Happy 100th Birthday Vera Lynn!

There’s a war on. And as a result whirlwind romances are the order of the day. All of England is full of men and woman falling in love at first sight while listening to Vera Lynn singing about the white cliffs of Dover.” (Not2Nite)

In World War One the British government severely restricted entertainment. Theatres were closed and people were expected to give their all to the war effort. During World War Two they took a completely opposite tack and encouraged the population to keep their spirits up with a constant diet of cinema going, nightclub dancing and listening to the radio. It worked brilliantly and many people of the time attribute their ability to get through the constant bombing and rationing and general misery to the relief the various forms of entertainment afforded them.
If there’s one name that comes to mind when thinking about the British war effort that was neither political nor military it’s Vera Lynn. A popular singer who started her career while still a child she became known as the Forces’ Sweetheart and she travelled around the world entertaining the troops as well as hosting her own radio show. Vera Lynn seemed to resonate with the zeitgeist of the time, soaring to popularity with her hopeful ballads. She wasn’t some toffee-nosed serious musician the likes of whom were heard all too often on the BBC. She was the girl next door who never lost her cockney accent. Her songs were simple and sentimental and designed to remind people over and over again what the war was being fought for and, perhaps more importantly, that it would one day be over.
“We’ll Meet Again” was written in 1939 by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles (who also collaborated on “There’ll Always Be An England”) and promised “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.” For many people it was a lie, but it was a lie they all desperately wanted to believe.
The White Cliffs of Dover” the 1941 song written by Americans Walter Kent, who also penned “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, and Nat Burton was less specific, talking about a way of life and a future wherein “The shepherd will tend his sheep, The valley will bloom again, And Jimmy will go to sleep In his own room again.” The blue birds referred to in the song, who would fly over the White Cliffs of Dover, were the RAF pilots and crew keeping Britain safe from aerial and naval attack.

On March 20, 2017 Dame Vera Lynn celebrated her centenary. While an RAF fly by of ‘blue birds’ had to be cancelled due to weather, her image was projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover as music played and the voice of Vera Lynn brought hope to people once again.

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What’s in a name?

 

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This may be more like what Arabella imagined when she pictured what was hidden under Andre Barbot’s dark cowl.

Andre Barbot, sitting behind the broad mahogany desk that had once belonged to his father, was hard to distinguish in the low light shed by the gas lamp on the corner of the table. (The Key to His Heart: A Steampunk Christmas Fairy Tale)

 

As Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. While that’s certainly true it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work at getting the right name. There may be parents who choose their child’s moniker by throwing a dart at The Great Big Book of Baby Names but they can’t be in the majority. Words are special and names are special words, making them doubly important. That’s a lot of pressure on a poor scribe just trying to tell a story in the best way possible. But sometimes characters are kind enough to help the author figure out what their name is and that’s what happened with Andre Barbot.

Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (1685-1755) was the author of the original French fairy tale La Belle et Le Bête or Beauty and the Beast, which was published in 1740. It was a full length story and her most well-known work. In 1756, however, a year after Barbot’s death, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont published an abridged version, which is the one we’re more familiar with today. Leprince de Beaumont conveniently neglected to mention Barbot and it is her version that we generally think of as the original. Naming my beast after Barbot was my own small gesture towards correcting that omission.

As far as his first name is concerned, this is a steampunk fairy tale so what better name for a human/machine hybrid than something referencing  the word android, which is a Greek construction meaning having the likeness of a man. My hero is more of a cyborg than an android, if I have to get technical, but Cy just didn’t cut it for me as a first name and I couldn’t think of another variant, so I cheated a little and went with the riff on android. I decided to keep to the French theme just because the original story is French and I like the continuity. Besides, no offence, but it’s hard to imagine a proper hero called Andy. Hence the variant Andre.

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Highway Café Christmas Blog Tour

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My elf name is Bob. You can take that anyway you like because it’s a palindrome. I like keeping it simple because…
…my job at Santa’s Village at the North Pole is name checker.  Of course Santa knows whether it’s spelled Caileigh, Kaleigh, Kaylee, Kayley, Kaylie, Kaeli, Keighley, Keighlee, Caylee, Caelie or Kaeley but the poor elf writing the gift tag doesn’t. Imagine if the wrong name were put on a gift! It’s a very, very important job.
I’m afraid I don’t like to listen to music when I’m working.  I have to concentrate very hard and once I had the radio on and got distracted by the song The Name Game. I ended up missing a tag on a present that read Jackson instead of Jaxon. I mustn’t allow that to happen again.
I don’t like to have anything to eat or drink while I’m working because I don’t want to spill anything on the tags, but on my break I do enjoy some shortbread and eggnog (without the rum until the end of the work day, of course).

This year I get to be secret Santa for Puddle. Puddle’s job is to melt the ice on the front step of the toy workshop. That’s a really important job, too, and it can be dangerous. That’s why I’m giving Puddle a pair of safety elf boots so she doesn’t slip and fall on the ice. They look like this:

elfboot-4

 

Here’s the recipe for my Christmas eggnog:

1 egg
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg

Beat the egg until smooth and thick and then beat the sugar into the egg until the sugar is dissolved. Beat in the milk and vanilla extract. Pour into a festive glass and top with nutmeg. Serve immediately.
If you’ve finished work for the day and plan to just sit in front of the fire and read Christmas stories I suggest adding a big tot of rum or whisky to your eggnog.

Here’s something to read while you’re drinking your eggnog, if you wish:

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10 holiday stories from sweet to scorching! You’ll find brand new tales of love and desire by members of Romancing the Rock. Discover bestselling and award winning authors, plus hot new voices from Newfoundland’s emerging romance writing scene.

Includes: THE KEY TO HIS HEART: A STEAMPUNK CHRISTMAS FAIRY TALE by BARBARA BURKE

When Arabella’s father stole The Rose, the best ship in the skies, from Andre Barbot she had no choice but to accompany Barbot on his next voyage. It was either that or see her father in jail. Along the way she discovers that the so-called monster’s mechanical heart is just as human as hers, but is it capable of love?

Available at Amazon.com and Chapters.Indigo.ca

Please don’t forget to visit the rest of the elves on the Highway Café Christmas Blog Tour:

Darlene Fredette – http://www.findingthewritewords.blogspot.com/
Tena Stetler – http://www.tenastetler.com/my-blog/
Stacy Holmes – www.writerknapsack.com
M.S. Spencer – http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com/
Maureen Bonatch – http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/
Nancy Fraser –  http://nancyfraser.ca/ wordpress/holiday-blog-hop/
Sorchia Dubois – http://www.sorchiadubois.com/
Carol Henry – http://www.carolhenry.org/
Hywela Lyn – www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com
Casi McLean – http://casimclean.com/casis-christmas-…cal-mystery-tour/
Kayden Claremont. –  https://kaydenclaremont.wordpress.com/
Mariah Lynne – http://mariahlynneauthor.blogspot.com/
K. K. Weil –  http://kkweil.blogspot.com
Clair de Lune – http://www.clairdelunebooks.co.uk/
Linda Carroll-Bradd – http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com (participating on Dec 6 only)

Merry Christmas! I can’t wait to see what my Secret Santa has got for me.

 

 

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Corsairs and dangerous men

Lord Byron, the author of The Corsair, was himself something of a Byronic hero.

Lord Byron, the author of The Corsair, was himself something of a Byronic hero.

The stubble on his chin was rough against her face, and she realised she’d never seen him unshaven before. Ludicrous as it seemed after the night they’d spent together, she felt an even higher level of intimacy, as unexpected as it was thrilling.“You look like a corsair,” she said, running her hand along his cheek.  (Recompromising Amanda)

A corsair was a pirate – often an ex-privateer – also known as a Barbary Pirate. Corsairs operated out of North African ports such as Algiers and Rabat, which were on the Barbary Coast, hence their name. Although they ranged as far as Iceland they concentrated most of their efforts in the western Mediterranean, raiding coastal towns in Italy, France and Spain. As well as general looting and pillaging they captured slaves for the Ottoman empire and were thought to have taken over a million people from the sixteen to the nineteenth century. It wasn’t until the build up of European navies and the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars that the Barbary Pirate threat diminished, spurred by Britain’s anti-slavery mandate.

Amanda, however, probably had a much more romanticized image of a corsair than the more realistic one of a slave-taking, looting rapist. A number of corsairs were European renegades, privateers who couldn’t settle down in peacetime. In 1814 Lord Byron published The Corsair, a long poem in heroic couplets so popular it sold out its initial run of 10,000 copies on the first day. It tells the tale of Conrad, a renegade English corsair who, according to Byron was: ‘linked with one virtue and a thousand crimes’. Women of the day swooned over the image of Conrad (as well as over Lord Byron). The Corsair was a typical Byronic hero which Lord Macaulay described as “a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection.”

No doubt it was this image of someone dangerous but irresistible that Jason’s tousled appearance brought to Amanda’s mind. It’s a prototype that still lives in modern romantic fiction in the form of billionaires, cowboys and other wild types who, according to the conventions of the genre, just need a woman to tame them.

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Fantastic Fellow Roses

Today I’m doing something a little different on the blog: featuring some titles by some of the fantastic authors of the Wild Rose Press family. Enjoy!
SEISMIC CRIMES by Chrys Fey
Seismic
Crimes is a romantic-suspense and Book 2 in the Disaster Crimes Series. Tsunami
Crimes will be coming out 2017!
BLURB:
 
An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.
 
Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she
can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do
whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a
criminal’s crosshairs.
 
When a tip reveals the killer’s location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?
Buy
Links:
 
 
HAUNTED SOULS by Kathryn Knight
Paranormal Romantic Suspense
(Military Romance + Ghost Mystery)
BLURB:
 
Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings
attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending
Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her
attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single
motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her
secret.
 
Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire,
another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend.
 
Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a
dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul
and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race
to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.
Buy Links:
BELOVED ENEMY by Hywela Lyn
Book 3 of
The Destiny Trilogy. Starquest is Book I and Children of The Mist Book 2. Each
book is complete and can be read as a standalone.
BLURB:
 
Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes
is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually
catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.
Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret, and self-blame, shields himself
from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship,
Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red-haired woman
who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt
regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive,
fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can
they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman
again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?

Buy
Links:
The
MARRIAGE ULTIMATUM
by Charlotte O’Shay
The
Marriage Ultimatum is Book 1 of a 3 Book City
of Dreams
series. 
Look for
A Model Engagement (Book 2) and An Illicit Affair (Book 3)
BLURB:
 
Dead-end job? Dreary apartment? Disastrous love life?
Check, check, and check. Toddler who makes it all worthwhile? Absolutely.
Juggling work, college, and the care of young Alex was never Sabrina’s plan.
 
But Sabrina’s dreams are bigger than any curve ball life
can throw at her. Her top priority is keeping her small family together, no
matter what the cost.
 
Vladimir Grigory doesn’t believe in dreams. He earned his
position at the top of New York’s corporate ladder with his own sweat. His
empire is his baby, and he’ll destroy anyone who threatens it. Even the sexy
employee who challenges him on every level.
 
When the New York tabloids and the world call him the baby
daddy of Sabrina’s son, Vlad believes Sabrina is part of a plot to expose the
secrets of his past. He threatens to destroy her future. But since Sabrina has
secrets of her own, she has no choice but to agree to Vlad’s marriage
ultimatum.
Buy
Links:
A WITCH’S JOURNEY by Tena Stetler
A Witch’s
Journey is a paranormal romance.
The
sequel comes out holiday season 2016!
BLURB:
 
Pepper McKay comes from a long line of powerful witches.
Unfortunately, magic brings her nothing but trouble. She learned the love of
wildlife rescue and rehab from her Aunt Ashling. After graduating from college,
Pepper works for Salem Wildlife Sanctuary and lives from paycheck to paycheck
until she inherits the McKay property in Lobster Cove. With the family land and
resources, she dares to dream of starting her own wildlife rescue and
rehabilitation center.
 
Lathen Quartz, a former Navy SEAL turned handyman maintains
the enchanted McKay property for the estate. But someone is trying to steal the
McKay magic. Lathen offers to help Pepper achieve her life-long dream of
building a wildlife center. During the long hours spent together on the
project, their mutual attraction can’t be denied. But each harbors a deep, dark
secret. Will they overcome their demons and give love a chance? Can they save
the magic before it’s too late?
Buy
Links:
We’ve got romantic suspense, paranormal, space opera and contemporary – a little different from my usual Regency or WWII preferences. If you were going to read something in a different subgenre than you’re used to, what would you choose?
Posted in Blog tours, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Rupert Bear

    “Podgy Pig?” Guy was intrigued. “What on earth are you talking about?”
    “Whoops, I forgot I was talking to an American. English children are raised on the adventures of Rupert Bear and his friends, one of whom is a pig named Podgy. He wears a brown checked suit and a black bow tie,” she added, as if that somehow made things clearer.
“Oh, that Podgy Pig.” 
Guy nodded sagely. “The one with the suit and tie! I was thinking of someone completely different.” (Not2Nite)

The cover of the 1942 Rupert Annual shows him off adventuring with his chums Bill Badger and Podgy Pig as if there were no such thing as a war on.

The cover of the 1942 Rupert Annual shows him off adventuring with his chums Bill Badger and Podgy Pig as if there were no such thing as a war on.

Rupert Bear first appeared on November 8, 1920 in the Daily Express, a London newspaper founded in 1900 and which was also the first paper in Britain to feature a crossword puzzle. That makes Rupert six years older than Winnie-the-Pooh and 38 years older than Paddington Bear. Rupert used to be a brown bear, but to save on printing costs he was turned into a white bear which uses much less ink. He always wears a yellow check scarf and trousers and a red jumper. Rupert lives with his parents in Nutwood, a fictional English village where all sorts of adventures are to be had for an intrepid young bear and his similarly anthropomorphic friends, including his best friend, Bill Badger.

Every year since 1936 a Rupert Bear Annual has been released featuring the storylines that have run in the newspaper over the course of the past year and new adventures, puzzles and games. Even though Rupert became a white bear almost immediately, the annuals continued to feature a cover illustration of him as a brown bear. Despite critical paper shortages during World War II and an almost complete stoppage of non-essential printing  the Rupert annual carried on uninterrupted. Its continuation was considered of crucial importance to keeping up morale.

 

 

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Zippo lighters

Eventually he found the monogrammed Zippo lighter his father had given him in the front pocket of his trousers—how did it get there? It was usually in his breast coat pocket— and pulled it out. (Not2Nite)

Zippo lighters are often seen as a hallmark of US commercial culture, standing alongside other iconic American brands like Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola or even Disney. It’s ironic, therefore, that the inventor and founder of the Zippo Manufacturing Company, George G. Blaisdell, based the design on an earlier Austrian lighter, although he improved upon considerable.

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Frank Sinatra, seen here with his classic Zippo resting atop his package of cigarettes on the table, became a teen idol during the second world war. Sinatra went from strength to strength and has been called the greatest singer of the twentieth century. (Perhaps there’s hope for Justin Bieber.)

The lighter itself sits in a coated brass case with a flip top. To light the flame the user flips the top of the case open and spins a small wheel that sparks against a flint and ignites the naphtha-soaked wick. One of the things that initially made Zippos so popular and practical (and continues to do so) is that the wick sits inside a protective chimney, so that the flame is very difficult to blow out, even under very adverse conditions and won’t even go out in the rain. Though the lighter contains 22 parts and goes through 108 manufacturing processes it is extremely easy to use.

Guy got his Zippo just in time. When the Americans entered the war in 1942 Zippo immediately stopped commercial manufacturing. For the duration of World War II all their lighters were reserved for the American military. By the end of the war their popularity was assured. Since then Zippos have ‘starred’ in more than 1500 movies, plays and television shows and most people are familiar with their tell-tale click as they are opened and closed.

Zippo is famous for its “It works or we fix it free” slogan. If Guy were around today and dropped his lighter again all he would need to do is send it back to the company to have it repaired or replaced despite it being 75 years since he first dropped it on a street in London during the Blitz.

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