Thursday, March 1, 2018

March News: Almost There

Spring is coming!! I can't wait for it to arrive. I'm ready to see the sun and all the cheerful flowers blooming. I want to open my windows and hear birds chirping. I want to take my dog on long walks. I want to wear my favorite pastel colored cardigans and flats, make frequent trips to the library, and indulge in a creamy frozen Starbucks drink.

March always seems like a good time to start a great book, don't you think? It's also an excellent time to tackle a new task. To that end, I plan to cross several writing goals off my to-do list. So far I've renewed my domain name for my website and created some character pictures for two of the series I want to start writing this year. I also...  

Another chapter of Wild Highland Bride is complete. Yep, you read that right. The end is nigh!! Cue the smiles. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's exciting, to say the least. For waaayyyy too long my WIP has been akin to a turtle, crawling along at the slowest pace possible. Some days if felt like I'd never get close to THE END.

Hello. My name is Brick.
Now I only have two (maybe three) more chapters left to write. Even as I type the words, I'm having a hard time believing them. I've agonized over being a slow writer for too many hours to count. I've gone through endless rounds of revisions, always hoping but never truly believing I'd come close to the end of this story. But now...If I work hard these next few weeks and don't get caught up in self-doubt or let my internal editor take over, I'll be ready to send the final pages of this story off to my CP by the end of the month. *crosses fingers and then puts on war paint* While she's looking them over, I'll be busy writing the second draft of my synopsis.

I managed to read one book over my mid-winter break: ROYAL RUIN. It's the first book in the Flings With Kings series by Jessica Peterson.

It's a must-read if you:

1) need to feed your royal fix
2) love hot princes
3) can't get enough super steamy sex scenes
4) like a good friends-to-lovers, fake relationship romance

It's no secret I'm addicted to Masterpiece Classics on PBS. I finally finished watching THE COLLECTION.

World War II is over and Paul Sabine is restoring Paris as the fashion capital of the world. His dresses are a sensation, and only his shady past and an inconvenient corpse block his way to success. Dressing up was never so dazzling -- or dangerous.


OHMIGAWD, I loved this series! All that drama. All that fashion. Set in Paris!! *swoons*

You should watch it if you're a wannabe Frenchie/Francophile like me. Or if you like period dramas.

Have a lovely March, my friends. And thanks for stopping by my blog!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Fashion Friday: Nothing Up My Sleeve

Yes, they could afford the sleeves. Nevertheless, around 1520, the sleeveless fur-trimmed gown of sable, ermine or miniver, worn with a gold chain, was de rigueur. Why?

Because during the Renaissance, sleeves themselves became an important fashion focus, too glamorous to be kept under wraps. Men and women both wore gowns with plain sleeves that they covered with detachable, elaborate dress sleeves -- pleated, sewn like wings to shoulders, adorned with slashes and/or studded with jewels.

Favorite styles were:

The finistrella, two or three panels attached at intervals to let puffs of the underchemise to show.

The wicked virago, a full, bloused sleeve reined in at various points with bands.

Or the lavish puff of every conceivable size and design.

One dress and a dozen sleeves could make any number of different outfits.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger -Pictures from The Borgias.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February News: My Writing Plan and More

What's not to love about February? It's such a sweet, short month. Romance is in the air. There are red and pink flowers and candy hearts everywhere. The Hallmark Channel starts its COUNTDOWN TO VALENTINE'S DAY on Saturday, February 3rd, with a love-themed lineup of new movies. They're the perfect escape and inspiration when the unrelenting gray in Seattle tires to drag me down. My mid-winter break is just around the corner, too. I can't wait!

Last month I challenged myself to write a minimum of 50 words a day. It worked wonders! By telling myself I only needed to write 50 words, I psyched myself into opening my WIP and writing nearly 1k over what I'd planned. At the end of every day, I added a star sticker to my planner. It's a great trick to keep track of my progress. I'm going to continue doing both things to keep my spirits and motivation up this month.

I wish I'd read THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan much sooner, because it's a wonderful book! Oh my gosh, I love Freddie!! And all the characters. And the banter, which is just hilarious and so well written. I absolutely adored this book. It's a long read, but well worth it -- especially if you're a royal lover like me.

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy-tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love — her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself – will have been for nothing.

I've got a bad case of royal wedding fever at the moment, so next up on my reading list is:

I finally got around to watching THE BORGIAS. What a delicious drama! I was so addicted to watching it, I stayed up late and binged watched all of season two in one night.

And now I'm hopelessly obsessed with Italian Renaissance fashion and François Arnaud.

He was great in Blindspot, but he was OH MY GAWD crazy hot as Cesare Borgia. I'm going to use him as the hero inspiration for one of my future stories.

After drooling over François, I needed to feed my Renaissance fix. So I looked for season 2 of Medici: Masters of Florence on Netflix. Sadly, it won't be available for streaming until late January 2019. *sighs*

Have a fabulous February! Thanks for stopping by blog.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Historical Fact Friday: Renaissance Fashion

The RENAISSANCE was the Age of Discovery, and the rediscovery of Classical Aesthetics. Leonardo, who was trying to do everything well, epitomized the "Renaissance Man." From China, Marco Polo brought back fabulous tales of golden palaces, mermaids, volcanoes, and embroidered silks and precious gems.

Lorenzo Richelmy in Marco Polo (2014-2016)

The conquistadors (who didn't care how anyone dressed) melted down most of South America and brought back extraordinary fortunes. There was a tremendous investment in the exotic. And for the first time in two centuries, both men and women abandoned their loose-fitting robes.

Like a great wind, in 1300 the Renaissance began to stir in Italy. By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it swept through Europe, blowing away customs that had dominated Europe for almost a thousand years, leaving in its wake new ideas and attitudes that still influence our lives today.

Francois Arnaud as Cesare Borgia, The Borgias
The Borgias TV Series (2011-2013)
With the rise of towns that began in the Middle Ages, the limelight shifted from feudal estates to cities. Urban life was exuberant and prosperous -- and people took pleasure in being alive. It was an age of adventure and curiosity: the Renaissance man took a new interest in the world around him. He set out on dangerous voyages, tried daring experiments in astronomy, and most of all, devoted time to the study of himself. With the vast wealth from the freshly discovered New World pouring in, a new class of bankers and merchants emerged to lay claim to the spoils, and the fierce aristocracy of medieval times shook loose -- in the Renaissance, it was possible for an individual to rise through personal wealth and accomplishments.

Richard Madden, Medici: Masters of Florence (2016-)

This new view of the individual lead to a new philosophy, humanism, centered on man rather than God. Art looked like real men, and his women had strong feelings: Donatello's sculptures glorified the human form. Petrarch spearheaded a revival of the classics that spurred the development of Italian literature. By the time England caught the ball in the sixteenth century, Shakespeare created a whollysecular theater, which celebrated the whirl of human drama.

Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love
Even architecture centered on man and his needs, as Renaissance designers focused their efforts on public buildings and houses as often as on majestic cathedrals. Indeed, the medieval stranglehold of the Catholic Church was itself finally broken through the Protestant Reformation. The glorification of man and newly acquired wealth combined to create a fashion explosion. Now there were magnificent new fabrics available which was a good a place as any to store precious gems, considering there were no safe-deposit boxes.

Styles grew bizarre. Men stuffed their doublets to grow huge pot bellies, looming over tightly cinched waists, and their breeches ballooned out like giant pumpkins. Women fought back with farthingales, birdcage-like constructions that puffed out their hips to two feet wide and more. Even the humble collar bloomed into a starched ruff, which could range from a simple frill to a choking wagon wheel, boasting status by proving that its wearer didn't need to work -- or even turn his head.

Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love (1998)

And as if those effects weren't dramatic enough, women painted their faces with white lead and vermillion, while men spent hours trimming their beards into a variety of popular shapes. Commercial perfume-making also got underway, as the Italian Rene, using secrets from the Orient, opened his first shop in Paris in 1500, and both men and women enjoyed perfume-scented gloves.

Since no one wanted to miss out on the fun of dressing up -- and since heightened trade sped up international communication -- even the most extreme clothing styles disseminated quickly. Early on, thanks to New World riches, Spain became the fashion leader, with Italy and Switzerland (in one brief hour of glory) trailing close behind. But sheer love of clothes transcended national borders. People went nouveau-riche with all the trappings. They no longer dressed as if God was punishing them.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Historical Fact Friday: Marie Antoinette

My face when I realized Marie Antoinette descended from Philippe I, Duc d'Orléans, better known as "Monsieur", the younger brother of King Louis XIV -- and my favorite character on Versailles.

The brave soldier with a penchant for young men and fashion had married twice. Marie Antoinette was the great granddaughter of Philippe and his second wife, Princess Elizabeth Charlotte, known as Liselotte. Through Liselotte, who was the granddaughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia, James I's daughter, Marie Antoinette inherited some Stuart blood as well. So although Marie Antoinette was despised by the French for her foreign origins, she actually had more French blood in her veins than her husband, Louis XVI. Two of Marie Antoinette's grandparents were French, while Louis only had one, King Louis XV. The royal couple were also cousins as they were both descended from the French King Louis XIII.

Marie Antoinette inherited her French blood from Francois-Étienne of Lorrraine. Born in Lorraine, he was the son of Leopold Joseph, Duc de Lorraine, and his wife the French Princess Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, daughter of Philippe. Francois inherited the duchy in 1729 upon his father's death, but was obliged to exchange if for that of Tuscany, something he did very reluctantly, when he married the young Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in 1735. Despite this, all his children bore the name Hapsburgh-Lorraine and were brought up to think of themselves as not only Austrian but Lorrainers.

This definitely qualifies Marie Antoinette as being as French as every other Frenchmen. Sadly, they didnthink so.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Hello 2018!

My word for 2017 was good. Nothing terribly exciting or awful happened; life was business as usual. I worked at my day job. I wrote. I read. I shared special moments with my Hero Hubby, our Dachshund, my family and friends. I'm proud of myself for not giving up on writing. I accomplished a lot -- besides just binge watching Versailles.

I succeeded in revising a large portion of my WIP. I wrote the first draft of my synopsis and query letter, as well as blurbs for four story ideas. I created a website. I was able to stay positive and didn't sink into guilty despair when I failed to reach my weekly page goal or didn't have time to write. I used my time wisely -- for the most part. I viewed my revisions as a challenge rather than an obstacle, which made tackling difficult chapters much easier. I accepted that sometimes I have to go through several rounds of revisions before I get a scene "just right". Taking ownership of my shortcomings helped me work harder. And yet I wish I'd done more.

I know I can do better. For me, 2018 will be about focus. I want to write like it's my job and set a schedule so I write a certain number of pages a day. I want to push aside all the negativity. I want to have no fear, stay inspired, and keep writing with purpose. I want to create small goals that get me excited. I want to maintain a social media schedule and connect more with friends who share my passion. Also, I want to study and learn from the habits of my favorite successful authors.

What did you accomplish in 2017? What are your goals for 2018?