Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thank you, plot fairies!

I just got the idea for my ninth novel.  It will have pirates in the Caribbean.  Can't tell you more yet, because much of it hinges on secondary characters in my WIP (Book Seven, aka "The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby").  More on this as it develops...

Monday, May 21, 2012


"Jacob was an American who signed on with the Magpie after the war, and he called this 'The Liberty Song.'" She hummed for a moment and then began to sing:
"Come, join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty's call;
No tyrannous acts shall suppress your just claim,
Or stain with dishonor America's name.
Daphne sang two verses and the chorus before she realized Dr. Murray was staring at her, and the only way to describe the expression on his face--there was no way to describe the expression on his face. She'd never seen anything quite like it before.
"There are more verses," she said helpfully.
"Miss Farnham!" He shook his head and started again. "Miss Farnham, that was the most treasonous piece of trash I have ever heard. Do you know what melody that is? Heart of Oak! Heart of Oak, Miss Farnham! I implore you, never, ever sing those lyrics around a navy man, for I could not answer for the consequences if you do."

--Castaway Dreams, Darlene Marshall

I’ve been writing Regency era romance for years now, and yet it never fails to amaze me as an American that my countrymen and women are so abysmally ignorant, for the most part, about the War of 1812.

Of course, it’s not called that by most Brits.  To them it’s a blip during the long, drawn out Napoleonic Wars, a brief sidebar where those lousy Yanks objected to the Royal Navy impressing their (very necessary) sailors. Then the upstart Americans had the gall to try and take over Canada!  Burning the president’s mansion and Washington D.C (which, let’s be honest, was mostly wooden shacks in a swamp) was only what they deserved for burning York.

Aside from any lingering ill-feelings over that conflict, my fellow Americans would do well to brush up on their War of 1812 history.  After all, this is the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the war.  This makes it an excellent time to revisit the events that started with us still being viewed by much of the world as an interesting political experiment likely to fail, and ending with us a nation.

It was also in a sense the first world war.  Britain was fighting in Europe, in Africa, in the Caribbean, in the United States and Canada.  We were fighting in the South Pacific, all through the Atlantic and in the Caribbean as well. France involved the United States as a trading partner, and also through Napoleon’s sale of France’s territories in North America, the Louisiana Purchase. Spain and Britain fought the United States in East Florida, land that was not part of the fledgling country but which it very much desired.  And of course, every American schoolchild knows that the Battle of New Orleans was fought after the war officially ended.  What they may not realize is that it was a necessary battle, in that if Britain had won, they likely would not have left despite the peace treaty restoring the belligerents to antebellum status.  New Orleans was just too valuable a piece of real estate, controlling water traffic into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi.

America’s winning strategy in the war most often involved its fighting men on the water.  Some of my books have dealt with the fledgling American Navy (Captain Sinister’s Lady) and the Revenue Marine aka the Coast Guard (Smuggler’s Bride), but I have a particular soft spot for America’s privateers (Sea Change and Castaway Dreams).  Privateers and pirates are often spoken of together, but there is a major difference between them: A pirate will stop and rob you on the water, a privateer has a license to stop and rob you on the water. This license, called a letter of marque, is a right enshrined in the US Constitution.  Article 1, Section 8, reserves to Congress the right “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”

Congress exercised this right in 1812 with the enthusiastic support of merchant sea captains who knew arming their ships and capturing British merchant ships was a great get-rich-quick scheme (if you survived) and the patriotic thing to do. The US Merchant Marine to this day proudly traces its roots to the privateers of 1812.  They did so much damage to the British economy that newspapers in London were calling on the government to settle its differences with the US or face ruin.

There were amazing exploits by the US Navy, especially in its frigates, but they were a handful of ships and men facing down the mightiest nation on the water.  The US needed the privateers to harass shipping, causing Britain to have to divert valuable naval resources to convoys and blockades, and keeping war materiel from reaching British ports.

If you’d like to learn more about the role of privateers in US history and the War of 1812, I recommend these books:

1812: The Navy’s War—George C. Daughan
Patriotic Pirates—The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution, Robert H. Patton
The Prize Game—Lawful Looting on the High Seas in the Days of Fighting Sail, Donald A. Petrie
Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Lafitte at the Battle of New Orleans, Winston Groom
The Other War of 1812: The Patriot War and the American Invasion of Spanish East Florida, James G. Cusick

Award winning author Darlene Marshall’s latest release from Amber Quill Press is historical romance Castaway Dreams: “A dour doctor (after a fashion), a dizzy damsel (more or less), a darling (and potentially delicious) doggy. Unlikely companions sharing adventure on a desert island. One may have fleas.”

On sale now in print and ebook: http://www.amberquill.com/CastawayDreams.html
For more information on Darlene’s novels: http://www.amberquill.com/bio_Marshall.html

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Keturah and Lord Death and Kickstarter

Back in 2007 I wrote this review: "I read a lovely YA romance this weekend, Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. It's a fantasy about a heroine who in the manner of Scheherazade staves off death by telling a tale of a young woman who gets lost in the woods, and meets Lord Death. Death will spare her life if she finds her one true love within the span of a day. It's sweet and sad and romantic and very well written."

Now I learn that there's a Kickstarter campaign to make a movie out of Keturah and Lord Death. If you're a fan of this novel, or well-written romantic fantasy for readers of any age, I encourage you to check it out.

Waiting for Nook Editions?

I know many of you are Nook users, and I'm a B&N fan myself.  However, they're not always as fast off the mark as some other sites to get my books out for sale.  So, if you're anxious to purchase Castaway Dreams, and I know you are, remember that you can load ePub and PDF files onto your Nook reader.  Those are discounted at this site and are also available at All Romance eBooks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Whew! All editions of Castaway Dreams now on sale.

The print, ebook and Kindle editions of Castaway Dreams are now available from the usual suspects, or in the queue (Nook, Fictionwise, I'm looking at you!) With the release of the paper edition I've set up my Goodreads giveaway, where you have a chance to win a signed copy of Castaway Dreams between now and mid-August. Click on the link for the details.

In the meantime, I'm hard at work on my next novel and waiting on reviews of Castaway Dreams. Remember to please take a moment to rate the novel if you belong to one of the book social media sites.  It means a great deal to authors when they get reader feed-back, and thanks!

Monday, May 14, 2012

On the radio

Friday, May 18 I'll be discussing Castaway Dreams on Conner Calling, the phone-in ltalk show about books on WUFT FM, 89.1.  You can hear it streaming by following the link, and you can email questions if you're not in the local area.

Also, Castaway Dreams is now in Kindle edition at Amazon, and the print edition will be out very soon. More on that later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The Temporary WifeThe Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I re-read this classic Signet Regency romance last night because it's one of my comfort reads.  The author's use of words is so careful, the mood building done so well, that I like to take it off the shelf every now and then to remind myself of how a small book can be done so beautifully.

View all my reviews


Straight: The Surprisingly Short History Of HeterosexualityStraight: The Surprisingly Short History Of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book fascinating, and eye-opening.  The author starts from a unique perspective: her partner is intersex (XXY) and appears androgynous.  Is her partner male, female, or both?  Is the author heterosexual or homosexual? Blank challenges the reader to re-examine his/her/hir attitudes about sexuality and how it's defined, and how we are shaped by cultural and sexual "doxa".  

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Castaway Dreams now on sale!

It's release day for the ebook edition of Castaway Dreams, with the print and Kindle editions to follow later this month. It's been a long road for me to get this book written, because the heroine, Daphne, is so unlike me.  She's sweet and giggles and thinks everybody is her friend. Me, I'm much more like the curmudgeonly hero, Alexander.  There would be times when I'd be writing Castaway Dreams, Daphne would say something sarcastic, and I'd have to mentally slap myself and say, "No, Darlene's the sarcastic one. Daphne's sweet."

I did promise myself my next heroine would be a sarcastic, snarky, annoying person.  Much easier for me to relate to and to write.  You'll meet Lydia Burke, governess to piratical offspring in [working title] The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby.  In the meantime, download Daphne and Alexander (and Pompom's) tale in Castaway Dreams and enjoy a trip to an island paradise.  Here's an excerpt:

Darlene Marshall

"I do have a useful skill, Dr. Murray."

He looked at her.

"I am quite talented at picking out just the right hat or gloves to complement an ensemble."

She smiled, waiting for his praise.

"Miss Farnham, I would hardly term that a useful skill."

"Oh, but I beg to differ, sir. Knowing which accessories make an outfit complete is what makes us civilized, and attractive to look upon."

He found his mouth opening to argue this and then shut it. What was the point? But now, with her mind engaged, she was prepared to defend her claim. She came closer then and lightly laid her lilac-gloved hand on his arm.

"What is life without some color, some entertainment, Doctor? Should our days only be filled with work and useful functions? What of..." She thought for a moment, and since he suspected this was a rare event, he did not interrupt her. "Butterflies! Butterflies spend their days flitting from flower to flower, Doctor. They live to entertain."

"You are mistaken, Miss Farnham. Butterflies are useful creatures, as are other members of the Lepidoptera family. Butterflies and moths spread pollen amongst plants. Even the ugliest and plainest moth can do that job, just as a butterfly does. They also make a meal for birds."

"My dear Dr. Murray! Do you see butterflies floating through a meadow on a summer morning and only think of them as food for larger creatures?"

He would have told her how long it had been since he'd seen a summer meadow, with or without butterflies adorning it, but he was too aware of the feel of her hand on his arm. She was not applying any pressure at all, but it drew his senses. That butterfly touch, even muted by her gloves and his coat, made him aware of how alien she truly was, how soft and clean and fragrant, so different from the men with whom he spent his days and his nights.

"Miss Daphne Farnham!"

Mrs. Cowper's grating voice broke his concentration, and he looked up from the soft lips of his interlocutor to see her chaperone bearing down on them like a ship of the line. Even in the near dark he saw how pale the older woman's face was. She was also short of breath, but given her size that was to be expected. One could not haul that much weight up and down between decks without strain.

"Mrs. Cowper, are you well?"

She looked at him disdainfully.

"I am well enough, Mr. Murray! I just need to sit down and drink my cordial to feel tip-top again. As for you, miss, you should not be out here. What would your father say?"

Bertha Cowper's jowly cheeks were aquiver with indignation, and small wisps of hair that had dared to escape her tightly pulled bun were sticking to the sweat pouring down her forehead. He started to speak again, but she was still going on.

"And if I need medical attention, I will wait until we are in England and I will consult a proper physician." She punctuated this by grabbing Miss Farnham by the arm in a grip that made Alexander wince for the young woman's sake, and pulled her charge behind her, still talking.

"You should not be speaking to the likes of Mr. Murray, Miss Farnham. He's only a ship's surgeon. You are in enough trouble, young lady, you do not need to be looking for more..."

"But the sailors call him doctor, Mrs. Cowper."

"They are common, and ignorant. You are above him in station and it will not help your reputation to be seen spending time with him or with the other riff-raff aboard this vessel!"

But then an odd thing happened. Even as she was being hauled away, Miss Farnham turned. She smiled at Alexander, a smile of such surpassing sweetness he was struck dumb by the gesture. He could see all too clearly now how even a reasonable man could lose his composure over a cloth-headed young lady.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Mother's Day is coming

I know you're thinking of getting your mom that diamond tiara she deserves for putting up with so much of your crap when you were a teenager. Or perhaps I'm just projecting here. Anyway, if you're not yet prepared to get her that tiara, have you considered getting mom an ereader?  Everyone I know who has one loves the convenience and ease of purchasing books, and for older readers it has the added advantage of an adjustable font.

When you get mom that ereader, you might preload it with some award winning romance novels featuring pirates, privateers and smugglers, not to mention a possum or two. Lest you think your mother's too old to appreciate a hot historical romance, my oldest fan (that I know of) is 96, and is eagerly awaiting my next novel, Castaway Dreams.  Mom's cooler than you think, and she loves a good novel as much as you do.


Friday, May 04, 2012

Sea Change is a Finalist!

Sea Change is a finalist in the Regency category of the Golden Quill contest sponsored by the Desert Rose RWA Chapter.  I'm thrilled to be in such good company!