Sunday, January 29, 2012


1. I really like Jeanne Ray's Step-Ball-Change. It's fluffy but dammit, the world needs more fluff, not less.

2. I'm reading books for a contest. A few are dumb. One is good. One is well-written but I loathe the main character. I can't seem to grade those books. I've lost confidence about what counts as an important factor. That must mean I'm becoming an expert.

3. I am tempted to look up how many times I whine about contests on this blog, but that will only depress me more.

4. If I number things in this blog, will they seem more significant?

5. Maybe, maybe not but this, definitely.

6. I'll link to this old one about contests but only because I like the song.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

and one week later. . .

Now if only Amazon would change the description so that people wouldn't be so annoyed by the sudden appearance of another book at the end. Also if only this was making the monies. Ah well.

Like my superb photoshopping? I am the PhotoShopQueen!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's free! as in doesn't cost anything!

Seducing Miss Dunaway has been free at Allromanceebooks for a while. It's been $0.00 at Smashwords for more than a week. AND NOW it's FREE AT AMAZON. 


So you have no excuse. Go pick up a copy. You don't read heart-warming Victorian romances?

Gowwan. Buy it anyway to make my numbers look good. I'm looking for a reason to celebrate so I can buy an expensive cup of coffee with whipped cream on the top.

**  book = yummy coffee for me, but you can buy some too with the money you save getting this FREE NOVELLA.

Victorian Psychics

For the Psychic and the Sleuth I got to dig into some juicy material. Take a society obsessed with death, add a backlash against science and the age of Darwinism--and you have the makings of world in which spiritualism was bound to thrive.   

The characters of that age seem so much more colorful than today’s mediums, showmen, and hacks. Here are two of my favorite famous psychics from the past:

Madame Blavatsky, a Russian living in London, founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. Theosophy means “knowledge of the divine” It was (and still is) based on uniting practitioners with more enlightened spiritual beings from another plane.

From a website celebrating Madame Blavatsky:
In the 1800's they [the spirits from another dimension] had been searching for a century for the next messenger and finally settled upon Helena Blavatsky, born to a noble Russian family. She saw the master who would be her teacher in her dreams as a child. She met him in Hyde Park in London when she was 20. She managed to enter Tibet and was trained by those masters in Tibet from 1868 to 1870. From 1875 through her death in 1891 she spread that message around the world.

Not everyone is impressed by Madame B. though.  Simon Doonan describes her as
Fantasist, fabulist, spiritualist, Theosophist and all-round bullshit artist, Madame Blavatsky was as savvy as L. Ron Hubbard and as batty as Anne Heche, circa 2001. Born in the Ukraine in 1831, Helena Petrovna Hahn inherited a vivid imagination from her romance novelist mother and a massively bossy disposition from her colonel dad. . .

Spiritual authority came to Madame via dead holy men, "The Mahatmas," via whom she channeled massive unreadable texts which she published as Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, among others. . .
At various points in her career, she was busted for fakery and for plagiarism. Her worst moment came when some associates, a Mr. and Mrs. Coulomb, ratted on her, revealing all the trap-door tricks of her side-show Mahatmas and her “apparitions.”
(From the Daily Beast.)

Daniel Dunglas Home (he took the middle name to prove he was related to Scottish royalty) is probably my favorite because he put on such a good show. He was a Scottish medium who counted on more than just the words of the ancients to capture an audience. 

the hair! the cloak! the skull! 
During his sessions, he levitated--and sometimes furniture and other people did too. He spoke with the dead, and there were all sorts of rappings and noises as well as a mysterious accordion that could play itself. Harry Houdini described him as 'one of the most conspicuous and lauded of his type and generation'. 

Home managed to impress Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who pointed out that the psychic (the first to use that term) was unusual in that he could manage all four different types psychic power:  

direct voice (the ability to let spirits audibly speak); trance speaker (the ability to let spirits speak through oneself); clairvoyant (ability to see things that are out of view); and physical medium (moving objects at a distance, levitation, etc., which was the type of mediumship had no equal)

Home conducted hundreds of séances with some fabulous spooky fun. Spirit hands of dead babies touched the visitors and appeared on Home's arm. Tables flew up to the ceiling and then floated down as lightly as a snowflake.  Here's a great picture of some levitation action at one of his sessions (from an article when Home was only twenty-two).

Like Marsh, the medium we wrote about in the Psychic and the Sleuth, Home had relatives who were also supernatural—his own mother had a reputation as a seer. She supposedly even predicted her own death. The young Home eventually ended up in the custody of his aunt, who hauled him to the US. The aunt grew so upset by the “unearthly conversations” Home held with the spirits, she booted him out when he was seventeen.

Home gained a reputation as a medium in New England. Eventually he sailed off to Europe where he impressed people like Elizabeth Barrett Browning (though not her husband, Robert Browning, who wrote the funny dramatic monologue, Sludge the Medium, about Home. I love that thing.)

Here’s a description of what Home saw during one of his sessions. (This is from "The North British Review" Volume 39 from 1863) Channeling the spirit of the deceased, Hanna Britten:

“Mr Home began to exhibit signs of deepest anguish. Rising from his seat, he walked to and fro in the apartment, wringing his hands, and exhibiting a wild and frantic manner. He uttered bitter lamentations, exclaiming, “Oh, how dark! What dismal clouds! What a frightful chasm! Deep down, far down! –I see the fiery flood! Hold! Stay! Save them from the pit! I’m in a terrible labyrinth! I see no way out! There’s no light! How wild! Gloomy! The clouds roll in on me! The darkness deepens! My head is whirling! Where am I?”

Then, before his audience got too spooked, Home revealed that Hanna Brittan told him that she had “become insane from believing in the doctrine of man. The burning gulf with all its horrible imagery, existed only in the traditions of men! And in her own distracted brain.”

He,  like the other mediums of the time, knew enough to offer his audience comfort--along with a good dollop of drama.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hilary Sares

Hey, Hilary Sares, I miss you. I'm the one who gave you Bosnian socks and some books, not the coffee mug (she had so many writers in her life, she mixed us up).

Also now that you're a ghost writer, I'd give you this shirt from

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Saturday I'm doing a synopsis presentation

I've done it before, a couple of years ago (!!) and I made an effort to ask editors and Successful Writers what they think should appear in all synopses. 

Read the above links--I did actual work on them.

I'm kind of lazy today so I'll not bug the editors etc and hope they bug me. I'm a writer. Sitting and waiting for someone to tell me The Truth about Synopses. Hey, I know what--I'll look for hashtags on twitter. But still. If you have info about synopsis you'd like to share, I'll give you credit. Free promo, mo fo!**

** I'd like to point out that Lauren Dane is one of the writers who gave me advice and since then (okay maybe around then, as well) she has turned into a best-selling author.

More than a coincidence? Give Kate advice and then become The BOMB!? I do not think so.


I'm watching the UK version of Being Human these days, doing a glom. I tried Buffy but it was too high school, fake high school, I mean. TV's version of high school feels familiar only because it's always the same place TV always visits. Not the school I knew or my kids attend. Thank you God for that.

And Buffy might have been cutting edge a while back but now, eh, old stuff, cliche-city. Kind of like Shakespeare's full of cliches, maybe? Many people seem to love it, so there must be something there.

ANYWAY,  the name of this post is a word my mother used to say. That's how I heard it, and I'm sure it's not spelled that way--couldn't be, since it's Russian. And the L? Was there an L? It meant uncultured, I think, but also vulgar, a galoot's choice. It's what I want these days. My mother considered television a wasteland, except PBS was occasionally all right. I want to like Buffy the vampire and I read/write romance. She wouldn't be caught dead in a ditch with a romance.

Every now and again I hear classical music or read a book that I might have read years ago and I'm brought back to the old world. I didn't fit there and I'm vaguely uncomfortable here because I know I'm ne--culturnie.

I wonder of everyone extant has that to a degree. You establish your own culture based on your past (or entirely rejecting it) and yet the differences - or similarities - to the way you're brought up mean you're sort of self conscious about your choices, or conscious of them, anyway.

You'd think past the teen years, this wouldn't be an issue. You're right, for the most part. I just notice it every now and then. First there was the attempt to appreciate Buffy. Then I heard some Chopin this morning and it seemed overwrought but then I remembered how much I'd once liked it. ....

and yo, I think it's time to call this maundering cliche train to a halt and find some coffee. If I'd stuck with my old culture, my mother's world, it would be tea. Not much difference there.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Look, they like my books.

A review for Unnatural Calamities. 

and one for

The Gentleman and the Rogue.  

People like the books! Yay!**

I've written a lot of books and I think these two were the most fun to write. UC, because I was playing around and G&R because it was actually the first time Bonnie and I collaborated successfully (we had a half book or two lying around before this one.)

Except, hold the presses, now that I'm thinking back, I really got a kick out of writing Thank You, Mrs. M, and Irrational Arousal was a fun time too. And Somebody Wonderful, that was mostly a good time to write as well.

Lately writing has been a labor more than a labor of love, so it's nice to recall that sometimes sitting down and working is a good time. I'm trying to fish out the good times and plaster them on this wall to remind myself. Not exactly a New Year's resolution. More like a "while I'm waiting to make some money, there is this to recall" event. A form of motivation.

Although actually I already have some motivation, I'm looking for a job and that always reminds me how much I enjoy the job I already have. 

Anyone want to hire me? I come pretty cheap.

**I want more stars for UC on that terrific review, but that's because they usually give me more at Night Owl and I'm a spoiled brat.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


I've decided that Al Stewart should be better appreciated. He's got that plummy voice, the kind you think should be singing kids' songs, and the tunes seem pretty simple (not that I know) and probably out-dated. . . but here's the thing, his songs are great.

 They're filled with ambiguity and loss and change and loneliness and history and whole stories and word play. . . . If he sang like Dylan or Waits, he'd still be played all the time and probably listed as Wildly Influential everywhere. 

I've got Modern Times, The Dark and the Rolling Sea, Next Time,  On the Border and Broadway Hotel on my MP3 player for running. I still like them all these years later--in fact I like them more. I wouldn't play them for my kids, though. There's that Top 40s voice thing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

People who want Victorian-set historicals without titled types

Listen. I got what you want. Seriously, if this is what people want to read, I should be a freaking best-selling author.** Most of my books are set in the 1880s -- I've done a lot of research about that era and feel comfortable there.

“a fine eye for detail, Rothwell recreates the era beautifully.”
-- RT Bookclub

These links are all to Amazon. 

Here's my list:
Somebody Wonderful--1880s hero=NYC cop/ heroine=wealthy but not a lady-like person (she's based on Pauline from Perils of Pauline)
Somebody to Love--heroine=mixed-race chef/ hero=brother of SW heroine. Granted the guy is wealthy, but he doesn't have a title. Okay? Good.
Someone To Cherish--hero=NYC cop/heroine=impoverished innocent
Powder of Sin--hero=a detective/ heroine=okay she's a wealthy heiress, daughter of nobility. But she's half American and she lives in NYC.
The Mad Baron--Does a baron have to count? He's hardly a duke or earl. She's a shop-girl and he's an addict.

Seducing Miss Dunaway--She's a middle class person/he's ....oops. Minor nobility.
Learning Charity--heroine=prostitute/hero=American businessman
Protecting Miss Samuels--heroine=daughter of mill owner/hero=man hired to protect her.

Claws on Silk--A menage with both heroes=common as dirt. She is a commoner, though she does have money.

Male/male with Bonnie Dee:
The Nobleman and the Spy--yes, one's a nobleman. But he's not English! And the other is absolutely not even related to a peer of the realm.
Seducing Stephen--Stephen's so middle class it hurts. So what if the other guy isn't.
The Gentleman and the Rogue--One hero's a street lad/ the other is . . . Oh. it's Regency set, so never mind. But listen, a baronet barely counts.
House of Mirrors--one hero's a preacher's son, the other. . . something of a mystery.
The Psychic and the Sleuth--1880s Very middle-class heroes. 

Coming soon: The Gentleman's Keeper--1880s An ordinary gentleman and a bailiff.

My cowriters and I should be on best-selling lists big-time if this is what the reading public wants.**


**based mostly on the fact that I want to be on those lists.

A late SBD

I promised myself I would never, ever read another Jane Austen based book. No. Way. Anything by Austen, yeah, you betcha I'd read her books again (Maybe not Mansfield Park, but no one reads that book more than once, unless they're writing a paper.)

I liked Austenland by Shannon Hale as a bit of escapist fun but many of them? Ugh. I haven't finished any of them, except a Joan Aiken or two (and she had too much gothick action.) I've read better Potter fan fiction on the webs. Speaking of which, here's WTF fanfiction which should be examined when you're in the mood to laugh at pitiable writing.

At best the Austen-based books feel like a shellacking of a legend, as in applying a glossy surface to something that should remain lively and able to breathe. The worst ones are just. . . .no.Not my cup of tea.

But then I had to grab a book fast at the library, and the only one I could find was the Jane Austen Book Club. I'm only part way through it and I love it.  I hope it can live up to this early promise but so far it's nearly as pleasurable as something by Jane herself. I don't even mind the voice of plural first person which usually feels forced and arty. It uses Austen perfectly as a jumping off point.

So okay, this will be the last one. No more fiction featuring Austen or her characters. I mean it, you'll have to pay me big bucks (five figures would do it) to read a book with "Mr. Darcy" in the title. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

ANOTHER interview with Kate

Hey, look it! There I am again! Go on over and say something because, once again, the world watches to see if anyone bothers to comment. And the world feels that I shouldn't be ignored. By "world" I mean me and the dog that's leaning against me.  Except wait, no, never mind. She's closed her eyes and is snoring. Half the world has stopped watching. I'm still here though, watching, watching, watching. . .

I'm loving the Eloisa James books I'm reading. She follows a formula but what do I care? Answer: more power to her. I'm only sad that Carol Bly (her mom) didn't get it. I love Carol Bly's work--I read her essays years ago and they haunted me.

The idea that down-deep examinations of the darkness within is the only way to think and write properly seems sort of sad because it means that that's the only capital T Truth you can see. I think it's a bad idea not because I'm a (reverse) snob but because bleak doesn't provide total sustenance. You need some other vitamins in there now and then. I suppose people can get the fun and fluff in their lives without considering it worthwhile -- although we know better, of course. The nice thing about fun and fluff is that it usually doesn't care if you treat it with respect. It wishes to amuse and, if there's a challenge to your thinking, it's going to be disguised, wrapped up in pretty paper so you won't even notice.

But back to James's formula.  The only thing I hope for is that one of her epilogues will not feature children. Do all of those people have to find happiness with off-spring? Do the kids have to be so 21st century interacting with the rents?

Eh, never mind. Whatever she wants.