Blog Tour 2011

by Ann Tracy Marr

Romance with a splash of magic

Awe-Struck Publishing logo














The Beau, George Brummell















A Regency writing desk
















An 1802 half guinea















Prinny's Royal Pavillion in Brighton

















A family group



















Silver vinaigrettes (smeling salts)















A miniature of a Regency lady, Jane Bayly















English snuffbox dated 1818 set with a baronet's coat of arms















Sarah, Lady Jersey, patroness of Almack's
















A miniature of a lady's eye set in a ring as a reminder of a loved one














When they talk about the excesses of the Regency's Egyptian craze, they are referring to furniture like this gaming table
















Authentic block printed Regency wallpaper from Archway House






















Astley's Amphitheatre


















Don't forget the ball, but I wish the gentleman would ditch the fan


The Awe-Some Blog Tour 2011

A group of seven authors from Awe-Struck Publishing and one from parent company Mundania decided to do a blog tour. What is that? We guest-wrote each other’s blogs, providing us with an expanded audience and the blog readers with a different voice to enjoy for eight weeks. It was remarkably successful; we write in different genres, have different styles. yet in visiting other blogs, we all picked up some new friends and perhaps some sales.

There was a bit of sweat involved in writing eight blogs that I don’t want to watch float away into the cloud of the Internet, but there is nothing more tedious than clicking back and forth through links, unless it is searching through a blog and its archives looking for a particular post. I decided to archive my posts on my website.

Sooooo… I have given the links here, in case you want to do the above -- and maybe find some of my fellow authors’ posts. But I have included the post I submitted for each blog on this page. You can read my pearls of wisdom and laugh at my lameness here (featuring more graphics than the blog posts included).

Week #1, September 4

Jennifer wants to know my take on the Regency period. Why do I love it and what have I done to it?

Jane Austen
Georgette Heyer
Barbara Cartland (Princess Diana's step-grandmother)

They were the premiere Regency authors way back when. My mom read their books. I read my mom's books. What's not to like? Women in long dresses getting their hands kissed by men who weren't jocks. No, the heroes were not jocks; they were Corinthians. If you watched Colin Firth play Mr. Darcy, you were eyeballing a Corinthian. The Regency wrapped sports-mad men into dashing heroes in shiny boots and called them Corinthians. Just like Colin Firth, those heroes made me drool even though they were nuts about sports. That is why I write Regencies -- so I can create a series of men who make me drool. (Grin, but the tongue is firmly in my cheek.)

But what have I done to the Regency? I couldn't be satisfied with fainting damsels, elegant sports nuts with quizzing glasses, and Prinny, who couldn't sneeze without creating a scandal. If you don't know about Prinny, imagine the country's leader spending $200,000 on booze for a party while the country faces a 20% unemployment rate. You get the idea. I could write a series about Prinny and do it pretty well. All the good plots (besides Prinny) have been taken; there isn't anything new under the British sun that hasn't been done. (Lying between my teeth now, folks.) No, I love the period so I wrote a conventional Regency. It was ok, but it wasn't great. I wrote another. There was something missing. I rewrote, dreamed, and wrote.

Then I added a twist to the Regency. Change history a tiny bit. King Arthur is NOT a myth. Arthur lived way back when. He built a castle called Camelot -- no one knows where it was, so I put it in London. Arthur thought having help ruling Britain was a good idea and built the Round Table. We don't need Parliament -- the Round Table works.  Merlin and his magic is fun, so throw that in. Then roll time forward and start the Regency era. What came out of my keyboard is a fantasy woven in today's fantasy period -- my paranormal Regency.

In my Regency, there are a lot more knights, since the Round Table needs bodies sitting around it to do the work. Camelot replaced Buckingham Palace -- who would care except King George, who is crazy, Queen Charlotte, who doesn't do much, and Prinny, who is regent for his crazy dad when he isn't hiding from another scandal? There are some magicians -- people who can do magic -- but they hide their ability. Regular folk have always been scared of people who can do weird things, and these magicians don't relish being burned at the stake. The most noticeable difference is the profanities. "Bloody crystal cave," instead of "Oh, Hell."

So, it's still a Regency Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and Barbara Cartland would recognize. Just tweaked. And because I get irritated with angst-ridden heroes and wishy-washy heroines, my characters usually have to do something concrete, like find the stolen rocket troop plans or recover a missing painting. They don't automatically jump into bed; that was beyond a no no for good girls in the Regency, so the stories are not erotic. I write about one man and one woman, doing something important, and maybe falling in love at the same time.

I think it has broader appeal than Regency romance.

Week #2, September 11

Where do you like to write? Describe your work space.
I write at my desk. It’s not really a desk, but two ancient Formica covered computer tables from the early 1980’s (they hold two printers, the monitor, mouse, keyboard, telephone, a handsome clock my husband received as a gift from his employer, pens, stapler, and a ton of paper), a table meant to reside behind a sofa (turned sideways, it is the home of a dying scanner, more paper, and a lamp), and a rickety book shelf (piled with books, paper, cd’s and lots of dust), all lined up in a row against the wall of the dining room.

I stare at a wall, since I had the sense to NOT line my desk up under the window. Half of the wall is blank and the other half has my grandmother’s tapestry hanging on it. I love that tapestry; it’s faded, but still clearly shows five French -- I assume they are French -- people around a card table. Two men and two women are seated; they wear powdered wigs and lots of lace. One of the men holds the eight of clubs. The fifth person is a woman with a gorgeous fan coyly directing attention to her low bodice. She is flirting with one of the men. Yes, this tapestry is big, maybe 4 by five feet. Kind of inspiring for writing romance.

The floor isn’t nearly as inspiring. I try not to look at it. 1920’s wood, covered by a cheap rust and off white rug to protect the wood from my rolling desk chair, tons of dust, trash can, shredder, a couple of boxes holding (what else?) paper, the computer tower, my purse, speakers… No, the floor doesn’t inspire anything other than a compulsion to clean, which I resist. I have better things to do than clean.

It doesn’t make for much of a dining room.

What does your writing schedule/routine usually look like? Do you write a little every day or do you block out large chunks of time to devote solely to your writing?
In the morning, I wake up slowly, then stumble to the computer and turn it on. While it works on bringing up Windows, I go to the kitchen, feed the cats, maybe make some hot chocolate. Depending, I either empty the dishwasher or fill it up. Then I wander back to the computer and try to make myself write.

Sometimes, it clicks and I will spend the morning pounding on the keyboard. Other times, I check my email, play games (bad girl), or even pay bills. On a very good day, I will pound my fingernails until two or three p.m., at which time my mind invariably shuts down for good.

Of course, this doesn’t happen every day. I am a computer consultant -- I might have an appointment to go to, or a computer to torture. And when family is around, it gets hard to concentrate. Ideally, the magic kicks in and I write.

I almost never write at night. That time is spent needlepointing, probably in front of the TV, or doing worthwhile things with the family.

How do you deal with stress, especially the stress of meeting deadlines?
I don’t feel much stress with deadlines. If I have rewrites, I knuckle under and do them – they never have given me grief. Other types of stress -- the stresses of life -- impact my writing schedule, impede the flow of words. Then I do whatever it takes, even vacuuming, to calm me down.

What authors or friends have influenced you as a writer?
I might as well be a hermit. None of my friends or family have done much to influence my writing. Unless you consider my aunt, who, after reading my first book, tartly told me, “Fine, now write a real book.” Grr. I ask around for opinions on plot points and get blank stares or wildly inappropriate suggestions.

So I turn to authors. I reread some of the romance greats -- Mary Jo Putney, Jude Devereaux, Amanda Quick, to name a few -- when I need a jolt. But I discovered that humor makes the plot fly, so I stocked up on Joan Smith, Marion Devon, Katie MacAlister, Julia Quinn, and a few others. 

What do you do to market your books? What is your favorite method of promotion? Your least favorite?
I make business cards and leave them in random places. Between the wall and the top of the toilet paper holder in MacDonalds restrooms -- on tables in restaurants -- anywhere in airports. I’ll go to a bookstore and stick them into books, although that makes me feel a teensy bit uneasy. I used to spend a lot of time in Yahoo chat rooms, but unfortunately, it translated into a LOT of time. I am on Facebook and Goodreads, but I don’t do much there. My favorite way to promote is to make YouTube videos, but getting people to look at them is a chore.

My least favorite form of promoting is doing book signings. My handwriting is terrible and my tableside manner gets weird.

What are you working on now – your current WIP?
My WIP is the opposite of the boy who cried “Wolf.” How would you like it if you overheard two men planning a very bad thing, ran around and tried to get someone to do something about it, and were ignored? Maybe the only people who listen are witless fools (A.K.A. the Banshee Brigade) and they make the situation dangerous. And maybe you would worry about the man who starts following you around town. Yes, he is appealing. Yes, you might find yourself falling in love with him. But no, you don’t trust him enough to tell him about the very bad thing. Somehow, you will manage to find someone to listen to you and do something to stop the very bad thing from happening. Somehow…

What would you like readers to know about you and your books?
The concept is not as weird as it sounds. So what is the concept?

King Arthur and Camelot are not a myth. Arthur lived in London, built castle Camelot there, argued with Merlin about magic, and invented the Round Table. Then Arthur died and Merlin disappeared, perhaps into a crystal cave, but Camelot and the Round Table endured. Wander through time till you get to the Regency period -- Camelot is still in London and the Round Table still rules Britain.

If you like Regencies, you will like my books. They are solid Regency, with a change in profanity -- instead of “Bloody Hell,” the man might say “Bloody crystal cave,” and there are lots more knights. After all, any man can perform a quest and become a knight. Then he might join the Round Table and help make the laws, just as Parliament does in real life.

Women still wear Norwich shawls, swoon, and claw their way to the tip of the Marriage Mart. Lady Jersey gossips too much and Prinny causes scandal after scandal. The concept is Regency romance with a splash of magic.

How can readers connect with you online?
My web page is the best way to find out about me and my books. I do a better job keeping it up to date than Facebook. And anyone can email me at anntracymarr AT aol dot com.


Week #3, September 18

Welcome to another week of kids back in school.  Hip hip hooray for freedom. Kick back and relax; the grocery store can wait. You have earned a day of peace and quiet.

The kids will come home eventually, so let’s get down to business. Regan asked me to answer a question:

You have the chance to go back in time and meet one person. Who do you go to meet and what do you ask him or her about your latest work in progress?

One person? Only one? Gee, let me think. I could track down Jesus, check if his beard is the way artists portray it, and ask… No, not Jesus. I don’t have the courage to ask him about a Regency romance. If I had written The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I could ask about life, the universe and everything, but the only thing I can ask Jesus is if I deserve to be on the New York Times Bestseller list. He probably wouldn’t answer.

So let’s go with the obvious. Picking any one person to consult about my Regency WIP, I would find Jane Austen and ask her if my plots ring true in Regency reality. Did I make any mistakes? If anyone knows about the Regency, it’s Jane Austen. She wrote Pride and Prejudice; she wore those fantastic long dresses and ate syllabub.

Unfortunately, I have a nagging suspicion that Jane would object vociferously to the paranormal aspect of my Regency romances. You see, in my Regencies, King Arthur is history. Arthur lived, built Camelot, and argued with Merlin. Then he died, Merlin disappeared, and life kept on living. Eventually, life got to the Regency era and while it’s mostly the way Jane Austen lived, there are a few differences in my books.

First, I have a lot more knights roaming around London; they have to sit at the Round Table and do all the things Parliament did for Jane Austen’s Britain because the Round Table rules the Isles. Then again, Jane might not care about knights or the government. She didn’t have anything to do with all those dukes and earls that populate most Regency romances. She mingled with plain Misters and Misses.

Do you suppose Jane would object to men saying “Bloody crystal cave” when they get mad, instead of “Bloody hell”? Because in my paranormal Regency world, people would rather swear to Arthur than to God. For some reason, that is the most obvious manifestation of a change in history. Thinking about it, it would be a waste of a question. Jane would object to any kind of swearing.

I know Jane would approve of Sarah Frampton, the heroine of my next book, Keeper of the Grail. Sarah and Jane have quite a bit in common. Neither is a raving beauty and both do what needs doing to keep their families on an even keel. Of course, Jane’s family is a lot more stable than Sarah’s. Jane’s father isn’t an opium user, her sister isn’t a spoiled brat, and her brother didn’t steal the family’s valuable Fra Angelico painting. And proper Regency Jane would leave finding the painting to the menfolk, rather than looking for it herself, as Sarah does.

Jane would like my hero, Sir Sloane Johnstone, knight or no knight. I can’t imagine anyone disliking Sloane. He’s that kind of guy. And underneath the easy-to-get-along-with exterior, Sloane hides a swashbuckling streak that would give any woman a thrill, Jane included.

You know what? If I could ask Jane Austen a question, I wouldn’t ask her about my WIP. What I really want to know is:

Is it true that people kept a chamber pot in the dining room? Did anyone use it during dinner? Why?

Jane would slam the door in my face.


Week #4, September 25

Hi, all. Skyla Dawn Cameron is off on a blog tour; I am filling in for her.

I am Ann Tracy Marr, an author with Awe-Struck Ebooks, an imprint of Mundania. Before I tell you what kind of books I write, promise you won't go away -- give me a chance. Half of the battle of selling books is convincing people they might enjoy what I write. That is what I hope to do here (arrogant, pushy me). Convince you to try one of my books. But…

You might not read romances, and that is what I write.

It's a hopeless cause, isn't it? If you don't like romance, you won't try it. Except, you get romance all over the place without realizing it -- and sometimes you like it. Let me prove it to you.

James Bond had his romance -- he gets married in On His Majesty's Secret Service. Then, because 007 stars in thrillers, not romances, his bride is killed by Blofeld. James is bummed out, but he goes after Blofeld and avenges her death. Admitted, the romance is not featured in the book. So…

Let's look at horror. Stephen King wrote Lisey's Story about the widow of novelist Scott Landon.  Combining psychological horror and romance, the book was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 2007. An aberration? King's Bag of Bones is a romance full of ghosts and gore, according to an interview with him on

Peter Benchley's The Deep is about a couple on their honeymoon. Got to have some romance in there even if the drug syndicate is hot on their heels.

Elmore Leonard's LaBrava is a romance wrapped up in a mystery.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham is about football, right? So what is Livvy Galloway doing in the book? She is Rick's "love interest."

Admit it. There is romance out there.

Still, a ROMANCE is a different thing, isn't it? Yes and no. You probably won't like every romance that comes along, but there are some you might enjoy. Look at my books. They are set in the English Regency period (think Pride and Prejudice) and there is a romance in every one. But, there is also:

--a bit of mystery -- recovering stolen military secrets or finding a lost painting

--humor -- a smile is always worthwhile

--and magic -- which is why I write paranormal romance.

You might enjoy.

Week #5, October 2

As I write this, it is past midnight and the cat won’t come in. I hate cats that stay out all night; they yowl at other cats and disturb the peace. So I have to stay up and try to get the cat in. Humph.

BTW—that humph is the way I sound. Not a literary device, but literally the noise I make when I am disgusted. That is how I do dialogue. I stick my head in the clouds and imagine I am this character I am smearing all over the fake Microsoft Word page, and try to figure out what that character would say and how she would say it. What inflection would she put on the words? Would she say, “I hate cats that stay out all night,” or would she say, “I hate cats that stay out all night.”

If the character puts the emphasis on the first part of the sentence once in a while, it doesn’t matter. But if she emphasizes the beginning of her sentences over and over again, it’s a character trait. Convey that trait on the page and you have the start of a person who comes alive for the reader.

When you, the reader, catch the cadence in sentences, you start to imagine a real person. If she stresses the first words, you guess she’s the type who blurts things out. She becomes a forceful (dare I say it?) bitch who dominates the conversation. She is impulsive, opinionated, pushy. Take your pick. Any or all of the above can fit; it all depends on how the writer wants that character to come across.

Here is an example from my latest book, Keeper of the Grail.  It starts as a conversation between Lord Brinston and Sir Sloane Johnstone and adds Mrs. Maud Silvester. Look at the dialogue and tell me what these people are like.

Ah, there she is,” Sloane gloated.

“Your Frampton? Which?” [Brinston said.]

“In the back of the group.”


“The one with her back to the wall, talking to the potted palm.” A crash resounded through the ballroom. "The slain potted palm.”

Brinston winced. “For Merlin’s sake, Sloane, stay away from her. Only part you got right was her description and her antecedents. Not only is she a Frampton, which is bad enough, she is barmy, talking to plants like the Green Man. Unless the palm talks back, she’s going to acquire a reputation that will see her exiled to Skye.” He tipped his head. “I don’t know her. Never seen her before. Egads, she is shaking her finger. Scolding a plant? Sloane, it’s really too much. Her Fra Angelico must be imaginary.”

“No.” Sloane slapped his gloves against his hand. “This one is special, Brin. Different.”

“On that, I have to agree. She is certainly different. But different doesn’t do justice to a woman who talks to palms.”

“Will you forget the palm; doesn’t mean a thing. It won’t survive being knocked over anyway. I need her name. By Merlin, if you cannot provide it, how am I to learn her name? Can’t ask my mother; she’ll have banns posted.”

“Maybe my sister knows.”

“I have to find out somehow; I contracted to take the lady driving tomorrow. Deuced awkward knocking on the door not knowing her name.”

“I’d like to see you do that.”

Ostrich feathers whipped across Sloane’s face as Maud Silvester spun on her heel. “Will you two hooligans keep your voices down,” she demanded. “You are giving me a bilious fever.”

Sloane summoned up every bit of the charm he was born with, which was not a large amount. His talents tended more to the prosaic. “Sorry, Mrs. S.”

“Wipe that nauseating grin off your face, Sloane Johnstone. It does not impress me. Brinston, don’t say it. You look like a fool,” Mrs. Silvester snapped. The sharp angles of her face, bisected by wrinkles and spleen, caught the candlelight and lent a devilish air to her words. “Her name is Sarah. Miss Sarah Irene Frampton. And I suggest you treat her with a degree of respect. As you said, she is special. Her surname may be Frampton, but she takes after the Hempstead’s, her mother’s family. And you,” her nose pointed like a dagger, “are so muddleheaded you will never learn her address. The Frampton’s are at No. 5 Hay Street, by Audley Square. If you are to take her driving, mind you are on time for once. Her aunt is hopeless, but she is a stickler for the proprieties. Wear a better jacket. Now, begone.”

The men slunk away. A pencil in hand, Sloane scribbled in a small notebook. “S-a-r-a-h Frampton, No. Five Hay Street.” His head rose. “What's wrong with my jacket?”

Brinston grinned. “It is old, outmoded, and ill-fitting, but that is what I like about you, Sloane. You’re no slave to fashion. Gads, Mrs. S makes me feel like a snotty nose brat snitching tarts off the tea tray.” He veered toward the hall. “By the way, you had better watch yourself, asking this Miss Sarah Frampton for a drive without knowing her a’tall. She might be as mean as Mrs. S as well as being barmy. Never ever put yourself on the block.”

“It’s only a drive.”

“And it’s only the little season, but that don’t stop husband hunting. She’s a miss -- means she’s not married. Looks close to being an ape leader. She’ll shackle your ankle and drag you around Hyde Park, just to escape the shelf. If you ask my opinion--”

“Which I did not.”

“--You need to learn how to say no.”

Sloane shook his head. “She needs help; I can’t just turn my back.”

“Never could.”

“And you have this one pegged wrong. She didn’t approach me; I offered. All she wants is to be rid of me so she can find her art.”

“And I’m the Sultan of Arabia.”

“Well, Sultan, I’m hungry. Let’s find food.”

Brinston eyed his friend’s waistcoat. “You are always hungry. Eat more than any other man alive.”
Copyright Ann Tracy Marr

Lord Brinston and Sir Sloane Johnstone are old friends; their banter shows how relaxed they are with each other. You also might notice that Brin is more light hearted – Sloane is the serious one, although he is not a prig.

Can you tell that Maud Silvester speaks in capital letters? That every word is gospel? Maud is one of the grand ladies of the ton. A dragon who eats timid people for breakfast. It is the cadence of her sentences – abrupt, not always complete, like newspaper headlines – that conveys her character.  The two men also use incomplete sentences, but they are not abrupt – not demanding.

I came up with the dialogue by putting myself in their heads -- imagining how each character would react in the situation. Brinston and Maud Silvester were easy because I know them better – they have appeared in other books. Sloane is a new acquaintance, but I did know that he had dug a bit of a hole for himself, and that he is not one to panic.

Would you believe it? 20 minutes after I give up and start writing, the cat shows up. He hissed at me, the little brat, when I picked him up to bring him in.  In case you are wondering, emphasizing hissed indicates irritation.

Ah, peace and quiet for one night.


Week #6, October 9

Like a good teacher, who never leaves the substitute hanging, Christine London left me an assignment. She wants me to tell you what I knew as a teen that she did not. I could be glib and write about when I dreamt up the plot of the greatest novel ever written or how I discovered I was smarter than Shakespeare with a pen in my hand. I could take you on a tour of character building a la a girl who was not the most popular, the most pretty, or the most anything.

Sadly, the topic that sticks in my mind is that of child abuse.

No, I am not claiming to be an abused child. My friend was. She would never admit it, but her father was a monster. Most people would say he was dynamic -- he might even have been the pattern to cut out a damn your eyes romantic hero. He had the qualities of the Alpha hero.

Arrogant: he was always right.
Successful: he was pretty near the top of his profession, with the money to prove it.
Powerful: he was God in his house and probably in his office.
Handsome: I suppose he was okay, though I wasn’t into fathers.

Nasty. Oh, he could be nasty. Slap his daughter in the mouth so she has to go to the emergency room nasty. Dig at his son’s self-worth because the son didn’t have his drive nasty. Grind his wife under his heel if she wasn’t perfectly coifed nasty.

It is his fault that I am suspicious of Alpha heroes. They sound so good on paper, but I have a niggling suspicion that deep down they act like my friend’s father and I am just not interested. I’d rather write a hero with human failings and with a bit of humor. Oh yes, especially if said hero can poke a bit of fun at himself. My first hero, Lord Brinston of Round Table Magician, oh-so-politely insulates himself from life. It takes Martha to drag him, kicking and screaming, into the light.

Adrian Hughes, who knows very well that he is more standup comedian than haughty aristocrat, becomes the hero of Thwarting Magic. Margaret, who is forced to marry Adrian’s friend, recognizes his sterling qualities and has the sense to keep Adrian available until she is available.

Then we come to Lord Shelton. He is so busy trying to act like the alpha hero that he doesn’t notice that it isn’t in his blood. Katherine makes him see that it is more fun to pet kittens than kick them. That is partly why I am partial to To His Mistress; I think I present the good and bad sides of the alpha hero in the book while keeping the story exciting. Awe-Struck E-books must agree with me -- To His Mistress makes its debut in paperback October 25, 2011.

I will continue to write heroes who don’t quite make it to Alpha male. Beta is good enough for Sir Sloane Johnstone (Keeper of the Grail), who doesn’t shirk responsibility, even when responsibility gets buried under emergencies and problems. He could be Alpha if he tried, but Sarah Frampton likes him fine as he is.

Gentle reader, I hope you and Christine London don’t share my experience of the Alpha male, but don’t feel sorry for me. I happen to like Beta males. They are more interesting -- less predictable -- than Alphas.


Week #7, October 16

Hello, there, readers, I am Ann Tracy Marr, another Awe-Struck author. I write paranormal Regency romances – Regency because they are set in Jane Austen’s era, and paranormal because King Arthur is no longer a myth, but history. Yes, Arthur was real. He set up the Round Table, built Camelot, argued with Merlin, and did his best to make Britain function as one country. After Arthur died, the Round Table took over running the show for whatever king or queen happened to come to the throne. Eventually, time got around to the Regency era, when mad King George (the one America beat in the Revolutionary War) was falling off the throne and his son, also named George, was named regent. So in my books, the Round Table still runs Britain. There’s a few other changes, most significant being that Merlin’s magic is available.

Since I am doing Susan’s blog, I am at her command. She requests that I tell you five things about me that you do not know. Lordy, lordy, can I come up with five interesting things? Here goes – you decide if I am a bore.

1) I am funnier on paper than I am in real life. Just ask my daughter, who thinks I am disgusting.

2) When I was really little, I scribbled with soap on our neighbor’s basement window. You couldn’t see through the window and I was as proud as proud could be.

3) He was picking on my brother, so I beat him up. I was in kindergarten and he was in 5th grade. The school principal called my mother and said, “Ann was a little tiger again.” Please note she said, “Again.” My mother swore to it.

4) It was me TPing Bob Ash’s house. It was also me sliding behind the bushes so the cop car cruising down the street wouldn’t see me. And it was me falling in the window-well. Naturally, it was me using crutches for the next six or eight weeks while my knee healed.

5) I grew up to have a smidgeon of common sense. Even if my brothers don’t know (or won’t admit) it.

There. You have five things that most people don't know about me. Do I pass muster?

Sue’s second request is that I tell you five things about a pair of my lovers that may not be apparent when you read their book. This is a little harder than the first assignment. Which of four sets of lovers would you like to hear about?

1) Lady Martha and Lord Brinston, who fought the classic male vs. female battle until Martha won and married Brin? That is Round Table Magician.

2) How about Adrian Hughes and Margaret Ridgemont? They were headed for tragedy, having met just before she married James Treadway. Cry your eyes out for two lovers who can never be together… except fate (or something) steps in and saves the day in Thwarting Magic.

3) I like Katherine Scoville and the Earl of Shelton. Alex is so stubborn. If he believed the world was flat, he would insist that Columbus fell off the edge rather than admit the world was round. Ignore the existence of the Bahamas – the world is flat. End of discussion. Thank Arthur that Katherine sticks to her convictions in To His Mistress, otherwise, Alex would end up miserable.

4) Or I can introduce you to Sloane Johnstone and Sarah Frampton, who will show up in Keeper of the Grail.

Vote for number four, please.

Oh, you want to hear about Sarah and Sloane? Good choice. Here they come.

1) When she was young, Sarah and her brother, Richard, were in the nursery, playing knight and damsel in distress. Typical boy, Richard decides the poker makes a dandy sword. Although it is a bit heavy to slay dragons, he brandishes it about while Sarah cringes against the fireplace fender, shrinking from the fire breathing dragon. The coals in the fireplace endanger his damsel; Richard slays the fire and coals roll onto the hearth rug, where they smolder. At Sarah’s alarmed cries, the maid rushes from the next room, still holding a pair of half darned stockings. She picks up the rug and throws it on the fire, where it smokes and makes a dreadful smell.

You don’t imagine their father was pleased, do you? No, Hercules Frampton, never the calmest man, goes through the roof. He is going to tan Richard’s hide--that will teach the boy not to play with fire. Sarah, more alarmed by her father’s anger than by her brother’s attempt to burn the house down, says that Richard was not at fault. It was she, Sarah, who poked the fire and made the coals fall out. So Richard doesn't get whipped. Instead, Sarah has to put in an additional hour of labor per day stitching her sampler.

Sarah learns how to protect her siblings from an unreasonable parent. Richard absorbs – and uses and abuses – the knowledge that Sarah will save him from himself. Sarah has forgotten this incident, but it sets the tone for her relationship with Richard, which has tremendous impact on the plot of Keeper of the Grail.

2) Sloane has not forgotten his lessons in life: he has merely misplaced the tools for using them. His grandfather, a wise old man, recognized Sloane’s solemn nature and taught the boy to enjoy the absurdities that sprout like dandelions in the roses. For years, Sloane used this lesson to keep life light, but when calamity and disaster crawl on top of responsibility and problems jump to teeter at the peak of the pile, he bogs down. Sarah helps him recover the joy.

3) Sarah can hoot like an owl while Sloane can imitate a scared mouse’s squeak to perfection. Think of the possibilities for a game of hide and seek. Regency prim and proper is for public appearances, not necessarily for intimate moments.

4) Sloane hasn’t chased a girl in his life. He hasn’t needed to. If there is anything more attractive than a bad boy, it is a man who oozes power and personality. His first conquest was Laurel Renders, four-year-old daughter of his tutor. To get Sloane's attention, she complained to her father that he dipped the tip of her braid into the inkwell. Not having any self-torturing hangups, Sloane took his whipping like a man and wrote Laurel off as a nuisance.

5) Sarah can sew a button on neater than Sloane, but he can smell cinnamon from twenty paces. It all ties in with their interests. Sarah believes that if you have to do something, you might as well enjoy it. As for Sloane, there is no shame in enjoying sweets.

So there are five things about Sarah and Sloane that are not exactly obvious. What is obvious? Well, here are two people who don't have a lot in common, other than both living in 1814 England. When they hook up, it is for a purpose. It is not their fault that their personalities mesh so well or that great events sprout under their feet. You can't even blame them for the behavior of the Banshee Brigade, but you can applaud Sloane's handling of that feisty clique. Finally, a hero who can manage them! The book is titled Keeper of the Grail. It hasn't been born yet, but publisher willing, that will be soon.

If you are curious about the Banshee Brigade, they parade through every one of my books.