Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Time of Change - the Regency era

The internet is over-burdened with writers marketing their wares. And I’m adding to the general plethora out there. But hear me out.
I’ve been writing Regencies for eighteen years now and getting them published. Now my three main publishers have closed their doors, I have joined the endless queue of self-published authors. So many of us out here jostling for position like mid-field marathoners. The chances are you’ll never hear my plea. But I’m chucking this out there in the anorexic hope that you just might read this. Perhaps you have nothing better to do.
I hope you’re one of the many readers who like historicals, and in particular, the Regency era. It was such a short period in Britain’s history, but has given rise to many things such as the development of canals (as trade with its trading partners hotted up with the imprisonment of Napoleon, freeing up trade routes and resulting in large numbers of goods that needed to be transported all over England), the Royal Astronomical Society was founded, the early prototype of the bicycle, the development of the railway system, the Act of Union with Ireland in 1801 etc. All this is from the British point of view. Elsewhere, in the USA, Whitney came up with the principle of manufacturing interchangeable parts as pertaining to firearms. The statue of the Venus de Milo was discovered in Greece (1820) and so it goes on.
So in spite of many Regencies persuading you that it was all about Almacks and dukes, the Regency era was actually a time on the cusp of great changes, not just in Britain but all over the world. Minds were opening up, no longer relying on the dogma of ages past.
In 1814 The Times adopted steam printing. By this method it could now print 1,100 sheets every hour, not 200 as before—a fivefold increase in production capability and demand.  This development brought about the rise of the wildly popular fashionable novels.
The Regency is also noted for its achievements in the fine arts and architecture (Nash springs to mind, and remember that striped wallpaper known as ‘Regency’?) This era encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic change that shaped and altered the societal structure of Britain as a whole. Remember that in London alone, the population increased from just under a million in 1801 to one and a quarter million by 1820.
One of the reasons that the arts flourished during this era was because of the patronage of ‘Prinny’, the fat and at times ridiculous Prince of Wales. We might laugh at him, but it’s thanks to him that the development of British architecture flourished, even if his schemes often left the common people paying for his over-the-top designs.
The Regency era opened up the market for many authors including Sir Walter Scott, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley (who incorporated the general mistrust of science during the earlier part of the Regency era), John Keats and William Blake. Then there were the playwrights and artists…the list goes on and on to confirm how minds began open to new possibilities during that time.
Oh yes, there was a lot more to the Regency period than those autocratic dukes and the patronesses at Almacks!
My latest Regency historical is a re-release called Mr. Monfort’s Marriage wherein a chivalrous businessman who is not overly fond of the aristocracy finds himself married to an earl’s daughter. She teaches him about noblesse oblige, courage and joie de vivre, and he teaches her…all sorts of things!
Mr. Monfort’s Marriage:
My Amazon bookpage is here:

Friday, June 24, 2016


Not just for romance writers - no. So don't ignore this post, you who read and write fantasy and mystery etc. It has always been one of the most useful conferences on the planet when it comes to both writers and readers. For readers it's like being in a magic world of books, books, books, both e-books and paper ones.
And the speakers! NZ grabs knowledgeable people from all over the world for their conferences. For a small country it knows what's important.
Just letting you know about it!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What is an Anzac?

Why is April 25 so important to Australians and New Zealanders?



Most likely anyone outside Australia or New Zealand would not have heard the term “Anzac.” It stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps and was first used during WWI. Both Australia and New Zealand were relatively new colonies when WWI broke out, (between Germany and Britain), so their ties with Mother England were still very strong. Most of the young men who died in the mud at Belgium and on the beaches and trenches of Gallipoli were only second generation Aussies and New Zealanders. From a country with a population of almost one million, New Zealand lost 18,000 men and nurses. This was the highest loss pro rata of any nation during both WWI and WWII .


And do you know, all those men and nurses who went to Gallipoli (Turkey, Germany’s ally) in 1915 were volunteers? On that very first day on 25 April 1915, 2,000 Australians died. Another 6,500 were killed or wounded by the end of the week. Australia was second only to Britain for the numbers of soldiers who fought in WWI.


They call it “the Anzac spirit” which took those boys – because most of them were mere boys – through battles along the Western Front at Ypres, Fromelle, the Somme and into the Middle East and Beersheba. The Anzac spirit determines that during wartime, Kiwis (New Zealanders) and Aussies can rely on each other.


The Anzac symbol is the red poppy that represents the wild poppies growing in the fields and roadsides throughout Belgium where some of the toughest battles were fought and where the flower of a generation perished. I’ve seen those poppies for myself, and it is astounding to someone from the Southern Hemisphere that those young men came so far to bleed out on soil so far from home. There is a poem that begins:


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.


In the days leading up to April 25 Australians and New Zealanders all wear the symbolic poppy. And the Anzac spirit rang true throughout WWII, in Korea and in Vietnam too.


Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, commanded the navy and everything it did. He was removed from that post after the Gallipoli disaster. During WWII he was responsible for leaving Australians and New Zealanders stranded in Greece and on Crete. Methinks Winston thought of colonials as of no account.


Many Kiwis and Aussies fought on the Western Front (remember the book All Quiet on the Western Front)? The Western Front was the name the Germans gave to a series of trenches that ran 700 kilometres from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border.


World War I, 1914-1918, was the 'Great War', the 'war to end all wars'. Great battles were fought in towns with names such as Fromelles, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele, Dernancourt and Villers-Bretonneux. Of more than 290,000 Australians who served in this theatre of war in the Australian Imperial Force, 46,000 were either killed in action or died of their wounds. And remember that many returned wounded in spirit. We now call that post traumatic stress disorder.


I have a personal link to the Great War. My great-uncle William Tielle (nicknamed Teddy) was one of the many volunteers from his district. He was the only boy amongst a large family of girls and at 21 he died of wounds received at Passchendaele. He is listed on the honour roll at the Auckland Museum in New Zealand.





Sunday, February 7, 2016

Books and Writers I've enjoyed lately

Every now and again I sit back and think about the books I like to read, and the writers who appeal to me. There are some excellent writers around, and I've discovered a few through BookBub. But the following are my favourites:

Most books by Tami Hoag such as Down the Darkest Road and Live to Tell. I think my favourite is Still Waters. Why? Because her novels are so detailed and the solution of the mysteries is never obvious. In fact, the character of the antagonists and protagonists holds the key to the solutions each time. For example, in A Thin Dark Line, it is the generations-old warped solution of ways to protect a family that bubbles to the surface and the bloody mindedness of an ambitious female cop who stands up for her rights amongst male chauvinism that would chop most women off at the knees, that points the way to reasons for the crime and the discovery of the perpetrator(s).

Many books by Jayne Ann Krentz, not her very early ones where the hero was a dyed-in-the-wool MCP as was the fashion of the day, but her books from about 1998 onwards and also her historicals. Love the way her heroes say “huh.” It can mean so many things: they can be having a revelation, they may disagree with the heroine but they sure as hell are not going to say so, or it can be simply their version of a civil reply to modern discourse. My favourites are the Eclipse Bay series and her historicals written under the name of Amanda Quick such as Mistress (Regency) and The Third Circle (Victorian). Most of all, however, are her futuristic paranormals such as Siren’s Call set on Rainshadow Island and In Too Deep set in Scargill Cove. These appeal to me because of her light hand with the paranormal concepts and the quirkiness of the main characters. She creates otherworlds without belabouring the point. Sometimes writers create alternate worlds that require an immense investment on the part of the reader to learn the settings and morĂ©s of those worlds which can have the effect of having the reader skip pages and eventually put the book down. Not so JAK who, after many years of writing, knows just how far she can go to create a world not so very dissimilar to our own.

Obviously I can’t go far without mentioning the greatest modern storyteller – Nora Roberts. I don’t like many of her earlier books which now seem dated, and I don’t feel that her paranormal ones are in the least bit convincing. However I totally enjoy her recent single titles such as Tribute and Whiskey Beach. And I especially enjoy The Inn at Boonsborough series. I once saw a review where the reader criticised the Boonsborough ones because they had too much building detail in them. Now that’s the part I am intrigued with. I am not a purist romance reader so I like a bit of meat with my coffee froth. I wait for each new release of Nora’s, as do thousands of others, not all of them women by a long way.

Stieg Larsson, in particular his series of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Anti right wing extremist and magazine editor-in-chief, what a shame his books were only found after his death in 2004. I suggest for those who want a touch of reality watered down with a little idealism, read Larsson. Whether you see the movies first or read the books first, I promise you will enjoy Lizbeth Salander, the toughest cyber-expert on the planet.

New author for me: Rick Mofina, a great suspense writer endorsed by the best suspense writers such as James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Sandra Brown, Tess Gerritsen etc. He is Canadian and so less inclined to use acronyms which can be a relief for a reader steeped in jargon which has to be researched. I thoroughly enjoyed Be Mine and my next choice is The Dying Hour. He writes about a crime reporter and unravelling detective in several of his novels, then switches to another team in his later books. If you like suspense and that ‘unable to put it down’ feeling, then choose Mofina.

Another one to keep an eye on: Going to read more by J.M. Gregson. Have just finished The Fox in the Forest about the murder of a well-liked town vicar. The murdered man is one of those rare characters whom everyone liked. Of course the reader thinks “mistaken identity?” Gregson has an impressive writing record of both non-fiction and fiction. I enjoyed the British outlook to solving crime – stoic, authentic and painstaking – and the author’s writing experience showed by his excellent characterisations. No character was just a sketch. It was an indepth exploration of people both likeable and unlikeable. 

Tell me about the authors you enjoy. Why do you like their writing?