Researching the Regency Romance

Writing is hard work for a writer, but I find research totally absorbing – almost too much so. It’s very easy for me to trip from fact to fact, often ending up with an entirely different set of information than I set out to unearth. Suddenly the day’s over and my time’s run out for the writing I planned to do that morning!

There are times when I think information in the 21st Century is like a plague of words. We just can’t get away from them and it can be difficult to be selective when there’s so much tantalising stuff to distract from our core purpose. Key a few words into any online search engine and you’re likely to be confronted with hundreds of research choices.

But authenticity is important to me and I employ various methods of research. One of my key resources for researching the Regency period is ‘Georgette Heyer’s Regency World’ by Jennifer Kloester. I had the pleasure of listening to Jennifer speak at the 2017 RWNZ conference. Most of Georgette Heyer’s novels are as familiar to me as the nursery rhymes I learnt as a child.

Regency Research Books

Online research v the printed page

I use both extensively and generally like to verify facts through several sources, particularly if I’ve discovered the information online. I’m a keen reader, frequently visiting our excellent library and making good use of book fairs, markets and second-hand book stores as well as downloading Kindle books I’m likely to use more than once. I Iove reading magazines and picture books and have found these are the most effective resources when I’m researching places like gardens, woodlands and historic homes.

Beta Readers

Despite the care I take when researching, I do get things wrong from time to time and here’s where my Beta Readers fill the gap! I’m fortunate to live near talented author Poppy Mann who is a history buff and has studied art history and the history of fashion design. Poppy has enlightened me more than once when I’ve got my facts wrong – once I had the wrong queen married to the right king!

Jen Yates writes fantastic sexy Regency Romance and her contribution to my research has been so helpful. My English friend Vicky hones in on expressions or facts that might be out of kilter in the English setting of my Regencies.And so to Bath

What else is involved when researching the Regency Romance?

I’ve been fortunate to visit some historic places in England and this has allowed me to grasp the antiquity and the scale of the spaces inhabited by people in that world. Visits to museums and art galleries add to my store of knowledge, as do period television dramas and movies set in that era.

There are infinite aspects to research, for example: clothing, speech, food, housing, transport, landscape and the natural world; shopping, diseases, health, medicines and treatment, keeping a household or conveying messages. These must then be broken down into the components needed for a particular piece of work: how long might it take to travel from A to B – by ship, carriage (what kind of ship or carriage); cart, horse or foot; fabrics (no denim or zips in those days!) and protocol among and within various layers of society.

Research can not be restricted only to the Regency period

Research can’t be restricted only to the Regency period; like all of us, the characters who people my books had parents, grandparents, ancestors and events that influence their lives. And there are many more details to be considered, used or discarded – so easy to spend far too much time on research and too little on writing!

Contemporary Romance Boxed Set

Romance novels digital boxed set by Leigh D'Ansey

Wow, what a nice surprise! An email from The Wild Rose Press popped into my inbox the other day to let me know they had included my debut novel, ‘Kincaid’s Call’ in a new digital boxed set of contemporary romance.

Love is his Kiss features six contemporary romance novels. Authors are myself, Sheridon Smythe, Adrienne Regard, Dana Stevenson, Michelle Witvliet and Tricia Jones. Love is his Kiss is up on Amazon for pre-order for just $3.44.

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer holidays are not too far away and a digital boxed set is just the thing to load onto your Kindle for a lazy day at the beach or beside the pool. And for Northern Hemisphere-ites (I think I just made up a word) what better excuse to cosy up with your Kindle beside the fire or under a nice warm throw.

I’m so happy to be part of The Wild Rose Press team of authors. This electronic and print publishing company has several times won the Best Publisher award in the Preditors and Editors polls. As an author I’ve always been so impressed with the collaborative way The Wild Rose Press works. Whether you’re dealing with their marketing guru, one of the editors or cover designers, or the director herself, every communication has been timely, professional and helpful. The editorial feedback is enormously valuable.

Thanks so much TWRP for including me in ‘Love is his Kiss’!

Is your personality reflected in the clouds?

A friend and I were talking about ‘when we were kids’. We found we had at least one interest in common: we both remembered lying on our backs in the grass watching clouds. Interestingly though, our thoughts and imaginations travelled along different paths.

My friend imagined himself IN the clouds, WITH the clouds, whizzing across the sky to imaginary destinations, or destinations he’d read about: the wilds of Alaska, the depths of a jungle, racing back in time to hunt and trap in the Rocky Mountains, slipping unseen alongside Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday.

My cloud-gazing came from a different perspective. I wondered what was BEHIND the clouds. Was there heaven? Were there angels? Were there stars beyond the stars? Undiscovered worlds populated with beings beyond my imagination? I wondered how I could put myself there: Could I wish myself there? If I leapt high enough could I simply propel myself there? Was there some kind of machine or device that could blast me up right through those clouds into that vast space?

The interesting thing is, my friend remains a traveler in his heart. He’s travelled the world, visited and lived in remote regions far off the tourist trail. I, on the other hand, am always searching beyond the tangible, beyond the face we show to the world. I could people-watch for hours, building back stories for that old lady in the straw hat, that young man with the dreadlocks or that kid in the shabby board shorts.

There’s that saying about ‘having your head in the clouds’, meaning you don’t see what’s right in front of you. But is it better to see all the obstacles strewn across our day-to-day paths, or to gaze behind, at all the possibilities beyond the obstacles. Common sense tells me we need a mixture of both.
For my friend and I our cloud-watching mirrored some quality within our own natures. How do you watch clouds? I’d love to know.

How do you view a life?

My Dad never wanted to climb mountains or hop on an airplane and travel far from home. He never needed a lot of people around him or to do something risky just for the hell of it. While he enjoyed a glass of wine or a gin and tonic, he didn’t need to go out with his mates to drink.

For Dad, home truly was the place of his heart. He was happiest in his own chair with a pile of newspapers and periodicals, the container he’d made to hold his remotes on the coffee table beside him, the TV tuned into a news or documentary channel. He loved watching anything to do with world history, evolution and new developments in the fields of science, technology and medicine.

Dad could fix anything. We rarely needed to buy new because we could always call on him to fix our vehicles, our washing machines and stoves and you could rely on him to have a spare toaster or jug on standby. He came when we called. He was there when we needed him.

I think my mother would have loved to have climbed a mountain or two! She would like to have galloped a white horse bareback along a windy beach or through a dappled forest. I think she would have been in her element riding with a convoy of travelers or a troupe of circus performers.

But she slotted herself into a different kind of life, a conventional life where she cooked and cleaned and gardened and worked at various jobs that didn’t take her attention too much away from her home and family. But how she cooked! How she cleaned! How she gardened! And whatever work she undertook she did it to perfection.

If you were ill there was nowhere more comforting to be than around Mum. There’d be a breakfast tray with matching china. A perfectly cooked boiled egg, toast cut into fingers, pats of butter and marmalade in a crystal dish.

My Mum and Dad were never awarded any honors, they didn’t win notoriety for adventures good or bad. Sure I’m biased, but I view their lives as exceptionally worthwhile. What do you think?

Is Winter the Season of Romance?

Does winter speak romance to you? Does it lighten your heart when the day begins with a sparkling frost under sharp blue skies and ends with a zillion stars studding an inky night? I love those brisk, invigorating days.

And I’m usually ready for winter, looking forward to evenings by the fire, cuddling up under a blanket on the sofa with a pile of to-be-reads waiting on the bedside or coffee table. I love it the first time I shrug into a warm coat and tug on a pair of boots, the first time I make a big pot of soup laden with vegetables and some good chicken or beef bones.

There were a few things different about this winter though, and maybe that’s why I’ve found the months between May and September (just a few days away!) have dragged. We moved house just before Christmas last year and our new home doesn’t have a fireplace. It’s a small home and very easy to keep warm with electric heating but I do miss the coziness of a wood fire. Although gathering firewood and dragging it upstairs in all weathers is a chore I don’t miss at all.

And yikes-despite tugging hard, I couldn’t zip my long boots over my calves! As everyone knows, it’s much easier to put weight on in winter than take it off so my chances of getting into a pair of long boots were way slimmer than my pre-winter calves. And so it’s proved. I had to buy a new pair of ankle boots and if I’m not careful a winter of meaty soup and chunky bread will fatten up my ankles as well.

But I think winter can be very romantic. Closing the curtains against the rest of the world, snuggling under the covers, sipping a mellow red (pinot noir for me!), lazing on a sheepskin rug. What do you think?

NZ Romance Writers Conference 2017

I’m still reeling after attending the awesome RWNZ 2017 conference where I had the great privilege of sharing time with aspiring, emerging and best-selling authors.  Listening to industry professionals like Sue Grimshaw from Harper Collins, authors Kylie Scott and Christie Craig, and social media guru Kristen Lamb was truly inspirational.

Warm and down-to-earth, Christie had us all in fits of laughter one moment and in tears the next.  Kristen Lamb is a dynamo! She’s such an expert in her field and I came away quietly confident about strengthening my social media techniques. Kristen broke it all down. While I wouldn’t say it’s easy, it’s nowhere near as complicated or confusing as I had frightened myself into thinking.

Sharing time with like-minded people is inspirational in itself. We believe in love and romance, we love to learn, and we work hard to hone our craft. While we’re individuals with interests in all sub-genre of romance and sometimes different genre altogether, one of the writers I got to know said she’d found her ‘tribe’. I thought that was a wonderful way to express our unity as a group.

The venue at the Novotel near the shore of Lake Rotorua was perfect. After all, Rotorua is the  home of the legendary lovers Hinemoa and Tutanekai. Set in the centre of Lake Rotorua is Mokoia Island, Hinemoa’s destination when she made her epic swim to join her  lover despite her family’s unyielding opposition. In Rotorua’s CBD, the two main interconnecting streets are named after these two young lovers who would not be denied a future together. Would you swim through the night to reach your lover?

The gorgeous photo of Lake Rotorua is by my good friend, artist and teacher, Janet Keen.