Welcome to the "Christmas in July" blog hop!
I want to highlight a favorite winter activity that often took place at Christmas time during the Regency era - skating!
When the normal courting rituals involved no contact between men and women except for the occasional hand holding during a short portion of a dance set, skating offered a rare opportunity for much more thrilling, perhaps even full body, physical contact. After all, one might need a gentleman's assistance while crossing that slippery ice. And if a lady needed some steadying by a strong pair of arms, a bit of cuddling even, to keep her safe and upright on the ice, what chaperone would deny such necessary assistance?
There were many places to skate in winter, such as rivers and ponds that froze over. The most exciting place to skate, however, must have been in London when the River Thames froze to a safe ice thickness. This could happen in tidal flat areas. This is where Frost fairs have traditionally been held in London for centuries. The very last frost fair occurred in February 1812 (the weather warmed too much after that for the ice to freeze over). But when a frost fair was on, people from all walks of life came out to enjoy what was on offer on the ice.
Vendors would set up stalls and street booths to sell brandy, tobacco, meat pastries, gin-beer and fruit, as well as mouth watering sweets like brandy balls and gingerbread. Couples could put on their curved skates and head out onto the ice where they could twirl and cuddle for much longer than one country-dance set.(1)
This form of entertainment allowed for more than hand-holding and would have also given couples the chance to have intimate conversations and some fun! No wonder skating, despite the danger of falling and spraining an ankle, remained popular during the Regency era.
In the countryside, especially in the fens area of England where farmhands found little work in the winter, local squires sometimes held races over frozen ponds and allowed their workers to compete to win loaves of fresh baked bread. This sport gave a man a chance to show off his prowess to a special woman among the many spectators. Since most of the common farmhands could not afford the pricier metal skates, they oft times strapped on animal bones to their boots to use in place of skates.(2)
All in all, skating offered a chance for couples in all walks of life during the Regency period to take courtship to a much more intimate, physical level.
In celebration of all things wintery and Christmas, below is your chance to win a Kindle copy of A Beastly Scandal ($4.99 value on Amazon), which takes place during Christmas time.
(1) Frost Fairs (http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.c
(2) Skating in the Fens (http://www.fenskating.co.uk/)
Continue with the . . .
Christmas in July blog hop
- Current Mood: excited
"A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land."
I shall begin by noting that I love the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, whether the version is from Disney or any other source. So I was looking forward to this story and was truly prepared to love this retelling.
Add to that, I'm a fan of Angelina Jolie. And in this movie, she did not disappoint. She came across as a strong character, well rounded, complicated and compassionate with hints of humor and poignancy.
If only the rest of the movie's denizens would have been allowed to parallel her character development. Unfortunately, like the title, she did indeed steal the show. I blame that on the writing behind this retelling.
For instance, Disney's Frozen had brilliant primary, secondary, and tertiary characters. Who can forget Olaf? Or his wonderful line: “Oh, I don't know why, but I've always loved the idea of summer. And sun, and all things hot.”
Imagine Olaf as an ordinary round snowman who never sang or danced or dreamed of roasting in sunshine. Now imagine him not making a remarkable sacrifice for those he loved.
That is what Maleficent lacked. A colorful, three-dimensional ensemble. Most of the film seemed a black and white epic with one player in Technicolor, Maleficent. All others, Phillip, Stefan, the three fairies, and even Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) seemed like stock characters. Diaval (Maleficent's sidekick/conscience) had some good moments, but they were few and underdeveloped. Aside from the main character, no one had any meaningful dialogue or depth, and hardly any humor.
Maleficent did have a wonderful character arc, but everyone else who co-starred with her was denied that privilege. It didn't help when she kept putting most everyone to sleep whenever conflict arose. This movie shows the difference between treating all characters given screen or page time with equal tenderness and care for their development vs. focusing on one to the exclusion of all others.
As a result, Maleficent, though intricately built, was missing its heart. It lacked Olaf, Hans, Sven, Kristoff and Oaken. It even lacked Anna.
My rating of Maleficent is 3 fairy godmother wands, mostly for Jolie's excellent portrayal of Maleficent, and some wonderful fantasy CG elements.
My other Short Movie Reviews
- Current Mood: sad
What you may not be aware of is that while at university, my minor was in Medieval History. I have loved fantasy for a very long time, since I was in Grade 9, when my brother first dared me to read Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. The book was huge and I hated big books. Also, I had never read a fantasy novel and the language, phrases and expressions, felt difficult. But once I finished it, I never looked back. Fantasy stories are my secret pleasure. So, little wonder that while at university I gravitated toward the medieval era, the historical time period in which many fantasy novels are set.
In Baron of Dragon’s Reach, as well as in the two other books I’ll highlight during the rest of June, we’re going to leave the elegant ballrooms and extensively designed parks of Regency England and get our hands and feet dirty in grimy, down-to-earth, feudal societal existence. A time when people were awed by science and magic as easily as they were by God and the Devil.
Read more here.
- Current Mood: grateful
WHAT INSPIRED ME
Before I begin any story, I always do 3 things:
(a) Set a goal. Decide on length (short or long, this was short), genre (Historical, contemporary, mystery, fantasy, this would be a Regency) and decide on tone (light, dark, mysterious, spooky, this was meant to be light)
(b) Pick 3 random words from the dictionary to trigger my creative juices to flow (never underestimate the power of 3). My words were: Enlightened, Pauline and spray.
(c) Outline the 5 stages of the story: New Beginning, Change of Plans, No Turning Back, Major Setback and Resolution. (sometimes 5 works too.
STORY CLAIMS ITS RIGHT TO LIVE
For all that planning, there is a moment in any storytelling experience when characters take their first breath and come alive on the page. It’s hard to describe, other than to perhaps say that it's magic. Like when a fairy godmother waves her wand and turns that soiled, lumpy, orange pumpkin into a golden carriage fit for a princess.
Read more here...https://www.facebook.com/Shereen
- Current Mood: cheerful
So, I searched "how to write a cartoon" online and saw some great Youtube discussions, and blogs with tips and tricks on the process. Even looked up how write a funny cartoon. None of that helped.
Finally, one morning, while in the shower, I thought of an idea.
I'm a firm believer that the universe/God/the cosmos talks to you in the shower, especially in the mornings. I'm sure there's probably a scientific explanation for this type of event, such as your brain tossing thoughts around all night long and then coming up with a suitable answer for the question posed the night before, and telling you about it when you are awake and in a meditative state while soaping up. I like the "universe talking to you" concept better.
Anyway, once I sat at my computer desk, clean and with my steaming cup of tea within reach, I drew three panels and wrote the text I wanted in each panel. Then I trolled through my Pinterest boards for suitable pictures to fit the text. At the end, I had a workable concept for my very first cartoon strip.
I followed this tip that I picked up about writing 3-panel cartoon strips:
Panel 1 - the set up
Panel 2 - the build up
Panel 3 - the punch line
Now I've asked a friend of mine who is good at sketching to see if she can draw me something along the lines of the pictures I found. Keep in mind that this was the same friend who, when I ran my last idea by her said, "That idea doesn't thrill me," which I took to mean, "That bites."
This time she said, "That's good," which I took to mean, "That totally rocks." :)
If all goes well, this cartoon will be in my very first newsletter...I've scheduled to get it sent out in July 2014, about a month before an anthology is set to be released where I have a Christmas story (yes, Christmas in August...Christmas is great anytime!), so there'll be a first look at an except from that Goldilocks-inspired Regency romance novella, too.
Back to the cartoon strip.
Hint #1: The title of the Regency cartoon strip is...
Once Upon A Time...in the early 1800s
Hint #2: The set up panel.
This was the picture for the first panel that I chose from one of my Pinterest Boards (from the movie Pride Prejudice).
UPDATE: July 4, 2014
Panel #3 - the punch line
Once I decided to base this cartoon on A Beastly Scandal's story, the trick to capturing what best fit this final panel was to figure out the story's core conflict.
The book's video trailer is below, take a look - can guess what the core conflict is? :)
By the way, if anyone wants to sign up for my newsletter, here's the signup link: Shereen's Newsletter.
A Beastly Scandal's Book Trailer Video
- Current Mood: chipper
by P.L. Parker
The Wild Rose Press
Drawn inexplicably back to her childhood home, Annalisa returns, seeking to fill the void existing in her loveless life. Granny Jean, Annalisa’s adopted grandmother, failing in health and mental acuity, endeavors to discover the secrets of Annalisa’s soul, wanting nothing more than Annalisa to be happy before she leaves this earth.
A picture hangs over the mantle in Gran’s cottage depicting a beautiful man of another time, a man who haunts Annalisa’s every dream, a man who calls to her in dreams.
Unknown to Annalisa, Gran and Alec, the man in the painting, have set forth a course of events to eventually send Annalisa back, back into the arms of Alec.
Page Count: 80
The tinkling sound of music, perhaps a waltz played on a pianoforte or harpsichord, echoed through her disjointed dreams. She found herself standing alone, watching as a scene unfolded. Couples, dressed in antique apparel whirled by, seemingly unaware of her presence, but so close that she could feel the brush of their elaborate attire. Above, a candlelit chandelier bathed the room in a mellow glow, casting shadows on the unreal tabloid.
The crush of dancers parted, forming a pathway across the room, leading to a male figure standing near a dais, his face obscured by the shadows.
"Come to me," a husky voice whispered demandingly. "Come to me."
Annalisa drifted across space, coming to rest directly in front of the imposing figure.
"Come to me," the voice whispered again, flooding her with warmth.
"Where?" she asked the mysterious figure.
He stepped forward, out of the shadows, the man who haunted her fevered dreams.
"Through the portal," he said, though his lips did not move. His eyes gleamed with unbridled passion from a face too handsome.
"Where is the portal?" she whispered. "How do I find it?"
Strong hands gently cupped her face. "You have the most beautiful eyes, like violets in the spring. A man could drown in your eyes."
Annalisa's lips trembled, desire and need awakened by his merest touch.
Dreamily, she arched against him. "I know you," she breathed. "I have always known you."
His lips brushed hers, lush with fevered promises.
THE GIVEAWAY ($10.00 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press site):
- Current Mood: happy
An anthology - my contribution, Just Right For Christmas, will be a Goldilocks inspired Regency romance novella.
I'm going to consider this as Christmas in the summer. :-)
A Devilish Slumber - this is a Sleeping beauty inspired Regency romance novel.
I've begun a countdown clock for the release of this one on my FB fan page.
A Scorching Dilemma - a Cinderella (or Cinder"fella") inspired Regency romance novel.
Wow! 2014 is gearing up to be a busy year.
The last book in this fairytale-inspired Regency romance series, A Perfect Curse - a Snow White inspired Regency romance - will likely be out in early 2015.
And the book that started it all, A Beastly Scandal, a beauty and the beast inspired Regency romance, is available now!
- Current Mood: busy
- Current Mood: cheerful
"A twist on the Snow White fairy tale that is set in 1920s Seville and centered on a female bullfighter."
Watching this movie was an emotional experience! One I would not wish to repeat. That said, the movie was definitely memorable, which I believe is the aim of most literary fiction. So, on that basis, the filmmakers succeeded.
I'll begin by mentioning what worked for me about this movie:
- Good acting
- Solid, emotional story
- Cinematography was beautiful
- Loved the Spanish musical score
- Learned a lot about bullfighting
Next, I'll explain why I called this movie a "tragedy," instead of a drama, or a romance. I didn't do it to be funny, or ironic, or clever, but rather to be factual. Below are good definitions of these 3 types of story telling techniques which explain, better than I can, why this movie is a tragedy.
Romance: (from http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=578
Drama: (from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/drama
Tragedy: (from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/traged
A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.
Onto what disappointed me:
- The movie-makers weren't up front. If I had known ahead of time that this was a tragedy, I might have still gone, because I like fairy tales, even twisted ones, but I may not have laughed quite so hysterically at the end. The responses from people around me were milder, ranging from "yuck" to, "that was quirky." At the end, I was ready to leave the theater, still laughing, except the people on either side were glued to their seats with stunned looks. What stopped my laughing was the idea that I might be trapped there and have to sit through the next 9pm showing,
- It was a tragedy on every front. Not just for the main characters, but so many of the side characters, and the animals until I felt lost by the time the credits rolled. The movie description I read before going said no bulls were hurt in the making of this film, but they should have included no chickens were hurt, too, nor rabbits, nor chauffeurs, nor any other poor minions who had the misfortune to be cast in secondary roles.
- Twist at the end did not work for me. It might work for others, but it left me determined to never sit through a film like this ever again. Reminded me why I normally avoid reading tragedies, why I hated being forced to read Lord of the Flies at school, why I normally avoid literary fiction that's touted as excellent by "the learned crowd," why I love romances with their guaranteed happy endings, why when Hollywood says they have a new romance movie coming out, I invariable view that proclamation with suspicion (because Hollywood has no clue what a romance really is). I hate stories that end badly and I have no interest in wallowing in human frailties for the sake of wallowing in muck. It's just not my cup of tea.
My rating for BLANCANIEVES is one broken fairy godmother wand. Seems fitting to give this tragedy a tragic rating.
Other, more generous, reviews for BLANCANIEVES:
DEFINITION: (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goya_Award
The Goya Awards, known in Spanish as los Premios Goya, are Spain's main national film awards. Considered by many in Spain, and internationally, to be the Spanish equivalent of the American Academy Awards.
- Current Mood: disappointed