Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Walk Like A Man

Think of Queen Elizabeth I or Golda Mier and you just might see Queen Hatshepsut of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Her name might not come as easily on the tongue, but in her day she was a household word. In order to seize power when her half-brother husband died, she knew she had to look like a warrior. So, for twenty-two years, whenever she appeared in public, she concealed her breasts and adopted the ceremonial false beard.

Image Source: someinterestingfacts.net
Soon she was being hailed as the "Son of the Sun" and "Lord of Two Lands" with obelisks and temples built in her honor. And, as legend has it, it was she who found the baby Moses in the bulrushes while having her daily bath.

Image Source: I Harsten via Flickr Creative Commons
She was the third pharaoh to reside in the Valley of Kings. When she died, to show that Hatshepsut was no longer powerful, the new pharaoh had all the beards chopped off her statues.

Strangely enough, even  male pharaohs continued to use false beards as a sign of distinction, rather than grow their own. There were three major styles: short and stubby for high-ranking men; larger and thick for kings; and slender and curved for gods. Men used copper razors to maintain the cleanshave look that was de rigueur.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Releases


Prelude to a Kiss, Book Three
By Erin KnightleyJuly 7, 2015

After her mother’s death, May’s sea captain father sends her halfway around the world to live with his stodgy sister in England. The summer festival in Bath made for a lovely distraction, but now she can’t wait for her father’s return so she can leave this country, its suffocating rules, and one infuriatingly proper nobleman in particular behind.

Because he is the Duke of Radcliffe, William Spencer’s whole life revolves around his duties. He never steps foot outside the bounds of proper behavior, and he expects the same of those around him. With her devil-may-care ways, May vexes him nearly as much as she tempts him, but there’s something about her that he just can’t resist. He knows he’s falling hard for her, but with lives that are worlds apart, will they ever be able to find any common ground?

I adore this cover
. It screams romance.

By Jenna Kernan
July 1, 2015

Running Wolf is a valiant Sioux warrior.  During his first raid as war chief, he captures a surprising Crow enemy--a woman!  This spirited fighter is unlike any he's ever met.  Her beauty and audacity are entrancing, but threaten his iron resolve...

Snow Raven must focus on freeing herself, not on the man who keeps her captive.  But as she falls deeper under Running Wolf's spell, she realizes he is her warrior--and she'll risk everything for him!

This Indian romance sounds like a good summer read.

Warriors of Ireland, Book One
By Michelle WillinghamJuly 2015

Physically and emotionally scarred, Lady Taryn of Ossoria knows no man would want her for a wife. Nonetheless, she’s determined to free her father from his merciless overlord and enlists powerful warrior Killian MacDubh to help.

He has his own motives for confronting the High King… Born a bastard, Killian longs to carve out a place for himself. Unaware of her true beauty, Taryn is an alluring distraction to his plan, but as traitors are revealed and loyalties tested, their forbidden love becomes the only thing worth fighting for!

What's not to love about an Irish warrior named Killian?!


By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
July 7, 2015

When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 "fixer," known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

Ooo, you had be at "secrets pile up".

By Caroline B. Cooney
July 14, 2015
Miranda and Lander Allerdon are sisters. Miranda is younger, a dreamer, and floating her way through life. Lander is older, focused, and determined to succeed. As the girls and their parents begin another summer at their cottage on the Connecticut River, Miranda and Lander’s sibling rivalry is in high gear. Lander plans to start medical school in the fall, and Miranda feels cast in her shadow.

When the Allerdons become entangled in an unimaginable tragedy, the playing field is suddenly leveled. As facts are revealed, the significance of what has happened weighs heavily on all. How can the family prepare for what the future may hold?


What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' websites.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Summer Challenge: June Results

So to recap, my writing besties and I kicked off June with The Summer Challenge, a plan to create writing and exercise goals. The Challenge runs through the end of August.

For the month of June, I came up with a personal writing and exercise goal that I wanted to do every day. The goals were small and manageable to avoid a freak out. My goals: To open my WIP and write/edit for a minimum of 1 hour each day, including weekends. Also, do 100 sit ups a day (in addition to my daily exercise routine).

I bet you're dying to know how I did. Weeelll, I confess I didn't have a perfect record in June.

It's okay, really. I knew I wouldn't be able to write or exercise every day, thanks to my mini vacation getaway to Oregon, so I went into the challenge fully aware that I'd fail come up against a roadblock. Little did I know I'd get a cold after I returned home from my trip. I felt so terrible, I didn't write or exercise for a week. 

No worries. Life happens. I'm still satisfied with everything I accomplished this month. When I was home and able, I wrote and exercised. In other words, I did my best. Though I'm a perfectionist, I don't have to be perfect. What I mean is, I don't brood and moan and agonize for hours if my day doesn't go as planned. What's the point?

Tomorrow is another day. As long as I made an effort to accomplish my goals, I'm satisfied. Of course that wouldn't have been the case had I simply procrastinated and not met my goals. 

A new month starts tomorrow, and with it comes a brand new challenge. Forget those daily goals for June. Now we're aiming to accomplish a whole new set of weekly goals.

My goals for July are: 1) Line edit 30 pages a week. 2) Do Pilates 2 times a week.

I still intend to stick with the daily writing and exercise goals I created in June. I'm currently on summer break, so setting aside writing time every day is something I can easily do. Also, the glorious summer sunshine gives me a sort of adrenaline rush. I feel more energized and eager to tackle my tasks when the sun is out. 

 Watch out July, I'm ready for you.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Funks Happen

Sometimes funks happen. My most recent writing funk was in April. The sky was gray, the air was cold, and some family woes had me worried. I wanted to be on vacation far away from the gloomy Pacific Northwest and all of my stress, which made it terribly hard to focus on my writing.

I just couldn't bring myself to sit down at my desk, turn on my laptop, and open my WIP. I wanted to stop procrastinating, really I did, and nearly drove myself crazy trying shake off my winter blues.

I watched costume dramas and read historical romances, hoping they would inspire me to write. Nothing jarred me out of my funk. A week passed, and I was still stuck in my pity party. To be honest, it was mentally exhausting.

As the days flew by, I became more discouraged and upset with myself for not meeting my self-imposed deadline. Why wasn't I writing? I didn't have writer's block. I wasn't uncertain about which direction to go with my story. I had characters and a routine that excited me. My goals weren't ridiculously hard. I knew I could meet them, if only I tried.

All I had to do was put my butt in my chair, my hands on my keyboard, and get some words down. Put in the hours. Write. Revise. Repeat. It was the only way I was going to finish my story.

Giving up for one week is what worked for me in the end. Weird, I know. But giving myself permission to step away from my writing for seven days gave me the mental break I needed.

I brooded. I watched more movies. I read another book. I worked on craft projects. And when I reached the day that I told myself I'd snap out of my funk, guess what happened. I sucked it up, sat down with my computer, turned on my timer, opened up my WIP, and started writing.

Everyone needs a break from work from time to time -- it's no different for a writer. So take a mini vacation if you need one. Then get back to work.
Monday, June 8, 2015

Bulls and Beards

The trend in the Renaissance was toward dignity, and what could be more dignified than a beard?

Clive Owen, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Early styles were broad and square, à la Henry VIII, but as the sixteenth century progressed, a whole range of styles cropped up: the tiny, pointed Spanish beard; the pencil beard, nothing but tuft; the stiletto beard, a razored strip; the cathedral beard, an august mass of fluff; the spade beard; the fetching, double-pronged swallow's tail beard.

Ben Affleck, Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Colin Firth, Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Beards were powdered, waxed, and perfumed -- and, in a compliment to russet-haired Queen Elizabeth I, even dyed red. To preserve their hairy treasure overnight, men tied cloth bags around their beards or kept them clamped in iron presses.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Summer Challenge

My writing besties and I have decided to do a summer writing and exercise challenge.

The challenge officially kicked off yesterday and will run through the end of August. I'm excited about this challenge. I know I can stay focused on my writing and exercise goals with the support of my friends. They're as eager as I am to be successful this summer, and that kind of enthusiasm is a big plus. We've made our goals small and manageable, so we don't get overwhelmed and become discouraged.  

For the month of June, we all have a goals we want to accomplish every day. Next month, we'll choose a goal we want to accomplish once a week. Then in August, we'll challenge ourselves to do something big for the month.

My goals for June are:

1) Open my WIP and write and/or edit for a minimum of 1 hour every day, including weekends
2) Do 100 sit ups a day (in addition to my daily exercise routine)

No fear here. I'm all ready and raring to go.

I want to do more than achieve my goals this summer. I want to achieve and exceed my own expectations.
Monday, June 1, 2015

June Releases


The Hope Diamond Trilogy, Book Three

By Jessica Peterson
June 2, 2015

Mr. Henry Lake spent the past twelve years uncovering the most scandalous secrets of Europe’s wealthy and powerful, serving as one of His Majesty’s most decorated spies. But when a mission to find the legendary French Blue diamond brings him back to London, and face to face with a beautiful noblewoman he once loved, it’s his own hidden passions that are uncovered…

Lady Caroline, Countess of Berry, knows better than to lose her head over a man. After an embarrassing romantic entanglement forced her into a loveless marriage and early widowhood, she learned to never trust in desire, especially when it comes to the man who once broke her heart. Only, despite her good sense, she finds Henry impossible to resist—even when he once again places her in deathly danger.

This is a great trilogy.  

Masters of Seduction, Book One

By Alexandra Hawkins
June 30, 2015

London, 1792. The Duke of Blackbern and the Marquess of Norgrave are boyhood friends who will still compete at anything. Racing, drinking, gambling, even seduction—until Lady Imogen Sunter crosses their path. Achingly beautiful, and innocent, she has no understanding of the jaded gentlemen who are courting her for favors—of how far they are willing to go to get what they want…

In this game of seduce and destroy?

Fighting for Imogen’s affection should have been no more than their usual spirited rivalry. But when Blackbern discovers his feelings for Imogen have deepened, all bets are off. Norgrave, driven by his own demons, won’t forsake his pride—and with one shocking act of betrayal that threatens Imogen and Blackbern’s newfound desire, Norgrave will set the course for a generation of Regency bad boys who will go down in history as the Masters of Seduction...

OMG, I love this cover!  


By Valynne E. Maetani
June 1, 2015

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life.

I like a good mystery.


By Anne Heltzel
June 2, 2015

The charming, jet-setting Charlie Price is presumed dead following a tragic plane crash. At his funeral, Charlie’s double life is exposed when his two girlfriends—Lena and Aubrey—collide.

Reckless and glamorous, Lena Whitney believes Charlie is still alive, and she won’t rest until she’s found him. She and Aubrey Boroughs—a sheltered aspiring artist—team up on a journey across Europe and Asia to uncover the full extent of Charlie’s deception.

As a trail of Charlie’s lies carries them across continents, it’s the girls’ unlikely friendship that keeps them strong…until they each discover that the other has been harboring a destructive secret of her own. Can their fledgling bond survive Charlie’s final—and most insidious—betrayal?

Ooo, I'm intrigued.

What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website and/or Amazon
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spot Check

After a long, lonley winter at sea, any woman would look good, but those who greeted Captian Cook's crew in New Zealand in 1796 left a really long lasting impression -- their faces were swathed in red ocher and olive oil that stained the sailors' faces when they embraced.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

After they returned to the ship, the sailors' faces weren't the only things that were "spotted". Outraged by his men's amorous cheekiness, Cook put each and every one of the sailors on report -- the first time in naval history that a blemished complexion led to a blemished record.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Friday, May 1, 2015

May Releases


The Tang Dynasty, Book Five
By Jeannie Lin
May 1, 2015

After a failed assassination attempt on a corrupt general, Bao Yang is a wanted man. Taking refuge with an ally, Yang accidentally compromises the man's daughter when they're discovered alone. To save her honor, he must marry the beautiful Jin-mei immediately!

In Yang's arms, Jin-mei feels alive for the first time. She's determined not to lose him, even if it means joining his perilous mission... But when she realizes just how destructive Yang's path could be, can she convince him that their life together could be so much sweeter than revenge?

I can't wait to read this sequel to The Sword Dancer. I love Jeannie Lin historicals! 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fun Fact Saturday: Medieval Folk Remedies

Medieval folk remedies were used to treat illness, cast out or ward off evil and ensure good crops. Folk remedies included stuffing mattresses and pillows with herbs, laying herbs on the body, making herbal infusions for external use and herbal teas for internal use. Medieval folk remedies extended beyond the use of herbs and also included superstition and using animal urine and excrement.

Outlander (2014-)
Angelica, or wild celery, was used as a remedy for coughs. Angelica leaves were made into necklaces and worn to ward off illnesses and to protect against witchcraft. In medieval times it was believed that angelica was the only herb not used by witches. Growing angelica in the garden or keeping angelica in the home was considered a defense for a woman suspected of being a witch.

Anise, a licorice-flavored herb, was used as a treatment for hiccups, headaches, asthma, insomnia, lice, nausea and infant colic. Anise was also used for bad breath and as a perfume.

Blackberry was used to treat gout, bleeding gums, burns and dysentery.

was used to treat jaundice, hemorrhoids, gout and arthritis. Buckhorn was also used as a laxative.

Burdock was used to treat leprosy, tumors, skin infections, ringworm and fever.

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in Outlander (2014-)
During medieval times, it was believed that wearing buttercups in a bag around the neck would cure insanity. Buttercups were also used to treat jaundice.

Caraway was used to treat indigestion, gas and infant colic.

Cinnamonwas used to treat colds and the flu.

Coltsfoot was a remedy for asthma, coughs, shortness of breath, fever and inflammation.  

Comfreywas used as a remedy for broken bones. In medieval times, different cultures used comfrey to heal broken bones in different ways. Some cultures boiled comfrey and crushed it into a paste, soaked cloths in the comfrey paste and wrapped the affected area with the comfrey-soaked cloth. Some cultures boiled or heated comfrey and placed the warmed plant on the affected area. Comfrey was also made into teas. In Lithuania, comfrey was made into an infusion or tea and drank to treat broken bones. Comfrey tea was used to treat lung and gastrointestinal ailments and disorders.

Caitriona Blafe as Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser
Outlander (2014-)
Dill was used as a digestive aid.  

Eel skin tied around the knees was believed to be a treatment for cramps. 

A toothache treatment in medieval times was to touch the tooth of a dead man. In Lithuania, it was believed that a wart could be treated by rubbing the wart with the fingers of the dead.  

Garlic and mustard were used to ward off the plague. 

Goose Droppings were used to treat baldness. To treat, goose droppings was applied to the bald spots.

was a headache remedy. To treat a headache with heather, the herb was boiled in water and applied directly onto the head.

Tristan and Isolde (2006)
During medieval times, mint had any uses. Mint was used to treat gout. It was also used to calm the nerves and as a digestive aid. In addition, mint was used for bad breath.

Rosemary was a remedy for gout and dandruff.

Saffron was used to treat jaundice and insomnia.

Sage was used as a cure-all during medieval times. Wet sage was used as bandages. Sage-infused vinegars were used as disinfectants. Sage was also used to treat snakebite, epilepsy, intestinal worms and lung and chest ailments.

St. John's Wort was a treatment for snakebite. It was believed that the herb could drive away evil spirits. On St. John’s Eve, Christians would have bonfires, burning St. John’s Wort to ward off evil spirits and ensure healthy crops.St. John's Wort was also used to treat fevers.

Thyme was used to treat depression. As with other herbs historically used to treat depression, mattresses were often stuffed with thyme as a remedy for depression. Thyme was also used to treat coughs, intestinal worms and digestive disorders.

Yarrow was used to treat jaundice, inflammation, bleeding and as a mild sedative.

Courtesy of Sophie Reynolds via www.ehow.com
BuckthornBuckthorn was used to treat jaundice, hemorrhoids, gout and arthritis. Buckhorn was also used as a laxative.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/list_6878569_medieval-folk-remedie

Medieval folk remedies were used to treat illness, cast out or ward off evil and ensure good crops. Folk remedies included stuffing mattresses and pillows with herbs, laying herbs on the body, making herbal infusions for external use and herbal teas for internal use. Medieval folk remedies extended beyond the use of herbs and also included superstition and using animal urine and excrement.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/list_6878569_medieval-folk-remedies.html
Medieval folk remedies were used to treat illness, cast out or ward off evil and ensure good crops. Folk remedies included stuffing mattresses and pillows with herbs, laying herbs on the body, making herbal infusions for external use and herbal teas for internal use. Medieval folk remedies extended beyond the use of herbs and also included superstition and using animal urine and excrement.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/list_6878569_medieval-folk-remedies.html
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Show Must Go On

In 1828, Nelson Howard's role as "bareback rider" in the Buckley and Wicks Circus took on new meaning when his costume failed to arrive on time. Undaunted, he stripped down to his long johns, which -- dubbed "circus tights" -- have been the preferred costume for circus performers ever since.

Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants (2011)
Another nineteenth century performer's choice of costume was more calculated. What to wear if you're the most famous French circus aerialist, heart-throb, and body beautiful to boot? Between somersaults, the performer gave it a lot of thought -- and his name -- to the answer: a leotard.

"If you want to be adored," Jules Léotard advised, "put on a more natural garb which does not hide your best features."

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Releases


Contours of the Heart, Book Three

By Tammara Webber
April 27, 2015

She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient; now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:

 I can't wait to read this book!! The first book in the series is one of my all-time favorite New Adult novels.



By Harper St. George
April 1, 2015

The moment Merewyn sets eyes on the warrior standing atop a Viking raiding ship, something inside her stirs. By all rights, she should fear him, should run from him, yet she cannot help but be drawn to him.

Eirik has never before taken a woman captive, yet Merewyn inspires a longing that calls to the darkness within him. He takes her back to his homeland as his slave, where they finally succumb to passion. And as the lines between captor and captive blur, Eirik realizes they have crossed into dangerous territory…

I love me some Vikings! 

 What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website.