29 January 2012

Fancy Becoming a Professional Hermit?

I'm reading a delightful book at the moment, "In the Garden with Jane Austen" by Kim Wilson. Not only is it beautiful and fascinating in its own right, the book is giving me little tidbits I can use in my writing.

I came across something today which I had to share. In a chapter about mansions and manor house gardens, there is a section entitled "Temples, Gothic Seats, Grottoes and Hermitages". The author discusses how certain garden features were supposed to conjure particular emotions according to the romantic tendencies of the eighteenth century.

Hermitages are discussed last, and I have to admit I have never heard of this as a garden feature before. To quote from the book:
The Bennets in Pride and Prejudice have a hermitage in their wilderness walk. Mrs Bennet wants to show if off to the visit Lady Catherine de Bourgh: 'Go, my dear', she cries, 'and show her ladyship about the different walks. I think she will be pleased with the hermitage.' A hermitage, meant to resemble the hut of a religious recluse and to inspire melancholy associations, ought properly to be located in a secluded wooded area, so the Bennets hermitage is sited correctly, though perhaps too close to the house for the best taste.

Estate owners occasionally advertised for hermits to fill their hermitages. Employers asked such men to let their hair and fingernails grow, wear simple clothing, live in the hermitage and interact with any passing visitors in the character of the religious ascetic. Some contracts promised large payments at the end of specified terms, because it was so hard to keep a good hermit. Eventually, the notion of hiring a hermit was considered so ridiculous that a play called The London Hermit lampooned it, and indeed it's hard to imagine even Mrs Bennet going so far.
That's right everyone, it's hard to keep a good hermit. Can you believe that was actually a profession? You could pretend to be like a monk, living a solitary religious life in the garden - but you were just faking it! I'm trying to imagine what kind of performance a hermit would give for the privileged few strolling in these gardens. Perhaps this novel might shed some light.

27 January 2012

Sharing the Love

Thanks to Jen for passing the Kreativ Blogger Award on to me this week :-)

Apparently I need to pass the award onto 6 bloggers, and tell you ten things about myself. Ten! I don't think I can think of ten interesting things to say. Well, here goes...

Never again
1. I am the youngest of two daughters, my mother is the youngest of two daughters... and my grandmother is the youngest of two daughters.

2. I didn't venture overseas until I was twenty, and it was a full-on 100 day backpacking adventure through UK/Europe with my best friend.

3. I prefer potatoes over meat.
Totally crystals

4. Once I had a long-standing argument discussion with a friend over whether the sparkles in the ocean were more like diamonds or crystals.

5. I have naturally curly hair - that is, hair with random waves all over the place and a permanent halo of frizz. I've worn it straight for the last five years and it's been a revelation. Such freedom in being able to run your hands through your hair without them getting stuck!

6. I have owned two female ginger cats (most gingers are toms). They are/were very special girls.

7. I like spotting and identifying transporty stuff - like planes and cruise ships, and I love reading maps.

8. My grandparents were all Scottish, so I grew up with bagpipes and tartan in my blood.
Yum yum

9. I cook a mean spaghetti carbonara (no, it shouldn't be swimming in cream).

10. I like being in high places - like on mountains, up towers and look-out points... anywhere with a view. Maybe being vertically challenged has something to do with it. I hate the feeling of falling though.

And now for your bonus semi-interesting fact...

11. I believe I just may be the only person in the world with my (first and last) name.

I've also sort of been remiss in not passing on the Liebster award I got ages ago, because at the time I didn't have enough blogging friends to pass it on to. Thanks again to Loree for giving it to me, and congrats again for recently landing an agent!

Now to share the love for the Kreativ Blogger award...

1. Anne Gallagher
2. Glynis Smy
3. Lynda R.Young
4. Sierra Gardner
5. Jen Daiker
6. Susan Bergen

You all rock :-)

18 January 2012


Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I was in the bathroom at work, when suddenly a rather ordinary thought began to cascade into a string of increasingly interesting ideas, and suddenly I had a premise for a cosy mystery. Just out of the blue. I am focused on historical romance right now, have written contemporary in the past, and have never given mysteries a second thought - except that I read the blogs of some authors like

12 January 2012

Pushing Through

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So... long time, no blog. What with working through, and spending the statutory holidays with family or spring-cleaning, there hasn't been much writing going on either. But those excuses aren't really true. What I am experiencing amounts to a serious case of...


There, I admitted it.

Generally I've had no problem filling a first draft with potential scenes. I get almost to the goal word count, then have to fill in some stuff, which gets me past the word count, and then I trim some stuff.

This time it's different. My muse left the building sometime around November 25th, and it hasn't come back, except for a few small spurts. I'm writing a historical romance. I have the romantic plot down, basically. But my characters don't exist in a vacuum, and their world needs serious fleshing out. This is not supposed to be a category romance. I already have one sub-plot which seriously impacts the main one, but I was hoping for another (which will mainly affect my hero's journey). I know what type of thing I want it to be, but I don't know what it is. I have spent many hours wracking my brain. I have expected solutions to start dropping in my head the way they usually do (i.e. when I'm not at my computer), but nothing.

My brain has also been crammed full of travel research and planning, as we are off on a big trip in just over six weeks. That's real life - it must take priority. The fantasy world seems to have fallen off the margins of my brain.

This is why I only have 46,000 words, when I had intended to have 60,000 by the end of 2011. I am still striving to finish the first draft before we leave for our trip at the end of February. That's 5,000/week, including this one.

And how do I plan to get there? Purely by writing something... anything. I finished NaNo with just over 40k, and I have inched my way up to 46k a few hundred words at a time - fleshing out existing scenes, adding bits and pieces and occasionally thinking of whole new scenes. There are a couple of scenes I have scant notes for that I can expand on, but beyond that, it's all unknown territory.

I have to have faith in the process. Even just by working through some early scenes where we meet key minor characters, I have learned more about these people and gained some inklings as to what role they could play. No major insights yet, but I just have to keep going, keep pushing, until I can literally not squeeze out any more words.

I could just give up, but that would be heart-breaking. I know I've only devoted a few months to writing this project, but it's been an idea in some form for years, and I just adore some of the scenes I've written. Plus I think the hero and heroine I've created are pretty special (my humble opinion!). I really really want someone else to get to know them and root for them as I do.

Even just writing this blog has made me feel a bit better. Onwards!

Happy New Year, by the way. I have a good feeling about this one.