Thursday, 18 May 2017

Quaint old England.

I suppose the title of this post says it all: Quaint Old England, the England tourists flock to in their thousands every week, Albeit the majority come merely to see London and the usual more famed tourist attractions, for those who choose to venture far and wide in search of places featured within novels there are many more treasures to discover along the way.

Bath 1800s

In one brief paragraph I can name British authors who represent places where they were born, grew up, and lived centuries ago, and not so very long ago. Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, The Bronte Sisters, Thomas Hardy, to name but a few of the earlier great novelists. Latterly, Daphne du Maurier, Winston Graham, Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy aka Eleanor Hibbert, also known as Victoria Holt, and then there were Catherine Cookson's north eastern based novels.  The list goes on but one has to stop somewhere. The end...

Well not quite the end, but all the above earlier authors loved England and depicted the cities and the countryside as they knew it, and the later authors reflected the country as they knew it from childhood and the war years. Much of England had remained unchanged for centuries barring wartime Britain (WWII) and the aftermath of rebuilding after bomb damage. Thus in the last fifty years much about Britain has changed due to outside influences and cultural diversity, but old England and its city communities of old and its rural traditions are depicted with clarity within novels penned by the above authors, but even now there are places that are little changed and remain gems of Old England..

The toll gate at Porlock Weir, not only is it pretty but one can see it was a livelihood for the gate keeper, whose cottage bridges the toll gate. 

St Dubricious Church in Porlock itself has an unusual spire, not unlike towers oft seen on a French chateau.

Both places are subsequently featured in my next Regency novel, albeit fleetingly, and although I only include the odd image (sketch) of a house within e-books I do now include illustrations within paperbacks. Am I right or wrong in providing images? Who knows, but for those unfamiliar with England, surely a few images as discovered within old novels does give insight to places most tourists never venture to. Thus the next novel is a follow-on from The Reluctant Duchess which for the most part was set on Exmoor, the place made famous by the novel Lorna Doone. 

Instead of the Duke and Duchess of Malchester and their love affair which developed within wedlock despite the duchess' reluctance to engage with her husband, this time around it's the Earl of Sheldon's turn to fall head over heels in love, something he thought could never happen to him, given he really is a dissolute rake hell. But feeling a tad jaded after his last soiree at a house party May Thorne has stolen his eye, The problem being she's a married woman, and when her husband is murdered, did Marcus enact the unthinkable? Due release Ist of June.          

Due release Ist of June. 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Avoiding breach of copyright/ownership of images.

The title says it all, doesn't it, more especially when you're an Indie author. Stock photos with models in fancy dress are easy to obtain, and what else is there in avoidance of breaching copyright artwork? 

Stock photos rarely cut the mustard for many historical novels when the hero is wearing the wrong uniform (something out of Disney fairy tale), wrong shirt, and modern riding boots. Yep, those boots and open shirts are the big fail. Men didn't wear button-through shirts they wore smock shirts What is more, a beautiful  21st century evening gown with deep cut back and falling off the heroine's shoulders kills the sense of true history for die-hard fans of specific historical periods, as do strapless gowns. And the worst case scenario is when you've penned a Regency and your hero and heroine are on your cover in all their finery and perhaps indulging a provocative pose, and then, Oh No, you see the same cover on a Victorian novel, as do readers who then wonder if they have the right book because they purchased a novel a few days ago sporting the same cover. And sometimes there's worse to come when you see the title is the same as on your book, and hopefully set in a differing period or another era.  The Reformed Rake is a popular one, or To Wed a Duke, et al. You know the trending as well as I do.     

So what to do, if you are as period specific as I am, in not only using archaic prose, but seeking that image you have in mind that depicts a special scene or moment from your book? Yep, it's pretty much an impossible task unless you are moderately handy with pencil and paints, being water colour, acrylics, or oils. So what else can you do? 

A lot of authors look around for a lovely portrait of a man or woman from the chosen period in which their novels are set, but there can be a bit of catch in that with breach of use, because some of the most famous portraits are of famous people, So how can you possibly have Lady Grantham as your heroine, who is, for fiction's sake, Lady Annabelle Marchment?  This portrait may indeed belong to the Grantham's and may not truly be in the public domain, it being a private family portrait. To say the artist is long dead therefore his original artwork is all now public domain, unfortunately family portraits were commissioned for private display and inheritance, And unless those portraits have been sold on the open market and are public domain for open commercial licence usage as reprints, and note a book cover is a reprint for commercial use, then be wary for you could find yourself in court for profiting from private property! 

Just because some happy snappy tourist sneaked out a camera or pointed their smartphone at a portrait whilst tramping around an English Stately Home, and then posts the happy snaps on their Pinterest page, that doesn't give carte blanche to use those pics as a commercial item.      


But you can indeed seek out public domain artwork by famous artists, but always check to see if they are free of restrictive licence. If you want a classical image to represent your hero or heroine there are many, many unnamed miniatures in the public domain, some enchantingly pretty ladies, and others less fortunate but may be perfect for that ugly duckling romance story!  

I used this one for Adelle la Comtesse Montacute, in The Trevellians' of New-Lyn, She was as I visualised her, and I had her to hand... But -   

Take National galleries et al who sometimes charge a fee for commercial usage. And why shouldn't they, for they are what they are National Treasure Houses, where beautiful artwork receives TLC, and where restoration of old paintings, (some disgustingly filthy) which require painstaking concentration and skilled expertise to bring the glory of the original back to semblance of its former self,  So do think before you gripe when asking to use artwork for a non-fiction work and you are asked to contribute to the upkeep of the gallery by paying a fee to profit from work that has at best been cleaned if not fully restored, and thank your lucky stars the gallery could provide the work you wanted. 

Even though I have for many years created artwork from scratch (pure imagination and by study of other artwork) there are times I have come across public domain artwork that was out of copyright, and I've thought lordy, why did the artist paint her that way, especially ladies on horseback riding side saddle, or I see the horse is out of proportion head wise to it's body. Stubbs is oft a prime example of long backed, sometimes oversized bodies, with fine boned legs and small Arab/Turkman heads. So if horses did indeed look like that back then, all I can say, is that equine wouldn't have given some of the large men standing alongside many years of service.  But aside from horses, here's an example of an original Heywood Hardy, and below is my version in which the lady is displayed to full advantage with riding habit flowing. And yes, the image is a reverse image, and the horses and the riders are almost identical but not quite, because I painted my couple with similar hats but differing outfits and distinct faces, unlike the original.

Heywood Hardy - a pretty country scene and as seen on lots of book covers.


My version is depicted with the house the heroine inherits.

And all that said, I quite like elegant still-life classic looking book covers that quite a good many authors turn to for exclusive covers, but you know, with a little imagination one can make a cover from period fashion plates: 


Thursday, 27 April 2017

From Parents to Children!

The joy of having penned a romance novella several years ago - set at the time of the French Revolution *The Highwayman's Mistress* - and thence picking up years later where the children of characters from a previous book take centre stage, and suddenly a series of novellas leaps to the fore, the characters edging and nudging to have their love stories told first. 

In this case Mattijs de Boviere won the toss, his being the son of Francois de Boviere, le Compt of Saint Mont Marche (above) and his mother Diamonta Witaker. 

Part of his story was revealed within a charitable anthology, merely as a very short novelette. Now Mattijs' story and that of the Duchess of Rochester has been upgraded to a novella, rather than a lengthy tome, but that's because more and more readers are seeking shorter reads to fit in with busy lifestyles. Added to that, I do love penning short cut-to-the-chase adventure and romance novellas, more especially since several readers mentioned on FB  they too loved stories devoid of overt blow-by-blow domesticity and lengthy sleep inducing narrative. 

Like all stories there are sub-plots and sub-characters, the extended family if you prefer, where relatives, friends and lovers, vie for attention. 

After all, Randolph's mother, Leohne Countess of Martock, had a secondary leading role in *The Highwayman's Mistress* as did the earl when merely that of Richard Viscount Somerton. So it is only natural all the offspring venturing into romantic *entanglements* wish to be featured within their very own novellas. None less so than Randolph Viscount Somerton, first cousin to Mattijs, the pair having served, albeit in differing cavalry regiments, in the Peninsular Wars and at Waterloo.  

But first things first - a snippet from *The Runaway Duchess*.

He was not her husband, but he was special. Hers for the moment, and the chances were good indulgence thrice would no more bear fruit than had four years of a hurtful, brutal, and barren marriage. It was their last embrace, the sound of movement above stairs bringing sense of reality to the fore, as did the need to assume a detached countenance. And yet there was marked reluctance in her lover to pull away and retreat; his breath as soft as a feather teasing flesh. It was the folding of a moment in time, his words the seal to their secret indulgence as a letter to a lover. 

“It cannot be; as much as I wish otherwise,” whispered he. 


Coming soon....

Friday, 14 April 2017

The long S of Georgian England & Myth Busting.

Given there is much talk about formal address - in the verbal context as well as the written word - within the Regency era, it is a shame when readers accuse authors of having followed true to form with archaic dialogue. For it is true to say, modern dialogue and prose rarely affords sense of real time and place aka Historical settings. 

Thus, for die-hard lovers of historical novels in the vein of Jane Austen and the Queen of the Regency genre Georgette Heyer, modernism is viewed as lack of research on the part of the author, which implies little or no interest in portraying the era within a true light, yes, or no? To an extent the latter is fair comment, at the same time there are readers and Regency enthusiasts who prefer easy read prose and short sentence structure, quite unlike Jane Austen prose where sentences run to long paragraphs. And it is well-known the convoluted sentence structures of Georgette Heyer novels have proven to be unpopular with many modern-day readers. 

But that said, there are die-hard (or supposed die-hard) readers who profess all sorts of claims to this and that, and in doing so oft show their ignorance of England, London, and the English countryside of the Georgian age. London, yes, was quite large, but many well known London boroughs of today were isolated villages with vast green spaces betwixt, not least commons and heaths, and cobbled streets were few and far between excepting close to ecclesiastical buildings, specific precincts, castles, coaching inns, and The Tower et al. 

Windmills were a common sight, water mills too. There are many deep sea inlets around the coast where three masted sailing ships entered, manoeuvred and anchored even where no docks were situated, and ships could traverse (still do) and travel as far as a mile or more inland - off the cuff on quick count Southern England: The Thames up to London, The River Dart (Devon), St Germans Creek Plymouth, Fowey Creek (Cornwall), The Severn, Bristol/Gloucester. The Avon to Bath, yes, coastal ships and sea barges navigated on high tide to Bath early Georgian era.   

This painting is Bath circa early 1700s  

Below you will notice the long S was still in use in 1800, a form of writing that was long thought of as abandoned back in the 18th century (1700s).  

Although I love penning Georgian and Regency romance novels I refuse to abide to a rose-tinted perspective of historical periods in which men of means acquired mistresses at will, and libertines were rife. Nor do I ignore the facts of parish church registers relating to marriages and births, which declare six and seven month pregnancies were higher during the period of the Napoleonic Wars than the post-Restoration years of Charles II and his libertine reign. Whilst it is true to say, it takes two to tango, by that maxim a lot of young Georgian and Regency misses lost their virginity long before they were marched down the aisle by a father who may, or may not have held a pistol to the bridegroom’s back afore hand. Thus I am bold enough to present stories of a realistic bent in which passions of a romantic nature oft start innocently enough, until a potent kiss stirs feelings and needs that override good sense in the heat of the moment. Hence my novels and novellas range from sensual to steamy; as and when the characters feel the need to express more than mere sentiments with spoken words.

It is also a myth inspired and perpetuated by authors of Regency romances that most, if not all young ladies of good breeding had chaperones. Jane Austen frequently walked alone in places where she lived, not least in the City of Bath, thus her heroines' reflect that same freedom to come and go as they wished and without parental supervision or companionship of a maid, maiden aunt, or other. The reason adult females accompanied a young miss on her first outing to Almack’s/Almacks – either form of the latter is correct, if one looks at differing time-frames on invitations signed and dispatched by the patronesses – the same rule applied to the opera or the theatre, all places where it was considered unseemly for unsupervised young ladies to attend in the company of adult gentlemen.

A secondary myth abounds to do with Almack’s/Almacks, in which young gentlemen could secure an invitation for a young lady to attend at functions. No, that is utterly incorrect – not even if the young gentleman was her brother or cousin could he obtain an invitation: the only exception being if that gentleman was her legal guardian. Aunts and married female cousins could elicit an invitation from the patronesses if the aunt or cousin had access to or a close connection to a patron of Almack’s/Almacks inner circle.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Penning earthy Georgian and Regency Romances.

“...she had never thought it was possible to fall in love at first sight...”

An arranged marriage against her will and Erica Townsend is at odds with her father, and worse, he is not the father she had thought he was when friends and acquaintances of his pay visit to the family house. Albeit initially intrigued and voyeuristically mesmerised by an event that unfolds within the garden arbour, she and her younger sister decide they cannot remain within a house where Erica’s betrothed debauches other women at will, as does their father. Desperate in seeking the help of a gentleman neighbour who is sweet on her sister, their chosen escape route is fraught with temptations along the way. Whilst Erica dares to appear bolder than she is, can she truly trust the Earl of Epsom, or is he as much a libertine as her betrothed?

If you feel inclined toward realistic and earthy accounts of Georgian and Regency romance and love stories that are often linked in some way, you may have discovered from reading some of mine, that characters from one book often reappear in another. I sincerely hope readers enjoy discovering who fraternises with whom in the years spanning the Georgian period and the Regency era!