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Archive for November, 2011

Dance in the Regency

At the top of the blog is now the place for history, and I thought I would write out one of the period dances that not only we do at our Regency Balls, but that I also teach. Then once it was done here, I can save myself a step when it gets posted to the Regency Assembly Press website.

The Duke of Kent’s Waltz PastedGraphic1-2011-11-26-10-06.jpg comes to us from 1801. It was rediscovered in a coverless book at the British Library which Jacqueline Schwab has since identified (and could be a woman who I danced with across Scotland in 2007. The one my search turned up plays in the band, Bare Necessities, and it is probably unlikely that there are two Jacqueline Schwabs researching Period English Country Dance.)

Edward Augustus, the father of Victoria, was the fourth son of George III. (And obviously the one to have the oldest surviving female child when he and his siblings had all died.) He was made Duke of Kent in 1799 at the age of 32. At this time waltz music was making its way to England but not the waltz itself.

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Duke of Kent’s is a longways duple minor which means that men line up in a long line across from their ladies. The very top couple joins their hands and they take the hands of the next couple. That is one set. The couple who was closest to the music is the A couple or often called the 1st couple. The other couple is the B Couple, or 2nd couple.

Dance call from W.M. Cahusac’s Annual Collection, 1801

1) 1-8 All right hands-across, and left hands back.

2) 1-8 A couple take two hands and side step down center two steps, two back, and cast down to second place. B couple lead up.

3) 1-4 All take right hands and balance forward, back, and change places. (Men turn partner under arm, down the set)

4) 5-8 Repeat with left hand back to place.

5) 9-12 Men turn women below their partners by right-hand.

6) 13-16 Men turn partners by left-hand.

Breaking this down for you.

Definitions

Cast-Casting out and around means that the A man turns over his left shoulder and walks behind the B man to the place vacated by the next A man in line as he has also cast and moved down the line. The A lady does the same casting concurrently over her right shoulder and walking behind the B lady on her side of the set.

Balance-A Balance is a shifting of weight. Here while taking the right hand, you step forward to your partner on your right foot as well, rocking your weight forward onto the right foot, then back on your left foot.

The Dance Figures

❖ Right hands across and left back means to take your partner right hand in your own and walk to their place, then switching hands once you get there, walk back to your starting place. We have four measures to get to the opposite side of the set, and then four measures of music to get home.

❖ The A Couple are then going to take both hands and come close together in the center of the dance. (All the A couples.) They then move down two side steps away from the music, and then move back up to where they started. They finish this with a cast to second place. (This allows us to progress and dance with new partners at the end of all the phrases)

❖ We take right hands again and do the balance step as explained above. But there is a little more here. Instead of walking around to place, the men are going to raise their hand that holds their partners. Not to high because one we are in very tight sleeves and have little room to raise our own arms, and two, one must think how high we will raise a ladies hand as to not cause her discomfort. As we do this, the gentlemen are turning the lady under the raised arm as we all exchange places.

❖ Very simply we do what we just had done with our left hands. Balancing and turning.

❖ Here it is a little awkward for the lady at the very top of the dance will be ignored, and the man at the very bottom of the dance has no one to partner. Looking at your partner, the gentlemen then looks to the right of her (her left) and this is who he will dance with. It is very much how we started the dance, but this is a full turn to place in four measures.

❖ And to make things somewhat symmetrical, as most of these dances do, we have four measures to turn our own partner once more by the left this time, before it all starts over.

You can find more dances at the Regency Dance Instruction Page at my publisher, Regency Assembly Press.

Waltzing in the Regency

I have a post at English Historical Fiction Authors coming on December 6th that discusses this very issue. I was reading a book by a noted historian who has decided to tackle Regency Romance, and so jump from History to Fiction. Well she certainly did, having an impromptu dance where she gets the musicians, not in London, to play a waltz, and then teaches all the wives and officers how to waltz. Having taught dance for over 20 years, that would not happen. And in my article, I also point out when it is appropriate to have the waltz in England.

NaNoWriMo 2011

The Other Shoe

The NaNoWriMo Project passed the 50,000 relatively quickly. But finishing the entire story took 108,101 words and until the 23rd to do. Still, another year and another full first draft completed. The premise that love must be based more than on having the hots for each other, and that feelings can really be hurt to cause one to shut down about a suitor come into play. That there is an age and maturity to getting wed, and that being in love with love just is not enough. All is covered in the book. I hope the editing and second draft can come to fruition early next year.

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Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence Sales at 400!

November has been proving to be even slower than October. But we have hit 400 in sales. 1000 dedicated readers who enjoy the way I craft a story, and this becomes a full time gig with 5 or 6 new full length books each year and several novellas as well. (3000 of you and we could even afford professional copy-editing, instead of the volunteer work of other writers)

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2nd part of JDP Interview

Last post I published the first half of my interview for Colonel Fitzwilliam’s CorrespondenceColFitzweb-2011-11-26-10-06.jpg. Now time for the last half, or you can read it all here. The interviewer was Joyce DiPastena at her blog. She writes medieval historical romance.

JDP: It was truly a fascinating age. What inspired you to write Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence?

David: Before I was a teenager, we were flipping through channels on television, when my mother, who thought she could order us when it came to control of the tv set, made us stop on an old black and white show. ‘That’s my favorite,’ and then she made my three younger brothers and I watch it. It was Olivier’s Pride and Prejudice and yuck! Fast forward into my twenties and I began to appreciate that movie, and then in my 30’s loved it. I even delved into reading the original piece of chick lit and enjoyed it as well. While I do not think of myself as a tremendous fan of Jane Austen, her work certainly got me interested in the Regency, along with the re-enactment activities I was becoming involved in. And then I read Heyer.

What a hoot! Georgette’s use of language to evoke a period was tremendous and that further gave me an appreciation for the period. As I spent more time with the Regency, meeting Cheryl who would become my wife in that society, I also worked on my writing. Also working on a true Historical of the Peninsular war. While researching that, the pieces fell into place for a sequel to Pride and Prejudice PastedGraphic-2011-11-26-10-06.jpg. Something that Cheryl and I would also watch is the A&E (1995) version of each year. So many write about Darcy and Lizzy and so few acknowledge that the war was occurring and that those of the Ton were quite concerned that the Little Corporal go down to defeat. I thought it an important gap that needed to be addressed.

JDP: I agree. I think even historical romances sometimes need to be placed in their historical context. Please tell us a little about your Regency romance, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence.

David: Originally I envisioned that the Colonel would emerge and have a romance, but I quickly put Kitty into the scene. With Lydia gone, I found Kitty torn between wanting to be a better young lady than she had been while her more boisterous sister led her about, but also still a person of fun. I knew that the growth that occurs in all of us over time could be telling for one such as Kitty moving from being a girl to a woman.

I also knew that the war lasts for years, and a woman, if not married before her lover goes to war, most likely would not wait and appear to be on the shelf. When I placed the first letter in the story as a device to appease and contain the ever flighty Mrs. Bennet, I had no realization that would become the device I could employ for the entire story, but the truth is that England was growing closer by virtue of the post. Look to the original and the post between Jane and Lizzy telling of Lydia’s flight. Look at the missive Darcy places in the hands of Lizzy to explain himself. There is a great deal of letter writing occurring.

I believe that carries my book. That it is also the change in our hero, who becomes a great correspondent and uses his connections back in England to keep him sane amidst the battlefields of Portugal and Spain. The crux of both his growth, and that of his love interest occurs when he returns from the war. I attempt to place my own use of language, as did Heyer, into the story. I think this is a dividing point for my readers. Some have related that they find this works for them, while others expecting this book to be our current use of language can’t get past that.

The last caveat of a work based upon another’s writing is that many have their own ideas of what should be happening to the characters the original author created after writing The End. I of course take all those characters in the direction I chose. I used the last few paragraphs as a guideline, and I used Aldous Huxley’s view of Pride and Prejudice’s Catherine de Bourgh portrayed by Edna May Oliver for mine more than some of the others. Austen says that Lady Catherine and Elizabeth will make amends in the final paragraphs of the novel. The Olivier movie (1940) I think shows that clearly. (Edna May beats Judi Dench in this portrayal, hands down-IMO)

JDP: Are you working on any new projects?

David: Always. Currently being edited by my core group is a modern romance. I don’t want to say too much, but as it is Halloween, there are certain spectral beings that bring humor and channel Cupid. There are a few other Regencies also being edited at the moment. One called Beggars Can’t be Choosier, the other is Two Peas in a Pod. The last about identical twins and mistaken identities. Beggars has the underlying theme that so many Regency marriages were founded on, marrying for money.

JDP: Where can readers obtain copies of your books?

David: All my books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The iTunes-iBookstore carries my Regencies

ECO Agents, Book 1

My brother Dr. Douglas Wilkin, who has worked at the NIH and FBI (Isn’t it cool to work at Acronym kind of places?) writes as well, though he does text books. He contacted me with the idea of a school dedicated to young people who are exceptional and studying to be scientists. Young people who have adventures in science, hence the Agents part. And with a green focus, thus ECO. Here is the first five pages showcasing our Villain.

Chapter 1

His finger nails had been polished that morning by a manicurist as he had his weekly trim and a fresh shave. Though he used an electric razor every other day of the week, this once a week indulgence was certainly something he could afford.

“Mr. Carter, the senior staff are assembled sir.” That was the voice of one of his three personal assistants. Michael. Not only did he Zedadiah need three assistants, he had several office suites throughout the world with secretaries, project managers, vice presidents, troubleshooters, all ready to jump and aid him in managing the world’s biggest conglomerate.

Third biggest company by sales, behind Apple and Exxon Mobil. But a great deal more profitable that those two. ZED Corporation, an affectation he had renamed the company when he had first gotten control of what had been the old E4A conglomerate.

Then the company had offices in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia, and extracting commodities had been the business model. Zedadiah had started in the New York office at sixteen. He had used a fake idea that said he was twenty-one and a little computer hacking had created a a paper trail to show he had graduated from an Ivy-League college.

He had a few minutes as he walked to the foyer of the building. The 91st story overlooking London’s Isle of Dogs. ZED Corp had built the largest building in the Canary Wharf section for it’s world wide headquarters. Not only the tallest building there, but in all of Europe as well. If they had stayed in New York, they would have been one of many, not they rose and towered above all others that could be seen. Size really does matter.

Zedadiah remembered when he had first applied at the old E4A company. Three floors then of a middling size skyscraper in Manhattan. The HR interviewer looked at him when she sat down, “You look quite young, which may be a difficulty for your co-workers, or you.”

Zedadiah thought quickly, he had always been the youngest in any circle he had been in. His faked credentials had some basis in reality. He had completed his first year at college, a prodigy, he had enrolled three years younger than his classmates. But after one year, he knew more about economic theory than most who were graduating that year. Zedadiah certainly knew enough to hack the computer system and give himself all the documentation that showed he graduated.

“I have had that problem for as long as I can remember,” Zedadiah had told the lady. Ms. Schmanski, he remembered. She was not a native New Yorker. He could tell that she had a great deal of the midwest in her. Which was not a criticism, but he was a native of the tri state. “I put my head down, do my work, and then show that because I look young does not mean that I am not accomplished. You can see I interned last summer for your Boston office.”

“Yes, I made some phone calls and they said that they remembered you.”

He quietly snorted a laugh. He had found where all the other interns for E4A were as well as six other large companies. He had spent a day at each rotating through all the companies. He had been at the E4A offices for perhaps thirty hours, but he had glad handed as many people as he could. He had dropped his name, and then he had left them with reports that had been assigned to the interns to do. He also collected some nice cash from each company. Some of whom he had worked for throughout the school year as well.

Cash was always good. Only General Electric had figured out he had been absent more than he had been in attendance. Only IBMs computer security measures had been too challenging for him to pull the scam off.

“I am glad I made an impression,” Zedadiah replied. “I hope they had favorable things to say.”

“Bright, personable, your research was spot on. This is merely a formality. We would like to offer you a management trainee position, we start at 85 a year…”

The advantage to being able to hack computers was that you could hack lots of computers. And he had already hacked E4As computers the previous year. He knew how high she could go, and what trigger her supervisor might come in to finish the negotiations. “I have already had an offer of over 100 from IBM. Are you sure you can’t do better.” Ten minutes later the supervisor came in and he finally got them to concede to their top number. 115 a year and three weeks vacation.

The money was not an issue, not really. It was access to information. That was what was going to make him wealthy. To learn about things before anyone else did, and E4A had people on every major continent. People who were only just beginning to understand that their computers could talk to each other faster than they could talk to one another.

Zedadiah knew that reminiscing was an indulgence. He had lived in the present since long before joining the company. And then leaving a few years later. Today was special. It was his fortieth birthday, officially that was. And the company was honoring him for reaching the milestone. Birthdays were great as a device he found for measuring how well he had achieved his objectives. This one was a year that many thought of as important. Born in 1972 and now it was 2012. The world had changed a great deal but fundamentals were all the same.

It was how much money and how much power you had that was important. At forty he was one of the five wealthiest in the world. Probably third, but the Forbes and Fortunes lists were never really quite accurate he had found as he became eligible for their lists. Especially since a great many of his assets he didn’t report. Just like many of the things that ZED Corp owned or controlled. One needed their secrets in business.

Zedadiah could see his employees ahead, hundreds who worked in the building, many of whose names he didn’t know. Several other employees of the conglomerate who had made sure they were in London for the day so they could attend and shake his hand. They knew, as he did when he was much lower on the ladder, that getting the boss to notice you was the way to advancement.

His first years at E4A he had thought to do so, and his skills with extracting economic information from the corporate computers had made him very successful at that. That coupled with the money he amassed during his summer of multiple internships, allowed him to invest in the stock exchange. He not only traded company securities but as his account balance ballooned, he used options, futures, traded commodities, and rode the largest wave of capital creation that America had ever known.

His salary negotiation was like nothing that first day for after a month of access to not only E4As computers, but also many of the systems from the companies he had interned at, he had made more than a years pay on the stock market. Within six months he had amassed a net worth of over a million dollars, and still not even seventeen. By twenty he had more than ten million and it was time to use that to leverage up to even greater wealth.

Zedadiah left E4A then and opened his office in London, a few blocks from where he now was. The applause was starting as they saw him approach the foyer. People already were beginning to sing, ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow,’ Pity they didn’t remember he was born in New Jersey and sang Happy Birthday instead. But he had now lived abroad for many years.

Not that he had cut his ties with the States. Zedadiah and more than a dozen accountants manipulated the tax codes of many countries to ensure that he paid very little in the way of tax. Keeping his US citizenship was crucial to that strategy. Even if he hadn’t spent more than a couple months in the United States every year for the last decade.

When he left to set up his own company, he started his own investment fund, still stealing information from the computers of those companies he had one time worked for and had hacked their knowledge. He only used computers from his flat in Kensington, but that made him seem like a genius to his employees when they would get phone-calls from him, or those new emails to tell them to act upon one of his ‘hunches.’

The company he formed was called Carter Investments, still a part of his conglomerate. His traders though had started to call themselves the ‘Z-Men.’ With his hunch, he had bought the majority interest in a French water company. The world in the nineties began to thrive on French bottled water. It was like minting money and he was able to purchase other commodities, and mineral extraction companies that he found at a discount, and then see rise to profitability.

There, on one of the tables off to the side of the marble encrusted foyer, were hundreds of bottles of ZED Corp water for the guests to enjoy. Everything now was a division of ZED Corp. Branding had become important and it bred loyalty amongst the mindless consumers. More of them trusted those that made the brand, then there own opinions to decide what they should use. What they should buy.

He snorted a laugh as he waved to the well wishers and then began to shake hands. His most loyal lieutenants that he allowed to work alongside him in London. Others who managed the various divisions and companies that had flown in for the day. Someone handed him a glass of champagne and when he took it, there began a call for a speech. Soon the chorus calling for him to give an oration was all that could be heard. He held up the champagne glass until he could make himself heard.

Are you a RAPper or a RAPscallion?

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In keeping with the new format of my blog, first a little history, then the interesting bits and pieces of this writing life

The ‘Change or the London Stock Exchange

It is very tempting to use the Exchange in the Regency era for it gives you the chance to write such things as the ‘Change, or discuss Exchange Alley. That sets up an evocative description now in our present time. To discuss Jonathan’s Coffee House, which is where the roots of the London Stock Exchange was founded just over 100 years before stories of the Regency take place.

Jonathan’s Coffee-House was founded by Jonathan Miles, in Exchange Alley, around 1680. In 1696 patrons of the Coffee-House plotted to assassinate William III. And in ’98 John Castaing started to post the prices of stocks and commodities. That then would be the start of systematic trading in London. That same year other traders that had been expelled from the Royal Exchange for rowdiness came to Jonathans and Garraway’s Coffee House to conduct their business.

The Royal Exchange had been found by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1565 during the reign of Elizabeth I. It opened in 1571. As noted above, rude manners forced the stockbrokers to seek other locations to conduct their business. By the time of the Regency, fires had destroyed the original buildings of the Royal Exchange as well as the coffee-houses.

Lest we think Sir Thomas was perfect, it seems that he had an interest in the land where the Exchange was built, helping to build a part of his fortune. But upon his death, bequeathed that part of the rents from the Exchange to fund what became Gresham College, the first place of higher learning in London.

Jonathan’s was where the shares of the South Sea Bubble traded. And by 1773 a coalition of traders built a new building in Sweeting’s Alley that was dubbed New Jonathan’s first, and later the Stock Exchange. Here traders paid a fee to enter and to trade. But fraud was rampant and by 1801 an annual subscription was enforced for the Stock Subscription room for traders. When the Subscription room was open, it still took a constable to remove all the non-members.

Then in 1802 moved to Capel Court where “The Stock Exchange” was labeled upon the entry. Still this was not enough and by 1812 a series of rules had become adopted so that trading could be done much more fairly. These rules and organization allowed the government to raise the large sums of money it needed to fight Napoleon.

An Interview

Last week I was interviewed for Colonel Fitzwilliam’s CorrespondenceColFitzweb-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg. In this blog, the first half of the interview, and next time the last half, or you can read it all here. The interviewer was Joyce DiPastena at her blog. She writes medieval historical romance.

Today I have an author interview and giveaway with David William (D.W.) Wilkin, who among many other things, writes Regency romances. David has graciously agreed to give away one of his books at the end of this interview, Colonel Fiztwilliam’s Correspondence, a Regency romance based on some characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Read on to learn more about David and find out how you can enter to win a copy of this book! (E-book open to International and US entries, print copy US only)

JDP: Thank you for joining us today, David. How did you become interested in writing about the Regency period?

David: That is a tale, and bear with me, I shall lead you to the end of the trail. I liked history enough from High School to make it my major in college. I specialized in Pre-Modern Asian history while getting my degree which is pretty far from the study of Regency England. But History, I have always found, is stories. I like stories and even before college I wrote some, but after, I started my quest to be a novelist. I also became an Historical Re-enactor.

I joined groups where we made the costumes of the era we were Re-enacting. I learned the dances from those times, and then actually taught well over 1000 people how to do them. Running regular dance practices. My early main focus was Medieval and Renaissance, but one day a friend said, ‘Have I got a girl for you to meet,’ and dragged me to a Regency Dance. Well, not that girl, but several years later, I met my wife, Cheryl at a Regency Ball.

To woo her (she was very far away), I wrote her a regency romance, a few pages a day, that turned into a novel. When taking a class to further enhance my writing, I resurrected the story and worked on it more. Then over the last ten years, found that a good third of my output was Regency Romances.

JDP: Wow, that’s an amazing (and wonderfully romantic) story! What do you find most fascinating about the Regency era?

David: We of course stylize the era. How many of us portray London or Town, other than full of beauty and elegant living? When of course you step outside those stately homes, and there is filth in the streets. The lower classes are everywhere, and the middle classes are struggling. But in our Regencies, we set aside that and in is light and glitters. That is something I love. It is actually a fantasy world we create each time.

Even in movies, or especially in movies, the clothes our heroines and heroes wear are never smudged with dirt, or tattered. I find it hard to imagine that everything would look so clean back in the day. So on my Planet, where I recreate the Regency, I can enter the world of the Aristocracy and Nobility, and share those titles, and those riches. I think of it as a great escape.

JDP: Ah, yes, I relate to your cleaned up fantasy world. Only my characters live on Planet Medieval, rather than Planet Regency. I’m always interested in how authors research their historical novels. Could you tell us a little about how you researched the historical background for Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence?

David: Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence is of course a sequel to Pride and PrejudiceAmazon.com_TheAnnotatedPrideandPrejudice%2525289780307278104%252529_JaneAusten%25252CDavidM.Shapard_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg. So first, I reread Austen’s classic. My book also focuses on Darcy’s cousin, who does not get a lot of play in a novel set during the Napoleonic Wars. It was still a time where a very rich man could purchase their rank, and one can imagine that the Earl of M—-K, as Austen calls Fitzwilliam’s father, having done so for his son.

As a history major, I have delved into military history, and have learned a thing or two about the Napoleonic Wars. Philip Haythornwaite’s Wellington’s Military Machine PastedGraphic-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg, Sir Charles Oman’s History of the Peninsular War PastedGraphic1-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg, David Chandler’s The Campaigns of Napoleon Amazon.com_TheCampaignsofNapoleon%2525289780025236608%252529_DavidG.Chandler_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg and David Gates The Spanish Ulcer Amazon.com_TheSpanishUlcer_AHistoryofthePeninsularWar%2525289780306810831%252529_DavidGates_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg all have places on my bookshelf along with dozens of others about the battles and period of the war. In addition to many books about the Regency. Knowing about the war and thinking about the Colonel, I knew that he had to be a participant in it.

I knew that by bringing the two together, I could craft a story with a little steel in our hero. (I hope I’ve conveyed that.) And that during the period, many, many men were affected truly by the war.

JDP: Can you share with us your top three favorite research books or other resources?

David: For the Regency era, my all time favorite is What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool Amazon.com_WhatJaneAustenAteandCharlesDickensKnew_FromFoxHuntingtoWhist-theFactsofDailyLifeinNineteenth-CenturyEngland%2525289780671882365%252529_DanielPool_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg. Very similar but with enough extra is Kristine Hughes Everyday Life in Regency England Amazon.com_Writer_sGuidetoEverydayLifeinRegencyandVictorianEnglandfrom1811-1901%2525289781582972800%252529_KristineHughes_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg. Last, since I have been influenced by Georgette Heyer in creating my view of the Regency since a friend told me at one of those Regency Dances I just had to read Frederica Amazon.com_Frederica%2525289781402214769%252529_GeorgetteHeyer_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg, is Jennifer Kloester’s Georgette Heyer’s Regency WorldAmazon.com_GeorgetteHeyer_sRegencyWorld%2525289781402241369%252529_JenniferKloester_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg.

JDP: Ahhh, I love Frederica, by Georgette Heyer! (And Friday’s Child and These Old Shades and The Convenient Marriage and The Talisman Ring… Oops! Better stop and get on with the interview!) Are there any historical figures from the Regency era who particularly intrigue you?

David: We often forget that that across the channel a whole slew of characters, who were very much effecting what happened in London, were alive and influencing all of Europe. I think the most exciting is Ney. If your readers hear of his defense of the Grande Armee as it retreated from Russia and crossed the bridge at Kovno. Heroic stuff.

In England and our Regency, I love the many fictional Age of Sail officers. Hornblower shall always be a favorite, followed by Ramage, Bolitho, Drinkwater (isn’t that a great name that Richard Woodman gave us for a Naval Hero?) Nelson then is fascinating to me as are some of the other great British seamen, Hornblower’s Pellew was a real historical figure. Militarily Wellington and his generals are also fascinating. Henry Paget, a great cavalry commander that returns from the Peninsula and promptly runs-off with Wellington’s sister-in law. Wellington thus cannot have him serve on his staff, at least not until Waterloo years later and there his leg had to be amputated. He lived almost 40 years after that. Stapleton Cotton (What a great name), a Cavalry officer who lived to the age of 91 after the war.

What of Sir Harry Smith, who Heyer immortalizes in The Spanish BrideAmazon.com_TheSpanishBride_ANovelofLoveandWar%2525289781402211133%252529_GeorgetteHeyer_Books-2011-11-12-19-00.jpg. Later to become a Lt. General and his wife, saved from Badajoz, becomes the woman that the cities (3 of them) of Ladysmith is named after. Beau Brummel and his Dandy Club, all I find fascinating

More next time…

NaNoWriMo 2011

Already finished the 50,000 word goal of the NaNo Organization. But still hard at work on the novel, The Other Shoe. Added one chapter beyond my original plotting, so now at 16 chapters. Nearing the end of Chapter 11, at almost 70,000 words.

Here is an excerpt (As usual, about 5 pages from the first chapter, unedited at this stage):


Chapter 1

“You sir, are not listening to a word that I have spoken,” Lord Frederick Vesey said.

Michael, or more completely Michael Hope Montgomery Baxter, the Viscount Devon, when he was younger, might have winced at such criticism. And certainly if Frederick’s brother Henry had been the one to deliver it, he would have. Frederick’s late older brother had been Michael’s friend. Frederick was now a project of his, as he had been left without immediate family and the tie that Michael had to the deceased Henry was a bond, and a promise that needed to be tended to.

The other gentlemen at the table chuckled a little at the scold that Michael had received, and placing his cards carefully in front of him, Michael turned and gave Frederick a stare. It was meant to unnerve, and generally was successful.

“Oh, sorry. Pray forgive,” Vesey said.

The room was quite, it being late and only one other game was taking place. Most of the members of Brooks had retired or were elsewhere in the club.

Michael said, “Quite. A few moments more Lord Vesey,” the other men at the table laughed, or in the case of Mr. Samuals, cleared his throat.

Mr. Samuals then said, “Gentlemen, are we playing whist, or listening to the latest tale of the lovelorn? I have a significant sum wagered on this rub.”

Michael had to agree that Samuals did have a large sum in the pot. It stood at over five hundred to the winning pair. By the end of the evening, Michael expected that it could easily triple.

Michael responded, “You are correct Mr. Samuals that we are playing whist.” Then he drew himself up in his chair and using all the generations that had proceeded him, he poured the essence of his family in the second part of an admonishment that dignity and grace should have left unsaid, but then Samuals wasn’t from an old family, “But good manners has allowed Lord Vesey to apologize and should his interruptions have been such an annoyance, you would have best been served by asking for his silence at the beginning of his tale of affection for Lady B. that you may then have spent time concentrating on your hand. To whit, now that time has long passed as we know far more of Lord Vesey’s desires then perhaps you are comfortable of knowing though his need to share is keen. It however has left you in such a predicament that I fear you have lost this hand.”

“What, we have only played six tricks, and we have four of them!” Samuals said.

“Yes, but you have led with your hearts and in these six hands we have played most of the cards in the deck. I shall take this trick with the king, then in the next trick, Lord William shall take the trick with his queen, I follow for I still have my Jack and of a sudden we have five of the nine tricks that we have seen vanquished. Do I need to tell you how the rest of the hand plays out? And as the second hand to us, the rubber shall be ours.” It was academic and clear. But Samuals insisted since he could not see how it all would happen. The Baron of Lechmere who partnered Mr. Samuals shook his head, and then pointed out that it was so. They had lost.

It took a minute, perhaps two to calm Mr. Samuals and urge him to proceed to the gallery where he might find some liquid refreshment. Then they could resume play in a quarter hour as Michael, dealt with his friend.

“I am sorry my lord,” Lord Frederick said. “I did not mean to cause you any problems.”

The Vesey home, Monkton Priory was quite close to the ancestral home of the Duke’s of Stanfield and so Michael, as the heir and only son of the present Duke, grew up with the young men of Monkton. Henry, the elder Vesey boy and he had been childhood playfellows and gone to school together, as well as being gentlemen volunteers in Spain together.

Where Henry lost his life and thus Frederick became the lord of Monkton. As Henry struggled to survive his wounds, knowing that it was futile, he held Michael to a pledge to look out for his younger brother as if Frederick was Michael’s own. Michael had agreed of course. You always agreed to the wishes of the dying. Michael though had not realized that having a younger brother, as he had no siblings, was to be such a trial.

“Do not worry about Mr. Samuals. He has a short attention span when it comes to his pockets. He had nearly three hundred pounds of me last week, and twice that a month gone.” Michael though would not say that he was nearly five hundred ahead of Mr. Samuals after all the games they had played. It was a trick of Michael’s, one that his father the Duke did not like, that he knew exactly where he was at any moment in regards to his fortune.

Since he was initially on an allowance from the Duke, a small one that got smaller each year, anything extra that he succeeded in getting was found money, and an idle gentleman was always in need of money. Though Michael hardly ever touched it, having the ready was quite important for paupers, as well as the sons of Dukes.

Lord Vesey said, “Still, I know I deserve a scold.”

“You do indeed. You have mentioned this lady that you are enamored of in the club. That you disguised her identity a little by referring to her as Lady B, is an affectation. We do not talk of such things in public, Lord Vesey.”

Frederick looked admonished, so Michael knew that his reprimand was somewhat successful. He could not let up though. “I should exact a promise from you that you shall not do so again, for this rule, well most of the rules regarding our behavior are unwritten of course. I should like you to try to do better in my presence and that of those who are not solely of our circle. William of course you need not disguise your meaning from, but Mr. Samuals and Lechmere do not need to be party to your most personal pursuits of love.”

Michael often wished he need not hear of them either. Vesey seemed to fall in love every hour. And while it would be important one day for there to be new little Veseys, Frederick was but a few years past twenty. A boy still in many things. Michael suspected were his own mother alive, or had he sisters as his friend, Lord William the Earl of Mercia, then he would be constantly harangued to marry. The countess, William’s mother, had included him in the conversation a time or two when she had pointedly been scolding William to marry.

Frederick nodded, “I understand my lord, I shall try.”

Michael said, “The others have moved off, Frederick. I have told you before you may call me Devon, or Michael.” It was what a brother would do. The honorary title of Viscount Devon, his father’s lessor title had suited him all his life. Most called Michael by that, though Lord William and Frederick often did call him Michael. The only other to do so was the Duke, but he did so when vexed with his heir.

“Sorry Michael, of course. But I am a little unnerved. Lady Barb… I mean Lady B was so charming this evening at Almacks. You really should have come out…”

Michael held up his hand, “I really do not like dancing at present.”

“Henry told me that you commanded the dance floor when the two of you first came to Town. He said that all the ladies would form lines for your attention.”

Michael could not argue with that. He had not realized quite in the beginning that most, if not all, desired that attention for they wished to be the next duchess of Stanfield. That would get any man’s attention. In any case, since he had gone to Spain and returned, though it had been some years, he had no desire to dance any longer.

Michael said, “We should not talk of my desires, or lack of them. You came to me for some advice and help with this current inamorata of yours.”

Frederick sat bolt upright in the chair as if he had been caned at school. “She is not my inamorata, at least not yet. She gave me one dance, and her father was quite agreeable.”

“The Earl of Tyrone. Yes I know him. At least we have talked a time or two. A likable chap. He is a member of Boodles across the street. A Tory of course.” Brooks was the home to the Whigs, but Michael did not often care to argue politics. He was a member of Brooks as well, for his father the Duke was also a member there. So much of who one was and what one did was tied to whose son one was, that Michael had little choice in the clubs he was to belong to, as well as what thoughts of his own he was allowed to express. At least not until he became the Duke. A time far in the future, for his father, though they did not see eye to eye, was his closest family member.

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New Format

I have recently been invited to a Blog Tribe, the concept of which I am still a little sketchy on, but the idea is 6 other writers who explore the same periods as I get together and as we create our wonderful erudite web logs full of historical information, we share it.

The writers are Debra Brown, Teresa Thomas Bohannon, Maria Grazia, John D. Aidan, Lauren Gilbert and Emily Snyder

This new venture for me then leads me to redesign how I report in Things That Catch My Eye. Instead of just a Writer’s Blog where I report on the success and failure of my writing life. Write up my Gratitude Log. Provide excerpts of my writing, I will also write notes on my historical research for the books I am working on. And as they should carry more weight, I will place them first in the blog, with the notes of what I have been doing as a writer following.

This month is NaNoWriMo, and so I am at work on a Regency. The Other Shoe. It has led to research on Lloyds of London for today and the Royal Exchange for next time.

Lloyds of London

Starting in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in 1688 on Tower Street, it was not the site of commercial interaction at first, but as more members of the shipping trade gathered there, ship’s captains, merchants, and owners, it evolved to a place where marine insurance could be financed. So successful that by 1691 Mr. Lloyd was able to move to a larger premise at the corner of Lombard Street and Abchurch Lane. Lloyd also began to employ correspondents at the main ports in England and abroad to get factual news quickly.

The motivation for Lloyd’s to grow beyond a place where like minded businessmen would gather to talk was the need to protect individual owners from the possibility of catastrophic losses. Underwriters would subscribe and assure that should a vessel be lost, they would then pay for it’s loss. They though would receive rewards for agreeing to such risks. Thus insurance as we know it was born, and Lloyd’s is now the leading specialist insurance market.

The coffee house PastedGraphic2-2011-11-2-10-43.jpg was taken over by Edward Lloyd’s son in law, and then in later years, the trading inside the coffee house took on a life of it’s own. By 1769 the first breakaway underwriters left to form New Lloyd’s Coffee House in Pope’s Head Alley. In 1771, 79 merchants, bankers, shipowners, brokers and underwriters subscribed with £100 each to create a building for all. In 1774 Lloyd’s then moved to the Royal Exchange.

One can not hide from the fact that a major component of what occurred at Lloyd’s was the insuring of vessels engaged in the Slave Trade. One can not just wish that such facts could disappear. That we of the 21st century can wish away the horridness of the Slave Trade, but having that in our history defines us now. Austen has the Bertram family receiving their income from slave plantations in the West Indies. They of course are not the only families to be so involved in the matter. English shipping carried 3 1/4 million people into slavery.

During the years that Lloyds was extant and Slaver trafficking was legal, British shipping lost over 1000 vessels.

With the advent of the Napoleonic wars, and shipping so much at risk, a close synergy was created between the business interests and the Admiralty. Even to this day, the Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund started in 1803 still functions and supports ex-servicepeople.

4,000,000

Just a few days ago, before the start of National Novel Writing Month, I passed another writing milestone. Four Million words written. There has been more than that. I don’t keep track of the blogs, and it is possible that the blogs one day could become books. Nor do I keep track of the reviews, or other writings.

Four Million though for the novels that I have in the drawer as finished first drafts, second drafts, published, working on now.

That is over 13,300 pages of material. It’s a lot. Stack up nearly 3 boxes of copier paper. 500 sheets to a ream, 10 reams to a box, so 26 reams of finished work that I have been keeping track of. There are other buried bones in the closet that could contribute to my word count but have not.

Sales October

Down from September, which is hard. I had hoped for sales growth every month, instead of the other way around. 86 books which is slightly over 50% of the month before. One series of 6 Colonel Fitzwilliams and a Shattered Mirror went to a bookshop (can’t tell which one though) and another bookshop (maybe the same one) has bought a series in November as well. Kindle to Physical was 31% so I definitely see a trend there.

Overall, 13% of the goal we want in sales to become a full time writer. Of course the goal is the minimum needed to support us. I am sure Cheryl would like the revenue to be a little better than minimum so we could travel. Buy Christmas presents, that sort of thing.

Good Review

I love getting good reviews, especially when I am in the doldrums and I did garner another 5 star review (my favorite kind) Next to those, I like those that end with “would recommend.” Those are always valuable. I have a few now for Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence. I think those that read it, will be able to say the same. That they would recommend. I find that those who do not like what I have written are those who fault me for language. Aside from Austen and Heyer, there are few others that I have read for the period, but those that I have, write with a flair for setting the dialogue and narration with that period style. Some better than others. Those who have written with our present use of language are the ones I personally don’t read or recommend. So I suppose when a reader faults me for not writing with a contemporary use of language, I have written a Regency that does not appeal to them, just as I fault those writers who can’t find their way to use the rich Regency Lexicon available to us.

NaNoWriMo

This year, I am once again writing a Regency. It is tentatively called The Other Shoe, as mentioned above. I completed the competitions 50,000 word requirement in 9 days. And having written several Novella length pieces this year, I can see that we can call 50,000 words a book. But my full length books are always well over 90,000 words and even 100,000. The big ones are over 200,000.

So The Other Shoe, at 50,504 words, has just reached the middle of Chapter 8, and in a 15 chapter book at present, that would be the middle of the story. Where our heroine (Lady Barbara Winhampton, the daughter of the Earl of Tyrone) is unburdening her soul saying how she just hates the hero. Though she doesn’t say how the hero has stirred thoughts in her that she had not known she had.

I scanned the list of Earldoms, for a defunct one to give to our heroine’s father. Tyrone was the first I saw that seemed to be useful, but it was a subconscious choice that guided me to it. There is a 1936 (wow-75 years old) movie called Lloyd’s of London.PastedGraphic-2011-11-2-10-43.jpg I like the movie, and it ends during the Regency with the news of Trafalgar a key part of the story. It is one of my influences and as I plotted the story a few days ago, I remembered the movie and put in a needed plot device for both Hero and Heroine’s family need to find some quick wealth. Wealth that could be gotten by investing as the star of the movie, Tyrone Power did. This fact came to me on Tuesday this week, when I had passed the first third of the novel.

Inside Mac Games

Over the course of the last few months, I have become a reviewer at Inside Mac Games. I am now working on my third review for them. My previous two involve the game AI:Wars, which was actually pretty bad the more I think on it, and the Map bundle from Civilization V, PastedGraphic1-2011-11-2-10-43.jpg (picture from actual gameplay I did for the review) which I have mentioned before is a great game.

IMO

I have decided, as a matter of preference, that now, almost 50, I do not have to be humbled by my opinions any longer. IMHO is out!!! My Opinions are mine, and I intend to drop the H. And that is my opinion, 😉

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