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TJ Bown, Summerset Abbey, and Water.

In the brief teaser I tacked onto yesterdays blog post I let you know there would be a special interview today, and I’m not going to disappoint!  I had the chance to ask author TJ Brown a few questions in regards to her new release Summerset Abbey and the series it kicks off.  So, let’s jump right in!

TD:  Was there a certain event or idea that inspired the book?

TJ:  I have always loved the Edwardian period, but after Downton Abbey aired, I really wanted to write something in that period. I told my agent, we should pitch an Edwardian and she asked me what I had in mind. 5 weeks later I had a contract for a three book Edwardian series!

TD:  I know this is your first foray into historical fiction, did this pose any particular challenges or did you find it was a natural fit for you?

TJ:  It actually isn’t my first foray into historical fiction. Six months prior to getting the Summerset Abbey contract, I got a contract for a young adult series set in the 1920’s. So even though it won’t be out until June (Born of Illusion, June 15th!), I wrote it before the Summerset Series.

I honestly never thought I would be a historical writer, even though I love history and reading historicals. I just thought I had a more modern voice and the research intimidated me. But I had this idea that wouldn’t go away and once I wrote Born of Illusion I was hooked. Of course, Summerset is in a different time period, but before I started writing it, I figured that I had done so much research for the twenties, surely ten years prior couldn’t be that big of a difference could it? Was I ever wrong. 1914 England was a whole different world than 1924 New York. I had to start the research all over again! And I love it!

TD:  Can you tell me a little about your process?

TJ:  Usually, I start with a concept for a plot. Just a sketchy idea. Then the characters’ come. It’s rather like putting together a puzzle. And then my plot constantly changes and develops as I write. I’m not quite a seat of my pants writer, but the Summerset books have been unusually organic for me.

TD:  How many books do you foresee in this series?

TJ:  I am contracted for three but I have an idea for a fourth that my editor likes. Nothing is set in stone yet, and it may not happen, but I do have a fourth Summerset book in mind. We’ll see! But four for sure.

TD:  Do you have a favourite character or is there one who resonates more with you than the others?

TJ:  Victoria. In all of my books I have at least one over the top character and in Summerset Abbey, Victoria is the one. She is smart and imaginative and she says almost everything that comes into her mind. I adore her. Even though all girls are featured, Bloom in Winter is her book, and I had such an awesome time working on it!

So there you have it folks!  TJ Brown on her new book, Summerset Abbey, her process, and on writing historical fiction.  Now all that’s left is to drop a few details.  😉

Summerset Abbey is available at:

Book Blurb:

  • Summerset Abbey
    1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women
    seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of
    society and the distant rumblings of war. . . .
    Rowena Buxton
    Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women
    in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister
    Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she
    believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under
    their uncle's guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey.
    Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the "under class" in
    this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive
    social circle of aristocratic "rebels," Rowena must decide where her true
    passions-and loyalties-lie.
    Victoria Buxton
    Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams
    of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most
    unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a
    family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever.
    Prudence Tate
    Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their
    bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess's daughter, and
    to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her
    true place in society-as ladies maid to her beloved "sisters." But Pru
    doesn't belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than
    she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls.  And when a young lord catches
    her eye, she begins to wonder if she'll ever truly carve out a place for
    herself at Summerset Abbey.

For more check out TJ at http://tjbrownbooks.com/

TJ Brown, author headshot

Author TJ Brown – Hooray for MomWriters!


Now, as if that alone doesn’t make one heck of a blog post, I still have more for you!  That’s right… we’re still in the middle of the January Photo Challenge – and I’m not one to give up on a challenge.  So here we are.  😉

The challenge today was to photograph water.  Easy peasy, right?  Yep.  Here’s the girl, immersed in the stuff:

kid in the bathtub

My little bathing beauty.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a LITTLE more of an actual challenge…

photo a day challenge for january

Something I’ve bought?  Well…  I guess there’s at least a little bit of thought to go into that one.  😉

 

A glittering sparkling sea of tulle

I had full intention of sharing a little of our daily routine today, just as the January photo a day challenge demands…  however, our routine wasn’t routine.  In fact, our routine simply WASN’T.

Early this morning I got a phone call from my sister.  She wanted to take Lily-Ann out for breakfast and then for a walk down by the river.  The girl has been aching for some time with her auntie, and I was more than happy to make things work.  So the girl and I jumped out of bed, she picked out some clothes (I sent her back to pick out something different – a summer dress just doesn’t work for a walk in the snow), got dressed, threw on her outerwear, and she was ready to go!

So what did I do with my kid-free morning?  I worked on a tutu her pre-k EA had commissioned.  🙂

Last year I made a purple, plum, and black tutu for Rhonda’s Halloween costume.  She was a wicked fairy.  It turned out wonderfully.  I made it extra long and super wild.  It ended up being such a big hit that she keeps it at school to wear every so often, just for fun (and has even lent it to some of the other staff – both male and female).  Well, last month she asked me to make another one for her… this one with a water theme.  And I have to say, it’s turned out beautifully!

It was the most complex tutu I’ve done to date, with five different colours of tulle.  All various shades of blue, including one earthy blue that was covered in sparkle.  I alternated lights and darks so that while Rhonda walks it will look like ocean waves, cresting and flowing – light to dark.  It’s a very elegant tutu.

Lily-Ann and I dropped it off for her at school on our way to Lily-Ann’s classroom.  Rhonda was just thrilled, and I’m sooo glad.  Damon even overheard her raving about her tutus when he went to pick the girl up after school – which made me feel pretty good.

tulle, elegantly flowing from dark to light and back again

the tulle elegantly flows from dark to light and back again, like the ebbing of the ocean tide kissed by the glittering moon.

I really do love working with tulle.  Tutus are one of my very favourite things to sew.

I really do love working with tulle. Tutus are one of my very favourite things to sew.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little more successful with the challenge topic.  After all, with such an open topic I’m sure the bigger problem with be narrowing it down.  😉

photo a day challenge for january

Drinking Water Advisory

 

precautionary drinking water advisory

…because receiving something like this always makes your day THAT much better.  Ugh.

 

boil water advisory

How many plumbers does it take to snake a drain?

How many times does it take to have a plumber actually FIX whatever the heck is wrong?  Seriously?  We’ve now had people from the city out four times, and had someone we hired privately out twice…  and the issue with our basement flooding over and over again is still going on.  We’ve had a couple different drains snaked, and one of them had a video feed fed through it so we could actually see the pipes, but now it looks like we need to stick video equipment down another drain.  ACK!  It just never seems to end.  😦

While I read to the girl and put her to sleep, Damon has been out at my Grampa’s place.  He’s borrowing a toilet snake.  When he gets home we’re going to snake that particular drain ourselves and see if that makes a difference.

Good grief.  I mean seriously.  I just want this over and done with so we can start enjoying our new home.  :/

Hot Water Heater Blues

We took possession of our new place on November 10th.  November 15th we handed over the keys to our old place.  November 21st our hot water heater spews water on the floor.  Yep.

So, we kinda figured, after trying our first bath here, that we’d need to be looking at replacing the hot water system here.  If your heater can’t produce enough hot water to get the tub to your five year old’s belly button?  It’s a good sign it’s not working well.  But yeah…  todays epic adventure (complete with cat stranded on top of the washing machine terrified and mewing loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear as the water crept closer, and in the end trapping her in the laundry room) kinda synched things.

This is not fun.  We need to find an eco-friendly professional who understands the need to balance a desire to be as green as possible with a practical need to stick to a budget.  Someone who can help us figure out the best system for our family, which may well include multiple options working together to create a system friendly to both our Earth and our pocketbook.  I’m not looking forward to having to find said professional in a hurry.  This is definitely the kind of search I’d like to take my time with…  but I suppose that’s the way it goes.

Here, something fun.  Go make food in jars:  http://www.bystephanielynn.com/2011/07/50-different-foods-you-can-put-in-jar.html  ‘Cause mason jars make everything look cuter and taste better.  🙂

I LURVE me some kitchen gadgets!

Okay, I have to share.  We have a couple of new toys in our house and I LURVE them.  LOL  And just like when I find a new local business I love, when I find a new product I love, I just can’t help but gush over it.  Thanks to Yule and Christmas, we’ve got two!

On Yule, Damon and Lily-Ann bought me a little gadget for the kitchen.  Damon thought it would be hit or miss, that I’d either love it or think he’d gone off his rocker…  but the girlie?  She knew this was THE thing to get.  And she was right. I love my BabyCakes cupcake maker.  Kid kid and I have sooo much fun making cupcakes by the dozens.

babycakes cupcake maker

Cupcakes that normally take 20 – 25 minutes in a regular oven are done in six minutes.  SIX MINUTES!  Do you know how many cupcakes you can make when they get done THAT quickly?  The first time we went totally overkill.  LOL  We ended up with several dozen of them, and I had to learn real quick how to store them.  Now we know better how to pace ourselves.  I’m looking forward to making muffins, mini-pies, quiches, and I’m also going to try pancake batter.  I figure pancake batter with a buttercream/maple syrup icing would be amazing!  And can you imagine with a little sliver of bacon on the top for garnish?  Like how cute would that be?  Breakfast pancakes.  LOL

Yes, I’m THAT grrrl.

The other super cool gadget we got for Christmas (we asked my parent’s for it, and they lovingly obliged) was a Sodastream pop maker.  Have you heard of these things yet?  If not, you absolutely MUST look into them.  My husband drinks a lot of pop, drives me batty.  It’s so unhealthy.  But this little gadget works with CO2 canisters to turn regular old tap water into carbonated water.  From there the possibilities are almost endless!

sodastream starter pack

By adding their syrups you can create any number of soda pop types.  I’ve yet to find one that isn’t BETTER than the ready made store brands.  Their cola and gingerale are both wonderful.  But I’ll admit, my favourite so far is the Green Tea Pomegranate Peach.  I’m not a pop drinker normally.  I’ll have a sip here or there of something carbonated, but I generally avoid the stuff.  But this?  Oh my goodness!!!  Sooo good!

green tea pomegranate peachAnd even better?  You can add just about anything to your fresh, homemade, carbonated water.  Things like fresh squeezed juice or berries!  Just a dash of lemon is divine!  And it’s sooo much healthier AND better for the planet.  I’m really hoping this is going to help my husband turn over a new healthy green leaf.

So yeah!  Two awesome kitchen gadgets well worth checking out.  And both are easy enough to use that kid-kid (who is four and a half) can use them.  So yay!  Just click on any of the images above to go to their respective websites.  No, I’m not getting any kick backs for sharing, and yes, I just snagged the images off their websites (but uploaded them here – no bandwidth stealing).  Yeah, okay…  I’m a total dork, but I just LURVE getting awesome new gadgets, and these two are total winners in my book!

Keep Hydrating!

Sorry everyone.  Not feeling well tonight…  but I did want to log on to share anyway…  So here’s my motivational message for the night:  Keep Hydrating!

Water is important.  And in most places, tap water is just as good (if not better) than bottled water.  So buy yourself a nice refillable bottle (mine is glass and says “tap water” on it) and refill often.

Keep Hydrating!

Get your own “tap water” water bottle here:  http://www.tapwater-bottle.com/.  I LOVE mine.  Seriously, it is probably one of my very favourite “just mine” things.  I truly love my water bottle.  A little geeky?  yeah…  but that’s okay.  LOL

Spray Park

It’s finally warm enough to hit the spray parks here in Saskatoon.  We have quite a few of them, and they are an awesome way to spend a hot afternoon.  🙂

Here’s the wee girlie, attempting to divert the flow from one spray so that it gets closer to where mommy and daddy are.  Took a bit of concentration, but she did it.

at the spray park

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