Posts tagged with: show and tell

Show and Tell Wednesday: Marnee Blake on Regency Adventures

Today we have a special Show and Tell feature from Marnee Blake, a 2015 Golden Heart historical romance finalist.

Now, if finaling wasn’t commendable enough, you should know that this blog was made in the midst of a power outage. Neither snow nor rain nor big bad storms shall keep this Firefly down. 🙂

So without further delay, welcome Marnee! Take it away.


My manuscript, A DANGEROUS CHEMISTRY, is a 2015 Golden Heart Finalist in the Historical Romance category.  It’s a Victorian-set historical with a bit of a campy, action movie vibe.  My debut, ALTERED (coming in Dec from Entangled Embrace), has a similar action-y feel.  But, an action-y NA scifi thriller is one thing.  The same for a Victorian romance?

Well, it’s a little bit like Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.

That movie was a bit gritty and edgy, but still very Victorian.

And it’s got a little bit of Kingsmen: The Secret Service going on, too.

I don’t know how many of you have seen this movie, but hubs and I loved it.  And Colin Firth.  See the movie for Colin Firth.  Granted, Colin’s not in my book.  But, my book has lots of the same sort of fast-paced fight scenes.  More kissing, though, and way less gore.

The setting is unlike most Victorians, too.  It’s more this…

Old door of a poor house, Sperlinga - Sicily

Old door of a poor house, Sperlinga – Sicily

And less this….

Great Hall Ballroom in Rundale Palace, Latvia

Great Hall Ballroom in Rundale Palace, Latvia

The story follows a scientist who is working to purify water with chloride and the illegitimate daughter of a St. Giles crime lord.  They band together to rescue a kidnapped girl and end up untangling an international intrigue. Oh, and falling in love.

So, tell me: what unusual settings do you want to see in historical romances? Or, what historical settings are your favorites?

Thanks, Jeannie, for having me! It’s an honor to hang out with the Rubies!!

Jeannie again: And thank you, Marnee, for the great teaser. Chemistry? Action/Adventure? Historical Romance? I’m thoroughly hooked!  Congratulations once again!


Marnee Blake is a 2014 & 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist. She used to teach high school students but these days she only has to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn’t writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book. Marnee’s debut, ALTERED, an NA scifi thriller, will be released by Entangled Embrace in December 2015. Her writing is represented by Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Show and Tell Wednesday: What I did for Mother’s Day

Warning: Food porn pictures ahead…

Something that I learned quickly is that if I wanted to have a Mother’s Day celebration, I needed to take care of it myself. So I booked an afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton for the family. Perhaps it was a little upscale, but hubby did leave it up to me to book whatever I wanted. 🙂

The twinsies were quite excited. Boy talked about getting to wear his “church shoes.” Little Girl looked at the dress I took out for her, and told me that was a dress she just wore around the house. She wanted a different dress for afternoon tea.


I really don’t know how this happened. I’m not a clothes hound at all.

At the Ritz, our table was laid out so nicely. I took a moment to look at all the fine china and hold my breath. But the twinsies were well behaved. They were actually quite excited to be drinking tea. With lumps of sugar of course.


One of the reasons I love afternoon tea is because all the little sandwiches are so cute and pretty.


I feared, however,  that hubby would leave the place hungry. (Apparently there’s a commercial to that effect, which my husband keeps on referring to with great amusement.)

“There are two other guys here,” he remarked. “One is seventy and–” He looked at the boy pointedly. “The other one is three.”

I laugh as I think of the other times he’s had to accompany me to afternoon tea while we were dating. Take that hubby, for all the grilled steak and beans dinners where potato counts as a vegetable, the football games–even when no team we care about is playing–and the inane movies which he watches BECAUSE they’re brainless. *cue evil Mom laughter*

The Twinsies were mesmerized when the clotted cream, lemon curd and raspberry jam came in chocolate cups.

MothersDayTea_chocolatecups Little Girl wanted to skip the scone and just eat the jam out of the chocolate cup. You don’t parade chocolate in front of three year olds and expect them to be able to pay attention to anything else.

But the look on their faces when the tower of desserts came was priceless.


I gave them each one dessert and boxed up the rest for home. I was feeling a bit sugar and caffeine buzzed by that time myself.

Afternoon tea is probably a toddler’s dream meal. Two little sandwiches and then a bunch of cakes.  It’s Mother’s Day — I don’t have to feel guilty for feeding my twinsies a bunch of sugar, right?

What did you do for Mother’s Day? Whether you went out, stayed it, wrote a ton, or took the day off, I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing time.

Show and Tell Wednesday: Conference Swag

With RT just around the corner and the Barbara Vey luncheon coming up this weekend, conference season is officially upon us. (Well, it’s officially upon me, at least.) So it’s time for a Show and Tell about conference swag.

S.W.A.G. = “Stuff we all get”

I’ve scoured the internets to catch a few interesting items. Wanna see?

Authors have been teasing readers online, like historical author Elizabeth Boyle with her secret RT swag.


Take a look at the array offered by Donna June Cooper, author of contemporary romances with a touch of magic. Firefly necklaces! Wildflower seed packets!


This is the sort of exuberance and excitement and branding commitment that makes this former swag queen’s heart go pitter patter.

Buttons with funny sayings are still popular, like these from New Adult and Contemporary author Stina Lindenblatt:


Sometimes SWAG can carry a very poignant message, like contemporary author K.M. Jackson’s We Need Diverse Romance T-shirts. Available for order now in BLACK or WHITE in time for RT.

swag_diverse tee ad c

And then the Rubies are no strangers to swag. Take a look at historical author Anne Barton’s sewing kits.


Elizabeth Essex’s luggage tags feature a different color every year along with a quote from one of her historical romances:

swag_Luggage tags

Temporary tattoos are popular among younger readers, I hear. YA author Elizabeth Langston had a designer create a tattoo using the typography from her book, I Wish:


Paranormal romance author Heather McCollum will be offering readers iced-strawberry lip gloss, in case of emergencies. 🙂

Strawberry lipgloss

Are you a swag queen and proud of it? Need a SWAG intervention? What’s your favorite swag to give or receive?

Feel free to post links here! Show off a little. That’s what swag is for, after all. *winks*


Show and Tell Wednesday: Cover Photo Shoots

Romance novel covers are an entity, an institution, icons in and of themselves. So let’s take a look inside cover photo shoots for this week’s Show and Tell.

I followed historical author Michelle Willingham‘s series on a Viking photo shoot at the Harlequin office with great interest. Watch how they take a regular looking Joe (okay, a rather attractive looking Joe) and transform him into Viking hero extraordinaire. (Photos courtesy of Jon Wayne Brown via

Author Michelle Willingham and model Taylor David.

All you need are a few props:

Some hair and make-up:

Add Viking costume and voila!

Now with some dramatic lighting, wind effects, water…the works…here’s the final cover:

You can read the entire blog series of Michelle’s Diary of a Photoshoot, starting with Part 1. There’s some great video plus some fun pictures of Michelle posing with her Viking.

Now that’s with the bright lights, big budget of New York publishing, but what about Indieland? For most covers, stock images from photo sites will have to do. But if you really want the complete DIY experience, maybe your own photoshoot isn’t as far-fetched as you think.

Author Shawntelle Madison needed an Asian hero for one of her covers and couldn’t quite find the right look on the stock photo sites — or the pictures she liked had been used over and over on too many other covers. So she found a local model who was willing to spend a couple hours on a photoshoot. I couldn’t let the opportunity go by!

Without a wardrobe department behind me, I went online to find a Chinese costume. I also ordered a couple of prop swords.


The actual photo shoot was rigged up in a bedroom with a gray background. Low budget here. (These were the pictures from my camera in my phone, not the actual photo shoot.)


I have yet to use the photos, but it’s nice to have an image of an Asian hero in historical costume. They’re so hard to come by! Plus, I got my moment posing like one of my heroines:


Are the wheels in your head spinning now? Ever think about doing a photoshoot? What would it involve? Just think of the possibilities!

Show and Tell Wednesday is a weekly feature which features images and a short post sharing something about them. If you’re interested in doing a guest post, check out the additional info and guidelines HERE.

The Latest Comments

  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Conference was amazing – seeing the Rubies, watchig Darynda emcee for the fabulous...
  • Elisa Beatty: I really hope we’ll see you there!!!
  • Tamara Hogan: What amazing pictures! Everyone looks like they’re having such a great time. I tried to enjoy...
  • Bev Pettersen: So nice seeing these pics. But my heart gave a little twinge at seeing the Omegas and knowing it was...
  • Darynda Jones: This was such a fun conference! I love seeing the Rubies and had a great time welcoming the Omegas to...