Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Curious Profession of Dr. Craven is alive!

My latest book "The Curious Profession of Dr. Craven" is out.

I thought I'd add a few details of background that are too long for a footnote or to fit in the margins of the page. (Not that you have well-defined margins with a kindle.)

Disinfectants. Dr. Craven is a bit of a 'clean freak.'  There are good reasons for that - he lost his first wife to puerperal fever and he suspects he gave it to her. If he followed medical practices of the time, he probably did. This poses a bit of a problem for an author who is trying to be historically plausible. The first disinfectants, things like Phenol, weren't discovered until well after the book's time frame (The novel is set in 1810, phenol was first distilled from coal tar in the 1830's) and  so could not have been used. However, hypochlorites are widely used as fairly mild and highly effective disinfectants to this day. It's what they sprayed for Ebola. It turns out they're rather easy to make by electrolysis, so Dr. Craven has his 'electrified water.'

Ordinary License. Many romances have the characters purchasing a "Special License" so they can get married without posting the Bann's. In other words, right now and not in a month. Trouble is a special license allowed you to get married somewhere other than a church. An "Ordinary License" let you get married without the Banns. They were rather hard to get because the Banns served as protection for the happy couple. Since divorce was impossible, except for very very unusual cases, the Banns helped to make sure the decision to get married wasn't hasty or ill-considered.

Sexual More's of the Ton. Anything went in the 1780's - 1820's if you were in the upper class. Without being purulent, the good doctor's parents were an excellent example of this. His mother was so notorious - not for the sleeping around - but for not hiding it, that she left England in 1780. She had a long-time affair with a Margrave, and only was married when her husband died. Even the upper class couldn't get divorced easily. Dr. Craven's older brother, although a successful general, is best known from the introduction to Harriet Wilson's memoirs. He comes across as a bit of a dolt. By the way, one of the origins of the phrase "publish and be damned" is due to the Duke of Wellington's response to Ms. Wilson's offer to suppress her memoirs for a fee.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Southern Bubble and Squeak.

Time out while I edit, edit, edit, and edit.

A traditional English food is "Bubble and Squeak." Here's a Southern version that uses Collards. Collards are a reverted wild cabbage adapted to our heat. Though I started ours in November and nursed them through the winter so they're only now starting to turn bitter.

Take roughly equal parts cooked collards and boiled potatoes.
Mash the potatoes, add salt and pepper to taste.
Add in the chopped collards and mix together thoroughly.

Fry in a well-seasoned pan with  a thin layer of oil, making something that resembles a pancake. Allow it to brown and then flip it over. Brown the other side.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The next book

It turns out with the changes in writeon, one of the easiest ways to push excerpts out there, like for my latest book is to use a direct link to it.

The first draft is about 90% complete. I've finally settled on a reasonable title, "The Curious Profession of Dr. Craven" and am beginning the long process of editing, publicizing and all that rot.

It's a sweet romance, set in 1810 so I guess it's a regency romance, and it's more than a bit Gothic. It starts with the heroine waking up after she's been buried alive, had her body stolen from the crypt and taken to an anatomist. The trauma has left her memory somewhere else, and she slowly recovers. Once that happens, a complicated story ensues involving fake identities, false French Dukes at Almack's and various subterfuges until it all works out in the end and they figuratively ride of into the sunset together. Or at least to the vicar's to post the Bann's. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Some old English

"And yet she lives" or what ever I'll call it is approaching completion (43000 words, complete story line, just needs some backfill and editing). So I've been sketching the next.

Since I'm thinking about submitting it as a short story, I'm not about to "screw the pooch" (astronaut speak for making a terrible mistake, as in "I just screwed the pooch, Kaboom") by prereleasing it.

However I can put up a few hints.

Steorrum is the dative plural of star. It means "To the Stars" Great idea for a title.
Orc means ghoul. Yes, Tolkien borrowed it.
Eorl (Earl) means a brave man.
Were is just any old man. So now you know where Werewolfe comes from (except wolf was probably not wolf).

I'm thinking of a space opera starting with the recruitment of a Saxon warrior as a mercenary. He's needed on a mission where blasters wouldn't work. Complications ensue. I'm toying with him returning in modern England, which could be even more fun.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A throwaway

Since I write regency romance, at least some of the time, this XKCD comic hits home. Especially as the rest of what I write is science fiction.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Manna for Authors

Sometimes when I'm developing a story I need to invent various complications. If things all seem to be going perfectly for the heroine, then it's a dull write. Worse still, it's a dull read, and that's what matters.

In my latest, I needed to research the "high life" of the ton. Sexual mores and all that sort of icky stuff. Nothing I'd put in a sweet romance, but the sort of thing the characters would know.

Somehow I stumbled on the 6th Baron of Craven, his wife Elizabeth, his son the 1st Earl of Craven and the scandalous memoirs of Harriette Wilson. It was the sort of lifestyle that made the '60's great (or so I'm told). I needed to make a few name changes, but the dates and the people matched the story I was working out.

Harriette Wilson's memoir starts with:
"I shall not say why and how I became, at the age of fifteen, the mistress of the Earl of Craven."

There's not much I can add. (Except she didn't understand why he liked Cocoa Trees, Boats or the Carribean.)