Monday, December 10, 2012


Today as I sat at my desk, the sound of the wind drew my attention to the window. Outside, dry, fallen oak leaves tumbled in my yard and in the street. It's an overcast day, and I had that feeling of melancholy that accompanies gloomy days and dead leaves.

In Western movies, the iconic tumbleweed rolling through the center of town indicates emptiness. Perhaps the town is abandoned, or all the people are inside, hiding from the gang of bandits terrorizing the locals.

There's something sad about a bouquet of flowers that's started to wilt and lose its petals. It isn't cheerful and uplifting anymore. Now, it's just depressing. In Great Expectations, Miss Havisham, the jilted bride, spends her life in her wedding attire. Dead flowers adorn her hair and vanity. The image of a bride and her bouquet, both withered and decaying, is the height of Victorian Gothic. It's shocking and immediately conveys Miss Havisham's deranged state of mind.

On the bright side, she can still fit into her wedding dress. 

What is it about deceased plant material that arouses these unsettling feelings? Does it serve as a reminder of our own mortality? Or of the impermanence of beauty? Why is a Western town even made emptier when there's a tumbleweed passing by? Why do dead leaves and wilting flowers seem so sad?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Over the weekend, Mr. Boyce and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.We marked the occasion by ditching the kids and hitting the pub. The English-style establishment to which we sojourned has large screen televisions adorning the walls, which air sporting events. Now, my husband and I are not sports fans. I like the Olympics and the World Cup. Basically, I can get excited about athletics for a brief period of time once every few years. We pay zero attention to American sport seasons.

These seem like people who would play rugby, right?
During our repast at the pub, our fellow patrons were excited about a contest of collegiate American football played between canines with stunted nasal passages and a toxic algal bloom. Forgive me, my fellow Americans, but I just don't get the appeal of the game. Armored lummoxes of men move a ball up and down a field in minute increments with only the occasional break-out display of action. An hour of game time manages to suck up double or triple as much actual time because of all the stops between plays and officiating and whatnot. It bores me.

About the time I ordered another pint, one of the large televisions (the smallest one, crammed up in the corner) showed a game (match?) of rugby. Mr. B noticed it first, as it was behind me. He was delighted with what he saw, so I joined him on his side of the booth. I saw large men with massive thighs and bare heads barreling up and down the pitch. The ball was kept in action until a tackle or collision brought play to a temporary halt. A gentleman bearing a striking resemblance to Hagrid seemed possessed of a Berserker rage and plowed straight through anyone in his path. In fact, I wondered aloud if the game had been invented by the Scots. It seemed like the foolhardy and slightly deranged activity that marvelous country is known for. Wikipedia informed me that, in fact, the game developed amongst another group of impulsive males -- school boys.

But seriously, someone please explain this to me.
The game was hugely entertaining to watch. The action was almost non-stop. Players performed the same kinds of tackles and grapples as American football players, minus the safety equipment. From my perspective as an audience member, the stakes seemed higher. We saw a player gamely trot off the field with blood pouring down his face. Once in a while, for some reason I don't understand, both teams piled together and tried to push through each other. As near as I could tell, it was done just for the sheer joy of plowing over the adversary.

Because I've never met an analogy I couldn't stretch until it screams in agony, that rugby game got me thinking about writing. Good writing leaps off the page. An entertaining novel is packed with conflict and the action keeps moving the plot forward at a good clip. There aren't big breaks in the action to dissect what happened, like between football plays. It just keeps going. Good writing takes risks, like those rugby players hurtling down the pitch without the pads and helmets American football players wear. The stakes should be big. When a character slams into an obstacle, it should matter. It should hurt. Otherwise, no one will care when that character finally prevails.

I'm sure there are plenty of rules associated with rugby, but I don't know what they are, and when I was watching that game, they didn't matter to me in the slightest. I couldn't begin to tell you whether or not those teams were following the rules. All I cared about was how much fun it was to watch the action unfold. Likewise, a reader shouldn't worry about whether or not the author is following all the rules. Rather, she should be thrilled by the daring premise and emotional turmoil; she should be left breathless by the conflict and action.

So, that's my tip for today: Write like you're playing rugby.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Winner Winner Turkey Dinner!

Marianne Theresa, you're the lucky winner of the Jane Austen quote necklace!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop. It was great to meet so many lovely new people. I hope to see you around again soon!

Happy Thanksgiving, USAers! See you at pie o'clock.

I'm rooting for the bird.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop -- An Old New World

Welcome to the first Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop, Bluestocking Ball edition. If this is your first visit to my blog, hi! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll find something here to entice you to come back again soon.

When I think about the Regency world I try to create for my readers, I'm drawn back to the idea of why I read romance novels to begin with. From the perspective of a reader, what escape am I looking for?

Setting is the first thing that comes to mind. I think you all know I'm a bit partial to historical settings. I love visiting times gone by, particularly my beloved Regency. The trappings of it are beautiful -- the clothes, the grand houses, the balls, the carriages, the pastoral countryside. Life moved a little slower then. A shopping jaunt into the village involved a walk or a ride in a carriage, not a high speed car race [As an aside, do you ever think about how fast we really travel these days? Travel by carriage achieved about 20 miles per day. PER DAY. Even speeds we grumble about now, like 25 mph through a small town, would have seemed screaming fast to our Regency counterparts.] Manners and etiquette were matters of common knowledge. Of course, this system gives ample opportunity for historical romance authors to create comedy of manners, a trope employed by Shakespeare and Jane Austen, among other literary luminaries.

For me, setting is the icing on the cake. It's the decoration that catches your eye when you're browsing a selection of delicacies and makes you say, "I want that one. It looks delicious!"

And by "that one" I mean ALL THE NOMS.

But what are we really looking for in a romance? I submit that readers take two journeys in a novel. One is the setting that transports us to another place or time. The second, which I would say is even more important than the first, is an emotional trip. Romance is about escaping into the lives of characters who are facing challenges and falling in love. It's about meeting new people without the awkwardness of making small talk with them. A romance novel takes us on a journey of the heart.

After we finish a fantastic novel, what do we remember? The sweeping vistas or thrilling action might be part of it, but mostly we remember the characters we've grown to care for. We remember the heartache and suffering. We remember the sizzling chemistry between the main characters. We remember the triumph and joy of a well-deserved Happily Ever After. A romance novel is an emotional wonderland you can carry in your heart and mind, long after you've put down the book.

* * *

And now the moment you've all been waiting for... giveaway time! My contribution to the blog hop fun is this beautiful 16" necklace adorned with a quote from Jane Austen's Emma:

It says: "You must be the best judge of your own happiness." This quote is inspiring to me because it serves as a reminder to listen to your own heart when faced with life's hurdles. It's also a precept that must be learned by heroes and heroines in romance novels. Inevitably, they must judge for themselves in which direction their happiness lies. It's part of the emotional journey.

If you'd like to enter my giveaway, just leave a comment on this post! *EDIT: Please also leave your email address with your comment, so you can be contacted if you are one of the grand prize winners.* One commenter will be selected via My giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, November 21. No comment left after this time will be eligible to win. 


By entering my giveaway, you will also be entered for the chance to win one of three fabulous grand prizes. Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop is giving away one $100 gift card, and two $50 gift cards, each to your choice of either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 

Visit all the participating authors (listed below) for more romantic wonderlands and the chance to win more fabulous prizes! Good luck and happy hopping!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Once a Duchess Launch Giveaway Winner!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway to help me celebrate the release of Once a Duchess! I've been blown away by the outpouring of support and lovely comments. Thanks to each and every one of you.

I've consulted the oracles at, and the winner of the tea time prize is....


Congratulations, Bonniers! I'll be in touch to get your shipping information. Thanks again to everyone who entered, and thanks for supporting Once a Duchess. Smooches all around.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Once a Duchess Release Celebration & Giveaway!

The long-awaited day has finally arrived. Once a Duchess has been released! To celebrate, I've put together a few goodies for one lucky winner. Here's the haul:

Working on an English tea theme, there's a box of Earl Grey tea, a scone mix, and Devon clotted cream to go with your scones. Also, tissues with a fun Union Jack on the package, a French Cassis scented candle, and a big bar of Godiva. Because chocolate.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. Any old comment will do.

Entries will be accepted from now until 12:00 PM Eastern time on Friday, October 19. One winner will be selected via, and announced on Friday afternoon.

I'm so excited that Once a Duchess is finally here! Be sure to grab a copy at your favorite eBook retailer.

Don't forget to comment to enter the giveaway. Good luck!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Get Ready to Get Hopping

Oh, Bluestockings, are you in for a special treat! My sister Crimson Romance authors and I have put together a blog hop which will take place during the month of November. Click on the pretty badge to see Sharon Clare's post for details:

Most of the 46 participating authors will host their own giveaways (I will!), but the hop will also offer three BIG prizes. One grand prize winner will win a $100 gift card to your choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Two more lucky winners will each win a $50 gift card to your choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 

My only regret is that I can't win any of these great prizes! I'll remind you as the hop approaches, and have posted the badge in the sidebar at the right.

This is a great opportunity to meet some fabulous authors from across all the romance sub-genres and find your next favorite book. Get ready for lots of fun, prizes, and hot romance!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Desperate Times, Desperate Crafts

I'm having one of those mornings in which I feel like a magpie -- easily distracted by every shiny thing that crosses my path. I bet you know what I mean... "Ooo, Twitter! I wonder what's happening on Facebook? I'll just click this one link..." And right down the rabbit hole you go, only to emerge two hours later with chocolate smeared on your cheek and no recollection of where the time went. It wasn't just the Internet causing me problems this morning, but everything. Laundry! What's that bird at the feeder? More laundry!

As I'm writing against a deadline, such distraction cannot stand. I had to do something to make myself focus. I needed blinders like a horse's, but for all visual stimulation.

Here's what I came up with. It's the quickest and dirtiest DIY you'll see today.

Blinders for Writers

Materials needed:

* Sunglasses
* Aluminum foil
* Bin in which to discard your pride

I started by pulling some foil off the roll and wrapping it around the sunglasses lenses.

Front View

Side View

Then I... Actually, that's it. The end. "Craft" complete. This is how they look in action:

Geordi LaForge wishes he looked this good.

I tried to get the cat to model them, but he wasn't having any of it.

Stop embarrassing yourself, lady.

Believe it or not, these actually worked out really well for their intended purpose. I put them on and couldn't see a damn thing. I was able to focus on the story in my head, instead of all the other stuff going on around me. After a block of about 20 minutes, I was able to take them off and keep writing, since I'd gotten myself in the zone.

If you ever find yourself unable to focus on writing, maybe give this a try. Obviously, you need to be a touch typist for this method to potentially help. Ditching your vision for a little while might be just the thing.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Last year, I regaled you with all the great stuff that makes October my favorite month of the year.

You'll be glad to know my adoration of October continues unabated. In fact, I find myself reaching unprecedented levels of sentiment for this, the tenth month of our calendar year. I have new reasons to add to the list of why October will forever be tops in my heart.

On the fifteenth of the month, my debut novel, Once a Duchess, will be released. That's one week from today. ONE WEEK. Resisting... urge... to... link... Barenaked Ladies... You might imagine I'm rather excited about this. You would imagine correctly. Gold star for you!

Then, on the twenty-third, I'll be participating in a free online webinar hosted by Crimson Romance, "Celebrating Historical Romance." Three historical romance authors, including myself, will chat about why we love the genre, and we'll answer your questions, too! Please sign up and join us for what will surely be a great time to be had by all.

Know what else you can do in October?
Stomp a grape. Don't even pretend you
aren't dying to try that.
I've even been invited to participate in a career fair, discussing novelist-as-career with a couple thousand high school students. Not that they'll all want to talk to me. But still. Big doings!

When I look at these things looming on my imminent horizon, it seems as though I'm actually a wee bit legitimate. I have a fledgling career. I'll always remember October as the month in which my professional life as a writer began.

There's a sense of rightness to that, as October is my birth month. I'll be celebrating my birthday just a couple days after the release of my novel. You better believe I'll be drunk on cake all next week.

All the other great October things are still a go, too. The weather is turning cooler. It was a bit nippy here this morning. Most of the leaves are stubbornly retaining their chlorophyll, but there are a few hints of gold and burnt orange foliage here and there, a tantalizing flash of ankle before the full riotous can-can of autumn is unleashed. Germany did not stop brewing beer in the last year, thank goodness, so Oktoberfest season is safe. Candy corn is on the shelves, and pumpkin has infused everything worth consuming. October is so darn tasty.

Yes, friends, October is treating me well. I hope yours is progressing in a likewise satisfactory fashion. Get out there and pick an apple and inhale the crisp air and raise a stein to the greatest month.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Close Encounter with a Cliche

As the words left her lips, his meaning hit her like a bolt of lightning. - Once a Duchess, by Me

The above is a line from my novel. Over the course of this particular sentence, my heroine, Isabelle, arrives at a stunning realization. I chose to couch the experience in a simile with which you may be acquainted, the bolt of lightning.

I'm certainly not the first to utilize lightning imagery to illustrate something sudden, huge, and -- dare I? -- shocking.  As figures of speech go, lightning used as part of a simile or metaphor effectively conveys the idea of the unexpected and portentous.

Here is our hero, quietly breaching a secure government facility, minding his own business, when a gorgeous security guard arrives on the scene. Their eyes lock, and KABLOOIE! Metaphorical lightning strikes. Obviously, something is going to happen between these two. Because lightning.

Recently, I had an up close encounter with actual, from-the-sky lightning which has me rethinking the use of this particular linguistic device.

A fistful of hyperbole.
It was a typical Southern summer evening. The sky was overcast with high clouds. Rain fell gently to make sure the morrow would be plenty humid, and thunder rumbled gently in the distance. I was sitting at my desk (which is right next to a window), quietly surfing the webs, minding my own business, when KABLOOIE! There was a searing white flash, instantly followed by a bright orange ball of fire (which was more of an impression than a clear image, as the white flash had rendered me temporarily mole-blind) right outside my window, accompanied by a deafening blast. I felt a physical punch in my chest. My ears rang. For the rest of the evening, the tip of my tongue was numb and my chest ached.

The lightning hit a tree, peeled its bark, then obliterated a cable box (thus the fireball). It traveled up the wires to scorch the siding on our house and ruin a few more electrical devices, both outside and inside our home. There was smoke. There was confusion. There were curious and helpful neighbors. The fire department came with an infrared scanner to make sure there were no hot spots lurking inside our walls which might burst into flame. It was Very Scary.

Fortunately, the damage was all easily repaired, and neither I nor my family suffered any lasting harm from the event.

But, in its wake, I wonder about the wisdom of using lightning as a figurative image in my writing from here on. On the one hand, the strike carried all the markers we associate with literary lightning. It was sudden, unexpected, huge, and left me decidedly rattled for some hours. And yet... it feels rather overstated now to describe a mental realization as "like a bolt of lightning." Certainly, we can become appraised of information which takes us off guard and leaves us numb and reeling. But I'm not sure lightning is the right turn of phrase. Perhaps in some extreme situations.

For now, for myself, I think I'll have to put lightning out to pasture.

What do you think, readers? Is lightning too extreme for casual literary use? A boring cliche? Perfect for holidays and other special occasions? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Interview with Author Synithia Williams

Today, it is my very great pleasure to have Synithia Williams here at the Ball. She is the author of You Can't Plan Love (Crimson Romance, 2012), a contemporary romance. Synithia graciously agreed to an interview, and I'm thrilled to share it with you!

First, a blurb about You Can't Plan Love:

After several bad relationships, Kenyatta Copeland decides to control her love life with the same discernment she uses in her professional life. 
Knowing firsthand the heartbreak that comes when desire and emotion rule a relationship, Kenyatta assumes marrying Brad Johnson will lead to a stable life. But as much as she believes she can plan her future, it’s hard to ignore the way her boss, Malcolm Patterson, ignites her passions with just one look. After Malcolm learns of her engagement, he makes a play for her heart and reminds her that passion between a man and a woman has its perks … but also its costs. When Brad suspects there’s more than work between Kenyatta and Malcolm, he works harder to keep Kenyatta by his side. Torn between her promise to marry Brad and her irrepressible longing for Malcolm, Kenyatta must decide if she can live her life in a passionless marriage of convenience or once again trust her heart. Yet Brad isn’t as perfect as he seems, and by the time Kenyatta realizes this it may be too late.

EB: Thanks so much for joining me here today, Synithia! How long did it take you to complete your novel manuscript?
SW: I worked on this novel for years—writing a chapter here and there. In 2010 when I decided to take my writing dreams seriously, I made a goal to finish it by the end of the year. I completed the first draft in October 2010.

EB: When you are developing an idea for a novel, what comes to your first? Concept / theme, characters, or something else?
SW: The concept comes first. I’ll think about a situation I want to write about and just start (I have a bunch of first chapters lingering around because of this). Then, I flesh out the rest of the story. I work out character profiles as I write, and often the character at the start of the book isn’t the one at the end. I correct those inconsistencies during revisions.

EB: Do you rely on a dictionary or thesaurus while you write?
SW: Yes! I don’t own a dictionary—please don’t take my author card—so I use the Merriam-Webster website.

EB: is my internet crutch, so no judgment here. 
Your novel is set in modern-day Columbia, South Carolina. How does your writing reflect this setting?
SW: Recently, a reviewer said the dialogue in my novel fit with its southern setting without drawing someone out of the story. I appreciated that because I live in Columbia and tried to make my characters talk, act and interact in the same manner as the people I interact with. I mention places I’ve frequented, matched the lively conversation style I’m used to, and brought up topics that are interesting to people in Columbia (Gamecock football for example!)

The lovely Synithia Williams
EB: What hiccups did you encounter while writing You Can't Plan Love?
SW: After writing my first draft, I read a book on romance writing and realized I didn’t have my hero and heroine interact enough in my story. Meaning, there were a lot of scenes when they weren’t together. In romance, you have to show the couple falling in love and that requires a lot of interaction. My second draft was nearly an entire re-write of the story to put Malcolm and Kenyatta together more.

EB: Did you experience any surprises in the publication process?
SW: The biggest surprise was finding a publisher so quickly. I was prepared to spend years receiving rejections and crying into my pillow nightly while clenching a glass of wine. I still can’t believe I am published.

EB: I went the years of crying into my wine route, so it just goes to show everyone's road to publication is different! 
Who would enjoy your novel?
SW: Most women will enjoy my novel. It touches on the ideas of finding love, following your dreams, the choice between staying at home with kids or working, dealing with someone close to you who’s controlling, and learning to trust your instincts. These are things that many women face at least once in life.

EB: Are you interested in publishing in a different genre, or do you plan to stick with romance?
SW: I have an idea for a paranormal romance, but right now I’m too lazy to do the research required. Maybe one day.

EB: What's next for you?
I’m happy to say that my second novel, Worth the Wait, is tentatively scheduled to release January 7, 2013 from Crimson Romance! Here’s a sneak peak: When a virgin frustrated by her nonexistent dating life, asks a playboy for a one-night stand, can they really ignore their attraction after the affair?

EB: Awesome! Congratulations! Tell us where we can find You Can't Plan Love.

EB: Anything else you'd like to share?
SW: Thank you so much for interviewing me on your blog today! You’re as much fun online as you are in person :)
* * *
Many thanks to Synithia Williams for visiting with me today!
Readers, be sure to visit Synithia's website and blog, and definitely give You Can't Plan Love a go! It's a fun, sexy read with a surprising degree of action. I couldn't put it down once I hit the second half of the novel. I'm looking forward to Worth the Wait.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Art of Listening

This weekend, Mr. Boyce and I got together with a group of friends for dinner and a show. The dinner was expensive, tasty, left me with a stomachache from overindulging, and was a thing of the past as soon as my discomfort faded.

The show was much less expensive, just as fulfilling, and has stayed with me constantly since Friday night.

We were fortunate to nab tickets to the kickoff stop of The Unchained Tour, a traveling troupe of raconteurs peddling stories to rapt audiences across the Southeast. It's the brainchild of Georgia native George Dawes Green, who also founded The Moth, another storytelling organization. Our plucky Unchained Tour performers are presently wending their way around a heart-shaped course of nine events.

The Unchained event was just like this, plus booze.
Here is where I offer a confession. The current roster of The Unchained Tour includes Neil Gaiman, whose tales I have long admired in graphic novels, paperbacks, an on the screen. The opportunity to see and hear him in person was absolutely the draw for me, as I suspect it was for many of Friday night's attendees. Frankly, I'd not heard of the other performers (For shame!). That was ignorance on my part, which I'm happy to have amended.

And while I came for Neil and enjoyed his story, I also left with Rachel Kate's folksy melodies looping through my head. I hunted videos of Edgar Oliver's performances, so I could hear his indescribable voice again. I have fretted about Peter Aguero's struggle to care for his ailing wife. I have admired Dawn Fraser's willingness to reinvent and rediscover herself when confronted by a life crisis.

If you've never attended a storytelling event, it's an incredible experience. The art hearkens back to our ancestors gathering around fires, fending off the unknown darkness by communally partaking in the spell cast by the storyteller. Fittingly enough, the Unchained Tour performance was held in the atrium of The Columbia Museum of Art, beneath a Chihuly chandelier which resembles an inverted flame.

I'm convinced there is something inside us, some genetic memory, that storytelling taps into. It is a group endeavor. There is the racanteur, of course, the performer weaving a tale with words and voice and gestures. But there is also the audience. The booming silence of 300 people holding their breath, waiting for the next phrase, the next word, the next inflection. There is the relief of laughing at light moments, of applauding the end of a tale that has transported us into the storyteller's world for a few brilliant moments. We all must do our part to make the storytelling successful, but the magic is that everyone in that audience performed flawlessly. We instinctively knew our part.

As a writer, my focus is on the written word. It was wonderful to take part in a literary exercise centered instead around the spoken word. Should you have the opportunity to take in a storytelling event, I heartily encourage you to do so.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Today, and every day like it for the last eleven years, we remember. Indelible images from that horrific morning are branded into our personal and collective consciousness. We see the planes. The fire. The smoke. The rubble. We replay the clips, over and over.

Over and over.

Over and over.

For eleven years.

This morning, I saw the inevitable tributes. The Never Forgets. The photos. The clips.

Something inside me snapped.

Why do we do this? Why do we flagellate ourselves with these violent pictures? What are we doing? What purpose does this serve, this annual resurrection of horror and grief and pain?

I've had my fill of it.

No more.

I can mourn the dead without watching them die. I can remember the horror without witnessing the terror. I can honor the heroes without hearing their final words.

I've done those things for eleven years.

No more.

Today, I choose to remember the Towers conquered not by hatred, but by art. I choose to focus not on their collapse, but on their erection.

They were born as they died, looming large on the global stage. They captured attention and stirred the imagination. Their dizzying height inspired one of the greatest feats of performance art ever attempted.

Philippe Petit's 1974 high wire walk was a testament to the ingenuity of human engineering and creativity. Between those monoliths of modern architecture, he danced with his own mortality in a stunning exhibition of bravado and grace. He struck a perfect balance of thrilling danger and zen-like meditation.

Today, I choose to remember the soaring heights of human ingenuity. I remember the audacious. The ambitious. Art for the sake of art. I remember the artist's capacity to thrill, to enrapture, to provoke. I honor the past, but choose not to wound my heart yet again with images of destruction and death. Today, I leave you with a memory of the Towers as co-conspirators in a defiant act of art.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Parents of school-age children will understand where I'm coming from when I say Happy New Year! The rhythm of my life is dictated by the schedule determined by the state Board of Education and our local school district. The young Boyces have just embarked on a new school year. For the first time, all of my children are in school.

I am very fortunate to be able to focus on my writing during the day. I'm still sorting out my own routines, trying to strike a balance between work and home obligations. As this new school year begins, I happily find myself launching my professional career, with one novel coming out in October, and contracts just signed for two more.

When I think about everything I need to do, I start to feel overwhelmed. Publicity for the first book, editing for the second, writing for the third. What have I gotten myself into? How will I ever do this? I need a plan. I need... goals.

Believe it or not, this whole overlong introduction was to get around to the point of the post, which is the word goal.

What is a goal? You know the concept. You know the sound:

But what does it mean? Is a life goal the same as a football goal? Well... yes. Yes, it is.

Goal first appeared in the English language in the 1500's. Its initial use referred to the endpoint of a race. Soon after, at about the same time (mid-1500's), goal came to refer to both the place to sink the ball, and the more figurative sense of an ambition toward which effort is made.

You see, a goal is all about hitting the end. It's a destination. It's the light at the end of the tunnel. It's measurable -- and you have to work to get there.

Think about the ways in which we phrase the concept of goal: "My goal is to work out three times a week for a year." "She has met her sales goal for the quarter." "He failed to achieve his goal of marrying by the age of thirty."

All of these things are quantifiable. They either happen or they don't. You worked out three times this week, or you didn't. Goals are very simple, black and white.

Thank goodness some dreams don't come true. Knife wielding
wraith-cherubs I can do without, thankyouverymuch.
Mister needs to get off whatever's smoking in that pipe.
I think we're often held back by our fear of failure. We might not reach our goals, so why even try? If you have a goal of losing 20 pounds this year, and you only lose 15, have you failed? Well, maybe you didn't hit your goal, but you're still better off than you were at the beginning of the year. Goals are worth having. They're worth striving for. Even if you miss them, your efforts have brought you further than you'd have been without that goal.

Instead of goals, many of us take refuge in dreams. We dream of losing weight. We dream of having lots of money. We dream of being a famous singer. We close our eyes and picture a life we wish we had. How much better things would be if only we were rich, if only we weren't stuck in this job we hate, if only Prince Harry would visit this dinky town.

Isn't this nice? Who doesn't love to dream about a future of luxury? Or of having that dream job?

Well, dears, mean Auntie Elizabeth is here to burst your dream bubble with some cold, hard etymology. The use of dream to encapsulate the sense of "an ideal or aspiration" didn't come around until 1931. Nineteen thirty-one. Eighty-one years ago. You might know someone older than this usage of the word. I do.

Before this, for centuries, dream referred to your nighttime visions, at the kindest. In the older Germanic we have draugmas, meaning "deception, illusion, phantasm." Ouch. Even in the current accepted usage, a dream can't be pinned down.

A dream is all in your head. It's insubstantial. It's false. A dream is nothing.

Now, this is not to say you cannot make your dreams come true. You can -- if you are willing to work. If you'll turn your dream into a goal.

A goal requires a plan. A schedule. A number. An end point. Some means of determining whether or not you've gotten there. Do you want to be an architect? Maybe you have to go back to school. Do you want to be a singer? Audition for a local band. You have to do something to reach your goals. They don't happen on their own.

Here, at the start of the other New Year, I'm setting some goals for myself. I will turn in my manuscript for book three on or before November 30th. I will make a publicity plan for Once a Duchess, with items I can check off ("Cross my fingers and hope people buy it" doesn't count.). I need to get into a solid daily routine, to make sure I meet these and other goals.

What about you? Is it time to set some September New Year's goals? Have you met a goal you'd like to tell us about? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Next Big Thing

The very lovely Synithia Williams tagged me in this fun game. Fortuitously, too, as I was wondering what the heck to blog about today. Here are some questions and my answers about The Next Big Thing, aka my upcoming release, Once a Duchess (I'm trying to develop a proper novelist ego.).

What is the working title of your book?
Once a Duchess
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea came about after I read several historical romance novels that flirted with the idea of divorce. The hero threatens the heroine with it, or he mopingly agrees to grant her the divorce she demands, or what have you. Of course, Happily Ever After swoops in to save the day before a divorce happens. I wondered, what if these people who are perfect for one another did divorce? Could they find their way back together again?
What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Romance, Regency.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Gosh, I don't know! *runs off to imdb* 
OK, for the role of Isabelle, I'm thinking Sophia Myles, with a little Portia de Rossi mixed in. It's my fantasy; I can blend actresses if I want to. A picture of Sophia Myles in period costume can be seen here.
For my hero, Marshall, maybe Richard Armitage, North and South edition. Rawr!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Uh-huh. Fascinating. No, really, do go on.
After a scandalous divorce destroys her reputation, Isabelle fights her way back to respectability and wins a second chance at love.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be published by Crimson Romance on October 15! Get your download finger ready!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About a year.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I haven't seen another story quite like mine in the Regency genre -- which is a good thing! Writing-wise, my style is in the neighborhood with Jo Beverley. I feel kinda uppity saying that. Jo, I'm not worthy (So much for that ego...)!
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
As I said above, I was inspired by the ideas prompted by other novels. I was driven to explore the idea of divorce during a time in which it was rare and hugely scandalous.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My heroine, Isabelle, is a marvelous cook. She isn't afraid to use her culinary skills to work for a living, despite her genteel upbringing. Different, non?
Also, hot sex.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Regency Holiday: Lake District

We've all grown a little weary of sand in our bikini bottoms and bug spray landing in our mouths. The new school year is just around the corner. Summer is winding down, and so, too, is our tour of Regency travel destinations.

I have one last trip in store for you this year, and it's a great one. Rally yourself and grab your sunglasses and a canoe; we're going to the Lake District!

The Lake District is located in northwest England. It's a region of mountains (or 'fells') and valleys, strewn with several dozen bodies of water, with their attendant rivers, streams, and falls. This area is the wettest part of England, receiving about 80 inches of rain per year. Fog is also common around the hills. In fact, the sun only shines a few hours per day, on average. So, what made it a popular Regency destination? Take a peek:

Picturesque as hell!

The Lake District wasn't as rustic as Scotland, but offered great fishing opportunities for the angler who couldn't venture north of the border. Hikes and rambles were popular. Getting out on the water in a rowboat or sailboat was a fine way to see some sights. During the Regency, there was also a great passion for sketching. Drawing was one of the accomplishments de rigeur for young ladies, so most women spent at least part of their Lake District vacation practicing their use of perspective. Sketching a favorite vista also provided a way to commemorate one's trip in a time before cameras. Poets and artists flocked to the Lake District to drink in the inspiring majesty of nature.

Seriously! So. Freaking. Quaint. I can't even stand it.
We must recall that in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Continent was aflame with war. Travel abroad was not only prohibitively expensive for many, it just wasn't safe, either. The Prince Regent -- that man of refined, sophisticated, worldly tastes -- never so much as crossed the English Channel (Though we've seen how he tried to bring a little bit of the outside world to his Royal Pavilion in Brighton.). His country was either penned in by, or involved in, war for most of his lifetime. It was quite out of the question for the heir to the British throne to risk his safety for a sightseeing tour of Paris.

The Prince and other wanderlust-afflicted Englishmen and -women therefore had to look within their own borders for travel destinations. 

Their rest stops might seem fancier than ours, but trust me,
skip the ladies' room and just head behind a tree.
In 1778, a Jesuit priest named Thomas West published A Guide to the Lakes, perhaps the first tourist guide ever produced. In his book, West describes the best viewpoints within the Lake District from which visitors could appreciate the landscape. Stations were built in several of these places to facilitate the aforementioned landscape appreciation. The Lake District of England was, then, one of the first locations deliberately cultivated for tourism. And Regency-era Englishfolk were the first generation to grow up with a love of hitting the road and seeing the sights within their own country, just for the pleasure of it.

I hope you've enjoyed this Regency Holiday series. I certainly had a great time learning more about these historical travel destinations to share with you. I didn't quite get to every stop I wanted to make, so hopefully we can take another jaunt next year. Enjoy the rest of your summer, Bluestockings!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ask the Expert

Today, I escorted Miss Boyce to the school in which she is enrolled for kindergarten. While she became acquainted with her teacher and toured the classroom, I spent quality time crammed into a chair sized for a third grader, filling out forms and chatting with the assistant teacher (We'll call her AT, because I love acronyms [Acronyms are distinguished from initialisms because they are pronounced like a word, whereas an initialism is not. NASA is an acronym; FBI is an initialism. Here ends today's grammar lesson.].).

In between detailing transportation arrangements and emergency contacts, AT asked where I work. I told her I work from home. She asked what kind of work I do. "I'm a novelist," I answered.

Her eyes went wide and round. "Really?" she asked breathlessly. "That's... that's my dream. That's what I always wanted to do. How did you do it? What do you write? What kind of training did you have to get? I mean... how did you do that?"

Previously, my sole area of expertise was how to spend all weekend
in one spot, reading. Progress!
At first I was kind of stunned by her reaction. The questions just kept pouring out of her mouth before I could even answer one. The impression she gave was like she'd just tripped over a treasure trove by uncovering my occupation.

AT (I've decided AT is an initialism. "A - T" flows better than "at" with its awkward stop. Adjust your brain-voice accordingly.) wanted to know how I learned to write a novel. She asked how I knew where to submit my work. She wondered about rejection letters, and how an author gets paid. AT had lots and lots of questions.

And I was able to answer them all.

I wouldn't dream of styling myself any kind of actual expert on writing or publishing, but it was gratifying to realize I had good, accurate information to share with someone who wanted to hear it.When I was new to the novel writing thing, I asked all the same questions AT asked me today. I soaked up answers from wherever I could find them, and I was so grateful when authors were willing to share their knowledge.

This conversation kind of gave me a sense of coming full circle. Just as I'm moving to the next stage in my writing journey, I was able to help someone still at the starting line. As I continue to grow my career and develop my craft, I hope to become more useful to the writing community at large.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Your Etymological Guide to the Olympic Games

On Friday, July 27, 2012, the Summer Olympic Games kick off in London. I'm a sucker for the Olympics. Opening ceremonies reduce me to tears.Tiny, plucky gymnasts sticking their landings make my heart swell. High jumps and javelin throws and the fleet of foot thrill me. I just love it. In honor of the 2012 Games, I thought we'd take a look at the etymology behind some of the language we associate with this event. Because, fun!

Oh, these words aren't in alphabetical order. They're in Elizabeth-thought-of-them-in-this order.

To begin, this post has a soundtrack. I implore you to play "Bugler's Dream" as you read. I find it really adds to the festive spirit of the piece.

Olympics: We call these games the Olympics because they are a revival of the ancient Greek Olympic games, so named for their site, the Olympia plain in Elis, Greece. The original Olympics were held in honor of Zeus. I did some digging, but can't find any etymology for "Olympia" beyond the fact that it's a name. NOTE: the plain, Olympia, was not at the foot of Mount Olympus, the dwelling place of the Greek gods. The mountain is in Thessaly, more than 200 miles from the site of the plain. The first modern Olympic Games was held in Athens, Greece, in 1896.

Athlete: The term by which we call the Games' competitors comes from, of course, the ancient Greek. Stretching back as far as I can take it, we find athlos, "a contest," which begets athletes, a "contestant in the games."

Pro tip: Don't make snide
"size" remarks to the gentleman
who could hurl that heavy,
metal Frisbee at your head.
Competition: Is brought to us by the Latin, competitio, "a rivalry."

Victor: From the Latin again. This one has remained remarkably intact. Victor, meaning "conqueror." 

Game: This one is English, baby. USA! USA! Oh, wait... Old English gamen, "fun or amusement." Interestingly, we can trace this word back along its Germanic roots to the Gothic, in which the word gaman held a sense of "communion" or "people together." Games are all about being together. Awww, group hug!

Team: English again! Well, this is interesting. Originally, the Old English team referred to a set of draft animals yoked together. Oxen and whatnot. Beasts that pull. When it was first applied to humans, team indicated a group of people bringing suit. Class action lawsuits, you guys. In Old English.

Race: The short race was one of the five original Olympic games. Old Norse ras, meaning "running or rushing water." This word first was associated, in English, with a contest of speed in the 1500's.

Javelin: The javelin throw was also one of the original games. Middle French this time. Javeline, "a spear." That's pretty straightforward. Moving along...

Gymnastic: Back to Greece! Gymnasticus, meaning "fond of or skilled in bodily exercise."

Discus: Another of the original Olympic competitions. And another word that's stayed with us since the beginning. Ancient Greek diskus, "disk or platter."

Old timey man on the right, you're not even trying!!! This is a race, not a stroll
in the park. You've dishonored your ancestors and your nation. Way to go.
Wrestling: Ooo, this one's going to test my special character finding skills. Old English wr├Žstlung, which is "a sport of grappling or throwing." Sounds about right.

Jump: And finally, a fun one to round out the list of things I thought of related to the Olympics. The long jump was one of the five original games. Our modern word might be ancient onomatopoeia, y'all (related to bump.). Holy crap. How cool is that? OR, the more boring idea is that it's derived from the Gallo-Romance dialects of southwestern France. I'm sticking with onomatopoeia. Because it's more fun to say "onomatopoeia" than "Gallo-Romance dialect."

I hope you've enjoyed this etymological glossary of Olympic words! Best of luck to all the athletes who will compete in this year's summer games. I hope we can all come together in the spirit in which the Games were founded. I'll bring the sacrificial bull. See you in London!

Lots of information from

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Regency Holiday: Scotland

Dear reader, summer is really starting to kick my tootkus. So much so that we're going to leave England behind altogether for this installment of my Regency travel guide and escape to cooler climes. If you're just joining us on our holiday excursions, we've already visited Bath and Brighton. Today we traverse the Great North Road to wild, beautiful Scotland.

If you don't recall your geography lessons, for shame. Your teacher put a lot of time and effort into trying to mold your mind. Your inattention is why she went home and drank wine and cried to her cat every night. Be that as it may, here's a quick reminder of Scotland's location:

Jamie Fraser resides in the Scottish Highlands. And in my heart.
It's the orange bit on the map. Scotland occupies the northern portion of Great Britain. At the time of the Regency, Edinburgh was the most cosmopolitan city in the country. It was far less populated than London, of course, but boasted a social scene on par with the ton's, but on a smaller scale. There was a season, theater, balls, parties, and all the normal diversions. So, an urbane aristocrat who wished to flee London's heat could summer in Edinburgh and carry on much as he ever did.

Scotland's greatest attraction to uncomfortably warm Englishfolk, however, was the countryside. A fair number of English lords owned estates in Scotland. An invitation to a house party on one of these Scottish estates was quite the hot commodity come summer. Guests descended on the host's home for a stay of a week or two, sometimes upwards of a month. During this time, the company engaged in civilized activities such as after-dinner charades, musical evenings, horseback riding, and stealing kisses in the hedge maze.

Others owned a property called a "hunting box," a quaint term which could refer to a house ranging in size from a cabin to a mansion only slightly less grand than the family heap. The hunting box's prime distinction was that it was a retreat for the sporting gentleman, rather than a family home. Here, a man might pass a couple weeks with his friends, partaking in such manly pursuits as hunting, fishing, and... well, it was pretty much hunting and fishing. Maybe they wrestled bears, too. I don't know.

The moor, aka Scotland's Nebraska.
Grouse, partridges, and pheasants were all brought down with fowling guns. A "grouse moor" was a prime piece of real estate for bird hunting. One person, called the "beater," walked in front of the hunting party swatting at the ground, trying to flush birds out. When they took to the air, ka-boom! Felled birds were fetched by dogs. It was all terribly manly, you see. So very, very manly.

Land-bound game, such as hare and deer, were also defeated by the Regency huntsman. Oh, and did I mention the "cub hunt"? This was a pastime in which inexperienced riders could practice hunting baby foxes. So. Very. Manly.

Perhaps more picturesque than the grouse moors were the fishing spots. Rivers, streams, and lochs provided cool water for swimming, foot dangling, and shoving unsuspecting buddies. Fly fishing was the method by which men later boasted about how they came thisclose to bringing in an absolutely enormous trout. No, really, you guys, you should've seen this thing. It darn near pulled my arm out of the socket.

Loch Lomond, upon the bonnie, bonnie banks of which I shall never again meet my true love.
Whether it was a mixed-company house party, or a week with the boys at the hunting box, Scotland gave Regency travelers a much-needed break from the summer heat. Its natural beauty offered vacationers all the fresh air and exercise they wanted. Rusticating never felt so good.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Social media networking is a train I was late to board. Heck, I didn't even start texting until last year because, under my old cell plan, each text cost 25 cents, plus I still had the antiquated keypad laid out like the phones I grew up with--press 2 three times for a 'c', press 6 eleven times because I kept passing the letter I wanted, etc. Anywho, MySpace came and went without my ever dipping a toe. I finally joined Facebook years after everyone else (Except MBG, who is the only holdout I know, the Luddite.).

Folks piled on the Twitter-go-round when that came along, but I didn't. Facebook was enough social media for me, thankyouverymuch. That changed when my publisher, Crimson Romance, sent me a great crash-course manual on how to be a successful author these-a-days. One of the top recommendations was a Twitter feed. Heavy sigh. OK. Fine. I signed up.

If you want to follow me there, click THIS OBNOXIOUSLY LARGE LINK.

Like a kid wearing swim wings in the shallow end, I nervously paddled right over to the only people I knew how to find, a couple writer acquaintances. Fortunately, another Crimson Romance author, Irene Preston (Whose novel, Infamous, is a super fun, sexy read, by the by), found me and put me on a list with other CR authors. From there, I branched out and spread my wings and mixed some more metaphors.

Having now spent a couple weeks stumbling around the Twitter, I have some thoughts about it. These are they:

I wanted a picture with a bunch of birds so I could make a joke about
all the noise and quacking and clucking on Twitter, but then I found this.
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Those birds are huge. Or those people are
tiny. What the heck is that on that one guy's head? He looks like
some naked elf astronaut. And Gollum's in the background all "Wassup!"
at the bushes. This is ridiculous. It's like an illicit Thumbelina fan fic pic,
but it's from the 15th century. What is wrong with you, Mr. Bosch, sir?
I need a hug. 
* Twitter can be scary and overwhelming for someone like me who is socially awkward to begin with. Being a virtual place doesn't change the intimidation factor. In fact, it can make it worse. You can click on the popular kids and see they have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. Even millions. Starting with zero followers, like the new kid in school, is rough. What do I have to say that anyone would want to hear?

* Twitter moves fast. Like, blink-and-it's-gone fast. And, unless you're one of the popular kids, no one's going to miss you if you don't tweet. You're forgotten. Twitter has the memory span of a goldfish. That means you have to be serious about regularly issuing your 140-character soundbites if you want to stay on anyone's mind, and you have to say something that catches attention.

* Because of the aforementioned need for output, a lot of people tweet links. Lots and lots of links. Links to blog posts. Links to articles. Links to pictures of cute kittens. Links to every dang thing. Now, I'm not above sharing a link once in a while, but my eyes glaze over when I see link dumps (my term for many link tweets in a row by the same Twitter user.). The group of people I follow is still small enough that I recognize the avatars of people who do nothing but post links. When I spot them, I don't even look at their tweets' content anymore. I'm interested in personalities, not advertising. If someone has caught my attention with a great personality, I'm more likely to click when they do post a link. It's like getting a recommendation from a friend versus being inundated with calls from telemarketers.

That golden calf of yours issues manure just like any other cow. Sorry.
* Twitter makes people you admire more accessible than ever before. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's great to get little glimpses into the minds and lives of writers, industry folks, celebrities, etc. I was thrilled to be retweeted by a well-known comedienne the other day. I preened when a couple well-published romance authors followed me back. This is what networking is all about, baby! Right? Well, maybe. At this point, I don't think I can cash in on "I follow you on Twitter and you follow me, too, so we're totally BFFs and can you introduce me to your agent?" Maybe that happens for some people. I don't know. I've heard magical tales of agents plucking new clients out of Twitter obscurity, instead of from their inbox slush piles, but not regularly enough to make me think it's a viable way to agent hunt.

The dark underbelly of being "closer" to your idols is that you realize they're just people. And people sometimes let you down. They can be offensive or voice support for something you detest, and then you might like them a little less. Their work might be tainted for you. That's kind of sad.

* One perk of Twitter is that you can meet some great people. I connected with author Synithia Williams. We're both signed with Crimson Romance, and discovered we live fairly close to one another. We met for coffee--only to realize we'd met before. Once upon a dream In person, no less. Still, Twitter let us bump into each other again. We had a great chat about our books, the writing life, brainstorming publicity, and our favorite British hotties.

So, that's what I think about Twitter so far. I'll keep plugging away at it. Meanwhile, every time I log in, the birdie logo makes me think about Bob Marley. I can't be the only one.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Regency Holiday: Brighton

Summer marches on, and we we continue our tour of Regency holiday hot-spots in Brighton.

Located on the southern coast of Great Britain, Brighton began its days as a humble fishing village. This all changed when George, Prince of Wales (later to become Regent) came to call in 1783. Brighton became his favorite getaway, thanks to the relaxed atmosphere. Here, he and his friends could do as they pleased without the prince's rigidly moral parents looking over his shoulder. The Prince loved the town, and the town loved him right back. Under the Prince's patronage, Brighton grew and grew, quickly transforming from a podunk backwater to the nation's premier resort.

The Prince of Wales' Brighton residence underwent a metamorphosis even more spectacular than that of the town itself. The Marine Pavilion was a gracious Georgian mansion. Take a peek:

There is nothing wrong with this house.

By the time George became Regent, he'd been visiting Brighton for more than 25 years. He felt his abode was due a bit of pizzazz. To that end, the Prince Regent indulged his favorite pastime--begging money off Parliament--and did a little renovating.

Just a bit.

The exterior of the newly-styled Royal Pavilion was clearly informed by Eastern design. The interior was a Chinese fantasy land, replete with dragons, bamboo, lacquered cabinetry, Chinese wallpapers and lanterns, pagodas, and vivid colors. The Regent, who never traveled abroad, had a lifelong fascination with China. He imagined it to be a realm full of contented people, a dream of harmonious beauty and grace. In London, the Regent did constant battle with Parliament and his own ministers. He was ridiculed by a populace that found his passion for architecture, art, and music to be foolish. His marriage was a disaster of epic proportions. Even the weather was against him; the cold and damp aggravated his rheumatism and other complaints. The Royal Pavilion in Brighton was his escape. It--and by extension, the town--was a magical kingdom by the sea where the prince was free to indulge his every whim without fear of repercussion. In Brighton, George was respected and admired like he never was in London.

I have not forgotten all the other tourists, I promise. I wanted to give you some information about the Prince's involvement with Brighton, because he was the entire reason it became a tourist destination. When the Prince of Wales came to town, people followed. Initially, they were the Prince's entourage of friends--rich aristocrats, stylish ladies, and the trendsetters of the day--whom he lavishly entertained at the Pavilion. Eventually, visitors who were not part of the Prince's personal retinue came to Brighton to see what the fuss was all about.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, 1826
Summer in Brighton was a time of great seaside fun. Each year, a festival was held to mark the Regent's August 12 birthday. The whole town was invited to the party. There were mock naval battles and military reviews. A ball was held at Castle Inn, while roasted ox and ale were served to all.

The town boasted entertainments to suit every taste, high and low. Sea bathing was popular, as were the vapor baths (saunas). Plays and concerts provided theatrical amusement, while sport fans could take part in horse racing, bull baiting, and cockfighting. Middle class tourists who would never see the inside of the place enjoyed gawking at the opulent Royal Pavilion.

For the upper crust, the Steine was to Brighton what Hyde Park was to London. It was a green area first used by fishermen as a place to dry their nets. When the ton came to town, working folk were shoved aside and the Steine became the site of the afternoon fashionable hour, the place to stroll and mingle, to see and be seen. High-end merchants followed their wealthy clientele to Brighton and set up temporary shops which closed again when the moneyed horde left. After rounds of calls and shopping, the usual society balls and card parties filled evenings not spent at the Pavilion with the Regent.

Brighton was also notable for its tourist real estate properties. Houses were built special for the purpose of renting them to visitors for brief durations of time. New houses erected along the Steine were let for a week or two at a time. In this way, Brighton was truly innovative in encouraging tourism, making the town easily accessible to those early vacationers.

In the two centuries since the Regency, Brighton has continued on the path set by the Prince. It remains a popular tourist destination, hosting arts and music festivals, museums, and the ever popular beach fun. Brighton's nightlife has retained the freewheeling edge favored by the Prince Regent. The much-maligned Royal Pavilion still stands, and has become Brighton's most celebrated landmark. It is now open to the public and houses a museum to the Regency.

Next stop: the Taj Ma--no, wait, still Brighton.