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Archive for December, 2011

Almacks

In keeping with our format of history first, I often find myself including one chapter, or part of a chapter of my regency romances at Almacks. It is thus important that we all know what Almacks was, for it is a center piece of not only Regency society, but of the raison d’être of all regency romances. It is the hub of the marriage market.

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The concept of the marriage market is also what defines the social season. This is a concept that is still prevalent in our modern society. Parents want their children to marry well. They do not want to worry about them. By the time you are a parent with a marriageable child you remember what that passionate love was, but know that the companionship part of marriage, the comfort of marriage is as valuable, if not more valuable that that ardent feeling of love that consumes youth.

The Regency families of the Ton were no different than our sober parents who are urged to foot the bill for an extravagant wedding. (Champagne tastes and wants on beer budgeting means borrowing on your home equity to see junior or princess launched…)

Almacks is the center of this institution. At least it is so in our Regency Romance world. As has been pointed out before, now 200 years since the period, we glamorize what happened then. (Thank you all who love the works of Jane Austen. It has allowed us to clean up the view of the Regency since we take that love to the screen, which we very rarely see the seediness that existed in London and elsewhere.) The Regency Romance, and the formula I follow with our Hero and Heroine sealing their fate with a kiss at the last page of the story is just such a clean presentation of our period.

Almacks is the institution where we can have our heroes see in context all the opportunities for them to make a match with in a particular year. With my heroes something has compelled them forth in the year my story takes place for them to finally bite the bullet and wed. Often a fate that they have been avoiding.

For our Heroines we find that they too usually have an awareness that after their mamas or guardians have secured the crucial voucher, they must be more beautiful, more witty, more charming, then any other lady at the assembly rooms that night. They must banter over the orgeat, or ratafia and catch some great, rich lord’s eye. Their needs to be a certain practicalness when placing Almacks in a chapter. Certainly one can go to have a night’s entertainment there, but it is the Company Xmas party (Since it is Christmas Eve when I write this) You have to go. It is political. You have to be seen there. And you have to make an impression. Your co workers and the invited guests want to see you in a quasi state of being relaxed, but you are still acting restrained.

I bring to this accent of what Almacks was, my own quest for a bride, for I looked for mine at historical reenactment balls. (And found Cheryl there as well) Thus when I have my Heroines waiting to be approached by the Hero, or outline a dance, I bring to that my experiences from when that was my life.

Almacks opened well before the Regency in 1765. William Macall also opened a coffee house which became Brooks gentleman’s club. Sometime after 1800 the Almacks as we use it in our Regencies emerged from its beginnings which was more of a gambling club that woman could go to as other avenues were quite notorious.

By the Regency and while the War was occurring their were six of seven patronesses who were responsible for issuing vouchers which allowed entry to the festivities. No voucher and you could not get in. Thus these six or seven were the arbiters of good taste.

  • Ameila Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh
  • Sarah Villiers, Countess of Jersey (Daughter in law of one of Prinny’s mistresses)
  • Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper (Mistress of Lord Palmerston-Cupid, and sister to the Prime Minister-Lord Melbourne)
  • Maria Molyneux, Countess of Sefton
  • Mrs. Drummond Burrell (Wife to a Dandy)
  • Dorothea Lieven, Countess de Lieven (Wife of the Russian ambassador)
  • Countess Esterhazy (Wife of the Austrian ambassador)

As you see, a list of some heavy hitters. And certainly they must have been full of themselves having such power to deny entry if they chose. Vouchers were good for Wednesday nights when the balls were held. It was the only thing that happened at Almacks, so that is a detail that we must adhere to in our portrayal of the place. (And financially one has to think that open just one night a week the place was a great success.)

This was a place where the established families gathered. Not the nouveau riche. Having a title was no guarantee of admittance, the patronesses met on mondays to decide who got a voucher and whose voucher might be taken away. It was a place to see and be seen, and as mentioned, find your wife.

As a dancer, and knowing the dances of the era, using this as a setting is a benefit. But for a romance, knowing that the hall was the place to see all the lovely young girls fresh from the schoolroom is the perfect setting for my heroes. Our heroines of course will always shine and put to shame all the other ladies in the room. It’s uniqueness for the ten thousand leaders of England, and really a subset of that, is quite distinct. And then, what is more romantic then having our couple on the dance floor for a short space of time bantering about, starting on the path that will lead to their great love.

Water, Water Everywhere but nary a Drop

Those who have been following The Things That Catch My Eye know that I have started on writing a Young Adult tale suggested by my brother, the biochemist. I suppose I could look back and read what I have written about Douglas. He has a Phd. He’s a big USC fan. Has three kids. Teaches High School science now. Worked at the NIH outside DC, and also worked for almost a year for the FBI. They kicked him out because he wanted Yom Kippur off.

That being the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar, it is probably like working to bust criminals if you are a priest on Easter. We are really not supposed to do anything but atone on Yom Kippur. The super religious have all sorts of other rules they go by on that day. (No leather shoes, for instance)

Douglas suggested the idea for our super agent students at the ECO Academy. I have been thinking of a title. I saw a show that talked about Chile and the water rights there. That led to my bringing the villain in having made a fortune in bottled water and now using the Chilean water rights as the theme of our problem. Still searching for a title, I think that Water Water Everywhere is the right one. Those who want to chime in, please leave a comment.

I have the first part of Chapter 2 here as well today.

Pages while between

We closed Aspen, if you have been following the blog a while ago and finished the paperwork from that a year or so ago. There was a lot of fallout from owning and losing Aspen Interiors. A great financial loss and starting all over from zero.

During that time i have been writing not quite full time, but a lot.

A list of first and second drafts completed:

  • Space Mine
  • Graces of Brantley
  • Colonel Pennington
  • KoTohLan
  • The End of the World
  • Trevanions Legend
  • Roses War
  • Born to Grace II-The Turmoil
  • Tempest and Sword
  • Two Peas in A Pod
  • Steam and Thunder
  • Beggar’s Can’t Be Choosier
  • The Shattered Mirror
  • Terra’s Birthright
  • Succession
  • Lastoleers
  • By the Book
  • KoTohLan II-Hoveria
  • Lord Falmont’s Muddle
  • The Prize is not as Great
  • The Fastest Love
  • A Trolling We Will Go
  • Trolling Down to Old Mah Wee
  • Trollings Pass and Present
  • Trolling, Trolling
  • We’ll All Go A Trolling
  • Lord and Key
  • Sci Fi Short 1
  • Genghis Khan’s Rules for Writers
  • Jane Austen and Ghosts
  • The Other Shoe
  • ECO Agents 1

It is a total of 9915 pages, or Two Million Nine Hundred Seventy Six Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy words. (Doesn’t spelling it make it seem a lot larger?)

About 32 months since I last went to Aspen and then started the new job this week at Newbasis. Back in manufacturing which I hope will allow me to use those skills and reestablish the bank account while we keep book sales growing.

In order to drive sales, for the bottom of our blogs at guest places, which I am now getting, I created a landing page to direct people to all the books and places to buy them. Please comment about what you think of it.

New Landing Page:http://www.davidsbooks.regencyassemblypress.com/davidsbooks.html

While between jobs we have sold the following amounts of our books.

Books released        Total Sales

The End of the World        117

The Shattered Mirror        19

Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence        432

Genghis Khan’s Rules for Writers        6

A Trolling we Will Go        5

Trolling Down to Old Mah Wee        2

Trollings Pass and Present        1

Total books sold        581

Water Water Chapter 2

Chapter 2

“Dr. Phillips-Lee, Dr. Lee, this way please.”

“Dr. Lee, what is your opinion about the situation on the mainland?”

“Dr. Lee, tell us how it feels to be back in Hong Kong.” There were more questions after that as well, all shouted at him, but that was to be expected. Or, he thought sadly, it was what he had come to see as part and parcel of his life.

Daniel raised a hand to the reporters, and squinted at the bright lights from the video cameras filming him. “Come my friends, I shall have you up to my rooms later for interviews. I am sure my staff has arranged such, and if you do not have an interview scheduled, then you can see my assistant. I will answer one question, the one I think is most important to me this week. It is with great happiness that I return to Hong Kong, for my cousins wedding. These are always great occasions in my family and the banquet shall be a great feast. Now I shall rest a few hours from my travels, then we shall meet and you can ask all of your questions. Thank you,” he waved and smiled and then walked into the elevator that was being held for him.

The Peninsula hotel had not changed since he was last there, but he came to Hong Kong for one family function or another, at least twice a year. In 2011, he had been four times. Always the same, now that he had become rather rich. Even before that, he had stayed at the hotel, but not in a suite. Not until he had sold his second company.

“Doesn’t that tire you out, boss?” Moshe Ben-Levi asked. He headed the 12 man team that was Daniel’s security team, as well as monitored the others security teams that worked in one capacity or another for him. Even though he had sold his third company, which had made him very wealthy, it did not mean he hadn’t a few other irons in the fire. Seven other companies that would be considered small. None more than thirty people, except for the Academy. That was an entirely different beast, though, and it wasn’t quite his in regards to ownership. The Academy had partners.

“A little. But it is the price I have to pay now.”

“That and having all this muscle.” Moshe always mocked what he did. Except when he needed to be serious.

“Yes, all the muscle. There is some point in how much you are worth when you have to have muscle as you put it. I hear that Warren Buffet, who is much richer than I, used to be able to drive himself in an old Lincoln.”

“Well, he’s giving all his shekels to charity, so maybe he won’t need as much muscle as you.” Moshe said. But it was clear he didn’t believe it.

The Peninsula Hotel had many rich visitors, and so things were set up so that Dr. Phillips-Lee could have privacy, but also be safe as well. When his second company had sold, and the drug trials had succeeded for medicine to combat blood clotting post surgery, then he had become noticed by all and sundry. He no longer even owned the company when the drug came to market, but because he had sold out and made a great deal of money, the media getting it wrong how much he took, he had become famous. Or even infamous as his drug, Reloosapen was sure to help many.

“I give a lot of shekels to charity as well. But that’s enough for now. I need to rest for a few hours, and then let the vultures in. Where is Patricia? Still downstairs with the press. Very well, could you tell her I’ve gone to lie down?”

“Sure boss. She’s young, she doesn’t need to rest anyway.” Patricia, who was in her mid twenties had been one of the first graduates of the Academy. She then asked to be on his team, and though a brilliant chemist, her organizational skills were even better. She did a great deal of work on the first few hours of the flight from Los Angeles, and then went and slept after they had refueled in Hawaii.

Daniel had never been able to sleep on a plane. Even in the corporate jet with all it’s comforts. And it had a great many. He did nurse a couple drinks, and knowing when they were an hour out of Chek Lap Kok airport, he took the first sleeping pill, for he knew that it would make him drowsy.

Removing his shoes, jacket and tie, he fell onto the bed in the hotel room. It no time, he drifted off to sleep, remembering what it was like to be a child in Hong Kong, fifty years before.

It had not been good then. His father had been a successful trader, and owned a few electronics factories. The mainland had not become the powerhouse that it would later be. Hong Kong was the place that the western world trusted to make their items cheap.

What was difficult for Daniel is that his Chinese father had married a British woman. A relationship that lasted for some years and produced Daniel, but only he.

With mixed parentage, he didn’t fit in, and his father spent far too much time working, then remembering to value his mother. She left.

It happens, Daniel had told himself. She had been born in Hong Kong, but when she left, she moved to England where she had family. It was clear that when the colony reverted back to China, she had little desire to remain, especially as the ex-wife of a man who had begun to see the writing on the wall and spout communist dogma.

Not that his father believed it, as most in Hong Kong did not. But China could prove to be a hard taskmaster and freedoms were soon to be forgotten memories. Daniel, a gift from his mother, held dual citizenship. She did love him enough to pull him from the colony and to an education at Oxford. But when he had finished, staying for graduate studies, he returned to Hong Kong and began his first venture.

He had seed money from his father, who now had a few factories in mainland China and was navigating very difficult waters as China learned how better to serve and then master Western Capitalism.

As a employer, then, setting up his first laboratory, his mixed heritage was not a problem any longer. It was a bonus. He had ties to the United Kingdom. He had ties to the Western World. People who came to work for him, only hated him as they hated any other boss. He was never taunted about his english mother again.

When his research, which had only cost money for three years started to show promise, and then results, his father negotiated a sale of the patents and research.

At first Daniel was beyond angered. He could not believe the betrayal, and soon came to realize that the company was bought to keep his research from the market. His father had made thirty million Hong Kong dollars from the sale, and Daniel had made ten.

His father pointed out that they had the one offer, the company that had offered would just as easily used the money to quash them. And that it was to be at least ten more years of his pouring money into Daniel’s company with no sure end in sight that they would make money. And his father only had so many dollars that he could afford to give Daniel.

Daniel had left Hong Kong again, but had not gone all the way back to his mother in England. Instead, he had stopped approximately half way in California. Sunny Southern California.

He could afford a beach house with his money and spent the next few months living in Malibu. That was where the second idea came and he started another company, this time seeding it with the money that his father had given him from the first.

Again they had not stuck with the research all the way to completion, but at stage two trials sold Reloosapen to E4A and this time made a great deal more money. The media noted the company sold for well north of three billion US dollars. But Daniel had taken on partners. His stake was worth just over half a billion. That was more than the money his father made in all his factories.

It gave him enough wealth that he could do whatever he wished, but a nagging desire to stay in science and work with bright people had him start his third company weeks after he had left his second.

And what a bidding war that became.

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Austenesque Stories 1700s to 1930

My Historical Post

Palmerston

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A few months back, those who are regular readers will remember The Fastest Love on Earth. The late Regency period romance i wrote that started with the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. During the period I worked on the story, I populate the Historical part of the Novel, with secondary characters, one of whom was Lord Palmerston.

Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount of Plamerston would become Prime Minister in the Victorian Age, after the time of the novel, but most men who do become Prime Minister surely impact the world well before they rise to that office.

During the period of The Fastest Love on Earth he is a neighbor to our hero of that story and he is also Foreign Secretary in the Cabinet of the Duke of Wellington. A man who is very prominent during the Regency of course, and in many of my own stories as so many of the heroes I plunk into my tales see service in the Peninsular Wars with the Iron Duke. Palmerston was also the Foreign Secretary for Lord Melbourne, who preceded and succeeded Duke Arthur as Prime Minister. The Viscount Melbourne sister, Lady Emily Cowper married Palmerston.

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We should look into Lady Emily because she was a Patroness of Almacks. She also had a 20 year love affair with Palmerston before they married. Palmerston in his young days, well before anyone saw him as a future Prime Minister during the reign of Victoria, was known as Cupid in the inner circles of Regency society. In government he was known as Pam.

Palmerston was in office from 1807, when he was 23 until he died in 1865. Pam studied at Harrow School and the University of Edinburgh, then finished at St. John’s College, Cambridge. As a nobleman he did not have to take an examination to get his degree, he did however take the exams and passed with first-class honors.

PastedGraphic1-2011-12-9-10-54.jpg (Their home-Broadlands)

We often discuss pocket boroughs, and Palmerston finally got into the house of Commons as a Tory MP in June of 1807 after twice not getting in. From 1809-1828 he served as Secretary of War, so that was his position during the heart of the Regency era.

On April Fools 1818, he was shot by a retired officer on half pay, but the wound was just a graze. Palmerston found that his assailant was mad, and so he paid the legal defense of the man who attacked him.

I think that the best place to use one such as Palmerston is in his service to the crown as Secretary of War during the period, or of Lady Cowper’s Cupid at Almacks. We often need such additional characters to round out our panoply, and we almost always look to Almacks as a place that society considers one of the legs that supports it. Cupid, Pam, Palmerston was an ardent attendee and his tie to Lady Emily would have him easily be an acquaintance of any of our heroes who spend time there.

Yearly Word Count        

As the last three weeks are upon us for the year, I stand at 970,000 words so far. My goal has become to hit 1,040,000 words. This would be 20,000 a week, no matter if I took vacation or sick days from writing. Which I have. That is the goal. 19 more days. Hope I can make it.

EHFA

The first post for the English Historical Fiction Authors went live and more new visitors showed up then, then for other days preceding it! All about waltzing during our period. I think I posted how another writer got me all upset by writing of waltzing before there was any waltzing. You can view it here.

I have decided my next two posts, one on New Years Eve, which I researched for The Other Shoe: Regency-Wallpaper. Then following that, I shall write on Castlereagh, who I believe was the spymaster of the British Government for a time especially during the war.

ECO Agents

My brother Douglas has his PHd, and was a hot shot BioChemist at one time. Working at the NIH and the FBI. Until these last years where he has started to write textbooks and teach. He called to say he was approached by a writer of Young Adult fiction to do a series of books about teenage students who have a bent to protect the earth and make us more green. Doug wrote an outline, the other writer disappeared and it was turned over to me. Here is Chapter 5’s start, though since it is YA, and we want to have our hero emerge early, it will probably be chapter 1.

Chapter 5

Watching the clock was something he was sure no one else did. It was in the upper right hand corner of Parker’s laptop screen. As well as on the thermostat near his window, on a bookshelf across from his desk, and even a mantel clock on his desk. He also had a wristwatch and he was sure his tutor, Mr. Frakes, had a watch as well.

But Mr. Frakes also had an alarm on his phone that rang when the lesson time was up and he could leave. Mr. Frakes was the math tutor and came three times a week for two hours in the early afternoon. Parker was home schooled and had seven different tutors that his parents paid to teach him.

Some, including Mr. Frakes said they could do so over the internet and did not really need to be physically present, but Parkers parents insisted. And Mr. Frakes showed up. It was probably wise that he did so, otherwise Parker might not pretend to be so diligent.

At the moment he was just pretending to double check his answers on the three tests that Mr. Frakes had brought over. It was summer and even the kids in at the public school were out on break. Parker though was cramming to get extra work done before he left for his new school.

Another minutes ticked away, Parker noticed by glancing at the corner.

“Nearly time, Parker. Are you ready to send me your answers so I can grade them?”

“Almost Mr. Frakes. Just need to check this. Here are the first two tests.” Parker clicked enter and the email with the two tests attached went to Mr. Frakes. Not quite another minute had passed, but then when it did, he prepare the email and sent it off to Mr. Frakes.

“Ah, good. Good. Well let’s call it a day then. Your folks are out, but they said you are to play in the yard for an hour. Not to ride over to the park.

Parker nodded. That was fine with him. But he wasn’t going to play in the yard. Mr. Frakes showed himself out.

His parents were out of the house and so entering his father’s man cave could be done without anyone knowing. Parker was to leave for school in three days, so the punishment, even should he be caught, was not going to be too serious.

You had to way the risks with the rewards. His father was always saying. It was one of the concepts about managing money that his father was really concerned with.

The man cave was where the 80 inch screen was.

And for today, he wanted every bit of the resolution he could get.

He was going to play Call of Duty:Modern Warfare with his clan, the Lords MissRuled. The had a double s in misrule for Missouri. He was pretty sure all the other members of his clan were all over sixteen since they talked about cars and driving, and girls and stuff like that while they fought, or in their private forum chats. He kept his own age hidden so that they did not know he was younger.

He had two hours before his folks came home and he was going to use every minute that he could to score some great victories for his team. He set a loud timer so he go AFK with enough time to leave the battle and return the room to the way his father liked it.

Parker ejected his father’s bowling disk from the PS3, and then put his own in, and scrolled to his account on PSN to sign in. Fortunately his father did let him have an account the PS3 in the man cave. Otherwise he would have had to do some hacking on his father’s console.

A few minutes later, he and the other Lords MissRuled were in the game. Killing others and wracking up victories.

After each mission he would look at the clock.

The punishment if his father caught him in the man cave without permission had always been severe. It was why he had to sneak in. Two weeks ago, he had asked to use it.

Prescott Thornton had looked like he was considering allowing him, “You know, I don’t think so. Last time I let you in, you tracked mud on the carpet, and I don’t really like that.”

Parker hadn’t. His father had tracked the mud into the room, but he was blaming Parker again. So Parker knew it was better to not ask permission sometimes. Sometimes you just had to do what you had to do. And the Lords MissRuled were way ahead of anyone else they had met so far. It was a good day.

Parker was able to put everything away, and even remembered to put the bowling disk back in before his folks got home. He was taking his PS3 to school with him, but he did not know if he was going to get as much time to play as he had at his parents home. He told his online friends that he would try to connect with them.

Parker knew every year it got harder to remember the times when he was a child. Kansas City, at least the neighborhood he had grown up could have been right out of a TV show. Parker knew now that the house he grew up in the Roanoke Park section of town was a fake Tudor two story affair. Back then, it was just a great big home. Much bigger than his family really needed. He had no siblings so it was just his parents and he.

He had a lot more space for himself growing up then he had when he reached his away school. He could not really call it boarding school, even though he was boarding there. But he had been advanced to tenth grade and still was faster at everything then the other students. His parents had been advised to take him out of school and get him home schooling where he could test above his grade and get his diploma. With online teaching, he could also start college work from home.

Parker just felt he didn’t fit it. At least with the kids of the neighborhood, he could ride his bike and play in the park and there school did not matter.

One of his first memories was Roanoke Park and his father training him to ride a bicycle. It was just after his birthday, and he had a hot blue two wheeler to celebrate. Riding a bike instead of a trike was what the big kids did. He was going to be a big kid. Though he liked to ride his trike up and down the street. His parents told him he could never leave the sidewalk with his trike and he always had to slow down at driveways.

With a bike he could ride all over the park and there were lots of sections without cars so he could go really fast. That would be way fun.

At first his father, the president of a small regional bank, had training wheels on the bike. They would run down the street and Parker could feel the air flow against him like wind, his father ran so fast and he pedaled as hard as he could. And then his father would let go and the bike would be a but wobbly but it was pretty steady.

His father, Prescott Thornton always said he had become a bank president not only because he was determined, but because with a name like Prescott, what else could he do. It was important, his father said, to live up to your name, and Thornton was a name that was at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. Not that his father wanted to flat out tell everyone that they were descendants of a signer of such an august document, but it placed a great burden on the name.

Just as those that came over in the Mayflower felt they had some legacy to live up to, or when you joined the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution. And Patrick was scheduled to become a member on his eighteenth birthday of that club. The name had a history and his father and mother told him he was to do great things because of his name.

They placed the first trophy he had earned on the mantel. His father had a whole lot of trophys in his mancave room. There was a big screen television there, that Patrick could only use when his father said he was allowed to, and he was punished if he was caught in the mancave at any other time.

Patrick’s mother Beth had ribbons and sashes, tiaras from when she was a beauty contestant. She had been runner-up to Miss Missouri when she had met his father. He had been first vice president at grandpa’s three branch bank. Parker knew that because Gampa Thornton always said that. That between his father meeting his mother and his being born a few years later, his father had made the small bank into eleven branches. It was over twenty-five branches when he left for school.

Parker knew now that made them pretty well off. He supposed another way he could tell his father did well is he always had food to eat. The house was warm in winter. He got a great selection of toys for Christmas and his birthday, and special release sneakers from Nike and New Balance when they came out. The only thing he did not have was friends at school, and a brother or sister.

Or that his father was a banker and people tended to give bankers lots of money. And his father said he was smart about the money. Other bankers took on too much debt and made risky loans. His father didn’t, he always said. He took on solid loans in the community. He leant to homeowners with two jobs. His father also didn’t sell the loans to other banks so the customers wouldn’t look elsewhere when they needed their next loan.

His father said that these were life lessons. Learn about the people you needed to trust. In his father’s case it was those he leant the bank’s money to. For Parker, once his father accepted the fact that he was going to be a scientist and not a businessman, it was trust those he wanted to work with. Prescott had told his son that he had heard of a great many scientists who stole the work of their researchers to pursue such prizes as the Nobel, or other awards.

Parker thought what his father was saying was watch his back. His mother Beth, who was not the smartest of women he had come to realize for her beauty pageant answer to the question of what she wanted most was the safe, ‘World Peace,’ said that his father meant more than a trite modern slogan. He meant build a group that could be trusted. Trust was key.

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