Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dream Dinner Party Guests – Regency Style!

Good evening my lords, ladies, and gentlemen. I am the Duchess of Wentworth, your hostess for this evening, and I’m so pleased you’ve all decided to join me. As you’ve surveyed my elegant dining room with its paintings by Reynolds and furnishings by Chippendale, you’ve probably assumed I hold many lavish parties. And you would be quite right. I am one of England’s leading ladies and have with me tonight some of the most esteemed members of England’s ton. Perhaps you’d care for an introduction to some of them. You would? Then allow me to show you about the room and introduce you. 

The Prince Regent, George IV – I started with our most illustrious guest as he is looking in our direction and waiting to be introduced. The Prince Regent or Prinney as he is often called, fell in love with and secretly married the beautiful Maria Fitzherbert in 1789. Their marriage was declared illegal by the Royal Marriage Act and in 1795, he married Caroline of Brunswick, although Maria remained his true love. Prinney is known for the lavish parties he gives at Carlton House, his London residence and the lovely Brighton Pavilion in Brighton. Despite his faults, he is a most affable and generous man, able to put anyone at ease.

 Lady Jersey, Lady Sefton, Lady Castlereagh, Lady Cowper and Mrs. Drummond-Burrell– The patronesses of the elite Almacks Assembly Rooms are all in attendance this evening, save Princess Esterhazy and Countess Lieven. These four ladies are some of London’s most elegant grande dames and although Mrs. Drummond-Burrell’s icy demeanor and Lady Jersey’s strictness, seem to overpower them, the other three are quite amiable and you will find both Lady Sefton and Lady Cowper wonderful conversationalists and very elegant.
Lady Caroline Lamb – Most noted for her great friendship with Lord Byron, whom Lady Caroline described as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”, Lady Caroline is a witty conversationalist and as she is married to the viscount, William Lamb, who is also in attendance, a great addition to our party.

‘Beau’ Brummell – The foremost authority of fashion himself, the ‘Beau’ as he is commonly addressed, is responsible for much of the attire you see here tonight. He set the fashion for neatness and simplicity in men’s attire – dark, plainly cut coats for evening wear and a perfectly tied neckcloth. He is very critical of appearance and his famous lifted eyebrow when he sees anything amiss, terrifies debutantes. (Thankfully, I discussed the choice of my gown this evening with Lady Sefton, so there will be nothing amiss with me.) Yet the Beau’s wit and social grace, can just as easily put a properly dressed debutante at perfect ease, as I know very well from my first Season.
The Duke of Wellington – Now, here is a man who I suspect will do great things for our beloved England, with the conflict approaching regarding Napoleon. It is an honor to have him here and you will find him a quiet, humble sort of man, who, I have heard from his fellow officers, cares more for the welfare of his men than any medals or accolades he might gain.

There is a fine assortment of other dukes, earls, and gentlemen of private means here tonight, with their ladies, but I won’t introduce you to everyone but instead, let you mingle at will. And now I must go, I do believe Prinney is telling Lady Cowper of his improvements to Carlton House, and I must hear them!

Au Revoir,
Amanda – or Duchess of Wentworth


Last year I did a countdown to Christmas weekly giveaway and since it was so popular and fun, I decided to do it again this year. So every week for the next four weeks I will be giving away a book with some really fancy Christmas cards. This weeks selection is called" A Kaufman Amish Christmas Collection" by Amy Clipston. It contains two Christmas stories. Along with that three of these beautiful embossed Christmas cards with matching envelopes. So just leave your comment with your email and I will pick a winner this Friday and mail it to you. This would make a great read for the start of the season or a great gift too!

Check back next week for another great post and another Christmas giveaway!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

First Chapter Blunders!

Why is it that some books draw you in and make you want to read more, while others are merely okay, or even flat? Although there can be many different reasons, a big one is what occurs in the first chapter, or how the story begins. A stories initial set-up can really make or break whether it draws in the reader and makes them want to engage. In the course of reading I’ve found that many novels, while they may have good middles and great endings, their first chapters lack pizazz.


Here are a few common first chapter mistakes:
1 – Boring Conversations – If within the first ten pages, the characters are having a long and dull conversation about everyday matters, some character we haven’t met (and don’t yet care about), or just a long conversation, I’m usually bored. Give me action and let me care about the characters, then they can converse all they want. To be sure, I’ve read novels with character conversations starting the book and have enjoyed the beginning, but they’ve always been done in such a way, where the conversation isn’t lengthy and other things besides talking are taking place.
2 – Lackluster First Lines – A first line isn’t everything, but the more intriguing the better. Don’t be weird or write something just to grab attention, but do be interesting. And if not the first line, then at least the first paragraph.
3 – Backstory – This is one that isn’t found alot in published novels, at least those written recently, but it's very common in unpublished manuscripts. Readers don’t need to be told everything right away. There should be mystery or a reason to read forward. Backstory is best dropped in as crumbs. Tiny bits here and there. You can have a bigger amount of backstory in the middle, but if there’s a lot in the first twenty pages, chances are your reader will skim, or worse yet, put the book down altogether.
4 – Confusion – On the flipside, there can be too little information, or too many characters. We don’t want to meet the whole cast by page twenty. Pick four or five characters and work on introducing those in chapter one. We want to get to know the main characters right away. Just like in a movie where we want to meet the people we’re spending two or more hours with in the first few scenes.
I generally do keep reading if I like the premise of a book, even if it has one or two of these elements. I’ll give it fifty pages and then reasses. But the truth is, most readers don’t. With the amount of books available, not to mention other media, the sooner you hook ‘em the better.
Next writing post I’ll give some techniques on how to write a stellar first chapter that will keep readers wanting more!
Happy Writing,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Period Fashion Gallery

I thought it might be fun to do a period fashion gallery post, maybe once a month, full of the lovely gowns from Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian times. Maybe even some chic flapper era gowns too. Because honestly, I can’t get enough of looking at the elegance that was 19th and early 20th century fashion and hopefully, after this post, you’ll love it just as much as I do.

Let’s see what lovely Edwardian gowns we’re modeling today. J 

Dress, Afternoon House of Paquin (French, 1891–1956) Designer: Mme. Jeanne Paquin (French, 1869–1936) Date: 1906–8

Dress, Evening Callot Soeurs (French, 1895–1937) Date: ca. 1911

Dress, Callot Soeurs (French, active 1895–1937) Date: fall/winter 1910–11
Evening dress, ca 1909 France


Undergarments early 1900’s
And lastly the costume a real lady would never dare appear in out in public.

Hope you've enjoyed this trip down fashion avenue!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Punctuation Part Two – That lovely colon

Some things in life are boring, but necessary, like doing dishes and taking a shower. (Sometimes even blogging can be like this! LOL) They aren’t thrilling and can be very tedious. Yet without them life would be messy. So it is with punctuation. As far as I’m concerned, I could write and write and then hand over my manuscript and let someone else deal with the nitty gritty punctuation stuff.

However if we want to be a successful writer, punctuation is a must. Especially in these days when writers must, to an extent, be their own editors. So lets take a brief (and possibly painful- if you don't like grammar) look at the correct way to use a colon.

Colon Rules:
1 – Use a colon after a complete sentence when introducing a list.

Example – When I went shopping I bought the following items: milk, frozen pizza, oatmeal, and sugar.
2 – Use a colon to direct attention to an appositive.

Example – She discovered there was only one thing she wanted: his true love.

3 – Use a colon after a complete sentence before a quotation.
Example – The beginning of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina brilliantly foreshadows what is to come: “
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

4 – Capitalize the first word after a colon if it:
A- Introduces dialog in a play.

Example – Don Pedro: I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Benedick: With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord. Not with love.
B- If the first word is a proper noun.

Example – The West children are as follows: Ann, Jerry, Elizabeth, and Joy.
C-If the colon precedes two or more related sentences.

Example – We will never succeed unless we do three things: Persevere during difficult times. Keep calm no matter what. Always trust the Lord.

 In Conclusion
So there you have it. Colon rules in a nutshell. Hopefully these help as you write your novels and maybe spare you some headache. Next week I will get back to the fun blogs about Edwardian England in all its finery and beauty!