Babies and children on WIP Wednesday

29e344e7e89a24d7c75d422b5a5b5aedPerhaps because I’m a mother and a grandmother, I tend to have children in my novels. Such were the times, that an author can easily write a story without ever including scenes with children, leaving them safely out of sight and out of mind in the nursery or schoolroom — but I like them.

So, with apologies to those who can’t play, this week’s work-in-progress Wednesday is looking for the little people. Post me an extract with the child or baby in your work-in-progress (or published novel, if your current WIP doesn’t have any).

Here’s mine, having breakfast after an eventful night.

Aldridge watched Antonia eat.

Gren was sitting beside her eating bacon, eggs, and toast as if he had been starved for months, and it was to him that Antonia addressed the question.

“Uncle Gren, why does He keep looking at me?” The initial capital was audible. “Is he my uncle too, like you and Uncle David?” Gren stopped, a fork halfway to his mouth. He put it down while he considered the question, looking from Prue to Aldridge.

It was Aldridge who answered. “Yes, Antonia. I am your uncle.”

She slipped from her chair and gave him a polite curtsey. “I am pleased to make your ’quaintance, Uncle. How do you do?”

He bowed, gravely. “I am well, thank you, Miss Virtue. How do you do?”

Antonia considered this. “I am sad to be leaving my chickens and my pondering tree, but I think the journey will be a very great a’venture. We are travelling a long way and will have a new home where people do not call names, Auntie Charity says. And it is closer for Mama to visit, Mama says.”

“Sit and eat your breakfast, child,” Charity told her. “Lord Aldridge says we must leave soon.”

Aldridge accepted a loaded plate from Cook and took it to sit on the other side of Antonia. Soon, they were engaged in low-voiced conversation. The Aldridge charm, Prue noted, worked as well on six-year-olds as it did on grown-up females.


Secondary characters on WIP Wednesday

He’s doing it again, and I refuse to let him have another blog post. I always intended some of my characters to play a role in a number of books — either always as secondary characters, or in lesser roles when they weren’t taking centre stage. But the Marquis of Aldridge is trying to horn in on Prue and David’s love story. I’m not going to talk about him. Or his mother, who also

Lord Jonathan Grenford

Lord Jonathan Grenford

pops up in places that are not always convenient.

But I am going to give you an excerpt with another secondary character for Embracing Prudence. Please show me yours? Usual rules. Nine to ten lines, and I’m not too strict about it. And share away on Facebook and Twitter as much as you please!

So here is Aldridge’s younger brother, Lord Jonathan Grenford, joyously helping his half-brother David with the murder investigation. He has just been to try his charm on the Earl of Selby’s mother and aunt, and is reporting that they all but threw him out.

After that, the two women cut the visit short. Gren was escorted firmly to the door, and Miss Remington informed him that she would be speaking to his mother, a threat that Gren found highly amusing.

“Mama, if she even receives the woman, will inform her that it is about time I had a hobby.”

But Gren’s report was not over.

“So I wandered around to the kitchen entrance, to thank the cook for her particularly delicious almond macaroons. And she insisted on making me a cup of tea and serving me some more. I will need to visit Mama.” He had a bite of his bun while his listeners pondered the non sequitur.

Prue decided to give him the satisfaction of asking. “Very well, Gren. Why do you need to visit Her Grace?”

“I might have promised to the cook a position  in one of Mama’s houses,” Gren’s eyes were dancing. “She isn’t very happy in the Selby household. Not only are they unappreciative of her talents, the whole household knows that they don’t have a feather to fly with and expect to be jobless at any time, and—besides—she is almost certain that one or both of the old harridans greased the steps that the former Earl of Selby slipped to his death on.”

Satisfied with his verbal bombshell, he finished the bun.


Beginnings in WIP Wednesday

I’m toying with beginnings for the next two projects as I come to the end of the first draft of Embracing Prudence. The Bluestocking and the Barbarian begins with my hero in a family group riding hell for leather for London, mourning-1810-cropheading for his grandfather’s death bed. He needs to do some fancy trick riding to scoop up a child from the middle of the road and return it to the lady at the gates of the orphanage where the child belongs.

A Raging Madness begins in one of three places: at the funeral of the mother of a deceased fellow officer of Alex Redepenning, in the home of the bereaved daughter-in-law, where she hears her relatives plan to put her in Bedlam, or in Alex’s hotel bedroom when she flees to him to ask for help.

How about giving me up a few lines of beginning? The first chapter, if you will, or any other chapter if you prefer. And don’t forget to share!

1819_society_ballHere are the first few lines of Embracing Prudence.

From within the protective camouflage of the gaggle of companions, Prudence Virtue watched her sometime partner and one-night-only lover drift around the banquet hall. No-one else noticed him. Like the shadow he named himself for, he skirted the edges of the pools of candle light, but even when his self-appointed duties moved him close to a group of guests, they looked right past him. None of the privileged, not even the host and hostess, noticed one extra footman.

He was very good. He had the walk, the submissive bend of the head, the lowered eyes. She had overlooked him herself for the first half hour that she sat here, just one more brown-clad, unimpressive companion among a dozen others, waiting patiently in an alcove for the commands of an employer.

But Prue’s body was wiser than her mind, and left her restless in his presence until her eyes caught so many times on this one footman among all the others she began to take notice.


Why I love writing villains

villain memeI don’t want to think too hard about what this says about me, but I love writing villains.

I enjoy creating characters of any kind, and I’ll happily spend days answering questionnaires about my main characters. I really enjoy seeing the people in my head coming to life on the screen as I type, and I’m often surprised by how strong their opinions are about the way the story should go.

But I particularly love listening to and watching my villains. The brakes come off, and I give them the kind of dialogue that suits their personality: sociopath, or spoilt young man, or self-centered society beauty, or thug.

In the stories I’ve written so far, I’ve had some of each, and my current work-in-progress features a return of the sociopathic society blade, the Earl of Selby, from Farewell to Kindness, and two nasty friends.

Even more than other supporting characters, villains need a complex personality and a convincing backstory. No matter how good the protagonists are, if the villains aren’t convincing, the conflict in the story isn’t convincing, and the happy ending isn’t nearly as satisfying. A good story needs an excellent villain.

Here’s how I write villains:

  1. I pick up things that frighten, worry, or annoy me – in characters on shows, or people in real life. What are the character flaws that cause this response in me? What would the people be like if those flaws were magnified and their good qualities absent or reduced?
  2. I think about the villain’s past. What terrible things have they done in the past? What terrible things have been done to them? Are they victims lashing out or are they just trouble makers? Were they deprived of love as children or were they born that way?
  3. What are their redeeming qualities? Do they love their cat? Collect bone china? Have a soft spot for orphans?

When a reader tells me that they loved to hate my villain, I know I’ve done a good job.

Here’s Selby with one of his closest friends. My heroine Prue has denied them access to her murdered mistress’s bedchamber:

Selby stopped in the doorway and looked straight at Prue for the first time. “Is this the one, Annie?” He didn’t wait for Annesley’s nod, but continued, “I’ll remember you, too. Worth, isn’t it? One day soon, Worth, my friends and I will find out just what you are worth.”

“That’s a good one, Sel,” Annesley said. “Just what you are worth, yes.”

Selby ignored the interjection to peer at Prue in the dimly lit hallway. “Do I know you?”

Prue shook her head. It was true enough. Nobody knew her except, perhaps a little, David.

“She’s the housekeeper, Sel,” Annesley told him. “She probably let you in when you came to see The Diamond.”

“It’s not that,” Selby said. “I have it! She looks a bit like my wife.”

“Which one?” Annesley asked, the question setting him sniggering. “Which one? That’s a good one, Sel.”

Selby stared at Prue a moment more, while she lowered her face to hide her chin; the feature she shared with her sister.

Selby’s next words appeared to be for himself rather than Annesley.

“No. Just the general shape of the face. There must be a thousand women in England who look a bit like Chassie. And she doesn’t have any relative called Worth.”

“Are you coming, Sel?” Annesley said, impatiently. “We can’t swive The Diamond tonight, so we need to find another whore.”

(This post was first published on Caroline Warfield’s blog in July last year.)


Missed opportunities in WIP Wednesday

regency lady and gentlemanSince I’m a day late, I thought I’d post a few lines about missed opportunities. This could be a meeting that didn’t happen, or words that were not said that could have saved a misunderstanding, or an action not taken, or anything else that could have meant the story’s happy ending came much sooner (bad for the characters, but great for the readers!)

Here’s mine. I needed two bits, from different chapters and different POVs. (And the incident they both refer to was last weekend’s Teatime Tattler post.)

As always, I look forward to reading your pieces. Please post in the comments, and share.

First Prue:

She would be calm; professional; indifferent. She would never let Shadow know how much she longed for him; how often she replayed that final scene between them, searching for the words that would lead to a different outcome. Perhaps if she had stayed… No. He had made his opinion of her quite clear, and she could not trust a man who did not trust her.

Then David:

He’d gone upstairs looking forward to seeing her again more than eagerly than he wished to examine. The guarded look on her face, the stiff way she held herself, stopped him in his tracks.

And her voice. Calm. Devoid of emotion. As if that passionate night had never existed. Or as if it meant nothing to her…

Perhaps, while David had spent five months longing for her, she had moved on, and his presence was an embarrassment.


A Dangerous Weakness extra: Volkov employs an investigator

This bit of fiction joins the hero of Embracing Prudence, a yet-to-be published work by Jude Knight, with the villain of Dangerous Weakness by Caroline Warfield, which is on pre-order now. Part two has been posted on Caroline’s blog today. Part one is here.


Konstantin Volkov

The lean, sour faced man ducked to enter the waiting parlour at the premises of Wakefield and Wakefield, Enquiry Agents, as he had been shown. His tight lips showed his disapproval. He stood in a room that looked nothing like rooms in a proper office should. Not only did the fabrics and small decorations show every sign of a feminine touch, but books, newspapers, and, worst of all, children’s toys cluttered the space. He frowned.

Konstantin Volkov did not question his decisions often. This time he did. Contacts described David Wakefield as ruthless. One reference called the man as cold blooded as a snake. This domestic clutter did not reflect an image of the sort of man he needed. Before he could examine that thought, a woman appeared to show him into Wakefield’s office. No proper business employs a woman clerk, he grumbled internally, but he followed in her wake.

David - self portrait by Carl Joseph Begas

David Wakefield

David Wakefield stood to shake his hand. The enquiry agent was shorter than Volkov, and finely built. But the grip was strong enough, and the calm brown eyes under level brows hinted at a man with confidence in his own ability. Still, his smile at the woman and her wink made Volkov uneasy.

I can’t afford to hire some weakling. If there were an alternative, I would leave. He didn’t. Volkov had run out of contacts in the seething underbelly of London and England’s port cities. The usual lowlifes were good at tracking drabs and pickpockets. They had proven to be no help finding a respectable woman, and Lily Thornton was as respectable as they get, at least on the surface.

“How may I help you?” Wakefield’s voice startled Volkov from his thoughts. Stay alert Kostya. Don’t be a fool. He employed his most charming smile.

“A woman, Mr. Wakefield. I need help finding one.”

Wakefield smiled back. “If you require match making, perhaps my wife—“

“No, no. I need to find a particular woman, one I plan to make my wife.” Oh I have plans for darling Lily, but they are not quite so proper.

Wakefield sat back and pinned him with a hard look. “The woman you plan to marry has gone missing? Why is that?” Volkov caught a glance of the ruthless steel underneath the genial exterior and controlled the urge to shiver.

“A foolish misunderstanding. She misunderstood something she overheard and has gone off in a fright. I need only find her and reassure her.”

“What of the woman’s parents. Have they not located her?” Wakefield asked.

“Her father has been detained abroad. She is alone here with only the dubious protection of a maiden aunt.” One with easily bribed servants.

“This woman’s name?” The enquiry agent’s hand poised over a sheet of foolscap as if to take notes.

“Lily Thornton,” Volkov said and immediately regretted it. He saw the flicker of recognition in Wakefield’s eyes and the moment the agent suppressed it. If he knows who she is, he will unravel the truth quickly.

“When did you see her last?”

Volkov had no answer. If he told the man about the Mallet’s literary salon, he would connect Lily to Glenaire’s sister and thus, to the Marquess himself.

Wakefield went on smoothly, as if he didn’t notice Volkov’s silence. “What is more to the point, when did you notice her missing?”

“When I called at her aunt’s yesterday.” Another lie. Volkov couldn’t get past Glenaire’s guards. Marianne Thornton’s feckless maid brought the information.

Wakefield looked at Volkov so long that Volkov began to sweat. “I will call on the aunt and see what I can discover,” he said at last.

Too late. Volkov could hardly tell him not too. “Thank you. That is a good place to start.” He shot quick glance at the door.

“Come back in three days, and I’ll tell you what I’ve found.”

Volkov rose and thanked the blasted agent. As he descended the steps he faced harsh reality. I’m out of options. I need to leave London and drop out of sight. He stepped lively down the road. Perhaps Portsmouth. The thought raised his spirits. He would get her yet.

His confidence might have taken a knock had he looked back to where Wakefield and his wife watched from the window. Especially had he heard their conversation.

“What do you think, Prue?” David slipped his arm around his wife’s shoulders.

“I do not like that man, David. Something about him makes my skin crawl.”

“He is looking for Miss Thornton. Isn’t she the diplomat’s daughter you talked to at Mrs Mallet’s salon?”

“Yes. The one whose name has been linked with Glenaire’s.”

David had heard something of the sort. But a commoner and the Marble Marquess? It seemed unlikely. “Is it serious, Prue?”

Prue shrugged. “He is a ducal heir. He is expected to marry accordingly. But… there is an electricity between them, David.”

“I imagine he knows she is missing,” David mused. “I wonder if he knows the Russian is after her?”

For part 2 of this original story, written just for Caroline’s blog tour, go to her website.

What has become of Lily? Find out in Dangerous Weakness, on prerelease now and published on 1 October.

David and Prue’s story will appear early next year in Embracing Prudence.

Dangerous Weakness

DANGEROUS WEAKNESS2 (5)If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.

Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving to be almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.

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Meet Caroline Warfield

Carol Roddy - Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog  *  Meet Caroline on Facebook  * Follow Caroline on Twitter

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Play in the  Bluestocking Bookshop with Caroline’s characters * LibraryThing  * Amazon Author

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Caroline’s Other Books

Dangerous Works  A little Greek is one thing; the art of love is another. Only Andrew ever tried to teach Georgiana both.

Dangerous Secrets Jamie and Nora will dare anything for the tiny girl in their care, even enter a sham marriage to protect her. Will love—and the truth—bind them both together.