Saturday, April 28, 2012
Posted by Shirley Marks
In my current release, A Grand Deception, the hero and heroine, Sherwin and Muriel, are placed in an uncomfortable position of sharing a waltz. The waltz is a new, and increasingly popular, dance with London Society in 1815. At Almack's, one must have permission from a patroness before dancing it in the assembly rooms.
When I think of a waltz it is:
. . . Nor is it the Slow Waltz (A), which I have to confess reminds me of (B).
Check it out for yourself . . . . Go ahead, tell me I'm wrong.
The waltz during the Regency era was considered indecent because a couple danced alone and not with others as in a quadrille or cotillion. There were prolonged periods when, standing in close proximity, they touched their partners, lingering for some time.
Right or wrong, because there has been some debate about this dance, I chose to use this version for my story. There was no music I could use to send my characters dancing in my imagination.
The dance began with the "Marche," a brief side by side promenade.
Quickly the dancers moved into the "Pirouette" or "Slow Waltz." Choosing to either: face in the same direction and rest their hands on the other's waist or face in the opposite direction, draping one arm in front of their partner and resting their other hand upon their partner's waist, then arch their arms above their heads.
Next was the "Sauteuse." The dance grew more lively with the increased musical tempo and the dancers added a hop to their steps.
The position would change once again where one option, depicted on the right, would be for the gentleman would to both of the lady's hands behind her back.
For the final step, the music would increase in tempo again and the dancers would "Jette," displaying a bit more energy before returning to the "Pirouette" where the steps of the dance would begin again.
The couples moved in a circle about the dance floor. The movement forward would be slow, constant, and stately. The pairs could remain focused on their partner for the whole of the dance.
Everyone don your silk dancing slippers and hum a tune, it doesn't matter which, and let us dance the Regency waltz!
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Posted by Rebecca L. Boschee
Today I have the pleasure of speaking with novelist Elaine Shelabarger about her historical romance, Shadow into Sunlight.
In this second book about the Ashleigh family, Lucy—now a young woman—is heartbroken when her childhood sweetheart, James Wyatt, rejects her. To raise her spirits, her parents arrange for her to stay in Florence at the magnificent home of her great-grandmother, the Contessa di Lorenzo.
When she meets Major Charles Ryman, a dashing young American with a mysterious past, they are immediately attracted to each other. They meet in secret, flouting the Contessa’s strict rules. And when Lucy must return to England, Charles follows her.
Lucy is deeply in love. But can she trust Charles’ feelings for her? Is their love strong enough to survive the rumors about his past? And can Lucy give up everything to begin a new life with him in America?
Welcome, Elaine. Congratulations on your April release! Shadow into Sunlight is the second book in the Ashleigh family series. What compelled you to tell an adult Lucy’s story? I fell in love with the character of Lucy when she was a fragile, vulnerable child in my first 'Shadows' novel. I wanted to tell her story, showing how she had developed into a lovely young woman, after her life had been transformed by being rescued by Adeline and Guy.
In your own words, what is the main conflict in the story? The main conflict in the story is the clash between the background and experience of the hero and heroine. Charles, a battle-hardened soldier must overcome his guilt about his past and Lucy, having been rejected by her childhood sweetheart, must find the courage to trust in his love for her.
Charles sounds like an intriguing love interest. Can you give us some hints about the mystery surrounding him? Charles is a soldier, decorated for conspicuous gallantry on the field of battle but made one single error of judgment, which ended in tragedy and almost cost him his career.
The idea of a historical romance set in Italy intrigues me. How is society in Italy different for Lucy than at home? The romance begins in Florence but continues to its conclusion in rural England. Italian society was similar, but more formalised and even stricter than in 19th century England. Lucy's great grandmother is a member of the aristocracy and her behaviour would be expected to be beyond reproach. Religion was the supreme influence upon their mores and womens' lives were still very restricted. In England, conventions were becoming less rigid. Women began to enter the professions. They became nurses and teachers, even studying at Oxford and Cambridge, and writers such as the Brontes and George Eliot became popular.
I’ve always admired authors who can write realistic historical fiction. How do you approach your research? I have visited Tuscany and explored Florence and Siena. I use the internet to help with research. My knowledge of Victorian England comes from my background as an English teacher. I have learned a great deal from 19th century novelists such as Dickens and Hardy.
In one word, how would you describe Lucy? Vulnerable.
Same question, one word to describe Charles? Charismatic.
I love reading about Florence. It’s such a beautiful, magical place. Three questions in one: What would you consider your most romantic scene in the novel, in what part of Florence is it set, and what makes it your choices? I think that the most romantic scene in the novel takes place in the beautiful rose garden - the Giardino delle Rose near the Piazzale Michelangelo. It is where both characters give rein to their feelings for one another and the beauty of the setting, the need for secrecy - they are forced to flout convention - and the hint that the romance might end before it has truly begun, heightens the emotional tension.
How do you spend your time when you’re not writing? I live close to my son and daughter and enjoy family events, especially spending time with Leah, my lovely five year old grand daughter. I read a great deal, enjoy the occasional visit to the theatre and eating out. I like holidays abroad and I particularly look forward to visits to my American family in Wyoming and Colorado.
What can your readers look forward to next? At the moment, I am writing the third in the Ashleigh family series - Shadow of a Smile. It tells the story of Lucy's little sister, Antonia, who falls in love with two very different men. After experiencing tragedy and loss in New York, she returns to England to seek help for her little son.
About the Author
Elaine Shelabarger was born in Wales, lives in London, and regards the United States as her second home. Elaine combined a career as an English teacher with raising a family. Now retired, she shares an apartment with two spoiled cats, enjoys spending time with her extended family, and is happily pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a writer.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Posted by Sandy Cody
Here's the scoop: Several Avalon Authors have come together to write a novel for fun. Every author contributes one chapter. There is no pre-arranged plot; there are no rules except that we follow Avalon's guidelines of writing family-friendly material. If you missed the first six chapters or if you would like to refresh your memory, please click on "Avaloner Online Novel" in the column to the right.
By Fran McNabb
Total confusion blocked out any logical thought in my brain as I inched my way down the ramp to the door of the 737. Could it have been only yesterday that I got off another flight here in Seattle? How could so much have happened to me in such a short time?
My trip was supposed to be as simple as meeting a client to set up a dinner tour, but with Mel nothing is simple. To my aunt, “client” equaled “blind date” for me.
Now as I walked down this ramp to board another plane, I could hardly straighten out the last day’s happenings. Someone was following me around Seattle for reasons unknown. I was boarding a plane to Los Angeles when I really wanted to go to Santa Barbara to meet Mel, or better yet, home to Phoenix, and Stan, the man who was a stranger just yesterday, was steps behind me making me feel safe.That feeling really confused me since itwas Stan who got me in this predicament to begin with.
Well, that wasn’t really true. It was Mel who’d sent me to Seattle in her place. At least now I was traveling with a good looking guy even though every one of my brain cells screamed to dump him. I heard his footsteps close behind me and smiled. If the situation were different, Stan would be someone I’d like to get to know better.
Maybe, just maybe, things would straighten out and I’d get that chance.
At the end of the ramp, a tall red-haired flight attendant smiled politely, but I knew immediately when she looked behind me and spotted Stan. Her smile widened and her eyes flashed. I glanced over my shoulder to see how Stan reacted to this gorgeous woman’s flirtations. He smiled at the attendant, but didn’t linger.
That made me felt better. I know that didn’t make any sense, but what had made sense since I’d landed in this town?
I walked through the cabin and found my seat, then stuffed my one small bag into the overhead storage.
“Excuse me,” I said to the young man in the aisle seat, then hoped I didn’t step on his feet as I sidled around his long legs.
I plopped down in the window seat just as Stan stepped around the young man and took the middle seat.
As soon as he sat, he turned to me. “I’m glad you decided to take the ticket and head to Los Angeles. You couldn’t have gotten on that other flight and led the others to Mel.”
“I have to admit your reason made sense—the first time since your little episode in the coffee shop, but I’m still confused.”
He smiled and my heart pumped faster. Sitting so close to him unnerved me so I looked out the window and watched the crew roll the luggage cart away from the plane. That was easier than looking at that gorgeous smile.
But I couldn’t stare out the window for the entire flight, so I turned back to him. He still looked at me.
“I’m glad I took your advice, but you owe me an explanation. I haven’t been so confused since I tried to find my way around the subways in New York City. Don’t you think it’s time to come clean? Tell me why all these people are following me in the hopes of finding Mel, and, while you’re at it, you can tell me who you are.” At the moment I didn’t believe a word Mel had told me about Stan. I had to hear his story from him.
Stan stared for a second more, then looked past me out the window. “Mel made me promise not to tell you.”
“That makes no sense. She sends me to take her place even though she knows it might be dangerous, then doesn’t want me to know why? I thought she loved me.”
“Oh, she loves you. She loves you more than you’ll ever know. That’s why I’m here.”
Right then, the red-haired attendant walked down the aisle checking overhead storage doors, but when she got to our row, she looked straight at Stan. “Is there anything any of you need?”
But I knew better. She didn’t care about that aisle guy and me. I could’ve been strangling and she wouldn’t have seen me. Her attention was only on Stan.
“No, I think we’re okay,” he said and flashed her one of those smiles that I’d come to appreciate, but this time that smile directed at her irked me. Why was he flirting with her?
“Well, you let me know if I can do something for you.” She stretched her arms and adjusted the lock on the overhead door.
I felt my face contorting into an ugly frown. She definitely needed to move along and let me finish this conversation with Stan. As it was, I had a feeling she’d taken his mind off of me and Mel and the bozos who were following us.
But then he surprised me. He looked back at me.
“Mel thinks of you as a daughter. She’d never do anything to put your life in danger.”
I was shocked he remembered what we were talking about after having the attendant stop at our seat. “But that’s not how I’ve felt throughout this ordeal,” I said. “I’ve never been through anything like this. My life is usually pretty dull. The most exciting situations I ever find myself in might be in the grocery store if I happen to run into a floor display. I don’t normally have people following me around as if they want to kill me.”
“These people don’t want to kill you. They just want you to lead them to Mel.”
“That’s what I don’t understand. She’s in the telephone book. Why didn’t they just go to our agency in Phoenix and confront her for heaven-knows what they want?”
“It’s a long story.”
The seatbelt light came on. “Well, we’ll have some time on this plane for you to explain. In fact, it looks like we’re finally starting to roll. I’m your captive audience.”
As soon as the words came out of her mouth, I swallowed and forced a smile. “Captive” wasn’t exactly what I wanted to say. Inhaling a deep breath, I looked up into his green eyes and I knew he understood my feelings.
“Sonya, I guess I do need to explain a few things to you. I’m not exactly a stranger to Mel. In fact, I owe her my life, figuratively speaking.”
Stan squirmed in his seat. “Mel was traveling in Europe before she met her husband, and the way she explains it, she and a friend got lost and stopped at an orphanage to get directions. I was three years old then and the way she tells the story, she fell in love with me. She was only nineteen at the time and unmarried, but she was determined to help find me a home. To make a long story short, she found a couple who wanted a child and, well, here I am, the healthy son of a nice couple in Seattle. She and my older stepsister, Portia, went to college together. I worked in my adoptive father’s restaurant.”
“Angelos,” I said.
“Yes, Angelos. Since his funeral, I’m trying to keep it running.” He looked down and smiled. “Your aunt never forgot me. She kept in touch to make sure I was okay and sent me presents from my “Aunt Mel.” I really felt like I had two families.”
So far what he’d said sounded logical. “So when she thought she might be in trouble in this area, she called you and sent me.” I left out the part about Mel’s secret motive to play matchmaker for us.
“Right. I went to Starbucks and, well, you know the rest.”
“No, I know the beginning. Keep talking because I still don’t know why you acted as if you were poisoned.”
He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped as I felt the plane jerk, come to a stop,then start a slow turn.”
“Something’s wrong,” he said under his breath.
I watched the tall redhead walk to the front of the aisle, talk momentarily to the captain, then pick up the speaker. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a slight delay. Seems we have to return to the terminal.”
Remembering who I’d run from in the airport and hearing my name called for a second time over the PA system, I slumped down in my seat and squeezed my eyes.
Maybe I was a “captive.”
To be continued - Chapter Eight will be posted on May 7.