Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lady Cadoret's Longing is Done

Seven days. It took seven days to write this short story, or is it a novella at 20,000 words? Of course, during the course of this week, I gave up laundry, vacuuming, cooking, dusting, working at the old house, mowing the lawns and showering. Okay, I did cook. Twice.

But it's done and I feel great. I like this story. It's cute. It also deals with some heavy duty topics, like death. Ewww. But I think I pulled it off with aplomb. Or perhaps after you read it you might think it bombs. I don't know.

Either way, I'm pretty happy with it. It's going into a collection with three of my other short stories. No, I'm sorry, you won't be able to find it singly by itself. I want to give people a chance to have the whole collection together in one place rather than taking space up on their e-readers.

I'm also going to put this book in paperback as well. Give-aways will be forthcoming in the fall. Perhaps if my fingers hold out, I may also be able to get THE LADY'S MASQUERADE finished in time for the celebration.

In other news, I also made a book trailer for THE DUKE'S DIVORCE. You can find it here for your viewing pleasure.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tentative First Pages

Well, it's been a while. Two weeks to be exact. As some of you know, I've been moving. It hasn't been easy. It also hasn't been easy to find the time to write. Lady Cadoret has been giving me fits.

I started her story a long time ago. But it didn't do anything for me. It was all backstory, which, if I were honest, doesn't bother me in the least. I'm not writing for New York. However, it wasn't going anywhere and I felt the story didn't begin in the right place.

Well, one day I had an idea and BINGO! There it was. The opening of the story. I'll give you a little taste and you can tell me what you think. Bear in mind, this is a rough draft and will probably not look like this after I get through edits and revisions.


Lady Dorcas Cadoret stepped down from the carriage behind her mother. Waiting for her father, she glanced up at the windows on the second floor to Caymore House. Dorcas was not looking forward to attending the Twelfth Night Ball. Another long, boring fete she must attend with her parents with no one to talk with and very few dance partners. Acquaintances saw her as a shallow, unintelligent girl who had sat for too long on the shelf. And her few friends shied away from her as her mother usually managed to make a complete ninny-hammer of both of them trying to find a suitable match for Dorcas.
            “Come along, Dorcas,” her mother snapped. “Pray do not dawdle. I hear Lady Olivia is going to make a very important announcement and I do not wish to miss it.”
            “Yes, Mother.” Dorcas lifted the hem of her skirts to avoid the mud puddle and followed her parents into the grand mansion in
Grosvenor Square
            Dorcas considered Lady Penelope one of her friends and did look forward to speaking with her. However, Dorcas also knew that Penny would probably not have the time. If only she could escape her mother's side for two minutes.
            Leaving her cape with the footman at the door, Dorcas dutifully followed her parents up the broad staircase to the receiving line, where Lady Olivia, the Duke and Duchess of Olmstead, and Lady Penelope and her handsome husband Lord Caymore stood.
            Dorcas caught a glimpse of the ballroom, still decorated with holly and pine boughs from Christmas. The crystal chandeliers twinkled like stars amid the massive throng of gaily-dressed people milling about the parquet floor.
            “Do stand up straight, Dorcas,” her mother hissed. “There is nothing worse than a slouching woman.”
            “Yes, Mother.” Dorcas sighed.
            “And for pity’s sake, paste a smile on your face. How do you expect to gain the attention of a man if you look as if you were attending a funeral?”
            “Yes, Mother.” Dorcas slightly lifted the corners of her lips.
            “There now, that is much better.” Countess Shreve patted her daughter on the arm. “You will also remember to mention nothing of your headache. Your father wishes to remain all evening and I will not have him upset. Perhaps later, I may enquire of Lady Olivia if you might take a respite in a quiet room, but for now, I wish you to seem happy and gay.”
            “Yes, Mother.”
            Their turn to say hello to the hosts had arrived and Dorcas curtsied. 
            “Dorcas, it is so lovely to see you again,” Penny said, grabbing Dorcas by the hand. “I am so glad you could attend this night.”
            “Thank you, Lady Penelope. Tis an honor to receive such a kind invitation.” Dorcas felt a bony finger in her back nudging her to move forward. She remained where she stood. “I do hope we shall be able to speak for a few moments later in the evening.”
            “Yes, I look forward to it.”
            Another poke in her ribcage forced Dorcas to step away. Her mother grabbed her arm. “It is not ladylike to monopolize the hosts in such a way, Dorcas. They have more important people to speak with than you.”
            As her mother went to speak with friends, Dorcas turned away and walked to stand with the other wallflowers. Years of listening to her mother harp at her had hardened her to the censure, but still, just once, she would like to hear one kind word from her mother’s lips. If her mother thought about it, she might realize Lady Penelope could be a boon to Dorcas’ standing in Society. However, Dorcas knew her mother would never put stock into allowing such an intimate acquaintance. Dorcas, as the only daughter of the Earl of Shreve, was not high enough born to be in the same social circle.
            Dorcas looked up from her perusal of the floor to find her old friend Violet, now the Marchioness of Haverlane standing in front of her.
            “Lady Violet,” Dorcas said, surprised. She made a quick curtsey. It had been some time since the two had spoken. Violet’s one Season had landed her a wealthy Marquess.
            “Please do not stand on such ceremony, Dorcas. We are friends, are we not?”
            “Yes, of course.” She prayed her mother would not take this moment to attend her.
            “Good, then I am going to spirit you away with me. I cannot bear to see you standing here so alone and forlorn. Come, I will introduce you to some new friends and we will all be a merry party while we wait for Penny.”
            “Violet, I am not sure I may. My mother, you see…”
            Violet placed her hand on Dorcas’ arm. “Violet, I am the Marchioness of Haverlane now. If I choose to have you as my especial friend this night, surely, your mother will have no objection.”
            Dorcas smiled. “I’m afraid you do not know my mother.”
            “No, I do not, but Lady Olivia does, and it was she who sent me to you, so your mother cannot disapprove. Come now, I will brook no refusal.” With that, Violet wrapped her hand around Dorcas’ elbow and pulled her away from the corner.

Anne Gallagher copyright (c) 2012                  

So what do you think? Do you hate Lady Shreve as much as I do? Do you think poor Dorcas will find her mettle and stand up to her?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Regency in Rhyming Verse

Forgive my not being around these last few weeks. I know I mentioned something about a series awhile back, but I'm still moving from the old house. Problem is, it's been hovering in the low 100's here in NC for the last fortnight and the heat is just sucking the life right out of me.

But here for your viewing pleasure is a poem my very dear friend, Mr. Robert Van de Laak has written for me that I would like to share with you. It's very clever, indeed, and I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.

To Anne

In years gone by, a chef was she,
Cooking meals, for you and me.
But aches and pains across her spine,
Put an end to such food divine.
After many years of making meals,
She put away her knives and steels.

That strange white coat she used to wear,
Is gone now, and she’s loosed her hair.
The hat she wore to keep it hidden,
Lies in the cupboard now, unbidden.
If you’ve not tried it, please be told,
A chef’s long shift soon makes you old.

So, Anne’s given up her ladle, and taken up the pen,
She’s moved out of the kitchen, to sit now in the den.
She writes of England, in those times,
When Lords, and Ladies suffered climes
Which seem much worse now, looking back,
As castles then were cold and black.

Of regencies, by fat old princes,
Whose morals too, caused many winces.
The clothes, I’ll grant, were more explicit,
Off the shoulder, “Ooh, exquisite!”
The men, you see, had all the pleasures,
Viewing up close the young girls’ treasures.

What fascinates us now, I ponder,
Just what went on in that land yonder.
The best of men went off to France,
While fops, and fribbles, stayed to dance.
At balls, cotillions, fairs, and routs,
They spent their days in drunken bouts.

Some men came back from Hooky’s wars,
Some in one piece, some carried sores.
From fights in Portugal, or Spain,
In dust, or dirt, or driving rain.
To marry rich, appealed to many,
The family’s poor, we haven’t got a single penny.

“My brother, Sir, he was the heir,
While fighting Bony, he died there.
I was there too, at Waterloo,
And now I’m back, what must I do?
My father died, the coffer’s bare,
The estate’s ruined, I was the spare!”

“The flower of English manhood lost,
Never did we expect to pay such cost.
We went to war, for King and country,
What did we get, for our effrontery?
The noble familes of this nation.
Suffering now, through much privation!”

My factor, limping on his crutch,
”I’ll tell you sir, it’s all too much.
The estate is broken, and unless,
You marry quick, and an heiress,
You’ll find despite your best orison,
Soon you’ll be in debtor’s prison!”

“So you see, sir, it makes me sick,
Soon I’ll be at the river Tick.
I’m still so young, I’d rather tarry,
But my lawyer, sir, he bids me “MARRY!”
I now have a title, your daughter-wealth,
I’d wed her in church, or even by stealth.”

Manufactories in Sheffield , ‘Brum’,
Mills for cloth, began to hum.
Their owners, smart, came into money,
Said to their daughters, “There, there, Honey.
The ‘ton’ is poor, and with all my blunt,
The marriage mart for a spouse you’ll hunt”

They may turn up their big, noble beak,
But money shouts, it doesn’t squeak!
Where riches are, some men will jump,
No, No, my dear, forget your hump!
He’s poor, you’re rich, he’ll take the hint,
He’ll marry you, despite that squint!

“What’s that? Marry for love?
What ever are you thinking of?
That whole idea’s just a con,
You’ll soon see THAT within the ‘ton’.
They care not who, or even where,
Once they’ve begotten their damned heir!

If you are careful, nay discreet,
Take who you like up in your suite!
A strong young footman, or a valet,
Invite them quietly in to your salle’.
Your maid of course you’d have to trust,
'cause otherwise, your name is bust.

But as you’re rich, not dumb, but clever,
You should reward her quiet endeavour.
Perhaps you’ll find that she would rather,
For her own child acquire a father.
On your estates in nearby Kent,
You JUST might know of such a gent!
Your husband grows sugar in Jamaica,
Maybe his manager, out there might take her.
Deceit? I know, can be a pain,
But, so’s  the love you have to feign. 
I’d think it through, before you start,
Lest others think to call you “Tart!”

To Gretna Green, so many fled,
In disgrace, or too young to wed.
Over the anvil, or by priest,
But married you are, to say the least.
You won’t have to bear any cruel teasing,
Though all can see that you’re increasing!

The ladies talked while taking tea,
Their pinkies held out straight, you see.
The conventions were all of side saddle,
They condemned the one who rode astraddle.
They were just hoydens and uncouth,
“Forgive them dear, it’s just their youth.”

Reputation destroyed, by malicious mouth,
Of family names were all sent south.
“We must defeat the opposition,
Fight and beat, the competition.
To achieve in marriage, a duke or earl,
Avoiding of course, the untitled churl.”

I’ve read a lot of these fine novels,
The rich lived well, the poor in hovels.
But there’s one thing where authors cavil,
So many horses, used for travel.
Horses pulled the curricles, and carts,
Yet no one ever mentions FARTS!

To Bath each year, so many went,
To drink the waters, and repent
Them of their gross excesses,
They all imagined they had stresses.
So many meals, so many course
Such lovely foods, and all those sauces.

The waters, we know, were quite revolting,
Yet each year they went, exulting.
The men in wigs, even some women,
As we know now, and they knew then,
Their wigs, their hair, with glorious “perms” in,’
Often hid lice, and other vermin!

The next stanza I should abhor,
But I simply can’t, will not ignore.
Their personal hygiene I fear,
Does not come through so loud and clear.
Soap of the day was harsh and strong,
Made from lye, potash, felt wrong.

A dedicated room for washing?
“Oh my dear, you must be joshing!
Some hot water in a bowl, a cloth, some soap,
A quick swipe and there, we’ll cope.
After that, just like the French,
Our bodies in perfume we’ll drench!

Softer soap from across the Channel,
Feels so good, on a nice new flannel.
Softly scented, violets, roses,
Does not offend those genteel noses.
Even strong scents from India far,
Helped to hide some smells, like tar!

We read of powder, patch, and pearls,
Hair up, or down, straight, or in curls.
“A cap sleeve now, on both your shoulder,
 No, lower dear, it looks much bolder!
If coy you are, then wear a fichu,
You can even bulk it out with tissue!

Your honour lost? “Oh, quel horreur!”
Was it love, or rape, by force majeur?
No other choice now, off you hie,
We’ll hope it’s forgotten, by and by.
If all else fails, you go abroad,
Perhaps you’ll wed some foreign lord.

Have you enjoyed these word  ajumble?
Such English words I love to tumble.
For me, It started with Miss Heyer,
Her times and gentry lit my fire.
Poetry should scan, and rhyme,
 Prose is not so near sublime!

(c) 2012 Robert Van de Laak

Wasn't that just fantastic? Robert is an amazing copy editor/proofreader (you can find his website here) and as you can see, a fabulous poet.