Monthly Archives: July 2015

My Father

Today, I am attempting to distract myself from the fact that I said good-bye to my father yesterday. It was the worst moment of my life, and it was the best moment ever – to repurpose the famous old line (Thank you, Dickens). See, my father had Inclusion Body Myositis and Pulmonary Fibrosis. In the last few years, he lost his ability to walk so he was in a powered wheelchair. He also lost the ability to eat, and was forced to get his nutrition through a feeding tube. This is a man who loved to cook and loved to eat (although he was more sensible about it than I). He was a man who loved life, and who lived it.

Last Friday, my wonderful daddy went to the ER to have his lungs suctioned, which is something he had to have done as pneumonia is a regular side problem of the IBM. While there, he went from alert to completely unfocused. They rushed him to a nearby ICU, and I arrived in the middle of the night after a six hour drive. Saturday, they told us we would need to make a decision – and soon. Sunday, he was alert and seemed to be improving. Monday we went home. Yesterday, we returned because he had gone back downhill. The decision was made for us because my dad, despite being the strongest person in the world, did not want to be kept alive on life support. Neither do I, by the way. Let me put this out there now – like my father, I am refusing life support and I want to be cremated immediately.

So, I was by his side as he gasped his last breath, his hand in mine. My wonderful step-mother and her niece sang him into Heaven, and I can think of nothing he would have wanted more. I am not a person of faith, but my father was. And his faith brought him comfort, which brings me comfort. I know that he is pain free, and walking again.

But today, I need something to distract me from the pain so I turned to research. Specifically addresses and numbering. I found the best website for information on house numbering and street names. After reading this, I have decided that it doesn’t necessarily matter what I number a residence – as long as I get the street names right.

At the bottom of the article, there is a paragraph with some wonderful ideas. I am already incorporating them into the project I will be burying myself in so that I can manage the pain. Let me share that here with you, too.

The lack of precision or regulation in the naming of streets and numbering of houses offers any number of opportunities for messages to be mis-delivered or to otherwise go astray in a Regency romance novel. Perhaps the intended recipient of a missive might live on one of those streets which shared the same name as one or more other streets. A footman or maid new to the metropolis might not realize there were two George-streets and took a secret love note to the house with the right number, but on the wrong street. How might that unintended recipient respond to that communication? Or, perhaps an orphaned young lady and her siblings come to the city to seek their reclusive guardian, but cannot locate him because he has never put the number on his house? Mayhap a French spy comes to London on some nefarious mission but is confused by the house numbering scheme and is delayed in meeting his English contact. Dear Regency Authors, how might you employ the mish-mash of street naming and numbering in Regency London to advance your story?

What about you? How can you incorporate this into your current project?

#8Sunday Number the One

I’m new to this… Welcome to my first #8Sunday post. I hope you enjoy. I’ll get better at this. Promise. 

Sun shone through the open curtains for the first time in weeks, illuminating her cousin’s golden curls. Her own hair was compared to the color of carrots once too often for her liking, but at least she could say the curls were all hers. The rays spread across the room, reflecting off the silver chafing dishes on the cherry-wood buffet. 

White lilies dotted the room, a stark contrast to the black oak dining table and green papered walls. Sarah drew in a calming breath, the spicy scent of the lilies tickling at the back of her throat. The letters had stopped four weeks prior, but not the flowers. None of it made sense to her. 

Her uncle did not bother to look away from the paper he read. He snapped the edges and said, “I cannot leave town just now, poppet. Perhaps in a few weeks?” 

http://www.wewriwa.com

Music As Muse

I bet I have addressed this before, so forgive me in advance if it’s a rinse cycle for you.

We all (most) know that music is an important part of the creative process. For some, it is only the doorway leading to the creative process. These people might get an idea from the music, but their actual creating occurs within dead silence.

The very thought gives me the shudders.

For me, music is there every step of the way. Songs inspire scenes, whether just one scene or the theme of the entire novel. Music is on as I write, as I plot, as I think.

The only time music is not part of my creative process is when I am sleeping. I need absolute darkness and complete silence to sleep. And yes, I am creating even in my sleep. The notepad on my phone is full of midnight and 3 am scribbles.

But right now, I am struggling with my writing and it led me to wonder, do I have enough of the right music for my writing?

See, I have always been able to blaze through my writing regardless of the music in the background. Not so this project.

Now, I am not blaming the music. Absolutely not. It is a number of things – depression, anxiety, characters and plot that will not cooperate.

Still, I briefly considered blaming the music – the words don’t work because I don’t have the right music. Not so, laura – stop placing blame where it does not belong.

I mean, this blog post wrote itself just fine after all, did it not?

For me, the lesson was clear –
stop trying to force an idea just because it seemed cute. Especially when the characters are dragging their heels, kicking and screaming every step of the way.

I know. I’ve heard it before – you have to see it through. Why? Why make myself miserable spinning in circles? I just can’t do that.

So, Sarah and Stratford are getting what they want – a new story, a second chance. Literally and figuratively. One that, hopefully, better fits them.

The good news here:
A) The available time frame expands as I am no longer bound by the Regency. In fact, my friend and I just discussed this – Regency is overdone. I love, love, love to read it but I don’t necessarily like to write it.
2.) Despite the plot changes and time changes, quite a bit of my existing work is salvageable and can be used in the new story line. Clearly, my mind knew what was going on before I did.

It is Friday. Here’s my First Line. It actually came to me as I was creating the 7 beats. How odd. It is clearly not one sentence. That’s OK.

“Westerfell.” Richard’s clipped greeting hit her ears seconds before his possessive hand curled about the small of her back. The world disappeared around her. This man – this was Rupert’s heir.

Bloody hell.

Now, I bid you adieu. With a question, of course: How do you mix music with your writing?

Whistle While You Work

Can you whistle? I can sometimes whistle, but not with my fingers like some people can. I have always wanted to do that, though. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s loud and fun. And no matter how common it actually is, people are always like, WOAH.

Well, my heroine Sarah can whistle like that. Since I don’t know how to do it, I had to actually look up a how-to. No really, it exists. Here. I had no idea there were so many different ways to whistle with your fingers.

Sarah whistles with her pinky fingers. I am going to keep practicing, but likely with the first method as I seemed to get the best (almost) results out of that one tonight.

My poor husband, on the other hand, cannot whistle at all. It’s actually rather comical. And cute. I love him dearly.

So I spent a few minutes researching how to whistle all to write one little line. But I wrote it.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched this week?

Sarah recognized the truth in that statement. Forming an A with her pinky fingers, she pushed the tip of her tongue back and let out a shrill whistle.

Ideas

I have so many ideas floating through my head right now. The current series I am working on involves twenty different stories, although some will occur at the same time. I am still 100% devoted to the story of Sarah and Stratford, but the other Ladies are pounding at the door. I already have an idea of what is going to happen with at least 4 other couples.

So what happens? Clearly, an entirely unrelated idea pops into my head. I mean, seriously Laura? Get your stuff together, woman. And not entirely a romantic idea, either. Ugh. What to do?

Well, there is really only one thing to do isn’t there? Take notes, write several stories at once. Follow the inspiration. Right now, inspiration has me investigating what psychiatric care was like during the Victorian Era. That’s your only hint. Well, there’s another one, but I buried it.

Did you find it? Let me know if you figured it out.

This is really short because I just wanted an excuse to share this:

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Disappointment Abounds

So, my iPhone 5s broke today. Well, yesterday but I gave up hope in the early hours of the morning. It’s awesome, let me tell you. I sat my ass at work all day – no music, no Facebook or Twitter on my break. Worse, no texting with my beloved. Husband, that is.

It did not leave me feeling very warm and fuzzy, as you might imagine. But still, I persevered.

Over in my dark little corner of the writing world, the word chosen for Thesaurus Thursday was “zen”. Yes. really.

As in “Laura is decidedly not in a state of zen after not speaking to her husband all day.” The situation, however, will be ameliorated by the fact that it is a warranty issue, so I am not out the $100 deductible for an insurance claim.

That aside, I’ve always been rather lazy with writing $$ signs. I remember there being two vertical lines when I was a kid. How did I miss that even our keyboards only have one? Odd.

So, I started some research today. Not for the current project, but for one of the novels that will appear within this same series. About the scientific inventions of the early 19th century, clearly. I found a few sites that will provide some good starting points.

One of them states:

This is a list of inventors and discoverers (not necessarily Christians) who worked fundamentally from a biblical worldview
. . . with virtually no one who subscribed to an eastern, pantheist or animist worldview (to my knowledge).

Can this list be construed to imply that Europeans and Americans are more intelligent than other peoples on earth?
…Not at all! —That would be a ridiculous and repugnant notion.
—But it is the worldview (along with a measure of intellectual freedom) which makes all the difference.

A portion of the discoverers in the list subscribed to the Naturalist worldview, however, their view of nature by itself largely agrees with the biblical worldview.

Perhaps I am being simple here, but what this screams to me is not that the only notable discoveries were by Europeans and Americans, but rather that the writer of this article felt like only researching the Western world. That shows our own prejudices toward other cultures.

I’m not going to copy/paste here but just read this article on the history of science and technology in China.

Anyway, I stayed up way too late last night attempting to fix my phone. Y’all have a good night.

All In A Day’s Work

Think you’re busy? Too much packed into your day?

We’ve all been there, right? Especially those of us who write while still managing to work a full time job (or two). I know I have a planner that I stick with, and  I’ve got myself scheduled pretty tightly from 7 am to 10 pm. That’s bedtime for me. 10 pm. Only, not tonight. No, tonight I came home from work, went to the gym, then went to WalMart for the weekly lunch shopping. Didn’t get home until 9. It is now 9:53, and I am still eating this salad. (Srsly, why are these so huge and so cheap??)

But today I had to do some research for my current project, A Lady’s Wager. See, almost all of the book has to take place within a ten day span during the Season of 1816. So what kind of activities would throw this couple together, I wondered. Now, I’ve read my share of Regency’s. But I seriously had no idea. Not a single clue.

So again, I ask you – do you think you’re busy today? Check out the activities available for a woman of the Ton.

Wake up sometime before 10 am because
10:00 am – Riding in Hyde Park
Home for breakfast, which might be a simple affair or a full blown fancy schmancy affair.
Then, pay bills or write letters or shop or call upon very close friends
Then, luncheon – after which the men go to their manly pursuits, leaving the woman to choose from afternoon activities such as:
– cricket matches
– promenading in the Park
– attending scientific lectures
– receptions
– small musicals and concerts
– archery
– bazaars
– dramatic matinees
– polo
– races (presumably horse, but what about rowing?)
– lawn tennis, lawn bowling
– garden parties
– picnics
– a trip to the cafe or to a men’s club (where a woman could be invited to dine prior to an outing)

THEN, another turn about Rotten Row in the late afternoon – walking or riding.

5 pm – Afternoon tea, again either an informal affair or a crush
7 pm – dinner, formal, dozens of guests with footmen and waiters

Then, off to the theatre, opera, or a private soiree

And all of that? Just a warm up for the man balls, routs, and soirees that start anywhere from 10 pm to midnight, and go until 3 am.

The good news is that I do not believe I will have a problem creating ten days worth of varying activities. But seriously. How did they do it? I would die.

Now then, it is Tuesday. Tidbit Tuesday, to be exact. Here is today’s Tidbit. It is one of those pesky scenes that came to me out of order. I’m not sure where it will occur, but I do know it is a Garden Party, so check that off the list!

“Oh, I would not know. I’ve not ever left London.” The words were said so nonchalantly, he almost didn’t pick up what she had actually said.

When he did, he slowed to a halt next to her. A couple moved around them, the willowy brunette stifling a low giggle. The lawn of the large garden tucked away behind the Hatford’s mansion was freshly mown, leaving behind that unmistakeable of cut grass. Perhaps they would have a bit of summer, after all, thought Stratford. Then, Sarah’s words came back to him.

“You mean to tell me that you have never left London? Not even to take the waters or to join some house party?”
Sarah looked away, her gaze fixed upon her hands. “Not even once, Major.”

He knew she had recently lost a fiance, which was bound to be a sensitive subject. “But surely you attended, erm, that is to say…” He broke off before finishing. How to broach the painful subject? Was it not bad enough that she had loved before him? That she still wore the muted colors of half-mourning?
When she looked up, sadness muted her emerald eyes. He cursed himself ten times a fool. One did not – could not – woo a woman by reminding her of a painful, or tragic, loss.

The Art of the Fan

Today, I researched fans. What are the parts called, how are they used?

If you are familiar with historical fiction, then you know there is a Language of the Fan, just as there is a Language of Flowers. According to the Jane Austen’s World blog, the rules were rather rigid in the Victorian era, but not necessarily before that. Alas, I write in the Regency period.

That will not stop me learning something new about fans, however! Perhaps one of my lovely ladies will have to bring the language of the fans to Regency England from a far away exotic locale.

Perhaps.

So, what did we learn on our journey into the past today?

1. The fan goes way, way back. At least as far back as 1235 B.C. according to this article. Wow.
2. The first folding fan is still pretty damn old – over 1000 years old as it was first adopted in China somewhere between 900 and 960. Same article as #1.
3. The language of the fan, if it actually exists (apparently, there is debate on that) was not universal.

I leave you with two links – both of which share some hidden meanings. What about your historicals? Do you use the art of the fan in yours?

http://www.donnamacmeans.com/the-secret-language-of-fans/

https://myhandfan.com/language.htm