Nov 242014
 

Cover of Sally Orr's debut novel, THE RAKE'S HANDBOOK: INCLUDING FIELD GUIDE.Today’s guest is a fellow member of RWASD and the Beau Monde. Please welcome, Sally Orr who is celebrating her debut novel which released on November 4th!

I’ve gotten to know Sally over the last several years and love her wonderful sense of humor, so I wasn’t surprised when Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks took an interest in her manuscript that was a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist and the next two books in the series as well. Sally’s website describes her writing as “Romping Regency-Era Romance” — yup, a match well-made!

THE RAKE’S HANDBOOK: INCLUDING FIELD GUIDE
by Sally Orr

ISBN: 978-1492602118

Blurb:

London’s most notorious rake—the man who wrote The Rake’s Handbook, Including Field Guide—vows to behave like a proper gentleman to save his family. When the fetching widow next door refuses his business proposal, Ross Thornbury tries to change her mind using words alone from his handbook.

Spirited widow Elinor Colton fears his business will destroy her home, a cherished gift from her beloved late husband. Other gentlemen have tried seductive words on the wealthy Elinor before, so Ross’s rakish charms fail, and her refusal stands.

With each chapter Ross reads of The Rake’s Handbook, he finds it harder to be a proper gentleman, and Elinor finds it harder to be a dignified widow. When scandal looms, Ross discovers her laughter opened his heart. So to prove his love, he’ll have to forego words and unleash all of his rakish skills.

Excerpt:

“You really are a rake,” she whispered, the sight and feel of their joined hands warming her cheeks.

“A proper gentleman would never hold a lady thus. I have been warned about your charms. Perhaps I too should write everything down. Pen a handbook to instruct my widowed sisters what to expect upon attempted seduction and how to fight it.”

“Factual or satirical?”

She bit her lower lip to stop an indelicate reply.

“I could write that handbook too.”

His boast made her smile. “I seem to have found another trait of a rake.”

“Humph. I’d be delighted to show you all of my traits. Perhaps start with chapter one?” The determination in his voice indicated he was quite willing to comply.

“Please do, sir,” she replied in a facetious tone, tugging her hand free. “But I can already tell that I’ll stop reading your book after the table of contents. You know, all of those funny pages in the front of the book numbered v and i.”

He chuckled softly, then stared at her until he captured her gaze. “My handbook starts with fine eyes.” He reached up and swept back a ringlet that had fallen over her eye and carefully tucked the curl under her bonnet.

Her heartbeat raced.

“The eyes are followed by a notable vee.” His gaze lowered to the upper edge of her bodice and lingered in the center.

“Oh my, if that’s the table of contents, I don’t dare read chapter one.”

“I’d be pleased to read you all of the chapters. There are a total of . . .” He glanced at her leisurely, from the top of her leghorn bonnet down to her sensible half boots. His focus returned up to her neck—almost. His chest broadened as he inhaled. “Ten.”

“Ten.”

He gave her a smoldering look from under heavy lashes. “Ten in volume one,” he continued in a silky baritone. “Let’s start with chapter one.”


I love introducing new authors and their books to people, so I hope you enjoyed that peek at THE RAKE’S HANDBOOK: INCLUDING FIELD GUIDE and are ready to learn a bit about Sally Orr the author as she answers some tough questions below. (I know they’re tough because I recently had to answer a bunch of them myself for an historical author panel I was on. And I thought I was being smart submitting my own questions! HA! Should planned answers for them too. So, thank you, Sally for taking the time to answer them!)

1. What drew you to writing Historical Romances in general and specifically to setting stories during the Regency Era?

Yes, my books are not technically a Regency romance. Instead, as you point out, they fall under the greater “Regency-era.” The formal Regency is when Prince George ruled by proxy (1811-1820). So the expected Regency romance should take place during these years. However, if you look up Regency-era on Wikipedia, it is defined as a distinct time in British culture and civilization (1795-1837). This era is before the railroads covered the country and before Victoria took the throne.

I find this era exciting, because it falls within the industrial revolution (1760-1840). A time of progress in transportation, steam power, chemicals, gas lighting, manufacture, and standards of living. Also I have many heroes from that time, so that’s why I set my books during these years.

2. What’s the strangest bit of historical trivia you’ve picked up in your research?

That’s a great question. You would not believe the odd things they believed in. Most of the shocking ones have to do with medical research. They were mostly clueless and their ideas were dangerous and sometimes fatal, like syphilis and Gonorrhea being the same disease.

3. These next few questions assume that time travel is possible. What modern conveniences would you miss most? What would you miss least?

Miss the most? That is an easy question to answer, Penicillin.
Miss the least, not having information at my fingertips from a computer or phone.

4. What would be the hardest for you to adapt to in the Regency Era?

The hardest would be the use of a privy. Eww.

5. Where would you fit into the society? Where would you like to visit most?

Life was only easy and pleasurable for aristocrats, so I’d choose that. I’d love to visit The Royal Institute and hear a lecture by Michael Faraday. Heaven.

6. How long have you been writing and what was the first huge leap of faith you took? What advice would you go back and give yourself as a beginning novelist if you could? Would this advice differ from what you’d say to an aspiring author now?

I’ve been writing for seven years, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Except for sending out my ms. once before it was revised. That editor has now forgiven me, thank heavens. My only advice is that you have two choices: write the book or live with regrets. I don’t like regrets.

7. Are you reader? What are some of your favorites (books and/or authors)?

No, I’m a poor reader. But I love sea stories, so Patrick O’Brian and the Hornblower books, as long as I get to go to sea in a British man-o-war.

My favorite authors are P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, and Dorothy L. Sayers.

8. With your background in medical research, will we ever see medical topics come up in your books?

Research will appear in most of my books, but it may or may not be medical research.

9. THE RAKE’S HANDBOOK was a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist and sold to Sourcebooks in a 3-book deal in September 2013. Your motto from your local sports car club is: “Life is not around the curve. Life is the curve.” Do you find that describes your writing journey as well?

Yes, life is about the journey, so enjoy it.

10. What is the most challenging part of being a writer?

Getting bad reviews. It took awhile to adjust to that and accept the bad reviews, but I’m pretty thick-skinned by now. Besides, sometimes the review is more about the reviewer than the book.

Photo of Sally Orr, Author of Romping Regency-Era Romance


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-era romance. Sally lives with her husband in San Diego, surrounded by too many nonfiction books and not enough old English cars.

To connect with Sally, please visit: http://www.sallyorr.com/
She can also be found on Facebook, GoodReads, and Twitter

Buy THE RAKE’S HANDBOOK: INCLUDING FIELD GUIDE:
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | BAM

Nov 012014
 

Some people think you need a machine like H.G. Wells’, or Dr. Who’s T.A.R.D.I.S. to travel through time. Others believe all you need is to stumble into a faerie ring.

Me? I think all you need is a good book!
#fallbackintime
Today, the Historical Romance Network is celebrating National Author’s Day and the end of Daylight Savings Time today with a special #FallBackInTime event on Facebook and Twitter as well as Tumblr and Google+ to share their love of the historical romance genre. So if your social media is flooded with pictures of romance books, don’t grumble and ignore it, TRY one!

I had trouble picking just one book, so I chose Lynn Kurland’s A Dance Through Time because I felt it best fit the spirit of the ‪#‎FallBackInTime‬ hashtag. Time travel, thematic title and a great read! However, you can see from the shelves behind me, that my historical romance keeper shelf (6 ft bookcase, 40″ shelves, double stacked) is overflowing! Somehow, browsing through my kindle reader isn’t as fun as running my hand over the spines on this shelf.

The variety within the historical romance genre these days is amazing. From Medieval, Vikings, Scottish Highlands, Elizabethan, Georgian and Regency, Victorian, the Wild West and Colonial America, Edwardian, WWI, The Roaring 20s, WWII, to ancient Egypt and ancient China (GO read Jeannie Lin now!)! You can escape almost anywhere you’d like and find plenty more to read along the way.

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So, what do I like about Historical romance as opposed to other subgenres of Romance? I like the slower pace of life and the distance and perspective shift away from the craziness that invades my everyday life. Everyone in those long carriage lines as everyone arrives at the balls are patient and the drivers aren’t stupid or rude, they’re just part of the process. Unlike the drop-off lines at school where I swear I need a doctor’s note to show my kids that I’m not allowed to go in there because of the effect on my blood pressure. You’d think by high school these people would know what was expected of them and it’s be calmer and more orderly. Not!

Anyway, I digress…

I tend to read a lot of Regency set romances because I like the fairy tale aspect of the balls and the titled men. Oh yes, and the cravats! Mustn’t forget those! But honestly, I’ll read a bit of everything. I started out reading fantasy and science fiction in the very early 80s, and naturally also found my mom’s stash of romance novels. She read a lot of cowboys, native Americans, Dukes, Earls and Viscounts. The worlds that historical romance opened up for me were very similar to the fantasy and science fiction I was reading, but also very different. There was a guaranteed feel good ending. The Happily Ever After. Now she also read mysteries and contemporary romances, but those didn’t spark for me then. I like mysteries, but they’re not my first choice unless they’ve also got a good love story attached!

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I hope if you don’t read historical romance, you’ll give it another try! And if you read a book you enjoy, regardless of genre, post a review to help spread the word or drop them a note through social media and make their day. It’s a fabulous way to thank an author!

If you need a recommendation, check out my post: 13 Repeatedly Reread Books or my Historical Romance Shelf on GoodReads or check out my Interviews section!

Oct 262014
 

The Historical Romance Network, a group of over two hundred historical romance authors, are working to raise the visibility of the genre, to understand & breakdown misconceptions about the genre, to show the relevance of historical romance to the modern reader, and to help readers find the excitement these stories hold.

Next weekend when many in the U.S. is thinking about setting their clocks back and getting an extra hour of sleep, the Historical Romance Network is hosting an event to raise awareness and show off the variety available within the genre. On November 1st between 10am and 12 pm CST (or as close as you can!) post a selfie or a shelfie with your first, favorite or newest Historical Romance and include the hashtag #FallBackInTime! There’s something for everyone! So come and escape to the pleasures of the past!

Flyer for Historical Romance Netowork's #FallBackInTime Event on Nov 1st

May 292014
 

I’ll be teaching my SECRETS OF A RESEARCH NINJA online course next month for my local RWA Chapter in San Diego. It doesn’t matter if you’re a romance writer or even a writer at all, the class is open to everyone! So, if you’d like to improve your google-fu, this is the class for you.


Secrets of a Research Ninja

Everyone’s Googled something at least once, right? But there must be ways to make your searches more efficient, effective and accurate, because no one wants or needs pages and pages of endless irrelevant results.

Would you rather spend more time writing than on a frustrating search for that proverbial needle in an ever-growing haystack?

By the end of this two week class, you will:
– write better basic Google searches,
– recognize good & bad results,
– use advanced Google searches,
– learn about specialized Google searches, and
– have resources other than Google to use.

*Please note Google does not give all countries, Canada for instance, the same access to some options or advanced search methods covered in the course.

Online Course: 2 weeks of MWF Lessons & some light homework

Date: June 16 – June 27, 2014
Cost: $20.00 (RWA-SD members) / $25.00 (non RWA-SD members)
Open to: All

Click here to Register.


Hope to see ya there!

Mar 252014
 

It has been said that the romance community is the most supportive and generous of all the genre communities and I have seen the evidence many times over in different situations.

Last week one of our beloved authors, Jackie Barbosa, lost her seventeen-year-old son in a car accident. Although most of us will never be able to understand the depth of her and her family’s pain, Jackie’s loss is also our loss and we grieve for her and with her.

Today, in support of Jackie and her family, I’d like to introduce you to some Jackie’s books. One of the first stories of hers that I read was one of the Lords of Lancashire series, THE LESSON PLAN. I loved the way everything is blended seamlessly into the story: the emotions, the history and that wicked naughtiness that makes her heroes spark.

Jackie Barbosa's THE LESSON PLAN cover

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The next one I read was BEHIND THE RED DOOR. This was much spicier than my usual fare, but the excellent storytelling kept me turning pages and rewarded me with three great novellas that I might have missed out on otherwise.

Jackie Barbosa's BEHIND THE RED DOOR

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Jackie also has two free historical short stories available — THE REIVER and NINE LADIES DANCING (part of the 12 Days of Christmas Anthology) — so you can get to know her wonderful writing with no obligation. Of course, I hope you fall in love as I have and explore her full catalog.

Jackie Barbosa's THE REIVER cover12 Days of Christmas Anthology cover

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I had the treat of hearing Jackie read from SKIN IN THE GAME, one of her contemporaries, last fall at the San Diego Lady Jane’s Salon. The wry humor, the sexual tension and the details that made this female football coach believable were all present proving she is at home in this genre as well and her writing strengths shine here as well.

You can find information about her and her many books on her website: http://www.jackiebarbosa.com/

My heart aches for this very talented author and amazing woman who is always so generous with her time and knowledge of publishing. And while buying a book and leaving a positive review if you enjoyed it may not seem like much, it can really lift an author’s spirits and I hope you’ll join me in sending some good thoughts and light in these dark times for Jackie and her family.

A memorial fund has been set up in her son’s name. Details to donate can be found on The Season For Romance website. Any and all donation amounts are greatly appreciated.

Mar 022014
 

Fragrant Rain 09/52: Photo of a raindrops clinging to a climbing vine of flowers by Kristen Koster on Flickr.com

Fragrant Rain

We’ve been getting some much needed rain here in SoCal for the past several days. The intermittent downpours haven’t dampened the scent of these pretty little pink flowers that bloom right outside my kitchen window making it seem like we’ve had a quite fragrant rain come through. Usually a steady rain here makes everything smell either squeaky clean and fresh or it brings out the deep, rich, earthy smells. So this heavy floral scent is a noticeable change.

I’m not sure what kind of flowers these are exactly, but when you walk outside and the breeze blows the right way, you get hit with a wall of fragrance, even from 15-20 feet away. It’s a heady sweet scent to match their girly pink blooms. The fence that they’re growing on has been taken over by it and they’re threatening to consume the bird feeder hanging there as well.

Hopefully the rain will help rather than hinder (in the case of recent burns areas where they’re experiencing mudslides and flooding) in the long run. Of course, lots of spring rain generally leads to lots of underbrush growth that then dries up after 5-6 months of no rain and provides lots of tinder in the fall. Vicious cycle.

I also noticed I’ve been forgetting to put my EXIF info for my photos this year. I’ll try to go back and add them at some point, but in the meantime, you can click on the photo to go to Flickr’s site and click on the … icon and choose EXIF info to see which camera, exposure, aperture, focal length and ISO Speed is used in each shot. It’s something I should pay more attention to in the shots I feel work, but I’m usually much more appreciative of the serendipitous successes than ones that I try to manufacture.

Feb 232014
 

I’ve been rather quiet and off the net more than usual the past three weeks because my mom passed away suddenly on February 2nd and it’s been quite a shock and as you can imagine, posting my weekly photos was the last thing on my mind. This necessitated a trip back to Maryland where I grew up. Of course, it being February, I had to sneak in between the snow storms and also be back home in time for our daughter’s 17th Birthday party this weekend. It’s challenging trying to figure out what you’re going to pack when you haven’t had to deal with winter and temperatures below freezing in about 20 years.

Dawn over Coronado Island 06/52

Dawn over Coronado Island by Kristen Koster on Flickr
This is from the early morning flight out from San Diego. Wave goodbye to the warm weather! This one was actually taken with my iPad.

A Real Winter Storm! 07/52

A Real Winter Storm!
I came to realize that while I like seeing snow and think it’s rather pretty, I don’t like the reality of the slush and the bother that comes after the pretty wears off. I also didn’t much like it every few days or so, especially when my husband and kids were scheduled to fly in on Valentine’s Day.

Pound Cake 08/52

Pound Cake
This is the cake I baked for our daughter’s 17th Birthday party yesterday. The recipe is one my grandmother got from an old German lady who refused to make it again after she tried my grandmother’s version. I suspect the farm fresh eggs and raw milk from the neighbor’s cows put her city-acquired ingredients to shame. My family has always baked pound cakes in a tube pan instead of a loaf pan. Maybe this is a regional thing? I don’t know, but they sure come out pretty this way.

Jan 272014
 

Photo of a Bird of Paradise plant peeking up from behind another bush by Kristen Koster on Flickr.com

Peekaboo Bird of Paradise

A bit more color from here in Sunny SoCal for those of you still gripping with cold temperatures and the occasional snowstorm. Spring is coming! Don’t lose faith!

I’ve always like these bird of paradise plants. They can always be counted on to bring a spot of color to the winter months here and the flower formation and even the leaves are interesting in the right light. What I didn’t realize before we actually had any in our own yard, was just how dirty they can also be. The dead brown flowers will rarely be mistaken for a bird of any kind. At least they don’t smell…

January has been a quick month and I haven’t found my way out of the yard yet. MUST work on that this year. I’ve been eyeing the neighbor’s tree, but that’ll be another flower so maybe it won’t count. I need to drive out to the dam one day and see if I can find something interesting there now that I’ve got this zoom lense. Unfortunately, the water won’t be spilling over like the last time we was out there.

Jan 192014
 

Photo of Palm Trees in late afternoon sun in Sunny So Cal by Kristen Koster on Flickr.com

Sunny So Cal

While the rest of the country has been dealing with temperatures well below normal, we’ve been having a heat wave here in Southern California. My car’s thermometer hit 90˚F on two separate days this week. Now, granted this was because the car had been sitting in the sun with the windows up, the temp never dipped below 86˚F either afternoon after opening it up and driving to school. It’s just not natural to have summer in January. We’re not in the southern hemisphere!

So why are we so hot? The Santa Ana winds have been blowing in off the desert to the east. We haven’t been getting any cool ocean breezes where we live — it’s a bit inland. But instead of having warnings about extremely low temperatures and worrying if we’ve left faucets to drip so they don’t freeze, we’ve been experiencing a different kind of anxiousness. You see, we’re experiencing a drought here in the desert (Yup, we pipe in all our water and irrigate the hell out of everything! Oh, and to ski, they draw up lake water and manufacture their own snow.) and with the winds and temperatures that high, the humidity in the single digits or low teens… we get put under a red flag warning. The means there’s a danger of wildfires. Luckily the few that started last week in the county were put out quickly, but it seems that one area closer to LA wasn’t as lucky.

Even in the middle of winter and usually when we’d be expecting a deluge of rain in about a month or so, we’re parched beneath those gorgeous sunny skies. Everywhere has its own problems. Just some insight into how paradise isn’t always what it appears to be. It looks like the winds have stopped now, but I’d send gladly ship out some of our heat if I could.

Jan 152014
 
Hyde Park section of "Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace"

When talking about the Royal London Parks in the Regency, the first thing to remember the word “park” held a different meanings from how we (especially Americans) typically think of them today.

So get those visions of benches, swing sets, picnic tables and those box-shaped grills on metal posts out of your head, because our Regency folks would say a “park” refers to a large open tract of land that is often used for grazing cattle or a place where deer were hunted. You’ll often see the land surrounding a country manor house referred to as a park as well and the author just means that there is a lot of open land surrounding the place that may or may not be landscaped or fenced off.

London Parks in the Regency Era

Today, we’re going to talk a bit about some of the parks that Regency Era heroes and heroines might have visited. And I’m using Regency Era to mean the long Regency, which continues through the reigns of George IV, William IV and ends when Queen Victoria was crowned.

Hyde Park

London Parks: Hyde Park section of "Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace"

Hyde Park section of “Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace”

  • The entirety of the park encompasses nearly 400 acres of land, so finding someone there was by chance or a prearranged meeting in a particular location.
  • The Fashionable Hour: 4:30 to 7:30 pm during the Season (late January or February until May). This is when riders and people drove around the park in their carriages, preferably open ones so they could see and be seen.
  • Rotten Row; a corruption of route de roi or King’s Route in French. Known for fast riders.
    Rotten Row was the famous stretch of road in the park notorious for speed demons on horseback.
  • For the fairer sex, the Ladies’ Mile promised a more sedate bridle path.
  • Driving one’s fanciest carriage around the graveled pleasure-driving roads known as the Ring.
  • The Serpentine — really a man-made ornamental pond that wound through a section of the park. Very shallow.
  • Known location for illegal duels & quite attractive to thieves and ruffians.

St. James’s Park

  • 57 acres
  • Near St. James Street — location of the gentleman’s clubs… not the safest for women who wished to keep their reputations intact
  • Pedestrian except for a few select notables with Royal dispensation to drive carriages there
  • John Nash was commissioned by George IV and remodeled the park in 1826-1827.
London Parks: Green Park, St. James's Park and Buckingham Palace section of "Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace

Green Park, St. James’s Park and Buckingham Palace section of “Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace

Green Park

  • 47 acres
  • John Nash landscaped the park in 1820, as an adjunct to St. James’s Park.
  • The park has no buildings or lakes like many of its neighbors.
  • Readers familiar with the Victorian era may recognize it as the location of an assassination attempt upon the Queen by Edward Oxford on June 10, 1840.

The Regent’s Park

London Parks: The Regent's Park section of "Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace",

The Regent’s Park section of “Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace”,

  • a 410 acre site on the North side of London – formerly Marylebone Park and very marshy.
  • Prince George commissioned John Nash to redevelop the park in 1811 — terraces, geometric layout with an outer circle and an inner circle, cultivated flowerbeds and classical statuary.
  • The terraces — housing for the very wealthy – each situated so as to overlook the park in such a way they might each perceive the park was theirs alone.
  • Nearby Regent’s Street, one of the first planned developments of London, was designed and built as a commercial area separating the less than respectable Soho from the posh and fashionable Mayfair.
  • Regent’s Park wasn’t open to the general public until the late 1830’s and then only for two days a week.

More information regarding a variety of other Regency-themed topics can be found on my Regency Resource Collection. If you’d like more information on a specific place or topic, please let me know in the comments section below.

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