Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cover Fun!

ETA: Since people found the Celebrity Look-Alikes fun, I've left them up on my site, via the link below.

I've created a special page featuring some of my covers, including Celebrity Look-Alikes and My Favorites available one time only -- today.

I got my editing finished and thanks to the wonder of FedEx, the pages should be New York today. Whooo hooo!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

For the writers not in San Francisco

Yesterday, I had links to the full handout to my workshop, What Lies Beneath: Adding Layers to Your Characters and Conflict, as well as a sample story used to illustrate the points, for those not at RWA National. Only the abridged version is usually available.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just what I was saying...

You know how I was saying I edit a lot? I've just spent two hours on two pages and I don't think I'm done yet.


But here's the thing and the reason for the fussin' -- it's the first time the hero and heroine meet, and I felt there wasn't enough of what I call the "hubba" factor (as in, ooh, baby, that is one attractive man!) plus what I consider a necessity -- a hint that this guy is also something special apart from his looks.

Now, it's not like I haven't already fussed over this bit. Several times. But this is really my last crack at the bat after the editor's read the manuscript, so I'm (obviously) working to make that the very, very best it can be.

The irony? The editor didn't ask for these changes in this scene. This is all my own doing.

But hey, it's my name on the book,'s hoping the next two pages I'm about to edit (further on, but also a key moment in the story) go a little easier.

And remember, if you aren't going to the RWA conference in San Francisco, stop by tomorrow, Thursday and Friday for some Fun and/or Writing Special Blog Posts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Editing...somebody stop me!

Leah asked a question that's not uncommon when it comes to writing. Editing - how do you know when to stop?

The short answer is, I don't. My editors will confirm this. I edit every single chance I get, which is why they may have a few more gray hairs than otherwise. Heck, I even edit and revise my grocery lists.

However, by the time one of my manuscripts gets to my editors, I'm just tinkering -- changing a few words per page, or adding a sentence or two. For me, that process could go on indefinitely -- or until I was so completely sick of the manuscript, I couldn't bear to look at it again.

I also know, though, that when I've reached that stage, I'm looking not just at the trees instead of the forest, I'm studying every blade of grass. That's a sure sign it's time to let it go and let fresh eyes have a look at it, eyes that may find I'm in the wrong forest entirely, so who cares what the trees are like, let alone every blade of grass?

But okay, how do I even get to the grass-examining stage?

I write a messy first draft. I don't worry too much about external details or description here; I'm just trying to get the activities and especially the development of the relationship between the hero and heroine down on paper.

Then I go through and revise. I figure out if I've got everything I need, too much of what I don't, and if I've got the scenes in the right order (by myself -- nobody reads my drafts and I'm not in a critique group). Then I do a second draft (cutting and pasting -- I don't rewrite the whole thing!).

How do I know when I've got things in the right order, that the big revisions are done?

Gut instinct. It just feels right to me. I can't explain it any better than that, I'm afraid. This is, I think, the one big advantage having to read a lot and widely for a degree in English Lit -- but anybody who's read a lot will have trained their writing instincts, too.

I go back through the whole manuscript, fine tuning and rewriting and adding or deleting as seems necessary. Some scenes don't need much work at all, other ones will need more. Again, I just do what feels right. I may do this more than once, and I generally need to see the new version(s) on paper to really get a feel for the story and what I've done, and if I've done it the way that seems best.

At every point in this process, I'm revising and editing the wording, trying to find the best way to say or describe something. It's continuous.

Eventually, I'll arrive at the tinkering stage. That's when it goes out the door. If there's something seriously wrong with the story or characters, I'm not going to see it now. As far as I can tell, I've done everything the best way.

Does that mean I have done it the best way? Or at least in a way my editor agrees with? Generally, because they've gotten the general gist of the story from my synopsis, but it could still have problems. An editor may have questions about something that I either didn't think of, or cut out (oops). Then I have to go back and revise again. It's a lot easier if the question/problem occurs later in the story, because every major change affects everything that comes after.

Do I always agree? Pretty much -- because it's been my experience that if an editor has a problem with something, so will everybody else. I've made a mistake, then got so busy looking at the grass, I didn't see it.

So if you're tinkering? I'd say it's time to call it a day on that book. If you're on your tenth draft and you're still moving scene around? I'd say it's time to make some decisions (not always easy, but still) and stick with them.

Because here's the thing: you may be right, you may be wrong, but if you're trying to sell, you've got to call that book finished at some point, or you'll be working on it forever. And getting bored and sick of writing, perhaps, which would be a shame.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mad thanks.

I may be the only tv-watching person in North America who doesn't think Mad Men is wonderful. I've watched three episodes and I'm calling it a day.

I get that it's fun to see the sixties in all their retro glory and the guy playing Don Draper is right up my alley with the lean, dark good looks, but...

The pace is glacial. I mean sloooowwww. I may have been spoiled by 24 and Heroes, but really, when I fall asleep every time I try to watch Mad Men? That ain't good.

The smoking. I get it. Really. I got it about five minutes into the pilot. Lots and lots of people smoked, any time, any where. Enough already.

It's even worse when an actor is faking the smoking. (I'm looking at you, Mrs. Draper.)

Speaking of Mrs. D., what's her problem? If she suspects her husband's cheating, can we have a hint? Otherwise, it seems like chronic boredom -- and no wonder, because apparently she doesn't do anything except get dressed and do her hair. We rarely see her cook and I haven't seen her clean, although there's no sign of a maid or housekeeper, either. How does that house stay so spotless? Has she got somebody stashed in a knotty pine cupboard? She's got two kids, for heaven's sake -- unnaturally well behaved, perhaps robot kids, but still -- kids!

If she's supposed to be trying to fit the role of "perfect wife" and it's not working for her, I'm just not getting that. I'm not sure if it's the actress, or she just doesn't have much to work with, but that character bugs me.

And what woman leaves an iron lying plate down on the ironing board??? Well, the divorcee -- who looks more put together than I do on a good day. Is she supposed to be harried? That son of hers is creepy, too. Really creepy.

I don't get why Peggy slept with The Kid and then is all upset when he ignores her. They barely knew each other and he was already engaged. Plus, he looks twelve years old. Don I could understand...but the youngster who's engaged? Not making me admire Peggy, or empathize with her, either.

In fact, I just don't care about anything that's happening or any character it's happening to. So that's it for me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm on Myspace (kinda)!

Did you know Harlequin Historicals had a Myspace page? Well, they do -- and I've just done an interview there. You don't have to be registered to read it.

In addition to talking about A LOVER'S KISS, I also talk about some of my other favorite books: A WARRIOR'S HEART, THE OVERLORD'S BRIDE and THE WASTREL.

Soooo, who isn't going to the Romance Writers of America national conference next week? Me neither. Therefore, I've decided to do some special blog posts next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with temporary links to material on my site not "open" to the general public yet (and maybe never!), for those who aren't in San Francisco hobnobbing, networking and partying hardy.

And just a reminder: If you haven't entered the Mega-Book-Giveaway Contest at the Toronto Romance Writers' site, go now!.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love Those Australian Editions!

I tells ya, the Australian office of Harlequin Mills & Boon does some gorgeous covers! Isn't this one a beaut?

Mind you, the book of mine in that edition? Is THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT, a medieval. But I ain't complainin'!

Wanna order it?

Speaking of covers, my email newsletter subscribers got a sneak peek at the cover for THE WARLORD'S BRIDE this week. It's gorgeous and very different. Everybody else has to wait until next month.

From around the internet:
Check out Kate Bridges' "You know you're a writer when..." post at Petticoats and Pistols.

And there's plenty to think about when it comes to dark heroes (and I'm not talking hair color) over at Drunk Writer Talk.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


As I believe I've mentioned, I've been putting together workshops.

I've come up with nine. Most are craft, but one is more motivational/inspirational and another is geared to anybody with an interest in publishing.

Here they are:

Goose Your Muse: Inspiration, Motivation and Imagination

What Lies Beneath: Adding Layers To Your Characters and Conflict

People, Places, Plots: An Introduction to the Big Three of Novel Writing

Tell Me A Love Story: Plotting A Romance Novel

More Than Just A Pretty Face: Creating Unique and Interesting Characters

A Picture in a Thousand Words: Setting and Description

Researching The Romance: How and When To Use Research Effectively

Do's, Don'ts and Never Minds: Writing A Snazzy Synopsis

From Manuscript to Bookshelf: Inside Publishing From An Author's Perspective

I may add more over time, but first I've got a holiday coming in the Land of Pie and Sloth, and Buggy's book to write (hooray!). And a chair to varnish, a kitchen and hall to paint, a shower and my high school buddies' annual euchre party to plan and host (an all-day, two meals plus numerous snacks event).

For now, you can read more about my qualifications and the workshops, as well as view abridged handouts, on my website.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just like Dickens!

How's this for neat? I just found out that Daily Lit, a site that will send you installments of books via email and RSS, has serialized KNAVE'S HONOR.

Many of Charles Dickens' works were original published in a similar format. I have some editions that use asterisks to show where the original sections ended. It's interesting to see just where he put in the breaks.

I can't say that I'd like to have my work published in serial form as I write it, though. I care about readers' opinions of my work, but I think that would mess with my head too much.

But afterward? I think this is a great idea.

So if you haven't read KNAVE'S HONOR yet, you can try this way. And meet the heroine of THE WARLORD'S BRIDE, coming in January.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Ailing Computer

Alas, my poor ol' Aptiva is ailing. It's most likely old age and the fact that it's not necessarily up to dealing with everything online these days.

The Aptiva's not the oldest computer we have, though. We have an Ambra that uses Window 95. There it is right there, in my messy office.

Neither of these are the computer I write on, though. For that, I use the Franken-computer -- tower and keyboard from my son, who complained about it's ancient-ness at least five years ago, and new flat screen. You can't see it in that picture; it's to the right. Since I've heard horror stories of viruses wiping out files, it's not hooked up to the internet.

Unfortunately, it's not hooked up the printer, either, because it would have to be on the same network (see above re fear of viruses).

The printer/fax/copier scanner (on the left in the picture) is hooked up to the Aptiva, which would be on the right of that picture if it was wider, and the Ambra. We have a separate scanner now, hooked up to the Aptiva, because the combo unit only scans into black and white.

To print anything, the Ambra has to be on, even if it's not being used for anything else. So if I want to print up a chapter? I have to make a copy onto a diskette and then take it to the Aptiva or Ambra.

We won't even get into the issue of diskettes and that certain people look at me as if I were referring to a wax tablet and stylus when I confess I still use them. But what happens if I've got every copy of my ms. on a flashdrive and it breaks??? What then, oh wise ones? At least with the diskettes, every copy's on it own diskette. But I digress.

Although I need the Ambra on to print, I can't edit on it, because the Franken-computer's version of Microsoft Word is newer and the Ambra doesn't have it. I can edit on the Aptiva, but it takes a long time to open those files, because the software isn't exactly the same there, either.

Yes, this is one bizarre office set-up.

We've been discussing getting a new computer and making things more streamlined -- but I still don't want my writing computer hooked up to the internet.

Mr. M. thinks a laptop may be the way to go when replacing the Aptiva. I don't like laptop keyboards (can you tell I'm rather resistant to change?) and I love my larger flat monitor, but Mr. M. assures me we can still use those, only hooked up to the laptop.

"Won't that look a little weird?" says I.

"Not really," says he, "and then you can take your computer to the cottage."

But...that's no bonus for me. I prefer not to work at the cottage if I can help it. It's only one week out of the year, after all.

Whatever we decide, though, the time is fast approaching for something to be done. I've had too many moments where I've thought the poor ol' Aptiva had finally bit the big one (and taken some work with it) lately. And now I'm having browser issues, too.

Gosh, there are times I miss my Selectric....

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Lover's Kiss Available to order from eHarlequin

A LOVER'S KISS is now available to order online at eHarlequin. It's also part of a a special offer there -- buy two books from this list, get the third one free!. Whoo hoo! I've waiting a long time to tell my man Drury's story, so I'm just tickled!

In other news, what wuz they thinking, leaving Cat Deeley of So You Think You Can Dance out of the running for an Emmy nomination? Just the other night, I was noting how good she was -- interested, charming, friendly. I've like to hang out with her.

And also Phil Keoghan of The Amazing Race. He should be nominated for the eyebrow pop alone!

While I note Jeff Probst got the nod, Survivor did not, and that's a crying shame. Their last couple of seasons have been excellent.

Oh, well. At least we got a Bollywood number last night on So You Think You Can Dance. You know, I would love to take lessons in that form of dancing. It's fast, but doesn't look tooooo difficult. I did take tap upon a time and can still do a time step...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mega Contest!!

Toronto Romance Writers is having a contest! And what a contest! The prize is autographed books galore, including books by

* Kelley Armstrong
* Kate Bridges
* Deborah Cooke
* Claire Delacroix
* Brenda Harlen
* Molly O'Keefe
* Kayla Perrin
* Michelle Rowen
* Eve Silver
* Michele Ann Young

yours truly and many more!

Go forth and enter!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Major Synopsis Mistake

There's one major mistake I see in synopses for romance novels, and I see it again and again. It's enough to make me want to scream from the rooftops. What is it?

First, let me ask you this:

Do romance readers pick up a romance to find out something like who killed Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick? No. They go to the mystery section for stories like that.

Do they pick up a romance to learn all about life in Regency England? No, they can go to the reference section for that.

Do they pick up a romance because they have secret yearnings to be Navy SEALS or covert operatives? No, they can read Tom Clancy or his ilk, or training manuals, if that's what floats their boat.

People pick up a romance novel because they want to read about two people falling in love with the promise of a life-long committed relationship despite the obstacles from within (internal conflict) and without (external conflict) that stand in the way.

The key thing there is falling in love. Readers want to see the process -- how the heroine can go from thinking the hero's an arrogant jerk to wanting to spend the rest of her life with him. How the hero moves from thinking she's a fool who doesn't have a clue to believing his life will be empty without her.

This process is what's different from one romance to the next, because it's happening to two different characters, with different goals, motives and backstory, in every book. This is the thing that makes one romance novel different from the next.

Yet what do writers consistently brush off and treat as if it's a minor point?

That's right -- the falling in love.

There will be the story set-up (the meet, the introduction to the characters). There's action -- murder, mayhem, war, famine, pestilence, hurricanes...and then something like "On the run from the mob, Joe and Sarah fall in love."

But but BUT...why do they fall in love? What is it about Joe that Sarah finds unique, that sets him apart from every other man she's ever met? Why exactly does she fall for him? How does she go from feeling he's a jerk to lover to partner-for-life?

The same goes for the hero. What is it about the heroine that's different from every other woman he's ever met? Why her? What is it about her that attracts him? And I'm not talking lovely face or shapely form. There has to be something that appeals to his heart, not his lust (at least after the first meet).

To simply say your characters fall in love is to dismiss the main reason a reader picks up a romance.

But, you protest, I may only have two pages! How can I do that?

It can be done, because I've seen it done. It took two sentences. Yet I absolutely knew the writer had a handle on the idea of the developing romance.

So sure, have characters with fascinating lives. In fact, please do. Have all sorts of woes and mayhem beset them. Please. But if your story is supposed to be a romance?

Show me two people falling in love.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Whoo hoo! First review!

I was all set to write about synopses, but I had to run to the mall and I picked up the latest issue of Romantic Times, to discover a four-star review for A LOVER'S KISS, the book that should be out any day now!

And I quote:

"Moore continues to captivate with her latest historical....The conflict pulls readers in, and the villain is most definitely a surprise."

Yeah! There's also a nod to Buggy, whose book I'll be starting any day now: "The best friend almost steals the show with his endearing ways..." Almost, but not quite, because the man gets his own story, so I literally sent him out of town for a bit.

One quibble: I'm sorry they gave away a key element of the plot that has to do with the heroine's brother. Ah well, you can't have everything.

I'm nearly done my workshop material, but not quite, and I need to put the review quote on my website, so look for one of the most common, major mistakes I see in synopses tomorrow. Because when I mention something three times in a handout? I'd call that a major problem.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A New Career?

Have you seen the commercials for Serta Sleep Centres featuring the sheep being put out of business because Serta mattresses are so comfortable, folks have no trouble falling asleep? I love the Serta sheep. So this morning, during one such commercial, I said, "I want a Serta sheep."

My husband thought I said, "I want a herd of sheep."

Prompting him to wonder if I was wishing to take up shepherding as a new calling.

In other TV news, did you catch the new show, Flashpoint? Just FYI, the facility for the real Toronto Emergency Task Force is not very far from the Harlequin offices in Toronto.

There was an article in today's Globe and Mail about Thrillerfest, the International Thriller Writers conference. I was immediately aware of the general tone of respect for the writers attending -- quite different from the often "these pathetic dizzy dames who wannabe writers" coverage romance events elicits. Is it because Thrillerfest is attended mostly by men and the sessions are about guns 'n' stuff? Or is it because of the Romantic Times convention, which is more fan-based, so it has more of a Trekkie convention atmosphere with the costumes and male models? Unfortunately, I don't think many in the media distinguish between the Romantic Times convention and the RWA national conference, although they are two different kettles of fish -- at least for now, and I hope it stays that way.

One other thing I noted: the "speed dating" agent sessions. Instead of 10 minutes or so, writers get three to pitch their ideas. I think agents and editors might love this shorter time -- it's not as if an author's going to be making an actual sale at that moment anyway. Would a shorter time make writers less nervous? After all, you don't have time to really crash and burn. But it's a lot less time to get your idea across. It's not much more time than it would take to present your card. OTOH, those sessions are pretty fatiguing for agents and editors. Would shorter sessions keep fatigue at bay longer and keep them attentive longer?

Which would you prefer?

Coming later this week: one of the most common, major mistakes I see in romance synopses

Friday, July 11, 2008

Workshop Revisions

No, I'm not talking about a workshop about revising -- I'm talking about revising my workshops.

It's proving to be more work than I thought! This is what happens when you're almost equally left-brained and right-brained. Your creative side comes up with the ideas, then your organizational side goes nuts trying to get everything in the best possible order with the best possible wording.

And I thought pacing a novel was tough....

Thursday, July 10, 2008

If you need another reason to read...

although personally, I don't -- I find "Because I like it" quite sufficent -- but if you do, according to an article in today's Globe and Mail, "bookworms have exceptionally strong people skills."

Why is that?

"...because fiction acts as a type of simulator. Reading about make-believe people having make-believe adventures or whirlwind romances may actually help people navigate those trials in real life."

I find it interesting that romance was one of the two examples used here, although I have to point out that not every romance in a romance novel is a "whirlwind," just like not every romance in real life is a whirlwind. But hey, at least romance got a positive nod. As did reading in general, so YEAH!

If you like to cook or entertain in addition to reading? Check out Cheryl St. John's recipe blog, Ideas Come From Brownies. There's a pasta salad there I'm definitely going to try, as well as some of the sweet treats. And the latest recipe is sure to appeal to the hubby and son.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

If you see an author strolling by...

I just left a comment over at The Super Librarian's blog in response to the news that this year, the RWA is asking people not to bring their own books to the Literacy Autographing for signing by an author. Like the Super Librarian, I see why they're making this request. I also understand why this would dismay some readers.

Alas, I won't be at the RWA conference this year. (Why do they persist in scheduling it during our long August weekend, ie. My Big Family Weekend At The Cottage? Why? Why??? But I digress.)

That didn't stop me from leaving a comment and suggestion on this subject, and then I thought, "Hey, here's a subject for today's blog."

Let's say you see your favorite author in the lobby of the hotel during the conference. She's walking across the lobby at a brisk pace.

A) squee like a fangirl, rush up and tell her at great length why you love her work?

B) Grab your friend's arm, whisper excitedly, then sidle up the author hoping to catch her eye as she waits for the elevator, and if you do, tell her how much you love her books?

C) Smile, seek her out at the autographing and tell her how much you love her books?

C) Stare?

The key element of the question above is the author's brisk pace.

You see, for many an author, the conference isn't a holiday where they have all the time in the world to do whatever they want. If an author's on her way to present a workshop or to meet with her agent or editor -- and this may be the only chance she gets all year to meet with them in person -- she may not really welcome an enthused fan gushing at length about her work. Not that she doesn't want to meet you. I've yet to meet an author who doesn't appreciate her readers. It's just that she's too distracted at that moment and thinking about the appointment she's supposed to keep. At the Literacy Autographing, or at a meal, or if she's sitting alone in the lobby or strolling through it, that's different.

Note I'm not saying don't approach an author at the conference. You might just as easily be making her day. But if you get that deer-in-the-headlights look, or she seems distracted, or you feel like you're getting the brush-off, just be aware that the author may have a meeting to attend or an appointment to keep.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Research on the Web

I'm still organizing my workshops and handouts, but having gone through my print library last week, I thought I'd take some time today to talk about some websites I found helpful, particularly with A LOVER'S KISS (out any day now!).

The original idea for the story came from the fascinating fact that the last trial by combat in Britain was not in some far distant medieval day, but in 1818. It turned out I never did use this bit of information in A LOVER'S KISS, but my hero the barrister survived. The real-life accused was Abraham Thornton and you can read more about the case here.

If you're writing about a lawyer and have a trial in the story, it helps if you can actually read transcripts of trials -- and you can at The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674 - 1834. There's some good stuff there, including "on today's date." On today's date "Lawrence Simpson was tried for stealing a hat and wig from Christopher Longwood while the latter was 'making water' in a lane." Can you not just see this? (Simpson was acquitted.)

Speaking of wigs, I needed to know about the robes and wigs of the lawyers and judges at the Old Bailey. I found an excellent source: Legal Habits: A Brief Sartorial History of Wig, Robe. Apparently judges wore what's called the "full bottom" wig -- seems rife for some sort of amusing remark by a Regency wag, doesn't it?

My hero spends some time fencing. I've taken fencing (and have the gear to prove it), but it's been awhile, so I was a little fuzzy on some of the terms. I found what I needed here.

It helps to have pictures of what you're writing about, and I found the mother lode at British History Online. They even have floor plans, so if you need to know where my lord's dressing room is in relation to my lady's, for instance, there you go.

Sometimes it takes a bit of digging to find what you need, but I'm constantly amazed by the information available at my fingertips now. I find the web particularly helpful for details that may take time to find in a book -- dates, for instance -- or visuals, such as what a tree or bird or robe or building looks like.

I bookmark the pages, but if I find a particularly helpful page or pages on a site, I'll print it up and put it in a file folder for later reference. For one thing, I'm still a print-oriented person; for another, my writing computer isn't connected to the internet (on purpose).

Monday, July 07, 2008

Writing Workshops

I've been doing some PR/career evaluation, and I've concluded that I really enjoy giving writing workshops, so I should probably do more. To that end, I've been going through the files on my computer and organizing the various workshops I've done and handouts I've used over the years. I'd also like to incorporate new material from this blog.

Okay, first of all, ay yi yi. I had material hither, thither and yon. Just getting it all in one place was a task.

Then I realized, as I tend to do, that I actually know a fair bit about this writing stuff -- and not just how-to, but how the romance publishing biz operates. Well, I should, really. I've been at this a number of years now.

I've also discovered I prefer the more casual tone of my blog to that of some of my handouts. Handouts can have a "voice" -- again, makes sense, but I've never noticed that before. And the blog voice is more "me." I'm not exactly Ms. Formal in my speech.

When I'm finished, I'll post a list of my workshops here. And now, off to organize, make notes and revise!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ahoy, maties!

You'd think, having been in the naval reserve, I'd be all over a book with a ship's captain. Oddly enough, I never have, although I do have a seaman in waiting from KISS ME QUICK and KISS ME AGAIN. Charlie's at sea in A LOVER'S KISS.

Maybe it's because I was in it that I don't find the navy particularly romantic? Maybe I know too much about conditions at sea to find it enticing? Or maybe I just haven't got around to it yet. :-) At any rate, I'm ready with the following books:




THE WORLD OF JACK AUBREY: Twelve-pounders, Frigates, Cutlasses, and Insignia of His Majesty's Royal Navy by David Miller (Jack Aubrey is the hero of Patrick O'Brien's books)

SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS: The Story of British Sea Power by David Howarth

THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SHIPS AND BOATS by Graham Blackburn (I tell ya, if you wanna know what kind of ship or boat you need, this one's for you! Small, large, current or historical.)

I also have THE VOYAGE OF THE ARMADA by David Howarth

Here are some things I recall from my navy days:

Ship's toilets are called "heads" because crewman used to have to hang off the bow to, you know, while holding onto ropes so they wouldn't fall. Only their heads would show above the rail.

An earring meant you'd survived a shipwreck.

The most important people on a ship are the bosun and the bosun's mate. Not surprisingly, this bit of information came from a bosun.

Up spirits - time for the rum ration. 11 a.m. (yep, the morning.)

Make and mends - get the ship ship-shape, then paaaaarty!

And because the British navy makes me think of hard times and harsh punishments, here are two other books in my library:


LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER: An Unashamed Look at Hangmen, Headsmen, and Their Kind by Howard Engel. (Engel is a notable Canadian mystery writer, so this book is both interesting and fast-paced. Who knew so much calculation was required for a hangman's rope to ensure the convicted died quickly, of a broken neck, rather than slow strangulation?)

I also found DISEASE AND HISTORY by Frederick F. Cartwright in collaboration with Michael D. Biddiss

and HORRIBLE HISTORIES: The Vile Victorians by Terry Deary

WHAT THEY DON'T TEACH YOU ABOUT HISTORY: Hundreds of Peculiar and Fascinating Facts by Tim Wood and Ian Dicks (Here's one: Blackbeard the pirate had 15 wives. There's just something about a captain, I guess.)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Historical Fashion Parade

Continuing on with my list of books, and inspired by THE HISTORY OF UNDERGARMENTS by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington, today's tour of the Margaret Moore library is about clothes.

So what else do I have on my shelves that helps me dress my people?

COSTUME 1066 - 1990s by John Peacock (This one's really good -- annotated illustrations that show the evolution of fashions, too.)

THE DICTIONARY OF COSTUME by R. Turner Wilcox (One of the first books I bought after I sold my first book. Not cheap, but very good. Also illustrated.)

EYEWITNESS BOOKS: COSTUME by L. Rowland-Warne (Illustrations, but also pictures of actual items and modern reproductions.)

DRESSING THE PART: A HISTORY OF COSTUME FOR THE THEATRE by Fairfax Proudfit Walkup (First, what about that name? Whoo-ee, I couldn't make up a name like that! More importantly, this book, while aimed at those making costumes for productions, has pictures, lists parts of clothing and -- really helpful -- talks about fashionable colors and fabrics of the times.)

One of the historical period notable for interesting clothes was the Victorian age. I've written five books set in the mid-19th century: (CHINA BLOSSOM, VOWS (set in pre-Civil War Massachusetts and the only one of my books set in North America), THE WASTREL (one of my all-time fav covers!), THE DARK DUKE and THE ROGUE'S RETURN. The last three are a series and Elliot in A ROGUE'S RETURN was a Romantic Times K*I*S*S hero). So it follows I have a few books specifically about that time period, too. They are:

VICTORIAN AND EDWARDIAN LONDON by A.R. Hope Moncreiff (Beautiful watercolor illustrations)



It turns out I also have a few books about the navy, ships, and war at sea, so I'll list those tomorrow, along with a few miscellaneous books I've found helpful at various times.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Regency Research

I've now written four books set in Regency England: THE DUKE'S DESIRE, KISS ME QUICK, KISS ME AGAIN and the upcoming A LOVER'S KISS. Once again, a different time period means more books for me!

But first, one I didn't buy, because even used, it was out of my price range (about $300): THE REGENCY COMPANION, by Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L. Hamlin. This is a great book, and when I found out how much it would cost to buy it for myself, I was never more tempted to "lose" a library book. But I dutifully returned it. So if you ever stumble upon this book for less than a $100 and you want to write a Regency -- buy it!

Other Regency books I own:

WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW: From Fox Hunting to Whist -- the Facts of Daily Live in 19th-Century England by Daniel Pool


A HISTORY OF EVERYDAY THINGS IN ENGLAND, Volume III, 1733-1851 by Marjorie and C.H.B. Quennell

THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE: Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London by Jane Rendell

OUR TEMPESTUOUS DAY: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson

THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 1812-1822 by Arthur Bryant



THE HORIZON BOOK OF THE AGE OF NAPOLEON, Editor in charge Marshall B. Davidson

by Elie Halevy

THE THURTELL-HUNT MURDER CASE: Dark Mirror to Regency England by Albert Borowitz



ETIQUETTE: Rules and Usages of the Best Society, originally published in 1886 by People's Publishing Company Melbourne, by an unnamed author (why do I think that means it was probably a woman?); abridged edition published in 1995 by the Promotional Reprint Company

Because the hero of A LOVER'S KISS is a barrister, I also have a few books about the British legal system:

THE BAR AND THE OLD BAILEY 1750 - 1850 by Allyson N. May

LEGAL LONDON: A Pictorial History by Mark Herber



I also own THE HISTORY OF UNDERCLOTHES by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington
Fascinating fact: "at first the wearing of drawers by women was considered immodest. No doubt everyone was aware that it was a male garment; obviously only women of easy virtue would so demean themselves." It wasn't until Princess Charlotte adopted them they they came into common usage. What did women wear prior to drawers, pantaloons or pantelettes? Nothing, apparently, except for the chemise and petticoats -- "frequently proved by the caricaturist of the time, who did not hesitate to indicate the bare fact of its absence."

Just goes to show, the more things change, the more they stay the same....

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Restoration England....what a party!

I read somewhere that living in Restoration England after the restrictive reign of Cromwell was like taking off a tight corset. I love that image, and after seeing Robert Downey Jr. and Sam Neill in the movie Restoration, I wanted to write books set in that time.

So I did -- three of them: A SCOUNDREL'S KISS, A ROGUE'S EMBRACE and HIS FORBIDDEN KISS. And without touching on either the plague or the Great Fire, because I figured everybody else did, so I wouldn't. I'm contrary that way.

That meant new research for me, and so new books! Here's my Restoration Collection:

RESTORATION LONDON: From Poverty to Pets, From Medicine to Magic, From Slang to Sex, from Wallpaper to Women's Rights by Liza Picard (If you want to write a book set in Restoration London, I'd highly recommend this one.)


WOMEN ACCORDING TO MEN: The World of Tudor-Stuart Women by Suzanne W. Hull

A CITY FULL OF PEOPLE: Men and Women of London 1650-1750 by Peter Earle (lots of post-it notes, so much used)

THE MISTRESSES OF CHARLES II by Brian Masters (with a portrait of a naked Nell Gwyn on the cover - an unfortunate choice when you've got young kids in the house)


WOMEN IN ENGLAND 1500-1760: A Social History by Anne Laurence

I also found another medieval research book:


And although I've never written about Elizabethan England, seeing that so many others tie that time with the Stuarts, here are some of the books I've bought just in case I decide to write in yet another less popular time period:


WOMEN WAGING LAW IN ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND by Tim Stretton (there's some really good stuff in here -- talk about a wealth of potential characters and conflicts!)


Coming tomorrow: Margaret Moore's Regency Library