Next Big thing Blog Hop

Thanks to Decca Price  for tagging me in The Next Big Thing blog hop.

Here’s mine. Any feedback or questions you’d like to leave will be very much appreciated.

What is your working title of your book?

Assurance of Love

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I woke up at 2 a.m. and could hear the characters speaking. It must have been a very vivid dream, but I wrote down as much as I could remember and have been following along since. The twist came when I discovered information about early life insurance  in Georgian England. Coupled with entails and arranged marriages, well, it’s getting juicy.

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical romantic suspense. It’s set in London in 1762.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm. My hero’s dark and definitely alpha, so perhaps Colin Firth.  His reluctant (at first) bride is red-haired and simmers rather than boils. So Amy Adams might be a good choice. And the Royal Family, including Princess Augusta and George III (what…what?) would be cast from the exciting ranks of great British supporting actors.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Accused of instigating young Lord Timothy’s suicide, Robert, Duke of Blackthorne, is ordered to marry Timothy’s reluctant sister Hester, but before he can lead her to the altar, he must unravel the mystery of Timothy’s death, protect the supposedly penniless Hester from swarming suitors for her hand, and convince her that she is assuredly the one he truly loves.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s too soon to say.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Estimating six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I grew up on Georgette Heyer. Now I’m a huge Jo Beverly fan. Their mid-18th century novels inspire me and keep me searching for the lightness and ease they brought to their romances.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

All the wonderful romance writers, in my home chapter (CPRW) and across RWA. These ladies a nd gentlemen encourage, seeing newbies like me as colleagues, rather than competition.

The five writers I’m tagging are:


Look for their posts the week of December 31!

Rules of The Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.


Book Clubs and Bridge

I remember conversations. Not just “How are you?” chit-chat, but discussions with feeling. For quite a number of years, I mourned the loss of conversation. One or two friends kept the spark alive, but for others talk became a monologue bemoaning the ills of the week, the tedium of a job,  or the latest domestic crisis. And then several friends formed a book club. We were to read books we should have read in high school or college, discuss them, and eat. But the discussions grew, just as my reawakening mind stretched as it sank into t he vastly different worlds of Death Comes to the Archbishop and Great Expectations. We even threw in some contemporary novels. And not surprisingly, our discussions spread to include organic gardening, home decor, and out-of-town gigs.

When I rediscovered bridge, I recalled my mother’s Wednesday bridge group. There were usually two tables of four, Breck’s chocolate covered-Bridge Mix, and (in those days) a haze of cigarette smoke. They brought out their college nicknames—Bushy and Weezie, Kay and Phyl. They traded recipes, dieting tips, and the names of reliable babysitters. And they had each others backs. When one husband strayed, the others rallied ’round and continued to invite her to dinner parties and theater flings. When one had to have her face rebuilt after an accident, they put away the old photos and took lots of new ones, so she’d never be reminded of who she used to be. And when one of them suffered a stroke, the others took turns going to her home to help with physical therapy, five days a week for three years.

However you do it, through bridge, books, or happenstance, I wish you friends like these.

My neighbors’ leaves

Last night, the wind gusted from the southwest. The rattle of dry leaves from the sugar maples that line my street reminded me of the clattering progress of the old trolleys that used to have their terminus in Chestnut Hill. I knew this particular wind track would be the start of endless leaf clean-up, for while I have no sugar maples in my yard, I have the biggest piles of flame and gold leaves in the neighborhood.

My house stands at the curve in the road, and the pines planted forty years ago to provide a wind break have shouldered their way skyward. Encroaching limbs were hacked off long ago, leaving trunks shorn to allow riding mowers to grumble under the remaining branches. That gap creates a wind tunnel, scooping up the tatters of autumn and shooting them across my side yard, up the drive, and into three-foot deep piles along the back of the house.

And now it has begun to rain.


In the Anglican tradition, funerals are celebrated with the “alleluias” of Easter. “The strife is o’er, the battle done.” Yet, there is recognition that letting go of life is a form of war. We have grown so accustomed to the things of the earth, that only death can pry them from our clinging hands.My friend Joan died Tuesday morning. She had been in ill-health for many years. Yet she took comfort in the things of the earth, most particularly in her family, her ministry to those who needed to hear words of comfort, and her memories of bright days. Joan sang in the choir and lamented the illness that diminished her voice, yet she reveled in the combining of song and prayer, twined together over centuries and through the voices of millions and millions who, though  they cannot see God in their earthly forms, seek to approach heaven through plainsong or psalms, through Mozart’s Ave Verum or Tallis’s Spem in Allium, through “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Morning has Broken.” Letting go is  hard. But perhaps the sound of glory will welcome Joan.


I love having a vase of flowers on the table, so this February I started a mixture of marigolds, snapdragons, and zinnias. The marigolds, sturdy soldiers, set their leaves and filled in pots, borders, and the edge of the garden. They are supposed to keep rabbits away. Pity they don’t deter chipmunks, squirrels, groundhogs, and deer.

The snapdragons languished. I have such bad luck with them, and they are among my favorites, especially the tall ones that reach two feet in height. Sadly, only three plants made it to seedling stage, and they all died away by June.

But the zinnias…I could never have guessed that they would riot, turning into a windbreak more than three feet tall. The colors were subdues at first with pink and lavender showing up first. Now ruby and white, and a brilliant orange have joined the show. They are a beacon for butterflies and fat bumble bees. The hummingbirds were here last week, but they’ve moved on. Tonight there is  a frost warning—it seems early. Sadly, my valiant zinnias could be crushed if the frost catches them. All their glory will fade to black. But I have already captured seeds from this year’s crop to plant again in the depths of February.

View from the beach

I grew up on an island—a well-connected island. Newport lies a the southern end, and Portsmouth, where I grew up, is at the north. In between, you guessed it, is Middletown. How perfectly New England. I’ve come to realize, though I didn’t in my teens, that one advantage of growing up on Aquidneck Island was that it developed the “long view.” Of course, there were hamlets and farms, churches and clam shacks nearby, but iy was easy to look up and over—to the water that stretched to other islands, to bridges and boats making connections, to dreamscapes that were just over the ever-changing horizon. Now I live in a landlocked valley. The mountains of central Pennsylvania  with their diagonal orientation and their crests and valleys may resemble rollers crashing onto an upland beach, but rather than drawing the imagination away from the everyday, they tend to focus it on “the narrow round.” That’s why I need the beach, at least once a year. I need the reminder that there are adventures that follow the sun’s path across the ocean, that there is more to life  than I can see when my vision is blocked by mountains or trees or the limits of the here and now.

Looking onward

Hummingbirds and Trailer Parks

There’s a crispness about the evenings, now that I’m back in the heart of Pennsylvania. Butterflies of all kinds are visiting my zinnias, and now the hummingbirds are stocking up for their migration. It seems easier for birds and butterflies to move to more congenial climes than the majority of humans, even those supposedly on wheels. I live near State College a bustling metropolis that welcomes campers and RVs by the hundreds for football games. Yet on the other side of town, two trailer parks have just sent eviction notices to their residents. The land under those wheeled homes is far too valuable to be taken up by people who mow lawns, mend clothes, feel the elderly, and perform tasks many of us are unwilling or incapable of doing. The dilemma is that once removed, their homes will have nowhere to go in the Centre Region—the area covered by public transportation and within bus or walking distance of their jobs. They are being told that the land under their homes is literally more valuable  than they are. In the early days of State College, laundresses and refuse haulers lived on Pickle Hill. Forced out by demand for student housing and even more stores, they created new communities at what was then the edge of town. Affordable housing has been gobbled up by opportunists. No wonder America has a homeless problem.

Raine at Sunrise

The last full day at the beach started very early. The air conditioning kicked on at 4:30 and churned out numbingly cold gusts. Seeking a somewhat warmer location, I groped my way down to the enclosed porch. Huddled in my sweatshirt, I watched the day begin. First a shimmer in the air, then darkness yielding to massed shadows. Today, with no clouds to color the sun, the transition from colorless to bright was swift. A bird piped its morning song. Within ten minutes, the silver reflections on windows and fence posts blazed into gold-touched color.

Tomorrow will be a flurry of pack up and go. But for today, there is a gentle breeze and the song of cicadas.

Rehoboth Beach

Thunderstorms swept the beach clean early this morning. It’s a bit eerie to see the flashes of lightning far out over the ocean. With nothing but the curve of the earth to hinder vision, the storm can be seen reflected in the clouds overhead quite a long time before it can be heard. The same thing can be said of the waves breaking on the shore. Yesterday, with Hurricane Leslie passing far off to the east, the waves seemed energized, leaping into foam before crashing against the sand and running up the beach in overlapping sheets of green and white. Today, I’m working on foreshadowing in Wind over Water, trying to hint at the future without falling back on the “had I but known” ploy.