A Historical Romance Author’s Big Fear

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Most people are scared of dogs, spiders, rats and clowns. To be honest, I don’t like clowns. They are creepy. But those common fears are not the biggest one I deal with. 

It’s embarrassing to even confess it—let alone write a post about it. But here is it is. My biggest fear is succeeding. 

What? That’s crazy. 

That’s what you’re probably saying right now. But it is the truth. It’s not because I don’t want to be a bestseller romance author whose books take up residence on reader’s keeper shelf and who can make a living writing. Oh, I do so what that more than anything. I want my books made into movies or Netflix originals or some other show. I want to spend my life writing stories that entertain both my readers and me. 

But what if that happens and I’m not really good enough. They call it imposter syndrome. Do I think I’m not worth having it. Maybe. That’s why I writing this revealing post instead of talking about clowns. This is me owning my fear and destroying its control over me. 

I read a New York Times article about Jennifer Lopez and she said in the article, “I want what I deserve.” I too want that. I want what I deserve and I’m not going to allow anyone even myself to stop that from happening. When I decided to write this, I thought I would be shaking while I type this but I’m not. I feel strong and bigger. I’m claiming my space. I’m claiming my dreams and proclaiming to the world that I will not stop. Can I do it? 

Yeah. 

It won’t be easy. I will have to fight. I will get beat. I will cry. I will get angry. I will feel defeated. I will get tired. I may lose hope some days. 

I can’t stop. I deserve this. I want this. 

Hell yeah! It’s mine. 

Now, it’s time for you to get what you deserve. Go get it. If you are ready to proclaim it then please share with me what is rightfully yours. 

And please help me and share this post with your friends. I want the world to know. I’m not hiding it anymore.  

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Dressing a 13th Century Historical Romance Heroine

You may not know this but I love fashion especially historical costume. I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology so it is natural that I blend my two passions together: Writing and fashion.

In my medieval Highlander Romance, The Laird’s Right, my heroine Portia de Mowbray is an English woman who finds herself kidnapped by Laird Alec Cameron. Portia may be surrounded by Highlanders but she sticks to her English styled garments. The Laird's Right Cover A Medieval Scottish Romance

During the medieval times, the style is different from our modern day style but both function and fashion play an important part. After all, that is what clothing must do.

For Portia, she would be wearing numerous items both under and outer garments. First off, our tough Portia would have worn hose and garters with fancy buckles to hold them up (after all there was no elastic) and a chemise with long sleeves and a high neckline. The chemise would have been constructed of linen. And she would not be donning any underwear. No panties or bra for Portia.

Now Portia would slip her côte over her head. The côte was a wide garment. It was wide at the shoulder and narrowed at the wrist. It’s the image we all have the medieval princess that is plastered around us. The natural waist was usually belted. Portia would have worn two layers one made of a linen then a wool or silk one even a velvet one to show off her status.

She’s not finished getting dressed yet.

Of course, Portia isn’t walking away yet because she needs shoes. In the 1250s, her shoes would be a soft shoe with more of a pointed toe that could have been embroidered in a floral motif or scrolls. Anything that she thought was fashionable or like. Back then, there was no right or left foot shoe so it would look odd to our eyes. Also it would have been constructed of leather.

Now she would choose some accessories. A belt for her côte, one made of silver or gold even with jewels, depending on what she might afford. Portia could put on a brooch or a jeweled collar or pendant to add a little flash. She might have taken gloves and her drawstring purse and dirk that may have jewels on the hilt.

Now with Portia dressed, she must do something with her hair. Perhaps, she has better skills than me or her maid does better than Portia. Her long blonde hair would be parted in the center and plaited. She might have her braids twisted into a bun since she is a widow. Her head would be covered with a coif, wimple or barbette even a gold or silver chaplet to give her that romantic look.

So, Portia is ready to face the day but if it was a chilly one, she would have had a cloak, which would have been a long mantle trailing on the ground and fastened in the front with a brooch. That too would have reflected her status and her fashion choices. It would have been wool or velvet. It could have been trimmed in fur and even fur-lined.

Maciejowski_Bible_Woman
The most basic of what Portia may have looked it once dressed. Though, with more flair as she has a bit more coin.

 

To your modern eyes and sensibilities, would you don these garments? Sounds pretty comfortable to me.

 

Historical Couples: Edward I and Eleanor of Castile

Edward_I_of_England_-_Illustration_from_Cassell's_History_of_England_-_Century_Edition_-_published_circa_1902When I first saw Braveheart, I got hooked on Scotland. Naturally, I had to learn the true history. As I read about the War for Scottish Independence and the time before the death of Alexander III and his granddaughter, the Maid of Norway, stories started swirling about my head. That history led me to write my Highlander romance novels, The Marriage Alliance, Claiming the Highlander and The Laird’s Right.

During my learning spree, I discovered Edward I of England and his wife Eleanor of Castile. History remembers Edward as a king that changed the English government and legislation, conqueror of Wales and as the Hammer of the Scots. There were many facets to this couple that as we look back with modern eyes is not very nice or to be truthful—he was a right bastard—sometimes.

As a husband, history remembers him differently.

On November 1, 1254, Edward married Eleanor of Castile in the monastery of Las Huelgas in Burgos, Spain. Their marriage much like others royal ones was a political alliance. Eleanor was better educated than most medieval queens and was considered a keen businesswoman.

But when they first married, they were nothing more than teenagers and Eleanor soon became pregnant. Sadly, her daughter was stillborn. However, she went on to survive sixteen pregnancies.

This royal couple was rarely apart. She even accompanied him on military campaigns. When Edward went on Crusade, Eleanor went with him and gave birth to her daughter known as Joan of Acre. A tale about that time shows their love. Edward was injured they say with a poison dagger and that Eleanor sucked out the poison. Sadly that tale is false but it shows how their contemporaries viewed their relationship. In fact, Edward was not known to have had extramarital affairs and fathered no children out of wedlock.

In November 1290, Eleanor was traveling to Lincoln when she became ill. Seven miles from Lincoln, they halted at Harby, Nottinghamshire and took up residence a house nearby. Word of the Queen’s illness reached Edward. He rushed to her side. Three days later, with Edward at Eleanor’s side, she died.  It was the 28th of November and Eleanor was 49. They were married for 36 years.

For most of way back to return to London, Edward accompanied his wife’s body to Westminster Abbey.  Edward ordered memorial crosses to be erected at each site that was an overnight stop between Lincoln and Westminster. They were known as Eleanor’s Crosses. Only three survive. The best is located in Geddington, England.

220px-Old_Charing_Cross

In a letter from Edward, he wrote about his wife, “whom living we dearly cherished and whom dead we cannot cease to love.”

Edward remarried nine years later because his sons were young and could die. The son Edward, the youngest of Eleanor’s children and the first to hold the title Prince of Wales, was about six years old and survived to become Edward II. His second wife gave birth to a daughter who they named Eleanor.

 

 

 

Love is…the story continues after all

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I write romance novels like The Marriage Alliance  because I love a happy ending. I don’t know if I can blame Disney for that but whatever. Life has enough hardships and sadness that I refuse to spend my time writing something depressing.

As a reader, I too love a happily ever after. Perhaps, it’s silly but I believe in love. As a reader and writer, I love an epilogue. I want to see the characters that I have spent my time with to have their happy ending.

The epilogue for me as a writer is showing that all the struggles and fighting have been worth something that is special and continues to grow—that love never dies.

You see for me I know that love never dies. When I was a fifteen-year-old girl, I met the love of my life. At twenty, I lost him. He died and these twenty plus years, I still love him. I know that if he were still alive, we would be married and probably I would have some kids. That had been our plan. So, my happy ending didn’t come. And you might be saying then how can you still believe?

Easily. Because it wasn’t our love that ended. His life did. In all those years, we were together and the times we were apart our love continued. Our love still lives.

That is our epilogue.

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On the 1! So not J. LO

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Jennifer Lopez titled her album On the 6. She would ride the 6 train from the Bronx into the city (if not from NYC, the city is what everyone calls Manhattan). Well, I live in the city and the train that I use to ride to go everywhere was the 1 train.

At fourteen, I rode it uptown to Washington Heights to see my friends. At sixteen, I rode to 137 street to see my boyfriend. In winter, my boyfriend and I would ride the length of it from South Ferry to Van Cortlandt Park. We would ride for hours, talking and sharing secrets and deepest thoughts while I did homework or most times not.

That was all the past. When I was a different person, one I remember with both laughter, fondness, groans, and embarrassment.

Now, the person I am is a person who cannot even walk past the entrance of a train station without having a panic attack. I cannot ride the trains. I freak out. I’ve come close to blacking out. Hell, I cannot even think or talk about the trains with anxiety.

The logical side of me knows that my irrational fear is stupid. That I have nothing to fear. That I had done it hundreds, thousands of times.

My emotional side laughs in my face and I panic. My life is very different. My anxiety changed how I live my life. I do not meet up with long distant friends or attend my Romance Writers of America local chapter. I don’t take part in functions that I would have been the first to show up.

I am a person that now has to figure that I go somewhere I have to see if I have a ride back or money for a taxi. My life exists just where my feet can take me. I have sought help for it, taking prescribed medication and do therapy.

One day, maybe, I might be on the 1.

Or most likely not.

 

I could just eat it up. A Romance writer’s snack.

When I was a toddler in Hawaii, my Godsister Bonnie would feed me M&Ms.  I would put handfuls in my mouth and just let the chocolate melt until it ran from the sides of my mouth. My love affair with snacks started when I was very young.

I still love my M&Ms but I have transferred my preference to the peanut ones. I don’t buy them anymore because I will eat the whole bag in one go and that isn’t good for the hips and belly.

But that doesn’t mean that whenever I see the yellow bag that my heart doesn’t soar and I feel quite giddy that I can’t stop myself from smiling. Sometimes, I just touch the bag to get a little thrill.

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Me as an M&M when my hair was blonde.

My family knows that I will go crazy for them and do not buy them. But with the birth of my grandnephew, that changed. He loves them and of course, I cannot steal candy for a four-year-old boy. That is just sinful. But my little man is a sweet boy and shares them with me but not the red ones because that is his favorite color.

But I don’t mind. I put them in my mouth and let them melt and I am in heaven.

Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite snack and why?

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Norway, VMAs, and Animation

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In 1986 the MTV hosted the Video Music Awards—the VMAs—my eleven-years-old self probably watched it. Now in 2018, I cannot be bothered to watch the VMAs, Grammys or the other award shows. I’m not going to waste hours on something that bore me to death.

But back then, I loved nothing more than Norwegian pop group A-ha. The comic book style animated video blew everyone’s head away and the song was and is great. These many decades later, I still listen to it and feel excited, want to dance and can’t help but sing along.

Here is the link for the video because I refuse to infringe on copyrights. I swear that you will love this song (on the off chance that you never heard it)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914&w=560&h=315]

Enjoy and try not to bob your head to the beat.

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Henry VIII and his Wives Part III

Henry VIII has now divorced Anne of Cleeves. A wife he did not pick but married for the state of England. Cromwell lost his head because of it and Henry’s eye was caught by his fifth wife—a maid of honor to Anne of Cleeves.

Catherine Howard

catherine-howard-portraitYoung Catherine’s age range from fifteen to seventeen years of age when she married the king. She was a niece to the Duke of Norfolk and cousin to Anne Boylen. You think Henry would have stayed away from her. Instead, he married the teenager in 1540. At this point, Henry was obese, with a festering leg that had to be drained. It couldn’t have been a married a young miss desired.

Historians claim that she wasn’t as smart as her cousin and had been raised by the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk who was lax in her caring. While Catherine resided in the household, Catherine and the other girls entertained the household boys in their quarters and played games such as husband and wife, which was a nice way of saying having sex.

By all accounts, Catherine sounds much like other teenagers, loving dancing, animals and was playful as most are at that age.

In about 1541, she began an affair with Thomas Culpepper. She was loose with her words and actions by writing love letters to Culpepper and having Jane Boylen, widow of George Boylen, brother to Anne, deliver them. The treasonous affair was soon discovered.

Near the end of 1541, Catherine was stripped of her title as queen and imprisoned. She was found guilty and sentenced to death for treason. The night before she was executed she requested the chopping block and practice how to lay her head upon it.

The last words associated with her were “I die a queen but I rather have died the wife of Culpepper.” That is false. She said a speech and begged for mercy. Then she laid her head upon the block. And with a single strike, she ceased to exist.

 

Catherine Parr

KAtherine ParrThe last wife of Henry VIII was twice-widowed when she married the king in 1543. In my opinion, Henry married Parr for companionship. He was an old man and the shine of his youth had dulled very much indeed.

Catherine was raised a Catholic (she even was one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting) but she held to the Protestant faith and even published two books while Queen of England—Psalms and Prayers and Prayers or Meditations, which bore her name and made her the first book published by an English Queen.

Her Protestant leanings brought her enemies and she even had an arrest warrant drawn up against her. But she was a smart woman and was able to turn the king to her side when they came to arrest her. Henry died in 1547 and left Catherine a widow for the third time.

She wasn’t alone long. Catherine married her old love Thomas Seymour, uncle to the Edward VI and brother to Jane Seymour.  The marriage brought political trouble but she continued to write and published Lamentation of a Sinner. 

Soon after that Lady Elizabeth (future Queen of England) and Lady Jane Grey (Queen of England for 9 days) resided in her household and received an education. In 1548, at 35, Catherine Parr became pregnant. She had not conceived during her other marriages. And at her age in Tudor times, it must have seemed like a blessing. Sadly, Catherine died eight days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Seymour.  Just a year later, her husband was beheaded and Mary is sent to live with the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk. Her child is gone from records by 1550.

In my opinion, Catherine Parr’s greatest influence can be seen not with Henry but her stepdaughter Elizabeth. Both educated women of Protestant faith with inner strength and depth that still intrigues us.

History has simplified these women to divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. But each of these women from a time where women lacked power and control in fact show what women can do. And each one is much more than what history remembers.

 

 

Henry VIII and His Wives Part 2

Henry VIII and his wives. Do you remember the saying? Divorce, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

Well,  we are at the Died and Divorced.

Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Jane_Seymour,_Queen_of_England_-_Google_Art_Project        Jane Seymour

Henry VIII’s third wife who he married days after Anne lost hers. Most Tudor experts and historians say that Jane was Henry’s most beloved wife. He is buried with her and Henry, himself, supposedly said so in his life.

However, Henry only loved Jane (in my opinion) because she birthed him a son, Edward. That was all Henry desired and had been denied him. If Jane had survived, Henry would have remained married to her until her death. Can’t risk Edward being a bastard but I certainly do not believe that he loved her as he professed.

Jane though is one of the wives that intrigues me. So much about her is lost. What is thought to be know, to me, is a shallow description. Much like Anne, Jane knew how to play Henry and with son, she could have had great influence over Henry and England. Jane took much with her to her grave.

Anne of Cleeves

Anne of Cleeves

A political marriage that ended in divorce and Cromwell losing his head. Henry certainly did not like Anne. She gave him the divorce he wanted and she came out the winner.

She was an independent woman, with lands who was welcome at court and called the king’s sister. She lived a long life. I think Henry treated Anne the best.

Romancing History: A Romance Author’s Love of the Past

The first romance novel I had ever read was a historical.  I can tell you I was hooked. Nothing matter more to me than getting my next book. Instead of doing school work, I was reading. Luckily, I still managed to pass my classes.

So when it came to writing a novel, I—of course—had to write a historical romance. I have written a couple before I actually had my first novel, The Marriage Alliance,  published then came Claiming the Highlander. 

I have always loved history. To me, history is the way we can time-travel—experience the different lives and times. While I’m writing my novels like my medieval Highlander novels I am a clan chieftain raiding my enemies lands or I am a Scottish heroine struggling to stay alive against an evil English baron trying to kill me (my next novel The Laird’s Right, which is coming soon).

I have loved history since childhood when I would stare at my mother’s porcelain doll dressed as Marie Antoinette. My child’s imagination would transport me to 18th century France.

As I started school, I wanted to learn all about the past. The details from fashion, food to even the mundane like how they stood. I swore that I could somehow become them and once knowing the information, I naturally turned to writing.

Because I just didn’t want to know it. I wanted to lay down these characters’ I concocted so that they could exist. And history is written down to be shared. You heard of method acting well I’m a method writer.

I love traveling to the Highlands of Medieval Scotland.
And to Regency England.
And Montana Territory in 1870s.
And 16th century Scotland.

I hope you will join me on one of my travels. Sign up for my newsletter at Mageela Troche

Tell me what is one of your favorite time periods. Where would you escape?

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