Brummell & Byron: The Two heartthrobs of the Regency Era

BEAU BRUMMELL: This Charming Man

The wickedly handsome James Purefoy stars in this drama about the notorious dandy Beau Brummell. Forerunner of today’s celebrity culture, Brummell became famous for his impeccable dress sense and connections with the right people, including the Prince Regent.

Credited with making a less flashy and more elegant style of dress fashionable, the beautifully cut clothing that he made popular is seen as an early version of the suit. Having risen to a height of popularity, however, descent was swift. Brummell died penniless in France, having lost the favour of the Prince.

I am no history buff and yet was able to pick up on many glaring historical inaccuracies. However, as I watched this period movie knowing it would be pretty bad, I was able to enjoy it. After all, I watched this movie only to admire James Purefoy. Gorgeous, and a great actor, I am all bewilderment that he hasn’t been casted in every single period drama.

I could NOT enjoy this period movie to the fullest because of Matthew Rhys who played Lord Byron, a close friend of Brummells (or so it seems to be, according to the movie). He gave me the creepers.

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GEORGE GORDEN BYRON: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

I think my dislike for Rhys as Byron is due to my having already watched BYRON (2003) in which Jonny Lee Miller played the role of Lord Byron. The movie was very entertaining! Don’t let the movie’s poster frighten you; I was at first put off by it. But intense boredom led me to watch it and I was amazed by how intriguing the movie was.

Byron was considered to be an alcoholic, a sex-addict, a pedophile, and an adulterer who had an affair with his half-sister. Despite the rumours, whether they be true or false, he wrote exquisite poems:

SHE walks in beauty, like the nightOf cloudless climes and starry skies;And all that’s best of dark and brightMeet in her aspect and her eyes:Thus mellow’d to that tender lightWhich heaven to gaudy day denies. One shade the more, one ray the less,Had half impair’d the nameless graceWhich waves in every raven tress,Or softly lightens o’er her face;Where thoughts serenely sweet expressHow pure, how dear their dwelling-place. And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,The smiles that win, the tints that glow,But tell of days in goodness spent,A mind at peace with all below,A heart whose love is innocent!

On another note, Byron inspired for us writers the BYRONIC FIGURE. Maria described the figure as thus: “For Byronic hero we intend the literary type G.G. Byron created in his works: Lara, The Corsair, Manfred and even Don Juan. His literary hero is restless, moody, rebellious, wild in manners but of noble birth, haunted by a secret from his past, loved by women and envied by men. This is what Byronic hero means in literary criticism. You can recognize the same type in Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester or Emily Bronte’s Heathcliffs. They are not pedofiles nor incestuous creatures but they are Byronic heroes. G.G. Byron , the man is not to be confused with his heroes nor with the poet who lives in his beautiful lines. These is what I learnt at university. A literary masterpiece has its own independent life, independent from the life of its author.

Ok. I’ll wrap it up. James Purefoy is gorgeoussss. If you want to drool, watch Beau Brummell. If you’re curious about Byron watch the 2003 movie directed by Julian Farino or buy the biography by MacCarthy and read along with me.

Period Movie Collection

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The deadline by which I will finish my revision and send back to Agent#1: May 13th

How to Survive Your Journey to Publication 101

Agent#1 had requested my full manuscript two months ago. In one of her interviews she stated that it took her two to three months to review a full manuscript. So I decided I would wait one more month before emailing her to check up on the status of my book. Because, otherwise, I’d be stuck waiting unproductively, blindly, as I had given her the exclusive she’d requested (meaning, I wouldn’t be able to query to other agents while my work was up for review—this allows agents not to be under the pressure of having the material stolen from them while she read). 

However, though I tried to play the Waiting Game with an optimistic spirit, my patience began to wear thin. And this Sunday was the worst. I had a dream that an email from the agent had arrived, offering representation. The dream was so vivid that I thought it had really happened. So when I woke up I checked my email account, assured that the email from her was there—only to find that my mind had played a mean, mean prank on me. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach.

I went to church that day, pinning a fake smile onto my lips, and so naturally no one noticed how miserable I was feeling. The only evidence of the stress I was under was the cold sore on my lips. Being patient is just so hard, especially when your entire ambition, your dream, is hanging onto that one email or phone call from the agent, informing you whether or not she loved your work enough to contract it. I, of course, knew that if she rejected me, there would be others; but during the time in which a writer must wait, hope naturally builds. And I was growing afraid of how I’d deal with rejection. Because, two months… really …. If she loved my work I knew she’d have contacted me within a few weeks. At least, that was the case for my other agented writer friends.

Anyway, I was miserable. But then Cristina gave me a present—The Little Prince. It’s the book she has been telling me to read for some time now. Inside the cover, she had written: Dear June, May you be completely touched by the magic of this story. This act of complete random kindness moved me so much. It was just what I needed to chase away the gloom that had been looming over me for the past few weeks. It was a present that told me that I was remembered and not forgotten. That I existed.

I began reading the book today. And, indeed, the book was magical. Never in my life would I have imagined myself tearing up over the love story between a boy and a flower. But I did. And while reading the book, I felt like a child again, I felt that appreciation for the simplest things in life. You can’t imagine how surprised I was with myself when my heart twisted into a knot by the end of the story. It was oh-so-sad! I wish I could tap into my feelings and try to put into words WHY I was feeling what I was. But I can’t seem to. Maybe you guys, who have a better understanding of the book, will explain to me why the story is so magical. I guess, maybe, it’s the significance the book places on a individual life.

ANYWAY. While I was nearing the end of the book, I received an email on my blackberry. It was….from AGENT#1!!! It was a short message saying that my book was next in their stack for reading and whether the book was still available. I had to calm myself for a few seconds before replying YESS YESS IT IS!!!!—but, of course, in a more professional manner. I asked her how long it would take before I received the final consensus, and she replied that it wouldn’t be much longer!

How weird is it that this email arrived right after the day I had been feeling SO hopeless? …I don’t believe in coincidences. Of all the days—it was today that the email came, the day when I felt so lost on my road to publication, not knowing whether I should just start querying again, assuming I’d been rejected, or whether I should just continue to wait without knowing WHAT I was waiting for.

But, more than that, I realized how pointless worrying was. I had put myself through psychological torment, doubting myself, hoping, then telling myself I shouldn’t hope—when actually all of those emotions would have served no purpose at all. My manuscript was in the stack, yet unread, during the two months in which I had been worrying.   

The Waiting Game requires fortitude, I realize. And lots of confidence—a confidence that even if you are rejected, it won’t matter, as it only means that you need to query some more to filter out the uninterested agents until you find The Literary Agent. Hope and the love for your manuscript—these two factors are the key to survival.

And before I end this entry, I’d like to give a shout out to Sarah J. Maas, a fellow Let The Words Flow contributor, whose book THE QUEEN OF GLASS has been sold to the major publishing house BLOOMSBURY!!!! And also, congratulations to fellow Historical Romance writer Rika Ashton for finally having taken the next step to publication—querying to agents! The best of luck to the two lovely ladies.

Updating Blog at 4am

1) I’ve entered Rowenna’s book-give-away contest! This is my very FIRST contest ever that I’ve entered online. I’ll be bummed if I don’t win an autographed copy of one of her used books!!!! I hope she’ll hold several more contests. And reading her entry made me want to hold contests as well. Small ones. Maybe in the summer time.

2) Still waiting for the response from Agent#1 and 2. I am preparing myself for the worst. This isn’t because I’m a pessimist. I’m a fairly optimistic person in fact. But, ok, I’ll compromise, my attitute is called: Statistically logical pessimism. I’m sure that only one in every ten writers get signed on by an agent on her/his first try (the nine writers who got rejected–it doesn’t mean they’re any worse. It only means that they have not yet found THE Agent). Plus. The more pessimistic I am, the less disappointed I will be when rejected, and the more overjoyed I will be when asked for the full MS request. It all works out in the end. GAHHHH ok. To tell you the truth, I am rather hopeful about Agent#1, and I WILL BE SOMEWHAT devastated if she rejects me. She is the agent who, after exchanging a few emails back and forth with, made me do a 180 degree career change (in regards to which market I want to publish in). But, rest assured dear readers, I will forge on should I be plopped into a worst-case scenerio. Writers, when you get rejected, remember to tell yourself this: “My book is a story that MUST be told.” This ambition alone will drive you on, no matter how many rejections it takes.

3) My answer to LTWF question of the week: If you had to pick one “theme song” for your novel, what would it be? is being reposted onto my blog because the piece is just too beautiful to share on only one site:

I would pick Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ (movement 1 Allegro non molto) for my historical romance, THE RUNAWAY COURTESAN. When I began writing TRC two years ago, this piece was in my playlist, and though I’ve removed and added new songs to my list, ‘Winter’ has always remained. And it was actually this piece I was listening to while writing an outline for my book. Each note in ‘Winter’ struck a chord in my heart, flashed scenes before my eyes, of a fallen woman lost in the glamorous, yet decadent Regency society. Ahhh! It’s heartbreakingly lovely. There’s something about Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ that sends a shiver down my spine each time I listen to it.

4) I told Bennetts that when I finally visit England one day I would like to hire a historybuff so I might ask millions of questions that would be answered with great enthusiasm. His answer gave the term “Historybuff” a whole new etymology: Buff is the colour of my breeches. Historian is my job description. Yes, here is me and my ga-ga adoration of this most intelligent historical fic writer. Strain your eyes and admire him as I do.

5) I will try not to write blog posts so late at night/early in the morning. Badly done, June. And I didn’t even mean to write this comment. But an hour later I return to this post to add thought number 5. I think this is the con about being a novelist. If you have a keyboard beneath your fingertips, even though you’re writing utter nonesense, it’s still fun.

O.K. Goodnight!

Post-Querying emotions: Tummy Butterflies Died then came back Alive

Warning: This post is (overly) emotional. I’ve warned you, so please do excuse me.

I recall bragging for a while that if I get rejected by an agent I’d accept it with a smile, simply glad that I took this initiative.

I have never been more wrong.

There is so much emotion put into the process of Preparing-To-Query and sending out the query letters, that I now know why some writers break down when rejected.

I went to campus to pick up my History Paper, and seeing that I did very well on it, I became all optimistic. I thought: today is my day, today is the day I can conquer the world. So with much confidence I went to the library at my university to start emailing my first batch of query letters. Yeah, I couldn’t even wait to get home to do this. Three hours later I was still sitting in front of the computer. With icy, trembling fingers. There was a void in my chest when I sent my last letter.

For half an hour afterwards I wandered the streets. How well the weather reflected my mood. A veil of rain was falling from the gloomy blue sky. In my mind I kept thinking to myself that I probably formatted my cover letter wrong (the query letter, sample chapters, and synopsis). But more than this, I was disturbed by the newness of the stage I had stepped into. I’ve been in the writing-and-revising phase for so long that to move out of this comfort zone was totally unsettling.

When I wrote the Pre-Querying post I was so certain that what I wrote in Post-Querying blogpost would be brimming with triumph.

But no.

Needing to settle my overly sensitive nerves, I stepped into a coffee shop to get a drink. I sat down and stared at my Chai Latte (my new obsession thanks to Rowenna) for a long long long time. I wanted to curl into a ball and sob. The reality of publishing finally struck me. By querying it meant I wanted an agent to expose my manuscript to the world. Expose my heart. How would the world accept it? Would they love it? Would the hate it? Or even worse—would they not even notice it? I was filled with so much self-doubt. I came to the point where I asked myself if publishing was worth all the effort.

Something inside me, in a quiet voice, answered: Yes.

After that I put all considerations of putting an end to my aspirations aside. Silly goose, I called myself, you need to grow up, you need to move on, you need to be strong. Embrace the challenge.

Ah. Now that I’ve put my feelings down into words I feel MUCH better. Yes, writing is indeed therapeutic. Now I feel light enough to go prancing about once more.

Nothing will deter me from Let[ting] The Words Flow!

Ode to Writing!

 I really have to update more often! University life is overwhelming …But, as Mr. Darcy in the ’95 adaptation says, “I will overcome this!”

1.
I must share with everyone the strangest incident that occurred last week. I was walking through campus, observing the colorful array of soggy leaves strewn across the damp sidewalk, then at the gothic 19th century architecture of our university (I love how UofT makes me feel like I’m at Hogwarts), but when I looked forward I saw someone I did not know, yet felt I should know. She had been on the phone, but came to a stumbling halt, her eyes fixed on me.

“June?” she asked, her voice hesitant.

I just stared. As the seconds passed by, this is all that went through my head: Oh….my…gosh. Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH!!!

It turns out that she was Custos Morum on Fictionpress, my reader of two (ish?) years. We both recognized each other thanks to Facebook. But how coincidental IS this?! I knew we went to the same university. But our university is the size of a city. That we should walk into each other is… !!!! (for the lack of a better word). I told my LTWF blogger team about this and they shared stories about how they met up with their readers. Though we differed in how we met our readers, one thing is the same, which is: It is SO GREAT to meet, face to face, someone who appreciates your work.

2.
This Friday I met up with Kerrie. She’s the person I sat randomly next to on my second-ish day at my English Lit lecture. We began to talk about books and discovered that we both preferred the classics to contemporary literature and that we were both interested in the publishing industry and THEN that we were both novel writers! So when we lounged at a coffee shop, both of us sipping on our hot drinks, we talked on and on about writing. It’s always so nice meeting someone with the same aspirations as myself. Now we’re planning on making a literary/writing group with a more intimate environment than the one at school. We’re going for a Bloomsbury kind of group. The thought of recreating such a group is so very, very appealing *dreamy sigh*. We’re going to meet up another week to plan this out. Then we need to start recruiting members.

3.
The query letter is FINISHED (got the thumbs up from both Sarah and Alexandra). The synopsis is 40% complete. Sarah J. Maas returned her review of my synopsis rewrite and gave me her stamp of approval–for the general structure of it, that is. There is still a lot to fix and phrases to amp. But I’m getting there! Eeeeh so excited. As I wrote on my Facebook display name this week (paraphrasing):

I CANNOT wait to start querying. Even if I get rejected, I’ll still be excited, saying something like this: YAY an agent WROTE back to ME!

Is anyone else in their querying stage? How did you feel and deal with rejection? Please help me prepare myself…*nervous laughter* As optimistic as I might sound now, I think it’s because the reality of what I’m about to do, has not yet registered in my mind.