Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I'm taking a break from this week's post since it is Christmas Eve. I'm busy baking up a storm now that I have decent kitchen to do so. The Christmas lights are blinking and my record player turning out the sounds of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas".

But I wanted stop in quickly to wish you all a very Merry Christmas (or Happy Hannukah...am I too late for that?) and a stupendously fabulous New Year. I haven't accomplished much on the writing front this past year, I can only hope that the coming months will bring with them a revival of my passion for the written word. I have so many stories to tell, after all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

So today's read was another book that I read during 2013. "The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan is a fascinating look at the world of 19th century France and the ballet that inspired such great artists as Edgar Degas.

We don't get enough French historical fiction in my opinion, so I'm always glad to read something set in that country. "The Painted Girls" is set during the heady years of Belle Epoque Paris. While the novel can be somewhat depressing sometimes (as life must have been for those scraping by to make a living wage during this period), the novel ultimately celebrates triumph over adversity.

 The van Goethems, a poor family living hand to mouth in the slums of Paris are main protagonists. Antoinette, Marie, and Charlotte are three sisters, with the oldest, Antoinette, being a stand-in mother to her two younger sisters as their mother is too busy drinking the family's wages in Absinthe. Marie is the very sensitive, over thinking intellectual of the family who is pulled from her convent school and enrolled (along with her sister Charlotte) in the ballet school at the Paris Opera. Meanwhile Antoinette becomes embroiled in a torrid romance with the street wise Emile Abadie. They both end up working as extras in a theatrical production with Emile often passing along his wages to help Antoinette out. Nonetheless he is a sulky bad boy who conceals a dangerous side until the end of the novel. There were times that I wanted beat Antoinette senseless for believing his tripe, but we all have a gullible side, I suspect.

Despite the trials and travails of the van Goethems, the ending is quite satisfying. An interesting read if you enjoy the old Parisian landscape of cafes, music halls, and of course, the beautiful Paris Opera House.

This novel also got significant coverage in the Washington Post and on NPR, so well worth a read.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

Hello there dear readers. As promised, I have returned for Review Tuesday. I'm very proud of myself...but I digress.

This week's review is from my August 2013 review for the Historical Novel Review, and this novel also happens to be another favorite of mine. "My  Notorious Life" by Kate Manning is partly based on a true story from the mid-19th century, but completely smart and witty.

The novel focuses on scrappy Axie Muldoon, a child of the gritty New York streets. Begging is a way of life for her and her two siblings when they are scooped up by one of the 19th century’s moralizing do-gooders and packed off for Illinois on an orphan train. Once in the small town of Rockford, Axie’s family is torn apart as her younger sister Dutch and little brother Joe are adopted by different families. Axie herself is considered an undesirable and is sent back to New York with fellow orphan Charlie. There she begins a meteoric rise from humble servant girl to midwife apprentice to a benevolent abortionist known as New York’s most infamous “she devil.”

"My Notorious Life" is a humorous but often heartbreaking look at New York’s forgotten ones. Axie is a plucky heroine, feisty and determined to not only make something of herself but to reunite her family. She does it all on her own terms, and even as rises up from the gutter, she never forgets her roots. She is a very three-dimensional character, which is a hard feat to accomplish. You sympathize with her, cry with her, and laugh at her antics and wry sense of humor.

Manning deftly captures the abject despair of poverty and the dazzling glitter of the Gilded Age. The hypocrisy of late 19th-century America is always present and rendered brilliantly through the people who come to Axie for help, as well as those who seek to destroy her. There are aspects of social commentary woven into the narrative – some might even say that they are applicable to modern times – but the plot itself shines the brightest and should be enjoyed. My Notorious Life is highly recommended and not to be missed.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Probably my hands down favorite novel of 2013 was A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. I read this novel in under twenty four hours, and if that is not the mark of a good book, I don't know what is.

I read Williams' first novel, "Overseas" when it was released, and while it had merit, and was riveting enough to keep me turning the page, it also had many flaws. The author apparently learned from her mistakes because "A Hundred Summers" grabbed me from the opening paragraphs and did not let go.

I loved the protagonist Lily. It is rare that a character is so nuanced; she is both innocent and jaded, a mixture of traits that could easily be eye-rollingly impossible to believe, but Lily manages to pull it off. She has a big heart and loves deeply, but yet possesses a few base characteristics (jealousy, for one) that make her a stunningly real character. Nick, her former love interest, is at times too perfect (a problem, if I remember correctly, with the male protagonist in "Overseas" as well), but he is sufficiently tempered with "bad" traits as well. The whole cast of characters were interesting and well drawn. Even Budgie, the girl everyone loves to hate, has a few redeeming qualities.

What got me was the stunning secret revealed towards the end of the novel. The author had me convinced (as was all of New York society) that a particular situation detailed in the book had gone down one way, and so I was shocked when the truth was revealed. Slow clap for Ms. Williams for I am rarely stunned by a big secret in a novel.

I'll wrap this up with a hearty recommendation to read "A Hundred Summers". You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: Call Me Zelda by Ericka Robuck

Hello faithful readers.

I know I've not been blogging lately, for which I am profoundly sorry. The truth is, I haven't had a great deal to say and so I have remained silent. As I alluded to in my last post, it has been terribly busy this fall. I'm hoping to wrap up a consulting project and four book reviews for the HNS in the next couple of weeks, so I should have a bit more time on my hands as we cruise into the holiday season. This makes me very happy as I love Christmas. I love picking out a Christmas tree (real, of course!), getting it decorated listening to old Christmas records, hosting my annual holiday shindig (complete with a Christmas themed movie such as "Die Hard"), and general holiday related shenanigans.

Although I'm waiting for things to settle down, I thought to start posting my reviews for Historical Novel Society here on the blog.

First up is Call Me Zelda is by Erika Robuck and follows the tempestuous years of Zelda Fitzgerald's confinement for schizophrenia. Though recent research seems to think that Zelda suffered more from Bi-Polar Disease (mania with fits of depression), the psychological community was unfortunately not as advanced in the 30s. This novel is told from the perspective of Anna Howard, a lonely psych ward nurse who becomes a paid companion to Zelda and her moody husband Scott Fitzgerald.

At first Anna is in awe of her newest patient at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. Zelda is a fading flapper menaced by schizophrenia. Through the catatonia and fits of instability, Anna manages to forge a connection to her patient, not knowing that it will be Zelda who forces her to re-examine a past marred by tragedy.

Call Me Zelda is moving and brilliantly crafted. Robuck deftly captures the tempestuous and highly-strung marriage of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, interweaving their story with Anna’s own tragic past. Though set in the waning years of the Fitzgeralds’ popularity, the heady days of the 1920s still make an epic appearance through Zelda’s reminiscences. The Depression years are also rendered well, corresponding to the emotional desert that narrator Anna feels in the wake of her husband’s mysterious disappearance and the death of her much-loved daughter.

The only, barely discernible quibble is the disjointed feel of the first and second “acts” of the novel. The first part closes after Zelda sinks further into madness and is committed to a private but inhospitable mental clinic, severing all ties to her favorite nurse. The second picks up some twelve years later; Anna has had a second chance at happiness and is settled and at peace, but she never reconciled the final, traumatic parting from her beloved friend and patient. As Zelda reaches out over the space of time, Anna is forced onto a trouble-filled road trip to achieve her former patient’s last request. The conclusion is bittersweet but will not come as a surprise to those readers familiar with Zelda Fitzgerald’s sad ending.

I highly recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction. The editors of the Historical Novel Review made the novel a quarterly "Editor's Choice", so it is well worth the read.

Next week, A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. Easily my favorite book of the year! Until then, happy reading (and writing)!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dwelling on Dead People

So I'm back from the great beyond. So it is rather fitting that I should do another post on portraits of long dead people.

I am currently reading "Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire" by Amanda Foreman. I've always been a little bit fascinated by the Duchess and so I should be ashamed that I have never read this excellent biography. I generally have a short attention span when it comes to non-fiction, but Foreman has a very engaging style that has kept me reading.

As I have been reading, I've been looking up the various personages mentioned in the book. Which of course has lead me to looking up their portraits. I have written before about my love for portraits of long dead folks, but I thought I would share some of the interesting stories that I've come across while reading.

File:Elizabeth Lamb by George Romney.jpg
Elizabeth Lamb, Lady Melbourne
by George Romney
Most people do not know that Georgiana was amateur author herself; she anonymously wrote and published The Sylph. Though it was not too anonymous as it was an open secret that she wrote it. Many of the instances in the novel (which was a scandalous, behind-the-scenes depiction of the Ton) were drawn from real stories. It was also a rather serious and jaded commentary on the pitfalls of aristocratic marriages. Of course Georgiana's own marriage was not a success and this apparently was the norm during the 18th century. Many marriages were dynastic arrangements used to unite families in wealth, property, and influence. Unlike the staid morals of the 19th century, Georgian Britain was somewhat more relaxed when it came to extramarital affairs. Both men and women indulged, though the ladies were expected to provide their husbands with male heirs before taking a lover. One example of this was Lady Elizabeth Lamb, Vicountess Melbourne. If you remember my Historical Hotties series, I profiled Lady Melbourne's son, William Lamb, later prime minister of England during Queen Victoria's reign (and husband to the ill fated Lady Caroline Lamb). Lady Melbourne was one of Georgiana's inner circle, a kind of mentor, though morality was definitely not her strong suit. In fact she has a rather scandalous reputation. Her husband was a womanizer and once she had presented him with their first son, Peniston, she was off to the races. Among her many lovers were Lord Coleraine and Lord Egremont. In fact it was reported that Coleraine sold her to Egremont for £13,000, and that both she and her husband benefited from this arrangement. Hmmm....  Elizabeth's next three children are widely regarded to have been Egremont's (including Lord Melbourne the prime minister), and her son George is thought to have been the progeny of the Prince of Wales, who served as his godfather.
File:Emily Lamb by William Owen.jpg
Lady Emily Cowper, later Lady Palmerston
Interestingly enough, Lady Melbourne's daughter Emily emulated the ways of her mother. After her marriage to the decidedly dull Lord Peter Cowper (who was rather good looking if you ask me), she became the mistress of Lord Palmerston, future prime minister. He was quite tasty as well but he apparently knew it as he was busy sleeping with Lady Cowper's friends at Almack's before he moved on to her bed.

But perhaps Lady Emily was the "one." In fact her mother counseled her on her death bed that she should remain true to her paramour. And Emily did. Following her husband's death in 1837, she and Lord Palmerston married even though they were both in their 50s. Their remaining years together were reportedly very happy. Emily had three sons during her first marriage, so she certainly did her duty. Her last child, a daughter named Emily, was apparently Palmerston's. But her cloudy paternity did not keep her from marrying an earl when she came of age.

Lady Elizabeth Stanley (1753–1797), Countess of Derby  George Romney  (English, Beckside 1734–1802 Kendal)   1776–78  Oil on canvas  note: Lady Stanley is wearing the “chemise a la Reine” dress that Marie-Antoinette initiated as a trend at the time.
Lady Elizabeth Stanley
by George Romney
Lastly, a rather sad story related by Georgiana's correspondance was the disgrace of Lady Elizabeth Stanley, Countess of Derby. I'm sure it was a cautionary tale that was most likely whispered about for years following its conclusion. Lady Elizabeth left her husband and three children to run off with the Duke of Dorset, with whom she had been having an affair. I would hope that she was violently in love with him. She stayed quietly in the country while society decided how to deal with her. Georgiana was called upon her friends to visit the poor woman, but she eventually capitulated to her parents' demands to not receive the disgraced countess. Lady Elizabeth certainly paid for her recklessness. Her husband refused to divorce her, thus consigning her to social oblivion. Had she been allowed to married the Duke, she may have been able to recover some of her former social standing. Instead, she made off with another lord to Italy, where she died at the relatively young age of 44.

And the other players in the sordid affair? Well the Earl of Derby went on to marry the lovely actress Elizabeth Farren. And apparently all was forgiven in his book, as the Duke of Dorset was continually received by the earl. He went on to bed other women (including Georgiana's "frenemy" Lady Bess Foster) and eventually married Arabella Diana Cope. Fortunately for her, the Duke died a few years later and she became a very wealthy woman. No rest for the wicked, as they say...

As an interesting aside, Lady Sarah Lennox was also cited as a source of this story in the book. Lady Sarah was the subject of a similar scandal some years before when she indulged in an affair with Lord William Gordon. She became pregnant by him and after giving birth to a girl (who was surprisingly claimed by Sarah's husband Charles Bunbury), she ran off with the baby to live with Gordon. Though Bunbury granted her a divorce, her liaison ended and she was treated as the scandalous relation by her family for many years before finding happiness with a British army officer.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A New Addition

My apologies for being MIA lately but it's been a busy spring with traveling, working, commission work for my consulting firm, and general shenanigans. But I did want to drop in and introduce the newest member of the Wilson household.

This is Huck...or rather Huckleberry Finn. As you can guess we have a literary theme going on with our cats. The hubby doesn't quite understand my fascination, but I started the tradition all the way back in 1998 with my cat Darcy (though he eventually abandoned me for my mom when I was off to college). Of course Amelia (Amelia Bedelia) came next and then Zelda (after Zelda Fitzgerald) and finally Watson (of Sherlock Holmes fame). Nine years later, Zelda has gone to live with my folks because she likes to pretend she's a dog (i.e. she prefers the outside to the litter box and they have a big yard...haha), and Watson likes to pretend that he's two and not nine, so he's constantly terrorizing Amelia who's getting positively geriatric.

For our fifth wedding anniversary, the dear hubby suggested that we adopt a new kitty as a playmate for Watson. Honestly it was the best gift he could have possibly given me knowing that he is merely tolerant of my cat lady tendencies. He disagreed slightly with me regarding Huck being the best gift ever though. He said he would have preferred to get me a purple gun. Maybe for six next year?

Anyhoo, last Friday, Huck came home for the first time. Though he remained nameless for about 24 hours while we tried out names (this doesn't bode well for any future children we may have), he has settled in well. It's only taken a week for him to turn into a little rambunctious turd. He has sweet moments when not jumping on Watson and Amelia. Hopefully his natural kitten-ness will begin to tone down soon. I know Watson and Amelia are hoping so!

On the writing front, it's the usual two steps forward, three steps back. I've been working on "A Scandalous Bargain" lately. Interestingly enough I had a sudden spurt of creativity and re-wrote a section and added a scene which brought my page count up to fifty...so a quarter of the way there? Woo!

I'm also continuing to brainstorm on "Gaiety Girl". It will get there eventually, I am sure. I would like to visit London this fall (dreaming big, I know) and get into the mood for both "A Scandalous Bargain" and "Gaiety Girl". We'll see. Maybe I could sell a kidney?

Other than that, I've been preoccupied with reading and writing reviews for the Historical Novel Society. There are some excellent novels coming out this year so keep a look out for my reviews in the July edition of the Society's newsletter and online. I will run another giveaway for some of my ARCs later this week, but folks, you've got to comment, OK? It's not hard, I promise.

Happy reading (and writing)!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reading Tuesdays: The Edwardians through the 1930s

I've decided to start a new feature here on le blog called "Reading Tuesdays". I intend to chronicle what I am reading or what I want to read. I'd love this to be interactive so please leave a comment on what you are reading or what you want to read. Perhaps I can draw from the comments and send out a prize? Maybe not every week, but I do have some ARCs from my current stint as a reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, so there's some to go around. Let's get started.

No Angel (The Spoils of Time, #1)Currently I am reading "No Angel" by Penny Vincenzi. I've read this novel so many times my poor copy is quite worn. But it's a lovely novel with a fine, but flawed heroine. It's really a saga as "No Angel" starts out in 1902 and goes to the 1920s. The sequels cover the 1930s through the 1960s and both are worth a read. I decided to pick this one up yet again since it is set during the time I am researching for my new project "Gaiety Girl". I'm generally used to writing novels set in the oh-so-proper 1800s, so I'm learning to relax the language a bit by reading other authors' work.

The Aviator's Wife Sitting on my coffee table is "The Aviator's Wife" by Melanie Benjamin. It's a little late for the Edwardian period but who's counting? I like Melanie Benjamin as an author even though she writes literary historicals. She somehow manages to craft interesting stories without boring me to death. I read her debut "Alice I have Been" a few years ago so I'm looking forward to picking up the "The Aviator's Wife" back up after finishing "No Angel."

Moving on to future reads...

A Spear of Summer Grass"A Spear of Summer Grass" by Deanna Raybourn is on the top of my list. Deanna is one of my favorite authors. I am a huge fan of her "Lady Julia Grey" series. This novel is a bit of departure as it takes place in the 1920s in Kenya. It seems that "Out of Africa" style books are all the rage right now. The notorious "Happy Valley" set of the era has been fairly overlooked by historical fiction, so it will be interesting to see this time period come to life as more and more authors explore it.

"Summerset Abbey" by T.J. Brown is being touted as the antedote to "Downton Abbey" withdrawals. I read a sample on Amazon and it's pretty good. Amazon e-book samples have saved my life. No more do I have worry about picking up a novel and losing interest while reading the first chapter. Phew! I have it on hold at my local library, so I hope to read it soon.

Parlor GamesAnd finally... "Parlor Games" by Maryka Biaggio starts out in 1917 but goes back to 1887 in pursuit of May Dugas, a charming con artist who winds her way through society while being relentlessly pursued by a member of Pinkerton's Detective Agency. It definitely looks good.

So...what are you reading now? Or do you have something you are eager to read right now?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Interesting Detour

As many of you know, I'm notoriously flighty when it comes to my writing. I've posted numerous times of the various WIPs I have going and as you know, I switch gears as often as I change clothes. One week may be all about "A Convenient Misfortune" which is set in Revolutionary War Charleston (South Carolina) and the next may be "A Scandalous Bargain" (Georgian London) or "Rebellion" (1790s Ireland). So many stories, so little focus. I love all of the story lines and the characters that I craft, but nothing has grabbed me beyond a ten or twenty chapters. I always lose my steam. A deep part of me has wondered if it's just not the time or place for any of these stories because if I was passionate about them, writing it all out should come easy, right?

So I haven't done much writing on any of my current WIPs the last few weeks. I have been focusing on one of my paying side gigs (historic preservation consultant) and preparing for a busy re-enactment season. In the in between times, I have been brain storming A LOT. This is mostly due to my new obsession Netflix. I've only just discovered the joys of streaming it through our (I mean, my hubby's) XBox and so I've been watching everything from Dawson's Creek to Gossip Girl to foreign films and medieval melodrama. While many writers would consider me lax for falling down the hole of popular culture, my brain has always been sparked by ideas presented in movies and television. Of course, I am very careful not to plagarize, but I find it stimulating to get an idea from a British melodrama and taking it to whole other time and place.

Lillie Langtry, 1885
Well I'm happy that I discovered what I think may be my magic bullet. I have been frenetically jotting down novel ideas--I have pieces of paper all over the house, which amuses my hubby--but nothing has stuck. Until this past Sunday. I was watching the new miniseries on PBS "Mr. Selfridge" and was momentarily struck by a comment about one of the characters, Lady Mae. She was a Gaiety Girl who married a lord. While I don't care for her character in the least, I was fascinated by this one tidbit concerning her past. Was it common for actresses to marry into the aristrocracy. A quick Google search later and I had my answer. Yes. In fact, several actresses and music hall perfomers ended up marrying titled gentlemen during the Edwardian period. The relaxed moires of this time period had led many of these men back stage to cavort with these women. Well I should say that the aristocracy had made mistresses of actresses for quite some time, and depending on the time period, they may or may not have made a big deal of it. The Victorian period was, of course, very restrictive, but with the ascension of Edward VII to the throne, society rules relaxed considerbly. The king himself even took actresses for his mistresses--Lillie Langtry spent three years with him and even famous Sarah Bernhardt was reported to have enjoyed the eventual king's favors.

But still, taking an actress as a wife was rather risky for any titled gentlemen. And yet, they did it. There was even a name for those aristocratic hangers-on--they were called "Stage Door Johnnies". So I thought, what about writing about a poor girl who makes it in the theatre only to eventually marry a lord? And I was off to the races. I have a fairly good outline of what's going to happen and it's no Cinderella story, I can tell you that. I am though fairly certain that this story will end up as a saga or perhaps multiple novels. I am intending to structure it that way, so that it could put out as either.

I've had loads of fun researching the time period, deciding on who is who, who lives where, who does what, etc. Actually, all this researching has made me long for London, which is one of my favorite places on earth. I traveled many places but I always feel at home in England.

So what about you? Any new ideas in the offing or are you devoted to just one WIP at this time?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

So I Lied.

OK, I didn't lie. I just changed my mind. As many of my loyal followers/readers know, I do that quite often. Probably more so than is advisable. What did I change my mind about? An Convenient Misfortune. After becoming aware of the fact that American set historicals may be on the upswing, I took the novel back to its original premise. Meaning that its back to being set in Charleston (or Charlestown) during the American Revolution. What steered me back? A brainstorm! How I love those!

An Convenient Misfortune has always been a dead end. The original draft was never finished...it just peetered off around page 320. I fell victim to the same folly that afflicted me with Rebel Heart--I failed to plan an exit strategy. Yeah, endings are hard. They're my kiss of death though. But in a blinding flash of light I figured out what I'm going to do. Actually I figured out two endings and I'm going to see where the progress of the book leads me. The new blurb is...

It's 1776 and Arabella Westbury is forced to leave everything behind in England when her father is assigned to a church in the South Carolina colony. When he dies on the voyage, she is left an orphan with no prospects in an environment that is hostile to British subjects. Despite her nationality, Arabella uses her wits to find work as a governess with the Bennetts, a prominent Patriot family.
When her charge's older brother Jackson comes home from sea, sparks fly. And when Arabella discovers his secret, she is forced into a marriage of convenience with him, which leaves his spurned fiancee burning for revenge. As the American Revolution grows closer to Charlestown, friends will become enemies and Arabella will have to make some dangerous decisions that could land her in prison...or worse.

So what about you? Are endings tough or so they come naturally? Do you plan ahead or do you let the plot show you the way?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Plotting, Writing...Re-Enacting?

So I am pleased to say that I have been doing some "writerly" things of late. I made a decision to start using my lunch hour to write on the various WIPs I have. A big thanks to those who encouraged me in my last post. I'm still not chomping at the bit to write, but at least I will have some time on a daily basis to put down some words and hopefully get everything finished out. I have been thinking about joining a local writer's group as well. I've wanted to in the past, but I never got around to it. I may need some distraction in the coming weeks as hopefully my husband will be getting back into law enforcement, which means he'll be super busy for 12 weeks for training so I will need to find something to fill my evenings!

I have done some re-plotting for my WIP that just will not die... As you faithful readers will know, A Convenient Misfortune has been with me since high school. I tinker with it every so often but something didn't feel right about it so I shelved it. I couldn't just put it away so I started contemplating moving the story to England (instead of the American Colonies--Charleston (Charles Towne to be exact). It was set during the American Revolution originally, but I've toyed with the idea of moving it back a few years to be set during the Seven Years War (French and Indian War for those of us who are stateside). It could go either way, to be honest. But so far, here is a very dirty version of my back cover blurb:

Arabella Westbury is sailing for England--leaving her broken heart behind in the South Carolina colony. She has nothing to her name save for a few trunks of books, relics of her father's time as minister at St. Michael's Church in Charles Towne, and her memories of a lost love for a planter's son. Her destination is Cornwall and the village she was born into some eighteen years before. Once there she will have to forge a new life as governess to Marianne Bennett, the youngest daughter of a wealthy baron. But it is the Bennett family scion that causes Arabella consternation.

Handsome and reckless, Jackson Bennett is a decorated British Navy captain who comes and goes as he pleases, breaking hearts in his wake. But when he returns home after being wounded in battle, there is a new urgency for him to marry and provide an heir to the vast Bennett family fortune. Arabella is an unlikely candidate but after his secret engagement to a local heiress goes sour, Jackson has no choice. He marries the governess out of convenience and hightails it back to his ship, leaving his new wife completely adrift in a new world of social niceties and betrayals.

When he returns, he will find many surprises, including his abandoned wife's hatred for him. Winning her back is no mean task and the situation is only complicated when a man from Arabella's past arrives in Cornwall. Can he convince his wife that he wants more than a marriage of convenience before he has to leave for the high seas once more?

Interestingly enough, I just made a few of those plot points while I wrote out the blurb. Talk about off the cuff! I keep thinking that the plot is just not complicated enough, so let's what other complications I dream up in the mean time.

Looking very tired, so not the best picture...but you get the idea!
In other news, I just attended my first Revolutionary War re-enactment of the year over the weekend. Well actually it was a living history event and was kind of boring without a battle, but not so boring if you count all the things I have to do in camp. It is times like this that I realize how hard women had it in past times...and I can see why the death rate was so high. Diseases of course, but how about just being plain worn out? You have to keep the fire going, cook, wash up...throw in kids and no wonder it was early to bed, early to rise! Nonetheless, I love history (obviously) and I love to dress up, so re-enacting is an amusing diversion for me, not to mention the best way to research for my novels. Nothing brings you closer to the past than re-enacting it!

So with the new year come and gone, are you keeping your writing resolutions? What do you do to get in touch with your characters?