It’s Free!

For the next few days, my publisher is offering my debut novel, The Markerfor free. Get your copy today! Because what’s better than free?

If you do grab a copy, though, be a doll and write a review? They’re like candy for authors. Unless they’re bad, and then they’re like candy that gives you anaphylaxis. But, a review is a review, right? I’ll take it. 🙂

Thanks all!



Welcome Guest Lauren Linwood!

Hi Lauren, welcome to The Bodice! Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was the kid who always liked school. I loved reading and writing, and I couldn’t get enough of history. When we were studying short stories and their elements in 7th grade English, my teacher gave us a project – to write our own short story. I fired off a 25-page western! I later met that same teacher at an RWA chapter meeting in Dallas. She wrote sweet romances for Harlequin. I thought how much she championed my writing when I was young. Seeing her success motivated me to push myself harder.

Hey, I was that kid, too! There must be something about 7th grade English (though I was the kid who lost her homework pretty consistently, and turned in the massive story project to save my grade. I was–and am–a little on the disorganized side).

So, tell me, do you have a day job?

I retired from teaching after 30 years. I taught English the first 10 years, and then I moved over to history, my great love, for the remaining time. So my day job now, besides writing, is pursuing all of the things that interest me that I never had time for until now.

A fellow teacher! Awesome! I was going to be an English teacher, but then I discovered Speech Pathology, and the rest, as they say is history.

How do you balance writing with all of your other obligations? (I ask, because I have yet to find it!)

When I was teaching and had mounds of papers and projects to grade, it was much harder. I’d grade a set of 30 essays and celebrate by stealing some writing time as my reward. Nowadays it’s all about budgeting time between writing and my other activities.

The paperwork involved with teaching can be a bit on the overwhelming side–that I know from experience.

What’s your favorite book of all time, and why? (Because I’m a lit geek, I’ll let you get away with listing more than one)

To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book, and I re-read it every year. Harper Lee’s descriptions really capture the flavor of that era. She created believable characters of all ages, with the setting itself becoming a strong character. Atticus Finch is an ideal hero. He’s intelligent, moral, quick-thinking, has a sense of humor, and like the book itself, he has a warmth and charm about him. Despite the serious issues covered in the novel, Miss Lee leaves the reader with hope.

I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout had such fire, and the imagery was just beautiful. So, since we’re on the topic of entertainment, who is your favorite movie/TV character and why?

I’m a huge Jack Bauer fan. The man saved the world over and over again – in a single 24 hours each time! No matter how beaten down he became, he’d grit his teeth and his determination would help him face challenge after challenge.

What are your interests outside of writing?

I’m an avid moviegoer and a voracious reader. Many romance writers only read romance, but I read everything – thrillers, mysteries, horror, literary fiction, biographies. I’m a sports fan and follow my college team (Baylor) and all of the professional teams where I live (Dallas).

I’m one who reads everything, too! Maybe that’s why I can’t decide what to read next, what to write next, and what I want to be when I grow up!

Let’s talk a little about your writing. Answer as many or as few as you want…

Is there a particular author who may have influenced you?

Karen Robards definitely comes to mind. She does what Stephen King does – takes believable, everyday characters and forces them into impossible situations. She’s smart enough to give the reader a break every now and then with a little humor thrown in. I like the pacing in her novels, as well.

Tell us a little bit about what inspired this book.

I enjoy the history of medieval times, especially English history. I wasn’t finding many medievals to read, and so I decided to write one myself.  I wanted a heroine who could travel and experience different parts of England and meet a variety of characters, so I stranded Madeleine without a way to return to her home in France and had her join a group of traveling mummers that played different faires across southern England. Madeline becomes the only woman troubadour in all of England, both singing and telling audiences stories that draw them into new worlds.

What is your favorite sentence or quote in your new release?

In the last lines of the novel Lord Garrett Montayne tells his new wife Madeleine, “Before you, sweetheart, I was empty. But you and your music filled me with love. You are the music for my soul.”

That’s a great line! So, in their hearts of hearts, what would your characters say about themselves?

Madeleine would tell you that Garrett rescued her – not just physically, but also emotionally. She was a wounded bird, and he gave her a chance to soar. Garrett would say that Madeleine brought new life to him after he died inside. She restored his soul and his belief in himself and in love.

Who do you envision as your lead characters?

A young Gabriel Byrne would make an ideal Garrett because he has the brooding and angst down cold. Emma Stone (when she’s a blonde) would nail Madeleine because she’s feisty, quick-thinking, and has a sense of humor.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer?

Read. Constantly. I’ve met writers who say they don’t have time to read. Well…MAKE that time! Read in your genre; read outside of it. You can learn a lot about pacing and characterization and conflict from all kinds of stories. And write, write, write. Half of what you get down will be awful, but you need to keep flexing that muscle. Don’t wait for the spirit to move you; you move the muse!

I’d also add to study your craft as much as possible. Join RWA. Attend workshops (online, locally, regionally, or nationally). Find a critique group. All of these have helped me grow as a writer.

Where can your readers stalk you?






Here’s Lauren’s cover. Isn’t is gorgeous? And who does love themselves a little Jimmy Thomas?

Music For My Soul

Tell us about your new release. 

As the third wife of an abusive French vineyard owner, Madeleine Bouchard hasn’t produced the expected heir after three years of marriage. Fearing he plans to kill her, she flees during a trip to England. Unable to make her way home, she joins a troupe of traveling mummers and reinvents herself as the only woman troubadour in the land, captivating audiences with both song and story.

Nobleman Garrett Montayne’s fascination with Madeleine causes him to pay the troupe to bypass their next stop in order to journey to his estate. Though he suspects Madeleine of being a thief with dark secrets, love blossoms between them under the magical moon of summer solstice.

But Madeleine’s past is about to catch up with her, as her husband is set to arrive to conduct business with Garrett. Madeleine determines to free herself from her loveless marriage and make a new life with Garrett, no matter what the cost.

Do you have an excerpt?

Garrett peered into the angry face of the woman who haunted his dreams by night and left him absent-minded by day. Their encounter had been brief, but he doubted he had ever met a more remarkable woman. Not even his petite Lynnette had brought such a sweet longing to his loins as did the bewitching creature before him.

Her honeyed hair, loosened from its intricate braid, curled around her shoulders. Tiny beads of sweat had formed just above her upper lip. Without thinking, Garrett reached his thumb towards her and wiped it away. She flinched slightly, her dark, amethyst eyes glowering up at him.

Garrett smiled in spite of himself, offering her a hand to pull her to her feet. He had forgotten how very tall she was as she stared at him, her cheeks flushed with anger.

“Perhaps we could arrange a trade?” he suggested.

She eyed him suspiciously. “I’m not sure if I could trust you, my lord,” she countered.

“Trust me?” he sputtered. “This, from the woman who traipsed about the countryside claiming to be my wife?”

She shrugged nonchalantly, an almost Gallic air about her. She didn’t sound French, but there was an unmistakable manner to her movement. Garrett spent enough time in France to recognize the behavior. However, when she spoke, he quickly put it from his mind.

“I chose a bloody awful name to scare away anyone who accosted me on the road! How was I to know I’d run into you?” She snorted in an unladylike fashion. “I had heard tales of the wicked Lord Montayne, how he frightened old and young alike and gobbled up babes for his dinner. Why, the very mention of his name would cause grown men to plead for their lives and their loved ones. Oh, no, my lord, I was an honest liar. You were the one who resorted to trickery and hid your true identity from me.”

Her accusation so startled Garrett his jaw flew open. No sound came out for a moment. The woman lifted her chin high and turned on her heel. That brought Garrett into motion.

He grabbed her elbow and pulled her around to face him. “Not so fast, my lady.” He studied her a second.  Her eyes narrowed at him, but she remained silent. Finally faced with her visage square in front of him, Garrett was at a loss of what to do. His emotions swirled out of control as he spoke.

“’Tis curiosity,” he sputtered.

She looked puzzled. “Curiosity?” she echoed.

He nodded, his words spilling forth rapidly. “I know not who you are, nor where you come from. I’ve dreamed of you since that night only to awaken to an emptiness.” His voice became low and tinged with sadness. “I don’t even know your name.”





What the Shiny Box Tells Me…

So, some of you already know, I had surgery (again) for another hernia (again) on Friday.

It was an unpleasant experience.

In any case, I’ve been watching a lot of TV. A lot. I can’t seem to focus for very long (Hellooooo, Vicodin), so the shiny box has been keeping me company. And I find myself inundated with images of people who are downright scrawny who complain of their “fat hips” or that they look fat in their clothes.

Now, I’m not feeling overly sexy, having just had hernia surgery. The shiny box, showing me all sorts of perfect people, isn’t helping. But you know what is? M. And not because he loves me (though that is wonderful and great), but because he actually gives me the perspective of a real man. Here’s one of our recent conversations…

Me: My stomach looks like grumpy cat did a face plant into a memory foam mattress and left me with a muffin top, to boot.

M: You looked at it? Why?

Me: Because it’s there. And it’s gross. I’m disgusting.

M: Well, you did know that your bikini modeling days are over, right? (Then he laughed, because he’s really good at entertaining himself)

Me: That’s not that funny. (But I laughed anyway, because it kind of was, and his laugh was infectious) Ow. Don’t make me laugh. It hurts.

M: Sorry. My humor has always pained you.

Me: (holding my stomach as I try not to laugh again) True. But I’m heinous with my shirt off.

M: Who’s going to be seeing your stomach anyway?

Me: You.

M: When your shirt is off, I’m not looking at your stomach.

(This doesn’t sound sweet, but it is. I’ll get to why later)

Me: (I snort) Maybe my boyfriend will think it’s ugly.

M: Nah. Your boyfriend won’t be looking at your stomach either.

It wasn’t until later that it hit me how sweet that snarky little conversation was. Because what M said in man-speak was this: “It doesn’t matter what you look like. I’m happy to be with you.”

What I hear now, that I probably didn’t hear in my Vicodin-induced self pitying moment, is that most men don’t see the cellulite, and don’t care that you’re not a size two. They’re a whole lot less harsh on our flaws than we are. I’m saggy and scarred up and my stomach is like some sort of abstract piece of post-modern art. 

And, for reasons that escape me, M thinks I’m hot.

I’m not sure what he sees when he sees me, but he thinks I’m A-okay just the way I am.

I’ll never be a size two and washboard abs, and I’ll never be Hollywood’s ideal image of what it is to be a woman. The average woman is between a size twelve and a size fourteen. Most women are going to have boobs and bellies, and maybe our thighs will rub together when we walk (**GASP!**). We’re going to be told not to wear loud prints or stripes or super bright colors or corduroy. We’re going to be told to stick with black, to wear our hair a certain way to make our faces appear longer (AKA: not so fat), and to wear sensible shoes.

We’re going to be told that we’re not hot.

But, to the average guy, looking to get with the average girl, we might as well be Heidi Klum.

I write romance novels, and maybe this will sound like the rose-colored glasses world of romance, where the chubby chick can find love with the hot guy. Meh. Personally, I think that scenario is a whole lot more likely than we give it credit for. I think most men, who are generally a pretty decent lot, are just excited for the opportunity to be with us.

Flaws, cellulite, scars and all.


P.S. And to you men out there, do you know what women see when we look at you? We see the good stuff. We’ll notice how your eyes sparkle when you laugh, how you have good hair, or beautiful skin. We’ll be amazed by the strength of your arms. We’ll notice your smile, or the endearing dimple in your cheek. If you’re bald, we’ll like that. If you have a mustache, even if we claim we don’t like facial hair, we’ll like that too. We’ll like the gray hair, and the wrinkles that fan out from the corners of your eyes when you smile.

I guess it works both ways. 🙂