I’ve never been a great vampire lover (though I did enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer after Spike became the leading man). I’ve long assumed that Bram Stoker’s vampire was based on Lord Byron’s creation (the story he started that same stormy week Frankenstein burst to life in Mary Shelley’s brain). It turns out, the short story that made Regency men and women shudder was in fact by John Polidori (who took Byron’s idea and wrote his own version). Published 1819 in a magazine, it started a craze for aristocratic blood suckers that remains undead. Until recently, my Vampire lore was mostly based on the black and white movie. The word vampire translates in my head as an image of slicked down, badly dyed, black hair that frames deathly pale skin wearing an Edwardian costume including cape and sharp white teeth. It’s an image my brain keeps filed at the back of my mental closet where I prefer it to gather dust. So why have I been thinking about vampires? (more…)
Last week the sun came out so even though a Siberian wind was chilling England I bundled up and went for a walk. I think I overdid it, but it was lovely to escape the house. I found some interesting photographs in the shadows on the frozen ditch water. The light shimmered through the hedgerow and glinted off the rough skin of ice. I haven’t retouched the colour in the photos. The hazy pink and green…up close it was like a nebula exploding. Here are my favorite shots… (Click on the photos to see a larger image) (more…)
Dear members of Regency Romance Novels.com
I’ve finished Dancing the Maypole and it’s on my website ready to read (all fifty-one chapters). For those of you who prefer e-books Smashwords has approved it. For those who might not have noticed, the Goblin has redesigned my website. It now shrinks down to fit all hand held devices that connect to the internet. I hope you enjoy long stories. Dancing the Maypole is twice the length of my other novels. On the Goblin’s iphone it came out as over 1500 pages (but those are tiny pages). In a paperback the book would be about five hundred pages. I would have liked it to be shorter, but the story had other ideas.
Dancing the Maypole follows on from The Hired Wife. A year older, the five Smirke brothers have decided it’s time to help their father find a wife. Knowing Peter Smirke will be attending a house party they put an ad in all the papers. They assume they’ll have at least a week and a half to interview applicants before their father returns to give them his spine chilling glare.
When I started the story, I knew by the end of chapter two that the title would be Dancing the Maypole. Dancing around a maypole is an old European custom that stretches back into pre-history. Originally Pagan, it was a celebration of May day. The dance is performed around a pole or a tree cut down and trimmed for the occasion. In recent times multi coloured ribbons were attached to the top of the pole and each dancer would hold one ribbon. The dancers then dance…half going one way, the other half going the other…and the ribbons entwine around the pole.
The heroine, Isabel de Bourbon, is a tall woman so she is what some unkindly term, a maypole, but half way through the story I realised that the maypole being danced was something bigger. The story is a romance novel, but it’s also about the weaving of the generations. We often think that our choices alone define us, but really it’s a combination of our choices and the choices of our parents/ancestors (both genetic and adopted). Our great to the tenth grandparents made decisions that genetically and emotionally affect us today. All these layers of stories woven together make up our story. I find that utterly fascinating.
Even if you’re not a member, the first ten chapters are free to read here.
Finally…Dancing the Maypole is finished and will be on line very soon. The only thing left to do is format the e-book (another job for the Goblin). Previously there was a lag between the online book going live and the e-book getting done, but I know some of you prefer the e-book format so I wanted to have it all done and ready at the same time. I’ll be sending out a newsletter soon!
I finally know why it’s taken me so long to write the book. I went to the doctors the other week and the blood test revealed a big problem with my thyroid. I wasn’t just imagining my brain running slow. It was a bit unnerving when I picked up the phone to find the doctor had actually called me (not a receptionist) to request that I come in the next day to give some more blood to double check the findings. In movies this sort of scene is always accompanied by morbid music in a minor key! He mentioned going into hospital to see a specialist and possible tests. Strangely, knowing there’s something really wrong has really lowered my stress level. Hopefully I’ll soon feel better and be able to write faster.
I haven’t actually been dead (thank goodness), but I feel like I’ve had a marathon crawl through Hades. I apologize for the long silence. I ended up chopping a few paragraphs off the end of chapter 50 (of Dancing the Maypole) and adding a short chapter 51. I then (in a prolonged moment of madness) decided I’d try to salvage my first epilogue. After spending numerous weeks banging my head I finally gave up the other day and accepted the epilogue wasn’t right and deleted it again. Last night I handed the book over to the Goblin so now I’m done done done! I didn’t want to write a post until I could say I really was done (as opposed to just torturing you with no it’s not done after all). I feel sick with relief. I think it will take several days for it to sink in that the maypole is wrapped. There’s just waiting for the Goblin to finish formatting the book and getting it on line. I don’t think I’ll really be able to relax until I see it on my website. Cross fingers that will be sooner than later!!!
My Goblin’s Scottish blood gurgled to the surface this evening (he also has lots of English blood). He turned to me out of the blue and said, “It must be Burns night!” I was like…what? Oh! You mean Burn’s Night! Tonight Scotland celebrates Robert Burns, the poet who wrote poetry in the common Scottish dialect. Born 25 January 1759, Burns died young at 37 on 21 July 1796. His most familiar work today is Auld Lang Syne…which has become a Western New Year’s sing along. When I think of Burns I think of his song/poem, My Love is Like a Red Red Rose which I first discovered when I was about twelve. It’s a lovely song and is still being sung after more than two hundred years. I found several examples on Youtube, but I thought this one sung by a Scottish woman was most appropriate. So here is a song sung throughout the Regency, still being sung today!
Speaking of Burns and love…
In 1788 Robert Burns married Jean Armour. I wish I could go back in time and put my ear to the keyhole as they discussed their wedding plans. In the end, Burns purchased 15 yards of black silk from a merchant in Glasgow, for Jean’s wedding dress and apparently paid about £7. That would have been quite a considerable sum for a working man. Here’s to Burns! May your songs be sung for another two hundreds years!
I’ve finally finished Dancing the Maypole (though I’m thinking I might sneak in an epilogue after all). I’m now waiting for the Goblin to work his magic and get it put on line. If you’re not one of my Members and you’d like to receive an e-mail when it’s published. E-mail me and I’ll put you on the list. If you’re a Member I’ll send you a newsletter when it’s ready.
This evening I finished editing chapters 44 and 45! I would have been done editing, but the Goblin (who had eleven days off his day job over Christmas) decided he needed a complete break. So I’ve been waiting for him to edit so I could do my final edit. It was probably a good thing. I had a forced holiday which I enjoyed. I got lots of books for Christmas and managed to read several when I wasn’t watching two series of Burn Notice (a Christmas present to self). My favorite read was the Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. She was the sister of William Wordsworth the poet. The journals cover 1798 and then 1800 to 1803. I was a bit sceptical (more…)
I’m making progress on Dancing the Maypole. This evening I finished the second edit of chapter 33. A picture is worth about 100,000 words…
The first edit was me going through the whole book with the new editing software (as well as re-writing). Then the Goblin goes through each chapter with red, blue and green pens. The second edit for the first few chapters took days (weeks?). It’s all a hellish blur! For the first month of editing I was working six days a week, but the Goblin (seeing I was starting to lose the plot) counseled me to take the whole weekend off. It helps to have a rest! This gives me time to day dream about other stories, draw, take pictures or watch a movie. The last seventeen chapters shouldn’t take so long.
Some of my favorite shots from my last couple of walks… (more…)
I’ve been grinding my brain on the editor’s stone (I’m closer to being done - not long to go). I’ve been holed up in my work room for weeks, but I have escaped a few times with the camera. I found a few shots I thought were lovely so I had to share. I’ve been fascinated by leaves. I collected a few with the intention of coating them with nail polish (it actually works) to make into an ephemeral broach (glue a light broach pin on the back et voila!). But I’ve been making myself edit instead. If you have a leaf, a polish with gold flecks works a treat! Here are some of my favorite recent shots… (more…)