Thursday, 5 May 2016

My Mother and The Durrells

View of Trafalgar Square from steps of The National Gallery yesterday
Tomorrow it will be fourteen years since my mother passed away. Time heals, but there are reminders of her everywhere, which creep up when I least expect them to. Once someone has gone, they're so quickly forgotten (unless they're in the public eye), and now some time has passed, these reminders which once made me sad, help to keep my memories of her alive. 

The latest reminder is the wonderful Sunday night TV series, The Durrells. My Family and Other Animals was one of my mother’s favourite books, and she gave me a copy when I was around seven years old. It was one of those books that stayed with me, and that copy is in the loft somewhere (must read it again). Some books you remember reading more than others, and I still recall the picture I built up in my mind of Gerald Durrell’s life in that house in Corfu.

What’s so great about The Durrells? Pure escapism: it’s set in Corfu where the sun always shines, all the characters in the Durrell family have flaws, and the overall message is it’s OK when things go wrong, when your kids don’t do what you expect them to; and I especially like Larry’s life as a writer-the scene where he’s sitting under a tree tapping furiously on his typewriter, when he says, ‘I’m in the mood’. In last Sunday's episode, he received a rejection letter for his novel; and after a long discussion with his girlfriend, he decided to give up being a writer and became a farmer for the day. Farming didn’t suit him, and at one point he cut his foot with a spade. By the end of that episode, he announced that he was to be a writer and an intellectual. Besides all this, the actors are so well cast, led by Keeley Hawes, who plays Mrs Durrell beautifully.

The Durrells, like Downton Abbey transports you to a time when life was simpler and when there were fewer distractions. Today, I’m sure that the Durrells would have more of an outdoor life than in the UK because of the better weather and different culture: but if they had WiFi in that lovely house by the sea, perhaps Gerald would be too busy playing Minecraft on his iPad to capture and learn about animals and insects; Leslie might play Grand Theft Auto all day and night with strangers rather than shoot anything that moves; Margo might take pouty selfies and upload them to Instagram and Snapchat; Larry could be too busy writing self-indulgent blog posts, tweeting under the hashtag #amwriting and posting rants on Facebook to get any writing done. And Mrs Durrell would perhaps have discovered online dating. From what I’ve read online, The Durrells is loosely based on Gerald Durrell’s trilogy, but that doesn't bother me; it's an hour’s holiday on a Sunday evening, and I'm sure that my mother would have loved watching it.

I’m running a course on social media for writers on Saturday as my alter-ego neetsmarketing, and I went up to London yesterday to test out the IT side of things. I had a couple of hours to spare before my meeting at the hotel, so I went to a place where my mother always seems to be present: The National Gallery. She used to take me to London often on the train as a child and we’d go to The National Gallery before buying marmalade and sweets in Fortnum and Mason. At the time, I found this art gallery visit boring, as children generally do, and I’d sit on the leather banquette biting my nails, waiting for her to hurry up and finish studying the paintings, which seemed to take hours. But now I go there whenever I’m in London if I can, to see the paintings from my work in progress. Each time, I notice something different, and being that close to them fuels the old inspiration.

Here’s an old post on how my mother inspired my writing: Why do I write? 
Previous post: Something for the Inspiration, inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic.
Latest post from my neetsmarketing blog: How Can Real Life and Social Media Work Together?

And here's the trailer for The Durrells:

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Alison Morton on Taming Research!

Alison Morton is my guest today, with advice on how to tame research. I’ve known Alison for a few years, through Twitter, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Historical Novel Society ("HNS"); and we've got to know each other especially well over the past year whilst working on publicity for the upcoming Historical Novel Society conference in Oxford (I'm Publicity Officer, and Alison is Assistant Publicity Officer, as well as an Indie Co-ordinator)

Last Tuesday, I met Alison for lunch at the London Book Fair (I attended as my alter-ego, neetsmarketing) to talk about the HNS conference publicity, and later on that day, I went to the launch for Alison’s latest thriller in the Roma Nova series, INSURRECTIO, where I got my hands on a signed paperback, and met up with some lovely author friends. Here's a selfie from our lunch:

Thank you, Alison for taking the time to write this post, and over to you!...

Getting organised – taming your research, by Alison Morton

Research. Yeah, I know, a sticky subject in more ways than one. Writing of any sort needs research whether it’s a modern shoes-and-shopping story, fantasy, crime thriller or a historical magnum opus. Readers will engage with your story as long as you keep their trust. So your story has to be plausible (even the elves...). Strongly coupled with this is the internal consistency of your book’s world, especially if it’s historical, science fiction or gritty urban crime. Readers investing their precious reading time in a rather strange place is high-risk for them. So you must build that world carefully and thoroughly or your credibility will crumble.

Leaving aside the cracking plot you’ve dreamed up, its setting has to be woven into the story. You have to know the scenery, weather, what the inhabitants look like, their clothes, beliefs and values, do they use buses, trains, horses, or just plod everywhere on foot? Can they vote and/or are they subject to a lord or lady’s whim?

Where do you start looking? What resources do you have or can reach without breaking the bank? And how do you organize what you’ve amassed?

Let’s get practical!

1. Identify what do you need
For my latest Roma Nova thriller, INSURRECTIO, I already had a g
ood general background in history, politics and economics with geography thrown in and a small specialist library of books on Roman life, women in Rome, and modern military women from writing previous books in the series. But for this new one I needed information about military tactics and weaponry, police procedures, journey times, internal government procedures, mounting a coup d’état, dictatorships and resistance organisation.

Of course, if you’re writing a romance around an ice-cream shop, you’ll need to dig into recipes, different types of milk, cream and flavourings, food handling and hygiene standards, tourism, supply systems within the catering industry, landlord and tenancy regulations, employment law, shop-fitting, weather patterns, etc.

You may already know something about those topics; I’d been in the military and studied women in military roles and living under a dictatorship, but I sat down and read up on the things I knew I’d forgotten. My advice is to immerse yourself in the period/world first so that your writing flows naturally when you come to draft the story.

2. Focus your research
Draw up a list of questions with spaces in-between, then sit down and write a short paragraph in answer to each. For example, what kind of climate does your setting have? In Roma Nova, it’s a merge of mountain with Mediterranean, which means longish summers; snow, high alps and pine trees in the mountains; grapes and olives in the lower land; and dust and heat in mid-August in the city. This will not only help your brain remember specifics subconsciously as you write, but will be a valuable reference tool if you forget something!

3. Note your sources
Always jot down where you found your information whether online or in the library or notes taken at a workshop. If you’re a normal human being, you will forget. If I take a photo of something fabulous in a museum, I always take one of the label; was that vase from the 1st century BC or AD? If your heroine is looking through a contract, what’s the reference for the Sales and Supply of Goods Act being replaced by the Consumer Rights Act? And where did you read the difference between a Glock and a Sig Sauer?

4. Don’t exclude anything
Printed sources are obvious, but don’t discount the Internet. Wikipedia has improved exponentially in the past few years and the bibliographies and references at the end of articles can yield rich pickings. These references can be easily stored  - see 4 below – but be ready to record and organise photos, podcasts, film and interviews. A smartphone is very handy for this as long as you download content to your online storage as soon as you can.

5. Files or files?
I’m a digital creature, so I tend to photograph, scan and store everything online. But I back up to Dropbox, to an external hard disk called Time Machine and lastly, to a remote storage server ‘somewhere in Kansas’. (Actually, it’s in the Netherlands.) Instead of bookmarks for virtual links, I use Protopage computer desktop organiser where I can organize my references into discrete groupings:  my books, Roman, other research, writing technique, dictionaries and glossaries, marketing/PR, self-publishing and that ubiquitous one ‘General’. Protopage is a free programme and you can just scroll down if you don’t want to see the adverts at the top.

I have a few paper-based files, mostly newspaper clippings, brochures, maps including an FAA one of flight paths over Washington and New York – absolutely mesmerising! I carry a notebook when I’m out to jot down overheard conversations or little gestures people make, and to note information and sources other people give me. I’ve usually taken a photo on my phone if it’s a building. And of course reference books are the stalwarts of research on which tend to use Post-it notes; I simply cannot bring myself to write on them.

My last piece of advice: whether writing historical, contemporary, crime or alternate history like my Roma Nova thrillers, be meticulous and methodical, whatever method you choose to organise your research.

Thank you for such a helpful post, Alison. I look forward to using your tips to re-organise my mountain of research books on the eighteenth century, newspaper articles, country house guidebooks, online articles and scribbled notes! Protopage looks especially helpful. Congratulations on the launch of INSURRECTIO, and best wishes for continued success with your novels!

Find out more about Alison and INSURRECTIO below:


‘The second fall of Rome?’
Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and imperial councillor in Roma Nova, scoffs at her intelligence chief when he throws a red file on her desk.

But early 1980s Roma Nova, the last province of the Roman Empire that has survived into the twentieth century, has problems – a ruler frightened of governing, a centuries-old bureaucracy creaking for reform and, worst of all, a rising nationalist movement with a charismatic leader.

Horrified when her daughter is brutally attacked in a demonstration turned riot, Aurelia tries to rally resistance to the growing fear and instability. But it may already be too late to save Roma Nova from meltdown and herself from entrapment and destruction by her lifelong enemy.…

Alison Morton's bio 

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre all over the globe.

Busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women.
Alison lives in France and writes Roman-themed thrillers with tough heroines.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series
– shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
PERFIDITAS, second in series
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
SUCCESSIO, third in series
– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014
AURELIA, fourth in series, the first of a new cycle of three
– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2015
– Shortlisted for the 2016 HNS Indie Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion

Fact file:
Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History
Memberships: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors, Romantic Novelists’ Association
Represented by Blake Friedman Literary Agency for overseas and ancillary rights

Social media links:
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site
Twitter: @alison-morton

INSURRECTIO book trailer

Monday, 29 February 2016

Something for the Inspiration

I’ve written a few posts about inspiration on this blog, and recently I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, a New York Times Best Seller for over 200 weeks: a memoir of her journey of self-discovery, set in Italy, India and Bali; and a film with Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. If you’ve visited this blog before, you’re likely to know that I’m a big Italy fan (and yoga fan too), and so of course I bought Eat Pray Love as soon as I heard about it, and went to see the film when it came out at the cinema. Elizabeth Gilbert writes in a particularly engaging way, somehow provoking those thoughts that you brush away when going about daily life.

I like to read how-to-write books, my favourite being On Writing by Stephen King (mentioned here in previous post, How Do You Get Past Writer’s Block?), and these books live on the same shelf as my favourite novels, and eighteenth century research books. Big Magic is one of those books you might want to flick through when you can’t bring yourself to write, when you’re ready to give up, and when the idea of being a writer is driving you nuts; but because you’ve started you feel that you can’t go back to not being a writer. Elizabeth Gilbert is like a gentle mother reassuring a small child, with the message don’t worry, it’s all OK, you can have a break from it if it’s too much, you’re good enough to be a writer. And all that work you’ve done so far-even if it’s a load of old rubbish and you’ll never use it-has been worthwhile because it’s helped you develop as a writer. Think of Big Magic as a mother’s advice tailored to your writing life.
A favourite part of Big Magic is about ‘combinatory play’. Elizabeth talks about how, if you’re stuck to get involved with another kind of creative activity:
‘Once, when I was struggling with a book, I signed up for a drawing class, just to open up some other kind of creative channel within my mind.’
She goes on to say:

'Einstein called this tactic “combinatory play”-the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another.......Part of the trick of combinatory play, I think, is that it quiets your ego and your fears by lowering the stakes.’

When I get stuck, I visit potential scenes from my work in progress and take photos, go for scenic walks and take photos, up the yoga classes, do research, read bits of novels which I consider to be the best ever written, read novels set in the same time period as my work in progress, read how-to-write books, make a cake or a big roast lunch for my family. I write blog posts like this one.

There are lots of thoughts and ideas to ponder upon in Big Magic, and when you find yourself pausing the writing because life gets in the way, and can’t seem to unpause: I’d recommend keeping a copy of Big Magic on standby.

Since last month’s post, Taking the #amwriting seriously, I have been doing as the title suggests (apart from a half term pause), but I’ll keep Big Magic within my reach next to On Writing, just in case.

And here’s a YouTube clip from Eat Pray Love. When I went to see this film at the cinema, the friend sitting next to me started to fall asleep as it’s quite a long film, and you either ‘get’ the middle ‘Pray’ part in India where Elizabeth Gilbert does a lot of meditating and soul-searching, or you don’t. But when the ‘Love’ part of the film began in Bali with Javier Bardem, she sat up in her chair and said, ‘Who is that?’

Some reviews of Eat Pray Love say the book is self-indulgent, but both book and film resonated with me; perhaps because I like the way Elizabeth Gilbert writes, or because of the Italy part, the yoga part, or due to Javier’s appearance in the film. Who knows?

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Taking the #amwriting seriously

I mentioned in my previous Writing Reflections and Plans post that this neetswriter blog helps to keep my writing in check, and that’s certainly true.

I’ve been working on my novel daily with a new determination, updating my spreadsheet with the word count, working towards my end of month target, even when the word count decreases because I’ve cut bits out. This is the year of my book, this is the year that I’ll submit my book 2, and my goal is to get it finished before the Historical Novel Society Conference. My deadline is 2 September 2016.

There are days, aren’t there, where you write, and you produce rubbish, and you read it back (or don't even bother because you know it's totally rubbish), and think, ‘this isn’t working, and it never will.’ The next day, you say to yourself, ‘I’m going to leave it today, it’s just not working.’ Then it can be a week or more before you return to your manuscript. But I can’t do that this year, if I’m going to get book 2 finished. I need to produce the rubbish to produce the good stuff (but ideally produce writing gold all of the time). Because it’s like learning to drive (pre-Sat Nav), when you got lost and drove around for ages, trying to find your way to the right road. I had to get lost all of those times to get to know the roads around me. And isn’t that the case with many things? You have to get a bit lost to find your way, you have to make mistakes to know when you’re not making mistakes.

So there you go, my first neetswriter post of 2016.

A belated Happy New Year, and best wishes for a fantastic 2016.

And in true neetswriter blog tradition, I’m posting a summer holiday photo because it’s cold out there (in the UK), and the above photo is of a place where I’d like to be right now, watching the boats speed up and down Lake Garda. With perhaps one of these in my hand and a good book to read:

Friday, 18 December 2015

Writing Reflections and Plans

I’ve been reflecting on some of my neetswriter posts from 2015, as the end of December is fast approaching. One of the highlights of this year was a road trip to Italy, with a research day in Venice:

Can you see a trend?!

My neetswriter blog has become an ongoing pep talk to myself, a useful way to keep my writing in check. Writing has become a thing that gets squeezed in between other things, but I do want to carry on with it. One achievement this year is that I have fallen back in love with writing (as per my June post), and I’ve spent a significant amount of time on my work in progress, which has moved forwards in the past few months. But my WIP is a big project, being partly set in the eighteenth century, a period I'm drawn to (and I don't know why!); and it will take time to complete, mainly because of the research involved.
From 2016 I shall be an Associate Member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association ("RNA") as my alter-ego, neetsmarketing, a freelance social media manager with clients in the world of books. This means that I’ll be leaving the RNA's New Writers’ Scheme (a wonderful, supportive scheme for unpublished writers) at the end of this year. I’ve been on the NWS since 2010, and I think it’s time to free up a space for someone else. I’ll continue to write, of course, and pursue my quest to be published in other ways. It’s such a privilege to be accepted as an Associate Member of the RNA, wearing my neetsmarketing hat.
Also, I’m excited to tell you that I've been invited by Jane Bidder to speak about social media for writers at the Freelance Media Group in London on 14 March 2016.

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported my neetswriter blog in 2015, and my neetsmarketing blog which I launched this time last year. My neetsmarketing blog on social media for writers and book marketing has received more support than I ever expected, and I’ve had some fabulous guests this year too. My latest neetsmarketing post, inspired by client questions is 19 Tips on How to be the Ideal Blog Guest.

Now I’m off to locate the Michael Bublé Christmas CD, which has completely disappeared, and to make some mince pies. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. See you in 2016!

New neetsmarketing post: neetsmarketing One Year On

Friday, 30 October 2015

How do you Prepare for a Writing Retreat?

Sheffield Park and Garden
This half-term has been filled with family walks; and making soup, biscuits and crumble. Plus I've ploughed my way through most of a hard-going, but informative eighteenth century journal and worked on my novel during spare moments. Next week it will be back to the school run, sourcing bits of costume for Christmas productions, using the art of persuasion to get homework done; and of course my neetsmarketing work.

Over the years, I’ve been on a few writing retreats and I can’t wait to escape to a cottage next weekend with my favourite group of writing friends. This time though, my approach will be different because apart from ensuring there is a substantial supply of Prosecco and crisps, I’ll know what I’m working on before I arrive. On the past couple of retreats, I’ve spent much of the time planning and reading research, but now my work in progress is progressing at its fastest rate for a while because I’ve fine-tuned the plot by writing previous drafts.

The finish line for Book 2 is finally approaching, and I want to make the most of two days with zero distraction, where I don’t have to justify time spent writing. This week, my aim is to find a couple of hours every day to write, so it won’t take long to get into the zone when I arrive (once we’ve consumed the Prosecco and crisps, of course). So off I go to write...see you in November.

In other news, booking is open for:

The Historical Novel Society Conference in Oxford, 2-4 September 2016!

View from the Mathematical Institute, Oxford
Photo used with kind permission of Lorna Fergusson
I'm Publicity Officer for the next HNS conference, where keynote speakers include Melvyn Bragg, Fay Weldon, Tracy Chevalier and Kate Williams. The conference will kick off on Friday night with a drinks reception to include a special event with Fay Weldon in conversation with Jo Baker about writing the Big House story. The Saturday night Gala dinner will include a costume pageant, plus historical suspense readings to follow. This is just a hint of what's on that weekend; and you can find out more and book via the website. I'm also the HNS Social Media Manager, and you can follow the HNS on Twitter @histnovsoc, and on Facebook.

Previous neetswriter posts:

neetsmarketing posts (my blog on social media for writers and book marketing):

How Can Writers Use their Photos on Social Media? (covers Instagram and Pinterest)
Liz Fenwick on Using Twitter to Connect with Readers

Friday, 18 September 2015

Lisa Eveleigh on What Agents Look For

My guest today is literary agent, Lisa Eveleigh from Richford Becklow Literary Agency, who kindly accepted my invitation to write a post for this blog. I first met Lisa at The Romantic Novelists' Association's Conference in July 2014, and we saw each other again at The Historical Novel Society Conference, a couple of months later when I helped to organise the setup for the agent pitches. We've since bumped into each other at various events, and it's lovely to host Lisa on my blog. Thank you, Lisa for visiting, and over to you...

Lisa Eveleigh on What Agents Look For:

Hello everyone and thanks for inviting me to the blog, Anita.

The first thing to say is that agents really want to like every submission they are sent and dream of finding a bestseller.  You can increase your chances of being read quickly by a polished approach.

Do follow the submission guidelines on an agency website to the letter, and make sure that you aren’t submitting a genre that the agent doesn’t represent; for me that means no horror or erotica. Do email your submission if requested and don’t send by post if the agency website asks you not to. Don’t phone to pitch your book – ever. Somehow the phone seems to deaden a story and in any case we make decisions solely based on the quality of the writing and the way a story is told.

If you are submitting to more than one agent at a time that’s fine, but please say so. Write the very best submission letter that you can,  then print it and read it again after a good night’s sleep to see if it can be improved in any way.

Write the very best novel you can and then put it aside for a week – or even two - before reading it out loud to yourself – you will almost certainly hear any faults in your dialogue, and revise things,  and they will always be good changes.  It’s not a great idea to send a first or second draft, because a third is always better and I know many authors who do four.  
I personally have truly eclectic taste in fiction written for women. I love novels by Jilly Cooper, Katie Fforde, JoJo Moyes  Marian Keyes just as much as books by Helen Dunmore, Raffaella Barker, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Esther Freud and Julie Myerson. So I’m very open to both literary and commercial fiction, contemporary and historical. 
But if I think about what attracts me to all the writers named above it has to be that they all create strong, memorable characters, describe the scenery and the natural world convincingly, and write with a strong sense of time and place.  So I’m looking for all those qualities in a submission,  and if I’m made to laugh or get a bit teary then that’s a good sign too.
This is how to approach an agent in the best possible way.
Send a professional presentation consisting of; a brief but compelling covering letter,  a one-page synopsis and the first three chapters.   Manuscripts should be double-spaced throughout and use a clear font like Times New Roman or Garamond. I only accept submissions by email, as Word attachments
Explain in your covering letter what you’re aiming to achieve,  and what you think your market is
If appropriate, tell me writers you admire and think you may be similar to, or define your USP (Unique Selling Point)
I always read past the first page anyway, knowing that openings can be tricky, but there’s no doubt that a really arresting first paragraph does impress. Write and rewrite until you’re happy that it is going to grab an agent’s attention.
It’s not a good idea to send a novel before you’ve finished it.  Debut writers need to shape and structure an entire novel before it is ready to be seen, and let it grow into the best work it can be. Surprising things can happen even if an author is working to a detailed synopsis;  a character can suddenly do something wholly unexpected.   
That said, I do work on fiction as it is being written with my existing clients but this is after we have worked on a few titles together and know each other’s rhythm.
It’s also quite important that authors know how to conduct a relationship with an agent once they have formed a partnership. Constantly asking ‘is there any news?’ is frustrating to the agent who obviously has a vested interest in making deals and chasing up submissions. Any good agent will keep an author in touch with progress when time permits so resist the temptation to hassle!  It’s also important to respect the confidentiality of the relationship so be discreet in what you share with other writers. That doesn’t mean that you can’t pass on useful contacts you’ve made in the industry but do beware that gossip can backfire.  
Lastly, it may seem like stating the obvious but it’s important that writers read as widely as possible in order to enrich and enhance their own skills and to avoid writing a story that someone else already has…
Good luck!    
Writers seeking agent representation will undoubtedly find this post very helpful, Lisa, and thank you so much for writing it! (Wish I'd had this post to read when I first started submitting Book 1!)

About Lisa:

Lisa Eveleigh read English literature at the University of Durham and began her media career at the BBC where she was a researcher.  Meeting authors and their publicists, she realised that most successful writers had agents. She then set about becoming one…

After 10 years at A P Watt, the oldest literary agency in the world, where she was a Director, she set up her own agency, and following a career sabbatical in Glasgow came back to London and founded Richford Becklow. 

The agency is named after the street she lived in before she moved to Glasgow, and the road she lived in when she moved back, signifying a new beginning to her agency career.   
Lisa is currently doing a part-time MA in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction at the University of East Anglia.  This only takes her out of London for one afternoon a week and ‘I represent very little biography, yet I read it in my private time.  It is fascinating to explore a genre that is slightly out of my agent comfort-zone, and since I’m allowed to do a Creative writing module in Year 2, I have chosen ‘Adaptation and Interpretation’ which means I shall have to write the beginning of a screenplay based on a novel that I love.  This will also add to my agency skills.’

Lisa lives in London with cats Nate and Snoop, and Stewart McCartney, who is an author and TV question-writer.

Lisa published a book in June 2015, and the wonderful painting below is from the cover.

Beauty and Chivalry: The Duchess of Richmond's Ball

Summoned to Waterloo: Brussels, Dawn of June 16th, 1815
By Robert Alexander Hillingford, 1898

Brussels, June 1815: The Duke of Wellington was marshalling the Allied forces in readiness to fight Napoleon, who had escaped from Elba in February. The many British living in the city at the time were enjoying cricket matches, race-meetings and picnics despite the threat of war. 

On the fifteenth, the ambitious Charlotte, Duchess of Richmond, held what was to become the most famous Ball in history. Published to coincide with the Waterloo bicentary, the book recounts the experiences of those at the ball, and the surprising coincidence that Wellington's despatch was presented to the Prince Regent at another ball, six momentous days later.

I have downloaded Lisa's book, and look forward to reading it, especially as it's set a few years after my current work in progress ends; a fascinating period in history. 

My previous post on this neetswriter blog: A Grand Tour, a Deadline, and a Course 
My latest post on neetsmarketing blog: Managing What Your Friends See on Facebook