header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Meme Archives – Kristen Koster
Nov 012014
 

Some people think you need a machine like H.G. Wells’, or Dr. Who’s TARDIS to travel through time. Others believe all you need is to stumble into a faerie ring.

Me? I think all you need is a good book!
#fallbackintime
Today, the Historical Romance Network is celebrating National Author’s Day and the end of Daylight Savings Time today with a special #FallBackInTime event on Facebook and Twitter as well as Tumblr and Google+ to share their love of the historical romance genre. So if your social media is flooded with pictures of romance books, don’t grumble and ignore it, TRY one!

I had trouble picking just one book, so I chose Lynn Kurland’s A Dance Through Time because I felt it best fit the spirit of the ‪#‎FallBackInTime‬ hashtag. Time travel, thematic title and a great read! However, you can see from the shelves behind me, that my historical romance keeper shelf (6 ft bookcase, 40″ shelves, double stacked) is overflowing! Somehow, browsing through my kindle reader isn’t as fun as running my hand over the spines on this shelf.

The variety within the historical romance genre these days is amazing. From Medieval, Vikings, Scottish Highlands, Elizabethan, Georgian and Regency, Victorian, the Wild West and Colonial America, Edwardian, WWI, The Roaring 20s, WWII, to ancient Egypt and ancient China (GO read Jeannie Lin now!)! You can escape almost anywhere you’d like and find plenty more to read along the way.

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So, what do I like about Historical romance as opposed to other subgenres of Romance? I like the slower pace of life and the distance and perspective shift away from the craziness that invades my everyday life. Everyone in those long carriage lines as everyone arrives at the balls are patient and the drivers aren’t stupid or rude, they’re just part of the process. Unlike the drop-off lines at school where I swear I need a doctor’s note to show my kids that I’m not allowed to go in there because of the effect on my blood pressure. You’d think by high school these people would know what was expected of them and it’d be calmer and more orderly. Not!

Anyway, I digress…

I tend to read a lot of Regency set romances because I like the fairy tale aspect of the balls and the titled men. Oh yes, and the cravats! Mustn’t forget those! But honestly, I’ll read a bit of everything. I started out reading fantasy and science fiction in the very early 80s, and naturally also found my mom’s stash of romance novels. She read a lot of cowboys, Native Americans, Dukes, Earls and Viscounts. The worlds that historical romance opened up for me were very similar to the fantasy and science fiction I was reading, but also very different. There was a guaranteed feel good ending. The Happily Ever After. Now she also read mysteries and contemporary romances, but those didn’t spark for me then. I like mysteries, but they’re not my first choice unless they’ve also got a good love story attached!

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I hope if you don’t read historical romance, you’ll give it (another?) try! And if you read a book you enjoy, regardless of genre, post a review to help spread the word or drop them a note through social media and make their day. It’s a fabulous way to thank an author!

If you need a recommendation, check out my post: 13 Repeatedly Reread Books or my Historical Romance Shelf on GoodReads or check out my Interviews section!

Nov 052013
 

In Britain, today is Guy Fawkes Day. You might recognize him better as the face of Anonymous or that fellow in V for Vendetta. There’s a reason for that.

This post was originally published here on 11/5/2010, but I think it bears repeating in the current political and economic climates. People are unhappy and they’re always looking for someone to blame. Most will not take it upon themselves to act for the better of all, but some will take it into their heads that Fate has tapped them on the shoulder and they must act. Unfortunately, these aren’t the type of actions that will help. Many of us enjoy the right to vote. Some harder fought to gain than others. If you’ve got an upcoming election, exercise your right. If you don’t, take advantage of the opportunities to contact your elected officials and let them know how they’re doing and what needs doing in their area.


Guy Fawkes Day: Conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot: November 5, 1605
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!

I’d never heard of Guy Fawkes’ Day/Night while I was growing up in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. And, Bonfire Night was the night before Homecoming when an effigy of the other team was offered up as a ritual sacrifice to the almighty football gods. I do remember my mother often saying “Remember, remember, the 5th of November” on that day and seeing references to it in the Regency and Victorian romance novels I read over the years, so I was curious to what this holiday was all about since it’s cropped up in pop culture recently with movies like V for Vendetta and thanks to 4-Chan many different groups of protesters have adopted the traditional Guy mask as a show of solidarity and a way to preserve their anonymity.

So when I asked my 13 year old daughter, if she knew what today was, I got a blank look. So, in explaining how Guy Fawkes was the fellow who was caught in connection with the Gunpowder Plot, she was highly amused by some of the traditions the British have kept in celebrating this holiday.

“So, that was around the time of the Declaration of Independence?” She’s studying the American Revolution and Constitution currently, so she tries to relate everything to that. Nearly two hundred years earlier, the Gunpowder Plot planned to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605 in an effort to not just protest his stance on Catholicism but to assassinate King James I. November 5th was chosen because it was the day Parliament was scheduled to reopen and the King would be present.

“People celebrate this? Why? How?” The idea was that they were happy to have avoided the disaster and also serves as a warning to Parliament to keep the desires of the people in mind as they make their decisions and laws. In England and several former British colonies, like Australia, the night is marked by bonfires, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes or other current political villains, and fireworks.

“What?! Fireworks? Really? Silly Brits.” Remember, it was also to serve as a warning of what could have happened had it not been uncovered. She was unconvinced, claiming it was rather ironic to celebrate preventing a catastrophic explosion and fire by setting off intentional ones. And then I mentioned that in one town, Ottery St. Mary in Devon, they celebrate by carrying flaming barrels of tar through the streets and how the people carrying the barrels had passed the tradition down through their families. Such a stretch for her modern imagination.

“Don’t they celebrate Halloween?” These days, it’s becoming more popular to celebrate with trick or treating, American-style, but in the mid-1600s, Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical rule abolished All Hallow’s Eve and many other traditional celebrations and feasts that he associated with pagan ways. Many of the traditions such as the bonfire on November 1st was simply shifted to November 5th and stayed there. Despite the fascination of the occult, paranormal and gothic romances, the people of the extended Regency period, which gave birth to some of our most familiar Halloween icons: Frankenstein and the headless horsemen, would have been more familiar with bonfires celebrating Guy Fawkes Night and burning a “Guy”.

Guy, guy, guy
Poke him in the eye,
Put him on the bonfire,
And there let him die

“A guy? A real one?” No, not a real person! Sort of like a scarecrow dressed up to look like Guy Fawkes. Kids would make these, and in the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night, they’d sit out with them by the side of the street begging, “A penny for the Guy?” so they could defray their expenses in making this annual effigy. The practice eventually evolved into asking for money to be spent on fireworks, but modern sensibilities worry that the money will be misspent on more dangerous things and sales of fireworks to children have been limited.

So, I’m not sure I explained it well for my daughter, but she did get a taste of a different culture than the one she’s used to and I’ve been thinking about ways to incorporate it into a plot. But then I wonder if I could do it justice, not having experienced the tradition firsthand. Some day, maybe.

May 252012
 

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “How do you develop your characters? Do you have a favourite kind/archetype?”

We covered part of the idea of character development before and my general method is in the post, Building Characters where I likened it to my daughter’s cosplay outfits. I skimmed the highlights, but that post has more info.

The BASICS
Deb Dixon‘s GMC — WANTS, NEEDS, CONFLICTS, OBSTACLES
Michael Hauge‘s Establishing Connections – likeability, skill.expertise, sympathetic, funny, jeopardy
Strengths/Weaknesses —
At Least 5 Whys —
Biggest Fear & how you will make them face it
Jodi Henley‘s idea of a Core Event

BELLS & WHISTLES
Tics, expressions, rituals, habits
Friends, possessions & pets

That all still holds true. Now, moving on to the section where I listed What I didn’t use.

Character Sheets — You’ve seen the ones: star sign, height, weight, occupation, model of car driven, all full of useless trivia that probably won’t make a difference in how your character will react to the things you need them to. Oh, and I always read them with much amusement considering I write historical fiction. I don’t think I’d find them very useful even if I wrote contemporaries.

Stereotypes/Archetypes — Ok, I TRY not to use stereotypes and I was re-introduced to the notion of using archetypes again this summer, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever dig too deeply in that direction as something to build a foundation on. Some people may find them useful, but I also think the temptation to slide back into stereotype is too strong for me.

Character sheets filled with useless trivia are still a no go for me. Most of it just isn’t relevant for the historical setting and I don’t feel like making one. I have been using Scrivener, which has character templates that are more flexible and include general information.

Role in Story: Hero
Occupation: Card Sharp
Physical Description:
Personality: Jack is a bad boy, appearing unreliable and capricious at first impression.
Habits/Mannerisms:
Background: Jack is a card sharp with the longest running winning streak at the game of Whist at the Stratford Club in London. He wants to make a name for himself.
Internal Conflicts: Jack is motivated by resentment and rebellion which keeps him from finding love and keeping it. He’s a bachelor who refuses to marry and keeps being left by his mistresses.
External Conflicts: Jack is driven by the thrill of winning and beating the odds. He wants to win back his brother’s losing for the week and keep his reputation because Amanda’s protector has accused him of cheating and offers a stacked deck.
Notes: Jack is used to playing Whist with his brother as his partner. He’s also distracted by the heroine’s beauty. He may lose his reputation and the girl. Jack realizes he’s always help part of himself back. He puts that on the table with Amanda as well, hoping to win her love.

Photo of a kid catching a frisbee. He's putting everything he's got into it.And in looking back at my stories after taking Tami Cowden’s workshop on archetypes for writers, I realized I do use them as a very rough base for personality and building conflicts, but it hadn’t been a conscious part of my character development process.

I think if I had to name a favorite hero archetype, it’d be the bad boy — or maybe the nice guy who’s been pushed to live up to his bad boy reputation. My heroine’s have also been stronger than they appear or are assumed to be by others, but other than that, they seem to be all over the map in terms of which archetype you’d label them as.

Another thing I’ve realized through photography and pushing my comfort zone there, is character matters so much when photographing people. Capturing it and using it to tell a story was a big part of what I was missing when I took pictures of people. For some reason, this seems easier with people I don’t know. Maybe because I’m freer to make things up? Anyway… this kid with the frisbee has a ton of character, doesn’t he?


YOUR TURN:How do you go about building the foundation of your creative projects?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 182012
 

A photo of three Regency ladies.

Tabitha Gifford (Center)

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “Could you be best friends with any of the heroines you’ve written. Is she/Are they someone you would hang out with? Why or why not?”

I don’t know about BFFs, but my heroines are definitely the kind of people I’d hang out with. In my head they’re all strong women who know what they want and don’t suffer fools lightly. On my current pages, they’re not quite there and a couple times I’ve needed smacked upside and asked “What were you thinking?”, but hey, we’ve all got friends like that, right? We love them despite their occasional bone-headed decisions or statements.

They definitely share some of my interests: gardening, music, solving puzzles, playing games, reading, horses. One thing we all seem to have in common is a liking for handsome blokes wearing cravats. Completely understandable, I think.

I’ve also spent about 5 years with Marcia (Revealed) and Tabitha (BHT) in my head. They’re probably my favorite heroines so far, although I like Althea from The Flower Queen’s Daughter (FQD) and Amanda from Jack of Hearts (JoH), but they’re definitely not as fully formed personalities, but I definitely want to get to know them better. I think Henrietta will also be one of my favorites as she really appeals to the tomboy I was growing up. One thing I know, I’d definitely like you all to meet them one day!

A photo of a Regency Lady.

Marcia Drummond

I’d need a time machine to go hang out with them, but isn’t that exactly what books are? Time Machines, rocket ships, portals to other dimensions, flies on the wall where we can’t normally go? I think it’d infinitely cooler to go hang out with them in their time period than this one. I suspect I’d have a better chance of fitting into Regency times, despite missing many of the modern conveniences like computers, internet, air conditioning and indoor plumbing. I think the social whirl would get to me and I’d gladly sit with Marcia on the sidelines and just watch.


This question was very difficult for me to answer because I have tended to have very few close female friends in real life at any one time. I was always one that hung out with the guys in school and even afterwards, working in the computer games industry, I was definitely in the minority. Barrington and I would have been best buds and Bolster too, just because with one, you get the other in the bargain. Isn’t it odd, that I say that, yet STILL feel Barrington is the one character I know the least about his backstory and motivations?

Cub Scouts and writing changed that balance for me. Cub Scouts gained me several close mom friends who were going through the same things, even though I was just as happy hanging out with some of the dads at events too. Getting more involved with writing and the community around it expanded my virtual and local circles to include some amazing women who are super supportive and even though I haven’t met all of them in person yet, I’m proud to call them all ‘friend’.


YOUR TURN: How do you push through things you don’t like to do and can you turn your weaknesses into strengths?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 112012
 
Parts of Writing: Dialogue: photo of two people conversing.

Dialogue: Talking Heads vs Meaningful Conversation

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “Dialogue, narrative, exposition, or description? What are your favorite parts of writing and why? Your least favorite and why? What do you do to make your least favorite parts more attractive or easier?”

Deceptively Easy Parts of Writing

When I am able to completely turn off my internal editor, my writing defaults to dialogue. I end up with pages and pages of talking heads with the barest indication of what’s going on around them physically. The other trap I seem to fall into is INTERNAL monologues where the character will go on forever about what they think of a situation or mull over what to do next.

The dialogue runs are fun, because it’s like eavesdropping on a conversation and taking dictation. The trick is tipping the balance from talking heads to meaningful conversation between realistic characters. The introspective runs… they’re usually a good sign I need to stop, figure out where the story is going next and how to get the hero and heroine back on the page together. When I’m stuck, if I can get them in the same place and get them talking, things usually get moving again.

The Hardest Parts of Writing

I think the aspect I’m currently weakest on is using body language to convey emotion and character. Showing character is usually a little easier, but I find myself drifting back to my online roleplaying game days and relying on a small repertoire of actions: smiling, nodding, eyerolling, and various methods of fiddling with hair.

In the first draft, I do a bare minimum of actions. They’re more placeholders to remind me of the mood at the time. I have to go back and layer in emotion and variety. This is often done by adding in thoughts and reactions as well as other physical actions.

Description is another thing I find is either on or off for me. Usually, it’s something I have to go back and add in, unless it’s part of initially setting a scene. Oh, and I suck at describing clothing. I may have researched a fair amount on it, but I’m definitely not a fashionista for either the 21st or 19th century.

Strengthening the Weaknesses

So…how do I take the things I don’t like writing as much or don’t come as naturally and turn it into something that works? I’m apparently still working on that. For me, I need to make several passes and concentrate on one aspect at a time. My current pass is turning wooden, rote actions into something meaningful for the story that paint a better picture of the characters for the reader. Reading aloud helps find the stilted phrases and roleplaying the characters makes this more entertaining for me and often brings pleasant surprises with it.

I’d say the best thing to do is run with what you enjoy and comes easy to get down the story bones, but don’t be afraid to go back and add in more details even if it takes a few passes to flesh out that skeleton. Critical reading (to see how others pull it off) and practice also makes it easier. I don’t know if I’ve been successful at strengthening my weaknesses, but I know my writing process is going to be a work in progress for quite some time.

A Different Lens

I knew I used that phrase a lot in respect to my writing, but it had never really clicked before, why. I’ve been using the phrase long before I got my dSLR camera last year, but I get it now. I’ve mentioned before that photography has always been present in my life between my grandfather and my father. I frequently had a cheap little camera in my hands growing up and got a SLR camera as my high school graduation present. I loved to play with light, natural objects, and rarely took pictures of people or buildings.

With photography, my weaknesses are definitely still in architecture and people. I very rarely luck out and get something I love. But then again, deliberate practice on these two subjects is not something I have done very often. I think where I succeed with these is when I’m able to bring in elements of nature or at least let go completely and don’t think about it so much. But deliberate practice to explore what works and what doesn’t has been a huge part of this for me. Somehow, working with strangers is easier than people I know, maybe that’s a self-conscious thing. Although that’s my husband’s brother and sister in the photo at the top.

Sometimes, I just luck out.


YOUR TURN: How do you push through things you don’t like to do and can you turn your weaknesses into strengths?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 042012
 

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “What advice do you think your younger self would give to you now? What advice would you give to your older self/future self?”
 

Then

Advice to the Future: A very out of focus image of a fish tank at night.

FOCUS!

In college, I first had the idea that I too could write a romance novel. It’s still firmly tucked under the bed, a few chapters in. I just sat down and started writing. No planning, no outline. Seat of my pants. And those first three chapters came out, splat onto the page. Then I hit a wall. I had no idea what happened next. In addition to that, I was in my junior year and there was so much shiny out there in the world to explore. The campus had just been wired with intranet and we had a chat system. This was not a recipe for good concentration. So, like now, my younger self would be warning me to focus on what I want to do, and do it.

Don’t just play around for a bit, keep at it!

Oh, and she’d tell me she really likes taking pictures, keep at that too!
 

Now

Advice to the Future: Photo of the moon, just past full.

“Reach for the moon
because even if you miss you will be among the stars.”

I know I still have focus issues, but without a goal to shoot for, it doesn’t get you anywhere. This quote is another instance of the universe whispering in my ear. I keep seeing it everywhere. And as part of our accountability group we do set goals, but I suspect I like checking things off more than pushing myself to stretch farther. Recently, everything has been about stepping outside my comfort zone, I need to also reach higher and keep taking those steps to get there.

It can be kinda fun to pause on the staircase to look around and see how far you’ve come. But keep going! If you don’t push yourself, you’ll never see how far you can go.


YOUR TURN:What would your younger self say to you now? What do you want to tell your future self?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Teaching Moments

 The Writer  Comments Off on Teaching Moments
Apr 272012
 

Teaching Moments: Photo of the sun breaking through the clouds.This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked about teaching moments: “What have you recently learned from a REAL LIFE event/happening that you can apply to your writing/writing career?”

Have you ever felt like the universe is trying to tell you something?

It’s been shouting at me lately.

When the same phrases and themes keep coming at you, eventually one is going to stick. First it was, “If you never ask, the answer will always be ‘no’.” And then there was all the advise on pushing boundaries one step at a time.

Lately it’s been all about soul searching, knowing yourself, digging deeper, how your experiences mold you and using those deep core experiences and decisions to improve your writing. Now, Jodi Henley‘s been talking about core events for a while. I listened. I really did. However, I didn’t have the right mindset at the time to learn as much as I needed. Jo Leigh came to my local RWASD chapter meeting this past month and talked about “Core Decisions” — it wasn’t the most comfortable meeting for an introvert who doesn’t like discussing what makes her tick. But man, did it make the brain work overtime. Lots of ‘Aha!’ moments when thinking about what my stories have been about and why the heroines act and react the way they do.

I’ve recently had a few people look at my work and while they agree that while I can string a sentence together, something’s missing. Now, none of them came out and said this precisely, and I may be putting words in their mouths, but what I feel is missing is the ‘heart’. The emotional side of things. How does it really feel to be in these characters heads and why should we care about them.

I’ve learned a lot about the theory of why Emotional Structure works, why connections are drawn between authors and readers. But most importantly, I’ve learned that I cannot avoid what makes me “me”, not if I want to find my voice and connect with readers to bring my characters truly alive and make their stories matter.

The trick now will be opening up those veins and allowing it to bleed out onto the page. I need to abandon the theory, no I need to TRUST it, and put it into action.


YOUR TURN:What have you learned recently that it suddenly seemed like you were ready to learn?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Apr 202012
 
Ways to Flip Your Brain: right brain/left brain spin dancer optical illusion

Click on image if not moving. Which way does she spin for you? Can you get her to switch directions?

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “How do you balance between your muse and your internal editor? (and/or) How do you make your internal editor work for you, and not against you?” In otherwords, how do we find ways to flip your brain back and forth?

There’s a lot of talk about right-brained and left-brained people where the labels “logical” for the left side or “creative” for the right are assigned. My more Vulcan-esque left side frowns and is confused by the lack of research supporting this split, because in fact, both functions are present in both hemispheres. On the right, the flighty and timid sprite is feeling extra whimsical today so we’re going to run with this analogy. You can even take a quiz if you’re not sure which side you exercise more.

I’ve always loved this gif. She’s got all the grace I lack and she can’t seem to make up her mind about which way to turn. Oh wait… does she only spin in one direction for you? You guessed it… this gif is a quicker test. If you see her turning clockwise, then you’re using more of your right side of the brain and vice versa. Can you make her change directions? Is it easy, is it hard? Do you find it just spontaneously happens or can you make her flip at will?

A lot of artistic types talk about their muse or their characters speaking to them, of being unable to create until that spark of inspiration hits. Others claim there is no such thing and you can train yourself to be creative on demand. Another term that comes up a lot is “internal editor”. You know, that voice that complains when you use the wrong word or says it all sucks, or wants those paragraphs or scenes switched around. Yeah… that annoying pest. I don’t know about you, but they always seem to want to get to work when I want to just write.

  1. Practice with the Gif above This is kinda fun and feels like you’re wasting time, but only you can tell if it’s worth it. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by my internal editor, I’ll pull up this gif and wait until I can get her going clockwise before trying to write.
  2. Visualization Sometimes before a writing session, I’ll visualize stuffing my internal editor into an iron-bound box and shipping her off to Timbuktu for a while. This, combined with a timer, helps me focus on the creation of new words instead of getting caught up in futzing with ones already on the page.
  3. Give Both Sides Time To Play It might sound weird giving your worst critic time to play, but it doesn’t always have to be on YOUR stuff. A critique partner can benefit too! So… Give that IE a vacation (forced if necessary like above), but also give your analytical side some exercise too.
  4. Compartmentalize Set boundaries for yourself. Maybe you can only allow yourself 30 minutes rereading what you wrote previously and make changes and catch typos. Maybe you feel more creative in the morning, so use that time to create and do your edits and revisions later in the day. You might even find alternating days or longer periods work better for you.
  5. Prime the Pump Similar to compartmentalizing… do some warm-ups before jumping in to your project. If you need to be creative, try do something for 5-10 minutes that stimulates one or more of the items on right-side brain function list below. If you need your best analytical skills, pick something from the left side.
Left Brain Right Brain
uses logic feeling
detail oriented “big picture” oriented
facts rule imagination rules
words and language symbols and images
present and past present and future
math and science philosophy & religion
can comprehend can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
knowing believing
acknowledges appreciates
order/pattern perception spatial perception
knows object name knows object function
reality based fantasy based
forms strategies presents possibilities
practical impetuous
safe risk taking

YOUR TURN: Which way did she turn for you at first? How do you switch gears between creative and analytical tasks? Easily, consciously or do you need to wait for inspiration to strike?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Oct 172011
 

My friend Cassandra Curtis is hosting #WritersDuel – But because Twitter limits to 140 characters, the challenges are posted to twitter, but answered on FB or blogs, and shared through links on Twitter or other social media.

You can find the #WritersDuel Rules on Cass’ site.

I received the following Duel Challenge:

“Your heroine wakes up at bus station in robe & slippers. Include a scary looking stranger & an umbrella.”

This was a bit tricky for me as I write Regency set Historical Romance. There weren’t buses even stations, so I had to think of an equivalent since I didn’t want to get into time travel either. My heroine is a demirep — a kept woman, and she’s an adept player of Whist. So here’s how I imagined the challenge might have happened for her.


A draft woke Amanda with the thought that her bedchamber shouldn’t be this chilly.

It also shouldn’t be rumbling and shaking.

That realization brought her fully conscious enough to examine her surroundings. She was dressed in an inadequate silk dressing gown and a pair of slippers dangled loosely on her feet. The ribbons tied hastily and far too sloppily to have been her own handiwork. No wonder her limbs felt encased in ice.

“We’re on the mailcoach, hurtling up the North Road toward Scotland.” The strange gentleman turned to look out the window as the rocking of the coach slowed and pulled up before an inn.

They watched as the yard sprang to life, rushing to change the horses.

“To Scotland?” No one willingly traveled to there. Did they? Well, maybe if one wished to elope. But her marriage prospects had been lost long ago.

Confused, she looked up to find the imposing gentleman staring at her from between the brim of his hat and the scarf wound round his neck and lower face, making him impossible to identify. His gloved hands folded neatly over the carved, wooden handle of the umbrella planted firmly between his boots.

He didn’t directly answer her question, but said, “We should be there in a few hours. I thought you might want to freshen up, change into some respectable clothing and perhaps break your fast.”

Unsure of the man’s game, Amanda nodded. That he played long and deep was evident and a chill seeped deeper into her bones than the temperature alone could account for. Her memories of last night’s card game were sharp and specific. Brandy and champagne had flowed freely, but she never drank as much as her companions believed she did. It was one of her secrets weapons in her arsenal for winning at cards.

Jack Hartley and his brother had provided last night’s entertainment as they played a flawless game of Whist. Even she had to admit she admired the way the man played cards. Her protector had proven a sore loser and had tried to take out his frustrations on her, but she had slipped out of the club at nearly two o’clock in the morning and into her own bed, alone, shortly after.

“I should like that very much. I trust you have provided something suitable to wear?” A delicate sniff, was all she allowed to show of her displeasure.

“Of course. Your bag is beneath your seat.” The man clambered out of the coach and shrugged out of his great coat. “Unfortunately, we were unable to bring your cloak.”

Amanda accepted the coat and settled it around her shoulders, savoring the warmth of his body retained by the heavy material. She reached under the seat, found the bag and clutched it to her.

The driver called out that he would be leaving within a half hour, with or without them, before he ducked into the inn.

Without a trace of urgency, the gentleman leaned heavily on the handle of his umbrella and extended a hand to assist her. He obviously wasn’t going to tell her anything now, but perhaps in the next thirty minutes, she could pry some additional information from her mysterious companion.


So, what do you think?

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Mar 212011
 

Once a month, Bria Quinlan and Alexia Reed host a bunch of authors who get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just be a writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner above!

If you missed the beginning of this story you can find it here: Sweet Temptation 01 or if you only missed last month’s installment, you can find that here: Sweet Temptation 02.
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