15 Dec 2012

A real old Christmas story

1948. East End of London.

festivetinsel0632.jpg (612718 bytes)My husband Brian told me this story about a long gone Christmas when he was picked to play Joseph in the nativity at school. He must have been about ten years old. The teacher asked the group of about twelve hopeful players if anyone owned a doll to substitute for baby Jesus.
One little girl said, "I have one, Miss. It's very special. An old china one that looks like a baby."
"Bring it along tomorrow."
A few days later, the headmistress announced at assembly of about one hundred children, "Whoever took the doll from the hall, could they please put it back. That doll belonged to a girl whose mother and grandmother were killed by a bomb during the blitz. Her grandmother gave it to her mother, who passed it on to her. The doll was her prized possession as it brought back memories of her loved ones. She's heartbroken and sobbing her eyes out. You've all lost people you knew during the war, so you must take pity on your playmate."
festivebauble0619.jpg (909536 bytes)Everyone talked amongst themselves until they were silenced with a call for prayer after which she dismissed the school children.
On the following morning, the teachers found the doll placed on the school assembly hall table. With it, a note said a single word: "Sorry."
Brian heard talk later. The caretaker had let someone inside, but didn't disclose who.
The little girl had the best every Christmas that year.
colouredxmas4564.jpg (477633 bytes)About six months later, Brian went to the gym on an errand for his teacher. He looked up when the caretaker entered the room, carrying supplies.
They chatted of a bit and Brian asked, "Who took the doll? Boy or girl?"
The caretaker shook his head. "It'll never pass my lips. I made a solemn promise and I'll keep my word."

4 Dec 2012

Guest author: Sherry Gloag presents Vidal's Honor.

Today, I'm featuring a fellow writer and gardener from the United Kingdom.    
Nothing like a misty rainy day to enjoy curling up on the sofa and relaxingMulti-published author, Sherry Gloag is a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England.  She considers the surrounding rural area as extension of her own garden, to which she escapes when she needs "thinking time" and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel.  While out walking she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as there are no other walkers close by.
Apart from writing, Sherry enjoys gardening, walking, reading and cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office.  She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic.                             picture from Freeimages.co.uk

How did you set your mind on writing Vidal's Honor?
Writing Vidal’s Honor showered challenges like confetti and there was times when those challenges seemed to be on a winning streak.
I’d never been asked to write a themed story within a set parameter and to a deadline before. Knowing others would be writing to the same specifics only upped the ante.  And it didn’t matter that the time limit was months away, it sat there like a wise old owl looking down with a look of pity most times, and occasionally with an attitude of encouragement.

That must have stretched you.
Experiencing several false starts between February and July meant I was cutting it fine with a Mid September deadline. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had a second cut-off date looming sometime in August.  So there I was with a story that refused to ‘gel’ and two publishers’ deadlines about to crash, head on. Only an idiot would allow that to happen.

 Panic was looming large as, once again I cast about for a plot. 
Gasp, a dedicated ‘pantser’ looking for a plot! And to this day I’m not sure how or why it came about, but it sure presented a whole new bunch of challenges.

How did you settle on a plot?
 For many, the idea that research is something to fear may seem alien. One of my biggest challenges yet was now staring me down, and I began to wonder where had my sanity gone to, or my brain, for that matter?  And yet, these characters, Honor Lady Beaumont and Charles, the Marquis of Vidal, were determined to have their story told.  They even bribed me with the title of the book. Vidal’s Honor.

Ha. Ha. Well, now you knew the direction of the story.
Another big problem was how to get my characters out of Spain and back in London in time for the Duke of Kringle’s Christmas Eve ball in London?  I began to despair that Charles and Honor would cooperate on this one, and it took some hefty bargaining on all sides before they co-operated and showed me how to achieve one of the biggest required ingredients of this writing challenge.

I can see you had a tussle with their personalities. What fun! Or was it?
Although I came close to ditching Vidal’s Honor on several occasions, my characters – and more importantly – the faith the person who asked me to write a Christmas Regency story had in me to come good on my commitment kept me going.

Writing Vidal’s Honor, shot me so far out of my comfort zone, the feeling of ‘abandonment’ when it was completed, was totally unexpected. I’d not only fallen in love with my main characters, I fell in love with Le Duc and let him escape because I couldn’t bring myself to bump him off!
Right. We've heard about your tussles. Now, let's get to the book.

Faced with accusations of treason, Honor, Lady Beaumont, wonders which she will lose first, her head or her heart.

When plunged into a world of spies, agents and espionage during the Peninsula wars, Honor, Lady Beaumont, flees for her life when the French capture her husband at Salamanca, and relies on his batman to arrange her safe passage back to England.
Viscount Charles Vidal is ordered by Robert Dumas, the First Lord of the Admiralty, to travel to Spain and escort the only woman he’s ever loved, Lord Devlin Beaumont’s widow back home before the French discover her whereabouts.
Their journey is fraught by danger, least of all knowing whether they are surrounded by friends or foe. Will they survive long enough to explore the possibility of a future together or will whispers of treason be enough to see Honor dispatched to Tyburn first?

While Vidal joked with his cousin, the viscount scanned the room. The smell of fine wine, whiskey and cigar smoke blended into a rich aroma that was as much a part of Whites as the card games, the background chatter, and outbreaks of lewd laughter from the younger members of the club.
One member in particular interested Vidal tonight, and he watched Robert Dundas, second Viscount Melville, and First Lord of the Admiralty, take leave of his friends and head in his direction.
He wondered why the man spent the best part of the night watching his every move, and paused in the act of fobbing his snuff box while he waited for the viscount to join him.
“Take a walk with me?” Although couched as a question, Vidal noted the quiet steel of command in the other man’s voice. Dundas laid a hand on his arm; a companionable gesture for anyone interested enough to observe the two men leaving the club together. “I believe I live not far beyond your own house. I’d appreciate your company, and this is not the place for such a discussion. ”
With an indolent twist of the wrist Vidal returned the modish lacquered box, unopened, to his pocket and nodded agreement. A man’s club was no setting for private conversation, and it was plain the man wanted to talk about something away from flapping ears.
Together they strolled across the room stopping to take leave of several mutual friends.

 Amazon.co.uk  http://tinyurl.com/cgonnnk