Blogging Elsewhere

I am currently blogging bi-weekly at Risky Regencies and sporadically at Heroes & Heartbreakers.

I’m also working on a Historical Romance (about half way there) and a non-fiction on Jane Austen, not to mention my web design business, The Republic of Pemberley, and various and sundry other distractions.

So… this page will be reserved for news and updates.  For more blogging check my “where to find me” links on the sidebar.

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The case of the disappearing posts

Honestly, I have posted since March 14.  Unfortunately, my site was hacked.  I know!  Who would want to hack a little blog like this?  Apparently someone did.  So, in my attempt to remove any infected files (which I have now done), I removed any post with embedded content.  And, darn, there were some good ones.  We’re clean now and I’ve upgraded my security, so I’ll attempt to find some fun stuff to share with you.

In the meantime, we’re back and safe as houses (whatever that means).

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Constructive Procrastination

As any writer knows, procrastination is an important part of the writing life, whether you’re avoiding it or looking for a good way to engage in it.  My writing partner and I have been discussing (a good procrastination tool in itself) various methods of constructive procrastination and I’m here to share a few with you.

a)  Write a blog post.  You need to keep yourself in the public eye in case you ever publish anything again (an event made less likely by excessive procrastination).  This method has the added benefit of involving writing and so might be considered working.  Then, there are the adjunct forms of this like Twitter and Facebook which are less likely to be considered writing.

b)  Work on your website.  See above.  You need to keep your public face current.  If your website is out of date, what does that say about you?  Either it says that you’ve slipped away from life online or that you’re busy writing.  Maybe both, but you don’t want to give the wrong impression.

Jane's blog on my monitor

c)  Work on someone else’s website.  This is sort of professional procrastination, as one of the ways I keep body and soul together is by creating websites for fun and profit.  I have two I’m working on at the moment and, admittedly, the most fun was a blog for my writing partner, Jane Cushing.  Alas, it’s done for now, so I’ve had to revert to procrastination method a).

d)  Do research.  This is a great procrastination method as it’s closely related to writing.  If you’re going to make it truly constructive, I recommend using a library (either your own or a public library) rather than the internet, which can devolve into mindless web-surfing.  A great procrastination method, to be sure, but increasingly less constructive as your surfing goes afield.

e)  Feed the cats.  As you might know, I have two geriatric cats and the feline Methuselah.  They must be fed and Ishmael, the 21-year-old, must be fed frequently.  Or so he tells me.

My library

f)    Clean the litter boxes (a natural consequence of e) and something that must be seen to with great regularity if you are working at home.  Not particularly time-consuming, but put it on the list if you’ve got cats.  Alternatively, if you have a dog, frequent walks are in order.

g)  Household tasks.  These are the very pit of constructive procrastination.  They always need to be done, but the fact that you’re considering them probably means that either you’re expecting company, you’re out of clean underwear, or your manuscript is in trouble.

I could probably come up with many more and would if I didn’t think I should get back to my manuscript.  Additions to the list will be gratefully accepted.

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m not a big celebrator of Valentine’s day.  Not in a personal way, at least, having no one to ply with chocolate and flowers and romantic dinners (nor, conversely, anyone to ply me with same).  However, as a writer of Romance, I am a believer in … well… romance in most of its forms.

And Valentine cards seem to be one of its forms most prevalent at this time of year.  I don’t send these, either. No, I’m not a curmudgeon, just lacking in objects.  But think of the money I save in postage stamps!

Last year, I did a little overview of Victorian Valentines for Heroes & Heartbreakers.  No one does Romantic excess like the Victorians and there is something for everyone in the wonderful world of Victorian Valentines.  So, this year, Will You Be my Valentine?  Take a look at my Valentine Post from last year and see what’s in store.

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Lisa Kleypas’s Self-Made Men

Lisa Kleypas has created more than a few memorable heroes and heroines.  Two of my favorites are Derek Craven from Dreaming of You and Hardy Cates from Blue Eyed Devil.  Both of these are strong, self-made men who are made complete by their heroines.

Join me at Heroes & Heartbreakers to read more about these two extraordinary characters, living in two different centuries.

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Crazy Cat Lady

I’m a cat person.  I’d be a dog person if I lived where it was practical to have dogs.  But I’d still be a cat person as well.  I currently live with three geriatric cats.  Meet the family.

Ishmael

Ishmael

Ishmael will soon be 21 years old.  I’ve had him since he was about two and he’s the nicest cat you’d ever want to meet and a complete slut. He figures that the reason humans were born with hands is to pet him.  He’s doing remarkably well for an old guy and still enjoys life.

Russell

Russell

Russell is about ten, but I’ve only him for about a year.  He’s albino and was born deaf.  But his ears were also somehow damaged at some point in his past, so he sort of looks like Shrek.  I got him to keep Ish company after Ish’s other cat-cohabitants died.  He’s a sweetie and has no idea what a cat is supposed to sound like, so he alternates between baaaing like a sheep and sounding like there’s a small child being murdered in my basement.  I’m still not used to it.

Beau

Beau

Beau is also ten and fairly new to the family.  I have no explanation for his inclusion other than that I was with a friend who had gone to pick up a cat at the Massachusetts Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter at Nevins Farm and there he was.  He crawled up onto my shoulder and blew in my ear.  I was a gonner and he found himself a home.

Three is enough.  I used to think that two was enough, but I’m determined to keep it at three or under.  The trick is going to be to stay away from the MSPCA.   But this does not keep me from visiting cat sites on line.  Here are a few from my daily rounds:

I usually start out Cute Overload,  This is not strictly speaking a cat site, but it does have its share of them and I never said I didn’t like other cute animals.  I do.

From there, I move on to another not-strictly-cat site, Zoo Borns.  As you might suspect from the title, the site is dedicated to new born animals in zoos around the world.  I’m particularly partial to the baby orangutans.

Then, the cats.  The first two are sites maintained by lovely women who foster kittens for their local Humane Society.  The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee is in the Seattle/Tacoma Washington area.  All I can say is thank God it’s on the other side of the country from me or I would probably have stepped over that three-cat line.  Laurie Cinotto, who maintains the blog, not only has some of the cutest kittens you’ve ever seen, she’s also a fabulous photographer.  My other favorite foster mother is Robyn Anderson who fosters kittens for Challenger House in Alabama and blogs about her cats and her life and Love and Hisses.  Robyn’s cats are adorable and interesting and Robyn makes me laugh.  And I don’t suppose you can have a post about cats on the web without talking about Maru who may be the most famous cat on the web and is certainly the most interesting.

So, if you’re interested in animals, you might enjoy these.  Someday I’ll tell you about my panda obsession.

 

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Kensington Gardens

My heroine is, at this moment, out for a drive with the hero in an open carriage. They have just passed the entrance to Hyde Park and, being new to London, she wonders where they’re going.

They’re headed for a picnic in Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens is west of and contiguous with Hyde Park. It was carved out of Hyde Park and made what it is today by Queen Caroline, wife of George II. Queen Caroline had The Long Water and The Serpentine (in Hyde Park) created from the Westbourne Stream and separated Kensington Gardens (which was a private park throughout most of the 18th century) from Hyde Park with a ha-ha.

Here is a plan of the gardens from 1754.

Plan of Kensington Gardens 1754

Plan of Kensington Gardens 1754

 

Once the hero and heroine arrive at the gardens, I intend for them to get out of the carriage and take a stroll – and who knows what else might happen?

Kensington Gardens 1798

Kensington Gardens 1798

 

I think that, were they to be transported to the present day (which they won’t), they might recognize a lot of the gardens in which they will soon be strolling.

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens

There are many things, however, that they would not recognize, including the Albert Memorial (Queen Victoria made several additions to the gardens) and the bronze statue of Peter Pan, now a destination for visitors to the park.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

 

I had fun finding out what I could do in Kensington Gardens. I hope that Anne and Simon have fun while they’re there and that perhaps one day you can join them.

Prints are from The British Library Online Gallery

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Jane Austen and Regency Fashion Plates

Header image for the Pride & Prejudice board - French fashion plate

No, that’s not the name of a new book (although it probably will be one day).  This post is about one of my other jobs.  As you may know, I am the site manager at The Republic of Pemberley and have been since its inception in 1997.  The Republic of Pemberley is an interactive Jane Austen site, consisting of discussion boards for all the novels as well as lots of slightly off-topic discussion and quite a bit of collateral material on Jane Austen.

This year, we did a graphic redesign of the site.  For those of you who are interested in previous graphic designs, The Republic of Pemberley has albums here and here.  Our new design is based on fashion plates from Jane Austen’s era.

Header image for the Persuasion board - English fashion plate

It wasn’t possible to identify the exact year of many of the plates or even assure that they were all English.  All I could do was make sure that they were from the correct era and that they expressed the character of the page on which they appeared.  I had fun tracking down plates appropriate for each of our pages and thought you might like to see a couple here.  If you’re interested in the the rest, Take a look at the site.  You’ll find plenty.

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Puddings!

Sticky Toffee PuddingI might as well admit, up front, that I love food (I know – who doesn’t?).  My extreme love of dessert is thwarted by the fact that certain factors make it impossible for me to indulge on a regular basis.  I manage this sorry state of affairs by indulging vicariously in food sites.  One of my favorites is Great British Puddings.    There are some great recipes although, if you’re in the US, you’ll have to do some conversions to get the ingredients right .  Happily, the site includes a conversion table.

The picture I’ve included is, Sticky  Toffee Pudding, one of my favorites which, I believe, is considered a rather low-class choice in England.  But, who cares?  It’s yummy.  So, whether you want to bake or, like me,  indulge vicariously, this might be right up your alley.

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The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses

I thought it might be fun to suggest some books and web sites that I find particularly interesting and useful.  I’m going to start this off with The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses.  This Database, developed and maintained by Curt DiCamillo, began as a personal project and has evolved into a fabulous reference tool including over 7,000 houses.  Curt is an architectural historian and is currently Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA. This database is obviously a labor of love.

 I encourage you to visit the database and poke around, or use it as a first stop when you’re looking for information about a British or Irish country house.  It’s a great resource.

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