For instance in Compromised into Marriage:
- When the bad girl stops the carriage with a bang.
- The companions non-role in the scene.
- The hat that fell out of the vehicle, and how something so simple gave the heroine an option.
Some writers know exactly which direction their story will go, and I envy them. But not always. Some of my favorite scenes in a book are often surprises that I didn't see happening when I started.
For instance in Compromised into Marriage:
Imagine if you were young, beautiful, ill, sheltered, not expected to live, and you'd never been kissed. That could feel tragic to a young woman.
If a herbalist said she could save you, and all you had to do was promise to marry some rich, eligible bachelor, it would be a no-brainer. Sign me up, a young heroine might say.
So, Vivian Darius promises to marry Lord Everleigh. Not a problem, she thinks, because she isn't expected to live.
But then she gets well. As her health improves, it's time for her to make good on the promise, except he didn't agree to anything, except a kiss...
Writing these characters is what makes writing enjoyable, and seeing the twists and turns as the story arrives on the page. When you begin writing, you've made a promise to the character to make sure she gets her happy ending. Then, on publication day, it's official.
I chose the name Vivian for the heroine in Compromised into Marriage because I thought it had an elegant sound. It could be Vivianne or Vyvian. But I picked the common spelling of Vivian because I wanted the readers to feel she was someone they might know.
For the hero, his name became Everleigh...because that just seemed to fit him. Someone who was going to be there for...ever.
And, Ella Etta's name was first mentioned by my husband when his family tree was being discussed. I didn't ask for the specific year his relative was alive, but it wouldn't surprise me if it is authentic to the time frame of the story.
Hope you enjoy the characters as much as I did, except I hope you hate the women who stepped in front of the carriage. And, I hope you like Vivian's damage control!
I searched online to find A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe,
People started dying of a "distemper" or "Spotted Fever".
Many people left town, and Defoe was uncertain whether he should leave or not. He was unmarried, but considered that he had a family of servants and his business to look after.
When he half-decided to go, he realized there wasn't transport available. No horses to rent or buy. His married brother was leaving and implored Defoe to go as well. At one point, the servant Defoe had been planning to travel with took matters into his own hands. He left without Defoe. Finally, Defoe decided he should stay, a decision he regretted when he was in the midst of the sickness unfolding around him.
He also noted that theft from the unoccupied houses of people who'd fled wasn't unheard of. And, he realized that other people tried to profit from the disaster by selling medicinal concoctions.
In one area, women and children weren't allowed to attend the funerals of people dying of the plague. Trustworthy people were appointed to check out the residences where illnesses were suspected. If confirmed, the houses were to be shut up for a month, with the occupants inside, and two watchmen outside.
One watchman worked during the night. The other during the day. If they had to leave their post, they were to lock the door. They had padlocks. These watchmen were also responsible to get necessities for the people inside, either from their own pocket, or financial assistance would be provided. (Think houses with windows, and people inside not always voluntarily confined.)
The people in the houses were contained for a month, and after everyone was deemed well, they were not allowed to sell any belongings of a deceased person for another month, and only then after the items had been treated with smoke and perfume.
—I had to stop reading at this point.. The version I was reading was a scanned version of an original copy, and not easily studied. Later, I found the Project Gutenberg copy which is clear and well-done, and I've included a link below. (If you're not familiar with Project Gutenberg and you're confined to your house, now is a good time to check it out.)
My takeaway from the book is that people 370 years ago, although unaware of germs, were little different than we are. Some were in such terror that they tricked the watchmen so they could escape their houses, with possible fatal results to their friends who might shelter them.
Another takeaway is our extreme good fortune to have more resources and knowledge than people had in the past.
But please form your own opinion. Check out Project Gutenberg for a contemporary account of events of a plague in a previous era.
In my early childhood, my mother had a friend I did not like. I didn't like her. She had a boisterous laugh that you couldn't ignore, and perhaps a rowdy sense of humor.
She was the kind of woman who, if she didn't like that her husband was out at a tavern well into the wee hours of the night, would get dressed, put on her best earrings and brightest lipstick and go to the bar. She plopped herself down...not necessarily beside him. But with her laughter to the rafters, she could command the attention of the others there. Her quiet husband decided that perhaps it wasn't a good idea staying out later than he should have.
Over the years, my opinion of the woman mellowed greatly. I learned more about life and saw why my mother chose the other woman as a friend. The woman was hard-working, generous, kind to people she trusted, ready to stand up for herself when she believed she was cheated. And, yes, she had a laugh that rang loud, but she respected my mother's gentle spirit and toned it down around her.
And at her core, she had values that meant something.
That's a pretty good friend.
In some ways, my character Ella Etta is based on this spirit. A person who can spit in the wind and yet has an inner core of integrity...although Ella Etta's ethics are far worse than my mother's friend. Ella Etta might con a person out of a few dollars.
It was fun writing about her, and bringing a character to life that my mother's friend might like...although I think she would say, "She's too quiet."
Compromised into Marriage is released today in the US, and I'm thrilled about it!! I really enjoyed writing the secondary character of the cantankerous older woman in the story, and of course, I had to do a huge amount of research for that! It was so time consuming!
I'm pleased Ella Etta gets to be in this story, and I'm planning future books with her in them. After all, she's a woman who believes she knows best for everyone in her family. And, she makes a good pot of soup...a skill I have never mastered.
Hope the story brings a smile to your face!
If you read my previous post about outlaws, you'll possibly guess I grew up in an area that took its time having a police force.
As a child, I lived in a home without a phone. There was no calling for immediate help. Finally, the nearby town did get law enforcement, but my home was out of his jurisdiction. We could, if we went to the neighbor's house, about a quarter mile away, use their phone to call the highway patrol or county sheriff. You didn't expect a quick response at that time. For an ambulance, the wait was expected to be about thirty minutes, and they might have trouble locating the house because the mailboxes were the closest hope to an address, and sometimes the letters were faded.
For me, the character of Alexandria in Compromised into Marriage is an outlaw just inside the law. She's not the heroine by any means. She's the one you have to watch out for, the fly in the ointment, and the one who would strike first, and cry foul loudest when she didn't get her way.
Yet, she did have a more than fair ending. In fact, she would have considered it an acceptable ending. A losing moment when she realizes the game is over, and now her goal is not to let anyone win.
But, if she received what she considered an acceptable ending when she exits the story, then it was equally as important for me for the heroine to have a happy ending. She did. Happiness is the way to ruin a just-inside-the-law outlaw's day. Go for it!
While at the Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife preserve in Oklahoma, this sign surprised me. But I should have known...
I'd once heard the story of a banker who'd been robbed. I didn't know him but I knew his wife who was kind to me when I was a child. She was well-loved, and the banker seemed well respected—even by the robber.
Someone else told me that the robber had claimed the banker was very calm and didn't get nervous, even at gun point.
I hope the robber met a bad end, although I suspect he didn't. I'd heard he'd hidden out not far from my childhood home.
This sign...is not terribly far from my childhood home.
Perhaps there was some truth to the lore.
Another bit of lore was that this area hosted an annual gathering of cowboys, retired lawmen and retired outlaws.
Supposedly, at the end of the feast, the outlaws, if still wanted by the authorities, were given a day of amnesty at the end for them to head back to their hiding spots.
If both the lawmen and outlaws were retired, that would hardly have been necessary but it makes a better story.
Living in Oklahoma, it seems the very air can be against me. Well, it is. In more ways than one.
I looked up the word allergic and found it not in usage until the 1900's. I looked up sneeze, and found it was much earlier...from the 1600's.
No one can convince me that people didn't suffer allergies in the past. Then, I remembered my mom calling it hay fever.
I looked up hay fever. Bingo. It was in usage around the early 1800's but intimidated it was more an upscale term. Before that it was summer catarrh. Hay fever does sound more appealing than catarrh.
'd read about this malady somewhere in the past but I'd not know what kind of a tragic disease that was.
And apparently, I am a sufferer of summer catarrh. Stand aside everyone. I may have a sneezing fit.
But I'm looking forward to the bees, flowers and colors of spring and summer.
Photos are from my acreage.
I just didn't get it the first time I saw Ginerva de' Benci. It just didn't seem quite right somehow. This was a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and he was one of the greatest artists ever and yet, there seemed something wrong about the painting.
But the second time, when I got a chance to spend more time with her, I came away impressed.
One, the painting had been cut down. I could just imagine myself thinking that the painting would be just a bit better if it were trimmed to fit a smaller space. Then, someone seeing the painting after it had been altered. Their face looking much like Ginerva's as the knowledge seeped into them that the artwork would never be the same.
A tragic mistake, but it didn't affect her value as much as it could have.
I'd not been sure about the juniper bushes behind her, but I discovered had a reason for being there, perhaps as a play on her name.
But the lifelike skin, and texture of her hair impressed me when I stood closer.
And then when I looked at the photo with a reflected glare, I imaged life from inside the canvas. I hope the real Ginerva was happy.
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