Back to Top

Monthly Archives: January 2011

It’s been a tough week for me at the Riskies. First I had to stave off the claims of canine ancestry — folks, this is not the blog where I talk about werewolves for crying out loud. Unless they’re hot Regency werewolves and that’s not what today’s post is about. Everyone else got cool ancestors and I get . . . a dog? Then Risky Janet implied in a comment that I’m not housebroken. Well, if no one Googled me before inviting me to join the Riskies, whose fault is that?

I’ve been working on The Next Historical and I keep forgetting how much I love/hate the early part of novel writing. Nothing sucks yet because I haven’t written it. The future is bright and shiny. THIS book will rock! It will be easy, I know exactly what’s going to happen. Yay!

And then I start writing and my hero and heroine typically spend an inordinate amount of time pretending they’re in different novels. I have to be very careful not to write too far ahead of myself because until the hero and heroine agree to be in the same book, I’ll just have to delete those scenes.

And the writing, oh, the writing is thin and weak and there’s either not enough dialogue which means there’s way too much boring narrative or there’s too much dialogue and no details. They’re all just talking heads floating around bumping into random things.

I end up freaking out over being behind on my word count and getting hives, and looking for anything that’s more fun than writing, which, lucky me, is just about everything.

Invariably, as I’m slogging through the early bits, deleting crap, trying to find the emotional core of the two characters, I’ll write a scene where I go, ooh. That’s it. And then my hero and heroine are in the same book in that scene and I adjust everywhere else and then I get to worry more about plot.

It doesn’t matter how detailed a synopsis I wrote– and I can tell you that the synopsis for this story is long out the window but for the hero and heroine’s names– until I get the characters on the page in actual writing I don’t know what the story will be about.

In happy news, I’m about to write the doorknob scene.

But I leave you with this,
Because Janet is right. I’m not housebroken.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | 5 Replies

(First I gotta give a big huzzah for Colin Firth winning the SAG Awards for best actor and for The King’s Speech winning best picture. So perfect!!! Just had to get that out of my system)

On February 6, 1811, the Prince of Wales signed papers making him Regent and unknowingly marking the official beginning of a period in history that, among so many other things, has spawned an entire genre of Romance novels, of which I am proud to include my books. We at Risky Regencies celebrate the time period every day, year in and year out, but to mark this very special 200 year anniversary, I’d thought I’d share my thoughts on why we are still enthralled with such a specific, and brief, time in history.

In honor of the Regency Bicentennial, I’m giving away a copy (albeit a used copy) of J.B. Priestley’s The Prince of Pleasure to one lucky commenter (although the cover might be different than pictured here). The winner will be chosen at random tomorrow so give me your comments before 1/31/11 12 noon ET

On my first blog with the Riskies I mused about why the Regency is such a popular genre in Romance. This blog is an adaptation of that one and, I thought, a good introduction to Regency Bicentennial Week.

First of all, the Regency was a beautiful time period. The lovely Classical architecture and decor of the Georgian age became more varied and colorful, but avoided the excesses of the Victorians. The Regency was a time of great wealth, of beautiful Country houses and gardens, of lovely, elegant fashions. Gone were powdered hair, white wigs, and heavy make-up of the Georgian age. Regency women wore beautifully draping empire-waist silks and muslins, dresses that would still be considered lovely today. Men’s clothing also became more like our modern clothing, the bright-colored brocades and laces of the 1700s giving way to the simplicity, cleanliness, and perfect tailoring Beau Brummell insisted upon. Men and women rode though Hyde Park in fine carriages drawn by perfectly matched horses. The titled elite gathered in exclusive places like Almack’s and White’s. Men sported at Gentleman Jackson’s Boxing Saloon or Tattersal’s. Ladies made “morning calls” in the afternoon, and made their curtsey to the Queen in opulent gowns.

Exciting people lived during the Regency. My favorite is the truly great but imperfect Duke of Wellington, the man who defeated the Emperor Napoleon, but there is also the Prince Regent (“Prinny”), Lord Byron, Beau Brummell, Jane Austen, Caroline Lamb, Harriette Wilson (who Amanda wrote about in her April 15 blog about courtesans), and so many more fascinating people.

The Regency time period echoes our World War II era in my mind, a time of great courage, honor, and drama, and one that eventually led into great social change. The drama of the long war with Napoleon, culminating in Waterloo, a battle still discussed, written about and fictionalized today. Also occurring at this time was the War of 1812, less victorious for the British, events in India, and the humming of impending social change, the beginning of the decline of the upper classes and the growth of wealth from industry and trade, social unrest nipping at the heels of the class system.

The Regency is a transitional period between the decadence of the 18th century and the repression of the Victorian Age. As such there are elements of both, providing rich opportunities for dramatic conflict. For example, it is an age when the idea of marrying for love came to the fore, and yet, marriages of convenience still took place. Women–married women, that is–were still allowed to enjoy a sexual relationship, although more discreetly than did their Georgian mothers. Their poor Victorian daughters were not so lucky. Roles and behavior were more fluid in the Regency, less defined than the eras before or after, allowing the novelist great license to explore.

The Regency is an accessible period: Distant enough to provide an escape from every day life into a world of beauty and conflict, but familiar enough to be able to imagine ourselves living in it.

I love going into the world of Regency England every time I sit down to write. It often becomes as real to me as if I truly lived there. I aspire to bring the Regency vividly alive in my books so readers might love it as much as I do.

It is great to be among this wonderful group of authors who feel that same love of the Regency and that same desire to explore it in new, exciting, and “risky” ways.

Now, for a chance to win The Prince of Pleasure, tell us what you love about the Regency….or comment about anything, like Colin Firth and The King’s Speech!

Posted in Regency | 18 Replies

The Riskies are happy to welcome back guest blogger, Harlequin Historical author Julia Justiss! She’ll be giving away a copy of her new release, Society’s Most Disreputable Gentleman, to one lucky commenter. For more info, visit her website, where she is also giving away Godiva chocolates…

The Romance of Lace

Many thanks to the Riskies for inviting me to talk about my February release and share a bit about that loveliest of fabrics, English lace!

First, a bit about that new release, Society’s Most Disreputable Gentleman. Fired from his job as estate manager and then abducted and pressed into the Royal Navy. hero Greville Anders (brother of heroine Joanna of From Waif to Gentleman’s Wife) returns after 8 month’s service at sea a radically different man. Eager to obtain his release and pursue an honest career, he has little interest in the idle Society he used to frequent. But despite his vow to reform his rake’s ways, how could he help but flirt with his host’s beautiful daughter Amanda? For her part, Amanda Neville has dreamed since childhood of becoming a brilliant Society hostess. She’s not about to risk that by dallying with a younger son of little fortune, no matter how scandalously attractive he might be!

When Greville finds himself marooned in the Devon countryside while he recovers from wounds suffered during a battle with privateers, he’s happy to further his flirtation with Amanda by having her give him a tour of her father’s vast estate.

Along with fields planted in corn, mining on the Dartmoor, and flocks of sheep and cattle, Amanda’s father acts as a factor for his tenants who produce handicrafts. One of the most famous Devonshire handicrafts was Honiton lace, which was produced by craftspeople in their home cottages and then sent to the town of Honiton, where merchants marketed it to London and other large towns in England.

It’s thought that lacemaking originated in Italy in the 16th century and then spread throughout Europe. Some credit the lace-making tradition in Honiton to Flemish weavers who came over to pursue the cloth trade, for the town had been a center for the weaving of wool and flax since medieval times. Whether Flemish weavers brought the techniques or not, by the time that Charles II was making lace collars and cuffs fashionable, the lace makers of the Honiton area were developing their unique style of embroidery, drawn-thread, and cutwork.

Honiton lace is best known for its floral and leaf motifs, which were the result of several craftsmen’s group efforts. The flower or leaf design would be made by one designer; then the pieces, called “sprigs,” would be stitched together in larger pieces. The lace patterns were made using pairs of slender pointed bobbins. The lacemaker would prick out a design on parchment, which was pinned atop a small, firm pillow stuffed with straw or sawdust. Pins would be inserted into the design, around which the threads would be woven and plaited to create the design. These flower pieces were then stitched to a net background.

During the mid-18th–19th centuries, it was estimated that nearly half the population in the area were engaged in the lace business. However, like many handcrafts lacemaking suffered after the introduction of power looms.

Queen Victoria did her part to revive the craft. When she married Prince Albert in 1840, her dress was to be trimmed with Flemish lace, but the Queen insisted the lace on her gown be English instead. An order was placed with Tuckers in the nearby town of Branscombe, who was then the largest employer of lace makers in the area. When the couple’s first child was born, the christening gown was also trimmed with Honiton lace; the gown was used for royal christenings for many years, until the cloth became too fragile. The royal family continues to order Honiton lace for special occasion; in 1981, Lady Diana Spencer’s gown was trimmed with Honiton lace.

Allhallow’s Museum, a 13th century former chapel that is the oldest building in Honiton, contains an extensive collection of historic lace. There are also many shops in town specializing in lace and the local pottery for which Honiton is also famed.

After Amanda gives Greville a tour of her father’s estate, he’s almost as impressed by his host’s vast and varied enterprises as he is by his beautiful hostess! I hope you will find Greville and Amanda’s story equally engaging.

So, how do you feel about lace? Is is a sweet luxury that whispers romance–or when trimming lingerie, something naughtier? Or an old-fashioned fabric that should give way to modern textiles? I wish I might offer one responder a piece of Honiton lace, but will have to limit myself to a copy of Disreputable!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 26 Replies

I recently edited the beginning of my mess-in-progress, pruning out some backstory that didn’t need to be in the first scene.

When I first joined RWA, the standard advice for newbies was to avoid the Dreaded Info Dump in the first chapter and just trickle in details from the characters’ past as needed. And I generally follow this advice, as I did this time.

But I never became No-Info-Dump Purist (or a Goal-Motivation-and-Conflict Purist, or a H/H-Must-Meet-On-First-Page Purist) or really bought into any of the hard and fast rules beloved by some critique groups. The reason is early in my RWA education I also read some amazing books that broke rules. Intelligently, of course.

On one end of the backstory spectrum is Loretta Chase’s LORD OF SCOUNDRELS. It starts with a summary of the hero’s life from birth onwards. I have heard NID Purists protest—maybe they are just jealous. Readers in general and the judges of the 1995 RITA didn’t care. I think the beginning works because 1) it’s fast-paced and entertainingly written and 2) it really does help prepare the reader for Dain’s beastly behavior.

I found the opposite extreme in another favorite, Laura Kinsale’s FOR MY LADY’S HEART. The most heartwrenching details of the heroine’s backstory are held back until near the end of the book. Readers who love this book sense that there is something tragic that caused the heroine to develop such strong and sometimes sinister defenses. When it is revealed, it makes for a very powerful scene.

Anyway, how do you like your backstory served up? Any favorite rule-breaking stories?

So we got a little snow over the past couple of days–maybe you’ve heard? My son got a snow day yesterday, in fact, and NYC public schools NEVER have snow days, so it was a big deal.

But that did not stop me from finding the romance! Last night, I went to the book launch party for Eloisa James at WORD in Brooklyn, a romance-friendly bookstore. Eloisa talked about her books, including her new release, When Beauty Tamed The Beast, and then signed books for fans. Despite the evil weather, the event was standing-room only, and it was cool to hear Eloisa’s inspiration for this book, a mash-up of “Beauty And The Beast” and House.

And speaking of mash-ups, here’s an NSFW video of a sign language student signing Cee-Lo Green’s amazing song:

I love mash-ups. For me, juxtaposing the high culture with low is just brilliant. Perhaps one of the first ones of those I ever encountered was Alexander Pope‘s poem “The Rape Of The Lock,” which equates cutting a piece of hair from an object of affection with something much more serious.

Other than that, however, all I’ve done lately is work at the New Day Job and try to navigate home life so all the Framptons have clean laundry and such.

So–what crazy mash-ups can you think of? Are you a fan of mash-ups? Do you ever get the chance to go to book launch parties, or if you’re an author, have them yourself?

Stay warm!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 6 Replies
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By