Monday, September 26, 2011

Naming characters is tough.  I recall a reviewer complaining because of the similarity of names between Julius and Justin in Pirate's Price, so I've tried to be sensitive to it in subsequent novels.

When I typed in the name today of a heroine from a previous novel, I realized I'd best go back and change the heroine's name from my WIP, [working title] The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby, so I wouldn't confuse myself. Then the name I picked turned out to be similar to that of Daphne in my as-yet-unpublished Castaway Dreams. So I changed it again, and sounded it out to be sure it was alliterative and appropriate to time, place and class.

The new heroine from the WIP: Lydia Burke.  I tried saying it aloud, looked at it in print, verified that I do not have any heroines whose names begin with "L", nor major secondary characters named Lydia, and it all works.  Phew!  Thank goodness for Find&Replace!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By request, here's the recipe for persimmon cake.  I'm waiting for my persimmons to get nice and ripe, and I may try adjusting the baking to 1 hr. at 350F since I'm using a newer oven than the last time I tried this. 

Persimmon Cake
From Smuggler's Bride by Darlene Marshall

Preheat oven to 325F

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 cup persimmon pulp--approx. six small very ripe Florida persimmons
½ cup chopped pecans

To get persimmon pulp: Take very ripe persimmons, cut in half, scoop pulp out.  Remove pithy seed area, pulse a few times in food processor.

1. cream sugar and margarine, add eggs, add dry ingredients, pulp and nuts.

2. pour mixture into standard loaf pan (grease and flour pan, if not nonstick model), bake 1.25 hours.  Let cool ten minutes, remove from pan.

Freezes well.

Crocks of preserves and pickled tomatoes, cucumbers, and relishes shone in the sun. Her persimmon cakes were added to the pile. While once Julia might have wondered who could consume so much food at one sitting, she’d seen the Crackers sit down to their victuals and knew the food would be little more than a memory by the time the day was done.

It's almost time for persimmon cake, so I'm off to the farmers market. You can read more about this tasty treat in Smuggler's Bride, and comment here if you want the recipe.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

He rummaged in his desk and pulled out a tattered newspaper, much folded and creased.
“My mother sent this to me with the letters, a newspaper from home. A Mr. Key wrote a poem about the battle, Doctor, titled ‘The Defence of Fort McHenry’. Look here–‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’. That’s America, Charley! I won’t ask you to drink to an American victory, but you won’t mind if I have a tot?”
David poured himself some rum while humming a tune. Charley listened, her head cocked to the side.
"I know that tune–I heard it in the inn where I waited to board the Lady Jane. It is ‘To Anacreon in Heaven’, is it not? I recall the people who attempted to navigate its melody often failed miserably.”
“Maybe it’s a song best attempted while drinking for the full effect. But I’m told it is now popular in Baltimore with lyrics based on Mr. Key’s poem–‘And the rockets’ red glare…’ .”
Charley snickered as his voice strained through the notes.
“That tune will never catch on, Captain.”


Charley was wrong.  The tune and Mr. Keys' poem caught on, and today is the anniversary of the writing of The Star Spangled Banner.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

“But take heart, men, just as your countrymen did! America cannot be frightened into submission!” He waved a paper. “I have here the account of the battle of Baltimore and the glorious defense of Fort McHenry! The nation still stands strong, boys, and will never bow to tyrants! A cheer for the United States of America, and an extra ration of rum tonight for its gallant heroes!”

The men threw their hats into the air while cheering, “Huzzah for the United States!”

Today is the anniversary of the bombardment of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812.  For over 25 hours British warships rained fire down on the American fort. Out of it came a renewed commitment to America's freedom, and a national anthem.

I may raise a glass myself tonight to honor our nation's gallant defenders, then and now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


This morning I realized I was doing the same thing as I did on that morning 10 years ago.  I was walking the dog around the neighborhood on a glorious September day.  In 2001 my neighbor came out of her house and said, "You'll want to turn on your TV when you get home.  A plane crashed into the World Trade Center."

None of us will forget that moment.  It is seared in our memories as much as President Kennedy's assassination was when I was a child, and Pearl Harbor was for my parents. There's not much I can say today that has not been said before, and said better by others.  I can offer this:  Ten years ago we were filled with horror over what we witnessed.  But in the years since September 11, 2001, I have seen many wonderful things--children grown, graduations, weddings, births, a spirit of volunteerism, and a continuing belief that we are capable of making our country great, if each of us is committed to the ideals that are America.

September 11, 2011 is an anniversary, but it is also a starting point, a point a which we can take stock and ask ourselves what we can do to honor those whose lives were lost, and make America better tomorrow than it is today.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

     Amanda hummed to herself as she worked. It was wonderfully satisfying, doing what she loved, and she was confident of her product’s success. Judith and Sarah were telling their friends about the “marvelous creams, used in England for years by all the court ladies!” and Madame Bernard reported eager customers were inquiring as to the availability of Brooke’s products, responding to the discreet sign in the shop window.
     The soap equipment was ordered, and the initial contacts made with the vendors she would need to work with in Savannah. A city the size of St. Augustine would have access to olive and coconut oil, and enough waste fat from animal slaughtering for her to set up with local vendors there. If necessary, she could start out as the first Amanda started her soap business-trading the finished product for the fats used in households. She wrinkled her nose. Soapmaking was a smelly, messy, dangerous undertaking. Many of the fine ladies who used the finished product had no idea of what truly was involved in making each pretty little ball or bar.
     Amanda had modified a few of her closely guarded recipes to use the new techniques of the Frenchman Chevreul, and the results were encouraging, better product and cheaper to manufacture. As she filled her pots, she daydreamed about vast factories springing up across America, all making Brooke Soap for everyone.


 Today is Labor Day in the US, a day when we honor the hardworking women and men who keep our country prosperous, and if they're soapmakers like Amanda, clean and fragrant.  Enjoy your holiday, pack up your white shoes, and take a moment to savor the end of summer while you pause from your labors with a good book or two.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

I'm putting together a basket to donate to the Lawton Chiles Gala, named for our late, great Florida governor, "Walkin' Lawton" Chiles.  There's a silent auction and I thought this would work: a "Getaway in a Basket".  It'll have two signed novels (Sea Change and The Bride and the Buccaneer), a scented candle, two gourmet chocolate bars and packets of bath salts.  Here's the copy:


"After a hard day of campaigning for your US House seat or picketing the governor's mansion, you need a break.  Turn off the phone, shut the door, and curl up with a nice, relaxing bath and a novel with pirates, privateers, romance, adventure, dashing heroes, daring heroines and a guaranteed happy ending, all from award-winning romance novelist Darlene Marshall."

So what do you think?