Sunday, August 31, 2014

One of the steampunky bits.

Still not sure this will work.  This excerpt is a good bit way through the book.

In Hot Water.

Being a clement morning, Cynthia told her brother that she was going for a walk by the Thames. She planned to walk to the weir and then upstream. She followed her proposal and was standing at the landing above the weir watching the swans when she heard a quiet chugging sound. Looking upstream she saw Mr. Willis piloting a small launch towards the landing.
She called, “Mr. Willis. Is that a steam launch? I've never seen one before.”
He waved to her and headed for the landing. When he was close enough, he said “Would you care for a ride?”
“Where's your inseparable companion?”
“Micheal does not swim and consequently does not approve of boats.”
“Oh. Is it dangerous?”
“A little. Are you brave enough to try, Miss Milton?” Since this question came from the man she gave a white feather to, she straightened up to her full height and said, “Me, a coward? Never. I'm game for anything.”
“Good, I could use an extra hand today.”
He expertly brought the boat into the landing and threw her a line. She staggered when she caught it and the boat's momentum pulled her, but stood firm. “Good lass. Now if you'll hold that while I disembark.” Quickly jumping out of the boat, he took the line from her and tied it to a cleat. Then he helped her into his vessel. “Are you solely interested in a leisurely excursion, or would you like some adventure?”
“Adventure? I would have thought that just riding one of these tea-kettles was adventurous enough.”
“I find them a bit tame, but then I've been up and down the river a few times with her.”
“The adventure it its.”
“There's a pair of glasses in the compartment in front of you. You'll need them.” Cynthia was unsure of this, but then noticed that Mr. Willis had replaced his dark glasses with a pair that was strapped around his head. She pulled the glasses out of the compartment and fastened them on.
Mr. Willis pointed to a lever and a gauge. “I need you to pull that lever back and watch the gauge. If the indicator.”
“The what?”
He pointed at the fine wire that was to the right of the dial. “This, if it gets into the red area release the lever.”
“We need high steam pressure. This holds the safety valve closed.”
“The safety valve? Are you sure this is a good idea?”
Mr. Willis grinned. It was unsettling. Then he continued, “Don't worry, the boiler has a blow out plug. It will fail safely. I learned about that the hard way, the week before I met you. Now if you'll excuse me I have to make a few adjustments.”
He scrambled over the machinery in the back of the boat and turned a couple of knobs and shifted a lever. The chugging noise stopped and was replaced by a quiet low-pitched whine. This seemed to please him. “Excellent. I think she's ready.” Then he turned to Cynthia and said, “You can pull your lever now.”
She did and as the needle on the gauge moved towards the red, the pitch and volume of the whine increased.
“Let it go!” She released the lever. There was a loud bubbling noise as the steam was released under the boat. The whine returned to its original tembre. Mr. Willis untied the boat, pushed it from the landing and leaped in. He told her to pull the lever, the whine increased, and then with a jerk started forward.
“Hold on to your hat, Miss Milton. I just engaged the propeller.”
As the boat steadily accelerated the bow rose into the air and then settled back once the hull started planing. Mr. Willis focused on the steering, but took time to say, “Enjoying yourself, Miss Milton?”
“How fast are we going?”
“We should make 15 knots on the straight.” As they turned the bend into the straight, they came across two rowing sculls practicing for the for Oxford. “Damn!” Mr. Willis pulled a chain, the steam pressure was released through a loud whistle and the two sculls sprinted for shore. “Miss Milton, where is that indicator?”
“About half way to the red.”
“Can you pull that other lever?”
“Please do so now.”
The indicator moved closer to the red and the boat leaped as it sped up. The bow split the waters and created a large wake behind the boat. The abuse the rowers screamed at them as the wake nearly flipped their sculls was drowned by the whine of the engine and the roar of bubbles where the steam exited the boat behind them.
Cynthia shouted “My bonnet!” as her elegant headgear was blown behind them.
“Fun, isn't it?” Mr. Willis was grinning as the boat sped upstream. Cynthia grinned back. It was fun. The lock and weir at Goring sprung into view ahead of them.
“You can release the levers.” Reluctantly, she did. The boat slowed immediately then lunged forward as the wake caught up with it.
Cynthia asked, “Mr. Willis, did we make your 15 knots?”
“If we didn't, we came close enough.” The whine of the engine slowed and was replaced by a loud hiss. “Damn and blast, sorry Miss Milton, the seal has gone.” He disengaged the propeller and the boat coasted to a stop.
“What now?”
“We could just drift back.”
“After that ride, I'd rather we moved.”
“I suppose I could shift back to the other engine.” Mr. Willis clambered back, which rocked the boat dangerously. Then he began playing with valves and levers. The slow thumping pulse that the boat originally had resumed. The boat rocked again as he clambered forward and said, “I suppose it is for the best. Those rowers will not give us a very friendly reception.”
Cynthia looked at his face. It was emotionless, deadpan. “I suppose they didn't like our waves.”
Mr. Willis' face broke into a smile and laughed, “Somehow I doubt it. At least this way we can still outrun them.”
He re-engaged the propeller and with the leeway the piston engine gave them was able to turn the boat back downstream. “Sorry about your bonnet, but I think you look better without it. The windswept look becomes you.”
She blushed and said, “Mr. Willis, don't be silly.”
The rowers started to shout abuse at them as they passed, but noticing the presence of a lady minded their manners. Mr. Willis hailed them with his condolences. “Sorry about that wave, but we were trying a speed trial for my new boat, 'the white feather'.”
“You blasted steam launches are a nuisance. Should be banned from the river.”
Cynthia studied her companion. He seemed subdued. She said, “Mr. Willis, that white feather I gave you.”
“Did it hurt?”
“Some. Well, yes, quite a bit.”
“It was Major Hogan's idea.”
“You didn't have to do what he said.”
“I know. I'm sorry. You're doing something important and more than a little dangerous, aren't you?”
“I can't tell you about it.”
“I can't tell you about that either.”
As they chugged by Upper Basildon, Mr. Willis noticed Michael standing on the bank and waving to them. His bulk made him impossible to miss.
“Oh cruft,” Mr. Willis said, “I'm in trouble now.”
“You're in trouble?”
“I wasn't really supposed to take her out.”
“Oh, and I suppose giving me a ride was not allowed either?”
“No.” He gave Cynthia a wan smile, and said “Still it was fun, wasn't it?”
“Yes. I hope you'll be fine.”
“The boat didn't blow up and we did run her at speed. That's all that matters.”
“Was it in danger of blowing up?”
“No, but the Nervous Nellie's in charge thought so. Wouldn't let me try it.”
He piloted the launch into the freshly dug cove just below the town and tied it to the dock. They were met by a squad of red-coated soldiers. Their commander said, “Mr. Willis?”
“You and your companion.”
“Miss Cynthia Milton.”
“You and Miss Milton are to come with us.”
Cynthia shot him a panicked look. He smiled at her and said, “Don't worry. All will be well.”

They were escorted to a closed carriage with drawn blinds and brusquely ordered to get in. The door was shut behind them. Cynthia could hear the noise the lock made as it was snapped closed. The carriage began to move. In a fit of anxiety, Cynthia asked, “Is this used to transport prisoners? Are we going to the tower?”
“The Tower? I doubt it. That's too much bother over such a little matter as this. I'll get a dressing down from my commander, that's all.”
“And me?”
“I don't know. Are you any good with figures?”
“Good with figures, I don't understand.”
“You know, adding, subtracting numbers that sort of thing.”
“What they're going to do is to read you the secrets act. If you agree to it, then you're free to go.”
“If I don't?”
“Then I'm sorry, but you won't be free to go.”
“Oh. Did you agree to it?”
“Can't say. The reason I asked you about figures is that we're always looking for new computers. The faster we can compute the better.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not good with arithmetic.”
“Oh well, I'll have to find something you can do.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

A funny.

From a posting on writing

Armed gunman – Redundant phrase. You don’t need armed. Ex: An armed gunman robbed the bank today. Better: A gunman robbed the bank today.

An idea for science fiction. In the land of worms or snakes, an "armed gunman' would be unusual. As in:

Bob Carpenter found himself stranded on voxel 3. While the native worms could understand him, the result of years of exposure to Terran soap operas, they had little use for an awkward creature. Especially a creature that could neither slither through the burrows, nor process the soil into fertile castings. The space ship captains took cash, hard cash, for transit back home. When they took something other than cash it was gold, or any spare organs. Down to his last kidney, Bob did the unthinkable. 

The next day the newspaper tracklines read "Armed Gunman Rob's Bank."

It's been a tough week teaching.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Start of "The Mysterious Mr. WIllis"

 We'll see how this works, but I'm thinking steampunk. First draft of the start. I like to try writing the ideas out and see if they work. Sometimes it takes several goes to find one.


1. Distant Thunder.

Miss Cynthia Milton busied herself around the rectory. Her brother, the Reverend Henry Milton and his new wife, Mrs. Ruth Milton ne Ascwith were expected to arrive on the morrow. He was starting his first preferment in the little Thames-side village of Pangbourne, just a few miles upstream from Reading. It was an excellent living and one that was unusually large for a young vicar. The wonder was that it was still unoccupied. Ruth insisted that her old friend and new sister-in-law stay with them at least until they were settled in. She explained that since Pangbourne was so close to Reading that they could visit the assemblies there together. If they failed to find her an eligible husband there, the hunting grounds at Newbury, Oxford and Bath were but a day's carriage ride away.
Their belongings and small furniture had arrived the day before. While the servants were able to unpack most of it, there was an unending stream of questions about where things should go. Getting to know the servants, especially the cook and the manservant, occupied most of the rest of her time. It would never do to greet the newlyweds with an ill-cooked meal and a domestic dispute underway. Finally, in the late afternoon, she was able to retire to the parlor, put up her feet and enjoy a spicy romantic novel.
Unfortunately, it was just at this moment that the door knocker sounded. Her maid answered it, and after a few moment's discussion escorted the callers to her.
“Miss Milton, Mr. Willis and his man, Mr. Morgan, are here to see you.”
Mr. Willis entered, bowed, and then said, “Miss Milton, just a call of courtesy. Morgan and I were passing and noticed the rectory was now occupied.”
Cynthia looked at the pair. Mr. Willis had a bright red face. It was complemented frizzled hair that shot back from his forehead in what could best be described as looking like a goose that had been pulled through a chimney to clean it. His valet had done his best to comb it into a stylish Brutus but with mixed results. Most striking of all he work large wire-rimmed dark glasses. It seemed that even the subdued light of the late afternoon irritated his eyes. Unlike most of the valet's she had seen, who tended to be slight well-dressed men, Mr. Morgan was a large muscular man with the cauliflower ear and broken nose of a prizefighter. The combination of valet's uniform, quiet manner and sheer physical presence gave him a decidedly menacing air.
Cynthia said, “I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Willis. My brother Reverend Milton and his new wife should arrive tomorrow.”
“I'm sorry to have missed him. In any case, may I be the first to welcome you to our pleasant little village.”
“You may.”
“I trust you are moved in. Is there any question I may answer?”
“No, not yet anyway. But thank you for asking.”
Since he knew that staying past a few minutes when making a courtesy visit was rude, Mr. Willis was about to excuse himself when the building shook. A few seconds later a distant rumble of thunder followed. He pulled an unusually large watch, a chronometer, from his pocket and counted the time as the house was buffeted four more times. Cynthia asked him, “What was that?”
He ignored her and said to his valet. “Uniform twenty second intervals. Excellent. I think they are getting the timing under control.”
Mr. Morgan nodded, but only said, “Sir, remember that we are not inside the establishment.”
“Yes, I see. Sorry.”
Cynthia again demanded, “What was that? Do you know?”
Mr. Willis shut the cover on his watch and carefully replaced it in his pocket before he said, “Nothing. Don't worry about it. It was nothing at all.”
Cynthia was not convinced and was about to repeat the question when Mr. Willis bowed to her and said, “It has been pleasant to meet you. I hope we will see each other again, possibly at one of the assemblies. I dare not overstay my welcome on a first visit. Not if I'd like to have a second. Come Micheal, let us continue our walk.” With that he and his valet left.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What next?

Cecelia ("What about Cecelia?") is making her way through proofing and kindle prerelease (I'm confident enough to set the date at September 5).

So now the question is what's the next book? I'm alternating between trying to finish something (The civil war one is closest) that wasn't going well or trying a new idea. I've been toying a bit with a steampunk/romance set in the beginning of the steam age. Have to see how it goes, but so far it seems to be working.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Inexpensive and reasonably decent covers.

The cover sells the book.

This is undoubtedly true. So in addition to well-written, carefully edited content, now you need to find a cover. One option is to buy one. There is only one problem with that, and if you're an "emerging emerging" authoress, it's a doozy.  Paying $25-$50 for an inexpensive cover may put the book into negative profits for a long time. Especially if you're using low cost or free to build an audience. The only viable option is to do it yourself. Mine aren't too bad, so I thought I'd show you how I do it.

1) Image sources. For regency romances, Wikimedia is fantastic. The Getty and the USA national gallery are also good. The google art project works. Even using a websearch directly will work.

Make sure that the images are public domain and do your best to comply with the source's attribution requirements.

It is important to pick an image with sufficient quality to reproduce well, and this can be a real difficulty. A small amount of scaling can be improved using the GIMP and unsharp masking, but don't count on correcting a truly marginal image.

I considered using one of Angelina Catalini for a cover. This image shows the original copy. It is not useful.

After hunting around for a while I found a much better copy which could just be used. She has a bit of a daft look, so I decided not to use it in the end.
2) Don't use the whole image. This portrait of a young girl, by William Beechy is from the google art project. She's a bit dour and uninviting. I'm not sure I'd want to play with her. It rather looks like she was bored with sitting for the portrait.
Here's her face after selection, rescaling to the size kindle needs and a slight bit of unsharp mask.
Much more striking, isn't she?

3) You don't need to tell the whole story in the cover. While it should be related to the story, it is meant to tempt the reader into actually looking at the content, not tell the story. "What about Cecelia?" is set in the country, there's a lot about horses and a dog is actually an important character. (you'll have to read the book to see about that).  Notice that the cover doesn't have either a horse or a dog on it.
4) Keep it simple and visually striking. See above.
5) Don't crowd the lettering. The cover above was done with the Gimp. I used layers where the image was in one layer above a black rectangle. The writing was then done on the open area. Both Createspace and Kindle publishing have cover creators that are not too bad. Neither gives you the freedom that rolling your own with an image editing tool has.
6) Technical issues.  Oversample by 2-3 times and then reduce. In other words if the final image is 1000x1600 (Kindle size) work at least at 2000x3200. I save a copy both in the Gimp's internal format and as a high-quality JPEG.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Trying pre-order for Cecelia

I just put "What about Cecelia" up on Kindle's pre-order. Curious to see how well it works.  For that matter, does it work at all?

There will be some minor changes, but it's complete. Most of the changes will involve things like an index and re-reading it thoroughly with a different grammar and spelling checker. (I do check these things. If there's weird grammar, it's usually there for a reason).

Here's the final cover:
and the (draft) blurb

Young, pretty Cecelia Wood has lived all her life in Penyclawdd at the Welsh border in the foothills of the scenic Black Mountains. Her life is turned upside down when the entailment on her home gives it to a distant cousin. The cousin, a captain returned from the war in Spain with severe battle stress, arrives with his fiancée. Sparks fly, and despite a tangled web of misunderstandings, Cecelia ends up with the man she loves.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Not me

I was just doing the normal narcissistic googling of myself and looked at the pictures. Googling "Amelia Grace Treader" finds a magazine with a hot, somewhat unclothed woman on the cover in the first row of images.

Not me! Sorry to disappoint any purulent interests.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cover Drafts for Cecelia

These are very preliminary, but get the idea across. One of the images comes from the Getty collection public license. The other is from Google. The Gimp is rather useful for this.

I think the third is probably the best.

Chapter 6 draft for Cecelia

 Draft of chapter 6 for the book. It's best if I remind people occasionally that these are (c) 2014 Amelia Grace Treader. None the less read and enjoy. The book itself is at 47000 words and well on its way.
I've been looking at draft covers, though it's a little early for much of that.


6. Lessons for Cecelia.

“Mary Georgiana Somerset,” Lady Elizabeth rarely spelled out her daughter's names to her. It was something she only did when her daughter was being recalcitrant or naughty, “you will do as I say.” She and her daughter were in Mary's room before dinner. Ostensibly Lady Elizabeth was discussing how the day's riding lessons went. In fact, she was discussing how best to teach Miss Wood a bare modicum of the feminine skills and manners that life in Penyclawdd had not.
“Mo-o-ther, why? I like Miss Wood, but there is no reason she should try on my dresses.”
“I am going to tell you this once and I expect you to listen, then cheerfully obey me. Do you understand?”
“Yes, mo-o-other.”
“Nicely please.”
She smiled, “Yes mother.”
“You wouldn't be here if Sir Giles Wood, then just the Honorable Giles Wood, hadn't helped your father and me elope. Not if he hadn't hired the carriage, kept the horses quiet and driven off when your father escorted me to it, nor if he hadn't stood firm when my father demanded to know our direction. In fact, it was his fanciful story that sent my father in the wrong direction. It meant that Sir Charles and I could get most of the way to Scotland before he even started out after us from London.”
“So what?”
“I could never directly repay Sir Giles for his kindness. An offer of money would have been an insult, and he had all the social position he ever wanted. His wife's parents were pleased with his proposal and he didn't need to elope. After her death, neither your father nor I could coax him back into society. The only way left that I can ever repay him for his kindness is to help his daughter to find her station in life, and that I will do. You will help me. Do you comprehend me?”
“Yes.” She paused to roll her eyes, “Mother.”
“Besides you like Miss Wood, don't you?”
“I do.”
“And you don't want her to be dependent on that dreadful Arnold woman, do you?”
“Lord, no. I don't know how Cecelia can stand her.”
“It shows no little goodness of character in your friend. Miss Wood will need some fashionable gowns. Obviously she can't wear yours, she's too tall if nothing else. If we can take one of your old ones and get Miss Wood's measurements on it, then Miss Antoinette can make her a few gowns that are suitable for a young woman on her first trip to Bath.”
“All right, if you put it that way, I suppose she could try one.”
“I want to find the one that comes closest to fitting her. That way there will be the fewest adjustments. If Miss Wood gets to be known in Bath with her current clothes, then there will be no helping her.”
“Yes, mother. If you insist.”
“I do. I wouldn't ask you if it weren't needed.”
“Anything else you want me to do, while you're asking favors?”
“One more thing, Mary. Tonight at dinner I will place Miss Wood between you and me. We will gently guide her to use the proper utensils.”
“Won't that be too near the head of the table for her precedence? It's above her rank for her to sit there.”
“There are times when it is best to ignore precedence, and a quiet family dinner is one of them.”
Relaxed because she was more familiar with her companions, Cecelia paid more attention to the order of courses. With only a few hints from either Mary or Lady Elizabeth she managed to avoid any committing any serious faux pas. Being dressed in a complete, albeit old-fashioned and out of style, dress that didn't stink of horses helped her fit into her company and boosted her confidence. In addition, Mary's progress with equitation was something that Mary and her could converse about with the rest of the family.
Cecelia pointed out at one stage in the conversation, “We talked about riding to Holy mountain this morning, but other things interfered with it. How about tomorrow morning?”
“Holy Mountain?”
“That's the English name for it. The locals call it Ysgyryd Fawr or the shattered mountain. It's supposed to be a special place.”
The idea of riding to it was enthusiastically received. It was resolved that a party including grooms and at least one little brother and sister would ride the five miles to the top of the mountain, and then return.
That evening, as they prepared for bed, Sir Charles commented to Lady Elizabeth. “My love, I think your protégé is progressing nicely. Don't you?”
“Her manners certainly have improved. She's not quite ready for Bath society, but at least she's not an embarrassment.”
“And I've been impressed with how much Mary's seat has improved. What do you think of the expedition they've planned.”
“You know me, I never interfere with my children's pleasures.” Sir Charles thought this was something of an understatement, but accepted her approval.
“Then I won't find a distraction to divert them. I do have a concern about Miss Wood.”
“She and that Captain Wood?”
“Precisely. They seem attracted to each other. I mean, they do what they can to avoid it, but there is something between them. Did you notice?”
“I did. Why do you think I stopped the dancing practice this afternoon?”
“Do you think that Arnold woman notices?”
“She'd be blind not to. I'm rather pleased that Miss Wood is visiting us. It will keep her out of trouble.”
“I hope it works, and that Captain Wood soon forgets Miss Wood.”
“And she him. I do so hope she meets some other eligible man in Bath.”
The next morning, both Mary and Cecelia were up early, brushing and working with their horses. The head groom watched their efforts with a disapproving expression on his face. His disapproval was more due to his feelings about social rank than anything they were doing incorrectly. Cecelia noted this and told him, “Miss Somerset needs to understand her horse in order to be comfortable on her. This is really the only way for the two of them to build trust in each other. I'm showing her how it is done.”
“If you say so Miss, but I'd rather the family stick to its place in life and we servants stick to ours likewise.”
“Do you think I'm a servant?”
“You're certainly acting like one.”
Cecelia straightened up and stared him in the eyes. She was a tall woman, and he, an ex-jockey, was on the short side. It made her intimidating when she told him, “I will have you know that I am Sir Giles Wood's daughter, and one of the best riders in Monmouth county. Until recently I ran Penyclawdd farm. You'll not forget that, will you?”
“No, Miss.”
“Good. When we're done here, Miss Charlotte and Master Charles will need their mounts too. We're headed to the top of Holy Mountain this morning.”
“Yes, Miss. I presume you'll need an escort?”
“As you see fit, but I'd expect at least one groom to accompany us.”
Breakfast was more rushed than usual, and as a result the party was assembled by mid-morning. They were soon riding on the first five mile leg of the trip to the mountain. Two grooms accompanied them. One carried a packed basketwork pannier with essential foodstuffs for a mid-day al fresco snack at the peak on his horse.
Cecelia and Georgie led the party up the steep hill to the long rock known locally as the 'devil's table'. Miss Charlotte and Master Charles needed a break, so Cecelia suggested that they stop here. Mary was disappointed, “I'd like a chance for a gallop if we could. All we've done this morning is walk at a sedate pace with my little brother and sister.”
Master Charles tossed a clod of dirt at her.
Cecelia felt similarly about the pace on their ride, but was too polite to say so. Instead, she said, “There are the ruins of an old chapel at the other end of the mountain. Race you there.”
“You're on!”
“Mr. Somerset, would you count for us to start?”
“Ready, steady, go!” The two woman pushed their mounts to run and soon reached the other end of the mountain. Georgie asked, “Did you let me win?”
“No. Not really.”
“You mean yes, don't you?”
“It's a long walk back to Hill house in Raglan if my horse goes lame. So I didn't push her all-out.”
“Anyway, would you please hold my reins? There is something I need to do here.”
“What? You're visible for miles around if it's what I think you mean.”
“Not that. You'll see.” Mary took the reins while Cecelia dismounted. She pulled a couple small cloth bags from her pocket. “Aren't those two of mothers silk potpouri bags?”
“I don't know. I found them in a drawer, and they had a bunch of musty old dried leaves in them. They smelt funny. Is that potpouri?”
“Yes. What are you going to do?”
“The soil from the top Holy mountain is special, magical. A pinch in the garden helps your plants grow, and it's always good luck to have some in the house.”
“That's what the local farmers believe. It's probably a superstition, but it's a nice one.” She scooped a portion of the soil into the first bag and sealed it. As she was filling the second, both she and Miss Somerset heard riders working their way towards them up the steep hillside. As she looked up from sealing the second bag, she saw Captain Wood and Miss Arnold. She stood up and waved. Then she called, “Miss Arnold, and G- Captain Wood, did you know we would be here?”
The Captain walked his horse over, “No Miss Wood, we did not. Why ever are you dismounted?”
“I was filling these bags with soil from the Holy Mountain.” She handed one to him and blushed, “It's something of a housewarming present for Miss Arnold and you. It's good luck if you keep a bag of the soil in your house, or, well.”
“Well what?”
“Bedroom. On your wedding night.”
He laughed, and pocketed the bag, “Thank you, I will. Is the other one for you?”
“No,” she turned to her friend, “Miss Somerset, this is for you.”
“Thank you, but no, Miss Wood. I don't hold with superstitions. Keep it for yourself.” Mentally she added, “You'll need all the luck you can get.”
“I'll keep it then. Maybe it will help me catch a good husband in Bath.”
Jane coughed in the background, and Cecelia continued, “Oh, I'm sorry. Miss Mary Somerset, this is Miss Jane Arnold.”
“Delighted to meet you again. You didn't ride here all by yourselves from Raglan, did you?”
“No, one each of Miss Somerset's sisters and brothers are having a restorative nuncheon by the devil's table with the grooms.”
“I'm famished,” Jane added, “do you think there's enough to share?”
Mary thought for a moment, balancing the social niceties of the situation, and replied, “Most likely. Miss Arnold would you care to see?”
“I will wait while Miss Wood remounts and then join you. Enjoy your snack.” After the two women trotted off he turned his attention to Cecelia. “Are you enjoying your stay with the Somersets?”
“Very much so. I do miss Penyclawdd terribly, but I've been learning how behave at a proper dinner. I've even been measured for dresses so that their Mantua maker can fit me out when we arrive.”
“Well I have to make a dashing appearance, and attract male attention. I can't stay here forever, once you and Jane ma,” she paused for air, “marry.”
“I suppose not, though for me you'll always be welcome. Life at Penyclawdd still seems a bit flat in your absence.”
“I've only been gone a couple of days. You'll soon get over it.” George found he wasn't sure he wanted to.
“Do you need help to mount?”
“Me? No!”
“When you're ready I'll race you to the others.”
“You're on.”
Mary and Jane had just dismounted and handed their reins to the groom for safekeeping when they heard the thundering noise of two horses galloping towards them. Captain Wood and Miss Wood where racing seriously. The two where closely matched and only stopped when they passed the edge of the rock. Master Charles shouted in joy, “Yoicks! Now that's how I want to ride. Can we do that on the way home?”
George asked the love of his life, “Who won?”
“I didn't see.”
Master Charles spoke up, “Miss Wood, by a nose.”

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lost opportunites

There have been a number of posts in various places, much more learned places than this, about Amazon and e-books. Amazon sent an email to its e-book authors asking us to sign a petition to its commercial disputant. The Wall Street Journal had an unusual free article claiming that public libraries were the place to get e-books from the "authors you want to read". That was a bit unusual as it was both an open access article and they were in favor of governmental action.

There are many established authors politely and not so politely telling us e-book people to stop writing and 'cram it'. Some are even people I used to respect, now I just turn off the radio when they come on. I gather we're supposed to just consume their tripe.

Bugger it all, to borrow a regency swear. I found a copy of 'sell your novel 1985' in my parent's bookshelf. There were all sorts of small paperback publishers that accepted submissions back then. A beginning authoress could at least get a start. That's all gone now. They've either gone bankrupt or been consolidated into major publishers. There is exactly one big publisher that will even look at manuscripts and they take six months to get back to you.

Amazon and smashwords are filling that void. The only way to learn to write is to write. I'm pretty sure that 'Charlotte' is a lot better than 'Katherine's Choice' and I expect that 'Cecelia' will be better still.

They at least provide an outlet for our work. By the way they are making a decent return on us 'authors who no one wants to read'. It's like the turn of the 20th century penny dreadfuls, mostly forgettable fiction (myself included) that is the incubator for much better work to come.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chapter 5 of Cecelia

 Draft of chapter 5. It's been through a number of grammar and readability checks, but isn't quite final.

5. Riding Lessons.

The Honorable Mary Georgiana Somerset escorted Cecelia away from the horse fair to their hall. The hall was a large house at one end of Raglan, where Castle road met Monmouth road and the start of the town's high street.  She asked, “Are you sure that you would like teach me to ride well?”
“Why not? It gets me away from Captain Wood and his fiancée, Miss Arnold. I'm in their way all the time.”
“You don't mean Miss Jane Arnold, do you?”
“Poor fellow. Caught by that man-trap. She was called 'Lady Nero' or 'the Vampyre' by the ton. The 'on-dit' has it that this isn't the first man that she's managed to ensnare. The last one twisted free.”
“Are we talking about the same Jane Arnold? The Jane I know can be a bit snappy when she's out of sorts, but I think her heart's in the right place. We usually get on.”
“If she has a heart, from what I've heard. My Jane Arnold is shorter than you, has darker hair, and a much more developed figure. The woman who was with you looked just like her.”
“She did sweep the Captain off his feet when he arrived from Spain.”
“As I said, poor man. Though I suppose it's possible that she improves on further acquaintance.”
“I'm sure you're being unfair to her.”
“If you say so. You must know her better than I do. I'll have to send to Penyclawdd for your good clothes. Don't worry about tonight, as my father likes to see the distinction in rank preserved, but you really should wear your good clothes to dinner.”
“These are my good clothes. At least some of them, maybe not my best, best clothes.”
“Oh dear. We'll have to see what we can do for you before you go to Bath.”
“Mr. King won't let you into the assembly if you're dressed like such a dowdy frump.”
Somehow Cecelia found herself feeling less sympathetic to the Honorable Miss Mary Georgiana Somerset. It showed in her expression.
“I can see that you're upset at what I'm saying. Please don't be. I'm sure you're dressed the best you can. How often have you been to Bath?”
“Once when I was eight.”
“Well no wonder your clothes are out of style. Living here in the wilds of Wales, you'd never see the current mode let alone have a dress made by a modish mantua maker.”
“Miss Somerset, horses don't care about style.”
“Please call me Georgie, everyone does. Is it fine if I call you Cecelia?”
“Yes Georgie. Why Georgie?”
“My father and mother thought I was going to be a boy, and they promised to name me after our King. So I was christened 'Mary Georgiana'.”
“Could have been worse, had they named you after the Princess of Wales, Caroline.”
“Thank God they didn't. I was presented to her once, you know.  She smelt like a horse. No, I take that back, my horses smell better than she did.”
“Speaking of horses, why don't we stop in your stables? I'd love to see your mount.”
“I think the stables are this way. Usually my groom, Charles, just brings her out saddled and ready to ride.”
“That won't do. Once you know horses, you can figure out your mount quickly, but you need to know horses first.”
“What do you mean?”
“One horse is much like any other horse, though each has a few quirks and peculiarities. A good horsewoman knows what to expect the horse to do before the horse does it. You'll see once we get started.”
They found the stables, and the next problem arose. There were more than two or three horses. Cecelia asked, “Which is yours?”
“I don't know.”
One of the grooms walked over and interrupted them, “Miss Somerset, what are your looking for?”
“My horse, and one for Miss Wood.”
“If you would wait by the house, I'll bring them out.”
Cecelia put a stop to that, “No, if you'd please, I'd like Miss Somerset to meet her mount in its stable and work with her a little before we ride.”
“That's highly unusual. I'll have to ask Sir Charles for his permission.”
“I'm teaching your mistress to ride, and my first lesson is for her to be familiar with her mare. She needs to build confidence with the horse. To understand what it is thinking.”
“I'm sorry, but I can't let you do that.” He shooed them out of the stables adding as his Parthian shot “Minding them horses is my task, Miss.”
Mary pointed out to Cecelia, “Since your spare clothes haven't arrived yet, it's best if you don't get too dirty. There's nothing for you to change into.”
“True. I suppose Sir Charles objects to the smell of horses in the dinner room.”
“Father doesn't care at all, but my mother will turn up her nose at it.”
“I'll approach him about getting access to your mare.”
“Are you sure? She twitches in ways that always surprise me.”
“That's why I want you to handle her yourself. Horses often twitch, and when they don't twitch they shy. It shouldn't be a surprise when they do.”
Dinner was a struggle for Cecelia. The dinning room, with its long polished table, footmen, bright chandeliers and elegant service, was a far cry from the modest fittings at home in Penyclawdd.
As they assembled  in the drawing room before entering this fine room, Sir Charles welcomed her, and pointed out that as a 'family meal' everyone was in their informal dress. Cecelia blurted out, “Your informal dress is much more elegant than my best.”
He replied, with a bit of a smile, “I do like to have the distinctions of rank preserved.” Then he quickly changed the subject, “Did you have a chance to start on the riding lessons? Georgie is so looking forward to dazzling the fair riders when she has her next season in the village.”
“The village?”
“Not really. Your groom wouldn't let Miss Somerset and me look at her horse. I'd like her to work with it herself.”
“You can call her Georgie here.”
“It was probably for the best, because I'd smell even more strongly of horse than I do. Not having a change of dress.”
Lady Elizabeth asked, “Why does my daughter need to look at her horse? Isn't it enough that she wants to ride them.”
“In order to control your horse, you need to know how it will react. How it thinks.”
“Do horses think?”
“After their own fashion.”
Sir Charles inserted, “Dean Swift thought so, with his Yahoo's and Houyhnhmns.”
Cecelia welcomed the turn to the literary, “I've been reading Byron's latest poems from the circulating library.”
“The library in Abergavenny stocks 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage'? That's not even out in London. There's already a list of subscribers for it.”
“I was thinking of 'Hours of Idleness'. I suppose it isn't his latest. But they'll have it as soon as it is available.”
“Still, it is Byron. Even his older poems are worth repeated examination.”
Lady Elizabeth intoned, “I like Mr. Landor's work. It is so monumental and learned. Not like this modern romantic claptrap.”
Ceclia replied, “I like Mr. Landor better than his poetry. He's one of my neighbors and been so helpful with Mr. Wood. If I have a problem on the farm, he's always there to help.”
“Is that implied criticism of his poetry?”
“Oh no! Not at all. I've just had a surfeit of it. He'll recite his poetry for any reason at any time. Occasionally it's rather tedious.”
Georgie spoke, “I can't believe that a surfeit of poetry is possible.”
“Oh, trust me. It is.”
Sir Charles changed the subject, “How is Captain Wood, by the way? I should write to Fitzroy soon, and I'm sure he would like to hear of him.”
“He's still a bit disturbed, poor man. Much better than when he arrived. Now he's staying sober.”
“I hope he's not one of those blasted tea-totalers. Can't abide them.”
“I didn't mean that. Just when we met he was always drunk, even in the mornings. Now he isn't.”
Dinner was stressful for Cecelia. There was usually one course at Penyclawdd, and a simple service with limited utensils. It was good, but basic. Even a simple family meal at the Somersets involved several courses and a complex etiquette for the different eating utensils and glasses. Cecelia was completely lost, but fortunately no one seemed to notice her missteps. Or at least if they did they were too kind to remark on them.
Until later. Sir Charles and his wife Elizabeth discussed the Cecelia's performance before they retired for the night. 
“At least she didn't eat with her fingers.”
“Are you sure she is a suitable companion for Georgie?”
“Oh yes, but I do think we'll have to teach her better manners.”
“And that dress, how dreadful. Like it was pieced together at random.”
“Funny thing that. Did you notice she came back from riding that horrible mare wearing Captain Wood's coat?”
“No, but what of it?”
“I think her habit was ruined. This is what she, that Arnold female and Mrs. Landor pieced together.”
“But still, Charles, she seems so untutored.”
“She is. Poor Sir Giles, he lost his wife so young and then because of his health he couldn't bring his daughter into society like he should have. She comes from good stock, but she's lived away from society for so long.”
“I suppose you're right. Did I hear correctly that she's planning a visit to Bath soon?”
“That Jane Arnold and Captain Wood will take her there, to find a husband.”
“Then perhaps it is a godsend that she is visiting us. Can we give her some polish and perhaps buff out a few of the roughest edges?”
“I hope so. I do want to see what she can do for Georgie.”
“I wish you would refer to our daughter as Mary.”
“I'll try. She likes being called Georgie.”
“If Miss Wood can teach Mary to be comfortable on horseback, I'll do what I can about her appearance and manners. It's something of a pity that the awful Arnold woman has ensnared Captain Wood into matrimony. Somehow, I can't see Miss Wood staying with them for very long after they're married.”
I wonder how Captain Wood puts up with her?”
“Miss Arnold.”
Sir Charles wasn't the only one wondering about Captain Wood as they prepared for bed. Cecelia found herself in a spare bedroom, using a borrowed brush to brush out her hair while the maid warmed her bed with a warming pan. “I wonder what he's doing now?”
“Who Miss?”
Cecelia replied out loud, “Oh, no one,” while thinking of Captain Wood. She continued, “I wonder if he misses me?”
“If it's no one, Miss, why should he?”
Cecelia shook her head, “I'm sorry, my mind is wandering. I must be tired.”
“If you say so Miss. Your bed is warm, if you'd like.”
“Thank you.”

Lady Elizabeth received a shock when she emerged from her room in mid-morning to break her fast. Her butler caught her attention, “Ma'am, Miss Wood is missing. Did she leave word with you?”
“She wasn't in her room when her maid went to bring her morning chocolate.”
“She didn't say anything to me or Sir Charles about leaving. Was the rest of her kit still there?”
“I can't say, since she borrowed most of it.”
“Maybe Mary will know something.”
At breakfast neither Mary Georgiana, nor Sir Charles nor Lady Elizabeth nor Charlotte Augusta, nor Charles Henry and finally not even Villiers knew anything about where Cecelia was. Sir Charles was about to mount a search party when Cecelia walked into the room. She was more than slightly redolent of the stables. Seeing them all staring at her, she stuttered out, “I-I-I was looking at your horses. Seeing the barns and stables. Your groom reluctantly showed me Mary's horse and one I could borrow. Is anything wrong?”
“Is that what you always do?”
“Check the animals in the morning? Of course. It's the best time of the day to do it, while they're still calm and cool.”
“But Miss Wood, isn't that what your groom does?”
“Yes, and like yours he's an excellent groom, but there are decisions about the stock that he shouldn't make by himself. Besides, this way I get to know the animals.”
“So early, have you eaten?”
“No, not yet. Is that bacon I smell?”
Young master Villiers tried to comment, sotto vocce, that he was surprised she could even smell the bacon with such a strong smell of horse coming from her clothing.
Cecelia heard him and replied, “I can always sit at the far end of the table, if you'd prefer. But I thought this afternoon would be a good one for a long excursion, say to the top of Holy mountain, and people who don't like the smell of horses can't come with Georgie and me.”
Lady Elizabeth interjected, “I presume you've washed before you came back from the stables?”
“Oh yes. I always do after leaving the animals. At home I keep one garment just for working the horses. I hope you've sent for my clothes, because I will need to change for dinner tonight.”
“We did last night, they should be here today.”
“Thank you. Even I can smell the horses on this one.”
Mary asked, “Don't you like the smell of horses?”
“I do, but there is a limit.”
“I'm glad to hear it. It won't do in Bath.”
“I know. When would you be ready to go, Georgie?”
Lady Elizabeth frowned, “I detest that slang name. Please call her Mary.”
Cecelia was more at her ease during breakfast. Lady Elizabeth noted with approval that her manners were not as rough as she had thought them. As the last drops of the tea were being consumed, she told her daughter to go and get ready. Then she reminded her sons that they had lessons to attend to. Cecelia rose and was about to take her leave so she could go to the stables, when Lady Elizabeth asked her to sit.
“I have a few questions for you Miss Wood.”
“I understand that the plan is for Miss Arnold, Captain Wood and you to visit Bath in a few weeks?”
“Yes it is. I'm very excited because the last time I was in Bath was ten years ago when I was only eight.”
“And Mary will be lending you her continence during your visit?”
“I hope to see her there. It's not as if I know many people in Bath.”
“Hmmn. Can you dance?”
“A little. I haven't had a chance to visit the Abergavenny assemblies since my father died.”
“I see. So your steps will be a little, how shall I say it? Rusty?”
Cecelia laughed, “Not just rusty, but rustic as well. I doubt though that I'll be called upon to dance very often, just being a plain country girl.”
“I wouldn't call you plain, Miss Wood. If Charles Henry were Mary's age I'd be worrying about him paying too much attention to you. However, you will need better clothes, if that dress is anything like the rest of your wardrobe. It makes you look like a frumpy old fashioned woman.”
“I know.”
“I presume you have some part of Sir Giles estate?”
“Only my mother's portion of a thousand pounds in the four-percents.”
“Oh dear. That's not much is it?”
“I can live on it, but it won't run to a fashionable place.”
“Wasn't Penyclawdd profitable?”
“I'd say it was highly profitable, but my brother died a few days old and my mother shortly after. So the money from the farm belongs to Captain Wood because of the entail.”
“You are in a predicament, aren't you?”
Cecelia refused to be disheartened and said, “I don't know. It could be much worse. At least I will have something to live on.”
“Sir Charles and I were on more than a nodding acquaintance with your father. So I'll so what I can. You'll have to work on your manners and deportment while you're here.”
“If you insist, but I thought I was here to help your daughter learn to ride well.”
“You can do that during the day. I presume you won't be riding at night.”
“Yes Ma'am. I hear and obey your commands.” Cecelia rose and gave Lady Elizabeth a deep curtsy, the sort she would give the queen were she presented.
“You'll have to watch that tendency to levity. I think I hear Mary, so you are excused.”
“Thank you, I'll do my best to not be an embarrassment to you.”
“I'm sure you won't be an embarrassment, but I'd like you to be a credit.”
Cecelia left and found Mary waiting for her in the front hall. “How did you survive that interview with my mother? She can be very severe when she wants to be.”
“She certainly was blunt, but I like straightforward talk. In any case, there's a lot for you to do, so if you'll follow me to the stables.”
Cecelia and Mary were busy. Cecelia had Mary brush her horse, then walk her around the stables on a lead. Finally, with the help of the grooms, they saddled her horse and another. Then they trotted out for a brief ride around the paddock.

While Cecelia and Mary were occupied with the horses, Captain Wood called on Lady Elizabeth and Sir Charles. He brought Miss Wood's clothing with him in the gig. Lady Elizabeth received him in the front parlor.
“Captain Wood, I'm pleased to meet you. My brother-in-law Fitzroy asked about you in his last letter from Spain. How are you doing?”
“Much improved, but I still have to be careful.”
“Is it bad?”
“Not usually, but there are times it is awful. I don't know if I'll ever be fully recovered.”
“I'm sorry to hear so.”
“That's more than enough about my troubles. How is Miss Wood doing?”
“She is teaching my daughter Mary to be a comfortable rider.”
“Cecelia, Miss Wood is an excellent horsewoman. I hope she's as good a teacher.”
“She says that you and Miss Arnold will take her to Bath.”
“Yes, Jane has promised to help her with husband-hunting.”
“I wish you good luck with that. How is Jane?”
“She was feeling slightly indisposed, and makes her apologies. A trip to Raglan today was more than she felt she could stand.”
“I see. How long have you been engaged?”
“Since March 23rd. Why?”
“Just wondering. You know I eloped with Sir Charles?”
“No, I didn't.”
“I disapprove of long engagements. If you're ready to marry, just get married.”
“I'm afraid Jane would disagree with you. She's waiting for permission from the head of her family.”
“Silly girl. I guess she enjoys the idea of being engaged more than the idea of marriage.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Being engaged can bring such a feeling of self-satisfaction to a young woman. She no longer needs to worry about finding a husband, and in the meantime she doesn't need to worry about satisfying one.”
“I'm sure you're being cynical. It isn't like that at all.”
“Still I presume you're happy with her.”
“Absolutely, I'm counting the days until we get the letter from Lord Pershore giving her permission.”
Sir Charles joined them, “I was watching your cousin at work. Mary is already more confident in her seat. They were returning the horses to the stables.”
“I'm glad she's being helpful. Penyclawdd seems a little flat and lifeless without her.”
Sir Charles nodded at Lady Elizabeth, who simply commented, “Already miss her do you?”
Sir Charles continued, “I caught their attention and told them you were here. They'll join us shortly. I know it's a tad effeminate for a dashing young captain, but will you join us for a nuncheon? I know Mary will need it. She's not used to such strenuous exertion in the morning.”
“It would be my pleasure. Miss Arnold and our cook were having a heated discussion last night, so I'm not sure what meal awaits my return. Breakfast was, how would you say it? Interesting.”
For the next few minutes conversation centered around the safe and mundane aspects of farming, only once veering into dangerous waters. Sir Charles asked, “How many sheep do you have at Penyclawdd?”
“I don't know. I'd have to ask Cecelia, Miss Wood.”
Cecelia answered from the door to the parlor, “The farm itself, only three hundred forty-seven, give or take a few lambs. About ten of those are rams. Our tenants run much more.” She had changed from her horsey clothes into clean, although still less that fashionable dress.
George started, “Cecelia! How are you?”
She blushed at his attention, “It's only been a day, Captain Wood, surely Penyclawdd is still standing without me.”
“Yes, still standing, but whether it is as comfortable as it was is an open question.”
“What happened?”
“Miss Arnold and your cook had a disagreement last night.”
“She is a mite temperamental.”
“Miss Arnold?”
“No, I meant Mrs. Jones, our cook. Would it help if I wrote her a note?”
“It might.”
Nuncheon went well. Mary, unused to the level of physical activity that Cecelia set for her was famished. Captain Wood, after a breakfast of cold, congealed porridge and something that more resembled dishwater than tea, was happy to eat whatever was available. At the end of the meal Lady Elizabeth announced, “Mary, Miss Wood, if you would please defer your afternoon's exertions, I would like to see how well Miss Wood dances.”
“Can't we do that this evening?”
“We could, but then you would have to stand with each other. Who would play?”
“Surely I could dance with Sir Charles?”
Sir Charles, catching the look his lady gave him and understanding its meaning, quickly interjected, “Not with my gout, Miss Wood.”
“If you say so. But I promised Geor- Mary that we could go for a long ride this afternoon, and Charles Henry as well if he wishes.”
“We'll only be a few minutes. We can always delay dinner.”
The party trooped to the drawing room were a small, somewhat dated, pianoforte sat in the corner. Lady Elizabeth asked her daughter, “Mary, would you play a country dance, say 'the Miller'. Captain Wood, please take Miss Wood as your partner.”
“If you insist.”
Somewhat awkwardly and shyly, both the Captain and Cecelia took their places as Mary started in on one of the new dances of 1810. George and Cecelia bowed and then started the dance. It didn't take long before they collided.
“I'm sorry,” Cecelia apologized, blushing, “I just don't know how this dance goes.”
George said, “The fault is as much mine.”
Lady Elizabeth intervened, “Mary, if you would dance and show Miss Wood how. Miss Wood, could you play?”
“I can try, but I don't play nearly so well as Miss Somerset.”
“As long as you keep to the tempo, don't worry about the rest.”
It was soon clear that for all her knowledge about horses and farming, Cecelia's education was lacking the refinements required of a young lady of culture. She could play the tune, or she could play in time. Playing the tune in time was beyond her skill.
Lady Elizabeth clicked her tongue in dismay. “I see we'll have to hire a caper-merchant for you. I think Mary, that I shall be coming to Bath with you after all.”
“Oh Mother, do you have to?”
“I'm sorry Mary, but yes. If we're to help launch your friend onto the seas of society, you'll need my help.”
“Lady Elizabeth, I'm not expecting to dance. Just give me a book and I'll sit with the chaperons.”
“Not dance! Miss Wood, how in the world to you expect to meet a suitable young man?”
“I don't know.” Cecelia was near tears. The rules of society were so beyond her comprehension.
“There, there, my dear.” Lady Elizabeth unbent her formality. “You will do fine, perhaps you'll run into one while riding on Claverton Down. I'm sure a few hours with a good caper-merchant will work wonders, you'll see.”
George watched this exchange and worried about Cecelia's feelings. He said “Cecelia, I know we collided and almost tripped over each other, but it was much more interesting to dance with you than with Miss Somerset.”
Cecelia looked at him, and her tears seemed to dry. “If you say so, Captain Wood. Thank you.”
“I'll see if Jane will play for us when you return to Penyclawdd. We can get some practice then.” Somehow, Cecelia doubted that would work.  Instead of expressing her doubts, she said, “Captain Wood, I'd be happy to practice my playing if you and Miss Arnold would dance.”
Lady Elizabeth noted the time on the mantelpiece clock and pronounced it was time for Captain Wood to return home. She added, “Miss Wood and Mary. There is still time for you to have a ride. We will set dinner back until you return.”
When Cecelia and Mary reached the stables, they were surprised to find Captain Wood and Sir Charles were already there.
Cecelia inquired, “I thought you had returned to Penyclawdd?”
“I will, shortly, but first I needed to ask Sir Charles about a horse for Miss Arnold. That is, unless you want Mrs. Landor to return Awyr?”
Cecelia shivered at the thought, Awyr was her special horse, and Mrs. Landor was doing an excellent job of looking after her. “No, I think Miss Arnold needs her own mount.”
One of the grooms brought the two horses that Mary and Cecelia were using over. Captain Wood helped Mary to mount and then offered to help Cecelia up. While perfectly capable of mounting her horse herself, she accepted his aid. He took her hand while steadying her. Their eyes met and locked on each other. It felt as though a slight shock ran through her, and once mounted they were both reluctant to let go. Then he did and returned to discussing horses with Sir Charles while Cecelia and Mary rode out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Who do I write like? is a website that claims to analyze your writing. So far I've got:
  • H.P. Lovecraft (Katherine's Choice)
  • William Shakespeare (The French Orphan)
  • James Joyce (Charlotte)
  • James Joyce (Cecelia (unpublished, draft on blog and wattpad))
  • Jane Austen (Cecelia Chapter 2 - go figure).
  • Margarete Mitchell (Civil War Story (unpublished, draft on blog and wattpad))
A friend of mine came out with David Foster Wallace, and her writing is nothing like his.

Quite a mix. Doubt it has any great meaning, but it is fun.

I read a blog post about this site. It uses a Bayesian classifier. Pity it doesn't give you a certainty or precision for the score. (It also only has 54 or so authors).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Photos of interest

I put some of the relevant photographs for Cecelia on my facebook page. Because of the various things that one of the book distributors has done (preemptively setting up blank facebook pages in my name and book titles), I've had to make it a commercial-like page rather than a personal one. Oh well.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chapter 4 of Cecelia

For your delectation and enjoyment.

There have been changes to the first three, but nothing worthy of a repost. This is the first complete version of chapter 4.

4. Raglan Horse Fair.

Mr. and Mrs. Landor arrived in his gig early the next morning. Ionie was tethered to the back of it and making it clear that she did not enjoy leaving her stall. If it was needed, her side-saddle was in the gig. Cecelia came trotting out before he could dismount and knock. “Thank goodness you're here. I don't think I can take much more of this.”
“Much more of what, Miss Wood?”
“This continued sniping. Jane, Miss Arnold is still upset from yesterday. I like and admire the Captain, but he is affianced to her. I would never come between them. Somehow it seems I have.”
Julia called her over, “Cecelia come and talk with me. Walter, would you make sure that they are getting ready to go. I'd like to get to Raglan while there are still some decent horses still for sale.”
“Yes, my love. I hear and obey.”
Cecelia mounted the gig and sat beside Mrs. Landor. Julia started the conversation, “Cecelia, I had a long talk with Jane yesterday. You must understand that she's not sure of herself.”
“Not sure of herself. What do you mean by that?”
“It's simple, remember when you rode Ionie and I couldn't?”
“Yes, you just have to show the horse who is in charge.”
“Which means you have to be confident that you can control the horse. You are, and I'm not. That's why I can ride a sweetheart like Awyr and not a difficult mare like Ionie.”
Cecelia thought for a moment, and said, “You mean she's not sure she can ride George? That doesn't make sense to me. He's not a horse is he?”
“She's not sure she can run a household like Penyclawdd and keep George happy. It scares her.”
“Oh. Is she scared of me too?”
“That's silly.”
“No it's not. If she gets snappy with you or George it's because she's worried.”
“I hadn't thought of it like that. Perhaps you have a point.”
They might have gone further with this discussion, but Mr. Landor and Miss Arnold came out and haled them. “George is bringing around their gig. I was wondering if you would prefer to ride with Jane and George instead of me?”
“What happens if Ionie is upset? You can't handle her, but Miss Wood can.”
Jane added her voice, “And, Julia, we hadn't finished when the message came about the Captain being in distress. I'd so much like to continue our conversation.”
Julia shrugged, and then whispered to Cecelia, “Think about what I've said.” Then she dismounted and walked over to Miss Arnold. “It would be my pleasure to get to know both you and your fiancée much better.”
Mr. Landor drove his gig off first, with Cecelia beside him and Ionie trotting on her lead behind. They reached the main road to Abergavenny before either said much to each other.
“Mr. Landor?”
“Yes, Cecelia?”
“There's one thing I don't understand.”
“Only one thing, Egeria?”
“Who?” Mr. Landor started on a description of the various Goddesses and Muses of Wisdom. Egeria was the Muse who instructed the early Romans on ritual and religion. He hadn't gone very far into the subject when Cecelia interrupted him. “Please stop with my classics lesson, I have a serious question for you.”
“Ask away.”
“Why are you suddenly so helpful? I hardly saw you or Mrs. Landor before Captain Wood and Miss Arnold arrived.”
“There are several reasons, Miss Wood.”
“First, your father asked me to keep an eye on you. As long as it was just you running the estate, I didn't have much to do.”
“You're a better manager than I am.”
“No, that can't be true.”
“Penyclawdd makes money, doesn't it?”
“Llanthony has been nothing but hole in my wallet. If my books didn't sell, I'd be starving.”
“Do you want my help?”
“That takes me to my second reason. You know I've tried to get the local farmers to adopt modern and more profitable methods.”
“Now that's hard. They're so stubborn, especially when you're an outsider. You really should let me talk to them first.”
“I'm applying the same charity to you. Help you find a mate or at least somewhere to live once the Captain tires of your company.” The thought that George might tire of her company made Cecelia's chest tighten.
“Is that all?”
“No. I like you and George. You're pleasant company.”
“And Jane?”
He paused, “Her too. At least when she's on her good behavior. Finally, I need you to pick out a good horse for Julia.”

Once the two parties arrived at the Raglan fair, they found stabling for their horses and headed for the horse sales. Cecelia's initial impression of the livestock on offer was not high. “Jane, I'm not sure I've seen any horses here that I would want you to ride. Certainly none I would ride given the choice.” Mr. Landor caught her attention, “Miss Wood, how about this mare?”
It was a brown and white horse. Cecelia looked at it, and commented, “She's a long-legged curby backed brute. How much are they asking?”
“Ten pounds.” Cecelia mentally calculated a bargaining price. Then she said, “Maybe we can bargain, but only if I think the horse is otherwise sound. Let me look at her mouth.” After she spent a few moments looking at the teeth, she said, “Have you been plowing with this horse? Her bite is ruined for riding.”
Together they moved on to look for another horse.
Lord Charles Somerset found Mr. Landor in the crush and asked him, “I'm looking for a hunter as a wedding present for my daughter Elizabeth, and I've heard that you have a fine full-blooded one for sale.”
“My Lord, if you would follow me. Ionie is over here.”
When Lord Charles examined Ionie, he said, “She's a fine mare, but clearly ill-mannered. Can she be ridden by a lady?”
“Miss Cecelia Wood rides her. Would you like to see Ionie put through her paces?”
“Yes, if you could.”
“Miss Wood, would you be willing to demonstrate?”
Cecelia looked at Ionie, who was showing signs of distress at the crowding and bustle. “I don't see why not. She's a bit upset with the noise of the fair, but it's nothing that getting her out and exercised won't fix.”
The side-saddle was brought from the gig and mounted on Ionie. While this was happening Captain Wood attracted Cecelia's attention. “Miss Wood, please don't. You are not completely recovered from your fall and that horse has a wild look in her eyes.”
“Captain Wood, the only reason she threw me that evening was my lack of preparedness. I'll be fine.”
“Still, please humor me. That horse is not worth the risk to you.”
“What risk? There isn't a horse I'm scared of.” Cecelia was unpersuaded, and short of restraining her by force there was nothing else he could do.
George watched in trepidation as Cecelia mounted Ionie and trotted her around the field. All went well until there was a loud crash from one of the stalls at the fair. Ionie put her ears back and bolted for freedom. Cecelia pulled back as hard as she could on the reins but the horse kept going. They jumped the first hedge and shot off across country.
George saw someone leading a saddled horse out to demonstrate its paces to a prospective customer. “That's what I need.” He ran to them, closely followed by Mr. Landor. George pushed the men aside and took the horse, “Sorry, but this is an emergency.” He galloped off in pursuit of Miss Wood.
“Who was that?”
Mr. Landor replied, “That was Captain George Wood, of Penyclawdd. I wouldn't worry about your horse, he's a responsible sort of chap.”
“That's my horse! He stole my horse.”
“I wouldn't worry about it, if he hurts it he'll pay for it.” He paused to watch George clear the first hedge, “Damn he's a fine rider. Didn't think your horse had the ability to jump like that in him.”
The man looked at Mr. Landor in disbelief, “That was a twenty pound horse and saddle. I'll call the bailiffs.”
“Don't, twenty pounds you say?”
“Worth every last brass farthing.”
Landor pulled a ten-pound bank note out of his coat. “I don't feel like haggling with you. Will this do?” It did, the man would have settled for five. It was to his everlasting regret that he hadn't asked for forty pounds first.
George found Cecelia several fields and a half-mile away. She had finally pulled Ionie's head to one side, forcing her to circle in the field. That forced her to settle down and stop running. When George finally arrived, Ionie was calmly eating grass in the field, while Cecelia was struggling with the tattered remains of her dress. She used her one free hand to try to keep the top of her dress up. “That horse dragged me through a hedge.”
“I see.”
“You're seeing more than is proper, Captain Wood.”
“I appreciate your problem, Did anyone ever tell you that you have nice shoulders?” He thought some lucky man would get to appreciate what was hidden beneath her folded arm.
“No, but thank you. I'd rather not show them off. Let alone flaunt what would show if my arm slips.”
George gave her dilemma careful consideration and replied, “An idea, Miss Wood. I'll give you my jacket and then you'll be at least notionally decent.”
He removed his jacket, nudged his horse next to hers and exchanged his jacket for her reins. While he looked away, regretfully, Cecelia put his jacket on over the shreds of her dress and buttoned it up. “Captain Wood, you can look now.”
“I must say it becomes you. You'll set a new fashion for fair equestrians.”
“No I won't. It feels indecent.”
“It isn't. It's lovely, like you.” Cecelia blushed. He continued, “Let's get back to Raglan.”
They returned. Ionie, having had her run, behaved well.
Lord Charles admired Cecelia's horsemanship, but said, “That is a fine horse, but not for my daughter to ride. Your horse is better suited for racing. Let me see what my steward thinks of her.”
In the meantime Captain Wood attracted Jane and Julia's attention. “Miss Wood needs help with her dress. Can you fix it?” The two women led Cecelia off to see what could be salvaged, or failing that to see what could be assembled by purchase in Raglan.
As he left to find his steward and to see if he could use another racing horse, Lord Charles noticed George. “I say, aren't you Captain George Wood, lately returned from Spain?”
“Yes, my Lord”
“I thought so, my brother Fitzroy wrote me to look out for you. Seems you had a rough time of it.”
“My division was nearly destroyed at Badajoz. I'm sorry to say that I was shattered as well, and I'm back home to recover.”
“Then you'll appreciate the news, Lord Wellington's siege has taken the city.”
“They tried again?”
“This time his excellency supervised it himself. Fitzroy says it was bloody, but it succeeded.” George could hear the distant guns thundering in his mind. The color drained from his face. “My Lord if you'll excuse me.” He trotted off, found Landor and said, “Walter I have to go, now. Would you pay for this horse?”
“George are you well?”
“Just heard about the second siege of Badajoz. I need some space and time by myself. I'll ride to Penyclawdd.”
“I understand. We'll settle up later. Enjoy your new horse.”
“Thank you, please see that Jane and Cecelia get home safely.”
“Don't worry about it. If need be Cecelia can drive one of the gigs.”
George laughed at the thought, “Yes, she does have good hands and a light touch.” Then he rode off to find solace in the solitude of the mountains.
Jane and Julia led Cecelia back to the fair. Their efforts, combined with a bodice from the village seamstress, restored Cecelia to a presentable state of dress. Cecelia asked Mr. Landor, “Where is Captain Wood? I'd like to thank him for lending me his jacket. For that matter I'd like to give it back to him.”
Mr. Landor was staring off into the distance, verses coursing through his head, and didn't hear her. Julia, familiar with her husband's peculiarities, waited a moment, then pinched him. He jumped, “What?”
“Sorry, my love, but where is the Captain?”
“Halfway to Penyclawdd, given the way he was riding. Unless he stopped to climb Holy mountain. Probably didn't.”
Disappointment showed itself on Cecelia's expression, “I so wanted to thank him for my rescue.”
“The way my dress was parted, I'd have inspired you to write a poem about the Amazons.”
This brought a laugh from the Landors but not from Jane. Cecelia noticed Jane's discomfort, and told her “Captain Wood was a perfect gentleman. He lent me his jacket because my dress was so badly ripped that I was nearly indecent. Then he turned his back while I put it on. You're very lucky to be engaged to him.”
“I am, aren't I?”
“Jane, please don't worry about my cousin and me. We're just friends. I'd like to be one of your bridesmaids if you'd have me.”
Jane seemed mollified, and smiled at Cecelia, “You aren't trying to take him from me?”
“Me? Lord no. Why would you ever think that?”
“It's just. Let's say once burned is twice shy.”
Mr. Landor inserted himself into the conversation. “Ladies, this is a horse fair. Neither Miss Arnold, nor Mrs. Landor has even looked at horses today.”
Cecelia remembered the purpose of their expedition, “Come, let's see if I can't find you a good mount.”
They hadn't gone very far into the crush when they bumped into Lord Charles and his daughter the Honorable Mary Georgiana Somerset. He condescended to notice them. “Is this young woman the one who rode that horse?”
Cecelia curtsied to them. “I am, my lord.”
“And your name?”
“Miss Cecelia Wood.”
“Miss Wood? I've heard of you. Sir Giles Wood's daughter aren't you? Quite a horsewoman, one of the best in Monmouth county.”
Cecelia blushed with embarrassment, “I'm sure my reputation is overblown.”
“I watched you ride that shrew of a horse. My steward wasn't sure that our jockeys could handle her as well as you did.”
“Ionie is just a bit unmannered. I've ridden worse.”
Jane was quietly simmering in the background. This commoner was getting all the attention. She interrupted, “My Lord Somerset, don't you remember me?”
“I'm sorry Miss, but I don't.”
“I'm the Honorable Jane Arnold, daughter of Lord Andover. We met in Westminster last year.”
Lord Charles frowned, then recognized her, “Jane. I'm sorry. What are you doing in this forsaken place?”
“I'm affianced to Captain Wood, Miss Wood's cousin. He's inherited Penyclawdd House.”
“Captain Wood? Oh yes, we talked earlier today. A quiet, but distinguished looking young man.”
“I think so. He's been ever so attentive to me.”
“Wasn't he mentioned in dispatches from the first siege of Badajoz?”
“He was.”
“I gather that battle undid him. Shame. He was a good officer and bound for better things. With luck he'll recover some of his poise.” Lord Charles paused for a moment's consideration and then to Jane's immense annoyance asked Cecelia, “Miss Wood, I've been trying to find suitable mounts for my daughters. Could you help?”
“It would be my pleasure. How well do they ride?”
The Honorable Mary spoke up, “Nothing like you, Miss Wood. Just up and down in Hyde park.”
“Hyde park, I've never been there. Is it difficult terrain?”
Jane nudged Cecelia, “It's in London.”
“So all on the flat with no jumps. How boring.”
This brought laughter to most of the company, and confusion to Cecelia. “I'm sorry, I don't understand.”
“You've never been to London, have you?”
“Bath, once, when I was a little girl, but London, never.”
Mary described Hyde Park for her. “It's just a big flat open area next to the city. You walk your horse up and down it while talking to other fashionable people.”
Cecelia dug herself into a deeper hole by replying. “That doesn't sound like fun at all. No wonder you and Miss Arnold can't ride properly. I'd be very happy to help you pick out a horse, but you have to promise me not to condemn the poor creature to such a miserable existence.”
“Any horse worth riding likes to run occasionally.”
Lord Charles did the unforgivable, at least in Miss Arnold's eyes. He laughed and said, “Miss Wood, it sounds to me like my daughter could use some instruction in equitation. Would you be willing to help her learn?”
“My Lord, it would be my pleasure. I'm due to go to Bath in a couple of weeks with Miss Arnold and her fiancée, but until then I'm available.”
“Bath, you say. Mary weren't you planning to stay there with your Aunt next month?”
“Yes, father, as you well know.”
“Miss Wood, why don't you accompany us to Raglan House this afternoon? You can spend a couple days tutoring Miss Somerset, and then maybe she can help introduce you to Bath society. That would be a fair exchange, wouldn't it?”
“More than fair, I'd be happy to accept. Can I make sure that my friends can get home safely without my help before I accept your offer.”
Mr. Landor intervened immediately. “Don't worry about us. Julia's a fair whip and we have only the two gigs. Especially if someone purchases Ionie.”
Sir Charles laughed again, “Landor, you really do want to get rid of that horse, don't you?”
“She's not a suitable ride for Mrs. Landor, and she eats like a pig. So yes I'd even give her away to get rid of her.”
“How's twenty-five pounds?”
“Done. Even if you don't race her, she's good breeding stock.”

Jane managed, with difficulty, to keep her opinions to herself until she and Julia were part-way back to Abergavenny. Eventually they boiled up and erupted.
“I thought the idea for this trip was to find mounts for us, not introduce that puffed up ignorant little girl to society.”
“Is your nose out of joint that she was invited to the Somerset's and you weren't?”
“No, well yes it is. My family has known them for years, and she's a nobody. A little countrified nobody. Just because she can ride well, she gets to visit them.”
“That's not quite fair, Jane.”
“I'll tell you what isn't fair. We're riding home in this gig, without horses. That's what's not fair.”
“There weren't many mares for sale at this fair. None that were any good.”
“George bought a horse.”
“Only because he needed to get away from the crush in a hurry. Something upset him.”
“Still I should have been invited to stay at Raglan too. I'm almost family.”
“But you aren't are you?”
“Yes I am, my mother's second cousin once removed is Sir Charles' great-uncle.”
“I suppose that's close enough to be called family.”
“It certainly is. I consider myself snubbed.”
“Do you want Cecelia to live with you and Captain Wood once you're married?”
“Good God No!”
“Then she has to find her way into society. Sir Charles is doing her a great favor by introducing her to his daughter.”
“It should be me too. Cecelia should teach me to ride.”
“I'm sure she will when she has the chance.”
Eventually Jane's grumblings reached the point where Julia felt the need to stop them. She pulled the reins and stopped the gig. She turned to her passenger and bluntly told her, “Jane, when you twit at Cecelia like that, you only make yourself look awful. It's one of your less appealing traits.”
“Would you like to walk the rest of the way to Penyclawdd? Miss Wood is my friend as well as you. I'm happy that she's making some acquaintance with a larger society. You should be as well.”
Jane paused, it was never pleasant to have one's character flaws pointed out. After a few moments thought she replied, “I'm sorry Julia. You're right. I'm just so worried.”
“Why? Captain Wood certainly seems to love you. He is getting better with time, and you have friends here who like you. In spite of your occasional snappy comments.”
“I don't know. There's just something off. I can't just be happy anymore.”
“I can't solve that for you. You have to make up your own mind to enjoy your life.”
“Doesn't make it easy, does it?”
“No it doesn't.” Julia paused and then continued, “I know it's not quite as much fun as riding, but can you drive?”
“A little, I've done a few passes up and down in Hyde park.”
“Time for a lesson, then.” She passed Jane the reins and they swapped places in the gig so that Jane could reach the brake. “If you're ready, give the reins a shake and tell the horse to 'walk on'.”

Jane was moving along the Hereford road in decent style and showing that she had a good eye and a decent touch on the reins when a lone horseman crashed out of the brush ahead of them. Their horse reared in surprise and backed the gig into the hedge before the two women could get it back under control.
“George! What are you doing? You startled our horse.”
“I'm sorry. I didn't see you.”
“You should have looked.”
“I was just up enjoying the air and the view on Holy Mountain. Thought I'd come back to see how the search for a horse was going.”
Jane sulked, “Not well. We didn't find any. But Miss Wood is going to tutor that Somerset girl.”
“One of Lord Charles' daughters. Good for her.”
“I wasn't invited.”
“Oh that's a shame. I guess we'll have Penyclawdd to ourselves for a few days. That should be amusing.”
“Is that what it will be like when we're married?”
“I suppose so, except when we invite company.”
“We'll have company often, won't we?”
“I'd expect so. Jane, I'm sure we have a horse you can ride if you want. I'm no mean bit myself. It would be my pleasure to tutor you.”
Julia interjected with a smile, “I didn't know you could ride side-saddle Captain Wood.”
“I suppose I could, but I don't. Horses are horses, however you ride them. I'm sure I can teach riding even if I use a different saddle.”
“See Jane? These things have a way of working out. You'll get your riding lessons after all, and Captain Wood is a skilled horseman.”
“As long as he's sober.”
“Even when I'm drunk, but I'm staying sober now. Mr. Landor is right that getting drunk doesn't help with the memories. They just come back harder with the morning head.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Regency Cooking

I was looking at Hanna Glasse's cookbook to see if there were any regency dishes I could try out. Both for color in the books and to see what they ate.

The one thing that struck me was the sheer size of them.
"Start with 15 pounds of beef, Cut in pieces, flour and brown"
"Use 200 Crayfish"
Only use a half-pound of butter to fry a dozen eggs, not a pound like the French do. (paraphrased).

She must have been cooking on a much grander scale than I do. It's going to take a bit more work to figure out what to try.

By the way, what happened to the Crayfish in England? I've poked around with my children in creeks (streams, rivulets) in rural areas near Yate and never seen any. Maybe eating 200 at a time had an effect?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

2.845718 dimensional characters

I was thinking about character development in writing. Not my character, mind you, but the characters in my works.

It occurs to me that the easiest way to churn out a romance is to use cookie-cutter plots and flat two-dimensional characters. A sweet young lady in desperate straights meets a billionaire (in the regency maybe the owner of a 100,000 pound estate), sweeps him off his feet. After a certain amount of soft-core porn, a few misunderstandings, and a tribulation or two, they get married and ride off into the sunset together. Another novel for your delectation.

I wish writing well were that easy. It isn't. One trouble is creating vaguely three-dimensional characters. Real people aren't all good all the time. They have bad days and good days. They get snappy with people. Their opinions of other people change through time, as do at least some aspects of their character. They learn. It's unrealistic to expect that a character in a story wouldn't exhibit some of these traits.

I'm not sure a fully three-dimensional character is possible in a fictional work. Hence the title, suggested by a mathematically inclined friend, with a fractal dimension of character. More than two and less than three. There's a funny Futurama episode with fractal dimensions if you're so inclined.

One trick to get more than two dimensions that I've tried is to write a character summary before I write the book. The characters change as I write the story. So these descriptions aren't quite accurate. Which you will see if you read the chapter's I've posted.
Miss Arnold is not quite as nasty as my initial estimate (who could believe anyone as nasty as her initial draft could get engaged, let alone stay that way). In fact there's a bit of a sympathetic back story to her. None the less she is the romantic foil and part of the story is the tension between her and Cecelia. It defines the people and their motivations. The circumstances they find themselves in, technically I suppose the ones I put them in, develop a more complete picture.

Here's the initial summary for Cecelia. 
What's Cecelia like?
5 ft 4 ish (tall for the time) dark brown hair, but not swarthy. Well built, but not overbuilt. In other words a more or less normal woman. Good teeth. Maybe 20.
Likes riding, walking on the highlands (downs?) near Llanthony. She's not Welsh, even though this is just into Wales. (or if she is, it's very Anglicized Welsh.) Undeterred by less than optimal weather. Socially she's more than a bit naïve. She hasn't had much practice dancing and flirting because she's living in an isolated estate and a season in London or an extended visit to Bath is just a distant dream. Maybe she's been to Gloucester, possibly Bath, but in neither case for very long. Can play the pianoforte, stitch and draw.
Good with horses, likes critters. Is quite proud of herself and her heritage. Can have a bit of a temper and should have a sharp tongue, at least about the interloper.
Painfully shy around strangers because she's not had much experience meeting new people. Deals with shyness by diverting attention with humor.
Has been to Abergavenny reasonably often and of course quite often to Llanvihangel Crucorney (in Hereford)
She lives at

George Wood

The distant cousin of Cecelia (distant enough that they can get married without a dispensation). Estate is entailed on him. Tall, handsome, but flawed. He sold his commission as a captain in the Duke's army after Badajoz (the Duke took it in 1812, there was an earlier failure in 1811 so we can take either). Slightly dishonorable to do so, but he's wounded inside and there really was no alternative. He was no longer fit to command. Nonetheless, it isn't something he's proud of. This puts him at a bit of a disadvantage – sort of as if he's always 'smelling his own shit'. (Too coarse an expression to use, but basically he has a bit of difficulty living with himself.)
PTSD aside, he's a pleasant chap. Was well-liked in the officer's mess. Not terribly well educated, the son of a Vicar in Devon (hence no estate of his own), he really likes the country and finds the cities overcrowded, smelly and too noisy. The entailment is a bit of a surprise to him, and was (partially) the excuse for his selling out. Socially he too is somewhat naive, soldiers often were during the war because the signed up as subalterns at 16, were captains by 18-20 and always busy. So while he's relatively mature, he's not been to many real balls or Bath or any of the fashionable things. He was socially out of his depth when he landed in London and was snapped up by a “man trap”, a shrewish young woman with an eye to the main chance. (more about her later). They aren't yet married, which was unusual (why? - she's in first mourning, which also makes her urgent to get hitched while she still is in society), but is understandable as he has regrets. She might but isn't above trying to make her intended do her bidding. (Think of Honoria Glossip, but less over the top.)
He's going to slowly recover his normal sense of humor and character. So when he starts he's sort of stunned and flat – not very interesting to Cecelia, who feels rightly or wrongly that he's not for her. Drinks a bit too much in the beginning much to both Miss Arnold's and Miss Wood's annoyance. Though their responses are markedly different.

Miss Jane Arnold.

Miss Arnold is the daughter of a minor nobleman. He's in gambling trouble, and her portion wouldn't be large anyway as she shares it with two brothers. (The Heir and a Spare).
Buxom, overpowering, on the large side. She knows what she wants and tries to get it. She usually does. She needs a husband. She wants one who likes Bath and London society. The eligible members of the ton avoid her like the plague ('Lady Nero' ? 'The Vampyre' ?). She scoops up Captain Wood when he is at Almacks on a 'strangers pass' (don't have to show this, they can talk about it. She can reprove him for not living up to his gallantry that evening).
The isolation of Penyclawdd really bugs her. Taking two days to get to Bath is also an annoyance (either land by Gloucester or ferry by Chepstow). Complains about Welsh orthography (“How I can I possibly live in a house where I can't pronounce the name, George?”)
She's fully willing and able to come the 'grand dame' over the local farmers and families, which doesn't go down well.
Even though they are engaged, she is on the lookout for better. That's part of why she doesn't like Penclawdd.