Book Quotes: Alice in Wonderland

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Jane Austen

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Anthony Trollope

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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My Writing Process: how and why I write Victorian mystery romances

Hello and welcome. I’m Frances Evesham. I’m going to let you into some of my writing secrets and share an early peep at the official publisher’s description of my new novel. Only the friends on my email list have seen it so far. Scroll down to the bottom of the page if you can’t wait!

Frances cropped

My author friend Pat McDonald, kindly invited me to take part in this Writing Process blog hop. You can read her post on her Facebook page.

What am I working on?
Life is extra exciting at the Evesham’s just now, as we’re busy getting ready for the launch of my first novel,  An Independent Woman, a historical mystery romance, on 11 June 2014.

At Thatcham Hall, an English Great House, the fiery, determined Philomena leaps straight out of the frying pan into the fire. She’s escaped the perils of 19th century London only to tumble into a whole new set of predicaments that force her to face an impossible dilemma.

Her story was enormous fun to write, and Thatcham Hall made such an impression on me that I couldn’t wait to go back there with the next story.

The sequel to An Independent Woman, half-written,  is set just a few years later. It promises plenty of danger, excitement and romance.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I love a strong plot and plenty of action. I’m proud of feisty Philomena, who’s brave enough to take her destiny in her own hands in the 19th Century, when women came a distinct second to men.

Debbie Tailor has designed a deliciously atmospheric, Gothic cover for An Independent Woman. It made me wonder what other secrets and gossip the walls of Thatcham Hall have heard.

An Independent Woman
An Independent Woman

Why do I write what I do?
One day, when I was very small, I visited the Post Office in a tiny Cotswold village where my mother grew up. There, I met Great Aunt Annie, a maiden Victorian lady, almost a hundred years old. Tiny and neat, with cotton-wool hair styled in a careful bun at the back of her neck, Aunt Annie bustled about, making cups of tea and cutting slices of fruitcake.

Aunt Annie lived quite alone, content, full of lively interest in the world and its news.  She would have adored the internet.

Philomena, the Independent Woman of my novel, is a Victorian woman: self-sufficient, spirited and capable. The Victorians invented and built things. They engineered steam trains, bridges and factory machinery. Their photographs suggest they were solemn and unsmiling, but that was because they had to keep still for 30 seconds for every shot.

I believe the Victorians were like us inside, nursing their own hopes and dreams of adventure, love and happiness. I’m having fun writing their stories.

How does my writing process work?
Some say writing is a form of self-hypnosis, where your subconscious takes over from the careful, sensible, everyday part of your brain. I love the feeling of travelling into another world in my head as the story unfolds.

Before I begin, I get to know my characters well. Who are they? What happened to them that made them who they are? What do they want and how can they achieve it?

A rough plan for the story takes shape and then the fun starts. At once, my characters grab hold of the tale and startle me with their actions and reactions. They invade my dreams so I wake in the night with a scene in my head that insists I record it then and there. I make a quick note on my phone: sometimes I can read it in the morning, sometimes it turns out to be nothing more than gobbledegook.

I write at a tiny desk in the smallest, cosiest bedroom in the house, now that our children have all left home. My shelves are full of family photos, presents from the children, folders of family history and, of course, far too many books.

I scribble unreadable notes on scraps of paper and pin them to a corkboard above my head. I like to research in the evening and write during the day, leaving time to cook spicy things for dinner and watch nonsense on television.

When I have a plot problem, I walk in the Somerset countryside or visit Burnham on Sea’s nine-legged lighthouse on the beach, and I read, read, read whenever I have the chance.

Please keep in touch
An Independent Woman will be available through Amazon and The Wild Rose Press, my publishers, on 11 June 2014.

Enter your email address here to join the group of friends who’ll be first with news of my books, including the launch date for the print version of An Independent Woman and a first look at an excerpt.

via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

Next week, I’m handing the  parchment and quill pen to three author friends: Heather McCollum, R.E. Mullins and Larry Lee Farmer.

Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal romance writer, a member of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart finalists & a surviving warrior of ovarian cancer. She resides with her very own Highland hero & 3 spirited kids on the mid-Atlantic coast.

Heather’s post will be on her blog  Heather McCollum.

R. E. Mullins was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. She has also lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Springfield, Missouri and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though she has loved each area, the Ozarks hold a special place in her heart.

Find R. E. Mullins’ post on Goodreads or on her Facebook page.

Come back here on 28th April next week, for Larry Lee Farmer’s post on my blog. I’m hosting it for a  while as his site is under construction.

Larry recently published a mini novel, ‘The Kerr Construction Company,’ through the Wild Rose Press that is now on Kindle ebooks through Amazon.

Finally, as promised, here is the Official Publisher’s Blurb for An Independent Woman:

With nothing left from her childhood except a tiny portrait of a beautiful woman, some skill with a needle, and the knowledge of a dreadful secret, Philomena escapes her tormentor, Joseph, and the dank fogs of Victorian London, only for a train crash to interrupt her quest for independence and freedom.

Trapped between the upstairs and downstairs occupants of a great country house, Philomena hears whispers of the mysteries and lies that lurk in empty corridors and behind closed doors. Her rescuer, the dangerous, enigmatic Hugh, Lord Thatcham, wrestles with his own demons and makes Philomena’s heart race, but she must fight her passion for she can never marry.

Haunted by her past, Philomena’s only hope of happiness is to confront the evil forces that threaten to destroy her.

Join my friends for early news of the launch of  An Independent Woman.

 

Five Fictional Heroes


The best fictional characters jump off the page. Full of charisma, they have a little quirk or two and maybe a fatal flaw. Who cares what they look like? Your imagination fills that in for you. Start a conversation about your favourite novel or fictional hero, though, and you may be surprised at how much you disagree with other people.
© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Whether you swoon over Mr Darcy or adore Jack Reacher, maybe it’s worth wondering why he appeals so much to you. It could tell you something about your own personality and values.
Here are five male characters from fiction: do you love them or hate them?
Mr Darcy
No matter how hard I try, I do not like this Pride and Prejudice hero. He may be strong, have hidden depths of kindness and generosity, but I can never forgive him for his rudeness to Elizabeth Bennett at the Ball. Not only does he say she is not handsome enough to tempt him, but he also has no interest in women “slighted by other men.”
Now, I don’t mind him holding those views, but I do mind him talking about them in a voice loud enough for other people to hear. To me, that is cruel and unforgiveable. No amount of kindness to his sister, or even to Elizabeth’s family, is enough to make me forget that, in his heart, he does not care whether he hurts someone’s feelings.
Anyone who has ever suffered the indignity of being a wallflower at the dance, even if it was only for ten minutes, will know what I mean.
Mr Micawber
 I love this Dickens character, from David Copperfield. He is foolish, lazy and selfish,    but I forgive him everything because of his optimism. The glass is always about to  overflow, until disaster strikes. Yet, he bounces back. Something will always “turn up.”
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
My finances, like his, rely heavily on something turning up.
Jack Reacher
I feel no need to care for Lee Child’s hero. He likes himself enough for both of us. The books are fun, though.
George Smiley
John Le Carre’s fictional spy is so sad, my heart goes out to him. He’s too clever for his own good, he’s married to a rich woman who deserts him and he has no problem with killing people. I think it’s maybe the spectacles that I love. Thank you, science, for contact lenses.
Lucky Jim
Is it possible not to identify with Kingsley Amis’s downtrodden loser? As he lurches from one disaster to another, he fights intellectual snobbery. I cheer for him as he wins tiny childish battles against authority by making faces behind his boss’s back. I defy anyone who has ever done that to fail to identify with Jim.   
What does all this say about me? That I admire kindness, self-control, optimism, childish humour and the valiant underdog.I hate cruelty, self-love and snobbery.
How about you?
Writing your own fiction? Here’s what Novel Writing Help has to say about creating characters.