Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What Rachel has been Reading

Hi Team!

Extremely busy of late what with two looming deadlines on my own books .

However, I have done some reading!

Short and Sweet:

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

This is a charming and warm and generous book by an actor who really cherishes his time on the set of one of the most quoted movies ever.  He remembers his experience as a young actor offered the chance to star in the adaptation of a book he loved with such reverence and its spirit is infectious.

Did you know Mandy Patinkin bruised a rib from laughing too hard while filming the Miracle Max scene?     Classic stuff in here with quotes and reminiscences from all involved.    "You've got to be careful with William Goldman scripts. He tricks you with good writing." --- and he does. Goldman, the novelist of the Princess Bride and the masterpen behind such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid  makes it look easy. What's more, he loves his vocation and particularly this book.  Thus, he felt he was walking on broken shells when they took it to the screen. I don't blame him. "I think the film has endured because it was made with a lot of heart. And for that we really have to look at the creative and tender hearts of Goldman and Reiner. Both men are very different people who came from very different backgrounds, but they share one thing in common---they never lost touch in their hearts for storytelling.And in this film they were able to explore that love of storytelling a way they perhaps will never be able to again: the telling of the most extraordinary fairy tale/adventure story about storytelling that can now be counted as classic."

I think writers will find it interesting to learn how difficult the film was to market and its initial release was not met with the enthusiasm it now enjoys as a cult classic. For anyone who has ever had to write a book proposal for an not-easily-categorized novel, you will enjoy hearing how this multi-genre story was hard to pinpoint.

Purchased on Kindle


And somehow I JUST LEARNED ABOUT THIS?  what the.... people need to tell me these things.

This is frakkin' adorable. A perfect marriage of steampunk and mystery and even time travel.  The writing is snarky and light and bright with recognition of its famous inspiration in a cunning and compelling way.   It takes broad liberties: Mina is MYCROFT'S DAUGHTER while  Evaline is Bram's sister who is ALSO A VAMPIRE HUNTER and HOW CUTE IS IT THAT HER NEW HOLMESIAN PARTNER IS MINA JUST LIKE IN DRACULA? OMG!

and they are commissioned for secret assignments by IRENE FRIGGIN ADLER and it just a revisionist London of my dreams.  Very charming and very witty and very, very funny:
"Her eyes were dark and her face was pretty in an arresting way." Mina notes of Miss Stoker on first meeting, "The sort of girl young men would find attractive. The sort of girl who danced at parties and shopped and laughed with her friends and who knew just what to say when she met an interesting young man. The sort of girl who had friends."

I love the smart vulnerability of the book. And I LOVE Mina! She is all Holmes. Charming! Delightful! Her scenes with a particularly dashing Scotland Yarder are only rivalled by her new partner's scenes with a delicious young Cockney-accented street-smart kid named Pix.

I just cannot wait to read the next.

Purchased on Kindle

I wasn't a fan of the first installment in Shelly Shephard Gray's Chicago World's Fair mystery series. But the second offering peaked my interest due to a review I read.

Deception at Sable Hill is a lighter mystery with undercurrents of a much darker subject. While the "Slasher" of Chicago, during the time around the World's Fair, preys on society ladies, so recently abused heiress Eloisa fights with a life meted out for her--- of lavish parties and eligible gentlemen--even as she believes that she has been soiled for it by the sinister deed of Douglass Sloane. Her interactions with Sean Ryan of the police department and his investigations into the identity of the Slasher introduce her to a world heretofore barred from her. Their developing relationship--including Eloisa's visits to his sister's work for women fallen on hard times--- is the heart and soul of the story.

This is a mystery, yes, but a light one. Instead it is a carefully wrought music on class construction and the layers of society. We have all read enough cross-the-tracks love stories to keep us going for years; but this one particularly stood out because its development is so intricately woven and so beautifully realized.

"It's just me," Eloisa feels out of place when she visits the Home for Women, I don't have much experience with any of the things they are struggling with. All I do know is that I am hoping to do something. ...Whatever I can."  

I just love the honesty in which Eloisa is able to approach the judgment inferred on her social status. 

Review copy provided by Zondervan

Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing is Super Hard

throwback to working on substantive edits last year about a month before the book went on submission 
During the winter my editor ( who is very lovely and fortunately gets the intent of my project) and I conversed a lot about the original draft of the manuscript. In said draft, half of the viewpoint was in first person and the other half in third.  Yes this actually happened. Yes we sent it into the world like that. Yes I still got a book contract..... inconceivable. 

I never intentionally set out to accomplish this, it just happened. Especially the more Ray DeLuca fought the girls for space on the page ( #characterproblems) .  I love my first person, I do. But I also found I could widen the scope of the book with third person.    Editor asked me to choose either first or third for the whole novel.    As this wasn't one of the hills I was going to die on, I agreed. Also, I compromised and negotiated so that the three novellas accompanying my books will be told in Jem's sprightly first person narrative. I love her voice, I love crawling into her mind. I love the way she sees the world.

The others---- omniscient third.

Well. This means an entire rewrite of the entire novel, obviously, with a completely different slanted POV.    I could have easily said "Sure! let's do them all in first person ....!" but I had already started writing snippets of the subsequential books and had cast my net wide. I knew I needed more than Jem quoting other people for pages as Watson does in the Holmes' canon.   Face it: it gets super tedious and I would much rather see the action through Holmes and Watson's eyes and not, I dunno, Grimsby friggin' Roylott or that Mormon in Study in Scarlet.

So, I sat and thought .........

oh Thom Crom, I feel your pain!!! #unamused

It is a gargantuan task.   But it is a voice that feels natural to me as a writer especially as I am at the point where I know the characters, their mechanizations, their motivations and their ultimate ends so well.

I decided --- bereft of my lovely Jem's first person in Bachelor Girl's Guide ----to pretend that I was still hearing her. That she was the one who was recording. That the action was very much a result of her inference, influence and seen through her perspective. She is, for those of you familiar with Scandal in Bohemia--- my Boswell. And I am lost without her. You may not see that on page, but this trilogy favours Jem.  It is still Jem's world and Jem's view of her friends and Jem's blend of idealism, romanticism and adventure that peppers the page.

I *Wolf Hall-ed it

I decided to go through and immediately cut out any unnecessary scenes.  What would be the use of working them into a different voice and perspective if they were probably going to end up on the cutting room floor? snip snip.

Then, I made a list of my favourite scenes. The scenes that I wanted in the novel and counted them: how many switched from first to third mid sequence? How many fell naturally into Jem's over-arching narrative or action?   I kept those.

Ephemera: My book is very much a cornucopia of snippets --- newspaper headlines and quotes from two fictional authorities--- MC Wheaton to represent Merinda and her talent for deduction, Dorothea Fairfax, to weigh in on how Jem is clashing with the ideal model of an Edwardian bachelor girl.

How could I use these to cut and paste action, condense and realign?

Then, I let myself play.  I picked a few scenes and just played. I played with voice and tone.  I played with dialogue. I played with dialogue tags and how often I interfered with the flow of my characters' babbling. I played with inference. I played as if I was a master marionette puppeteer and I was wiggling the strings on my happy little people.

And then I drank a lot of wine.  And I am drinking wine and revising to this day.

The End.

*Wolf Hall: novels by Hilary Mantel in which Thomas Cromwell is everything and everything is Thomas Cromwell and seen through Cromwell's intense gaze .

When a Rake Falls Spotlight

Rachel note: I read this book in a Netgalley review copy and really loved it. It was sprightly and spirited and had all of the humour and passion I expect when I read romances of the time period--- Loved the unique competitive streak and the way Orr immediately plunges you into the action of the novel..... Enjoy the sneak peek.....

When a Rake Falls
By Sally Orr
Sourcebooks Casablanca
The Rake’s Handbook, Book 2
Historical Regency Romance
April 7, 2015
ISBN: 9781492602149
$7.99 Mass Market Paperback

About the Book

He’s racing to win back his reputation
Having hired a balloon to get him to Paris in a daring race, Lord Boyce Parker is simultaneously exhilarated and unnerved by the wonders and dangers of flight, and most of all by the beautiful, stubborn, intelligent lady operating the balloon.

She’s curious about the science of love
Eve Mountfloy is in the process of conducting weather experiments when she finds herself spirited away to France by a notorious rake. She’s only slightly dismayed—the rake seems to respect her work—but she is frequently distracted by his windblown physical magnificence and buoyant spirits.

What happens when they descend from the clouds?
As risky as aeronautics may be, once their feet touch the ground, Eve and Boyce learn the real danger of a very different type of falling…

Praise for The Rake’s Handbook:
“Orr debuts with a charming romp. The witty repartee and naughty innuendos set the perfect pitch for the entertaining romance. Though there are serious themes and carefully researched historical details, it’s the banter and sensuality that are sure to enchant readers.” --RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

Buy the Book
The Rake’s Handbook: Including Field Guide (Book 1)
Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

When a Rake Falls (Book 2)
Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Author
Sally Orr worked for thirty years in medical research, specializing in the discovery of gene function. After joining an English history message board, she posted many, many examples of absolute tomfoolery. As a result, a cyber-friend challenged her to write a novel. Since she is a hopeless Anglophile, it's not surprising that her first book is a Regency romance. Sally lives with her husband in San Diego, surrounded by too many nerdy books and not enough old English cars.

Connect with Sally Orr

Excerpt from WHEN A RAKE FALLS
London, 1825
Lord Boyce Parker felt a sudden urge to sing. The brisk morning air, the glorious sunshine, and the presence of a hundred or so excited gentlemen milling around him could only mean a remarkable day ahead. Boyce knew he’d be mocked if he broke out in song, but sometimes happiness just bubbled up from somewhere down in your toes and overwhelmed a fellow. “My candle burns bright—-”
“Goes without saying you learned to sing by reading a book,” said George Drexel, one of Boyce’s oldest friends. “Right now I could be in bed with the lovely Widow Donhurst. Instead, I’m standing here amongst the rabble of London, far too early for any sane man, following another one of your bacon--brained schemes.”
Boyce ignored him and kept his gaze fixed on the balcony of Stainthorpe House. Yesterday, the Earl of Stainthorpe had placed an advertisement in all of the newspapers inviting London’s finest bachelors to gather in Royston Square. Although the details in the advertisement were few, it hinted fame and five thousand pounds might be gained by winning one of several “challenges.” As the son of a wealthy marquess, Boyce had no need for the money, but he longed for a chance to impress his father. “It’s not my bacon--brained scheme; it’s the earl’s. Cheer up. You will be the friend of the victorious Lord Boyce Parker.”
Drexel turned to glare at the pressing horde of eager young gentlemen behind them. “You don’t even know what the old man’s challenges are. They could all be a hum, like a scavenger hunt to find his great--uncle’s tricorne hat or his aunt’s lost poodle.” Drexel dressed in somber colors without fancy cravats or fobs, so his words had the gravity of a humorless man no one would willfully cross. This morning, his rumpled clothes, dark whiskers, and obvious lack of sleep—-no doubt due to a long night of amorous adventure—-made him appear grumpier than normal. “I hardly think the earl’s tomfool challenges will make you famous.”
“You don’t sound cheerful.” Boyce grinned at his old school friend. “I’m confident the earl’s challenges will be significant and my assured victory will pave the way to restoring my father’s esteem.”
Drexel spat on the ground. “Chasing your brother’s fame? Richard is a glorious war hero. I’m sure winning some silly challenge won’t compete with his elevated consequence.”
“You’re wrong. When my name is printed in the newspapers, my father will have to speak of me with the same admiration he gives Richard.”
“I don’t think winning a challenge will change the marquess’s opinion of you—-”
“Look.” Boyce pointed upward.
The Earl of Stainthorpe stepped to the edge of his balcony overlooking Royston Square. “My friends, I understand there are no great men left in England.” Silver wisps of hair escaped the earl’s old--fashioned queue and blew over his forehead, but he ignored them as he squarely confronted the men below.
The audience surged forward and yelled retorts to the earl’s audacious remark.
Boyce had arrived an hour early so he would be close enough to hear his lordship’s every word. But if this hubbub continued, he might not catch what the earl had to say. He turned to the man yelling behind him. “I’ll give you a pound, my good fellow, if you can shout louder.”
The man smiled and shouted.
“Definitely not louder, unfortunate loss indeed,” Boyce said. “Now I suggest you hush and let his lordship speak.”
Standing two steps behind his master, the earl’s butler vigorously rang a handbell to gain the attention of the boisterous crowd.
“The earldom of Stainthorpe owns numerous and diverse holdings,” the earl bellowed. “Therefore, upon my death, my daughter will be the richest woman in England.”
The crowd cheered.
The earl waited for them to settle down. “What I’m trying to say is, Lady Sarah Stainthorpe needs a husband. But so far, none of the Eligibles paraded before her will do. She refuses to marry and claims all the gentlemen in London are rogues, dandies, or worse. The point is, she’s a bluestocking and might fall in love with some bloody…a poet. I tell you, my friends, that Byron fellow has a lot to answer for.”
As the youngest son of a marquess, Boyce was considered an Eligible. Only, Lady Sarah had rejected him, and all the other Eligibles, seconds after they had presented themselves at Royston House—-an unfortunate circumstance, since he believed Lady Sarah would make an excellent wife and a very pretty one too. After a moment of reflection, he realized every lady of his acquaintance would make a pretty wife. One or two may have a feature some might call “unfortunate.” Nevertheless, he always found something pretty in every female countenance.
“Are all the gentlemen I see before me rogues or dandies?” the earl shouted. “Of course not. One or two maybe, and several of you are shockingly loose in the haft.” His lordship pointed to a young man wearing a violet greatcoat, hanging by one arm on a streetlight. “Especially you, sir.”
With his free hand, the man doffed his top hat.
“Yes, I mean you,” the earl said. “My condolences to your poor father.”
All of the Parker men possessed a fine figure, so he knew even a poorly tailored coat hung well upon his shoulders. The many compliments he received had gained him a reputation as an expert in masculine fashion. Therefore, Boyce felt his lordship should show more sympathy to a man wearing a lamentable violet greatcoat, since the earl wore an old square coat and baggy breeches.
“Where was I?” The earl paused to scan the crowd. “Besides an obvious bone--breaker or two, you gentlemen are the embodiment of the character traits that make Englishmen the greatest people on earth. So I am challenging you—-the finest Englishmen alive—-to a race. A race to Paris!”
The crowd cheered.
“This is not a race where the winner arrives first,” the earl said. “No, it is a test to discover the gentlemen who possess England’s greatest traits.”
“Gin drinking, gov?” someone shouted.
The crowd laughed and called out a few additional “traits.”
The earl ignored their comments. “And I mean English character traits—-not British. That country was some tomfoolery created by meddlesome politicians. This is a race for Englishmen only. Now, my race will have five challenges and five winners. Each winner will win a prize of a gold cup and five thousand pounds.”
The mob erupted in huzzahs; top hats flew into the air.
Under his sky--blue waistcoat, Boyce’s heartbeat escalated. This race presented him with his best opportunity to distinguish himself. He would win at least two of the earl’s challenges and earn a reputation as a prime example of English manhood. “Huzzah!” He too threw his beaver hat in the air.
The butler rang the handbell for a full minute before the crowd settled down.
The earl held up his hands. “Here are the details of the five—-count them—-five challenges. You have one month to reach Stainthorpe House in Paris. Each gentleman will write about his journey and provide the name of a witness. The man whose travels provide the best example of an English trait wins a challenge. Once the winners promise to spend the remainder of the summer in our company, they will be rewarded with a gold cup and five thousand pounds. With such excellent examples of true English manhood escorting Lady Sarah around Paris, she must certainly fall in love with one of you unlicked cubs.”
The assembled men danced in circles. Each one of them was probably dreaming about how he would spend his winnings.
Eager to hear the details, Boyce frowned at the clamorous riffraff behind him. The earl was right; they all appeared to be a lot of rag--mannered coves, so he gained complete confidence that he could best any of their English traits—-whatever those traits may be. Once he reached Paris, Lady Sarah would discover he was the finest of fellows and they would fall in love. Women seemed naturally to favor him over other gentlemen—-wonderful creatures, women.
The earl’s voice boomed across the square. “What are the character traits that make Englishmen so great, you ask?”
The young men below the balcony tendered several improper suggestions.
“No.” The earl waved his hand. “Not physical features. Traits like courage and intelligence. So the challenges are thus: The first gold cup will be given to the gentleman who represents English courage. We are the country of Nelson, so bravery and courage course through every one of our veins.”
Someone shouted the nature of what was coursing through his veins.
The earl continued without hesitation. “The second gold cup will be given to the gentleman whose journey represents classic English sportsmanship. Any Englishman alive can out hunt, out fish, and out ride all other races of men. So to win the second cup, some outstanding feat of sportsmanship will rule the day. Extra consideration will be given to the best example of a journey completed under difficult circumstances.”
Boyce huffed. “Well, his lordship is wrong. The true nature of English sportsmanship is not victory over adversity, but our support for the dark horse and sense of fair play. We are, by nature, a generous people.”
Drexel slapped him on the back. “For once I agree with you. But considering your history in the field, I suggest you don’t try for the sportsmanship cup.”
“Sportsmanship can be demonstrated by means other than fishing or shooting every magnificent creature—-for example, by boxing or gaming. I practice my pugilistic skills at Jackson’s twice a week now. You cannot tell me his place is not full of sportsmen. Or how about when a fellow loses a fortune gaming at White’s and faces his loss with the grace and good humor of a gentleman? That’s sportsmanship under pressure, if you ask me.”
“Yes, but the earl believes boxing is for professionals and only women play cards.”
Boyce widened his eyes. “In my opinion, his lordship’s definition of sportsmanship is rather limited.”
The handbell sounded again before the earl continued his speech. “The third gold cup will be given to the gentleman whose journey best exhibits loyalty to the king or service to a lady.”
One man yelled, “I’d be delighted to service all the ladies on my way to Paris.”
Others in the crowd shouted similar generous offers.
“If you do so, sir,” the earl replied, “you will be shown the door. Loyalty means old--fashioned manners, being polite, and keeping your distance from your betters. Of all the challenges, I believe service to the Crown is the greatest honor any man could desire. And considering the manners I’ve witnessed here today, I’d say the challenge of this cup will remain unmet.”
Jeers filled the air.
Boyce wondered how a fellow could show loyalty to the king in a race. He supposed a gentleman might salute the king’s profile on a sovereign with every step of his journey, but dismissed it as an absurd notion. No, he’d be better off trying to provide a service to some lady.
His lordship nodded, and the handbell rang again. “Now quiet down. The fourth cup will be given to the man whose journey provides the best example of our English intelligence. We are the land of Newton and Davy, so the greatest brains of civilization are English. Except for that da Vinci fellow and one or two Greeks, but we can afford to be generous and let the rest of the world have a little luck now and then.”
Boyce elbowed his friend. “Yes, yes, that’s the cup for me. Bet I’ll win too. What do you say, fifty?”
“Agreed,” Drexel said. “I will also wager by the end of this whole flummery, Lady Sarah will reject all the winners out of spite. I would, if I were her.”
Boyce refused to believe Lady Sarah would object to any of the winners, once she knew them well. The lady wanted to be married, didn’t she? “No, no, young women are full of tender affection. I have never met one who did not want to fall in love and make her family happy.”
Drexel rolled his eyes. “I suspect that is because there are so many unmarried ladies dangling after you, you cannot imagine one refusing. And from the stories I heard yesterday, I’ll wager that if I throw a pebble into the crowd at the next assembly, it will hit a widow who has, or wants to be, in your bed. And believe me, those ladies are not expecting marriage.”
“You’re being vulgar in public,” Boyce said. “All of the widows I have ever…met were delightful. Deep in their hearts, they want to be married again, I’m sure.”
“So why haven’t you married one of these delightful ladies?”
“Never understood how fellows choose one to fall in love with.”
“If I know the marquess, the best way to impress him is to give him grandchildren. My father becomes unhinged with even the thought of grandchildren.”
“Grandchildren? Grandchildren are far in the future. A great public achievement is my best and only chance to regain my father’s respect. You’ll see. When I am crowned the victor of more than one challenge, my achievements will be the toast of London. Then all of England will think of me differently. I will no longer be just one of the seven anonymous brothers of the war hero Richard. Worse yet, if people do recognize me, they remember I’m the Parker son who published a scandalous book and then received the cut direct from his father—-his own father. After my victory in the challenges, everyone will have to refer to me as the intelligent, courageous Lord Boyce. Don’t you understand?”
Drexel winked at his friend. “Tell me, which of the great English traits do you represent best? Sounds like only Service to a Lady, and believe me, your service is the wrong type as far as the earl is concerned.”
“Ah, that’s my secret. But you will be a witness to my victory, won’t you?”
After pulling off his hat, Drexel took a full minute to smooth the beaver nap on the brim. “I’ll consider it.” A wide smirk broke across his dark, handsome face. “You’ve persuaded me to join the race too.”
The handbell clanged, and everyone faced the balcony again. “Gentlemen, there is one last challenge, the fifth cup. Since this was my daughter’s idea, perhaps in jest, you never know with females, let us call it the Lady’s Favorite.”
Shouts and laughter rose from the rabble.
The earl leaned forward over the mob. “Perhaps there are no gentlemen in England, and my daughter is right?” His lordship waited until the crowd quieted. “Lady Sarah has a funny notion that the greatest achievements of the English race are their sense of humor, wit, and eccentricities. I mean, now really, she is fond of Sheridan’s plays.” The earl held up his right hand to quiet the laughing crowd. “For this cup, Lady Sarah will be the final judge.”
The mob tendered several humorous jests of questionable wit.
The earl coughed several times but remained unmoving. “So there you have it. The five greatest English traits are courage, sportsmanship, intelligence, wit, and service to a lady. Now to business. I expect all who plan to take up the challenges to gather in our vestibule below. There, we will compile a list of the participants. You do not have to choose which cup you aspire to, and you may switch to another challenge at the end of your journey. Finally, you may win more than one challenge. Oh, and you must provide an acceptable witness. Anyone who observes your achievement and can testify on your behalf may be an official witness. The only exclusions are people who cannot be trusted, like paid companions or dear old mums.”
Several groans were heard, and one person clapped.
The earl nodded in the direction of the man who clapped. “Good man. The race will officially start after I stop speaking and will end a month from now on the second of July. On that day, you will present your written story describing your journey to Stainthorpe House at Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin. There, I will choose the five best stories for each challenge, and those finalists will be asked to recite their adventures aloud. Indeed, everyone here today will be invited to attend this party and hear my pick of the winners. Lastly, the five thousand pounds and gold cups will be presented at the end of the evening. It goes without saying that the victors will be appropriately recognized in all of the newspapers.”
Boyce elbowed Drexel. “Yes, yes, my father reads every paper.”
The crowd’s cheers erupted again after the mention of the winnings.
The earl held his arms out. “I tell you, my friends, I’m excited about this race. To help defray the cost of your journey, any man who takes up our challenges will receive a hundred pounds after reaching Paris.”
Shouts and applause echoed around the square.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, Lady Sarah and I look forward to hearing the adventures of England’s finest men. I am positive that once my daughter is acquainted with you fine fellows, she will fall in love. With such excellent examples of the greatness inherent in the English, how could she not? We also anticipate the pleasure of your company during our summer in Paris. The only other thing I can say is…” The earl lifted his quizzing glass to his eye and scanned the crowd. “Ready, steady, go!”

Rachel and Melanie's Adventures in Torontonian Theatre

Chekhovian, jovial, hilarious and full of off-kilter rants, this play was unexpectedly hilarious. Fiona Reid and Steven Sutcliffe were to die for---especially the former when she launched into a mirror perfect impersonation of Maggie Smith.    I loved the warmth and the raw humour of the writing which extols the relationships shifts in sibling dynamics as each grew older.  Jennifer Dale played a one-note as the narcissistic archetypal actress Masha and was continually overshadowed by the generous and warm Vanya and Sonia.   But that was the only sour note in the play.
Melanie and I had a wonderful post-theatre conversation and I encourage you to find this Canadian production, wander around it in it mentally for a bit and let its giddy euphoria follow you out of the auditorium.

Opera Atelier is a perennial favourite experience of mine---especially because it is accompanied by Tafelmusik: one of my true Torontonian passions.   Orpheus and Eurydice, as explored in jubilant and buoyant colour and celebration of dance, song and love, by the talented repertory company is the perfect gateway opera. If you have not yet experienced opera or are reticent about it being dire and over-handed and sprawling ( and long), then this compact retelling of the famous myth is perfect. It looks and sounds extraordinary, it employs Hector Berlioz’s Victorian revision (and cross-dressing) and it never takes itself too seriously.  The ballet sequences are lush and gorgeous and crinolines sweep swiftly across the stage. Everything is mesmerizing. The music, too, is some of Gluck’s most familiar and will stay with you long after the final note. 

A night at the Elgin is an experience in and of itself ..... so make sure you go and see our OA friends in their perfect habitat.

My theatre goer Melanie can be found here 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

by Dawn Crandall

The Blog Tour for The Captive Imposter starts this week! Drop by author Dawn Crandall’s blog or Facebook page to check out all the posts and giveaways going on throughout the next few weeks! There will be lots of prizes and giveaways!

Dawn’s FaceBook Author Page -

The Hesitant Heiress

*** 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist (Romance Writers of America)

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.


The Bound Heart

One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.         

When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption... and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?


The Captive Imposter

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she’d always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn’t like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can’t refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can’t deny the pull that’s evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she’s been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she’s with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she’s Estella Everstone? She’s not entirely sure.


About Dawn Crandall


A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing her debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Northeast Indiana.

Dawn is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Blog Tour: Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson


“Whitson celebrates the strong but unknown heroines who marched off to war with their men, as well as those who maintained the home front in this Civil War-era inspirational...Based on true events, [Daughter of the Regiment] will capture the hearts of historical fiction fans.” —Publishers Weekly

“Whitson explores the atypical subject of different women’s roles during the Civil War. The author’s gift for multi-dimensional characters and tight plotting shines through. Romance, family drama, immigrants and dueling factions in the same town add action and intrigue.” –RT Times

Nashville, TN, March, 2015—During the American Civil War, thousands of women organized to join the war efforts, turning their attention from household to battle in support of the soldiers. In her new novel, Daughter of the Regiment, Stephanie Grace Whitson describes this tumultuous time in history through life-threatening encounters and action-filled romance, sweeping readers into the world of Irish immigrant Maggie Malone and her privileged neighbor, Elizabeth Blair.

Inspired by women known as “vivandièeres” or “daughters of the regiment,” Whitson studied a number of women in both the Union and the Confederate armies who earned the title. Although "daughters" were probably initially seen as a kind of mascot, "guardian angel," or nurse, the realities of war expanded their roles. Daughters of the Regiment did much more than carry water and tend the wounded. Some rallied their men to fight, and some carried the regimental colors on the march and in the field. Others took part in battles.
Seeing how integral women were in the conflict [moved me]. One period newspaper article [I read] was seeking the identity of a deceased soldier who was discovered to be a woman only after she died on the battlefield. Women loyal to the Confederacy and accused of helping "the enemy" were actually imprisoned in St. Louis. There were so many fascinating, diverse stories,” Whitson said. “They were extraordinary women and they deserve to be remembered.”

The book’s cover art is based on a historic dress in the Smithsonian Institute’s costume collection. FaithWords worked with a costume designer who used the original for inspiration and created a historically accurate garment for the cover model to wear during the cover shoot.

Whitson’s extensive historical research led her to choose the setting of Missouri—a border state in the war and a hotbed of division, with both pro-Union and pro-Confederacy sympathies. This riveting tale of two women caught in the crossfire represents the complexity of tensions and humanity when opposing sides of war clash.

DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT demonstrates that we all have potential for determination and courage in times of uncertainty and will appeal to American history buffs, inspirational romance readers, and fiction audiences alike.

Review copies, hi-res images, and author interviews are available upon request.
Pub date: March 24, 2015 | 978-1-4555-2903-2| 336 Pages | $15 | Trade Paperback Original |Available wherever books are sold.


Saturday, April 11 at 2:00 p.m. @ Barnes & Noble Southpointe Pavilions (Lincoln, NE)
Friday, April 17 @ 11:00 a.m. @ Crete Public Library (Crete, NE)
Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’
April 24-25, Panel & keynote address @ Wordsowers Christian Writer's Group Conference (Omaha, NE)
Tuesday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m. @ Wisner Heritage Museum (Wisner, NE)
Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’
Saturday, May 2, time TBA @ Chapters Book Store (Seward, NE)
Thursday, June 11 at 7:00 p.m.  @ Lexington Public Library with Plum Creek Quilt Guild (Lexington, NE)
Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’
Additional events TBA.

DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT: A Novel by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Faithwords | Hachette Book Group
March 24, 2015 | 978-1-4555-2903-2
336 Pages | $15 | Trade Paperback Original

About the Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson is the author of over twenty-seven titles. A frequent ECPA bestseller, Whitson is a RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Winner and a two-time Christy Award finalist. When she isn’t writing, speaking, or trying to keep up with her five grown children and perfect grandchildren, she loves to take long distance rides aboard her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty. Her church and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum take up the rest of her free time. She received her Master of Arts degree in history in 2012. Stephanie and her husband reside in southeastern Nebraska.

About the Book: Maggie Malone inevitably experiences the effects of war firsthand—first, with her brothers joining the Missouri Irish Brigade and again when a group of unknown bandits attack her farm. Desperate to hear news from her brothers, Maggie sets off to find them at the Federal Army camp. There, she quickly captures the admiration of Sergeant John “Colt” Coulter, who immediately notices her skill and dedication. When circumstances require that Maggie remain with the brigade, she discovers that there’s a lot a good woman can do to help the brave men she comes to think of as “her boys.”

As the hostess of an acclaimed Missouri plantation, Miss Libbie Blair has learned to play her part and remain uninvolved in the business affairs and political aspirations of her brother, Walker. When his endeavors lead him to organize the “Wildwood Guard,” a group of locals in support of the Confederacy, Libbie must gracefully manage the house with officers camped out on the lawn. With war drawing closer to her doorstep, she must find a way to protect those who depend on her.

When military maneuvers and a subsequent battle bring the Irish Brigade (and Maggie) to Wildwood Grove, Libbie's home is commandeered as a field hospital. The two women whose brothers have fought on opposite sides of the same battle come face to face while tending the wounded in the aftermath of a battle won by Union troops.

Author Questionnaire

1   Why did you pick Missouri as the setting for your book?
I've lived in Nebraska since 1975, but I have many connections to Missouri and have made the trip "home" to southern Illinois dozens of times. Finally, I took time to investigate one of those interstate signs. It mentioned a Confederate Cemetery in Missouri. The idea that there were plantations worked by slaves a short drive east of Kansas City astonished me when I first followed those signs. I had no idea that Missouri had been such a hotbed of division during the Civil War. As one author wrote, "The Civil War came early and stayed late" in Missouri—it was a slave state that never joined the Confederacy. Missouri had two separate governments at one time—one pro-Union, one pro-Confederacy.

2Any interesting discoveries along the way?
Dozens. One that stands out resulted from an exhibit called “Missouri in the Civil War” at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. The curators did a superb job of showing how integral women were in the conflict. They even included a period newspaper article seeking the identity of a deceased soldier—discovered to be a woman after her death in battle. Women loyal to the Confederacy and accused of helping "the enemy" were actually imprisoned in St. Louis. I discovered countless fascinating and diverse stories about women from all walks of life.

    What inspired you to write this novel?
Reading about the real Daughters of the Regiment. Their heroism. One replaced a fallen color-bearer and stood throughout the battle with the colors held high so that her regiment knew who was where in the heat of battle. After a battle, one's skirt was riddled with bullet holes. She’d carried on, calmly tending the wounded with bullets whistling about her. Men wrote about these women with affection and respect. One earned a pension for her service, and another is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. They were extraordinary women, and they deserve to be remembered.

4   How did the cover shoot come about?
There is an original vivandièeres costume in the collection at the Smithsonian Institution. (The word vivandièeres comes from the women who were important in the French army during the Crimean war.)  FaithWords worked with a costume designer who used the original for inspiration and created a historically accurate garment for the cover model to wear during the cover shoot. It's a stunning piece made of soft, dark blue wool—very faithful to what a Daughter of the Regiment might actually have worn, complete with the shorter skirt that is pictured in so many period photographs and drawings (not all of these are military women, some are just in bloomers, but there are still some that are obviously military).
5.      What about the timeliness of the book?
On the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and Women’s History Month, it is only fitting to laud the role women played. They worked in munitions factories, organized fundraising events to feed the hungry wives and children of soldiers who were off fighting, collected thousands of quilts to keep soldiers warm (neither government was prepare for the

magnitude of the war and neither was able to supply their troops adequately), made countless shirts and "drawers," knitted socks and destroyed household towels and garments to make bandages. They took up the farm work in the men's absence, delivered clandestine letters (and were imprisoned for it), and supported "the cause" in every way imaginable.  Such rich stories from real history are better stories than anything I could ever make up!

6Tell us about the crossover between your quilting experience and Civil War research.

Quilting is a multi-billion dollar industry in America, and many of those women do love the history and stories about the women who made antique quilts.

Antique textiles in general and quilts in particular have been a topic of personal study for decades. I've taken several classes in dating both antique quilts and fabric history from recognized experts in the field. I volunteer at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Researching the real stories behind antique quilts has inspired more than one of my historical novels, and I always enjoy being able to include some tidbit of quilt history in a story. The interest is high for this topic, as evidenced by the many Civil War exhibits at state history museums and historical societies, not the least of which is the American Textile History Museum’s Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, which premiered in June, 2012, and which tours across the U.S. through 2015.
I give a program titled “Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield” that includes information about quilts gathered and made for soldiers, ladies' aid societies established to benefit the troops, and the Sanitary Fairs conducted to raise money for the cause. Women's production of textiles was a vital part of the war effort for both North and South.

Visit Stephanie Grace Whitson on the web