Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Have Wagon will Travel

The "soiled doves" of the wild and wooly west needed vacations, too. In the summer when the cities were hot and the men busy tending crops and cattle, some of the brothels would load up their "girls" and head to the mountains where it was cooler and they could entice the shepherds and cowboy tending the summer herds to come visit and spend money they had no place else to spend. It also made them appear "new and fresh" when they returned to the city and their usual customers.

I'd run across the fact the "girls" would go on vacations in one of my research books and didn't think much of it until my husband and I were driving around in the Steens Mountains and there was a meadow with a sign- Merry Meadow. We began asking around it was the meadow where the "girls" would vacation in the summer. There were Basque shepherds in the area and a stray cowboy would wander by, visit, and spread the word to the neighboring ranches.

Then we were watching the John Wayne movie The Cowboys and there's a scene where the cow"boys" come upon a wagon of scantily clad women. My husband laughs every time he watches that scene with the reactions of one of the boys.

Having three coincidences like that in a row, I knew a project had to include vacationing soiled doves. I'm working up that project right now.

Have you had that kind of a coincidence when things kept repeating themselves and you knew it had to be put in a book or story?

Blurb and Excerpt for Doctor in Petticoats
After a life-altering accident and a failed relationship, Dr. Rachel Tarkiel gave up on love and settled for a life healing others as the physician at a School for the Blind. She's happy in her vocation--until handsome Clay Halsey shows up and inspires her to want more.

Blinded by a person he considered a friend, Clay curses his circumstances and his limitations. Intriguing Dr. Tarkiel shows him no pity, though. To her, he's as much a man as he ever was.

Can these two wounded souls conquer outside obstacles, as well as their own internal fears, and find love?

“I’m going to look in your other eye now.” She, again, placed a hand on his face and opened the eyelids, stilling her fluttering heart as she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered on his skin.

She resisted the urge to run her cheek against his. The heat of his face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair caused her to close her eyes and pretend for a few seconds he could be her husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.

His breathing quickened. A hand settled on her waist, slid around to her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow her to utter the rebuke.

Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.

Paty Jager

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If I Could Turn Back Time

Cher sang those words in a hit song in the 1990s…if you could turn back time and travel back to an era in history, where would you like to be? For me, the choice isn’t clear-cut. There are so many fascinating eras that I’d love to experience, I’d feel like I do in Starbucks…excited but just a bit bewildered.

My first choice would probably be America during the Civil War. Since this is my personal fantasy, I’d venture both North and South to get a peek at life during that turbulent time. My new release, Angel in My Arms, is set in Richmond at the end of the war. The story was inspired by the true story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a genteel Southern lady who funneled information from the South’s social circles to the North for years. Angel in My Arms is the story of spy ring run by Crazy Betsy, an eccentric Richmond matron, who recruits beautiful women with talents that suit her espionage purposes. Angel in My Arms is due out on November 12 in e-book form and is currently available in print from The Wild Rose Press.

After my Civil War time travel, I’d venture to late Victorian England, the time of Sherlock Holmes. What a fabulous time in history! Women were working to get the vote, technology was changing the way people lived – telephones and automobiles were two of the huge innovations during this period, and fashions were beautiful for women and elegant yet manly for men. I’d love to experience London in the last years of Victoria’s reign, when Britain was an empire and women were daring to ride bicycles and claim their place as equals.

What era would you visit if you could venture back in time? I’d love to see your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Isabella Bird ….Victorian Lady; World Traveler

by Anna Kathryn Lanier

Isbella Bird
 Isabella Bird was born in Yorkshire England in 1831 to a devout evangelical father and a gentlewoman mother. Isabella grew up learning to be the quintessential Victorian English woman. During the summer on her grandparents farm, however, she learned to shake off the boundaries of expected female behavior and spent a great deal time in the out of doors, traipsing about, learning to row and becoming an accomplished horsewoman. Her childhood wasn’t pain free, though. She was plagued with back pain, headaches and fatigue

After having a fibroid tumor removed from near her spine in 1849, the doctor suggested “a change of air” to speed recovery. Her father took the family to the Scottish Highlands for a vacation. Hours spent in the outdoors, “scrambling up steep hills for hours” improved Isabella’s health.

Back home, she was stifled by the Victorian expectations of the era. Bored with the pointless activities women participated in, Isabella wrote an article about the family’s trip to Scotland for a family magazine. After its acceptance, she went on to write human interest stories for several different magazines.

Her health problems continued and once again, she was advised to find “a change of air.” Following her doctor’s advice, she travelled to Nova Scotia, Canada with several visiting cousins. From there, she embarked on her first solo travel—a 6,000 mile trip from Halifax to Portland, Maine via a boat, then to Ohio via train, then on to Chicago, across Lake Erie to Niagara Falls and finally back to Halifax. She never felt better in her life.

Using her the notes she’d jotted on the journey, Isabella wrote a book “The Englishwoman in America,” released in 1856. It was a success, but the money from the royalties made her uneasy. She’d been brought up in world where women didn’t earn money, instead they did good works.

With this as her influence, Isabella used her royalties to help those in need. In this case, she bought boats for impoverished Scottish fisherman. It was the first of many acts during her lifetime “to do what she believed most fitting for the role of a genteel woman.”

After her father died in 1858, Isabella stayed home with her mother and younger sister, Henrietta. For more than a decade, Isabella wrote articles and did charity projects. Eventually, the lure of travel and her body told her what she must do—travel. In 1872, six years after her mother’s death, Isabella embarked on an around the world tour, going to New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii (where she stayed for six months) and finally to her destination—Colorado in America.

Her adventures continued in the Rocky Mountains. She rode horseback over snow-covered fields, climbed mountain peaks and most likely fell in love with a genuine Mountain Man, Jim Nuget. Jim, however was “a man any woman might love, but no sane woman would marry." Her love for her sister and her own feelings that she was too old for such a reckless step prevented her from staying in Colorado.

Returning home to Scotland, she spent the next few years writing books of her adventures and traveling to create new ones. Her travels took her to Japan, China and the Malay States, with frequent returns to Scotland, Henrietta and a suitor, Dr. John Bishop, “Who, in Isabella’s mind, had fantastic notions of his own if he thought she would marry him.”

After the death of her dear sister, a heartbroken Isabella did marry Dr. Bishop in 1880. The marriage wasn’t the romantic bliss one might hope for and Isabella’s health suffered for it. When her husband died six years later, she noted “henceforth I must live my own life.”

Isbella in Tibet
 In 1889, she arrived in India as not only a world traveler, but as a missionary. Within months she’d purchased land and started building two hospitals in the memory of her sister and husband. During this time she also visited Kashmir, the Himalayas, Tibet and accompanied a military reconnaissance, who used escorting her as a cover for their mission from Simla through Persia to Tehran.

In 1892 The Royal Geographical Society in London invited Isabella to speak. She turned them down, as they did not accept women as members. Instead, she agreed to speak to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, who did allow women into their ranks. Embarrassed by this turn of events, The Royal Geographical Society promptly voted to accept women and invited Isabella to be the first woman Fellow. Five years later, she was asked again to speak, specifically on her travels to China.

Isabella continued her travels right up until her death in 1904 at the age of 72.

LADIES FIRST: History’s greatest female trailblazers, winners and mavericks by Lynn Santa Lucia

Further research:

Spartacus Schoolnet
Unitproj Library UCLA

Visit my website for information on this month's contest....win four romance books!  http://www.aklanier.com/ and click on the contest page.
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Sense of Time and Place - The Importance of Research, by Lisbeth Eng

Seduced By History Welcomes Guess Blogger, Lisbeth Eng, author of In The Arms of the Enemy.

Nothing can jolt a reader out of the “zone” of your novel faster than an egregious error in the text. Such blunders by an author are more likely to be found in historical fiction, where accuracy in both era and locale is crucial.

I was on an airplane about a year ago, reading a World War II novel, when I suddenly uttered, “He’s not dead!” (Fortunately, the stranger sitting next to me slept through my outcry.) A character in this book had stated that Mussolini was dead. The book takes place in 1943 and I knew that Il Duce did not meet his demise until 1945. Perhaps the character intentionally misspoke, in an effort to deceive, or the author wished to demonstrate his (the character’s) ignorance. I continued reading the otherwise well-written novel, awaiting an explanation. It never came. Even more infuriating was my realization by the end that Mussolini’s presence, whether alive or dead, had no impact on the plot, so the erroneous reference was completely unnecessary. I did enjoy the novel overall, but have never forgotten that incident and it would make me just a little less likely to read another by that author.

The research for my Italian-set World War II romance novel In the Arms of the Enemy came from various sources. I had visited Italy over twenty years prior to starting my first draft, and had the good fortune to visit that country again while in the midst of an early revision. My journey in 2002 contributed the following details, which I would not otherwise have thought to include:

Shivering, she hastened toward the piazza, passing rows of houses painted in muted shades of saffron, wheat and terracotta. Some were adorned with the remnants of faded frescos; others revealed exposed brick beneath crumbling plaster façades. When she reached the deserted marketplace, her only companions were pigeons, huddled in niches where stones had fallen away from ancient walls. Their soft cooing, like lovers’ whispers, penetrated the early morning silence.

Had I not visited Verona, the setting of my novel, and had the opportunity to hear the cooing doves and see the faded frescos, that description would not likely be included in my book. Of course, not every writer has the opportunity to visit a foreign locale and we certainly can’t travel back in time to experience the actual historical setting. But one can read non-fiction, as well as fiction books on the subject and surf the Internet for ideas (but beware the source – there is a lot of false information out there in cyberspace).

If I hadn’t been able to travel to Italy, a visit to the European paintings section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art could have been a great source of inspiration for my setting. I possess an entire library of books about World War II, as well as Italian and German dictionaries and grammar books to double-check the foreign words and phrases I have sprinkled throughout In the Arms of the Enemy. But a word of caution there, too – don’t count on your cousin who studied a foreign language in college or the Google translation tool. If you’re going to use foreign words or phrases try to find a native speaker to make certain you are using them correctly. I’ve found cringe-worthy foreign language errors even in novels published by traditional houses.

On the other hand, careful research can enhance the enjoyment of the reader. I recently read Hope Tarr’s wonderful My Lord Jack, which takes place in 18th century Scotland. Not only are Hope’s characters enchanting and her storyline intriguing, her meticulous research is clearly evident. She captures the time and place and even more interestingly, the intricacies of her hero’s rather unusual (for a romance novel) occupation. Jack is a hangman, and Hope has evidently done quite a bit of research on that particular trade. (I know this because Hope wrote an entire blog post on Word Wenches about it.)

It may seem unlikely that your reader will notice a small mistake in historical fact or in a foreign phrase but many readers are knowledgeable, and chances are your historical romance reader knows her period – be it Regency, Medieval or World War II. And she may have studied a foreign language or two. So, as they say in German, “Achtung!”

BIO: An English major in college, Lisbeth Eng has also studied Italian, German and French. Lisbeth is a native New Yorker and has worked as a registered representative in the finance industry for the past 25 years. Her first novel, In the Arms of the Enemy, is available in e-book and paperback at The Wild Rose Press. Lisbeth invites you to visit her at www.lisbetheng.com.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Research Time Again

I'm going through the laborious process of starting research on a new historical romance novel. The novel will be the next in my pretty well-established Brothers in Arms Regency series, so there is a great deal of research on setting, time and place that is already done. But I have specific questions I need answered for my plot.

The story takes place in 1820. I need to find a situation, a parade, celebration, riot, that turns, or could turn with a bit of literary license, violent. Someone needs to die. (Cue macabre music.) Now, I haven't done one lick of research yet. I've only laid out my plot outline. So this may be a simple research matter. Or not. We'll see.

For my last book in this series I had to do a great deal of research on the Peninsular War, the Forlorn Hope, weapons, battle tactics, ranks, and horse breeding. It was interesting to read the previous blogpost about anachronistic animals in historical books. For the horse breeding sections of my book I did some painstaking research to make sure I used breeds that were common at the time, and also to use the breeds that they were experimenting with at the time in an effort to create a better carriage horse for the new modern roads. This was a completely new area to me.

For this book, I'm delving into more familiar territory. I have a graduate degree in American history, and taught it for several years. So research into slavery and American and British laws governing slave ownership, and escaped slaves and their capture, will be slightly easier for me. But not much. I also need to do some research on ship travel, travel times, marriage laws, New Orleans in 1820, and what the weather was like in London in 1820.

Wow! This blog is turning into a great list of what I need to research. :-)

I can't leave out criminal gangs in London, the London constabulary and jurisdiction, what very heavy pottery might have been made of, fashion for the elite pregnant woman, early suffragettes and the movement for equal rights for women, and the laws of succession.

I'm sure I left something out. But it will turn up in the writing. I'm so glad I wrote this blog! It's gotten me very excited to delve into my research, which I've been postponing. So happy reading to all, I'm off to research!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Music hath powers -

Music hath powers –

At one of our chapter meeting we had a workshop where we listened to music and wrote a paragraph or two in response to the music. This was a new experience for some of the members, but I’ve always listened to music as a background when I write. Mostly, I choose music to give me a feel of the time and period I’m writing.

The idea is to choose music that will focus you on whatever your writing. For example, the story of KENTUCKY GREEN takes place in 1794 and involves the conflict between the Indians and the American in the what was then the Ohio Territory. The hero is part Shawnee, and much of the story takes place outside, so I had a recording (which I’ve lost) of Indian flute music that also included the sound of streams and bird songs.

I also listened to the sound track of The Last of the Mohicans*, as the look and feel of the movie was the same as my story.

When I was doing research for writing COLORADO SILVER, COLORADO GOLD, I found a great CD. The story takes place in Durango, Colorado, and he hero of the story, who now works for Wells Fargo, grew up in a saloon. Several scenes take place in a saloon. The CD I found is Durango Saloon*

Of course, for writing the romantic scenes, I have recordings of love songs. If there are lyrics, I tend to listen, so all the music has to be instrumental, so it just washes over me.

My current work are westerns set in Texas. And, if you’ve read my previous blog you know I love western movies*. So I have several CDs of western movie themes*.

Now, as I said, when I’m writing I can’t listen to music with lyrics. But on the way home from work, I can listen to music that will get me in the mood. Nothing like Marty Robbins* who’s most famous song is El Paso. I’ve read that his grandfather was a Texas Ranger who told him stories when Marty was a boy. And since my heroes are Texas Rangers --- you get the idea.

While writing the first of three stories, one of the song lyrics gave me an idea for the next story.

I also use several movie soundtracks as background music as I write. Gettysburg* for the epic, sweeping sounds, Quigley Down Under*, even through its set in Australia, it has that wide open spaces feeling. I like Cowboy Celtic, for the hammered dulcimer sounds.

And lest you think all I listen too is western stuff, I also used the Onigo Boingo* track of Not My Slave to represent the conflict between the hero and heroine in one of the Texas stories.

So, do you use music in your writing? How? What do you listen too?
Last of the Mohicans, soundtrack, Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman
Durango Saloon, Peter Elman
The Wild West, the Essential Western Film Music Collection
Marty Robbins, #1 Cowboy, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Cowboy Celtic, Davie Wilkie
Gettysburg, movie soundtrack, Randy Edelman
Quigley Down Under, movie soundtrack, Basil Poledoruis
Best of Boingo, Danny Elfman

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Animals Can Be Anachronisms, Too!

Hello, I'm Caroline Clemmons. Recently, my eldest daughter, Stephanie, and I were discussing errors in historical novels. She had helped a friend determine the dog breed appropriate for our friend's 18th-century-set romance novel. Dogs led to horses, and the mistakes people make. I cajoled my daughter into writing this blog on using appropriate breeds of animals even when writing fiction. Here is Stephanie's post:

My neighbor leases the grazing on my land. He has a couple of horses, including a mare. I looked out of the study window and saw two extra horses, one of whom was being overly “friendly” to the mare. The horses had escaped from another neighbor’s pasture.

This incident reminded me of the books that have the macho hero riding a stallion only he can ride. No one else can touch the horse, but he rides quietly among a group of other horses, including mares. I have news for you. No one who knows anything about horses would ride a stallion near another group of horses. Stallions are dangerous and unpredictable and will mount a mare in season regardless of who is on the mare’s back or riding the stallion. They will fight with and even kill other males.

Just as it is important to have the right clothing and furnishings in your book, it is important to have the animals in your book behave correctly. To do otherwise damages your credibility and the willing suspension of disbelief that engages your readers. Authors should not have a horse do something horses just do not do any more than you would have a regency character dress in an Elizabethan manner.

In the same vein, you should make sure that a dog or cat is of the correct breed for the time and place you are writing about. A Scottish Highlander during the 1600s would not have a Labrador retriever. The breed did not yet exist. The Highlander would probably have a Scottish Elkhound instead, or something similar.

While highborn ladies had lap dogs in Regency Europe, they did not have Chihuahuas. They had dogs like the Bichon Frise, a French dog who was bred to be a lady’s companion. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, or their ancestors, appear in many paintings during the reign of King Charles I and II because both kings had them.

I am not a cat person so I cannot give you cat examples. However, the Cat Fanciers Association or The International Cat Association will answer questions about what breed would be in what place when. The American Kennel Club will answer such questions for dogs. For horses, you will have to query the individual breed registries to find out when the breed came into existence and whether it would be in the time and place you are writing about.

You may feel this is a lot of trouble for something most people will not pick up on. People who read historical romances know their time period. The wrath of fans against authors who make mistakes is legendary. Take care to place the appropriate animal in your books or reader’s wrath may be directed at you.

Bio: Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. is a dog person, has had horses, and does not own cats. She is also a nonfiction writer, photographer, master gardener, and, on occasion, the research department for her

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Off to Scotland

(View from Skye Bridge)

I'll be heading to Scotland in a couple of days for research and fun. Fortunately for me, when I go to Scotland, research and fun happen simultaneously. Nothing is better! Although I love to read certain historical research tomes, especially those written a hundred or so years ago, others can be somewhat dry and snoozeworthy. I'd much rather roll up my sleeves and dig in, so to speak. I can more easily learn what the peat smoke drifting on cold ocean mist smells like if I'm actually on Isle of Skye, instead of reading a secondhand account. A side benefit is that I am so immersed in the setting I can bring it to life more vividly, realistically and also draw the reader in more easily. Not only that, I'm in a dream come true location for me. (Photos: above, Old Man of Storr, trying to hide in the drifting mist on Isle of Skye. Below, croft cottages at the Skye Museum of Island Life.)

If I want to accurately describe the smell, feel and atmosphere of a dungeon, then I want to actually be in a dungeon, at least for a few minutes. (Below, Urquhart Castle)

This trip I hope to visit several castles in the east of Scotland, in Aberdeenshire, a place I haven't been before, along what is known as the Castle Trail. At mid-point we plan to cross over, and drive along Loch Ness (below), to the Western Highlands and the Isle of Skye to take in the very different scenery, topography, etc. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures to share when I return. Where is your favorite place to do hands on research?