Happy Weekend, Ballroomies! First, I have some leftover business from my last post, Seducer & the Snoop, in the form of a winner of my giveaway contest. Woot!
BN100, please email me your full name and mailing addy ~ you’ve won a signed copy of My Scandalous Viscount! Huzzah!
NYTB! Aww yeah.
Another huzzah to Beau & Carissa for a fine showing on the NYT, USA Today and Bookscan bestseller lists this week and yes I’m going to crow about it. *g*But enough of all that! Lady B would not approve. (She is off today, in the genteel town of Bath having a spa day – of which I am wholly envious. She’ll be back Monday.)
Today I have some historical inspiration to share with you that came in handy while I was trying to visualize the opening scenes of my novel, which take place at Covent Garden Theatre. By dumb luck actually I happened across the “I Remember Nelson” miniseries on Netflix.
Historical purists, you will be in ecstasies.
Yes, it’s from 1982, but it’s a Masterpiece Theatre production from the BBC; the costumes are drop-dead gorgeous, the historical setting is so real, and the dialogue is excellent, especially the heart-wrenching arguments between the publicly celebrated but privately tormented war-hero Nelson and his wronged wife.
“Emma Hart (maiden name) in a Straw Hat” by George Romney
What plain, dutiful woman can compete with the likes ofthe ravishing and flamboyant Emma Hamilton, after all? It really makes you feel for this poor woman, the cheated-on wife. It’s a very flawed, human angle on the demigod Nelson that you wouldn’t normally think about.
Yes, he saved England by destroying Boney’s navy, but he was also an unrepentenant adulterer who even hints to his distraught wife that maybe they could do an open marriage…? (“Ew.”)
Speaking of flawed, our dear Lord Byron even has a cameo later in the series.
Part 1 opens with the clever device of a festive Pantomime show recapping the major life events of the Hero of the Day ~ and Horatio himself is in attendance, looking like he’s suffering a serious case of PTSD, poor man. This is just all good stuff. But the main reason I wanted to point you toward the miniseries is so you could check out the hustle and bustle of a night at the theatre, particularly the richness of lighting, scenery changes, costuming, voice warmups, and props and actors being hustled about by the director backstage.
Interior of the 2nd Covent Garden Theatre after the fire that destroyed Handel’s organ – not that organ, people, come on!!
Though it’s only a brief portion of Part 1 and hardly consequential to the plot, it is SO entertaining. It makes you feel like you’re really there in 1800 and shows you aspects of Regency life that you’d probably never think about unless you were writing about theatre folk. At least I didn’t think about them, since my opening scenes centered on action happening in the audience, not backstage.
Besides that, the auditorium pictured in the film is nothing so grand as Covent Garden, but nevertheless, it’s jolly good fun, as you can see below.
If you love Regency movies, you should definitely look it up on Netflix and it’s also available on Amazon in DVD or streaming video. I think you’d love it. Somebody put this segment of it up on Youtube, but the sound quality is bad – which is just as well, since the only kind of pirates we like around here are the swashbuckling kind. However, I wanted you to at least get a look at it and see how well worth your time it is. I found it extremely inspiring. Take a peek and make sure to turn up the volume, it’s very quiet ~ and Enjoy!
If they made a stage show based on the events of your life, would it be a tragedy, a comedy, or a farce? What would be the style/model of show you would tell the director to start with? Hmm…I think I might go with Lord of the Rings as the basic model to start for the Tale of Gaelen. Indeed, I have my suspicions that the whole short, jolly, fun-loving but fiesty Foley clan may have some Hobbit blood… What about you??
Dear Ballroomies, All September long, you have come along with us on a whirlwind tour of Choose Your Own Adventure month at the Ballroom. But today, I have designed a special tour for YOU. How well do you know your Ballroom authors? Carissa Portland, the “snoop” heroine of My Scandalous Viscount, is here to make some revelations about each of us. Wherever you see a Link below, it’ll take you to the Bio or revelant page of one of the Ballroom authors. You may get more than you bargained for! Enjoy!
* * * * *
Lady B: Miss Portland! We meet at last. I was so pleased when Gaelen sought an invitation for you to my Ballroom.
Carissa Portland, heroine of My Scandalous Viscount: My lady, it’s truly an honor.
Lady B: Well, as a niece of the Earl of Denbury, I knew you’d be most suitable for our gatherings. But I must confess, the real reason I was excited you were coming is because I hear you have a penchant for gossip to match my own.
Carissa: Gossip, my lady? Me? Never! On the contrary, I am a lady of information.
Lady B: Isn’t that the same thing?
Carissa: Not at all, ma’am. It’s all a matter of intent—what one means to do with the information one learns about others. ‘Gossip’ suggests an undertone of malice, don’t you think? Whereas ‘information’ is simply… well, knowing useful things about others.
Lady B (leaning nearer): Do you know anything useful about anyone here?
Carissa(with a slight gleam in her green eyes): Maybe.
Lady B: Oh, do tell!
Carissa: Well… since you are one of the most esteemed hostesses inLondon, I suppose you have a right to know more about your regular guests.
Lady B: You know something about my authoresses?
Carissa: A bit.
Lady B: Well?? Out with it, you marvelous sly thing!
Carissa: As you wish. (She scans the Ballroom, her painted fan half covering her face. Her gaze lingers on the cluster of authoresses hanging around the ratafia.)
Carissa: I happen to know that Katharine Ashe—
Lord Beauchamp: Hullo, ladies.
Carissa(nearly jumping out of her slippers, for unbeknownst to Lady B, he has discreetly pinched her arse when he sauntered up behind them): Don’t do that!
Lady B(looking like she might swoon): Lord Beauchamp!
Beau, with a bow: So nice to see you again, Heliotrope. You are radiant tonight.
Lady B: So charming!
Carissa:Don’t believe a word he says.
Beau: So what’s going on, then?
Lady B: Miss Portland was just about to share a few on-dits about my authoresses.
Beau: Really? (With a mocking twinkle in his sky-blue eyes.) Do tell.
Lady B: You were about to say something about Katharine Ashe? She’s right over there, my lord. (She nods toward Miss Ashe, who is beaming as certain readers say how much they enjoyed the book party for her new release.)
Beau: Ah, yes, isn’t she the lady with the smart crimson spectacles? Fetching creature…
Carissa smacks him. Must you ogle every female you see?
Beau, innocently: Who, me?
Carissa (slightly jealous): As I was saying, it might interest you to know that a major revelation has been made about Miss Ashe. It was even in the papers!
Lady B: Really? Nothing too scandalous, I hope!
Carissa (whispering): She leads a double life. It’s true.
Beau: Well, well, double life… a lady after my own heart.
Carissa: If you think that’s big, you should hear what I found out about Sarah MacLean.
Lady B’s eyes grow round. Don’t torment me!
Beau: You mean the fact that her mother was a spy for MI6?
Carissa gasps and turns to him. You know?
Beau: Of course. I read her dossier. We always know our own.
Lady B: What are you talking about?
Beau: She was stationed inParis for MI6 during the 60’s. I always knew that Sarah MacLean was good people… and must admit I’ve always had a weakness for redheads.
Red-haired Carissa gives him a reluctant smile at his pointed compliment, but at the same time, is beginning to see the difficulty in being courted by a spy.
While wondering how poor Lady Sarah ever got away with anything as a youngster, having a mother for a spy, she is unsure if she, in turn, will still be able to follow her various whims and impulses if her ongoing love/hate flirtation with Viscount Beauchamp becomes more serious.
And I’m rather sure it will. (You can read Chapter One of their story at www.gaelenfoley.com if you like!)
Lady B: It’s all too delicious! Come, what else do you know about our friends?
Carissa looks around discreetly: Well, Sabrina Darby started writing her first romance novel the day after her wedding.
Beau: Blazes! Really? Why, I don’t think even I ever inspired a women to write a whole novel after a night together, maybe a sonnet…
Lady B: Perhaps, knowledgeable as you are, Miss Portland, you could explain to me what the Californian contingent of authoresses (Sabrina, Tessa, and Kate N.) mean by a particular word they often utter. I believe it’s pronounced, “Dude.”
Lady B: More like, “duuuuude.” Is it French?
Beau: I hardly think so. And, er, pardon, but what is this California of which you speak?
Lady B: I’m not entirely sure. Some region of the American wilderness, I daresay. A strange, dry country where the earth quakes, but somehow our brave Sabrina Darby, Kate Noble and Tessa Dare have all managed to settle there.
Carissa: I hear it’s also the place where they make “movies,” which explains why Tessa Dare is not only a writer, but an up-and-coming “movie director.” Her films are not to be missed. (Click here to watch one of Tessa’s blockbusters. Seriously.) For what it’s worth, I also have reason to believe that Kate Noble’s favorite movie is a famous story of a horrible marauding shark called Jaws.
Lady B: That’s it! Just like that. Miss Portland, do you have any more tidbits on our friends?
Beau: Don’t encourage her, my lady. Carissa, why are you gossiping again?
Carissa: It’s not gossip! It’s just information.
Beau arches a brow, and once more, considers training her for a spy. Very well, my dear, what else have you got, then?
Carissa: Don’t look now, but that lady over there, in the fascinator?
Beau: Yes, nice hat. I love a lady who knows how to wear a hat.
Lady B: What? A lady at Oxford? I never heard of such a thing!
Carissa: I know, it’s very shocking. And by the way, she always gets lost because she spent every Geography class secretly reading romance novels instead of paying attention to her teacher. But if you think that’s surprising, consider this. That mild-mannered gentlewoman standing next to her—
Beau (giving our friend a smoldering once-over): Lauren Willig? Lovely…
Lady B smacks him with her fan. You’re as bad as Monty! Hush, now, you rake! Let her talk!
Beau: I can’t help it. I love women. All these blondes…
And we love our blond boys, too. Here’s a couple of possible Beau’s for your consideration and viewing pleasure…
Carissa: Perhaps it’s better if I don’t go into it—
Carissa: I see, so that’s the game you’re playing? (turning to me.) You go telling our private story about Beau and me to the whole world, and we’re not supposed to say a peep about you? That is hardly fair!
Lady B (perking up): What’s this?
Carissa: Well, one time, while she was writing our book, she came to a part where she sat in front of her computer crying like a baby—
Gaelen: That will do! Carissa, you are one of my favorite heroines, but you’d better watch your step. Don’t forget, I still control the Delete key.
Carissa: You wouldn’t!
Gaelen: Try me.
Beau: I see where I get my ruthlessness from. Delete key, indeed. Come along, darling. (Taking Carissa’s hand and tucking it through the crook of his elbow) You have worked your mischief quite enough for now. Besides, I have something better for your lips to do other than repeating gossip.
Carissa: It’s not gossip. How many times do I have to explain that?!
* * * * *
Well, Ballroom friends, I hope you’ve learned something you didn’t know before about your humble authoresses. It’s all true!
And to celebrate the release of Beau and Carissa’s story, MY SCANDALOUS VISCOUNT (on sale this week!) I’m giving away a signed (but not tearstained) copy of the book by random drawing to anyone who can tell us a good piece of funny/interesting/little known gossip—I mean “Information”—that we ought to know about YOU. *g* Don’t worry, nothing too incriminating. We just want to get to know everyone better! Thanks for being with us today. xo, Gaelen
Lady B: Miss MacLean! What are all these people doing in my ballroom? And what on *earth* happened to your face?
Sarah: Oh, Lady B! I’m so happy you joined us! We are –
Lady B: It’s rather difficult *not* to join you, gel; you’ve commandeered my ballroom. And it’s not even a day when you are usually *here.*
Sarah: Right. About that.
Lady B: And don’t think I didn’t notice that you entirely missed the ball yesterday. There were guests looking for you.
Sarah: I know. And I’m so so sorry about that. I do have a –
Lady B: I hope you have a very good reason for it. And for the abomination that is your maquillage this morning.
Sarah: I do! In fact, it’s the same reason! It’s the Jubilee!
Lady B (blinks): I beg your pardon?
Sarah: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!
Lady B: Which Queen?
Sarah (blinks): Queen Elizabeth!
Lady B: Miss MacLean, are you quite well? I believe the paint on your face…it’s possible it’s turned you quite addlepated. Queen Elizabeth has been dead for several centuries.
Sarah: Not that Queen Elizabeth, Lady B…the next one. Queen Elizabeth the second.
Lady B: Miss MacLean, I understand that you Americans think you know everything, but I assure you, I am a loyal subject of King George…who, despite sharing in your affliction now and then, remains our sovereign.
Sarah (pauses, considers her next words): Totally. But eventually, there will be a Queen (who’s a pretty nice girl). Two of them, actually, and some kings in the middle. One of whom will abdicate.
Lady B (eyes wide): Surely not.
Sarah: Oh, he will. And it will be a thing. In fact, it will be for an American divorcee.
Lady B: Now I *know* you’re mentally ill.
Sarah: It’s quite a story, actually…ends with a war and a stutterer. And there’s a fabulous movie starring Mr. Darcy.
Lady B: From the novel?
Sarah: Sort of. Yes. (Realizes the train is off the rails) But never mind, my lady, all this will happen a while from now. And the long and the short of it is…there will be a Queen who wears awesome hats. And carries a purse that contains who knows what. And who ultimately has a Diamond Jubilee. And actually has fun at it.
Lady B: My goodness!
Sarah: I know!
Lady B: You expect me to believe that a Queen will carry her own handbag?
Sarah (nodding): It’s a mystery to us, too. Anyway, there will be a week of celebrations, and I’ll get distracted by all the flags and royals and pomp and circumstance and miss a Thursday Ball. And then…well…then we have this conversation.
Lady B: And you arrive painted in the colors of the British flag?
Sarah (smiles): I do. But check out the others! There’s Gaelen in go-go boots, and Lauren in her faux crown, and did you see Sabrina’s shoes? And Tessa’s lips? And Kate’s incredible coat?
Lady B (considering the group): Dear me. That coat is falling apart.
Sarah: I think it will be ok. It worked for David Bowie.
Lady B: For David who?
Sarah: It’s not important. What’s important is that we have Jubilee fever!
Lady B (looking down her nose): I’m going to guarantee it’s *some kind* of fever.
Sarah: You really don’t believe me!
Lady B: I’m afraid I do not. The most I believe at this point is that you require a rest.
Sarah: Well…considering the jubilee is over and I’ve been furiously following it for more than a week, you’re probably right.
Lady B: Miss MacLean…I’m always right. You may use one of the rooms abovestairs. But do wash your face before placing it upon my linens, will you?
Do you have a favorite photo/video/moment/outfit/souvenir from last week’s Jubilee celebration? Share it in comments (photos welcome)!
By the powers vested in me by the gods and my publisher, i.e. the prerogative of an author, I have summoned some of the members of the Burgundy Club to Lady B’s ballroom. See those three gentleman lounging in chairs in the corner? Let’s go and hear what they have to say.
Sebastian's idea of a ballroom
Sebastian, Lord Iverley, hero of The Dangerous Viscount: Why are we meeting here? There are too many ladies in this room and not enough books. In fact I don’t see a single volume. How can we hold a meeting of a book collectors’ club without any books? [Adjusts his spectacles and looks around.] Good Lord, everyone is dancing. I won’t do it, not without Diana. Cain, Lord Chase, hero of The Wild Marquis: In my opinion any gathering is improved by the presence of ladies. It’s too bad Juliana can’t join us, but she went shopping with Diana and Celia. I always enjoy seeing her in – and out of – a new gown. Tarquin Compton (star of the recent Amorous Education of Celia Seaton): Miranda wanted us to meet here. Apparently she has something she wants to reveal. I wonder if it’s another Baby Epilogue. Sebastian: What’s a Baby Epilogue? Tarquin: It’s an extra chapter when the author reveals the sex and name of a couple’s child. Our child hadn’t been born when Miranda wrote the end of our book, but I can now reveal and Celia and I have a daughter named Rosalind, after Celia’s mother. Of course we all know about your unfortunately named Aldus Manutius, and the fact that Diana is enceinte again. Sebastian: [looks self-conscious] I do seem to have rather – er- vigorous seed.
Tarquin and Cain exchange disgusted looks.
Cain: I never had a Baby Epilogue. If Juliana is with child I think I should be the first to know. I’ll be quite annoyed if Miranda intends to reveal my impending fatherhood to the world today. Not to mention that I wouldn’t have let Juliana go with the other wives if I’d known. Diana is far too indefatigable when it comes to shopping. Miranda, come here.
Cain: Is this meeting anything about babies? Miranda: No. I brought you here to reveal some information about my next hero. Cain: Phew. Sebastian: We know the next book is about Minerva. Who are you going to match her with? I trust you’ve found her a brilliant and high-minded politician, a man who will become Prime Minister. And of course he must be a book collector.
Miranda: You’ll just have to wait and see. I promised Lady B she’d be the first to meet him. Here she comes. [The gentlemen all rise]
Lady B: Gentleman, welcome. I don’t believe I’ve met Lords Chase and Iverley, though I’m sure we are related. I remember you, Mr. Compton. I was happy to learn you came to your senses and married that nice Miss Seaton who was hiding in the cupboard here.
Tarquin: I’m glad too. We’re rapturously happy.
Cain: Enchanted, Lady B. [He kisses her hand and she blushes. Sebastian bows but does NOT kiss her hand.]
<squawk> Lock up your daughters. <squawk>
Lady B: Don’t worry, Albert. Miranda assures me that Lord Chase is quite safe now that he’s married. I do find him charming.
She smiles at Cain and they chat for a few minutes, until her attention is distracted by a newcomer to the ballroom.
Lady B: Who is that man? My goodness what a face! What coloring! What cheekbones! What LEGS!
Sebastian: [disgusted]. That is my cousin, the Marquis of Blakeney. What is he doing here?
Lady B: Ah, yes. Blakeney. The Duke of Hampton’s heir. Miranda told me to expect him. She’s been writing a book about him.
Sebastian: That can’t be right. Her next book is about Minerva, my sister-in-law.
Lady B: What’s the difficulty? Your sister-in-law is a young lady and Lord Blakeney is most definitely a man, and highly eligible. It all seems most suitable.
Sebastian: But Minerva cannot abide Blakeney! He’s a sports mad idiot with no interest in politics. It would be a disaster. Besides, it’s bad enough that the man is my cousin. I refuse to have him as my brother-in-law as well. I can’t believe he could be anyone’s hero, but especially not Minerva’s. Miranda must have been talking about the book after next.
Miranda: draws Lady B aside. I should have guessed Lord Iverley would be upset. He has a long history with Blakeney. There’s no point telling him that Blake has hidden depths and a tragic secret. He’s going to have to discover it for himself. Just like the readers.
Lady B: I love a man with hidden depths, especially one with such excellent legs. I can’t wait.
I admit that Blake did not appear to advantage in Sebastian’s book, The Dangerous Viscount. While not actually a villain, he was definitely the bad guy. I believe, however, that he redeemed himself very nicely. I hope readers will agree when CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE becomes available next spring. I love seeing a villain made over into a hero. Do you have a favorite reformed bad guy romance? I can think of a few great ones.
Lady B has caught me. I’d planned to really enjoy tonight…I was going to hang out with the musicians here at Lady B’s and get the scoop on what it’s really like behind all those well-placed ferns. But just as I was headed in that direction, I heard some unfortunate news.
I paste a smile on my face. “Lady B!”
“You’re rather quiet tonight. It’s unusual. I don’t care for it.”
“You rarely care for my being loud, my lady.”
<squawk!> Impertinence! <squawk!>
“Apologizing for impertinence? You?” Lady B looks skeptical. “Are you quite well?”
“Honestly? I’m a bit out of sorts tonight. I just heard that Steve Jobs passed away.”
“Hmm. Such things are always unfortunate. Did I know Mr. Jobs?”
“I don’t think so.”
Her brow furrows. “Don’t be so certain. I know most people. He might have been related to my cousin’s wife’s brother-in-law.”
“I’m not sure, Lady B…He was not precisely the kind of person who frequented Mayfair ballrooms.”
“No? Why not? Did he have a…” her voice lowers to a scandalous whisper, “profession?”
“He did, actually.”
It occurs to me that this conversation is about to become complicated. I hedge. “No…”
I pause. “Not exactly.”
She sniffs. “You are being obstinate.”
“He…” I consider lying, then plunge ahead. “He created the personal computer.”
“He was a mathematician?”
“More of an inventor, really.”
“The iPod, the iPad, the iBook.”
She sniffs again. “The I’ve-never-heard-of-any-of-those-things.”
Her eyes light up. “Ah! He must be related to Charles Macintosh!”
It is my turn to be confused. “Charles Macintosh, my lady?”
I shake my head. “I’m unfamiliar with Mr. Macintosh, my lady.”
She tuts. “I’m disappointed. You do spell your name with an M-A-C, do you not?”
“Yes…” I’m not sure where she’s going.
“Highland Scots, both of you, my dear. I would have sworn you would have known him. He was also an inventor–just as your Mr. Jobs was. He invented the Macintosh raincoat. If Mr. Jobs also invented the Macintosh, I assume they worked together.”
It’s just easier to say, “Perhaps.”
“In which case, I would absolutely know him, because Mr. Macintosh is my brother’s daughter’s closest confidante’s uncle.” I start to reply, but she presses on.”Either way, I am a great supporter of innovation and invention. And I therefore mourn the loss of this Mr. Jobs, despite our never having formally met.”
We’re taking The Ballroom Blog (or a subset of it, at least) to live-streaming video!
There are days that I love being a New Yorker. Mostly, they are the days when my writing friends arrive in the city to visit with publishers or read at Lady Jane’s Salon. This week, two of my fellow Ballroom Bloggers–Katharine Ashe & Miranda Neville–will be in town, doing these things!
If you’re in the city (or the area) on Monday night, you can’t miss Lady Jane’s…aside from the fabulous Misses Katharine & Miranda reading, it’s a wonderful thing to stand in a roomful of romance readers and know that you’ve found your people! Added bonus: Lady Jane’s is dripping with leopard print, fringed lamps and tufted velvet. It’s like a Victorian bordello. Really. The salon is at Madame X, 94 Houston St. (bet. Thompson & LaGuardia).
“But wait!” you say, “I’m not in the city! What about me?”
Well, you lucky thing, Katharine & Miranda are making a special stop at the Avon Books headquarters on Tuesday morning at 11am for a live, online chat just for you! I am thrilled to be a part of it; I’ll be interviewing these lovelies as part of RomanceLive! We’re going to talk about their new books, The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton and In the Arms of a Marquess, about the Avon Books Ovarian Cancer Awareness Campaign Kiss & Teal, and–of course–The Ballroom Blog!
Sarah MacLean interviews Katharine Ashe & Miranda Neville
Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 11am www.livestream.com/romance
The livestream event starts promptly at 11am ET, and will run for 45 minutes, with plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions of these fabulous authoresses…and we’ll even answer questions about Lady B and Albert!