Saturday, December 7, 2019

THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH—a conversation with Chance and Marcie

In honor of the season, I'd like to introduce you to Chance Fowler and Marcie Roper from The Millionaire's Christmas Wish (available from Harlequin in ebook) and tell you a bit about their Christmas story.

Good morning Chance and Marcie.  I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.

Chance:  Thank you, Shawna.  It was nice of you to invite us.  So…what would you like to know?

My first question is for whichever of you wants to answer it.  How did the two of you meet?

Chance:  (Winks at Marcie) Do you want to take that one?

Marcie:  My pleasure.  I was minding my own business, doing a little window shopping on my way back to my car from the book store, when he came along and accosted me in broad daylight.  He grabbed me against my will then proceeded to kiss me.  I was truly shocked and also a little frightened.  I had no idea who he was or why he had forced himself on me.

Chance:  Wait a minute…in my defense that wasn't quite the way it happened.

Marcie:  (grins) My way sounds more mysterious…and more interesting.

Did he literally grab you on the street, a total stranger, and kiss you for no reason?

Marcie:  Oh, yes…that's exactly what he did.

Chance:  Well…not really…not like that.

Ah, ha!  What's the true story?

Chance:  I was being followed by another one of those tabloid photographers who were always trying to get candid pictures of me that they can exploit, things taken out of context and blown up into something they aren't.

As sole heir to the Fowler Industries fortune, an eligible bachelor leading a very high profile life including yacht racing and making the rounds of the club scene always with a beautiful woman on your arm, I can see where there would be an interest in your activities.

Chance:  Since I was on my way to one of my special projects, I had to lose the guy following me.  I was looking for a place to duck away from him…hide in plain sight, so to speak.  As soon as I rounded a corner and was out of his sight for a few seconds, I turned my reversible jacket inside out to a different color, but there wasn't any place for me to hide.  I spotted her standing in front of the store window. My intention was to put my arm around her shoulder so it would look like we were a couple window shopping together, but for some strange reason she objected.  So I did what I had to do.  The photographer ran on down the street without paying any attention to a couple kissing in front of a store window.  I tried to apologize, explain to her, but she ran off without giving me an opportunity.

Marcie:  It was later that I discovered who he was…Take-A-Chance Fowler, as the media referred to him.  Major playboy, always being photographed with different women, yacht racing, seen at all the trendy clubs.  In other words, a spoiled rich guy living off the family wealth who had never done an honest day's work in his life.

Chance:  Definitely not a very flattering assessment of someone she didn't even know.  I was determined to set her straight and change that erroneous assumption.

Take-A-Chance?  Where did that come from?

Chance:  One of those stupid tags the press pinned on me.  "Always willing to take a chance on some wild stunt."

Marcie:  I can't begin to tell you how embarrassed I was when he told me Chance was his legal first name, not some cute little nickname.  It was his mother's maiden name.  And the more I found out about the real person behind all those tabloid headlines, the more impressed I was and the more I liked him.

You mentioned your special projects.  What did you mean by that?

Chance:  I have several projects I finance and am actively, hands-on involved with, things I don't want the media to know about.  Among other things, one of the projects is a job training program for disadvantaged youth. I don't want the other people involved to find their pictures and names splashed all over the front page of some tabloid newspaper.

What type of projects?

Chance:  (flashes a sly grin) You can find out all about them in the book.

Marcie, did you encounter any unusual problems when you began dating someone of Chance's…uh…notoriety?

Marcie:  (furrows her brow in a moment of concentration) Well, there were some uncomfortable moments with his family, such as the Christmas dinner at his father's house—

Chance:  (laughs) Merely uncomfortable?  That's an understatement!

Is there more to the family story than you're saying?

Marcie:  You mean other than his father being responsible for driving a wedge between us that nearly destroyed our relationship?

Chance:  My family is synonymous with the word dysfunctional.  They're the personification of that old joke…look up the word dysfunctional in the dictionary and you find their picture.  You'll find out all about them when you read the book.

I'd ask you to explain, but I already know what you're going to say.

Marcie:  (laughs) You have to read the book!

Thank you, Marcie and Chance.
Blurb:
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…
When millionaire Chance Fowler first kissed the pretty stranger in his arms, he'd only meant to dodge the photographers who'd tailed him. Then she ran off—but he couldn't forget her tempting taste on his lips. So he sought out the tantalizing woman who'd ignited his long-dormant desire….

Lovely Marcie Roper was the first woman to close her eyes to Chance's fortune. And though she'd captivated the jaded tycoon, Marcie yearned for what his wealth couldn't buy—a man who would say "I do" and mean it forever. Could Marcie convince Chance that love—for the right woman—would last a lifetime?

Publisher Excerpt:
She was certainly different from the type of women he usually encountered. Her eyes sparked with the fire of emotion and her stance declared a very appealing independence. Yes, indeed. Marcie Roper was quite different—a breath of fresh air. He recalled the way she felt in his arms, the taste of her delicious mouth. He fought the almost overwhelming desire to pull her into his arms and kiss her again.

He watched her walk away from him—for the second time since he first encountered her. She had turned out to be a very intriguing woman. He already knew about the golden flecks in her hazel eyes, her soft pliable lips, her addictive taste and how good she felt in his arms. And now he knew she was certainly a challenge—and Chance had never been one to back down from a challenge.
****
Harlequin has reissued 17 of my backlist titles.  THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH was originally released by Harlequin in print and is currently available in ebook.

THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH, a Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook and available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com.  Also available from Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook, and other online vendors.  Additional information and excerpts available on my website  www.shawnadelacorte.com  Information and excerpts from my other books also available on my website.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Now That Thanksgiving Is Over…

I forgot to write my blog for today.  Well, not exactly.  Obviously I wrote one because here it is.  The problem is that I didn't write it ahead of time as I usually do.  I try to get my blog posted on Saturday mornings. Right now it's Saturday at 11:15AM Central time and I'm just starting to write without having anything firmly in my mind beyond a general concept.

How did this happen?  That's a good question.  And the answer is—Long Holiday Weekend.  Instead of having extra time available due to a holiday, I have confusion due to the fact that today is the third Sunday this week and there's still one more Sunday to go before things return to normal (or as normal as things get for a writer).

Last Wednesday seemed like Saturday because it was preparation for the next day's Thanksgiving holiday—out-of-town relatives visiting, grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving (talk about a major mistake I always swear will never happen again!), preparing my assigned dish to take to my brother's house for the large gathering and feast.  Which, of course, made the next day seem like Sunday even though it was only Thursday.  Then yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving and in reality only Friday, naturally seemed like Sunday.  And since today isn't Monday, it must be Sunday…again.  Are you noticing a pattern here?  :)

And there's still tomorrow, the fourth Sunday this week—the real Sunday—before things finally return to normal on Monday.

If you are the one who had all the friends and family to your house for Thanksgiving turkey with all the traditional trimmings, you've probably been eating leftovers for two days and by now you don't want to see another turkey sandwich for a while.

I can't speak for anyone else, but recovering from a holiday weekend always feels to me as if I'm learning a set routine all over from scratch.  After tomorrow's fourth Sunday in one week, I need to get my head into Monday again and get back to work.  I really don't want to deal with a fifth consecutive Sunday in one week.  :)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Eagle Vs. Turkey: America's National Symbol

We all know that the bald eagle is America's National Symbol…a proud and majestic bird.  And turkey is what we serve every year at Thanksgiving dinner…a tasty bird made all the more appetizing when accompanied by dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy.

But did you know that if Benjamin Franklin had gotten his way, the turkey would have been our national symbol?

In 1776, right after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress appointed a special committee to select a design for an official national seal.  This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.  They each had their own ideas, none of which included the bald eagle.  They finally came to agreement on a drawing of a woman holding a shield to represent the states.  However, the design did nothing to inspire the members of Congress.

So Congress consulted a Philadelphia artist named William Barton who created a new design that included a golden eagle.  At the time we were still at war with England and the fierce looking bird was deemed an appropriate symbol…with one small change.  The golden eagle also flew over Europe so the federal lawmakers declared that the bird in the seal had to be an American bald eagle.

On June 20, 1782, they approved the design that we recognize today.

From the start, the eagle had been a controversial choice.  Benjamin Franklin was quite vocal in his objection to the selection of the eagle.  He considered it a bird of "bad moral character."  A year after the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war with Great Britain, Franklin argued that the turkey would have been a more appropriate symbol.  "A much more respected bird and a true native of America."

Unfortunately for Franklin, Congress was not convinced and the bald eagle remained our national symbol.

Whereas both the bald eagle and the turkey are native to America, we can't lay exclusive claim to either species since both traditionally ranged in Canada and Mexico as well as the U.S.

And all of this leads us to one important question.  If the turkey had been chosen as our national symbol, what would we serve as our traditional Thanksgiving dinner?  Somehow roast eagle just doesn't have the same appeal as the turkey.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thanksgiving Myths and Facts

We all know the often told story of how the Pilgrims left England seeking religious freedom and finally settled in the New World, stepping off the Mayflower onto Plymouth Rock in what is now the state of Massachusetts.  And how in 1621 they invited the local natives to share a feast with them in order to give thanks for a successful harvest and surviving their first year.

From those humble beginnings have come many facts and just as many myths about the Pilgrims and our Thanksgiving holiday.
Myth:  The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 and the Pilgrims celebrated it every year after that.
Fact:  The first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition.  In fact, it wouldn't have been called Thanksgiving because to the Pilgrims a thanksgiving was a religious holiday when they would fast rather than feast.  That feast in 1621 was a secular celebration and would not have been considered a thanksgiving in their minds.

Myth:  The original Thanksgiving feast took place on the fourth Thursday of November.
Fact:  The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11 and was a three day celebration based on the English harvest festivals.  In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the official date for Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November, a decision fraught with controversy.  The date was approved by Congress in 1941.

Myth:  The Pilgrims wore only black and white clothing with buckles on their hats, garments, and shoes as shown in numerous paintings.
Fact:  Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the 17th century.  Black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions.

Here's a list of trivia that could be called Thanksgiving-by-the-numbers.

3,000—the number of calories eaten during an average Thanksgiving meal.

12,000,000—the number of whole turkeys Butterball sells for Thanksgiving.
2,000 - 3,000—the number of people used to guide the balloons during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

214—the average number of miles driven for the family get together at Thanksgiving.

1939—the date the Great Thanksgiving Day calendar controversy began (when FDR declared the fourth Thursday of November to be the official date of Thanksgiving).

40,000,000—the number of green bean casseroles made for Thanksgiving dinner.

72,000,000—the number of cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce sold for Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES—the real story

A couple of years ago, I was watching Castle Secrets And Legends on the Travel Channel. One of the segments was about Cromer Hall in England, located approximately 140 miles northeast of London. The Cabell family have been owner and residents of Cromer Hall for the last 150 years.
 
A local legend told to a visiting Arthur Conan Doyle, along with the physical description of the actual Cromer Hall built in 1829, are said to have been Doyle's inspiration for The Hound Of The Baskervilles published in 1902. Being a Sherlock Holmes fan, I was pleased when they aired that episode again. I augmented the information the show provided with a little research of my own starting by locating Cromer on a map.

According to a legend told to Doyle—on August 5, 1577, a large black Hound of Hell materialized in a local church and brutally mauled two people to death. The hound glared at the other people in the church with red blazing eyes, then disappeared leaving only a scorched claw mark on the stone wall to confirm its presence. The mark remains to this day. The beast was called Black Shuk and blamed for all unexplained gruesome happenings that took place from that time on.

Another legend tells of Richard Cabell, a 17th century country squire. After seriously mistreating a village girl, he was chased by wild hounds until he died of a heart attack. Considered to have been an evil man and feared by the local villagers, they entombed his body in a small building by the church and placed a heavy stone slab on top of his grave so he couldn't escape.

The Cabell family has their own version of this legend. Richard Cabell believed his wife had been unfaithful. He chased her out into the night and viciously stabbed her to death. Her loyal dog retaliated by tearing him to pieces.

Doyle took the basics of the the three legends along with a detailed description of Cromer Hall, and transported it all to Dartmoor. And the name he gave to the family cursed with the presence of a Hound From Hell due to an ancestor's misdeeds? The coachman who drove Arthur Conan Doyle to Cromer Hall that fateful day for his visit was a man named…Henry Baskerville.
The huge popularity of the story continues today. Devotees of The Hound Of The Baskervilles often dress in period clothes, including the infamous deerstalker cap, and search Dartmoor for the origins of the story.

They do need to keep in mind that it's a fictional story, not a documentary.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Good question.  Just ask some of the Hollywood celebrities whose careers would probably never have gotten off the ground using the name they were born with.

Back in the days when the movie studios literally ruled the performer's lives with iron-fisted control—told the stars which movies they were allowed to make, who they could date, hushed up affairs, covered up pregnancies of unwed actresses, made drunk driving arrests go away and paid off victims, and in some instances it's even rumored that they covered up murder—they also controlled the star's name.

Nowadays it's a matter of individual choice whether or not a celebrity wants to select a name more suited to his/her career with some nearly unpronounceable names appearing on the marquee belonging to celebrities that chose to stay with their real name…something that never would have been allowed in the golden days of the studios.

Here are a few celebrities, some of them old school and others current, whose name change definitely helped their careers.

Fred Astaire, certainly one of the greatest dancers of the 20th century, but would he have been as successful as Frederick Austerlitz?  And what about his partner from many of his films, Ginger Rogers?  Would she have been as popular as Virginia Katherine McMath?

And then there's Mariska Hargitay's mother, Vera Jayne Palmer.  She might not have been as successful without the name change to Jayne Mansfield.  And Mariska's co-star on Law & Order—SVU, would Tracy Morrow be as interesting as Ice-T is, especially for someone who started his career as a rapper?
How many women would actually have swooned over the man who is considered one of "Hollywood's all-time definitive leading men" if Archibald Alexander Leach hadn't changed his name to Cary Grant?

Would that famous Jack Benny stare have been as funny coming from Benjamin Kubelsky?

What about a movie marquee announcing Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. and Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff rather than Rock Hudson and Doris Day?

Would "Missed it by that much!" or "would you believe…" have been such great catch phrases if they had been uttered by Donald James Yarmy rather than Don Adams?
Would Boris Karloff have been anywhere near as frightening if he had kept his birth name of William Henry Pratt?

Would Wolfgang Puck have been as successful as a chef and restaurateur under the name of Wolfgang Johannes Topfschnig?

Would we be as mesmerized by the magical illusions of David Copperfield if they were being performed by David Seth Kotkin?

Would Whoopi Goldberg be as funny if she was working under her real name of Caryn Elaine Johnson?
We have that teenage song and dance team from those old MGM musicals, Joseph Yule, Jr., and Frances Ethel Gumm.  Would they have been as successful if they hadn't changed their names to Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland?

And what about one of the most famous comedy teams in show business history, Crocetti and Levitch?  You probably know them better as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

What about Bernard Schwartz?  Would he ever have been as popular if he hadn't changed his name to Tony Curtis?
And Sir Elton John, does he look like a Reginald Kenneth Dwight?

Can you picture Tina Fey as Elizabeth Stamatina Fey?

Or Jamie Foxx as Eric Marlon Bishop?

Would Oscar winner Ben Kingsley's statuette be the same with the name Krishna Pandit Bhanji engraved on it?

Can you picture Elvis Costello as Declan Patrick MacManus?

There are so many more that I could have listed here, the famous who changed their name in pursuit of a career.  Some from days of yore and others current.  Do you have any particular favorite celebrities who have chosen to do the name change?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Halloween's Ancient Origins

Halloween Is Almost Here. Since early September the stores have been filled with candy packaged in special Halloween wrapping, spooky witch and ghost decorations, pumpkins waiting to be carved into Jack O' Lanterns, and costumes for both children and adults. These have now been picked over with what remains having been put on sale at drastically reduced prices. Retailers have already moved on to Christmas.

I've collected several bits and pieces about ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night that I'd like to share with you—starting with the ancient origins of the Halloween holiday then a bit of Jack O' Lantern trivia.

The roots of Halloween date back 2000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in, rhymes with cow).  The Celts lived in what is now Ireland, United Kingdom, and northern France.  They celebrated their new year on November 1, the day marking the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark winter.  They believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead wasn't clearly defined.  On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, a time when they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

To commemorate the event, the Druids (Celtic priests) built large sacred bonfires where the people made sacrifices to the Celtic deities.  During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes and attempted to tell each other's fortunes.  When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the winter.

By 43A.D., the Romans had conquered most of the Celtic territory.  During the next four hundred years, the Roman festivals of Feralia and Pomona were combined with the traditional celebration of Samhain.  In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1 to be All Saints' Day.  It's believed today that the pope was trying to replace the Celtic festival with a church sanctioned holiday.  The celebration was also called All-Hallows.  So, the night before it, the night of Samhain, was called All-Hallows Eve.

In 1000A.D., the church declared November 2 as All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead.  It was celebrated similarly to Samhain with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes.  Together the three celebrations—the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls'—were called Hallowmas and eventually Halloween.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic, and superstition.  It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends.  They set places at the table and left treats on doorsteps for these friendly spirits.  They also lit candles to help their loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.  Today's Halloween ghosts are commonly depicted as much scarier and our emphasis on customs and superstitions more horror related.

And speaking of superstitions…have you ever wondered about where these strange beliefs came from?  British author Harry Oliver wrote a book titled Black Cats and Four-Leaf Clovers where he explored the origins of superstitions and old wives' tales from around the world.  Here are a few of his observations.
Black Cats Bring Bad Luck:  black cats have been linked to black magic and the ancient concept of witchcraft through the centuries which is why many people think they're unlucky.  If a cat crosses your path, it's considered unlucky.  However, if a cat walks toward you, it's a good omen.

Carrots Are Good For Your Eyesight:  although studies have shown that the vitamin A in carrots is good for your eyes, the vegetable isn't enough to create 20/20 vision.  Many believe that it was a smart attempt by parents to get their children to eat their vegetables.  There is another belief that it started during World War II.  It was rumored that British pilots were eating huge amounts of carrots so they could see from high altitudes and in the dark.  The rumor was created to keep the public from discovering that radar had been invented and was being used against the enemy.

Wear Your Underwear Inside Out:  when you're having a bad day, superstition says that if you turn your underwear inside out things will get better.  No one is sure where this one came from, but it sounds like the result of a wild college fraternity party.
And then there's the Jack O' Lantern.  Making a Jack O' Lantern for Halloween is a centuries old practice that originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed Stingy Jack.  He played tricks on the Devil and made Satan promise not to take his soul when he died.  When the time came, God refused to allow him into heaven because he was an unsavory character.  The Devil wouldn't allow him into hell because Jack had made him promise.  With nowhere to go, Jack put a burning coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since.  The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as Jack Of The Lantern which morphed into Jack O'Lantern.

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions by carving scary faces into turnips and potatoes, and in England they used large beets.  Immigrants from these countries brought the tradition with them to the United States where they soon found that pumpkins made the perfect Jack O' Lantern.

Do you have a favorite costume this year?  Are you planning on going to a party?  Leave me a comment about your Halloween plans.