Our Favorite this week is a celebration! Eighty years ago Georgette Heyer published her first Regency romance novel, and The Beau Monde is commemorating the anniversary with a series of articles. Pieces for Regency Buck (written by Alina K. Field) and An Infamous Army (by Shannon Donnelly) are already posted, with more to come throughout the year for each of Heyer’s Regency romances and some of her non-Regency historicals. Check them out and sigh over your favorites, find new-to-you gems to read…or remind yourself which titles are already on your TBR list 😉
In the immortal words of John Lennon, “another year over and a new one just begun”. It’s time (if you haven’t already) to make those resolutions for 2015–including one for your TBR pile.
My TBR Challenge was such a personal success last year that I’m doing it again! 2015 is very uncertain for me–my teaching career is up in the air right now (Will I ever teach again? When? Where? How? If not, what else will I do?), and thus so is my writing time (How much energy will I have to devote to a day job? How will my health hold up? The bills have to be paid, but will I be too tired to do anything else?). So this year’s TBR Challenge is a way for me to take a measure of control in addition to finally reading some of the books languishing on my shelves and Kindle.
I’ve tweaked the rules slightly for this year:
1. How many books from your TBR pile will you read? I’m upping my goal to 18 books this year over the 12 I chose for last year. I have so many books floating around the house that 12 felt like just a drop in the bucket, and I’m hoping to make more headway this time around.
2. How long have your books been waiting? For the purposes of this challenge, the books I read must have been acquired by me or placed on my library TBR list (which is also getting out of hand) before August 1, 2014. This means I can’t buy new books in January and count them toward my TBR Challenge come September–which I found myself doing at least once last year, and kind of defeats the purpose of the challenge.
3. How will you hold yourself accountable? Like last year, I’ll post here once a month to share my progress and see how you all are doing. I found the Goodreads shelf and the dedicated page on this blog were enormously helpful, too. I’m a very visual person and being able to see the collection of books that I’d read gave me a nice sense of accomplishment, which made me want to read more TBR books 🙂
Who will take up this challenge with me? Who will commit to wading through the mountains of books you’ve spent your hard-earned money on, but never read? Leave a comment here or on the 2015 TBR Challenge page with your goal: how many books will you tackle this year?
I was invited by Courtney Hall to participate in this continuous blog hop. You can check out her post (and other fun articles) here. The idea is for each author on the hop to answer the same four questions about his/her work in progress and they way in which s/he writes. Readers can then get insight into their favorite authors’ minds, and even compare the thoughts of different authors.
Pretty cool, right? Here’s my contribution:
1. What am I working on? I have several stories going, but at the moment two are getting the most attention: the Christmas novella you lovely readers helped me out with earlier this year, and the second chance romance I’ve been slowly writing for the past two years now. They’re both Regency romances, tangentially related to each other, but not in the same series.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? There are all kinds of Regencies out there, and both of mine seem to take a little from a couple of categories. They’re a little bit sweet (lighter on the sex content) and a little bit traditional (no spies or kidnappings or mysteries here, but lots of good character development). But romances tend to stick to two points of view (the hero’s and the heroine’s), which gives you a certain feel that’s common to them all. My two stories are still told from two points of view, but I grew up reading so many third-person novels that some of that style creeps in. That’s what makes me unique–you get a solid, lovely Regency atmosphere but it doesn’t feel like every other Regency you’ve read 🙂
3. Why do I write what I do? I write because I have to. Literally. I’ve tried to stop several times, because my life would be so much less complicated if I could just stick to teaching. But every time I put writing aside, I find myself going a little crazy–the characters and stories start piling up in my head, and I write to get them out. I started writing romance because I read quite a few bad ones and thought I could do better. Luckily I also found a multitude of great ones, so I have lots of wonderful role models as I work!
4. How does my writing process work? It’s strange because my writing process is a lot like my lesson planning process when I’m teaching. Once I get an idea in my head (for a story, a chapter, a scene, a character), I throw myself headfirst into research. No matter how much I know about the Regency period (or any other era in history), there is always a bucket of details I need to figure out. When I can start imagining the story/chapter/scene in my mind, I write notes down in my trusty 3-ring binder (yes, I like plain notebook paper for notes and scribbles–I can draw arrows, use different colors, underline/circle/box certain words or phrases much faster than on a computer). When the outline feels solid, the words usually start to flow and I park myself in front of the computer. When I get stuck, I have found that housework actually helps me work out issues in the manuscript. Keeping my hands occupied while I talk out a problem has helped me untangle many a fictional knot over the years!
There you go–that’s my writer’s life in a nutshell. Minus all the complications, of course…those are a different story for a different post 😉
I’m having some migraine issues and my computer time is pretty limited for a while, so I thought I’d share an article I wrote a while back when I was blogging for Teatime Romance. It’s one of my favorites!
Many a Regency romance ends with a great society wedding at St. George’s in Hanover Square…but how much do you know about the famed church?
1. The Parish Church of St. George was completed in what year?
Answer: C St. George’s was part of the Fifty New Churches Act passed in 1711, but wasn’t until 1720 that a location was approved and a design was chosen. The first stone was laid in 1721 and the building was certified complete on March 20, 1725. Three days later it was consecrated by the Bishop of London.
2. What denomination is St. George’s?
Answer: B St. George’s is an Anglican (Church of England) church, part of the Diocese of London. It is the parish church of Mayfair.
3. Which American president was married at St. George’s?
- Teddy Roosevelt
- Franklin Roosevelt
- Woodrow Wilson
- Andrew Jackson
Answer: A Teddy Roosevelt married his childhood sweetheart Edith Kermit Carow in 1886. He took a room at Brown’s Hotel in Dover Street to meet the residency requirement, and remains the only American president to be married at St. George’s. His wedding also inspired many other Americans to marry at the church.
- The sixth century
- The ninth century
- The eleventh century
- The thirteenth century
Answer: C A vision of St. George (along with St. Demetrius) spurred on the Norman troops at the battle of Antioch during the First Crusade in 1098. The Normans won the battle, and adopted St. George as their patron.
5. Which famous composer was a regular worshiper at St. George’s?
Answer: A George Friderick Handel emigrated to London from his native Germany in 1724, purchasing a house in Brook Street just as the church was nearing completion. His opinion was sought on the suitability of the organ when it was being installed, and he provided the music for the testing of candidates to play it. In 1726 he became a naturalized British citizen, attending services at St. George’s until he died in 1759.
So how did you do? What fact surprised you most?
Want to learn more about St. George’s? Visit their website at http://www.stgeorgeshanoversquare.org/Default.aspx
Every unpublished author dreams about what his or her book cover will look like (maybe the published ones do too!). Something that sums up the story, of course. Perhaps the model(s) should resemble the main character(s) a little. If it’s a historical novel, any people pictured should be dressed in clothing appropriate for that period (though I’ve seen that thought ignored enough times).
But what else?
Bright colors or muted ones? Lots of skin or something more demure? Detailed or simple?
When I imagine my future book cover, I see something like this:
There are a lot of covers out there with sweeping scenery and heroines in vibrant flowing gowns, and they’re beautiful. But the uncluttered simplicity of this one appeals to me. I like the softness of the lavender, and the fact that it looks easy yet professional. The models are even wearing clothing that invokes a Regency frame of mind.
But my favorite part about this cover is the way the models are interacting with each other. I’ve always been more fond of beta heroes than alphas, so I like that he’s holding her gently instead of bending her over or pinning her against a tree. I also adore the expression on his face, eyes nearly closed as if he’s drinking her in with his other senses. That she is wearing a similar expression–and caressing him sweetly–seals the deal for me. In fact, it was part of the reason I bought the book 🙂
What are your favorite covers? Have you ever bought a book because of the cover? Have you ever not bought a book because of the cover? Is there anything special you look for in a book cover?
I saw the reading version of this on Carol Cork’s blog and thought, since I am both a reader and a writer, that I’d adapt it a bit and do both activities. Here’s what I’m working on. What are you reading and/or writing?
1. Which novel are you currently reading and the author? Undeniable Rogue by Annette Blair
2. What is the opening line of the book? By this time tomorrow, he would be wed.
3. What are the hero and heroine’s names? (on the remote chance you’re not reading a romance, give the name of the main character). The hero is Gideon St. Goddard, Duke of Stanthorpe. The heroine is Mrs. Sabrina Whitcomb.
4. What is the first sentence of the second paragraph of Chapter 9? Then he placed her hand on his arm and covered it, possessively, with his own.
5. What’s next on your TBR pile? Any one of about 400 books!
1. Which novel are you currently writing? A second-chance Regency romance titled The Only Exception.
2. What is the opening line of the book? Kate Sedgley stood in the center of her uncle’s study, waiting for him to finish writing in the leather-bound ledger on his desk.
3. What are the hero and heroine’s names? (on the remote chance you’re not writing a romance, give the name of the main character). The hero is John Kendall, Earl of Wrexham. The heroine is Miss Katherine Sedgley, otherwise known as Kate.
4. What is the first sentence of the second paragraph of Chapter 9? I haven’t gotten to Chapter 9 yet 😀
5. What’s next on your TBW (To Be Written) pile? The untitled Christmas novella I started working on a few weeks ago (I’m working on it simultaneously with this one, actually).
It’s March fellow readers! Has your TBR pile gotten any smaller?
I have to say, doing this challenge here on the blog where everyone can watch my progress has been motivating. I’m actively searching for more time to read to ensure I make my goal…sometimes to the detriment of my to-do lists!
One thing that’s helped me this month is finding books in different formats. I snap up little mass market paperbacks at my local library used book sales, but when I get home I have such a hard time reading that tiny print! The book goes in the TBR bin and ends up staying there. But I live in an area with a wonderful library system–what they don’t have, they can get. So I looked up my mass market paperbacks and found larger version that are much easier to read.
Presto! Two more books climbing out of the TBR bin!
Are you making progress with your commitment? If you missed the beginning of the challenge, it’s not too late to join in the fun! Check out my TBR Challenge Page for more details.
Okay, so it’s been almost exactly a month since I posted my TBR Challenge. How’s it going? How many of you have begun reading books long forgotten? How many of you forgot your pledge?
My own first action was to take stock of my supplies, so to speak. I am one of those compulsively organized people, so my books are already grouped together based on their subject matter. But I have so many still to read, I wasn’t even sure what books were in each group!
I did find a couple of duplicates–I’d bought a book twice not realizing that I already had it at home. Happily, these were books from the local library used book sale, so I didn’t spend much money. And the duplicate copies will go right back to the library for re-sale, so it works out 🙂
One thing that surprised me, though, was that I found whole series on my Kindle I didn’t know I possessed. I’m notorious for buying the first book in a series when it’s on sale, but forgoing the rest until I’ve had a chance to read the first. I discovered a lot of those as well, but I also found the first five books in Julie Ann Long’s Pennyroyal Green series, all of Annette Blair’s Rogue series, all four of Jacquie D’Alessandro’s Regency Historical series, and several “boxed sets” that I bought and didn’t remember I had.
Once I had figured out what was here, the tough part began: which book do I read first? I have more time for reading now, because I’m still not working. But it was really difficult to pick a book–too many choices is almost worse than not enough choices! I finally just grabbed one without looking…and was rewarded with Ellis Peters’ lovely Brother Cadfael 🙂
So how are you fairing this month? What has been the hardest thing about this challenge? Any surprises so far?
You can also check out my TBR Challenge page to monitor my progress or add your thoughts on the books I’m reading.
Because I had to rein myself in last week replying to Barbara’s comment, and because I can use one of my favorite characters as an example (see if you can guess which one it is), this week’s blog post is about legitimacy (or the lack thereof).
In order to be considered a legitimate child during the Regency, your parents had to be married at the time of your birth. It didn’t matter what their status was at your conception, as long as they made it to the altar—together—before you made an appearance in the world. If you came before the nuptial ceremony, you were illegitimate, forever, even if your parents married later*.
If your mother was married to another man at the time of your birth, you were legitimate, but legally the child of her husband. There are all kinds of subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) jokes and references in Regency and Georgian novels about ladies letting a “cookoo” in the nest—passing off the child of an affair as one belonging to her husband. It’s even a major plot point in Julia Quinn’s It’s In His Kiss: the hero and his “father” both know he’s the product of his mother’s affair, but he’s still the legal heir to his “father’s” title and fortune.
Illegitimate offspring could not inherit titles or entailed property (property that, by law, passed to the next legitimate male heir). Ever. They could inherit unentailed property (property that could be disposed of in any manner), money, or goods by will—as could anybody else.
A great example of this is Mary Balogh’s A Secret Affair. The hero, Constantine Huxtable, was born two days before his parent’s wedding, thus rendering him ineligible to inherit his father’s earldom (this is actually the basis for the series, as a cousin inherits instead). But wait, you say. Grace Burrowes has a hero who’s illegitimate, and he’s an earl! In The Soldier, Devlin St. Just is the bastard son of a duke, and he does gain an earldom, but not through inheritance. St. Just’s title was granted for service to the Crown during the Napoleonic Wars, and it was the monarch’s prerogative to confer the honor. (Where do you think all those nobles came from in the first place?)
Bastardy was also a bar to society, for the most part. According to Allison Lane, an illegitimate daughter was not accepted or welcome at all socially, while a son could be admitted to the fringes of society with the help and sponsorship of his father. The heroine of Julia Quinn’s An Offer from a Gentleman is a good illustration: she was the bastard daughter of an earl, but never acknowledged as anything other than the earl’s ward, nor did she move in society (except once, but I won’t spoil it for you).
There were exceptions to this rule (there always are, right?), and a big one was William, Duke of Clarence (later William IV) had ten (yes, ten!) illegitimate children with an actress known as Mrs. Jordan. Being the bastard get of a royal duke was clearly a better lot than that of other illegitimate children (and many legitimate ones, too). Since their father was the son and brother of a king (then later a king himself), the FitzClarences, as they were called, did well socially. They were given the precedence of the children of a marquess, the eldest son was granted an earldom, and the rest married nobles or the children of nobles.
*For those of you that are familiar with the medieval period, you’re probably jumping up and down right now, yelling “John of Gaunt!” or “Beaufort!” (or maybe you’re yelling something else at me!). Yes, John of Gaunt (son of Edward III) had four children with his mistress Katherine Swynford and given the surname Beaufort (after one of John’s properties). And yes, they were eventually legitimized by the pope and their cousin Richard II when John scandalized everyone and married Katherine (their children were adults by then). But this was under the medieval Catholic Church, where rules could be bent for the right price, and John was a very powerful man. And this legitimacy was questioned a couple of generations later when Henry Tudor, great-great-grandson of John through his eldest Beaufort son, claimed the English throne. The Regency was several hundred years after the Reformation, andBritain’s aristocracy was (for the most part) steadfastly Protestant. Different time, different church, different rules.
After reading Regina Jeffer’s blog post about the rules of marriage in Regency England last week, I started thinking about ways to dissolve a marriage (I know, ever the optimist, aren’t I?) during the period.
Marriages of convenience show up in romance novels of all types, usually with the understanding that the couple can part ways after their union is no longer useful. In Regency romances, I’ve seen a lot of marriages dictated by a will (as in “you must marry by a certain age/time frame or you will lose your inheritance”), and marriage to one person to escape marrying another (often a “my father wants me to marry this horrible, old man, and I don’t want to” sort of thing, though sometimes it’s a prospective groom who is being hounded to marry a woman of his family’s choosing). They always say, “We can get an annulment later.”
Of course, they don’t–they fall in love and decide to stay married. But while they’re falling in love, the newly wed couple is usually trying to preserve a situation where an annulment could be granted. And while annulments are certainly possible during the Regency, they were only obtainable under certain circumstances.
–>Fraud: a participant in the wedding used a fake name or anything short of his/her full legal name (including all titles) OR a promise was made in the marriage contract that cannot be kept. Though, in the case of a misused name—say a nobleman forgot to include one of his multitude of titles on the register—the presiding authority can decline to issue the annulment and simply correct the register.
–> Incompetence: a participant in the wedding was under 21 (a legal minor) and did not have consent of his/her legal guardian (your father, if he was still alive) OR insanity (which tainted the entire family–if one of you is insane, what about the rest?)
–>Impotence: the physical incapability of a man to have intercourse, not the abstinence from it. Doctors became involved, and, according to Allison Lane, the use of very skilled courtesans! (Mary Jo Putney’s The Bargain—previously title The Would-Be Widow—does a pretty good job with this, and though her method does not match what Allison has described, it’s a logical process…minus the courtesans 😉
Divorce was even more difficult, a long process that involved civil courts, ecclesiastical courts, and the House of Lords. It was very messy, very public, and very expensive. A divorced man’s reputation was basically trashed, though he might be able to find some acceptance somewhere (the hero of Laura Lee Guhrke’s And Then He Kissed Her—the inspiration for the name of this blog [though I haven’t finished the book yet!]—is divorced at the start of the story). A divorced woman was pretty much cast out of society, ruined beyond repair.
For more details and examples, check out Allison Lane’s Common Regency Errors page. She has some great information on inheritance of properties and titles, and a wonderful section about forms of address for titled nobles and their families.