It’s Christmastide!

CharlieelfJo here on Christmas Eve, which means the Wenches will be doing their traditional Christmastide celebration and posting briefly over the 12 Days of Christmas. On the Epiphany, Janury 6th, normal service will resume.

The picture is of Cabbage Patch kid Charlie as the Christmas elf, a role he'sCharliefirst

been playing for a very long time, given that he's thirty years old now. Here's a picture of him when he was just a little baby.

We all have our Christmas traditions, and some of them are unusual, not to say weird! Please share some of yours.

If you have some web browsing time, check out this blog about a Nativity map.

May your CTreehristmastide be a true season of joy however you like to spend it.



How is it said?

Jandbnerja Hola! Here are Billy and Charlie, sunbathing on our balcony. We've had some dull and even wet days, but now the sun is shining again.

We've visited the Alhambra in Grenada, and the Cuevas de Nerja — the very impressive caves near here, and for something entirely different, I went with my sister to the local short mat bowling club. It was a lot of fun. I might take it up when we get home, largely because everyone was so laid back and friendly. Reflection

How it is said.

For my blog, however, I'm going to do a bit on pronunciation and other complexities of English for Americans, and I'm hoping for some feedback from either side about what puzzles and confuses, and whether it matters. I'm tweeting about these things, and extra examples would be useful.

When reading a book it might not matter if we "hear" a sound wrong, but it bothers me. For years I "heard" chagrin as chargin. When I realized the error, it took a while for the real pronunciation to sound right to me. Has that ever happened to you?

AnothGok2er example was Lymond, the hero of Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles. I, like many readers, heard it as Li-mond.  It was only when Dorothy began talking about the books that we learned it was Lymond. I can't explain that one because the Y does suggest the long sound. It didn't take long for that one to feel right for me.

But it is disconcerting to find we've been hearing a word in a wrong way, isn't it.

When is a peer not a tent, but another is a box?

A big confusion in historical romance is Duke. Americans tend to say dook, but in a British context it's djuke, or juke, as in box.

Another tricky one is marquis/marquess. I always use marquess because it avoids the trap of people thinking it's mar-kee, like the tent. Both spellings are pronounced markwess.

Then there's lieutenant. The American pronunciation is logical, I grant you, but if that officer is British he's a leftenant.

The traps of Geography.

Let's add in some of the trickier counties. Derby is, of course, pronounced Darby, and thus Derbyshire is pronounced Darbyshuh. Huh? (Picture to the right is from the Derbyshire Peak District. ) Peak

When pronouncing counties, emphasis is nearly always on the first syllable, and the shire at the end is always swallowed into a soft afterthought sort of shur or shuh. Worcestershire is WUSStershuh. Yorkshire is YORKshuh.

I don't claim this is logical. In Devon there's a place called Teignmouth, which is at the mouth of the River Teign. The river is pronounced tayn, but the town is pronounced Tinmouth. 

Yes, you now have permission to tear your hair out!


So, do you care whether you're hearing words "in English" when you read an English-set book?

What are your favourite odd English pronunciations? (We'll leave out the Featherstonehaugh, which might be apocryphal.)

Have you ever gone along for ages with a wrong pronunciation in your head?

What odd pronunciations are there in other countries?

A prize! Forbmag

I'm going to pick from among the interesting responses to find a winner for a copy of Forbidden Magic, which will be out soon. There's an excerpt here.

I don't think there are any odd pronunciations there, except perhaps a sheelagh-na-gig, but it is pretty well as it looks. That's an ancient female figure exposing her genitals, and the stone carvings were generally in church walls, which raises all sorts of interesting questions! 

There's more, including an image, here.

You can see why Meg's embarrassed to admit to owning such a thing!

One last thing — I have a Georgian e-story out now — The Demon's Bride. (Not The Demon's Mistress, which is Regency. I didn't set out to confuse. The stories came over 10 years apart, and I'd forgotten the title of he first.)

A Georgian rake, a vicar's daughter, and the rising of the great earth demon Waldborg one dark night in Suffolk, all for $2.99. How can you go wrong? Kindle US has it discounted to $2.39. Enjoy! 

Now for the test. You knew there was a test, yes? Say after me, "The Duke of Derbyshire is not the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire."

There, that was easy, yes?

All best wishes,








A busy blogger!

NYTmiracle Hi, this is Jo. I've been goofing off down in the West Country — Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset — and so I'm scrabbling together this blog at the last moment. My organizational skills aren't helped by doing a number of other blogs just now.

Romantic Times Blog. Romantic Times  has a new web site and they're celebrating with a number ofg author blogs. They wanted one from me on my favourite heroes from my books. Click here to visit that one. There's supposed to be a poll attached so people can vote for their own favourites, but I can't see it yet.

RomCon Blog. I've also just written one for a blog on the RomCon site, which will appear on the 29th. I wrote about the magical appeal of romance novels.  RomCon is the big romance reader conference to be held in Denver in July. There's more about that here.

Adventures in travel.  As a sidetrack distraction, I've just booked the main leg of my trip over there. Even without volcanic dust shutting everything down, it's not easy getting anywhere from Whitby, but there is a small airport not that far away, Durham-Tees. It doesn't have many flights, but it does have a connector to KLM in Amsterdam, so that'll be a whole new flying adventure for me. I hear great things about the Amsterdam airport.

I'll actually be flying into Memphis because later in the month I'll be in Nashville for the Romance Writers of America annual conference and Memphis is the closest direct flight with KLM. You can find out about the RWA conference here, and if you live around there, note the Literacy signing on Wednesday. A great event for a great cause.

The New York Times Bestseller List. And in addition to all that, I'm celebrating two weeks on the NYT list for The Secret Duke, and hoping for another. You can see last Sunday's list here.

Edenp That explains the photo op above, taken in Westward Ho! (which yes, is actually a place.) From the linked article above, I quote, "The village name comes from the title of Charles Kingsley's novel Westward Ho! (1855). The exclamation mark is therefore an intentional part of the village's name. It is the only such place name in the British Isles, although Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec, shares the distinction of having an exclamation mark in its name." I've passed signs to Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. You can go to the article above and follow a link to an explanation for that name. It seems to link to ha-ha as a French term for a barrier, which is why a ha-ha is a concealed trough in landscaped garden to keep deer and such out of the ornamentals. There's one at Rothgar Abbey.

Being on the NYT top 20 wasn't really a miracle as the other two Secrets books were, too, but it was too good an opportunity to miss. Excuse the windblown look — Westward Ho! is that sort of place. That's Billy, all cosy in his winter jacket still, but with his whirlygig, which certainly got a work out that day. We were joking that the world could be saved by Cabbage Patch power!

The Eden Project. That's actually an ad for the Eden Project, which is wonderful. We visited there the next day and I snapped this pic of Ken, Charlie, and the domes.

So I'll spread the questions here as well. What do you think is the core magic of a romance novel? What makes them one of your favourite forms of fiction? And what 3 qualities make the best heroes for a romance novel?

Or you can comment on some other aspect of this hurried blog.

A copy of The Secret Wedding (the previous book) to a randomly picked commenter.



Christmas Traditions

Cbkxmas2009 Jo here, celebrating Christmas in Whitby, with Charlie as a Christmas Elf and Billy as the Frost Elf. That's part of our tradition. Even if we start with approximately the same rites of Christmas, we soon all develop our own variations, don't we?

Some people decorate the tree weeks ahead. Others do it on Christmas Eve. In my home the tree and decorations came out when whichever of us were at boarding school came home. In our home now, we decorate at the beginning of December because we like the light and glitter of it all. But the Cabbage Patch Kids only make their trasformation on Christmas Eve.  🙂

Do you have any slightly different Christmas traditions, either from your family or developed on your own? Please share.

Below, I'm sharing a blog I did for the Romantic Novelists Association here in the UK. They wanted Christmas tree stories, and I thought readers here might like this.

Firstxmas Hfxsnow When
my son was nearly one, I bought a Christmas tree on impulse at the
Sears Clearance Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (To the left is a view of a snowy Halifax from our apartment window, where we spent our first Christmas treeless, waiting for Jonathan to be born. He arrived early on December 30th.)

  Here's a picture from that first Christmas, with the
tree in danger from curious fingers.

It was a very basic artificial
tree, but over the years it became our tradition even as we moved
across Canada to Montreal, then Ottawa, then Victoria.

we decided to come home to England we thought its time had come, but we
realized we could only put light stuff in some filing cabinets, so we
packed the tree in it.

Xmastr09 Now here it is, in Whitby, carrying 31 years ofTree
Christmas memories,.

All joy of Christmastide!