Monthly Archives: January 2013

Wallflower or English Rose…

These last few weeks I’ve been reading a lot of regency romances, in the realms of one per day. Probably has something to do with the fact my expanding waistline means I need to take a break from chores about every ten minutes, even unloading the dishwasher has me out of breath. Although you would think I would pick a reading material which didn’t boast arms full of young and slender girls decked in empire line dresses. A fair proportion of my current wardrobe has empire line fitting but let me tell you, below my bustline I definitely don’t have the willowly column these girls have.
But that aside, reading so much in the era does remind me how difficult a young lady’s position could be when it came to finding a suitable partner, and with no employment for such ladies, marriage would be everything. A crooked nose, an excess of freckles, or an unfortunate hair colour, all would be enough to send the suitors scurrying and the season would turn into one long wait with the other wallflowers.
And even if you should be blessed with fashionable looks, the chase would be no less difficult. Family line, size of dowry, manner and voice, a lack of accomplishments, all could tip the scale between Rose and wallflower.
So how would I have faired? Well ignoring the fact that my family history seems to be farmers or labourers, I don’t think I would been a success, in fact a blue-stocking would have been an appropriate label.


This is NOT the kind of blue stocking I mean.

I’ve studied hard, and I have no objection to supplying my opinion whether it is asked for or not. Now, romance books are teeming with blue-stockings but exactly like the feel-good romance movies we have these days, under every blue-stocking there is a pretty heroine waiting to emerge. You know the type, clad in ugly glasses, frumpy clothes and hairstyle, all it needs is a few hours with a stylist and viola, a beauty emerges that the hero could really fall in love with.
So what has all this reading taught me? That in the next story, my heroine Harriet is NOT going to be pretty. And I don’t mean that in the normal romance way, you know, where she just has slightly unfashionable looks, I mean a proper plain Jane with only her wit to recommend her. I want my hero to really have to look beneath the skin.

Here is the first description of Harriet from Held in the Balance as Lydia Taunton’s best friend.

“Harriet, I can’t do it.” The words burst from Lydia in a rush. If it had been anyone other than Harriet she would have been tempted to get a bit more drama in. “I’ve made a mistake.”
“A mistake?” Harriet’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into the flaming carrot orange hair the poor girl had been cursed with. The hair, along with a heavy enough case of freckles sufficient to look like a skin disease, was referred to them only as ‘the affliction’ and as far as Harriet was concerned was the reason for enduring her third season.

The Romanchics and the ladies of the dashing 100

For a while now I’ve been writing with a lovely group of ladies and we’ve formed a super supportive little group, the Dashing 100.

We are all busy ladies and we all write romance but there the similarities end. We all write different styles.

pots of paint

Incy writes romantic thrillers that keep you on the seat of your pants, with super hot heroes that make you warm all over.

Joanne writes the kind of close-to-your-heart stories that you make you feel like you’ve just snuggled under a cosy blanket.

Meg writes a range of genres, all with a beautiful meter and elegant turn of phrase that makes you just want to drink up all the yummy details.

Aimee writes sexy contemporary romances for the modern, independent girl with sassy heroines and alpha males to die for.

And me, well I enjoy writing regency romps.

So you wouldn’t think a writing group between us all would work. But it does. Every thursday we aim to share 100 words of our current work and the email banter begins. I think sometimes it works better because we all have such different styles.

It’s a lot easier to read something very different from your own work with non judgemental eyes, you just read to enjoy and you don’t wonder how you would have done the same paragraph. And because 100 words (give or take a bit!) is all we share, you get this intriguing peek into another’s work each week. Not enough to really know what’s happening in the story but enough to get well and truly caught up in the characters.

I get a lot of support from this group, and sometimes when life gets too busy, thursday morning will still see me trying to knock up 100 words just so I have something to share. And you can’t knock anything that keeps you actually gets words down on paper.

The ladies of the dashing 100 have just launched their own blog, the Romanchics.
romanchics blog button.

So pop on over and get to know these super ladies and their stories. You won’t regret it.

Needle and thread

This week I’ve had a little industry set up making baby dungarees. With a boy to sew for, my fabric choices have suddenly boomed. Not that I’ve always had my two little girls dressed head to toe in pink, but there is a bit of a princess/flower/teddy theme for the most part. No more. Super fabric is made for boys, from tanks and trains to material covered with all types of creepy crawlies realistic enough to have any mother in a flap batting them away. This time I settled for one with cars, one with chocolates, two french fashion prints and an emergency service print. Pretty exciting.

2013-01-08 13.46.44

Sadly I don’t tend to have the time to make my own clothes. When I did, I used to make myself a fair few period clothes. I like the individuality of making and designing clothes, to know I’m never going to meet anyone wearing the same dress or shirt.

I do wonder sometimes whether that would have happened to any of the tonne. Would any of the ladies recoiled in horror as the entered the ballroom as another woman waltzed past them wearing the exact same dress. It seems pretty unlikely. I think any modiste worth her salt wouldn’t do exact copies of dresses, she’d make sure there was something different in each one.  An extra ruffle, a extra pleat, some small detail changed. And to honest, when you’re handsewing getting things to look exactly the same is no easy task, believe me, especially if you are rusing to meet an ambitious deadline set by some demanding lady.

I like to make sure all my heroines can sew. Sewing isn’t really that difficult, and at a time when clothes would be very expensive, I think mending would be a skill all mothers would want to instill in their daughters, and would be a skill likely to be appreciated by husbands and fathers more than a dubious talent for watercolours.

In the following snippet from Held in the Balance, Lydia is about to demonstrate her mending skills….

Remembering the excuse she’d thought up, Lydia stepped back from the door and routed through her reticule, pushing past charcoal pencils to find a rather grubby needlework kit. Needle and silk at the ready, she just needed a rented hem and her presence would be explainable even if the ladies retiring room would have been a more obvious place to re-stitch the trailing piece. She jammed her low heel into the fine silk of her skirt and jerked the fabric upwards with a satisfying rip.

“Am I intruding?”

Lydia gritted her teeth at Simon’s gentle tones. Now she had no chance of spying upon Lord Goodall and had a torn hem to boot. Perfect. She span around, needlework kit clutched in one fist and made no attempt to smooth out her creased skirts. “Intruding? Of course not, I always like an audience while I attempt to do mending.”

New Year Resolutions

2013 is going to be a busy year for me, I might as well accept that now. I don’t suppose anyone gets to add new born twins into an already busy household and expect to get a lot of other things done. So I’m not going to set myself pie-in-the-sky ambitions.

So what do I want to get done?

1) Deliver two happy healthy babies so my happy family of four becomes an even happier family of six. Preferably I’d like to do this without tearing my hair out or going prematurely grey, without actually turning into a whale, and with my sanity intact.

2) Get Braving Madness out there in the big wide world. I’ve already started on this fretful journey and sent the second draft winging its way to Meg McNulty, (, the world’s best critique partner.

3) Crack on with Held in the Balance. I’d love to say get a first draft done, but realistically that means writing 80,000+ words in a year where sleep will be a luxury. So a total word count doesn’t matter, I just want to keep on writing, just a little bit, every day, and not get completely bogged down with moaning about little people kicking my internal organs to pieces or being buried under the mounds of dirty nappies that are bound to be generated over the year.

Doesn’t sound too ambitious list does it? Probably. Oh well. Happy New Year to you all, and all the best fo 2013.