Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Cozy Corner

I'd love to have a room like this to sit in, or better yet, write in! It's more than cozy, and so adorable. I love the color of the blue walls and the darker blue draperies, mixed with the warm brown furniture.
I could be wrong, but this appears to me to be very Victorian. From the look of the heavy drapes, it appears to be. The table looks Victorian. It appears to be a fine sitting room. Oh, if only I could sit in it!
If I could, I'd love to have a Victorian house--similar to this. Imagine sitting by the window, and watching the snow fall or standing by the warm fire as nightfall comes on, with candles and gaslights lit up. The maid might be bringing in tea, which would be lovely, and I'm sure there are more couches and chairs in this room--but we can't see them.
In the 1800's--let's say---1850---what did they do for entertainment on a cold night? They'd most likely read a book by the fire or the ladies would do their embroidery....the men might play a game of chess, and if there were company---there might be charades-- and I see a harp in there. Someone in the household might know how to play. It would be quiet unless someone was singing, or playing the piano--there was no music on the radio or a victrola then. There was only conversation, the crackle of the fire, the sound of the ladies dresses as they swooshed across the room--and the scratching of a quill pen, if someone was writing.
As a matter of fact, Jane Austen did most of her writing in a room sort of like this. It wasn't as plush and ornate, but it had a table in it, and probably looked something like this. Back then, after the day was done, there was much time for conversation, reading and writing. Also, thinking!! No wonder Jane was able to write with such a rich flow of thought and articulation! There were no cell phones--TV's---maybe just the sound of horse's hooves padding up the drive pulling a carriage.
Did you know that Jane Austen saw Queen Victoria? She saw her from afar, and thought she was very small, and not that beautiful. Hmmm... I wonder what people thought of Jane Austen. What was it really like back then? Did Jane imagine her characters in a room like this when she was writing Pride and Prejudice? Did Queen Victoria, and her children and ladies in waiting sit in a room like this, after dinner--or in the afternoon-- and read, talk and do embroidery? You betcha! Did someone in Balmoral Castle or Windsor Castle read Jane Austen? Probably at some point. (The rooms at Balmoral were probably not this crisp--and formal--at least in Victoria's lifetime.)
Queen Victoria had a preference for a certain type of wood in the fire. Do you know what kind it was?
Oh, and the answer from the last post---what was the very important task that Beatrice had undertaken and promised her mother? She promised to go through every diary---every volume, and there were many--and take out everything and anything that might be embarrassing to anyone or improper. And Beatrice did that. And re-wrote every word in longhand! What a great daughter. Oh, the new King had a fit about it...but, that was the Queen's wishes, and so what can you do??
Stay cozy in a nice room of your own...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Queen Ena

Isn't this beautiful? This is Ena...Queen Victoria's grand daugher. The Queen had many grandchildren, but Ena was very special in one respect---she lived with Queen Victoria as she was growing up. Ena's mother was Beatrice, who was Victoria'a youngest daughter. Queen Victoria couldn't bear to be alone--and really didn't want to loose Beatrice to marriage...and so a decision was made...Beatrice and her husband and their children would reside with Queen Victoria. Can you imagine her childhood? It's been said that Beatrice's little ones certainly livened things up in the Queens' homes. (As much as the Queen would allow that sort of thing, I suppose.)
She grew up to be Queen Ena of Spain. Her life in Spain---well, she should have known it was not to be wonderful---on her wedding day she was almost killed by a bomb. Instead of Ena and her husband being killed, someone else was. Ena was rushed to safety, with blood all over her wedding gown. Imagine.
In this picture, she looks like her mother, Beatice---and I can see her grandfathers profile--Prince Albert. She was a beauty. Her life as Queen was not all she had hoped it would be.
Enough of Ena---oh, I'm sorry...I didn't give you the answers from several posts gone by! Victoria's governess was Baroness Lehzen. The Queen adored her. Feodora was Queen Victoria's older half sister. (I bet you didn't know she had one!!)
New Question: Ena's mother Beatrice---who was the Queen's confidante---was left with a very important task after her mother's death in 1901. Can you guess what it was?
I'll tell you next time...
Stay Cozy...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Empress....

Do you know who this little girl is? She is related to Queen Victoria. Her nickname was Alicky, and she grew up to wear this crown.

She is Alexandra, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her mother, Alice---Victoria's daughter, died when Alicky was very young and so Queen Victoria was really a mother image to the little girl, all of her life. Her one love---and only love---was Nicholas, son of the Tsar of Russia. Because of the differences in their religions, she kept turning Nicholas down when he proposed---and then she would cry in depression and desperation. Knowing that Nicholas would be Tsar of all the Russia's meant that if she married him she would be Tsarina, Empress---and she would have to embrace his religious beliefs wholeheartedly. Because of her own deep feelings about her own religion, she just couldn't reconcile the differences in her mind, and didn't want to marry him and become Empress with a lie in her heart. It took many years, and many family members to finally convince her that the doctrine that she believed in so wholeheartedly was not as different as Nicholas's. Eventually there was a happy least as far as their engagement and marriage was concerned. She wore this crown the day she was crowned with her beloved Nicky---the crown is the Russian Tsarina's crown. Well, the one she wore was this one or one extremely similar.

And Feodora? She was Queen Victoria's older half-sister, whom Victoria dearly loved.

I just sent off a couple of critiqued chapters to England. Its 11:33 here in the states, so what times is it there? 4:33AM? Soon the British will be getting up and my critique partner will open up her Monday email. I'll be sleeping.

Sweet little Alicky....she grew up to have 5 children. Her life was a life of highs and lows. She loved Nicky and her children dearly and being with them was a dream come true, but in other ways she was lonely, sad and frail. She was very misunderstood and her nerves were never good.

ABOUT ME! A Picture...and more

Silly me, I tried to post a permanent picture of myself on the blog---but my picture didn't have a url...(and I have to check on that later)....but, here I am with my son, Matty, to the left...and his friend Patrick who is on the right.

I'm kind of learning as I know, the blog thing.

Here is a little about me:

I grew up with two sisters and a mom and dad in Central New Jersey, in a little red ranch with a white fence, and we had a dog. I went to Catholic School. High school was fantastic--I took Commercial Art at a vocational high school. My happiest memories are of camping with my family, visiting my grandfather and grandmother at their gorgeously designed stone house on 5 beautiful acres---with even our own cold stream there in the front yard. I wrote a lot of stories, too~~~a lot!~~~Our old black royal typewriter was always going. I have a college degree in Marketing Art and Design, and I worked for several years in New York City, after college--doing art, yes!--and since then I have been employed in New Jersey. I do art on a freelance basis, when and if the right thing comes along.

My parents divorced when I was in college, and several years later I lost one of my sisters in an automobile crash. Her name was Nancy, and she was only 22 months younger than me---and we really looked alike. Ah, life is hard at times. When I was 29, I met the man I felt I could live with forever--and he proposed, and we decided to marry and have "one long, long sleep-over party." And its pretty much been like that. (Sometimes hubby forgets that though, I think!) We decided to adopt a beautiful Korean baby---a boy---and he is now 10.

We recently downsized and moved to a quieter area of New Jersey--we wanted to make a real change. For the first 8 years of my son's life, it really did seem that everything we did revolved around the house we had---fixing the house, finding more problems that needed to be fixed, saving more money for more repairs, doing emergency repairs (it was an older home)...stressing every month---how will we make the mortgage? How will we pay for the roof, so that it doesn't leak in the bathroom? Why is the side of the cellar caving into the cellar? Can we afford grass seed, fertilizer--and with the yard we had, oh the water bill! And the leaves---60 large bags each fall! And then it was the heater that was going. The last straw was running outside after my dog, in the dark, and hitting a big pile of aluminum siding that my husband had moved onto our cement backyard porch---and I went flying through the air. I landed on my chin on the concrete. Luckily, I was okay, but the only reason there were piles out there was because my husband was doing the siding himself to save money.

Realizing I was lucky, and that house was becoming dangerous---the stove went, windows were falling in, the toilet was lopsided, there was a hole in the bathroom floor--I started to see that the situation was futile. We had already taken out two home improvement loans but they simply weren't enough and the mortgage was higher and higher. It was a vicious cycle and my husband and I were getting sick. It was embarrassing to have anyone over---when a house is old, even if you clean it top to bottom, it will still be dingy. We stopped socializing. I realized that living like that wasn't living.

So, anyway, we downsized, and got rid of a lot. We streamlined. That was hard too, but cathartic. And now at least, when we have extra time, we can go to dinner or a movie, or buy some clothes---or read a book! I can write again. I can think again. We live again---instead of just surviving day to day....and that's nice. We aren't rich, but we are making memories which is something we weren't doing years ago. For us it was the right thing. As a family, we needed this because things were becoming bleak, it was too much pressure for us, and in the end we felt the family was more important than a house. We needed to heal.

I always wrote...either stories, or journaling and stories, or just journaling. Lately I am writing more and more. It helps me a lot. I haven't heard anything definite on the regency novella I sent in, but I'm sure I will. I started the Anne Tyler book, and also picked up a Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. This week I helped my partner in England with a nice summary of her novels. I'm working on some other info for another writing friend, and I'm dreaming about my new novel. I'd like to think about it a little more and then jump right in...maybe on a long weekend, and try to get some interrupted time. (It worked well last time!) And yes, there will be royalty in it, and maybe even Queen Victoria.

My sister has three children, and my mom still lives in the home where I was born. My son is a technology whiz--his hobby is keeping up with all the latest cell phones, programs, laptops, gaming systems--he knows it all. He is amazing. He creates his own websites, and even browsers and games. A lot of our friends call him for advice. He amazes the personnel in Radio Shack and Cingular and Apple Computers. They want to hire him but he is just too young. My husband is a contractor doing home improvements, re-doing homes--carpentry, masonry, tiling, roofs, windows, carpeting, painting, decks--and he draws up plans so he can get the permits he needs. He's pretty good at selling the jobs and even doing them by himself when he has to--there is usually a few guys working with him at all times, though.

I work at home...I have a wonderful job at large insurance company. I've been there 7 years and I work in the medicare dept, and they recently sent me home with my computer, a headset and a phone. The calls from members now come into my home office and it's really nice. I love it. Yes, I am very lucky. I spend my days talking to seniors and assisting them with their benefits--prescriptions, medical, hospital...all of that.

I have a couple of animals--and I love them. I have two boxers who happen to be brothers, and an african grey parrot. It gets crazy at times, but I love them to death.

I love Chinese food, reading, renting a good movie, going to Barnes and Noble with my son and hanging out, playing in cyperspace, writing, reading the bible and spending quality time with my husband and son. I also adore old or second hand bookstores. I love winter and the ice and snow and wished I lived in Maine. I also love the water. My dream would be to live on the water--having a townhouse with a view of a lake! I also enjoy building my library at home. The other day I spent time downloading beautiful royal pictures---homes, palaces, interiors, clothing, jewels, and all this helps me while I write.

And basically that's the story of my life. And I really do believe in leaving some sort of legacy, even a very small one. Having the novella published would be a start. Showing my son I could do it...that was important too. I told him that if you want something bad enough, you have to sit down and try your best to do it. Dreams can come true, but you have to try.

.....and.....who was Feodora? It's the end of the post now---so, who was Feodora in Queen Victoria's circle? Do you have any idea? I'll tell you next time who Feodora is.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Proposal was Accepted!


I posted that picture because I'll be reading it with my critique partner. My partner in London just loves Anne Tyler's descriptive prose, so we are going to study it...

But, anyway, in one of the groups I'm in, several of the writers have contributed their work to anthologies--and there is a new anthology coming out in the spring. The stories will be set in the regency period--centered around London, England, ..near the royal court...and it should be a romance...Well, I saw the royal court...and I just knew that was ME! So I started working on an idea, and of course added in Queen Victoria---who was just a little girl at the time. One thing led to another and I had about 5,000 words done. I read it over and thought...not bad. I sent it to my critique partner in England and she thought it was pretty good and sent it back to me with some comments.

I decided to do a proposal, on the spot, and just send it in. The publisher wanted about 20,000 I thought out the story, wrote the proposal and sent it in by email. Unbelievably, the next day I got a response and it said, "Love the premise! Write the story and send it to me."

I knew I had about a month. I thought about the proposal...and the story line. My husband told me that he would take care of our son for the weekend -- and that I could concentrate on writing. That Friday night I closed myself up in my room with some candles...and left the window open a bit to feel the cool air. In a sense, the flickering of the candles, and the cold room transported me a place where I could see and feel what was happening more vividly. I wrote and wrote and kept checking the word count. I dreamt about the lovers---the palace...the carriage she rode in...Queen Victoria as a young child. It seemed so vivid. The next day I wrote and wrote...and by midnight I had about 14,000 words in total already! Again I went to bed dreaming about them. It was nice. That's the nice part of writing---when you are in their world!

The next day was Sunday, and I finished up about 9Pm with 22,000 words!! It was too much, so I had to cut. I cut a lot, and brought it to 19,500. But I was proud of myself with the output! It was fun. I typed like mad. Then I spent a couple of weeks polishing.

And so now I wait. I learned quite a bit, though! I had to cut and so I went thru it very systematically---and thought---do I really need this? Does it add to the story? I took out adjectives that weren't necessary---and cut anywhere I could. I re-phrased things to make them more interesting. I went thru and took out adverbs, cleaned things up, made sure the pace was good and added in some extra little spice between the two lovebirds.

I had a little help from some of my writing friends---what would I do without them!? Writer friends are just the best. Thanks P!! Thanks K!! And thanks Andrew and Matty for "letting me do it".

I'm working on a few things now. I'll be picking up the above book so we can study it. I'm expanding and working on some ideas for families that were close to Queen Victoria as a child. I'm studying regency and Victorian times. I'm critiquing what I call "Susanna" for my friend in England, and I'm helping someone else with some tidbits on the Romanov's---well, I have so many books, why not?

Things have been a little tough lately---and I have been sinking into dreamland more and more....just wanting to be back there...creating my own little world. It's necessary at times for me to escape. I also realize I work very well under pressure.

What was Princess Victoria's governess's name?

I'll tell you next time!