Coming Together when it comes to Titles ~ Kathy L Wheeler


Below is a series of discussion when the Martini Club 4 girls were trying to come up with their titles. The first note was handwritten that had a list consisting of Lady Bootlegger, Lady Wayward, Lady this, Lady that. But it didn’t fly. As you can see from the notes below it was mostly a brainstorming session over email. titles1
titles2titles3titles4titles5titles6titles7titles8titles9titlex1titlex2titlex3In the end, as you now know, we came up with the current titles of Rebellious, Ruined, Reckless and Runaway. This happened one Saturday at the Oklahoma Romance Writers monthly meeting when Krysta and I were trying to write blurbs of under fifteen words. This exercise was intended to make the blurb as strong as possible. In the course of writing my blurb, I came up with Meggie’s behavior as Reckless. And since Amanda seemed to like Rebellious, I thought Reckless worked pretty well. That led to Krysta and I brainstorming (in person) for her story, coming up with Runaway.

The next couple of days I started using the Thesaurus trying to come up with an “R” word for Alicia’s, currently titled, Wayward. I found a word that I thought would be perfect, but I couldn’t remember it when we met for another purpose later that week.

I pulled out my little mini iPad and started back through the process again, knowing the word would jump out at me when I ran across it. We were in a crowded restaurant when I said, quite loudly, RUINED. Her reply? “It’s perfect!”

And, there you have it. The simple process of finding a series of titles that MIGHT just work.

Happy Reading ~~ Kathy L Wheeler

Reckless (2)


What Would Our Heroines Order At A Speakeasy???


It’s so wonderful to be talking about our book!  It feels like this is the Winter That Will Not End (illness, snow, rinse, repeat), but I am finally seeing the sunlight at the end of the tunnel.  And one of the best things about spring (maybe) being on the way, is the release of this very special project!  It’s one of my favorite stories to write ever….

As one of my readers reader will know, I range among many different time periods in my writing–Regency, Elizabethan, Renaissance, etc.  One of my very favorite time periods (especially with the Downton mania of the last few years!) is the Edwardian/WWI/1920s era.  It’s very reminiscent of the Regency in many ways (warfare, fast-moving societal changes, not to mention amazing clothes…), but I’ve only been able to write one 1920s story in the past (Girl With the Beaded Mask), but all that changed a few months ago.

ML1I, of course, have 3 great writer friends I get to see (almost) every Friday night, at 4:30 happy hour on the dot, at the Martini Lounge a few miles from my house.  This is an amazing place, said to have been a speakeasy in the 1920s (though when I was a kid, it was my grandfather’s favorite donut shop, where I could eat as many chocolate pastries as I wanted while he talked to his old-man friends about farming!).  Now it’s an elegant bar/steakhouse, with velvet booths, dim lighting, jazz music, and an astonishing array of cocktails.  Kathy L Wheeler, Alicia Dean, Krysta Scott, and I meet to talk over what we’re writing, and one eveing we had the brilliant idea–why didn’t we write something together!  Set at the Martini Lounge!  So 4 girls from the 1920s had their beginnings in 4 connected novellas that have now been launched out into the world.  Much like our 4 heroines left their English homes for new lives in NYC….

I wondered what those 4 heroines–Lady Jessica (an earl’s daughter who would rather be a journalist than dance at deb balls), Lady Meggie (her schoolfriend, who would rather sing in a jazz band and seek fame and fortune than dance at deb balls), Eliza (a maidservant who fled a lecherous employer–only to find herself in an even worse jam on the streets of NY), and Charlotte (Jess and Meggie’s shy friend, who finds the strength to flee an arranged marriage and follow her own dreams), would drink when they meet at the Martini Lounge’s 1920s counterpart Club 501?

Ml4CoverAlicia Dean says Eliza’s drink choice is easy–a Fallen Angel!

1/12 oz gin
1/2 tsp white creme de menthe
1/2 lemon juice
a dash of bitters
a cherry

Shake all ingredients (except cherry) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the cherry and serve.





ML2CoverKathy L Wheeler chose Meggie’s–a Virgin Mary (since Meggie is a singer, she doesn’t drink much on the job–but that doesn’t count for after hours!)

4 oz tomato juice, 1 dash lemon juice, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 drops tabasco

Fill a large wine glass with ice. Add tomato juice, then the rest of the ingredients. Stir and garnish with a wedge of lime.





ML1CoverI found out that one of my favorite (modern day) drinks, a French 75, was also very popular in the 1920s!!!  (even with one of the models for Lady Jessica, Nancy Mitford), so I decided Jess could drink that…

1 oz. gin
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Brut Champagne or a dry sparkling white wine
Lemon twist, to garnish

Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist to serve.



Ml3CoverAnd for Charli, who has dreams of opening her own bakery, a caramel apple martini!

2 parts Schnapps, butterscotch, 2 parts Sour Apple Pucker, 1 part vodka.  Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass






We are so excited to have these stories out in the world!!!  To one commenter today, we’ll give copies of the stories (either e-book or, in a few weeks, hard copies), plus a Martini Club 4 cocktail glass for mixing up your own favorite cocktails.  Do you have a favorite drink?  Any special happy-hour rituals with friends??

(to buy the ML stories, here is the link on Amazon, or you can visit my website for more info…)

(and if you’d like a glimpse of the real Club 501, here is their website!)

My First Time by Krysta Scott


Welcome to my first blog post.  What should I write about? A humorous quippy anecdote? Nope. Don’t have one. There are no delicious little details about my life that anyone would find even remotely interesting. I go to work, come home, spend time with my family and repeat it all the next day. It’s true I watch a lot of TV and movies. At some point, I want to talk about that interest. Like why I think Tyrion Lannister is my favorite character from Game of Thrones. Or why Maze Runner and Divergent are so hot right now. But those aren’t subjects for my first time out. I think I’m supposed to tell you about myself. Not an easy task for me in any situation. Anytime I hear, “tell us something about yourself” or “let’s share”. I freeze. Self-disclosure is not my strong suit. But I did think of an experience that might reveal a little bit about me.

Since I was a child, I had always been writing but I didn’t seriously contemplate writing professionally until after I graduated law school. I’d been practicing law for a few years when I happened upon RWA and OK-RWA. After I joined, I took a class from one of our members. She had a lot to say about the business. The most important thing was to be prepared. She told us about an unpublished author who sat behind a published author at a book signing. While the published author signed books, the unpubbed sat behind her pretending to sign her own books. The point was, after you sell everything moves at hyper speed.   It’s best to prepare for your life as a published author while your career is in slow motion.

I nodded my head and smiled like every other student in the class. Yeah, preparing for life after publication was a very good idea. But I was still teething on my first novel. Although I’d received much encouragement, I also knew publication was a long way off for me. It was more important to concentrate on craft. What use did I have for a website? With no books to offer, it would just sit there collecting dust for years. I’d create a page when I was closer to my goals. When it looked like I was on the brink of publishing.

Years later (and I’m not going to tell you how many), my friends and I started meeting at the Martini Lounge for drinks and discussion of our writing projects. Soon we dubbed ourselves the Martini Club. Then we decided to write stories revolving around four young ladies who leave London in search of a better life in New York City.  Before I knew what was happening, I was being pulled along with Alicia, Amanda and Kathy developing my own story. All the while, I ignored the importance of what was happening. We were having fun. What could possibly be serious about this project? Except….

I forgot to prepare. I have a published work of short fiction out there. And that’s it. I have no website. I have an unformed idea of what my brand should be. All the things that I should have been considering while I was developing my craft, are being assembled much faster than my comfort zone allows. The good news? It’s under construction as I write these words. I should have one soon.

Then there are the other forms of social media. Some of them are perplexing. I get Facebook and can post. Yay! I even have a twitter account but haven’t made good use of it. I feel like my 83 year old mother who doesn’t understand email. She sent me one with her message completely in the subject line. Yes, I laughed for longer than I should have. My mirth was erased when I realized that I know little about social media. On twitter am I limited in words or characters? What makes a compelling tweet? And Pinterest? What could possibly interesting about a virtual corkboard? It just baffles the mind. When I ask my daughters they just roll their eyes and laugh. I have become my mother. A very sobering thought.

It isn’t over yet. I still have time to figure it all out. I haven’t reached hyper speed yet. But when I think back to those years ago (still not going to tell you how long), I have to shake my head. It would’ve been simpler to take my time creating my website and dabbling in social media. Now I have to learn all of it at once.  I was forewarned but didn’t heed the message.

That’s all I have for now. Thank you for reading my post.




Can she prove her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?

After escaping an arranged marriage, Charli Daniels lands on a new shore. But things go from bad to worse when her fiancé follows her to New York. Now, instead of realizing her dream of opening her own bakery, she finds herself in a fight for her freedom.

Haunted by a string of failures, Detective Felix Noble is determined to solve his latest case. But his effort to find a murderer is jeopardized by a forbidden attraction to his number one suspect.

When a new threat surfaces, Felix wonders if he is once again on the wrong track. Can Charli convince him of her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?


His eyes narrowed to slits. Funny. She’d never seen him as menacing before last night. Now, no matter what he did, she quivered. “And what did you say?”

“Nothing. I told him I didn’t know anything.” Panic surged at his proximity.

“How’d they find out who the stiff was so fast?”

“I-I don’t know.” She focused on her hands. That was more comfortable than looking into the eyes of a cold-blooded killer.

“They suspect anything?”

Words flew from her mouth in a torrent. “He had an announcement of my engagement. Somehow he found me. What am I going to do?”

“Huh. Dig out those charms you have hiding. There’s plenty a dame like you can use to your advantage.”

The burn of a blush crept across Charlotte’s cheeks. Thank goodness the speakeasy was dimly lit so no one would see her shame.

“Whatever you do.” Slick leaned in closer. “Keep your mouth shut.” He glared down at her, then stumbled away.

Charlotte’s stomach lurched. She’d gotten herself into a pickle with no clear way out. Her legs wobbled. She forced deep breaths. In, out. In, out. Once steadier on her feet, she picked up her tray and darted to the bar. Ira was back, wiping it down. He didn’t scold her. He didn’t say anything at all. His silence unnerved her. Her life had turned upside down. Things would never be normal again.

All of the Martini Club 4 Stories:

Rebellious by Amanda McCabe – Can an aristocratic lady melt the cold heart of a Russian gangster?

Ruined by Alicia Dean – She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans.

Reckless by Kathy L Wheeler – Lady Margaret turned Lady Bootlegger.

Runaway by Krysta Scott – Can she prove her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?

Buy link for all four:


Where Were You in 1924?



Actually, since we only had two commenters other than members of the Martini Club 4, both Calisa Rhose and Diane Burton win a signed  copy of all four novellas in print. Congrats, ladies! 

The fun facts that made it into RUINED are 2 and 3. Although the spy incident happened in 1919, I found it so fascinating, that I still felt compelled to use it, so I had my hero recalling the incident as he arrives at the Bellevue.

I used ‘Coffin Varnish’ rather than ‘Panther Piss’ to describe booze, although, I was sorely tempted to use Panther Piss. I love that colorful phrase! 🙂

For the answers to my If you’re young like me, you weren’t yet born in 1924. 😉 However, many interesting things took place that year. When we decided to set our MC4 stories in 1924, I began researching events, styles, terminology, etc, although I didn’t end up using all of them. I’ve shared some tidbits I discovered below. See if you can guess which of these made it into my Vintage Romance Novella, Ruined:

*** One commenter will receive a print copy of Martini Club 4 – The 1920’s, containing all four novellas, signed by all four authors (only U.S. residents eligible) Winner will be drawn a week from Monday, March 16th.



1) In Chicago, two wealthy young college students, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, kidnapped and murdered 14 year old Bobby Franks, simply because they thought they were clever and wanted to get away with the perfect crime. They made some mistakes, and were imprisoned, although they were represented by Clarence Darrow. Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936, slashed to death with a straight razor. Leopold was released in 1958.


2)  This didn’t happen in ’24, but I discovered it while researching Bellevue Hospital, and found it fascinating: After his arrest in New York, and while awaiting extradition to Britain, German spy Fritz Joubert Duquesne pretended to be paralyzed. He was sent to the prison ward at Bellevue Hospital. On May 25, 1919, after nearly two years of feigning paralysis, he disguised himself as a woman and escaped by cutting the bars of his cell and climbing over the barrier walls to freedom.

3) The 35th presidential election was held on Tuesday, November 4, 1924. Incumbent President Calvin Coolidge, the Republican candidate, was elected to a second, full term. One of the slogans used at the time was ‘Keep Cool with Coolidge’

4) The first ever Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held after Macy’s stores expanded an entire city block from Broadway to Seventh Avenue along 34th Street. Although the parade was thrown on Thanksgiving morning, it was originally about Christmas. Macy’s intent was to bring in shoppers for the upcoming Christmas holiday.


5) As everyone knows, prohibition was in place and the manufacturing, transport, and sale of alcohol was prohibited at the time. What I found interesting, that I didn’t know before, was that it was not illegal to possess or drink it. Also,  whiskey could be obtained by prescription from medical doctors. (Does that remind you of anything? Like, medicinal marijuana? :)) I ran across some colorful terms for booze during my research. Which of these did I use in Ruined? Panther piss or coffin varnish?

So…what do you think? Out of these, which were mentioned in my story? (Hint, two of the first four were used)

Leopold and Loeb

The German spy’s escape from Bellevue

The presidential election

Macy’s first parade

Did I use the term panther piss or coffin varnish?




She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans… 

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped. 

When Vince Taggart’s childhood friend disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza may be the key to finding his missing friend. 


Her gaze bounced over a man, then zeroed back. The bloke was looking directly at her. She caught her breath. He was leaning on the bar a few stools down, talking to Charli. He had this…magnetism, some kind of forceful presence that made it impossible to look away.

He was broad, muscular and dressed like a dock worker with brown suspenders over a yellow shirt and a newsboy cap over his dark blond hair, but what caught her attention right off was his smile. His white teeth flashed, and a dimple creased the right side of his face.

Charli moved away, and the man looked up and caught Eliza staring at him. His grin widened. His eyes were so blue—so electrifying, that Eliza could feel their allure even in the dimly lit, smoke bar.

He winked and gave her a finger salute off the brim of his cap.

A tingle ran from her toes, all the way through her body, making her head swim. My, but he was a fresh one. With superhuman effort, she dragged her gaze away, but it didn’t keep her heart from racing faster than a thoroughbred at Churchill Downs.

She swallowed and took a deep breath, fingering the pendant at her neck, trying to slow her heart rate. What on earth was wrong with her? She met plenty of handsome men—men more pleasing to the eye than he with his workmen clothing and slightly crooked nose. But never had any man sent her blood rushing through her veins like this.

She gulped from her glass. Get ahold of yourself. She was not the kind of girl to pick up strange men in bars—even if they did have a devil of a smile and eyes like an angel.

Amazon buy link:

Barnes and Noble buy link:

Please check out and ‘like’ our Facebook page:

‘Downton Abbey meets Sex and the City’:

1 Rebellious and Ruined 2 Reckless and Runaway

The entire series can be found at this link on Amazon:



Martini Club 4 Kickoff ~ Kathy L Wheeler



So I’m kicking off the official Martini Club 4 blog with some of the planning issues the four of us ran into, last minutes freakouts, and promo ideas we ran into along our 1 and ½ year journey of getting this series going from conception to publication. As you may have realized, all four stories were released on Thursday, February 26th.

So here we go.

In a message dated 12/30/2013 11:52:07 A.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

I’m getting started on my story opening, which features everyone on the ship going to NYC!  What I need from all of you right now is a physical description of your heroine, and her reason for being on the ship…

Sorry I’m just now responding. My  heroine was hanging around the docks, she’s been on the street since her mother, who was a servant, passed away and the owner of the manor, a duke or whatever, tried to rape her. Maybe she tries to steal something from one of the girls, they catch her but feel sorry for her and take her along. She wants a new opportunity in america.

She has long dark hair and light brown/sometimes hazel eyes. With a beauty mark on her right cheek. Here is her pic, which I’ve also attached.

from Alicia Dean

1/4/2014 10:13am

Subject: Links that might help

Alicia Dean

1/4/2014 11:02am

Subject: Transportation

From Kathy L Wheeler

subwayTo ease New York City’s demand for rapid transit, city authorities determined to build a subway that would meet two objectives.  First, it would quickly and efficiently move people about in crowded Manhattan.  Secondly, it would move them out of crowded Manhattan.  Subway lines would extend out to vast tracts of undeveloped land, where new neighborhoods could be created, helping to turn a cramped island city into a sprawling metropolitan area.

The IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit Company) began construction on the first subway line in 1900, and less than four years later, the IRT began whisking New Yorkers beneath city streets, carrying over 100,000 riders on its very first day.  Subways, traveling at close to 40 miles per hour, were much faster than trolleys (6 miles per hour) and elevated trains (12 miles per hour).  Passengers appreciated features of the system, including choices between local and express service, fewer weather-related delays than street transportation, and the single fare they had become accustomed to on other modes of public transit – five cents regardless of the distance they traveled.

Most of the subway system we know today was built swiftly during a great burst of construction from 1913 to 1931.  To encourage rapid growth, the city divided subway contracts between two companies.  This arrangement, known as the “Dual Contracts” or “Dual System,” awarded rights to the IRT to expand existing Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Bronx lines.  It awarded what later became known as the BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation) contracts for new lines in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

trolleyFor seventy years trolleys ran in all five boroughs of New York City.  Trolleysoperated by electrical power delivered through wires running overhead or in underground conduits.  They were faster and cleaner than horsecars and cheaper to build and operate than cable cars.  However, the rapid increase in fuel-powered cars and trucks in the 1920s doomed the trolleys.  Running on fixed tracks in the middle of the city’s streets, trolleys became a nuisance in traffic and getting on and off them was dangerous.

Next month I’ll go through our process of finding titles!

Happy reading, everyone! ~~Kathy L Wheeler