Paris and its Merry-go-Rounds

To begin at the beginning: the definition of ‘merry-go-round. When I was a child we called them roundabouts: those colourful rotating machines with pairs of brightly-coloured horses you sat on which went round and round and up and down whilst you held on to the pole which went from the roof, through the horse’s withers, and was screwed into the floor.

This Parisian roundabout gives its customers the choice of riding in a 19th century submarine or on a traditional white horse, or in a 19th century space rocket or sitting in a revolving teacup!

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Two Sneaky Stories by an Ag Slang Speaker

This post is about ag slang, a secret language which dates back to the Between the Wars years, that is, the 1920s – 1930s, when it became a popular secret language between school children. My mother who was the third of four sisters had learnt it at school, and she taught it to me and my brothers; and I, in my turn, taught it to my two children. My aunts also taught it to their children (I rang round my cousins to check before I started this post.) ‘I’m so sorry to bother you on a Saturday,’ I said, ‘but dago yagou spageak agag slagang?’  (Do you speak ag slang?) There was a startled pause and then ‘Yages – wagell, agI uagused tago!’ (Yes – well, I used to.)

Greenwich Maritime Museum

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My Mother’s Choice: Six Ornaments

Back in the 1950s, my mother found herself kitting out a small modern London flat from scratch. She decided to go for modern and went straight to Heals, the place for the best modern furniture and fittings. Once she’d bought the essentials, she decided that the flat (bedroom, sitting-room, bathroom, small kitchen, and a small entrance area) needed a few ornaments. At the time, Mr Heal prided himself on buying top quality items from across the world to sell in his famous shop.

Ceramics chosen by Mr Heal

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The Historical Writers Association Gold Crown Award

A month or so ago, I was honoured with an invitation to be one of the judges for the Historical Writers’ Association Gold Crown Award, 2021. Part of me thought: Elizabeth! Haven’t you got enough to do already? But another part of me argued – It will be good for you. You’ve been so absorbed in getting your Elizabeth Hawksley back list up in e-books which has been a huge learning curve and frequently driven you bonkers, that you’ve actually done very little else.

Cover for Christopher’ Wilson’s ‘Hurdy Gurdy’

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A Red Letter Day

About a month ago, a letter fell onto my doormat which completely knocked me for six. It was from my agent at Johnson & Alcock and I hadn’t heard from them for over 10 years. They hadn’t published a book of mine since Highland Summer came out with Robert Hale in 2003 so why had they written to me now? It didn’t even look like the previous letters I’d had from Johnson & Alcock – the heading was far classier, for a start. For a mad moment, I wondered if it might be a scam.

Elizabeth giving a talk at Caerleon

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My e-book Launch of ‘Highland Summer’

This is the week of my e-book launch of Highland Summer and I’d like to tell you a bit about the book.

I try to set myself a technical challenge with all my books and those of you who have been following my e-books story so far, will know that Highland Summer is where I intersperse the third person narrative with extracts from the heroine, Robina’s, journal, as I explained in my blog last week. It was fascinating to see how Robina’s character gradually changed as I allowed her to have her say in what was going on.

 

e-book cover for ‘Highland Summer’. I’m so thrilled it’s coming out tomorrow! Continue reading My e-book Launch of ‘Highland Summer’

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Writing Tips: Getting a Character Unstuck

I am busy getting my Elizabeth Hawksley back list of ten historical novels into e-books The first e-book will be Highland Summer and I’ve been remembering the struggle to introduce my heroine, Robina (an intelligent but naive seventeen-year-old girl) in such a way as to make her interesting. The novel was in the third person and I was getting desperate. And then I had an idea: I would write Robina’s diary and see what happened. Perhaps a (temporary) first person viewpoint would help to free the block.

I’m stuck, dammit! What am I to do?

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Elizabeth Hawksley e-books: Looking Good to Go

On 10th May, I put up a post about my lockdown project of getting my Elizabeth Hawksley historical novels into e-books. Now, ten weeks later, the first book, Highland Summer is almost ready and it’s been a steep, not to say precipitous, learning curve. However, thanks to computer wizard John Hocking, and his wife Janet Gover, another computer wizard, both brilliant at explaining things, we are at last getting there.

Elizabeth looking apprehensive but trying not to show it. Photo by Sally Greenhill

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Writing Tips: my First Novel and the Hermione Factor

This week, I’m stepping back in time – a long way: to 1980 in fact, when I sold my first Rachel Summerson novel, Hearts are Trumps, to Sidgwick & Jackson. The following year, it came out in America, published by St Martin’s Press who renamed it Belgrave Square: A Novel of Society.

Me lecturing at Caerleon Writers’ Holiday, something I enjoy doing.

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