Wednesday, January 19, 2022

An Invitation to . . .

 Phoebe's wedding. Now, Regency weddings were far simpler events than they often are today. Members of the ton, the upper echelons of society, e married at St. George's Parish Church, located in Mayfair. As many as three ceremonies a day took place there, which did not give much time between one couple and the next. So there was no decorating the church as is often the way these days. The white wedding gown that is so much the hallmark of modern weddings did not become popular until Queen Victoria married her Prince Albert on the 10th February, 1840. 

But back to Phoebe. For a simple family wedding there would be very few in attendance. The minister and clerk, bride and groom, their parents, and their friends. The bride might have had a bridesmaid and the groom a best man, these would have also stood witness to marriage. The bride might have worn her best dress, sometimes her only dress, and a light meal would have been served in the bride's home. 


Phoebe's father and aunt insist she have a new outfit for her wedding and for this I made use of illustrations in Tom Tierney's Fashions of the Regency Period Paper Dolls (Dover Publications Inc 1996.) I have never gone as far as cutting these out, the book is far more useful to me in its entirety.

I chose the jacket and bodice of one design and added it to the skirt of another. The spencer jacket is rose-pink crushed velvet, the gown lavender satin with purple trim. Her frilled bonnet is trimmed with rose-pink crushed velvet ribbon and she wears purple satin shoes. 

Next week I'll show you what her groom, Lord Andrew Fitzgibbon will wear.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

What's New in 2022

 So here I am, at it again. Writing, that is. The current work in progress is Those Regency Belles Book 3, Phoebe Fisher. Here's the premise:

Phoebe Fisher’s generous dowry attracts many suitors. When they discover Phoebe’s one notable and outstanding flaw, they depart as quickly as they arrive, and she loses hope of ever finding a suitor who will love her just as she is.

After an absence of ten years, Andrew Fitzgibbon returns home to discover he is the sole heir to his deceased uncle’s title and estates, but it will take a fortune to save it. Although reluctant to press his suit to a young lady simply for her wealth, Andrew finds her intriguing and suggests a union that might suit them both. Phoebe agrees, but then events from Andrew’s past cloud their new life together.

Will these threats make or break them? Will their marriage of convenience grow into a love match, or will Pheobe never know what it is to love and be loved?

Today I'm also designing Phoebe's wedding gown. I'll show you that next week.

 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Family Experiences in My Writing


This month - the last of 2021 and let's hope they all improve by leaps and bounds in 2022 - Rhobin asked: How do your family experiences translate into writing scenes?

I had to think about this topic as nothing immediately sprang to mind. What were my family experiences? After thinking long and hard, one word came to mind – movement. Nothing is static, but my family always seemed to be on the move in one way or another. Post-WWII uncles and aunts in the forces were still coming and going. Some were gone altogether, having lost their lives in that conflict.

My father, a career soldier, was demobbed but couldn’t settle in civvy street and joined the army again. Dad was posted from one Territorial Army unit to the next, and we moved every year from one married quarters address to the next. Ironically his title was Permanent Gunnery Staff Sarjeant Major to Territorial Units. Although the title was permanent, there was nothing permanent about our family life.

When Dad finally left the Armed Forces, we moved again to the job he took post-army. I moved on as soon as I could to work with horses. The next move was to my parents-in-law’s home, then into our first apartment, followed by another apartment when my then-husband took a new job. Our next move was into a new house where we stayed put for a few years. Unfortunately, that situation changed after separation and divorce. New home, here we come. We landed up in a charming but chilly 300-year old country house which was my favourite house of anywhere I have ever lived. After that came another not as old house, but a mere stripling at 100-years old.

The next move was a big one. I left England and arrived in Canada in 1990 but homes were never permanent even here. What started as a reasonably comfortable apartment in one building became inconvenient with job changes, making a move across town the sensible thing to do. Since I’ve lived in Canada, I’ve had eight moves. I never, ever imagined I’d become something of an expert in packing and moving. This movement appears in all the books I’ve written.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/chathambwl

 

Lord and Lady Buxton from the Buxton Chronicles travel from England to California in Books 1 and 2. In Book 3 of the trilogy, Lord Buxton leaves England to fight for King and Country during WWI with all the movement that entailed.

In Book 1 of the Berkeley Square books, my first Regency series, Emmaline Devereaux has been in Spain during the Peninsular Wars, and after returning home and marrying Lord Lucius Clifton, is kidnapped and taken to France. In Book 2, Lady Juliana Beamish is on her way to India when her ship is attacked by pirates. She finds herself alone on the ocean and rescued by a captain who is on course for Jamaica. Book 3 in the series finds Lady Olivia Darnley abandoned by her mother, ultimately leaving London for the refuge of her family estate in Lincolnshire.

My contemporary Western romances have leading characters who move from one place to another. In Loving That Cowboy, Trisha Watts leaves her home in England for a vacation in Calgary during Stampede. Then, in Legacy of Love, Callie Wade moves from Vancouver to Southern Alberta. In my Canadian Historical Brides book, Brides of Banff Springs set in 1935, young Tilly McCormack makes her way from her home near Medicine Hat to Banff to work at the famous Banff Springs Hotel. In Envy the Wind, another title in the Canadian Historical Brides series and on which I collaborated with author Anita Davison, Grace MacKinnon escapes from a life of drudgery in Edwardian England and makes a life for herself in Prince Edward Island.

For my second Regency series, Those Regency Belles, Hester Dymock in Book 1 moves only a few miles from her small but comfortable home and faces much more of a journey than that. Book 2 sees Charlotte Gray having to move for her safety, and in Book 3, currently in progress, my heroine moves from her family home to that of the man she marries. That her husband has served in King George III’s Royal Navy and tells her tales of his travels makes this something of An Arabian Nights tale.

Other family experiences, which may be more family traits, are that my characters are for the most part kind, honest people. I hope those factors make them stand out a little more.

I wish you everything you wish for yourselves for this holiday season but before you go, please check out my fellow bloggers here for what family experiences they use for inspiration:

 

Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Dr. Bob Rich  https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2ue

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Baddie in Books


 For this month, Robin has asked us to describe a flawed or evil character we have or might use in a story. How did they become so flawed? What part will they play in the story and what will happen to them?

I always have trouble creating evil characters. I would say that most have mine have been flawed in some way rather than truly evil. Except for, maybe, Sir Peregrine Styles in my first Regency romance, His Dark Enchantress. Sir Peregrine was very much a depraved character, particularly in the satisfaction he derived from causing pain or trouble to others. He was a narcissist, manipulator, and opportunist all rolled into one character but none of that was greatly surprising given the era and the mores of the strata of society he grew up in.

People being people, and our characters are people if only in our minds and books, good and bad can come from anywhere. The best of families could have one bad apple. A family in the poorest area of town may have a dad with a heart of gold and a mum who will do anything for her children first and her neighbours after that.

People can and do change. Rose of Sharon in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath spring to mind.

Circumstances can mold a person. Disappointment after disappointment may eventually turn a happy, positive person bitter and cause them to seek revenge against those he or she believes responsible. Being brought up in an abusive household may produce an abuser or someone who would never lift a finger against another person.

As authors, building the backstory for a flawed or evil character is as intriguing and circuitous as those of our main characters and, dare I say, might take a bit more of a psychological twist. Writing historical fiction means dipping into the social history of the period whether, in my case, it is the Regency or Edwardian eras. The class structure was pretty much adhered to. People ‘knew their place.’ But within that structure, the mores of the Regency became stricter through the Victorian era and began to ease again in the Edwardian era, especially the La Belle Epoch era in Europe which dated from the early 1870s up until the outbreak of World War 1.

Regency characters who held ambitions to rise above their place in society might be referred to as ‘mushrooms.’ The term ‘nabob,’ originally denoting an official under the Mughal Empire, came to be used somewhat derisively for a pretentious person, especially one growing his own wealth rather than inheriting it. After all, the definition of a gentleman then was someone who did not work for his living but off the wealth generated by his estates.

My current ‘baddie’ is one Ruby Baker in the third book, Phoebe Fisher, in my series Those Regency Belles. Ruby is a barmaid with took my hero’s promises to heart. In a drunken moment as an eighteen-year-old and about to embark on his first voyage, Andrew promised to bring her jewels from India. Ten years later, Ruby arrives on his doorstep to collect them. Why such a time span? Well, a voyage to India could take a minimum of four months. Depending on what happened during the voyage, pirates, storms, being blown off course, it could take a year. And then you turned around and possibly faced the same problems on the return journey. That was without any other detours. However, now Andrew has inherited a title and gained a wife. What will Ruby do? I’m still working on that.

Visit my fellow authors listed here and see what they are working on.

Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Dr. Bob Rich  https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2ue

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Things That Go Bump in the Night

 


Our Round Robin leader asked us to share a childhood memory or scariest experience of October 31st. All Hallow’s Eve or Hallowe’en, the one night in the year when ghosts, ghouls, witches and wizards, sprites and gobbledygook’s are supposed to go bump in the night.

Growing up in post-war England, although we all knew what Halloween was, I don’t ever recall celebrating it in the way it is celebrated today. The festivals I do remember were Christmas, New Year, and Easter. In a few of the locations we lived there were also Mayday celebrations, usually in the form of a church or village fete, dancing around the Maypole being a feature of the latter.

It wasn’t until my children were growing up that we began to have Halloween parties. We might have decorated inside the house with tattered rags hung over a pointy hat and a cobweb or two populated by homemade spiders, but there were no outside displays as can be seen today. There were no costumes no trick or treating, just simple games like apple bobbing, hide and seek in the dark, and carving jack o’ lanterns. One year I found a set of red glassware which made whatever liquid in it look a bit like blood but, as the kids attending that party didn’t much like the effect, it was never repeated. Definitely different from today when it seems the gorier the better.

But why all the interest in Hallowe’en? Traditionally, from the earliest pagans until now, October 31st has been celebrated as a festival of darkness. It is the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is considered to be at its thinnest, allowing departed souls to return and walk among us.

In some cultures, an extra place will be laid at the table. In others, to keep dead souls away, bonfires will be lit and those brave enough among the living may jump over them. Mexico’s

courtesy bloomberg.com

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is probably known world-wide. For Wiccans, Hallowe’en, or Samhain (Sowin) is celebrated as one of the four great Sabbats forming the Wheel of the Year.

I don’t remember any scary experience from my childhood years but my scariest Hallowe’en was the one when my Dear Departed Husband, who was a dyed-in-the-wool Stephen King fan, decided we should watch the movie IT, with Tim Curry playing the role of Pennywise.

Tim Curry in makeup for Pennywise
courtesy reddit.com

We closed the drapes, lit candles, and sat down to watch the movie. But—I have never liked clowns (coulorphobia) and as the movie played out I either covered my eyes or my ears, much to his amusement. When I said I’d had enough and was going into another room to read, he realized that I was not joking. I’m not sure if he watched the movie to the end but he did promise that there would never be a repeat performance, and there never was.

It’s fair to say I am not much of a Hallowe’en fan but don’t mind the trick or treaters, although I do wonder if any of them would be happy with one little soul cake as was the tradition. Children and poor people would go round to wealthy houses promising to pray for the people of the house if they provided a cake (treat) or a trick (some form of mischief) if they were sent away empty handed. Next, visit these Round Robin bloggers to see what trick or treat they might have in store for you.

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2sc

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

September (already?) Round Robin

 

Where does the time go? Here we are in September 2021, still dealing one way or another with covid and all that goes with it. Thank goodness we have our writing to keep fingers and minds busy. 

The topic posed for this month is - besides novels, do you write in other genres? Have you ever written nonfiction?

Well, yes and yes. My preferred genre is historical romantic fiction, but I have also written two contemporary western romances with a third beginning to gel. However, the processes of gelling and the actual writing are both a bit slower than they were. But, before I started writing novels, I wrote short stories and newspaper and magazine articles before that. I liked pitching ideas to magazines that interested me or following through if magazine editors called for articles on a topic of their choice.

Sadly, of all the publications my work appeared in, only one remains active. I’m happy to say their demise had nothing to do with my writing, but production costs, dwindling subscriptions, and the editor’s retirement in one tiny publishing house hit home.

Me, teenage groom and hunter

From the horses and dogs that were part of my life to beer festivals and medieval faires, my travels at home in the UK and abroad, I managed a fair range from being paid with six free copies of one magazine to a heady $800 plus, this for an article on a medieval fair. 

The magazine assigned me a professional photographer for the day. He had never worked with a writer, while said writer (me) had never worked with a photographer, professional or not. We started the day off by discussing what we were looking for and then parted company, me to interview performers and visitors, he to take as many photographs as he could of whatever interested him. We met up at the end of the afternoon and found that we had, amazingly, opted for the same subjects.

Jousting UK
The most spectacular event of any medieval fair is the jousting. The photographer’s images were stunning, and I benefited from interviewing an international jouster still dressed in his 100 lbs of full armour. The fair organizers were thrilled with the warm, sunny weather, but it must have been like living in an oven for all the jousters. The most entertaining group were the members of GNIVIL, the Living Backwards Society. Their research and attention to detail of all things medieval, including authentic hand-carved chairs, trunks and rope beds, from which the saying sleep tight originated, was a little like having a personal history lesson from each interview.

From GNIVIL's website
There is no doubt that people can tell stories that are often stranger than fiction. A history-loving Health and Safety Officer first learnt to foot fight and then turned to metalworking. He told me all GNIVIL’s clothes were handcrafted and correct for the period. Even the trumpet he used to announce the melee was a style of horn dating from the days of the Crusades. Lady Jane led dancing on the lawn during the evening, explaining why dancing was essential to medieval society. No one would have suspected her modern-day profession to be that of an electrician.

My article on a United Kingdom beer festival, including one of my photographs, appeared in the Calgary Herald (still going strong.) That was a fun gig, in part because I applied for and received funding from the British Tourist Board. No money changed hands for the beer as visitors bought a string of tickets at the entrance gate and used them to buy their beer. Friday night was a fun night with my family. I got to work interviewing people the following day. I even made it into the local paper at home that described me as ‘a mystery woman from Canada.’

So now I’ve related some of my experiences with writing outside my preferred genre, let’s look at what my fellow bloggers have to say.

 

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2qf 

Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 21, 2021


Our Round Robin question for August is: Do you have any character habits or favorite words that always crop up in your writing?

Oh, boy! Do they ever. But – that is what first drafts are for. Once I have started writing I try to keep going. I say try because I am a Virgo and if you know anything about astrological signs and their characteristics, you’ll know that Virgos are perfectionists. I like the first sentence, first paragraph, first chapter, to be perfect – except there is no such thing as perfection.

 I learnt by trial and many, many errors to get on with the story and took Nora Roberts’ advice to keep writing as you can’t edit a blank page. Quite apart from those niggling fillers like had, was, just, really, very—I could go on but won’t—I find that with each book I write I have a ‘crutch’ word.

 In one of my books my hero grinned so much I’m not sure that he would ever have straightened his face out if I hadn’t taken myself in hand and did a painstaking search to rewrite practically every instance of where I had him grinning. Likewise, a Regency heroine who was forever sighing. I’ve had my moments with ‘however,’ ‘especially,’ ‘nevertheless,’ and many more.

 But this is where self-editing comes in. Being aware of the nuances of what you’re writing means you can go over your work and search out those offending words which are often repetitious. The editing process gives authors a chance to not only weed out those wretched stumbling blocks, but in that process make their writing more powerful by re-writing sentences and phrases for more of an impact. (I struck this out as it means pretty much the same as more powerful and is therefore redundant.)

 Writing a book is not a solo effort. It may be in the beginning as it is the author’s idea, characters, plot and so on, and the first revision will include weeding out the repetitions and redundancies. The next stage will be beta readers who, if they are doing their job, will point out character or plot holes and often pick up a ‘crutch’ word the author may not have been aware they were using. After another round of edits and revisions, then comes the editing stage and quite likely another round of edits and revisions. It really does take a village to produce a book.

 And on that note, I’m going to check on my Round Robin villagers to see what they have to say. I hope you’ll join me in visiting:

 Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Judith Copek https://lynx-sis-blogspot.com

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2ow

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com