08-30 Catherine Mann - Military Wife Mementos

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I don’t have a story to tell about my travels on trains, planes or automobiles, because nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened to me. I am certainly glad I didn’t need to travel on public transport last century. It would have been a very slow, uncomfortable journey, with no air-conditioning in summer, although you could open the windows to catch a breeze. In winter, the only heating they would have had were feet warmers (tin containers filled with hot water or hot coals).

I write historical romance, so there is quite a lot of train travel (of the steam train variety) in my novels. I thought I might set up a few train scenes from three of my novels set during the 1st World War.

Allison’s War
1914 -The door leading from the carriage slid open and, even with the swaying of the train, Phillip started moving down the narrow passageway, glancing out the window as he did so. They would reach Dixon’s Siding in ten minutes. The conductor had assured him of this a few moments ago, but he was taking no chances of being carried on. If he missed his stop, God alone knew where he might end up.

“Damnation.” The train shuddered and slammed him against a window. As he straightened up, he watched without much interest as two horsemen broke out of the forest. No, it was called bush in Australia, he reminded himself. One must get the colloquialisms right, more advice from Tony. Young fools were racing the train.

Daring Masquerade
1916 - Harry and Ross caught a midday train home. The seats in the first class carriage were upholstered in black leather, the walls decorated with cedar panels, beveled mirrors and pictures of Victorian tourist attractions. Harry wanted to hang her head out the window as they steamed away from Melbourne, but couldn’t risk getting a cinder in her eye.


1917 - When they got out of the car at the station Gilbert toddled around squealing with delight as he chased the stationmaster’s cat. The blast of a whistle in the distance and a trail of smoke drifting skywards, had Harry straining her eyes to catch her first glimpse of the train bringing Ross home to Devil’s Ridge.

Lauren’s Dilemma
1914 - They were late. The train, already pulled in at the station, belched out clouds of black smoke. Laurie dashed onto the platform, almost colliding with a signalman who waited with his lamp.

Groups of well-wishers made their farewells to loved ones through the carriage windows. Her hasty glance confirmed the train was full of young men from further up the line, all heading for the army camp in Melbourne. She ignored a wolf whistle from one young man as she rushed from carriage to carriage searching for Danny. I have to find him. It would be awful if he thought she couldn’t be bothered seeing him off.

In desperation, she used their childhood secret emergency signal. Putting two fingers into her mouth, she emitted three loud whistles.

“Laurie?” He poked his head through the carriage window. “Thank God you made it on time.” He gave a relieved grin.

“I wanted to see you off.” Her voice wobbled as she fought to keep it under control. There would be plenty of time for tears later, in the privacy of her room. She wanted him to carry away happy thoughts of her, memories that would sustain him even in his darkest hour. “Good luck.” She forced a smile, vowing to keep it pinned to her mouth no matter what the cost.

“Thanks.” He squeezed her hand. “Remember, you'll always be my best girl.”

“Good luck, Danny.” Matthew Cunningham strolled up to them.

“Thanks, Mr. Cunningham. Look after yourself, Laurie, and don’t forget what I said.” He gave her a quick kiss on the mouth.

The whistle blew several times in quick succession. There was a hiss of steam, black smoke belched from the engine, and then with a loud groan the train started to move. Laurie ran along beside the carriage for a short way clinging to Danny’s hand until the engine picked up speed, forcing her to let go. “Write to me.”

His reply got blown away by the draft from the train, but he waved enthusiastically until the train took a bend in the line. He was gone.

Special 3 in 1 Centenary edition -  A three novel collection, depicting the tragedy and triumph of three different women during World War 1. Allison's War, Daring Masquerade and Lauren's Dilemma.

A hundred years ago, from the far flung corners of the British Empire, young men rushed to fight for Mother England in what was to be known as the Great War, or as we, in more modern times called it, the 1st World War. They left their wives and sweethearts behind. Many of these brave women waited in vain for their men folk to return. How did they cope with the loss and heartache? Could they ever hope to find happiness with another man?


 Margaret Tanner writes historical romance. Her favorite period is the 1st World War and she has thoroughly researched the era. She has had access to diaries of family members who served in this terrible conflict, and has also visited the battlefields in France and Belgium.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Light Up the Night

by M. L. Buchman

Sometimes titles are evocative, sometimes they're good, and sometimes they just suck. It's one of the wonders of traditional publishing when you aren't in control of your own titles. (Though I've certainly seen some awful indie titles as well.)

That said, for me: This one Rocks!
The title is totally cheerful, they "Light Up" the night! It's one of those words like working "Heart" into your title or finagling it into the last word of your pitch. It just makes you feel better.

The challenge of a good title is delivering on it.

  • The Divine Comedy for Dante Alighieri's journey through hell
  • Pride and Prejudice that has us still debating two hundred years later exactly which one is which but still sighing at the ending anyway.
  • Zorba the Greek a title which I dare you to say without smiling. Or remember without smiling.
Frequently the trick is that you can make up the title after you've written the book.
  • The Old Man and the Sea is about, um, this old guy and the sea
  • Don Quixote is this book about this, uh, quixotic guy
  • The Hobbit The "What-it?" You just have to pick it up to find out 
All great titles, and I'll bet they were all chosen after the book was at least well started.

The catch with my traditional books has been that the way traditional publishing works, they choose the title before I know what the book is about. I might have main characters, and some guess about where on the planet it will occur. But other than being a military romantic suspense, I don't know a whole lot more than that by the time the marketing pack is due at the sales team (over a year ahead of publication).

That's another of the reasons Light Up the Night rocks for me. The characters really do, almost like a pinball machine. Not only their battles with evil forces (of which there are plenty in the book), but in their sparring with each other. Neither wants to be in love, especially not with the other one, which turned out to be really fun to write.

Lieutenant William Bruce is a Navy SEAL who is working undercover in Somalia.

Trisha O'Malley is an Army helicopter pilot for the secretive Night Stalkers and saves his behind when he doesn't think he needs it.

He's dirt-poor Scottish from Chicago; she's well-bred Boston-Irish.

He's strong and silent; she's so not...silent that is. (Though she teaches him a thing or two about what strong means.)

So, when they take on the Somali pirate lords, and each other, it definitely Lights Up the Night. And like the umpteenth crazy good thing about that cover is that, at least to my author's eye, that's pretty much how they look. (Okay, I'm looking at the really cute girl. I'm a guy who writes romance, so sue me. :) )

Anyway, this title (the latest addition to my "Night Stalkers" series) is available in just 6 days on September 2nd (or sooner if you're reading this later).

The reason I chose older titles above is I'd love to hear what are some of your favorite romantic suspense or romance titles that just really fit the spirit as well as the story of the book.

You can sign up for my newsletter at to receive release news and free short stories. You can also read an additional  free short story during the Ides of Matt (the 14th-20th of every month).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wet Heat or Dry? by Sarah Raplee

I’m writing this post in late July on an airplane on our way home from Orlando, Florida.



My husband and I spent a week in a lovely vacation rental house near Orlando with my eldest son’s family. The house even had a pool! My nine-year-old grandson was playing in a national baseball tournament. We all decided to have our vacation in Orlando so that we could attend his games at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. Like most vacations, ours had its ups and downs.

Nothing like a 110 degree heat index to remind me why, although I enjoyed a fantastic childhood on a tropical island, I have no desire to live on one now. I’m not a big fan of copious ineffectual sweating. Sweating’s bad enough when it does a body good. When it drips instead of evaporating and doesn’t seem to lower one’s core body temperature at all, it’s just plain miserable.

Ah, the humidity!

In the tropics, there are two seasons: wet and dry. We visited Orlando during the rainy season. (Mental head-slap.)

The first day, we arrived at SeaWorld a little after three o’clock in the afternoon as a thunderstorm broke. Lightning flashed, thunder rolled, and crowds of frightened visitors fled the park amid sheets of rain. We, on the other hand, waited under an awning at the entrance to the park. Often, these storms blow over quickly. A check of the radar on my phone had confirmed we’d gotten lucky.

Before long, the rain let up. Unfortunately, electrical storms agitate the killer whales and dolphins, so their shows were cancelled for the day. No trainer wants to get in a pool with an agitated killer whale. Who can blame them? On the upside, all the rides and most of the sea life displays remained open with no lines to speak of. And the rain cooled the air. We had a great time and no one got lost.

The heat and humidity were so bad during the baseball games that I didn’t know how the kids managed to play, but play they did. They were little troopers. My grandson’s team from the Central states was eliminated early on. On the plus side, this meant we only had two days of games.

The rest of the time we spent a lot of time in the house pool, which was lovely, and at Busch Gardens,in Tampa, a sort of combination theme park and zoo. The landscaping was amazingly beautiful at all the parks we visited. The weather was stifling. Busch Gardens had fans that blew mist onto the wait lines, which helped. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens do a lot of conservation work. I’ve never seen such gorgeous animal enclosures anywhere else.

On our last day in Florida, we got stormed out of SeaWorld’s waterpark, Aquatica, twenty minutes after we arrived. A tropical storm had pushed bad weather our way. This time there was no chance things would blow over.

So Grandma and Grandpa (aka “we”) forked over another three-hundred dollars to take the family (9 of us) to Disney Quest, five floors of (indoor and air-conditioned!) fun “including virtual worlds, 3D encounters and classic video games.”


We all had a blast. We stayed until closing. The Happiest Place on Earth is not Orlando, or even Disney World. In my book, it’s Disney Quest. (And the dog park. Any dog park.)

When the time came to leave, our flight was—you guessed it—diverted by severe thunderstorms. A very nice ticket agent found us seats on another airline for a flight two hours later. We were delayed on the tarmac by weather so that we ended up missing our connecting flight.
We spent that night in Phoenix, Arizona. The daytime temperature was above one-hundred degrees.

At least it was a dry heat!

Which do you prefer, the desert or the tropics? Why?

Thank you for reading my blog post. To learn more about my books, please visit my website at 

~Sarah Raplee

Monday, August 25, 2014

Overheard on . . . Romancing the Genres

Being that I was in Italy for this overhear, I certainly could have chosen many other Italian phrases. But, aside from the fact the most of them I didn’t understand and couldn’t duplicate, this word just fit my post today in many ways.
First, next month Romancing the Genres will spotlight guest authors of YA (or young writers themselves). Now for me there are three times when you do not want to get language usage wrong while writing. 1. When you are using foreign terms, like Ciao. 2. When you are writing for the young adult audience. (Which, let’s face it, can often sound more foreign than another country’s language.) and 3. Anytime you reference another literary world. (Do not, for example, use Thumping Willow when referring to the Harry Potter Tree that tries to smash people.)
Of these three situations, I think the most difficult to get right is the language of youth. For one thing, it is entirely fluid, changing rapidly with both geography and time. More importantly, they don’t really like to share it with us mere adult mortals. Seriously! Ask a teenager what salty means and you are sure to get an eye roll rather than an answer. BTW – according to an article on Huiffington Post it is; “Someone or something who is overly pissed off, angry or annoying.” (Find more at:
The best YA authors use slang that will stand the test of time, at least for a little while; like hashtag. Otherwise, they know that language isn’t simply the words we use, but how we frame sentences and conversations.  Tight, abrupt, short, could all be used to describe language as used by teenagers. Life feels too short and too busy to speak in long, flowing sentences. But don’t, please, take my word on this as I don’t write YA. Do come back in September when our YA authors can, I’m sure, talk more about it.
Since my post is getting long… I'll only say a bit about the other two reasons I chose the word ciao. As I mentioned, I was in Italy when I overheard it… and I have a lot, (a lot) more to say on the topic. Too much for here in fact! But now that my jetlag is finished, I’ll be spending lots of time with my computer posting all about my amazing trip on my personal blog,
Which… I do hope you’ll find. Since, I am sad to say, this is my final official post as a Genreista! I’ve decided, after a couple of years  of being part of this amazing group of bloggers, that it is time to let a new author have their chance at writing about Romance and genres and for me to focus on the reason for my European trip- my next book.
I truly appreciate all of the support for both my writing and my words over the last two years. And I plan to be a guest for RTG whenever I get the chance. I hope you’ve enjoyed my overhears… and for now, rather than say ciao I will say Arrivederci – which means, goodbye until we meet again.
Deanne Wilsted

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What the Heck is a Contemporary Military Romance?

By Jessica Scott 

So glad to be here at Romancing the Genre’s today! Sarah and Judith asked me to write about what do I really love about military romance but it dawned on me that we might not necessarily have the same definition of military romance. 

When I was pitching BACK TO YOU to agents and editors all those years ago (and yes, this process started way back in the pre-Cambrian era of 2008 for Laura and Trent) I would always write in the query “an 85,000 military romance”. And at the time, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series was really the bees knees for military romance, right? I mean, hello, Navy Seals anyone? Some would argue that the military romance genre is a thing because of Suz but hey, I think that’s a post for another time. 

Anyway, military romance seemed to trigger thoughts of how does this compare to Suzanne’s SEALs or Joann Ross’s Crossfire series but what those books had in common that mine didn’t was that they were romantic suspense. 

And when agents and editors started reading my book, it was a story about home and hearth but it was set at Fort Hood. 

Who the heck writes about home and hearth and soldiers? The first thing that comes to mind is Robyn Carr’s Virgin River and Joann Ross’s Shelter Bay (seriously, if you haven’t checked out either of those series, go start. now. I’ll wait. Okay, you’re back? Cool:). So I started saying in my queries that my books were contemporary romances like Robyn’s but set in the military with current soldiers instead of former soldiers. 

But even then, my books didn’t quite snuggle up to Robyn’s or Joann’s either. But they were closer. 

It turned out, my books didn’t really fit in the genre of military romance because there weren’t a lot of contemporary romance novels "set in the military". 

My books are about soldiers coming home from war but who, for whatever reason, decide to stay in the military. I write about deciding to stay and fight the good fight, despite all the goo and the stuff that is so darn hard about coming home. 

These books are personal to me because my husband and I had the same conversation every single time he came home from his four deployments. We had the same conversation when I came home from mine. 

And so that’s why I write contemporary military romances. I want to write about the soldiers who stay, the soldiers who love the army but still have to figure out how to deal with all the changes that going to war brought. 

I hope you’ll check them out. My very first print book BACK TO YOU is on sale now. 



Friday, August 22, 2014

Train of Thought—Unintended Consequences

This month’s blog theme—Trains, Planes & Automobiles—provides me an opportunity to share a fond childhood memory.

I grew up in Keokuk, in the southeast corner of Iowa. My aunt & uncle lived 400 miles away in Spirit Lake in Iowa’s northwest corner. Given that Iowa had no diagonal roads in the late 1950s—it still has dang few—it took a LONG time to tack across Iowa by car. With Mom at the wheel, it took even longer, since we drove at posted back road speeds, stopped to visit sites like the Little Brown Church in the Vale, paused to chow down on meatloaf sandwiches, and visited, oh, a dozen filling station restrooms since Mom, my sister and I seemed to keep different bathroom schedule.

All of this is to explain why Mom decided to put her ten-year-old daughter (me) on a train to Spirit Lake when I begged to travel a week ahead of the rest of the family so I could attend Camp Foster, a really cool YMCA camp with canoeing, archery, and all kinds of fun stuff.

The travel plan sounded straight forward. Mom would drive me the first 100 miles to put me aboard a passenger train for the remaining 300 miles. Then my aunt and uncle would collect me. I didn’t have to change trains, and the trip was slated to take maybe six hours. The conductor assured Mom he’d take care of me.

Turns out I was the sole passenger in the only passenger car. All other cars were filled with passengers who mooed. So the passenger car got bumped at our first stop, and I got to ride in the caboose. Fortunately, I knew how to play poker, the conductor’s game of choice.

About three hours in as we approached the engineer’s home town, we encountered some sort of mechanical problem. The engineer took me to his home, where I played with his red-haired daughter Zelda—I can still picture her. The engineer collected me hours later when whatever problem existed was fixed. And I went back to playing poker in the caboose.

Of course, I was oblivious to the fact that my mom, aunt and uncle were frantic that I was hours late. My aunt finally reached someone who told her that one little girl and several hundred head of cattle were headed her way—just a little late. I had a blast. The trip was almost as much fun as Camp Foster.

Maybe these kinds of experiences are why I remain a “seat of the pants” author, who never outlines a novel before she starts writing. I like the freedom to veer off in different directions as new plot opportunities arise. It keeps the writing fun.

So do you go with the flow when the unexpected happens? Does your willingness to improvise/adjust have an impact on how you write?  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Airplane of Death

by Vivienne Lorret

“Write what you know” is a fairly standard motto for most writers. This is still true for those of us who write historical, futuristic, paranormals, etc. While we may not have a hunky, brooding neighbor who is a duke, time-traveler, or shape-shifter to use as our muse, we write what we know in the different personalities we’ve encountered and the situations we’ve experienced. Which brings me to my most recent encounter with an airplane.

Last month, I flew from Chicago O’Hare to the RWA conference in San Antonio inside an unexpectedly small plane. My nerves were already on high alert since this was going to be my very first RWA conference. Couple that with the fact that I hadn’t flown since I was sixteen years old (and I won’t bother to mention how long ago that was), I was barely holding it together. Then, I entered the packed plane.

My guess was that there were only about eighty seats and each one of them filled. The center aisle wasn’t as wide as my carry-on, so I turned my wrist and held it sideways in front of me as I walked to the back. The air was humid and already smelled like Joy-John-row at a hometown carnival. When I settled in, I noticed that the previous seat occupant left me a used, wadded-up tissue poking out in front of the safety guideline pamphlet. I exhaled a slow breath, closed my eyes and pretended that my seatmate was Gerard Butler.

An hour into the flight, we hit thunderstorms and bobbled around in the plane like bells inside a cat’s toy, clutching the armrests for dear life. The tang of fear and sweat combined with eau de Joy-John in a nausea-inducing blend. During those forty minutes, I calculated the time it would take my hands to brush aside the used tissue and safety pamphlet in order to locate the airsick bag.

Thankfully, I never had to test that knowledge. We landed safely, albeit a bit worse for wear. As far as experiences went, I now had a vivid one for future use.

As many of you know, I write Regency historical romance. Airplanes are…well… frowned upon in Regencies.

Therefore, I’m not likely to have any airplanes in those stories. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my characters has a similar experience in a carriage or hay cart. :)


If you enjoy Regency romance, check out The Wallflower Wedding Series, available now through Avon Impulse.