The King’s Shilling

Before I head off into a look at the military as a means for Regency gentlemen to earn their livings, I want to mention a recent book nominated for a RITA award. Some people are just calling it “The Nazi Book.” I have not read the book, I do not intend to read it. It is not aimed at me, I am not the target audience. I have lots of friends of many faiths, and I am solid in defending their rights to believe as they do. However, putting that aside, the book has been rated as well written and a stirring romance. If you are Christian and like inspirational stories with little or no basis in reality, you might really like this book. It’s written just for you.

Just remember, Romance Writers of America, the sponsors of the RITA awards, are not in the business of suppressing or judging content. That would be censorship. They also use a 5 judge peer review process for the submitted nominations. That won’t change any time soon. If you disagree with the winners of the awards, don’t buy the book. That’s the best thing you can do. There was another book submitted and processed similarly, getting high marks from the judges. It dealt with sexual abuse. Again, not a book I would buy or read. But the author still had the right to produce the book and get it published and submit it for an award.

On to a look at the army and navy in Regency times. Rather than give you a general overview, I thought I would focus on one person in each service, and the most well known. For Army, The Duke of Wellington, and for Navy, Admiral Lord Nelson.

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My title, The King’s Shilling, is actually a reference to the regular enlisted, fighting man’s expectations. In many a romance, if the hero is mad to gain glory through martial exploits, he often threatens to take the king’s shilling rather than seek permission or raise the funds to buy a commission. Wellington started life as the Hon. Arthur Wellesley, son of a wealthy Anglo-Irish family. Upon his father’s death in 1781, the family fortunes declined somewhat. His brother Richard, now the head of the family, followed his mother’s advice and sought out a peer to grant a commission for Arthur.

Wellesley’s first encounter with military life was the 1794 Flanders campaign during the French Revolution. The startegy of those in charge appalled him. He decided to study warfare and strategy, even though he hated bloodshed and carnage. He adopted some strange ways for the time, such as keeping his hair short so that less time needed to be used in grooming, and wearing dark colors so he didn’t stand out from his other officers.

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In spite of his lack of bonding with the Prince Regent, The Battle of Waterloo cemented Wellesley’s standing as a great military leader. He won promotions throughout his career, and ended up as The Duke of Wellington. And at the age of 46, he retired from the army.

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As Wellington had his Waterloo, Nelson had his Trafalgar. The biggest difference is that Wellington survived the battle.

For Horatio Nelson, life started in a decently well-off Norfolk family. His uncle got him on a ship with him at the age of 13. His years of service included a voyage to find the fabled Northwest Passage, and chasing of a polar bear, as well as a bout of malaria, and a good deal of prize money. His Uncle Suckling rose in naval rank, and helped Nelson do likewise.

Nelson proved victorious in many battles, and had many close calls. He lost sight in one eye, and then had to have his right arm amputated. But he gained the love and devotion of a very special woman, Lady Hamilton. Oh, what a romance that was! Sadly, their happily ever after didn’t happen in this life.

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As I said, Nelson was killed at Trafalgar, after sending the famous line by signal flags to his fleet: England expects that every man will do his duty. He had been granted a baroncy, which in some ways served as an insult, but eventually he did receive his viscountcy. The navy delivered to him both horrendous wounds and wonderful rewards.

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On September 12, 1803, Wellesley and Nelson met briefly in a waiting room. According to Arthur’s recollection, Nelson was vain, silly, and pompous. However, once the Admiral learned who the young soldier in the waiting room actually was, he returned and they had a more amiable and professional conversation.

Thanks for reading, I will be back on Thursday.

Render Unto Ceaser

Few people who haven’t studied the Regency era or British history understand that religion and political power were united most of the time. When a titled nobleman had a Parrish in his area of influence, then it became his right to bestow or “gift” that position or “living” to whomever he chose. Most often he did require the person to have had Holy Orders ordained. Continue reading “Render Unto Ceaser”

Pockets to Let

The Regency period in England contains many traits that I love, such as the dancing, the social structure, the manners, and the parties during The Season. Yes, this period also had much that was not good, like no women’s rights, no social security for the poor and disabled, and no modern medicine. These are all things, good and bad, that must be taken into account when writing in that time period. Continue reading “Pockets to Let”

Real Characters Have Hobbies.

Sometimes you write a character and you can see the person. You can hear their voice. You can have long, meaningful conversations with this person. You know their favorite color. You know what they studied in school. You know who they are going to vote for in the next election. You have created a well-rounded person whom your readers will enjoy and want to read all about.

Or did you forget something? Besides making love to your other main character, does this person have a hobby? What do they do in their free time? Are they good at it, or just learning?

My nutritionist suggests hobbies like knitting and painting to keep me from overeating. If my hands are busy, I won’t be reaching for the Double Stuff Oreos. Not that I like Double Stuff Oreos. Just saying. Even better are hobbies that keep a person moving and not sitting very long at a time.

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When you read the Summer edition of The Bowman’s Inn Anthology, you’ll meet a character named Rusty who is hired to tend bar. In passing, we learn that Rusty drives a restored Classic Chevy. That’s all I say about it, but for Rusty, restoring cars is his hobby. He also works out at the gym every day, and donates time to help kids at the Y train to be physically fit. None of this has come out yet, but it will. Over the next year or so, more of his hobbies and lifestyle will be revealed. I thought when I first created Rusty that he would be gay. I wanted something for everyone in the pub. But turns out, he’s not. He fell in love with another character, and insisted on getting together with her. So I reduced my cast by one and had Rusty put the moves on Pepper. That’s how it works when you know your characters.

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You’ll also meet Nate and Charlene in the Anthology. Nate is a werewolf. Charlene is an office worker who daydreams about finding Mr. Right. She’s going to school but it’s summer, so she’s making use of the extra hours to stop in at the pub for coffee, and enjoy the beautiful day. Nate is a detective working undercover with a group of criminals. This group has been getting away with bank robbery after bank robbery. Nate got into the group and is determined to stop their winning streak. And Charlene happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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These two really haven’t been telling me much about themselves. But I plan to write more about them, and hopefully they will talk to me about their hobbies and interests. For Char, this is her first serious relationship, and for Nate, this is his first relationship with a non-shifter. He can’t find the right way to tell her. Maybe if she dresses as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween?

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Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

What was Her Name?

Authors these days are writing series that can have a dozen books or more involved. Readers love to follow the adventures of the characters from the first books through the on-going stories. We see the wedding if it didn’t happen in the first one, we see the kids, we see it all. We know their dogs, cats, and gold fish. If it’s a historical, we know the horses and the servants. Continue reading “What was Her Name?”

Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter or Balancing Backstory

In the great romantic movie, Shakespeare in Love, the title character is writing a play which he calls Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter. Of course, it soon becomes Romeo and Juliet, and there’s no bit with the dog, but the character arcs are fascinating and well written.

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But if you were writing a story about a woman named Ethel, and you didn’t want to waste pages and pages setting up the back story of her life as a pirate’s daughter, you could save some time by using the above title. Continue reading “Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter or Balancing Backstory”

Don’t Look Back

Last night we watched one of our favorite movies of all time, Spirited Away. There’s an awesome paranormal love story woven in to the adventure, and the growth of the main character is done to perfection. However, I noticed near the end that Chihiro is told “Don’t look back” as she goes away from the bath house. Unlike Lot’s wife, she manages this simple task. Not looking back is very important for most people. Regrets can bog a person down in depression and guilt, which makes moving forward through life really tough. My husband and I try not to indulge in it too much, even though we both wish we could have met sooner. The scary part is, there’s a chance we could have met up decades before we did. But that would mean such a big change in our lives, where our children come into it, that it’s not worth it. I wouldn’t trade my daughter and son for anything in existence, even with all the tears and heartaches involved. Characters, however, need to look back sometimes. Delivering back story is a necessary evil of writing fiction. Without creating an info dump, or making the character look stupid for having to be told things he or she should already know, the writer needs to explain about the family curse on the beautiful diamond ring which was stolen during the rush of English citizens to get out of France and then turned up in a pawn shop and purchased by the hero who is engaged to the heiress who should by rights have the ring in her possession. I do my best to bring up the facts in a painless way, usually through conversation between characters. In Main Course, the twins talk about the fact that their father is against his eldest son joining the army, and that he has been out of London for a very long time pursuing a female person in the country. If you didn’t read Appetizer in the Regency Banquet series, then you would still know why Roland has to switch identities with his twin, Bernard, and that the beautiful Aunt Vivienne is providing companionship to Mr. Curtis. Also they discuss the fact that sister Ellen is married and not able to see through their plan. This is a process I know I can always learn to do better. There are great articles available to help any writer. Should you write a flashback scene? What is it about Lot’s wife? You can’t move forward without looking back. Pretty much, a fictional character who doesn’t look back is either amnesiac or one dimensional. So learn how to do backstory before you do anything else. But for yourself, keep your mental eyes forward unless you are remembering something you want to write about. Then, it’s all good. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back Sunday, probably late because I will be attending my first Writers’ Convention, California Dreamin’. #excitedbeyondwords