The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Gambling

Ah, gambling. Gambling was an aspect of Regency life that was accepted as normal, even required. It was, however, technically illegal.

Gambling was made illegal in the early-1700s when it was decided that such an addictive pastime, where whole fortunes were won and lost, needed to be curtailed. This merely forced the activity to go behind closed doors. By the time the Regency rolled around, gambling was more than just a pleasurable pursuit. It was nearly a requirement in High Society.

The things one could gamble on were many and varied. Ladies and gentlemen could gamble at nearly every Society function, as most of these had card rooms for those who didn't care to dance. For gentlemen, they could also gamble at horse races, pugilistic events (boxing), cock fights, dog fights, and many other sports that ran along the same lines.

Gambling at private parties such as balls usually had limits. Even card parties tended towards smaller stakes, although fortunes could still be won or lost on the turn of a card. If a gentleman wanted to take real chances with his money or property, he had to go to a gaming house or gambling hell.

Curiously, in researching for this post, I have stumbled across a name that I have never heard before. William Crockford was possibly the richest self-made man of the time. His gambling house was said to rival the Palace of Versailles for opulence. He built his gambling house in 1827 in St James's Street, calling it Crockford's Club.

Perhaps the reason this man and his club goes unmentioned is the time he was known. Few Regencies venture into the time after the coronation of the George IV even though this time was still considered the "Regency" by most.

Speaking of George IV, he was quite the gambler himself. However, I think maybe he deserves his own post, don't you?

*Further reading: The Regency Underworld by Donald A Low and the Wikipedia article titled William Crockford.
**As always, I welcome comments or questions. Feel free to correct or question everything. :o)

Friday, December 25, 2009

~Photo Friday~ Waiting for Spring

I admit, I am not a winter person. I suppose Michigan is not the best place to live when one is not a winter person. Oh well. I am already looking forward to all the wonders of spring.


This pic was actually taken in July 2008. These adorable baby whitetail deer were in my backyard.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Gretna Green

Gretna Green was not the only place in Scotland to which one could elope. It just happened to be the first town over the England-Scotland border on the Great North Road. Scotland's more liberal marriage laws allowed for what came to be known as "over-the-anvil" unions. Basically, all the couple had to do was declare they were married before a witness (often the local blacksmith)...and they were.

These marriages, however, were unlikely to stand up in an English court, especially if one of the parties involved was under legal age to marry without parental consent. In 1856 the law in Scotland changed, requiring the couple to live there for 21 days to make the marriage legal.

*Further reading: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool.
**Photo above is licensed under the CC Attribution 2.0. Pic links to the Wikimedia page that explains.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Giveaway at Romance, Old School

Hello, lovely readers!! I interviewed Miss Mae, author of the fabulous YA novel, When the Bough Breaks. She is giving away one signed copy to a very fortunate reader. Come on over and check it out.

Interview here.
My review of When the Bough Breaks here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Rookeries

Not all Regency novels, especially romances, venture into the seedier parts of London. In the East End were warrens of streets and alleys, buildings all crammed together and the poor unfortunates who lived and worked there.

The rookeries were hotbeds of crime, havens for drug users and dealers, prostitution and worse. It was these areas that Charles Dickens quite often focused on in his chilling tales. It was in the rookery of Jacob's Island (pictured here) where the villain Bill Sikes met his end in Oliver Twist. The full title of David Copperfield was "The Personal History, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery which he never meant to be published on any account."

*Further reading: The Regency Underworld by Donald A. Low, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool and the Wikipedia article titled Jacob's Island.

Friday, December 4, 2009

~Photo Friday~ Apple Blossoms

We have this incredibly tiny apple tree in our front yard. I went out one evening earlier this year to take these pics. I love apple blossoms.



Wednesday, December 2, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Bow Street Runners

Bow Street is often mentioned in Regency novels, some are even centered around the famous Runners of the time. Simply, a Bow Street Runner was a professional thief-taker who answered to the law enforcement office in Bow Street. They could be, and often were, hired by private citizens or organizations to recover or protect property or relatives. They were held in some awe by the general public.

The novelist Henry Fielding was appointed magistrate in 1749. His base of operations was in Bow Street and his inclinations as a social reformer eventually led to his forming the specialist thief-takers known as the Bow Street Runners. His brother worked with him and took over in 1754. The Runners were disbanded in 1839.

*Further reading: The Regency Underworld by Donald A. Low and What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

~Photo Friday~ Giant Babies

I'm a little late but here is my Photo Friday post. Does the tiny table make the babies look huge, or what? :o)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The NaNoWriMo Experience

Well, it's the 18th of November. Today those participating in NaNoWriMo should have well over 25,000 words written. Many are far beyond that and many are done. Way to go! to those who are done and those who are ahead. You can do it! to those who are still trying even though they're behind. There are still almost two weeks to go. You can do it.

I am a first time participant. I have managed 42,198 words at the time of this post. I realize that this doesn't necessarily mean I'll make. But I think my chances are pretty good. :o)

All that aside, I wanted to share my experience at this halfway mark. I have enjoyed the ride so far. It's been a lot less stressful than I'd anticipated and I like having a clear goal in view. The words have come easily, something I had not expected. I chose to write a genre I have never written before so I expected quite a bit of writer's block. I have been using this exercise as an opportunity to "Write Through It" when block threatens.

I have heard both sides of the argument in regard to the efficacy of this exercise. Some feel it is of supreme benefit to crank out the first draft without worrying too much about editing. Others believe it is never a good idea to write in such a free fashion, that it is better to edit as you go and try to get as close to a finished manuscript as possible in the first draft.

I was always of the latter group on this particular subject. Unfortunately, I am a procrastinator at heart and have often allowed this fault to take over. I have many, many manuscripts that were started years ago and remain unfinished. I am hoping this "competition" will help me with this issue.

So, what do you think of NaNo? Whether you are a participant now or in the past or just observing the race, I'd like to know what you think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Reticule

A reticule was a lady's handbag or purse. They could be of many shapes, materials and sizes but they were most often small. It was usually made to match her gown or bonnet.

What was inside depended much on the lady's personality and habits. You could probably find within a bottle of sal volatile, a handkerchief, calling cards, and perhaps a pencil or even a small slip of paper. They were usually too small to carry much.

For a more detailed post on the subject, I recommend Donna Hatch's post, Regency Reticules.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Fantasy Confession

I have a confession.

I'm writing a fantasy novel for National Novel Writing Month. (No, that's not the confession. You already knew that.) In this novel is a character named Magoric who is not really a villain but he's not really a hero, either. He is a mercenary hired to kill the heroine in the tale. How is that not a villain, you ask? He has his doubts about killing her.


I feel the need to confess my inspiration for Magoric. In appearance, he is a combination of the Wraith of Stargate Atlantis and Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII. My initial vision was close to Sephiroth with a few slight differences. The major physical difference: Magoric has four arms instead of two. Since my introduction to the wraith some years ago, the vision of my character changed some more.

Pictured here is a wraith who has altered his appearance to blend with humans on Earth. There exists an uncanny resemblance to my mercenary character, minus the black glasses.

I say uncanny because Magoric has been roaming the deepest recesses of my brain for years, long before I saw this particular episode of SGA for the first time. I happened to re-watch this episode last night and got a chill at the resemblance. Spooky.

Now, if only I could find pics for my other characters...

*Image is a photo I took of Stargate Atlantis, Season 5, episode 19, Vegas. I am in no way implying this franchise endorses me or my writing.


Friday, November 6, 2009

~Photo Friday~ Winter Wonderland

The frost this morning reminded me of Winters past. So I dug up some pics of Winter last year here in Michigan. These were taken the night of November 24, 2008. Enjoy!


The flash reflected on the snowflakes as they fell.



This one was taken without flash.

Friday, October 30, 2009

~Photo Friday~ The Mackinac Bridge and Blog Updates

Hello, all! I may not be the best blogger in the month of November.

Some of you are probably saying, "I'm not surprised." The rest of you, whether you're new to my blog or just haven't kept up with my news, I will be extra busy writing my new fantasy novel, The Dragon Curse. I am doing this for National Novel Writing Month and have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I'm excited to start and am finding the prep work tedious. The scenes are flitting through my head at an alarming rate and I am anxious to write them down before I forget. However, I am resisting the urge.

I will try to continue my Regency Wednesday posts and my Photo Friday posts but I may miss one or two. Thank you for your understanding.

That said, here are this week's selected photos, the Mackinac Bridge in Northern Michigan. Have a lovely day!!

August 2008

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009. The view on a rainy day through the glass T-tops of our corvette.

August 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Redingote

Today we'll learn what a redingote is. For many of you Regency romance fans, this is a word you have no doubt seen more than once in your literary adventures.

The word redingote is actually a corruption of the French word for riding coat. Put simply, it is an article of outer wear, like a long coat. On gentlemen, it is often referred to as a greatcoat and was quite similar to the frock coat. It was originally worn for riding but later developed into just another fashionable item of clothing.

On ladies, it was very similar to a gentleman's riding coat and had a nipped in waist and full skirt.

The lady shown here is from 1790 and the gentleman is from 1813.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Two Internet Birds With One Blogger Stone

The last award I received was quite a shock for me. I think I wander this internet world with the belief that no one else sees me or hears me. Every time I get a comment or email, I have to tamp down my surprise before I can reply to the wonderful person. LOL :o)

All that aside, Joyce DiPastena at JDP News has given me two wonderful awards. (I am extremely late in acknowledging these. For that, I apologize.)

The first one is the Kreativ Blogger Award. (What a kreativ way to spell creative, I must say.) Thank you, Joyce! *curtsy* I will endeavor to live up to such faith in my kreativness.

Ok. This award has a few requirements with it.

First, I am supposed to share seven things you may not know about me. I will attempt to choose interesting or, at the very least, odd things. Here goes:
  1. I was blue when I was born. I mean, literally blue. I turned in the birth canal and the cord wrapped around my neck. Mom called me her little smurf.
  2. As a child, my dad's nickname for me was Maynard. I'm still not sure why...
  3. When my sister and I were very young, we weren't allowed to have Ken dolls. So we took one of our Barbies and shaved her head. Then--brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen--we shaved off her breasts, too. She was supposed to be a boy, after all.
  4. I have an irrational fear of frogs. Dead ones are scarier than live ones.
  5. I didn't always want to write. When I was really young, I wanted to be a veterinarian, a doctor, a teacher--there were probably more but I'm at a loss to remember. Mostly, I wanted to sing opera. I didn't have the pipes for opera but choir was my dearest love in junior high and high school.
  6. I'm addicted to crime dramas and British television shows. Oh, and science-fiction shows, and Jane Austen movies, and...ok, I'm addicted to TV. Period.
  7. My second child was born by emergency c-section. I was the calmest person in the room.
Did I succeed in providing at least somewhat interesting facts about myself? I hope you were mildly entertained.

Now, I am to nominate 7 more kreativ bloggers to pass the award to. Let me think...
  1. Gina Collia-Suzuki at All Things Considered
  2. Thersa Matsuura at kappa no he
  3. Thomma Lyn at Tennessee Text Wrestling
  4. Veronica Lee at OF MICE AND raMEN
  5. Bernadette Simpson at Escapade Through Egypt
  6. Lori at When We Listen
  7. All of the lovely authors/posters at The Sweetest Romance Authors
Congratulations, all! If you have already received this award, congratulations again. You deserve it!

Here are the rules for this blog award:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award. (Thanx a bunch, Joyce!!)
  2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
  3. Link the logo to the person who nominated you for this award.
  4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might not know.
  5. Nominate 7 bloggers.
  6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
  7. Leave comments on each of the blogs letting them know that they've been nominated.
As for the second award...

This one is so special. Joyce has awarded me with the "Let's Be Friends" Award even though she is a little perturbed that I don't comment as often on her blog as I should. I have been trying to remedy that. :o)

"Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers."

I am passing this very charming award on to the following bloggers:
  1. Thomma at Tennessee Text Wrestling
  2. Gina at All Things Considered
  3. Thersa at kappa no he
  4. Bernadette at Escapade Through Egypt
  5. Rachel at Rachel Rager
  6. Veronica at OF MICE AND raMEN
  7. Anyone who reads this and wants to spread the love.
In dawns on me that I have selected nearly the same list of bloggers for these two awards. Perhaps kreativity and friendship go hand-in-hand.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Jaunt Into the Fantastic

I have decided on the novel I will write for NaNoWriMo.

Fantasy.

Working title: The Dragon Curse.

My very first journey into the realms of fantasy. OK, not the first. I have, of course, read fantasy. However, I don't read much in this genre. I don't care much for the magic that is so often a part of it.

My story is a large dose of "medieval" fantasy with a smidgen of science-fiction. Is that acceptable, I wonder? Legends, dragons, and mutations, oh my!

Is it possible to have a medieval-like fantasy with a healthy dose of technological advancement? This is what I will explore in my NaNo project. How to combine the two in a "believable" mix. We'll see what happens...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Special License

Today's Regency topic is the Special License. It is something that seems to be mentioned quite a lot in Regency romances.

A Special License was granted to a couple desiring to be married without the wait involved in calling the banns. This license enabled a couple to get married at any time, in any place. Ordinarily, a couple would have to get married in either the parish of the bride or groom and only in the morning hours.

In the early part of the 19th century, a Special License could only be obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury in Doctors' Commons, London. Sometimes there was a wait for the license, such as in the case of Lord Byron who was made to wait seven days before his request was granted. The fee was excessive.

*The picture above is a Dorset marriage license bond issued in 1796 on behalf of the Bishop of Sarum. The picture is in the public domain. For more details and a larger picture, click the picture.
**For further reading, try What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool, p 183-4.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

That's right, folks. It's that time of year again. It is time for aspiring and published novelists the world over to crank out horrible prose in their race for the goal of 50,000 words in one month.

OK, wording it that way makes it sound really fun and even relaxing. I think I need to take a month and just write without worrying about editing as I go, without looking up the tiniest detail to verify the facts. I could concentrate on my descriptions, the action, and the emotion of the moment rather than whether or not the word "stress" was used in Regency England.

Ah, but that brings up an entirely different question, doesn't it? What genre should I write?
  1. Regency: I could go the easy route and flesh out one of the numerous Regencies that I have mapped. But I think I would be too tempted to look up all those little details. (I'm still mad at myself for using the word "handicap" in Heartless in reference to a disability. Bad Regency author, using a word that had a different meaning then.)
  2. Fantasy: There is a fantasy novel that I have roving my brain, begging for release. It's this novel that seems to be calling for the honor of being my Nano project. I have the characters written out, physical descriptions, personalities and whatnot. I recently made some huge changes to the storyline, though, which makes it less mapped out and more in need of some re-mapping. The other problem with this novel is the fact that it is currently nameless. I have run into a brick wall on the name for some reason.
  3. Medieval: I also have a medieval romance mapped out. It's set in England, 1174. I think I would have the same temptation with this one that I would have with a Regency, however. I would want to stop every five minutes to make sure I have my word usage correct. By the way, does anyone have a really great pic of a golden eagle I can use for my cover?
  4. Psychological Thriller: Yeah, believe it or not, I have a psycho thriller that I started several years ago. It is a product of one of my own personal fears. This competition might give me the impetus I need to get it finished.
So, anybody out there have any opinion on what I should write?

What about you? Have you ever tried NaNoWriMo? Will you this year? If you've never written a novel but have always wanted to try, NaNoWriMo is for you. Take the plunge. You know you want to. *evil grin*

Here's my Nano addy for anyone who'd like to be buddies:

As always, happy reading, writing and blogging!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spellbound's First 3-Star Review

Spellbound got 3 stars yesterday. It was one of the most complimentary reviews I have ever received--or one of my books has ever received, rather. After I read it, I couldn't stop smiling. :o)

The reviewer is Paul Mitton, a writer whose chosen genre is more horror and less romance. In fact, he's been a wonderful support with my flash fiction endeavors which lean a little more toward horror.

I was over the moon when I read his review. Spellbound was the first Regency romance he's ever read. He was pleasantly surprised and thought the characters were well-developed and the story line was good. But, why don't you check it out for yourself? Here's the link to the review on his blog: Dark and Secret Writes. (Link should open in a new tab or window, depending on your settings.)

So, shameless self-promotion time. Look away if this is something that annoys you. ;o)

Description for Spellbound: England 1820. Retired actress Raven agrees to pose as a missing noblewoman/fiancée of an eccentric duke. If caught, she could lose her life. Her reason is simple curiosity about her employer, Lord Windhaven. His plan goes far deeper than merely hiring an actress to play a role. He suspects something is not right with Raven. Then the duke's brother arrives, threatening to reveal Raven's identity.

Spellbound is available for download from Smashwords.com in multiple formats including Kindle, Palm, Stanza, PDF and more. You can even preview 50% for free, to see if it is something you'd like. It is also available in paperback from Amazon or me (see sidebar). :o)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Author Interview and E-book Giveaway at Romance, Old School

I recently had the great privilege of interviewing Romance author Donna Hatch. She graciously agreed to award two copies of her Regency novella e-book, Troubled Hearts, to a couple of very fortunate readers. I posted the interview and rules for entry on my book reviews blog, Romance, Old School.

Entry deadline is October 25. Hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Debtor's Prison

Debtor's Prison was where a man was sent when he could not pay his bills. Not a member of the peerage, mind you. They could not be forced to honor their debts if they were of a mind not to. Although the law did not exactly exempt a peer from prosecution for nonpayment of a debt, it was unlikely that a creditor could actually prevail. As a result, few titled gentleman actually feared incarceration. For the common gentleman, however, debtor's prison was a very real threat.

Common prisons for debtors of the time were the Fleet (left) and the Marshalsea (shown below).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Shameful Epiphany

Ha. It dawned on me today that the only reason I worry about negative reviews of my own novels is because, although I try very hard not to, I let the negative reviews for other authors' novels influence me too much. (I am embarrassed to even admit to such a thing.) Logically, I tend to think others do the same. I must stop this. It is not fair to me or those other authors. There are so many books I enjoyed that many others didn't.

Bottom line, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Even if it is stated in an immature, hurtful, or rude way. It is just one person's opinion. It is difficult, as authors, to take criticism lying down when many of us view our books as important as our babies. It is an ugly fact of life, however, that there exist people in the world who actually enjoy hurting others and the web offers a way to do that with little repercussion.

As authors, it is important that we not acknowledge these hurtful reviewers. These are people who enjoy the reaction their review causes. By acknowledging the review/reviewer you have given them what they want. If a negative review has something constructive to say, that's one thing. Learn from it, grow as a writer. If it is nothing but rant, ignore it. It does no good to argue with a fool.

My new resolve: I will no longer read negative reviews. I may even stop writing as many reviews myself. Reviews requested by authors or publishers are one thing. Those I will continue to do on my Romance, Old School blog. Other books, I may not bother doing more than a simple rating on Goodreads.

Friday, October 9, 2009

~Photo Friday~ Raindrops on Roses

In Maryland, I had one rosebush. It was a pleasant surprise the first spring after we moved in. We hadn't realized it was there. I'm not a green thumb in the least but this hardy bush seemed determined to survive despite my neglect.

One morning after a pleasant summer (2007) shower, I went outside to get the mail. I wandered over to the rosebush and saw the raindrops on the pretty pink petals. Now, I share them with you. Enjoy!





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