Blog Archives

Combining Blogs and Pen Names, Oh My!: I hope you come along… #blogging #ChangeisGood #Simplify

Hello everyone. As many of you know, I have been running this blog for four years now and while when I started my writing journey, I felt it was necessary to keep both my pen names separate, today, in the interest of time and my own sanity, I have decided to combine Rebecca Hart and R. Brennan’s blogs into one. It just seemed I was spending all my time trying to keep two separate blogs active, when the simple fact is, I dont have the time to do that, or to pretend to be two completely different people.

I had created the second pen name to try to keep fans who enjoyed my fantasy and pirate stories separate from my erotic romance stories, but I have decided you are all capable of determining what sort of stories I have written you are interested in reading, so why not put both sites together?

So, to this end I have done it, and moved the content of this blog over to the Bex Book Nook blog, simply because the name Bex Book Nook applied better to both sides of my personality, where this blog, The Machenwood Chronicles and Other Tales, is pretty specific to my mainstream work.

All this being said, I am here to Beg you all who follow me here to come over to the new blog and sign up for that one instead.

I would love to have you all make the transfer, but I do realize I will lose some of you in the transition. If I do, I just want to say I appreciate you following along with me all of these years though I sincerely hope you come on over to the new digs. I promise to pull up a bean bag chair for you when you arrive.


Weekend #WIP – Where have I been? #Writing, of course!

ID-100110302 I bet you’re wondering where I’ve disappeared to. I do want to apologize for my lack of regular postings. When you are two published authors in one, there are times when you have to let the other side of your persona take center stage. My erotica alter-ego R. Brennan had a bunch of shorts released in recent months, and she’s been blogging like mad along with her other marketing efforts.

The good news is, I have been quite busy in the background as well — working on my fantasy romance series. Here is a little snippet of the most recent bit I’ve penned.  (Bear in mind, this is first draft material)

From Destiny’s Trial (WT):

She was cold to the touch, despite the warmth of the fire crackling in the little woodstove.

Worry ate at his features as his mind grasped for ideas. He needed to heat her up. Fast.

Resolute, Domnu climbed between the furs with Jyslin, and careful of her injuries, drew her into his embrace. His legs entwined with hers as he grasped icy fingers, pulling her hands to his lips. He blew hot breath onto her frozen digits as he willed his body heat into hers. *Hang in there*

The image of their bodies still snuggled together, but rotted to bones being found by wayward hunters decades in the future flashed in his mind, sending a shiver down his spine. He pushed the thought away. *Not on my watch*

He let out a sardonic laugh. As if Kasper or his father would allow him to exist outside their reach long enough for either he or Jyslin to even begin to decay. Sound logic, but reasoning out options for why nobody would discover their dead bodies did little to bolster Domnu’s confidence.

A quiet groan from the chilled body nestled against him hijacked his attention from a worn out road.

A writer is nothing without readers or feedback, so please share your thoughts in the comments. 🙂

The Booker Award #writing #blogging #authors

Fellow published author and fellow Pen Sister, Claire Gillian has graceously nominated me for The Booker Award. HOORAY FOR ME!!!

*Insert fanfare and confetti*

This auspicious award targets literary and book-centered blogs, so I guess I technically qualify, even though I have been slow to post of late.

Thank goodness the rules for this one are simple:

1. post my top five books of all time,

2. post the Booker award icon,

3. and nominate other bloggers to do the same.

Alrighty… you asked for it.

My 5 favorite books of all time (before you give me any grief or laugh at my picks, remember… all time includes childhood)

1. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak

2. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

3. James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl

4. The Storm and the Splendor – Jennifer Blake

5. Love Betrayed – Patricia Rice

Obviously, the first three are from childhood. Each holds a special place for me and now count among my favorite stories of all time. The last two — each a historical romance — are two stories who shaped the author I am today. When I was in High School I ate romance novels for breakfast and sometimes read 3 or more in a week, and I was still in school and working a PT job at the time. Both authors were favorites and I have read countless books written by each of them. The two above are the ones, if forced, I would select as my favorite story written by each of them.

Now for the funnest part of this little game — Nominating others.

Here are my nominees:

Kelly Said
Lydia Sharp
Kastil Eavenshade
Jocelyn Adams
Stephanie Keyes

Inspiring Blogger Award: Pretty Neat *grins* #writing #blogging

So I learned yesterday that I was nominated for this “Inspiring Blogger Award” by a follower of the blog here. I was flattered and a bit confused at first. I mean, what did I do to inspire someone else? Nothing I had been aware of.

I guess, or at least based on the reasoning listed for the nomination, I “really help your fellow writer and that’s inspiring.” (works for me :P)

The rules for this one are pretty simple, so I am hoping I don’t manage to mess them up.

First off, my thanks to Pixiebubbles for the nod. You can find her blog here: You should stop in and say hello. It’s a lovely place to visit. 🙂

Now, for the hard part of this — Listing 7 little facts about yourself and nominating 15 other bloggers for the Inspiring Blogger Award. Oh, boy…

My Facts:

1. Growing up I actually thought I would be an Olympic Beach Volleyball player.

2. I babble when I am nervous.

3. I actually like spiders. They eat flies, and flies are my nemesis. *shivers*

4. I am a dog person. Cats are nice and all but I prefer canines. Also, the bigger and hairier they are, the more I seem to like them.

5. I HATE HATE HATE grocery shopping.

6. I was a terrible older sister to my siblings when it came to watching them when my parents went out. I am quite surprised some of them lived through it, actually.

7. My favorite color is green.

Hmm, that wasn’t near as complicated as I thought it would be.

Now, for the nominating…

I’ve selected these bloggers as ones who inspire me.

Kastil Eavenshade

Claire Gillian

Julie Reece

Jocelyn Adams

Amaleen Ison

Annabelle Blume

Stephanie Lawton

Emily Guido

Aimee Laine

Terri Rochenski

Kelly Said

Lydia Sharp

Anna Simpson

Jennifer Eaton

J. Keller Ford

Tag, ladies. You’re it!

Thanks to each and every one of you for being an inspiration to me.

Z is for Zany: Which describes what this #atozchallenge has been like. #blogging #writing

What a ZANY month April has been. Between the unusual weather throughout the country to this amazing adventure called the A to Z Blogging Challenge. When I agreed to participate, I really had no illusions about ever completing the challenge. While I do like to talk, having something new to say every day for a month? That is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

Yet, here were are on the lat day of the challenge and I actually managed to complete it successfully. HOORAY FOR ME!

I want to take a quick minute to thank and welcome all the new blog followers my participation has earned me, and I hope I continue to entertain and interest you with my blogging going forward. I have also started following a whole new set of great blogs and look forward to growing and learning alongside all of you as the year moves forward.

Thanks again to everyone who visited during April and I hope to still see and hear from you all come May.

Happy Monday!

X is for Xebec: Courtesy of 17th Century Shipping #atozchallenge #blogging #writing

Like the rest of the participants on the A to Z Blogging Challenge, it was tough to come up with an X word that would not be used by every other participating blog. Good thing I write fiction with historical elements or this would have been a really boring Xylophone post 😛

You may be wondering at this point, “What ‘s a Xebec?” and “Did she make that word up?”

The short answers are a ship, and no, I didn’t.

Let me elaborate a bit 🙂

From Wikipedia: A xebec (play /ˈzbɛk/ or /zɨˈbɛk/), also spelled zebec, was a Mediterranean sailing ship that was used mostly for trading. It would have a long overhanging bowsprit and protruding mizzen mast. It also can refer to a small, fast vessel of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, used almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea.

Xebecs were similar to galleys used by Algerian Berber corsairs and Barbary pirates having both lateen sails and oars for propulsion. Early xebecs had two masts; later ones three. Xebecs featured a distinctive hull with pronounced overhanging bow and stern, and rarely displaced more than 200 tons, making them slightly smaller and with slightly fewer guns than frigates of the period.

The protagonist in Call of the Sea, Jashir, the notorious pirate, captains a Xebec.


“Sails to the stern, Captain!”

The call from the crow’s nest jerked Daniel’s attention toward the topmast and the crewman pointing behind them.

Captain Winters lifted the spyglass, peered through it. “Lateen sails, no colors. Looks like a xebec.” Lowering the glass, his gaze swept to Daniel. “All hands at the ready.”

“All hands at the ready!” Daniel shouted across the deck of the brigantine. “Step handsomely, men!”

The Captain rested a hand on Daniel’s sleeve. “Take the helm, Daniel. I want you at the wheel if there’s to be a fight.”

Daniel nodded, looking to the man he’d grown to admire. “Aye, Captain.”

I bet you feel supremely educated now, don’t you? Okay, maybe not, but at least I managed to come up with a somewhat informative X day posting. Only two more letters to go (is that the finish line I see ahead?)

See you tomorrow 🙂

Selkie: What the heck is that? #atozchallenge #blogging #writing #myths

While my debut novel, Call of the Sea has not yet been released to the general public, there are a few ARC copies floating around and a few reviews have come in (all good so far – YAY). That being said, one of the comments that has come up a few times from readers are: What is a selkie? and I didn’t know what a selkie was when I started reading.

I tend to forget not everyone is as obsessed with myths and legends as I am, especially the Celtic ones. So, in an effort to clarify for those who may be interested, I decided to take the opportunity of S day to explain what a selkie is.

Let’s start with a definition:

From Wikipedia: Selkies (also known as silkies or selchies) are mythological creatures found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish[1], and Scottish folklore. The word derives from earlier Scots selich, (from Old English seolh meaning seal).[2] Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. The legend apparently originated on the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

Doesn’t help a lot, does it? I mean sure, it gives you a basic idea, but not much else. This is what I ran into when researching as well. While they are an oceanic mythical creature, much like a mermaid or siren, little has been written about the selkie myth.

The section regarding the legend does help some (also from Wiki):

Stories concerning selkies are generally romantic tragedies. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone. In other stories the human will hide the selkie’s skin, thus preventing it from returning to its seal form. A selkie can only make contact with one human for a short amount of time before they must return to the sea. They are not able to make contact with that human again for seven years, unless the human is to steal their selkie’s skin and hide it or burn it.

In the Faroe Islands there are two versions of the story of the Selkie or Seal Wife. A young farmer from the town of Mikladalur on Kalsoy island goes to the beach to watch the selkies dance. He hides the skin of a beautiful selkie maid, so she can’t go back to sea, and forces her to marry him. He keeps her skin in a chest, and keeps the key with him both day and night. One day when out fishing, he discovers that he has forgotten to bring his key. When he returns home, the selkie wife has escaped back to sea, leaving their children behind. Later, when the farmer is out on a hunt, he kills both her selkie husband and two selkie sons, she promises to take revenge upon the men of Mikladalur. Some shall be drowned, some shall fall from cliffs and slopes, and this shall continue, until so many men have been lost that they will be able to link arms around the whole island of Kallsoy.

Male selkies are very handsome in their human form, and have great seductive powers over human women. They typically seek those who are dissatisfied with their life, such as married women waiting for their fishermen husbands. If a woman wishes to make contact with a selkie male, she has to go to a beach and shed seven tears into the sea.

If a man steals a female selkie’s skin she is in his power and is forced to become his wife. Female selkies are said to make excellent wives, but because their true home is the sea, they will often be seen gazing longingly at the ocean. If she finds her skin she will immediately return to her true home, and sometimes to her selkie husband, in the sea.

Sometimes, a selkie maiden is taken as a wife by a human man and she has several children by him. In these stories, it is one of her children who discovers her sealskin (often unwitting of its significance) and she soon returns to the sea. The selkie woman usually avoids seeing her human husband again but is sometimes shown visiting her children and playing with them in the waves.

Selkies are not always faithless lovers. One tale tells of the fisherman Cagan who married a seal-woman. Against his wife’s wishes he set sail dangerously late in the year, and was trapped battling a terrible storm, unable to return home. His wife shifted to her seal form and saved him, even though this meant she could never return to her human body and hence her happy home.

Some stories from Shetland have selkies luring islanders into the sea at midsummer, the lovelorn humans never returning to dry land.

As you can see, there is tons of room for play within the confines of this sparse information. In Call of the Sea, I took some liberties with respect to the rules. For instance, in my novel, selkies have to change form at least once a year for a full lunar cycle (full moon to full moon) to satisfy the requirements of their curse. Of course, the shedding of the skins part plays nicely into my plot, so I left that little factoid alone.

In addition, while researching references and mentions of selkies in literature, I learned that the large majority of such tales feature a female selkie, not a male one. With my gender twist on the pirate in my story being a female, it worked out perfectly to make the mythical selkie creature a male. Gender twists all around — love it.

Do you feel mythically educated now? Me either, really, but I managed to find an S topic, so I can live with that 😛

Happy Saturday, folks!

Rejection: Just Another Piece of the Writing Puzzle #atozchallenge #blogging #writing

Absolutely nobody likes rejection.Yet, for writers it is an integral and unavoidable part of the writing for submission process.

One of the first things I was told when I started looking for places to submit (by just about everyone) was you will be rejected… A LOT. They aren’t kidding, folks. The more you sub the more you open yourself up for the potential for rejection. It is just the way the jungle works.

I have found, in order to survive this inevitability in the publishing business, I needed to develop a thick skin, as well as carry around a barrel full of self confidence. The second part — that was a tricky one. I have never been the self assured type –more the hyper critical, make everyone happy all the time type–so this was something that took me a while. A few acceptances peppered in with the rejections certainly helped. 🙂

Some rejections are amazingly helpful, while others are the dreaded, standard form response –“thank you but this is not for us”– leaving a writer to try to scrape something positive out of  the months (and months) of waiting, while putting bandages on their damaged ego and trying to figure out exactly WHAT wasn’t for them. (Melodramatic much, Bec?)

So how do we deal with this as writers, if it is an inevitable part of the process?

Here are five tips to help in dealing with rejection:

1. Don’t take it personally – Just because one agent or editor doesn’t like it, or think they can sell it, doesn’t mean they all will. They are rejecting a piece of writing, not YOU.

2. Expect rejection – If you are prepared for the worst, it hurts less. Plus, if you go into the submission process understanding that you will be rejected somewhere along the line, you give yourself the opportunity to figure out what steps you will take once the rejection comes in. Again, preparing yourself…

3. Maintain your focus – There is nothing good that can come from stressing over things outside your sphere of influence. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” Concentrate on the things you can change and the things you can do with the rejection.

4. Learn from the rejection – What could you do differently? Did you pitch an agent that doesn’t rep your genre? Maybe your pitch or query was too confusing? There are always lessons to be learned from our live experiences, no matter how unpleasant they may be.

5. Understand rejection is progress – If you are learning from your rejections, each one teaches you a new lesson, making each subsequent submission (hopefully) that much stronger or well written. You are moving forward by submitting and opening yourself up to the potential for rejection. Celebrate that forward progress.

How do you handle rejection? Do you have any tips or stories to share?

Queries: Oh the Horror! A Necessary Evil #atozchallenge #blogging #writing

I can only think of one author I know who literally LOVES queries. The rest of us, or at least a large majority of the rest of us, hate them, fear them, and avoid them at all costs. I am one of those writers.

Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the importance and need for them, but that doesn’t make them any easier to write. What to put in, what to leave out… will it hook? So many things to consider and so many schools of thought with respect to the best ways to approach them.

In my time subbing stories, I have found that simple and to the point seems to work the best.

For giggles, I thought I would put up the queries I have sent that have earned me either a partial request or an acceptance from a publisher or agent. Maybe by putting them all on one place, a pattern will emerge to show what works vs what doesn’t.

Okay, I admit it… this is a complete experiment, but maybe it will be entertaining 😛

This is the original query letter I penned for CALL OF THE SEA – It was sent to a literary agent I wanted to work with (still do). She request the first 30 pages from the MS, but later rejected the MS. At the time, it looked much different than the final version, and I can honestly say I understand why it was rejected. (Rule #1: AGENTS WANT SOMETHING THEY CAN SELL NOT SOMETHING THEY CAN EDIT AND THEN SELL)


There’s no denying the call of the sea.

Thanks to the selkie blood coursing through his veins, young Daniel O’Rourke is tied to the ocean–whether he likes it or not. In an effort to earn a living while staying close to the coast, Daniel takes a job aboard The Surf Runner as their cabin boy.

When his beloved captain and mentor is murdered by pirates, Daniel must work with the captain’s headstrong daughter to hunt down the killer.

That is, if she’ll let him anywhere near her.

 THE CALL OF THE SEA is a historical fantasy romance complete at 78,000 words.

This novel is currently a finalist in the adult category of Miss Snark’s Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction and up for bid by the sixteen participating agents on Tuesday.

My short stories have been published in various anthologies and collections by Pill Hill Press, Wicked East Press and DFE Quarterly (erotica).

When I read this over again, I find it hard to believe three is enough here to bait a hook with, but it did earn a partial request as I mentioned, as well as full requests from my publisher and another small publisher I had queried at the time I was shopping the story.

The below query was for a short story (written under a pen name) — which was rejected eventually, but with the reasoning that it didn’t have a HEA/HFA ending, which this particular publisher requires from their erotic titles. They went on to add that if I made changes to the plot to make it that sort of ending, they would be interested publishing it.

As you can see, a query for a short is a bit different from a novel query (but not a whole lot).

Let me start by congratulating you on your upcoming launch. I’ve been following you on Twitter and Facebook for a little bit now, and it looks like you have some fantastic things happening at [name withheld] Publishing. I am submitting my speculative fiction erotica short, Ace in the Hole for consideration by [name withheld]‘s (BLANK) imprint. The story is complete at 6,000 words.
Twenty year old, Marley Drake is smokin’ hot and she knows it. In search of her next Sugar Daddy, Marley hits a trendy downtown bar with her best friend, Amy. What she finds may just be the jackpot–if she can get past the fact that he’s at least three times her age and a bit creepy. She realizes Professor VonHessen is much more than he appears when he introduces her to his robotics masterpiece, ACE; an anatomically correct android built for sex.
My short stories have been published in anthologies by Pill Hill Press (Sinisterotica – 2011 and Daily Flash: 366 Days of Flash Fiction – 2011) and Wicked East Press (Cutlass and Musket: Tales of Piratical Skullduggery – 2011).
Thank you for your time.
 I would have more queries for you, but flash fiction pieces don’t generally require them, and I haven’t completed my next novel yet, so haven’t written a query for that.
So, did we learn anything from the examples — besides that I am pretty terrible at writing the darn things? Do you have tips or hints for others who are in the process of writing a query?  Feel free to share below 😛

Opportunity: Can you hear it knocking? #atozchallenge #blogging #writing

As a writer stepping ever closer to the release of her first novel, the word OPPORTUNITY has been forefront in my mind of late. I am on the cusp of so many new ones–or at least I certainly hope so.

Will I recognize my opportunities when they come? Or will they be more subtle, and if I’m not vigilant I could walk right past them.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize everything I do is an opportunity for something. If I get up an hour early, there is an opportunity to spend more time with my girls as they get ready for school. If I sleep late, I have the opportunity to miss the traffic jam that clogs I-787 on most mornings at precisely 8:45 AM.

Geez… does all this make me an OPTIMIST?

Maybe. But,  I for one plan to take my optimistic butt to the top of the nearest bluff so I can keep an eye out for the opportunities that are sure to come.

Happy Tuesday, Everyone 🙂