Sunday, July 6, 2014
So, I'm putting this blog on hiatus until the fall. If you lack reading material, skim through my previous posts, listed by category under the tabs.
I will post only once until fall. Sometime soon, I will release A Distinct Flair for Words, which is Love and the Library #3. This is the story of Mr. Francis Wynne, the third of our Regency quartet of young gentlemen who meet their matches over a copy of Pride and Prejudice in the library.
Have a good summer.
Thank you all,
Picture Sommerblumen by A. Gundelach from Wikimedia Commons
A. Gundelach [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sunday, June 1, 2014
In the time before artificial light, the full moon assumed a special place in the month. The presence of light at night allowed some important activities to continue past dark. In the spring, planting could go on after sunset, and in the autumn, farmers could harvest the crops essential for winter survival. Travel was safer under a full moon, and illicit activities declined when illuminated with moonlight.
To mark their importance, various cultures gave the full moons names to indicate the seasons in which they occur and the activities performed then.
In England, my Regency characters call the full moons by these names:
January-- Old Moon
February-- Wolf Moon
March-- Lenten Moon
April-- Egg Moon
In North America, the most widely used names are the ones the Native American Algonquin tribes, which lived from New England to Lake Superior, gave the full moons:
September--Corn Moon (might also be called the Harvest Moon)
October--Harvest Moon (might also be called the Hunter's Moon)
December--Cold Moon or Long Nights Moon
The full moon name that causes the most confusion is the Harvest Moon in North America. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. If that full moon occurs in September, the September full moon is the Harvest Moon, and the October full moon is the Hunter's Moon. If the October full moon falls closer to the equinox, the October full moon is the Harvest Moon and the September full moon is the Corn Moon.
In June, the full moon is the Strawberry Moon here in North America. My Regency characters would call it the Flower Moon.
Various sources disagree on some of these names. But if you want to read more about full moon names, here are some interesting links:
Names in Multiple Cultures:
North America: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/
Thank you all,
Picture from Wikipedia
Sunday, May 11, 2014
More than I used to. :)
I will never know everything, but part of the fun is finding out new things.
About six years ago, when I got it into my head the idea to write a regency, I looked for library books on the subject. One of the books I found was What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool.
I was in alt. Here was a list of lots of the things I read about in regencies, but had no idea what they were. Pounds and pence, Parliament sessions, Whitsunday and Michaelmas, quarter days and consols, pelisses, footmen and scullery maids. I was also totally confused. How would I ever remember all this stuff?
I recently reread the book. And, lo and behold, much of the information has become second nature. I guess I've learned a lot in the past few years.
Some will scoff at the book. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew covers both the Regency and the Victorian eras, so not everything is valid for the Regency. And the information is general. But the book is a good overview and has an extensive bibliography and a great glossary.
I will always make errors, and I hope my readers will be forgiving because I try to get things right.
Thank you all,
The picture is Carlton House, the Prince Regent's home during the Regency, from Wikipedia.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Things are not necessarily as they seem in Gina Conkle’s Meet the Earl at Midnight, an atmospheric Georgian retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
Who is this man who hides from the world? The gossip whispers that the Earl of Greenwich is horribly deformed, mad, or hiding something terrible. Lydia, forced into an engagement with him in order to settle her stepfather’s debts, has no choice but to find out if any, or all of these claims, is true.
From their eerie midnight meeting on, we travel along with Lydia on her sometimes frightening, sometimes humorous, voyage of discovery into the mysteries surrounding the man who will be her husband. And in the process, she discovers some uncomfortable truths about herself.
The author has done a good job of revealing bit by bit the reality behind the myths, leaving us to wonder and wonder until we can’t stand it any longer, exactly what is true and what isn’t. Lydia is no die-away heroine, but one who gives as well as she gets. The earl, although scarred, is not a monster (how could a romance hero be a monster?), although he does go out of his way to foster the illusion that he is.
Meet the Earl at Midnight is not only an engaging romance, but also a cautionary tale of how what everyone knows to be true may not be. Be careful what you believe. :)
Thank you all,
ARC supplied by Sourcebooks
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Anna Belfrage tagged me for this blog hop about my writing process.
Anna is the author of the Graham Saga, a time travel about modern-day Alexandra who slips through time to 1658 Scotland, where she meets Matthew Graham. The story is now five novels long with more to come. Visit Anna on her blog here: http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com
There are four questions for me to answer:
1. What are you working on?
I write mainly sweet Regency romances with comedy, and sometimes add paranormal, fantasy and science fiction. My current project is straight historical, the third book of my Love and the Library series, wherein four gentlemen meet their matches over a copy of Pride and Prejudice at the library.
2. How does your work differ from others in the genre?
Most Regencies are Cinderella stories: filthy rich, powerful, gorgeous noblemen, beautiful, if generally poor ladies who are nice and nothing more, and opulent houses, clothes and jewels. I call these “Georgians in disguise” because they hark back to the 18th century when noblemen ruled the roost. But the Regency was the start of our modern world, when what people did became more important than their parentage. I like the era because it’s far enough in the past for some fantasy, but not too far back to be unrecognizable.
Although my leads are all gentry, most of my heroes are younger sons who have to work for a living. My heroines are also usually poor: widows or ladies with small dowries who also must work. My heroes can be mathematicians, bankers, teachers and tutors. My heroines can be botanists, teachers, companions, ladies interested in finance, and mathematicians. While I can have filthy rich noblemen in my stories, they realize the world is changing, and they change along with it.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I like comedy, Regency, happy endings, astronomy and birds, mainly ducks. So, I write comedy Regency romances, and I often put birds and astronomy into the stories.
There can be birds all over the place, as in An Inheritance for the Birds. The “birds” in the title are mallard ducks, fourteen of them with names like Felizarda, Obadiah (the star) and Busick. A cranky goose is a main character in my Halloween story, Pumpkinnapper. And there are ducks in all of my Love and the Library books. If you want a really cranky goose, wait until you see the Christmas story I’m going to put out in the fall.
Astronomy and science fiction figure in my time travel, Lady of the Stars. The twenty-first century heroine is an astronomer, and the hero is a mathematician interested in astronomy. For more science fiction, I have A Gift from the Stars. Both hero and heroine are interested in astronomy, and the heroine finds a miraculous stone a man who landed in a spaceship left behind.
There’s fantasy in my Christmas story, Mistletoe Everywhere, and Gifts Gone Astray is my how-to-write-sex-without-writing-sex story. :)
4. How does your writing process work?
I’m a pantser, which means I don’t plot, per se. The more polite term is organic writer because the story grows as I go along. I start with an idea, and let it take me where it will. I have to change things and move sections around a lot, but, somehow, everything gets together in the end.
I write and I rewrite and then I rewrite some more. I like to rewrite. I find it amazing how much better a sentence can become when I rewrite it. And when I’m all done, I go through and vary the words I use most often because repeated words can wear on you after a while. So, for “face” I will alternate with “visage”, “aspect” and “countenance”. I doubt anyone notices, but that’s part of what I do. Then I go through the spell checker and send the story off for editing. I let the book rest for a week or two, and reread it and rewrite some more. Even a short break lets me see things I didn't notice before. Also, reading the story from the beginning brings up things that don’t fit or that I repeated. Then the spell checker again, a final read to catch the typos the spell checker missed, and then I format.
To give you some idea of how much I rewrite, I number the versions as I go along. The story starts with version 1. Whenever I make significant changes, writing new material or rewriting, I increment the number. As an example, A Gift from the Stars, 71,000 words, had 207 versions before I called it done.
On to the New
Lindsey writes across a large range of romance, from contemporaries to historicals to mysteries to thrillers. Her main focus now is medieval romance. Great minds must think alike, because her characters, like mine, are usually ordinary people. Her stories put them in extraordinary circumstances, which brings out their latent heroism. Her latest book is the medieval, Bride for a Champion, and she’s now working on the sequel to another medieval romance, Mistress Angel. I’ve read the new story in ARC, and if you liked Mistress Angel, you’ll love this one. See her post here: http://www.lindsaytownsend.net/2013/11/my-writing-process-blog-tour.html
Thank you all,
The picture is a page from The Canterbury Tales from Wikipedia
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Consider these images:
#1 A bare-chested male sex machine with a beautiful woman draped over him.
#2 A soberly dressed man with his wife on his arm and with them, five or six healthy, well-dressed children.
Which image was the ideal of the Georgian and Regency male?
If you picked #2, you are correct.
#1 is an anachronism, today's popular image of the marriage-phobic male who dreads relinquishing his life of hedonistic pleasure for the so-called strangling bonds of matrimony.
#2 is the Georgian and Regency ideal of manhood--a man with proven fertility and who is also a good provider.
In Georgian and Regency England, everyone had a place, and that place was marriage.
Bachelorhood was the undesirable limbo a man must endure before he wed. Life for a bachelor consisted of work and a social life mainly with other bachelors. They worked together, lived together, and filled the coffee houses and chop houses.
At first, the bachelor might enjoy the freedom from parental control. But a single man had a lower status than his married brethren, and in time, the exclusive company of men palled. Men longed for adult feminine company. How did bachelors find marriageable women? With great difficulty. If they were lucky, their families and married friends offered access to single women, since the women stayed at home.
Besides enhanced status, a secure place in society, and most importantly, the ultimate proof of his manhood, marriage conferred practical benefits on a bachelor, and I'm not just talking about available sex.
Marriage has always had an economic component. All men, even wealthy men, worked, leaving them less time for the day-to-day necessities of life. They needed to eat, live somewhere and have their living quarters and clothes cleaned. In the 18th and 19th centuries, food preparation, laundry and cleaning were expensive and time-consuming. Since most men couldn't afford servants, they had to pay for these services. In the division of labor of the time, a wife would perform these tasks while she also warmed her husband's bed and cared for his children.
Yes, there were unhappy marriages as well as happy ones, but the promise of happiness plus the other benefits outweighed the possibility of misery in the minds of most men.
A good book with a whole chapter on this subject is Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery. This book also includes the Regency.
So, the next time you encounter one of those high-born Regency rakes who disdain marriage, remember his realistic counterpart--the man who yearned to wed.
Thank you all,
Book cover: The Seduction by Nicole Jordan
Painting: The Baillie Family (c. 1784) by Thomas Gainesborough
Sunday, February 9, 2014
This post is the second in two posts about Quarter Days and Cross-Quarter Days. The first post, Quarter Days, is here.
Just as the Quarter Days mark the beginning of the seasons in England, the Cross-Quarter Days mark the midpoints of the seasons.
The four cross-quarter days are:
Candlemas (Imbolc) February 1
May Day (Beltane)1 May
Lammas (Lughnasaid )August 1
All Hallows (1 November) or Samhain (October 31)
Notice the two names. The first names are the Christian names, which in time were layered over the older (second) Celtic names.
The Church gave Candlemas its name for the candles lit in the churches to commemorate the presentation of the Christ Child at the temple in Jerusalem. The Celtic name of Imbolc (lamb's milk) arose because the date was the beginning of the lambing season. Another name was Brigantia, for the Celtic goddess of light, as daylight increased at this midpoint between the winter solstice and spring.
May Day, halfway between spring and summer, was a day of feasting and joy as the crops sown soon after Lady Day in March began to sprout. In this season of new life advancing, May Day became the traditional date for young men and women to pair up. They would marry at the next cross-quarter day, after three months of courting to see if they would suit. June weddings came about as impatient couples pushed up the happy day.
On August 1 is Lammas, the first festival of the harvest. The Celtic name is Lughnasaid, the day of the wedding of Lugh, the Celtic sun god, and the earth goddess, whose marriage caused the grain to ripen. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which dates from the ninth century, calls it "the feast of first fruits". The name "Lammas" may derive from the shortening of Lughnasaid, or the term "Loaf-Mass", for on this day, the first loaves made from the year's grain crop were brought to the church for blessings. Also, on or before this day, English landlords required their tenants to present them with the freshly harvested wheat.
Last is All Hallows Day and the evening before, Samhain. By All Hallows Day, the harvest is in and the year turns to the depths of winter. Samhain, the day before, was the death night of the old Celtic year. Its association with death and dying led to its transformation into our modern Halloween.
And so the year turns, from Quarter Day to Cross-Quarter Day and back again, in the never-ending cycle of time.
Thank you all,
Picture from Wikipedia