A Chat with Andrea Patten

Andrea Patten with Inner Critic

Like many of us, Andrea Patten has been writing books — at least imaginary ones — since she could first hold a crayon. A favorite place to play was her grandmother’s desk with its endless supply of scrap paper from Gram’s classroom projects. “I’d spend hours on my stories, adding colorful covers and carefully stapling each masterpiece together. I loved writing “by Andrea Patten” in my best version of fancy handwriting on those covers.”

So, of course, one of the places her writer’s journey frequently took her was to ghostwriting. So much for the byline, huh?

“I worked for several people whose vision was far more inspiring than their ability to share it. I’m not sure how it happened the first time, but it was never uncommon for my immediate supervisor or her boss to stop by my desk and ask me to “have a look” at a speech, an article, a letter, or a memo before sharing with a wider audience.”

But those experiences helped her learn to write in different styles and voices: a CEO’s speech to motivate the staff required different writing chops than persuading legislators to provide funds for homeless teens.

“I wrote curricula and reports, financial disclosures and direct mail pieces… Brochures, classified ads, grant applications, staff bios, and company histories. It was excellent training and helped me appreciate the impact good writing can have,” says Patten.

Eventually, Andrea started to discover her voice as a writer. It’s honest, straightforward, and often funny.

“I worked in human services for a long time and wanted to continue to help people. I realized that part of that might come from sharing some of the fascinating ideas I’d picked up along the way. What Kids Need to Succeed is a book I wrote for parents, but it includes wisdom from the business world: when setting goals and making plans, start with the desired outcome in mind. Part of that book’s purpose was to help parents stop getting discouraged with day-to-day challenges and think about the bigger picture: raising future adults.”

Her latest release has similar roots. “Everybody talks about the Inner Critic, but most of the available advice doesn’t work. You can try to ignore “that voice” until you’re blue in the face but that’s not enough: the name of the game is to get it on your side… to make it an ally. You can learn to use its’ energy to your advantage.”

And, to anyone who has struggled with an Inner Critic (or Inner Editor or Inner Bully) this is very good news, indeed.

Here’s an excerpt from The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten

A few million years ago, when the inner alarm bell sounded, all stress was short-lived: prehistoric primates either responded and escaped or became part of the predator’s buffet. Period. Either way, intense stress did not last long.

Modern stress is different. It’s cumulative — and from the lizard brain’s point of view — relentless. From the jarring sound of the alarm to the gloom and doom news report that accompanies morning coffee, there’s no break. Commuting. Car horns. Caffeine. Kardashians. And that’s even before you get to work.

Most of us don’t pay attention to regular, vanilla stress. It gets stuffed because we think we should be able to handle it. We tamp it down or ignore it and assume we should be able to just power through.

Can you imagine the impact this has on the primitive part of the brain? From that perspective, we’re ignoring death threats which tends to make it cranky. Louder. More insistent. No wonder it wants to take over — you’re not paying attention and giving it relief.

Remember, the survival center’s job is to alert us to potential threats: it is NOT for deep thinking, nuance, delicate wording or high-level negotiation.

Continuing to ignore the needs of our primitive brains can lead to chronic stress, making us unreasonable and sometimes causing arguments. I don’t think that’s what it intends to do — it’s really just the old brain’s way of trying to get your attention.

To help you. When trying to get along with people at work or seeking compromise with a loved one, we need to get that thing tucked in.

Despite the problems it has caused for you, there’s much to respect and appreciate about that old brain. It:
• loves you and wants to keep you safe,
• is part of your hardwired survival mechanism,
• constantly scans your environment for threats, and • will not back down until it has been heard.

It takes hard work and a special sort of mindfulness to turn an Inner Critic into an ally, but do you have what it takes to turn it into an advantage?

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Check with your local indie bookstore for the softcover version of The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten. It is also available in e-book or softcover on amazon.com
Here is the Amazon link for all US formats.
Here is the link for Amazon UK. Andrea Patten-cover

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Filed under Andrea Patten, thoughts, Writing

Baroness Lehzen, Victoria’s Governess

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(Drawing of Louise Lehzen 1835 by Princess Victoria from Wikimedia Commons)

I have a post up on the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog. Today, I am discussing an important and formative influence on Queen Victoria: her governess and friend, Baroness Louise Lehzen. Please check it out by visiting the English Historical Fiction Authors. While you are there, please be sure to check out other great posts!

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Guest Post: Inspiration and the Earl of Ormonde by Nancy Blanton

I am privileged to host author Nancy Blanton, author of Sharavogue and her newest work The Prince of Glencurragh. Today, she is going to tell us about the source of inspiration for her new work. Over to Nancy…

I first started reading historical fiction as a teenager. I only dreamed I would one day be writing it, not believing the dream could come true. But I’ve since learned that inspiration can come from anywhere, and often the drive with it.

While researching 17th century Ireland for my second historical novel, The Prince of Glencurragh, I was stopped in my tracks by an arresting portrait of James Butler, the 12th Earl of Ormonde and the 1st Duke of Ormonde. I knew right away I had to find out more about him, because he was going to be featured in the book.

When I learned he had ascended to earldom in 1634 at just 24 years of age, I realized he was a contemporary of the characters I was already constructing. This earl became quite powerful, and led the passionate Royalist stand against English dominance under the boot of Oliver Cromwell and his army. He seemed to embody the ideal of beauty, money, and power.

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1st Duke of Ormonde by Sir Peter Lely (circa 1665) Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

This portrait captures Ormonde looking magnificent in ceremonial robes. He wears white satin trimmed in red and blue. Delicate hands grasp lance and sword; his jaw is proud, his eyes soulful and knowing. The long golden locks affirm his noble stature and remind me of a young, proud-faced Roger Daltrey, out to change the world in his own particular way – perhaps with similar sexual energy but without Daltrey’s penchant for fisticuffs.

No less appealing would have been James’s enormous wealth and power. He was born into a family tracing back to the Norman Invasion in the 12th century. The family seat became the great Kilkenny Castle from which they controlled the vast kingdom of Ormonde (including counties Waterford, Tipperary and Limerick).

Educated in London, James learned the Irish language, which was to serve him well later in life; and also met his cousin Elizabeth Butler, daughter of Sir Richard Preston, Earl of Desmond. Their marriage in 1629 ended the long-standing feud between the two families Butler and FitzGerald. In 1661, King Charles II created him the first Duke of Ormonde.

Biographer C.V. Wedgwood describes James Butler as a “high-hearted” nobleman: “Handsome, intelligent and valiant, he was also to the very core of his being a man of honor: loyal, chivalrous and just.”

And let’s not leave out dauntless. When the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Thomas Wentworth, ordered that the wearing of swords in Parliament would not be permitted, Ormonde told the official who tried to take his sword that the only way he’d get it was if it was “in his guts.” He ultimately won the argument.

In my novel, Ormonde brings his significant power and influence, his chivalrous mindset, and his own agenda to the story, along with a fierce belief in fairness, justice, and love.

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The Prince of Glencurragh, published in July 2016, is the three-time award-winning story of an Irish warrior who abducts a young heiress to help restore his stolen heritage and build the Castle Glencurragh. He is caught in the crossfire between the most powerful nobles in Ireland, each with his own agenda. The book is the stand-alone prequel to my first historical novel, Sharavogue, which begins with the arrival of Cromwell in Ireland, and follows the protagonist’s experiences on an Irish sugar plantation of Montserrat. Both books are available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers. Find more information and links on my website, nancyblanton.com.

You can find the novel for purchase HERE.

Visit these fine blogs for more:

Jennifer B. Duffey HERE.
Andrea Patten HERE.
Janette Fudge Messmer HERE.
Nancy Blanton HERE.

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Filed under 17th century Ireland, Blog Hop, historical novels, James Butler, Earl of Ormond, Nancy Blanton

My Favorite Books Blog Hop: Alas, Babylon

Welcome to the My Favorite Books Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be hearing from bloggers and fellow bibliophiles about a topic we can’t say enough about — books! Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is encouraged to participate. This hop originates with author Jennifer P. Duffey HERE

Each Tuesday, Jennifer will be adding a post about a book that resonated with her in some way, and looks forward to hearing from all of us.

A few simple rules:

To participate, scroll down to the bottom, add your name to the list, and grab the link provided. Insert that into the blog post you wish to add.
Make sure the list of attendees is added to your blog post.
Be a good hopper and visit other blogs throughout this event. Be a great hopper and add some comments along the way!

ALAS, BABYLON

“This December Saturday, ever after, was known simply as The Day. That was sufficient. Everybody remembered exactly what they did and saw and said on The Day. People unconsciously were inclined to split time into two new period, before The Day and after The Day.”

Carrying on the theme set by my friend Jennifer Duffey, I’m going to talk about my favorite dystopian novel, ALAS, BABYLON by Pat Frank. Written in 1959, Mr. Frank wrote it when a friend of his posed a question regarding what Mr. Frank thought would happen if the Russians attacked the United States unexpectedly. Mr. Frank wrote the novel in response to that question. It is a powerful novel of survival and hope, yet it looks unyieldingly at the potential destruction of civilization as we knew it then.

The book was written in a clean, clear and direct style. Without using the overt sexual or violent language so common today, Mr. Frank still managed to bring to life the dilemma normal people found themselves in when a last case scenario became all too real. It was an unflinching, yet mostly positive view of people struggling to cope with a situation that we all fear yet hope we will never have to face. Even though our technology is very different, as the reader can see, when the electricity died, civilization went back to an earlier, much more primitive time. Mr. Frank presented a glimpse of what could happen when a group of people suddenly no longer have access to modern luxuries. In these uncertain time, it has a clear resonance for us today.

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Filed under Blog Hop, Dystopian novel, Pat Frank

I’m visiting Austen Authors blog today!

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I have an article posted on the Austen Authors blog today, titled The Significance of Books and Reading in Jane Austen’s Novels.  Please join me on their site at Austen Authors.

 

Illustration: Sir Roger Newdigate in the Library at Arbury, by Arthur Devis (18th Century) via Wikimedia Commons Here

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Filed under 18th century England, 19th century England, Jane Austen, Regency era

A New Treasure

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I do enjoy old books, especially cookbooks, so you can imagine how pleased I was to find The Virginia House-wife by Mary Randolph on a Friends of Library sale shelf, waiting to go home with me.  This little gem includes a facsimile of the first edition of Mary’s cookbook as published in 1824, with supplemental material from the 1825 and 1826 editions.  Historical notes and commentary by Karen Hess, a culinary historian, which is extremely useful.  Being particularly interested in English history, it is fascinating to see recipes typical to 17th and 18th century English cookbooks still in use.  Even more fascinating is seeing these recipes amended and adapted based on other culinary influences (French, African Creole, etc.) and ingredients available in the colonies as well as typically English ingredients.  An interesting note is the number of vegetables for which she has recipes.  Her recipes are organized by food type (i.e. Port, Bee, Vegetables, etc.) so her book is fairly easy to find one’s way around.  One rather confusing matter is the inclusion of grains, fruits, desserts and mixed dishes in with vegetables, but the index at the front is very clear so they are easy enough to find.  At the end is a section entitled “Dishes for Lent,” making it simple for cooks to find inspiration on what to cook during this religious season of year.  This is a delightful little book, and one I will enjoy using as a reference.  I may even attempt one or two of Mary’s recipe’s.

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Filed under Cooking, English colonies, Old books, recipes, Special treasures

A New Passion for China

I have always had a fondness for china.  It just FEELS good when used.  Somehow food looks prettier on a porcelain plate, and tea definitely tastes better out of a bone china mug or cup.  However, I have not actually purchased any for quite some time.  Recently, the passion reared its head and the urge to buy was irresistible.  Even more peculiar, none of these recent purchases go with my existing sets.

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Cream and sugar Nippon (Morimura) c 1911

I fell in love with this Nippon hand-painted cream and sugar set.  It has a Morimura mark and is definitely hand painted.  The tag indicated it was made between the 1890’s and about 1920’s.  I checked on line, and did not find an exact match for this pattern, but did find some similar that were all dated to 1911, which feels right.  Cream and sugar sets are so appealing, and can be used in other ways (as well as a useful adjunct for serving tea, with all the different kinds of milks and sweeteners we use these days!).

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Royal Albert Symphony Series 1970’s

 

The next item I fell in love with was the cup and saucer in the Royal Albert Symphany Series, with the little roses on the pale green background.  It doesn’t match the Old Country Roses tea set, but coordinates nicely; it would definitely work as an extra cup, if needed!  Royal Albert produced variations of this pattern for some time.  It was not hard to find that this particular pattern, the Symphany Series, was produced in the 1970’s, and appeared in different colors.  I was very happy with the pale green, and snapped it up.

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Queen Anne china (English), Regency pattern, 1940’s

My last find occurred in a delightful shop in Fernandina Beach.  It made me think of one of my favorite novels by Patricia Wentworth, SHE CAME BACK (American title), in which a main character  had “the familiar tea things-Queen Anne silver and bright flowered cups bordered with gold and apple green….” (1)  I was traveling and not expecting to make a purchase, but I could not resist.  It was a total impulse buy.  Again, it doesn’t match the tea set but tones with it beautifully in color and style.

None of these purchases were expensive, or intentional.  None are especially old or valuable.  However, all three were very satisfying.  While I doubt if I make any more purchases (at least for a while), I expect to enjoy using these new finds over time.  Unexpected pleasures!

(1) Wentworth, Patricia.  SHE CAME BACK. 1945: J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and New York.  P. 141.

Photos by me.

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