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Guest Interview–Rosemary Morris

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Characters in my historical fiction who are of their time and place. They are not 21st century characters dressed in costume.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I enjoy growing organic herbs, fruit and vegetables and putting them to good use in my vegetarian cuisine, reading for pleasure, knitting and other crafts.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Before I begin a novel I fill in detailed character profiles for the main characters. By the time I begin the novel, for which I have an undeveloped plot and theme, I know my characters almost as well as members of my family.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Definitely freestyle, I put my characters in various situations, and then enjoy finding out what they will do.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

While reading non-fiction something gives me an idea for a novel.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, I visit places of interest in the U.K.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I wake at 6 a.m. drink a glass of water and then turn on my laptop. I check my e-mails and then work on my current novel until 10 a.m., with a break for a healthy breakfast of porridge made with skimmed milk to which I add three portions of fruit. I then take care of domestic tasks etc., and, weather permitting, work in the garden or greenhouse until I lunch at 1 p.m.

In the afternoon, I either check my e-mails or critique a chapter submitted by a member of the online critique group which I belong to. At 2 p.m. I read either historical non-fiction for research or fiction for pleasure, and sometimes have a cat-nap. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. I participate in social media, apply critiques of my most recent chapter, answer e-mails etc., or attend the writers’ group which I belong to.

Of course, my daily routine isn’t cast in cement. On some days I have the pleasure of looking after my grandchildren. Sometimes I spend the weekend with one or the other of my children and their families, visit a place of historical interest or a museum.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

I write short stories, and recently won two flash fiction competitions which can be read on my blog. I also dabble with fantasy fiction for fun.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

I’ve always wanted to stay on a houseboat in Kashmir but due to the political situation, it’s a dream that will remain unfulfilled. However, I would like to visit some holy places in India, for example, Vrndavan where Lord Krishna took birth.

In what genre do you read?

Mostly all genres of historical fiction and some cosy crime fiction.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

The Oxford Dictionary of Christian names.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope that when my readers finish my story they will sigh with satisfaction, and that by the end of the novel I have created word pictures of the past in which my characters lived.

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BLURB

Georgianne Whitley’s beloved father and brothers died in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte. While she is grieving for them, she must deal with her unpredictable mother’s sorrow, and her younger sisters’ situation caused by it.

Georgianne’s problems increase when the arrogant, wealthy but elderly Earl of Pennington, proposes marriage to her for the sole purpose of being provided with an heir. At first she is tempted by his proposal, but something is not quite right about him. She rejects him not suspecting it will lead to unwelcome repercussions.

Once, Georgianne had wanted to marry an army officer. Now, she decides never to marry ‘a military man’ for fear he will be killed on the battlefield. However, Georgianne still dreams of a happy marriage before unexpected violence forces her to relinquish the chance to participate in a London Season sponsored by her aunt.

Shocked and in pain, Georgianne goes to the inn where her cousin Sarah’s step-brother, Major Tarrant, is staying, while waiting for the blacksmith to return to the village and shoe his horse. Recently, she has been reacquainted with Tarrant—whom she knew when in the nursery—at the vicarage where Sarah lives with her husband Reverend Stanton.

The war in the Iberian Peninsula is nearly at an end so, after his older brother’s death, Tarrant, who was wounded, returns to England where his father asks him to marry and produce an heir. To please his father, Tarrant agrees, but due to a personal tragedy he has decided never to father a child.

When Georgianne, arrives at the inn, quixotic Tarrant sympathises with her unhappy situation. Moreover, he is shocked by the unforgivably brutal treatment she has suffered.

Full of admiration for her beauty and courage Tarrant decides to help Georgianne.

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Review Comment

I was looking forward to another novel from Rosemary Morris and this one I couldn’t put down. The author seems to have found her voice in this story ….

This novel does not flinch from the realities of Regency times but in spite of that has a light and amusing style, with some parts that are near hilarious. Rosemary paints the more repulsive characters particularly well and is great at describing food and clothing. Her heroine is truly a character, a young woman with both passion and compassion. As for the hero, lovely – I wouldn’t send him back to war in a hurry.  By J. Pittam “Maythorn”

EXCERPT

Hertfordshire, England

November 1813

Rupert, Major Tarrant, caught his breath at the sight of seventeen year old Georgianne. Black curls gleamed and rioted over the edges of her bandeau. Georgianne’s heart-shaped face tilted down toward her embroidery frame. Her hands lay idle on her gown. It was lilac, one of the colours of half-mourning. A sympathetic sigh escaped him. She wore the colour out of respect for her father, who lost a hand and leg, during the Battle of Salamanca, and died of gangrene more than a year ago.

There had been so many deaths since he last saw Georgianne. Not only had her brothers died during the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo but his elder brother had drowned six months ago while bathing in the lake on their father’s estate.

He advanced into the room with Adrian, Viscount Langley, at his side. Georgianne looked up and smiled. He caught himself staring into her hyacinth blue eyes, fringed with long black lashes. Colour crept over her high cheekbones. Her arched eyebrows drew together across her smooth forehead. Egad, she had the sweetest countenance he had ever seen; one with the lustrous, milky white sheen of china, and bow shaped rose pink lips to catch at the heart.

Georgianne stood.

He bowed. “My condolences.”

Sarah, clad in full mourning for her older half-brother, stood to make her curtsy to Langley. “I trust you have everything you require, my lord?”

Langley bowed. “Yes, thank you.”

“My lord, allow me to introduce you to my cousin, Miss Whitley.”

Georgianne curtsied as his lordship crossed the parlour to make his bow.

Tarrant inclined his head. “Ladies, please excuse us, we must see to our horses.”

Sarah shook her head at him. “See to your horses? The grooms can do so.”

Georgianne gurgled with laughter. “Ah, Sarah, have you forgotten how cavalrymen fuss over their mounts?”

“Excuse us.”

* * * *

After the gentlemen left, Georgianne glanced at her cousin. She had seen little of her since Sarah yielded to the family’s persuasion to marry Wilfred Stanton, heir to his uncle, the Earl of Pennington.

Despite her reluctance to leave home because of her mamma’s unfortunate habit, and extravagant displays of grief over the loss of her husband and sons, Georgianne agreed to visit her cousin Sarah, who suffered from melancholy after the birth of a son.

Anxious for her mamma and two younger sisters, she reminded herself Whitley Manor—on the southern outskirts of Cousin Stanton’s Hertfordshire parish—lay a mere fifteen minutes away by carriage.

“Are you daydreaming, Cousin?”

Georgianne pretended to be busy untangling another strand of embroidery thread. “No.”

“Did I tell you Papa wants Tarrant to resign from the army now he is Papa’s heir?” Sarah’s needle flashed in and out of her work.

“Yes, several times.” Georgianne shivered, stretched her hands toward the fire, and fought a losing battle with the draughts in the old vicarage.

“Are you not interested in dear Tarrant?”

Georgianne bent her head. Once, she had wanted to marry a military man. However, after the loss of her father and brothers, she changed her mind for fear death might snatch him from her, either on the battlefield or as a result of wounds sustained in combat. She shook her head, remembering the dreams she harboured three years earlier when she last saw Major Tarrant. How her life had altered since then. Most of the time, she lived cloistered at home in reduced—yet not impoverished—circumstances. She spent her life in an endless round of mending and embroidery, both of which she detested. Her only escape from this drab existence consisted of daily walks, rides, or reading her beloved books. A yawn escaped her. Oh, the tedium of her days at home.

“You have not answered my question.”

Georgianne gathered her thoughts. “Yes, Sarah, I am interested in Major Tarrant. After all, we have known each other since we were in the nursery.”

“Good, but what are you thinking about? You are neglecting your sewing.”

Georgianne picked up her needle and thrust it in and out of the chemise, careless of the size of her stitches. Already she loathed the garment and vowed never to wear it.

“Papa wants Tarrant to marry,” Sarah rattled on.

Eyes downcast, Georgianne set aside her sewing and wrapped her arms around her waist for comfort. Before they died, her brothers and father had expressed their admiration for Major Tarrant in their letters. She shrugged. Once upon a time, she had built a castle in the air inhabited by Major Tarrant, a mere lieutenant when she last saw him.

Mamma still insisted on love not being the prime consideration for marriage, but novels and poems contradicted her opinion. Georgianne wanted to fall in love with one of the many eligible young gentlemen available: maybe a titled gentleman like Viscount Langley, provided he was not a military man. She shrugged. Certainly her mamma would regard the Viscount favourably. His lordship was wealthy, possessed good manners, and his height and broad shoulders equalled Major Tarrant’s. However, although she found no fault with him, Mamma might not approve of the Viscount’s skin—almost as dark as a gypsy from exposure to the sun while serving abroad—and his hair and eyes, sufficiently dark to rival any Spaniard’s. Her spirits lifted. The rectory would be a happier place with two fine young men in attendance. She was glad to be here, despite her acute concern for her family.

Sarah’s voice ended her musing. “Have you heard Tarrant inherited his godfather’s estate and fortune? Besides his pay, his income is thirty thousand pounds a year.”

Georgianne nodded. “Yes, I know. Major Tarrant is exceptionally fortunate.” Sarah blinked. “Why are you smiling?”

Georgianne stood and crossed the room to look out of the window. “I am happy because, so far, Major Tarrant and Viscount Langley have survived the war, which has taken so many lives and affected everyone in some way or another.”

She must force herself to remain cheerful. Papa had died eighteen months ago. It was time to set grief aside, if she could only find the means.

Thankfully, there was much to look forward to. After her presentation at court, she would be sure to meet many engaging gentlemen, one of whom she might marry. In time, she could help her sisters to escape their miserable existence.

Rosemary Morris - Small photo

Multi-published historical novelist, Rosemary Morris was born in in Sidcup Kent.  As a child, when she was not making up stories, her head was ‘always in a book.’

While working in a travel agency, Rosemary met her husband. He encouraged her to continue her education at Westminster College.  In 1961, Rosemary and her husband, now a barrister, moved to his birthplace, Kenya, where she lived for twenty years. After an attempted coup d’état, she and four of her children lived in an ashram in France.

Back in England, Rosemary wrote romantic historical fiction.  She is now a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Historical Novel Society and Cassio Writers.

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Guest release–The Newspaper Code by Lisa J. Lickel

The_Newspaper_Code

BLURB:

Judy Wingate’s NOT-BFF, Olivia Hargrove of the Robertsville Reporter, discovers a Civil War-era secret newspaper code that may lead to a seven million dollar windfall.

Not long after Judy and Hart’s baby is born, Judy and Ardyth are embroiled in another murder. This time it’s 99-year-old Esme Espe, the queen of the Petunia Society, Robertsville’s Garden Club. Dead-heading petunias has become a serious undertaking in Robertsville.

EXCERPT:

Ten minutes later, Judy, who’d accompanied Olivia to her second-floor apartment above the card shop, stood with her in front of the big oval mirror in the bathroom. Judy hovered behind her, deciding what to say and how to say it. Olivia still hadn’t told her about the code in the newspaper, or much about Adam.

And the hair! What in the world could she say without being accused of being too honest again?

“Hopeless, isn’t it? I might as well shave it off.” Olivia made a face at herself.

“I changed my mind. Do you really need glasses?” Judy decided to start with something easier. “Who…why did you decide on that style?”

“The clerk said cat’s-eyes were retro chic and I’d be memorable.” Olivia raised one eyebrow. “I’ve a lot to learn about reading people, don’t I?”

Judy took a deep breath, not about to start sharing her secret ability to read body language. She’d gotten so good at it after taking a class a few years back her former principal tried to use her as a kind of human lie detector in student behavior hearings. Her gift seemed to have faded since having Elizabeth. “I think you want to try something simpler. Have you heard of ‘less is more’?”

“Of course.” Olivia removed the glasses and reached into a drawer. She pulled out a pair of wire rims. “This is my last prescription. And, yes, I do need glasses. If I want to see anything, that is.” She stuck them on her nose and peered, eyebrows beetled, at herself. “Are these better?”

“If you want to look like a reject from Woodstock. You don’t exactly have to be in style, but you should aim to be stylish.”

“You’re saying I have no style?”

“That’s not what I mean.” Judy prayed for the right words. “Sometimes I think you don’t care about how you look.”

“I don’t usually have time to do makeup and hair, with my job.” She studied her reflection. “But I’m afraid I might end up a batty lonely old lady, like Esme, in a houseful of stray animals.”

“Esme had a lot of people who cared about her. She did things for the town. She might have lived alone, but I don’t think she was lonely. And Ardyth says she didn’t really have a houseful of strays. That was just a rumor.”

“Oh.”

“You didn’t report that, did you?”

“No. It’s not relevant. I don’t think.” Olivia turned to look at her. “Unless somehow one of her strays got into trouble with, like, shredding her work, or picked up something that belonged to someone else and brought it back. I read a book, once, where a packrat hid jewels in its nest and the homeowner was killed over it.”

“That’s pretty far-fetched.”

Olivia shifted back into place and gathered her hair in both hands. “What about this?”

Judy didn’t have a clue what to do with the wiry mop on Olivia’s head. “Have you tried growing it?”

“This is about as long as it gets.”

“Have you tried braiding, or something?”

“I’m hopeless.”

“Maybe I can try.” Judy studied the amount of hair and the directions it coiled. “I learned how to do this style back when I had my apartment in Lewiston. One of my neighbors was a flight attendant, and she liked to have her hair away from her face. Let me see. I divide it first. Do you have a comb?”

Five minutes of untangling and looping later, Olivia jerked under her hands. “Ouch!”

“Sorry. It’s been awhile.” Judy tucked under one of the French braids she’d styled around Olivia’s face. “And I have a daughter now, so I better get back in the habit before she starts asking me. Okay, how’s that?”

Wow, who knew Olivia had a real face under all that. Heart-shaped, too.

“Um, okay. I guess.” Olivia gave a cursory glance at the mirror. She raised her chin and looked at Judy’s reflection. “How many boyfriends have you had?”

Ah, so she’s back to thinking about Adam Gordon. Let’s follow this tack. “I’m probably not the best person to ask about boyfriends,” Judy warned.

“Besides the one who was a murderer,” Olivia added.

Judy felt the tingle of anger. No matter how nice Olivia looked on the outside, tact was not part of her inner make up. She acted more like one of Judy’s students.

Don’t take it personally, she reminded herself.

But maybe I can turn this to my advantage. “Graham was my first adult boyfriend,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I didn’t know he couldn’t be trusted—I didn’t have any experience with boys. Men.”

“So, you’re saying I can’t trust my feelings about Adam Ray because I don’t know any better.”

Judy cleared her throat and finished the other braid before stepping back. “That’s pretty blunt. Why don’t we talk about the things you know for sure, not what you think or feel?”

Olivia nodded. “I can do that. Let’s see. We went to college together.” She frowned. “He was three years ahead of me. I guess I don’t even know for sure that he graduated, though I could look it up on line.”

“If he took a teaching job at a college, let’s assume he finished college and graduate school.”

“I had no idea what he was doing after college until he sent that letter inviting me to collaborate.”

“Those were his words? He wanted to collaborate?” Judy smothered a laugh. “I haven’t heard that one before.”

“You think it’s just a line?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry, that wasn’t very nice of me. What else did the letter say?”

Olivia pulled the towel from around her neck and replaced the wire rims with the cat’s-eyes. “Here, you can read it for yourself.”

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Lisa Lickel E 110 KB

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor.

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Twitter: @lisajlickel