Project Runway and other shows

I love watching Project Runway!  Not only is it a wonderful study in personalities, it is fabulous to see how they design clothes that speak to different people in the world.  Tonight's show was about creating a design for woman on the go.  I like when the designers create a story for the woman who would wear their clothes.  It's like they are creating a heroine for a story.  "this woman would be working in advertising during the day and is going out on the town with her gal pals" or something like that.

It just goes to show that everyone is a storyteller in their life.

There are several shows like Project Runway that I like to watch because it gives me a glimpse into people's personalities.  Many people who watch these shows feel they must be staged.  That the people in them are really just actors who are thrown into a mix to create the most drama possible.  While I can see this could be possible with a few of the reality shows out there, I think in some of them it's too difficult to manage.  I am not a big reality tv person, because I just do not have the time to watch them.  (like you I am writing during my free time).  But I do know several people who watch these shows all the time and feel invested in the lives of the people on the shows.  It's the talk around the water cooler situation!

When you look at the people who are gathered on these shows, they are like a microcosm of most people's workplaces.  Think about where you work (if you work outside the house) and I bet you can imagine your own workplace as a tv reality show.  There are divas everywhere.  There are the serious workers.  There are the non-compliant workers.  There are the back-stabbers.  I bet you can think of several others to add to your list.  You are just too busy sometimes to notice them.

So, next time you are at work, think about how your workplace would make the perfect reality tv show.


Changing Things Up

I like to change things up.  I hate when things are always the same.  I get bored very easily.  Lately, the part of my life that needed changing up was my exercise routine.  My writing is always different, so that part of my life did not need changing.

I do not run.  I do not job.  I have never been a fan of either of those activities. I like to move and to dance, but sometimes it's hard to fit those activities into my life.  So, this summer I decided to jazz up my exercise routines.  I ride my bike - usually about 16 miles.  Sometimes I ride around the park while my daughter is swimming laps and sometimes I ride through the forest preserves.  I like the way nature surrounds me during these times.  While riding through the forest preserves I get to see deer and chipmunks and other animals (If I'm lucky).  At the park, I am surrounded by squirrels.  Apparently the squirrels have had a great time reproducing this past winter because there are dozens of them all over.

I also like to speed-walk.  Now, this is not that speed walking you see on television.  I use arm motions and walk to be beat of my music blaring through my ipod.  I have put together playlists to help motivate me during these times.  Sometimes I will pause at the playlot area and do step aerobics to switch things up.

I have also come to love my Kinect.  I purchased two different programs that I use.  One is the Biggest Loser and the other is Zumba.  I love Zumba.  I can pick whatever length and whatever type of music that piques my interest.

The last type of aerobics I have been doing lately, since it is summer, is water aerobics.  I have a pool in my backyard and I have been getting the most out of it while I can.  Sometimes I do a combination of the different exercises depending on my mood.

I planned on bike riding tomorrow, but my friend just informed me it is going to rain tomorrow.  Looks like I will be switching it up once more.

Take care,


Always editing

Reading other people's books for pleasure is very difficult when you're a writer.  You can't help analyzing every aspect of the book as you read it.  There have been many times when I thought I would just read for fun, but then before I knew it, I was thinking about the opening scene.  I began to take note of the hero and heroine's character points.  I know you do this too.

I have also noted how I look at movies.  Apparently I do the same thing while watching them.  I look at the characters and wonder about their arc.  I analyze the setting and think about all the inconsistencies.  I listen closely to the dialogue and think - who in the world wrote that OR wow, that was awesome.

Just curious - do you do this as well?


Espionage in the 18th Century

Socializing was the best time to spy

Lately, I have been working on a set of novels that involve espionage.  In my first novel, My Lover is a Spy, it’s pretty obvious where the espionage comes into play.  Our hero, is an American colonist who is spying for Great Britain (this is 30 years before the American Revolution).  In my second novel, (not sure of the name at the moment) Ice Moon, my hero is the leader of the spy ring in Britain and works closely with Pelham.  I did a bit of research for espionage during that time and thought I would share it with you.

Here are some tidbits about espionage during the 18th century:

Americans usually remember Benedict Arnold and Nathan Hale, two spies during the Revolutionary War.  Benedict Arnold turned against the patriots and spied for the British. Nathan Hale was captured by the British and hung because he was spying for the patriots.  His famous words were “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country”.
Nathan Hale

Benedict Arnold

Not many people knew that George Washington was a “spymaster”.  During the war, a group called the Culper Ring was secretly sending messages to Washington about movements of the British in New York.  The leader of this group, also known as the Setauket Spies were run by Benjamin Tallmadge whose code name was Samuel Culper.
George Washington

Benjamin Franklin was surrounded by spies while he lived in England.  He lived at Franklin House in London from 1757 to 1775 while he was ambassador and the British were always hoping to find out information about the colonies while visiting him.
Benjamin Franklin

John Honeyman is a controversial spy during the Revolutionary War. Some believe the stories about him are just fabrications and yet his legend continues.  The stories state he was a double agent. He brought Washington information about the movements of the Hessians during the winter of 76-77, and he supplied the Hessians with false information about Washington’s troops.  Some believe Honeyman’s tales cannot be true since they find no record of him in Washington’s correspondence.  Just the same, his tales are interesting.

Major John Andre is usually mentioned when talking about Benedict Arnold. He was captured by the patriots while spying for the British.  The British wanted him back but he was hanged.
Margaret Kemble Gage

General Thomas Gage

A surprising spy was Margaret Kemble Gage, the wife of General Thomas Gage.  He was British and she was a colonist. During the early stages of the war, it was said she sent word of her husband’s strategies with Lexington and Concord.  Her husband sent her to live in England for the remainder of the war once he learned of her actions.
the salons of Versailles were filled with spies

The American Revolution was not the only time when spies were being used during the 18th century.  During this time, many advances were being made.  Inventions were being made at such a rapid rate that countries were sending men to spy on other  countries and steal their ideas.  France sent many spies to steal ideas from the British during this time.
King Louis needed to know about the British

Marie Antoinette had her own spies

Daniel Lescallier was a French spy who gathered information on the British Navy and brought the industrial information back to France.  He lived from 1743 to 1822.
Halls of Versailles

William Wickham was a British spy during the French Revolution.  He was a spymaster who worked against the revolutionaries in France, hoping to bring the monarchy back into power.

The Chevalier d’Eon was a French spy who spent the first 49 years of his life as a man and the last 33 years as a woman.  In 1756 he was a member of Le Secret du Roi, an espionage ring that spied for Louis XV.  He was so good at his job that when he died, everyone thought he was a woman until the doctor examined his body and discovered his secret.

A few tricks of the trade: 
Invisible ink was used to send secret messages.  Sometimes it would be written on a blank piece of paper, but usually the hidden words would be written between the lines of a normal letter.  The words would only appear through a chemical reaction or by using heat to bring the words out.
quills were used to hide messages

Special codes were designed which included letters, numbers, specific word counts, or symbols.  The codes would be written in regular letters and sent to a person who had a code book who could decipher the letter.  Benedict Arnold was a spy who would use a cipher to deliver his messages.

A blind drop was when a letter would be sent to one location and picked up by another person and delivered to a different person.  Sometimes these letters would be sent odd ways.  For instance, the letter might be in long thin strips inside a quill.  They might be rolled up into a metal bullet.  Sometimes they would be swallowed so no one would find the evidence of the letters.

Spies could be men or women. They could be best friends, husbands, wives, or even the person living next door.  The best spies were the ones no one knew about.  For instance, the Culper Ring was not discovered until this century when someone found a trunk in an attic filled with special codes and materials used for send on the messages.  For nearly one hundred and fifty years no one even knew of their existence.  Now that’s a good spy ring.

I read about a novelist during the 18th century whose novels included stories of a young lady who would become invisible when she secured a belt around her waist.  She could then spy in social and political circles since no one could see her.  Quite a clever spy and trick for the 18th century.