Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unusual Characters

In writing THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT, I've decided to use some minor characters that are unusual. No, not vampires, angels or werewolves, not anything paranormal, just one little old lady and a dog.

Oona, yes, that's her name, is Rosamund's old governess. About five years back she took a tumble down the stairs and at the same time, had a heart attack. Poor Oona. Now, she can't speak, walks with a limp, and is kind of crazy. Kind of. She's very sweet though, has the mind of a child, dresses in Rosamund's old girly gowns, and wanders around the manor like some kind of Alice in Wonderland looking for mischief.

Then there's Tuck. Short for Friar Tuck. He's the dog. Originally he was going to be an Irish Wolfhound, huge beast of a dog, but the picture I have for the cover shows some kind of spaniel, so in order to not confuse the reader, I gave Tuck the spaniel features, only a little bigger. He's a "good dog, a loyal and true boon companion". That is, according to the lady who used to own him.

Now why am I placing these characters in the story? Because I can. These characters may not seem much to you now, here, in this blog post, but they add so much to the story. Unease, upset, anger, heroism, compassion, loyalty, love. And who doesn't love a crazy old lady and a dog?

Tell me -- Do you love those wacky characters in stories, or would you rather just read about the hero and heroine?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Working Hard

As a writer, in order to perfect our craft, we're told to write something every day. Whether that be 500 words or a steady goal of  1,000-2,000 words.

My goal output for the day is generally around 2,000 - 3,000 words a day M-F. I'm lucky that I'm a full-time writer. (Or at least I try to be. Motherhood always comes first.)

However, yesterday morning I decided to get into THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT for a few minutes in the morning before I started my housecleaning. I started with 10,837 words already written. I added a chapter. That brought me up to approx. 12,000 words.

I finished my housecleaning, added some laundry and a little yardwork in for good measure. Brought my plants in from the carport, and hung new curtains in my bedroom. Then I got back on the computer. I sat down at 3:30.

I walked away at 9:30. I now have 22,539 words on THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT. And not all of them are bad. In fact, some of them are pretty good. I actually cracked myself up during a few passages. Of course, not everyone will find them as funny as I do, but I was having fun.

And that, my friends, is the secret to writing a novel. When you are in the "zone" and only sheer exhaustion keeps you from finishing it.

A total of 12,000 words for the day doesn't come along fairly often, but when it does, I seize the opportunity. One never knows when it will happen again.

I'm hoping to finish this novel quite quickly. I'm in love with the story, and the characters, and the words are flowing. I've added a few twists for Lady Olivia of all people (what are my novels without Lady Olivia) and Rory does get his comeuppance, not once, but possibly three times. Rosamund is a determined young woman and will do anything to keep her secret from being found out, even if it does mean marrying the wrong man.

So, that's what I've been doing lately. Today is back to the old house to finish painting the trim. You may say, "No, finish the story." But that is another secret to writing a novel. Once the words have been purged, you need to replenish the coffer. Doing meaningless repetitive tasks allows the mind to wander. Hopefully, when I'm done, I'll be able to add another 4-5K tonight.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I had some free time this weekend and decided to write some more on T.E.E. Thought I'd share a little passage with you. There are a few pages before this, but this is when Rory meets Rosamund (in disguise). Hope you like it.


Riding out of London, Rory sat tall in the saddle and breathed in the fresh air. Yes, this was just what he needed. Time spent discussing books with men who were dedicated to the art of scholarly pursuits. Old Harry Merrit, Davingdale’s uncle, and he had spent a few nights interpreting Greek myths for Merrit’s tome. Rory’s field of expertise was the ancient city of Peloponnesus and although in the same mien, Rory was not very good at remembering the Olympians. Lord Briden’s company would be very welcome indeed. He knew all things pre-Roman civilization.
            Following Quiggins’ directions, he turned left onto Primrose Vale Road and followed it quite a distance. Behind several copses of trees, cows dotted the hillside and Rory saw no signs of the Warwickeshire establishment. Where was the house? The road abruptly ended with a fence and turnstile and Rory turned his horse around to face the direction in which he had come. A smallish trail of smoke drifted above him to the left. Just there, behind a dense growth of old oak, elm, and brush, Rory saw the outline of a large house. But how to get to it? There seemed to be no entrance.
            Rory walked the horse up and down the landscape searching for a way in. He urged his mount through a thicket of overgrown ivy where he found the neglected and forgotten drive. He wondered if he were in the right place. As there was only one way to find out, he encouraged the animal up the short hill where he came upon a rundown manor.
            The place sat overgrown with weeds, bramble, and looked as if it had been abandoned. A huge tree limb had fallen across the front portico, smashing one of the columns to the ground. Planks haphazardly nailed across the broken window to the left gave the appearance of a winking frown. Another limb held up the roof of the porch. He gazed again skyward, the smoke seeming to come from around back. Nudging his mount toward the side of the house, his horse stopped suddenly at the sight of an ancient woman dressed in a young girl’s calico gown.
            She hummed as she walked, oblivious to the sight of Rory on his horse. However, when she did see him, her face twisted into a grotesque mask of fright and she let out a keening cry.
            Arreeee! Arreeee!” She gathered up her skirts and fled to the back of the house.
            Rory followed, hoping at least to assure the old woman he meant her no harm. Certain he was in the wrong place, he only wanted to apologize and get direction to Briden’s manor.
            As he rounded the corner, a young servant girl in a dirty apron comforted the crone.
            “There now, Oona, all is well. No harm will come to you. Run inside and find a biscuit.”
            A branch snapped under his animal’s hoof and startled both women. The elder hid behind the younger as she picked up a rusty shovel. Rory noticed the hole in the ground and a beaten bush lying on its side. An old wheelbarrow filled with dirt and stone stood to the right of the hole. Had she dug that up herself?
            “Who are you? What do you do here?” The young woman held a threatening pose with the spade and stood her ground.
            “Forgive me,” Rory said and tipped the corner of his hat. “I was looking for the Earl of Warwickeshire’s home and I seem to be lost.”
            “What do you want with him?”
            The wench had a cheeky nerve demanding to know his business, but Rory knew these simple country folk looked out for each other. It was the same in Caithness when hunters crossed his land. His tenants always alerted him to their whereabouts.
            “I am an acquaintance of his, lately of Scotland, now in London for a short time. I thought to look him up before I departed.”
            The girl seemed to ease her grip on the implement’s handle. “What is your name?”
            “Gregory Scott, Earl of Bailey.”
            Rory couldn’t be sure, but he thought the girl blanched underneath the dirt smudges on her face. She placed the shovel on the dirt pile in the wheelbarrow and took the old woman’s hand as if she now needed comforting.
            “His lordship is not receiving today,” she said, her chin jutting forward. “If you leave a card, I will ensure he sees it.” She took a tentative step toward his horse dragging the old woman with her.
            “I would be much obliged.” Rory reached into his jacket and drew out a small square of vellum. Handing it to her, she snatched it like a pauper waiting for a loaf of bread.
            “Oona, Minnie, where are you, darlings?” A voice called out from behind the women.
            Oona broke free of the young girl and ran toward the sound. A middle-aged woman dressed in a light grey morning gown appeared on the edge of the terrace, Oona hiding behind her.
            “Minnie, why did you not tell me we had company?” The older woman smiled. “Good day to you, sir. I am the Countess of Warwickeshire.”
            “Gregory Scott, Earl of Bailey, mum. My cousin is Lady Olivia, Dowager Duchess of Caymore. I am an acquaintance of your husband through correspondence and thought to call upon him. Forgive me for not sending a card. I only thought to seek his company an hour ago.”
            “Lord Bailey, it is very nice to make your acquaintance. Unfortunately, my husband is not receiving today. Perhaps you will wait for an invitation when he is feeling better.”
            “Yes, of course. Forgive my impertinence. I had no wish to disturb you. Good day.” Rory tipped his hat once more and tugged the reins to bring his mount around.
            “No,” the young girl said and stepped forward. “It is easier on your horse if you follow the path through the meadow. We do not use the front drive any longer.”
            Rory looked down at her. “As you wish.”
            The girl made a half curtsey and went to stand with the two women on the terrace.
            Rory walked his mount past them and followed the small path down through the meadow. Upon entering some trees, he turned and gazed at the house. The two older women were gone, but the young girl remained on the terrace watching him. He waved once and then entered the cool shade of the oaks.
            If this was truly the Earl of Warwickshire’s home, he could only imagine what he would find when he met the Earl.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


In writing my stories, it seems I need a little help in "seeing" my characters before I even jot down the first word. I tend to scan the PBS/BBC film archives to find who I'm looking for. Last year in the A-Z challenge in April, I spent the whole month showing who I thought my characters would be if I met them in real life. (Scroll way down to the bottom of this page to find the archives and click on April if you want to see them.)

This is whom I chose to portray Rosamund -- Lady Rosamund Briden, the Earl of Warwickshire's daughter.

She's a sensible girl, a little high spirited, smart, loves her family, and will do anything for them.  A no nonsense kind of gal, Rosamund has a lot on her plate and digs in when the going gets tough. She's taking care of her aging parents while the manor in which they live is falling down around their ears, and the man next door wants their farm to combine with his to make an estate for his own and will do anything to get it. Forcing her hand in marriage is high on his list of priorities.

If that isn't bad enough, she's done something so nefarious and underhanded that if she's found out, there will be terrible consequences, not only for her, but her family as well. And no, sorry, I'm not telling you what it is.

Her secret is safe for the moment, but when the Earl of Bailey shows up unexpectedly on her doorstep, Rosamund is nearly hysterical, for he's the only person who could actually guess her secret. Makes for a great plot, don't you think?

This is the cover image I found for the book. They kind of look almost the same, don't you think? Okay, maybe not so much, but Thomas Lawrence's rendition of Lady Maria Conygham is just soooo pretty, I couldn't resist. Also, she's got her dog with her and I just love dogs.

I've finished the first chapter and am really excited about how it's going so far. Lots of tension mounting.

Rosamund has not been in Society, yes, she's had her come-out, but meeting men is not what this lady is all about. She'd rather cozy up with a good book in front of the fire.

So what do you think of Rosamund?