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This time last year we all blogged about Waterloo for a week (I wrote about the ordinary soldiers), and so since June 18 is the exact anniversary of the battle I thought I’d find some material we didn’t cover then.

In 2004 the European community made the decision to restore the battlefield, providing a visitor center and other amenities to honor the site and attract visitors. Like many battlefields, it’s spread out over a large geographic area. Here’s the official Waterloo site.

There’s also a site for the official reenactment of the battle, which takes place every year, with some beautiful photographs, all under copyright and in a flash format, of reenactors–Napoleon and Wellington among them. And yes, this year’s reenactment is going on right now!

If you happen to be going over to London, there’s a celebration at Apsley House, the home of the Duke, with special events this weekend.

And if you’re not planning to travel this weekend, you can play the Battle of Waterloo game (no, I haven’t tried it out, and don’t blame me for the timesuck this undoubtedly is).

Restoration of the battlefield continues, the most recent effort being the restoration of Hougoumont Farm, where a strategically important part of the battle took place. The current Duke of Wellington, now in his 90s, is an enthusiastic supporter of Project Hougoumont. The opening of the Farm is timed for the two-hundred anniversary in 2015.

For a modern perspective on the first Duke and his descendents, Lady Jane Wellesley wrote a book published last year, Wellington: A Journey Through My Family. There’s a review here with this quote:

I reflect on the indiscriminate, humbling power of war, and its aftermath, the way it plays havoc with people’s destiny.

Further proof that there are still treasures to be found hidden away in old houses, the Scotsman reported last year that Walter Scott had done some souvenir hunting at the battlefield:

Larry Furlong, custodian of the trust, said the banners – one French and three British – had been stored in a cupboard between Scott’s study and his library.

It is believed only a handful of people have been aware of their existence since they were brought to Abbotsford.

Have you visited Apsley House or Waterloo, or are you saving pennies for 2015? Do you enjoy reenactment activities, as participant or spectator?

SSP in fine print: New website and contest. Check it out.

Hope everyone had a great mother’s day. I was in Williamsburg where my in laws live (and where Deb, Amanda and I met to plan The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor). I didn’t even glimpse Colonial Williamsburg this time but my mother-in-law and I did make a quick trip to the Prime Outlets and I bought some clothes for the New York trip later this month when Deb, Amanda, and I will be signing TDWM at Book Expo America – Saturday May 30 at 3 pm.

My big To Do List isn’t whittled down nearly enough, so I’m not too happy about sleeping late and sending my Risky Regencies blog so late.

I’m steeped in the Battle of Waterloo for the wip. My hero’s regiment is The Royal Scots and in my research I came across this snippet, first appearing in The Thistle in 1895 but found here in the history pages of the Royal Scots:

Donald Crawford was rescued on the field of Waterloo while nestling as a child in the bosom of his mother who was killed in action. It may be asked what she was doing there, but the poor woman knew of nowhere else to go, and naturally followed the regiment in whose ranks her husband fought and fell on the same day as her.

Fortunately for wee Donald he was seen by a private who was fighting in the ranks and picked him up out of his inanimate mother’s arms, laying him lengthways across his back on the top of his knapsack lodged between his rolled greatcoat and the nape of his neck, and immediately resumed his place in the front rank of the fighting line, where the little boy was as happy as a sand boy.

I regret, at the distance of time, I cannot recall the good man’s name…”

Donald revered the man’s memory with all the affection of a son for his father, and was brought up in the regiment by his guardian, and later attained the rank of Sergeant.

“The incident of his having been picked up on the field of Waterloo, having been brought to the notice of the Duke of Wellington, he ordered him to be granted the Waterloo Medal… as he was under fire during the whole three day engagement.

He wore the medal on his left breast, until he was discharged to pension in the year 1851, at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he elected to settle, like so many other time-expired men of his regiment, most of whom did well in colonial life – the child of Waterloo.

Which goes to show that ‘mothers’ come into our lives in all shapes and sizes…

Who besides your own mother provided a mothering role for you at least once in your life?

How’s your To Do List faring?

Here‘s a fun thing. A Riskie blog of mine was reprinted in a bilingual magazine Yareah, issue 7. Look at page 21. Check out my website for more news, reviews, and my contest.

Look for Amanda, Deb, and me at Word Wenches May 15.

Oh, and look here! Scandalizing the Ton and The Vanishing Viscountess are both finalists in the Desert Rose Golden Quill contest (Deb’s An Improper Aristocrat is there, too!)

I’m stopping now…..

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Last night as I was plugging along on my revisions, I discovered AN ERROR, one I could not ignore, even though maybe only about two readers would recognize the error.

From the beginning of this book, my villain was a general in the British army and his son, the mini-villain, was his cowardly aide de camp. I thought I was so lucky because I put him in charge of a regiment, the Royal Scots (1st Regiment of Foot), while my hero was in the East Essex (44th Regiment) and they both fought at the battles I needed them to, including Waterloo.

A couple of days ago I also discovered that these two regiments fought at Quatre Bras as well as Waterloo AND they were in the same brigade. This fit perfectly with some changes I’d decided to make.

Then last night I noticed something. The real commanders of the regiments were all colonels. After about two hours of searching the internet and my dozens of Napoleonic War books, I verified that, indeed, colonels commanded regiments, not generals, and colonels do not have aids de camp. (I also phoned my friend Eugene Ossa who knew all this stuff off the top of his head)

So I had to revamp a few things and go through the whole manuscript to make sure I fixed everything.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep last night….

This is what I learned.
Armies were made up of Divisions (and Artillery, but that’s a whole different ballgame)
Divisions were made up of Brigades
Brigades were made up of Regiments
Regiments were made up of Companies.

Armies were led by important people, like Wellington, called Field Marshall Wellington in this battle.
Divisions were commanded by Lieutenant Generals
Brigades were commanded by Major Generals (inferior in rank to Lt. Generals)
Regiments were commanded by Colonels, assisted by Majors.
Companies were commanded by Captains, assisted by Lieutenants.

Of course, each regiment had surgeons, bandsmen, clergy, a paymaster, but I didn’t need to know that to solve my problem.

I sent my manuscript on time, then got permission to go through it one more time, just to polish the prose (and hope that I don’t discover another ERROR)

But first I’m going to sleep…..

So…has this ever happened to you?
Do you understand the British Army in 1815???

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Diane Report: Home from Georgia; STILL writing!!!!!!
It turns out the last chapter is harder to rewrite than it was (or seemed) when I stayed up all night writing the first version. I’m really close to having the book done but I want to take a few more days to go through it once more and polish it.
See? These struggles don’t end once you are published, except having a deadline, even if you miss it, does make a person put butt-in-chair.

When I was packing for Georgia, I searched everywhere for my copy of Howarth’s Waterloo: Day of Battle, but I couldn’t find it. I especially wanted this book because it uses first hand accounts.

I grabbed a couple of other Waterloo books from my shelf and hoped they would do. My book ends at Waterloo. At least this version does. After revisions, who knows? I didn’t need information about the battle, but rather what it would have been like for someone in Brussels before and after the battle.

The Waterloo Campaign by Albert A. Nofi, part of the Great Campaigns series of books, proved helpful in many ways. This treasure does explain the battle in terms I can almost understand, but it also has sidebar vignettes and explanations, biographies of the important players and information about such things as musketry, supplying the troops, and, very helpful to me, the weather.

Even when it didn’t help me in my story, it proved very diverting just to read.

I even had my husband stop at a Borders along the way to see if they had Lady De Lancey’s book, which I think I have, but by the time I thought of it, we were on the road.

Desperation breeds creativity, I’m convinced. In the hotel I did a search on Google Books and found this treasure: Waterloo Days; the Narrative of an Englishwoman Resident at Waterloo in June, 1815 by Charlotte A. Eaton.

This book was written by a Englishwoman who, in the company of a brother and sister, arrived in Brussels on June 15, 1815. She wrote a memoir, describing the trip, the city, the events of the days right before and after the battle. She and her brother and sister fled to Antwerp on June 17, like many of the English did, but my characters didn’t so I had to use my imagination a little, but otherwise she gave a very vivid account of the uncertainty felt by the people who knew the battle was in progress, but did not know anything else. She even visited the battlefield several days afterward.

I highly recommend looking up this little book and reading it and saving it or bookmarking it. It was truly a gift from the Universe for me, just when I needed it most.

That’s how I met my Waterloo (book).

What books have you discovered in that wonderful, accidental, just-in-time way?

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Last week, Janet likened the prevalence of PTSD heroes in historical romance to war profiteering. I have to agree. But her words scare me too, because I’m writing a war-scarred though not classic PTSD hero myself and always worry that I will not do him justice. I feel it’s important to respect history and the real people who suffered through similar events. I hope that respect comes through in my work.

But what makes the difference between Artificially Injected Angst and the real thing?

Looking at both our current projects and our backlist, many of us Riskies have written military heroes. We’re also writing or have written stories about emotional and/or physical abuse, addiction, loss of close loved ones, and other issues that we may or may not have experienced personally. I’ve always been suspicious of the adage “Write what you know”. I’ve since heard “Write what you love” or “Write what you care about” and that’s what we do.

I think that makes all the difference. If a writer cares about an issue enough to make it a central theme in a story, she ought to do the necessary immersion. If she’s content with Wikipedia level research or less, it shows. (I put down a romance when I realized, just a few pages in, that the author thought the British were fighting the Portuguese in the Peninsula, not the French.) This is why we Riskies and friends regularly break our research book budgets or become good friends with librarians.

I also think it is AIA when a tortured hero (or heroine, though they seem less common) is defined by his issues. As a reader, I want to know what makes the character different from others with similar problems. Is he naturally an introvert or an extrovert? Impulsive or cautious? What are his strengths and passions? Most importantly, how does he deal with the problem? People don’t all react the same way and that’s exactly why yet another story about a scarred military hero or any other flavor of tortured character can still be interesting.

What do you think makes the difference between the tortured and the merely trite?


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