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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fairytales and determined Princes... #RB4U #MFRWauthor

I loved fairytales as a child, and I still love them as an adult. I’ve taken two of my favourites so far and turned them into slightly more adult tales. I had a great time when I was able to combine my love of Italy with a fairytale that originates in that country. It’s a great little story called Favola, which is the Italian for fairytale–and the story itself is based on the original fairytale called Bella Venezia.

Quite some time ago, I did an interview with Prince Francesco from Favola, and decided to share it with you, since it was so much fun and the Prince is a pretty cool guy!

Interview with Francesco 

Tell us about yourself, please.
I am the Crown Prince of La Città Natale di Alba, The Birthplace of Dawn. My parents have decided that it is time for me to marry and produce heirs, and continue my grooming to rule our kingdom. The problem being, the endless parade of potential brides has left me feeling suffocated and less than interested in my destined role as ruler.

Authors call what you want but cannot have "the conflict" - what is yours?
When I first spotted my beloved, she was in a small village, and I was directed to the La Locanda di Pericoli Nascosti, (The Inn of Hidden Dangers), an Inn owned by her mother, the stunning Bella Venezia. I didn’t realize that Bella was a jealous woman who hated any other as beautiful as she is. She kept her own daughter imprisoned in a tower, out of sight, and out of reach of any man who desired her. And I desired her more than any other woman I have ever known or seen. I was determined to make her my queen, but first had to find a way to reach her.

What inner doubt causes you the most difficulty?
Fear that I will not be strong enough to do what is asked of me, to rule my people as they deserve. To keep the love of my fair Caparicia.

In the story world your author created, explain what it is you fear most and why.
Bella told me her daughter was dead, that she arranged this still fills me with rage. No amount of threatening or anger could undo what she had wrought, until the arrival of my brother, and a witch who was willing to help.... though the price she would ultimately ask was a high one.

Tell us about your significant other, that person who makes living worthwhile.
Capricia, the fair and innocent girl who stole my heart, and my ability to think about any other. She is kind, gentle, beautiful, and strong, all a man could desire in a queen for his people.

What is your family like?
My brother, Matteo, is my best friend. He would have made a fine king, but he was not interested in the burdens of ruling. Ironically, the burden he did choose to carry is one much heavier than ruling our kingdom has ever been. I miss him, and curse his Fate each dawn.

Why are you happy (or not happy) with the way your story ended?
I am happy with my story because my queen is at my side, and she is the joy in my life. What I am not happy with is the fate of my brother, but I have not given up hope that one day his burden will be lifted and he will find his way back to us.

Questions for the Writer

What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?
The biggest challenges with this book were to do the original fairytale justice, keep the sequence, but also to add some touches of my own to the existing storyline. To do that meant writing succinctly, and not allowing the story to expand into wordiness that would run it off on tangents not relevant to the main story. I hope it worked!

Why did you choose this character for the interview today?
I did this interview on release day for the book, but apart from that, I love Francesco and his brother Matteo, they are regal and formidable, and passionate.

Are any sequels planned for this book?
My publisher has suggested a sequel, and I am toying with the idea of telling Matteo’s story, since his nobility is beyond question and there is a very intriguing story there waiting to be told.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
That I am exceedingly shy, and probably that this is one of the very few books I have published new in over two years as I’ve worked at rediscovering my passion for writing and telling stories.

Why should readers who haven't picked up one of your books before give this one a try?
If you like traditional fairytales with a hint of sexy sensuality, this is a story that has those elements and is basically a short, fun read that I hope makes everyone smile at the end of it.

Is there anything you'd like to say to your readers?
Thank you – always – for your continued support and enthusiasm for the worlds I love to explore and create. I hope they bring you a small amount of joy because that is where the real success of our work lives.

About the Book

FAVOLA (Fairytale)
Sensual romance
Book heat level (based on movie ratings G, PG, PG13, R): PG13

In the town of Favola, a prince and a lovely girl imprisoned by her mother's jealousy find passion and love... but will it be enough to outsmart the machinations and fury that their devotion inspires in the beautiful Bella Venezia? An Italian fairytale is re-told for an adult audience....

Short Excerpt:

“Her name is Capricia,” someone informed him, and he turned to see an old man working next to him, arranging steaming pies and fresh fruit into appealing displays. He was smiling with affection and appreciation. Francesco turned away just in time to see the girl vanish into the throng of people.

“Where can I find her?” He was craning his neck, trying to catch sight of her again. Francesco grabbed the man’s arm and shook him. “Where?”

The old man laughed. “La Locanda di Pericoli Nascosti,” he replied with a knowing wink at the baker, who was watching the exchange. “She is the daughter of the woman who owns the place.”

“And where might I find this Inn of Hidden Dangers, old one?” Francesco’s question was curt, he was eager now to seek out the girl and see if she could be charmed into being his companion for the night. The old man’s gaze was shrewd, the heat of embarrassment warmed Francesco’s face, the other man had all but read his intentions.

“Be careful of her mother, boy,” was all the old man said. “End of the road there,” he added, crooked finger aimed in the general direction where the girl had disappeared. “It’s easily found.”

Puzzling over the old man’s vague warning, Francesco turned in the direction he’d been shown and continued. It took only minutes to discover the busy inn. He tied his horse to a rail, and went inside.

The common room was filled with travelers and local people. As he approached the counter, he saw the lovely woman who ran the place and stopped to listen as she spoke with a newly arrived patron.

“Tell me, signore,” she all but purred, leaning forward so the stranger could see the lush swells of her breasts, “have you seen a more beautiful woman than me?”

The man shook his head and swore he had never set eyes on anyone more beautiful than her, Bella Venezia. Satisfied, she told him he could have his room that night for half the usual price.

Francesco stepped forward, and once again she turned on her charm.

“Are you here for a room, signore, or merely to enjoy my company?”

Francesco smiled. She was a fine-looking woman, and it would have been very easy to be swept away by her ample charms, but another face haunted his heart now, and stirred his desires as no other woman had. Francesco had escaped his family for a time, tired of the endless parade of potential brides being brought before him. None had appealed to him, yet this stranger had captured his heart, and his imagination. He’d return home with the bride of his choosing, once he found her again.

“Your charm and beauty is undeniable, signora,” he replied smoothly. “But my heart has been stolen by one so fair I cannot live without her. Your own daughter, Capricia.”

When Bella’s eyes narrowed and she glared at him, Francesco knew he had made a grave error in allowing his heart to speak before he could think. He had been foolish enough to believe a mother would be pleased to have her daughter admired.

“Then you may pay twice the price for the privilege of admiring her, signore,” she informed him.

“Then I have still been granted a bargain, signora,” he assured her, resisting laughter at the anger seething in the woman’s eyes. Her striking face set into hard lines of resentment, and her eyes were glacial. He paid her and she told him what room was his for the night.

Francesco went to settle in and wait for nightfall. He did not plan on spending his time alone, not when the girl of his heart’s dreams was only a short distance away.

Available Internationally from:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eating in Windswept Shores Two by Janice Seagraves

When I normally write a dinner scene, I try to make sure it's something that people would eat at the city or country's setting. In Windswept Shores Two, I had a fancy restaurant where Seth and his old mate were eating lunch. The setting is Sydney, Australia, and from what I understand most of the diners there serve a lot of seafood. I had just took a vacation with my husband to Morro Bay, California, which is a far cry from Sydney, but the food I ate there was seafood.
So I thought why not.

the view from Dutchman's restaurant in Morro Bay California

So, I thought about a lovely meal my husband and I had there at our favorite eatery called the Dutchman's restaurant and wrote the scene. Looked up if sword fish was on the menu in Sydney and found out it wasn't. Hmm. Well, that wouldn't work. Undaunted, I looked up what was served at most restaurants in Sydney and substituted sword fish for Tuna. I think it worked out just fine.

Excerpt from Windswept Shores Two:

Less than half an hour later, they were at one of the more prestigious restaurants in the business district. High ceilings, extremely decorated walls, and floor to ceiling drapes. Seth whistled as he looked around. “You sure we can get in?”
“Of course.” Nigel adjusted his silk tie. “You’re the CEO of Dawson Inc.. Why wouldn’t we, mate?”
“Do you have a reservation?” asked the hostess.
Seth gazed into the sitting area and saw a great many empty tables available and was just about to point it out. “No, but—”
Nigel smoothly cut in with, “This is Seth Dawson of Dawson Inc.. We came for tea. You got a table for us, love?”
She looked down at the reservation book. “Well, I—”
Nigel hung his hand over the edge of the podium with a bill folded between two of his fingers. “How about now?”
She snatched the money and it disappeared down her cleavage. “A table just opened up. Sirs, if you’ll come with me.”
They followed the hostess over to a table near a window. Seth and Nigel took a seat.
“Your waiter will be with you shortly.” She handed them menus and scurried back to her spot near the door.
Seth hung an arm over the back of his chair. “You still got the moves, mate.”
“You got that right.” Nigel perused the menu. “What do you say we make this a martini lunch?”
“No, mate. I’m off the sauce.”
His eyes were large as he stared at him. “Whatz that?”
“My bird helped me get clean and sober.” He gazed at his own menu.
“No beer on that old fishing boat?”
“Not after I drank it all, and then I went into the DTs.” Seth shivered remembering how hard it was. “But Megz took care of me the whole time.”
The waiter come over, they both placed their orders. Nigel chose prawns and noodles from the menu, and Seth the lunch special of grilled tuna over mashed potatoes.
Once the waiter left, Nigel turned back to him. “Blimey, no more late night parting like we used to do?”
“Nope. I’m done.” Seth picked up the water glass and chugged it down, but wished it was beer instead.
“Remember going on your first date with Liz and getting drunk off your bum?”
They both laughed. Seth wiped a tear off. “I made a right mess of it. It’s a wonder she ever went out with me again.”
“How about when you convinced that bird you knew how to brake dance and almost broke your fool neck.”
Seth sat forward with an elbows on the table. “Oy, I would have had that spin down if you hadn’t been standing in the way.”
The food came, and they ate. Many fun reminisces followed. All too soon Seth checked his watch, and it was time to go back. He snatched up the bill. “This one is on me, mate.”
Nigel reached for the check. “Naw, Setho, let me get it.”
“I’m the boss man now. It’s mine to pay for.” He playfully held the paper away from him.
“Orright,” Nigel said grudgingly. “Can’t argue with my boss now can I."
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Hands-On Research #michelezurlo #RB4U

Writers often live vicariously through their characters. In writing an emotional scene, maybe they’re working through some internal angst of their own. Sometimes we write scenes for the exact same reason readers want to read them—because we’d like to experience something without having to leave our house. This summer I took a different approach. On our family vacation, I scheduled some activities in which my heroine, Tru Martin, engaged.
In Re/Viewed (Doms of the FBI 6, available November 2016), Tru is an adventurer. She loves getting out there and doing things, which is the exact opposite of me. However when the chance arose to do hands-on research, I seized it. In the novel, Tru skydives, dead-air drops from a balloon, and BASE jumps. Those are things I’ll never do because I don’t have a death wish and I’m afraid of heights.

Crater Lake--Pictures don't do it justice. It's a long drop to the bottom, so I only peeked over for short periods of time.

But she also kayaks along the Pacific coast, explores caves, and goes white-water rafting. These are things I was willing to experience. I’m the kind of geek who loves geological features, so I went to Oregon Caves. They’re made from marble, and the archeologist who led our tour was great about giving history and answering all my questions. This didn’t lead to changing much in the draft because I have an earth science certification, and I have been to a lot of caves in the US. This one, though, was carved from marble. The picture shows a strike-slip fault visible in the ceiling of the cave. (The reflection of the flash looks pretty cool.)

Next we went white-water rafting along the Rogue River. I’d never been, and I had a blast. Our guide, Patrick, was helpful with explaining everything having to do with the raft and the river. I went on a different river from my heroine, but this experience still led me to make some major revisions in that part of the story. For starters, the guide does most of the paddling work. At one point, Patrick dove out of the raft and told me to practice steering. There’s nothing like paddling a 6-person raft with huge, heavy oars to remind me that I don’t work out, and that my left side is significantly weaker than my right. We didn’t take pictures of this, but if you get to southern Oregon, I highly recommend going white-water rafting. The Rogue isn’t a difficult river, and there was plenty of time to stop and swim. I’ve included a picture of the Rogue River we took where it disappears into a lava tube and spits out about 30 meters downriver. (And, as an added bonus, this picture captured a rainbow.)

Lastly we went on a kayaking excursion that ran along the coast in central California near Van Damme State Park. It explored the coastal flora and fauna as well as ducking into several coastal caves. This was not the excellent experience I’d anticipated, but I blame Wife. On the ride there she delighted in taking a winding road that left me car sick. Once on the ocean, I lasted forty-five minutes before I fed the fishes. It’s been almost 14 years since the last time I vomited (during pregnancy). Otherwise it was great. This one also led to minor revisions. For starters, the coast of California where we were was not at all warm. We also didn’t take pictures of this, but I’ve included the picture we took of our first glimpse of the mighty Pacific.

These experiences served to make my writing richer and authentic. While I don’t feel the need to do everything my characters do, it was very cool to tuck a few new adventures under my belt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

History of the Peach

You didn’t know the peach had a history, did you? Because today, August 24, is National Peach Pie Day (and who doesn’t love peach pie?), I thought I’d find out all I could about the summertime favorite, the peach. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

The peach (Prunus persica) is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Shan mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach or a nectarine. The People’s Republic of China is the world’s largest producer of peaches. (I sure didn’t know the peach originated in China, and I thought the largest peach producer was the state of Georgia).

Peach and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. In contrast to peaches, whose fruits present the characteristic fuzz on the skin, nectarines are characterized by the absence of fruit-skin trichomes (fuzz-less fruit); genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches are produced from a dominant allele for fuzzy skin. Source: Wikipedia.

The peach was brought to India and Western Asia in ancient times. Peach cultivation also went from China, through Persia, and reached Greece by 300 BC. Alexander the Great introduced the fruit into Europe after he conquered the Persians. Peaches were well known to the Romans in first century AD, and were cultivated widely in Emilia-Romagna. Peach trees are portrayed in the wall paintings of the towns destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD, while the oldest known artistic representations of the fruit are in the two fragments of wall paintings, dated back to the 1st century AD, in Herculaneum, now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Source: Wikipedia

Spanish explorers in the 16th century brought the peach to the Americas, and the fruit eventually made it to England and France in the 17th century, where it was a prized and expensive treat. During Queen Victoria’s reign, peaches were served in fancy cotton napkins at the end of meals.

Spanish settlers brought peaches to Florida, where the Cherokee and Iroquois learned to grow them. Cherokee and Iroquois traders sold peach seeds farther west, and peach seeds crossed the North American continent to meet up with peach trees planted by Spanish settlers in Arizona and California.

The horticulturist George Minifie supposedly brought the first peaches from England to its North American colonies in the early 17th century, planting them at his Estate of Buckland in Virginia. Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and finally Virginia.

There you have it. If your mouth is watering as you consider eating a sweet, juicy peach, here’s an easy peach recipe I love to make. I don’t make pies because pie crusts are above my skill set. However, this recipe is so easy, even I don’t mess it up.

Peach Crostata

Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss 1 pound peaches, peeled and thinly sliced, with 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1/8 tsp. ground ginger, and a pinch of salt. Unroll 1 refrigerated ready-to-use piecrust (for 9-in. pie) on cookie sheet. Arrange peach mixture on crust, leaving 2-in. border; fold border over filling. Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden. Serves 4. Enjoy!
For something peachy keen to read while you’re enjoying your Peach Crostata, I recommend Amazon bestseller Letterbox Love Stories, Volume 1, nine love stories from nine international authors. The perfect summer reading all year long.

What if a life-changing letter arrived in today's mail? Now imagine it leads to love and adventure!

From the northern British Isles, across the mainland of Europe, and on to Turkey, nine international Award-winning and Multi-published Romance Authors share spellbinding love stories told across time. This collection includes contemporary, historical and futuristic time travel romances touched by magic. And each begins with a letter...

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