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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Travel Channel: Mysteries at the Museum, Vol. 5

Linda Banche here. On Tuesday, November 30 at 9PM E/P, The Travel Channel presents Volume 5 of Mysteries at the Museum. This episode visits five more museums spanning the country from San Diego to Washington, D. C.

Mysteries at the Museum: Volume 5

Old Red Museum: In the collection of the Old Red Museum in Dallas, there’s a 44-caliber rifle with a sawed off stock. It looks like many weapons that have been modified by criminals, but it’s possible that this rifle may have been used in an infamous crime spree. Can you guess who the legendary criminal may be?

National Museum of the Marine Corps: In Quantico, Virginia at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, a tattered flag from World War Two’s epic battle for Iwo Jima became the subject of the Nation’s most famous war photograph. How did this Pulitzer Prize winning picture alter history and why do some people suspect that it isn’t everything it claims to be?

National Railroad Museum: The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin houses an ultra-modern locomotive known as the Aerotrain. When it was unveiled in 1956, it was supposed to change the way Americans traveled. So what derailed this futuristic locomotive, and why aren’t we all riding Aerotrains today?

Scripps Institute of Oceanography: Behind the scenes at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego, there are specimens that hail from a realm nearly a mile underwater. They are rare and mysterious organisms that survive in an uncharted frontier known as the Abyss. Can you even imagine what these deep sea creatures could be?

Library of Congress: In the Library of Congress, a tattered diary provokes one of exploration’s fiercest debates; who was the first person to actually reach the North Pole?

National Museum of the United States Air Force: The National Museum of the United States Air Force displays an artifact that paved the way for the exploration of man’s final frontier. At the height of the Cold War, was a team of aeronautical engineers able to create a parachute system that would produce a safe, high altitude aircraft?

Enjoy the show!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interview with Guest Author/Hussy, Elyse Mady

Interview Questions for Guest Authors

by Donna Hatch

I am so excited to introduce today's guest, Elyse Mady. I'm excited for several reasons: First; she's a fellow Regency author and I seriously love all Regency authors. I see them as a sort of sisterhood, or something. Second; she's smart and funny and sassy. Third; her name is the name of my latest heroine from The Guise of a Gentleman (only I spell her name Elise) and surely that’s some sort of sign, right? And fourth; she's doing a book giveaway of her newest book, The Debutante's Dilemma which I totally cannot wait to read.

So, without further ado, here she is. Welcome, Elyse!

ELYSE: Well, first off, let me offer a big thanks to the Hussies for letting me claim temporary ‘Hussy’ status for the day. I’ve just published my first novella, “The Debutante’s Dilemma,” with Carina Press and I’m so happy I get to talk about it and my writing and all the stuff that goes into writing a regency romance like this with all your readers.

DONNA: What is your typical day like?

ELYSE:Do you want the glossy, polished, Barbara Cartland version or the real, nitty-gritty version? LOL

DONNA: Um, both?

ELYSE: The BC version entails perfect hair, perfect nails and a perfectly neat, beautifully appointed house which magazine editors are always begging to photograph. I write exquisite prose which flows uninterrupted from my fingers at 120 wpm for hours on end. When I share these pearls with my wonderful editor, Gina, they cause her to weep tears of gratitude at my authorial brilliance. I beat off six figure offers from multiple publishers and only stop long enough to tell Ron Howard (again) that he’s going to have to get in line if he’s serious about the movie rights.

The NG version entails me corralling two active boys (4 and 6) to school every morning, grudgingly tossing in a load of laundry because even I know sending your kids to school naked is frowned upon, gulping at the size of my inbox, tackling writing business like contracts and blog posts and invoices for an hour or so and then hopefully spending two, three or on rare days, four hours, writing. When the words just won’t flow, I work on research and plotting instead.

In the evenings, I ferry the active boys to Beavers and swimming and sundry other kid stuff, wonder just what I can do tonight with the hamburger defrosting in the microwave, and hopefully spend what little free time I eke out with my husband or the book on the top of my TBR pile.

DONNA: How did you break into publishing?

ELYSE: I first became a published author doing freelance work for magazines about three years ago. I was in grad school, where they don’t pay you a lot, and needed a way to add to my meager student stipend. So I started submitting article proposals, first to magazines I read myself and then to magazines I discovered through publishing guides like “The Writer’s Yearbook”.

It was really good training. I learned to promote myself, summarize and organize ideas, get familiar with contracts and negotiation, albeit on a much smaller scale than in book publishing, plus gain some real writing creds to tack on to the bottom of my slush pile letters. I also mastered writing to a deadline, writing in a variety of different voices and styles and working with editors, all skills that have stood me in very good stead since I’ve sold to Carina Press.

DONNA: Sounds like you're well prepared. So, do you write exclusively Regency? And why did you choose this genre?

ELYSE: I actually write in two fiction genres: Regency Historical and contemporary. I chose these genres unconsciously, I think, because they are my go-to choices when I read for pleasure and they make up the bulk of the books on my keeper shelves.

Of course, I dabble in a lot of different styles when it comes to my reading lists. I read British chick-lit, a little bit of paranormal, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, classic sci-fi (seriously, I’m a huge fan of Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke!) and classic literature like Burney, Austen, Eliot and Bronte.

DONNA: How do you write? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?

ELYSE: I’m definitely a pantser. But not just any pantser. I’m an out-of-order pantser. Seriously, I’m sure it drives my CPs up the wall -- although they are very gracious about it -- but I have always had flashes of conversation and events that I write as they occur to me. I keep a notebook in my purse but in worse case scenarios, I’ve resorted to napkins and flyers to get a scrap of an idea down. My first drafts are littered with electronic post-it notes that I use to connect these disjointed fragments together. It works for me though and often, I’ve filled in the voids in my own mind, long before I’m able to get them written down

An example of this is the slightly supercilious and snarky voice that opens “The Debutante’s Dilemma.” That voice sprang into my mind without any warning. The opening line, “Miss Celilia Hastings was the luckiest girl who had ever lived to draw breath,” came to me fully formed and I found myself one night, sitting up in bed, scribbling furiously in a notebook, about this young debutante who had strolled so elegantly into my imagination. Her difficulty – that of having two eligible lovers and being unable to choose between them – was also something I knew almost immediately and I had a vision of the story’s climax, which takes place in a greenhouse then, too. I started with the sound of gravel beneath her leather shoes and the smell of the moist earth as the earliest, elemental pieces and built from there.

Then I had to turn out the light because my DH rolled over and groused that he didn’t care what her shoes sounded like on the gravel, he just wanted to go to sleep. (see Barbara vs. nitty-gritty versions above)

DONNA: He, he. Love those DH's. Can you tell our readers how you do research for your books? What’s the most interesting bit of research you’ve come across?

ELYSE: Ooh, research. That dangerous siren call. I lurve research. I read non-fiction for fun and frankly, if I didn’t have deadlines and all of that heavy stuff, I could spend days on end, wandering the stacks. I try and balance my love of mucking about in footnotes with the need to put the story first. But many of my upcoming stories spring from my non-fiction reading. I think it’s the idea that sometimes, you really can’t make this stuff up and that true lives lived are always interesting in some facet or another.

DONNA: I'm there with you, girlfriend. Okay, now the power round:
D: Favorite food?
E: Split pea soup with homemade biscuits
D: Favorite dessert?
E: Fresh peach crisp with cold cream
D: Jeans and T-shirt, or designer clothes?
E: Let’s take it down the middle. Designer jeans and a nice t-shirt!
D: Guilty pleasure?
E: Getting lost in a good book when I should be doing something ‘productive’ like housekeeping or laundry or writing.
D: One word that describes you?
E: Upbeat.
D: Favorite flower?
E: Black-eyed Susans.
D: Favorite sport?
E; I use to play soccer, field hockey, row and fence so I’m a bit catholic in my activity choices. Now, I don’t participate in organized sports but I try and work out regularly and I run. Not fast or far, mind you, but sweating and heavy breathing and sore muscles are all involved.

DONNA: Whew! Are you tired, yet? Tell me, what will be your next project?

ELYSE: I’m working on a variety of new projects. I’ve had two contemporaries accepted by Carina and they should be hitting e-bookshelves at some point in 2011. I’ll have all the details on my blog as soon as they’re available.

Then I’m also working on a new, full length historical novel which has no title at present because titles are so not my forté. It’s another regency but it’s a significant departure for me – a fusion of sorts between historical fiction and historical romance that I’m really excited about. I’ve left behind the ballrooms and salons that I explored in “The Debutante’s Dilemma” and am moving into less vaunted but still fascinating (to me at least) spheres of everyday Londoners during the period. Many of the characters involved were actual people and bringing them to life, filling in the many unknowns yet keeping true to the historical record and shaping a compelling story is a really interesting challenge for me as a writer. There are mass arrests and bribes, gaol fever and riots and all sorts of legal skullduggery, leavened with a big heaping dose of romance.

DONNA: that sounds really fun. I can't wait! Thank you for the Interview.

ELYSE: Thanks so much for having me! I loved having a chance to talk about my writing and my new book.

I’d love to say thanks by offering one lucky poster the chance of winning a digital copy of “The Debutante’s Dilemma” in their choice of ebook format.

The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady

One woman in search of passion

Miss Cecilia Hastings has achieved what every young lady hopes for during her first London season…in duplicate! She’s caught the eye of not one but two of England’s most eligible bachelors. Both Jeremy Battersley, Earl of Henley, and Richard Huxley, Duke of Wexford are handsome, wealthy and kind, the epitome of proper gentlemen. But Cecelia doesn’t want proper, she wants passion. So she issues a challenge to her suitors: a kiss, so that she may choose between them.

Two men in love with the same woman

Friends since childhood, and compatriots on the battlefields of Spain, falling for the same woman has set Jeremy and Richard at odds, and risks destroying their friendship forever. But a surprising invitation to a late-night garden tryst soon sets them on a course that neither of them could have anticipated. And these gentlemen quickly discover that love can take many forms…

Available from Carina Press and E-book retailers November 8, 2010.


London, 1814

Miss Cecilia Hastings was the luckiest girl who had ever lived to draw breath.

This was the near-universal assessment of the five hundred guests who found themselves crushed into Lady Stanhope’s lavish ballroom like so many potted fish on this early June evening.

That the young lady was well-favoured, with a tall, even figure, a smooth throat and milk-white skin, striking grey eyes and dark chestnut hair, there was no doubt. Just eighteen, Miss Hastings was everywhere lauded for her calm manners and her unerring ability to navigate London’s treacherous social shoals while appearing neither missish nor imperious. She danced divinely. She both sang and played the pianoforte. She could read Italian and spoke French beautifully. She befriended those wealthy and modest, with equal disregard for their particular standings. Her sartorial sense was unmatched and her dresser had been offered no less than a half-dozen bribes if she would but reveal the secrets to her mistress’s beauty regime.

But there was no doubt that Miss Hastings’s most particular and celebrated feature had been her ability—in this, her first London Season—to attract not one, but two, of the most eligible bachelors in England as suitors to her hand.

Single, handsome, titled heirs, educated at Cambridge, related to some of the oldest families in the country, and possessors of estates that would make the most hardened steward weep for joy. Each with a splendid house in town, their family seats—in Kent and Sussex, respectively—marvels of country grandeur and, crowning joy of crowning joy, each able to avail himself of a clear £30,000 a year.

In a word, that which every young woman—and her mama—aspired to with a fierce and competitive single-mindedness during the whole course of the Season from January to June, Miss Hastings had achieved in duplicate without seeming to discompose a single hair on her perfectly coiffed head.

Of course, there were some of her immediate peers, girls who had not met with such unmatched reception, who thought this excess smacked of matrimonial gluttony and behind her back took a savage delight in criticizing her faults, real or imagined. But to her face, they were all smiles and compliments, begging, in their most gracious voices, to have Miss Hastings share her secrets for winding her turban à la turque or to solicit a recommendation for the name of her mantua maker.

The knowledge that both gentlemen had made handsome presentations to Miss Hastings’s gratified father in advance of their declarations to the lady herself was in such widespread circulation that any repetition of the fact elicited the merest murmur of acknowledgement by its weary listeners, so shop-worn had that particular social nugget become in the retelling. Now, as the Season wound its way to another overstuffed and over-heated conclusion, the single most pressing question in the minds of nearly everyone who had made an appearance in the Stanhopes’ crowded ballroom on this warm summer night was which of the two gentlemen Miss Hastings would ultimately accept.

To be fair, one or two of the guests were more interested in what they would enjoy during Lady Stanhope’s lavish cold supper, but on the whole, the question of whether Lord Jeremy Battersley, sixth Earl of Henley or His Grace Richard Huxley, fourteenth Duke of Wexford, would be so distinguished by the young lady in question as to be granted the honour of toasting the new bride was without doubt the most engrossing conundrum of the entire Season.

For once, even the ton’s most inveterate gossip-mongers could find nothing for which to rebuke Miss Hastings and could not conceive of her being less than ecstatic at her unparalleled social coup, aux anges as it were, at achieving the ultimate maidenly triumvirate: a marriage of the highest order, where both parties were socially elevated, dazzlingly rich and enviably well-favoured.

It was simply a matter of choosing between the two men.

What the lady herself thought of the particulars of her situation were, of course, mere speculation, and who her ultimate choice would be was still a matter of fervent wagering in gentlemen’s clubs across the city.

Unbeknownst to the curious onlookers, as the music began and she stepped onto the dance floor in the company of her latest partner, Miss Cecilia Hastings was wondering exactly the same thing herself.

Because Cecilia Hastings, the nonpareil of the season of ’14, was harbouring a secret in her very fine breast.

A very deep, very dark, very unladylike secret.

About the author, Elyse Mady:

An enthusiastic and voracious reader of everything from 18th century novels to misplaced cereal boxes, Elyse has worked as a freelance magazine writer for the past several years, specializing, in all things, in sewing and embroidery.

Her first work of fiction, The Debutante’s Dilemma, was published by Carina Press November 8, 2010. She is also working on a number of contemporary romance manuscripts as well as a full length historical novel set in the 1780s.

With her excellent writerly imagination, she one day dreams of topping the NY Times Bestseller’s List and reclaiming her pre-kid body without the bother of either sit-ups or the denunciation of ice-cream.

She blogs at about writing, research and romance novels, both historical and contemporary. You can reach her by email at or find her on Facebook for updates and upcoming titles.