Now Entering Jane Austen Land!

I go through audio books like I go through something that doesn’t last very long but you really like it. As a result, I often listen to my discs again and again. Sadly I only own one Jane Austen book on CD, but it’s Pride and Prejudice so it’s good. I try to limit my listening to P&P to once every six months. Same with the first Outlander book on CD. Don’t want too much of a good thing. Continue reading “Now Entering Jane Austen Land!”

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Your Hero Versus Darcy

We know we shouldn’t compare our writing and skills to anyone else, we are only in competition with our self, improving how we write now from how we wrote a year ago. But I think it might be fun to compare a modern romance hero to the pattern card of Mr. FitzWilliam Darcy. Of course, you can do a comparison of your own ideal hero, but I will go with Darcy for argument’s sake. Continue reading “Your Hero Versus Darcy”

Jane Austin’s Christmas

I’ve read quite a number of special Christmas romances set in the Regency period. My favorites have been Mary Balogh’s collection, and I looked for her new story every year. I don’t think that’s still happening, and I miss it. Even the short stories that appeared in anthologies would brighten the holiday for me. Checking the list on Amazon, there are a few that I seem to have missed, so I look forward to completing my collection.

Many people don’t think Christmas was more than a holy day in Regency England, and that was the key to the celebration. And what we think of as Christmas, with the tree, the decorations, the candles and all, came to fashion with the very dashing Prince Albert when he married the young Queen Victoria in 1840. (Although several notable persons of German origin did keep the customs before that) But there were many native traditions in England.

Oh, sure, the Puritans, bless their hearts, were against Christmas for the association with Roman Catholic ceremonies and the extravagant feasting and fooling around, sometimes in masks, the drinking, and the plays, and oh so many things to dislike. http://austenonly.com/2009/12/12/but-surely-christmas-in-england-didnt-exist-until-dickens-invented-it/ But the traditions simply went underground, they did not die out.

The Irish held on to the Yuletide customs as part of their struggle to keep their culture alive under occupation and suppression. The use of holly to decorate began long ago there, and remains a source of holiday cheer today. http://www.ireland-information.com/articles/irishchristmastraditions.htm

The Yule Log, the Decorations on a Tree, the Singing of Carols, all started long before the Victorians got involved. Pagans marked the Winter Solstice by bringing evergreens inside, bonfires were lit outside, and Saturnalia celebrations also used lots of evergreen plants. When Christianity bloomed in England, the holiday of Christmas and the same plants were given Christian significance. Except for mistletoe, because that nasty little parasite was druid through and through. The Church banned it until the early 19th century. http://austenonly.com/2009/12/14/jane-austen-and-christmas-decorating-the-georgian-home/

So back to Miss Austen, and how she celebrated. Her letters tell us more, but she did cover some traditions in the novels. And a book I must add to my collection is Jane Austen’s Christmas: The Festive Season in Georgian England. The back cover blub states “Miss Austen would have known elaborate house parties and fancy dress balls. The Mummers would surely have attended her home in Hampshire, as would the Waits, encouraging ‘good Christians’ to ‘awake’ on Christmas morning. She is also known to have enjoyed Christmas pudding, still then a fairly new dish, loved by the Georgian monarchy and copied by many families at the time.” http://www.janeausten.co.uk/jane-austens-christmas-the-festive-season-in-georgian-england/

So don we now our Regency apparel, dish up the Christmas pudding, http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1159/classic-christmas-pudding and ask Mary to sing a carol or two. I’ll be back on Sunday.

Nom de Plume: The Writer’s Protection Program

We in the United States live in a society where, as has often been pointed out, sex is bad and violence is thrilling. I am not one to blame shootings on movies, TV, or video games. The blame in shooting sprees belongs on our treatment for folks with mental health issues.

But I still have to be careful about who knows that I write erotic romance. Retirement is just around the corner, and I plan to avoid any trips on the way to the finish line. So I have this “friend” who published a Regency erotic Romance which is available from Amazon. I’ll put the link at the end of the blog.

My close, personal friends on Scribophile have revealed to me the fact that many who consider themselves writers do not share that with anyone. Not with parents or other families. Sometimes not with significant others. Not with coworkers. Not on social media.

That’s why there are cutesy names used by really intelligent writers there. You would not believe the angst we vent in the forums about not finding the right name, or someone else already writes under that name, or why can’t I use Jane Austen, she’s done with it?

Speaking of Jane Austin, and female writers of her time period, women just didn’t write novels. Page one in the Ladies Book of Unspoken and Unwritten Etiquette clearly stated, journals, okay; letters, of course; poems, maybe; a novel, are you insane?

Uncle Wiki has some great nuts and bolts details if you are interested in pseudonyms and the whys.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudonym

But in the modern world, you would think it not that necessary to have a writing name. Here’s how 8 famous writers (which appears to be fast and loose with the definition of famous) picked their names.
http://mentalfloss.com/article/51195/how-8-famous-writers-chose-their-pen-names

Thanks to the internet, we now have wonderful methods for generating a name of our very own. Here’s a nice one.
http://www.namegenerator.biz/pseudonym-generator.php

Maybe, just maybe, you are writing steampunk or Victorian romance or something like that. Well, here’s a generator for the Victorian in you.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/31/pen-name-generator_n_5045267.html

And how could I resist this great name, Nom-de-plume-o-matic?
http://arockinmypocket.blogspot.com/2010/11/nom-de-plume-o-matic.html

So, back to the fact that I could keep my job if I wrote blood and violence stories, but have to keep it hush hush if I should decide to do what my “friend” Roxanna Haley did and publish erotica. What a world, what a world. Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N7T79FA

See you on Sunday.

Intermission

I know we are on the home stretch of our journey Around the World, but this past week brought such relief to me and my beloved husband. He got a job. Not just a do-it-because-we-need-the-money type of job, but the perfect job, where they respect his knowledge and treat everyone like good people. He is looking forward to his first day at work tomorrow. So much excitement has not been good for my writing time, and so the research for the books to list has been allowed to slide. I hope you will forgive me and join in the celebration.

Of course, we have a few bills to pay, and catch up to do, but I can retire in 19 week (but who’s counting?) and still have oodles of money in the accounts. In my belief system, I don’t want to look too far ahead and dream of what I will do with the money, because that means I have already gotten that good. Okay, it’s complicated and all, but I try to live in this moment, when I am putting words down to share with people who like reading Romance and who like what I have shared before.

But if I DID think about the future expenditure of disposable income, here are a few of the things that come to mind. First of all, a trip to the United Kingdom. http://www.kensingtontours.com/Travel/Tours/United_Kingdom?gclid=CjkKEQjw_ZmdBRD1qNKXhomX_sEBEiQAc9XNUM9rkjEgaKtV4X0WD2SY2D4HSP446tgghiqPydbbxBHw_wcB

And then a special tour following after the delightful Miss Austen. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-to-tour-jane-austens-english-countryside-6228269/?no-ist

We need a new washing machine and a new refrigerator. http://www.kenmore.com/front-load-washers/nb-120000000223589?intcmp=ken_nav_laundry_frontloadwashers#meetMatch

http://www.kenmore.com/search=french-door?storeId=10154&catalogId=12604&viewItems=25&sLevel=0&levels=Kitchen_Refrigerators+%26+Freezers_French+Door+Bottom+Freezers&sLevel=0&redirectType=SKIP_LEVEL&intcmp=ken_refrigerators_vertical_french_door_image_101513&prop17=french-door

I want a truck. http://www.toyotasandiego.com/new-San+Diego-2014-Toyota-Tacoma-Pickup+2D+6+ft-5TFNX4CN7EX037352

Of course, we would love to move closer to the ocean some day. http://www.redfin.com/CA/Carlsbad/3719-Sandpoint-Ct-92010/home/6336432

We may need some help with lawn care. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/273171533617640866/

And the home office for my writing must have a secret door behind a bookcase. http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/28061441/list/How-to-Create-a-Secret-Doorway-Behind-a-Bookcase

We’ll want all the latest technology, eventually. Wait, will it still be the latest if we get it next year? http://www.designyourway.net/blog/inspiration/30-cool-high-tech-gadgets-to-give-your-home-a-futuristic-look/

Most of all, however, I want to be back on Medifast, exercising more, getting vet care for all the pets, and having the time to feed the birds fresh foods every day. That really will be the perfect life, and is the most likely to happen right away.

So if you are out Trick-or-Treat-ing and see a crazy woman who looks as happy as it’s possible to look and still be decent in public, chances are it’s me. My retirement date will be October 30, 2014, and there will be a huge celebration on the 31st. A light heart lives longest. Maireann croí éadrom i bhfad.

http://irish-sayings.com/cats/irishproverbs/?ModPagespeed=noscript

See you on Wednesday for some fun, and next week we’ll continue our journey Around the World.

I’m Having Contractions

Here’s the saddest thing I ever discovered as a writer. Shakespeare did not write proper English! As a writer of historical fiction, I have been told several times that my characters should not use contractions. You know, I’m instead of I am, can’t instead of cannot, won’t instead of whatever it’s a contraction of. Yet Bill S. titled a play All’s Well That Ends Well and no one fusses. This was easily 200 years before the Regency period.

Anachronisms creep up in historical fiction now and again. One of my husband’s complaints about the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is the out of place things that creep up. Particullarly the Monty Python reference when the show didn’t debut on the BBC until years after Claire – well, I don’t want to spoil things. It should also be noted that he’s on his second read through all the books, and complaining that the next book won’t be out soon enough.

I remember a published author who was the speaker at an RWA meeting when I was first a member. Even though she knew better, she had her Regency main characters meeting in Trafalgar Square. Yeah, didn’t get that name until 1830. https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/arts-culture/trafalgar-square/history

It’s a close call with the Yankee expression, Okay. You’ll find it in print by 1830, and that indicates a wide usage before that. I really like the Choctaw explanation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okay

As English is a living, breathing, chain-smoking, beer-drinking language, it changes a lot. Languages like Japanese have changed little in the past century. But English not only has changed, it’s colonized various parts of the world. These nifty graphs show the rise or fall in contraction usage since 1800.
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/8900/were-contractions-less-common-in-olden-days

Here’s an excellent article on some of the influences on English: http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/linguistics/change.jsp

The final word, of course, would be Miss Jane Austen. She uses contractions very rarely, but remember her writing went through publishers who had their own ideas of proper English. They no doubt filtered her words as they saw fit. But here’s one they missed:

It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Thank you, Miss Austen, and thank you, gentle readers. See you on Sunday for the next leg around the world in books.