Monday, October 27, 2014

Prelude for a Lord - names part 4 Lady Arkright

This is continuing my series explaining how I came up with the weird (and not so weird) names of my characters in my book.

Lady Arkright

Lady Arkright was a childless Italian widow of a local gentleman with a farm neighboring Alethea’s father’s lands. She befriended Alethea and taught her to play the violin, which is a socially unacceptable instrument for women in England at the time. Lady Arkright learned to play the instrument, among many others, in her childhood in Italy. She loved Alethea like her own child and bequeathed her violin to her, unaware of its amazing history. Lady Arkright has died by the time Prelude for a Lord opens.

For a woman who didn’t have any page time in this book, I spent a lot of time building her backstory and trying to come up with her name. She was actually one of the most fun characters to write because she is the character who could have been.

The composer Vivaldi had been employed from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740 at the Ospedale della Pietà, a convent, orphanage, and music school in Venice. Some of the trained musicians left to advantageous marriages, which is how I got the idea for Calandra, Alethea’s friend, mentor, and mother-figure.

I had Calandra being born in 1725 and sent to the Ospedale della Pietà, where she was trained in many musical instruments, including the violin. She would have been about fifteen years old when Vivaldi spent his last year at the Ospedale. When she was eighteen years old, she met and married Sir William Arkright, who was visiting in Venice.

I chose Calandra because it means “skylark,” and it may have originally been a byname for someone with a good singing voice.

Calandra’s husband was good with his hands and liked building things out of wood. He hand-crafter the case for her violin, joking that it was more valuable to her than her jewels. (Those of you who’ve read the book and know what that case was will understand this.)

I named Sir William after the surname Arkwright, which means “chest-maker.” (I had to change the spelling of the name since there are several real-life Arkwrights connected to noble families in England.)

Alethea still misses Lady Arkright and the music they would play together. Without Calandra and Lucy, Alethea feels very alone, avoided by the local women and misunderstood because of her scandalous instrument.

Next, Alethea’s best friend and half-sister, Lucy.

My next Regency romance is “The Spinster’s Christmas" in Mistletoe Kisses, an anthology with seven other authors that includes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance stories. It's on sale for only $0.99 until December 1st!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Prelude for a Lord - names part 3 Aunt Ebena

This is continuing my series explaining how I came up with the weird (and not so weird) names of my characters in my book.

Alethea’s aunt, Mrs. Ebena Garen

Ebena was originally going to be the nastiest miser I could come up with, but somehow when I started plotting the book, she just became different. So her first name doesn’t quite match how I had originally envisioned her—a miser like Ebenezer Scrooge. Get it? Ebenezer … Ebena …

Um, yeah.

I mentioned I was really bad at coming up with names, right?

And I did check in British censor records and there were a few women named Ebena in my time period. So it wasn’t completely out of left field.

Aunt Ebena’s father had essentially sold her in marriage to Mr. Garen, a man twenty years her senior. He was a contemporary of Lord Ravenhurst’s father—Mr. Garen and the previous Lord Ravenhurst were only about five years apart in age.

When coming up with Ebena’s husband’s name, I did a Google search for “character” “sold in marriage.” It brought up Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones—sold in marriage by her brother. It was by far the most popular result, listed several times.

So… I named Ebena’s husband Mr. Tar Garen, a gentleman modestly wealthy through his factory investments.

Mr. Tar Garen’s niece, Margaret, showed up in the book a bit unexpectedly. She was suddenly there in the first chapter and I had to replot the entire book before I could continue writing. I named her Margaret because she reminded me of the sword-wielding Margaret from Emma Thompson’s movie, Sense and Sensibility. (“Piracy is our only option.” !!! :)

Next, the closest thing to a mother that Alethea ever had, Lady Arkright.

My next Regency romance is “The Spinster’s Christmas" in Mistletoe Kisses, an anthology with seven other authors that includes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance stories. It's on sale for only $0.99 until December 1st!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Prelude for a Lord - names part 2 Alethea

This is continuing my series explaining how I came up with the weird (and not so weird) names of my characters in my book.

My heroine, Lady Alethea Sutherton

The name “Alethea” means truth, which I deliberately did in contrast to Bayard’s “blindness” (see my previous post to understand what was up with that). But ironically, Alethea herself is blinded to the fact that she is not alone, that God is with her.

As with Bayard, I again looked up the name Alethea in British census records to make sure there were women named Alethea during my book’s time period in the early 1800s.

I admit, I stole Alethea’s surname, Sutherton, from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (I had to have something of Jane’s in there somewhere). Since I didn’t want to be rude and name Alethea after a real-life peer (especially since her father and brother were such nasty fellows) I checked with the Surname index of the Peerage of Britain and tweaked Jane’s “Sotherton” (who might have been a knight, the name is spelled both Sotherton and Southerton) to Sutherton. Since Alethea’s father was an earl, she is Lady Alethea Sutherton.

Alethea’s cousin, Wilfred, has inherited the title and is now the Earl of Trittonstone, and his wife, Mona, is as greedy a puss as you’ll ever see. Mona married Wilfred even though at the time he was third in line for the title because she hoped his exalted relations would help propel her to more elite social circles. I chose the title Trittonstone mostly because of Mona—“tritten” means “step” and stone is, well, stone. Wilfred was supposed to be Mona’s stepping stone to greater things.

However, Wilfred’s uncle and cousin were both profligates and did not move in the social circles that Mona was hoping for. However, when Wilfred’s uncle and then his cousin died and Wilfred got the title, Mona was ecstatic at her good fortune. It made her rather beastly to Alethea.

Next, Alethea’s crotchety Aunt Ebena.

My next Regency romance is “The Spinster’s Christmas" in Mistletoe Kisses, an anthology with seven other authors that includes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance stories. It's on sale for only $0.99 until December 1st!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Prelude for a Lord - names part 1 Bayard

Recently a reader commented on my hero’s name, Bayard Dommick, and it occurred to me that people might be interested in how I picked the names of my characters in this book, especially since many of you know how absolutely abominable I am at choosing character names.

I am proud to say that while it was difficult to come up with character names in this book, each name has a sort of meaning behind them, a “story behind the name.”

Real-life nobility

One thing I absolutely did not want to do was name any characters after real-life nobility, especially if the peer was still alive. I think it would be a little rude to do that since these families are very proud of their family names and titles. So I had to check all my surnames and titles against a Surname index of the Peerage of Britain. I managed to miff the spelling of some names so they wouldn’t match real-life people.

My hero, Bayard Terralton, Lord Dommick:

I had already settled on the name of Bayard’s title, Lord Dommick. It was one of those things that just seemed to fit him, and the meaning of the name “Dominic” is “belonging to God,” which I thought was appropriate for his spiritual arc in the story.

I looked at my hero’s personality. Bayard was a recluse archetype, a bit like Lord Byron or the Greek god Hades. So I looked up the meaning of Hades’ name and found that it can mean “sightless.”

I looked up the origin of the name and found that “Bayard” can mean a blind person. It was also used to describe men of courage and integrity. I also looked at British census records for the 1800s and found that Bayard was used as a first name during my book’s time period.

For the family surname, in the meaning of the name, “Bayard,” there was mention of Pierre du Terrail, seigneur de Bayard (1473-1524), a French knight. So I took “Terrail” and came up with Terralton.

Next, I’ll talk about my heroine’s names.

My next Regency romance is “The Spinster’s Christmas" in Mistletoe Kisses, an anthology with seven other authors that includes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance stories. It's on sale for only $0.99 until December 1st!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Review: The Gentleman Rogue

The Gentleman Rogue
The Gentleman Rogue by Margaret McPhee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first book from this author, who has become a new favorite for me. The writing was immediately engaging and compelling from the first chapter.

The hero is eminently swoon worthy. In fact, I kind of pictured him as a bit like a younger Daniel Craig, including the tortured look behind his eyes. Great backstory and a strong, gritty, noble character.

The heroine is also incredibly likable, a gentlewoman whose family has lost everything, strong and practical enough to get a job as a barmaid in Whitechapel despite her exalted background.

The writing was incredibly emotional and elegant, making for complex characters and dynamic relationships. The setting was almost like another character.

Note: This isn't a "sweet" Regency, there is a bit of sex in it, although it didn't bother me. But this is just a note in case a reader wants to know. The sensuality level was about the same as perhaps a Harlequin Special Edition, or maybe a Harlequin American Romance.

Absolutely fantastic story and characters. This author is now an auto-buy for me.

Much thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin for this e-ARC.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Regency Goodies giveaway winners

Congratulations to the winners of my Regency Goodies giveaway baskets:

Basket 1: Stephanie L.

Basket 2: Caryl K.

Basket 3: Jennifer F.

Basket 4: Pam B.

Basket 5: Jasmine A.

I've emailed all winners. You must respond within 2 weeks to claim your prize. If you don't hear from me, please do contact me through my website, Facebook, or Twitter.

As for the rest of you, I know you're crying in your Yorkshire Pudding. Cheer up! Buy my book and look forward to another giveaway in December!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Indie Christian Fiction Search

10/1/2014 Update: Sorry about the broken links, I've just fixed them.

I’m very pleased to have a friend, Connie Almony, guest blogging today about a new website for Christian readers! Connie is a proponent of indie Christian fiction and this website is absolutely wonderful for finding a great Christian novel.

Here’s Connie:

So, you’re a voracious reader whose tablet is begging to be fed. Because you read a lot, you want a greater breadth of material, rather than the same-ole-same-ole, at reasonable ebook prices.

Boy, do I have the website for you!

Indie Christian Fiction Search—"Ickfuss (ICFS)" to its friends—is THE site to find Christian fiction written from the heart.

Why was this site created? For a number of reasons …

Independent fiction is growing rapidly as a viable choice for readers. Many authors whose stories have been spurned by traditional publishing houses solely on the basis of marketability of topic, have chosen this route of publication in order to fulfill the call God has placed on their hearts. Therefore, many readers who’ve wanted to sink into topics that are not the mega-trend of the day, are finding material that feeds their interests. This is great news to the avid Christian reader. It means a greater breadth of story, from a biblical point of view, that is also affordable. You can read lots of it without breaking the bank.

How does this website work?

First, as a reader enters the site, she will see “flipcards” of covers of books posted there. By clicking around, the viewer can group these books by genre and release date, or use the search box to show only books with a specific search criteria (ie. pirate, medieval, Viking, PTSD, disability). Readers can also choose different “views” on the site that will help them scroll easily through book-blurb excerpts, by genre or search criteria, to scan quickly through a lot of material and find the one most interesting to them. No other site has the ability to display this level of book information with this much ease as does Indie Christian Fiction Search. Additionally, there is a website newsletter poised to send out lists of new releases, and hot-picks to those readers begging for more.

ICFS was also created because as independent fiction grows, the need for REAL gatekeepers becomes increasingly important. Not just to ensure quality of product, but for the Christian reader, to set a standard of biblical content as well (see the ICFS Statement of Faith and Content Warnings). But now, it must be the READER who will lead the way, not the executive or the marketing team who makes decisions about the life or death of a story based on numbers that do not touch the hearts and minds of what each reader really wants. YOU can tell us what YOU think about a story and whether it relates to your world, be it small town, big city, Midwest or historical—not what the fad of the day dictates. YOU have the power. You just need a place to exercise it with others who share your faith and your passion for a great book.

Why do this on Indie Christian Fiction Search (ICFS)? Because it is the one site with the greatest ability to sift through large numbers of books at break-neck speed. And as it grows, with more books added, you will need that function more than ever! With ICFS, you can sort by genre, watching the little covers float across the page, or plug in search criteria, including author name, character professions, time-periods, story themes, etc. to find something that suits you to a tee. Plus, if you check out all its views and play with all of its functions (listed on the “How to Use This Site” page), it’s just plain fun—kinda like when automatic car-window openers were invented (I know, I’m dating myself :o)).

Check it out. Read the “How to …” page. Play with the views and try some search criteria. Watch what happens. Hee hee!

Indie Christian Fiction Search is a growing site. Make sure you come back again to see what happens after a few months! And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter. I promise it will not load down your email inbox unnecessarily. It will be sent no more than quarterly.

Stop by and have some fun. You won’t be sorry!

Sign up for the newsletter NOW and be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced on the newsletter page and informed via email on November 1, 2014.

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