In my downtime I pursue a range of crafts -- not for any reason except that I enjoy it, and because sometimes when I'm concentrating on doing something fiddly with my hands, it helps me sort out story ideas and plot problems.
One of the "craft" things I do is to make necklaces and bracelets and earrings — not for sale, but just for fun. And sometimes for friends. At the moment my passion is for rough-cut crystals and semi-precious stones and though I already have plenty of jewelry in these materials, I keep making more in different combinations -- just because I can. And because I enjoy it.
I made the bracelet above last night. It contains rough-cut amethyst, quartz crystals, chrysoprase and a couple of baroque pearls. Might have to make a necklace to go with it.
I made the combo above back in December for a Christmas outing with friends -- red coral, lapis, chrysoprase, crystals and malachite. Funny how the light and the automatic camera shows things so differently -- both pics are of jewelry taken on the same untreated balsa wood tray. One pic shows it as white, the other as yellow -- and the greenish chrysoprase stones in both pics are from the same batch.
On New Year's Eve I came home with a puppy — not a tiny puppy, maybe 5 or 6 months old. I'd seen this picture on Pet Rescue and I was a goner.
I drove down before Christmas to meet her and make the arrangements—she had to be spayed, inoculated and microchipped before they'd release her — and collected her on New Year's Eve. She was named Amelia then, but I changed it to Milly.
Since then we've had a LOT of fun. She's a sweet-natured, affectionate little soul, very playful and active, but also quite happy (after a good game) to play by herself in the garden, or snooze on her bed beside my desk while I work.
Of course, sometimes she's not snoozing, but yumphing happily on a rawhide donut.
When I first got her, I bought Milly one of those "tug-of-war" ropes, with a tennis ball at one end and a rope handle for a human on the other.
The tennis ball was first de-fluffed, then thoroughly killed (and a post-mortem conducted — disappointingly hollow and untasty — and the remains scattered) but the rope, one end all shreddy, damp and delicious, the other end still a neat handle for a human, remains and we have fun playing tug-of-war and learning (one of us anyway) to "give."
So she was playing with the rope thingy all by herself in the lounge-room this morning, tossing it up and pouncing and catching it and giving it a good vicious shaking and all excellent fun.
Then her back foot got caught in the handle, and hah! the rope is fighting back! So naturally she's not going to be defeated by a shreddy old rope, no matter how delicious. So she gives a biiiig tug and plonk! Down goes a surprised puppy. Looks around. Who pulled my foot from under me?
But there's nobody there, and this rope needs to be taught a lesson, so up she gets and wrestle-tug-shake-growl...
And then plonk — floored puppy again — what? Pull my foot out from under me — again? Baaad rope. So growl harder, pull harder. . . fall harder! Damn rope!
Over and over for about 3 or 4 minutes.
Heartless here did nothing to help, just laughed and laughed.
Every year ARRA (that's the Australian Romance Readers Association) announces their awards, and I'm delighted to announce that my book, The Winter Bride, has been nominated for several awards in the 2014 awards: Favourite Historical Romance Favourite Continuing Romance Series Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014 and my hero Freddy is nominated for the The Sexiest Hero from a romance published in 2014 The full list is here.
Thanks to ARRA for organizing this Reader's Choice Award and thank you to those readers who nominated my book. The winners will be announced at the ARRA Convention in Canberra in March 2015.
A few weeks ago, a friend was given a pile of peppermint tea branches and she was drying them to make tea from the leaves. I wondered whether it might take from a cutting, so I begged a sprig from her. I wasn't sure it would work -- they'd been picked a couple of days earlier and the leaves were well wilted.
But I broke the twiggy bit in half and shoved the pieces in a pot, and nipped the growing tip out and because it was too small to make tea from, I popped it in a tiny glass. And lo! they're all growing. In the photo above, all those bright green leaves are new. You can just see a couple of the darker ones underneath.
The pot ones are doing so well, and even the little growing tip in a tiny glass has sprouted roots -- - you can just see them in the pic below. I'm so pleased. This isn't like the ordinary soft mint plant I've grown before, and it's delicious as a tea.
I always get a kick out of growing things I can use. Do you like mint or herbal tea? Or grow things to eat?
I've never understood why some people don't like historicals — for me they're not "books about history" but stories set in a different place, that's all. A good story is a good story, and I don't care if it's historical, paranormal, contemporary, crime or whatever. As long as it sweeps me away to somewhere else, I'm a happy reader.
I think it started when I was a kid. I read every book I could lay my hands on and didn't care what sort of book it was, as long as it entertained me. So I don't get it when people tell me "I don't read historicals" or "I only read historicals" or "I don't read paranormals" or "I only read contemporaries" or whatever.
I got a letter from a reader recently telling me that she doesn't usually read historicals, she always thought they were boring, but she was given a copy of one of my books. It sat there for ages, and she was going to give it away, but she started reading it one day when she had nothing else to read — and now she's bought the rest in the series.
I have a number of letters like that. I think that's the key to liking any subgenre - you just have to find one book or author you like, and it opens you up to others.
A historical author group is promoting a "Fall back in time" campaign, where people post selfies with a favorite historical romance. So here's a couple of pics of me, with two of my fave Georgette Heyers. I first read her when I was a kid, and I've reread some of her books umpteen times — they're some of my favorite comfort reads.
What I love about these books is that they're funny and lively. Venetia is the most romantic - it's about a bad-boy rake and a beautiful heroine who is very much a match for him. But there's some very funny moments — he's the kind of rake who can charm women, and to see him bend "nurse" around his thumb is a delight.
The Unknown Ajax is about a gorgeous hero who is so quietly self-confident that when he realizes everyone thinks he is some illiterate clod, can't resist playing up to the role.
I'll post a few more favorites — other authors I love — in a few days. In the meantime, do you have a fave historical?
I'm blogging at the word wenches about a wedding dress exhibition I attended, with pictures.
But I couldn't fit in all of the pictures I wanted to, so I'm putting some more up here. Unfortunately the signs that explained the dresses in detail were hard to read -- in small white print on a dark red background, and far enough from the viewing are that I couldn't read them, especially since the light in many of the rooms was quite dim — I presume to protect the dresses. And although I bought the guide book, the dresses are simply listed at the back, with no cross-referencing, so I can't match them to my photos. So I'm very sorry but I cannot even provide dates for some of them.
This outfit was made in England for a sixteen-year-old bride, married in 1827, who emigrated with her husband to Australia.
Below is a silk satin dress worn by a Melbourne bride in 1915.
This gorgeous dress was worn for a wedding in 1957
This is the same dress from a different angle.
A view of back lacing on a jacket.
The graceful fall of a Victorian era dress.
The inside detail of the boning in a jacket. The picture below shows it in slightly more detail.
A boned bodice being formed on a dressmaker's dummy.
A corset with suspenders for stockings attached.
This dress was worn by Kate Winslett when she portrayed Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility
A dress in formation on the dressmaker's dummy.
The foundation of a dress in preparation on a dressmaker's dummy
Beading and fine detail work on a dummy.
Close up of some amazing embroidery
Gwyneth Paltrow wore this dress in the production of Emma.
This is a detail of the lace train on the dress Gwyneth Paltrow in the production of Emma
The back view of a Victorian-era dress.
A stunning Edwardian-era outfit (at a guess). There's another view below.
This is the top half of the dress Natassja Kinski wore in the production of Tess of the d'Urvervilles, by Thomas Hardy. There is more below.
The whole outfit
Detail of the skirt.
Victorian era? Not sure, sorry.
I loved the medieval flavor of this outfit. The sleeves are hooked to the wrists by a ribbon.
The pictures below are of a "dress" that was made by pinning old tissue paper patterns to a dressmaker's dummy. It's gorgeous and very detailed.
Look at those rosettes. Click for better detail.
This stunning, rather OTT dress, is made of silk crepe, velvet, chiffon and tulle and is encrusted with pearls and embroidery. It was made in 1889 in Paris by Maugas, whose clients included royalty and the nobility of Europe. The bride's father was a successful—clearly a very successful—local Melbourne butcher. It must have weighed a ton to wear.