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Monthly Archives: April 2011

When you combine:

  • a small group of mommy writers
  • a lake house rental
  • chocolate
  • laptops
  • coffee and tea
  • DVDs featuring gorgeous men in period garb
  • chocolate
  • notebooks
  • wine
  • and (in case I forgot) chocolate?

The makings of a fabulous writers’ retreat and what I’m doing this weekend. After my recent writing time drought, it is wonderful to be writing again.

My local writer buddies and I try to have a retreat like this each spring and sometimes in the fall as well, when the weather is often pleasant and we don’t have to pay peak season rates.

Non-writers somehow get the idea that we’re just there to party but they couldn’t be more wrong. We socialize and share our progress over meals and in the evenings (when the DVDs with gorgeous men come out). But in between, we immerse ourselves in our stories, only coming out for the occasional thinking walk or paddle (sometimes we get a canoe or kayaks).

Sometimes I come out with a new or expanded outline and sometimes with oodles of new pages. I always come out with renewed energy to finish the mess-in-progress.

Have you ever gone on a retreat, for writing or some other purpose? What are your favorite ingredients for a successful retreat? Anyone else doing something fun this weekend?


P.S. This picture is of a sunrise from the deck of the house we rented last spring. Sometimes the muse doesn’t sleep!

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Happy Friday!*

I know it’s not very sporting of me, but I had no interest in Royal Wedding shenanigans (not maligning those who did!–just not for me), so I won’t be discussing it here today.

In fact, I haven’t seen any of it except for in my Twitter stream, since I am on a train heading to the New England RWA Conference, where I’m meeting up with my friend and fellow author, Myretta Robens.

It’s cool doing this traveling, and I’m thinking about the hours our heroines spent in carriages on the road heading to country estates, Scottish castles, or remote cottages where their old governesses live. That’s a lot of time to spend inside with not much to do; in this day and age, where free time is at a premium, it feels like a veritable treat not to have anything else one can do, but back then, for an active person, it must’ve been maddening!

Of course, there were always books to read, but as we also know from our heroines, there weren’t a lot of fun books. Maybe their stodgy uncles would have forced some uplifting sermon-y thing on them, or they could have snagged a copy of Ovid’s poetry or something if they were being daring.

But books in massive TBR piles? Not happening for our ladies. No wonder they had time to moon about the hero! But for me now, I’m working on the train (this isn’t work, I am doing other work), and I do have no fewer than four books with me for a long weekend trip. About enough, right?

What would you do with long hours of travel time? What else do you suppose our heroines did while traveling?


*I know this isn’t the right type of carriage I’m discussing; YOU try to find good images while on a train and slowish Wifi.

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Let’s Give a Big Risky Welcome to Isobel Carr!

Today I’m thrilled have Isobel Carr visiting the Riskies to tell us about her new book, Ripe for Pleasure, dish some secrets and give away some books.

Welcome to the Riskies Isobel!

About Isobel Carr

Isobel is originally from Boulder Creek, California, but she’s lived in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland) since finishing undergrad at Hollins College in Virginia and moving “home” for graduate school. Her BA is in philosophy and English (wrote her thesis on the Absurd Skeptical Hero as the living embodiment of the existentialist), but she minored in creative writing and history. She won the Intro Journals Award when she was an undergraduate, and went on to study poetry at San Francisco State University under Frances Mayes (yes, as in Under the Tuscan Sun).

After finishing graduate school, it became painfully clear that a job in the arts wasn’t going to pay enough to eat, so she set about looking for a “real” job and ended up putting the analytical skills she learned as a philosophy major to work as an international trade consultant (basically, she fights with lawyers for a living). When not doing that, Isobel is usually writing, though very occasionally she still takes a day to go to a historical re-enactment . . . in the name of research of course.

Currently, she lives in a 1916 bungalow in Oakland, California with her Mastiff, Clancy, a crowntail betta named Nigel, and Nigel’s minions, the kuhli loaches (who can’t be told apart, and thus do not get names). If you’re ever at The Heart and Dagger by Lake Merritt and you see a woman with a giant, dark-brindle dog, say hi. There’s a 99.9% chance it’s Isobel. You can find her as Isobel Carr on both FaceBook and Twitter.

Ripe for Pleasure

London’s most sensual former courtesan, Viola Whedon, is incapable of being seduced-she does the seducing. Until she meets Leonidas Vaughn. Her salacious memoirs have made her the target of half the lords in England, and Vaughn is the only man she can turn to. When he promises to protect her-and to make her beg for his touch-the alluring beauty finds both offers impossible to refuse.

Leonidas Vaughn secretly believes Viola possesses a fortune given to his family by the King of France. So the strong and sexy Vaughn charms his way into Viola’s life . . . and her bed. But when their arrangement is consummated, he’ll experience pleasure far beyond his wildest fantasies-and realize his heart may need the most protection of all.

Carr is a born storyteller. — RT Book Reviews

Buy Ripe For Pleasure
ISBN-10: 0446572756

Read an Excerpt (pdf)

1. Tell us about your book (or the series)

RIPE FOR PLEASURE is the first book in the LEAGUE OF SECOND SONS series. I’ve always been intrigued by younger sons. Wellington was a younger son. So was Nelson. So was Charles James Fox. And so is Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L. Sayers’s brilliant books, which I was reading at the time. These guys have to find something to DO with themselves. They have to make their own way (to a certain extent). I just think they have more scope than a man who’s fated to inherit a title and money, but has to wait in the wings for his father to die before he actually has any power (there’s a reason why kings and princes rarely get on).

I was watching THE LIBERTINE, and loving the sexy carriage ride after the opening monologue. The whole idea of abducting a wife, of her being complicit in it, got me thinking about the profound changes caused by the Marriage Act of 1753. If you could no longer easily abscond with an heiress, what might you do to better your odds? Who would you rely on? A club, made up entirely of younger sons, seemed ideal (and utterly practical).

Everything just kind of fed into the idea (because, really, it all feeds the beast one way or another). I’d been kicking around the idea of using the lost fortune the King of France sent to support Bonnie Prince Charlie in a book, and I’d also been toying with a courtesan heroine who was publishing her memoir, a la Harriette Wilson. I ended up combining all my ideas into one plot and calling it NO GENTLEMAN (because really, the hero is behaving very badly at the outset, when he’s planning on seducing the heroine and stealing a fortune out from under her). We lost the title due to another author’s series already having something quite similar in the works [shakes fist at Eileen Dryer], but I love the titles we hit upon for the series. So sexy, and unusual enough that I think they stand out in a sea of “How to F*ck a Duke” titles (as my editor calls them, LOL!).

So in RIPE FOR PLEASURE, we have Lord Leonidas Vaughn, new owner of his grandfather’s hunting box, frantic to keep it, but without the fortune to maintain it. He finds hints of Jacobite treason in the family tree and sets out to find the missing money. It’s not fun and games for him. He HAS to find it, or he’ll have to sell the estate he loves.

The last known whereabouts (per the letters he finds) are a house in London. A house that now belongs to a retired courtesan who’s making the male half of the ton miserable with her memoir. Leo sees the perfect opening to insinuate himself into her life and hunt for the treasure . . .

2. I hear you have a cute little dog who inspired one of the characters in RIPE FOR PLEASURE. Is that true?

I’m not sure “cute” is the word most people would use for my 170lb drool machine, but I think he’s cute, LOL! My friend Jess calls him a handsome beast, and my mom calls him disgusting. The truth is somewhere in-between.

Clancy is a 2 year-old Mastiff mix (momma was a Bullmastiff and daddy was a Neapolitan Mastiff), and he does seem to have the magical ability to make other people want to own a giant breed . . . after I got him, my best friend and her husband went and got a girl from the same litter, and then my sister did the same. Last Thanksgiving my best friend from college came to visit, and he promptly went home to Manhattan and got a Giant Schnauzer puppy. There’s just something undeniably awesome about having a person-sized dog. They’re so huggable. And boy do you feel safe!

The mastiff in RIPE FOR PLEASURE is probably more like a combo of my boy’s sisters and the Staffordshire Terrier I had before him, but yes, still inspired by “my” dogs. Clancy is super mellow, while his sisters are bit more obvious about being “on guard” (but when we have them all together, the girls are the second line of defense, and he’s clearly expected to meet whatever bogyman they’re identified head-on).

3. A lot of our readers probably already know about your expertise in period clothing, but could you tell us about that anyway? How’d you get into the area and what do you think led to the development of your expertise in that instead of something like, uh, doorknobs?

Well, those who know my secret, alternative identity might, LOL! But I imagine my background is new to a lot of people. I grew up doing historical re-enactments of all kinds, so costumes and history were simply an everyday part of life. There were always events to go to, new costumes to be made, and weekly “stitch and bitch” sessions (frequently accompanied by costume dramas). My first solo costume project came when I was twelve. I’d picked out a 12th century Spanish gown and my mom just laughed and said, “You want it, you make it.” So I did. After college, I fell in with a group of truly crazy re-enactors who wanted everything to be uber-period. They researched period sewing techniques and made all their costumes by hand. They made their own trim. They made their own hook and eyes. I tried to resist, but eventually I succumbed, and I couldn’t be happier. I LOVE hand sewing, though I don’t really have time to costume right now. *sigh*

4. What’s the strangest or most surprising historical fact you’ve learned? Bonus points if the answer is Risky!

Hmmmmmmmmmm. So many options . . . but the “riskiest” is probably the stuff in “Aristotle’s Masterpiece”. There are recipes for tonics to purge “moles” and bring on menses. Basically, it’s an 18th century morning after pill.

The most surprising, and annoying, historical fact is that scones are Victorian! Oh, the word was in use, but a scone in late-Georgian/Regency England was a type of Scottish griddle cake (peasant food)

5. If you had a bazillion dollars, what would you buy me? (I would buy you the V&A, just so you have a benchmark.)

Well, if you’re getting me the V&A, I’ll get you the Kyoto Costume Institute, and then we can join forces, move them both to San Francisco, and make the mean girls at the MET cry.

Give Away!

I’ll be giving away 5 copies of RIPE FOR PLEASURE here on Risky Regencies today. Let’s make it simple: What the title of the second book in the LEAGUE OF SECOND SONS series (answer can be found on my website or on Amazon)?

So, leave a comment folks!

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Happy royal wedding week, everyone! I had planned on pulling together a post about royal wedding traditions, but caught a sore throat this weekend and writing two WIPs on cold medicine is, frankly, kicking my butt over here. Who knows how these chapters will read once my head has cleared???

But I am definitely excited for this Friday! Some of my friends are having a wedding party, complete with cake, champagne, and (possibly) large hats, and you can be sure I will have opinions next Tuesday. In the meantime, let’s look at some pretty dresses. Here are a few royal brides, both of recent and vintage varieties (and I am sure I am missing some good ones, but these are the ones I have pics of that are ready to go!). Which are your favorites? What do you predict for Kate’s dress? Which tiara will she wear? Do you have your wedding party planned?

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I have an exciting, busy week ahead of me. Today I pick up my friend Melissa James from the airport. Melissa is my Australian friend living in Switzerland and is coming for a visit and to attend the Washington Romance Writers Spring Retreat. Tomorrow we are taking a quick trip to New York City so that Melissa can meet with her agent, coming back on Wednesday. Thursday Melissa’s friend Mia Zachary is coming to spend the day with us and we are going to my friend Lisa Dyson’s house to have a critique group, also including Darlene Gardner. Friday to Sunday we go to the Retreat. Next Monday, I take Melissa back to the airport.

Whew!! I’m exhausted just writing this!
So, today, all I have time for is a poll I’ve devised for….no reason at all!
Diane’s Regency Poll
Pick your favorite:
a. Wellington
b. Napoleon
a. Keats
b. Shelley
a. Austen
b. Brunton
a. Thomas Lawrence
b. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
a. Floris Scent Shop
b. Gunter’s Tea Shop
a. George Brummell
b. Banastre Tarleton
a. Elizabeth Armistead
b. Harriette Wilson
a. Vauxhall Gardens
b. Astley’s Amphitheatre
a. Castlereagh
b. Sidmouth
a. Brighton Pavillion
b. Gretna Green
How many a’s did you score? How many b’s?
The more a’s you have, the more you think like me!
What Regency choices would you create? Add to my poll.
This Thursday at Diane’s Blog, I’ll tell you about my New York trip with Melissa! Next Monday here you’ll hear about the Retreat.
Posted in Regency | 19 Replies
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