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Do I have links for you!  And stories.


Here’s the strange thing. This first link goes to the blog of my good friend SonomaLass. (Not her IRL name!). Her partner is British and they go to the family farm in Scotland or to Britain proper once a year. This year (and last, actually) they did a canal boat trip and her pictures are wonderful. You will love them. By the way, she brought me back the most beautiful coffee cup:

I LOVE that coffee cup. She says considered getting me the Blue Tit, but decided Swallow was better for a romance author. She is very wise.

Go look at her Canal Trip Pictures, think about Regency folk floating along, but also read about her trip. When you come back, I’ll tell you how we got to be friends.

Fun, eh? Yes, I want to go, too!!

How I met my Good Friend

Two or three years ago now, I kept seeing someone in the comments at Dear Author saying funny, smart stuff and given her handle of “SonomaLass” I finally replied to one of her comments and asked if, by any chance, she lived in Sonoma County. The answer was yes! So, short story even shorter, she lives about 20 minutes from me and works in my town. We’ve been meeting up for conversation and European Sipping Chocolate ever since. And, also as it turns out, someone else turned out to live very close by and now we all three meet regularly and talk about romance novels and all kinds of stuff. I love the internet.

All About Lace

My next link is to A Most Beguiling Accomplishment for a post about lace. I love her blog. Don’t forget to check out the side bar (left and right) for more great links.

When I was 16, our Italian-born neighbor took my sister and I with her when she went to Italy to visit relatives. Some of her relatives lived in VERY small villages in the Alps. It was like sitting in the middle of someone’s ridiculous fantasy about quaint Italian villages. We sat outside their stone house at a table shaded by enormous grape vines and I watched a plump old woman hand make this lace:

Hand tatted Italian Lace. Photo by Moi.

She was unbelievably fast at the lace making (done with bobbins). Like an expert knitter, she didn’t even have to look. She sat with us, chatting with her relative and her American visitors and her hands were constantly moving. My sister also got a lovely hand made lace doily.


From lace to maps: The David Rumsey Map Collection. Connected to Google maps, too.

Oh, my goodness. I have a thing for maps. It’s almost worse than my thing for looking at vacation photos.

Extraordinary People

My next link is outside our period but it’s an article well worth reading about an American woman physician who also did some early sex research beginning in 1892. Celia Mosher was an extraordinary woman, and this Stanford Magazine article makes me wish I’d know her or that she’d lived miraculously long enough to know that other women came after her and they did not have to make the sacrifices she did. Because of women like her, other women got to have bigger dreams and to see them come true.

What strikes me about this article about Dr. Mosher is the sense of how isolated she felt. How many extraordinary women of the past also felt isolated by their ambition and brilliance? It’s a tragedy.

Which leads me to my last post, which is totally outside our period because it’s from just a few days ago (August 2012). An Unexpected Ass Kicking. A touching and inspiring article. I hope you take the time to read it.


When I was young, my grandmother came to live with us for a few years. She got homesick and eventually went back to Oregon where, a couple weeks after locking herself out of the house and climbing through a window to get in, she passed away of a heart attack at age 87.  She was a woman who talked a lot. And I mean a lot. It could be very tedious, to be honest.  As a young woman, my grandmother, not that it matters, was heart-stoppingly beautiful. She certainly is in her wedding picture.

But over several evenings, I sat with my grandmother (who was in many ways an extraordinary woman) and listened to her talk. I didn’t have to say much, but I learned an awful lot about her her family that no one else knew. In fact, I was the first one to hear the story of the family ax murderer, later confirmed by my sister who found the article about his trial. But I LOVE listening to stories.

In fact, I once went to a party where I sat next to a man I figured was probably approaching 80, and he started telling me all about his life growing up in Poland. His family tried to rescue me, but I didn’t want to be rescued. I’m sure they’d all heard the stories before, but they were new to me. It turns out he was 104. Which is why all his stories had no cars or electricity.

I hope to make it to a doddering old age without doddering, and I hope there’s someone around to listen to my stories.

Got any stories about extraordinary people? I would love to hear them!

Super Secret Surprise for people who read this far:

I’m giving away a copy of my September historical Not Proper Enough here.

Rules: Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Post a comment to this post by Midnight Pacific on Friday August 17, 2012. International OK.


I’ve been writing historical romance for quite some time. You’d think I’d know EVERYTHING by now. But I don’t. I know that shocks you, but it’s true. Like most authors who set books in the past, I have a good grasp of the basics of my era (The Regency, doh) and a decent big picture of the Regency era. That’s never enough, of course.

With every book, I’ve either run across something I didn’t know or hadn’t seen before, or else needed some specific detail not in my research library or collection-O-Links. In Not Wicked Enough, for example, I ended up with a need to know about doorknobs. Really, really specific information. I found it, too, from a kind gentleman who is a member of a Doorknob collectors group. For Indiscreet, I had to go big and wide — Turkey in the Regency era. One of my first posts (possibly NSFW, as the post has naked women paintings) for the Riskies was the result of some of that research.

Sometimes I come across something while I’m doing something else ::cough::procrastinating::cough:: and I end up with a fact that I just have to use. Chimney ornaments and chimney glass in Not Proper Enough.

My current project is no exception. Yesterday I came across an amazing website. Before I send you off there to have a look, here’s how it came about: I was writing The Next Historical (Sinclair Sisters Book 2!) and I needed my heroine to call on my hero’s fancy Mayfair house which in Lord Ruin, I’d said was on Charles Street. So I went to Google maps and entered Charles Street, London England — not specific enough to be useful. I made up a street number (25) and THEN I had good results. I switched to Street View and uh-oh. Those houses were cute and clearly close to period, but they were small. I needed a mansion. For some reason I then searched for something like “historical regency interiors charles street” clicked on images and voila! 137 Charles Street is Dartmouth House and the street view is awesome. It’s also now a hotel/wedding location so there were lots of pictures of the interior, including some historical pictures.

In the middle of that Googling, I ended up at a site that was NOT on point as it turned out. Including the word “Regency” in a google search even with other words to filter out the not-even-close stuff, typically hits Real Estate sites. What I thought was one of those had a very interesting, atmospheric picture of Montague House, which I decided to look at. I like to pretend I can buy an English mansion. The website name was Ideal Homes, so, hey!

Since the picture is copyrighted, and since you should go look, here’s a link to the page I landed on. But come back! There’s more!

Obviously, 1) totally awesome 2) Not about buying or selling Real Estate. Oh, ho ho no!!

But what is this site?

Using a generous selection of old photos, old maps, and historic documents from the rich and unique archive and local history collections of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark, Ideal Homes explores the origins and significance of suburbia as revealed through the history of South London. The site is hosted by the University of Greenwich and was funded by the New Opportunities Fund.

I clicked the link A-Z Galleries

Carolyn About Faints: Historic Maps

People, this site is the motherlode for historical researchers. Then I randomly clicked around the South East London boroughs and wow. I am SO grateful to the UK for getting the funding out there to put this kind of resource out there for people. And grateful to the University of Greenwich for doing this. Here’s the about page. While I understand why they’ve called the website Ideal Homes, I’m not sure it was the best choice from a Google-Fu point of view, but I don’t care! I found it! It’s awesome.

Anyway, I wrote my scene, inspired by Dartmouth House (and unable to get Montague House of Blackheath Park out of my head) and when I was all done, I realized my heroine could not go to the hero’s house after all. So yeah. I’ll save most of it for when she DOES have to go.

But it was one of my better writing days.

My hero needs a rather run down estate and I think I’m inspired!

It so happens my birthday is Friday. Since I happened to have today off work I met some friends for lunch, shopping, chocolate and yakking.  I made the sort of a mistake of dragging my friend to the antique collective where I happen to know there is a man with a locked shelf of really good books. Good books for people like me.

What did I get, you ask me? Two books.

Brookes Gazetteer

Interestingly enough the title page says:

The General Gazetteer, or compendious Geographical Dictionary containing a Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States, Provinces, Cities Towns Ports Seas Harbours Rivers Lakes Mountains &c In the Known World with the Government Customs Manners and Religion of the Inhabitants; the Extent, Boundaries and Natural Production of each Country; The Trade, Manufacturing and Curiosities of the Cities and Towns; their longitude, latitude, Bearings and distances in English Miles from remarkable places and the various events by which they have been distinguished. Illustrated by Eight Maps.

The remarkable thing is that all 8 maps are still in the book! They fold out.

Another remarkable thing is that both New York (USA) and San Francisco seem to have been omitted. Huh? Nevertheless, I anticipate many happy perusals.

A Picturesque Tour Of The Thames

And here’s the corker: this book contains lists of the contents of rooms in Hampton Court and Windsor Palace plus a map of the Hampton Court area, though it doesn’t fold out.

But I am very pleased with my books, and I will share more from them if I can.

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When I’m writing a Regency, I like to try to be as authentic as I can be, so I do a lot of examining period house floor plans, looking at lots of photographs, thinking about carpets (see the comments on Andrea’s blog yesterday!). I almost always have a “real” house in mind for my characters, and I almost always try to set that house in a real place.

Much of Scandalizing the Ton takes place in Mayfair, so I did a lot of looking at maps of the area, trying to make certain I put Lydia’s house in a “real” part of Mayfair. When I wrote the first draft, the opening scene took place behind Lydia’s townhouse, in the mews. Note the cover. You can see the door of a stable in the background.

After I sent in the first draft of the manuscript, my editor, Linda Fildew (pictured on Amanda’s blog last Saturday), said one of the other editors walked through Mayfair at the location I’d given Lydia’s townhouse and there were no mews there. On the corner, however, there was a fence with a gate into the garden. So if you read the first scene , you’ll notice that Lydia and Adrian meet on the pavement and go through the gate to the garden. The cover had already been designed by then.

This wasn’t the end of my mapping woes, though. I received additional revisions. I thought I’d share a bit of how it went:

Linda: I’ve been poring over maps from the early 1800s and am struggling with the road layout. P1 Chesterfield Street appears to run south of Charles Street when the story has it running alongside Hill Street which is north of Charles.
From a modern map this road is called Chesterfield Hill, but can’t find this on the 1802 map of London’s streets that I’ve been looking at. Could I ask you to check this, please? You may have better recourse to maps than I do.

Diane: I’ve discovered the problem! On the modern map, the street that intersects with Hill Street is named Chesterfield Hill (Chesterfield in 1827 intersects with Curzon and Charles). In 1827 Chesterfield Hill was named John Street. I’ve made the changes.

Isn’t this the best? My editors walk Mayfair and pore over period maps!

The map I used for Scandalizing the Ton was Greenwood’s Map of London 1827 available online. Part of the Mayfair section of the map is shown above.

My question….Does it matter to you that the geography is right?

For more about the history of gossip and scandal that inspired Scandalizing the Ton, take a peek at my Behind the Scenes feature. For more of my mapping adventures check this Behind the Scenes.

I have a new contest on my website, several chances to win some of my backlist.

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