Please welcome today’s guest author Beverley Eikli back to the blog. Today Beverley will be talking to us about the fashions of the Georgian period.
Georgian Fashion sells historical romance
By Beverley Eikli
I love the fashions of the past but the pages of my Georgian and Regency-set romances are not the place to describe them.
I’ve always wanted to sew period costumes, too, since studying fashion at the London School of Fashion before journalism took my career in a different direction, but I could never justify the investment of time and money.
However the serendipitous discovery last year of a pair of russet silk curtains in an opportunity shop for $1.99 was the impetus I needed to create the 1780s polonaise I’d long been eyeing off in Janet Arnold’s iconic ‘Costume through the Ages’ pattern book.
However, to get the right silhouette, I needed to make the right underpinnings, so first I made a 1780s corset, chemise, panniers and petticoats. After the polonaise, I was on a roll, and immediately made a Jane Austen-style muslin gown.
With the costumes and a head full of history and quirky facts gleaned from twenty years of research, I hit upon a novel forum to publicize my eight historical romances: my History Through Costume Talks.
A year later, I’ve done many History Through Costume talks for libraries and community groups. I’ve enjoyed showing my audience the layers of clothes and describing their construction, as well as giving a brief overview of the historical background during which they were worn, peppering the talk with amusing anecdotes I’ve come across over the years. I love the fact that these talks combine so many loves of mine – history, fashion and teaching – while publicizing my books and giving me an additional income stream.
So how did the Georgian lady of fashion dress herself to pay a call? Of course, the Georgian period covers many decades of the 18th century but I selected the 1780s when the polonaise was fashionable, because the starting point of my talks begin with the French Revolution. (Interestingly, the polonaise came into fashion in a slightly different form 100 years later.)
But back to our lady of fashion preparing for her day.
After removing her nightrail, she’d put on a clean chemise, often made of linen. This plain garment was worn closest to the skin as it absorbed the skin’s oils and dirt during a time when people didn’t wash as frequently. Clean linen, however, was a mark of breeding.
Over the chemise was worn the stays, its boned channels giving the rigidity required for the barrel-shaped torso that provided the fashionable silhouette. The idea was to compress the breasts and push them up into what was referred to as ‘rising moons’.
A petticoat went over this. Not the petticoats in the sense of the undergarment we know today but a skirt that was partly revealed by the polonaise, gathered onto tapes which tied at the back and then the front. This provided slits at the sides so the wearer could slip her hands into a set of pockets which would have been tied on separately. These pockets were often large enough to contain a small bible, and keys. During the Regency, the reticule came into being because the slim-line ‘Empire’ fashions meant separate pockets could no longer be worn.
Finally the outer garment, the polonaise itself, was secured over the top with hooks and eyes. Its skirt was ruched using cords through small eyelets to create the look similar to that of the washerwoman who had to hitch her skirts into her waistband in order to mop the floor.
The popularity of the polonaise coincided with the popularity of high hair, when natural hair was supplemented by false hair, curled over horsehair pads in an elaborate style that was powdered and ‘glued’ and might not be ‘opened’ for up to three weeks.
Cosmetics were customary with a white skin and heavily rouged cheeks, thin, arched eyesbrows and a rosebud mouth creating the fashionable look.
So the polonaise is the garment my heroine, Emily’s mother would have worn before she was seized and imprisoned in the Abbaye prison during the September Massacres in 1792 during the French Revolution.
My talks also include the simple ‘Jane-Austen style gown Emily would have worn to receive my hero, Major Angus McCartney, when he informs her that her supposedly loving fiancé has just been killed in battle. Unfortunately the self contained but passionate Major McCartney tells Emily a lie to spare her pain; a lie which comes back to haunt him after Emily unexpectedly becomes his ‘reluctant bride’.
So there’s a snippet on Georgian fashion. In a later blog I will discuss the various underwear worn during both the later Georgian and Regency times. In the meantime, here’s the blurb for my latest release, The Reluctant Bride, a Napoleonic espionage romantic suspense with ‘a slow boil romance that turns into a fantastic thrilling suspense’,according to one recent review.
The Reluctant Bride
Major Angus McCartney hopes that marriage to the unobtainable beauty whose confident gaze about the ballroom once failed to register his presence will offer both of them a chance to put the past to rest.
Emily’s determination to be faithful to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s desire to win her with honour and action. Sent to France on a mission of national security, Angus discovers how deeply Emily has been duped, but the secrets he uncovers lead them both into danger. Can Angus and Emily unmask the real conspirators before they lose everything?
Beverley won the Choc Lit Search for an Australian Star competition with The Reluctant Bride.
Please welcome Kaylin McFarren to the blog. Kaylin’s latest release, Buried Threads picks up where Severed Threads leaves off and takes us to Japan as her characters take up the challenge of locating a priceless treasure from the sea of Japan. Read on to find out more about Kaylin and her latest novel. Be sure to enter the giveaway for $100 Amazon Gift card by clicking the Rafflecopter link at the end of this post. Please leave your questions and comments for Kaylin in the comments section.
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself – when did you first know you wanted to write – what was your journey to publication like – do you have a spouse or significant other – kids? Pets? Where in the world do you live? Where did you grow up? What real life events and experiences fuel your writing?
Where to begin? I think my interest in writing started when I was about 12 years old. I’ve written poetry since I could hold a pencil and loved drawing, but my 6th grade English teacher sparked an interested in writing when she gave the class blank journals and wanted us to write one short story every day. As it turned out, my short stories become one long story with chapters and turned me into the teacher’s pet. J But my real interest in writing novels didn’t start until years later following my father’s death. I wanted to release my suppressed feelings on paper and ended up turning out a book called Flaherty’s Crossing that earned numerous writing awards and became a finalist in the RWA Golden Heart for mainstream fiction with romantic elements.
The journey to publication, however, wasn’t an easy road. I submitted to about 22 literary agencies and was eventually picked up by Sterling Lord in New York. Unfortunately, this relationship came to an abrupt end after my agent submitted to publishing houses for 3 months and decided my novel needed a complete rewrite, eliminating the main character and changing the main plot. Eventually, I went with a small publisher and have since elected to self-pub under Creative Edge Publishing.
I’m fortunate in having a very supportive husband, three great daughters and son-in-laws, and two adorable grandsons. My pets include a 2-year-old Maltipoo named Oreo (nicknamed Cookie) and a 2-year-old Lasopoo named Lady. They keep me company in my library while I’m working at my home in Troutdale, Oregon, located on 15 acres along the Sandy River – which is a stark contrast from my birthplace in Torrance, California. As far as life experiences, I travel extensively and have met people from all over the world, which helps with creating colorful characters and adding new adventures to my stories.
Q: To tell or not to tell – do you tell people what you write? Do your close friends and family members read your books? What have some of their reactions been?
I’m often asked what’s coming next and when you’re writing a series like Threads, it makes teasing your readers with upcoming story lines easy. Before Severed Threads was completed, I was already plotting Buried Threads, and now that Buried Threads is about to be released, I’m working away on Banished Threads. Of course, I want the support of my friends and family so I share on occasion and since they all read and enjoy my stories, they just want the next book to come out so they can keep reading.
Q: What really makes you tick as a writer? What drives you? What inspires you?
My mind is always filled with ideas, especially after traveling abroad and meeting interesting people, but it takes a concentrated effort to pull it all together into one tidy bunch. Ultimately, I know I have a great story to share and am motivated to complete it as quickly as possible so I can get to work on the next adventure. Plus great reviews inspire any writer, don’t you think?
Q: Please tell us a bit about Your Book.
Although Buried Threads stands alone, this book continues where Severed Threads left off. Rachel Lyons and her partner Chase Cohen accept a contract to recover a lost priceless treasure in the Sea of Japan. However, upon arriving in Tokyo, they soon discover their mission is more complicated and dangerous than they originally believed. In order to prevent a natural disaster from striking Japan and killing millions, they must form an alliance with yakuza members, dive into shark-infested waters and recover three ancient cursed swords before time runs out.
Q: Please tell us a bit about the idea behind Your Book. What inspired the story? What part of the story did you get first? How did it build on itself till you had the complete story? What was it about this story versus other ideas that compelled you to write it?
For more than forty years, I’ve been fascinated with the arts and culture of Japan and have been fortunate in being able to travel across Asian with my family on numerous trips. Due to my husband’s business interests and roots stemming from Japan, I’ve had the remarkable opportunity to develop personal, long-term relationships with Asian shipping agents, politicians, company executives, religious leaders and talented geikos and maikos who reside and perform in Kyoto’s Gion District. But to be honest, my fascination with the Japanese underworld truly inspired me to write this story.
I spent the better part of three months researching Japanese history, the Yakuza, the Geisha life-style, sword fighting, martial arts, and natural disasters that befell Japan from the 17th to 21st centuries. Naturally, an introduction into the life of a Yakuza member came first. Although clans or other Yakuza families have been known to fight among themselves and have had designated assassins within their groups, this chapter in Japanese history is slowly coming to a close. However, I took advantage of the knowledge I acquired and personal exchanges I’ve had to grow my fictional story – with an emphasis on fiction. After meeting all of these remarkable people, I knew I had a story to write while I was capable and it was still fresh in my memory.
Q: Which comes first for you? Characters? Plot? Setting? Conflict?
I would have to say characters. I like developing complex personalities and dropping my characters into an uncontrollable situation to see how they will react while moving the story forward.
Q: Was there one particular scene that was your favorite in Your Book? Please tell us about that scene. What happens in the scene? Why is it an important scene in the book?
I have several, but without giving too much away I would have to say there’s a moment when Kenji Ota (the Yakuza main character) wakes up and realizes he has far deeper feelings for a Geisha who legally belongs to him than he realized and this ultimately results in clouding his judgment.
Q: What are your boundaries as an author? Are there certain things you won’t write about? Are there certain situations that you will never put your characters in? Are there certain sexual practices that your characters will never indulge in? Why have you adopted these particular boundaries?
Because this story takes place in Japan in the pleasure quarters, I felt it was important to include some erotic details in my bedroom and bathroom scenes and I ended up with more than I originally intended. However, although I’m okay with a little SM – maybe – using chains or ropes, anything resembling rape or physically harming someone is not something I would want to read about or personally write about since this is beyond my comfort zone.
Q: Are there any subgenres you absolutely cannot envision writing? Why?
Science fiction and fantasy. They’re both subgenres within speculative fiction, and therefore are drawn from the same sources: fact and history. Fantasy and sci fi both require application of historical facts, as most cultures are drawn from history and scientific discovery. Magic is also heavily based on religious application, especially in pre-industrial societies, or is otherwise an unexplained science that is presented in the same fashion as a “physical law” of science. Similarly, the parameters of world building are just as extensive – requiring either an Earth-based setting or an alternate world setting, and both of these subgenres require an excessive amount of knowledge and accurate research, which I’m not prepared to address or interested in tackling.
Q: Please tell us about the characters in Your Book. What strengths do the characters have? What weaknesses?
Kenji Ota, a Yakuza assassin, is connected and highly respected in Japan. He’s smart, strong and charismatic and has an appreciation for the finer things in life. But he’s also emotionally detached and distrusts everyone. He’s easily provoked and can become cruel when threatened. Mariko Abe, a skilled, educated Geisha, has lead a sheltered life in Gion and values her reputation above all else. She hides her judgment of others and is professional in her demeanor, but has inadequacies when it comes to intimacy due to her lack of experience. She is over trusting and easy mislead but her survival instincts are strong. Rachel Lyons, co-partner in Trident Ventures, is an attractive, educated adventurer who enjoys learning and staying physically fit, but she harbors grudges and is slow to forgive. She has a room full of anxieties and struggles to find confidence in her abilities while possessing excellent intuitive skills. Chase Cohen, Rachel’s partner and lover is handsome, confident and virile. He challenges his abilities and loves exploring the unknown but feels inadequate and unsure of himself when it comes to his relationship with Rachel. He is a survivor and likes to believe he can solve any problem, however, is lost when he’s out of his element.
Q: Most writers know a lot of things about their characters that never make it into the book. What can you tell us about your characters that didn’t make it into the book?
The personalities for all my main characters were affected by circumstances in their past but since this is an action-adventure story, it’s difficult to go into a lot of detail without affecting the pace and suspenseful elements.
Q: What internal conflicts or character weaknesses did your characters have to overcome in order to reach their happily ever after ending?
Rachel needs to trust her instincts, be open to possibilities and have faith in the people around her. Chase needs to assume control of his life and trust the depth of his love to win Rachel.
Q: What do you envy about the characters in your book(s)?
Their athletic skills, agility, youth and spontaneity.
Q: Angst or humor? Which is your favorite in the books you write? The books you read?
I love writing humor or finding a way to bring a smile, especially when it’s unexpected, and I feel the same way about reading a good book.
Q: Please describe your book in five words that are not in your blurb.
Exciting, action-packed, dramatic, sexy, dangerous
Q: What aspect of writing do you find the most difficult?
Taking time away from writing to attend social events when I’m on roll is probably the greatest challenge, along with shutting down at the end of the day.
Q: What kind of writing do you find the most fun?
I love writing about encounters under the sea and danger that no one sees coming.
Q: What do you know now after writing and publishing a book that you wish you’d known at the outset?
To always stay true to my beliefs and to write for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others, not for the purpose of marketing or shelving a book. Great stories are timeless and remain in the hearts of people who relish them.
Q: What advice, resources, or useful information can you offer aspiring authors who might be reading this interview?
Read as much as possible to learn techniques and to appreciate the written word but write about what you know, have fantasized over or have personally experienced.
Q: Which drives your novels more – the plot or the characters?
I believe characters drive the plot…at least in my case.
Q: What are your favorite television shows and do any of them impact what you write?
Although I enjoy watching all kinds of television shows, I don’t believe any of them directly impact what I write. Some of my favorites are: The White Queen, America’s Got Talent, Scandal, Downtown Abbey, Nashville, True Blood and Grey’s Anatomy (when it was still on).
Q: How far is too far in erotic romance? What are your limits for your books? Do you like to color inside the lines or push the boundaries when it comes to the love scenes in your books?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sexual exploration or what might be enjoyable for couples, partners or all the participants involved, but forced sex against someone’s wishes is where I’d have to draw the line.
Q: What makes the hero of Your Book the ideal hero?
He’s complex – strong, clever and caring. He doesn’t waste time, knows what he wants and goes after it…full speed ahead.
Q: What has been the hardest scene you’ve ever written and why?
An underwater scuba fight in Severed Threads involved six divers and it became a huge challenge to keep from saying their names over and over, to keep the action moving and to incorporate their personalities into their fighting techniques.
Q: Authors have to develop thick skins to deal with reviews. Most books receive some mixture of good reviews and bad ones, simply because tastes are different and people like and dislike different things. Please tell us about one of your most memorable reviews and how it impacted your writing.
I received a rave review for my debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author, which gave me the confidence to keep writing. It was as follows: “Be warned: do not start this novel if you anticipate any pressing obligations – a need to sleep, say – or without a handful of tissues within arms reach. Flaherty’s Crossing is a compelling and imaginative story, not just about death but about life and emotional growth, a broken woman’s journey towards learning to trust again. Beautifully written, heart wrenching yet inspirational, this is a ‘must read’ for anyone who has loved and lost.”
Please Answer These Questions As A Reader:
As a reader I am always curious about the reading habits of the authors I enjoy, so I have a few questions about your reading habits.
Q: As an author, where do you learn about books you might want to read? Do you research the books in depth before you buy them, read an excerpt or do you buy without a great deal of research?
I pick up books based on reviews and recommendations, but I also often find real treasures researching subject matter I’m truly interested in or by coming across an intriguing excerpt.
Q: When you are learning about a book what five words are most likely to get you to buy the book?
Twisted, shocking, secrets, revenge, salacious
Q: When you are learning about a book what five words will make you decide against the book?
Sweet, enlightening, motivating, informative, detailed
Q: What can you tell us about your book that isn’t in the blurb?
I discovered while attending my father-in-law’s funeral that his brother was a prominent member of the Japanese mafia and had protected my husband’s family for years.
Q: As a reader are you finding the advent of self-publishing to be a positive or a negative within the industry? Are you finding more good books or do you have to search harder for good books? Please explain your answer.
Definitely a positive, provided you have the time and energy to promote yourself. You aren’t governed by what you write or forced into formulated/category writing and the profits you make are truly your own. I’m actually finding some interesting self-pub books but you still have to search a little harder since virtually anyone can get a book published – and that doesn’t necessarily make them a great storyteller.
Q: Has the way that you shop for books changed since the rise in the popularity of eBooks? Has how you shop for books been influenced by the rise in self-publishing?
I love the affordability and convenience of shopping for eBooks on line since I travel a great deal, but I also have a library filled with hard copies that I enjoy viewing and revisiting from time to time. Despite the fact that I’m prone to pick up an established author’s book, I do enjoy checking out work from independent publishers and self-pub authors on line as well.
Q: What are your favorite sub-genres to read? To write?
My favorites to read are: suspense, thriller, action, paranormal, romance, fantasy
My favorites to write are: the same
Q: What are your least favorite sub-genres to read? To write?
My least favorite sub-genres to read are: biography, essay, fable, mythology, horror
My least favorite to write are: the same
Now for some just for fun:
Q: On Pinterest are you a A.) Hoarder in disguise (you collect images of everything you like) B.) Minimalist (you only collect images that fit in with some project – my next book – a home remodeling project – etc) C.) you’re not on Pinterest.
Would have to say A.
Q: On Twitter are you A.) The life of the party engaging with my friends and followers B.) Mostly a promoter – I use Twitter primarily to promote my books C.) Mostly a lurker. I follow a lot of people looking for useful information – some of which finds its way into my books.
Sorry…would have to say B here.
Q: What’s your favorite social network? Why is it your favorite?
I enjoy Facebook since I’ve met so many authors and found missing relatives this way.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday and why?
I probably enjoy Christmas the most because I love giving away presents, having my family together and watching my grandsons go crazy with wrapping paper.
Q: Did you read 50 Shades of Grey? Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between?
I have to say I read all 3 books and ended up somewhere in between. I couldn’t seem to put them down but found it repetitive and wasn’t thrilled with the writing or convoluted story line.
Q: What was the last book you read that you really loved – enough that you’d recommend it to someone else?
Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl – this is an unbelievable suspense story that I simply couldn’t stop reading.
Q: What’s your favorite place to read? Do you have a favorite food or beverage you like to eat or drink while reading?
I love curling up with a book in my sunroom with a glass of chardonnay or hot tea with honey and English biscuit cookies…depending on the story I’m reading.
Q: If you could go backwards or forwards in time and have dinner with anyone in history who would it be and why?
My paternal grandparents, who passed away before I was born. An awful lot of my family history died with them, and there is so much I’d like to know.
Q: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Somewhere in the middle – maybe. Just depends on the crowd or if I’ve been drinking.
Q: Describe your ideal romantic getaway?
Just had it! Spent 11 nights in the Greek Islands and the amazing hotel we stayed at in Mykonos was beyond beautiful. My favorite part was having a private candlelight dinner on an 18th century sailboat while drinking champagne and watching the sun go down.
Q: You have three magic wishes – what would they be?
1) Find a cure for cancer
2) End world hunger
3) Have 20 more wishes
Q: If you were to be stranded on a desert island with one of your characters which character and why?
Definitely Chase Cohen. He’s fun, rough, tough, gorgeous and an amazing lover.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about yourself, your books, your characters?
I love connecting and receiving feedback from my readers, so feel free to contact me via my website at: www.kaylinmcfarren.com
Q: Please share with us your five favorite hangouts on the web – these do not have to be book related. Please share sites other than your own website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Pandora, Talk Entertainment, YouTube, CNN, and Pinterest, which could take over a day if you let it!
Q: When you’re not writing what other hobbies or interests do you engage in?
International travel, wine tasting, gourmet dining, interior design, gardening, movies, cooking, golfing, oil painting, shopping, reading
Q: Have you ever done anything in real life that you read about in a romance novel? Please tell us about that.
Nope, not really. I’ve been fortunate in marrying a romantic, sexually charged guy.
Q: Is there anything you’ve read about in a romance novel that you’re dying to try?
Haha! Not at this point in my life.
About Kaylin McFarren
Linda Yoshida, aka Kaylin McFarren, is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in California, relocated with her family to Washington, and nested with her husband in Oregon. In addition to playing an active role in his business endeavors, she has been involved in all aspects of their three daughters’ lives – taxi duties, cheerleading coaching, script rehearsals, and relationship counseling, to name but a few. Now she enjoys spending undisciplined time with her two young grandsons and hopes to have many more.
Although Kaylin wasn’t born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.
Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
Her latest book is Buried Threads (Book 2 of the Threads series).
Visit her website at www.kaylinmcfarren.com.
Connect & Socialize with Kaylin!
About Buried Threads
Rachel Lyons and her partner Chase Cohen accept a contract to recover a lost priceless treasure in the Sea of Japan. However, upon arriving in Tokyo, they soon discover their mission is more complicated and dangerous than they originally believed. In order to prevent a natural disaster from striking Japan and killing millions, they must form an alliance with yakuza members, dive into shark-infested waters and recover three ancient cursed swords…before time runs out.
Purchase your copy at AMAZON
Purchase at AMAZON
Rachel Lyons and her partner Chase Cohen accept a contract to recover a lost priceless treasure in the Sea of Japan. However, upon arriving in Tokyo, they soon discover their mission is more complicated and dangerous than they originally believed. In order to prevent a natural disaster from striking Japan and killing millions, they must form an alliance with yakuza members, dive into shark-infested waters and recover three ancient cursed swords…before time runs out.
Pump Up Your Book and Kaylin McFarren are giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card/Paypal Cash!
Terms & Conditions:
- By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
- One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash.
- This giveaway begins October 7 and ends December 31.
- Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, January 3, 2013.
- Winner has 48 hours to reply.
- Only U.S. citizens can win the Kindle Fire.
Good luck everyone!
ENTER TO WIN!
Please welcome today’s guest, Linda Conrad, to the blog. Linda is here today to share a bit about her latest book, Last Chance Reunion, which combines two romantic suspense stories set in Texas. There’s also a great giveaway…be sure to check out the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to enter. Please make Linda feel welcome by leaving your questions and comments for her in the comments section following the post. I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of questions about fire fighting and the situation the heroine in TEXAS LOST AND FOUND finds herself in. Please join the conversation.
About Last Chance Reunion
TEXAS COLD CASE
Determined to solve the cold case of his mother’s murder, Colt Chance returns home to Texas. Turns out the new deputy sheriff is the woman who broke his heart. But when someone targets Lacie, Colt’ll have to decide between the vengeance he seeks and protecting the one he still loves….
TEXAS LOST AND FOUND
After witnessing a murder, firefighter Nina Martinez finds an ally in medic Josh White. On the run, they discover that Nina is the long-missing Chance sister, Cami. Will Cami embrace the love from Josh and her real family before it’s too late?
An Excerpt From Last Chance Reunion
Fire exploded up the forty-foot cedar, snapping and cracking like a whip as it raced to chew off every living thing in its path.
Hotshot fire-fighter Nina Martinez struggled with the urge to hold still and ogle the magnificent flames—a firefighter’s worst nightmare. Dropping your guard during a blaze, for any reason, could get you killed.
A little while ago she’d gotten caught behind the fire-lines while stamping out hot spots on orders from her superintendent. But when they’d first arrived on site in Texas, her super gave his crew the coordinates to safety zones and added tricks to finding natural escape routes. No need for her to be overly concerned yet.
Tearing past dry cactus and mesquite not yet aflame but heating fast, she had to shift direction to miss a huge rattler in her path. After that scare, she hesitated at the top of a mesa, checking coordinates for the best course for rejoining her crew. But as she gazed to the east, she spotted a ranch house directly below her that lay in the current route of the now reigniting blaze.
Giving the house a thorough once-over with her binoculars, she tried to determine if the place had been evacuated. Thankfully it looked deserted. But as she slowly swiveled her head to find a different heading, two people standing close to a barn came into view. The male and female appeared to be having an argument and not paying any attention to the spreading smoke and flames.
Keeping them in her sights, she started downhill, prepared to give them a lecture about evacuating when told to do so. When she reached their position, there wouldn’t be a lot of time left to move them out of harm’s way.
She used her radio to raise her team, asking for ground evacuation support for the civilians. Her super was not happy about her situation and said to keep moving, in and out of those coordinates as fast as possible. The fire was spreading from the west toward her position. But he agreed to spare someone to help with the evacuation if it came soon. The fire was moving fast.
Crackling fire echoed at her back, while swirling winds showered her with stinging embers. It was difficult not pausing to dig at hot spots. Her training wanted to overrule her conscious mind. But the two civilians had to be first priority.
She closed in while continuing to keep watch on the couple, but all of a sudden a shovel appeared in the man’s hand. Before Nina could yell, he used it to bash at the woman’s head. The female dropped to her knees.
“Hey!” Nina screamed at the top of her lungs. “Stop.”
Ignoring the steep decline, she picked up her speed and raced toward the couple. “Put it down!”
The man hit the woman once again and the force of his blow laid her out on the ground. Only then did he look up toward the noises Nina was making. By that time she’d closed the distance to where he stood to a few yards. His gaze locked with hers and the deep anger in the man’s eyes nearly caused her steps to falter.
But concern for the woman kept her going. Without pausing, Nina reached into her pack for a fusee, preparing to use it if necessary in her own defense against the man. But after she fisted her hand and took a few more steps in his direction, he finally turned and disappeared around the side of the barn.
Closing in on where the woman lay, still and unmoving, it was apparent to Nina that the female was already beyond help. The pool of blood surrounding her head seemed like more than any human could lose and still survive.
Nina’s stomach rolled as she swiveled and made an effort to chase the man down. After turning the corner of the barn, she expected to see a car or truck pulling away. Instead, she found an open field full of boulders and mesquite.
She spent a moment wondering what direction the murderer had gone when a bellowing roar, sounding just like a freight train, captured her attention. The winds howled, switching direction, and at that moment a sight she’d only heard about greeted her disbelieving eyes.
A fire tornado developed within half a mile of her current position and headed straight at her.
Too late to get out of its way. Within seconds the whirl was fifty feet tall and moving fast.
After dragging her face shroud across her nose and mouth, she grabbed her portable fire shelter by its handles and shook it out. Protecting her lungs and airways was the most important lesson to remember. Another lesson that could keep her alive was to strip off her pack. She pitched her gear as far away as possible, relying on years of training to do things by rote.
She tried to put as much distance between herself and the fire devil as possible in the few seconds remaining. How she prayed to find a good spot to hunker down as she leapt a few more yards away from the barn and into the boulder field. But the intensive heat soon became unbearable. No time left.
Diving for an indentation next to a huge boulder, Nina pulled the shelter over her body and curled up in a fetal position inside it. Face down, she buried her nose and mouth in the air pocket at the base of the rock.
The ferocious shriek from above roared in her ears as the whole world narrowed down to her tiny space between the shelter’s walls. The tiny space that might just save her life.
She should have known something like this would happen in Texas. For years she’d stayed away, only thinking about the God-forsaken place in her nightmares. If her team hadn’t been called in to give the Texas firefighters added backup during the worst firestorms in the state’s history, she never would have set foot inside the Texas state lines.
But wherever the team was sent, she went too.
Mind pictures of the little bit she remembered of Texas from her early childhood came unbidden as she closed her ears to the wailing firestorm outside her shelter. Horses and saddles. The smell of hay. Kind eyes and soft hands. A woman calling her “Cami, love.” A male voice cooing: “Easy, little girl.”
That was always as far into the dream as she ever got before the memories disintegrated and turned to ash. Warm eyes turned cold as ice. Soft hands turned hard as steel.
Pulling herself out of that particular pit of depression, she tried turning her thoughts to something far more pleasant. Her Hotshot unit team. The only reason she’d agreed to this temporary deployment in Texas in the first place.
Her crew: Superintendent Ralston, the strongest man she’d ever met; her fellow firefighters Mad Mike; Geek; and Alabama. And Doc, real name Josh White, the crew’s medic with the sensual bedroom eyes.
As the walls of her shelter overheated, she allowed herself the luxury of concentrating on mind pictures of Doc and his sexy eyes—something she usually wanted to stop. Lustful thoughts of him had already invaded far too many of her daydreams during fire season. But she would never have let him get an inkling of how often she thought of him.
Simply picturing those eyes, green as spring grass and so full of expression, could make her melt with unfulfilled longing. Even in the middle of heavy training. Luckily, thoughts of his rip-cord lean body, all muscle and strength, usually came into her mind during slow times and instead of the nightmares, despite the fact that their relationship was nothing more than a nodding acquaintance.
Her imaginative thoughts now brought a frisson of awareness shooting through her. Being in the middle of a fire tornado was anything but normal, but those feelings for Josh were as familiar as breathing. She gave up trying to get him out of her mind now and focused on the memory of his eyes, ignoring as best she could the extreme heat and gas-filled haze filtering in through her fire shelter’s walls.
Tightening her grip on the shelter’s handles, she refused to consider her situation dire. Don’t think about it. Thoughts of the sexy doctor Josh White were as good a way as any to spend her last seconds on earth.
About Linda Conrad
Linda’s sensual characters and passionate stories have brought her numerous awards and raves! Over the years her workshops for RWA chapters and conferences have helped many writers learn new skills and techniques.
Growing up in south Florida, Linda made up stories and read everything she could get her hands on. After college, she taught first grade in Miami and tried to give the children as much love for the written word as she’d always felt. When her own true-life hero came along and whisked her away to five cities in seven years, Linda became a sales assistant, a quality control supervisor, a ninety-unit apartment manager and finally a stockbroker and Certified Financial Planner in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
When her mother suffered a disabling stroke, Linda moved to southern California to be close. “Mom couldn’t focus well enough to read anymore. So I began reading to her,” Linda recalls. “Eventually, my sister and I started making up stories to keep her entertained. Mom remembered my high school writing attempts. Before her death, she asked me to stick with story telling.”
Today Linda is back in south Florida, living with her husband by the sea and telling the stories in her heart.
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About The Giveaway
Please welcome Starla Kaye back to the blog. Today she’s asking for your opinions. Please step up and help her out!
I am doing something a bit different with this blog post, I am asking for your help. I have a website for my work as Starla Kaye: http://starlakaye.com/ but I want to make sure that I have incorporated what interests readers. If you could take a look at it and offer suggestions, I would really appreciate it.
In addition, I will be creating another website for a new pen name and the new area of writing I will be doing, more women’s fiction with a romantic element. That won’t be stories clearly focused on romance, particularly with an erotic edge to it, like I write for Starla Kaye. So I am interested in what basic elements YOU like to see on an author’s website.
Here is a list of basic elements, contact information, colors, and font types that I would like you to glance at and think about. In your comment, please let me know the key things you like or dislike on a website. If you think of something else I haven’t listed, please add that as well. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this for me (and for any other author who happens to see this).
- Author Photo
- News and Notes
- Upcoming Events
- Coming Soon
- What I’m working on now (first chapter/first scene)
- Book Shelf with printable list
- Links to author sites
- Links to sites relating to genre of author
- Street Team
- Recommended Reads
- Blog Categories
- Previous Posts List
- Join this site
- Dark colors in background with white lettering
- Lots of white space with black lettering
- Arial or something clean like that
- Times New Roman
Contact and Find Me/Follow Me Information:
- Linked In
- Amazon Author Page
Please welcome today’s guest author, Christine Warner. Christine is here today to share a bit about her latest novel Bachelor’s Special. If you’re a fan of the Food Network and all the cooking shows there, and you wonder what life is like for chefs, you’ll want to hang out with Christine today and ask her your questions. There is a good chance she’ll know the answers. Christine’s sharing some of her research on the attire of historical and modern day chefs to kick things off. Please make Christine feel welcome by asking her questions and leaving comments for her. There is also a giveaway – read on to learn more about that.
About Bachelor’s Special
Jill Adgate wants three things from life: a successful catering business, the devoted love of an exceptional man, and a family. What she has is no job, a mounting pile of bills, and her outspoken best friend—who sets her up on a blind date with the man who inadvertently ruined Jill’s life.
Chet Castle is a prosperous businessman who has everything, except the ability to trust. Burned by a money-hungry fiancée, he refuses to get involved with any relationship that has a shelf life longer than a head of lettuce.
Intrigued by her ambition—and determined to get her in bed—Chet offers Jill the chance of a lifetime: Work for him for the next eight weeks as his live-in chef and he’ll help her get her catering business off the ground. When sparks fly in the kitchen, Jill realizes what’s cooking with her commitment-phobic employer is a recipe for disaster…but it’s just too tasty to not take a bite.
An Excerpt From Bachelor’s Special
Her body hummed as his smile wavered. Although he wore sunglasses, she’d bet her last dollar his gaze swept across her chest, lingering on the betrayal of her pert nipples pushing against the fabric of her suit.
Until this moment, shyness had never been a trait she possessed. Air stalled in her lungs, her palms grew sweaty, and she itched to cover herself with a towel. Even though her replica vintage swimsuit hid more than most sets of women’s underwear, she felt too exposed. She turned to the side slightly and folded her legs up. Not that it helped, but it made her feel a bit less exposed. Chet slid his feet from his sandals, brushing a hand through his hair. The heat from the sun wasn’t the only thing scorching her skin. She trickled several droplets of water over her arms, but she couldn’t drag her focus from his toned flesh.
Jill soaked in his ripped abs and the obvious package of goodies covered by his brown swimsuit—the same sexy brown as his hair. Damn, did a man have a right to fill out a pair of swimming trunks like that? Flecks of hair, just enough to give him a manly appeal, covered the etched muscles of his long, tan legs. She licked her lips, hoping she could still speak.
“Do you want some privacy?” Yes, say yes. She needed an excuse to make an escape without coming off like someone desperate to be making an exit.
* * * * *
Hell no, he didn’t want privacy. Through the shield of his sunglasses, he inspected her body from the tips of her pink-painted toenails to the top of her brightly flowered swimming cap. Did people still actually wear those things?
“No, you look comfortable. Stay and enjoy the day.”
“Oh…are you sure?”
Amazed at his own ability to talk without his tongue hitting the cement, Chet turned to throw his towel and sunglasses on a nearby lounge chair. Damn.
The red and white polka-dot halter-style suit featured a tight bodice, but her slender hips and shapely thighs hiding beneath a matching skirt grabbed his attention until all oxygen left his blood. Even showing less skin than the average girl on the beach, she far exceeded sexy and alluring.
Get a grip, Castle. She’s off limits, no matter how delectable. He turned and stepped onto the diving board. He bounced along the surface as he made his way over the water. When he looked at Jill’s bathing cap covering her head, he held back his grin. The neon rubber flowers reminded him of something his grandmother would’ve worn, but there the similarity ended. Everything beneath that cap was far from making him think of Grandma.
Christine Warner Shares Her Research On Chef Uniforms
In my latest release—Bachelor’s Special—from the Indulgence line with Entangled Publishing my heroine Jill Adgate is a hard working, down on her luck chef. I’ve always been fascinated with chefs due to the fact that I love to cook. I’m always impressed how they can come up with some amazing dishes by carefully selecting certain seasonings, spices, and other ingredients that turn a simple dish into something extraordinary. To me, cooking is a true art.
Throughout history the majority of chefs were men, but times are a changing and now there are many celebrated women chefs.
While writing Bachelor’s Special, I did a bit of research on the standard chef uniform and found out some interesting tidbits on the history of the uniforms chefs wore while working. I’d love to share.
Did you know…
- The chef uniform from days past was basically made up of a hat, necktie, double-breasted jacket, apron and shoes with a steel or plastic toe cap. Today the uniform can be found to be much the same, or, depending on where the chef works, a lot more casual. Some uniforms are more colorful and less formal.
- A chef’s hat was originally designed as a tall rippled hat called a Dodin Bouffant or more commonly a toque. The Dodin Bouffant had 101 ripples that represented the 101 ways that the chef could prepare eggs. The modern chef’s hat is tall to allow for the circulation of air above the head and also provides an outlet for heat. In Bachelor’s Special the opening scene features Jill in a flat chef’s cap because it’s more modern and seemed something more in line with what I felt a woman would want to wear while working in the kitchen J
- Neckties were originally worn to allow for the mopping of sweat from the face, but as this is now against health regulations, they are now decorative.
- The jacket is usually white to show off the chef’s cleanliness and to repel heat. It’s generally double-breasted to prevent injuries from burns. Another nice feature about the double-breasted jacket is that the chef can conceal stains on the jacket as one side can be rebuttoned over the other. Darn clever!
- An apron is worn to just below knee-length and is another deterrent in the prevention of burns due to spillage.
- The plastic toe cap or steel tipped shoes serve a dual purpose. They’re not only hard wearing and long lasting, but the hard tip prevents injury from falling objects—such as a knife.
Do you think chefs should still have to wear the types of uniforms they do, or should they be able to dress more casually while working in the kitchen?
I hope you learned something new and interesting about the hard working chefs who cook in the various types of kitchens throughout the world. And I hope you enjoy the blurb and excerpt from Bachelor’s Special. HAPPY READING!
About Christine Warner
Christine Warner is living her dream in Michigan along with her husband, three children, one laptop and a much loved assortment of furry friends. Besides laughing and a good round of humor, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, writing but no arithmetic. A confessed people watcher, she finds inspiration for her stories in everyday activities. She loves to read and write about strong heroes and determined, sometimes sassy, heroines. A girl gone wild, at least where social media is concerned, she enjoys meeting other avid readers and writers on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.
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