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I blogged a few months ago on a post called Where do you get your ideas? about how a story starts for me, and I’m very happy to announce that that book, now called Chained, has sold–details were thrashed out by the agent and editor while I traveled to Atlanta–a great way to start the RWA National Conference! Or rather, an almost completely different version of that book has sold.

Then, the story was called, tentatively, The Story of Miss O. I renamed it Chained as I realized the story was about the English abolitionist movement. Here are the pics I found of the hero and heroine (courtesy of Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun’s portraits of Russian aristocrats), although being my characters, they do not look nearly as cleaned-up and glamorous:

Now the editor liked the idea, she particularly liked the naughty goings-on that occurred in a carriage in chapter three, but she glommed onto something I was hoping to avoid because it involved real research, and gasp, I have a deadline of the end of the year. This year. My original story started off in England and after a while and many more naughty goings-on in a variety of locations, the action moved to a Caribbean sugar-producing island, where, um, more of the same took place, and then they sailed for home, by which time the hero/heroine are not speaking to each other. This is a two-month voyage. That’s a long, long sulk. This is not terrific plotting. It bothered me. I was afraid I’d write a book that contained something like this–Two months later, as they stepped onto English soil again… And I wasn’t really sure how it would end.

My local RWA chapter, bless their hearts, had a plotting session at one of our meetings. To a woman, they said I should have a raging mob with pitchforks and the hero performing heroic deeds to win the heroine. Um, yes, I said, but the English abolitionist movement wasn’t like that. It was housewives boycotting sugar, and earnest Quakers distributing pamplets and getting names for petitions–the Georgian equivalent of envelope-stuffing for a political campaign.

The editor–who of course zoomed in, eagle-eyed, on the terrible weakness of the original plot– told me she wanted it set on the Caribbean island, with the story beginning on the voyage out, and could I send her a couple of paragraphs on how I would rewrite it. Later that day, if possible, certainly before the weekend (this was the Wednesday of the week before National). I produced a cold sweat instead, went home, and thought about more sin in the sun and less about earnest Quakers in appalling weather. I thought about raging mobs. Raging mobs with machetes…a slave revolt. I sent an email to the editor the next day, she liked it, and she and my agent began thrashing out the stuff we writers are too timid to attempt. Less than a week later, the day before the conference started, we had a deal.

So now all I have to do is rewrite and write and go to see “Pirates of the Caribbean” because I can write it off as a legitimate business expense! Chained will be released in (probably) Sept. 2007 under the name of Jane Lockwood for NAL’s Heat line.

And now I really must write!

It’s the birthday of Josiah Wedgwood, born this day in 1730 (died January 3, 1795) the founder of Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Pottery, a company still in existence although it’s now owned by a US company. Here are the UK and US websites.

Now Josiah is a bit of a hero for me. He was smart, hardworking, came from humble beginnings and was an abolitionist. What’s not to love? He was also the grandfather of Charles Darwin. Yesss!

Also, according to Wikipedia:

Wedgwood is credited as the inventor of modern marketing, specifically direct mail, money-back guarantees, traveling salesmen, self-service, free delivery, buy one get one free, and illustrated catalogues.

And it was his marketing acumen that came up with the idea of a logo  and tagline (Am I not a Man and a Brother?) for the ‪Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. It became tremendously successful and was reproduced on pottery, jewelry, and other artefacts. (He probably didn’t actually design it himself,  though.) As his friend and fellow abolitionist Thomas Clarkson said,

…ladies wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for their hair. At length the taste for wearing them became general, and thus fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honorable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity and freedom…

He was interested in more than business or design, becoming involved with the science of pottery, and was a member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, a group of businessmen, scientists and philosophers, so named because they liked to meet on the night of the full moon, thus allowing them more time for talk and less for travel. He was elected a member of the Royal Society after he invented the  pyrometer, a device to measure the extremely high temperatures in kilns during firing.

I could, but I won’t, fill this entire post of pics of Wedgwood’s work although he considered this, the Portland vase, his greatest work. It was a copy of a Roman intaglio vase, made of glass. Here’s his (on the left) and the original (on the right).

Another thing I really love about Wedgwood is how he ties into so much that’s fascinating about the Georgian period. Sir William Hamilton, later husband of Emma, first brought the Portland vase to England. Mrs. Radcliffe’s father managed the Bath Wedgwood showroom and one of her uncles was a business partner of Josiah’s. There are the Darwin and abolitionist connections. Jane Austen  owned some Wedgwood, as she wrote in a letter to Cassandra in 1811:

On Monday I had the pleasure of receiving, unpacking and approving  our Wedgwood ware. It all came very safely and upon the whole is a good match, tho’ I think  they might have  allowed us rather larger leaves, especially in such a year of fine foliage as this. One is apt to suppose that the Woods about Birmingham must be blighted.

So did her brother Edward, and some of his china is on display at Jane’s home, the Chawton House Museum.  For more about Austen and Wedgwood, visit this wonderful post at

And for a sneak preview of the cover of my next book, Hidden Paradise, go to Facebook!

Do you own any Wedgwood? I have a pair of earrings. I don’t know whether I’d want to own a whole set of his famous designs. They might be a bit overpowering… What do you think?


Today we have as our Risky guest Jane Lockwood, whose first erotic historical, Forbidden Shores (Signet Eclipse), is released October 2. Your comment or question through Monday will enter you into a drawing for a signed copy of the book; the winner will be announced here on Tuesday.

Janet: Jane, welcome to the Riskies. I feel as though I know you already! Tell us about the book.

Jane: Forbidden Shores is about three people who each fall in love with the one person of the three who cannot love them back. I think I tend to see love as a catalyst, a powerful force that can be destructive as well as healing. Generally everything I write starts off with people who are quite happy as they are until they fall in love. Then they kick and scream as everything changes. It’s set against the background of the abolitionist movement and takes place mostly on a Caribbean island; Clarissa, the heroine, actually quotes from The Tempest at one point, and Hero #2 (March) is the enigmatic, powerful ruler of the island, a sort of Prospero figure. And if you were really going to explore the analogy, Allen, Hero #1, is Caliban. (Oh, and by the way, it’s much more explicit than the cover or back cover blurb suggests.)

Janet: What was your inspiration?

Jane: A brilliant book called Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild about the British abolitionist movement. Abolition was a hot, polarizing issue in Georgian England and full of conflict and sacrifice and passion, and I knew I wanted to write about abolitionists after I read it. I originally intended to set the book in England but my editor thought Quakers collecting signatures for petitions in the rain not nearly as sexy as sex on the beach of a Caribbean island.

Janet: So you had to deal with the issue of slavery in the book.

Jane: It was very painful and difficult to write about. Slaves working on sugar plantations were treated inhumanly and shamefully. I certainly didn’t want to go into lurid details, but I didn’t want to tone it down, and neither did I want to idealize the slaves who appear as secondary characters.

Janet: OK, let’s talk about something safer–sex. You have a menage a trois–was that difficult to write? And since there are so many erotic romances with menages, how did you make yours different, or dare I say, risky?

Jane: After diligent research–[unseemly snorts of laughter]–I didn’t want to make it too slick and multi-earth-moving. It’s part crazy lust but it also represents the desperation of all three not getting what they really want and knowing that this is as close as they can get. So there’s a fair amount of clumsiness and reluctance, but the heroine, whose idea it is, has the best time (my editor’s suggestion).

Janet: What’s the hardest thing about writing erotic romance?

Jane: I think you could have phrased that a little better. Really, finding other things for your characters to do; making them believable as people.

Janet: Is there any sort of sexual practice you’d feel uncomfortable writing about?

Jane: In this book, with its context, any sort of master/slave sex play. I guess I’m expected to say “no non-consensual sex” but I think once your characters are experimenting and exploring they may well do things they don’t want to do–or think they didn’t want to do.

Janet: Did you do any special research?

Jane: Not as much as I would have liked. For the sea voyage, I re-read a wonderful book by Eric Newby, The Last Grain Race, that gives an incredible portrait of life below decks on a sailing ship. Newby, who died last year, was the travel writer for the Observer in England, and in 1939 he sailed on a grain ship from Dublin to Australia on a ship that’s now a restaurant in Philadelphia, the Moshulu. I also re-read The Wide Sargasso Sea, a book I find unsatisfying because both voices are Jean Rhys’s (even though she has a wonderful voice). As well as some books on the history of the Caribbean, I found a couple of great websites: the Antigua & Barbuda Museum and Brycchan Carey’s Links and Web Resources for Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation. I visited Bristol, now my favorite English city, and its wonderful (free!) museums. And I borrowed the wording for a manumission from Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative.

Janet: What’s your favorite part of the book?

Jane: The chapter where Allen does his own laundry (a big no-no for a Georgian gentleman) and then climbs the mast of a ship (talk about phallic symbolism!).

Ask Jane questions about Forbidden Shores or writing erotic romance. I’ll make sure she’s here to answer them!

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This is a follow-up to Cara’s post the other day about the movie Amazing Grace. Why, you may ask, did the movie industry glom onto what is still (and unjustly) a rather obscure bit of history? Because this year is the two-hundredth anniversary of the Slave Trade Act that came into law on March 25, 1807 (and we’re nearly there and it’s my turn to blog). This, by the way is Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of William Wilberforce.

I first became interested in this topic by reading Adam Hochschild’s wonderful book Bury The Chains, which made me aware of what a burning issue abolition was for late Georgian society (and inspired me to write my October 2007 release, Forbidden Shores). Hochschild points out that it was possibly the first time that people cared passionately enough about a cause–something that would benefit strangers thousands of miles away who they would never meet–to make sacrifices themselves. Ropemakers in Bristol, one of the cities that thrived on the trade, petitioned to end the slave trade, knowing full well that their own livelihood would be threatened.

It was also a movement that cut through divisions of class and gender; ordinary housewives boycotted sugar. Wedgwood produced this plaque (it reads Am I not a man and a brother?) that appeared on many artefacts.

The abolitionists introduced the tactics of the modern political campaign–slogans, investigative journalism, slogans, and powerful visuals like this depiction of a slave ship.

Of course, the major question is why did this happen? What made ordinary–and not so ordinary people–care so passionately about this cause? Hochschild’s answer is rather interesting, and one that made me think entirely differently about the Gerogian and Regency periods. Georgian England was seen, and saw itself, surprisingly, as a fairminded and democratic sort of place–the monarchy was mostly benign, and the concept of Magna Carta operated as a sort of unofficial constitution. Few could vote, but ordinary men had the power of the petition. The country had a great infrastructure, because of the Royal Mail, a high level of literacy, and dozens of newspapers. The dealbreaker of the 1807 act was a new petition bearing several thousand signatures, collected in the north of England and delivered to Westminster in a matter of hours. Hochschild suggests, too, that people in England felt an affinity with the Africans whose communities were devastated by slaver raids, because something similar happened in their own ports–the press gang, which enforced men to serve in the Navy.

As I said, Hochschild’s book made me rethink the Regency, and I’m wondering if you have come across something, a book or movie, that revealed an unusual facet or layer to your understanding of the period.

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