Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2 December GOALS

Well, it either arrives today or I threw over $100 in the toilet. *sigh*

What an exciting ride. Exhausting, but exciting. Back at the end of October when this thing started, I thought it would be easy. Words have never been a problem for me, and my word counts can be quite impressive when I set my mind to it. Piece of cake, I told myself.

I really shouldn't lie to me like that.

Last time I had to spew, I didn't have my beloved totally incapacitated, he could drive, we didn't have doctor appt's over 100 miles away, and the demands on my time, while annoying, were much less demanding. I was also younger---and yes, that is a factor.

This time, my tenacity got a workout.

On 5 November, I did the Nobody Writes It Better blog with a piece entitled "Can't Never Did Anything---And Other Mom-isms where I told everyone in the 2007 group---and anyone who stopped in to read the blog---about the challenge. Very public forum. No way out but failure. I don't do failure.

Kate's blog at the Ruby-Slippered Sisters mentions fear of success. Ah, I know that one. What if I can't maintain? What if it's a fluke? And all the other what ifs that plague the newly accepted/published/contracted writer. Or the one who, like me, would rather not take a chance on any of those what ifs coming true. I know I can write well. But to make it only to screw it up? Nah. Not for me.

This challenge changed that. I CAN do this. I won't fail. I can meet deadlines and pull dialogue out of a sinus stuffed brain. (Not necessarily good dialogue, mind you!)

So to both Kate and Christine I say thank you. Had you not taken me up on my challenge, I would not have learned several much needed lessons. I offered the challenge to push you to achieve your goals, but got so much more out of it than ever anticipated. And I owe it to you.

Now, this will be the last daily post for now. Once the holiday's are over, if you are interested, we can do this again for revisions. Goals are good things, and having someone to whom you are answerable---even in the loosest sense---has proven useful. So let me know what you think. Until then, I wish you the joy and peace and love that are the foundation of the Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1 December PS&G

Today is it. My local (?) Fed-Ex office assures me if I get this puppy to them before 5:30 this afternoon, it will be in Houston before 5 p.m. tomorrow so right, wrong, or indifferent, I will be putting paid to this baby today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

30 November PS&G

Added over 10K yesterday. Printed out requisite copies of first three. Still have a bit to go ere this POS is finished, but I'm still going---although I shall have to sleep soon. (Danged sinuses!) VA appt for dh today. Anything to cut into these last hours.

This was so much easier a couple of years ago. How did I get so old so fast?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

29 November PS&G

It's not looking good for the Gipper, but I'm still going. Dh has a doc appt again tomorrow, so another bump in the road. But I'm still going. I WILL prevail.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

28 November PS&G

It's time to sprint---and I have no energy. Dinner last night was fun but exhausting, and this sinus thing is draining me further. However, I'm going to push through. Too close to stop now. More words left than I'd like, but tenacity (and coffee and sinus pulls) is a good thing. I can sleep after Monday.

Friday, November 27, 2009

27 November PS&G

I hope you both ate too much and had a wonderful day yesterday!!!

Today is another cooking day for me. Years ago, my dh complained there were no Thanksgiving leftovers at our house (although I always made the pies and rolls to take to Mom's) and thus began a tradition. I cook Thanksgiving Dinner (pared down a bit, but not much!) on Friday. The kids always brought a "waif" or two home to share our meal and that hasn't changed. Somebody's friend always fills another chair or two at the table.

This year our Patty won't be here for the first time. Bound to happens sooner or later, but it leaves a hole. No matter where they were in years past, they made it home to eat. But times change, and so must we, so I shall take pleasure in what can be and try not to bemoan what was and can be no more.

Christine, hugs to you and your dear FIL. May God smile on you and yours.

Kate, same to you and your family, especially your daughter. May God send angels to protect, support, and encourage you this holiday season and into the New Year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

25 November PS&G

Today is pretty much a bust. Doc's (5 hours round trip), pies, and hopefully transcribing whatever work I managed to do while waiting.

Safe Journey to both of you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

24 November PS&G

Yesterday was pretty much a bust. I'm so scattered, I'm getting in my own way. Not good. Worse, I've lost track of things within the story---something that unsettles me because that has never happened before---and keep finding myself scrolling back to check things. Very time consuming.

Picked up the rental, and had some youngster trying to caution be about the size of the vehicle. I just gave him what my kids call "the LOOK." He actually stepped back. Then it dawned on him. I'd hit the deer with a TRUCK. Short of a semi, pal, chances are I can drive it. (And a couple lessons from my dad, and I could do the semi too!)

Anyway, some errands later, then it's back to work. Doc's Wednesday will shoot that, but I'll resort to tablet and paper to play with the synopsis.

Had my sweetie look into Fed-Ex. I really need to sleep, so that option may save my neck.

Monday, November 23, 2009

23 November PS&G

After today, I may have to change the title since both of the other ladies plan to mail their entries today. YAY!!

My dh is currently looking into a Fed-Ex location somewhere here in plaid-shirt heaven since, in my push to make deadline, I hit the hay at 7 a.m. and the phone started ringing at 7:25 (Son telling us about our rental car since his friend works for Enterprise.)

Promptly at 8, the phone rang again, the tow company. Fifteen minutes later, the rental car company (who was kind enough to inform me they didn't have pick up service at their location. So much for that ad campaign.) And it seemed to go on ever fifteen to twenty minutes until, at 10:30 I rolled out of the rack as surly as a hungry grizzly. (Trying to give direction to the towing service when you're half zonked and flat on you back is disconcerting to say the least.)

So, now I wait for our son who will take me to fetch the rental. I can't wait to see what other "bumps in the road" await me as I continue to push toward deadline.

It's been an adventure, that's for sure!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

22 November PS&G

Well, it looks like, after Monday, I will be on my own, but I have to say I'm thrilled with the fact. Whether I can make it or not, both ladies who took the challenge will be safely entered.

Whew! Now to channel Yoda: There is no try. Just do or do not.

Time to get 'er done.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

21 November PS&G

Managed to add another 6K to the manuscript despite my misadventure. Need some sleep now, though. Both physically and emotionally drained at this point.

Tomorrow I'll be pushing for 15K. Time has become the enemy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

20 November PS&G

So it's November, right? And three times yesterday I had to shut down my computer for THUNDERSTORMS! What's with that? Three hours of no production, but when we lost power at one point, I was so glad I didn't tempt fate.

Meeting sis and niece at Tannersville today for some shopping. It's nieces b-day. Because of the storms, I'm a little behind with goals, but family first in my world.

I told them I couldn't stay long, but I think the break might scrape the burnt bits off my fried brain.

Have a wonderful day, ladies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

19 November PS&G

This little crew of go-getters is on a roll! With Butter!!!

I am so pleased by the progress everyone (but me) is making. Actually, my progress isn't so bad, but I'm rueing the time I spent going over the first three so thoroughly. And I'm still not thrilled with them. But, with my mind set on speed, such is as it is.

We are running out of time, ladies. Home stretch and VICTORY here we come!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

18 November PS&G

5200 new words today. Not great, but better. Still miles behind. I know I have commitments that will put a crimp in my writing time over the next two weeks, but gotta keep on keepin' on.

Right now, however, my tush hurts, and the ache runs down to me left knee for some reason. That means time to get up and do something or hit the hay.

Hay gets my vote. Gonna be another long one today, but sleep is a must. I hope I don't run out of clean duds before this is done. I keep putting off the laundry...

Monday, November 16, 2009

17 November PS&G

I know. I forgot the 16th, but I was writing until 4:30 a.m. and was falling asleep in my chair. Got a few hours sleep and dh said, "We have to go... (he can't drive yet)so off to the bank and the VA hospital. I never even got on the computer until late this afternoon. Still didn't hit me I'd forgotten to post the day, however. Sorry.

Too late to do the 16th now so onward and upward!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

15 November PS&G

I'm so stoked!!! I have this really NASTY villain, the puppetmaster one, that I hate to write. He is so dark, getting into his head knocks me for a loop. HOWEVER, I introduced him tonight from the POV of one of his cohorts and it worked BEAUTIFULLY!! His basic motivation is evident---as his his reptilian nature.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

14 November Progress, Status & Goals.

I'm so late putting this up. Sorry. Thought I'd done it before going to bed.

From now on, the title will be date PS&G. I know. Sounds like your local utility comapany, but typing it out, I have to refer back to see what order I used (you will notice, when I first started this, the order changed almost daily!)

Not as much done as I'd hoped. Have to take care of some chores today, too, but I won't be able to write if things are too disordered. (Danged dustbunnies cry without attention, dontcha know.) Still, will push forward. Gotta get 'er done.

Friday, November 13, 2009

13 November Progress, Status, & Goals

Not a lot of words today, but a lot of work done. I don't know that I've ever done this much "pre-writing" prep before, but I feel there will be fewer stumbling blocks as a result. Only one way to find out, however.

Need to get another 15-20K done between now and Sunday. If I can start rolling it out, then all will be well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

12 November Progress, Status, & Goals

Well, I had a major EUREKA (or, maybe, it was more like a DUH!) moment today; while working on my characters' GMC, to make sure all my ducks were in a row and packing howitzers, I realized my VILLAIN's needed work. I had absolutely no concrete reason for his behavior. How had that happened? And, since he shows up in three books (each book has its own primary villain. This guy becomes the primary in the third book,)it would be nice if he had, if not a method, a MOTIVATION for his obscenely obsessive behavior.

It's the synopisis' fault. All of it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11 November Progress, Status, & Goals

My CP made only a couple of suggestions for my first three chapters! YAY!!! I printed them out and will let them sit for a bit before I take another look at them.

The synopsis is slow going, but I am making progress. If nothing else, I've discovered some shortfalls in character conflict before getting too far into the story. Not good news, but fixable and, since it's still early going, not too onerous.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 November Progress, Status, & Goals

My first three are done and sent to my CP. YAY! The hook at the end is better than I could have hoped. I hope she agrees.

On to the synopsis. Waterloo. Good thing I'm not French!

Monday, November 9, 2009

9 November Progress, Status, & Goals

Mya and Kaycee went home. Thank heaven. I don't know which drove me crazier: having two more dogs in the house or dh hollering when Mya's and Wicket's playing included barks and growls and other things that interrupted his football viewing.

Am redoing the end of chapter three. It doesn't feel right, but I now realize why I had to write it. Necessitated going back and making a couple of other minor adjustments so here's hoping Laurie doesn't shoot me--she like the first two chapters just as they were.

Gotta write today. No excuses.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

8 November Progress, Status, & Goals

Thought I was actually making progress today, despite the pups, only to realize the story took an unexpected turn that has left me asea. I know forcing my stories to go the way I want is usually a recipe for disaster, but do I have time to explore where this one is taking me? Seriously debating the wisdom of just going with it. So much at stake. Still, experience says to do so. Just what I need, more decisions.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

7 Novermber Progress, Status, & Goals

It's 3 a.m. The pups are sleeping, and my secondary characters are asserting themselves. I know my CP will have thoughts about that, but I'm going to keep pushing forward. Perhaps the secondaries will be moved. Perhaps they are being so adamant for a reason. I don't know yet---one of the joys of "pantsing". One way or the other, what will be will be. And I have miles to go before I sleep...

Friday, November 6, 2009

6 November Progress, Status & Goals

Didn't get as much done as I would have liked. I took out a chicken, some sausage, and a chuck roast to thaw and forgot them. They thawed in the sink all night, so I had to cook them today. Not a lot of writing, but 12 quarts of Veggie Beef and Barley soup, one roasted chicken (that will make several meals before it, too, goes into the soup pot since the last batch of chicken soup is nigh gone), and sausage in tomato sauce (cheated a bit; used canned tomatos) so my dh had Ravioli and Sausage for dinner and is set for the next few days while I dwell in my office.

This would be so much easier if he could do for himself, but the inability to bend at the waist or pick up more than 5 lbs puts the kibosh on that! Still, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and we're tough!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

5 November Progress, Goals, and Status

Not much progress today. Forgot I had to blog over at Nobody Writes It Better. Had it written and posted in under three hours even fighting with putting in the pictures.

Laurie called about the two chapters I gave her. Good news across the board, thank heaven, since I haven't much time to play with it.

Well into chapter three, but the word count has me behind. Still, best to spend time on the "show" chapters. Can write like mad and not worry about the finer points to finish. Besides, that's what January and February are for---serious editing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

4 November Progress, Goals and Status

Not a good writing day yesterday. Trying to avoid too much "vomit" in the early chapters. Will spew toward the end so I can finish in time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

3 November, Progress, Goals, and Status

Sorry this is is late on. I've lost my mind and can't seem to find it!

Today I pay bills and finish the yard work and stuff I started yesterday so I can concentrate on getting words on the page without that annoying "You know this NEEDS to be done" whispering in my ear and flummoxing my concentration.

Onward and upward!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

31 October Status, Goals, and Progress

Happy Halloween, Ladies. May all your tricks be card tricks and all your treats fun and sweet!

Monday, October 26, 2009

26 October progress, and a bit on the NJRW conference

Sometimes the generosity of our published authors astounds me.

On Friday night, after the awards ceremony, I realized I'd entered my story in a total of seven contests: two in 1996, before an incident had me shelving the story and turning to other writing outlets, and five since 2005 where it reached the finals four times. The best it ever placed was third, however, and it did that twice. Always the same kind of comments (and I must add, some of them have me wondering whether the judge actually read the work or skimmed so missed some salient points. I mean, if someone is faceless, chances are you haven't seen his/her face, right?): Excellent writing skills, beautiful imagery yadda, yadda, yadda. BUT . . .

So, on Friday night, I threw me, myself, and I a huge pity party, cried my eyes shut (and paid in spades Saturday morning!), and debated tossing the %*&@ manuscript in the trash. Those kinds of comments give no direction. WHAT is behind the incessant "but?" Where was I---and I didn't fool myself the story was at fault (although blaming it would have been so much easier)---falling short?

Saturday morning, I talked to a friend who is a NYT best selling author. She asked if I'd read her comments. What? It turns out she was my published judge. She told me she'd written extensive comments (which, the contest coordinators promise, I shall have by email tomorrow) and knew what the story lacked. Then she talked to me and put a face on that elusive "but."

She didn't have to do that. The woman has a career many of us would commit some kind of felony to have. Even so, she took the time. I am so grateful.

I told her about the challenge, too. She thinks it's a great idea, but told me to trash the prologue I'd written, and then told me why I should. (Okay, I'm cringing here, but I have to say this:) After thinking about it, I have to agree, she's right.

So everything I've done so far goes into the circular file, but it'll be worth it for a stronger, more saleable manuscript.

What other profession gives so freely of its time to those that would follow?

Writing is a lonely, often discouraging profession, but there are hands out there ready to help, encourage, even slap, if need be. How can we not offer the same to each other and, in time, those who will follow us? I must say, I feel honored and privileged to be counted among such amazing, selfless women.

Now it's on to keeping my part of this challenge bargain. I'm excited. Scared, but excited.

Time to get to work!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Meet the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood, the 2009 Golden Heart Finalists.

For anyone who is interested, The Sisterhood is currently posting daily blogs with hints to make your potential Golden Heart(R) entry shine. Check it out. They may have exactly the advice you need.(

Go For The Gold

I adore my sisters, both the 2007 Bond Girls and my 2009 RSS sisters, and look forward to expanding my GH family in 2010(if you're going to dream, dream BIG,) but didn't want to recycle the story that has already finaled twice. What to do?

I have a story eating a hole in my brain. It is the prequel to the one I've entered previously. Needless to say, I've been thinking about this story, these characters, for a while. They want their day in the sun, and now's the time to give it to them.

Projected length 100,000 words.

So far, I have five. You read that right. Five. The first line.

The Golden Heart deadline is 2 December 2010. Although registration remains open until 16 November, once I finish this post, I'm on my way to the RWA web site to register (nothing like having something to lose to push you to the limit.)


Anyone needing (or wanting) to finish, edit, or polish a manuscript for the GH is welcome to come along for the ride. The only caveats: You must register for the GH (That something to lose weighs heavy on committment.) You must try to keep yourself healthy despite the pressure: Stretching, walking, bathroom breaks at least once an hour. (Very hard to function with your blood pooled in your butt, folks. Get it circulating.) And you will post, first, your goals on this blog, then report your progress---whether daily, every other day, twice a week, or weekly is entirely up to you.

The object is to help each other achieve, to know we aren't alone. My 100K is the catalyst. Surely knowing I have so much more to write than many of you will get you doing your ABC's (Apply Butt to Chair) and reaching for the prize.

Good luck ladies.

On your mark.

Get set.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Putting RH on hiatus for a while

First, let me say THANK YOU to all the lovely people who took the time to read and comment on this blog. Your time and thoughts are appreciated more than you know.

Second, life has done what life does while we're planning, and there are insufficient hours in my world to produce blogs worthy of your attention at this time. So, after much soul-searching, I have decided to close up shop for the time being. Anyone interested in what I have to say will still find me on two group blogs peopled by the 07 and 09 Golden Heart(R) Finalists:
Nobody Writes it Better (007s)

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood (09s)

(I've tried to put the links in, but they won't take. Please just cut and paste the urls. The group blogs are worth it, I promise.)

Again, my thanks. I hope Romancing History will be back very soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What's the Alternative?

As some of you know, I've spent a lot of time in doctors' offices and hospitals during the past almost three years now courtesy of my sweetheart's back. He had operation #4 the week after I returned from DC and, this time, has made it as far as PT.

I'm seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. (Please, God, let it not be a train!)

Many years ago, I wanted to be a pediatrician. I worked in hospitals, nursing homes, and a school for mentally and physically handicapped children pursuing that goal. Then life stepped in, goals changed, but I never lost interest in the field.

I have always written, in one form or another, but a few friends convinced me to try my hand at fiction. Loving history as I do, I began writing a story set in the 15th century. It seemed natural for me to include a healer and delve into medicants of the time.

Brother Cadfael's Garden spearheaded my research and led to an insatiable curiosity about the medicines that mankind used for millenia versus the synthetic versions offered by today's medical establishment.

Hearing doctors, whose pharmacopoeia is less than a century old, refer to their practices as Traditional Medicine while labeling the herbal remedies used since the dawn of man Alternative Medicine struck me as off kilter considering herbals have few adverse side-effects compared to current prescription drugs which have literal laundry lists of potential problems, some of which are deadly.

Don't misunderstand: nature's pharmacopoeia can kill, and the poisons plants provide are well documented in literature as the murder weapon of choice--especially during the Renaissance. Chemical compounds are what they are, whether natural or man made, and some don't play well with others so negative interactions are a potential danger. Add that these medicants aren't standardized, and your results could be disappointing, at best, or life-threatening, at worst, if you don't educate yourself first.

A Brief Evolution of European Medicine

In the beginning, the vast majority of healers were women who harvested and used the local flora to bring their tribes or villages relief from pain, illness, or injury. Healers were treasured, often passing their knowledge from mother to daughter.

Enter Christianity.

Because healing traditions found their roots in pagan cultures, the Church was quick to accuse the practitioners of "congress with the devil." Some of these practitioners, accepting the new religion, entered nunneries and practiced their skills under the auspices of the Church within sanctioned infirmaries.

Those who retained the secular life became easy pickings for patients unwilling to pay for services or unhappy with the results of those services.

Witch burning became a spectator sport.

Medieval men had a problem with nuns (women) controlling such essential information. Women were chattel, they had no rights outside those allowed by men so leaving such knowledge in their hands gave them a degree of power over their lords and masters. Monks soon took care of that, first as overseers, then as practitoners themselves, adding to their arsenal remedies and treatments provided by those returning from the various Crusades.

Travel was less than convenient, so every castle had its stillroom. The lady of said castle was responsible for having the medicants her people needed, harvesting, drying, mixing, distilling and whatnot, with the help of her servants. Among these servants one might--and often did--find a hereditary healer who undertook some of the more onerous duties, although many a lady stitched flesh and cleaned wounds. Since most castles had resident priests or monks to conduct the daily religious offices and perform whatever rituals the castle required, and of course, the lady fell under the authority of her lord, the accusations of witchcraft at this level were few---but not unheard of.

In the 15th century, the Renaissance, with its more humanistic thinkers, blossomed on the European continent. Along with its music and art, new ideas about illness and the human body emerged. While the four humors /four element system dates back to the ancient Greeks, it became common practice throughout Europe to bleed or cup sick folks to balance these humors. (The elements are a whole other post!) Needless to say, blood loss often killed the patient before the disease since bleeding involved nicking or cutting a vein and could be required several times over the course of an illness. Cupping involved using a glass to cause bruising, thus bringing bad humors to the skin. Leeches were applied to drain them away.

The physician and his inevitable shadow, the quack, now take center stage.

The root of physician is physic, a medicine that purges; cathartic; laxative. As such treatments were primary tools of the time, the name seems appropriate.

Physicians began to travel, bringing with them their new ideas. There was no formal schooling, although the better phyisicians apprenticed under older practitioners, some of whom were herbalist monks. Still, without any kind of oversight, the rise in what we would call Snake Oil Salesmen proliferated.

In the latter part of the 15th Century Anton van Leeuwenhoek, after laboriously hand grinding various lenses, discovered a new world, earning the title Father of Microbiology. The word germ entered the lexicon meaning disease carrying agent as opposed to being simply the heart of a seed.

We had the word, but little else.

Medicine didn't change much during the course of the next four centuries. Grave robbers did a brisk business securing cadavers as surgeons and physicians sought understanding of the human body. The distillation of poppy juice into laudenum improved--and resulted in addiction for many. Bleeding and cupping, while still done, became less prevalent. Forceps came into being as did chloroform, just in time for the American Civil War, and in 1898, Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre, discovered radium, giving Rontgen's mysterious X-ray a viable source.

The 20th century saw medicine become something one trained for, whether doctor or nurse, and the initiation of medical oversight. A chance encounter with bread mold led to penicillin. Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine for the scourge, polio. Medical knowledge advanced in leaps and bounds.

Medicants did the same. The willow bark tea grandma used for her aches and pains was distilled into aspirin. Foxglove revealed its heart-regulating digitalis. Opiates became available in stronger, more concentrated forms. But taking these things from nature was costly and time consuming.

Now the chemist commands the limelight.

Dickering with different compounds, chemistry expanded the parameters of many drugs, but still had to overcome the expense. So they began working on synthetic, easily mass-produced alternatives that made medicants more affordable.

Affordable, yes, but at what cost to overall health?

Think of the commercials for pharmaceuticals. They're scary. There are pills for everything and, while none of them tout a cure, all appraise the viewer of myriad hazards. Face it, there is no money in a cure. Healthy people don't need pills. Thus, they prescribe maintenance, keeping folks dependent until they shed this mortal coil. As a result, some have become disillusioned by the medical profession and its partner, the pharmaceutical industry, and are seeking the knowledge that was once handed down mother to daughter, looking to regain natural curatives.

So which is the Traditional Medicine? And which is the Alternative?

Have you considered or tried herbal remedies? Did they work?

I had planned to add a list of various healing herbs and their uses to this post, but even abridging the exhaustive information available didn't shorten it enough to allow for that. Thus, the list will appear next time---a week from now, if dh continues to improve.

In closing (and I'm being outrageously facetious here), picture this:
(Beautiful young woman approaches Young Hunk. When she begins to speak, he wrinkles his nose, waving his hand before his face.)

Young Hunk: Geez, Mary, haven't you heard of Breath Gone?

(Young Hunk grimaces and walks away. Mary turns her sad, puppy-dog eyes to the camera.)

Disembodied voice: Don't despair, Mary. Just one Breath Gone tablet will put an end to all your problems.

(A hand holding a little pink pill---that looks suspiciously like a breath mint---appears. Eyes wide with excitement, Mary grabs the pill and pops it into her mouth. Smiling smugly, she again approaches Young Hunk.)

Young Hunk: Hey, Mary. Something's different. You want to go someplace where we can talk?

(Young Hunk winks at the camera and the two fade into the crowd while the disembodied voice races through the disclaimer.)

Disembodied Voice: Do not take Breath Gone if you are nursing, pregnant, may become pregnant, have kidney, liver or eye problems, bleed red, or walk upright. Call your doctor if swelling of the tongue or throat occurs as this could be a sign of a serious problem which has, in rare cases, resulted in death by suffocation.

(Crescendo of Violins)

Disembodied Voice: Breath Gone. The sure cure for problem breath.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Yes, yes, I know I didn't post last week, and this will be it ere I head off to DC with hope in my heart and a lump in my throat, but there are just so many hours in the day, so here is my "off the cuff" offering---which happens to contain more than a smidgen of sense (imagine that!)

Children's Books. Yep. That's it. When I start any research project, the first thing I look for is a book written for children centered on the era or subject matter. Why? These books are full of general information that often provides stepping stones to the more nitty-gritty stuff that makes our work shine. AND they often contain snippets that our adult minds might overlook.

One of my favorites is a pop-up book, Castles---Medieval Days and Knights by Kyle Olmon. Love it. Three dimensional overview. (The little pull-out tabs that make the blacksmith work and the spinning wheel go are fun too!) I love the pop-up of the banquet hall (shown above---poorly, I admit. I'm a writer, not a photographer) with the knight kneeling to be dubbed because, when writing a scene within such a hall, I can set it up so everyone stays seated where they belong. (There was a protocol to such things!)

DK books ( has an Eyewitness series with available workbooks. Some come with DVDs of Clip Art or posters and other visual aids. The books are informative and well-written and hold a surprising wealth of information

I won't bore you with the extent of my "Children's Book Library" but will encourage you to build one of your own. These books don't go into the extensive detail of more intensive research, but they're priceless for general information and direction. I have one that is specifically geared to a child's life in a medieval village that has proven it's worth time and time again as I write beyond the castle walls.
So set your inner child free and go play in the kids section of your favorite bookstore, whether virtual or physical. It's a treasure trove waiting to be found.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

World History at a Glance

I've touched on words from the Medieval era and the Regency, and didn't scratch the surface of either. The Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras await, as do ancient Celts, Picts, Romans, and Greeks, the American Civil War, The Jacobite uprisings, The Spanish Inquisition--the list seems endless.

Many of these eras overlap because they took place in different parts of the world. Trying to keep what happened when in any viable order can be confusing and time consuming. However, through most of history, events worked like ripples, pushing out to effect other parts of the globe. Knowing what was happening elsewhere can add dimension to your writing.

At one point, I had a timeline taped around the perimeter of my office. I added things to it as I ran across them and soon found myself running out of space, taping up more paper, adding more info until I could find nothing. When I'm working, the inability to find what I want chews my last nerve. I tore the thing down, spent hours putting it in order, only to find more bits to add later. Soon, I found myself tearing it down yet again.

Then I stumbled upon a real treasure: The Timechart History of the World--6000 years of world history unfolded. (ISBN-13:97807607-6507-6534-0 & ISBN-10: 0-7607-6534-0)

It does, in fact, unfold. Eyeballing it, I would say it is about twenty inches tall by twelve inches wide, but only about 1/4 inch deep. When working on an era, I open the book, unfold the pages, and see what other world events occurred about the same time and how, if at all, they might effect my characters.

For instance: 1000 A.D. finds the 19th Song Dynasty ruling China under Emporor Tching-Tsong (Yes, that's really his name). Egypt has become an independent Kalifate, while the Califate (yes, they're spelled differently) of Bagdad is ruled by Kader. Persia is ruled by Mahmoud, first Sultan of Chizni, who conquers India. Meanwhile the Seljukian Turks are rising in power.

In the eastern empire (Greece) Basil II and Constantine IX both claim the throne. In the western empire (Rome) Sylvester rules. Lower Italy is still retained by the Greek emperors while Naples, Sardinia, and Corsica remain under Rome. At this time Venice, which became independent of the eastern empire in 997 A.D., acquired Dalmatia and Istria. (During its illustrious history, Venice has had 122 Doges (Dukes), the first, Anefesto, in 697 A.D., the last, Luigi, in 1797 when Bonaparte gave it to Austria.)

We are about 1/4 of the way up the page.

I deliberately chose to start at the bottom because most of us who write in this era write European history. These rulers and events have nothing to do with our work. Or do they?

The first Crusade began in the latter part of the eleventh century. How many knights answered the call to free Jerusalem? Who did they fight? And why? How did they travel? Who did they meet? What events would effect them and the outcome of their crusade?

By looking at this timeline, you have a starting place. A map of the Crusaders' route will show you which of these rulers might have helped or interfered with their quest. Having names give you a toe up on your research.

Part of writing history is understanding it. To get a good grip on world events, I recommend this book. I have other timeline tomes, but they haven't the "at a glance" advantage.

With its classical maps, use of both Biblical and Scientific timelines, pages dedicated to the ruling powers and a host of other information, this book is a gem in any library's crown. It is "based on the famous and now very rare Victorian wallchart with much material specially reproduced from the world famous British Library held in the British Museum London" according to the back cover.

I hope some of you will find it as invaluable and thought provoking as I have.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Peek at Regency Cant

As I said before, it is my goal to make Romancing History a place for writers and readers of Historical Romance--not just the medieval variety. Since my current wip is medieval, restricting the blog to that era would be easy and, since this is a new undertaking, wrong.

My first historical was set in the Regency. That disaster ended life feeding my roses (did you know paper blocks weed growth?) which was, in truth, a mercy. If I missed one contrivence, one tired plot device, one ANYTHING a story shouldn't have, trust me, it was purely accidental.

However, as a result, I own A Regency Companion by Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L. Hamlin. This little treasure is no longer in print and holds pride of place on my shelves. It's a fun read because these writers named the characters they used to illustrate proper address with Regency cant. Names like Lady Cheese-paring, a stingy sort who would count the oats lest the servants ate too much porridge, and Lord Nipcheese, the miser, who not only counted the servants' oats but those of his family as well!

Cant is the language of the rabble. Polite society frowned on it--in public. Gentlemen using it in mixed company displayed ignorance of the social niceties. Ladies? No lady would lower herself to speak such rubbish--at least not where a chaperone or mother could hear.

For a society who found discussing money distasteful, they had a number of slang words for it.

Bean - a guinea

Blunt - money

Brass - money (or brazeness)

Canary - a sovereign

Groat (not in this book but used usually as, "I don't give a groat.") a 12th century English silver coin equal to four pennies.

Guinea - (also not in this book, but used not only as currency but to discribe color) a gold coin of Great Britain issued 1663-1813, worth 21 shillings. (fyi: a pound was worth 20 shillings or 240 pence until 1971 when it became equal to 100 new pence.)

Monkey - 500 pounds.

Pony - 25 pounds.

Plum - 100,000 pounds

Ready (or the ready) - money

Then, of course, since money was of no consequence (at least not in public) you had:

Cent per cent - usurer

Ten in the hundred - a usurious money lender, more than five percent interest was considered excessive.

Some words and phrases took root and are still in use today. Here are a couple of them.

Take-in - a hoax

Rig out - Clothing

sport - to display

spout - to speak theatrically

Spree - a bit of fun, a romp

jaw - talk

Cake - a silly, foolish person

Black book - A black book was kept in most regiments, and the names of all persons sentenced to punishment were recorded there. To be in someone's black book still means someone is unhappy with you for some transgression.

Floor - to knock someone down

Fob - fob off; to put off with a trick. And did you know that a fob is not the ornament or pendant hanging from the end of the watch, but the small pocket in a man's breeches where he kept it?

Fuss - much to-do about unimportant matters

There are more, but I've rattled on sufficiently for now.

In the future, I hope to cover other topics like marriage and property--the laws for which would have today's woman looking for a meat cleaver--entertainments, fashion, and a host of other things. The Regency era is fascinating on so many levels, but mostly, IMHO, because it is an era unique to history, the likes of which we shall never see again.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Timely words

Warning: I don't edit blogs. What I think is what you get. Proceed at your own risk.

In the previous blog, I mentioned a word that I thought too modern for my time period, but didn't give it as I couldn't recall it at the time. Going over my manuscript, I found the word, and, just to be certain, checked it again. Still fits.

The word is mitigate. My fifteenth century heroine wants to mitigate damage done her lord by an unthinking (and uncaring) woman. My etymology dictionary assures me that, used to mean lessen in severity; make milder, came into being in the fourteenth century. Works for me.

But not all words are as accommodating. One of the funniest I've found is the word hussy.

According to the Medieval Word Book by Madelieine Pelner Cosman (page 124), a hussy refers to a household bound woman--the female counterpart of a husband, shortened from housewife. It only took on the meaning we use today, loose woman, harlot, in the Renaissance age.

Of course, we won't tell the networks this, or they'll be doing a new reality series: Desperate Renaissance Hussies.

Another word that changed it's meaning is dun.

In A Dictionary of Medieval Terms & Phrases by Christopher Coredon with Ann Williams, a dun is defined as an Irish fortified dwelling. Perhaps it is the color of said dwellings that led to things being called dun-colored. (Unfortunately, the etymology doesn't make this clear so this is pure supposition on my part.)

Regency writers, however, are more accustomed to using dun as a repeated demand for payment, a seventeenth century usage.

Why this word evolved from a fortified dwelling to a creditor's demand is obscure. It may have been a blending of languages that made one word perform disparate tasks, but there is no way to be certain.

Many words we use are derived from names. These are called eponyms, and they pepper our language. Something jamesian refers to a styling or reflection reminiscient of either the novels of Henry James or the philosophy of William James. Why do I mention this? Because a word very common in schoolrooms harkens back to a name.

A thirteenth century theologian by the name of Johns Duns Scotus finds himself the unwitting origin of the word dunce. It seems his views fell out of favor in England during the Reformation, especially his defense of the papacy. William Tyndale first used the word Dunsman as an epithet, but it, like so many words, was shortened over time to the form we use today meaning ignorance and stupidity. (A Dictionary of Medieval Terms & Phrases. Pg 108)

And, last, I'll include the word precinct. While still in use, commonly in conjunction with the jurisdictional boundaries of law enforcement, in medieval times a precinct meant a cathedral close (Cathedral lands, usually walled) with all of its auxiliary buildings.

Of course, canon law had long tentacles, so perhaps this usage isn't so different after all.

Have you discovered any words like those above? Please share. We strengthen ourselves when we share knowledge.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blogging with purpose

Warning: I don't edit blogs. As I think them, you get them.
Proceed at your own risk.

I love books. I love reading them. I love writing them. I love owning them. I love holding them in my hot little hands and anticipating where we will travel together.

To me, books are treasures.

I love words. Large, small, strong, gentle, meaningful, vague, it doesn't matter. The power of words, whether written or spoken, holds endless fascination.

Words are tools, and like all tools, serve their purpose best when used properly. No one uses a hammer to drive in a screw--unless they don't mind the curtains falling because the wallboard or plaster crumbled.

As I've perused various blogs, I realized most had a theme of some sort, something that drew people to them. Mine tends to be comprised of random bits of thought (I don't know that I've had a WHOLE thought in quite some time) rattling around looking for a place to light so the posts are, at best, disjointed and sporadic.

That's going to change.

Romancing History will do exactly as its name implies; it will provide information on books and words with historical significance.

Yes, historical novels will be mentioned here as will research materials dealing with various eras. There is such a wealth of information available these days, and many people are more than happy to bookmark 999 web pages, but some are like me and prefer a book they can mark (I use colored post-its--a different color for each work or, sometimes, character--with a word or two on them to tell me what's relevant on that page rather than mark in the books themselves) and have in hand when the need arises.

Etymology will also play a part, as will whatever I can find about strong verbs and other word choice topics. Why? Because in my WIP, I used a word in dialogue I felt certain fit my time period. However, being an anal sort, out came the etymology dictionary. It seems both my hero and heroine would have been dead for more than two centuries ere this "perfect" word hit the lexicon. (In case you're curious, the word in question is naysayer.)

Another word that I thought too modern wasn't (can't recall right off which word. Sorry.) and in yet another instance the word actually changed its meaning over time. So, while the word was in use, it didn't mean then what it does now. A modern reader would understand, true, and had the word been used in narrative, it might have stayed, but not in dialogue. Readers aren't dumb; someone would have called me on it.

My hope is to make Romancing History a viable tool for other writers so, when the reader closes the curtain on any historical work, the hardware holds, the walls stay solid, and everyone has a satisfying experience.

Assume nothing. Check everything.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Getting the Call

Today I got the Call.

No, not The Call, but the Call telling me my manuscript had made the finals for RWA's Golden Heart.

With my plate a bit full, working on my story is relegated to the wee hours of the night, so--since I tend to lose track of time when with my characters--the clock said 6:50 a.m. before I hit the rack. When the phone rang a bit after 8, my first thought was "Let the machine get it." My second? "Oh no, today's the day!"

I've been awake ever since.

Truth be told, I didn't expect getting the Call to be quite as exciting the second time, but . . . Okay, I admit it; I shrieked like a banshee on drugs. Amazing what a little vindication can do.

Watching while finalist's names were posted to a fellow writer's blog made the excitement linger, each new revelation like opening a Christmas gift or Birthday present.

You see, telling friends and family who aren't romance writers and have no idea what being a GH finalist means tends to leave you flat. You have to explain. It's rather like one of the Manning brothers saying, "Yeah, I won the Super Bowl" (okay, so only to a wannabe does this equation work, but you get the drift) only to be asked, "What's a Super Bowl?" But tell another romance writer and squeals and shrieks and happy dancing abound. Writers tend to work alone, for the most part, so the chance to share with others who understand makes any accomplishment that much more amazing.

So here's to all the writers, whatever their genre, stranded in worlds far removed from the real world, hearing voices only they can hear, telling tales as only they, individually, can. The writing community is a wonderful, supportive place filled with people as unique and individual as the stories they tell.

Thus, I offer a heartfelt "Congratulations!" to all the Golden Heart finalists driving hard to find the elusive onramp leading to highway of success and to the RITA finalists who are already on the road--and some who have paved the road--to their dreams. What an awesome bunch you are. Thank you for letting me share the ride.