Finishing the Book

Writing Weather

An author’s greatest joy (besides coming up with a strong idea for a story) is finishing the book. It may take only weeks or it may take months (or years!) but there is nothing so satisfying as coming to the conclusion of that first draft of a manuscript.

I have just finished a manuscript for a regency novel which will be published sometime in 2014. It’s a sequel to the first regency I’ve written in a while, Moonlight Masquerade, which will be published by Revell Books in March.

My Baby
My Baby with all its rough edges


This story, tentatively titled Duke by Default, took me to late spring and early summer 1815, right before the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars—Waterloo. The battle looms at the edges of my story. But mainly my story concerns the season in London, a bit of botanical gardens, and lost love and new found love.

Every writing journey begins with Chapter One…

After the initial euphoria of THE STORY IDEA the hard work of getting it written begins. Then comes the next phase, which I will shortly be undertaking: reading through that rough, ill-shapen, wordy thing called a first draft and making it into a diamond of the first water, to borrow some Regency parlance. This stage involves rewriting and reworking, checking up on all kinds of facts that I just skipped over in the first draft, deciding on names for a lot of the secondary characters which I left as blanks in the first stage.

IMG_5221
And ends with The End.

In a month’s time, hopefully this first draft will have transformed into a wonderful love story which will keep my reader on the edge of her seat, emotionally connected to my hero and heroine, and giving a deep sigh of satisfaction when reaching The End at the last page.

 

The Miser of Mayfair ~ A Regency Read

Kristi here.

I didn’t grow up reading a lot of Regency books. It wasn’t until I was nearly twenty that I discovered the era and fell in love with it as a story setting. As I studied the authors that I fell in love with, I discovered a whole list of traditional Regency writers that inspired the authors I knew.

My list of books to look up is long, but I will be forever thankful to the friend who pointed me to Marion Chesney.

Her A House for the Season series was recommended to me and I pass that recommendation on to you.

The first book in the series is The Miser of Mayfair. It isn’t your typical set-up.

The Miser of Mayfair by Marion ChesneyThe setting for the series is a home in London, available to rent but plagued with bad luck. This makes the rent ridiculously low, something Mr. Roderick Sinclair needs desperately if he’s going to take his ward to London for the Season.

The ward, Fiona, is not your typical heroine either. It’s very possible that she is a good bit more than she initially appears to be. Which is a good thing, because if she’s going to make a good match, she has an enormous amount of obstacles to overcome. Not the least of which is a lack of funds, connections, or proper wardrobe.

Enter the wily butler, Rainbird, who plots with Fiona to make her and the beleaguered staff of Number 67 Clarges Street a success.

For me, the book was a refreshing look at the Regency world. The style, plot, and story structure are very different than books I see published today, but that only adds to the story’s charm for me.

Unless you’re lucky enough to find an old copy in a bookstore, The Miser of Mayfair is only available through a Kindle reader. If you’re looking for a fun, easy read while you travel this month, give it a try. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can even borrow it for free.

Have you read The Miser of Mayfair or one of Marion Chesney’s other Regencies? What did you think?

Regency Research

I have been editing and proofreading a manuscript I published some years ago, to which I have recently received the publisher’s rights back. I am going over the story in order to self-publish it as an e-book on Amazon. What strikes me about rereading a story written a while ago is how much research goes into writing a regency—or any historical, for that matter. When one is in the process of writing it, one takes this for granted. But when you read it long afterward, it’s enough to make you shake your head. Did I really know all that stuff?

In this story, which takes place in London ballrooms, a country estate, and on the U.S. frontier of Maine, I had to research both the social mores of regency society, the low-class pastimes of regency rakes (cockfighting, gambling, etc.), the sports that the athletic sorts– aka Corinthians–indulged in, before turning to the fledgling settlements of “the Maine Territory,” and the wealth being generated from its pine forests.

So, you can see that a whole range of information was needed in order to build the framework for the love story between my hero and heroine.

Take the gambling game of faro, for example. I’d read enough Georgette Heyer regencies to be somewhat familiar with the game, but I never knew until I researched it that it was played on a board, upon which the cards were laid out like so:

Farolayout
Layout of a Faro Board. Source: Wikipedia

I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to England during the researching of this book. Not only did I visit the London Museum, which has a wealth of information and artifacts on everyday life in the city over the centuries, but I also discovered a wonderful mansion not too far outside of London. This estate served as a model for the setting of a house party in my story. I was able to tour the rooms and grounds and get the layout for my hero and heroine’s stay at a fictionalized version of Osterley Park. As I walked the area, my plot grew.

Osterley_Park_House,_London-25June2009-rc
Osterley Park House, London. Source: Wikipedia

Lastly I needed to research the city of Bangor, Maine and the logging industry of 1815, before Maine had its statehood. It was still a part of Massachusetts and known as the Maine Territory. But following the War of 1812, those involved in the lumber industry were making a sizable profit cutting down the majestic pine trees of the Maine forests and selling them for ship masts, lumber, and shingles both to Europe and to the American cities farther south. My plot advanced as I imagined my hero going from the ballrooms of London to the rough lumber camps of the Maine woods in winter, then risking his neck on a river drive in spring as the picture below depicts:

lumbermen
Selections from Picturesque Canada, An Affectionate Look Back, Sketch no. 40, 1882-85, Pandora Publishing Company, Victoria, B.C.

Of course my hero is a former soldier, who survived the Battle of Waterloo, so he is used to danger. But as a Redcoat among Yankees, he must face many challenges before being accepted into the ranks of the lumbermen. All for the sake of winning the girl.

I hope those who read the updated version of A Rogue’s Redemption will enjoy both the historical detail as well as the timeless love story.

 

 

From Acceptance to Exile: A Reluctant Courtship and Give-Away

In writing classes, we are taught to make things as bad for our characters as we can. Honore should have been easy. In A Necessary Deception, in which she made her debut into society, and in A Flight of Fancy, where she rusticates in the country with her injured sister, Honore managed to make things terrible enough for herself.

But I wanted to make her situation even worse!

A Reluctant CourtshipLord Bainbridge, the father of the three sisters, is an autocratic man, a political animal who wants things the way he wants them. He manipulates his children to his will as much as he can, and he can do a great deal. But Honore is the baby and pretty and lively and a daddy’s girl. She got away with too much. Daddy cleaned up her messes for her.

So I had to take her daddy away from her.

And then we introduce Americus Poole (Meric to his friends) now Lord Ashmoor. Most men fall at Honore’s feet. Ashmoor looks at her like most of us view rattle snakes—the further away the better. He has his own issues, and Honore’s presence in his life will only make them worse. After all, a man under suspicion of treason cannot be involved with a young lady with a questionable reputation.

Beyond the romance and adventure that springs from Honore and Ashmoor’s stories is the theme of exile. Honore has been exiled from her family and from society because of her past mistakes. In turn, this physical exile makes her feel exiled from God. Everything that happens to her seems to indicate that God has rejected her, and this rejection of the heart and spirit drives her decisions and actions until her very life hangs on the edge.

Cliffs_Clovelly_Coast_West
Cliffs in North Devon (Wikipedia image)

As with Cassandra in A Flight of Fancy, I related to Honore’s spiritual struggle. I attended a Christian college and my friends were going off to be doctors and pastors, and the wives of doctors and pastors. I, however, had no calling that I saw. I interpreted this as God rejecting me. The decisions I made over the next several years—most of them terrible—stemmed from this sense of exile from God.

The simple response is that God doesn’t reject us; we reject him. Romans 8:38-39 assures us that nothing separates us from the love of God. Yet what I had to learn, what Honore has to learn, is that we often have to be taken out of our comfort zone of the life we think we want or should have, to circumstances we can’t control, for the Lord to shape us into the people we are intended to be to thus serve him better.

I hope you enjoy Honore’s journey back from exile.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card today, answer the question below in the comment section. Your name will also be entered into our Regency Gift Package Giveaway in honor of the release of A Reluctant Courtship. The giveaway includes another gift card, a tea cup, and chocolate.

What types of things do you like to learn from authors? For example: How they work, their non writing life, their spiritual life…

How Do You Handle the Winter Blues?

Depending on what part of the country you live in (if you live in the United States) your winter is either much colder than normal or nearly non-existent – looking much more like spring than winter. We have a long way to go before the weather officially turns the corner and anything could happen in the coming months – including lots of snow and dropping temperatures.

So how do your Regency Reflections authors handle the winter blues?

Ruth Axtell:

Embrace them.

With temps dipping into the single digits these last couple of weeks in Maine, and getting lots of snow, I just tell myself it’s good writing weather, since there is little temptation to go outside. I feel like I’m hibernating, getting a manuscript done and now editing.

Naomi Rawlings:

ice fishing
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I agree with Ruth. Embrace winter rather than dread it. First, snowy days make for excellent writing and putz-around-the-house days. There’s something wonderfully nostalgic to curling up in front of the fire with a book and a mug of hot chocolate while snow falls outside. And then there’s all the outside things you can do. Rent a snowmobile for a day trip, go skating, sledding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, show shoeing, or ice fishing. (Fish caught through ice is way better than fish caught when the weather is warm. I have no idea why, but I swear it’s true.)

I really think there are two ways to beat the Winter Blues. 1.) Take a break and be thankful for the slower pace that snowy days offer, or 2.) Get courageous. Bundle up, go outside, and try a new winter sport. I live on the southern shore of Lake Superior, where we get 150-200 inches of snow per year, our winters run six months long, and our trees don’t get leaves until June. People who live in this area well understand that winter doesn’t have to be boring. It can be just as fun as summer, sometimes even more so.

Laurie Alice Eakes

Um, I live in Texas–we don’t have winter blues. They consider this 40s-50s weather we’ve been having excessively cold for January, but I think it’s heavenly.

Snowman on frozen lake
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Kristy Cambron

I live in an area of the country where we have pretty defined weather for each season, so I actually enjoy winter! It just means that before we know it, the sunnier days of spring will be on the way. Winter is also a fantastic season for writers. I haven’t met one yet that wouldn’t love the extra time to snuggle in a warm house as the snow falls and plot that next novel – with a cup of steaming hot chocolate, of course!

Kristi Ann Hunter

I tend to ignore them, I suppose. With children in school and a regular calendar full of church activities, there would have to be a fairly significant amount of fresh snow/ice to make me adjust my schedule.

When that does happen, we of course go play in it. Then we thaw out in front of a movie, huddled together under blankets. There’s something about the forced weather break that makes us want to be together as a family. It feels like a stolen moment.

Hot Chocolate
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Susan Karsten

During the winter, I drink more hot liquids, such as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate than I do in the summer. I still jog/run, but often veer out into the street when people haven’t shoveled their sidewalks. This is the time of year my family attends more concerts, plays, conferences and the like, as opposed to summer, when everything’s about “The Lake”.

 

What about you? How do you handle winter?

Interview with Author Mary Moore Interview — Part 2

Mary Moore, Regency Reflections contributor and author of Beauty in Disguise is with us Author Mary Mooreagain today, and just like yesterday, she’s offering to give away two copies of her latest Regency novel to two lucky blog visitors. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of the post to be entered in the giveaway. The giveaway will end Wednesday, January 16, at midnight.

1. Hi Mary, and thanks for being with us two days in a row. Today I’d like to ask you a few questions about writing Regencies and making your stories stand out. With the Regency Era being such a relatively short time in number of years; is it hard to create new storylines and fresh ideas?  

Normally, I would give you a pretty definitive no. There are a number of different voices and creative writers out there, who all have different perspectives and specific areas of interest on the period, and this results in some wonderful new stories every month. The growth in the research process and areas of expertise also adds a wonderful level of creativeness.

You will notice, however, that I started my answer with “normally!” After I signed the contract for Beauty in Disguise and scheduled it for release, my editor contacted my agent to tell us that there was another LIH already further along in the process with a similar premise to mine. As a relatively new author, I had no idea whether my editor would want to move back the date of release or ask me to propose a whole new story. But she thought the story would work out fine if I would just be willing to “tweak” it. I said yes, but little did I realize what “tweaking” it would mean!

2. How did they want you to change it, and how hard was that for you?

In our initial brainstorming session most of the changes seemed pretty much cosmetic. They really did like the premise and wanted to keep it if we could. So, we changed where the story was staged, the heroine’s dynamic with some of the other characters and some details about her past. But as I began the rewrite I realized that some of those changes affected the story much more than any of us anticipated.

3.Gulp. I was in a similar situation with a story once. I thought I was agreeing to some surface changes that got way deeper than I anticipated. Not fun! How did the changes for Beauty in Disguise differ from what you expected?

Originally, the build up to the “reveal” was pivotal to my story. But with some of the changes I made, my editor thought it watered down some of the conflict and, thereby, the impact too much. To increase that problem, they wanted the hero and heroine to meet earlier. So one by one, changes that started out as cosmetic ended up changing the storyline pretty drastically. There were quite a few more rewrites than my editor and I expected or wanted!

4.  How do you think these changes have helped to make your book stronger?

I usually have an inspirational message (and the verses of Scripture that go with it) in my mind ahead of time, and I write the story around it. In the rewrites of Beauty in Disguise, I began to get frustrated because either the message wouldn’t fit with the changes or the changes wouldn’t go with the message. I finally got to the point where I just gave the story to God. I asked Him to make sure it was His message that went out there instead of mine. Duh, right? So, in the end, having the story revolve around what He wants to say made the book exactly what it is supposed to be.

The postscript to the story is that one day I was in a hospital waiting room and I pulled out my Kindle to kill the time. I pulled up the first Regency I came to and I knew, on that very first page, that it was the other story…the one that came out before mine and sent me on this writing journey. I wanted to find someone, anyone, to say, “This is it, this is it,” until I realized how crazy I would have sounded. It was by an author I “knew” pretty well online. She and I have had a good laugh over it and I pray that God will be able to use both our stories to His glory!

5. Well, I’m glad everything worked out well between you and the other author. Are you excited to finally see the release of Beauty in Disguise?

That would be a giant understatement! It was by far tougher to write than my first one was, but it has also been a little over a year since my first one came out. I was ready to be out among readers again, and now I can move on to my next project. I am very blessed!

Thanks, Naomi, for your time and the interview. I am so happy to be associated with this site and all of the work everyone does here to support and spread the news about inspirational Regencies.

Here’s a little more about Beauty in Disguise. If you want to enter our giveaway, leave a comment below, and be sure to visit yesterday’s blog post for another chance to win Beauty in Disguise.

Hidden in plain sight.

After her scanBeauty Cover Fulldalous first Season, Lady Kathryn needs a new beginning. Concealing her stunning hair and sapphire eyes beneath a dowdy facade, she’s grateful to earn her keep as companion Kate Montgomery. Until she comes face-to-face with her past in Lord Dalton, the only man she has ever loved.

The debutante Dalton fell in love with years ago was beautiful beyond compare. The gentle, mysterious young woman he encounters at a country house has qualities he now values more highly—until he learns of her deception. Kate has broken his heart not once, but twice. Can faith help him see that love, like true beauty, always comes to light?

A Hot Furniture of the Regency by Susan Karsten

If you’ve read any significant amount in the Regency genre, you’ve come across references to the décor fashion trend involving Egyptian-style furniture. Ever wondered or imagined what it was like?

It’s clear to me why this particular style is not remembered with fondness and it hasn’t swept back around in nostalgic, retro reoccurrences. Regency culture became fascinated with ancient articles upon the publication of Henry Holland’s book “Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture”. This ushered in a period of interest in the producing of copies of ancient objects coming from Greece, Rome, and Egypt.

comfy?

When the book, “Reproductions of Classical Furniture” by designer Thomas Hope came out in 1807, the Egyptian reproductions using mainly mahogany, but also rosewood and zebrawood, became wildly popular in high echelons of society. The pieces had straight lines, and used symbols as decoration.

In my home, we enjoy a pretty heirloom chair that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother, who was born in 1903. The chair is old, but not Egyptian. It’s been featured in many humble portraits taken in the Karsten home.

 

It has a problem, however, in that the green velvet-covered, thick-looking seat’s stuffing is completely shot. It’s:

Lovely to look at,

Delightful to touch,

But if you sit,

You’ll find it’s not much.

I happened upon a recent guest stroking this chair’s highly-polished carved wooden back. The reverent  look on her face (she didn’t know the seat is corrupt) reminded me of a caution in Matthew 6:19, which says “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” The Egyptian furniture trend which is long gone and my own pretty chair prove the Truth of the verse all too well.

More Than Conquerors

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37 NIV

A few months ago, a friend betrayed me. The pain slashed shockingly deep into my soul. Never had I imagined that she would take the step she took. Every time I see her name now, I want to cry for the loss of a friendship that was important to me and, I thought, her too.

A few days ago while at a conference, someone was shockingly rude to me on an elevator. She was a stranger to me, and still her  behavior hurt me. Just this morning, when telling my husband about it, the mortification from her words cut into my heart.

My human reaction is to lash back, hurt the other person as I was hurt. How dare this person treat me like this? I want to fight.

Yet I need say nothing, take no action. The fight is already won. Romans 8:38-39 tell us that nothing—NOTHING!—can separate us from the love of God. That means that no matter how rude someone is to us, no matter how many people betray us or snub us or treat us like we are less important than we think we are, We are bonded to the Lord through His great love.

We are more than conquerors. In our hearts, through the one who loved us so much He died for us, we are greater than those who seek to destroy us.

Romans 8:37 has become my life verse because I need this reminder when my humanness wants to lash back at those who hurt me. I don’t need to because Jesus has already paid the price and made me more than a conqueror over the sins of the world that strive to separate me from His love.

Throw Together a Tradition

Kristi here.

Ask people to list traditional English meals, and you’re very likely to get Shepherd’s Pie in the list right next to Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, and Yorkshire pudding.

Slice of shepherd's pie and a tomato
Slice of Cottage Pie. Note the meat and vegetables on the bottom layer and the potatoes on the top.

Shepherd’s Pie is really a particular version of a Cottage Pie. Technically, a Shepherd’s Pie should contain lamb or mutton while a Cottage Pie can contain the meat from pretty much any animal, though it usually contains beef.

Simply put, Cottage Pies are a mix of meat and vegetables topped with a heap of mashed potatoes and baked. My family has a recipe for one and lots of people make particular plans to have Cottage Pies for dinner and go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make it.

What I find interesting about that, is that Cottage Pie was originally a thrown together meal used to eat up the leftovers and scraps.

Picture this: The family sits down to eat and the Mom starts dishing up dinner. She says, “Sorry about dinner tonight. I had to sort of throw together whatever I can find. I’ll plan better for tomorrow. I should be able to get to the market in the morning.”

(Yes, I know that is a very modern conversation, but you get the picture.)

Dad and kids tuck in and discover that this is better than the last three meals Mom made. In fact, it’s one of the best! Suddenly the concoction thrown together just so everyone could eat dinner and not be hungry is a family staple.

This happens in our house constantly.

Frequently dinner is a pantry clean-out. Grab a few cans, haul something out of the freezer, throw it together and you have some nourishment. It might be bizarre, but it’ll get the job done.

The other day I did this and ended up trying to remember what I’d done and what all I’d put in it because everyone in the family loved that meal. It is rare that all three of my kids clean their plate, let alone ask for seconds. We devoured this ultra simple meal.

The bonus was that it ended up tasting very similar to a dish my husband loved growing up as a child. His grandparents grew a very distinct type of bean on their farm and it was always served for the bulk of the Sunday afternoon meal.

Just like Cottage Pie, our thrown together meal is now a menu mainstay. It’s purposefully planned and ingredients are bought instead of it being leftovers and forgotten pantry lingerers.

We call it “That turkey and bean dish” right now. Eventually it will get a better name. Want to try it? I’ve included the recipe below.

Have you ever thrown together something at the last minute only to have it be a roaring success?

That Turkey and Bean Dish

Ingredients:

– 1 pound turkey sausage (the kind in the big links, either the horseshoe shape or the two long links.)
– 1 can french cut green beans
– 1 can whole kernel corn
– 1 can black beans
– Spices: Cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper
– butter or margarine

Directions:

– Slice the turkey sausage into bite size pieces. (For me that means half-circles about a half inch thick)
– Brown them in a frying pan
– Sprinkle them with cumin and onion powder

– Drain the green beans and corn
– Drain and rinse the black beans
– Put them in a pot with some butter
– heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally
– Season with cumin, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder

– Once everything has had a chance to simmer and brown, dump the bean and corn mixture in the frying pan with the sausage.
– Cover and let simmer about 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
– Serve over garlic bread or mashed potatoes

If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out for you. My family loves it!

All photos from WikiCommons.

Ostrich, Eels, Bone Marrow, and Heart – What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?

Food during the Regency period was very different from what a lot of us eat today. If anyone read Ruth’s post on Monday and said, “I totally know how to jugg a pigeon” then they should contact us immediately. There are several Regency authors who would like to talk to you.

In the meantime, we asked our illustrious blog authors to share their worst food memories. We asked them,  “What was the worst thing you ever had to eat?”

Naomi Rawlings
Ostrich. I was traveling in South America at the time. 🙂

Kristy and her pretty plate of Eel
Kristy and her pretty plate of eel

Kristy Cambron
The worst thing I’ve ever had the displeasure of eating? Without question it would have to be eel. My husband and I honeymooned in Cancun, Mexico. I still remember the fabulous food on that trip – except that is, for the “lovely” plate of seafood we received at a gourmet restaurant. (It was plated so beautifully that we actually took a picture of it!) Unfortunately, the majority of the plate included a gray, rubbery, and horrid tasting main course which turned out to be eel. You bet I skipped right to dessert just to drown out the memory of dinner!

Laurie Alice Eakes
Horse meat in Europe. I was a guest, so couldn’t turn it down.

Kristi Ann Hunter
Bone marrow. I was at a restaurant in Switzerland on the edge of Lake Geneva. The plate was gorgeous and the food really good, but on the top of the steak were these little disks in the sauce. I thought they might have been mushroom slices or pieces of water chestnut, so I ate one. I nearly gagged. On our way out I checked the menu and sure enough, there was bone marrow listed in the description.

Large Moose Wading in Lake
Big animal. Big heart. photo: WikiCommons

Jessica Snell
I don’t know about the worst food. Maybe a better question would be, “What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?” My answer is moose heart. And when it was raw, I was able to stick my entire hand in one of the ventricles – those things are huge!

 

Ruth Axtell
I like all foods so can’t think of anything off the top of my head that I really gagged at.

Susan Karsten
The strangest food I have eaten, and enjoyed, is squid. It is also known by the name calamari. You can get it fried, or served in tomato sauce. I have had both and it was good. I would eat it again in a heartbeat.

Have you ever eaten anything that curled your tastebuds and your toes? Chomped down on anything bizarre or strange? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!