Sunday, 28 October 2012

Manna from Hades

Carola Dunn

MANNA FROM HADES is my first Cornish mystery. It has just come out in paperback in the US. The second, A Colourful Death, is available in hardcover and ebook, and the third, The Valley of the Shadow, comes out in December.

All three will be out in the UK next June.

The Cornish mysteries, set in the late 1960s, feature Eleanor Trewynn, a widow in her 60s. After a life spent working
all over the world for an international charity, she retires to a cottage in a small fishing port in Cornwall and turns the ground floor into a charity shop. Her niece, Megan Pencarrow, is a detective with the Cornish police.

Eleanor has been out collecting contributions for the shop:

Tipping forward the driving seat, she reached for the bag of clothes Teazle had been sitting on. Beneath it was a black attaché-case. Eleanor frowned. She didn't remember anyone donating an attaché-case for LonStar. Her memory for practical matters had never been of the best, but she usually knew exactly who had given her what.
Picking it up by the handle—it was surprisingly heavy—she carried it and the bag of clothes through the blue door. Near the far end of the passage, opposite the foot of the stairs, was the door to the stockroom. This she had inconveniently remembered to lock, or, more likely, the ever-efficient Jocelyn had locked it when she left after checking the till on Saturday. Eleanor set down her burdens and felt in her pocket for her keys.
Where on earth had she left them now? Ah, dangling from the lock of the street door, of course.
Keys retrieved, she took the clothes and the attaché-case into the stockroom. The bag of clothes she dropped on the floor in the back corner, out of the way of the shelves and racks of already-priced goods awaiting space in the shop. The attaché-case she set on the long trestle table used by volunteers more businesslike than herself to sort and price the donated items.
Through the high window, the setting sun flooded the room with rosy light. As far as Eleanor could tell, the attaché-case was real leather, not one of the modern substitutes. It was in good condition, one corner just a trifle scuffed, but unfortunately on the top edge was an embossed monogram, the kind with superimposed, intertwined letters which are hard to make out—D, A, and W, she thought. One couldn't expect a customer with the same initials to happen to come into the shop in search of an attaché-case. The letters weren't conspicuous, though, half-hidden by the handle and not picked out in gilt.
She'd better see whether anything had been left inside it, on purpose or by accident. Laying the case flat on the table top, she pressed back the shiny brass catches, opened it, and gasped. On a bed of black velvet, a tangled heap of jewelry glittered and gleamed, gold, ruby-red, emerald-green, sapphire, amethyst, and the hard sparkle of diamond.
With tentative fingers, Eleanor picked out a bracelet and held it up to the light. Purple stones glowed with an inner fire.
Paste, of course, or the modern equivalent, but paste of excellent quality. Even if they were artificial gems, they must be quite valuable. How very generous people were, she thought, a little misty-eyed.
And doing good by stealth, too, not wanting to be thanked, slipping the case into her car when she was not watching, as if it were manna from Heaven.
What the kind donor unfortunately didn't realise was that valuable gifts had to be documented. Jocelyn was going to have forty fits when she discovered that Eleanor had no paperwork, no signatures, to vouch for the provenance of the jewelry.
Nor had she the slightest idea of the identity of the giver.
Eleanor was about to tell Jocelyn about the jewelry in the safe upstairs, when the bell over the shop door tinkled and a customer came in. The jewelry could wait. She went back into the stockroom.
In the far corner, Teazle was sniffing at some men's shirts spilling out of a carrier bag on its side on top of a box. Her tail was between her legs and she showed none of the frantic excitement mice invariably aroused. Glancing round at Eleanor, she whined.
When Eleanor went over to her, she gave a perfunctory wag of the tail and backed off. Puzzled, Eleanor bent down to right the bag and stuff the clothes back in. Behind the box a pair of boots lay on their sides, one atop the other. The leather, once black but now of no determinate colour, was cracked and the back of the heels, turned towards her, were worn down to the uppers.
"That's odd," she said to Teazle. "I don't remember anyone giving those and I never would have accepted them. No one would buy such disreputable boots."
She set the carrier bag to one side and shifted the box. As it moved, she saw bony, sockless ankles and the frayed, faded hems of a pair of filthy blue jeans. The boots were occupied.
Had some tramp crawled in among the goods? She really must remember to lock doors! In a way, she was glad that he had found shelter from the chilly spring night, but Jocelyn would be furious. Perhaps she could send him on his way before Jocelyn found out.
He must be drunk, or very sound asleep, not to have been wakened by the fuss over the table. She nudged at his thin ankle with a fastidious toe but failed to rouse him.
As she moved boxes and bags away from the prone form, a sick certainty that something was very wrong grew in her. She uncovered the rest of the jeans, a hand in a woollen glove unravelling at the wrist, a khaki anorak ripped under the arm. The man lay motionless.
And then the head, face to the wall: long, lank darkish hair; the angle of a jaw sprouting youthful fuzz; the angle of the neck—
"Joce!" Her call emerged as a strangled squeak. Backing towards the connecting door, she tried again. "Jocelyn!"
"Coming. I've sold... Eleanor, you're white as a sheet. What is it?"
"I'm just afraid it's Trevor."
"The boy who comes to help when he stays with his uncle."
"Eleanor, dear, calm down. I know Trevor. A scruffy, feckless creature he is, and none too clean either."
"Was." Her voice shook. "Oh, Joce, there's a dead body back there and he looks very like Trevor."


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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Captain Ingram's Inheritance

Carola Dunn

Adventure, romance, danger, war, murder, high finance, and a leavening of humour--
Now out, my Rothschild trilogy reprinted in paperback in the UK.
Also available as e-book for Nook, Kindle and others. 

Seattle Mystery Bookshop   hopes to get the paperbacks for sale in the US.

Frank Ingram, badly wounded at Waterloo, is taken to Lord Roworth's family estate to recuperate. Roworth's sister Lady Constantia is an angel of mercy to the invalid, but a penniless artillery officer has no business raising his eyes to the daughter of a peer.
Then an unexpected inheritance makes everything possible--until someone tries to stop Frank enjoying his good fortune, someone who won't stop at murder.


The landau jolted to a halt before a large house in the most fantastical Gothic style. Towers and turrets, battlements and buttresses, arched windows and oriel windows, even gargoyles leering down from the roof parapet, nothing was missing.
Heedless of the rain, Vickie jumped down from the carriage, not waiting for the footman to descend from his damp perch to let down the step. "Oh!" she breathed in an ecstasy, "isn't it heavenly? Does it not bring to mind mad monks and persecuted maidens? I'm sure you must have a ghost, Captain, or even two!"
Frank went off into peals of helpless laughter. Constantia eyed him uncertainly, wondering if he were more tired than she had supposed and growing hysterical.
With a gasp, he stopped laughing and said, "To think I expected to retire to an unobtrusive life in a modest country manor! Anyone residing in that must surely be destined to figure as either an ogre or a sorcerer--or possibly a mad monk."
"Or an enchanted prince, or an Arthurian knight," Constantia proposed. "It is certainly neither unobtrusive nor modest. Vickie, you will be soaked to the skin. Run to the porch at once. I cannot wait to see inside."
Vickie scampered across the potholed, weed-grown gravel to the shelter of the porch, the open-arched ground floor of a tower superimposed on the façade of the central block. There she seized in both hands a massive iron door-knocker in the form of a dragon's head. With it, she beat a zestful tattoo.
By the time Thomas had escorted the rest of the travellers under his black umbrella to the porch, the iron-studded and banded door was slowly creaking open. A small, balding man in a rusty black coat peered at them myopically.
"Us wasn't expecting so many," he quavered in a voice full of doubt.
Frank looked as if he was about to dissolve in laughter again, so Constantia took charge.
"I am Lady Constantia Roworth," she said briskly, moving forward so that the butler--if such he claimed to be--was forced to retreat. "You must have received the letters regarding our coming, and in any case I am sure my brother and Miss Ingram have arrived already. They were well ahead of us upon the highway."
"They'm come," he conceded grudgingly.
"Are there dungeons?" Vickie demanded.
"For heaven's sake, Vickie, the dungeons can wait. Miss Bannister is unwell, and I for one want nothing so much as a cup of tea."
"And tea you shall have," Fanny promised, emerging from an archway, "if you don't mind drinking it in the kitchen. The drawing-room is all in holland covers, and goodness knows what is under them. Frank, are you...yes, you look well but you ought to sit down. My dear Miss Bannister, pray come and see if a cup of tea will not revive you. The kettle is on the hob."
Before following the others through the archway, Constantia threw a glance around the chamber they had entered from the porch. To her delight, it was a Tudor Great Hall, smaller than Westwood's had been, but with all the proper appurtenances: elaborately carved panelling, chimneypiece, and staircase; high, vaulted ceiling; and a gallery around three sides. On either side of the entrance tower, tall, leaded windows under pointed arches admitted a minimum of dull daylight through their grimy diamond panes. The woodwork was dingy, sadly in need of polish, and cobwebs hung from the gallery and ceiling beams, but that could be put to rights.
Frank was waiting for her by the archway under the gallery at one end of the hall. "I'm sorry," he said, chagrined, as they proceeded along a dusty corridor. "I'd not have dragged you here for the world had I known what a shocking state the place is in."
"I'd not have missed it for the world. The Gothic façade must be a quite recent addition since the hall is undoubtedly sixteenth-century, and just what I particularly like."
"Is it, truly?" he asked, gratified. "It looks deuced--dashed--grim to me. Not that I haven't been in some odd lodgings in my time, but I daresay Westwood and Nettledene have raised my expectations! To have to invite you to take tea in the kitchen is mortifying, to say the least."
She touched his arm consolingly. "You will need to hire servants, that is all. There are bound to be women in the village who will like to earn extra money by coming in to help put everything in order to start with."
"Mackintyre did warn us there is no one but an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Biddle, as caretakers. I had not realized, though, just how much care a house needs. I'm glad you are come, for Fanny won't have the least notion how to go about hiring servants."
Constantia was pleased that he took it for granted she would assist his sister, but she said doubtfully, "I will do what I can. Our housekeeper and butler hire most of our indoor servants. Though Mama had me attend several interviews, some years ago, so that I would know how to go about it, the only servant I have ever chosen myself is my abigail, Joan."
"That's more than Fanny's ever done. Where does one start?"
"With the vicar's wife. She will know of respectable people in need of work."
"Let's hope the vicar is married, then. Oh Lord, I've just thought: if Mackintyre judges this place habitable, what condition do you suppose the house at Heathcote is in?"
At that moment they reached the kitchen. The spotless cosiness of the large room suggested that the Biddles spent most of their time there, but just now they seemed to have vanished. Miss Bannister was already seated at the well-scrubbed whitewood table, where Anita knelt on a chair with bread-and-jam in her hand and jam on her face. Vickie wandered about exclaiming over bright copper pans, wooden spoons, and other kitchen equipment unfamiliar to the daughter of an earl. At the wide fireplace, Fanny was swinging a hook bearing a steaming kettle off the fire.
The young footman, also steaming by the fire, sprang to help her. Felix was there first, potholders in hand.
"Do you remember, Fanny," he said, lifting the kettle, "how once in Brussels I went to the kitchen to ask Henriette for tea and I claimed to be domesticated? You told me I must learn to make the tea for myself. The moment has come. What do I do next?"
Fanny laughed, plainly not in the least dispirited by her surroundings. "The teapot is already warmed and the tea-leaves measured into it, so all you need do is pour on the water. Connie, Frank, do sit down. Are you hungry? I can offer bread and jam."
"So we see," said Frank, grinning at Anita.
"It's good jam, Uncle Frank." Catching a drip, she licked her hand.
Soon they were all seated about the table with cups of tea, except Thomas, who bashfully accepted a mug but continued to stand steaming at the fire.
"Well," said Frank, regarding his guests with a rueful air, "what can I say but welcome to Upfield Grange? I believe I can safely promise you all an unusual visit."
They were laughing when Biddle reappeared. He was accompanied by a little old woman, bent with rheumatism, in a white cap and a grey gown with the wide, quilted skirts of a former age. Peering around the company, he spotted Frank and marched up to him, his wife in tow.
"You be Cap'n Ingram, the new master, sir?"
"That's right."
"Us can't do it, sir, not nohow." He made a helpless gesture at the horde invading his haven. "Us be caretakers, sir, me and the missis, not butlers and housemaids and cooks and such."
Mrs Biddle nodded her crooked head and a tear trickled down her wrinkled cheek.
Frank took her hand in his. "My dear Mrs Biddle, you shan't be expected to do anything beyond your strength. I hope you and Biddle will consent to stay and help as you can until I'm able to hire a proper staff, but whenever you choose to go, you shall have a pension."
Constantia, sitting beyond Frank, saw the light of hope enter the old woman's faded eyes. "Us'll help, sir, to be sure." She faltered. "'Ee won't bawl at un, like his grace do? I han't made up but two beds yet, sir."
"Fanny," Constantia exclaimed, eyeing the twisted hand engulfed in Frank's, "surely you and Vickie and I can make up the beds ourselves?"
Frank's look of gratitude was reward enough for any amount of unpleasant labour.
"Oh yes!" Vickie appeared to regard the whole situation as a splendid adventure. "You'll have to show us how, Fanny."
"It won't take long."
"Joan should be here soon, too," said Constantia, "with the luggage, and your man, Felix."
"I shouldn't dare ask Trevor to make beds," her brother declared.
Fanny wrinkled her nose at him. "No, he is quite the most disobliging person. Mrs Biddle, have the linens been aired?"
"Oh, aye, miss, that they have."
"Excellent. Thomas, if you are nearly dry, pray carry--" She stopped as the kitchen's back door opened.
The Westwoods' coachman and Felix's new groom came in, the former with a decidedly grumpy expression. Though he seemed a trifle abashed to find the kitchen full of gentry, he addressed Felix in no uncertain terms. "Beggin' your pardon, m'lord, but them stables is fit for neither man nor beast."
Felix grimaced, then gave Frank an apologetic look. "I know," he said to the coachman, "but you are to return to Westwood tomorrow with the landau. Dutton, have you managed to make my pair reasonably comfortable?"
Before the groom could answer, young Thomas stepped forward. "Please, my lord," he cried, "Don't make me go back to Westwood. My lady!" He turned to Constantia and begged, "Let me stay. I asked special to be let come to serve you. I'll do anything, honest. I'll make beds or...or even clean out the stables."
Astonished, touched, even a little flattered, Constantia said, "Yes, you may stay, Thomas. Felix, did not Mama say Fanny and Vickie and I must take a footman to wait upon us?"
"She did." He grinned. "However, I believe what she had in mind was your consequence, not my horses' comfort."
Frank groaned. "If anything is certain," he said, "it's that Lady Westwood would never have let you come, Lady Constantia, if she'd had the slightest notion of the state of things at Upfield Grange."
Constantia smiled at him. "So we can only be grateful, Captain, that she did not know."

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Well, I've done it. Just like everyone else, I've self-published a book.

A Similar Taste in Books is a sweet regency romance novelette. Currently, it's available on Amazon, and will soon be available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

Pride and Prejudice has always brought lovers together, even in the Regency.

Justin has a deep, dark secret—he likes that most despised form of literature, the novel. His favorite novel is Pride and Prejudice, and, especially, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Intelligent, lively, fiercely loyal Miss Elizabeth. How he would love to meet a lady like her.

Clara’s favorite novel is Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Intelligent, steadfast and willing to admit when he is wrong. Can such a splendid man exist? And can she find him?

One day in the library, they both check out copies of their favorite book. When Justin bumps into Clara, the magic of their similar taste in books just might make their wishes come true.

A sweet, traditional Regency romance. 


With a curt nod to the officious clerk, Justin gathered up his package and stepped back. He collided with the person next in the queue. “I beg your par—” 

Before him stood the loveliest lady he had ever seen. She was short and willowy, her dark pink muslin walking dress emphasizing every slender curve. Deep brown curls peeped from the sides of a gauzy matching pink bonnet to frame an oval face. Her skin was creamy, her nose straight and proud.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet! The lady of his dreams! His jaw sagged.

“No harm done, sir.” The vision lifted a shapely dark eyebrow. “If I may reach the clerk?” Merry chocolate-colored eyes twinkled up at him and sweet rosy lips dimpled in an amused arch of a grin. A whiff of lilac perfume, delicate as the lady, wafted toward him.

He snapped his mouth shut with an audible click. “Oh, sorry.” Damn him for gaping like the veriest fool. Hugging his package to his chest, he stumbled away from the young lady and the plainly dressed woman, most likely her maid, who stood beside her. The maid flashed a grin as if she knew every one of his admiring thoughts.

He bumped into the table by the counter, and pain lanced through his elbow. Cradling his bundle with one arm while rubbing his throbbing forearm, he pretended to study the list of new books on the table, but kept his gaze fixed on the young lady. She was exactly as he had imagined Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Who was she? And how could he make her acquaintance?
Available at Amazon here.

Author Bio:
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

I'm Linda Banche, and I write witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.

Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I'm persistent--that's French for "too stupid to quit".

I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.

So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.

I have six Regency novellas: LADY OF THE STARS (time travel, finalist in Science Fiction Romance in the 2010 EPIC eBook Contest), PUMPKINNAPPER (finalist in the 2011 EPIC Contest in the Historical Romance category. I'm two for two now. I've entered the EPIC contest twice, and I've finaled twice.), MISTLETOE EVERYWHERE, GIFTS GONE ASTRAY, AN INHERITANCE FOR THE BIRDS and A SIMILAR TASTE IN BOOKS. Blurbs and excerpts on my website,

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Lord Roworth's Reward

 Adventure, romance, danger, war, murder, high finance, and a leavening of humour--
Now out, my Rothschild trilogy will be reprinted in the UK.
Also available as e-book for Nook, Kindle and others.

Lord Roworth's Reward is the second book of the Rothschild Trilogy, after Miss Jacobson's Journey and followed by Captain Ingram's Inheritance.

1815: Felix Roworth accepts a job from the Rothschilds, to follow Society to Brussels and send immediate word to London of the outcome of the inevitable battle between Bonaparte, escaped from Elba, and the Duke of Wellington. The son of a bankrupt peer, Felix shares lodgings in Brussels with a penniless artillery officer and his pretty sister, Frank and Fanny Ingram, as the French approach and citizens and visitors panic. When Frank is badly wounded in the Battle of Waterloo, Felix helps Fanny get him to safety. But he needs a well-born, wealthy match, for his family's sake. It's his duty to forget the attraction he feels for Fanny.

Chapter 1

The parlour door-latch clicked. Felix glanced up, on the verge of embarrassment at being discovered on his hands and knees on the worn brown drugget carpet, but of course it was only Fanny.
His little rider slid off his back and ran to her, black ringlets flying. "Tía, have you buyed me a great big sugar plum?"
"Bought," Fanny corrected automatically, setting down her basket on the table. As Felix sprang to his feet and dusted the knees of his buckskin breeches, he saw that she was hot and tired, her brown curls limp under the jaunty straw hat with its single sagging plume. Though it was still May, Brussels sweltered under a cloudless sky.
"Did you bought me one?" Anita repeated obediently.
Fanny's round face dimpled in a smile at Felix. "Yes," she assured the child, "you shall have a sugar plum but you must eat your bread and milk first. Did you thank Tío Felix for giving you a ride?"
"Not yet." Spreading her skirts with two tiny hands, Anita wobbled a curtsy, the tip of her tongue protruding from the corner of her mouth in her concentration. "There," she said with a beam of triumph. "Thank you, Tío Felix, my lord. You are a good horse."
Laughing, Felix swept her up in his arms and kissed her soft cheek. "And you are a good rider."
"She should be. She started on a Spanish mule before she was two." Fanny took off her hat, crossed to the tarnished looking-glass over the mantel, and did her best with deft fingers to set her curls in order. "Thank you for taking care of her, my lord," she said over one slim shoulder. "The marketing took longer than I expected, I'm afraid. There are more and more soldiers in the streets every day, which I daresay we should be glad of."
"Certainly, since sooner or later it is bound to come to a battle. According to all reports, Boney is still drawing troops to his Eagles."
"But half of ours are raw recruits, or Belgian farm lads of doubtful allegiance. Many of them are mere boys, and of the Brunswickers, too, however impressive they look in their black with those horrid skulls and crossbones on their shakos! Still, today you will see the flower of the British Army. I trust I have not made you late for your appointment with Lady Sophia--or is it Madame Lisle you are taking to the Review?" she added with a quizzing look.
"Lady Sophia," Felix answered curtly. Miss Fanny Ingram should not even be aware of his Belgian chère-amie, let alone mention her. But then, one could not expect the delicacy of a well-bred, sheltered young lady, the exquisite sensibilities of a Lady Sophia, in a female who had followed the drum from birth.
Now what had she said to make him poker up? Fanny wondered. Lord Roworth usually took her teasing in good part. Of course: she ought not to have mentioned his mistress. Mama would have been equally shocked at her daughter's frankness, but Mama was buried somewhere in the Spanish mountains south of Coruña. After six years, it was difficult to remember all her lessons.
Still, if Fanny should not have spoken so, Lord Roworth ought not to have set up a mistress when he was assiduously courting a noble beauty. Frank had told her about Katrina Lisle, and they had shaken their heads together over the peculiar ways of the nobility.
Felix Roworth was handsome enough to keep any number of females happy, with his dark-gold locks, ruffled now by Anita's clasp, his brilliant blue eyes, his tall, broad-shouldered form. But Fanny had no intention of being numbered among those languishing females. Nor had she any intention of letting his disapproval abash her.
"Then you had best be on your way, sir," she said tranquilly.
He grinned, his momentary stiffness vanished. "Lady Sophia does not care for tardiness in her suitors, true, but I'm not late. Wellington is not to arrive until two, I understand."
"Well, you should know, intimate with Old Hookey as you are. Poor Frank and Captain Mercer have been out there with their guns since early this morning. They have to see that the men polish the barrels, as well as their buttons, buckles and boots. Though the Duke never has a good word for the Artillery, Colonel Frazer insists that today they shine as brightly as the rest of the Cavalry."
"Shall you go?"
"Not I. Twenty miles, in this heat, to see our fellows dressed up in their fancy coats?" She spoke lightly, with scorn, to hide her wistful desire to see the Review. Her brother's Horse Artillery battery was seldom on parade.
Though usually less than perceptive, Lord Roworth saw through her pretense of indifference. "I wish I might offer to take you, but Lady Sophia is expecting my escort and I've borrowed a curricle which will only hold two, with her groom up behind."
Even if he had a spacious barouche, Lady Sophia would hardly appreciate the presence of a dowdy stranger and a small child on her excursion, Fanny thought sardonically. Just as well it was impossible, but it was a kind notion, typical of his good nature. Whatever his faults, he was a dear.
"Never mind," she said, turning to practical matters, "I really must finish Anita's new dress. She grows shockingly fast."
"My new dress is blue and it has scarlet ribbons," Anita announced with pride. "That's the same colours like Tío Frank's best coat."
"As Tío Frank's coat. Come, Anita, we must take the basket to Henriette in the kitchen."
"I'll carry it," Felix offered, picking it up. "It's heavy! What a deuced nuisance that Henriette will not go to market."
"She is far too busy, not to mention too fat. Madame Vilvoorde used to go herself, I collect, but now she is a landlady and above such things."
"Landlady! She lets out a few shabby rooms at an exorbitant rent!" he snorted. "You ought not to have to shop for provisions."
"I don't mind. Believe me, it is easy compared to foraging in the Peninsula!"


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See an excerpt of the first in the trilogy here:

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Also available in other e-formats

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Guest blog: Michelle Prima - Organising research for historicals

When I was asked to contribute an article about writing Victorian romances from an organizer’s perspective, it started me thinking about the process from an entirely different angle. 

When I began writing over 20 years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom.  It was long before I began a career as a professional organizer.  Yet, when I look back, I realize writing historical romances perfectly fit my personality.  Why?  Because of the extensive research I had to do for each book and the need to keep it in order.

Rather than write about my own familiar world, I chose the Victorian Era. That meant having to delve into every aspect of daily life in the 1800s.  That wasn’t a problem for me, because I love to learn as much as I love to write.  The problem was how to keep it organized to find it when I needed it.  After all, although I read everything I copied, I couldn’t remember every detail.

I began by indexing every resource I used.  Mind you, this was when the internet had first appeared, so most research was done in the library.  I either wrote notes by hand, or made a photocopy.  So I needed to keep track of every book.  Now, I use less books and more online resources.  But I still index my sources.

I found the easiest way to organize my research was by subject.  That way, if I was writing a scene where the characters were at a dinner party, I could quickly find my notes on social graces and food.  Where should the Lord of the Manor sit, who sat to his right, and how did they file into the dining room?  These notes came from many different sources, so I wanted a simple way to keep track of the source.  I didn’t want to have to write the bibliographic information every time I added a note to my pages, so I created an indexing system.

For every book I used, I photocopied the title page, then assigned it a number.  So my index looked like this:

#1.  “Title”, author, publication date, publisher, ISBN# and where I found the book (library, etc.)

The list was as long as it needed to be for the number of sources I used.

When I wrote notes from my sources, or copied a page, I recorded my index number by the entry.  If I ever needed to check a fact, I’d be able to look up the source, then find the original book again.  This was especially helpful when I began another project and wanted to look further into a subject that I’d only skimmed for the previous novel. 

All my notes went into a binder, with tabbed index pages to mark each subject--Architecture, geography, transportation, etc.  The binders worked well because I could move pages around or expand into a second binder. 

While this method still works well, my computer works better now.  I still use an indexing system.  I compose notes in a Word document, and keep the index in an Excel spread sheet, which is both searchable and sortable. 

How you file your research isn’t as important as filing it.  You never know when an editor or reader will question your facts.  If you’ve kept detailed records, you’ll be able to support your story.


Michelle Prima has been writing historicals for over 20 years.  She is a former Golden Heart finalist, and contributor to magazines and web sites.  She is the author of Researching the British Historical: The Victorian Era and 101 Organizing Tips for Writers.  Visit her web site at: for more writing tips.   

Sunday, 7 October 2012

PUMPKINNAPPER, Regency Halloween comedy, 2011 EPIC Contest Finalist

Halloween is coming! How about some Regency Halloween comedy?

Let me tell you a tale of a love triangle: man, woman and goose. Join the fowl frolic as Henry the man and Henry the goose spar over heroine Emily's affections while they try to capture the foul (or is it fowl?) pumpkin thieves.

Pumpkinnapper was a finalist in the 2011 EPIC eBook Awards Competition in the Historical Romance category.

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled and a jealous goose. Oh my!

Last night someone tried to steal the widowed Mrs. Emily Metcalfe's pumpkins. She's certain the culprit is her old childhood nemesis and the secret love of her youth, Henry, nicknamed Hank, whom she hasn't seen in ten years.

Henry, Baron Grey, who's never forgotten the girl he loved but couldn't pursue so long ago, decides to catch Emily's would-be thief. Even after she reveals his childhood nickname--the one he would rather forget. And even after her jealous pet goose bites him in an embarrassing place.

Oh, the things a man does for love.

"Emily, even with Henry, formidable as he is--" Hank glared at the goose. The goose glared back "--you need protection. I will send over some footmen to guard the place."

"No. Turnip Cottage belongs to Charlotte's husband. What will the townspeople think, with Lord Grey's servants about my house?"

Her refusal increased his fury. The sight of her hand on that damned goose's head didn't improve his mood, either. He balled his fists as his patience thinned and something else thickened. "I'll find you a guard dog. You must have some protection out here all alone."

"But I have Henry." She patted the goose's head and the bird snuggled into her hand. Again.

Heat flooded Hank, part desire for Emily's touch, and part desire to murder that damned goose, who was where he wanted to be. His insides groaned. "Very well, then, you leave me no choice. I will help you catch the culprits."


He changed his voice to the voice that either melted a woman or earned him a slap in the face. "Who knows, mayhap we would enjoy ourselves as I lie in wait with you." I would love to lie with you.

Her eyes widened. Had she understood the innuendo?

"I cannot stay alone with you, and you know it," she said, her voice severe.

"You are a widow in your own home and no one will see. I will make sure of it."

"No." She marched back into her cottage and slammed the door. Henry smirked and waddled away.

Hank grinned. He would be back, whether she liked it or not.

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Author Bio:
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

I'm Linda Banche, and I write witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.

Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I'm persistent--that's French for "too stupid to quit".

I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.

So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.

I have five Regency novellas: LADY OF THE STARS (time travel, finalist in Science Fiction Romance in the 2010 EPIC eBook Contest), PUMPKINNAPPER (finalist in the 2011 EPIC Contest in the Historical Romance category. I'm two for two now. I've entered the EPIC contest twice, and I've finaled twice.), MISTLETOE EVERYWHERE, GIFTS GONE ASTRAY and AN INHERITANCE FOR THE BIRDS. blurbs and excerpts on my website,

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!