Jilly: Treats from the Peak

North Lees Hall, the original Thornfield Hall (David Lally via Wikimedia Commons)

North Lees Hall, the original Thornfield Hall (David Lally via Wikimedia Commons)

Are you tempted by our Christmas Week Short Story Challenge? Everyone’s invited, and it’s only a measly five hundred words.

The challenge evolved in the comments to my post Man-Caves & Brainwaves, about the rich and varied history of my home county of Derbyshire and its story potential. The rules (guidelines, really, it’s Christmas and we’re flexible) are simple – write a 500-word short story including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following: Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, Volcano, Ghost. Extra kudos for using more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

I’ll be starting off the challenge next Sunday (21 December). Several of the other Ladies are planning to play, and Michaeline will close the week in style the following Saturday, 27 December.

If you have a little reading time, here are Continue reading

Justine: All I Want for Christmas…Fantasy Style

justine covington, writing, writers, christmasKudos to Nancy for knowing what she wants for Christmas. I rarely do, and irritate my husband when he asks me what I want and I answer, “I don’t know. I don’t really need anything.” (I can see him GRRRRing right now.)

Well, this year is different. I know what I want. The problem is I doubt anyone (even Santa!) can deliver.

My Christmas List — Fantasy Style (in no particular order): Continue reading

Justine: A Contemporary Regency

One of those contemporary historical romances that stands the test of time.

One of those contemporary historical romances that stands the test of time.

Well, not really. Evelina by Frances Burney was published in 1778, but it’s worth a look for several reasons.

First, it was read by Jane Austen and influenced her, according to various googles. The humor is certainly echoes and sharpened in Austen’s works. And despite being written in the 18th century, it’s much easier to read than the sort of 18th century literature and political writing we were exposed to in school.

Second, the book was designed as a “how to,” as in “how to behave in society.” The humorous (for us) and humiliating (for her) faux pas that Evelina commits are the lessons.

And, it’s free on Kindle. I think writers of historical will love the details and the phrasing of the book, and every writer will enjoy watching how the conflict builds and eventually releases into a happy ending. This is an epistolary novel, and the first few letters may seem tedious, but many readers will find rewards by the time our Evelina is ensconced (or is it entrenched?) in London.

If you are so inclined, try it, and let me know what you think!

Jilly: What Kind of Story Would Suit Your Home Town?

Crooked Spire, Chesterfield (Peter Tarleton via Wikimedia Commons)

Crooked Spire, Chesterfield
(Peter Tarleton via Wikimedia Commons)

Where did you grow up? Would it make a good setting for a story in a particular genre or sub-genre?

I’ve been living in the past this week. The sale of my mother’s house went through a few days after I got back from San Antonio, and I’ve been in Derbyshire packing up, giving away, and disposing of several lifetimes’ worth of accumulated family stuff. It was more than a trip down memory lane. I don’t think my parents (or their parents) can ever have thrown away a document, photograph or memento, and I found all kinds of old black and white and sepia toned pictures on postcard and thick card. I can just about recognize my father’s mother as a young girl, and my father’s father as a handsome, swashbuckling soldier from the First World War, but there are many Continue reading

Michaeline: Likable characters


Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet, Regency heroines

I think every writer struggles with the concept of “likable” characters, but the fact is that for most people, you get what you get. Your girls in the basement send someone up, and it’s up to you to work with them, and tweak or train them into characters who are likable, or at least interesting. If you can.

This has been on my mind lately because I just caught up with the “Lizzie Bennet Diaries” on YouTube. I loved the modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and a combination of factors made it extremely watchable and fun. Wanting more, I continued on to “Emma Approved,” which takes Austen’s Emma out for a spin in the 21st century.

Rather famously, Austen was worried about Emma (the main character) and her likability factor. She called Emma “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” I find that very true – Emma is a much harder book for me to get into because Emma is such a controlling, childish, unaware creature.

Interestingly enough, I think there are a lot of parallels between Emma and Elizabeth Bennet (Eliza Bennet is a character I like a lot, by the way). Continue reading