Monday, March 30, 2009

Reader Ratings - Feedback for Authors

Most venues allow readers of the books to come back and rate the books they've purchased. I'm sure the viewpoints on whether or not this should be is fairly split from what I've heard around the various horns. I especially love the ones where readers can actually leave a review or comments.

What do you think? Are they helpful to you as an author?

BEKKI - For the most part, I love seeing reader ratings and reviews. Once upon a time, I would have told you that they don't have a bearing on other projects. Over the last few months, I've realized that both the good and not so good comments from readers come into play. You know, the constructive criticism such as what they would have liked to have seen more or less of, what they would have liked to have seen earlier in the story as far as characterization. It's almost like the reader is helping me improve my writing. This is really the purpose of the ratings, isn't it? To let us know what's working and what isn't for them.

LINDSAY - I love to hear from readers. Their feedback is always precious to me. It lets me know if my work is 'in tune' in the deepest emotional terms; if people connect with my characters and their stories. Sometimes a reader suggestion can give me a whole new idea for a novel. This happened recently when a reader said she would like to hear more about Sir Tom, one of my characters from A KNIGHT'S VOW. Such moments are very special to a writer.
Of course readers have busy lives and so the feedback a writer receives from a rating system such as on amazon or on Bookstrand is also useful. In these cases I am glad the reader has rated my novel - such ratings are done from a genuine desire to inform other readers and, possibly the writer, although a bald number rating doesn't tell a writer much, except possibly that the reader enjoyed or did not enjoy the work. Guessing then comes into play on the part of the writer. 'Was there too much/not enough of sex/adventure/quarrels etc?'

One final point is the malice rating. For some reason some authors seem to attract these - very low ratings given before the novel is out and cannot possibly have been read. These are quite cruel. Some sites are working to stop those kind of no-read ratings from being given, which is a much fairer system.

SAVANNA - I haven't had that much experience with reader reviews. However, so far, I really can't complain about the ratings at Fictionwise. It's about what I figured, since my writing has always had those who really liked it, and those who don't. The last time I saw my ratings at Siren-BookStrand, I have to say I was pleased... who knows, now? But, MURDER BY HAIR SPRAY IN GARDENIA, NEW ATLANTIS is doing well rating-wise, if not in sales compared to the other hot-trend subgenres.

That being said, I've gotten some wonderful reviews from other authors, including my two blog buddies, Bekki and Lindsay.

I've also received a couple of top reviews from Book Reviewers, who absolutely 'got' my story. That's always a warm and fuzzy feeling. And I'd love to have more those... like who wouldn't?

Regarding the reviews where complaints were made, I'm not certain how helpful they were, except as a demonstration of what a person's personal preference is, which means other people feel the same way, or have the same reaction. Would I have changed my story to accommodate their particular viewpoints? Nope, not on your life.

If I had, I would have to get rid of Volcano, my Carnal Cherub hero, since the reviewer thought angel sexuality was 'ick'. Or, I would have to get rid of the cover art for RED LIONESS TAMED. I absolutely love that cover ~ no way would I change it. Or, if one reviewer is to be satisfied, Lady Sheridan and Baron Zaggry would never have recovered the sheer intensity of their passion for each other.

From my perspective, reviews, whether from readers or reviewers, are usually a double-edged sword, since some readers only buy books with good reviews while other readers actually only buy books with poor reviews... so, who wins?

Oops, I almost forgot Cindy's wonderful review for two of my books, a reader friend to Siren-BookStrand. Thank you, Cindy.

All reviews are part personal preference. While I would like to have everyone adore my work, I know it won't happen. I hope people will give their honest opinions, and not in an abusive way.

Reviews are alot like customer surveys. People rarely take the time to tell you you're doing a good job but are quick to let you know when there is a problem.

I try to remember that when I look at reader ratings. I mean, I'm tickled pink whenever someone takes the time to let me know they've enjoyed something I've written,
but for the most part, I expect them to be on the low side. I'm always suspicious when I see a book has received a huge number of glowing ratings. All I can think of is that the author has a big family and alot of friends to stuff the ballot box :)

I take negative ratings very seriously. Not as a personal attack, but as an opportunity to grow. Some kind of descriptive feedback is always better than just a number, but any information I get from my readers is a big help to improve my writing.

JUDAH - I actually enjoy being able to look at my work through someone else's eyes. I think it keeps me grounded, so long as I don't rely on what other people say as the eternal yardstick. Writing is like art. It appeals to some and not to others, and I think it's totally unrealistic to assume that everyone out there is going to love my work (a girl can dream, huh?)...

Still, I'm cautious when it comes to reviews. I try to set the emotional response aside and look at them analytically. What is valid? Does the reviewer have a grasp of the book as a whole, or are personal preferences or preconceptions playing a part (reviewers are human after all!)

I think it's important to remember as an "artist" of any kind, to grow in your craft you have to learn to roll with the punches, to take what is positive and use it meaningfully. You also have to learn to move on, and not to lose the spontaneity of the creative process in trying to model yourself to suit others.

Thanks ladies for joining in on March's Round Robin.

Happy writing!

Friday, March 27, 2009

By George, Whatever Next!

Some time ago, I entered a contest, the prize being to star alongside George Clooney in a Nespresso commercial. I never heard back from the contest organizers, so I suppose they picked someone else, which is a shame, really, because with the number of Nespressos I down per day, I was the perfect, highly caffeinate candidate.

I’ve always found Mr. Clooney rather yummy, and I’m sure that a couple of hours spent in his wobbly-headed, charming company wouldn’t be too much of a drag. Come to think of it, as anyone who has ever seen my walk can attest, wobbly heads are something George and I have in common. We’d probably look quite funny ambling down the street together, sort of like those weird little plastic dogs sometimes seen on the back window ledges of cars, but I doubt this common trait has anything to do with drinking too much coffee.

I don’t go out of my way to drink Nespresso because Mr. Clooney endorses it; like millions of other people, I have simply fallen prey to Nespresso’s fabulously practical coffee machines and am now handcuffed to the brand. And while I’m aware that the hundreds of capsules I go through every year leave a carbon footprint worthy of the Yeti’s entire family, let me assure you that my large feet carry me around the local recycling plant faster than you can read a Starbucks menu.

The other day, while zipping around the village recycling facility with yet another trunk-load of semi-sorted rubbish, I ran into one of my wackier girlfriends. There, squirming beneath the rapacious eye of the man who ensures that, since there’s a place for everything, everything’s going to be BLOODY well put into its place OR ELSE, we giggled up a zany idea. We imagined a customized Nespresso bin, with a giant, laughing George Clooney on its side. Gathered around it were throngs of women, cheerfully feeding the obliging superstar endless mouthfuls of multicolored capsules. Seriously now, could recycling get any more appealing?

Indeed it could, we un-seriously decided, shoving empty glass bottles into color coded containers, our nostrils pooh-poohing the fetid fumes of the communal compost heap. Then, while pouring used cooking oil into greasy barrels, we got completely carried away, predicting that if the credit crunch becomes any crunchier, feeding George down at the recycling plant might even turn into a choice activity for a girl’s night out. Bring a blindfold and you’ve got a grown-up version of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”!

And while on the subject of loony (no pun intended!) recycling ideas, what were PETA (People for the Ethnic Treatment of Animals) thinking when they recently approached George Clooney with the concept of CloFu? Apparently, PETA believed that people all over the world would stampede health food shops, clamoring for tofu, if they infused it with Mr. Clooney’s Eau de Armpit. I’m supposing the idea was to get the superstar nice and sweaty, hand him a couple of towels, take them back and give them a good squeeze. The mashed soya beans would then be marinated in the precious essence, prior to being whisked away and elegantly packaged, ready to be feasted on by the star-struck masses. Thankfully, according to reliable(ish) sources (my local free newspaper), it seems that Mr. Clooney will be keeping his armpit secretions to himself.

As much as I love animals, I wouldn’t have entered a contest to star alongside George Clooney in a CloFu commercial. I can, however, picture him delivering the following tag line with a debonair, somewhat bewildered expression: “CloFu? Whatever next?”

© Francesca Prescott
March, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Romancing The Words

Words are powerful tools and when used methodically, can give an image of whatever it is you want to portray.

On the same hand, the wrong choice of words can give a reader an image that can turn them off.

One that comes to mind is 'bubble butt' -- ew! I recently read this description in a romance novel, this morning in fact, and wondered what possessed the author to even think describing a guys bottom this way remotely sexy. I've heard the term used so much in real life and never as a compliment, and never in reference to a man.

I'm on a butt kick this week and it started at work Monday. A story for another time. Some guys need a better fit of jeans.

I'm an erotic author, so why would anything bother me, you might be thinking. Just because I write sex doesn't mean I don't have limitations. There's a place and time for any given word. Some don't like the f-word, c-word, etc. Some don't like purple prose, some want you to come right out and say what you mean, don't white-wash it.

Every word you use needs to fit the characters, the scene, the time period and most of all portray what you mean it to.

I once read a story where the author had the heroine describing the hero - aside from the fact the description was too massive of a built for a soccer player, she turned me off because the description had me immeditately flipping my mind to an old Flintstone espisode where a man put on a blow-up suit to give him broad muscular shoulders, huge biceps and well defined chest, wonderfully muscular thighs and a narrow waist. The use of 'narrow waist' was the trigger.

Earlier, I was reading the desires of new publisher. They don't accept erotic of any kind and really was beating anyone who cared to read over the head with it. So much so, it's really all you can come away with. I had to read it again to find out what it was they really did want. They're all about the sensuality, the sexual tension, the touches, the glances - the build up of the romance. Isn't that what we all want and expect in romance no matter the sub-genre. To watch it happen, feel it happen and feel all gooey when we finish the last page.

Happily Ever After stories come in many forms and the authors of have their own unique, one would hope, way of sharing us their story. Choosing the right words makes all the difference in an individuals acceptance of an author's work. I was thinking about this earlier when I was browsing review sites while I was waiting for my son get ready for school. I noticed a review site had completely revamped their site -- it's quite awful in fact. However, as I tried to figure it out, I was reminded of their review of my second book, which you won't find posted there -- I thought it was amazing how what they found utterly distasteful about my work is what the majority loved. While they are in the minority, the first thing I wondered about the was wording. However, it wasn't the wording that triggered their distaste -- their trigger was the drinking my characters did.

I can second guess my writing until I destroy it. I don't want anyone to ever do that with their work. I don't want to hear anyone writing to please a reviewer, a publisher, or even an editor -- not completely - you know what I mean. First and foremost, you have to be happy with your work and second your target is the reader - those are the people you write for. So what if it's not everyone's cup of tea.

On the other hand, maybe you can hang onto a couple of those 'trigger losses' if when you're going back through it to polish it, take the time to consider some of your word choices. You want the reader to fall in love with your characters, your style and reach the end of the story where they can feel that intenal 'aw' that makes them sigh.


By the way -- the new publisher is Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc - debut release March 29th. Check them out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crowning glory

I admit it. I have a 'thing' about hair in my writing.

Not in real life. My hair is brown going grey and tough. It goes its own way and if it's cut 'wrong' then it will spike. I have it cut short and leave it alone. We get along fine. But in my romance novels, I love hair.

What colour will the herone's hair be? How long? Wavy? Curly? I always like to imagine my main female character's hair.

Many romance novels have blond or auburn haired heroines. To celebrate brown hair, my bull-leaping heroine Sarmatia has long, brown hair.

"Still sprinting, Sarmatia shook her long brown hair out of its plait, laughing when a colt started back from her. She mopped her sweating face and pointed to the stream. The stallion wheeled round and headed for the water, Sarmatia keeping pace with his easy canter. One by one, they lost the other members of the herd to the lush grazing of the stream meadows, but they themselves drew closer, the horse's long mane and Sarmatia's hair mingling on the breeze in a weave of shades and textures. As they ran the sun poured golden from them both, like spray from sporting dolphins."

Her hair is different from the people of the Northern tribe where she settles with Fearn, the hero of Bronze Lightning. Fearn is a red-head, and many of his tribe are auburn or blond. Fearn has red hair to mirror his quick temper and to hint at his paranormal powers. I wanted him to 'show up' and he does!

"Kutatos had not told her that Ramose was Nubian, dark as a rare pearl. And the man beside him, fully as tall, white as Ramose was black— her breath hissed in her throat when she looked on Fearn for the first time. The healer had red hair, a red-gold beard. He glittered in that fierce Kretan sunlight. A bright stare mirrored hers then Fearn bowed his head."

Sarmatia clearly likes red-heads because she has a chestnut horse, too.

I like to use hair to confound stereotypes. One of my heroines, Ahhotpe, is blond - but she would never have a "blond" moment. She is a dangerous, calculating, kindly, devious princess. She makes the most of her unusual colouring in the court of her father, the Pharaoh Sekenenre, and uses her blond hair to her advantage.

So I have fun with hair. I've had curly haired heroes and heroines, long haired heroes and heroines, shorn heroes. I've had heroines caught by their hair - Joanna, the heroine in my third Kensington novel, is trapped by her long hair while trying to escape.

Next time I will have to celebrate the naked scalp. That, for me, will be a challenge. Here’s Ahhotpe again:

"He applauded her invention in emerging not from the riverbank but from the Nile itself. No other woman would have had the courage to make a path for herself through the tall papyrus, risking the malice of snakes and other riverside creatures. When she first appeared, rising from the river with a beating of birds’ wings, sun flashing on her pale hair, even Sekenenre had trembled. The waterfowl fluttered around her outstretched hands as though waiting to receive a blessing, then passed in a rush of color straight over Sekenenre’s head."

Sunniva, my heroine from A Knight's Captive is a spectacular blond:

"Uncle Marc! Is she not as beautiful as the sun? That is what her name means. She is Sunniva, Sun-Gift. Do you not think she is like the sun?"

"Steady, little one. You will wake your sisters. But yes, you are right. She is most comely."

I kept in mind the meaning of her name all the time I wrote her - and her hair.

It's a sweet vice but I have to be careful. Sometimes I have have my characters spending too much time 'fiddling' with their own or others' hair - stroking, patting, tweaking, adding flowers. My heroes are usually as hair-fixated as I am and sometimes I need to remove some of their petting.

Why a dark-haired hero? I've never quite understood that romance 'guide'. Guillelm in A Knight's Vow is blond, a golden dragon. (Again, I use the colouring as my own reminder and key to character) Marc in A Knight's Captive has darker hair and a beard which he shaves off - to "reveal" himself. I've written dark-haired heroes but to me it's not an essential.

One of my heroes - as yet unpublished - is grey-haired. He is young but his hair is grey. The contrast to me is delicious and it also hints at deeper trouble. His hair has turned grey as the result of the shock of what he has been forced to be, in order to survive - a gladiator.

[Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the ancient Egyptian dancer by courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]

Friday, March 20, 2009

Not a Traditional Happy Ever After

Last night I watched the movie 9 1/2 Weeks. When it came out in 1985 I wasn't old enough to go see it and such a dork that it didn't occur to me to try and sneak in. I remember hearing about how racy and dark it was. Sex. Sex. Sex. At least, that's what I recall people saying. Last night I was having a hell of a time falling asleep and while channel surfing I happened upon this old flick. First of all, it was sort of sad to see how much Mickey Rourke has changed. Back in the day he was beautiful. Dark, sexy, dangerous, cocky...yum. Kim Basinger was as luminous then as she is today. So after all of this hype, was this movie really that racy? Well...yes this film had some intense scenes that would be considered edgy even by today's standards. However, what I found most intriguing about it was the nontraditional happy ending. The two lovers don't stay together. She leaves him. She leaves him so she can stand on her own two feet. He began as someone who wanted to take care of her and protect her, but by the end it became controlling and abusive. Her happiness came from leaving and standing alone. Allowing her to take control of her own life, destiny and ultimately her own happiness. Now, to me, that's a happy ending. A woman who is strong, fulfilled and loved. She loved herself enough to leave.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hazing - How Dumb do you REALLY have to be...

Hi Everyone,
Just fair warning, this is not a sweet little, romantic blog. This blog is going to be blunt and honest because if it can save alive, I want it to. I want this blog, to sink into you and I want it t hurt.

I wanted this blog out earlier but, let's face it, I was pretty angry when I saw it. Like a comedian said the other day on television "stupidity should hurt. Every time you think of something stupid you should get a kick ass brain freeze!"

First of all, I love to blog about things that really irritate me, my writing and hope that people who read it learn something or send someone they believe need to learn something to read it.

Forget the fact that hazing is - well - ILLEGAL. Forget that someone can get killed. I have to seriously ask what in the hell are these people thinking when they decided it was perfectly alright to hand-cuff a half naked girl with her hands behind her back and force feed her gallons of alcohol through a straw. How stupid do you have to be to know that first of all, she could drown, second of all alcohol poisoning! You could die! My lord! Sometimes you have to wonder how these kids made it to the university level when they are that stupid!

Ok, *breathes* I'm sorry but one would think that at eighteen, children are now adults and are now ready to go out into the world. But after reading this, I have to wonder if the age shouldn't be raised? These dumb punks are going to kill themselves!

Ok, I'm 25 and in University but ever since I was in high school I didn't care what people thought. I had my nose in a book and thought that being "cool" was overrated but in these day and age it could kill and land people in jail! How desperate do you have to be to agree to being force fed alcohol - naked in a park?

I'm sorry, I just want to get it through your heads that this is what most university students are doing! Why? Because apparently we havent gone past the Witch Hunt mentallity where they would shove a woman off a cliff and if she flew then she was a witch but if she sank to her death on the jagged rocks below, she wasnt a witch - with the hazing, they force feed you alcohol (or whatever dumb stunt they thought up in their alcoholic daze the night before) and force the rushers to do it. If the rushers do it and win they die or gain brain injury etc but if they fail they are outcasted for life.

All because they want to be in the 'in' crowd!

Ok let me explain a few things -

  1. If you have to do something as dumb as drink massives amount of alcohol or some other dumb stunt that could get you severely injured or killed to get on good terms with these people - THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!
  2. If you believe that doing one of these stunts is a good idea - I am sorry but you're dumber than a ritz cracker and does not deserve to be away from home in university. You are not mature enough to be on your own because you are going to get yourself killed.
  3. And if you're the one doing the hazing, I hope you go to jail for a VERY long time because if you get a slap on the wrist eventually you will kill someone.

*sigh* Look, its not brain surgery - if something sound dumb and dangerous - check this out - IT'S DUMB AND DANGEROUS!

I hope, this opens someone's eyes. Please check on your 'adult' kids and make sure they aren't hazing anyone or getting hazed. Because I know that getting the phone call that a loved one is dead or in jail when they were supposed to be in second period Chemistry or something like that, is NOT good. It does not give a good feeling.

Kadian Tracey

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Romance of the Unicorn for St. Patrick's Day

Unicorn Art by Sabra Scherer ~

Created as Web Wallpaper ~

Art by Elizabeth Kyle ~ to the best of my knowledge ~


Monday, March 16, 2009

Sales, Promotion and Sanity... Or Insanity

We’re all involved in a world of volatile sales where we have minimal control. I say minimal, because all we can do is put our work before the public and hope they choose ours for purchase.

So, how do we attract the browser? How can we convince them ours is better, more enjoyable and they can’t get on without buying it now? Sales pitches and presentations aren’t just for cover letters and meetings with agents. The book market moves as fast and is as quirky as the stock market. It’s all about someone else investing in your stock, in this case, your books.

This is what I've seen from my vantage point.

There are a lot of factors involved. The genre you write. Are you hitting your target audience? The excerpts you’ve chosen. Are they presented in a manner in which is readable, the links easy to find and clickable? What time of year it is – a biggie when you consider property taxes are usually due twice a year, spring and fall and not all included in mortgage payments – is it time to get the kiddies ready for school – fall is heavy with birthdays seeing how the fav pastime of the frigid winter before – the holidays and so on.

You can play on all these moments and squeeze sales. Easter is coming and so is Mother’s Day. Suggest even a book for a gift basket someone might be offering up. I included another author’s book in my Holiday Basket. My work is on the erotic side, the book I included along with an autographed copy of my own is more mainstream.

Paydays are a factor in sales. Most of the country is paid every two weeks on the same Friday. In between you have fast food, grocery stores and other businesses. And don’t forget social security and disability checks at the first of the month. Military paydays in the US are the first and fifteenth of the month.

This means there is always someone there to buy a good book.

For a while, I saw evidence of sales around the main paydays – generally on Sundays and Mondays after. Then it switched to hit later in between the pay period, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Now, I’m seeing major monthly differences. One month sales will be on Tuesday and Thursday with a rare Sunday or Wednesday. The next month will be Sundays and Wednesdays with an occasional Saturday. So, you can see there is no way to set yourself up for sales except to post excerpts, blog, chat – be sociable when you feel like it. It’s a necessary evil we have to grin and bear.

If you don’t have a web presence going, you need to get on it. A website is important. People need to know where to find you, learn more about you and check out your writing.

I began posting excerpts every single morning and yes I sold enough to keep me on the publishers bestseller list for fifty-nine days, but we all know it doesn’t take much sales to get you on it and keep you on it. What does keep you going are the steady sales with buyers choosing you over another. I’d rather have steady sales then sale a hundred the first day, or three hundred in two weeks and then have sales fall down to nothing in comparison.

So, how do we keep steady sales? Luck, perseverance and timing is the best I can come up. And write to get more books out there. Do you get tired of seeing the same excerpts over and over when you browse your digests or see the individual headers in your email? I do. Ok, not in my digests and emails, since I actually go into the groups, but you get the drift. It’s overkill and I’m going to bypass unless you give me a reason so reread it. I’m more apt to stop at the oddball excerpt, the one I’m not seeing in every time I turn around.

I’ve seen better results with just a fewer postings myself. And guess what, even with smaller groups. I post two or three times a week, never more than one excerpt a day to the small groups, unless I went stupid, which has happened. The end result has been pretty good – usually within a couple of days, I see sales at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I watch six venues., Amazon Kindle, Amazon Books, Barnes & Noble and All Romance Ebooks and Fictionwise. Why? Bookstrand pays me the highest royalty seeing how it’s my publisher – however, if you’re aren’t writing ménage, you’re overshadowed and have to struggle for sales period. All Romance Ebooks pays second best and have the best customer service I’ve come across. Amazon Kindle third with payout just under All Romance Ebooks. Fictionwise fluctuates too much take terribly serious – they pay your publisher 80% of your gross sales and your publisher pays you a percentage of the net sales. The gross sales is not the cover price of your book – when they have sales, you’re paid on the sale price of your book during these sales. The paperback books I have no sales info for as yet, so I don’t know where I fair the best. I won’t know until the end of April, but I watch them because I have a goal.

My goal is to sell at least one of each book per venue every week. It may sound low and not very ambitious, but when you write non a-typical heroines and heroes in non a-typical stories, steady sales are awesome, even if it’s one book at a time. Some weeks I may not make a sale at one venue, but I’ve been able to make up for that loss another week. Since I’ve been able to access my sales at the publisher, I’ve been very happy with the way things are going in the sales department. I’ve been meeting my goals.

My major goal is to get more books published and let the backlist take care of itself.

So, what can you do in this world that threatens your sanity? *wink*

Post at different times of the day. Often those on the west coast of the US are neglected. All the chats are over by the time they come on. So, we need to give them something. I’ve found most of the hits to my website come between midnight and two in the morning central time zone.

Change up your excerpts. I’ve seen some excerpts that still have release dates in them or other irrelevant information forgotten about. Make them easy on the eye, entertaining and irresistible.

I’ve actually found that one of my excerpts has better results than the others.

The quickest way to find authors who write the genre you write is to check out some of the venues where books are sold. I have to push All Romance Ebooks for this one – I love how they have categories broken down, such as the historical section. Glean some of the author’s names, the publishers and check out their web sites and see where they hang out. These places will be your target audience contacts.

If you post strictly promos on group promo days – messages that carry only blurbs, contests, etc – change them up and make them seem fresh every week. There’s a lot of concern about the time it takes to promo and how it interferes with writing. We’re all suffering with this. Finding a set schedule is difficult. You have try different ones to see what works best for you. Some take time first thing in the morning, others are sticklers to writing a number of pages before they allow themselves to get on the internet and read emails and do promotions. I go in phases – I’m a free-for-all.

Sometimes I won’t post until evening, sometimes afternoon and evening, sometime first thing in the morning, maybe in the afternoon, then evening. It all depends on my mood and how the writing is really going.

There really is no rhythm or reason how to do it. Do what works for your schedule, but if you’re finding sales aren’t coming in, go ahead and try something different.

Many groups now have theme days. Check out the calendars and mark the ones for your genre or something you like to read and make a pit stop if you can. Just your presence and your signature line can be enough to bring a sale. You don’t have to stay all day, unless you can’t resist.

What can you do offline? It all depends on how gung ho you are. You can arrange book signings if you have paperbacks, gather with other local authors to do this or maybe setup a book fair where it’s a meet and greet type thing.

There is a group titled Bookworm Bags – this is a group for only authors. You send each other promo items, can be anything from business cards to key rings and pens. People are always going to various functions where promo bags are handed out. A writer friend of mine near Kansas City was thrilled to see my stuff in her promo bag she received from a conference in Texas a few months ago.

For those who don’t go to these functions and don’t think you can share in passing out promo packets – there are other ways. Online contests and so on. If you’re giving away one of your books in a contest, include a nice bookmark or something from another author.

Exchanging banners and links is another way to promote yourself.

And don’t forget the odd groups out there such as: Goodreads, Facebook, Live Journal, Twitter, Authors Den, Shelfari, Myspace, Romance Readers and Writers, On the Same Page. I know I’ve not mentioned several, but I’ve already been long-winded.

I applaud you if you’ve made it this far. Lol

Go get those sales!


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Romance of the Lone Ranger

First ~ thank you to ~ ~

As a kidlet I couldn’t get enough of The Lone Ranger, starring Clayton Moore, on Saturday morning TV, in the good ole’ days of black and white. I might even have grabbed my stick horse and galloped about. Heck, I rode that critter until it wore out.
After all, who could resist the theme from the William Tell Overture, not this buckaroo gal...
I raced inside as fast as Silver whenever I heard the blood-stirring beginning by Fred Hoy ~

Hi-Yo Silver — A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver … the Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!

And this intro is from the radio show, born out of the Depression, and begun February 2, 1933 ~

“When the West was young and danger lay at the end of every trail, the Lone Ranger and his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, brought law and order to the length and breadth of the early Western states.”

Yes, I had a little girl’s crush on the masked man. And a little secret from my past...shhhh.. I also had a big crush on Tonto. Most of all, my heart belonged to Silver, then Scout, their horses. Horses always won out at that age.
Since forever, I’ve been in love with TV’s version of the Old West, the romanticized adventurous stories where the good guys win and the bad guys are beaten, then justice triumphs. Not to mention Dale Evans and Annie Oakley were no cowering-in-the-corner females. No sireee! They could shoot and ride with the best of them.
Okay - not the corral, I’ve always wanted to write my own cowboy romances. I even went through a period of reading Zane Grey, long, long ago. Now, I have several Western Romance WIPs going, admittedly all of them in the fantasy/paranormal subgenres. One I hope to submit to Liquid Silver Books soon, Seneca and Trail’s love story. So, of course, I’ve been enjoying my trip down memory lane with all of my favorite cowboys of yesteryear (lots of them!).

~~~ And then, my memory was lassoed when I was wondering what to blog about for Happily Ever After. The first man I fell in love with, when I was sixteen, was gorgeous. Mike Gray was eighteen, and I mean he was living work of art. He had women after him like crazy.
I had never seen any actor who resembled him until the ill-fated movie ~ The Legend of the Lone Ranger - 1981 ~ Klinton Spilsbury, the actor with a name guaranteed to fail, starred as the Lone Ranger. Evidently, his career was also ill-fated. I can’t even find a photo of him. However, let me tell you that movie didn’t fail me. I thoroughly enjoyed every mesmerizing moment, even if it wasn’t the true Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore.
Branded into my mind’s eye is the scene of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, astride Silver and Scout, racing side-by-side. Oh heavenly days... I swooned inside. Desire swamped every cell of my body. And, all I could do was wish with all my heart, I lived that story with them, riding alongside them on my own fantastic steed... while knowing, of course, it would never happen. A hopeless dream. Merely fantasy.
Perusing the pictures from the TV series...yes, I did remember those moments, and it felt darn good reliving those memories. It felt strange and not strange, because I haven’t seen them since childhood.
No, none of my WIPs are based on that particular Cowboy and Indian, plus magnificent horses, fantasy... yet.
But ya never know.

~~~ I believe one of the reasons Westerns have endured, even with a lessening in popularity until recently, is because there is a genuine romance to the Old West, despite the harsh and cruel realities. So many of the true stories are a testament to the resilience and power of the human spirit. And, if a man or woman were good, they were really good, rising above the ugliness and the baser natures around them.
This is a scene at the end of the first episode of the Lone Ranger TV series ~

The last remaining Ranger from the ambush puts a mask on, one Tonto has made from the vest belonging to his dead brother, Captain Reid. Next, Tonto hands him the weapons.

Tonto: Here, guns, to kill bad men..
Reid: I’m not going to do any killing..
Tonto: You not defend yourself?
Reid: I’ll shoot if I have to. But I’ll shoot to wound, not to kill.. If a man must die, it’s up to the law to decide that, not the person behind a six - shooter!
Tonto: That’s right, Kemo Sabe!
Tonto: You all alone now. Last man.. You are lone Ranger..
Reid: Yes, Tonto.. I am.. The Lone Ranger!

Guess what? Unknown to little ole’ me, Disney is planning/scripting a Lone Ranger movie, staring Johnny Depp as Tonto... and, maybe, George Clooney as the Lone Ranger... that’s the runaway rumor, anyway.
Here’s my own little tribute to the Wild, Wild West. This is a Serial Flash I began, that is now up to *Part 75*. It’s New Year’s Eve night on two different, but parallel Earths.

Courtship on Another Earth

Part 1 ~

Sylva stroked on the red lipstick carefully. The shade was deep scarlet and it looked like a swathe of gleaming velvet on her lips. “Who needs collagen injections?” she murmured, then surveyed her festively made-up face. Dusky twilight purple shadowed her eyes, highlighting the blue-green color. A shimmer of pale gold brought out her high cheekbones ~ a magical contrast to the glistening pink-gold powder covering her face, her neck, and artfully ending at her propped-up cleavage, displayed by a heart-shaped tight bodice of midnight satin. “Mirror, mirror, on my bathroom wall, who’s the New Years Party fairest of them all?”

Zeke flashed a cocky half-grin at his appearance in the mirror his mother had given him decades ago. The white-gold scroll work surrounding the tall oval mirror contrasted sharply with his tan leather vest and matching pants, both designed for riding his horse into town and as evening wear for the new year’s celebration. His cream-colored silk shirt clung to the muscles of his chest, won by hard work on his family’s ranch empire. And won by the fistfights he was famous for ending, but never beginning. Tonight, by long-standing tradition, he could claim any available woman as his bride.

Part 2 ~

Sylva flipped a smile at her reflection. Stepping back to see herself more fully, she thrust her hip, accentuating the sassiness of her short satin and tule-layered skirt. “Adorably sexy,” she complimented herself. Okay, her thighs were full unlike the stick figure models that had successfully invaded the fashion world. Her calves were shapely, what used to be considered starlet-sexy...especially since she wore spectacular ankle-strap black heels, along with a pair of old-fashioned seamed hose. Tonight, she would strut her stuff with the best of them. Tomorrow, no more job. She was one more victim of the current economy.

Zeke strapped on his pearl-handled revolver. He’d cleaned and oiled it earlier, then made certain it fired properly, shooting several pennies out of the air. Since they’d become non-legal tender eleven years past, he figured that was a damn good use. Leaning down, he slid a dead-aim derringer, one of his grandfather’s designs, inside his fancified riding boot. Decorated with swirls of gold thread and engraved with the ranch’s crest, his new boots were a show of his hard-won status as the Overseer of their horse operations, from breeding to sales. Yep, it was time to settle on one woman.

Part 3 ~

Sylva beat back the worry that threatened to overwhelm her. Pasting a smile on her face, she tossed her strawberry blonde hair a bit. The long length waved over her bare back while her dangly ruby-imitation earrings swung her eye. She felt sexy and sultry. Swivelling her head, she looked at her profile from the corner of her eye. She’d pulled the sides of her hair up, banded it, then attached a tiny glittering rose. As if possessed by a spirit, she faced the mirror, whispering, “I wish I may, I wish might, find my true love tonight.”

Zeke plucked his mahogany leather cowboy hat from the bronze curlicue hook, plopping it on his head. From years of practice, since he’d been knee-high to his father, the broad-brimmed hat settled at the perfect rakish angle, and covered most of his bay-colored hair. The curling waves at the nape of his neck and above his ears were touched by a golden sheen from all the time he spent outdoors. He’d had more than one woman, scarce as they were in these parts, run her fingers through the fringes of his hair, as if she sought real gold. He grinned.

Part 4 ~

Sylva grimaced and shook her head at herself, before whirling away from the mirror, and out the bathroom door. Yeah, that would be the day. True love, ha! She’d tried it several times now, with results more dismal than the prospect of not being able to find job. Refusing to think about what possessions she could sell to get by, she lovingly picked up her long velvet cape. Reversible, the hooded cape was a glorious red velvet on one side and a deep midnight black on the other. Who cared if people thought she looked like a witch in it.

Zeke swung the fringed buckskin jacket off the garment post, and slid into it. It fit his frame perfectly. He’d made certain of that by having it tailored in town, despite his family’s protest and ribbing over his extravagance, as they called it. But hell to the four winds, Brennon outfitted the other young bucks and the ranch gentlemen. All of whom partook of sophisticated entertainments in town, other than Sophie’s Sin Saloon. What did he care if others thought he was too dandified? His quick aim with a fist or gun meant most would keep their comments to themselves.

Happy Age of Aquarius
May your most romantic dreams come true ...

Savanna Kougar

~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bunnies Aren't Gifts - They're A Life-Long Commitment

This time of year so many parents give in to the wants and whining of their small children and buy them a bunny for Easter. Or they simply think it’s a terrific idea to do.

I’m begging you – DON’T!

More often than not, the poor defenseless bunny ends up dead or taken to a shelter that is overrun with bunnies from parents who’ve done the same thing as you have. It breaks my heart.

Children need something they can hold and cuddle. Buy them a stuffed bunny instead. Bunnies scratch and bite when feel insecure and threatened. Most do not want to be held, especially by a young child who holds them too tight, or wrong. Most adults don’t know how to hold a bunny, much less pick one up, why would you think a child would know. Never, ever pick them up by the ears or the scruff of the neck. It angers me to think about people doing this. Bunnies have fragile backs and doing this can cause them to break as they twist and turn to get free.

Children become easily bored and parents don’t want to take the time to care properly for them, so they’re often left in some hutch in the backyard or a metal cage with little attention. This is just wrong.

Bunnies have a long life span – 12-15 years, sometimes more when properly cared for.

Bunnies are expensive. They require a vet who has specialized training with bunnies. Vet bills are high and I’m talking for a simple visit for a checkup a minimum of $50. Quadruple this if you are going to have them spayed/neutered. And if the bunny gets sick or injured, plan on paying the same.

And often, the wrong foods are fed to the rabbits. Despite popular belief, iceberg lettuce is not good for them. Never give iceberg lettuce. Their primary food source is free-reign hay, which means they should never be without hay. The Kayee Western Timothy hay is good, but Oxbow brand is better. After the first six or seven months of life, they don’t need alpha pellets – it has too much calcium and can cause the bladder to fill up with sludge and make them sick. Broccoli has way too much calcium as well. Carrots have a lot of water, so give sparingly.

Bunnies, like puppies, love to chew and like you do for your little ones, their play area needs to be bunny-proofed, which is much like childproofing. Bunnies love to chew electrical cords. Hide them, get them off the floor.

Like kids, dogs and yourself, they do get bored. Give them toys to play with. Oatmeal barrels are especially fun for small bunnies. Toilet and paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes with all tape and labels removed. Baby toys – the hard plastic kind like key rings. Yes, bunnies love to play. They will pick them up and toss them. Pet stores have a few safe toys for them, wood chews, carrot shaped toys, they even have bunny keys, hanging toys where you can mix and match different items. Some of the bird toys are safe for bunnies as well.

Bunnies can be litter trained. It’s easier than training a kitten to use the litter box or a puppy to go outside.

You need to be educated before you purchase a bunny.
The best place to learn about House Rabbits is Bookmark it, study it, print out the list of good foods and when in doubt, check the list of poison foods. Never, ever give them chocolate in any form, it can kill them. There is also one other place to gain help and information. -- in this forum, you’ll find forms for any pet you may have or may be thinking about getting. There is one for Rabbits. While I don’t agree with all they say, they do have experience and can lead you to other help.

As for their cages. NO cedar or other treated woods. Untreated pine, untreated pine cat litter is safe. Feline Pine is a kiln dried southern pine completely untreated. NEVER use clay litters, the dust is dangerous to them.

My next post will be of my bunnies and I'll talk about what I’ve learned from raising them.

First Photo: Adam and Natalie are in a Tiger striped play tube for cats. Adam is a Californian and Natalie is an American Sable with the coloring of a Neatherland Dwarf, she's a groomer. And she's cleaning Adams face. Adam is a year old here and Natalie is two. They are now three and four respectably.
Second Photo: Faith is about four months old in this photo. She's now five years old and ten pounds, and she'd probably end up wearing the container instead of running through it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

An author and her pet...

Pets are good for you and that's official. Owning a pet one can stroke and pet can help to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. The unswerving support and adoration of a faithful dog or house rabbit can sweeten those rejections and make the lonley life of the writer less lonely. An author can take inspiration from the haughty self-contained grace and self-belief of a cat to keep going and keep faith in her work. A writer can talk to her pets about character and read out dialogue, secure that she will be appreciated.

Sadly I have no pets. If I were to have a pet, I would like...

...a dragon.

A big, fire-breathing dragon, male, of course. and very protective of me, his mistress. A dragon with golden jets of flame. A blue and green dragon, with black talons and very white teeth. A dragon who, when I patted his sun-warmed, living scales, would grumble softly in his long throat, like a soft landslide of stones. A dragon to fly with, to toast marshmallows with, to swim with in deep pools he could warm with his fire.

OK, so that's just me. Have you a pet? Or a fantasy pet?

(Dragons from

Friday, March 6, 2009

Under African Skies...

Someone asked me the other day “why write romance?”My first retort was “why not?” and “because I can”.But it did get me thinking… why do I write romance?What is it about this particular genre that intrigues me?I thought about it a long while, then finally realised that the answer is really very simple:“It’s in my blood”.

I grew up a farmer’s daughter with my head sheltered under African skies and my little bare feet on African soil, and from the beginning I simply soaked up the romance that defines Africa. As far back as I can remember, I have recognised and loved the great big heart that is Africa. It beats with a solid, reassuring presence – older than time, stronger than eternity, and with a passion that is fierce and revitalising and consuming all at the same time.

It manifests its life in the enormous colour and diversity and melody and rhythm that infuses all who live here. It underpins the many cultures and heritages that work together to make our “rainbow nation”. And it defines beauty and romance on a grand scale – sweeping vistas, rolling grasslands, majestic mountain peaks towering and reaching heavenward.

I know I’m not the first to feel it, nor will I be the last. Countless others came to this continent, lured and intrigued by that same primal element, that same fusion of extremes that set apart from the world they knew. Many lost their lives searching for that romance, some left, some stayed. But none of them forgot. Of that I am sure.

For me, growing up on the farm was growing up in the arms of “Mama Africa”. It was a simple life of open spaces, of long walks down the river, of camping out and catching eels with the first of the spring rains. I learned to love the soil and the smell of a freshly ploughed field. I learned to recognise the smell of rain still far off and the slightly acrid smell of thunderstorms just after the lightning flares. I learned to love the feel of the first soft grass of spring under my feet, and to enjoy the taste of the “bushman’s tea” bush – a shrubby plant which grows wild, and which assuages a thirst when walking through the dry winter bush.

Most of all, I learned to love the African skies. They tell countless stories if you know how to read them. They reveal the childlike simplicity that is uniquely African in their clear and cloudless blue. They weep with the sadness of mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, children and lovers in their grey and gloomy days. They paint pictures with their clouds to entertain and amuse and start a guessing game of “which animal is that?” They rage and howl a passion and fury with their storms.

Africa’s romance is often not “pretty” or “comfortable”.It is vast and huge and sometimes overwhelming. For many, though, it is the sunsets that best define “romance” on this immense continent. Colours swathe and collide and startle with their intensity, vivid and bold and tinted with the dust that rises from the daytime landscape. Breathtakingly beautiful, humbling in their grand display of eloquence.

But, for me, the mornings remain the most beautiful, and the most romantic. As a child, I would “sleep out” as often as I could. Some of my best memories are of waking up under a thorn tree, rolled in my blanket with the muted early morning sounds and the night just greying into the dawn.I would lie there, wrapped in the near silence of a brand new, perfect day.I never fully recognised it then but, looking back, that was when the “real” Africa could speak to me undisturbed. Those were the moments when my heart was touched and infused with the magic and mystery and passion that has made me who I am.

There, in that still, breath-holding moment before dawn, was when “Mama Africa” held her child close, whispered in her ear, taught her the deep, abiding passion that infuses this wonderful land.

I write romance because it’s in my blood. It’s who I am. And it’s what I learned to do under African skies.

If you'd like to see more of Africa, visit my website at and check out my "Images of Africa" slideshows.

Romantic Roman flowers

Since it's spring where I live, and with my Roman books in mind, I thought I'd talk about some romantic Roman flowers. Some are surprising. Some are popular even today.

Sweet violet is a pretty, sweet-smelling flower used, like the anemone and the madonna lily, in garlands at Roman banquets. The scent was believed to ward off drunkenness! The Romans loved the scent of violets and even drank wine infused with violets and honey.

Vervain is a dull-looking plant but one which the Romans believed held magical proprieties. Believed to bring good luck, it was used in love potions.

Roman brides used mint for their garlands, and their faces may have been cleansed with a facepack made from the juice of yellow elecampane, because it was believed that Helen of Troy was collecting the flower when Paris abducted her.

Then as now however, the most popular romantic flower was the rose. Roses were grown in Campania for sale and the streets in Rome were red with rose garlands. They were known as flowers of seduction - Cleopatra was rumoured to have seduced Mark Anthony with rose petals. I'll leave it to your imagination as to how!

(Painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and drawings of sweet violet, elecampane and mint from Wikimedia Commons.)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Romantic Heart of Men

One of the reasons ~ among the many *sigh and be still my beating heart* reasons ~ I have a passion for watching Adrian Paul perform as an actor, especially in the TV Highlander series, is because he possesses a romantic heart. It’s apparent in his presence on screen and how he portrays the various historical incarnations of Duncan Macleod. Believe me, it’s not just superb acting. And, omygoodness, who couldn’t fall in love?
Oh, and I love how Adrian Paul’s character picks up a bodice ripper romance novel and begins reading, in one ending scene of the long-gone TV show ‘Tracker’ ~ he plays an alien who has to learn how to survive and live on Earth, since he’s co-opted a male model’s body.
Yes, I definitely have a huge weakness for an alpha male who is also a romantic at heart. I can’t help it. I don’t want to help it. And I love writing those type of heroes.
Ever since I discovered some men (other than the heroes in romance novels) actually do possess a romantic side, a very delicious romantic side, I’ve been fascinated and have been discovering more about how they tick, how they think and feel.
If you’ve ever heard or read the love letters the Civil War soldiers sent home to their wives and sweethearts, you’ll understand why my heart waxes poetic over the romantic heart of men.
Some will contend a romance novel hero can’t be truly alpha if he turns a pretty phrase. I beg to differ. For example, a true man who desires a woman will want to please her. If poetry is one way to her heart and soul, he will woo her with words that express his feelings. Of course, always beware the silver-tongued devil who only plans to use and abuse you... or the heroine.
I recall a university study done some ten or so years ago, maybe longer. Men were interviewed about why they loved their wives. And asked, what was it about their spouses they loved the most? It seems, to the surprise of those running the study, a lot of men were more than willing to write pages on how much they loved their wives. A lot of it was pure prose and poetry. Of course, the wives were often shocked when they read these ‘love letters’ because their husbands had never expressed their feelings in such depth, or in such a romantic way.
When I was involved in doing transformational work, during the eighties, one of the discoveries brought forth in the seminar discussions, was how truly romantic men are, whether they know it or not. In fact, there are some who believe, from the analysis work they’ve done, that men, by nature, are more romantic than women in some ways.
Certainly, if the Regency era attire of men Linda blogged beautifully about, is anything to go by, I would say this is a definite demonstration of the romantic, yet virile man. And as a personal comment, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that in our current world. Not at all. Wouldn’t we as women enjoy being wooed a bit more? And, wouldn’t that make this is a happier lovelier world, overall?
One reason for this blog topic... Okay, I’m deep inside the male mind of my hero, Trail, in my current WIP ~ STALLION OF ASH AND FLAME. This is my first attempt at writing an entire story only from the hero’s point of view. While Trail is not a poetry-crooning romantic, as some of my previous heroes have been, he definitely has his romantic notions. Best of all, his romantic heart is inspired by the heroine.

A splendid example of the romantic heart of men is this poem from my favorite Romantic Poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever,
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle;--
Why not I with thine?

See! the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven,
If it disdained it's brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

And for some romantic fun, this is my inspired version ~

The clouds kiss the rivers with their rain,
And the rivers spill their love into the seas;
The wandering breezes stroke every terrain,
They wish to sweetly please;
Nothing born of heaven is ever alone;
Yet always seeks its mate
Whether desire of flesh or as spiritual tone –
Or by a mutual longing fate.

Hear! The thunder’s savage passion,
And storm winds as they tempest dance;
So like lovers embraced in frenzied motion,
Lost in the lightning of their romance;
Their kisses golden and strong as the sun,
Their coupling caught in moonbeams –
Their hushed words heard in heaven,
And, their hearts beating with dreams.

~ Savanna Kougar


Savanna Kougar

~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches & Ruffled Shirts

Today we'll talk about men's clothes in the Regency era, which occurred about two hundred years ago in England. This post is a primer on the subject, because I'm no expert. But in order for my stories to ring true, I must know how to dress--and undress--my hero.

Our modern world began to take shape in the Regency. Many facets of the era are recognizable to our eyes, including men's clothes.

Here’s a list the Regency gentleman's wardrobe, and the modern equivalent, as close as I can find:




undershirt--no equivalent




belt--no equivalent

boxer shorts--drawers

trousers--breeches, pantaloons, trousers (the Regency gentleman had 3 lengths)

socks--stockings (not quite the same)



(I apologize for the ragged table, but blogger is not cooperating.)

Fabrics of choice were wool and linen because they were produced in the British Isles. Imported fabrics, like silk, and our everyday workhorse material, cotton, were luxury items and used mainly by the rich.

Here's a description of male attire from my Regency time travel, Lady of the Stars. The twenty-first century heroine, Caroline, gets her first good look at the Regency hero, Richard.

Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle.

This passage illustrates another aspect of Regency men's clothes: they were tight. A man's coat often fit so closely he needed help putting it on, and then he might be unable to lift his arms as high as his shoulders. Form-fitting breeches literally left little to the imagination. Then, as now, such clothes could look good only on men with the best physiques, like romance novel heroes.

The Regency hero--a handsome man with a great physique and gorgeous clothes. What a fantasy.

Thank you all,


Linda Banche

Regency romance--most with humor, some with fantasy, and occasionally a paranormal

Lady of the Stars--A legend spanning time, and the man and woman caught in it--Regency time travel, available from The Wild Rose Press