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Archive for July, 2008

Middlemarch, New Zealand

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about The Real MIDDLEMARCH

1. Middlemarch is a small country town, in Central Otago, New Zealand. It is about 80 km West of Dunedin. It’s located in the Strath Taieri Valley.

2. Several suggestions exist about how the township was named. One is that Mrs Alice Humphreys, whose husband Edward Wingfield Humphreys owned and had surveyed for sale of sections in this new township, was reading George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch. Another is that the name is from the obsolete English term “march” meaning a boundary – in this case a middle area between two rivers.

3. Middlemarch is the setting for my feline shapeshifter series, Middlemarch Mates.

4. Each year Middlemarch holds a singles dance and a special train (nicknamed the Love Train) carries women and men to the dance from Dunedin.

5. HOW IT ALL BEGAN – the dance.

In November last year our Community Board was presented with some statistics about rural health and other services in this area. As part of her presentation, Pauline Carruthers, the local Plunket Nurse, District Nurse and at that time only local practise nurse in the area, noted that we needed more nurses and made the flippant comment that we should marry some of our bachelors off to some nurses.

The Community Board took the idea one step further and suggested to the local A & P Society that it would arrange for the sponsor of the Dance for its Centenary Show. We contacted Country & City Contacts (NZ) Ltd. They are an Amberley-based dating service that has had huge success in the rural areas, especially of the South Island. Henk & Joy van Leir were enthusiastic and supportive of the idea of publicising the dance as a good place for their clients to meet each other and also some of our bachelors.

6. The area has some rare creatures – the mountain weta, the Otago and Grand skinks and the NZ falcon.

7. The area is also home to the Sutton Salt Lake. The water in the lake evaporates during the summer.

8. There are also special clouds in the area called the Tairei Pet. A cloud formation reportedly found only in one or two places in the world. It is formed by high north westerly winds being forced upward over the Rock & Pillar range – spectacular and unnerving by its sheer size and its association with the high winds.

9. It is the start of the 150km Otago Central Rail Trail, a path that stretches from Middlemarch to Clyde. People can walk, cycle or ride horses along this path, staying overnight at stops on the way.

10. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a train from Dunedin. It travels through the spectacular Tairei Gorge and is popular with tourists.

11. Scarlet Woman, Peeping Tom and Stray Cat Strut are all set in Middlemarch and feature various members of the Mitchell family.

12. Go here to learn about how the series was born, plus there are photos. There are also Middlemarch photos here.

13. Assassin, Middlemarch Mates book 4 is coming on August 6.

Assassin

Here’s the blurb:

Feline shifter Leo Mitchell is the pretty brother who attracts women with ease, but he’s turned picky. He suspects the mystery blonde hanging around Middlemarch is the one for him. If only he could grab the elusive female and seduce her. Oh yeah. He craves some hot, sinful lovin’ with the lady in black leather.

Assassin Isabella Black has harbored a huge crush on hunky Leo for ages. Because the timing sucked she’s watched him from afar, praying another woman won’t snatch the hottie away before she’s free to stake a claim.

Finally the pair meet. Isabella offers her naked body but Leo counteracts with a cup of tea. Seems Leo likes to call the shots when it comes to sex. A day later they’re finally dancing horizontally. It’s smokin’ hot, steamy, delicious—everything she’s ever wanted. Isabella is ecstatic until another assassin threatens to ruin her happiness. It’s life or death now. One wrong move and her secrets will destroy the Mitchells along with everything that has become dear to her…including Leo.

Do you like small town settings or do you prefer sophisticated city settings for your romances?

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What A Tangled Web We Weave with Lorelei James

Tied Up Tied Down My special guest today is Samhain author, Lorelei James. She’s talking about family trees and books. Over to Lorelei and her Western men!

Shelley contacted me after she’d finished, TIED UP, TIED DOWN, the latest book in my Rough Riders series from Samhain Publishing, wondering if I’d ever considered creating a family tree for the characters as a reference point for readers.

I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of it. I’ll also admit I have lots of characters in my books — no one really is an island, even in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. The Rough Riders books are a Western saga, if you will, featuring a large ranching family. Each book can be read as a standalone, but each book builds on the entire arc of the series, both forward and backward, and each one features a different McKay or West family member.

***Complete disclosure; if I had it to do all over again, I would not have so many ‘C’ and ‘K’ names in this series – although it is something families do frequently out here in the Wild West, begin all offspring’s first names with the same letter. As sort of a wink wink nudge nudge to my readers and myself, in TIED UP, TIED DOWN, Skylar complains about the excessive use of the same consonant in the McKay family. And Kane asks his twin brother Kade why their mother gave them such similar names.***

I remember a series by a famous author in which the first couple in the series birthed one kid in the epilogue. Then in the next connected book that same couple were blessed with twins…but no mention of the first child. In the 3rd or 4th book, that same couple had triplets, not twins, still no mention of that poor little forgotten first kiddo. The inconsistency pulled me out of the story. Readers might think it is the copy editor’s job to double check facts and character lineage, but I wonder if the whole incident could’ve been avoided had the author created a family tree.

So I took Shelley’s suggestion to heart. Not only would an official roadmap be a bonus for readers, it’d be an easy way for me to keep track of my own characters. I checked a couple of author sites to see how they structured their family trees to get an idea of what I wanted. Then I posed the challenge to my readers loop, The James Gang, and two fabulous ladies volunteered to head up the project. Honestly, I think they’re afraid if I’m dinking around with working on a family tree I won’t actually be writing, and they’re sort of antsy for me to get the next book finished :grin:

These fans, Joy Roett and Carla Hartman created not one, not two, but three separate family trees. Immediately I sent the finished project to my website designer to post. Check out the results here.

Question of the day for readers: Do you look at family trees in the beginnings of books? Or skip over them entirely? Or would you go to the author’s website for more information?

Lorelei James writes erotic Westerns set in the modern day Wild West. For more information on books, contests and the James Gang readers yahoo group, visit Lorelei’s website: www.loreleijames.com

Lemons: Yellow Sunshine

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about LEMONS

This year our lemon tree has produced heaps of fruit. Our fruit bowls are full of them. They’re a bright sunshine color and remind me of summer, despite the winter gloom outside.
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Packing For Travel

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about PACKING for a Trip

With my trip coming up soon, packing is looming…

1. Make a list a few weeks beforehand of the things you think you’ll need to take with you.

2. Lay out the clothes you think you want to take, along with toiletries, shoes etc.
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Crunchy Lemon Muffins

After a solid week of edits, I’ve decided to have a lazy weekend. I’ve just made a batch of one of my favorite muffins and thought I’d share the recipe with you. It’s taken from New Zealander Alison Holst’s Marvellous Muffins recipe book, and it’s one I make often.

2 cups self-raising flour (I didn’t have any so I used 2 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
3/4 cup of sugar

75 grams butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
grated rind of 1 large or 2 small lemons

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Measure the flour and sugar into a bowl and toss to mix. Melt the butter, add the milk, egg and lemon rind and beat well with a fork to combine. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and combine only until the dry ingredients have been lightly dampened but not overly mixed. Divide the mixture evenly between 12 medium-sized muffin pans. (I used paper muffin cases since I hate both greasing the tin and cleaning it afterward!)

Bake at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes. (I find the time depends on the oven. I cooked mine for 10 minutes and found they needed a couple minutes more)

Stir together the lemon juice and sugar without dissolving the sugar and drizzle this over the hot muffins as soon as they come out of the oven. Leave to stand in the pan for only a few minutes after this since the syrup hardens and sticks to the pan when it cools.

Notes: As always I improvise. I use mainly white flour but add a little wholemeal as well. These are also good served with a little fresh fruit and Greek yoghurt. Yum!

I really like muffins. Blueberry are my favorite. I like these lemons ones and also another recipe I make with raspberry jam in the middle and a sugary cinnamon topping. I’ll save that recipe for another time. Strangely, chocolate comes down the list for me, that’s unless it has lots of chocolate chips inside!

Do you like muffins and if so, what is your favorite kind?