Monday, September 29, 2014

Museum Monday: Pope's Tavern and Empress Carlota

Pope's Tavern in Florence, Alabama, is an early 18th century tavern where travelers on the Trace often stopped and spent the night. One such guest was Andrew Jackson. The old tavern survived and is now a museum filled with period antiques. Today I'm going to showcase one of those antiques.
 It is the bisque bust of Carlota, Empress of Mexico. She was actually born Princess Charlotte in Belgium on June 7, 1840. At 17, she married Maximilian, who was appointed Emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III. As a wedding gift, Napoleon commissioned the bisque bust of Carlota, At the time, she was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Of course, things didn't go well for Princess Charlotte, who used the Spanish version of her name. The Mexican people revolted against her husband's rule. She returned to Europe to gain support for her husband. While she was in Europe, her husband's government was overthrown and he was executed by Benito Juarez. It is reported his last words were of his absent wife. "Poor Carlota."
Carlota had a mental collapse. She never regained her health. She spent sixty years seclusion in Miramar Castle and Bouchout Castle and died of pneumonia at age 86 in 1927. 

The bisque bust was rescued by a family during the overthrow of Maximilian. The family escaped to America. Later they gave the bust to an American family who had helped them when they were refugees. The bust was passed down through that family and one of the descendants married a man from Florence, Alabama. They sold the bust to the Susan K. Vaughn museum and it was donated to Pope's Tavern.  It is a such a beautiful sculpture and the detail is beautiful. I loved the roses, lacework and gold trim on her dress. Plus it survived in excellent condition. 



Monday, September 22, 2014

Outlaws and Chocolate Pie!

PhotobucketAfter nine years of courtship, Jesse James and Zee Mims finally tied the knot on Friday night, April 24th, in 1874. During the week of the wedding, my heroine in Almost An Outlaw, Darcy Branson, is reunited with her champion from years ago, Austin Cade, and she becomes a pawn in a  bounty hunter’s scheme to find her infamous cousin, Jesse.  But, the heart of this story lies within Darcy’s troubled soul.  When I created Darcy, I gave her a mistake she could not undo. Things happen in life that leave us furious, humiliated, and heartbroken. In retaliation, we do things that will stay with us the rest of our life.  Sometimes, our slate cannot be wiped clean.  And that is the theme of this story. Darcy realizes redemption comes from acceptance, not absolution.  Her reward?  Besides the hero?  How about chocolate pie?  Her favorite treat!
I think a writer should have something in common with a character.  I love chocolate pie, too.  Not the store-bought kind and not the kind served in most restaurants either. No. Chocolate pie, made by old Southern ladies who know their way around a kitchen,  is what I’m talking about. The kind of chocolate pie my mother made from the passed-down family recipe.
Unfortunately, for a Southern gal, I’m a terrible cook and I have never been able to make chocolate pie like my ancestors did.  Take meringue for instance.  Theirs was always fluffy, covered the entire pie and had peaks!  Perfect every time.  Mine, on the other hand, never came out fluffy.  It barely covered the pie, there were no peaks, and, after the pie came out of the oven, the meringue had shriveled up. It kinda resembled a  little pancake in the middle of the pie. You wouldn’t think something made out of sugar and egg whites would be so trying!  Also, my mother’s pies were  firm and you could actually cut and lift a slice right from the pan.  My pie could not be cut.  It had to be scooped out like pudding.  I remember my son saying, ‘Is pie supposed to run like this?’  When I make it, yes.
For all you readers and intrepid cooks, I’m going to post the old-fashioned chocolate pie recipe that dates back generations in my family.  Let me know how it turns out.  Send me a photo and I’ll post it on my blog.
Darcy’s 1874 Chocolate Pie
You need a baked pie crust.   (For me, that definitely means store-bought.)
You mix together:  4 tablespoons self-rising flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup sugar (Note: I would add about half a cup first and taste mix to see if it is sweet enough. You can always add more sugar when you are cooking the pie mix until you like the taste.)
Separate 3 eggs.  Mix the egg yolks with 1 ½ cups of milk and tsp of vanilla.
Add to the dry ingredients, add a dash of salt.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan, add mixture and cook until thick, stirring constantly.
Pour into baked pie crust.   Then make meringue using the three egg whites and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Use mixer on high to beat egg whites until fluffy, add sugar, and continue mixing until peaks are formed.  (Yeah, right.)
Spread meringue on top of pie and bake at 350 until lightly browned and not shriveled up.  Cool, cut and serve.
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Excerpt from the book: Darcy, Austin and Chocolate Pie
She sighed. “I wish you could stay.”
“You do?” His heart jumped on that comment. Maybe he did need more than just pleasure. The loner inside him was shocked. Women were the ones who needed love. He had done without love for years, and now he knew he couldn’t do without it any longer.
“Umm,” she responded in a wanton moan that made him want to grab her and kiss her. She closed her eyes as if they were too heavy to keep open any longer. “You are like chocolate pie.” She nestled her head on one of the pillows. “I love chocolate pie.”
“Chocolate pie.” He crawled out of the bed and reached for his pants. He had been accused of a great number of things in his time, but no one had ever said he was like chocolate pie.
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Do your favorite characters have a comfort food? I hope everyone has a happy Monday. I plan to have my newest historical up on Amazon for pre-order later this week and I'll be doing a cover reveal soon!  


Friday, September 19, 2014

Learn to Quit: From Kristen Lamb's blog

Happy Friday! I'm posting a snippet that I loved from Kristen Lamb's blog post: Want to Reach New Heights as a Writer? Learn to QUIT
My Life Changed When I Changed the Quitters in My Company
It all started with the DFW Writer’s Workshop. I attended and met people living the life I wanted to have…the life of a professional writer. They were the same as me, and yet very different. When I attended my first conference, I found myself being pushed to yet a higher level.
I met and stalked Candy Havens. Candy is an excellent quitter. She wrote her first bad book and didn’t spend the next six years trying to resurrect it. She sought training and experts and moved forward. She quit outside hobbies and friends that took away from her goal of becoming a professional author.
Theresa Ragan was rejected by traditional publishers for over twenty years. She finally self-published and has now sold hundreds of thousands of books. NY tried to offer her a contract and she turned them down. 
I turned in a hundred page proposal for Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World in the summer of 2011 to a premiere agent, a DREAM agent. But, after NY ignoring it for over two years? I thanked my agent for his efforts and published it myself. We need to always be moving forward, and sometimes pressing on requires letting go. We can’t grab hold of the new if we are hanging on to the old.
If something isn’t working QUIT. Move on! If we have to defend and justify what we are doing there’s something wrong.
Read Kristen Lamb's entire post HERE. It is worth taking the time to read the entire post. Plus you might want to print it out and hanging up where you can see it every day. 
Remember sometimes you have to quit to move forward!  Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From My Old Recipe Box: Pineapple Tart Filling

When I worked in a doctor's office, one of our patients brought us a tray of delicious pineapple tarts. I asked her for the recipe and she gave it to me. It is a very easy dessert to make for anyone who loves pineapple.

1 cup sugar
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 stick butter
2 tablespoon flour

Combine ingredients and cook over low heat until thick. More flour may be added if needed.
Cool.
Spoon into cooked tart shells.
A dollop of whipped cream can be put on top if desired.
Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Spotlight: Time Enough To Love by Jenna Jaxon

Happy Friday!  Today, the spotlight is on Jenna Jaxon, a fabulous author I met through Six Sentence Sunday. 

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance.  She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as a member of Chesapeake Romance Writers. Her debut novel, Only Scandal Will Do, is the first in her House of Pleasure series, set in Georgian London.  Her medieval novel, Time Enough to Love, is a Romeo & Juliet-esque tale, set at the time of the Black Death.

 She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

I have the same problem with chocolate, and popcorn, and beignets. Jenna has provided info and an excerpt about her medieval novel, Time Enough to Love. 

Find Jenna online at: 


TWITTER: @Jenna_Jaxon



About Time Enough to Love:
When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend. 

From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.

As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

Excerpt: 

“Lady Alyse de Courcy!” King Edward called out again, bringing Alyse’s head up like a startled deer. “Present yourself before the court.”
Alyse shot off her seat. Oh, Lord! She had kept King Edward waiting.
“I beg pardon, sire.” She hurried from behind the table, too aware of all the eyes now on her. As she moved to stand before the king, the low drone of many voices rose around the room.
“Impudent girl.”
“I’d not want to be in her place.”
“Do you think the king will…”
Each snatch of conversation made her heart beat faster.
What will he do to me?
Her normal embarrassment at being the center of attention tripled at the thought of this blatant lapse of protocol. She stopped several feet from the dais and the room hushed as though everyone held their breath.
“What do you require of me, Majesty?” Her mouth so dry she could taste sand, Alyse fought to speak in a normal tone. With a sigh of relief, she dropped into a deep curtsy, hiding her face in the folds of her skirt. If only she could remain bowed thus before His Majesty for the remainder of the evening.
King Edward laughed. “Obedience, Lady Alyse, as I require of all my subjects. As your father requires of his daughter.”
Her heart thumped wildly in her breast. That could mean but one thing.
“Rise, my lady.”
She did so on unsteady feet. “I am ready, as always, Your Majesty, to obey my father as I would you.”
Holy Mary, let it be Lord Braeton.
King Edward lifted an eyebrow toward Alyse. “A very pretty answer, my lady. And are you ready to accept your father’s decree for your betrothal? His messenger has today reached me with the contract, as I am to stand in his stead in this matter.”
Alyse took a deep breath and hoped her voice did not tremble. “Yea, Majesty, I will obey my father.”
King Edward nodded and leaned over to whisper something to Queen Phillipa, who sat beside him, heavy with their twelfth child.
Mere seconds before she learned her fate. She could scarce affect an indifferent pose before the court when inside every inch of her quivered with anticipation of the name. His name, pray God, on the king’s lips.
Thomas.
In her mind, she heard the word.
The king straightened, glanced at her then at the man by her side.
“What say you then, Sir Geoffrey? Does the lady not speak fair? I vow she will make you a proper wife and a dutiful one as well.”
Alyse turned, until that moment unaware that Geoffrey Longford stood beside her. Chills coursed down her body as the king’s words echoed in her mind. The sensation of falling backward assailed her, as though she rushed away from the tall man at her side even as his figure loomed larger and larger in her sight.
Not Lord Braeton.
Her numbed brain repeated the phrase, trying to comprehend that instead he would be her husband. Geoffrey Longford.
God have mercy on me, for by the look of him, this man will not.

Here's where to buy Jenna's books: 

Time Enough to Love (print)

Betrothal, Betrayal, Beleaguered




TGIF!!!!  Have a safe and happy weekend! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Summary of Swain

It seems like I read Swain a hundred years ago now and I still have this book, except my book is the one with the yellow cover. And full of underlined text. His book is still considered as one of the best books on the craft of writing, and his ideas in the book have spawned a lot of other books on writing.

I recently found a great blog post that provides a brief summary of the best elements in Swain's book. It is definitely worth a read and for more details, get a copy of Swain's book because he goes in detail about every nuance of a story.

From JJ Marsh's blog: Ten Things I Learned

 Dwight V Swain – Techniques of the Selling Writer.
I read Swain’s book a long time ago but recently picked it up again as a refresher.
Here’s a summary of the bits I found most pertinent.
1.      Story elements: character, situation, objective, opponent, disaster. Write the story question: two sentences – one statement which establishes character, situation and objective. One closed question which nails opponent and disaster. 

When high-profile Fat Cats start committing suicide, Detective Beatrice Stubbs investigates if something more than conscience got to them. Can she track down the puppeteer behind these murders before the killer cuts her strings?
            
2.      Get started: use desire, danger and decision. Start with a change – a character in an existing situation is affected by an event, triggering consequences. But answer the three reader questions: Where am I? What’s up? Whose skin am I in?
Don’t labour backstory; the past holds no suspense. The end of the beginning comes when the character has committed to action, to answering the story question. Will she? Can she? The reader must care.
To read the rest of the post, click here.

Hope everyone is having a great week!  I'm in the process of learning to format e-books, so keep me in your thoughts!!!  LOL!

Be sure to stop by here on Friday. Author Jenna Jaxon is gonna be my guest!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Some Easy Fall Decorations

September is here and that means it is time to start decorating with fall colors. Autumn is my favorite season and I loved the deep, warm shades of red, orange, gold and green. Those have always been favorites of mine. I was checking online and found some great idea at Midwest Living for easy ways to create fall decorations such as the one pictured.

Go to Midwest Living Fall Decorations to see their ideas and create your own!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Got Errors? Proofreading Can Help

Right now, I am in the proofreading stage, but I do have two readers who are proofing for me. I am one of those people who can't resist editing when I'm reading through the manuscript. And, prior to this, a professional proofreader had gone over it. After this round, I'm going send it off to be formatted immediately if I can find someone to pry it out of my hands.

If you'd like to know more about how to proofread and get some great tips, check out Jaye's great blog post on the subject.
From E Book=Real Books  JW Manus Blog
The Proof is in the Proofreading
quinnproofMy biggest gripe with ebooks is a lack of proofreading. (Trad pubs are the worst offenders–isn’t anybody at least giving the ebooks a quick scan before putting them up for sale? Judging by the multiple dumb errors and piss-poor formatting, I’d say the answer is no.)
When I produce an ebook I have two hard and fast rules, Number One: squeaky clean text going into production. Number Two: the ebook must be proofread post-production. I charge people to proofread their ebooks for them, and a lot of clients take me up on it, but I’m more than happy for the writer to do it him/herself or hire a third party. I even make it easy for them by providing a markup document and instructions (since they can’t make changes in the ebook itself).
Even though proofreading is essential, some would like to argue that they can skip it. They’ve already polished the manuscript to a high gloss, even had a professional editor have a crack at it, and, in some cases I’m sure, they are sick to death of that particular project and want to get on to something else. I get that. Been there. Even so, it’s part of being a publisher and it must be done.
Before I continue, let me explain what proofreading is NOT:
  • It’s not copy-editing
  • It’s not line-editing
  • It’s not editing at all
Read the rest of her post at JW Manus!
Have a great Labor Day holiday!