Thursday, July 22, 2010

Inspired by Period Clothing

Of late I've been inspired by period gowns. I thought I would share a few more with you. I picture the heroines in my series, Daughters of the Potomac, in these. Although they are beautiful, I cannot imagine having worn stays, corsets, and heavy gowns day in and day out. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There is an interesting post over on Barbara Scott's blog this morning, 'The Roving Editor' entitled 'Every Character Needs Motivation'.

My reply to her is as follows.

I've been at a place in 'Before the Scarlet Dawn' where a blizzard hammers River Run. I drew upon my own experience from last February when those two storms barreled down on the east coast, but I had to get into an 18th century mindset. Can you imaging living through a blizzard in 1778? We think we have it so hard.

I remember laying in bed the night of the second storm listening to it roar outside my window. The wind was constant, shoving and pushing against the walls of the house. This storm was unlike any blizzard I experienced. It seemed to have a life of its own...a monster possessed with rage coming down on us with such force that it was frightening.

So in the novel, I guess I can say the weather becomes a character in the story.

What if we included in our proposals storms and animals in our list of characters? That might be pretty interesting to do, and give our agents and editors a deeper view into the story. We endeavor to 'flesh out' our characters. Wouldn't that be a way of 'fleshing out the story'?

Have you any animals or significant weather in your writing, and how do you bring them into the story as 'characters'?

Monday, July 19, 2010

18th century gowns

I love the clothes of the 18th century. So, I thought I would share some of my favorites. These have aided me in the writing of my historicals, and if you are writing in the genre, then be sure to research the clothing of the era your story is set in.

Is this gown not beautiful? It is newly made for a wedding dress made of pale pink silk. If I was a young bride today, this is the dress I would want, even if it did cost me an arm and a leg. Go to the Rossetti website to view more images of this stunning gown. In US dollars it costs $4565. Close up shots really show the beauty and amazing craftsmanship of the embroidery and lace.

In the novel I am currently writing, Before the Scarlet Dawn, my heroine Eliza Morgan has stitched a beautiful gown and wears it to her first social gathering in the Colonies. It is July, and she knows all the ladies will no doubt be wearing calico and soft, pale cottons due to the heat. But when her husband's eyes glow with pleasure with her in it, she is convinced it is the right choice.

This gown also by Rossetti, is the perfect image of what I have in mind for Eliza.

 I took this photo at a historical fair at Rose Hill Manor in Frederick, Maryland. If only I had not gotten the table legs in the photo it would have been much better.

How important is dress to you while reading a historical novel?

When writing, do you include brief descriptions of the clothing your characters are wearing?

What moments in a story are most important when it comes to including the gown your heroine is wearing, or the suit of clothes your hero has donned?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Words of Encouragement from a reader in England

What a blessing to open my Facebook page and read the following.

Hello Rita, just finished reading your book Surrender the Wind. What can I say? It was absolutely amazing - the best book I've read for a long, long time - intrigue, suspense, passion, love. I've never ridden so fast on a horse as I did with Seth, lol. God certainly gave you a gift - keep using it. From Deborah (England)

I am so honored. What is equally wonderful is Deborah lives in England. I've often wondered what British readers would think of my novel, especially the English settings. Did I get it right? I would ask, having never visited the fair isle.

It means so much to writers to hear from their readers. I'm writing a series right now, Daughters of the Potomac, and Deborah's words motivate me to really dig in my heals and write three novels a notch above Surrender the Wind. Pray for me, will you?

Thank you, Deborah, for the encouragement.

To read the prologue and chapter one:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Peek Into My World

'Be it ever so humble there is no place like home.'

John Howard Payne wrote those words in 1822 in his poem 'Home, Sweet Home'. They are still true today. I'd like to add that however humble, a writer's writing niche is 'home'.

Now, I'm going to give you a peek into my world. My writing area is in a corner of a bedroom, beneath a window, next to the closet with French doors, opposite the door leading to the poky little hallway. My desk is old, old, old, given to me years ago by a friend that didn't want it anymore. My printer is tucked away in the closet. The window blind needs replacing. I'll get around to it. And the blizzard damaged the roof and there is a watermark on the ceiling my handy hubby keeps promising to repair.

It is humble, yes. But I don't mind. . .for now. It keeps me humble by reminding me 'I am not all that!'

My dream niche - a room only for writing. Bookshelves. Pencil portraits of my children on the wall. A framed enlargement of the book cover to Surrender the Wind, followed in the near future with the Daughters of the Potomac series covers also in pretty frames that match the time period. A comfortable chintz chair with a throw. A large window with a view.

Whether or not I ever have my dream niche, and I think I will once my boys leave home (hopefully after each of them finds a godly wife and a good job of which I pray fervently for), where I write is not as important as what I write. When I work on my novel, everything around me fades, and my eyes are locked on the computer screen, my mind on the images of scene, like a movie running through my head.

What is your writing niche like?
What is your dream niche?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Roving Editor

Some exciting news to pass on.

Beginning August 1, my editor Barbara Scott will no longer be tied to a desk at Abingdon Press in the heart of Nashville. An exciting new venture has opened up and she is hitting the road as The Roving Editor . Barbara will be sharing her knowledge of writing and publishing in cities and towns across the USA.

Here is her plan taken from her new blog:

I’ll still be the exclusive acquisitions editor for Abingdon fiction, but I’ll also be dropping by the homes of my existing authors (and agents) and brainstorming new projects. They can feel free to invite their writing buddies or critique group friends for a “meet and greet” in a local bookstore or wherever they like to hang out.

I’ll schedule a daylong writing intensive workshop in the area so that writers can spend time honing their craft with me and perhaps with one of my authors. There will be plenty of time to discuss ideas, work on story, characters, plotting, dialogue, setting, and narrative description in an encouraging atmosphere. Come ready to write and expect useful critiques.

Our first Roving Editor Intensive Writing Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, August 21, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Springton Lake Presbyterian Church in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Joyce Magnin, author of the award-winning book The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow and her next Bright’s Pond novel Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise will be on hand to offer her expertise as well. Fee: $159 per person. Includes a light lunch. Feel free to bring your favorite snacks. Dress is casual.

I’ll attend numerous writing workshops during the coming year, where I’ll teach the craft of writing, answer questions, and meet with conferees.

During August 12-14, 2010 I’ll meet with attendees during 15-minute slots at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Check out the details at if you would like to sign up. I’ll also teach a workshop and meet with conferees during the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Annual Conference set for September 17-20, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis, IN. I’ll update you later on my full schedule.

I’ll also offer one-on-one mentoring sessions where we’ll laser focus on your writing and the next steps of your writing journey. This can be done over the phone or in person if I’m in your area. Fee: $100 for a half-hour session.

Visit Barbara's blog for more details. Her first blog entry is 'The Five Best Ways to Meet an Editor'.