A few weeks ago I shared four books I read last month. One was a story from the anthology Nine Ladies Dancing 2017. When I got my copy I took the opportunity to read several of the stories, including Love, Unmasked by Vivian Roycroft. Though I’d been acquainted with Vivian through our mutual connection with Clean Reads as well as the compilation of Nine Ladies Dancing anthologies, I hadn’t yet read any of her stories until early this year.
I’m always in awe of people who not only write well, but who also have the drive to publish. Dingbat Publishing is the home of several of our resident hound’s books, as well as most of Vivian’s books. She also writes under the name J. Gunnar Grey. Sometimes I wonder how she keeps all of her selves straight! Anyway, 2017 was a difficult year for Vivian/Gunnar for several reasons. Her home in Texas was in the path of Hurricane Harvey in August, and then in October her husband John passed away. I asked Vivian/Gunnar if she would mind sharing with us how she managed to keep going, and whether or not there would be future regencies in the Scoundrel of Mayfair series. She responded by sharing a heartwarming tribute to her husband.
I Love Music
by Gunnar Grey (also known as Vivian Roycroft)
I love music, but I gotta admit, I don’t have a good understanding of its mechanics. A sheet of music might as well be Greek or COBOL, I can only tell a sharp from a flat in poker, and when I explain to people that I sing tenor, they generally advise me to make that ten or twelve miles down the road. One story I wrote, Star of Wonder, turns on musical acoustics; let’s just say my poor critique partner had to read that one extra special carefully. (Can we all agree that critique partners are extra special people?)
My husband, now, that’s a different story. He studied music and voice, and in his prime, his exquisite operatic baritone could rattle the house, and the neighbors’ on both sides. John used to say he’d been taught to pick a person on the very back row and sing directly to that person, projecting his voice across whatever expanse lay between. He could do it, too, and make Figaro or Don Giovanni, or even Happy Birthday, into something amazing and magical. (Sorry, neighbors.)
I loved listening to John sing. But when he had a stroke, in late October of 2016, his gorgeous voice vanished. He still spoke clearly, and he didn’t suffer from a melted-wax face or weakness on one side of his body. It was the raw lung power that disappeared overnight. His singing remained beautiful, just more quiet every week. At first, being in the same room worked. As time passed, we needed to be sitting together for me to hear him.
By early October of 2017, his voice was so quiet that my ear almost had to touch his lips. He never complained, not even when he no longer had the strength to climb out of bed, or even to roll over or hold my hand. He asked me to read the Bible to him, to spoon water into his mouth, and sing his favorite hymns.
He asked me to sing for him, when I would have given anything, anything, to hear him sing one more time.
As sunset approached on October 6, John lay in bed, his eyelids drooping. I knelt beside him and sang him to sleep, knowing he’d never wake up again.
Here’s his obituary if you’d like to learn more about him.
Taking care of my beloved Garfield has claimed almost all of my time, for various reasons, for the last three years. And that, dear readers, has meant I haven’t been able to take care of you—Vivian Roycroft’s two Regency series remain unfinished. Although my heart is nowhere near healed, I hope to complete The Scoundrel of Mayfair this year, and make progress with Love in Napoleon’s War. The stories are still in my head; we just have to coax them out.
Thanks for reading. Hey, it’s not like I asked you to listen to me sing.
Love, Unmasked and nine other tales can be found in the anthology Nine Ladies Dancing. Hurry to get your copy, because after Valentine’s Day it won’t be available! You can purchase it at Amazon for only 99 cents! Here are the rest of the stories included:
A Lot Like a Lady and Something Like a Lady by Kim Bowman and Kay Springsteen
Healing Hearts by Miranda D. Nelson
Midsummer Love by Elizabeth Hanbury
The Bartered Wife by Sherry Gloag
Four Calling Bards by Patricia Kiyono
The Color of Deception by Ruth J. Hartman
The Duke and His Bluestocking by Nicole Zoltack
The Golden Goose by Felicia Rogers
AND in true Gunnar Grey fashion, plans are already in the works for another Christmas anthology. If you write regency stories, you’ll want to check out this project! Here’s the premise:
On December 15, the dowager Viscountess Stormont, Helen Marie, Lady Stormont, will host a fête to open the winter garden planted by the fledgling Royal Horticultural Society on the estate of Talbot Yelverton, Earl of Sussex, in Highgate, north of London. The fête, a series of outdoor games and fun open to all, unfortunately must close early when snow begins to fall, at first softly but with promise of worse to come. There are fears the evening’s ball might have to be canceled, but the ladies of the ton are adamant and insist on attending… which sets the scene for whatever our authors might wish to concentrate on, whether the outdoor general fun or the ball or those caught in the snowstorm.
Interested? Take a look at the flyer below (click on the images to see them larger), and then contact Gunnar at GunnarGrey [that sign] Reagan [dot] [com] with your ideas and to get more details!