Monday, April 24, 2017

Writing the Same Characters, Years Later

I'm somewhere in Chapter Three of a draft of The New Bride of Banner's Edge, which takes place in the Keegan family/Pearl Georgian England world, but focuses on a character who did not make the cut in Pearl, a lady who becomes Miles Keegan's second wife.

This particular story starts in 1804, when Jane Windham's husband dies by being thrown from his horse. Jane's brother lives near Miles and his family, so she's in the acquaintance circle, but because she didn't make an appearance in Pearl, I feel like I get to create her anew and give her more dimension than the much more amateurish attempt of the Keegans that I wrote back in 2012-2013.

But it brings up a funny thing: because Pearl ended around 1801, 1802, I find myself picking up these characters in May 1804 and trying to get reacquainted with their world and their lives.

So, for example, in macro terms, in 1804, William Pitt The Younger became Prime Minister of the UK again, Napoleon is proclaimed Emperor of the French--convieniently, these two things happened in May, when the Epsom Derby occurred and Jane's husband bumps his head and dies.

Britain is at war with France (as ever in this period) and the coastal towns are prepared for a possible French invasion.

William Wilberforce is still introducing bills in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament to ban the slave trade, as he did all through the 1790s. But there was a gap in action for abolition societies in the 1790s because of the start of the war with France, which is why in Pearl, there isn't any action with any official Abolition or Anti-Slavery societies.

But things were changing in 1804: the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade began its work again and in June 1804, Wilberforce's annual bill on abolishing slavery passed the Commons but was too late in the session to pass the Lords. Still, it was progress and to my not-total surprise, Miles Keegan is shedding some past business ties and associating with abolitionists in London.

His daughters are ten years old now. How have they grown since we last saw them in Pearl?

For that matter, what's Pearl been doing since she found her brother Julius?


Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge: 10 Books Read!

Hey! I finished reading my tenth book of the year last night!

I'm so glad I decided on a 35-book challenge this year; it makes for a gentler reading pace, especially since I'm writing at the moment as well.

Here is my list. Click on the title links if you're curious about my reviews (the one for Silence, I warn you, is basically an essay) What are you guys reading or what have you read?

1. The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones.
Nonfiction/history/British. 4 stars.

2. The Viscount Needs a Wife by Jo Beverley. Fiction/Romance/Historical Romance/Regency England. 4 stars.

3. Room by Emma Donoghue. Fiction/Adult/Contemporary/Thriller. 4 stars.

4. Lonely Planet Tokyo by Lonely Planet, Rebecca Milner, Simon Richmond. Nonfiction/Reference/Travel/Japan/Tokyo. 3 stars.

5. Black London: Life Before Emancipation by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina. Nonfiction/History/British/Black British. 3 stars.

6. Mercer Girls by Libbie Hawker. 3 stars. Fiction/Historical Fiction/American/19th century/Women

7. The Autumn Throne: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eleanor of Aquitaine #3) by Elizabeth Chadwick. Fiction/Historical Fiction/European/British/French/Fictional Biography. 3 stars.

8. Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight For an Education by Jane Robinson. Nonfiction/History/Women/Feminism. 2 stars.

9. Prudence (Custard Protocol #1) by Gail Carriger. Fiction/Historical/Victorian/Steampunk/Fantasy/Supernatural/India. 2 stars.

10. Silence by Shusaku Endo, translated by William Johnston. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Classics/Japanese Fiction/Translations. 4 stars.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Japan Trip: Hakone

We got on a train headed for the hinterlands.

And by the hinterlands, I mean western Kanagawa Prefecture. We got on a train with wide windows in Tokyo and rode it for about three hours.



Hakone--which I didn't know a thing about before this trip--is a town in the mountains, mostly within the bounds of the Fuji-Izu-Hakone National Park and is famous for its abundant hot springs, its mountains and Lake Ashi (Ashinoko)--plus, there's some historic significance, because in the old days of shogun and samurai, Hakone was a major checkpoint on the road to Edo (present-day Tokyo).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Tokyo Bus Tour: Stops 3 through 6


Senso-ji temple

All right--more Tokyo, guys!

After the Imperial East Garden, we got back on the bus and headed to Asakusa, which--I have since learned--is a district in Taito, Tokyo, and used to be an entertainment district from the Edo period on to about--you guessed it--World War Two.

(Are we sensing a theme here with Japanese history?)

We went to Asakusa to visit Senso-ji, a temple dedicated to the Buddhist boddhivista Kannon (from whom the founder of Canon took inspiration for the name of his company, btw). Senso-ji is also neighbors with a long, narrow road with tiny stalls on either side--souvenir stores, food stores, etc, on a road called Nakamise-dori (Inside Store Road, roughly translated).

Bad picture of one of the gates from inside the bus

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG April




It's April! It should be more spring-like around here, but it's been rainy and kind of cold instead. It's time to get back to whatever it was I was writing before I went to Japan for ten days, which means back to that Regency romance thing I was writing.

That is, I'll get back on that once I'm more fully back on Eastern Standard time. I'm almost there, but a two-day migraine didn't help things, and I'm getting up at weird times because I'm hungry at odd times of the day.

This month's IWSG question is:

Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

In short, no. I've never done the A to Z Challenge and I don't see myself doing it--I've thought of possible themes and I could probably do it if I applied myself to the idea of the A to Z, but after so many days straight of blogging, I would actually get tired of my own blogging voice.

Plus, since I barely have time to visit the many blogs I follow now, I don't think I could read and visit all the blogs during the challenge. After all, I'm not blogging as a business venture and I don't only blog about topics related to whatever I'm writing.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Tokyo Bus Tour: Stops 1 and 2

My favorite day of the Japan trip was the day we took a tour bus through Tokyo.

We were on a bus called a Hato Bus, stopping and looking at various places throughout central Tokyo, and I was practically jumping out of my seat with excitement because when in Tokyo, you want to see the sights of Tokyo, yeah?

First stop: Meiji jingu or the Meiji Shrine is a Shinto temple dedicated to the spirits of the Emperor Meiji (he of the Meiji Restoration and a big figure in Japanese history) and his empress Shoken. The shrine was built after Meiji's death in 1912, destroyed by bombing during WWII, and subsequently rebuilt.

The Meiji shrine is in the middle of 170 acres of parkland in one of the busiest parts of Tokyo.


On the path to the shrine: sake drums!
Also, French wine barrels.


Haiku written by the Emperor Meiji

Torii gate leading to the shrine




Our second stop: the East Gardens (Higashi Gyoen) of the Imperial grounds (the kyuden), the east gardens being the only part of the imperial grounds open to the public. The Emperor and Empress of Japan live in the midst of Tokyo, in a huge compound surrounded by a moat. 

The grounds include the Imperial Household Agency, archives, a museum, and other buildings. 

The site of the Imperial palace grounds was, in the Edo period, the site of Edo Castle, home of the shogun (the samurai warlord leader of Japan for centuries). When the Emperor Meiji took on power from the last shogun, he moved the imperial capital from Kyoto to Tokyo and ordered the shogun out of Edo Castle, building a new palace on the site.

 Edo Castle and many of its structures burned in a fire in 1873 and the original imperial palace was built in a different part of the grounds. But then it was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1945, so the current imperial palace was built in the 1960s. 

The East Garden, however, contains a huge rock wall around the site that dates from the 1600s! It was there during the shogunate and was part of the Edo Castle structure. 


The moat
The current Emperor of Japan is Akihito. Since at least the Meiji Era, each emperor's reign corresponds to an "era" in Japanese culture. Akihito's father Hirohito's reign is called the Showa period, which was long enough to mean that me, my mother, and my grandmother were all Showa babies. 

A reconstruction of an Edo era gate, where the shogun's men would've met you before you entered Edo Castle.
Part of the East garden.