going to die?

VR: So you don’t have friends?

Lucifer: One.

VR: Tell us about him?

Lucifer: Her. My friend is Maggie. You know her as Mary Magdalene. I turned her into a vampire nearly two thousand years ago, but she’s usually busy with the Gnostics. She turned them about a hundred years after I turned her.

 VR: Why did you turn her into a vampire?

Lucifer: I promised Yeshua I’d look out for her if anything happened to him, and we all know what happened to him.

VR:  Yeshua?

Lucifer: Jesus.

VR: Why a vampire?

Lucifer: Because that’s what I am.

VR: How did you become a vampire?

Lucifer: Not on purpose. I was sick of the special treatment Adam received. I was the      highest of God’s angels. I should have been the favored son. Not that overgrown ape. The only thing separating Adam from the other lower forms of life was the blood of humanity. I drank it, like Adam and Lilith had. That’s what turned me into a vampire. I don’t regret it. Angels lack free will. Now I have it.

VR: Tell us about this artist you are looking for.

Lucifer: Yeshua gave me a prophecy, a way back to heaven. I need to find this artist, study her artwork and a map will be revealed telling me how to get back to heaven.

VR: You mentioned she keeps dying. Human’s only die once.

Lucifer: Not this one. She keeps reincarnating.

VR: How do you know she’s the same artist?

Lucifer: She always bears a mark--a circle with three curved lines radiating from it. I call it the Mark of the Artist. Maggie’s been helping me, but there are so many people on the planet now, I need more help.

VR: What will you do with her once you find her?

Lucifer: Nothing. She is irrelevant. What matters is her artwork.

VR: Okay folks. Lucifer needs your help. Have you seen anyone with a circle with three curved lines radiating from it?

Lucifer: Thank you.

Thank you, Viola and… Luke.  I hope you find the woman you seek without having to strip search every female artist you come across.
Readers: since Luke doesn't like to give out his social media addresses, if you happen to find this woman, please leave a comment below and we'll make sure he gets the message.  And check below how you can be entered for a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate.  Thank you.

Lucifer is fed up with humanity. He created hell to deter evil, but man’s inhumanity is only escalating. He just wants to return home to heaven, but ever since that little problem in the Garden of Eden, the Pearly Gates remain firmly shut to him. It doesn’t help that he’s the first vampire, an abomination in God’s sight.

Fortunately, two thousand years ago Lucifer’s estranged brother, Jesus, gave him a prophecy. To fulfill it, all Lucifer has to do is find the right artist, study her artwork and the path back to heaven will be revealed. The artist even bears a symbol so he knows who she is. Too bad she is murdered every time he finds her.

Janie’s a frustrated artist and college art teacher who wants two things—a guy she can show her paintings to and a night without nightmares. Each nightmare plagues her until she paints it. She doesn’t realize these paintings are key to unlocking her destiny, one that could redeem the original fallen angel.

 Click any one of the links below to read an excerpt or purchase The Mark of Abel:

Viola Ryan
A very good friend of Viola Ryan in high school said, “You don’t think outside the box. You blow the thing up.” Sometimes boxes need exploding. That’s why she’s here. She has a whole bag of C4 and isn’t afraid to use it. She’s blessed with people who treasure her eccentricities or at least put up with them.

Sometimes the box can be a cozy place. Without some sort of stability, her two daughters’ and her life would be unmanageable. That stability comes from her husband. He’s the rock holding her family together.

On the flip side, his career is anything but stable. He’s a Chief Marine Safety Technician in the US Coast Guard. They’ve lived from Kittery, Maine to Yorktown, Virginia. Fortunately, the moves have all been on the east coast. Then again, the Coast Guard tends to guard the coast.

Her oldest daughter (16) was born on Cape Cod, not far from Plymouth. Massachusetts. Her youngest (12) was born in Yorktown, Virginia, down the road from Williamsburg. Viola jokes they’re doing the colonial America tour.

Interested in finding out more about Viola, you can find and follow her at the following links.

Social  Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/violaryan

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