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One of my favorite parts of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference is that the Beau Monde chapter of RWA holds their annual conference the Wednesday before. I try always to attend. It is a great chance to see old friends and to hear great presentations on my favorite topics–anything about the Regency era!

IMG_0082This years conference keynote speaker was Miranda Neville, who honored her recently deceased father in her speech. Her father nurtured Miranda’s interest in history and took her and her sister to museums throughout Europe as a result. If that wasn’t enough to envy, she also had an idyllic childhood on a farm in Wiltshire and went on to work for Sotheby’s, writing catalogues of rare books and original letters and manuscripts. This meant she was paid to read the personal correspondence of historical figures, including those of “our” time period. Needless to say, Miranda likes to get the history correct in her books!

Our Risky Janet Mullany presented a workshop on servants, but I won’t say much about that, because she may be telling you herself. She told us about Black servants who were in England for many years. She mentioned one of the duties of footmen was to deliver messages for the lords and ladies for whom they worked. I thought it a clever fact to use in a future story that the footmen might take hours to deliver such messages, even though the distances might be nor more that a mile away.

Another Risky who presented a workshop was Isobel Carr, who spoke about the fabrics of the time period, about the different weaves of fabrics and the different materials from which they were made. Isobel has so much expertise to share on this topic, it is much too extensive for me to repeat. One interesting fact, though. We all believed that Scottish clans each had their own tartans. I imagined the clans rushing into battle at Culloden each wearing their clan’s plaids. It turns out that, in the late 18th century, a man named William Wilsons published a pattern book in which he assigned clan names to different tartans. The clans themselves had nothing to do with it.

Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_Singing_to_the_reverendRisky friend Louisa Cornell talked about The Musical Education of a Regency Young Lady. I’ve heard Louisa speak on this topic before and I was so happy to hear Louisa, formerly a professional opera singer, sing some of the examples. She showed us what (and how) a sweet young might sing at a recital, what a talented young lady might sing, and what selections would be scandalous for a young lady to sing. Turns out, singing scandalous songs was acceptable in society.

Jackie Horne spoke about The Material Culture of Childhood and showed how the different cultural views on childhood were reflected in their toys, furniture, and clothing. Before 1750, children were rushed to adulthood, so their furniture, clothing, etc. reflected that. 1750 to 1830 was the era of the Natural Child, the belief that childhood was a special time requiring more freedom of movement than children had experienced previously. One interesting fact Jackie told us. Baby carriages were not invented until 1830, so don’t have your Regency characters pushing one!

Cheryl Bolen shared tons of information on the interiors of Regency houses, both in Town and in the country. She showed us slide after slide of wonderful Regency interiors, including some beautiful Adams rooms. You can see these images on her Pinterest Boards. An interesting fact–her floorplan of a typical Regency town house showed that the master’s bedroom was on the ground floor behind the dining room.

georgette-heyer-biographyThe Beau Monde was honored to have Jennifer Kloester, author of the recent acclaimed biography of Georgette Heyer. Ms. Kloester gave us a lovely picture of Heyer, including many of the insider tidbits she’d learned doing her research. She showed us a photograph of Heyer in her 20s by a then famous photographer. She looked like a 13 year old. Another photo the next year was more like the one on this book cover.

I missed the last workshop, because I needed to get ready for RWA’s huge Literacy Book Signing, but I heard it was wonderful, too. It was about Regency dance and was intriguingly titled Rethinking the Regency Ballroom with special guest Susan de Guardiola.

Miss Guardiola also led us in dance later at the evening soiree, where I joined other Beau Monde members, many in period costume, dancing the dances of the Regency. My dance partner was Joanne Grant, Senior Executive Editor at Harlequin UK. She and I have danced at previous soirees and it was a delight to have her attend this year’s and dance with me again!

It was a wonderful Beau Monde conference. Special thanks to Janna MacGregor, the coordinator of the conference. She did a marvelous job! And has become a great friend of mine, as well!

What topics would you like to hear presented at a Beau Monde conference? I’ll pass on your ideas!

Hello all! I’m sorry that I haven’t been around much of this year. Life has been more than ordinarily challenging–maybe I’ll share some of the story someday.

What I can tell right now is that once again I’m working on a comeback. I’ve some experience at this already, having made two creative recoveries in the past, and this time I am more strongly motivated than ever. Perhaps over the next few years, I’ll even surprise myself. I hope so!

One of the first steps I’ve taken was heading out to this year’s RWA conference in San Diego. I know about a month has passed, but you may still enjoy some pics from the Beau Monde (Regency special interest chapter) soiree. Here are some of the members, including me, posing in our Regency garb.

And here I am with Cara King, author of My Lady Gamester and past Risky, along with Sir Reginald Scott, the rakish cousin of author Regina Scott.

Some of us helped out with a video used as part of the RITA and Golden Heart ceremony. Here’s the video from Youtube. Check us out at about 15:15.

Since RWA, I have been starting work on several projects. More on that soon! And it’s nice to be back. 🙂

A part of me wishes I were still in NYC. I heard the Fourth of July fireworks there are going to be the best ever! But I was really tired after a week of RWA, where I had the very best time.

I hope you are all finding some fun place to celebrate our Nation’s birthday. It seems a little odd that I’m going to be spending my blog today talking about the Regency world instead of our founding fathers who declared Independence from the country in which all my books are set.
On Tuesday last week, I attended the Beau Monde Conference, a one-day event that took place before the actual Romance Writers conference. Mary Jo Putney opened the conference with a talk about her Regency writing career and her fondness for the time period.
Risky Janet gave a fascinating workshop on the Abolitionist movement in England.

And my friend Victoria Hinshaw discussed the Battle of Waterloo through the reenactment she attended last year on the battle’s anniversary.

I had to miss the afternoon sessions, but I didn’t miss the Soiree

The Mills and Boon editors, Linda Fildew and Joanne Grant stopped in at the Soiree. From L to R, Julia Justiss, Linda Fildew, me, Joanne Grant.

There were so many wonderful Regency costumes. I told everyone that I was dressed “Regencyesque.” My dress was long, but not exactly Regency.

I ran into Janet here and there during the conference, and I saw Megan enough to say hi to, but I only glimpsed Carolyn. She did look lovely presenting a RITA, though. I missed Amanda and thought of her often. We sent a photo of me and Andrea/Cara Elliot, I think. Things about the conference are already trying to blur.

Thursday at Diane’s Blog I‘ll talk about the rest of the conference and show some more photos. I have a new excerpt of Valiant Soldier, Beautiful Enemy at my website and some exciting new news and a new contest.

Tell us what you are doing this Fourth of July!!!
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Greetings from the Enchanted Kingdom of the Mighty Mouse where this Risky is battling technology with a new camera and the internet of our grandfathers. Suffice it to say that we endured the worst shuttle service ever from airport to hotel as Carolyn so eloquently reported yesterday, and we had a real fun time at the Beau Monde Conference yesterday.

Here are pics of Riskies at the Literacy Signing last night. For some reason I found Carolyn extremely difficult to photograph–I think she’s a vampire–I kept missing the top of her head.

And note the blue banners denoting that both Carolyn and Amanda are RITA nominees–more to report on that later. The awards ceremony is Saturday night.

After a day of stimulating workshops–I don’t believe anyone slept through mine, and I was awake and on my feet which is always good for a presenter–we changed into Regency finery for an evening of incompetent dancing, gambling away our estates, and gossip.

If you’re attending the Conference, please join us for breakfast tomorrow morning!

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The History Conference held on the Wednesday before RWA kicks off held a Silent Auction during the Afternoon Tea. I’ve attended several of these Silent Auctions and pride myself on having a fool-proof strategy.

This year was no exception!

My strategy, honed by these years of experience, was to bid on several items so that I would have a good chance of winning at least one or two of the items I most desired. I put my claims in early and checked now and then (between tea sandwiches) to see how I was doing. As time ticked on, I became a little nervous. No one was bidding against me! I was winning EVERYTHING. Several more checks confirmed my fears. I won each and every single thing I’d bid on. The only saving grace to my pocketbook (strained after two and a half days of shopping in San Francisco)was that I’d bid low.
(these series of 3 photos are courtesy of The Beau Monde)

I don’t know. Maybe I should not have attended the Gentleman’s Tipple workshop where we sampled about ten different types of alcohol of which Regency Gentlemen would have imbibed. I tasted them all.

At least I won some treasures!

This lovely plate, donated by our Risky friend, Jane George.

Two prints Jane also donated. These I added to my already long list of items because no one else saw their incredible value and I got them for a SONG. David’s portrait of Napoleon and this other one. I think it says, “The Bank Looking Towards Mansion House.”

A CD – Napoleon: Music of the Empire 1800-1815. This was my year for Napoleon, I guess.

Books, of course. I always donate books to the Silent Auction. Every year I donate the duplicate copies of books that I have purchased for myself. Yes. I do forget and buy the same book twice. This year I donated three books… and purchased three books!

Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron was first published in 1858. The author is Edward Trelawny, who met Shelley and Byron on a trip to Italy. Trelawny was also the guy who designed the boat that Shelley and Edward Williams took out to sea on the last day of their lives.

The Young Melbourne by David Cecil looks good, too. Melbourne is William Lamb, the poor guy who married Caroline Lamb, who had a famous affair with Byron.

And the last book looks like more fun. The Scouring of the White Horse. If you are driving in the Berkshires you might come upon the white chalk figure of a horse carved into a hillside. This book tells about the 1857 festival of the cleansing of the horse by the people of Uffington. It is an eye-witness account by the author of Tom Brown’s School Days.

Many thanks to Jane George and Delle Jacobs for all their hard work on this very successful Silent Auction!

The background of my photos is the Pashmina I purchased in China Town. They assured me it was 100% Pashmina, all for $14.99.

If you attended the Silent Auction, what did you win and what did you lose? What was the most disappointing thing you ever lost in an auction?
‘Fess up. You’ve purchased duplicate books, too, haven’t you?

Visit my website and enter my contest. They both are still there!

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