Talia Carmichael, Writing Between the Lines

The Prose Speak: With Talia Carmichael

Between the Lines

Seeker of Quirks…

By: Talia Carmichael

We all have things that make up who we are. There are habits that we follow that we might not even be aware of. A mannerism that people who know us when they see it think “that’s just like (insert name)”. These things all come together to make each and every one of us unique. Makes up our quirks. I believe that everyone has their quirks and love finding what it is. I’m a seeker of quirks and I’m a people watcher. :) I like to sit and just watch people interact with each other. I’m that observer in the corner whose mind is wandering on ways I can use the idiosyncrasies I see and work them into my stories.

Okay, I’ll admit many of my own quirks are in the books I write. :) And no I’m not admitting which. I’ll let you wonder which ones. For other quirks of my characters, I use what I see around me to include in what I write.  It can be that person who tends to lean their head to the side as they listen intently. Or the person who, when very amused, makes a snorting noise. Or that person who tends to find ways to change the subject when they get compliments or praise. How about someone who says whatever comes to their mind? Hmmm…I’ve had or experienced so many of these moments. These are spontaneous moments that someone does that make them who they are. And I love seeing these. As mentioned I watch people and many times I am writing in my head about them. I’m curious about what makes that person who they are. What quirks they have and how that is viewed by others. I imagine where these idiosyncrasies fit my characters. There is so much fun in being a seeker of quirks.



Talia Carmichael LogoBio: Talia Carmichael is a romantic who believes that family, no matter if it is by blood or those you choose as family, is integral to who you are. She is an author who writes sexy stories in a variety of genres. She believes in creating stories that encompass all that falling in love or lust entails, from the highs of that first blush of attraction to the lows of not knowing if you can make your coming together as a couple work, and then finally to the acceptance of the reality of making a life together. It’s all about the journey.

Among her books you’ll find contemporary, futuristic, fantasy, and paranormal settings with M/M themes that will have a happily-ever-after. Her books are passionate, intense, and real… to fill the craving. Check out more about Talia at taliacarmichael.com or  taliacarmichael.com/blog. Contact her at taliacarmichael.com/blog/contactor check her out on facebook and Twitter.

Patrick Darcy, Videos, Wilde City Press

Here With Us All The Way From Dublin, Ireland, Please Welcome Patrick Darcy!

Through this magical portal called the internet, we’re pleased to be able to welcome Patrick Darcy to The Novel Approach today.

Patrick is the author of the Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player series of books published through “Charlie Harding Presents…”, Wilde City’s Black Label press, a premier selection of stories approved by none other than Charlie Harding himself, specifically for their steamy, erotic goodness.

Here’s a little bit about the books and the characters Patrick has created:

Star Irish rugby player, Conor Murphy, lives and breathes rugby. He spends his weekends playing rugby, drinking beer, and singing songs with his teammates. There is only one thing he loves more than rugby, and that is hot rugby players. But after the final whistle sounds, the real competition begins: the hunt for the hottest men.

Conor’s muscular body and roguish good looks ensure he can have his pick of the sexiest players. But what happens when this alpha male meets his match on and off the field? Who will come out on top when he meets the horniest rugby players from the USA? Can two alpha males have the night of their lives?

Rugby—it’s all about scoring, whether it’s on the field… or off.

While on tour in Copenhagen, it seems nothing is going to stop the Irish from bringing home the trophy and taking the spoils of victory. And while teammates Conor and Sean work up a sweat on the field to claim their prize, the real competition begins after the whistle blows, as the lads discover that Copenhagen is full of hot distractions.

To be sure, there is nothing rotten in the state of Denmark! In fact, Danish men are ripe for the picking. They love sex, have no inhibitions, and they want Irish meat.

But as Conor and Sean put their friendship aside in the pursuit of the hottest Danish players, the question is, will their friendship survive the real sport of man hunting?

And now that you know a bit about the books, let’s carry on with getting to know a little bit about the man behind them. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Patrick Darcy!


Brita Addams, Dreamspinner Press

Brita Addams Is Here Today To Dish About The Story Behind Her New Book, Tarnished Gold

Before we start, here is the blurb for Tarnished Gold:

In 1915, starstruck Jack Abadie strikes out for the gilded streets of the most sinful town in the country—Hollywood. With him, he takes a secret that his country hometown would never understand.

After years of hard work and a chance invitation to a gay gentlemen’s club, Jack is discovered. Soon, his talent, matinee idol good looks, and affable personality propel him to the height of stardom. But fame breeds distrust.

Meeting Wyatt Maitland turns Jack’s life upside down. He wants to be worthy of his good fortune, but old demons haunt him. Only through Wyatt’s strength can Jack face that which keeps him from being the man he wants to be. Love without trust is empty.

As the 1920s roar, scandals rock the movie industry. Public tolerance of Hollywood’s decadence has reached its limit. Under pressure to clean up its act, Jack’s studio issues an ultimatum. Either forsake the man he loves and remain a box office darling, or follow his heart and let his shining star fade to tarnished gold.


I liken writing a book to raising children. They are born, they grow, they mature. They change as time goes on, adopt traits of the parents and even their friends. You want to shut them away in a room, protect them from the bullies, but reality is that, in the end, they were born to fly the coop and join the world.
Books start out as a blank page, with sometimes nothing more than a title (that is if you aren’t me, who never has a title to start with) and your name, much like the tests you took in school. With a spark of an idea, you begin, with the hope that what you have in your head translates to the written page.

Most books begin with research. As I discussed last month, research is mandatory for historical novels, and in my opinion, contemporaries as well. For Tarnished Gold, my novel set in the golden age of Hollywood, I dug into some of the books that I’ve collected over the years, as well as purchased many more.

I spent some time on the phone with Damon Suede, who is an ace at anything Hollywood related. Damon was a great source of encouragement and knowledge, and he guided me to many books that became indispensible in helping me shape Jack Abadie’s story.

I also tapped my own knowledge, as I have been an old Hollywood buff since I can remember. As a girl, I spent many a summer morning watching Charlie Chase, Mae West, and Buster Keaton on television. The movies were old then, but I loved them. The affected speech, the camp, the melodrama, and the slapstick comedy. I was in with both feet.

I’ve always read biographical books and have indulged my onetime dream of stardom vicariously through the lives of those who actually did something about it. Acting in high school does not a star make—but I digress.

Biographies are a wonderful way to discover what makes people tick, why they do the things they do. But that isn’t enough to create a world, or rather, recreate a world, in the case of Hollywood. I read about the men and women who shaped Hollywood in the early years—Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks (be still my heart!,) Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro. These folks not only acted, but they set the tone for those years, the early years, in an industry that was in its infancy.

I determined early on that my character, Jack Abadie, would rise to a pivotal position, but I left that undefined for much of the planning and writing process. I like to have my characters guide me and Jack knew exactly where he wanted this story to go.

For years, I’ve known about an actor by the name of William Haines. Billy was as handsome as Valentino and Ramon Novarro, more talented than Clark Gable, who came on the scene just as Billy ended his acting career, and was as determined a man as I’ve ever read about.

Billy Haines was the first openly gay actor in Hollywood. He was fiercely loyal and indulgent of his partner, Jimmie Shields. They were a couple from 1926, until Billy’s death in 1973. Billy accommodated his employers, but he was uncompromising in his beliefs, particularly about his homosexuality. When Louis B. Mayer insisted that Billy marry a woman and banish Jimmie from his life, Billy’s answer was, “I’m already married.”

I wanted Billy’s qualities to permeate my character Jack. While yielding to reason, Jack doesn’t suffer fools. He learns his craft, he sees the obstacles a mile away, and he avoids all that will deter him from his ultimate goals. Yes, Jack has many goals. Some stay constant, while others change or fall by the wayside, depending upon their importance.

With this much established, I went to work creating the foundation upon which Tarnished Gold is built. I can honestly say that this is first novel that I’ve written, where I could actually see the building blocks as I laid them into place.

The story takes place over the course of forty years, taking into consideration the epilogue, which starts twenty-five years after the end of the main book. Jack is a young man when the book starts—green, anxious, in love with his best friend, and above all else, star struck. He spends many hours in the balcony of the Prytania movie theater, watching Wallace Reid, his all-time favorite actor. He wants to be Wallace Reid one day and he has a plan to make that happen. In creating the feeling for Jack in the balcony of the theater, I recalled the many Saturday afternoons my husband and I have spent at the Prytania.

First thing, I had to create Jack. He had to start out as a twenty-one year old kid, who had no idea how to groom his hair or dress for the world without his mother’s help. He had to have classic good looks, along with a healthy dose of charming naiveté.

I am a huge fan of John Barrowman, Captain Jack from Torchwood. It is John that I imagined in the role as Jack Abadie. It is Captain Jack from whence Jack’s first name comes. Smiling John, in my head, became Jack Abadie for me.

Before I start to write any book, I create an index card for each character. On that card (and sometimes cards,) I write all the characteristics that the character should possess, and which I must portray. As the writing proceeds, more and more gets added to the card.

At first, I create the main characters, as I pull in secondaries when I need them. My index card system for each book consists of character outlines, scene ideas, notes about how a certain premise should play out, as well all my ideas for plot twists and turns. As a visual person, I have to “see” my characters. Many times, I have an actor in mind, but sometimes, I will search stock art to find the look I want.

Having lived in the Deep South for many years, I am familiar with the plantation system that existed well into the twentieth century. My husband’s grandparents worked on the Willswood sugar plantation in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Uranie Madere Berthelot cooked for the men who worked the fields, while Wilfred Berthelot was a carpenter.

After the schoolhouse burned down, my husband’s mother went to school in the front room at the overseer’s house, a home that my husband later grew up in when his grandparents bought the structure, tore it down, and rebuilt it on their own property. Fifty years later, my mother in law took up a smaller residence and that front room served as both of my daughters’ bedroom. We lived in that house for twenty years.

It is from Willswood Plantation that Jack emerges, excited to tackle a world he knows nothing about. His father, Wilfred, is a carpenter, while his mother, Amelie, cooked for the men who worked the plantation. Jack’s brother Andrew, has Wilfred Berthelot’s middle name. Amelie was the name of a woman who lived next door to us. I make mention of Mrs. Faucheaux (Foe-shay)—she was another neighbor.

One of my husband’s least favorite memories of summer in the Deep South is of bathing, then sweating profusely before he was finished dressing. Jack experiences this as well. Jack never quite forsakes his Cajun roots. Therefore, he uses the endearment cher—dear in French.

Well into the book, someone tells Jack that he works too hard. His answer? “You can sleep when you die.” My mother in law used to say that all the time.

The character Eric is named for my dear brother, while Matthew in the book is named for Eric’s son. As a homage to my New England roots, I named Jack’s character in Plantation Bride Charlie Moon, after my great grandfather. He was a farmer in Stephentown, New York and became father to my grandmother in 1911. In 1925, his wife Clara died at the age of 34, after giving birth to her eighth child.

Charlie worked hard to keep his young family together, but in 1927, he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of forty-two. Theirs is a tragic, yet heartwarming story that I would love to write about one day.

Over the course of many years, Jack Abadie matures. As a writer, it was fun to see that progression, the change in attitude, the resignation that we all must experience when we discover that the world doesn’t revolve around us.
Jack goes to Hollywood with a Cajun accent, saying things like N’Awlins and Catlic (Catholic.) He favors gumbo and jambalaya to any food anyone can cook. He knows nothing other than the plantation and the close-knit family from which he kept the secret of his sexuality, save his brother who was his lifelong ally. Hollywood could have eaten him alive, but his Louisiana roots, and Wyatt, kept him grounded.

This phase of Jack’s journey is loosely based on my own experience when I left home at eighteen for the bright streets of Boston. I’ve often said that we possess our most bravado when we are young and know no better. I struck out and found a boarding house for young college girls and those who worked in offices in town. Great camaraderie, but put a naïve young girl out into a world so different from what she’s known, and well, situations happen. One grows up fast, as I did and as Jack did in Hollywood.

When a writer writes a story like Tarnished Gold, you can’t help but invest a part of yourself in it. You draw upon your life experiences, the many people that have passed through your life, your knowledge of how life works.

Tarnished Gold is emotional in that Jack must find himself and where he fits. Life doesn’t fit us in, we must adapt, as Jack learns, as we all learn.

I grew to love Jack deeply, as I did Wyatt Maitland, the man who is truly Jack’s other half. Writing these two men, the evolution of not only their relationship, but of the times in which they lived, made me recall many things in my life, good and bad. Sometimes it’s nice to do that. Reminds you of what is truly important and what doesn’t really matter at all.

One thing is for sure—what matters today likely won’t matter a year from now. It is good to keep that in mind when we are obsessing over the small things.

Jack Abadie confronts all the things we do—love, loss, tragedy, indecision, unreasonable expectations, reality, all against the backdrop of the most artificial place in the world, Hollywood. Yet, he emerges a very real person, one with uncompromising integrity. He is true to himself and takes with him the lessons of old, those things his mother taught him.

I hope you enjoy Tarnished Gold. I certainly enjoyed writing it for you.

Preorder Tarnished Gold at Dreamspinner Press. It will be on virtual bookshelves on March 25, in ebook and print. The first 20 people who purchase the print version, will receive a signed copy.

Find me online at any of these places:
Twitter: @britaaddams
Fan Page
Amazon Author Page

Until next month, read, read, read.


Brita Addams, Dreamspinner Press, Guest Blogger, Noble Romance

In Which Brita Addams Discusses The Research And Shaping Of A Historical Romance – And There’s A Giveaway Too!

I am thrilled to be a permanent guest blogger on A Novel Approach. As I told Lisa, I will attempt to provide scintillating commentary each month.

For those who don’t know me, I am a writer of historical and a limited number of contemporary romances. Writing historical romances are my favorites and I’ve written them in a couple of periods, with the intent of writing still others.

That brings me to this month’s topic—Research and the shaping of historical romance.

Before I started writing, I devoured historical romance with a voracious appetite. I love history and romance, so you can see that the combo is a natural. As I read more and more, I got the itch to give it a go and Brita Addams was born.

To write anything with authority, one must do their homework. Even contemporaries require research. Unless you are creating an alternative universe, research is an important key to a successful novel. As an author, I would do my readers a great disservice if all I did was make mention of a cravat here, a horse and carriage there, but didn’t set the scene firmly in the time period.

I read a lot of historical romance, in all time periods, and nothing will stop me cold faster than the feeling that the author simply gave a nod to history. I want to feel that I am transported to another time and place. To do this, an author needs to know the way people dressed, what they ate, the style of furniture popular at the time. Dress the characters appropriately, arrange the rooms as they might have been, convey the formality of sitting down in a mammoth dining room with thirty of the host’s closest friends. Meals lasted upwards of three hours in those days, with many courses.

As part of research, I watch a ton and a half of period-set movies and documentaries, to get a feel for the language, the clothing, the attitudes, the politics, topics of conversation, manners. I take tons of notes—phrases used, toys, food, books, and hairstyles. My books have sticky notes and index cards stuck between the pages, lest I forget anything that might enrich a scene.

Conversational language was different in the Regency era. No shortcuts in courting. Language and actions were stunted and somewhat formal. I write with that in mind, in my own version of archaic English. If I wrote as they truly spoke, no one, including me, would understand it. However, I’ve devised a way for my characters to speak that has its own brand of authenticity.

I don’t want two noblemen having a brandy and speaking as though they are at the corner bar in the neighborhood. I actually read a Regency romance once with the line, “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.” Sadly, the book now languishes in my “Didn’t finish,” folder on my Kindle. Though the phrase could have been used, it is too common today for it to ring true in a historical context.

It takes work to set the tone of a story. A writer has to do that at the outset, or the reader won’t have a world to nestle into. For Regency-set books, I do this using a variety of sources, including Jane Austen’s works, which were contemporaneously written. I have an extensive library of books concerning England’s Regency era, 1811-1820. BTW – the Regency era denotes the period in history when King George III was incapacitated due to mental illness and his son, George, the dissolute Prince of Wales, assumed the king’s duties as Regent. When his father died in 1820, the Regent became King George IV. There was no extended Regency as some purport. A Regent serves as such until the death of the person in whose stead they have served or, in the case of an underaged child, his mother or other assigned person might serve until the heir is old enough to assume his duties.

Research tells us that social mores were such that a woman could compromise herself by the simple act of speaking to a gentleman unchaperoned. Doing so could render her unmarriageable, the theory being, I suppose, that when the cat’s (chaperone,) the mice will play. Young women had to be virgins upon marriage. Widows, of course, were not held to such a lofty goal, but then everyone would know of their prior marriage.

As a writer, I tempt my characters into compromising situations, but I always keep in mind the penalties, should the wrong parties discover the principal’s activities. The death penalty for homosexuality in England existed until 1861. Until 1885, the men could get two years in jail and time on the pillory. Sexual acts between two males was made legal in England and Wales in 1967. These facts must be reflected in m/m historical romances by use of character circumspection and not a little fear. My guys don’t refrain, but they are cautious. :)

In the third book of my Sapphire Club series, a young woman waits for the main character in the man’s carriage, not to place them in a compromising position, but to try to convince him to take her to the Sapphire Club (she’s one of those feisty chits.) When he does the honorable thing and returns her to the party from which she stole away, they are caught and she is compromised.

Duty, driven by inbred honor, for Phillip, the Duke of Thornhill, was very clear and he ended up marrying the chit, despite the fact that he had his designs on someone else entirely—a man. Therein lies the rub!

In historicals, and in the time period, a man’s duty and honor was paramount. A nobleman in line to inherit had a duty to marry well and produce an heir, all to assure the perpetuation of the title and the fortune. There was no equivocation, no hedging. I maintain that that is the reason there were so many unhappy marriages and the mistress trade flourished. The downside—a man could have a dozen children with a mistress, but none would inherit, as they weren’t legitimate, and never would be, even if the nobleman married the mother.

Divorce was all but unheard of during at this time in history. Should a divorce be granted, the shame would finish the woman for her lifetime. Rules were such that a man could do pretty much as he pleased and the woman could do nothing. As an extension of her husband, she was stuck in a bad situation.

Certainly, I write heroes and heroines who “buck the system,” and do so because readers tend to read with today’s values in mind. However, a writer can only go so far and still stay true to the spirit of the historical genre. I’ve seen bad reviews for Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s works, because people judge them through a prism cast on today’s attitudes and mores. To understand history, in all its nuances, helps a reader better understand the attitudes and actions in historical romance.

I research such things as what fabrics were used to cover buttons, what type of furniture would you find in a fine home, and conversely, what did the poor folks live like?

For my April/May release from Dreamspinner Press, Tarnished Gold, the novel is set in old Hollywood and covers the years between the 19teens to 1930. I’m a huge old Hollywood fan and it was a joy to read and research the period, the stars, watch so many old movies, and finally, get to know my characters. Hollywood wasn’t all speakeasies and fun. There was an insidious pall poised to creep over our hero, Jack Abadie, one that took the livelihood of many a gay actor. At one time, being gay in Hollywood was a plus. Then it wasn’t.

P1030455I read hundreds of heartrending stories of actors forced to hide who they were for the sake of their careers. I combined real names with characters for the story, along with the places and things that made up that golden era. But research was mandatory and it took six month’s worth to get me to the point of confidence at starting the book, then another six months to write it.

Now, I’m writing a series of books that will trace the lives of generations of one family over the course of one hundred years. I am from upstate New York and I want to write the story of those everyday folks who served and endured what the wars brought upon them.

The first book begins in 1754, during the French and Indian War. In the area of New York State where I grew up, Abenaki Indians, allies of the French, came down into New York, and often raided farmsteads. They killed whole families and often kidnapped women and children as well as some men. My heroine in that one was kidnapped, and lived several years in the Saint Francis village of the Abenaki, until the famed Roger’s Rangers raided the village. The story tells just a bit of the years spent in the village before we go into the aftermath and the romance begins.

Some of the stories I will write are inspired by my own genealogical history. Before I started writing, I spent years as a genealogist. For the series, I did a serious amount of research on every aspect of the period. At this time, I have 75k written and the story could likely exceed 100k before I’m done. I have a long list of books and websites I’ve used to research, to say nothing of the movies and documentaries I’ve watched.

I admire those who can create an alternative world, where there are no rules, but I can’t do that. To place my characters in the settings I do, I have to paint that world as it existed.

See you next month.

Hugs, Brita

Newest releases:

SerenitysDreamFinalAreSerenity’s Dream – Lucien and Serenity


Serenity Damrill has returned to her husband, Lucien after a ten-year absence. She carries with her a secret that could destroy her life and possibly all that Lucien has built.

Lucien was quite happy in his life running the Sapphire Club and has no need for the frigid wife who deserted him the day after they were married.

Can Lucien teach Serenity that her fear of the marriage bed is unfounded? Will Serenity’s secret be the death knell for their marriage?

ForMenLikeUsFShiresFor Men Like Us


After Preston Meacham’s lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes his only way of life. Despite his best efforts at starting again, he has no pride left, which leads him to sell himself for a pittance at a molly house. The mindless sex affords him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.

The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the acts he was forced to commit and the torture he endured at the hands of a superior, a man who used the threat of a gruesome death to force Ben to do his bidding. Even sleep gives Ben no reprieve, for he can’t escape the destruction he caused.

When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession. As he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.”

About Brita:

Born in Upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. Brita’s home is a happy place, where she lives with her real-life hero, her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

She writes, for the most part, erotic historical romance, both het and m/m, which is an ideal fit, given her love of British and American history. Setting the tone for each historical is important. Research plays an indispensible part in the writing of any historical work, romance or otherwise. A great deal of reading and study goes into each work, to give the story the authenticity it deserves.

As a reader, Brita prefers historical works, romances and otherwise. She believes herself born in the wrong century, though she says she would find it difficult to live without air conditioning.

Brita and her husband love to travel, particularly cruises and long car trips. They completed a Civil War battlefield tour a couple of years ago, and have visited many places involved in the American Revolutionary War, with more to come in September of 2013. In May, 2013, they are going to England for two weeks, to visit the places Brita writes about in her books.

A bit of trivia – Brita pronounces her name, B-Rita, like the woman’s name, and oddly, not like the famous water filter.

Please visit my website, blog, say hello on Twitter or Facebook. I love to meet new people:

Fan Page

Hey, remember that giveaway I mentioned in the title? Well, here’s the scoop. Brita is giving away an ecopy of any book from her backlist-Winner’s Choice! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post sometime between now and 11:59pm Pacific time on February 15, 2013, and you’ll automatically be entered in the drawing for a chance to win! Good Luck!

**Note: For A Complete List Of Brita’s Work, Just Click On The “Bookshelf” Link Above.**

Brita Addams, Guest Blogger, Noble Romance

So, I’m Maybe Just A Little Excited About My New Guest Blogger…

Beginning tomorrow, and then continuing on a monthly basis, author Brita Addams is going to be a permanent guest contributor to The Novel Approach, whether it’s with book reviewers or just general writerly business and promotional opportunities. I’m so thrilled to have Brita on board, and am hoping this might lead to more guest contributors dropping by and chatting with readers about writing, reading, and/or life in general. We’ll keep our fingers crossed, yeah? :)

Tomorrow, Brita will be here discussing the depths of research she puts into writing her historical romances, as well as promoting the release of the first book in her Sapphire Club series, Serenity’s Dream, which has been expanded and given a lovely new cover for its re-release. The book is a sensual and erotic journey of self-discovery for both Serenity and her estranged husband Lucien, who marry, separate, and then ultimately reunite, initially as little more than an agreed arrangement, but soon they come to rekindle their relationship through the exploration of, for the time period, the more daring side of sex and sexuality. Their experimentation and eventual blurring and erasure of the lines of what proper society dictates should and shouldn’t be in a marriage opens them up to a love and acceptance that was only strengthened by the growing understanding of each other’s needs. It’s a lovely story that touches on just about every aspect of human attraction, which means loving and desiring the person rather than being trapped into denial by that person’s gender. It’s a rather scorching read, if I do say so myself.

In addition to discussing the writing process, Brita’s also going to be offering the opportunity for one lucky reader to win an eCopy of any book from her backlist! Pretty cool, right? So make sure you stay tuned tomorrow for the announcement, and help welcome the delightful and delicious Ms. Addams to the site.

Have a great rest of the weekend!