"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Springtime Activities

At Easter I travelled to a part of the US where spring was fully unfurled and history is alive. It was a holiday rather than a research trip, but I had opportunities for book promotion.

Beautiful Savannah!

One of Savannah's many squares.

One of the city's many historic houses

Faux bois panelling in the dining room

Bonaventure Cemetery

Camellia  blossom

I've lately done more blogging at English Historical Fiction Writers than I've done here. Some links to the latest:

Mistress of More Variety: Actress Susanna Verbruggen

English Garden History: Spring Guide

Valentine's Day History

And I offered some book reviews on a book blogging site:

Author Margaret Porter’s Five Top Reads

Enjoying wild roses
Spring has come to New England, after a relatively mild winter. I've been quite busy in my gardens, where the bulbs and early flowers are blooming happily. And the birds are busy!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Old Year, New Year

It proved difficult to carry on blogging here, in the midst of book touring, travels, and history blogging at my own Shaping the Facts as well as at the group blog English Historical Fiction Authors.
Since I last posted, I've:
Visited more bookstores.
Travelled to the UK, taking in Liverpool, Manchester, and London as I traced the footsteps of new characters. As usual, I spent time with friends--and a direct descendant of Diana and Charles from A Pledge of Better Times--attended a fantastic play set in the world of 18th century theatre (just like my next book), and visited a great number of museums and art galleries.
Waiting for a train
Merseyside Love Locks in Liverpool
Mrs Gaskell's Writing Desk, Manchester
Costume Gallery, Manchester
St Martin in the Field, London
Wonderful production!
 Celebrated Thanksgiving with our English friend, who joined us for an American feast day.
The stuffed turkey roll
 Hosted a Christmas Carolling party for neighbours and friends.
The Musicians
Some of our 30 party guests
 Enjoyed a beautiful--but not White--Christmas.
The Tree
The Girls
Welcomed the First Real Snowfall. And subsequent ones.
First Snow.
Second Snow.
Third Snow--yesterday.

It has been a remarkably un-snowy start to 2016.
The big news in our region is the First in the Nation Presidential Primary. We are besieged by candidates and campaign volunteers...until Tuesday night, when the voting results are announced and the whole political circus moves on to other states. This happens every four years. It can be fun, and exciting, but by the time it concludes we are very relieved!
I intend to resume personal blogging, and hope to turn up more often here than in these many months past. No promises. But I will try!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Historical Fiction & Meaning

The Layered Pages blog is hosting a series of interview on this topic. My contribution is posted today, including what I do, how I do it, as well as my thoughts about the genre and its readership.

Margaret Porter on Historical Fiction & Meaning

Monday, July 27, 2015

Back on the Blog

Yes, it has been quite a long time away from this blog. After the launch of A Pledge of Better Times I was extremely busy with book promotion and a blog tour that lasted about 3 weeks--great fun, but so time-consuming!

As well, I participated in several book signings:

In late June into July, I attended the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church as a deputy representing my diocese. I was in Salt Lake City for 13 days! I was chairing a committee, and the entire experience was rewarding and inspiring. It was also the 230th Anniversary of the House of Deputies, which was celebrated with great enthusiasm! And the next Presiding Bishop of the church was elected.

When at home, I have been thoroughly enjoying my gardens--when I tend the roses and perennials that grew in the 17th century, I think of Diana de Vere and Queen Mary, and their mutual love of flowers.


I've been thrilled with reviews for A Pledge of Better Times, most recently the one in Publishers Weekly. You can read it here.

Between now and my next UK trip, I shall be finishing a novel (I hope) that is a bit of a departure for me, before resuming my next historical biographical novel. I'm spending plenty of time at the lake cottage with the dogs and the hummingbirds, writing.

I hope you are having a pleasant summer as well!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop & Giveaway

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015
++++ Winner! Congratulations to commenter cchant! Your prize, the 2 novels, will be on the way to you this week!

This has been a historically long and harsh winter in the Northeast part of the United States. It was a similar season of snow and hibernation that inspired my novel The Proposal, featuring a female botanical artist and landscape designer in the late 18th century.

Usually at this time of year I travel to a warmer part of the country, or to England, seeking an early (for me) taste of springtime.  I recently returned…my head crammed with memories of blooming bulbs and azaleas and dogwood and wisteria.

I arrived home to the welcome sight of crocus shoots springing up from the ground—a sign of many more good things to come. In due time I shall have narcissus, daffodils, hyacinths, bluebells, tulips, fritillaries, iris, peonies,  lilacs, rhododendrons, passion flower, clematis, columbine, sweetpea, pansies, foxglove, astilbe, anemone, lupine.

And the great show I impatiently await all year—my roses!

I am genetically inclined to grow roses. My mother grows them. So did my father’s father, and I cherish my childhood memories of wandering through roses of brightly coloured blooms almost as large as my head.

The roses that appear in my fiction are the oldest of all varieties: gallica, alba, damask, centifolia. These have appeared in art through the centuries. I grow the lush Bourbon roses developed in the 19th century, mostly by the French. I have China and rugose rose hybrids. And I rely upon the hybrids from David Austin that mimic the ancient flowers, in shape and scent, but have the advantage of re-blooming until the late frost arrives to put the plants to sleep again.
My rose regimen is fairly simple. I fertilise in spring, applying compost. As the leaf buds begin to sprout, I selectively trim the repeat-bloomers—my David Austins and the rugosas. I usually cut the branches back by 1/3 or in some cases as much as ½, unless I’m using them as climbers and then I mostly remove dead portions. For the once-blooming antique roses, I give them a very line trim to shape them, as they bloom on old wood. If they require downsizing, I do it after their bloom time is finished.

A couple of years ago I moved house, leaving behind many roses but transplanting a good number to the new location. And of course, I added many more that year. And last year. And as I write this, I await delivery of this year’s purchases!

This is what I found in my garden when I returned from my travels--signs of spring at last!

In support of the Authors in Bloom 4th Annual Blog Hop, and to celebrate the recent re-issue of The Proposal and the launch of A Pledge of Better Times. I am giving away a copy of each title--so 2 winners will receive a book. To enter, leave a comment with the name of your favourite flower.