Saturday, September 21, 2019

September Round Robin Blog

Our September Round Robin question is: In designing your plots what do you rely on most: personal experience, imagination, or research?

I’m more a pantser than a plotter but, at some time in each book I’ve written, I’ve had to resort to plotting but can’t honestly say I rely more on one of those methods than an another. It simply depends on what I need at the time.

I write Regency romance but the true Regency period, the nine-years of the Prince Regent’s reign because of his father’s declining mental health, was a relatively short one from 1811 – 1820. Europe was still in an uproar because of the Napoleonic Wars, which all culminated in the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. So, to set a story any time during 1811 – 1815, I would start with my friend Mr. Google and research what was going on in Britain during those years to see if anything caught my interest enough to use it as the basis for a plot. From 1815 – 1820, I would do the same.

The wars in Europe were over, but on 11th May 1818, as an example, the Old Vic was founded as the Royal Coburg Theatre in South London by James King, Daniel Dunn and John T. Serres. 

The Royal Coburg Theatre later the Old Vic
 Then in September of the same year the first blood transfusion using human blood was performed by Dr. James Blundell in London.
Dr. Robert James Blundell
In October 1818 a convention, or treaty, between The United States and the United Kingdom established what is known as the Northwest Angle in Minnesota.  

The Northwest Angle
Any of these three facts could be used to build a plot. Actresses had a terrible reputation as loose women, but what if Lady Caroline Shelby yearned to perform on the stage? And how might Miss Abigail Fanshaw, unable to share her interest in medicine and medical procedures with her parents and peers (shocking!), view Dr. Blundell's work? Might there be some skullduggery going on that Sir Nigel Percival needs to investigate in Minnesota for the Crown? On this last topic, check here: on the petition calling for the US to give the Northwest Angle to Canada.

I am fortunate to be familiar with many of the settings I use. I find it much easier to write about places that I have visited or use them as the basis for places I might invent. However, here again, Mr. Google, specifically Google Maps and Google Earth, comes in very handy for places I haven’t visited, like Jamaica in my book His Ocean Vixen. Even though the Internet is a great place to start, I still find there is nothing like a good book on the subject in which I am interested.

New writers often think they have to be stuck at a keyboard for X number of hours per day, but the truth is that to get the words on the page, the ideas have to gel in the writer’s mind beforehand. Reading, making notes, jotting down ideas, all count as research and stimulate my imagination to make writing a personal experience for me. Yes, folks, it’s one big melting pot!

See what these Round Robin authors have bubbling away on their back burners.

Illustrations via Google.

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Fascinating Read

Aniko: the Stranger Who Loved Me by Dr. Bob Rich

I can’t remember when I have started re-reading a book before I’ve even finished it, but that is what happened with this book. I was enthralled with the story from page one.

 The cast of characters was the author’s family, specifically his mother Aniko Stern. The setting was Hungary, both pre- and post-war. The conflict was constant, external from the Nazis and then the Communists, internal the pressures of being a Jewish family in war-torn Europe. That the family not only survived but thrived was due to Aniko’s indomitable spirit. She may have been small in stature but everything else about her was larger than life.

It wasn’t the happiest of stories. Quite apart from the brutality and oppression of the times, the family dynamics make fascinating reading. The relationships between Aniko and her parents, her first husband and the author’s father, Tibor, and later her second husband, Antal, and his mother were told in a clean-cut, no-holds-barred narrative. 

The author makes no bones about his reaction to Antal, nor to his eventual journey to Australia in the company of his Uncle Peter, a man who is something of a shadowy figure throughout the story with all his comings and goings but who still manages to leave a large and unpleasant impression.

It has long been my opinion that in every era there are people, women especially, who break the mold and rise above the norm. Aniko Stern was one of those women. In telling her story, often written in lyrical prose, Bob Rich has given us not only a view of history that many of us do not know, but also a message of love and hope.

This is a book I fully recommend.

About Dr. Bob Rich

Bob Rich was invented by Margaret Sutcliffe (12), who lives inside Bob’s computer. Being the most intelligent person on Earth, Margaret did a good job. She needed Bob to write the Doom Healer series, in which she is a major character. Bob is now obediently seeking a publisher for the first volume of the series.

The Bob she created is an Australian storyteller with 18 published books, five of them award-winners. He has retired five times so far, but enthusiastically carries out his job as Professional Grandfather, working for a survivable future, and one worth surviving in. His popular blog, Bobbing Around, is at 

Here are links where you may purchase the book:

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble Nook


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Travel in the Regency Era

Our Round Robin blog for August is to post an excerpt from one of my books dealing with travel or vacation.  

In the Regency era most people did not go on vacation as we know it today. Young men might be sent on a Grand Tour of Europe for them to gain a bit of sophistication and polish in much the same way as young ladies were sent off to finishing school in more recent history. Once Parliament closed for the summer recess, London was almost deserted as families headed out to their country estates or prepared for a round of house parties.

This socializing caused a great deal of stress for the host as it was not only their guests that had to be entertained and housed but their servants, too. It could also be an expensive time for the guests, as they would want to show off their finery which might require as many as six changes of outfits in a day.

My character, Emmaline, in His Dark Enchantress, had done her fair share of travelling for a variety of reasons, but one of her trips was to get home to her grandfather as fast as she could. The place names in the narrative were all coaching stops on what was known as The Trafalgar Way.

This was the route taken by Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere of HMS Pickle, who carried dispatches containing the news of Lord Nelson’s victory and death in the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805. Lapenotiere began his journey on 4th November 1805 and covered the 271-mile route in 38 hours with 21 changes of horses. Emmaline didn’t have to make her trip at that speed and broke her journey at Dorchester to make her way home from there. Here is the excerpt:

Emmaline rested her head against the window frame, thankful for the corner seat she had managed to claim in the crowded stagecoach. Dressed in her shabbiest clothes, her cheeks dirtied a little and a wide-brimmed bonnet pulled down as much as possible to hide her face, no one paid much attention to her.
Pressed on her left by a large farmer, she sank further into her corner and remained mostly unseen by her fellow passengers. The gentleman sitting opposite her tried to draw her into a conversation but, after being subjected to her mute nods and one-syllable answers soon left her alone.
If not for her thoughts of Baymoor House, her grandfather and Lucius, Emmaline would possibly have slept a little. Baymoor itself would not have changed, its grey stone walls withstanding all winds and weather as it had done for a century and more. Her grandfather, she knew, had been in decline for some time before he’d insisted that she go to London. How much worse might his condition be now? And then there was Lucius. Did he have any regrets? Might he miss her just a little? Her heart weighed heavy just thinking of him.
She remained awake through Staines, Bagshot, and Hertford-bridge. Basingstoke, Overton, Andover all slipped by in a blur. At each stop, with passengers clambering in and out of the coach, Emmaline avoided being jostled by sitting firmly in her seat. But, with the unsavoury smell of unwashed bodies and stale clothing, the constant noise of clattering hooves and rumbling wheels, she was almost comatose with fatigue.
She endured the changes at Salisbury, Woodyates and Blandford, but at Dorchester she knew she must stop and rest. She had not eaten since she and Noble had racked up at the inn at Epsom. Then she had barely managed a small piece of cheese and a crust of bread and the tea she had drunk in Juliana’s room was a distant memory to her parched throat.

Now let’s take a look at at what these fine authors have to say.