“Journal, Paris, 21 October 1792”

A last post before heading off tomorrow….

JOURNAL, Hertfordshire, 26 August 2016, Early morning.

Weather fine. Another warm day to come it appears. We depart tomorrow for France. Little is packed as of yet, but I’ll do that later today. Much to do before….

In Conventions, a variety of historical figures appear in places, times and contexts that conform to their actual lives (insofar as I can reasonably manage – this is fiction, after all). I strive to make the fictionals similarly “real” and even have “years of birth” in mind: “Robert,” 1765; “Henry,” 1765; “Marie-Thérèse,” 1768; “Carolina,” 1770; “Charles,” 1755; “Jacques,” 1755; “Amandine,” 1774, etc.

Line art representation of a Quill. [Public Domain. Wikipedia.]
Line art representation of a Quill. [Public Domain. Wikipedia.]

I’ve decided also to include what was common in the later 18th century: travel journals. In this case, it will be one kept by “Robert.”

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Fictional Inhabitants Of A Bygone Era

Working away yesterday on Conventions, at one point it struck me again how you may outline and pre-plan a novel to the smallest degree, but that’s nowhere near the same thing as actually writing it. I find some of my (in my opinion) “best” stuff comes via improvisation and even accidentally…. while I’m actually writing. Such is how real life itself, too, often unfolds for us, of course.

Paper printed version of the planned "Conventions" front cover. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Paper printed version of the planned “Conventions” front cover. [Photo by me, 2016.]

I thought it might be fun relatedly this morning to share some “quick hit” samples that may give a “feel” of fictional characters within the tale and their time. They “co-exist” amongst what were real historical people. Among the fictional, first and foremost, and perhaps unsurprisingly, is the New York-born twenty-something around whom the tale unfolds:

Excerpt from "Conventions." Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Conventions.” Click to expand.

And he’s just the start.

There’s the (initially 17 year old) daughter of an English baronet:

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What The Poet “Said”

It’s a pleasant surprise to have your phone ping around 10pm and find this, as I did last night. I screen captured it earlier this morning. Yes, this is about the time I usually start my day:

Text messages exchange screen capture.
Text messages exchange screen capture.

That opener is from my new poet friend, Tracey, in Cambridge. She’d found out who I am through a mutual friend. She’d texted me a few weeks ago that she wanted to read what I’d written.

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Instagram “7-7-7” Challenge (Brought To WordPress)

For starters, I would like to point out that what follows is all Kate Colby’s (The Cogsmith’s Daughter and The Courtesan’s Avenger) fault.😉 Yesterday, I found on Instagram that she had included me (along with six other authors) in a “challenge” to share 7 sentences from page 7 in my latest work in progress. Next I needed to challenge 7 additional authors to do the same.

Quickly, I was able to offer up the first two sevens in Conventions, and did so:

7 lines from page 7 of Conventions, in progress. [Photo by me, 2016.]
7 sentences from page 7 of Conventions, in progress. [Photo by me, 2016.]
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“War with France again? Oh, how dreadful.”

I don’t want Conventions to be too similar to the Atlantic Lives novels (which I plan currently to return to after Conventions). It’s a huge challenge as a writer to try to head down a different path. But tackling new challenges is what authoring is all about: if you stay in your “comfort zone,” you’ll get stale.

For the first time I’m discovering the real challenge in being original is to be original again and again. We all have distinctive styles and I’m increasingly seeing what constitutes mine. We are inherently ourselves as writers, so it’s exceedingly difficult to avoid writing your previous books… over and over.

"Passports," "Frontiers," and "Distances" on my desk. [Photo by me, 2016.]
“Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances” on my desk. [Photo by me, 2016.]
But this latest one has to be different in a variety of senses. First off, it will take place mostly between 1787-1795. That alone makes it a true “historical” effort – none of us living remember that time.

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From Our Forebears

If you write historical fiction, this sort of stuff is great to encounter. It gets you thinking. How our world continues to evolve:

Screen capture of the Guardian.
Screen capture of the Guardian.

Objectively, that’s essentially true: our norms are “male.” However, it is also true that such is due to our social heritage. It hasn’t come about in an historical vacuum.

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Noticed By A Poet

A couple of months ago a mutual friend put me in touch with a poet in Cambridge. Tracey, the poet, is also a self-confessed “techno-phobe.” Nonetheless, she is hoping to see her work in e-book form (it’s already in print) and our shared friend had thought of me, and I offered to help.

In the interim, however, we have had our house move here to Hertfordshire, so I haven’t been able to be much help yet. But recently she wrote me that she wanted to read some of what I’d written. Well, I found out yesterday: she texted me that she now has Passports:

Screen capture of a text message to me yesterday.
Screen capture of a text message to me yesterday.

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The Gallery Is Open

Having some “artistic” fun this morning messing around with the Prisma app. A photographer friend on Instagram loves it. I thought I’d give it a play myself.

I’ve run a few photos through it. These first two may (I hope!) look familiar to you. I used the app to “artwork” the original front and back cover photographs for Distances:

Front cover of "Distances," in Prisma.
Front cover of “Distances,” in Prisma.

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From 2013 To The Now

I thought I would use this post this morning to pause and simply say “thank you.”

For starters, I say “thanks” because I’ve gone from of course virtually no one reading this blog in its infancy in December 2013, to a LOT more of you now, many of you on a regular basis. Over the years quite a few of you have been buying my books also – a fact which, when I think about it, truly humbles me. That you do always drives me on to make the next novel better than the last one.

Hertfordshire, England countryside. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Hertfordshire, England countryside. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Avec La France

We’re going to Bordeaux, France, in a couple of weeks’ time for a one week getaway. We’ve rented a holiday house on the coast. I am looking forward to it immensely partly because I’ve already decided the city will feature in the new book…. and getting details on the ground there is a bit like “location scouting” for a film.😉

France has been a major part of the backdrop – in case you have somehow missed this – for what I’ve written and write about thus far. I make no claim to being an “expert” on it; but I’ve visited various parts of the country and spent quite a bit of time there over the last nearly thirty years. (OMG, did I just write THIRTY?!) All told, it is by far where I’ve spent the most time in my life after here in Britain.

Hôtel des Invalides, Paris. [Photo by me, 1994.]
Hôtel des Invalides, Paris. [Photo by me, 1994.]

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