Monthly Archives: February 2015

Satisfied Saturday Six

The SSS celebrates six things that have gone well, or at least okay, in the past week. It is the creation of Terry Egan, who is all things wonderful.

 

1. THE PAPERBACK COPIES OF MY NOVEL CAME! I make no excuse for shouting at you – if you wouldn’t be excited by copies of your first paperback novel, I pity you.

 

2. I talked to a shop about potentially stocking my rugs/throws/comfort blankets. And we’ve agreed that they’ll stock some on a commission-if-sold basis for a month or two. I am counting no chickens, but it’s pleasing to know that I’ve tried.

 

3. I finished my article about mistresses. I can’t think of a title, which is annoying me, but I’m sure the lovely editor will be able to think of one if I can’t. (And I should stop dilly-dallying and send it to him so he can see it exists, incidentally.)

 

4. I’ve read some really good books this week, the best of which was White Feathers, by Susan Lanigan. A book about WW1, it followed a very real heroine and neither shirked the nasty bits nor over-emotionalised them. Brilliant.

 

5. I made a deliberate decision to stop trying to lose weight/improve my diet for the present. I want, and intend, to make changes in the future, but at the moment I’ve been struggling and it’s a relief to have stopped putting that pressure on myself.

 

6. I spent Thursday morning playing Mah Jong (the real game, not the extremely disappointing computer version) with my mother. This is an excellent way to spend time.

Advertisements

Friday Fiction (The Sisterhood excerpt)

This is my current WIP, another Regency romance. This is currently the beginning of the first chapter, but when I think through how much the beginning of Petticoats and Promises changed during editing, I do not promise that a single word of this will be in the final story!

 

The Sisterhood

 

The simple fact was, Charity Bellingham should have been born a boy.

 

Charity, not for the first time, was pondering this as she practised her scales on the piano. C major. C minor harmonic. C minor melodic. She had played these enough times that her fingers knew the positions by rote, leaving her able to mull things over as she played. If she had been a boy, perhaps her parents would have loved her. (C sharp major; all the sharps.) If she had been born a boy, wouldn’t have been thrown out of Forsbury, their old, beautiful house. The entail would have gone to her. (D minor harmonic – easy) If she had been a boy, perhaps her father wouldn’t even be dead. She might have been with him as he toured their estate, able to fetch help immediately he was thrown from his house. He wouldn’t have lain there alone so many hours, wouldn’t have caught that awful chill which led two days later to his death.

 

If she had been a boy…. E flat melodic minor. Charity thumped the notes down, trying to drown out the voice in her head. Her mother looked up from the chair in which she sat sewing, her lips pursed.

 

“Charity! There can hardly be a need for that volume. It is unladylike.”

 

“Sorry, mother.”

 

And ah yes, there it was. The fact that in all ways save the only one which mattered, Charity was a boy – or at any rate was boyish. Having been born a girl, she had not even had the courtesy to act like one. To pursue girlish interests with the same enthusiasm as her sister. Rebecca, source of this comparison, looked up from her place at her mother’s side, and gave Charity a sympathetic smile. Becca, like their mother, was sewing: a neat line of stitches to embroider a dress. The best that could be said about Charity’s sewing was that it was serviceable: two edges she sewed together would stay sewn, but they would win no merit for beauty. She preferred reading to sewing, and outdoor exercise to either.

 

Wednesday Word of the Week

sheepish : 1. abashed or embarrassed, esp through looking foolish or being in the wrong 2. resembling a sheep in timidity or lack of initiative

“His expression was sheepish.”

The joy of sheepish is that it really DOES come from ‘like a sheep’ – and dates back to Middle English (1150-1200, a quick google tells me). And it is a good word to say. Sheepish. Sheepish. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepish.

I’ll shut up now, she said sheepishly 😉

Satisfied Saturday Six

The SSS celebrates six things that have gone well, or at least okay, in the past week. It is the creation of Terry Egan, who is all things wonderful.

 

1. I am slightly embarrassed to mention it again, but my novel Petticoats and Promises came out this week. I know, I know, I need to shut up about it. But squee! Novel! Exciting! Yay!

 

2. My lovely sister has been visiting over half-term, and it’s been excellent to spend time with her in person rather than hours on the phone (also good, but actual!real!sister wins).

 

3. AND I saw my gorgeous niece and her boyfriend on Monday, which was also excellent.

 

4. It was confirmed that I’ve been re-awarded disability benefits. As my Satisfied Saturday Six has been over-full of medical appointments over the last months (yes, I did have one this week – but there are NONE next week!), you may possibly have gathered that my health is not precisely the best. I appear to have started doing the SSS at a particularly difficult point in my life, which probably makes it more worthwhile for me, but a bit tedious for readers. Sorry about that!

 

5. It is half-term from school, which means that Child has been around more than usual. He is good value, and also had an excellent time on Wednesday on a day course which covered archery, falconry and bushcraft. I am somewhat jealous!

 

6. Talking of Wednesday, I also went out for a meal with my family that day. Mmm, steak. Mmm, red wine. Delicious.

Friday Fiction (Petticoats Excerpt)

There was really only one choice for this week’s Friday Fiction. You might (just possibly) have gathered that my novel, Petticoats and Promises, came out this week, both in paperback and in ebook. So there clearly needed to be an ‘excerpt’ moment here.

Serena, my heroine, and her best friend Clara are at their debut ball, but all does not go as expected…

 

It was a frightening time for me at the beginning of the ball, or would have been without Clara’s support. We stood by the doorway, welcoming the guests–speaking to stranger after stranger after barely known acquaintance. Clara had the poise that I lacked, and she laughed and chattered as I fought for the words that tripped so easily off her tongue. But Clara drew me into the brief conversations, and encouraged me to show myself to my best advantage. I might not want to marry any of the guests, but at the same time I did not want to be shown up as a country bumpkin. Perhaps I might be vain, but I wanted them at least to consider the prospect of marrying me, even if I had no interest in them!

 

Our cards were marked with our partners, and the ball began. As it was taking place at Clara’s house, it was she who led the couples out. I was content to take a secondary role, however, content to watch my love dance the figures and to follow where she led. I had never seen a gathering of so many people, and I was stunned by the heat and the noise, but at the same time I loved every second– the dancing, the drinks, the beautiful attire of the ladies and gentlemen. After a glass of champagne, I began to relax and enjoy myself, and I could see Clara doing the same.

 

My happy mood was not to last. Halfway through the ball, as I finished dancing with Edward Latimer, a man I had known since childhood, I looked up and caught a troubled expression on Mama’s face.

 

“Excuse me,” I said apologetically, as he offered to fetch me a drink, “but I must go to my mother.” I knew better than to dash across the ballroom: I had no wish to draw attention to my mother’s distress. Instead, I walked towards her as casually as I could. The mask slipped only when I was by her side. “Mama, what’s wrong?”

 

My mother forced a smile.

 

“Nothing, dear; why do you ask?”

 

I had never known her lie to me, and my suspicion of some intentional deceit was in itself more frightening than any truth might have been.

 

“What has happened?” I demanded urgently. I grasped her hand and held it between my own.

 

Her eyes fixed steadily on my own, her voice but a whisper. “I need you to be brave, Serena,” she said quietly. “I need you to return to the ball as if nothing has happened. Can you do that one thing for me?”

 

I nodded and squeezed her hand. If my silence was all I could do for her, I would keep my counsel. I paused a second, as the careless, laughing crowd turned about the room, and wondered whether any of them knew my mother’s secret. Clara danced past with her partner–a soldier who had received a major injury eighteen months earlier in the Battle of Leipzig. One of his legs was undeniably shorter than the other, but as he danced, his face showed no trace of the anxiety I saw in my mother’s. Whatever had upset her appeared to be only a family matter.

 

I looked around for my partner for the next dance, a Mr Feverley. He was a timid, young red–headed gentleman who stammered his request and looked appalled rather than grateful for my acceptance. He came hesitantly to meet me, still apparently deciding whether to dance or run, but his ambivalence was just what I needed. I began to forget my own troubles (and I still did not know what they were) even as I allayed his. I smiled at him encouragingly, and he managed the final few steps to my side with only the smallest of stumbles.

 

“Thank you for asking me,” I said, as he tripped towards me.

 

“My… my mother–I mean… my pleasure…”

 

My smile broadened. I recognised his mother from the hunted glance over his shoulder: a formidable woman who was determined that all of her relations should marry above their station.

 

“Don’t worry,” I murmured as the music started up again. “It’s only a dance, not a proposal to wed.”

 

Red–haired as he was, his face mirrored his scalp.

 

“It’s not–I don’t mean…”

 

“I know,” I soothed, and grasped his hand a little tighter. “Just relax and enjoy it. If truth be known, I’m as shy as you are. So let’s forget about it and dance.”

Wednesday Word of the Week

Behest – a person’s orders or command.

“they had assembled at his behest
Behest is a curious word. It looks like it should be related to ‘bequest’ but is actually closer to ‘request’. It also reminds me vaguely of behemoth, a peculiar biblical word.
Behest is also one of those words that I use in conversation and people give me a look which I suspect means “that’s only supposed to be used in books and not actually said aloud.” (There are many of these. They are not helped by the fact that I’m an unreliable pronouncer of words thanks to having picked up  a goodly part of my vocabulary from reading books.)
Whilst I’m on the subject of books and behest… Petticoats and Promises is now out (or will be tomorrow, possibly), and if people wanted to buy the book at my behest, that would be very excellent 🙂

Satisfied Saturday Six

The SSS celebrates six things that have gone well, or at least okay, in the past week. It is the creation of Terry Egan, who is all things wonderful.

1. I’ve got through another very boring medical appointment. (I would like to make it clear that my life is not usually quite so full of medical appointments as it is at the moment.)

 

2. It was Friday 13th yesterday. I like Friday 13ths. I was born on one, as was my uncle before me and my grandfather before him. There is a lesser known version of the ‘seventh son of a seventh son’ mystique, called the ‘third child of Friday 13th’ so I am blessed with remarkable magical powers. (Okay, I just made that up. But still. I like Friday 13ths.)

 

3. Also, Child and I had great fun with make up and dressing up yesterday 🙂 He is very cool.

 

4. Child has a new tenor horn. We have bought him one of his own, which feels like a Very Grown Up thing to have done. But he has been good about practising, so he deserves it.

 

5. We have been watching our way through the BBC’s series of Merlin. I make no claims for it being Amazing Television, but I do enjoy it and we’re now onto Series 3, which I know less well than the first two, so it’s interesting.

 

6.  The majority of the first draft of my article about Regency Mistresses is completed. And OMG, I have learned so much interesting stuff researching it!