Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Tuesday At The Tiki Hut - Joanna Waugh

Once again it’s guest blogger day at the Tiki Hut. Joining us beneath the beach umbrella is Regency author, Joanna Waugh. Her debut novel, BLIND FORTUNE, released last July from Cerridwen Press and is now in trade paperback. It was chosen as one of Romance Lists’ top ten notable historical romance debuts for 2008 http://romancelists.com/lists/notable-romance-debuts-2008-pirates-blind-ladies-and-more , and the music room love scene from it won Midnight Seductions’ 2008 Endless Romance Contest http://midnightseductionsauthors.wordpress.com/winners-of-the-endless-romance-contest/.
For a chance to win an autographed copy of her debut, head to AuthorIsland.com today and check out the Book of the Day!

Welcome to the Tiki Hut, Joanna!

Thanks for inviting me to your island, DeNita! It’s great to lounge in the warm sun while everyone back home is shivering.

A little about me -- I live in Northwest Indiana, just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan and the beautiful Indiana Dunes. BLIND FORTUNE is my first published novel. Here the blurb:

They say love is blind, but Lady Fortuna Morley doesn’t believe it. Sightless since birth, she can think of only one reason a gentleman would wed her—for the dowry and three thousand pounds a year her father will provide. She’s in London the spring of 1814 to help launch her younger cousin into society, but prefers living quietly in the country with her music. The last thing Fortuna wishes is to cross swords with the arrogant Marquess of Granville.

Charles Lowden, Lord Granville, has decided to take a wife. The bride he’s chosen is thirteen years his junior, but meets all criteria. What he won’t abide is interference from the girl’s impertinent cousin, the outspoken and opinionated Lady Fortuna Morley. The woman is determined to thwart the match. Charles is just as determined to charm Fortuna out of her disdain for him.

What neither expects in the ensuing battle of wills is to fall in love.

The question I’m most often asked about BLIND FORTUNE is -- why a blind heroine? As many readers already know, I wrote the story based on personal experience with my husband who lost his sight to diabetes. But I also was fascinated by pre-21st century attitudes about people with disabilities.

During the Regency, the principle cause of blindness was conjunctivitis contracted by newborns. Remember, this was a time before the concept of germs and sterilization. In addition, people lost their vision to small pox, scarlet fever, measles, and whooping cough. By 1851, one person out of every 979 was blind in England and Wales.

Some folks believed physical disabilities were a mark of the devil or God’s punishment. Sightless people were thought to be mentally inhibited and uneducable. Blind women especially were vulnerable to unscrupulous men. In BLIND FORTUNE, Lady Fortuna fears that if she marries, her husband will lock her away in an asylum once he gets his hands on her money.

Not until the late eighteenth century did notions about the blind begin to change. In 1784, the first European school for the blind was founded in Paris. Once a week students enjoyed an outing to the local botanical gardens. Their teacher led them there by a rope onto which each of them held. I used this idea in BLIND FORTUNE when Lord Granville creates a ropewalk on his estate for Lady Fortuna.

A young boy named Louis Braille attended the Paris school. In 1824, at the age of fifteen, he invented a system of six raised dots that, when arranged in combination, represented letters of the alphabet. Unfortunately this revolutionary reading method came too late for Lady Fortuna. But, by the middle of the nineteenth century, it was the world-wide standard.

So what are some of the things you are passionate about as a reader or writer? What life experiences have effected the way you view the world?

To read excerpts from and reviews about BLIND FORTUNE, go to my website at http://www.joannawaugh.com/

Be sure to friend me on Myspace http://www.myspace.com/joannawaugh
and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/people/Joanna-Waugh/1355015961
and check out my blog about British customs and holidays at

BLIND FORTUNE is available in ebook format and trade paperback at http://www.cerridwenpress.com/
Look for it soon at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble


  1. Welcome back to the Tiki Hut Jo!

    It's great to have you back and I enjoyed your post - you are so full of interesting info!

    Congrats on the recent print release of BLIND FORTUNE - it's so great to see the book in print, hope it does great for you!

  2. Good morning Joanna,

    Glad you're here and it's nice to learn more about you and your book. Interesting about how you came to write about a blind heroine. Do you do a lot of research for your books, how many books do you currently have available?

    Jerry B

  3. Welcome to the Hut. Congrats on Blind Fortune being one Romance Lists’ top ten notable historical romance debuts for 2008.

    I love historical romances. Blind Fortune sounds wonderful.

  4. Good morning, everyone! Thanks for the welcome, DeNita. It's great to be here. And thanks for stopping by Jerry and Cheryl!
    BLIND FORTUNE is my debut novel. I'm thrilled Romance Lists picked it as one of the top ten for 2008. Currently, I'm at work on a Regency paranormal I hope to have out next year.
    As for research -- I'm constantly learning new things about the Regency. I get most of my story ideas from tidbits I run across while researching. Right now I have about six folders of ideas for future books!

  5. Thanks for the background on the book. So often those who write about a character with a disability do so without any experience, resorting to magical powers to overcome what they perceive as a handicap, while ignoring everyday struggles.

  6. Hi Joanna, Nice post. "Blind Fortune" is a great idea for a story. I see a lot of the same-old, same-old out there, and I'm getting bored. I love Regency, and want to see the old themes twisted a little, the way you have.

    You forgot to put your yahoo author loop in here. Here's the url:

  7. Congratulations on your new book Joanna. Just wanted to say kudos to you for tackling a subject in romance that doesn't get talked about much. I've really only read one book that I can remember that dealt with a physical handicap that the heroine had to deal with and that would be "Phantom Waltz" by Catherine Anderson.

    Love that it's regency too! :) Looking forward to reading it!! :D

  8. Bless you Linda! I did forget to post my newsletter loop. And thank you for the kind words about BLIND FORTUNE. As a fellow Regency author, I value your opinion! I just purchased Lady of the Stars and look forward to reading it!
    Thanks for stopping by, Karen. I know what you mean about handicapped heroes and heroines being miraculously restored. As if they can't possibly enjoy a full and happy life otherwise!

  9. Hi Rachie! Thanks for stopping by. Actually, I got the idea for BLIND FORTUNE after reading Mary Balogh's Silent Melody. Her heroine, Lady Emily, is a deaf mute. I was fascinated with the way Ms. Balogh wrote Emily's POV without dialogue. Since I had some experience living with a blind husband, I thought I'd try my hand at writing without visual cues. If you get a chance, and can find a copy, read Silent Melody. It's a wonderful story.

  10. Very interesting. I just read a book with a blind heroine - a contemporary, but that was the first one I had read - good for you in tackling this issue.

    Are all the books you are working on Regencies? What draws you to that period?


  11. I too can't wait to read Blind Fortune. When I first saw you on Facebook and read the excerpts, I thought it sounded so good... the creativity you could put behind a story with a blind heroine. What a breath of fresh air to find something still in the Regency period, but with the addition of a disability to enhance the storytelling. It adds a whole new level of innocence, in a sense, which I think is beautiful for any romance. I am really looking forward to your book. Thanks Ms. Waugh!

  12. Joanna, I just wanted to drop by and say "hello" and tell everyone that hasn't read it that Blind Fortune is a must for all history/Regency lovers. I really loved it. I recently read another book with a blind heroine and didn't enjoy it nearly as much. Thank you for an insightful, touching read.

  13. I got hooked on the American Revolutionary War as a child. That later sequed into War of 1812 and the age of sail. I've always loved the late 1700's early 1800's. When it came to writing about it, I found I had an affinity for the Regency period. I could identify with the mores of that time because I came of age in the early 1960s, before birth control and the womens rights movement. In my day, "good girls" went to their marriage beds as virgins. Most of all, I remember the longing glances and fervent kisses. That's why I write sensual rather than erotic.

  14. Hi Jennie! Thank you so much for the kind words. BLIND FORTUNE truly was a book from my heart. Hello Denise! So glad you stopped by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the book. I like to think my experiences living with a blind husband is what lends realism and poignancy to the story. I tried to incorporate many of my husband's pet peeves (like being dragged around by good intentioned people instead of being guided) as well as my own (he'd say outrageous things and I had to stand there and look the stunned/offended/horrified people in the face!)

  15. I have always been drawn to historical romances and particularly enjoy the Regency era. I think the theme of your book sounds interesting and I am going to read it as soon as possible.
    Congratulation on your awards.

  16. Hi Joanna, and thanks for buying my book. Let me know what you think of it.

  17. Wonderful Post Joanna! Thank you for share these terrific facts with us and explaining how they match up to your own story, both in real life and your creative mind. And Congratulations on going to Print! I hope it reaches more readers this way.
    I can sympothize with your husband about well-meaning people getting their goat as it were. Sometimes the devil just has to come out and play :)

  18. I read the first two chapters and it's terrific, Linda! Can't wait to finish it.

  19. Thanks for the good wishes, Joni. Nice to see you, Stephanie! I'm thrilled BLIND FORTUNE went to print. I too hope it reaches more readers. From your lips to God's ear! :))))

  20. Hello Joanna - very interesting concept - looking forward to reading some more. Also interested in all of the traditions & customs featured on your other blog. Continued good luck in your writing & hope BLIND FORTUNE goes all the way to the top :)

  21. Hi, Joanna! Congrats on your print version! I've always loved the premise of Blind Fortune--it *is* very interesting to see how different times and cultures treated "underdogs" and I love stories that reveal how we're really more similar than different. Hooray on having a copy of this story to hold in one's hand!

    BTW, what are you working on now?

  22. Loved the post Joanna. I like the idea of the heroine having a physical limitation not just an emotional one. Would you consider writing a physical limitation on a hero? Have a great day.

  23. Joanna,

    I love regency romances - esp with humor, does your book have humor in it, or is it more serious due to the heroine's blindness?

    Either way the story sounds good and I wish you the best with it.


  24. Be sure to check out the excerpts from BLIND FORTUNE on my website, Rose. Just go to http://www.joannawaugh.com and click on "Joanna's Books."
    Is that you, Fedora? I agree we have more in common with the past than we think. As the saying goes, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."

    There are certain immutable truths about being human, particularly our desire to love and be loved. As for writing a hero with physical limitations -- I have no problem with that as long as it fits the story. I've read several Regencies where the hero was badly disfigured or physically and emotionally disabled by war. It's a topic which resonates with readers, particularly now.

  25. Hi Helen! I really admire authors who can write humor. Are you familiar with M.A. Ellis? She writes for EC. Her "Hard as Nails" anthology is fabulous!
    As for myself -- I write more "serious" Regencies. And BLIND FORTUNE certainly fits that mold, not because Lady Fortuna is blind but because her blindness leads to so much misunderstanding on her part. 93% of all human communication is non-verbal. That puts those without sight at a distinct disadvantage. They only have words to go by, and words can often mislead.
    A dear friend's daughter was in a car accident last year. Due to a severe head injury, the girl's eyesight was significantly impaired. Suddenly she and her parents were at odds. They continued to treat her as they always did, but because she couldn't read their body language, she thought they were giving her a hard time. They've had to learn to be more verbal in their relationship.
    Lady Fortuna's blindess is not the central theme of the story but rather the catalyst in her relationship with Lord Granville.

  26. How wonderful that your heroine even though she is blind has "guts"! People often forget other attributes when confronted with what is thought of as a disability.

  27. Thanks for coming back to the Island. I loved Blind Fortune. It really is an insightful story.
    I'm sorry about your friend's daughter. I hope she is doing well now and is able to function fully in our very hectic world.

  28. Hi Gayle! Thanks for stopping by. I was glad to be of help with regard to my friend's daughter. That's what life is all about, don't you think? You're right, Anon. The beautiful thing about humans is their ability to turn what is thought to be a disadvantage into something positive.

  29. Blind Fortune sounds great!! Congrats.

  30. Hi Joanna,
    I think it's amazing how much progress has been made in teaching and understanding children with disabilities just in my lifetime. Your book sounds like a great story.

  31. Congrats on that scene winning! I absolutely love that scene and the whole book as a whole. I have it in ebook. Once things are settled from the move and finances are back in track, I plan to also get Blind Fortune in book format!

  32. Hi Leah and Maureen. Thanks for stopping by. Rachel -- thank you for the glowing review of BLIND FORTUNE you posted on Goodreads.

  33. Congrats on your print release!
    I'm looking forward to reading more of your books.

  34. I learned a lot from reading your post about your heroine and her blindness! Historical romances are on of my most favorite genres of books to read. I am sorry that your husband lost his vision. My brother was a juvenile diabetic and my mother also has the chronic disease. Your book sounds wonderful. Many thanks, Cindi

  35. Like you I have a diabetic husband (who is in a wheelchair due to spinal problems) luckily he has good eyesight but we worry about all those other things that can go wrong with the diabetes.

    I love that someone is writing about disabilities. I think it would be a good thing if more writers put disabled people in their books. They wouldn't need to be the main characters, but it would be nice to have them as secondary characters as it would raise awareness.

  36. Hello JoAnna! As always you have a wealth of information to share - it is wonderful. Thanks. Hmm - can't think of a specific thing that I am passionate about as a reader... I just LOVE to read! My faith in God definitely effects my view of the world. The more I travel (DH & I love cruises!) the more I am in awe at God's handywork and variety. And I am mindful that our weaknesses can lead to strength. I sure look forward to reading your book sometime soon! Best wishes to you.

  37. What drew me to "Blind Fortune" wasn't just because it is a Regency (love 'em!), or that the heroine is blind - it's because she is a musician. She reminds me of friends from my past who were both musicians and blind, and how they got past the blindness to the heart of the music. I see that in the excerpts I've read, and hope to see more of it when I can go buy the book and read it in one sitting!

  38. Congrats on your print release! I'm looking forward to reading BLIND FORTUNE.

  39. Yes, Lynn, music is an important part of Lady Fortuna's life. Unlike most Regency ladies, she can't do needlework, sketch or paint. Her only creative outlet is through music. And it is through their shared love music that she and Lord Granville come to terms with one another.

  40. Hi,

    I've enjoyed reading about your book and all the comments here. This looks like a wonderful story, full of emotion with great characters. I would certainly love to read it.

    All the very best to you and yours.


  41. You found me out, Joanna ;) I forgot to sign my post earlier. And yes, I do think we've got a lot we can learn from our pasts and from stories not our own (or really, even from our own--one would think I'd stop making the same mistakes over and again!).

    Can you share anything about your upcoming stories?


  42. Your new release sounds interesting. I can't imagine what it would be like to be blind.
    Debby Creager

  43. Interesting to have the added task of putting blindness into the context of the era.

  44. I'm currently at work on a Regency paranormal. It's set in 1816 Cumberland. Home from the war, the hero accidentally sets free the spirit of a 6th century pagan king that's been trapped in a well. The spirit attaches itself to the hero and follows him home where it begins wreaking havoc on his sister.
    The hero and heroine meet and fell in love two years before in London during the peace celebrations. She's the youngest daughter of an earl and the hero is untitled. He did the noble thing and walked away, believing the heroine deserved to marry someone from her own class.
    Now the two of them must work together to defeat the spirit. In the process, they rediscover their love.

  45. Wow--that sounds pretty intriguing, Joanna! I hope there's a happy ending for all the parties involved ;)

  46. Blind Fortune seems very realistic to me. Lady Fortuna has valid concerns about her cousin's wellfare as well as her own. To live sightless in that time requires a quick mind and discerning spirit. I do think that a person can see with their heart better than their eyes! Thank you for this story of two people who get to know each other with their hearts first.sharonkaras@yahoo.com

  47. Just added Blind Fortune to my to-be-purchased
    list. I'm looking forward to reading this book!
    Thanks for being here with us today!

    Pat Cochran

  48. Wonder information about your book and interesting stuff about how handicaps were treated. What an inspiring story, and one close to your heart.

  49. Yes, everything turns out well in the end, Fedora. That's why I write romance!

    Hello Pat! Nice of you to stop by.
    Marianne! How have you been? It's great to hear from you. Hard to believe another RT is almost here. We had such a great time last year in Pittsburgh.

  50. Congrats for Blind Fortune going to print! I've read some of the excerpts for it, and it sounds like a wonderful book.

  51. Blind Fortune sounds like a good read. I've read another book where the hero is slowing losing his sight due to an illness and finally becomes blind and its inspiring to see how the heroine breaks down the walls he has built and how they both move towards a future together. I would love to see how the characters in Blind Fortune interact!

  52. The winner of an autographed copy of BLIND FORTUNE is WindyCindy! Congratulations, Cindy!!! For disappointed non-winners: BLIND FORTUNE is available at Amazon.com at 22% off the cover price.

    If you plan to attend the RT convention in April, be sure to stop by and say hi during the book signing on Saturday, April 25th 11AM-2PM. I'll also be at Lori Foster's Weekend June 5-7th and at EC's Romanticon in October.

    Thanks for stopping by the Tiki Hut and making yesterday so special. I appreciated all your comments and really enjoyed the discussion.