Hearts Through History Romance Writers

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New YearHappy New Year! The champagne is finished as well as the party food. I watched the ball drop at Times Square, via television, and welcomed in the new year with those I love. I’ve thought about the past year, what I accomplished and what has been left undone and even ignored. It’s time to look ahead and for me, plan what I want to accomplish for myself and my writing. It’s time for New Year’s resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions, we’ve all made them. While they’re most common in the Western Hemisphere, resolutions, the promise to yourself to do something nice for yourself or others, are made world-wide. Since the resolution implies a new beginning, what better time to make them than the beginning of the year.

Who started this ritual? At the start of each year, the ancient Babylonians promised their godsBabylonia they would return borrowed items and pay their debts. Romans made promises to the god Janus, yes that Janus, for whom January is named. Janus is the god of beginnings and Romantraditions. Knight in the medieval era took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. Christian prepared for the new year at the watchnight services by praying and making resolutions.

Other religious groups have parallels to this tradition: Jewish people reflect upon their wrongdoings during their High Holiday season and resolve to be better. The concept, regardless of your background, is to examine ways to improve yourself.

The ten most popular resolutions include:

  1. Spend more time with family and friends
  2. Get fit
  3. Lose weight
  4. Get organized
  5. Help other people
  6. Quit smoking
  7. Enjoy life more
  8. Quit drinking
  9. Get out of debt
  10. Learn something new

Resolve 2These are wonderful resolutions and the top five are definitely on my list but I also have my writing resolutions.

  1. I will write everyday
  2. I will write everyday even when I don’t feel like it
  3. I will write from the heart and dig deep so my readers will feel it
  4. I will read widely
  5. I will focus on writing rather than social media
  6. I will experiment with my writing style and voice
  7. I will create and stick to a timetable
  8. I will write two novels and two short stories this year
  9. I will learn how to market my work
  10. I will give something back to other writers – they have supported me in all I do and I will pay it forward

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

The Hand Written Word

Hand writing, cursive, long hand, is a lost art. Because each person’s handwriting is unique and handwriting is somewhat stable over time, it can be used as a verification tool. It’s used on legal documents all the time.

So, how did I get involved in handwriting? My work in progress is about a time traveling researcher. She’s content after finding her way to the 17th century and her hero. Ah, but she’s tricked into returning to the 21st century. In order to find her way back to her hero she must research the answers in the old documents, some penned by him. As she reads his writing, runs her fingers over the words, she is once again close to him.

Mom and MeI drew on those emotions from a card I had kept from my mother. She has been gone a longJudith time but seeing her handwriting brings her back to me. Her handwriting was unique and somewhat flamboyant. Friends and family were always asking her to address their special occasion invitations. She thought her handwriting was… nothing special. I always thought it was exotic. (And tough to copy on school documents… but you didn’t hear that here.) What I wouldn’t give to confess that to her today.

What are the characteristics of handwriting and what do they tell us?

The characteristics of handwriting include:

  • the average size of letters
  • the pressure to the paper
  • they rhythmic repetition of the strokes
  • the slant of the letters
  • the spacing, regular or irregular
  • the roundness or sharpness of the letter’s shape

Graphology is the study of handwriting and handwriting analysis. There are over 300 features. Here are some of the basic ones that can be easily understood and provide some interesting information. For a full disclosure, this information was found in a free handwriting analysis tool PDF by Elaine Quigley BA Hons., MBIG (Dip)

Slant –

  • Right slant indicates a response to communication. The writer may wish to be friendly, manipulative, responsive, etc.
  • Upright generally means independence.
  • Left slant shows emotion and reserve.

Size –

  • Small, under 9mm, can indicate a thinker or an academic.
  • Small and delicate handwriting may indicate this person is not a good communicator and may be introverted.
  • Large, over 9mm, can indicate the person is outgoing, and extrovert or the person acts as if they are confident.

Pressure –

  • Heavy pressure indicates commitment, taking things seriously
  • Excessive pressure could mean the writer gets uptight at times and can react quickly to what they see as criticism. They react first and ask questions afterwards
  • Light pressure indicates sensitivity and empathy.
  • Uneven pressure could translate to a lack of vitality

Zones – There are three zones or cases – middle, upper, and lower

  • Tall upper strokes reach toward goals and ambitions. If they are very extended, they may be reaching toward unrealistic expectations
  • A reasonable proportioned upper loop (l, t, h) may indicate someone who likes to thinks things through and use their imagination
  • Wide upper loops indicate a person who may dream up ideas and mull them over.
  • Up strokes that go up and return on top of itself indicate the writer may be squeezing out imagination and keeping to the basic requirements

The PDF has a lot more information that I’m certain you’ll find interesting if not for a message left by your hero or your villain, the suicide note left by the victim or just a card sent from a friend.

Battling Author Envy

Now I know you've felt like this before.... © Eastwest Imaging | Dreamstime.com

Now I know you’ve felt like this before….
© Eastwest Imaging | Dreamstime.com

Friends, today I’d like to talk to you about something not related to history, but rather related to the experience we all have of writing romantic stories about history.  It’s not about research or about debates of historical accuracy or how much we should strive for it.  It’s not about marketing or strategies for getting our books out there.  It’s not about working through revisions or about dealing with critiques or reviews.  Yet at the same time, it’s about all of those things. 

I’m talking about Author Envy.  (more…)

Hildegard of Bingen and Writing in First-Person

Every once in a while, Amazon gets it right.  A few weeks ago I pulled my Kindle out of its cover and there, on the sleep-mode page, was a recommendation for Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen, by Mary Sharratt.  Well of course I bought it!  Hildegard is one of my favorite historical figures.

Cover-of-IlluminationsAt the same time, I’m really not all that surprised when I hear someone say “Hildegard von Who?”.  Precious few people are aware of medieval history, and even fewer of those people stop to consider what women in the Middle Ages were doing.  In the case of Hildegard, she was doing a lot!

In a nutshell, Hildegard was a German (and I use the term anachronistically) nun whose life spanned three-quarters of the twelfth century.  She was a mystic, a writer, an abbess, and one of the greatest minds of the High Middle Ages.  The crowned heads of Europe, including the Pope, wrote to her for advice on some of the thorniest issues, both personal and political.  Her musical compositions are still performed.  Her dramatic works are some of the finest of the pre-Shakespearean era. (more…)

Making A Collage – a help for the WIP

When I was starting to write Kentucky Green, I made a collage.  This idea was suggested at one of our chapter workshop.  I found it to be a good exercise as I’m a very visual person.  Once I decided on Kentucky, and who my hero and heroine were and what they looked like, that’s when I started looking for photos for my collage.

 I used a 2’ x 3’ bulletin board, so I just stapled or pinned the things I found to the board.  As I wrote or found more items, I just kept adding things (when I finished the story, I decoupaged all the items to a poster board so it’s permanent).







The best place for photos of scenery is in National Geographic.  When our Friends of the Library have their annual sale, I look through boxes of old National Geographic magazines.  For ten cents I buy all the ones with articles on a place I might want to set a novel.

 You can see how important setting is to me by all the scenery on the collage.  Several of the photos sparked scenes in my novel.  Dan and April stand together looking out over the land, the line of ridges that march over the land.  The photo of the ferns (from a story about Kentucky in National Geographic) also plays into the story.

 As you can see, I used a lot of images from the film The Last of the Mohicans.  Although the film is set a generation earlier than Kentucky Green, the images work.  My hero, Dan, is often dressed just like Hawkeye (Daniel Day Lewis).  The center image is actually the cover for the audio tape of the motion picture sound track (the sound track now upgraded to a CD in my collection) which I used a back ground music while I wrote.

 I have the major photo of the hero and heroine on opposite sides of the collage, to represent how they are in opposition at the beginning.  One of the problems I had in the first draft of the opening, was that the heroine kept apologizing.  Too wimpy.  So I found the picture on the upper right hand side.  This woman is not one to go around apologizing, and her hair do is pretty close to how April wears her hair (a double good photo!).

 If you’ve read the book, you might be able to pick out other items that appear in the story.   And I had some visual images to send in for the cover.  If you’re a write and having trouble with your story, you might try making a collage.