Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What I've Been Up To

What have you done for me, lately?

Sorry, I couldn't resist writing that as if folks wanted to know. Anyway, you might well ask what I've been doing.

I've been writing. And I've got several new books published this month and over the next couple of months. And I'm developing plans for a couple of new series, as well. And here they are.

A Lady in Hiding

A Lady in Hiding (previously published as The Bricklayer's Helper) has been re-edited and was just released this month. I got the germ of an idea for this book from an article I read about a girl who was orphaned and instead of living on the street, she disguised herself as a boy and went to work at a series of jobs, including a bricklayer's helper and a footboy, before her identity was discovered and she exchanged her trousers for a dress.

Of course, A Lady in Hiding is entirely a work of fiction, but sometimes readers ask me where I get my ideas, and in this case, that true story is where I got the idea.
A Lady in Hiding - Available now!

 A tragic case of arson sends Sarah into hiding to escape the terrible fate of her family. She works as a common laborer, and is safe for thirteen years, until she receives an ominous note. The killer has caught up with her. Despite her disguise, she is once again in danger from a man determined to silence all echoes from the past.

William, an inquiry agent, is consumed with curiosity when he meets Sarah, and one look into her gray eyes has him hooked. Even though the evidence is scanty after so many years, he promises to assist her, unaware how events will challenge him as both a man of honor and an investigator.

When a second attempt is made on Sarah's life, William is forced to follow a treacherous path through the twisted, dark past. And his growing attraction to the independent woman proves just as dangerous. He needs a clear head to sift through the ashes of the old tragedy, with its hints of corruption stretching back to the Napoleonic wars and reaching into the highest levels of Society. Above all, he must protect Sarah, regardless of personal cost.

Love must find a way to bring the two together and thwart a desperate arsonist, or the last survivor of the long-ago fire will die.

A Stolen Rose - Available for Pre-Order now at $0.99

When the Earl of Wraysbury rescues a young woman from a carriage accident, he can't resist her laughing eyes and wry sense of humor, even though their families have been locked in a feud for generations.

Anemone may be achingly lonely but she's loyal to her family. When she wakes up after an accident in the strong arms of a handsome stranger, she's immediately drawn to him, and appalled  when  she discovers he's her family's sworn enemy, the Earl of Wraysbury.

Neither Anemone nor the earl is prepared for the flaring attraction they feel, or for the escalation of the war between their families when a 40-year-old mystery triggers accusations of murder. Loyalty and the threat of a dangerous duel are destined to tear the lonely lovers apart unless they are willing to defy their families and take a chance on love. 

Regency Romantic Mysteries Boxed Set - Available November 1

A boxed set containing The Unwanted Heiress, A Lady in Hiding, and The Earl's Masquerade with a bonus book, Love, The Critic, will be available November 1. This set has the first three of the Archer Family Regency Romances and will be $4.99, which is much cheaper than buying the individual books.

Her Vampire Bodyguard - Available December 1

Her Vampire Bodyguard (previously published as Vampire Protector) will be available December 1.

Gwen can't afford to trust anyone. She has a horrifying secret only half-remembered. But she knows she's not the young woman she appears, and her nights are filled with terrifying nightmares. Her tenuous peace is shattered when a mysterious letter arrives, hinting that someone knows her secrets and driving her to uncover the truth at her long-abandoned home.

But she doesn't go alone.

Although frightening secrets plague John, he has a duty to protect Gwen from the unknown dangers surrounding her. She seems unaware that there is an artifact in her old house that others will kill for, so he's determined to accompany her when she returns home.

Unfortunately, their seemingly casual visit unleashes an ancient evil that threatens them both. Despite their growing love, they soon realize that if don't learn to trust each other and face their deepest fears, they will die.

Only trust and their growing love can give them the strength to overcome the ancient evil waiting for them in the shadows of their past. 

Future Series

Once all those books hit the streets, I have a mystery, Time, that will come out in 2016, and then I will start on a new series of romantic cosy mysteries featuring the Harmony sisters. Oh, that doesn't mean there won't be any more Second Sons Regency mysteries or Archer family Regency romances. In fact, I'm writing another Archer family Regency romance, Fencing for Ladies, right now. But I am also working on the Harmony sisters.

What is so special about the Harmony sisters? Well, each of the sisters will have her own story (and romance) and they manage to solve some puzzling murders in the small town of Peyton, NC. The sisters run a business called Total Harmony that is a lifestyle center helping people outfit their homes and themselves to bring harmony back into their lives. The concept that colors, decorating styles, scents and event cosmetics can be brought into harmony to improve a person's mood, and therefore, life. Kind of Feng Shui mixed with color theory and scents.

I've gotten into a lot of DIY (do it yourself) projects lately, including developing my own sourdough starter to bake all my own bread, pickling, and more recently, making my own hair rinse, cold cream, and face cream. I like having more control over the ingredients and freshness, and I've seen minor improvements in my own life through these efforts.

For those interested in having more control and like small DIY projects, here is a face cream I use and really like. I had some small red spots/scars on my forehead and this cream has really helped me with those spots. It is a little oily at first because it takes longer for the skin to drink it in, but as I am older, I find I'm okay with that because of the sense of accomplishment, control, and skin improvements I'm seeing.

Mature Skin Face Cream

2 Tbsp Almond base oil
2 tsp Rose Hip Seed base oil
1 1/2 tsp Beeswax
1 Tbsp distilled water
Contents of 1 vitamin E capsule
10 drops Rosemary essential oil *
5 drops Carrot essential oil *
10 drops Neroli essential oil *

* Essential oils are optional, but these 3 are good for mature skin, so I tend to use them. And I like the way it smells, particularly the rosemary. I use rosemary a lot.

In a large glass measuring cup, put the base oils and beeswax. Microwave in 30 sec increments (about 1 min, 30 sec) until the beeswax melts. In a different small bowl, microwave the water for about 30 secs.

Let the oil/beeswax cool a little (until the glass container is warm to the touch, but not hot) and using a wire whisk, whisk the warm water into the oils. Whisk for about 3 minutes, until a creamy, pale yellow cream forms. Pierce the vitamin E capsule and squish the contents into the cream. Add the essential oils (if using), and continue whisking for another 4 minutes or so. The cream should be thick and a little shiny.

Scrape the cream into a very clean glass container (I use the canning jars meant for baby food).

This makes quite a bit and generally lasts me more than 1 month, so I keep it in a small refrigerator, along with my collection of base and essential oils. That way, it stays good for several months. It will last about 1 month without refrigeration, though.

To use: you don't need much, and you may wish to rub it between your hands and then apply to your face and throat. (I prefer just to massage it into my neck and face.) You don't need much. A little dab will do you (to re-use that old ad phrase.)

So that's one of my recipes that will be appearing in the Harmony sisters mystery books. Stay tuned--there is a lot coming up.


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