Friday, December 30, 2011

2011--A Good Year

It's interesting how much of what one perceives about whether a year is "good" or "bad" depends on one's personal circumstances, but that's only normal.

2011 was a good year for me, but I'll look globally as well.  In 2011 we saw dictators toppled and baby-steps toward democracy in the Middle East.  Young people and old channeled outrage at the status quo and began Occupying various cities.  If nothing else, it raised the level of dialog over the current state of the economy, which I find to be a civic virtue.  People need to become active and motivated to make change, whether it's at the ballot box or on the barricades.

Most of the troops are home from Iraq after a long, drawn out conflict. This is a very good thing indeed.

It was a good year for me personally and professionally.  Sea Change was published to glowing reviews and some delightful fan letters.  My backlist continues to do well.  This was the year that I saw huge growth in ebook sales of my novels as more and more readers discover the ease and convenience of various ereaders (just a reminder--all my books come in a variety of formats, including Kindle).  I have a completed manuscript for my next novel,  Castaway Dreams, and I'm hard at work on my seventh novel, [working title] The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby (and yes, I can pretty much assure you that will not be the publication title, but it's fun saying it.). In addition, Sea Change is a 2011 CAPA nominee for historical romance.

I was a program participant at Boskone, a regional SF convention in Boston, and will be there again this year,  I was also a program participant at the World SF Convention (Worldcon) in Reno, Nevada, and plan to attend Worldcon in Chicago (Chicon 7) and DSC (Deep South Con) this summer.

It was also a good year personally.  We're enjoying fine health, my husband is golfing more and getting out of the office, we took some wonderful trips, and my adult sons are living close enough to each other to spend time together.  One son got his master's degree from Harvard (I cannot say that often enough) and a great job, the other son received a fellowship to do a year of seminary study and is enjoying that.

My dachshund is hanging in there at 13 years, still rockin' the neighborhood on walkies.

No hurricanes attacked us.  My camellias are blooming.  Life is good.

Here's wishing you and yours all the best in 2012.  May this coming year bring you much contentment, and great reading pleasure with a pirate novel or two.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guest Blogging on Regency Florida

I'm guest blogging over at "The Regency World of Author Lesley-Anne McLeod" on Dec. 30 (Friday).  If you'd like to learn a bit about what was going on in Florida during the Regency period, drop on by.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Just popping in to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Here in Florida we don our festive tropical shirts rather than reindeer decorated sweaters, but  the lights on the neighborhood houses still twinkle brightly even if there's no snow to reflect them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Avoiding Fashion Disasters

I worry about this in my writing, but not in real life.  One of the best things about being a full time writer is working in a tropical shirt with flamingos, shorts and a pair of sandals.

When I'm writing though I want to make sure I have my wardrobe scenes correctly done.  One of the things that distracted me from full enjoyment of the classic Lawrence Olivier, Greer Garson Pride and Prejudice was the dressing of the women in styles more suited to the 1840s than the beginning of the 19th C.: More Romantic than Classical.  Interestingly, Wikipedia says that was a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers, who wanted more elaborate costumes than those of Austen's era.

Today I was working on a piece where the heroine, who's traveling to England aboard a pirate ship in 1818, receives a pelisse from the captain because her clothing is too tropical in weight for the North Atlantic.  Captain St. Armand has a touch of the metrosexual about him and knows his fashions. I consulted Cunnington's comprehensive guide on English women's dress in the 19th C. to keep it period accurate, though I may have taken a liberty or two since I needed to work the previously mentioned pink satin into it:


It was at the end of one of those lessons that Sails came looking for her. He was older than the other sailors, with a deep scar pitting his cheek and pulling up his eyelid, but nimble fingers and sinewy arms from years of wrestling canvas and hemp into shape.

“I have your jacket here, Miss. Captain St. Armand said to bring it to you as it’s blowin’ up stiff in the next day or two.”

He unwrapped a length of worn, but clean cotton in the late afternoon sun. Inside was a pelisse, longer than the jackets the men wore and bearing no resemblance to their utilitarian gear. It was sapphire silk brocade shot with gold threads, and lined with the pink satin. Golden buttons rimmed with seed pearls fastened the front, and the collar was deep.

Lydia stared at it, speechless. It was a garment fit for a princess, not a governess. Sails did not look at her as he pointed out the features.

“See, the brocade would have been scratchy up around your face and neck, so that’s why the captain gave me the beaver pelt to line it for you.”

“Beaver?” she asked dumbly. There was fur on the jacket, deep rich, brown fur. She put her hand out to stroke it, and it was kitten soft beneath her fingertips. It was the same fur as the captain’s pillow and it made her think of how that pillow must feel against bare skin.

“We got those pelts off of a Canadian who traded to us and saved himself a trip to England for his efforts.”

“Mr. Sails, it is lovely, but—“

“If you reject it, you will make poor Sails feel miserable,” said a low voice in her ear. “Look at how much effort he put into your jacket. That hideous cap, however, is completely wrong for this ensemble. You need a bonnet made in England, Miss Burke, something in plush to set this garment off.”

Lydia turned to look at St. Armand, but he was looking down at the fabric spread out for her view, the brocade glowing in the mellow light.

“The pink works well for a lining and if you had a fabric rose or two adorning your bonnet it would add to the appearance. But only if the roses are on the crown, far enough from your face not to make you look sallow.”

He leaned over and swooped up the garment, and while Lydia stood as still and dumb as a wooden puppet he took his jacket off of her and helped her slip her arms into the new pelisse, the satin sliding over the rough wool of her gray dress. Then he turned her toward him, raising the fur collar to frame her face.

“I approve, Sails. You’ve done a masterful job on Miss Burke’s gear.”

So when I pick up this scene tomorrow I've got my heroine in a garment that's going to point out to her, once again, how drab her life is without a pirate bringing a little color (and a touch of decadent luxury) into her existence.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Amber Quill Press authors chatting at Yahoo Groups

All day Friday, December 9, Amber Quill Press authors will be chatting at Beth Wylde's group, posting excerpts, answering questions and doing giveaways.  AQP publishes not only the best in historical romance (including all of my novels), but a wide range of digital and print editions featuring protagonists of all persuasions: M/F, M/M, F/F and more.  There's erotica, mystery, romance, sf and fantasy to name a few of their genres.  Stop on by, say "Hi!", ask questions of the authors and check out the contests.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"A Date Which Will Live in Infamy"

Every American of my parents' generation could tell you where he or she was on December 7, 1941.  The attack on Pearl Harbor was seared into the collective consciousness.

My father was at Pearl.  He was serving as a seaman, 2C aboard the USS West Virginia (picture below), had been there since November, 1940.  He never talked much about his war experiences, though he somewhat casually mentioned swimming to safety from the sinking ship.  He served in the Pacific, mostly aboard the USS Bennington after it was commissioned.  He occasionally mentioned some of the places he saw, and told amusing stories of what happened when newbies crossed the equator for the first time and were inducted into the Court of King Neptune, a time-honored tradition sea tradition.

I knew he'd been awarded a Purple Heart for being wounded in action, but I never knew he'd received a Bronze Star until his death.  Sometimes he'd get out his bosun's pipe and do calls if we asked nicely.

During the War Dad came home and married his high school sweetheart in 1944, then returned to his ship.  I have a picture of them across the hall from where I'm writing this, my mom lovely in yards of white satin, my dad tall and proud in his dress blues.  After the war he came home, went to work, raised us after my mom died young, and would have been puzzled if I'd said he was a hero.

But he was a hero.  So here's to all the heroes, men and women, who served in the war.  It's been 70 years since Pearl Harbor, and many of them, like my father, are gone, but we haven't forgotten them.

Monday, December 05, 2011

A crewman came in with a broken arm to be set, but the remaining injuries were minor ones, and the men's spirits were high. She learned the reason when Captain Fletcher came in, freshly washed and wearing a clean shirt. He looked good enough to lick, blast him.
"Doctor! You will not believe what that ship was hauling."
"Jewels? Gold?"
"Almost as good as! Ripe gold! Here, catch."
He tossed a sphere to her and she grabbed it one handed out of the air. It was a fruit, its nubby skin mottled but whole, the fragrance rising up to her nostrils even over the scent of blood and medicine.
"Casks and casks of oranges! This cargo will fetch a fortune in New York, Doctor."
--Sea Change

My little orange tree produced eight beautiful pieces of fruit this year.  I'm so proud of it!  It will yield more fruit as it gets larger, but there's nothing quite like eating a fresh orange off the tree, sunwarmed and sweet.  It's especially nice this time of year because it's a reminder of when oranges were the crop Florida sent up by boat and train to the frozen north, and an orange in a Christmas stocking was a special treat for a boy or girl.

I hope your holidays are filled with fragrance and lusciousness, and maybe a Florida orange or two.