Earth Day is coming up this Friday, so my contemporary co-writer and dear sis, Jaz Kennedy, and I decided to drop in for a visit to Harmony Falls!
With all the farms, forests, mountains and rivers that surround our fictional small town in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands, we decided it would be fun to see what some of the outdoorsy heroes and free-spirited heroines in our upcoming small town romance series have got going on for the big event!
Read on for a peek into everyday life at Harmony Falls...
She tingled a little inside, hoping her efforts to get the whole town involved would prove to be successful.
Retirees, teenagers, single dads, preschoolers, farmhands, sorority sisters, doctors, painters and firemen packed into the Knickpoint Brewing Company for a hearty breakfast before setting out.
“Come on in, everybody! You’re gonna need lots of energy before you get working. We’ve got a beautiful brunch spread here for all our dedicated volunteers!”
The Knickpoint was an old speak-easy-turned-brewpub, owned by Jules’ good friend Jack Brand–and the giant ex-Marine was a bit of a hometown hero. After his last tour of duty, he’d bought the abandoned pub and refurbished it with his bare hands, right down to its original mahogany carved panels.
Now the town’s preferred watering hole would serve as Earth Day Festivity Headquarters, and it was already getting crowded. Folks lined up at the buffet table nestled by the jukebox, chatting excitedly as they loaded their plates with waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon, getting fueled up for a day of honest work.
Jack placed a gentle but calloused hand on Jules’ elbow. “Hey, red, make sure you let everyone know to report back here for free pints when they’re finished. We’re tapping a keg of Happy Planet Pilsner at fifteen-hundred hours.”
“Yes, sir!” Jules replied, pulling a pen from behind her ear. A strand of ginger hair flung down below her chin as she reviewed her list.
“Where are my garbage pickers?” Regina DuPont bellowed from the doorway.
“Reggie!” called Jules, waving. “You made it!”
One of Jules’ best girlfriends, Reggie was a petite yet regal blonde with ice-blue eyes. As an EMT medic, she was absolutely unflappable—with an occasionally wicked sense of humor.
At the moment, she had her hands full, balancing boxes of trash bags and rubber gloves, and a stack of yellow safety vests ready to distribute to the roadside cleanup crews. [CLICK READ MORE BELOW THE PICTURE TO CONTINUE!]
Imagine you are a Regency miss about to travel to London for your first Season. What's the most important thing you need to know – apart from how to dance gracefully (not the waltz, that dance is terribly improper for young girls!), how to sing prettily, not to traipse around London on your own (*gasp!*), and not to walk or drive down St. James's Street under any circumstances? You need to know how to address all the titled personages you're about to meet, of course!
The British were (and still are) a very class-conscious bunch, and not to know the different forms of address possibly resulted in great embarrassment to yourself. So, BE PREPARED! (A most excellent motto for both boy scouts and Regency misses.)
Let's start with some basics: First names were used only among family members and intimate friends, but even for husband and wife, it wasn't too unusual to use the surname or the title when addressing each other. Remember Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in Austen's Pride and Prejudice? They used surnames when talking to each other. However, there's every indication that Lizzie and Mr. Darcy won't follow that example, but will use a much more informal form of address with each other, as was becoming more and more fashionable among young people.
Women more readily used first names with each other than men: familiarity among men was typically indicated by using last names (without "Mr."), titles (without "Lord"), or abbreviations of titles (even among family members, abbreviations of titles were often used). Thus, even among the members of the Cavendish family, the son and heir of the 5th Duke of Devonshire was known as "Hart" after his courtesy title of Marquess of Hartington. Indeed, even his own mother, the fêted Georgiana, called him Hart instead of by his Christian name William.
And speaking of titles – now, how do you address people of rank and title? (We will assume that our Regency miss meets them only face to face and doesn't write to them – who's got time to write letters in the middle of the London Season anyway?!? – and won't cover the specific rules of how to address people of rank in written correspondence.)
Order of Precedence
Among the peerage, there are five different grades of… hm… aristocratic exaltedness:
duke / duchess
marquess / marchioness
earl / countess
viscount / viscountess
baron / baroness
As most titled people bore (and still bear) more than one title, the heir of a peer (typically the eldest son) would be given one of said peer's lesser titles as a so-called courtesy title. That way, everybody would know to be extra nice to him because he was destined for power and privilege when he inherits.
Should you be so lucky as to meet a duke – sadly, they weren't quite as common as our Regency novels might lead you to believe (I've seen estimates of 27 English dukes total in existence during the Regency period) – let's say, William Snorris, who holds the title of Duke of Mulberingham, you would formally address him in conversation as "Your Grace" (if you know him socially, you might even address him as "Duke"). His wife Sarah would also be addressed as "Your Grace" (or "Duchess"). His eldest son bears the courtesy title of Marquess of Snotheringham and would be addressed as Lord Snotheringham and "My Lord". The younger sons of a duke are addressed as "Lord + first name"; the daughters as "Lady + first name." In conversation, our duke would be referred to as either "the Duke" (if there was no other duke around) or "the Duke of Mulberingham."
The Marquess of Twillham is referred to as Lord Twillham in conversation and is addressed as "My Lord" (formally) or "Lord Twillham" (socially). His marchioness is addressed as either "My Lady" (formally) or "Lady Twillham" (socially). His eldest son is known by his courtesy title; his younger sons are addressed as "Lord + first name" and his daughters as "Lady + first name." (BTW, if you've seen it also spelled "Marquis" that is the French spelling, which became more common in England during the Victorian era, due to a warming of relations between France and England with the Napoleonic wars a few decades behind them.)
John Willingham, who holds the title of Earl of Alwinton, is referred to as Lord Alwinton in conversation and is addressed as "My Lord" (formally) or "Lord Alwinton" (socially). His countess is addressed as either "My Lady" (formally) or "Lady Alwinton" (socially). His eldest son is known by his courtesy title; his younger sons are addressed as Mr. Willingham and his daughter as "Lady + first name."
Willam Winsworth, who holds the title of Viscount Crumley (no "of"!!!), is referred to as Lord Crumley in conversation and is addressed as "My Lord" (formally) or "Lord Crumley (socially). His viscountess is Lady Crumley and is addressed as either "My Lady" or "Lady Crumley." All of his sons are addressed as Mr. Winsworth and his daughter as Miss Winsworth.
John Green, who holds the title of Baron Snodworth, is always referred to as Lord Snodworth and is addressed as either "My Lord" (formally) or "Lord Snodworth" (socially). His wife is Lady Snodworth and is addressed as either "My Lady" (formally) or "Lady Snodworth) socially. Lord Snodworth's sons are all addressed as Mr. Green and his daughter as "Miss Green."
If our Regency miss wants to learn ALL about the members of the peerage before she comes to London, she's well advised to buy a copy of Debrett's, which was and is the who-is-who of the British aristocracy. From Debrett's you can learn all about who married whom, what kind of names they gave to their children, what's their family history, etc. People would often add handwritten notes to entries of peers they were interested in or knew socially. (You can visit their Very Interesting website here: http://www.debretts.com/.)
So what's a Regency miss to do if she's still hopelessly confused by those dratted titles (and we haven't touched upon the members of the gentry and those pesky barons and knights!)? Best perfect your dancing, my dear, so you can at least shine in that regard! :)
Sometimes you wake up on a Spring morning and there’s snow—lots of it!—as many of you have been experiencing. Me, too.
I woke up on this fair Sunday excited to get over to the plant nursery and pick out flowers for the pair of urns I have outside my front door. (I’m thinking a tall spiky plant for the center, surrounded by begonias or geraniums if they have them yet, alternating with soft feathery Mexican Heather to fill in the space and hang over the edge.) But lo and behold, my container gardening plans fizzled as I woke up to find a coating of snow all over the ground.
The expectant mother robins perched in my apple tree (which is covered in buds—I can hardly wait to see all those pink blooms) looked extremely annoyed. I swear their little beaks were frowning, and who can blame them? But hey, snow happens!
It’s ironic. Even as we’re Spring cleaning, decluttering, and organizing at this time of year, the whole theme of April seems to be surprises. I guess it’s appropriate that the month starts off with April Fools’ Day ~ to say nothing of tax day! When I was thinking about what to say on today’s blog, it occurred to me that maybe the overall lesson of April each year is simply this: Roll with it.
You never know what you’re gonna get in April. Dark dramatic thunderclouds or balmy skies. Massive wind gusts or playful breezes perfect for flying kites. It’s probably good to get this annual reminder that we can’t always plan everything.
Lord knows that describes how my writing went last week—which is probably why I noticed this! I don’t mind telling you it’s aggravating when you find yourself running behind. Aside from working on the next Moonlight Square book, and revising the first Harmony Falls novel, I am also finishing up the last couple of chapters in the fifth Gryphon Chronicles story, SECRETS OF THE DEEP. Our hero Jake is thirteen now, so maybe that is why this book is being so ornery. (I don’t know about you but I was a PITA at thirteen.)
Another massive tome of some 120,000 words, SECRETS OF THE DEEP is so close to being done. I really thought I could do at least two of the four final chapters last week. But, surprise, surprise, I ran into a big action climax scene that slowed my progress to a snail’s pace. This was mainly because I had to stop and invent a bunch of stuff setting up the final installment of the series. So, the chapters I’d hoped to finish didn’t get done, and I’d been grinding my teeth over it. But when I saw that snow this morning and the pissed-off looking robins, I had to chuckle at myself and got the message loud and clear: Roll with it, baby! Lol.
Life is full of surprises, big and small – heck, some of us were born as surprises to our parents! As the old saying goes:
Man plans ~ God laughs.
So now hopefully I will remind myself next time a "surprise" pops up to look for the beauty, pleasure, or at least the humor in these little unexpected twists and turns. Ah, well! If all of life really could be orderly and planned, how boring would that be?! Do you like surprises? Vote & share with your friends! :)
By the way, if you got pranked this April Fools’ Day or if you tricked somebody else, PLEASE share the gory details below! I would love to hear all about it. :)
Thanks for visiting! I hope your Spring is off to a great start.
PS—My April Giveaway for subscribers has been announced, and it’s a good one ~ a triple whammy! You can check it out here.