Friday, January 31, 2014

Thursday Threads: Compromising Miss Tisdale by Jessica Jefferson

Compromising Miss Tisdale
by Jessica Jefferson

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency

Heal Level: Sensual


          Ambrosia Tisdale is the very picture of propriety and the epitome of what a respectable young lady should be.  Haunted by a memory and compelled by her family, she pursues perfection to a fault.
          The Earl of Bristol, Duncan Maddox, has returned to London after years of familial imposed exile.  As the second son, he has led a life filled with frivolity, leisure, and a healthy dose of debauchery.  Now his older brother has died, leaving the family’s flailing legacy in Duncan’s unwilling arms.
          At the behest of his uncle, Duncan is advised to do the one thing that could provide instant fortune and respectability—he must marry.  But there is only one prospect who meets the unique requirements to solve all the Earl’s problems—the lovely Miss Ambrosia Tisdale.               
          But securing the prudent daughter of a Viscount’s hand proves to be more challenging than this scandal-ridden second son of an Earl has bargained for.
          With scandal, extortion, treachery, and even love itself threatening to keep him from his goal, will Duncan succeed or find himself compromised by Miss Tisdale?

She had stumbled upon the library.  A fire in the hearth threw a faint glow over leather lined volumes that filled floor to ceiling book shelves.   Lavishly upholstered plush arm chairs sat upon Aubusson rugs scattered throughout the room.  A settee was positioned across from a giant stone faced fireplace where a shirtless man sat warming his hands.
Shirtless man?
Ambrosia blinked.
 Certainly, her eyes were playing tricks on her. 
Then the shirtless man turned his head, his eyes meeting hers.  
It wasn’t a hallucination-he was real.   She hadn’t been expecting to find a partially dressed man, and he obviously wasn’t expecting to be found.   It was but a moment before the man’s expression began to soften and a wicked smile slowly crept across his lips. 
 A smile that stole the breath right from out of her. 
 Every gently bred fiber in her body screamed to turn around and run straight out the door.  Hundreds of years of proper English rearing had produced a base instinct to flee when in the presence of an unknown male (especially one with so little clothing).  But then he stood up, cautiously, the way one does as if not to startle a deer.  Standing, he was clad in nothing but buckskin breeches, the dim light from the flames playing over the sculpted muscles and sinew of his shoulders and chest. 
Breeding be damned, her feet simply refused to budge.

Author Bio and Links:

Jessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it – almost Chicago. Jess is heavily inspired by classic sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy.  She invites you to visit her at and read more of her random romance musings.

Fall in love with romance again . . . 
Add to your Goodreads shelf at

Compromising Miss Tisdale available now on Amazon!  Taming Miss Tisdale coming Spring 2014 from Soul Mate Publishing!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Not a Social Problem, or My Big, Fat Letter to MJ

Ragen Chastain, she of Dances with Fat fame, posted this morning her response to a Mother Jones article charmingly entitled "Grand Obese Party." (Get it? GOP! Lolz!) You're welcome to head on over, but it essentially says studies show Republicanism is very slightly associated with larger body size and Republicans value personal responsibility over government intervention, so if we vote Republican, we're gonna watch Americans' waistlines gradually expand. 

Oh, noes! Teh fatties are coming, teh fatties are coming! 

Ahem. Anyway, like Ragen, I felt slightly disgruntled that Mother Jones, a progressive magazine, jumped on board the fat hate bandwagon; as a result, I penned a letter to Mother Jones and Pacific Standard, the magazine that featured the story. I decided to publish my letter here in case others might commiserate or hey, maybe even challenge their own assumptions about the so-called social evil of obesity.

I'm stealing this from Ragen's post:

Let's give some feedback: 
Pacific Standard (who ran the piece):
Mother Jones:
Comment on MJ's Facebook thread about the piece:

Dear Mother Jones and Pacific Standard:

I'm writing to voice my concern about Tom Jacobs' "Grand Obese Party" article. I understand your need to be both timely and provocative, but the article is offensive on a few levels. 

I admit I am deeply disappointed that your reporter -- and by extension, you -- trotted out the current cultural boogeypeople, TEH FATTIES, as another reason to loathe and fear Republicans. You may be shocked to know fat people can be liberal, too, although you shouldn't be, since, in spite of the "statistically significant" subtitle in the article, the correlation between fatness and conservativeness is extremely weak and does not prove causation. In fact, I am fat, well-educated, and very liberal. Incidentally, I am a college professor who teaches, among other things, social scientific research methods.

So, in short, the proof your reporter offers to link Republicans and fat persons is not only flawed but, well, not proof. This is not my greatest concern. I am mostly hurt and offended that Mr. Jacob's use of fat people in this article paints us (fat persons) as social problems. "
Bigger government or bigger waistlines: The choice is yours." Mr. Jacob's final line is offensive because it is deeply simplistic, scientifically incorrect, implies a subtle threat that if we don't vote progressively we will all come down with a bad case of fat, and, worst of all, assumes being fat is a bad thing.

I am fat. I am progressive. I vote in every election I can. I am smart; politically active; and live a very happy life with my partner, my cats, and my 381 pounds. I am not a social problem, and I don't appreciate Mr. Jacobs using my body type as such. I expect better of progressives; perhaps naively, I expect them not to perpetuate the overwhelming 
discrimination and oppression that plague fat persons. I expect them to recognize as illogical and discriminatory the faulty science -- the same scientific methods and assumptions that, in prior decades, characterized LGB persons as mentally ill and that told us non-Whites are inherently inferior to Whites -- that characterizes fat folks as ill-educated, lazy bumpkins whose only contribution to the U.S. includes raising the cost of healthcare. I expect better from you and other progressives. 

In the end, I have to wonder w
hat the point of the article is. Republicans are (very, very slightly) fatter. So what? Does this somehow prove Republicans are evil? Legitimize our disgust with them? Prove that if we vote Republican we'll buy into their anti-government rhetoric, forget to mandate our schools ban sugary soda, and gain 100 pounds in a year? 

I am not a social problem. I do not give you permission to use my body type as a shortcut for eliciting disgust and for demonizing other groups. 

Elle Hill, PhD

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Voices, Interrupted

You know what I hate? I mean really hatey mchate haterpants hate? Like super-duper detest with grumpy sauce on top?

I hate it when people interrupt me while I’m speaking.

Interrupting comes in several flavors, some smothered in selfishness, a few spiced with condescension or domination, and most sprinkled with a kind of benign thoughtlessness. Below are a few examples.

1. The I’m-so-enthused-about-this-topic interrupt. Sometimes the interrupter is bouncing with happiness, so eager to discuss something they can’t wait till you finish your sentence. They're often involved in your story, frequently potraying great interest in your words, and sometimes even practicing active listening techniques. Are they carried away by the sheer awesomeness of the topic, so overwhelmed they forget Manners 101? Or so excited to demonstrate their keen analytical skills, appropriately-tuned emotional reaction, or ability to craft the perfect situational joke they just can’t hold it in One. More. Second?

2. The why-do-you-even-bother-speaking-when-you-could-be-listening-to-me interrupt. This happens especially when power inequalities exist in the relationship. For example, I see this most often perpetrated on women by men and subordinates by their bosses. I have a

coworker who does this, and I listen in fascination to him while he conversationally plods forward, never allowing his progress to be swayed, never opting for interaction when someone can be acted upon, never letting his coworkers finish a single sentence. Our words are annoying distractions from his story, which is the only one he acknowledges as situationally valid. If life came with subtitles, his would constantly flash underneath his face: “STFU. Seriously.”

3. The I-know-the-end-of-your-sentence-and-am-gonna-helpfully-hand-it-to-you-so-you-don’t-have-to-over-exert-yourself interrupt. You know this person. You’re having a perfectly reasonable conversation, and ever-so-often, your conversation partner plays Carnac the Magnificent and predicts the end of your story. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes not. The one constant? The interrupter’s underlying message that they’re so eager for your sentence to be done, they’ve already delivered, signed for, and assembled your punchline.

4. Your garden-variety, competitive interrupt. Like number two, these interrupters regard conversation less as verbal intercourse and more as verbal masturbation. The key difference, though is the somewhat-mutual nature of the conversational wanking. These folks aren’t going to act as though your words don’t exist, as number two-ers do; they actually engage with you. Well, sorta. The conversation involves two people, but it’s two people with competing stories – a kind of verbal dueling banjos. Your words shape the conversation, even while the other person only engages with your example by comparing it to their own. They tend to interrupt because your words take away from their own stories, and they feel you’re trying to co-opt the conversational platform. No malice is involved; indeed, they tend to expect the same thing from you.

5. The you’re-great-peeps-and-all,-but-my-information-is-more-pertinent-than-yours-right-now interrupt. This is the most common type, at least in my experience. The person who’s doing it doesn’t disrespect other conversants, although they’re often more dominant personalities or culturally empowered persons. They simply glide into the conversation with their input, regardless of whether someone else is talking. I honestly don’t even think most of them realize they’ve interrupted; they’re simply getting their information out there.

These types all vary in tone, intensity, and frequency. However, they share a few vital characteristics: First, interrupting steals others’ definitional authority. Each interpersonal interaction has to negotiate the purpose, function, and tone of the exchange. A person who interrupts others denies their co-conversant(s) the right to fully exercise and actualize their definition of the situation. Interrupting tells the other person their input, not only into the informational exchange but the very structure of the moment, isn’t as valid as one’s own.

Interrupters steal others’ rights to exist equally in the moment. Even if the interruptee's ultimate point is as challenging to predict as the end of a Disney flick, an interruption nabs their right to get there. Everyone has a right to claim cultural space, whether physically or verbally. Interruptions are the conversational equivalents of shoving someone into a corner and using one’s own body to block them from common view.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

For some of us, it’s difficult to claim the right to speak. Some of us are shyer than others. Some are introverts. Some of us, like women and non-Whites, have had fewer opportunities to let our voices ring. For many of us, getting our conversational engines humming requires great acts of energy and courage. We’re not used to having cultural space automatically carved out for us, and as a result, we’ve either remained silent or fought for each instance of public speaking. Interrupting stalls our engines and, if we decide we wish to pursue the conversation, requires mustering up more energy to crank our motors. Being interrupted is exhausting, especially for those for whom public space is already an unwelcome or alien place.

Finally and most simply, taking away our right to participate equally in a conversation is an act of verbal bullying, and “bullying” is simply the childhood word for “oppression.” 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Threads: Son of Thunder by S.C. Mitchell

Son of Thunder
By S.C. Mitchell

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Heat: Sizzling

Hook: The son of the Thunder God, Thor, has a lot to live up to...and no time for love.

The man looked like a god. Then again, he was one. . .

Jord Thorson was a god– the son of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. In his search to find his missing father, Jord seeks out the mortal, Meghan Larson, who is in possession of his only clue–Megingjörð, Thor’s magical belt of power.

But when the belt decides to take matters into its own hands, locking itself around Meghan’s waist, Jord and Meghan are plunged into the middle of a massive conflict that rages across the heavens.

Giants, magical artifacts, and a golden city in the clouds weren’t exactly what Meghan Larson expected when that amazing belt arrived at her museum. Now Megingjörð is stuck around her waist and talking to her in her head. She’s got to be dreaming, but with the wonders around her and hunky Jord Thorson at her side, Meghan’s not sure she wants to wake up.

The rainbow ended on a street that appeared to be paved with silver stones. Jord pulled up to the first building, a tall tower of a structure. As he turned off the cycle Meghan jumped from the seat and swatted his shoulder.
“You might have warned me a bit, about what to expect.” Her heart was still racing, but now that her feet appeared to be on solid ground again she felt herself calming down.
“Be honest.” He smiled at her. “Would you have believed me if I’d told you?”
Had anything that had happened to her lately been believable?
“No,” she admitted.
“Jord!” A husky voice called from the doorway of the building. “Welcome home.”
A large man in blue jeans and a black t-shirt with an ornate sword belt strapped around his waist leaned on the doorpost of the tower entrance. He had short blond hair and a very full beard. The sword at his side had to be almost four feet long. He was smiling and waving.
“Heimie.” Jord went to take his outstretched hand. “Any news of my father?”
“None that I’ve heard,” Heimie replied. “Your grandfather has been looking for you though. Maybe he has some news I haven’t heard.”
“There isn’t anything you haven’t heard, Heimie.” He patted the man on the shoulder.
The man then looked a Meghan, raising one of his eyebrows. “And what do we have here?”
Jord turned to her. “Heimie, meet Meghan Larson. Meghan this is Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He’s kind of like the TSA at airports.”
“Welcome, Meghan Larson,” Heimdall said. “Welcome to Asgaard.”

You can purchase Son of Thunder at:  

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Fat Twin Phenomenon

My identical tw-- uh, best friend (left) and me
Did you know I have a twin? I do. Lots of them, in fact. Or, if not a twin, at least a sister. Millions.

My poor mom.

Picture this: Two women sit next to one another on a shuttle to a hotel in Chicago. The shuttle driver grins at them in the mirror and asks, “Are you two twins?” They get the same question a few days later. A few years later, while one of them visits the other’s workplace, several people approach the smiling duo and ask if they’re sisters.

They’re not twins. They’re not even sisters. In fact, they are separated by years (nine), hair (one has long, straight, blonde hair, while the other’s is curly and brown), height (the blonde is two or three inches taller), and body shapes (the blonde is more hourglass). Their eye colors and face shapes are completely different, and no one would ever confuse their voices over the phone. However, they have three things in common that automatically, and apparently, render them indistinguishable:
  1. They are women.
  2. They are White. 
  3. They are fat.

What? You didn’t know all fat, White women look alike? It’s true. Trust me, the blockier brunette who is nine years older and three inches shorter than her fat, hourglassy, blonde best friend.

You know the old jokes that all Asian people look the same to White peeps and Black folks can’t for the life of them tell the differences among all those pale-skinned individuals? Yeah, it’s the same thing with fat women of similar races. Do you know how many times I’ve been told I look just like Rosie O’Donnell or Melissa McCarthy? Truth is, I look nothing like either of those women; they’re just about the only fat, White, dark-haired women people can remember in pop culture.

Above is picture of Melissa McCarthy, Ros-- wait. I mean me, Melissa Mc... No. I mean... Ah, heck. Who can tell the difference, anyway?

Need another example? I teach at a local college. My sister, who is ten years younger than me and looks nothing like me -- green eyes to my brown, rounder face to my oval, sensual facial features, abundant – ahem – assets, and, until she inexplicably dyed it, dark blonde hair -- attends this college. She is fat and, not surprisingly since she actually is my sis, also White. I have had multiple people at my workplace ask me if Kris is my sister. Okay, the same last name helps, but that doesn’t explain away all the incidences. Truth is, the question has a lot more to do with our body size than that same gap between our front teeth.

My beautiful sister, Kris, who looks nothing whatsoever like me.
One more, and then I'll leave you to decide if I've made my point. As I’ve mentioned, my romantic partner is also fat. One time while flying together, a flight attendant asked if I was my partner’s mother. My. Partner’s. Mother.

It boggles my mind. There must be some mental filing cabinets in people’s heads, and one of the giant files must be labeled “fat,” just as there are also, for example, capacious “Asian American” and “disabled” files. Once you get lumped in there, all those 893 other distinguishing characteristics get smudged into obscurity. You’re “fat” or “Black” or “immigrant,” just like all those other people in there. You must be related, since it’s your primary identifying characteristic. In fact, you even look alike – sometimes even identical, in spite of your age, your personality, and all those physical differences.

I’m not certain this essay contains a moral. I’m mostly thinking through this because my best friend is coming to visit in a month, and I’m getting ready to face the “Aw, how cute! Are you two sisters?” question. Perhaps the moral is not to assume that sharing one culturally devalued trait means we are that trait. 

Or perhaps the moral is to keep your mouth on lockdown when you see two people who represent the same marginalized group. Just because you can't see the differences between them doesn't mean they're twins, cousins, or heck, even care about the other's existence.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Threads: Riding for Love by Tina Susedik

Riding for Love
Tina Susedik

Genre: Contemporary Mystery
One Line Hook: Can a man who is afraid of horses learn to ride to re-establish a relationship with an old flame? Love, Loss, Redemption
Heat: Sizzling


            “Hi, sweetheart,” Rose said, ruffling his hair before going to the refrigerator for a glass of lemonade.
He jumped and slapped a hand to his chest. “Geez, Mom, you scared the daylights out of me.” He set the brochure down and picked up an envelope. “What are you doing home? I thought you were going out with friends tonight.”
Rose sat down on the opposite her son. “I did, but Tom had to get back early and the others had family obligations. Tonight is the last night at the ranch for a youth group from Milwaukee.” She reached over and slid the brochure across the table. “It’s a group of teenagers learning to ride and care for horses to teach them alternative ways to channel anger. Eve developed the program this year.”
“Wow, I’m impressed.”
“You should be,” Rose commented, flipping through the pamphlet filled with photos of the cabins, lodge, barn, and horses on trail rides. “Eve’s worked very hard to make the ranch a success. Every year she comes up with another way to help others relax and have fun. Last year was the first year for winter activities.” She folded the brochure and pressed it smooth. “Have you been out there yet?”
Denton opened the envelope and slipped out a sheet of paper. “No, I’ve been too busy at work. Besides, I don’t think Eve would appreciate me just showing up.”
“Why? She’s so proud of what she’s accomplished.” Rose peered at her son. “You never did tell me what happened when you went to dinner with her. Is she still mad?”
Running a hand over his face, he huffed out a breath. “I guess that would be a good way of putting it, although mad seems too light a word. I explained about Marie, and she seemed to understand what happened, but, after all these years, she’s still angry with me.”
“There could be a good reason.”
“Yeah, like what?”
Rose reached across the table to stop his shredding the sheet of paper he was holding. “Could be she still has feelings for you. Do you still care for her?”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Just answer your mother, Denton Johansen.”
“I never lost my feelings for her.” He pushed the paper away and tapped his fingers on the table. “She said she never had closure. Well, neither did I. One week, I’m home enjoying time with her and next, I’m married to someone else.” He raked his fingers through his hair again. “Now she’s ignoring me. I’m probably beating my head against the wall. I’ve called, written, sent flowers.”
“Hmm . . .”
Lord, he hated it when his mother got that tone in her voice. She didn’t have to say one word, just utter “hmm” like she knew something he didn’t and he would ultimately pay for it. “Hmm, what?”
“What happened when you went to dinner with Eve?”
“We met, had a drink, talked about old times, etc., etc.”
Rose chuckled. “Oh, I’m sure much more than that happened for you to be this upset.” She held up a hand to stop a reply. “Don’t say you’re concerned about the lawsuit. I’m your mother. You’re a problem solver and taking care of the embezzlement was more than work for you.” Rose rested her chin in her hand and stared at her son. “It’s solving the problem of Eve making you discombobulated.”
Denton pushed the piece of paper toward his mother.
“What’s this?”
He smiled nervously, stood, and paced the length of the kitchen, stove to refrigerator and back again. “Part of a plan to get close to Eve.” He finally settled his backside against the stove, folding his arms over his chest in defiance.
Rose dropped the paper on the table. “Are you crazy? You can’t possibly do this.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Rose stood and placed a hand on his cheek. “But this is a little drastic, isn’t it? Are you so keen on getting her back you’d go this far?”
“Mom, I need to find out if what we had as teenagers can be resurrected.” Denton wrapped his arms around his mother and held her close so she wouldn’t notice the tears in his eyes. “I’ve missed Eve for ten years and will do anything to win her back. Anything.”
“But, dear, how are you going to be able to get through two weeks of riding lessons? Aren’t you still afraid of horses?”
He laughed, hoping to ease the trip in his heart at the thought of spending fourteen days on the back of one of those giant creatures. But fourteen days spent in Eve’s company sent his heart tripping faster. “Nope.”
Rose leaned back. She squinted at him.
“Nope, not afraid.” His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down, and he refrained from wiping sweat from his upper lip. “More like petrified, horrified, scared stiff.”
“Well, you should be, considering what happened the last time you rode one,” Rose said, leaving Denton’s arms and picking up the confirmation for his stay at the ranch.
“Mom, that was twenty years ago. I need to overcome my fear of horses to spend some time with her, hopefully break through the wall she’s built against me,” Denton replied, trying to convince himself as much as his mother.
Rose shook her head and patted her son on the shoulder. “Well, you have only three weeks to convince that to your shaking hands, my dear boy.”

You can purchase Riding for Love at:  
Twitter: @tina susedik
Facebook: Tina Susedik, Author

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Slice o' American Pie

I’m in the process of buying a home. Sure, I’m not sure I make enough money to do so, and yeah, this means committing to living in a state that ranks dead last in the nation for anti-animal cruelty legislation. Nonetheless, I, like your typical, brainwashed American, believe I can’t make it another day without grabbing for my slice of the American pie. I already snagged the college degree, a cute car, some student loan debt, the perfect romantic partner, and some kids. (The latter are furry and have an unfortunate tendency to perch on my asthmatic chest while I wheeze my way through sleep, but after spending time with young homo sapiens, I still think I came out way ahead.) All that’s left for this American is buying herself a home.

Please, lender, take a chance on me

Did you know buying a home is exhausting, scary, and expensive? Well, now ya do. First you need to round up all the documents pertaining to your life and make sure your credit is awesome sauce. Then, you need to get all dolled up so you can beg lending institutions take a chance, take a chance, take a, take a chance, chance on you. Only then can you start looking for a house, AKA the opportunity for you to spend three to four years’ of your salary over the course of 30. The coolest part? After paying all that yummy interest on your mortgage, that $150K loan will likely end up costing you twice that. Just think: your mortgage alone could be the money a bank CEO uses to buy his 110-inch HD TV.*

Remind me again why I’m doing this.

I know all the usual excuses for buying homes: you get to stop throwing away rent money, you build equity and a cushion for the future, you get to have cats and dogs without worrying about stupid pet policies and landlords’ breed-specific policies (unless your city ridiculously has them). I’ll even be able to build an in-home infrastructure for my animals and have my own office rather than writing great American novels in my kitchen. Plus, my partner and I will finally be able to live together.

I'm third from the left, in case ya can't tell.
That’s all super sexy to me. However, you know why I really want to own my own home? I’m American, and I’m caught up in achieving that particular part of the Dream. My sisters and I grew up super poor, and all my mother ever wanted was her own little brick house. It’s hard not to internalize that, especially in the home ownership-worshiping American culture. Owning one’s own home became a symbol to me of everything my family wasn’t and everything we didn’t have. 

I want to own a home because it’s a marker of success. I come from a line of people who haven’t had opportunities to achieve financially, and I’m seduced by the thought of taking my place among the middle class that I coveted throughout my childhood. Superficial? Probably. But hey, I refuse to dole out $300K or so over the next 30 years without doing a least a little bit of hard introspection.

So here I am, about to embark on the most expensive venture of my life thus far. God knows spending large amounts of money usually sends me spiraling into an ice-cream-pounding panic, but I’m still going forward. I got me a slice of the American pie to stuff under that ice cream.

* Yes, I said “his,” since CEOs in general have a 95% likelihood of being men

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Creativity Sink Remains Clogged

Rescue me from writer's block, Wonder Manatee!

I’m stuck, my friends. Stuck, I say. I’ve waited and waited, but in the last six months, no new novel premise has sprung fully formed, Athena-like, from my noggin. I’ve waited. I’ve taken notes. I’ve discussed ideas with my partner. I’ve listened to songs and read tons of other books. In spite of all this, my creative brainstorming process has gone something like this:

Gotta be romance. Fifty-fifty POV split. I like manatees. Dean Koontz’s latest book is so powerful; maybe I could write something similar. Maybe an updated fairy tale. The little mermaid, including some manatee friends? Not as preachy as Koontz, though. What about that book idea I've kicked around about the assassin-turned-history professor? The one with three sisters? Only 50-75K this time. Could a prisoner fall in love with her jailer? No, too Stockholmey. I have talent with dialogue, so maybe contemporary? Maybe a goddess character? Superheroes whose superpowers only activate in water, maybe around manatees?

Yeah, it’s not pretty.

Did I ever tell you all what inspired my last novel? Katy Perry’s “E.T.” Seriously. I was driving in L.A. and heard the song for the first time. Inspiration ignited. How would it feel to have angelic, supernatural creatures visit every night? What would they look like? Their nature? And thus was born The Tithe.

Alas, Katy Perry has not rescued me this time. Vastly overproduced, homogenized, and virtually creativity-free pop culture, you have surprisingly failed me.

I know my new genre. I know a few themes I want to incorporate. The only things missing are, you know, a plot and characters and stuff. And so this writer remains stymied while visions of manatees dance in her head. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Elle is Back in the House

Margaret the Gator, whom
I met while visiting
Lake Alice in Gainesville, FL
I wanted to write a brief apology to those of you who stay up late every night, staring at the Elle Hill blog page, clicking refresh over and over in hopes a new post will suddenly appear and expand your horizons while simultaneously tickling your tailfeathers. 

A month is far too long for us to remain apart.

I just returned from a trip to Florida to see the kinda-in-laws. After arriving back home, I jumped immediately into the glamorous world of syllabus preparation and Glee marathons. But, my friends, in the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, now I’m back from outer space.

During our month or so apart, I have read many novels, brainstormed many story ideas, and grown far too fond of Kurt Hummel. I look forward to sharing my ideas with you all. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thursday Threads: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman by Wareeze Woodson

Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman 
by Wareeze Woodson

Genre: Regency Romance
Heat Level: Sensual

Recently widowed Lady Laurel Laningham flees Landings to escape her untenable position. Alone now and at the mercy of her sister-in-law, she decides to nestle under her aunt’s wings for a spell. To add to her burdens, her young son’s new guardian, Lord Adron Gladrey, has announced his intentions to take complete charge of his ward. The killer is stalking her and a devious jewel thief is stealing the family jewels. Can she convince her son’s guardian she is not a dangerous lunatic and is perfectly capable of raising her son or will he always consider her untrustworthy as a mother to his ward? Will his stubborn blindness send her straight into the path of the murderer, or will he relent in time to save her from following her husband into the grave?


Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Each rotation of the hired coach’s wheels whispered the word. Laurel cradled her sleeping two-year-old son, the new Lord Laningham, as a heady sense of satisfaction curved her lips. She didn’t even mind the slight musty odor pervading the vehicle, although she leaned over and raised the window cover for a breath of fresh air. With a sigh she settled back against the seat. At least for a while, Rhonda’s constant complaints would no longer ring in her ears and for that she was devoutly thankful.

Out of nowhere, a rider flashed by the coach window and her startled gaze locked with his brief glance. Although she’d caught only a glimpse of the stranger, in that instant his intense, deep-brown eyes mocked her and unease shivered down her spine. She stared after him for a second before instinctively gathering her child closer. Laurel planted a kiss on his blonde curls, drawing reassurance from the nearness of his warm little body. As long as she had Jamie nothing else mattered. Her son must remain safe.

Everything happened at once. The coach lunged to the right and scraped against the bushes beside the road, sending a shower of droplets splashing inside the window. Her book and Jamie’s wooden horse thumped to the floor. The racket of brakes screeching shrilled in her ears as the vehicle rattled and lurched out of control.

“Jamie,” she cried.

The horses’ screams echoed through her head and the sudden jerk of the coach as the team broke away from the trace chains added to her fear. When the doomed coach started to roll onto its side, she braced her feet against the opposite bench and clutched her son tightly against her chest. Tumbling against the seat, she scraped her elbows and banged her head. The sensation of falling forever tensed every muscle in her body before the force of the impact threatened to tear Jamie from her arms. She landed between the banquettes against the door, her howling child clutched in her arms. The carriage lantern, suspended from a hook on the wall, swayed overhead scraping metal against metal and briefly caught her attention.

Laurel struggled to a sitting position, gulped a deep breath and wiped dirt from Jamie’s face. With her heart in her throat, she examined a tiny trickle of blood at his hairline. Thankful his injury appeared minor she clutched him to her bosom and kissed his cheek, comforting his cries as her pulse slowed to normal.
The accident left her shaken. Frightened, she felt more alone than ever. If only Robert were still alive. She stifled that thought immediately—nothing could be accomplished by wishing for the impossible.

Laurel drew a shaky breath and tilted her head back in order to peer at the window above. Panic overwhelmed her and her breath came in short gasps. The banquettes seemed to close in on her. She fought to escape her trapped position in the overturned coach. Holding Jamie with one arm, she grasped the seat with her other hand and struggled to her feet. Her head whirled for a second before settling back into a deep pounding pain, while her knee and elbow throbbed in rhythm.

Ignoring her discomfort, she glanced around. As she studied the problem, she heard the murmur of voices and listened intently. With a sigh of relief, she recognized the driver’s voice however the other deep tone was unfamiliar.

“Help me,” She cried, “I’m in here.”

Only silence echoed back and the sound of voices moved off. For a second, panic clenched her stomach and her head pounded even harder.

“Stay calm,” she whispered, and the words spoken aloud steadied her. She listened for several long minutes before someone climbed atop the overturned coach. The door was yanked open with considerable force and she breathed a sigh of relief. Gray clouds added gloom to the inside of the carriage and a dark figure blocked out what little light was available. She couldn’t see his face clearly, but his broad shoulders and the arrogant slant of his head were a shadowy outline against the stormy sky.

His voice floated down to her. “Are you or the child injured?”

“I think several scrapes and bruises at most.” Laurel trembled and brushed her bonnet out of her face. She heard his quick intake of breath.

“You’re positive? You must have taken quite a tumble when the coach overturned. Possibly you’re more injured than you know.”

“Only a little shaken.” She took a deep, calming breath then continued with more force. “I’m certain we’re both fine.”

He hesitated and exhaled deeply. “A damsel in distress then. Do you perhaps have a name?”

Authority rang in his voice. She clutched Jamie a little tighter and offered him a tremulous smile. “Laurel Jane Laningham. Thank you for coming to our rescue.” She shaded her eyes with one hand, waiting for him to return the introduction.

“Let’s get you out of there. Hand me the boy first.”

He reached down into the overturned coach and Laurel lifted Jamie above her head into the waiting arms of the stranger. Her rescuer leapt to the ground with her son. A chill of foreboding curled around her. He’d said the boy. An unknown man shouldn’t know the child was a male. With every one of her senses alert, she listened intently for the stranger to return. Saddle leather squeaked and the thunder of hooves struck the ground in retreat.

Laurel screamed, “Bring my son back. I’ll see you hanged for this, you blackguard. Come back here. Help. Driver, help me.”