Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eat Humble Pie and be Merry!

Have you ever wondered how our ancestors in Elizabethan times spent their Christmas. If you have, then wonder no more. Eat, drink and be merry was their attitude towards Christmas. After the miserable years of Mary Tudor's reign, Elizabeth's love of culture and luxury was very welcome, and when she indulged in Christmas festivities so too did the rest of her subjects. Not everything was equal though. While the nobility enjoyed brawn and mustard, roast beef, goose and turkey, all accompanied by plum porridge, minced pies and a special Christmas beer, their servants ate Humble Pie.

While the grandest homes boasted peacocks and roasted swans in full plumage as a centrepiece for the table, their servants were boiling up discarded offal. That was after they had skinned the birds prior to roasting and then slipped them back into their feathers before serving. A spit roasted wild boar, complete with head, was another spectacular centrepiece.

The meal would also have been accompanied by tomatoes, potatoes, red peppers and pineapples as well as citrus fruit, quinces, melons and apricots: exotic foods that had been brought back from the New World and from Southern Europe. And as if that wasn't enough there were colourful sweetmeats including marchpane (marzipan), gingerbread and candied fruits as well as custards and tarts. Everything was washed down with mulled wine, syllabub or lambswool (a blend of hot cider, sherry or ale, spices and apples and heated until it had a white woolly head).

Servants, however, had to make do with ale and the aforementioned Humble Pie. This really is a pie, not just an attitude! It was made from the innards of a deer: the kidneys, intestines, brains, heart, or liver (the humbles), which were boiled in a stew along with suet, apples and currants and seasoned with salt, sugar and spices before being encased with pastry. So if you want a real Elizabethan Christmas, try the recipe below. On the other hand, you may prefer the peacock and the swan!

Merry Christmas!

This ancient recipe is from the historic Castle Howard in Yorkshire, England ( and was written down in 1734. It is the inspiration for the saying ‘to eat humble pie’ as only the peasants ate this pie, the better meat being saved for the wealthy . The wording and spellings are more or less as they were first written down.

Humble Pie

entrails of a deer -stomach: washed intestine, liver, kidneys, heart etc
beef suet to the same weight as the deer entrails
10 cloves
tsp mace
tsp nutmeg
tsp cinammon
pinch salt
4 pounds of currants
half a pound of candy'd orange, lemon and citron peel
half a pound of dates

How to make it

Parboil the Humbles of a Deer
Take all the Fat off them
Add the Beef Suet and mince it very small together
Season it with Cloves,Mace ,Nutmeg, and a little Cinammon and Salt
Put some Currants, Candy's and Dates, stoned and sliced
Fill your Pye and lid it
When baked put in some Sack and serve it (sack is fortified wine)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Contest Update from Books We Love

Sweet Treats Scavenger Hunt winners just announced in our Dec. 15 newsletter.

Comment and Win Special Edition Giveaway going on now:

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Next Big Contest starts Jan. 15. Newsletter Subscribers get the details first. Don't miss it!

Monday, December 3, 2012

On the Casting Couch with Gail Roughton

Over the next few months a number of writers have agreed to sit on my Casting Couch to discuss the different methods  they use in their search for the characters who populate their books. Their techniques give a fascinating insight into the writing process and the writers themselves

Today author Gail Roughton joins us on the Casting Couch to share the tricks of her trade and to tempt us with the wonderful Chad Garett from her War-n-Wit Inc. series.

Thank you for agreeing to sit on the Casting Couch Gail. It's always a treat to talk to a multi-published author and discover how she casts her characters. Assuming that you are sitting comfortably, let's begin.

* * *
Which characters are the hardest for you to develop? Is it the hero, the heroine, the villain, or the secondary characters?

You know, to be totally honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had a harder time with one than the other.  For me, everything just kind of – radiates – out in a circle from each other as the story develops.

When an idea strikes, do you work through the plot first and then cast the characters, or is it characters first? Or does it vary? Perhaps you develop the plot and the characters together.

You’re making me think about how I write!  Honestly?  I’ve done it both ways.  Sometimes the plot itself just takes off on its own and produces the characters that plot needs.  And sometimes a character (or two or three of them) stand up in my mind and start walking and talking.  And I think for me that’s the trigger.  The signal.  When the characters start walking and talking and I’m just sitting back and watching them, like I’m watching a movie, well, that’s when it’s time to start writing. (Other than in my head, I mean.)

Can you give an example from a published story?

Well, let’s see.  I think for the War-N-Wit series, the plot and the characters came together.  I really can’t separate the development of one from the other.  In Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights, the plot came first and dictated the characters I needed. I think the plot came first for Down Home, too, and the plot formed the characters.  Because both of those novels have very specific worlds/regions.  Now, the Dark series? (The Color of Seven and The Color of Dusk)  That might be my most character driven work. And while I vaguely recall (first draft of that was in 1993 and that was a long time ago) that though in fact, I envisioned the hero first, it wasn’t long at all until the villain of that novel, Cain, made his presence known.  And I’ve never had a character quite like him.  He – took charge.  I could see him, I could hear him, he was just – alive.  And oddly enough,  he himself dictated the birth of two secondary characters that I absolutely love, Tamara and Sadie.  They had to be what they were – because of what he was.

When deciding how your characters should look, do pictures inspire you or do you think of someone you know? Or perhaps you just rely on an active imagination or another method entirely.

I think primarily I just see them in my mind.  They – formulate.  After they’re “formed”, I’m sometimes startled to realize when watching TV or a movie that a particular actor or actress looks just like them.  Sometimes that’s probably because I’ve subconsciously formed them with that actor in mind, but I know sometimes it’s not, because it’ll be an actor or actress I’ve never seen before or who’s not well-known .  Of all my characters, there’s only one that I actually envisioned based on an actor I was familiar with.  And that’s Cain.  This is really dating myself, but in the 1980’s, they did a television series of the wonderful Spenser novels by Robert Parker called Spenser:  For Hire.  Robert Urich played Spenser.  An actor named Avery Brooks played Spenser’s side-kick Hawk.  And he did it superbly.  Fabulously.  I’d read the books and Avery Brooks didn’t play Hawk, he was Hawk. And from the minute Cain entered my world, he was Avery Brooks.

Do you have a system for developing their character traits? I know some people use Tarot or Astrology. Others produce detailed life histories. There are also writers who allow their characters to develop as they write. What's your method?

I honestly don’t have any method other than waiting till they walk and talk on their own and then sitting back and watching them do it.  They develop themselves for me.  I don’t develop them at all.

All characters have goals. Can your character’s goals usually be summed up in a word or two, or are they multi-layered? Do they change as you write the book? Could you give some examples?

Multi-layered.  To me, they’re real people.  And real people are multi-layered.  And yes, they absolutely change as I write the book.  Some of them, anyway.  Some of them don’t, they behave themselves.  But some of them have pulled some real numbers on me.  And some didn’t actually surprise me at how they turned out because I didn’t have a clue whether they were going to be good guys or bad guys, I just waited to find out.

Motives drive a character. How do you discover your character’s specific goals? Are they based on back story or do other elements influence their motives?

I don’t discover anything about my characters.  They tell me.  All I’m doing is telling a story.  A story that’s formulated itself to the extent that it’s a movie playing in my head, and I’m just sitting there watching it unfold.  Transcribing what they’re saying.  Narrating the action.

And last but not least, do you like your characters? Are they people you would want to spend time with? Assuming they are not just a paper exercise, which of your characters would you most like to meet, and why?

I love my characters.  Even the ones I hate.  And of course they’re people I want to spend time with.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there, ‘cause I wouldn’t have spent the time to let them create themselves.  And the character I’d like most to meet is Chad Garrett of the War-N-Wit, Inc. series.  Why?  Because he’s Magic Man.  And we all need a little magic in our lives.  Because he’s totally tough and totally a man in love with his soul mate.  Because he’ll take the bad boys out in a heartbeat (even though he’s a bit of a bad boy himself sometimes) to protect an innocent.  Because he knows exactly who and what he is and doesn’t want or need to be anything else.  The only thing he needs is Ariel, his soul mate.

Chad Garrett sounds like someone we would all love to meet Gail. I think I'll go searching for him right now. Thank you so much for visiting my casting couch and talking about the characters in your books.

Gail is a multi-published author and her credits include the paranormal romantic suspense series, War-N-Wit, Inc. and a dark romance/horror series, appropriately titled Dark. She still maintains she couldn’t have this much fun for free doing anything else. 

You can find out more about Gail and her books at or at

Monday, November 26, 2012

Comment and Win Starting Today


Comment and Win Special Edition Giveaway

As our holiday gift to you, Books We Love has released a sleigh full of Special Edition Collections featuring many of your favorite BWL authors!

Each day from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23 we'll feature one Special Edition on our main blog:

Leave a comment with your email address. One comment each day will be randomly drawn to win a copy of that Special Edition! 

The winner's name will be posted in the comments the following afternoon and the book will be emailed at that time. Good Luck and Enjoy!

11/26     Joan Hall Hovey
11/27     Jamie Hill
11/28     Renee Simons
11/29     Ann Herrick
11/30     Sydell Voeller
12/1       Ginger Simpson
12/2       Jude Pittman Triple Threat
12/3       Vijaya Schartz
12/4       Shirley Martin Secrets of the Night
12/5       Jane Toombs Golden Chances Collection
12/6       Jamie Hill Triple Threat
12/7       Kat Attalla
12/8       Shirley Martin
12/9       Roseanne Dowell
12/10     Janet Lane Walters
12/11     Juliet Waldron
12/12     Lee Killough
12/13     Margaret Tanner
12/14     Erin Quinn
12/15     Pat Dale
12/16     Rita Karnopp
12/17     Tina Gerow
12/18     Betty Jo Schuler

12/19     Kathy Fischer-Brown
12/20     Sheila Claydon
12/21     Jamieson Wolf
12/22     Jane Toombs Hallow House series
12/23     Gail Roughton's Dark Series

Monday, November 19, 2012

Back to the Casting Couch

Casting your hero can be tricky. Is he right for the plot you have been mulling over for weeks? Will he like the heroine? Will she like him?

Over the next few months a number of writers have agreed to sit on my Casting Couch to discuss the different methods  they use in their search for the characters who populate their books. Whether they use magazine advertisements, astrology, or something else entirely, their techniques give a fascinating insight into the writing process and the writers themselves

Today author Sydell Voeller joins us on the Casting Couch to share the tricks of her trade.

Thank you for agreeing to sit on the Casting Couch Sydell. It's always a treat to talk to a multi-published author and discover how she casts her characters. Assuming that you are sitting comfortably, let's begin.

* * * * *

Which characters are the hardest for you to develop? Is it the hero, the heroine, the villain, or the secondary characters?

My secondary characters are usually the hardest to develop.  Each one must forward the plot in some manner and interact significantly with the heroine and hero.  In other words, if I can go through the script and eliminate a particular character or two and never miss them, then they didn’t belong in the story in the first place.  I’ve sometimes found myself losing my story’s focus by allowing secondary characters to be present extraneously—but thankfully, I always catch that problem before my final drafts.

When an idea strikes, do you work through the plot first and then cast the characters, or is it characters first? Or does it vary? Perhaps you develop the plot and the characters together.

For the most part, I develop the plot and characters together. I typically begin my plotting by deciding what inner and outer conflicts will stand between the hero and the heroine—the core problem that will keep them apart until the story’s resolution.  I try to dig deeply into their psyches to understand what makes them tick—their greatest dreams, their worst fears, their vulnerabilities, their goals and aspirations in life.

Can you give an example from a published story? 

Yes.  Take, for example, my latest re-released e-book Daisies Are Forever, published by Books We Love. The outer conflict was easy in this case. April Heatherton, my heroine, is not only interested in local history and teaches history at school, but she has a special interest in the ancient forests that define the North West.  Behind her home stands a tract of timber containing an unmarked pioneer woman’s grave.  Heather learns that this forested site will soon be going up for a logging auction.  Heather is fired up to stage a peaceful demonstration against the loggers in order to preserve the grave. The hero, Matt Spencer, is a hard-working logger—and in this day of increasing displaced loggers, he needs to keep working.

The inner conflict, on the other hand, is more personal, much deeper.  It portrays our characters’ drives, dreams, motivations, and emotional needs.  For years, the unmarked grave has provided a special place for April—a place of retreat and personal renewal, plus an indirect connection to her grandmother.  In her eyes, losing it would be akin to losing her soul. Matt’s inner conflict, on the other hand, smacks of family and commitment, continuing the tradition set down for him by his father and grandfather.  After all, logging is Matt’s legacy.

When deciding how your characters should look, do pictures inspire you or do you think of someone you know? Or perhaps you just rely on an active imagination or another method entirely.

In the earlier years of my writing career, especially when I was writing YA fiction, I often used pictures to draw inspiration for portraying my characters.  Later after I branched off into adult contemporary romances, I used a combination of both pictures and my own imagination.

Do you have a system for developing their character traits? I know some people use Tarot or Astrology. Others produce detailed life histories. There are also writers who allow their characters to develop as they write. What's your method?

I have tried using Astrology at one time, but I didn’t stick with that.  I guess I felt I had to squeeze my character into too tight a mold, or perhaps that method just didn’t resonate with me for other reasons.  But to answer your question more specifically, (and as I said earlier), I know my character’s basic traits by first determining his or her core conflicts.  I’m always delighted, though, when my character’s behavior takes new twists and turns.  Real people are contradictions and so should our characters portray contradictions as well.

All characters have goals. Can your characters’ goals usually be summed up in a word or two, or are they multi-layered?  Do they change as you write the book? Could you give some examples?  

Most of my characters’ goals can be summed up in a phrase or two, or maybe one sentence.  And yes, sometimes the goals change out of necessity.  For example, in Her Sister’s Keeper, published by Books We love, my heroine, Logan, is determined to care for and protect her little sister, Kim, who is wheel-chair bound. (Prior to the opening of the story, Kim was partially paralyzed due to the plane accident that not only caused her disability, but killed their mother as well.)  Since their father is no longer alive, Logan must now step up to the plate and assume full responsibility for her sister. Yet despite her good intentions, Logan’s goals are misconstrued and she becomes overly protective, thus indirectly sabotaging Kim’s chances for rehabilitation. By the end of the story, Logan must redefine her goals in order to give Kim her best chance for recovery—plus allow Logan her best chances for a romantic commitment to the handsome young Dr. Dellinger with whom she works.

Motives drive a character. How do you discover your characters’ specific motivations? Are they based on back-story or do other elements influence their motives?

I believe back story has everything to do with motive. In taking another look at Her Sister’s Keeper, the back-story about the plane crash motivates Logan to protect her sister against further traumas.  And on a broader scope, in most traditional romance stories, the core motivator that threatens to keep the heroine and hero apart stems from their individual back-stories. Perhaps their demons are divorce, the death of a spouse, a broken engagement, or having been stood up at the altar.  What better motivators to make our heroines and heroes turn and run!

And last but not least, do you like your characters? Are they people you would want to spend time with? Assuming they are not just a paper exercise, which of your characters would you most like to meet, and why?

Yes, I do indeed like my characters, and I strive to create characters my readers will like and care about as well.  In regards to which characters I’d like to meet, that’s a tough one.  I do know for sure, however, that I’d like to meet my heroine Lisa Prentice in Summer Magic, also published by Books We Love.  During her travels with the circus, she encounters so many fascinating adventures involving the performers-especially the dashing young aerialist Michael-and the circus animals, including Ebony, her favorite show horse.  Logan’s widespread travels with the circus also add to her appeal as a character.  I’m sure she could share with me many intriguing tales that reach far beyond the story itself!

My next favorite character is Vanessa Paris, my heroine in The Fisherman’s Daughter, another of my BWL titles.  I like her intelligence, spunk, flirtatiousness, strength of spirit, and especially her strong dedication to helping to find her father who is missing at sea.  Finally, since I love any kind of reunion romance, I like her push-pull attraction to the hero whom she had a crush on in high school, and her misgivings about falling for him again.  On the balance, I think she’d be a delightful character to hang out with!

Sydell Voeller writes contemporary romance and Young Adult fiction

You can check out her books on her website at or at

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Soap Operas and Novels - Strange Bed Fellows

I'm  addicted to General Hospital...have been for years.  Watched it from the beginning have suffered the loss of the original cast and enjoyed the addition of new.  One thing that strikes me is the similarity between watching a continuing saga and reading one.  Ever consider how much the writing plays into whether or not you continue to tune in?

I know how difficult it is to write a novel, but I have no idea the stress TV writers must endure in order to keep the plot moving, the interest growing, and coming up with hooks that make you either record the next episode or put aside your daily duties to tune in. I want their secrets.  *laugh*

Each Friday's soap opera episode is a most critical time for a so-called 'cliffhanger'.  Watchers have two whole days to get distracted from the daily routine or mull over what the outcome will be. Soap writers want them to mull, but such is the chore of a author with their novels.  We are charged with having a beginning to our books that HOOK the interest of the reader and make them want to keep turning pages.

I can't count how many times I've heard readers express what they do with a book that bores them from the beginning, and I'm not talking about mine. *smile*  If you don't grab and hold a reader's interest, you've not enhanced the chances they'll even finish what they started.  If I've learned one thing in my years of turning out novels, it's to start each story with a scene that snags interest in the plot and main character(s).

Equally important, ending each chapter with enough intrigue that the reader who reads at night won't want to stop or can't wait to pick the book up the next morning.  Exactly what Soap Opera writer's want to happen.  For me, it's hard enough to decide where to end a chapter, let alone end with  a scene that's a page turner, but it's critical.  Imagine ending a chapter with your heroine being home alone and hearing the creaking of an opening door.  Will the reader stop there, or will he/she be tempted to read on and see what is going to happen?  My bet is that won't be a stopping place.

I'd like to share the opening scene from my "best seller," First Degree Innocence.  See if it hooks you:

“Okay, Lang, strip!” The guard’s bark made Carrie’s stomach roil. She cowered in the corner of the women’s processing area, shivering under the blast of cold air from the ceiling vent.

“I said strip! Don’t make me have to tell you again.” The pudgy, uniformed female slapped a baton against her palm in a constant rhythm. In the empty room, the sound bounced off the depressing gray cement walls and echoed in Carrie’s head. She forced herself to take a faltering step out of her shoes. Her frigid fingers fumbled with the buttons as she struggled to remove her favorite pink cotton blouse. She unfastened her jeans and let them drop to the floor, then gazed through bleary eyes at the other woman, praying she didn't require the removal of anything more.

If this stirred your interest, you can find out more about this novel at Books We Love.  Beginning this month, BWL has expanded availability from the Amazon KDP program to Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, the Reader's Store and All Romance Ebooks.

Let me know your thoughts.  Comments might just motivate me to finish my current WIP which has been sidelined by life issues. I already have a beautiful cover and have made great progress, just need to get myself back on the writer's road.  I'd love to interview a soap opera writer....if you know one, let me know.  *smile*   First thing I'd want to ask is why in the heck did they let Jason go!  I'm heartbroken.  :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Casting Couch

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Senior Love??

I just finished a wonderful novel by Roseanne Dowell.  Geratric Rebels is what some of we older gals have been looking for.  Although it's nice to read about young love and sex, putting myself into the heroine's POV is difficult because the mirror reminds me every day that I'm past that time in my life.  It's about time someone put a little age and a few wrinkles on the main characters, and Ms. Dowell managed to add all the ingredients to keep me turning pages. I loved it!

Geratric Rebels put life in realistic perspective, showing the reader that a heroine and hero don't have to be young with perky boobs or a  muscular six pack to be still excited about life and one another.  When Mike Powell and Elsa Logan meet in a nursing home that has become their fate, they join forces to make lemonade out of lemons, and enjoy falling for one another while showing the world they're not ready to retire from life.  What can a couple of old fogies do, you ask?  You'll just have to read for yourself, and I'm sure you'll be glad you did.  Of course if you aren't over forty, you might just find it unbelievable.  *smile*  Like the old saying goes, there may be snow on the roof but that doesn't mean you can't stoke a fire in the chimney.

You can find this book on Amazon offered by Books We Love, Ltd.  Kudos to Roseanne Dowell who manages to make all of her books believable and entertaining.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Looking for a spooky Halloween Read? Try the Dark series by Gail Roughton

I'm a big fan of horror books and movies so when this series came out I was excited to delve into it. Before I could get book one, I found out it was being released as a set so of course I snagged the special edition and am I ever glad I did.

Already a Gail Roughton fan (The War N' Wit series is awesome romantic suspense) I figured I'd enjoy this series as much. But this one is a whole different ballgame. 

Spanning generations, the story begins with our black magic antagonist Cain's modern-day resurrection, then goes back to fill in the details as to how he got the way his is today. Powerful stuff, told with page-turning energy. As with her other books, I found it hard to turn off my Kindle when reading this Roughton horror/thriller. 

When I finished the first part I was SO glad I had book two at my fingertips because I just kept right on reading. A truly magical story, perfect to curl up with on a cold autumn evening, this series had just the right blend of spookiness and great storytelling to keep me hanging on every word. And while the author never claimed this was a romance, I found the various love stories within to be equally sweet and heart-wrenching. I rooted for the good guys (simply loved Paul!) and wanted to kick the bad guys in the kneecaps (for starters.) The ending was truly satisfying. It couldn't have wrapped up any other way and been so successful... and frightening! 

"The past, like evil, never dies. It just—waits."

*sigh* Loved it!

Highly recommend this Gail Roughton thriller. 5+ Stars and two thumbs up. Nab it now at Smashwords, B&N, ARe or Amazon. You can get both stories in this special edition for only $4.99. You won't regret it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sarah's Heart & Sarah's Passion - Must Reads!

I just finished reading Sarah’s Heart by incredible author, Ginger Simpson.  I love a good western and I love even more when the heroine, Sarah in this case, is saved by a half-breed Indian, Wolf, and they fall helplessly in love. I won’t give the ending away – but this book took me on a journey that stepped right out of the 1800s. It’s believable and very well written. I laughed and cried with Sarah. And Wolf – he’s my kind of hero, strong, honest, and more desirable than he has a right to be.  I loved the ending -  and it left me wanting more!

That’s when I read Sarah’s Passion, the novella following the wonderful Sarah’s Heart.  Ginger Simpson gave me a real surprise when I started reading – finding myself – not in the 1800s as I expected, but right here in today! What? Oh, I can’t say – I hate it when people give plots and endings away.  I love to be surprised – you must read both Sarah’s Heart and then Sarah’s Passion – they are fabulously written . . . and will make you turn those pages almost faster than you can read! Bravo Ginger Simpson – you’ve proven yourself to be one of my favorite authors. It’s a five-star, five coffee cup, five clover leafs, five alleluias if you must!  FABULOUS!

Way to go, Ginger!  Rita Karnopp

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reminiscence--How I Met The Doctor

I was living in England with my mother, going to school in Penzance as a day student. We lived in the end unit of a row house—stone houses, streets, little gardens—just as you might imagine a British working class neighborhood. We had just moved out of an artsy Mousehole hotel to less expensive Newlyn, to the last building on the top of the hill above the harbor. Behind us was a field with dairy cows and a stubby, well-worn stone circle, through which I walked every morning, taking the back way over the headland into Penzance and my school.

We rented our telly and paid license fees, like everyone else on the street, and I began watching my first regular doses of English entertainment. It was black and white in those days, the content different from what I’d been used to in the States.
William Hartnell

I only saw two shows containing the original Doctor. Although I remember enjoying the story, it was never completely clear to me what the heck was going on. I remember being thrilled to realize that this show was not only about history—and with costumes which were actually period correct  (astonishing in and of itself,  as this was the early sixties)—but also about the science fiction notion of time travel. The Doctor and his two companions eventually escaped from trouble inside a little blue box, the kind I’d seen standing, dusty and unused, on street corners here and there throughout British cities.

Well, wow! Stories about history and time travel all in one show!  The main character was not only mysterious, aged and professorial, but a little sinister, too, as if he was not entirely to be trusted. As someone who liked fantasy and science fiction but who had always loved reading about famous characters in history, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Unfortunately, no matter how much I waited for it, I never saw any more than those two shows. Soon Mom and I pulled up stakes again and headed for Barbados. (In those days, there was no TV in the West Indies.)

It was years later that The Doctor and I reconnected. My kids and I were sitting on the floor together watching PBS on our Zenith, also parked on the floor. (In those days furniture was something of a luxury.)  An odd British import began. Lo and behold--there was my time traveler and his blue box! Of course, the original doctor had gone. The new one was still domineering and mysterious, but far less of a stuffy old professor. Instead he now appeared to be in his forties, with a mod head of curly hair and clothes by way of Carnaby Street. He might have just stepped out of The Yellow Submarine.


John Pertwee, mortal enemy & friends

Okay, I thought, I’ll go with the flow. My brief, earlier acquaintance with that absent-minded elderly Doctor was still lingering in my cranial filing cabinet. This, I realized, would be a great show for the kids to watch while I made dinner. (In those days 30 Minute Meals was not a marketable idea, just the way everybody cooked, especially if Mom worked the day shift.)     
Doctor Who has always had rather tacky visuals. I was told by someone long ago that the Doctor’s eternal enemy, the Daleks, were actually tarted up shop vacs, hence their distinctive sloping can shape. (However, do remember that Twilight Zones weren’t all that much better. And what ‘60’s Trekkie can forget the embarrassing Gorn?) As a childhood watcher of s/f on TV—Captain Video, anyone?—I knew my imagination would do most of the work. if the concept was interesting, my brain would take it from there, just as it did when I read. Good actors and an involving story could carry off almost anything, because, as Hamlet says “the play’s the thing.” British actors, trained for the job, are, at least, skilled craftsmen, and adept at making theatrical magic happen with even the most minimal sets and effects.

After my boys became fans, almost immediately there came a change in Doctors, as reported to me by my oldest son. He  was about equally disturbed and intrigued that the hero in a series might abruptly become someone else, all while essentially playing (more or less) the same character. This new Doctor immediately caught my eye—perhaps because his clothes were no longer Victorian mod, but thrift store trippy.

Tom Baker

 The hat, the scarf, the manic manner, the comic timing, his diction, and his “silly walks”—Baker was a talking, Oxford-educated Harpo Marx . The kids, and their Mom too, adored Baker, and we watched the show faithfully during those years.   My youngest son begged his aunt to knit him a floor-sweeping Whovian scarf for Christmas, and we hunted used clothing stores for a cool old hat to go with it.

 Time passed for us, as it never quite does in the TARDIS. The kids got older and began to lose interest when the Doctor regenerated next. We never entirely warmed to the handsome, dapper Peter Davidson with his question marks and 1890s university cricketer’s garb. We drifted away.

Years went by. The kids grew up and had kids of their own. I went gray. One night, worn out by the local news, I looked for something else to watch at 5 o’clock and found BBC America.

 KA-ZAM! There he was, a brand new Doctor! This show clearly had a budget and  enjoyed the benefit of the CG revolution. Somewhere in the hiatus, our hoary old Doctor had become a “valuable BBC property.”


Christopher Eccelston & intrepid shopgirl, Rose


This new Doctor was different in a lot of ways, at first shockingly so. For one thing, he was an imposing guy with a buzz cut who wore black leather. Yikes! He also had a strong Northern working- class accent, far removed from the mad intellectual elitists of the past. I always wondered if this Doctor was working on his bike somewhere among the myriad rooms of the “bigger on the inside” TARDIS…

 Christopher Eccelston only gave the series 13 episodes, but I LOVED him. He was an excellent choice for the Doctor’s 21st Century revival, the ninth reincarnation of the mystery man. This was a visceral, dangerous Doctor—as well as being unpredictable and wizard-wise.  The new scripting, too, was exciting, the best writing yet, while firmly grounded in the tradition of the series.
Romance for the Doctor and his companion was another innovation that was a GOOD THING, adding some spice to the character’s lonely Flying Dutchman persona. (The “Companions” have been shorted in this reminiscence, but they’ve always been an integral part of the Whovian equation.) Rose Tyler and The Doctor shared the series’ first kiss. It was an electric moment.

 David Tennant

All too soon, here came a new Doctor—and, I confess, my favorite. Bring on Doctor #10, the exciting David Tennant, an admitted “fan-boy” from childhood. Here we had a bi-polar Doctor, a veritable road runner on speed, wearing a duster, a shiny suit, and Converse sneakers.  This Doctor exhibited a ferocious brand of fey, peppered with world-weariness and pessimism, all of it wrapped up inside one skinny 900+ year old Time Lord. Gilbert & Sullivan couldn’t write better patter than Steven Moffat and Russell Davies, and their Doctor—and the rest of the fine ensemble--delivered the goods.

 Regeneration into #11, and new writers have sent the show on a Matrix-out-of-Stephen-King turn. I’m slow to warm to this new Doctor, Matt Smith. All I can say for now is that like Merlin, the character seems to be aging backwards. The bow-tie-tweed jacket bit, however, seems to be a retro turn intoThe Doctor’s “academic” past.  

Doctor Who is quirky, by turns scary or silly, and sometimes it's dark and intellectual. It’s also shamelessly self-referential, and full of puns plus literary, scientific and topical allusions which I adore. From Pratchett to Monty Python to comedies like "Doc Martin" & "Shaun of the Dead," from forms as low as Pantomime and high as Shakespeare, all that’s delightful, witty and wise--in British entertainment is woven together in


Doctor Who, Greatest Show in the Galaxy.





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kindle Romance Novels: The Fisherman's Daughter by Sydell Voeller Romance Novels: The Fisherman's Daughter by Sydell Voeller


What better opportunity to be introduced to a series than getting three novels in one set, for a very friendly price? Welcome to THE CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE. Now available as a special holiday package in kindle. Each novel is also available separately. Book Four is coming out later this year.

From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.


806 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) -
As the Vikings raid the coast of Alba, Pressine of Bretagne sets out to seduce King Elinas of Dumfries, chosen by the Goddess to unite the tribes against the foreign invader. Elinas, still mourning his departed queen, has no intention to remarry. Head-strong and independent, Pressine does not expect to fall for the very attractive, wise and noble ruler... Furthermore, her Pagan nature clashes with the religious fanaticism of the king’s Christian heir, who suspects her unholy ancestry and will stop at nothing to get rid of her.
"I really enjoyed Princess of Bretagne. Kind of reminded me of The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, with its subtle references to Arthurian legend (I'm a sucker for anything Arthurian). Like Mists, you captured the historical period while weaving in the mystical elements. Since I now have my new kindle, I've added Pagan Queen to my TBR list. After the one I'm reading now, I might just bump it up a notch or two." Kathy Fisher-Brown, author

810 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) - Queen at last, Pressine brings victory to her beloved Elinas and prosperity to their growing kingdom. But she has to contend with the intrigues of Charlemagne's bishops, spurred by her Christian stepson. While Elinas, on the battlefield, remains unaware of his son’s machinations, Pressine fends off repeated assaults against her life. She also fears the curse that could bring her downfall. For the love of Elinas, she will tempt fate and become with child. But when her indomitable passion challenges the wrath of the Goddess Herself... can she win that battle?
"Schartz is an accomplished writer, whose pacing, conflicts, and goals are always complex and whose good characters are always likeable, and whose villains are evil incarnate. You have to like her villains as much as the good guys! Mattacks is a magnificent example of this!" - 5 stars - Manic Readers
"...details of the period making that long ago era of history feel alive and vibrant. She’s able to weave in the mystical in a manner that appears natural... Mattacks and his diabolical plans play an important role... he’s a creepy guy... unexpected happenings totally caught me off guard... great plot ploy that I can only assume will pull the series forward... I want to know more..." - Romance Junkies - 4 ribbons

Luxembourg - 963 AD - To offset the curse that makes her a serpent from the waist down one day each month, Melusine, exiled Princess of Strathclyde, must seduce and wed a mortal knight, the shrewd and ambitious Sigefroi of Ardennes.
Sigefroi, son of the Duke of Lorraine, suspects Melusine is not what she appears, but her beauty, her rich dowry, and her sharp political skills serve his ambitions. He never expected her to soften his stone-cold warrior heart.
So close to the Imperial court, dangers and intrigue threaten Melusine. War looms on the horizon, a Mermaid was sighted around Luxembourg, and Sigefroi’s bishop brother questions her ancestry. If anyone ever suspects Melusine’s true nature, she will burn at the stake...
"As always, Schartz spins a great story. It’s a bit bloody and bloodthirsty in places... But that's part of the drama, and Schartz certainly knows drama." Manic Readers 4.5 stars


"Is everything to your liking so far?"
Jarred by the deep male voice, Melusine snapped awake. Sigefroi stood in front of her, one soft boot nonchalantly propped on the edge of the wooden tub. The white of his tunic matched his teeth as he stared at her with a wolfish grin.
Melusine glanced around in panic for something to cover her nudity but her clothes lay too far away. She pulled up her legs in the bath water and laced her arms around her knees. "How dare you intrude? Can’t you see I’m taking a bath?"
Sigefroi’s bold gaze swept over her exposed body. "It’s not as if it were the first time. You seem to like bathing in hot tubs as well as in cold rivers."
Shocked at his effrontery, Melusine released one arm to point toward the door. "Get out of my chamber immediately!"
"Your chamber?" His grin widened. "This is the only private chamber in the villa, and it happens to be mine."
"Yours?" Melusine flushed in confusion. She knew the villa was small but hadn’t really thought about all the details.
"I’ll share it with you, unless you want to sleep on the hall floor with the servants." The scowl on his brow returned. "And as the lord of this place, I don’t take orders from my guests... or my wenches."
Wench? Her solitary life hadn’t prepared Melusine for such vulgarity. According to what she understood of men, however, she must not give herself too fast but rather let Sigefroi grow hungry for her body as long as possible. "I am no wench and demand to be treated with respect!"
He chuckled and effected a mock bow. "You certainly have mine, my lady."
Melusine managed a forced smile. "If you give me your word to behave honorably, I could sleep on a pallet behind a screen at the far side of your bedchamber."
He rolled his eyes. "Truly?"
Melusine hoped her inaccessible proximity would work in her favor. "There is enough space for the two of us."
"Nay." The candles flickered in his amber eyes. "You don’t understand, my lady." A slow smile spread on his sensual lips. "I intend to take you to my bed tonight. After all, we are to be wed."
"So soon?" Panic choked her voice. Impaired by Sigefroi’s close proximity, Melusine couldn’t think. He wanted to consummate their union tonight? She quickly regained her composure. "My lord, it’s not proper. We hardly know each other and are not yet betrothed."
He pulled up the sleeves of his tunic. "A detail easily remedied, my lady. Do you mind if I wash my hands before dinner?"
Before she could react, he dipped his hands in her bath, caressed her knee, brushed the skin of her thigh. Delicious heat coursed through her entire body. He seemed to enjoy her confusion as he swept the length of her folded arms with the back of one finger.
Lifting her chin with the crook of one finger, he bent and softly kissed her lips.
Melusine melted into the bath water, waves of heat swelled and washed over her. His smooth, soft lips teased hers. Her mouth relaxed and opened under his. She let him gently probe her mouth then claim it as his own. Dear Goddess, she was lost.
How could she manipulate this man when she yielded under his touch? She had seen shameless wenches offer themselves to strangers when it served their purpose, or even withhold their favors at will, but Melusine could never do that. She could not refuse this man. She was exposed, vulnerable, and in great danger.

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, Blasters, Romance with a Kick