What’s in a name? Elite places of London and their modest beginnings.

What’s in a name?

Elite places of London mentioned in my historical romance novels, and their modest beginnings.

By Suzi Love 

Like many historical romance authors, many of my books are set in and around London in the late Regency era, including my historical erotic romance, The Viscount’s Pleasure House.

Historical romance authors often have characters who live in elite areas, such as Mayfair, Grosvenor Square,

English: Millennium Hotel London Mayfair, Gros...

London Mayfair, Grosvenor Square (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and Berkeley, yet all these areas had more lowly, or more dubious, beginnings. Justin, my gorgeous hero, lives in Mayfair, yet he does most of his erotic business at his Pleasure House in one of the less socially esteemed areas of London.

Mayfair, London, is one of the world’s most elite and expensive addresses. But did you know that Mayfair began as a cattle market and was named after the annual May Fair held at what is now the trendy café precinct of Shepherd Market?

Not only did all the elite areas of Mayfair have modest beginnings, but their other claim to fame was for their licentiousness, despite Queen Anne’s attempts to ban it, and became ‘The Place to Go’ for the more outrageous pleasure activities.

Grosvenor Square, London, now has one entire side taken up by the huge, and well-guarded, US embassy. These days, the square is a favorite residential location for the rich and famous. But the Grosvenor family’s selling of the land in the late 1700s so large residences could be built, put an end to the fair always held there and attended by people of all classes. Evicting the fair started the ‘gentrification’ of the area.

The London Docks were originally one of several sets of dirty and dangerous docks in the historic Port of London. Eventually, the docks were removed but the area remained derelict until the London Docklands Development Corporation bought it in 1981 and built luxury hotels, residences for the wealthy, and turned the area into a world-renowned business and  financial centre.

Marylebone, pronounced Mar-lee-bone, was named for the church of St Mary

St Marylebone Parish Church

St Marylebone Parish Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

built near a small river or stream called the Tyburn or Tybourne. Hence St Mary-le-Burn became St Marylebone. The area is still famous for the many doctors who set up rooms in Harley Street, but the area started out as a lowly medieval village which only gained fame when fashionable people began to spread further out than central London.

I’ve only spoken here about London, but similar things happened in cities all around the world.

Have you read, or written, stories set in areas that were considered seedy in past era but are now very expensive and trendy?

New York, of course, springs to mind.

Where else do you know?

The Viscount’s Pleasure House is available at Crimson Romance eBooks, Amazon, iTunes.

The Viscount's Pleasure House

 

The Book Signing – A Little Advice

IMG_1994Hello All!

So nice to see you!  I know I’ve been away awhile, but I’ve been so so busy with all the book release adventures and trekking through Promoland.

I have stopped in today to give a few pieces of advice on The Book Signing.

This is not the normal advice you’ll hear about what to wear or what to give to the book store owner.  This is more of what not to do.

#1 Not to do.

Don’t stay up late to paint your fingernails.

But, if you do, only have one color on your table where you’re working.  I have two colors that are very similar.  They resemble the glittery ruby slippers Dorothy wore in The Wizard of Oz.  One is really a hot pink with glitter and the other is the genuine red ruby color.  I love them. They are so fun!  However, it was 3:30 a.m. when I was brushing the glittery paint on my nails.  My left hand is hot pink.  My right is the ruby glitter.

#2 Not to do.

Don’t try new hair products on the day of the signing.

I have naturally curly hair.  I have to use very specific products in my hair so it doesn’t frizz out!  Especially, if it is humid or raining. Well, a few days before the signing I was running out of what I normally use.  The store had run out too. Yes, I know, but I do live in Montana.  🙂  So I picked up a new “flavor.”  That morning, the new item turned my hair white–momentarily–but I still panicked a little.  It rained all day.  By the time I got home, my hair was an embarrassment!

#3 Not to do.

Don’t forget the lipstick.

I keep my lipstick in my purse.  I took my wallet out of my purse so I wouldn’t have to carry that extra bag.  My lovely husband even asked me, “Do you have your lipstick?”  Of course, I responded and left for town.  Luckily, I stopped to buy roses for the bookstore owner and realized, I had no lipstick.  The dear lady at the floral counter helped me pick a color that would be good for my skin and the clothes I wore that day.  Wild!

Can this day get any more crazy!!!!

It turned out to be a wonderful day.  My fellow Crimson Romance Sisters & Montana Romance Writers and I had a wonderful time.

Thank you Fact & Fiction in Missoula, Montana for such a fabulous day!

IMG_1992Casey Dawes, Danica Winters, Pam B. Morris, Rionna Morgan

And thank you to you for sharing in my laughter.

…Do you have any book signing advice?

Thanks

It’s a little late, but I’m still in the spirit of Thanksgiving. This year I’m thankful for Jennifer Lawler and Crimson Romance for taking a chance on Winter Fairy. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about both the editing process and what it takes to get a book to consumers.  My unpublished manuscripts are becoming better as I apply the lessons learned to their rough-hewn words.

I’m thankful for being part of the Crimson Sisterhood. Writers are a strange bunch in that we don’t view each other as competitors but tend to serve as each other’s cheerleaders.  My fellow Crimson Romance authors have become dear friends and I can’t wait to see us all on the best seller lists.

I’m thankful for my readers. Your kind words for Winter Fairy envelop me in a warm embrace.  I’ll offer you a virtual one now (hugs). More than one reader has asked for more of Penelope, Carson and Eloise, saying they weren’t ready to say goodbye to them.  That is the highest praise an author can receive.  You’ve inspired me to write a second book featuring another member of the Glazier family.

If you haven’t discovered Winter Fairy yet, now is the perfect time to grab a cup of coffee, a slice of cheesecake and your preferred reader. But before you do, I’d love to know what characters have stuck with you after you finished the book?

Recuperating ballerina Penelope Glazier can enchant the young girls in her Fairy Dreams class, but will her winter magic work on Carson Langley, the sexy but straight-laced single father of her most talented student?

Do You Have a Waiting Room?

Over the past week I’ve been madly working on my final galley edits for my next Crimson Romance book, a book that I absolutely love. The Saint’s Devilish Deal will come out October 1, but you know what happened as I was going through the galley edits? Something that (usually) happens with all my books, but had not (until now) happened with my Saint: other characters began demanding their own attention.

Sometimes I look up and I’m not alone. Nope, we don’t have vampires or ghosts (at least, they aren’t in the classifieds or simple to find!) here on the North Coast. I have this thing I call The Waiting Room. Characters, some anonymous, some I know already…some with only really amazing eyes or a killer chest (yes, my Waiting Room can sometimes look like the Makeup trailer for a war movie), introduce themselves to me and poof! off on a story tangent.

The rule for The Waiting Room is that people can go in, but they can’t come out until they’re fully formed – they should have at least 1 name (first or last, doesn’t matter), they need to have a full face (not just eyes or lips or – once- just a nose) and they need to be ready to tell a little of their story.

Always when I’m in the middle of one story, I try to forget about The Waiting Room, but the patients waiting inside never forget about me. They pop up in dreams, interrupt me when I’m working on another character’s story and sometimes distract me while I’m cooking dinner. My general rule, and this is written down in the Handbook I leave on the coffee table in The Waiting Room, is that once I’m finished with a manuscript, the most fully developed character in the room can come forward.

Until this week, I’d been able to shut down the noise in my Waiting Room every time my Saint took center stage. This week…much harder to drown out the noise.

And, I’m sorry, Saint, but I’m going to have to let another strong, muscled chest take your place in my brain…just for a little bit. But don’t worry, you can still visit me in my dreams…just to keep me updated on your post-book life.

How Bureaucracy is Giving Me Perspective

I’ve worked in local government for my entire professional life. I went straight from college into public service boot camp, also known as the water customer service department. Luckily, I only endured eight months of boot camp before landing a job in stormwater management which lead to my current position as Environmental Coordinator for Lexington County, SC.

Working in public service has its pros and cons. No need to lament on the cons, but I will say that thus far the pros have outweighed the cons. One thing my eight—yikes—years working in local government has taught me, is that success doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, when it comes to working in government it can take years just to see an idea begin to take shape.

I could provide examples of 18 months spent on ordinance revisions, three years on a restoration project, or five years to finally have a regional plan before council, but there’s no need for all that.

Does red tape suck? Yes. Will it go away? Sure, when republicans and democrats start having pajama parties and making friendship bracelets.

So even though it can be frustrating to wait years before you see a project come to fruition, it’s given me some perspective as I tackle a writing career. My long term goal is to sell a lot of books and write full time, but I don’t expect that to happen any time soon. If I’m lucky it’ll happen in the next five to ten years. More than likely, I’ll do well enough to take my family on some nice vacations.

I’ve set short term goals to try and make it to full time writer. I plan to write—and it would be nice to publish—at least two books a year. I plan to stick with e-publishers, but promote my book as if I’m self published. After researching the pros and cons of traditional publishing, I realized that writers with large publishers don’t always get a lot of publicity. I’ve seen other traditionally published writers work with outside publicity companies, pay for their own advertising, and solicit reviews on their own.

Will my long term goal change? No. Will short term goals change? Probably.

I may have to self publish instead of go with an e-publisher. I may go for a traditional publishing contract. I may win a million dollars and hire a firm to create a catchy radio jingle to promote my book. Who knows? Working in government has taught me that priorities can change quickly. You’re on one path, a new council is voted in and your priorities change. I don’t have that issue in my writing career, but I have the ability to adapt to whatever changes are needed to achieve my ultimate goal: full time writer.

So, thank you public service for preventing at least one freak out moment in my writing career. My husband also thanks you since he will not have to talk me off the ledge because I’m not a millionaire after one book.

Biography:

Synithia Williams has loved romance novels since reading her first one at the age of 13. It was only natural that she would begin penning her own romances soon after. It wasn’t until 2010 that she began to actively pursue her publishing dreams. Her first novel, You Can’t Plan Love, is available now from Crimson Romance. When she isn’t writing, this Green Queen, as dubbed by the State Newspaper, works to improve air and water quality, while balancing the needs of her husband and two sons. You can learn more about Synithia, and her novel, by visiting her website, www.synithiawilliams.com, where she blogs about writing, life and relationships.

Twitter: www.twitter.com/@synithiaw

Facebook: www.facebook.com/synithiarwilliams

Written in Red: Rogues, Rebels & Rakes

Ooh!!!   Written in Red sounds incredibly apropos to what I write: jaunty pirates, action/adventure, charismatic rogues and the rebels who defy them.  That’s my tagline, you see.  Rogues, Rebels and… those exasperating Rakes that make you swoon.  Add in a snub at convention, a pinch of defiance, a dram of rum (forgive me, I digress), a tad sword fighting, fisticuffs, a dash of vengeance and mayhem galore, and my writing is what it is … written in red — ink, that is.

Yes, it’s a writer’s life for me.

And while I would love to be drinking rum and kicking back my heels, living the carefree life (It’s five o-clock somewhere, right?), these alpha males of mine, scoundrels through and through, have their own obscure code.  They don’t make it easy.  No.  They make me work hard.  They come angst-ridden, with redemption issues, a quest for vengeance or a relentless drive to prove themselves worthy.  And if that means writing me into a corner, they’ll do it, especially if a beautiful heroine is involved.  A good alpha does love his opposite, you see.  Especially if said damsel is in distress.

So what’s a writer to do when a hero sails in with backstory, drama or trauma, and the need to protect his lady love?  Well, as I have learned, few choices are safe enough to pursue in these cases.

These come highly recommended:

  1. Stare at blinking curser until completely hypnotized and you forget where you are like Jack did in Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End, while in Davy Jones’ Locker.
  2. Stare down the muse or try to drink her into a swoon, when you know you can’t drink a wench under the table.
  3. Stare out the window and observe Captain Jack doing something he vows you’ll never see again.
  4. Stare at hundreds of emails calling for immediate attention, which leads to a voyage through Facebook, sort of like a dead monkey skittering off with a cursed doubloon, and then on to Twitter and Pinterest (where abundant pictures of Jack have been stashed).
  5. Stare at contract.  (Feet skidding to a stop!  Jack says, “Keep your eyes on that horizon, mate.”)

No matter how you handle 1-4, #5’s cut direct should do the trick.  Make sure #5 is something that will take out the wild pirate-obsessed glint in your eye, like ice cold water on a passed out seaman’s face.

Indeed, love stories are meant to be written in red, that indelible color of blood ties, commitment and passion.   And like the bonds formed between each character envisioned in your mind’s eye, writers are meant to live a writer’s life.

So, mateys.  Forge ahead.  Write the stories that fill your heart to overflowing.  Imagine alpha males pitting wit and brawn against a wicked foe.  And when you get stuck, begin with step 1 and work your way to step 5 over and over again.  Jack will thank you for it!

Katherine Bone

DUKE BY DAY, ROGUE BY NIGHT Coming October 29th

www.katherinebone.com

Setting from Memory

Last weekend, the amazing JC Hays (http://jchay.com/) spoke at our MoRWA chapter meeting about world building.  JC writes sci fi romance and knows how to build a world from scratch.  But his talk focused on what to do when you are world building outside the paranormal and fantasy genres.  He got me thinking about my own setting process.  How do I choose where I set my stories?  Or do the characters choose for me? What about the fictional small town world of Shawnee, Idaho, where my Bull Rider’s series is set?  Today, we’re going deep into setting –

The Bull Rider’s Brother is set in a small town carved out of a river valley on the one north to south highway in Idaho.  A town like Shawnee exists, but the places I chose to highlight were a mix of different towns I’d visited as well as fictional spots.  Places that probably exist more in my mind, than on a specific spot on Google maps.

As a young girl, my family used to go camping on a tiny lake.  The pine trees surrounded the little lake, fed each year by the run off from the snow melting off the mountains.  The fish and game department stocked the lake annually, and, my mom and step-dad loved the fishing.  The lake was just long enough that you could swim the entire length without stopping. So once I’d swim the lake, I’d climb up on a large rock to suntan, and day dream.

This day dream process is how I describe my settings.  In The Bull Rider’s Brother, what does James see when he walks into Lizzie’s cabin for the first time in six years?  A robot movie plays on the television in the corner of the living room, toy cars line what used to be a bar for their cabin guests. What doesn’t he see? The glass refrigerator where Lizzie’s dad held the cold beers and sodas is empty and dark.  The liquor bottles that used to line the mirrored back of the bar, missing.   Hudson’s Hot Springs wasn’t open for business, during the peak of tourist season.  Now, James knows something’s wrong.

JC mentioned the use of monuments in his world building.  Like the clock tower in Back to the Future.  That clock tower in the middle of town ties the three movies together, past, present, and future.  In The Bull Rider’s Brother, the rodeo parade stands are that monument, even though they aren’t up all year long. The book opens and closes with the major characters on the stands.  The big reveal happens there as well as the inciting incident in the past – these hard, metal risers contain a lot of memories for my characters. 

When I wrote The Bull Rider’s Manager, the setting monument is the waiting area at an airport gate.  Different airports, different views, but as anyone who travels can tell you, these areas all feel the same.  Big changes happen to Barb and Hunter in these settings.  And with big changes, memories start to flow.

So Ladies in Red readers, what’s your favorite setting in either a book you read or one you wrote?  And why?

Lynn Cahoon

http://www.lynncahoon.wordpress.com