Archive for 'on writing'

Word of the day: Cantankerous

In You May Kiss the Bride, my hero’s grandmother, Henrietta Penhallow, is definitely cantankerous: she’s arrogant, domineering, and critical.

Infographic: "cantankerous," via Merriam-Webster

 

Here’s a little snippet from Chapter 5, during which my heroine, the penniless orphan Livia Stuart, has begun — under the aegis of old Mrs. Penhallow — her transformation into an elegant Society miss.

One morning, after several new items had arrived (including, to Livia’s intense gratification, a pair of kid slippers with ravishing pink rosettes), she said impulsively to Mrs. Penhallow:

“All this, ma’am, for me? I must thank you.”

The old lady had somehow managed despite her inferior height to look down her nose at Livia. “It is not for, or about, you, young lady,” she replied with her usual hauteur. “Never think that for a moment. It is merely that you are to represent the Penhallows, and standards must be upheld.”

Temporarily cowed by this frigid set-down, Livia submitted to successive applications of Lotion of Ladies of Denmark, Milk of Almonds, and the distilled water from green pineapples, her complexion having been pronounced shockingly brown, and also to the rose oil and white wax for lips deemed repulsively dry and chapped.

Poor Livia!

Want to read a longer excerpt from You May Kiss the Bride? Click here for Chapter 1.

 

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Dragon bed

This image floated across my Twitter feed, and I had to stop and stare at it in admiration.

Photo: a miniature dragon bed made by Michael Reynolds.

Via Traceyanne McCartney on Twitter

Of course, I spent some time wondering if I could somehow write in a bed like this into one of my books. Nothing immediately springs to mind, but you never know . . .

Then I had to learn more. This is an amazingly teeny-tiny little bed, the artist is Michael Reynolds, and he is evidently a member of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans which has a bewitchingly fascinating Instagram. Enjoy!

 

 

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Mary Balogh: “I believe in love”

I’ve just read a fantastic post by Mary Balogh on why she writes historical romance; it speaks eloquently to me as both a reader and a writer.

She begins by saying, “I believe in love. I believe in the power and ultimate triumph of love.”

And why historical romance in particular?

“Readers like to be transported away from their everyday lives. They like to be taken to a different world to read about people who are essentially like themselves. Past eras often seem more romantic than our own. Regency England, for example, conjures marvelous visual images of fashions for both men and women that weA Regency-era ballre perhaps the most attractive and sexy of any age; of stately country homes and the spacious parks surrounding them; of horse-drawn carriages bowling along the king’s highway; of couples waltzing at grand balls in the light of dozens of candles in the crystal chandeliers overhead; of enchanted evenings strolling the lantern-lit walks of Vauxhall Gardens in London; of picnics and garden parties in rural surroundings; of drives in Hyde Park at the fashionable hour. The possibilities are endless, all coming with an aura of the romance of a bygone age. It is a happy illusion, of course. Most of us would not want actually to live in Regency England or any other bygone era, but we are quite happy to enjoy it from the comfort of our twenty-first century homes. That is the magic of reading.”

Click here to read the full post.

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Word of the day: Genteel

A fantastic word for a writer of historical romance.

Infographic: "genteel," a word of the day via Merriam-Webster

Here it is in You May Kiss the Bride, during a scene in which my heroine, Livia, despite being ravenously hungry, still manages to display her good manners:

Gabriel sat in the Phelps Tea Room and watched without comment as Miss Stuart, in a very genteel but methodical way, consumed eight dainty ham sandwiches, three devilled eggs, and most of a plate of pastries. When finally she paused, and took a sip of her tea, he held out the plate.

“Would you care for another raspberry tart, Miss Stuart?”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t,” she sighed, sounding very happy.

Gabriel was startled at the transformation from the tense, tightly strung young lady he had met in the Pump Room to this . . . this relaxed, almost languorous girl who looked like she would at any moment begin to purr with satisfaction. It was difficult to believe that half an hour ago she was practically snarling at him and calling him a beast.

Of course, we all know how it’s easier to be agreeable on a full stomach . . .

This snippet appears in Chapter 6, but if you like, you can read all of Chapter 1 here.

 

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Day Planner

Quite a good description of my usual day."Day Planner": a comic by Grant Snider

More about the artist, Grant Snider, here.

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Word of the Day: Beguile

A terrific word for a romance writer, don’t you think? Infographic: "Beguile" and its definition, via Merriam-Webster.

I used it a variant of it in You May Kiss the Bride:

Clearly, there was more to that exasperating man than only stubborn arrogance. Livia began to feel regretful at parting from him two days ago in the Pump Room with what she had to now admit was outright churlishness. But he had bowed over her hand with such cool remoteness, and had given no indication as to his plans.

Oh, she must, and would, thank him as soon as next she saw him! She would be very proper and aloof, of course, but gracious. Not unlike an empress acknowledging a worthy gesture from a subordinate. That would be the ideal note to strike. And she would not, absolutely would not, lose her temper.

Caught up in this beguiling vision of herself, Livia jumped when Mrs. Penhallow rapped her knuckles on the table, and turned startled eyes to her hostess.

“I daresay you had a very good reason for ignoring me,” said the old lady with withering sarcasm. “Perhaps you were wondering what the dessert course will be?”

She hadn’t, but now she was, although clearly it would be unwise to ask. 

This snippet appears in Chapter 6. But, if you like, you can read all of Chapter 1 here.

 

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All characters wait here

A surprisingly accurate depiction of my writing process.

"All characters wait here": a comic by Tom Gauld.

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Word of the day: Maelstrom

Here’s a fantastic word for a romance writer, as our work is imbued with emotions of all kinds, and often very strong ones.Infographic: "Maelstrom": a word-of-the-day from Merriam-Webster.

In fact, I used it in You May Kiss the BrideMy hero, Gabriel Penhallow, who has previously taken great pride in his cool sangfroid, has just had a public — and widely observed — altercation on a busy street in Bath, during which he effectively rips to shreds the character of a man whose carriage has nearly run over my heroine Livia:

So much for his vaunted self-control, he thought bitterly. The last time he’d allowed himself to give way to such a violent maelstrom of emotions, he’d ended up kissing a saucy, tempting girl in a garden and within the hour been engaged to her. And here she’d done it once more.

This snippet is from Chapter 9, but you if you like, you can read Chapter 1 here.

 

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Some beautiful images from Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice plays a small role in You May Kiss the Brideso I was especially delighted to come across these images from the Folio Society’s recently published edition of P & P. Aren’t they spectacular?

An illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy dancing, by Anna and Elena Balbusso. From Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (The Folio Society)

An illustration of Elizabeth Bennet being confronted by Lady Catherine, by Anna and Elena Balbusso. From Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (The Folio Society)An illustration of Elizabeth Bennet looking at a portrait of Mr. Darcy, by Anna and Elena Balbusso. From Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (The Folio Society)

 

The artists are Anna and Elena Balbusso. More here.

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Word of the day: Baleful

Another excellent word for a romance writer, in whose work tensions often run high. A Merriam-Webster infographic, with a definition for the word "baleful"

I used it at least once, in adverbial form, in You May Kiss the Bride:

Livia looked balefully at the rumpled heap of expensive, fragile gowns lying on the floor. So Cecily thought one of her old cast-offs might suit her for the ball? And Lady Glanville thought that she’d be thrilled, grateful, to peek out from behind a potted palm to enjoy a glimpse of luxury?

Well, they were wrong. 

Dead wrong. 

Livia jumped to her feet and went over to the gowns. She snatched them up and shoved them onto a low shelf of her armoire. 

She was not going to the ball. 

This snippet appears in Chapter 1. You can read the full excerpt here.

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