Taking a Regency Holiday: Travel Regency Style

Yes, I know I've posted this image before, but with the size of my feet, it's the closest I can ever come to enjoying these gorgeous vintage boots.
Yes, I know I’ve posted this image before, but with the size of my feet, it’s the closest I can ever come to enjoying these gorgeous vintage boots.

Travel is not for the meek of heart. I love to travel to new places, encounter new experiences … but I don’t especially care for the actual “travel” part. You know, the hassle of the airport (passports, security, squashy-tin-flying-thing, customs), or driving (stuck in a car forever). I usually have to decide I really want to be wherever I’m going to put up with all of it. And yes, I can be a bit whiny.

This last trip I was convinced certainly I’d be happier as a Regency traveler. So let’s compare, shall we?

In the Regency period, since I have some money (that is, I can afford more than just my own two feet), but not a lot (I’m not rich enough to own and maintain my own carriage, horses, and livery staff), I’d probably go the stage coach or post chaise route.  Both of these are more economical, though you will be traveling with strangers and on someone else’s schedule – the post chaise’s first focus is delivering the mail; passengers are a secondary concern.

Many of the roads are in dreadful shape, bumpy, and you may encounter the occasional highway man who hopefully will only rob you of all your valuables, and not your life. Problem is, he suffers essentially the same prison sentence (often death) for robbery as he does murder, so leaving witnesses isn’t preferable. Still, you will see a lot of the countryside … up close if the carriage wheels become mired in mud and stuck, or worse, break. Or the carriage could completely overturn.

 There are the usual irritations, like filthy inns, stinking or snoring fellow passengers, and poor weather, and don’t think you have access to most of your things. Your trunks and boxes will be loaded and tied onto the vehicle outside, and you have nothing but a few tiny belongings, what might fit in your lap. Oh, and beware some conveyances that may stop near major intersections of major roads, where you’ll have to disembark with your luggage and wait for the coach that runs along the intersecting road.

In a post chaise or similar vehicle, a journey of about 100 miles will take two days of travel – if the road is good.

Only 100 miles. That would be around the commute my husband does twice daily to work and home. Travel, so often undertaken for pleasure and excitement, is not the faint of heart.

“It is assuredly delightful to have travelled, but not to travel : –Oh, no! Fatigue, and the sense of restlessness, are not all that is to be endured; — the feeling that you are a stranger and alone comes upon you in a gloomy day, when the spirits fall with the barometer, or when they are exhausted at evening or at night. We paint angels with wings, and fancy that it will be part of our privileges in heaven to move from place to place with accelerated speed. It would be more reasonable to suppose that Satan keeps stage-coaches, and has packets upon the Styx; that locomotion ceases when we become perfect, and beautified man either strikes root like a zoophyte, or is identified with his house like a tortoise.”  – Robert Southey, Letters from England, 1808

How intriguing that Mr. Southey in 1808 bemoans his travel woes as I do, wishing for wings … like the airplane I flew in. I, in turn, dream of being “zapped” instantly from place to place, like Star Trek and their teleports.

What about you? What do you wish were different about traveling? How do you think travel will have changed in another hundred and some years? Love to hear from you!

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Thanks for reading, and have a great week – full of travel, or back at home.

Treasure Hunting: Paranormal Style

Beads were my treasure here; I love things in little jars too. :)
Beads were my treasure here; I love things in little jars too. 🙂

I consider myself something of a treasure hunter. I love nothing better than hunting through thrift stores, second hand shops, and garage sales. I tingle with glee at the notion of an “emporium” (wonderful things when they deliver on the name, but beware of those who thought it was a good name, but are not “real” emporiums). With delight and pride I show off my “treasures” that I’ve gotten – always better if they were an exceptionally good deal – and can’t wait to find my next one.

Now, I’m pretty good at spotting the finds. But some supernatural powers might help.

Take the demon Seere. If you want or need something – whether it be things you’ve lost or treasures never before seen – he’s the demon for you, since that’s his particular speciality. Best of all, he’s in the transportation game too, so he can deliver! Although a powerful prince, he’s indifferent to good natured. He might be your guy.

Next we have the Kazna Peri, a demon who’s name means “Treasure Devil” in folk believes of the Cheremis / Mari people of the former Soviet Union. Now, technically he won’t happily lead you to the treasure, since he has a nasty tendency of hoarding and guarding his treasure until it lifts from the ground so he can roast it over a blue flame for some tasty eats. If you’re lucky enough to take his place before he eats all the treasure between Whitsuntide (seven weeks after Easter) and Midsummer’s Day (usually June 24), it’s all yours! Then again, something that eats roasting and potentially molten treasure, well, can we say big teeth and a potentially fire-proof disposition?

And of course, who can neglect a classic like the good old Leprechaun? Beware though, whether you’ve captured this fellow and interrupted his shoe-mending, he can be tricky and the whole pot-of-gold thing could be just stories. The leprechaun loves to play tricks, merely pretending to tell you where the gold is, when all the while he’s leading you on.

Unfortunately, many paranormal creatures like the Brownie or other household spirits and creatures tend only to give luck and good fortune to their household owners. And the rest? Well, they seem to be more into eating the treasure or keeping it out of human hands. Myself? I think I’ll stick with thrift shops and my own eyes-for-a-deal super power.

What about you? Are you a treasure hunter? What supernatural powers would you look for to help on your search? Heard of any good paranormal creatures with an eye for treasure?

I love to hear from you – so come on, leave a comment! And hey, if you enjoyed this post, why not sign up for the blog? We’ll have lots of fun, promise. 🙂 Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Crap, Crap, Everywhere: How to Find Perspective When You Think the Pages Stink

Yep, I’m still in revisions. And this post is late today (sorry about that!).

I’m at the point where it feels like revisions will never, ever end and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It was turned off last Tuesday. Or maybe back in December …

Anyhoo, I’ve been going through my pages making notes for yet another round of revisions, and frankly, things are worse than I thought. And when that sort of thing happens – especially when you’ve been working on the same piece for too darned long – it can lead to a slippery “everything sucks” path. Yes, I’ve been there. Many of us have been.

So, how to avoid that slippery-nastiness and stay high and dry on your quest for an awesome rewrite? Here are my five tips to find perspective:

  1. Have someone else look at it.  Sometimes, we’ve read our own words so often that they literally blur before our eyes. That’s where critique partners and groups come in. Polish the pages as well as you can fairly quickly, then send them out.  This gives you distance and time away while they’re in someone else’s hands, and when you get back, you may find out things aren’t as bad as you thought.
  2. Step away from the pages … Yes, I mean you. Leave them the heck alone! Other times, leave the darned thing alone for a little while. If you’re stuck on a particular scene or chapter, beating your head against the same wall day after day will give you a headache. Instead, leave it be and let your sub-conscious stew on things for a day or two, maybe longer. Who knows what it will come up with (though I’m hoping for something awesome.)
  3. Work on something else. Like the first two sections, this is to give you some distance away from the stories, away from the same words you’ve looked at too many times, poked and prodded to no avail. Instead, work on something else – another novel, plotting, flash fiction, maybe non-writing – anything to get your mind flowing out of the stuck-in-peanut-butter section, and towards something more positive and productive.
  4. Remember to highlight the positive as well as negative. If you critique for others, I certainly hope you don’t just point out everything you don’t like about a piece, since that’s a big downer. So remember to point out the bits that you do like, too, and give yourself the same kind of critique you give others.  Remind yourself what is working… and hopefully those sections can survive the revision and get even stronger.
  5. Be nice to you. Yes, let out the annoying inner-editor, but don’t get flayed alive. There will be parts that will suck. A lot. But it can get better, too. You will become a better writer. The scenes will get stronger. So while you’re making note of problems, suggest possible solutions to yourself – just as you would to a critique partner – and try to make your rewrites easier and less painful.

So, was that helpful? How do you make it through revisions, especially a tough revision? Have I missed anything important?

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Thanks for reading, and have a great week. As for me, back to work!

Travelling: Social Curiosity Today and in the Regency

I just got back from San Francisco this week (awesome city, lots of fun).  While traveling, I’ve been going through a travel book written in the Regency in c.1804, “Letters from England” by Robert Southey.

Essentially, the author notes and observes some of what he considers oddities he encounters on his travels through England, largely London. Which made me consider how similar this is to every traveler’s experience, whereby naturally we find ourselves comparing the unexplored and unfamiliar environs with our definition of “normal” – that is, our experiences back home.

Now, while I didn’t encounter some of the oddities Mr. Southey did in nineteenth century London, we both observed a way of life and a city different from what we were familiar to. And certainly, we made observations and came to conclusions that my have been erroneous, made simply because we didn’t understand how to interpret what we were seeing. I would expect that a visitor who came to my everyday world would likewise find things occasionally odd and unusual which I take for granted.

And while I try to come to new surroundings with wide eyes and an open mind, there is, I believe, an inherent amount of distance and prejudice we bring with us that is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to leave behind. We bring with us all of our experiences and life that, up until then, have defined “normal.” And it is this same definition which allows us to compare old experiences with new, the familiar with the unfamiliar.

Is this a bad thing, or simply part of our human experience? What do you think?

Sorry for the short post this week – like I say, just got back, still trying to settle back into “normal” when I want to stay in vacation-mode. 🙂 Have a great week, thanks for reading, and happy writing to you all.

Weird Wednesday: Luideag, the Rag

160-Beggar-Women-with-Cup-and-Spoon-q85-389x500
Source: http://www.fromoldbooks.org/
Check out all the free scans of historic etchings, like this one of two beggar women from “Callot’s Etchings” (1635)

Today we feature a nasty female demon named Luideag.

From Scottish Highland folklore (specifically out of the Isle of Skye), she’s an evil demon who’s name means “The Rag.” She took the form of a human woman dressed in ragged and worn clothing, with the not-so-pleasant intent of causing the death of any human within her power.  (From: Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia by Carol Rose.)

What I find particularly interesting about this legend is that she’s quite similar to some legends about the Morrigan, one of the more powerful fairy queens of legend, and sometimes associated with the King Arthur Legend. Like Luideag, the Morrigan sometimes disguised herself as an old washerwoman at the side of a river, washing the clothes of the soldiers who would die there. Obviously quite creepy for the soldiers passing by her.

The disguise as a woman in rags seems to reference the general fear of the poor – and especially old women who might turn out to be riches. Perhaps there is some hint that because she’s poor and in rags, there is something inherently threatening about her. If she is ragged and dirty, she is diseased. If she’s diseased, it’s probably something you can catch just by being near her – especially with the lack of understanding related to disease transmission prior to around the mid-nineteenth century.

The fiction writer in me wonders, what’s this demon’s story?

Demons themselves, while we commonly accept today as “evil,” were not always so. Instead, some of what we consider “angels” could have fallen into this category, simply a different category of demons that tried to help humanity (or at least not cause them harm.) But, I digress.

So, what makes this demon kill those she has within her power? Is she simply hungry for power over someone, anyone? Has she gotten some bad press after a few of her friends died horrible, tragic deaths? Why doesn’t her name show up in the other mythology books? Is this just a pseudonym for the Morrigan (now THERE is a woman with a story!)?

I also wonder about the impact of this creature who is largely a scary female demon. While this particular creature doesn’t seem to attack specifically men (and there are plenty who do, especially wielding feminine wiles), there is something significant about her being female. Is she more frightening because she is female? Going back to the historical fear of old women who might be witches, or the general fear of disease, is this what makes her frightening? Would this demon have been as frightening a legend had it disguised itself as a little old man? Although with mortality rates and men historically dying younger, is it more likely that you’d find an old woman rather than an old man?

What do you think? What’s this demon’s story?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have an awesome week. And hey, new to the blog? Enjoy the post? Why not sign up to follow!

What do you think?

Choosing a Setting: How do you choose?

Scotland2007 019I’ve been thinking a lot about setting and atmosphere recently. It definitely isn’t one of my strengths, and I want to change that – and what better opportunity than the latest rewrite? I’ve also found a few problems where the setting I chose just doesn’t work.

Which begs the question: how do you choose the right setting?

The question works on two levels. First there’s the general setting for your entire story, whether it’s Regency England, or maybe the darkside of Mars. Then there’s the more specific question of what settings to select for specific scenes. I’ve heard differing things about how many settings you should have for your whole book – some suggesting about a maximum of five. And while I understand that this helps ground the reader – and the writer, too – I do find this a bit limiting, especially in some books where necessity demands you move to different settings, like various crime scenes (unless all your victims are killed in the same place … wouldn’t that just make it easy to wait around until the killer comes back?).

Anyway … how do you choose? What makes the best setting?

Donald Maass in “Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook,” suggests that each location can be “an opportunity to enrich your story” (176). The setting can alter and create a mood. I’ve seen this done lately (and really well) by Amanda Stevens in her Graveyard Queen series (which I confess to being totally addicted to – read them. They’re awesome.) She seemingly effortlessly creates this creepy and intriguing setting, especially in “The Kingdom” (book 2), where even the arrival of the protagonist, Amelia, hints at what’s to come. In that novel, the setting really is a character … but what character to choose?

The easy answer, of course, is “whatever I want,” but that’s a silly answer. Just because I want my second scene set on the moon with naked dancing alien-babies in the background doesn’t mean it will work … especially in my Regency romance. Thus, one must look to the overall setting to decide on the specific. The possibilities are not endless, but they seem to be. A tavern? The protagonist’s front parlor? A boxing club?

Time for your input. If you’re a writer, how do you choose your settings? What is it about a particular setting that makes it matter more? Do you limit how many you use? As a reader, do you have a preference for setting? Is there a point when there’s too many settings?

Thanks, as always, for reading, and hope you have a fabulous week. Oh, and if you like this post and don’t yet follow, why not? You wouldn’t want to miss a post would you? (Don’t worry I don’t bite … trying to set a good example for the kidlet.)

The Regency Period: An Introduction

Source: www.fromoldbooks.com
Source: www.fromoldbooks.com

I adore the Regency Period. But often when I say I write “Paranormal Regency romance,” I am greeted by blank looks, and confused stares. Unless you love the Regency (or maybe romances), there’s a good chance you haven’t heard about it.

My husband considers the Regency “that time before the Victorians, but still in the 19th century.” Jane Austen’s heyday, and the setting for her novels. Which is correct … mostly.

To be a little less vague, the period is quite short, usually from around 1810 – 1830, and my focus is the Regency period in England. What makes this period so interesting to me is that you have some flux in society, and while brief, it’s a bit like a pause and transition from one type of society to another. The Regency still has some of the wild, rowdiness of the Georgians in the late 18th century (1700s), but new rules are being established that will eventually become the Victorian Period (and really, our society still resembles the Victorians.) So essentially you have these people who like to drink and have a great time … but certain members of society are trying to tone that down and establish proper “moral” uprightness. Rules of courting get more complicated and vigilant, where an unmarried male and female have a very difficult time spending any private time together (romance novels, of course, find a way around this.)

So, there are balls and pretty muslin gowns, and delicate slippers. Yes, all that interests me.

And then there’s the dark side of the Regency period. The part where a formalized police force doesn’t yet exist because of England – and especially London’s – reluctance to accept an organized system of control which they felt trod on their rights and restricted personal freedoms. Police would be another kind of home-military, which they had no desire for. It wasn’t until 1827 that Robert Peel was finally able to convince Parliament to accept the New London Police. But the Regency era had somewhat limited policing, a taste for adventure and wildness, and naturally, significant crime. The appalling poverty – especially of the East End of London – that Mayhew describes in “London Labour and the London Poor” in the Victorian period is definitely an issue in the Regency as well. After the end of the Napoleonic wars and Waterloo – and no plan what to do with the returning soldiers, especially those who have been wounded or maimed in battle and will be unable to work – there are more homeless and desperate people on London’s streets. I’ve read before that crime was so bad, some had bars installed on their carriages to protect themselves. Walking into a dangerous area of London – and sometimes just on the streets at all – was an invitation to have your pockets picked … or worse.

That’s the part of the Regency that really appeals to me. What better environs for some supernatural creatures to poke about? 😉

All that said – and I will certainly share what I know about the Regency and what I’m learning – there’s so much more I have yet to learn. I’ve included some links below to some of the people I turn to as sources, since they know a lot more than I do!

Candice Hern’s Website

Regency Era Information from Michele Sinclair’s page

Jane Austen’s World

I hope you enjoy learning about the Regency, and come to find it as intriguing a place as I do to visit – in fiction at least. 🙂

Time for you to comment. So, what is your impression of the Regency period? The same as mine? What’s your favorite historical period?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. And hey? New to the blog? Like what you see? Why not sign up to follow so you don’t miss a post.

Weird Wednesday: Ode to the Werewolf

Source: www.fromoldbooks.org
Source: www.fromoldbooks.org

For the inaugural launch of Weird Wednesdays, I thought I’d use this paper on werewolves which I wrote for the website, but which has gotten lost along the way. It seems suitable to start with werewolves, since hey, I like them.  🙂 And no, I doubt most of Wednesdays posts will be this long, or this detailed, but I’ll try occasionally.

Vamps may be having all the fun these days, but I prefer werewolves. A lot less blood involved, for my werewolves anyway. There are some, of course, who believe being a werewolf necessitates (or is the result of) the consumption of human flesh. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

What is a werewolf? We all know this bit, or think we do. In the most basic sense, a werewolf is a person who turns into a wolf (there are lots of others were’s, certainly, but the wolf gets preference today). This is mistakenly confused with lycanthropy, which is when someone has the belief they can turn into a wolf and is a medical term for a psychological affliction (Coleman 642). What I’m talking about here are the real human-to-wolf situations.

How is it accomplished? If myth and the prevalence of the werewolf legend the world over is believed, you can become a werewolf in a lot of different ways. It could be your double self, that is, your spiritual double leaving your physical and human form behind and running as an animal (Lecouteux). Perhaps you applied some kind of lotion, drank from the wine jug and took another werewolf’s curse (Lecouteux 120), or, as the most common of myths go, you were bitten by a werewolf. The causes can be very obscure, from physical contact to a spell (Ingpen 226-227). Of course, you could have just been born a werewolf.

If you weren’t, you also stand a chance of becoming a werewolf if you do something wrong and are cursed or punished as a consequence. In North American lore, there’s the windigo, a dangerous, cannibalistic ghoul-being who was rumoured to be a hunter who became lost and ate human flesh (Guiley 324) and as punishment became the windigo, hunted, feared, and despised by others. The Inuit believe in the adlet, a race of dogmen created by the union of a large red dog and an Inuit woman who, once born, disgust their mother who puts them on a boat and sends them to Europe where they marry white women and turn into flesh-eating monsters (Guiley 2). Again, like the windigo, because the union between dog and woman is forbidden, what is created is likewise evil (one won’t consider if marrying European women is what turns them into monsters). The gods and saints could also turn you into a werewolf. Such is what happened to Veretius, King of Wales, who St. Patrick turned into a wolf (Ingpen 226-227). Zeus likewise turned King Lycaon of Acadia into a werewolf as punishment for serving human flesh (Steiger x).

Are werewolves evil? In movies, werewolves often end up the villains, controlled by the animal within. Myth too often places them in this position. In Nordic and Icelandic lore and the pagan cult of were-animals, the eigi einhamr, have the ability to take on the form or powers and characteristics of their animal (Guiley 117). Once transformed, the animals with human intellect devour others and do evil things.

Of course, there is the other side too. Shetland lore provides the wulver, a man with wolf’s head and a man’s body covered in brown hair. This creature fishes, is generous, and generally benevolent (Guiley 327). The 1691 Trial of the Werewolf reveals some werewolves were protectors of society (Lecouteux 168).

How can you spot a werewolf? My werewolves are all devastatingly handsome, lusty, active, and have a marked preference for meat over vegetables. Mine do fit the sources because yes, they do have animal tendencies and occasionally the desire to assault or kill others (really, can most of us claim to never have felt this way?). Most sources would suggest all werewolves should spend most of their time hanging out in graveyards (the better to find human flesh to consume), are excessively hairy even as men (which may make a lot of men candidates for werewolfism), act like animals all the time, or may be marked by the pentagram. Now, would you rather meet a werewolf in a graveyard, or one of mine?

I hope I’ve provided further information on werewolves, and convinced you werewolves really are more fun than vamps. Either way, there is a lot written about them, and with the numerous myths across all cultures, one does wonder if this is a case of where there’s smoke there’s fire.

What do you think? Are you pro-werewolf yet? 😉 What are some of you favorite werewolves? Or if you don’t like werewolves, why not? What bugs you about them?

Happy reading!

 

Bibliography

Coleman, J.A. The Dictionary of Mythology: An A-Z of Themes, Legends and Heroes. Toronto: Arcturus Publishing Ltd., 2007.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Encylopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005.

Ingpen, Michael Page & Robert. Encylopedia of Things That Never Were. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1998.

Lecouteux, Claude. Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 2003.

Steiger, Brad. The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-shifting Beings. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press, 1999.

Summers. The Werewolf in Lore and Legend. New York: Dover Publications, 2003.

Something New Happening Here!

Hey, I actually have NEWS! (Yes, it deserves caps).

I’ve been tinkering with the idea of expanding my blog and posting schedule, and I’m actually going to do it. Yes, now. Starting immediately.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

March2013 003Mondays – Writing, the War of Art, Inspiration

– Wednesdays – Weird Wednesdays (no, I couldn’t resist). Here you’ll find posts related to the paranormal. The plan is to examine creatures, legends, etc. It may also include things I find weird (I love weird facts – have some? Share, please!)

– Fridays – Research and the Regency. Here I’ll look at research, and share some of what I know, and some of what I’m learning as I research various books, and Regency England.

Sound interesting? Not signed up? Then, please, do follow the blog. 🙂

If you’re already following, hope it sounds good. I love to hear from you, and if you have a topic you’d like to see covered, please let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you here Wednesday, with the first paranormal-related post. 🙂

Technology and the Writer

I am not a big fan of technology. It took me a time to adjust even to the computer and typing my words rather than *gasp* using a word processing program. Well, I’m a few decades past that, but I still have a love-hate relationship with the computer even now, that helps me share these words.

And then last week I got a first generation iPad.

Yes, it made me feel old (and no, I’m not actually in my eighties – it just feels like that some days). My husband and I spent some time threatening it with a rock, partially because it just didn’t work as we were used to working.

And then I discovered I could put my manuscript on it. And read it, just like a real book. And make notes (well, not actually in-text … I’m still working on that). And I was hooked, because the modern gadget gave me back the feeling I used to have as a pen scratched my words across paper.

Indeed, technology isn’t all bad. Besides using the iPad, I do like my laptop. And online, I’ve quite enjoyed resources like Hiveword, though it’s a bit different in style than the plotting I do.

So, where do you stand on the issue?

As for me, this ends up being the shortest post ever, because technology has also contributed to my time-wasting, and I REALLY need to get some writing done. But please, let me know.

What role does technology play in your life? In your writing? For better, or for worse? Love to hear from you.

And hey, if you liked this post (or others, they’re usually longer, I swear!), why not sign up for the blog? Thanks for visiting, and have a great week. 🙂