Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Scarlet Pimpernel is my literary hero (and news about a giveaway!)

One last book review of sorts before my Historical Fiction September draws to a close. This time I'd like to gush about a book that has a very dear spot in my heart as one of the first historical novels that I fell in love with: The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Oh, there were others before it...I had a healthy diet of Newbery titles in my childhood, and I'd binged on Johnny Tremain, Caddie Woodlawn, Adam of the Road, A Door in the Wall, Strawberry Girl. But The Scarlet Pimpernel was one of the first that made me dream with longing of experiencing that time for myself, despite the blood and violence and injustice of the French Revolution. It made me really think about the injustice itself, apply it to what I knew of today's world, make my own conclusions about the world I lived in as it was in the past and the present. I read it into the “wee hours,” dreamed about it all night, woke up and read it again. Then I pulled out the encyclopedia and read the entry on “French Revolution,” and several “also related” entries as well. I began writing my own novel about an aristocrat who escaped France—wrote exactly 42 pages, which was the most I'd ever written in a story up to that point, before my parents' computer crashed, leaving me with the first 17 that I'd printed out. At which point I realized that the story was really pathetic when you compared it to The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I had just re-read once more.
But recently I started thinking about that story again, and it keeps coming back to me. I lost myself in research for a few hours the other day, and I have the first seeds of a good plot planted in my mind. I know it will take a long time, through seasons of finishing other stories, before those new plants are ready to bear fruit. And I know that whatever it turns into will still pale in comparison to the Glorious Pimpernel in my eyes.
But maybe, someday, a teenager will read it and decide to write a story of her own.
I just hope her computer doesn't crash. :)

In other news... Check out Paula McLaughlin's giveaway of The Faerie Ring, by Kiki Hamilton!! I have spent every free moment since yesterday morning reading my own copy, and it is incredible! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Living historically

Lucy helping me research last year
One of my favorite ways to “get into” a historical story I'm writing is to live, in as much as is possible or practical, like my character would have. I like to wear a skirt or a dress “inspired” by the fabric or style of something my characters might have worn. I like to eat what they would have eaten—occasionally I try to prepare it as they might have. Eating food from your own garden always tastes best—wearing a scarf that you knit is always more satisfying than wearing a store-bought one. I like to sit in a cold house on an autumn day and cuddle up with my family around the fireplace. I prefer sweeping to vacuuming, partially because it connects me with women of every past generation and thus seems less like drudgery keeping me from writing.
Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could actually live in a past time period...then I remember that without the technology that gave me glasses, I'd be debilitated. Without twenty-first century advances in medicine, I would be crippled—or have died—from a simple curvature of my spine. Without tylenol, the fever that my toddler had yesterday would have been cause for serious alarm.
I'm always glad to be reminded of these things, to remember to accept the time I am in with all its goods and all its failings, because I am here for a reason.
But there is still something about going to a country fair and watching everyone between the ages of ten and twenty-five walking around with their heads bent down over their texting apparatus that makes me long to show them how much fun contra dancing is. Or playing in an old-time band. Or singing around a fire. Or reading a book aloud. I realized, while I watched these teenagers so obsessed with their cell phones that they didn't even look up at the excitement around them, that this is one of the reasons writing is important to me. Because I hope, with all the advances that modern technology has brought us, that we won't forget how to be human and just have fun with each other. And maybe a story I write will inspire someone to want to live, just a little bit, like one of my characters lived, and to remember.

Friday, September 23, 2011

History links

Just a random history-related post are a few of my favorite tools for wasting time researching historical fiction. I hope you find something you enjoy!

Nineteenteen blog--learn what life was like for teenagers in the nineteenth century

From Elizabeth's Needle--author Elizabeth C. Bunce's blog on historical costuming

The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts

The Costume Page

Colonial Williamsburg

The Food Timeline (did you know Marshmallow fluff was invented in 1917??)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finding yourself in history--Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys

Perhaps one reason why historical fiction is so compelling to me is that I feel it gives me a glimpse of who I am and where I came from. Most recently this happened when I read Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys.
On my dad's side of the family, I'm a well-rounded mix of European and Slavic ancestry...mostly German, Polish, and Ukrainian. My own great-something grandparents fled Europe in the first half of the twentieth century, but many of their brothers and sisters and cousins were unable to avoid the tumultuous, and often tragic, consequences of both world wars and the Soviet occupation. I'd heard, growing up, of family members who were sent to concentration camps and never seen again... Those who survived passed on stories of how much worse the Soviets were than even the Nazis. But to an American kid growing up in the late twentieth, early twenty-first century, all these accounts seemed distant and vague—just stories, not real people.
Ironically, it was a fictional story that made those people a more real part of my life. Ruta Sepetys' beautiful, beautiful story of a Lithuanian girl's time in a Soviet camp gave me a connection to those relatives that I'd never known. An appreciation for what they suffered. A gratitude for what I have today.
I hope that someday I can do as much for other readers. It's nice to have an example to live up to.
So many people have read this book already that I'm not going to go into more detail about the plot here (you can find a good description at Goodreads), but if you haven't read it, go find it. Right now. 
I defy you to not let your life be changed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Interview with Kiki Hamilton, author of THE FAERIE RING!

Today, please welcome Kiki Hamilton, author of the historical fantasy novel, THE FAERIE RING, which will be coming to a store near you on September 27 (or sooner)!
Kiki kindly agreed to subject herself to my merciless interviewing... Just kidding--I'm pretty nice, and Kiki's answers are a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, then take the time to stop on over to Kiki's blog and say hello!

Me: Welcome, Kiki! In honor of your debut year, I thought we'd go with an “eleven” theme...because, well, 2,011 questions would be a little over the top. :) 
Kiki: Oh God, save me! :-}
(Don't worry...he has. I'm sure it was divine intervention that compelled me to stick to 11. :)

1. So first, tell us a little about yourself—eleven words' worth:  
Kiki: Fun, crazy, insane, a bit sarcastic…ahem…, easy to be around.
(I can personally vouch for the fun one!)

2. Name eleven of your favorite things. 
Kiki: Magic, my daughter, mysteries, London, good books, milk chocolate, true friends, my guitar, my characters, margaritas and the bloghound.
(I didn't know you play guitar--me, too, though not well... And milk chocolate, in my opinion, is vastly superior to dark chocolate...just don't tell the chocolate experts I said so.) 

3. Name up to eleven writers who have inspired you:  
Kiki: JK Rowling, Dan Brown, Harlen Coben, Michael Crichton, Megan Whalen Turner, Erin Morgenstern, Diana Gabaldon, Robb D. White, Harold Robbins, Stephenie Meyer and Robert Ludlum.
(I've had The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner on my to-read shelf since Christmas...I suppose I should put it on the top of the pile!)

4. What eleven words best describe your story?
Kiki: Faeries, Victorian London, Pickpockets, Orphans, Romance, Mystery, The Queen’s Ring, Love.
(Ahh...I'm sighing in bliss at eleven words that describe just the type of story I love to read. Anything with Faeries and Victorian London in the same sentence....and pickpockets are ALWAYS a plus. :)

5. The Faerie Ring is described as historical fantasy, which is one of my very favorite genres. What were your favorite and least favorite parts of writing it? 
Kiki: I loved writing the first draft. The story just poured out of my head onto the page. Editorial revisions were hard work, initially. Towards the end I really enjoyed it, because I understood what my editor was looking for, but at first it was not always fun. Totally worth it and her suggestions were right on the money – but not always fun.

6. I understand that you were able to travel to London to research The Faerie Ring; what was the most interesting thing you learned there that didn't make it into your story? 
Kiki: Well, I LOVED LOVED LOVED Windsor Castle. I stood in the footsteps of kings, on the parapet overlooking England, and I totally GOT it. That castle has been inhabited by English royalty for the last 1,000 years. Sort of mind-boggling, when you think about it. I could spend hours just in St. George’s chapel, which is where Prince Leopold is buried in real life. But while other prominent parts of London are featured in THE FAERIE RING and future books, so far, Windsor Castle hasn’t made an appearance. Yet.
(Doesn't it make America seem so darn young? I can't wait to visit Europe someday, and Windsor Castle is definitely on my list of things to see.)

7. Moving from the “historical” part to the “fantasy” part...Did you ever find it difficult to balance the real world and the fantastical world in your story? 
Kiki: I didn’t have trouble balancing it – it’s all very clear in my head. The hardest part was limiting how much of the fantasy world was revealed in this first story. You know that picture of the iceberg that shows the little top that is above the water and then this HUGE part that can’t be seen under the water? (see below.) That’s the way it is with the Faerie world in THE FAERIE RING. There is SO MUCH that hasn’t been revealed yet.

8. And speaking of fantasy, you told me once that reading Harry Potter was one of your inspirations to begin writing a book... So of course I have to ask a couple Potter-related questions! Who's your favorite Weasley?  
Kiki: I have to pick?! Well, of course, we all love Ron, but I also love Ginny – because isn’t she the brave, loyal, strong, female version of Harry? She is his equal and worthy of his love. You know she will always be true. And hello? Who doesn’t love Fred and George? I still pretend it was Percy who died instead of Fred. Demented, I know.
(A dementia I will now be sharing with you. I like that idea... :)

9. Which secondary H.P. character do you most identify with? 
Kiki: I guess it would have to be Ginny because I always played games with the boys growing up. Golf, pool, skiing, baseball, poker, whatever. I was there for the adventure and excitement – not so much for the learning…ahem….if you know what I mean. :-} And if you’re true to me – I’m there for you until the bitter end.
(I love Ginny so much. We call my youngest daughter Genevieve "Ginny"...and I like the fact that she'll have a strong literary namesake, if you will, to look up to--I always loved Faith Meredith in L. M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valley for that reason, too...)

10. Which of your own secondary characters do you like best, if any, and why? (I know that's a little like asking a mother which of her children she loves the best...) 
Kiki: I like Larkin best. She fascinates me. She’s an extremely complicated character – so many layers that haven’t been peeled back yet.

11. What's the best writing advice you have ever received? 
Kiki: I think never to give up. It is a really tough business to succeed in. But my personal advice is to write for the love of the story you want to tell. That’s where the real measure of success lies.

Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of yourself and your story with us, Kiki! I hope The Faerie Ring's release brings you a lot of fun and great success! 
Kiki: Thank you so much for having me over, Faith! And good luck with your own compelling, beautiful story, THE WITHERING VINE. I know it won’t be long before I’m interviewing you on the release of your own book!

Ah, now I'm blushing. To divert attention permanently away from myself, check out some of these reviews THE FAERIE RING has already received...and then go order/buy it!

"Vastly suspenseful and filled with dark enthralling mystery and magical peril, The Faerie Ring will keep you up all night until the last page is turned. This is easily a five star novel." -Susan, A Soul Unsung
"This book is the best of so many worlds! We need more books like this in the young adult genre!" -The YA Sisterhood

"This book is going to be a hit with any age." -Jessi, The Elliott Review
"I can't began to tell you how much I love stories such as this one. Stories filled with a great plot, amazing characters and best all, great fantasy." Savannah, Books with Bite
"The novel had a little bit of everything sprinkled into it: historical fiction, romance, mystery, fantasy, realistic - I loved every page of it!" Ashley, Books Obsession
Kirkus Review: "The Faerie Ring is an entertaining magical-historical adventure!"

Or watch the trailer while you wait:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fantastic History

Continuing our historical fiction theme, I'd like to discuss today one of my favorite sub-genres: historical fantasy. To a reader like me, who has held simultaneous lit-crushes on Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel and Faramir from The Lord of the Rings, historical fantasy may just be the best of both worlds: the mystique and to-die-for costumes of ages gone by, and the allure of magic and myth and that other world that always seems to be just around the corner.
I think it is a rare author that has the brain to pull this genre off well; I once wrote a historical-ish fantasy—actually I wrote it three times, and I still haven't got it right. It's sitting in a drawer waiting to be resurrected someday when I am wiser and better at plotting. So I have a deep appreciation for the wonderful writers who are able to put the time into the research historical fiction requires, while putting the heart and creativity into the plotting that fantasy demands.
Recently, there's been a number of books in this genre which I have enjoyed, among them:

Bewitching Season, by Marissa Doyle, a mostly light-hearted story of twin sisters whose magical abilities help Princess Victoria gain her throne;
The Prophecy of the Sisters, by Michelle Zink, which was set in New York State in the early 1800's, and will appeal to those of you who like your fantasy on the creepier side;
my all-time favorite in the genre so far, A Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce, a re-telling of the Rumpelstiltskin story set in the dawn of the industrial revolution—brilliant, brilliant writing.
And if you like this genre as much as I do, you are in luck—because on the 27th of this month (mark your calendars!), The Faerie Ring, by my very talented writing friend Kiki Hamilton is being released! I have yet to read it, so I'll leave you with the Goodreads description to whet your appetite:

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger. 
The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.
Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.
Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

Kiki will be joining us for an interview on Monday, so check back...
In the meantime, please share your favorite historical fantasy titles in the comments!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Double Standard?

Question: Why is there a double standard for historical fiction and contemporary fiction?
That is to say, why is it lauded to include details, even obscure details, which date a story in historical fiction, while in contemporary fiction it is often frowned upon? For example, this year's Newbery honoree, Turtle in Paradise, is flavored with Turtle's dislike of child actress Shirley Temple and her love of the comic strip Little Orphan Annie—but if you were to create a contemporary character who can't stand Justin Bieber and is obsessed with, let's say, the TV show Psych, your critique group/editor would probably tell you to tone down the specifics. Since the contemporary fiction of today will be the historical fiction of tomorrow (in a way), perhaps more details should be encouraged?
I've always been a fan of the “timeless” contemporary story—but then I dislike historical works that seem too if they could be set in the present if you threw in a few cell phones. So I'm as guilty as anyone of setting this double standard, but I am starting to rethink the whole issue.
What do you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Get ready to pull out your family tree...

Another recent historical fiction book which had me inwardly jumping up and down in joy that I had discovered it was The Year We Were Famous, by Carole Estby Dagg.
In order to save their family's farm in the late 1800's, Clara Estby and her mother set out on a walk from Washington State to New York City—if they can make it in seven months, they'll earn $10,000 from a publisher with her eyes on the book rights. Okay, intriguing already, right? What's even cooler is that this story of wild adventures, stubborn perseverance and steadfast love is actually based on the author's ancestors. She fictionalized their story to make it into a fuller book, but those two women actually did make that 4600 mile walk and live to tell the tale....or to let their descendent tell it, in this case. That has got to be every historical fiction writer's dream, right?
I'd decided months ago to set aside genealogy so I could spend more time writing, but after this experience, I had to take another peek at the old binder. Um...nothing quite so story-worthy so far. At least not stories for children...
Anyway, do read this. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it ends up with a shiny sticker from the ALA come January.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Historical Fiction on the Big Screen

More historical fiction-related birthdays to celebrate! Today is Hugh Grant's 50th birthday, and tomorrow is Colin Firth's 50th birthday. If seeing those two names in the same sentence don't make you think of Jane Austen, I'm shocked (and dismayed!), but if they do...then today's topic will come as no surprise to you.

If there is one thing almost as satisfying as reading a good historical fiction book, it is watching a historical fiction, or “period,” movie. In truth, it may be more satisfying in certain ways—I love seeing the world recreated by costume and set designers; I love the accents (okay, so many of my favorite movies are English...); I love the fact that I can knit and enjoy the story at the same time.
Here are some of my “very favoritest” period films...all historical, some more fictionalized than others:

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Robe
Sense & Sensibility (the one with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman...speaking of gorgeous accents...)
Pride & Prejudice (I like all of them in different ways, but there is a certain something about Colin Firth's rendition of Darcy...)
The Ransom of Red Chief (this one's a rather obscure dramatization of O. Henry's story of the same name. Super cute and funny.)
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Bright Star (about John Keats' life)
Miss Potter (about Beatrix Potter's life)
The Young Victoria
The King's Speech
The Patriot
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Importance of Being Earnest

What period movies do you love? I'm always looking for new favorites!

(By the way, thanks to Amy Sonnichsen for recommending "Lady Jane" in the comments for my last post--I'm having a movie night with my little sisters tonight and we're watching it....because, for your edification: period films are best enjoyed with at least three girls swooning over the dresses and bolstering themselves up through the sad parts with inordinate amounts of chocolate. Which we will have. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oh, the drama...

Continuing with our historical fiction theme, I thought I'd share some historical truth today--because, like any historical fiction writer, I can't keep away from the encyclopedias...and you never know when inspiration will strike.

Today is the 478th birthday of the ruler of England I like to refer to as "Bloody Bess." Queen Elizabeth I is remembered, along with other fine accomplishments, for executing more people than her father (Henry VIII) and her sister (Mary I) combined, during her fiercely anti-Catholic reign. In fact, among those executed was her sister...but I guess the fact that her father killed her mother while she was a toddler might account for her bloodlust.

And yet, we writers and readers owe her a debt of gratitude. Because without Elizabeth, we likely never would have come to know Shakespeare. Who knows how the world of drama would have developed without her sponsorship of the Bard? We would never have known King Lear, Macbeth, A Midsummer's Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet... or West Side Story, for that matter.

I love this Joyce Kilmer poem, which got me thinking about the idea in the first place:

My hands were stained with blood, my heart was
proud and cold,
My soul is black with shame . . . but I gave Shakespeare gold.
So after aeons of flame, I may, by grace of God,
Rise up to kiss the dust that Shakespeare’s feet have trod.

And Shakespeare wasn't the only artist Elizabeth sponsored. One of my favorite liturgical music composers, Thomas Tallis, was also supported by the queen. Funny thing: Tallis was a staunch Roman Catholic. Isn't it amazing the way great art can bridge the gap between race, time--and even religion, in this case? Despite her strict laws, I suppose Queen Elizabeth couldn't bear the thought of being the monarch to deprive the world of music like this:

So, happy birthday, Queen Elizabeth. And thank you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scrumptious Research

As we all know, the key to great historical fiction is bringing another time/place/culture to life. Often what springboards plot development is the social and political environment of the period—but politics will never bring a world to life. For me, it's all about the tastes and sounds and textures of a time—which is why I always begin my official research with those three elements: food, music, and clothing.

I wrote an entire post on the importance food can play in a novel, so I won't repeat myself here. But I'll show you that work in action as it comes to play in my current WIP, AMBER & FLAME.
AMBER & FLAME is a story of Antonio Stradivari's daughter, Francesca, and it is set in 1701 Cremona, Italy. Anyone who's ever been close with an Italian knows that food is, always has been, and forever will be a center of their culture and life. So to really know what Francesca's daily life would have been like, I wanted to begin by discovering what her daily meals would have been—what smells filled her home throughout the day, what she very likely labored away at for several hours every week. My husband found me this amazing book, The Gastronomy of Italy, by Anna Del Conte, a cookbook dividing traditional Italian recipes by region, and explaining the history and cultural influences behind them. Now I can know, and taste, what Francesca might have prepared her family for dinner on a chilly winter's night.

Next, la musica... Music has always played a central role in my life, so I suppose I can't help but define my characters' lives by it, too. Certainly Francesca Stradivari would have been extremely familiar with the music and musicians of her time—so in order to know what tunes would be playing through her head, my next stop on the research train was a musical one. Vivaldi, Pachelbel, Henry Purcell, a few Bachs....all composers whose music Francesca would have known, whose music I still love today. Listening to their pieces gives me a connection to Francesca, helps me see her as someone who shares my interests, three centuries apart.
This video is of Itzhak Perlman playing Vivaldi's The Four Seasons: Winter—on a violin that Francesca's father made, incidentally. Makes you wonder if she heard it played on one of his instruments in her lifetime...

Finally, maybe it's just because I have a fascination with fashion, discovering exactly what clothes my character would wear is very important to me—cut and cloth and cost and everything in between. As of yet, I haven't been able to personally immerse myself in this aspect of Francesca's life (alas!) but pictures will suffice for now.

How do you begin researching?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Prisoners in the Palace and a Poor Purple Polka-dot Pig

Well, I've decided: the entire month of September is going to be Historical Fiction month at this blog. When I first decided to wax eloquent on this theme, I jotted down a few ideas I wanted to post about, and ended up filling several pages—we're going to need a month to get through it. :)

So, on with the theme! One of the books I read during the storm and the electricity-free days following was Prisoners in the Palace, by Michaela MacColl. And it may be the reason why those days seemed so short; it's one of those books that alters the passing of time, which flies by when you're reading and drags while you're waiting to do so. As circumstances had it, I did not have to wait very much, and was able to emerge myself in the world of Princess Victoria, her spunky maid, Liza, and the intrigue and intricacies of their lives.
Often I am asked my opinion on the best way to incorporate historical details into a book without “hitting people over the head” with them. I had a long answer of my own, but from now on I believe I will refer them to Prisoners in the Palace. The way Michaela MacColl painted the Victorian world was believable and natural—yet even though I have read MANY books set in that time-period, I learned more from this one than all the others put together. It felt so true to the time-period that it might have been written then, which I can rarely say—even the sensibilities of the characters were so carefully drawn that I never experienced the annoyance of finding a modern teenager, with modern political and social ideas, plunked into a fancy dress. Even though many of Liza's ideas are quite in sync with current beliefs, the fact that she had to reach them, grow into them, is what makes them ring true.
Also, in brief...great characters; great plotting; great word choice; great sentence flow.
(So go read it already!)

Touching briefly on the effects of Hurricane Irene... I wanted to share with you the photo of this poor orphaned porker that was washed into our yard after the storm. Yes, the only connection he has with the main theme is that of alliteration--but you can't underestimate alliteration, right?

And some less amusing storm damage:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Of Hurricanes, Hunger Games, and History

Early this week, as you likely know, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene breezed through the Northeast; here in Connecticut the damage was mostly to trees, but they in turn managed to knock out the electricity in over 770,000 homes. I was lucky on several accounts: 1) the two, towering pine trees in my front yard did NOT fall and crush my 250(ish)-year-old house; 2) During the storm I was able to take refuge in my parents' 50(ish)-year-old house which has city water and a gas stove; 3) our own electricity was restored yesterday morning (most of my neighbors are still without power); 4) my background in children's reading and writing amply prepared me for this kind of situation.
My copies of The Hunger Games and Little House on the Prairie may have to be re-shelved next to the Boy Scout handbook, under Emergency Preparedness. And all my research for my own historical fiction works suddenly proved useful in real life scenarios; for example, we kept milk cold by submerging bottles filled with it into the stream in front of our house (it stayed ice cold). Though I didn't end up needing to do so, I had my recipes and dutch oven prepared for cooking over the fire, which I can easily start by myself (I do use matches...but I know how to start a fire without them).
So our little mini-disaster ended up being quite worry-free, although I did gripe to myself about having to rely on electricity to pump our well water into the house; its past housewives had the “luxury” of dropping a bucket into the well and cranking up fresh, clean water whenever they wanted it...whereas my husband had to haul water in from the stream so we could flush we've progressed, huh?
To proclaim my gratitude for all historical fiction has taught me, I am hereby declaring a historical fiction theme for the next few days/weeks/we'll see how long. Being unable to vacuum and do laundry freed up several hours in my day for the things I really like doing—and many, many pages of my favorite genre were turned since Sunday. So of course I can't help talking about it. Stay tuned. :) (Also to of my poor willow tree which lost its head.)
In the meantime, please say a prayer or two for the tens of thousands of people still without power from the storm. No, it's not quite as life-altering as the media would like you to believe, but it can be really really annoying, and it's looking like several more days will pass before everything's up and running again.