Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"In What Order Should I Read Your Books?"

It's been a while since I posted my "How to read Darlene Marshall novels" cheat sheet, so I thought I'd run it past y'all again.  All of my books are written so they can be read as stand-alone novels, however you may find it more enjoyable if you combine them so crossover characters are introduced first:

Sea Change, then Castaway Dreams. One of the secondary characters in Sea Change is Royal Navy surgeon Alexander Murray, who's the hero of Castaway Dreams.

The Bride and the Buccaneer, then Captain Sinister's Lady. The marriage minded Captain Sinister (Morgan Roberts) and his crew are introduced in The Bride and the Buccaneer.

Pirate's Price, then Smuggler's Bride. Pirate's Price is set a generation before Smuggler's Bride and the heroine of Smuggler's Bride  (Julia) is the daughter of the hero and heroine of Pirate's Price.

All the books are available in paper and ebook editions at Amber Quill Press and Amazon, and the ebook editions are available at AllRomance Ebooks.  You can also get Nook editions*.

If any reader has questions or comments please contact me! I love to hear from readers: darlenemarshall [at] darlenemarshall [dot] com.

*Castaway Dreams is in the Nook queue to be released later this summer, but can be read on your Nook now in ePub or PDF.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hunker down, North Central Florida

He poled up the creek, away from the juncture with the river. The
small tributary narrowed and soon they were both ducking under lowhanging
cypress and oak branches. She saw a bull gator sunning itself
on the bank, lazily watching them go by and ignoring this midday
incursion into its domain. When Rand could pole no further, he tied up
the boat and jumped into the shallow water, lifting Julia and following
the creek down along a sandy strip.
“What is out here? It seems like the middle of nowhere.”
“It is,” Rand said, “but that’s what makes it special.” Despite the
poling he showed no strain carrying her and since her feet were bare
and the ground was rough, she didn’t encourage him to put her down.
Besides, she rather enjoyed it, though she’d never tell him so.
He walked past the sand into a hammock of live oak sprawled out
like a dowager who’d loosened her stays, and emerged on the other side
to a pool fringed by sand and boulders on one side, bushes bright with yellow berries and more oaks and laurels on the other side. Rand
carried her past a pair of mossy-backed turtles sunning themselves on a
fallen log, over to the boulders and set her down atop one flat as the
table she’d stood on earlier. The sun shone hot on the pool, an open
patch in the thickness of the woods. The stream they’d followed ran
from it, water rushing rapidly through. When she looked over the lip of
the boulder into the pool, she saw why.
The water was crystalline and turbulent, gushing up to fill the pool
and overflow into the creek. She could see grasses waving on the
bottom as if whipped by a heavy wind.
--Smuggler's Bride

Floridians have a saying: "We could use a good tropical storm 'bout now." When the water levels are low in our aquifer, a soaking or two helps recharge the groundwater supply.

A "good" tropical storm is one that rolls through, dumps a few inches of rain, then blows back out to sea without downing too many trees or causing lowland flooding.

Debby is no longer behaving nicely. Oh sure, she started out well, bringing some much needed water to our parched area. We had wildfires and watering restrictions this spring, and record low rainfalls for the past few years have left their mark in slow and low springs and rivers and disappearing lakes. But over 10" in two days with more on the way? That's a bit of overkill.

So move out to sea, Debby. We'd much rather let that good water soak in and welcome one of your sisters later this summer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fountain pen distractions

I was cleaning my fountain pens today (I know, I should have been writing more instead) when it occurred to me that I had no idea why I was writing "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party" a gazillion times. Yes, I knew I was writing it to test the ink flow on the Sensa and the Cross, but why that sentence?  Then I remembered it was a famous line I'd first learned, as so many people did, in typing class.  That sentence was used to test one's speed while typing, and it lingers in the back of my mind to this day.

Then I wondered if they still teach typing in schools?  I know penmanship seems to have gone the way of the rotary dial telephone, but I would think touch typing is still a useful skill in this keyboard age.  I know it makes my writing faster than if I were looking at my fingers or "hunting and pecking" my way through a manuscript.

Incidentally, the pens all appear to be unclogged and ready for action now.  I think I'll spend some time this afternoon taking research notes so I can give the pens a good workout, on Rhodia paper, of course.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

            “Again, Papa, throw the knife again!  Hit him in the eye this time!”
            Robert paused.
            “As entertaining as it is to stab someone from a distance, always remember, Mattie:  If you throw your knife you no longer have a knife you can use, and it could even be used against you. You must have a back-up weapon.  What did I tell you is the first rule of knife-fights?”
            “To bring a pistol, Papa.”
            “That’s correct. If your opponent brings a knife, you bring pistols, with your own knife as back-up.”
            “Yes, Papa.”
            “Also,” he added in a pedantic fashion, “My victim is painted on wood.  A real person would be moving, or yelling, or trying to harm you.  If he’s just standing there one could simply cosh him over the head with a belaying pin.  Of course, you would have to stand on a chair to do that.”
            Mattie put her hand up over her mouth and giggled at the image.  She’d adjusted to life aboard ship in a fashion that made him proud and more convinced than ever that she was his child.  Norton had cut down some clothing to fit her, trousers and a shirt, and she looked right at home as she scampered barefoot across deck.  Mr. Fuller gave her chores to do and while she grumbled about scrubbing the decks, she only did so because all the pirates grumbled about it and she wanted to fit in with the crew.
            For their part the crew had made efforts to keep their more salacious shanties to themselves and sing work-songs suitable for the ears of an eight-year-old, but Robert could tell Mattie’s vocabulary was undergoing a sea change as she learned the ways of the Prodigal Son.  At some point he would have to inform her that “By King Neptune’s Damp Balls!” was not a suitable oath for a young lady, no matter how often she heard Conroy say it.  
--[Working title] The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby, a work in progress

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially the ones whose daughters wanted to grow up to be pirates.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flag Day

They went up on deck together, David carrying his prayer book. The men were assembled wearing their finest clothing. At the starboard rail a canvas length awaited them, sewn by Sails, weighted to carry its burden to the bottom of the ocean. It was on a trestle, covered with the flag of the United States that fluttered at the edges in the light breeze.
The crew was silent as their captain stepped forward, and a hurricane bird soared overhead, far from land but reminding them all that someday, they would return to their homes.
Some of them.

--Sea Change 

Today is Flag Day in the United States, the day we mark the adoption of our nation's symbol of freedom.  It was immortalized during the War of 1812 200 years ago with Francis Scott Key's poem, now our national anthem.  My flag is flying, as it does on all national holidays.  Long may it wave.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

We lost one of the great American writers today, Ray Bradbury.  His work has been read by every American schoolchild, and his writing spread across generations and genres, from Fahrenheit 451 to The Martian Chronicles to "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit".

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Bradbury at Confederation, the 1986 World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta.  When people asked me after my years in broadcast and print news which famous person I'd enjoyed interviewing the most, I never hesitated:

"Ray Bradbury. Funny, smart, gracious and charming.  Interviewing him was one of the high points of my career."

Somewhere in Heaven there's a small town that looks like it was lifted straight out of the cornfields of Illinois, and that's where you'll find Ray Bradbury today.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Of Pups and Possums

His glance flicked over her, and he grunted dismissively. “Not
much to you.”
Sophia drew herself up to her full height. “I have it on good
authority I am worth three opossums!”
A twitch dented the corner of [the Indian's] mouth and he
looked at Jack. “You pay three possums for this?”
“At the time it seemed like a good idea,” Jack said, putting
down his rifle and brushing off his own clothes.
--The Bride and The Buccaneer (winner, FCRW Beacon Award and the subject of a three minute lecture at Harvard University on "How the barter system approximates commodity currency in a market economy.")

My elderly dachshund treed a possum last night.  I knew this because around 11 p.m. there was a frantic barking from the backyard, something along the lines of, "OMG! OMG! I caught supper! Quick, mom, bring the rifle!"

When I went out to investigate, the dog was at the base of a huge oak, her front paws planted firmly on it, tail wagging furiously as she barked at something up in the branches.  I couldn't see it, but I heard an angry hissing from above, something addressed to the doxie along the lines of, "You crazy b*tch! If I come down from here I'm going to claw your face off!"

Rather than shoot the possum, I gathered the old lady dog into my arms, praised her for being such a good hunter, and took her inside for a well-deserved treat and her bedtime meds.  No doubt she dreamed that night of her glory days, when she had teeth, and the possums ran scared.