Research: 19th Century English Post

Some links I have just discovered and would like to keep for later.  How did the post work during the Regency period?

The Regency Post An EXCELLENTLY researched blog by author Shannon Donnelly

The Regency Post Office by Joanna Bourne

London Mail in Georgian England

Postage in 19th Century England by the Victorian Web

Regency Letter Writing from the Jane Austen Centre

Wonderful series on the Post from The Regency Collection

Between the Lines with… Charlotte Carter

 A multi-published author of more than fifty romance, cozy mystery and inspirational titles, Charlotte Carter lives in Southern California with her husband of forty-nine years and their cat Mittens—an equal opportunity lap cat. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren. When she’s not writing, Charlotte does a little stand-up comedy—G-Rated Humor for Grownups—and teaches workshops on the craft of writing.


Q. You’ve written SO many books. How do you keep yourself motivated to write?

I’m compulsive! Maybe it’s because I started late in this writing business, but writing, discovering a story, soothes me (when it’s going well, of course). And there’s always another story to tell lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. So little time, so many stories……

Q. You’ve written in several different subgenres. Do you stick with one genre at a time or do you switch it up and change from book to book to keep it interesting?

The vast majority of my books have been romance novels. Now, however, I’m writing for two publishers: inspirational romance for Love Inspired  and cozy mystery continuities for Guideposts Books. I try to alternate between publishers, which is somewhat dependent on my schedule for the Guideposts books in whatever series is current.

Q. What is your writing process like? Linear or dot-to-dot? Planner or pantser? Do you write long hand or on the computer? etc.

I’m definitely linear and a planner, although the characters have been known to give me a surprise now and then. I start off plotting with a pen and college-lined notebook paper. (You can tell  how high-tech I am – Not!)  I establish who the characters are and their goals, diagram a W plot and  work through the hero’s journey.  At that point I can usually write a synopsis, which I do on the computer as well as the rest of the manuscript.

Q. What is your most reliable “go to” tool when you realize your story is broken and needs fixing?

For many years, my favorite “go to” tool was Mindy Neff and Susan Phillips, my critique partners. More recently I’ve been whining to Karen Leabo (aka Kara Lennox), who is great with the ‘black moment.’ If they aren’t handy, I may take a second look at Save the Cat by Blake Synder, do Debbie Macomber’s list of 20, or let my subconscious solve the problem while I sleep. I will say, by chapter 3 I pretty well can tell if the story is going to work.

Q. How have you managed to brand yourself, given the different genres you have written in?

I’ve never quite understood this ‘branding’ business, but I do have a motto and a promise that I make to readers: Books that leave you smiling….by Charlotte Carter.  When I was writing for Harlequin American (as Charlotte Maclay) I wrote warm, family stories. Now, with Love Inspired (w/a Charlotte Carter) I’m writing warm, family stories but with a more emotional tone and characters who are dealing with serious problems — a heart transplant recipient, loss of family members, and in my current book, Big Sky Family, a hero who is paraplegic.

Q. You have a wonderful sense of humor that serves you well when speaking publicly. How does your humor serve you in your writing career?

I wish I could say my sense of humor allows me to laugh at copy editors, but that would be a lie. In my writing, humor tends to worm it’s way into the story via children, who are always unpredictable, or by creating a ‘fish out of water’ story for the hero or heroine. Often it’s the reaction of a ‘straight’ character to a humorous situation that can make a reader smile.

Q. What authors and genres do you like to read?

I most often read suspense and romantic suspense, single title romance, legal thrillers, and the like. I’ve recently read James Patterson (Alex Cross story), John Grisham, Iris Johansen, and Rachel Lee books. And to my delight, our own Deb Mullins and Tessa Dare (Eve Ortega) have brought me back to historical romance, my first love.

Q. What piece of advice do you consider most important sharing with an aspiring author?

Write! Write! And write some more. I was very fortunate when I joined OCC and RWA that I could come home from a meeting and immediately use whatever information I’d gleaned  in my work-in-progress.. It’s impossible, in my view, to learn to write without having somehow finished a story.  My various critique groups have also been invaluable. (My technique is to be the dumbest one in the group so I can learn the most; so far I’ve achieved that goal..) I continue to learn by attending workshops and taking online classes in the hope of improving my craft. As Susan Macias said at our October Birthday Bash, “The only guarantee that you won’t sell is if you quit writing.”

Single mom Ellie James has returned to Montanafor a fresh start and a new job at a local school. She sure could use the support of hometown rancher Arnie O’Brien, especially when she faces the opportunity to step up as director. But this cowboy still holds a grudge from when Ellie left him behind eight years ago. Can Arnie trust God’s plan and take a second chance on the girl who got away? He and Ellie will have to put aside the past to face the future together.

Find more information about Charlotteand her books at:

100 x 100

The interest of this goal, as listed on my goals page, is to keep me continuously writing every day.  It’s probably set fairly low but that’s because getting my butt in the chair and writing is half the battle.  Thus the reason for 100 x 100.

For the vast majority of my writing sessions, I plan to write much more than 100 words.  The challenge lies in writing fiction at least 100 words every day for 100 days (that’s almost 3 1/2 months).

This goal starts on January 1, 2012 and continues through April 9, 2012 (Day 100 of 2012).  On that date, I plan to modify the challenge (200 x 200 or 500 x 500 if I’m feeling really frisky).

My record:

Downton Abbey

This holiday season, as we sat in front of the TV during the late night hours wrapping gifts, I slowly and not-so-subtly got my husband hooked on Downton Abbey.

It wasn’t hard, really, but of course this second time around, I was viewing the series through a storyteller’s eyes rather than merely enjoying the story line for myself.  For this series does historical fiction–and historical romance–very well.  I continually asked myself, what could I learn from this experience?

Attention to detail:  No detail is left unattended, from the minutest attention paid to costuming, set dressing and historical accuracy.  For example, every time the butler enters a room below stairs, all servants stop whatever they are doing and stand at attention.  Life below stairs perfectly mirrors that above stairs with attention to rank and propriety guarded most effectively.

Beautiful landscapes: It is not specified where the location of Downton Abbey is supposed to be, but we are shown breathtaking shots of the castle (which is in reality, Highclere Castle), and its park.  Actors move about the scenery and we are reminded that the Abbey, itself, is also an important character in the ongoing drama of the inhabitants, both above and below stairs.

Every character has a history and his/her own motivation: Sometimes these goals and motivations revolve around Downton Abbey itself (as in the case of Lord Grantham) and sometimes they are in response to events tied to Downton, such as the inciting incident for Series 1: The sinking of the Titanic, which claims the lives of Lord Grantham’s two heirs and Lady Mary’s fiance. The entail becomes a desperate matter, as all of the family’s wealth is tied up in the estate… and whoever inherits the title will get the estate.

Culturally relevant: Life at Downton Abbey revolves around the maintenance and future of the estate itself. Lord Grantham contends with his wife over his refusal to smash the entail. Matthew Crawley is summoned away from his happy life in Manchester because he has suddenly become an earl’s heir.  But these events do not occur in a vacuum.  History revolves around them, from the sinking of the Titanic to the start of World War I, we see how these iconic events of history affect these people.  But we see other issues treated as well, as Lady Sybil’s story line deals with emerging women’s rights.  She participates in activities related to women’s suffrage and fosters one of the maid’s aspirations to leave service and become a career woman in an office.

There are just a few of the ways in which Downton Abbey hits the mark as far as the historical fiction genre is concerned.  In my editing process, I’m going to make certain to hit these marks in my works as well!

If you haven’t seen it and would like to catch up, series 1 is being re-run right now on PBS (here in the U.S.).  Series 2 premieres next week!  Have you seen Downton Abbey?  What do you love about it?

Craft Books Reading List 2012

Currently Reading:

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

On Writing by Stephen King


Writer’s Market (Reference)

250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Writing Fiction for All You’re Worth by James Scott Bell

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman


Goal Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon

Got High Concept?  by Lori Wilde

The W Plot by Karen Docter

Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet by Stacia Kane

The Emotion Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

Pin It on Pinterest