The Changing Male Ideal

Still sick, still busy, sorry to post a repeat but it is from so long ago I doubt anyone now reading has seen it. Thanks! — Demi

This blog is a bit difficult for me to write as I keep getting sidetracked over delightful images. I certainly hope my keyboard is waterproof. I especially drooled over a clip from Beau Brummel – This Charming Man, starring James Purefoy. Sincere thanks to Kristen Koster for posting that delectable eye candy here. Continue reading “The Changing Male Ideal”

Ears and Eyes: Important Equipment for Writers

I devote one post every month to health issues for writers, but I certainly hope you take time to be healthy every day. A quick tip on ways to not sit for too long: I’ll set a timer for 30 minutes and write whatever comes to mind. Doesn’t matter the grammar or the sentence structure or worry about ‘will the reader get what I’m trying to say here.’ Then when the timer goes off, I’ll set another timer for 10 minutes and go wash dishes or pick up toys, or vacuum; anything that gets me away from the computer. But, once the 10 minutes are up, even if I’m right in the middle of X activity, I stop and go write for another half hour. – Bren K. from Scribophile. Continue reading “Ears and Eyes: Important Equipment for Writers”

I See What You’re Saying

Whenever someone says, I see what you’re saying, I look for the speech balloon. Or the puff of vapor shaped like words. It’s funny, but as a writer, it’s exactly what I am trying to achieve.

The person who sees isn’t using their eyes. They are using their mind’s eye. They can visualize what the words on paper mean. It’s a pretty awesome connection to make with someone. And many writers never get the full impact of how they connected with someone. Continue reading “I See What You’re Saying”

The Candy Dish

In my Scribophile romance writers group, Writers Who Love Romance, we have a thread in the group forum called The Candy Dish. Because, as you can expect, we are predominantly female, this thread is full of male eye candy. We do have eclectic tastes, and we do post females now and again.

Recently a new member admitted she hadn’t looked at the thread because she thought it was a visual writing prompt involving a delicate crystal bowl and designer sweets. When she took the plunge and looked at the contents, she was hooked.

We have our favorites, and recently I devoted a post on a group blog I write for to David Gandy. He’s one of the writer’s inspiration for her main male character, and that’s exactly how the Candy Dish started. We posted our muse for whatever story we were writing.

I’ll just share a few of the links to these delightful gentlemen. You can thank me later.

We do like showers and pools.

We appreciate smiles. We can get into that serious gaze. And we know we need to embrace a healthier life style.

Who doesn’t like a man in uniform?

Just ask, we’ll take one for the team.

Heaven help the working man.

I could do an entire post on the fascination for men in kilts.

We try to keep the pictures to a PG17 rating, but this one might be pushing that some.

Enjoy the candy, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

Creative Writing is Like Surfing

No, I didn’t hit my head or fall through a rabbit hole. I was looking for a photo of someone waxing a surfboard, for a presentation at my place of employment. And I found Surf Science. The first thing I noticed was the similarity in articles there to those at help for writers web pages.

Avoid Surfing Mistakes for Beginners, the 10,000 Hour Rule, How To Turtle Roll:

Eleven Tips for Beginning Writers:

The 10,000 Hour Rule:

How to submit a query letter:

There are a few things on the surf page that SHOULD be on the writers’ pages, like good nutrition: and exercise:

I searched good nutrition for writers, and got places to submit articles on nutrition. Sigh. Exercises for writers just brings up prompts and writing exercises.

Currently, people who need to lose weight want meals with high protein and low fat, and very light on the carbs. Well, that should go for writers, too. But wait, athletes burn lots of calories, so they can get away with more carbs! So the key isn’t just what you eat, it’s also what you do for the day.

Sitting in front of a computer like I am doing now has been linked to many serious health issues. My nutritionist says that sitting is the new smoking, it will cause the deaths of more and more inactive people. Luckily there’s no such thing as second-hand sitting. But I do have a load of writing to complete, some of it with deadlines. Look what I found: The key here is that if you drink lots of water as well as do these exercises, you’ll be up and walking to the restroom every half hour or so. Here are more, slightly advanced exercises to try:

The tip on that last page about tightening your abs and glutes and holding it for a time throughout the day, that’s going to strengthen your core muscles, and make an improvement in many things you do. Did you know that muscles are fat-burning factories? The reason athletes can load up on carbs is that they have muscles that will burn those off. You can exercise and build your muscles, and lose weight from ramping up your fat-burning capabilities.

While you have been reading this, did you get any ideas for stories? Maybe a hero who needs to get back into shape, and meets a physical trainer who puts him through the wringer for his own good? Maybe a restaurant owner who wants to improve the quality of food in her establishment, and hires a whole foods consultant who also happens to be a surfer? Taking a break from your regular routine is always good for the brain, as well as the body.
And guess what? Regular activity is good for your creativity! How cool is that? You can become a healthier person and finally figure out the plot twist you need to become a best-selling author!

Well, I think that’s my weekly quota of exclamation points. I’ll be back on Sunday.

I See London, I See France

I located an amazing board on Pinterest where corsets and stays and chemises are shown in real life. I love this one of a chemise.

And more pretty things to go under the actual gown:

And another statement that the drawers were just not the thing:

So we pretty much see how women got on for most of the month, but what about when Aunt Flo came to visit? You know, that time of the month. LONG before maxi-pads and tampons. I have found a place where this seems to be the conclusion: They used nothing. I am not sure that works for Regency women, but for rural and lower classes, it could be just part of life.

However, some interesting points there include that women began menstruation much later than today, used no contraceptive, so were pregnant and not menstruating most of the time, and also breastfed so again, they put a stop to it. Plus many had no idea of good nutrition, and were malnourished or overweight or sick most of the time. So when they did have their monthly courses, they uses pads that were held in place by a belt of some sort. This is speculations, but not a bad guess.

Everyday stockings would be similar to the ones on this page: but they would not do for a fancy dress ball. Most of the history of stockings and hose skip right over the Regency period which probably means nothing much changed during that time. Finally, someone mentioned the garters!

Now to shoes, the finishing touch. The women could pick dancing slippers, boots, and heels, according to this wonderful site: Here’s a complete history of the shoe:

The final package:

And just for fun, I leave you with this until Sunday.

Interview with Lila Auclair

Some weeks ago, I posted three photos of models who were in the running for the basis of my heroine in a Regency naval-based Romance. I had long ago picked my hero, thinking he would be a pirate, but he’s turned into Captain Christopher “Kit” Dash. Here’s his Pinterest image:

In the story, Kit is a tall man with broad shoulders and long legs who has some issues living on a ship that uses very little space for any one thing. So I felt that the woman who wins his heart will be a sturdy woman, beautiful and curved, but also taller than the norm, who feels solid in his arms and in his bed. This is Lila Auclair:

I’m getting to know Lila, even though actually writing this story isn’t in the forecast, so I decided to get what I know about her written out and saved for the time to come.

Novel Approach: Miss Auclair, welcome. Would you tell us a little about your childhood?

Lila Auclair: My younger days passed tediously, I wouldn’t dwell on them. Suffice to say that my father is a French fisherman, my mother was Scottish, from Stonehaven. They met when his fleet blew in during a storm. He stayed a while, as some of the boats were damaged. Then he went back to France. Mama didn’t speak French, but she thought he meant to come back. Well, in the course of things, I entered the world. We lived with her parents on a small farm, and she died when I turned twelve.

NA: That’s very touching. How did you end up in France? Boulogne-sur-mer, was it?

LA: Yes, I went to find my father, and found instead his family. Mostly fishermen, but some farmers too. I stayed with an aunt and helped my cousins run the farm. I have learned to make the very best goat cheese in the whole world. Would you like to try it?

NA: Oh, maybe later. Thank you. I read somewhere that Boulogne-sur-mer hosted a fleet of smugglers. Are you sure your father fished for a living?

LA: Having never met the man, I can only tell you the stories my mother told me. I have been reassured by my aunt that he did indeed fish at some time in his life. He has gone to fight Napoleon, so we do not know if he will return to the farm.

NA: Your father still does not know of your existence? How does that make you feel?

LA: How should it make me feel? I have no claims on him, and want only to live in France with the Auclair family. My aunt wrote a letter to him, to tell him about me, but I do not know if he received it. There has been no reply.

NA: What was your mother’s family name?

LA: MacFarlane. Hannah MacFarlane, daughter and only child of Edward and Mary Gordon MacFarlane.

NA: How did you happen to meet Captain Dash?

LA: My cousin Pierre took fresh vegetables, flour, and chickens to the British ships that patrol the channel. The captain asked him to bring more, everything we could spare. So we took two boats out, with goats and wine and honey, and much more. Just as we had off-loaded our boats, and Pierre started back in his, a French ship appeared, and the captain ordered his crew to attack. I could not get to my boat safely, so he sent me below. To his cabin.

NA: Well, that’s all the time we have today! Thanks for your candid answers, Miss Auclair. And thanks to everyone for reading. I’ll be back on Thursday with more about ladies’ clothing.

LA: Oh, I’d like to read that one.

NA: I don’t think the ship has WiFi.

Slip of the Tongue – Or – The Foundation Series – Or – The Stays the Thing.

I may have mentioned that I write Regency Romances. Published nothing so far, but come pretty close a time or two. Under and assumed name so my sister won’t be ashamed to acknowledge me in public, I am writing erotica. I have a fun scene where the hero dances the heroine outside and into a hedge maze, and does unspeakable things to her. That’s why I wrote it down, instead of making a recording.

One reader was amazed that the hero could simply pull her sleeves down her arms a bit, and all her glorious bounty lay exposed before him. “Didn’t they have bras?” she asked. No. No, they did not.

I’ll let Uncle Wiki fill you in on the history of the brassiere. Suffice to say bras were not used until the late 1800s, and the Regency era really slipped into the Victorian era about 1820.

What did the women do to keep the “girls” in line? There were several options. Much depended on the social status of the woman. Regency women dressed like an onion, in layers. First there was the chemise, also called a shift. Often this was the nightgown, too. Over this light and easily washed shift, would go the stays. The breasts were lovingly placed into the stiff cotton twill garment, and a wooden (usually) busk (yardstick) is inserted in the front, in a pocket designed just for that use. The stays were expected to flatten the stomach, but lift and separate the bosom. This is more flattering than the Georgian flat from neck to toes style, and much more comfortable than the Victorian corset.

The shoulder straps, as you can see here: can be undone from the front and tucked in the back, if your ball gown had a wide neckline. So my hero could easily have pulled the stays down the slender heroine, with no impediment.

Shall we finish dressing our Regency Heroine? Why not! Over the stays, her ‘tiring woman or abigail places the petticoat. The bodice of the petticoat would be of a cheap, coarse fabric, and the had open sides for eas of dressing. Strips of fabric tape tied it all closed. The chemise would not be ankle length, but the petticoat was designed to fill out the shape of the dress, so that the wearer’s legs could not be easily perceived under her gown. It went to the hem and had at least one ruffle, properly called a flounce.

Drawers, you ask? Oh, no. Only fast women and prostitutes would wear drawers!

But that’s a step backward. Here are a few more wonderful links on the subject, and next Thursday we’ll look at the outer layers, and that wonderful hobby, laundry! Have a good week.

The Formula of Love

Well, it’s a tie. Only one vote came in on the three possible candidates for modeling my heroine after, and then there’s my vote. But as the official tie breaker, I get to pick the one I want. My friend and fellow writer who voted picked my least favorite of the three, to my amazement. She felt the first picture was too sleek and modern-looking, and the third, my favorite, looked too inactive to be a heroine.

I’ve been large size since sometime after my 2nd birthday. I’ve juggled emotional issues and depression and low self-worth, and by some luck managed to stay alive long enough to meet a man who loves me more than I love myself. I’m not saying being overweight is not a problem. I found a plan that works for me and I have lost 70 pounds in the last two years. I’m taking a break and doing maintenance currently while dealing with financial stress (that is going away, hooray!) and getting through the last months before my retirement.

One thing that made the weight loss work is a support group that I found, and that I in turn support through my gift, writing. I take the notes for the group, and keep the information fresh in their minds. We have a great facilitator who is a certified nutritionist, and once a month we have a special speaker who has an amazing alphabet soup behind her name. She works with mostly young women who have eating disorders. She’s lost a few patients, too. It’s a very deadly condition that usually starts with a negative remark from another person. Or maybe just a friend tells you how to drop a few pounds quickly by purging. Size bigotry is killing more people than we realize.

I’m less active than I would like to be, but not long ago (within the last millennium) I took part in three times weekly aerobics classes, hiked with my dog on weekends, and went to as many social events as I could afford. Just last year I was in Tai Chi, my favorite form of exercise, and walk a few times a week at work, plus volunteer to walk dogs at the local humane society. Anything to keep from cleaning the house.

So to prove that size does not equal inactivity, I went on line. I found a wonderful site called Monica Wants It. This plus size beauty blogs about do it yourself decorating, crafts, entertaining, and weight loss.

I zipped over to Daily Venus Diva, a fashion place for beautiful and curvy women. I am so impressed and amazed that there are fashion models out there, working, and larger than I currently am. The site is for fans to follow large size celebs but it’s great for a quick boost of window shopping.

Tess Munster is a plus size beauty, a model, and a campaigner for acceptance for all sizes. I love her t-shirts that read “Eff Your Beauty Standards.”

There’s even a Plus Size Mag with the hottest BBW models in the business.

And I fell in love with The Militant Baker’s spoof of a certain clothing store’s ads. Who is that delectable eye candy she is posing with? I may have to pin him somewhere.

But I really wanted to find out more about the model in the photo that got my vote. You see, something clicked in my writer brain when I looked at her, and now I know a lot more about my hero. He’s a large man, tall, broad shouldered, big feet to go with it all, and learning to live on board a space-challenged sailing ship that he commands. A larger, softer woman would feel more comfortable in his arms. And that’s part of the equation, the formula that equals sexual attraction that unfolds into love. I am miffed that I have to put this story on ice for a bit, but it is unfolding in my brain.

Kate Dillon is the model. She is an active and interesting person. She’s educated, she survived her “non-trivial eating disorder” and she likes herself better every day.

And more:

And this:

What I want to say by all this is, don’t judge! Love yourself, and don’t let others judge you. You are Perfect, Whole, and Complete! See you Sunday for more book travels.

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 9

Finally ready to get to the second to the last ear lobe of our journey. These countries are getting more remote and difficult to find books set there. Lots of work ahead! You tip the Sky Captain this time, will you?

161. Congo. As far as settings for novels, there seems to be little difference between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the plain Republic of Congo. (map on page two of this linked document shows that they are two separate countries. And I had found several books that interested me when I looked at the Congo as a location. The Witch Doctor’s Wife (Amanda Brown series #1) by Tamar Myers has everything you expect from Africa: daring rescues, diamonds, mystery, diamonds, intrigue, and diamonds.

162. Sao Tome & Principe. Slavery has been around as long as people found it worth while to subjugate weaker people to do what needed to be done. America has no copyright on the process, but we certainly helped make it profitable for many. In Sao Tome: Journey to the Abyss – Portugal’s Stolen Children, Paul D. Cohn explores the time in history when the Portuguese royals and the Catholic Church “exported” Jewish children to the sugar cane fields on Sao Tome. It’s 1485 when this practise begins, and soon the discovery of The New World impacts slavery, sugar production, and exploration of the Americas. Told from the point of view of a young boy and his sister, taken from their synagogue in Lisbon, this emotionally charged drama is historical fiction at its finest.

163. Benin. Is it the heat that makes stories in Africa and South America grim? I know that’s not true, it’s the basic human nature unchecked by love or kindness at work. Slavery and war and making money from the suffering of others is the basic story behind The Viceroy of Ouidan by Bruce Chatwin. Yes, that Bruce Chatwin. One reviewer liked the ‘multitude of minutia” in this novel.

164. Togo. In my youth, a friend of the family had a baby out of wedlock (this was not done in those days, or if done, was not talked about). The friend left the baby to be raised by her parents while she went off with the Peace Corp to do some growing up. I can’t imagine what her life was like, but this book can bring to me a sense of her adventures. Greetings From Jungleland by Michael Fortner recounts his adventures, and the best part is, some of the profits from book sales will go to the specific village where he worked.

165. Ghana. More series books! If you are like me, you hate to come to the end of a good book. So authors invented series! The trilogy came first, but now we are less constrained by that arbitrary number. I think Douglas Adams had something to do with that. Kwei Quartey writes the Darko Dawson stories, and after I got over thinking his name was just a typographic error, I found the idea of a motherless child growing up to be a detective fascinating. Wife of the Gods.

166. Cote d’Ivoire. On first glance at the summary of this book, I thought it was only about a white man in Africa trying to get laid. But that seems to be just one theme running through this rich tapestry of reasons people have to hate each other. One review says it’s “raw, interesting, tragic, beautiful, and funny.” Something for the whole family. Whiteman by Tony D’Souza.

167. Burkina Faso. Yes, this is the first time I have ever heard of this country. So a story about a self-involved 15-year-old boy being sent there for misbehavior at school, and getting into a major scrape sounds like a good way to get to know the history and personality of this desert country. Outlaw by Stephen Davies is described by one reviewer as “Robin Hood with technology.”

168. Liberia. Kids books can be great reading for adults, especially in learning about far-away places. Mamba Point by Kurtis Scarletta has an awesome premise. That which you fear most can become your greatest asset.

169. Sierra Leone. Probably the country most likely to be wrongly assigned to South America, Sierra Leone is actually in Africa. And is in the heart of some of the worst military aggressions on the planet. This is the story of one boy who became a soldier against his will. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is told through glimpses he shares of his life with his American schoolmates. None of whom can guess at the true scope of his stolen life. One reviewer said, “I will never. Never. Complain about my childhood again.”

170. Guinea. Touted as a classic of African literature, The Dark Child by Camara Laye is another boyhood story from the continent that is least understood and most exploited throughout history. An autobiography, it stands out as an excellent work of literature.

171. Senegal. We can all use nonjudgmental friends. And who more than a widow whose heart overflows with sorrow? Told in the form of a letter to a friend, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ recounts the struggle of one woman through emotional turmoil for basic survival. Originally written in French, I imagine it will be best in that language, but still makes an impact as translated. Sadly, the author passed away in 1981.

172. Mali. Here we see 13th century assassins and heros, theives and conspirators, and actual history used to craft a story that deals with the continuation of life. An oath or pact made by warrior brothers continues on through their lives, the need to have an heir continues on through the lives of the children of these warriors. Sanakhou by Elizabeth Evans. I think this book will really take off once it is “discovered.”

173. Mauritania. A close contender for the geographical challenge, as it sounds like a country that should be in Europe somewhere. However, Travels in Mauritania by Peter Hudson is firmly set in that African nation, and is an excellent recounting of his travels. Not an adventure book as such, it is an adventure of the widely traveled author in meeting the world at large.

174. Western Sahara. This country challenged me to find a book that took place there. As I learned, this is disputed land, with Morocco and Mauritania as chief players. In Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate, Erik Jensen takes a close look at all the players, and recounts the history of the struggle toward sovereignty. One of these days, I am going to write a romance in that setting.

175. Cape Verde. So many of the books set in Cape Verde are about people getting the heck out of there. So I was pleased to find The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo by Germano Almeida. Leading a secret life on a small island country isn’t easy, and I can’t wait to read how this was accomplished.

176. Gibraltar. This is on my to read SOON list! The writers I hang out with on Scribophile and in RWA talk about the characters taking over the story. I’ve had the same thing happen when one of my characters revealed something about her past that blew me away. Now imagine that a character expects you to rewrite the story and have things work out with less conflict and stress. Tumbling Through Time by Gwyn Cready is right up my reading alley.

177. Malta. The past is never what it seems. That makes perfect sense, because history is written by the winners. In The Sea of Forgotten Memories (A Maltese Thriller), Federico Chini explores a family where a death occurs in each generation. Murder or accident?

178. Faroe Islands. Another place I had never heard of before, and now can’t wait to visit some day. In the meantime, I want to read The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson. The story delivers on every level. And here’s a great article by the author on why he picked this location.

179. Hawaii. Much as I love America, the annexing of Hawaii and the destruction of the Hawaiian culture will always shame me. People like to say the country has gotten worse, but greed has always been a motivational force. However, the book I picked is a fluffy romance, because I feel the subject of Hawaiian independence has not been properly told yet. The Ross Siblings series book #1, Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn looks at what happens when a man’s best friend’s husband runs off with his fiance. Oh, just read it.

180. Macau. So many stories to choose here, but I thought ending this lobe on a happy note would be best. The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe is filled with conflict and stress, but in the end there is all the tea in China. “A scrumptious story of love, friendship, and renewal.”

Have a few macaroons and buy a few post cards. We have a couple more weeks of fun travel by book. And on Wednesday, something silly this way comes.