Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
by Ann Lethbridge
Talking of debuts, my first Harlequin Historical is currently available in England. I was there earlier in the month and quite delighted to see it on the shelves.
The London Season started in March/April time and went to sometime in June. It was tied to Parliament. Each year the Queen held Presentation Drawing Rooms two or three times a week during the Season. Wives and daughters of peers, members of parliament, or the landed gentry were allowed to be formally presented at Court. For the daughter, this was called her come-out or her debut. Young men made their bows.
The picture is of a Court Dress from 1817.When the young lady in question was about 17 or 18, her mother would send in a request to the Lord Chamberlain indicating she wished her daughter to be presented. Only a lady who had herself been presented could sponsor her at the drawing room. The King and Queen did not recognize anyone who had not been presented to them.
It provided the young woman with an gilt-edged entry into society. However, a young lady who had not been presented could still go to balls, routs and other entertainments, if she was invited.
Here we have a lady and gentleman in court dress for 1807.
During the Regency, the presentations took place at St. James's Palace at events called Drawing Rooms. Hoops and white feather plumes, as shown in the picture above, were required dress. After waiting for hours, and only permitted to stand in the presence of the Queen, the young lady would be announced by the Chamberlain and walked to where the Queen sat and made a deep curtsy — which had been practiced and practiced while wearing the hooped skirt. A few pleasantries were exchanged, the young woman answering any question the Queen put to her, but no more. When the Queen indicated she was dismissed, the young woman made one more deep curtsey, and then walked backwards out of the royal presence all the while praying she wouldn't trip over her train.
There were several years in which no Presentation Drawing Rooms were held during the Regency because of the King's illness. Between the King's birth day in 1810, and April 30 1812, there were no drawing rooms held. You can imagine the preparations and the requests after that length of time had passed.
So while presentation to the Queen was not required, it was certainly expected for the members of the ton.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Now you're saying to yourself what's a western author doing talking about stage makeup?
Since I've run out of historical things to write about that pertain to my current release, Miner in Petticoats, I decide to write about what I discovered while working on my current WIP.
The heroine in the next Halsey brother book has a disfiguring scar on her face from an accident when she was a child. Her family is prominent in society, and she refused to be hidden away. In fact, due to her accident, she became determined to be a doctor.
To find out how she could cover the scar when out in the world and not sheltered at home, I began researching stage makeup. In the late 1800's few people other than stage performers or prostitutes wore makeup in the U.S.
These are some facts I discovered.
Stage Makeup items available before 1850:
White face powder
India ink for drawing lines
Rouge (very bright red or pink)
Misc. artist’s pigment base powders, (like Bole Armenia aka “burnt umber” for a reddish brown tone)
Burnt cork (for dark brown/black)
Lamp-black (for mascara)
Burnt paper (for gray shadows)
Wool crepe hair (for both facial hair and false noses)
1850’s Germany – Mysterious invention of greasepaint (powdered pigments mixed with lard) by either German actor Carl Baudius, or Carl Herbert.
1864 England – a short book, The Guide to the Stage, Containing Clear and Ample Instructions for Obtaining Theatrical Engagements, by Leman Thomas Rede includes 2 and ½ pages of vague advice on applying powdered pigment makeup.
1870’s USA-Anglo-French actor, Charles Fechter, supposedly spreads the use of greasepaint to the US while on tour.
1873 Germany– Ludwig Leichner commercially produces non toxic ready-made greasepaint sticks. Leichner’s company goes on to be the main European theatrical makeup producer for over a century.
1877 England -The Art of “Making-Up” by Haresfoot and Rouge*, published by Samuel French, the first booklet in English on theatre makeup is printed, describing makeup application with powdered pigments. Suggested pigments in this booklet are 3 kinds of white, Dutch pink rouge, carmine red, and ruddy rouge, Mongolian brown, powdered blue, and chrome (yellow), and antimony (a metallic gray-black) used for shadows, which was toxic.
The 1890s saw incredible innovations in makeup, most of which are still in use today, including:
•Nose wax (aka “mortician’s wax” an item co-opted from the Victorian funeral industry)
•Black tooth wax (aka “cobbler’s wax” an item taken from the shoe repair industry)
•Emil Noir (black tooth enamel)
•Cold cream and cocoa butter
•Mascaro in multiple colors (a dark, soft makeup stick in a lipstick like holder that was used as both mascara and eyebrow pencil)
•Ladies liquid colors for arms and necks
•Paper Sticks for application of color (Tortillions - artist’s blending tools)
•Wig joining paste
For my heroine I use the 1850's version of lard and pigment powder. First because lard was easily accessible and the powder could be mixed to match her skin tone. Since the scar is lumpy, she can mold the the lard mixture around it and smooth it out to blend in.
This is why I write historical books. I dig deeper into areas that I would normally overlook to make my characters and story realistic.
What is the latest thing you researched for a book that you would not have found interesting otherwise?
Miner in Petticoats
Monday, June 22, 2009
Forgive my lateness, but I still can't get my pictures to upload. So I'm just going to forge ahead.
Every so often, the clans of Scotland gather to account for themselves. And I’m not just talking about your annual highland games, where strong men in kilts toss big poles and bonny lassies dance around swords. In July of 2009, Scotland is having a homecoming. The clans are being called home. The calling of the clans is important. Important enough for the ruler to attend. Yes HRH Elizabeth II will be there, waving and smiling, as the clans march by, parading the strength of their numbers. There will be parties and state dinners, meetings and balls. Rivalries will flare, but unlike in times past, no blood will be spilled (except maybe for a bloody nose). Whisky and ale will flow, and flow, and flow. And oh yes, men in kilts will be everywhere. I know this because an acquaintance of mine is the “Chief” of clan MacFarlane. He’s a strapping hulk of a man, with long blond hair. Just what you’d expect a clan chief to look like. Women follow him around, especially if he’s wearing his kilt. So of course I had to write something loosely based on the MacFarlane clan (extremely loosely, but still it was the image of Michael that planted the seed in my head). I'll post an excerpt once I'm further along.
The Scots are ever proud to display their tartans and you’d best not insult a man for wearing his kilt, even if you’re not in Scotland. I’m seeing more and more kilt wearers, here in Amreica. Scotsmen, young, old, and in-between are wearing their family plaids. The most traditional are even pleating the whole nine yards. I’m told that’s where that phrase comes from. A traditional formal kilt takes nine yards of material. The length is carefully folded into pleats and fastened on. Modern kilts are a bit easier, but still there's a bit involved. Here's a step-by-step on how to wear your everyday kilt by Matthew A C Newsome:
This is how I get dressed in the morning.
1. Put on your shirt. Whatever shirt you are wearing, be it a button down, polo shirt, t-shirt, whatever.
2. Put on your kilt. It may seem obvious, but the pleats go in the back! (Some people do need reminding of this). The two flat aprons overlap in the front. On most kilts, there will be a leather strap at the end of the right-hand apron. This will cross over in the front and pass through a hole in the left side of the kilt and fasten to a buckle at the outer left waist. (I make my kilts a bit different: see here). The top of your kilt should come up well above the belly button. Make this as snug fitting as is comfortable. It needs to be snug enough to keep your kilt in position -- you'll stand straighter, as well!
3. Now cross the apron to your left over to the right and fasten withone or two leather straps there. It is important to keep things even. You want this outer apron to lie smooth across your belly. In a well made kilt, where the straps and buckles are placed evenly, this means that you should position the straps on both the left and right equally. In other words, if your left-side strap is on the second hole, then you need to wear your right-side strap at the second hole, as well. This applies for the straps at the waist. If your kilt has a third strap down on your right hip, take care to fasten this only as tightly as necessary to allow the apron to lie flat and smooth. People have a tendency to wear this strap too tightly and this creates a pull across the front apron. (Or you could just follow my suggestion and have this superfluous third strap removed and not worry about it!).
4. The kilt is designed to sit up high on the waist. Most civilian kilts are made with a 2" rise. This means that (on most men) the bottom of the leather straps (the upper straps, if your kilt has a lower one on the hip) will be at your natural waist line, at the top of your hip bone. The top of the kilt itself should come to just under your rib cage. On thinner men, this will be the natural place where the kilt feels comfortable. Larger men, with a waist (belly) larger than their hips tend to want to wear their kilt at the hips, below their belly. Avoid this temptation! Nothing looks worse than a man with his beer-belly protruding out over the top of his kilt. Wear your kilt high, above your belly button. Believe me, it looks a lot better and more fitted.
5. Most well-made kilts will have one of the pivot points of the tartan (the point at which the pattern mirrors itself, often a dominant stripe) at the center point of the front apron. See that that line is centered, and line up the buttons on your shirt to that line.
6. Reach down underneath the kilt and give your shirt a little tug to get it in place, and smooth the shirt out. If you need to during the day, you can repeat this little maneuver to neaten up your appearance.
7. If you are wearing a belt, now is when I would put it on. If you plan on wearing a vest or waistcoat (or a cummerbund for as part of a formal ensemble), then you will not want to wear a belt. Most kilt belts are between 2" and 3" wide, with the average being about 2.25" to 2.5". I'll do a different post later on about formal/casual styles of kilt belts. Your kilt may or may not have belt loops in the back. These belt loops are actually a relatively modern addition to the kilt. They are not necessary and many kilt makers (myself included) still do not put them on. It is the straps and buckles that will keep a properly fitted kilt up, not the belt, which is purely decoration. If your kilt is sans loops, just put the belt on at the natural waist. Some are of the opinion that the belt should come up even with the top of the kilt (so that you cannot see any kilt above the belt). J. C. Thompson advocates this in So You're Going to Wear the Kilt! I find this very impractical to maintain, however, without the belt slipping off the top of the kilt, and see no reason for it. The belt should cover the leather straps on the kilt, and it's perfectly fine if the top half inch or so of the kilt shows above the belt. If your kilt does have belt loops, go ahead and run your belt through them. So (again, Thompson being an example) say that since these belt loops are a new addition, made originally for the sporran strap (true) and therefore should not be used for the belt. So they say to wear your belt on top of the belt loops. If you want to do this, I won't argue with you. But I will say that to most who see you it just looks like you missed your loops when you put your belt on.
8. The belt should be snug fitting (but not so tight as to bunch up or crease the kilt!). A snug fitting belt will stay in place (and help the kilt stay in place on those men with no hips!). A loose fitting belt will work its way south during the day and the next thing you know your half inch of kilt showing above the belt has turned into three or four inches, and nothing looks sloppier.
9. Again, make sure everything lines up -- your belt buckle should be even with the center line of the kilt apron (and the buttons of your shirt).
10. The next thing I put on are the hose. When you put them on, pull them all the way up, over the knee. Take your garters and fasten them above the calf, below the knee. The flashes (the colored cloth ribbons) should be on the outside of your leg, positioned just slightly to the front. (Just FYI, the elastic band is a garter, the colored ribbons are the flashes, and together they are referred to as "garter flashes." They are not called "flashers" or "flashings" -- both of those things will get you arrested!). Garter flashes in place, the top of the kilt hose now folds down, hiding the garters, with the bottom few inches of the flashes showing. Don't get too hung up on how many inches the fold over of the hose needs to be. Just use your best judgment. Some kilt hose are designed to be folded over two or three times for a thicker top. Most just fold over once.
11. Next I usually add the sgian dubh. This just gets tucked into the top of my right kilt hose (because I am right handed), on the outside of the leg. Too many people wear their sgian dubh with the entire handle sticking out of the hose. This is uncomfortable, and you may loose your sgian dubh that way! All that needs to be showing is the top half or one third of the handle -- enough to grab it when you need it.
12. If you are wearing a tie, now is when I normally put it on. You will have to tie it a bit shorter than you normally do with your trousers, because the kilt has a much higher waist. If you wear the tie at the same length, it will come down too far below the waistline of the kilt. You want to tip to be just a bit below the top of the kilt, but not too much.
13. Now you are ready to put on your sporran. Adjust your sporran strap so that the top of the sporran is a few inches (not too much! I'd say no more than 3" or 4") below the belt. If your sporran moves around too much, feels like it is slipping, or feels uncomfortable in any way, you are probably wearing your sporran strap too loosely. If you want to run the strap through the belt loops in the back of your kilt, feel free. That is what they are there for. Most men won't need to do this, but again, if your waist is larger than your hips, this may help keep everything in place. Some men with larger bellies have a problem with their sporran hanging down below their gut and creating an unsightly pull in the front of the kilt. One solution to this are the handy sporran slings that are being sold now, allowing the sporran to hang from the main kilt belt. These will keep the sporran in the correct position no matter your waistline! Again, make sure your sporran is centered.
14. If you are wearing a vest or waistcoat, now is the time to put it on.
15. We are almost done! Time to put your shoes on. I don't have time to go into detail about the proper way to tie the ghillie brouge laces, other than to say there are about half a dozen "proper ways." Unless you are dressing formal, you don't really need to wear your ghillies, anyway. Just wear comfortable shoes.
16. Lastly, before you head out the door, put on any outerwear. This means jacket and/or bonnet.
17. One minor word about the bonnet. No matter if you are wearing a balmoral or a glengarry, the ribbons should be centered in the back, with the hat cocked ever-so-slightly to the right, highlighting your crest badge. On the balmoral, it is customary to wear the ribbons tied into a bow. (This is a remnant of the old broad bonnets that were sized with a draw-string). With a glengarry, the ribbons are left loose.
And you thought putting on a corset and buttoning up a hundred buttons was complicated.
Hanna Rhys Barnes is one of those people with an evenly balanced right and left brain. She has a BA in English, but recently finished her final year as a high school math teacher. She loves to cook and was a pastry chef in a former life.
A member of RWA’s national organization and of several local chapters, she currently lives and works in Portland, OR, but occasionally visits her retirement ranchette outside of Kingman, AZ
Hanna’s Debut Novel, Widow’s Peak, is due to be released September 23, 2009 from The Wild Rose Press. She is currently working on Book 2 in the series, Kissed By A Rose.
Hanna’s Debut Novel, Widow’s Peak, is due to be released September 23, 2009 from The Wild Rose Press. She is currently working on Book 2 in the series, Kissed By A Rose.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The term bodice ripper generally refers to a historical romance novel in which the heroine is viewed as a sex object by the hero, the villain, and possibly even the man in the moon. The covers of the novels typically featured the heroine is a state of barely-clothed disarray, with heaving breasts that would give Pamela Lee an inferiority complex, and a testosterone-fueled hunk whose lusty stare is rivaled only by Colin Farrell after six months in a monastery. The novel that started it all was Sweet Savage Love. I remember sneaking to read my mother’s copy of this book, and honestly, I never made my way through it. The hero was a brute, an ill-mannered thug who made the teenaged boys I knew seem like regal princes by comparison, while the heroine had the mental capacity of a blow-up doll. I decided to stick to writers like Barbara Michaels, who wrote stories with gothic elements and heroines who actually possessed working brain cells. It wasn’t until years later, when I picked up a novel by Jude Devereaux, The Raider, that I fell in love with the historical romance genre. Her heroines were smart and spirited, her heroes fueled with enough testosterone to be hot and sexy, but not so much that they behaved like the Incredible Hulk in a traffic jam. Best of all, the heroes and heroines actually liked and loved each other for reasons other than their ample bosoms and muscular, furred chests. Was sexual attraction a part of the story? Sure. Isn’t sexual attraction a part of real life romances? But as in real love stories, it’s not the only part, and in a well-written romance novel, sex is only one ingredient in the mix.
Today, the term romance novel is a broad indicator of a story with a heroine, a hero, and a happily ever after. Other than that, there are no hard and fast rules. Historical romances are set throughout human history. Stories of medieval knights, Southern belles, and English nobility transport the reader to another place and time, while paranormal romances create worlds beyond our everyday reality. Vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, extraterrestrials – the possibilities are unlimited. Contemporary romance, romantic suspense, inspirational, chick lit – all fall under the category of romance novel, though the subgenres are quite distinct. However, there are some similiarities between all of these that distinguish today’s romance genre from the bodice ripper of the 1970s. First, the heroine and hero must each possess gray matter (just kidding here, though if you've read some of the early books, you might wonder if Ira Levin was the only one who’d written about Stepford Wives). Seriously, the hero and heroine are each motivated by goals and motivations, and there are conflicts that threaten their relationship. Any good story has a conflict. Would The Wizard of Oz have become a classic if Dorothy had landed in Oz, taken the tour of the Yellow Brick Road, stopped by to share complexion hints with the Witch of the West (who may not have been so wicked after all), and hopped the first balloon back to Kansas? Would Icabod Crane have become an enduring literary figure if he’d simply graded papers and avoided his confontation with the head-challenged horseman? You get my point. In addition, the hero and heroine each evolve through the story as a consequence of their relationship as well as other factors in the story. This character arc is crucial to a romance. Without it, you’d might as well be reading about June and Ward Cleaver (for the younger readers of this blog, google Leave it to Beaver…smile). Whether the story is taking place in Richmond in 1865, England in 1298, or London in 1820, these elements are critical to the story’s emotional resonance.
In my opinion, the character arc is lacking in many of the 1970s bodice rippers. The hero and heroine each represent a stereotype that remains essentially unchanged from the beginning to the end of the story. Since the characters don’t grow and change, it’s difficult if not downright impossible to develop an emotional connection with the characters. And in reality, isn’t emotion the heart of a romance? Whether a reader is interested in steamy sex scenes or a love story that never peeks beyond the bedroom door, the growing emotional bond between the hero and heroine draws the reader in. The first stirrings of love, the growth of trust, the feeling that one has found a kindred soul…these are the ingredients in a love story that keep me reading. In all fairness, Rosemary Rogers and her contemporaries pioneered a genre in which romance was depicted both out of the bedroom and in it. Those early novels set the stage for romance novels in the twenty-first century. The romance novels I read, and write, feature heroines who stand up to their heroes as fiercely as they love them, women who might need a rescue from time to time, but also run to the rescue when their man is in trouble. In short, heroines who will stand by their man, but never walk behind, heroines who mirror the independent spirit of the women who read and write romances in 2009.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Books in the Middle Ages were precious things. They were expensive to create and handwritten (up until the printing press). Each book was created by a craftsman and therefore unique.
These books formed the background of daily life for individuals in the Middle Ages. I first researched this information back in graduate school in 2002. These images were taken by me of two French Books of Hours from the University of Iowa Library Special Collections department. It was fun to be able to use this knowledge in my writing.
Alexander, Jonathon J.G. Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work
Friday, June 19, 2009
The amendment reads:
Section 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
And it took from 1776 until 1920, and thousands of women and men, to get the right to vote for women.
Abigail Adams, wife of the future president, wrote to her husband John, who was then a member of the Continental Congress, to “Remember the Ladies.” But he shouldn't be thought of too badly when he didn't. The right vote, at that time, was not as equal as it is now, not even for white men, but that's another story.
In 1848, Seneca Falls, NY hosts the first womens rights convention in the United States. A “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” is signed by participants. The declaration outlines the issues, concerns and goals of the woman's movement. Seneca Falls was the first of many woman's rights meetings.
In 1869, Wyoming organizes with a woman's suffrage provision. When it's admitted into the Union in 1890, the provision intact. Wyoming is the first state to allow women to vote.
In 1872, Susan B. Anthony is arrested in Rochester, NY for attempting to vote in the Senatorial election. She is tried in June of 1873 and found guilty by a judge who made up his mind before the trial had even started. Judge Hunt declares, "The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law." For a detailed description of this case check out The Trial of Susan B. Anthony.
In 1878 A Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced into Congress. It does not pass.
In 1893, Colorado adopts a state amendment enfranchising women.
By 1912, nine western states have adopted women suffrage legislation. Others have challenged male-only voting laws in the courts.
Montana elects and sends to Congress the first female Representative, Jeannette Ranks in 1916.
On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passes the amendment first introduced in 1878. It is relatively unchanged from when it is first brought before Congress. Two weeks later, the Senate follows suit. Tennessee is the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, thus making it law.
It is not to be thought, however, that this was an easy road, from introduction to ratification. Susan's arrest and trail was only one of many hardships women faced in their pursuit to equal voting rights. Perhaps the most shocking was the arrest of protesters by the command of none other than the President of the United Sates, Woodrow Wilson.
From the day before he takes into office on March 13, 1913, suffrage supporters hound him. Alice Paul manages to gather 5,000 people from every state in the union to march on Washington the day before the inauguration. Through the next several years, Paul organizes the protests outside the White House with banners reading “Mr. President, what will you do for woman suffrage?” and the like. The police stood by and watch as angry crowds punch, kick, choke and drag the protesters.
First harassed, then arrested, the protesters are sent to a work house for 60 days as punishment. There, they suffer beatings, forced feeding, and unsanitary conditions. When Paul goes on a hunger strike to protest her treatment, she is forced fed with a tube and threatened with commitment to an insane asylum. All because she wants to vote. Paul remains unfaltering in her belief. Wilson is forced to realize he is in a political land mine and needs to act.
The U.S. involvement in the World War I actually helps the movement. How can we claim we are bringing freedom to the world, while deny half our population the fundamental right to vote? Between the human rights we claim to be giving in the war and the treatment of the suffragans at home, Wilson finally declares his support for the amendment.
Here's a detailed timeline of the history of suffrage.
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
why don't you use your real name. As you ashamed of it?
Nope! I'm delighted with my name, my married name. I've had this name for almost fifty years, so it's more a part of me than my maiden name. (Every time I think about fifty years I gasp!) Okay, back to my reasons.
At the time I began writing, I was teaching high school in a very conservative school district and I thought perhaps my real name might not be a good idea. (Of course, I was wrong on that point, which I'll explain later.) But that was only a very small part of my decision.
My second reason was simple. Even my dear mother couldn't spell my last name correctly. She kept getting the vowels mixed up. My give name, Martha, just didn't sound the least bet romantic to me and I wanted to publish historical romance. I also gave a lot of thought to how my books with a pen name would be placed on a book shelf. Way back then, books were most often stacked by the author's last name, not by genre. I definitely wanted a pen name that would put me on the shelf between authors like Steven King and Johanna Linsdey.
Of course, when my first book was published, the cat was out of the back. My high school principle sent one of his secretaries to a book store where she bought a copy of the book and he asked me to sign the book at the next teacher's meeting. So much for hiding my idenity. An aside -- While I was teaching, I had the distinct pleasure, although in retrospect it really wasn't that much of a pleasure, of telling my students, "Put the book away!" and it was my book.
But, I digress. The last reason for choosing a pen name was a personal one. I felt I needed something that said plainly, I write historical romance. What better why to shout 'historical' than having a pen name 'Knight'. Or so I thought at the time.
I'd love to hear if you use your real name or a pen name and the reasons you chose the pen name.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I apologise for the re-post of an earlier article, but family matters have taken the most of my time lately. Finally I'm back on track with my writing - so forgive me for re-posting.
I think one of the goals of the historical writer is to bring the past alive for those in the present. You can do all the research in the world into the history, politics, customs, costumes, etc. And an imagination is a great thing, but the more ‘hands on’ experience you’ve had the better I think your story will be. Experience, even a little, can help you add the details that will make your scene come alive.
So, my advice is, if you’re lucky enough to have the chance to do so, live a little in the past. The experience will do wonders for your imagination and help with the details that will make your historicals come alive.
(pause for thinking – come on, really think about it for a moment)
OK, now that you’ve thought about it, did you have her feel the heat on her face. The breeze will blow smoke in her eyes no matter where she stands and she’ll have to watch out for her skirt tails as she squats. And that night, her hair will smell of smoke when the hero hugs her. Trust me, I’ve cooked many a meal over an open fire. We did a lot of camping with the Scouts with our boys as my husband was the Scout Master. I know what it’s like to heat water and then take a bath in a bucket. (Makes you appreciate the shower, let me tell you). And you know all those cowboys sitting around the campfire drinking coffee out of tin cups – you know how hot those cups can get when you pour hot coffee into them (ouch!).
*My friend had just read where the heroine was going on a picnic with the hero and asked the cook to pack them a ‘side of beef’ (!). That must have been one hungry guy. One of my favorites is when the western heroine is on the run with the hero, and to fix supper she takes from his saddle bag, a skillet, a coffee pot, a pan, potatoes, bacon, bacon grease, onions, and several other things. You know, if you have a slab of bacon, you don’t need to carry bacon grease to cook, and I kept wondering how it was packaged. My other favorite is the western heroine who running away from home and packs in her saddle bag a piece of peach pie (I kept seeing one of those Styrofoam containers!).
I can now brush, bridle and saddle a horse, and of course tell it to go where I want him to go, not just around and around the corral. Lots of fun, and I figure if an old lady like me can learn to be fairly proficient, the my hero, who is not only great with horses, but a great teacher, can teach the heroine to ride well enough and soon enough to fit my ms.
I’m always amazed at the way some historical heroines run up and down steps in long skirts. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve worn long skirts/dresses, I have to pick up the hem to go up and down stairs. And you haven’t lived until you try wearing a hoop skirt a la Scarlett O’Hara. There is a real skill to maneuvering and sitting while wearing a hoop skirt.
And I can imagine that those American colonial women, or any 18th Century lady with panniers had to turn sideways to get through a door way (think of Grace Kelly’s costume in the masked ball scene of To Catch A Thief). Unfortunately, I’ve never danced at a Regency ball, but would if I was writing Regency.
I’ve been lucky enough to come from a large mid-western family with a great oral tradition, so as a child I heard stories of my ancestors. In Kentucky Green, when the heroine churns butter, I have her say the rhyme that my grandmother said when she was a little girl and had the job of churning the family butter.
My husband and I had the wonderful experience of touring several English castles one summer, and I had just finished explaining this right hand/left hand business to him as we started up a staircase in Bodiam Castle. Now just knowing why the stairs are as they are is totally different from us going up one of those staircases --- and meeting another tourist coming down swinging an imaginary sword as he’s explaining to his wife why the stairs are that way!
That spiral really makes a difference when confronting someone on those steep, narrow staircases. And those medieval people must have had better knees than I do. I can only recall one medieval where someone complains about all the up and down and up and down steps all day long.
I notice a lot of medieval heroines are experts with herbs/healing. But how often do we actually see/feel/smell them digging in the dirt tending to the herbs? I admit I do very little gardening, but the earthy, moist smell of the garden, the texture of the soil, the dirt on your hands and knees, the smell of a garden after a rain or the smell of a garden on a hot, dry afternoon -- all this should be in the text if you have a scene where the heroine’s in the garden.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel through most of the US, either going to visit grandparents as a child, or following my military husband from duty station to duty station. My story for Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold came from the setting, as I was always struck by the clean, high mountain beauty of Durango each time we went through there. And my visit to the Molly Brown house in Denver gave me not only the feel of house of the period, but useful information for this story.
We may be able to walk up castle staircases or plant some flowers. And if you have the chance to do any of the everyday tasks we expect our historic heroines to do, then I strongly urge you to do so.
Living in the past can be a lot of fun (especially when after a few days you can come home and have a nice hot shower), and it can only help you bring your historical novel alive for the reader.
A short list of some of the places I’ve been that will take you back in time.
http://www.logcabinvillage.org/ Log Cabin Village in Ft. Worth, TX
http://www.nps.gov/york/planyourvisit/hours.htm Yorktown Battlefield, VA
http://www.historyisfun.org/Jamestown-Settlement.htm Jamestown Settlement, VA
http://www.julianca.com/historic_sites/index.htm Julian, CA a gold rush town
http://www.oldtownsandiegoguide.com/history.html Old Town San Diego, CA
http://www.okhistory.org/mwp/index.htm Museum of the Western Prairies, Altus, OK
http://www.williamsburg.com/ Colonial Williamsburg, VA
http://www.mountvernon.org/ Mount Vernon, VA
http://www.nps.gov/mima/ Minuteman National Park, Lexington & Concord, MA
http://www.chicagohs.org/ Chicago Historical Society, IL
http://www.nps.gov/casa Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, FL
http://www.mollybrown.org/ Molly Brown House, Denver, CO
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Ask any scholar who he believes is the most prominent artist of the Renaissance period and his answer will undoubtedly be Titian. Regarded as the leading painter of the Venetian School, Titian's life began in a small village of Cadore, five miles from the foot of the Alps.
Born Tiziano Vecellio, the exact year of his birth has been disputed for centuries. While scholars agree it was in 1488, Titian himself claimed he was born in 1476. He was named for a saint in whom the Vecellio family had a strong connection. Saint Tiziano had been a bishop and practiced from a chapel that belonged to a Vecellio ancestor.
Titian came from a long line of lawyers and soldiers. His family was not rich, but neither were thy destitute. Life in Cadore was not easy. At a young age, Titian dabbled in drawing with charcoal. His father noticed a special talent in the boy and sent Titian to Venice where he apprecenticed with the mosaicist Sebastiano Zuccato. Titian was ten at the time.
The Worship of Venus, 1516
With his interest in drawing, Titian soon moved in with an uncle and studied under two brothers, well-known artists Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. Years later, he moved to Padua where he painted three frescoes for the School of the Saints. In 1513, he returned to Venice to paint frescoes in the Ducal Palace. By now, his artistic abilities spread out and he showed interest in not only portraits but also religious and mythological painting.
Titian's reputation did not formally escalate until 1532 when Emperor Charles V commissioned the artist to paint his portrait. He was so pleased by the portrait that he created titles for Titian: Titian Count Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur. These titles granted Titian entrance to the court and also gave his sons the rank of nobility.
Portrait of a Man, 1512 (right)
In 1543, Titian traveled to Rome to paint Pope Paul III and his nephews. He met with Michelangelo, who had mixed professional feelings about Titian's work. The great artist "commended his [Titian's] lively manner of painting but thought his work was deficient in drawing." However, Michelangelo's opinion did not damage Titian's credibility.
In personal matters, Titian was closed-mouthed. He let others see only what he wanted them to see. It was obvious to other artists that he was devious about money and gained work to his advantage. In other words, Titian was a shrew businessman. He had no illusions about his own status and from where he came.
Until his death on August 27, 1576, Titian remained well aware that he was an outsider in the culture and habits on the elevated, in spite of the titles bestowed upon him by Charles V.
While his work gained widespread acclaim, Titian preferred the simple life and worked out of love for his craft up until the day he died.
Jannine Corti Petska
Assapora la passione (Feel the Passion)
CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN, Available at www.eternalpress.ca
KNIGHT'S DESIRE, Available at http://www.thedarkcastlelords.com/reviews-knight's-desire.htm
REBEL HEART, 2007 Aspen Gold Finalist
Monday, June 8, 2009
In one of my current works in progress, the hero has a young daughter who adores paper dolls.
A paper doll is such a simple thing, when you think about it. A small, flat piece of paper, cut into the shape of a girl, a young lady or a gentleman, complete with an accompanying wardrobe of fashionable clothes. But oh, what joy to be able to change those clothes, to attend imaginary balls and soirées with them, go on carriage rides with them, and if you were lucky enough, witness their pretend marriage.
The first paper dolls were manufactured in the early 1800’s in
But paper dolls were not necessarily human figures. Often they were animals, pets such as cats and dogs, and sometimes circus animals such as dancing bears, monkeys, and elephants. Occasionally, vehicles such as cars, trains, carriages and even airplanes were included in a paper doll collection.
In Deceptive Hearts, the first of a five-book series, paper dolls play a vital role. One of the secondary characters designs them, and I’m hoping to spin that artistic talent off into one of the other books in the series.
For more information on paper dolls, visit here.
Friday, June 5, 2009
…wait. That’s not right. Or is it? Not the heart fluttering part -- yeah, pretty weak dialogue, I admit it -- but should she call him ‘my lord’? Not in the higher-power sense, but as a form of address.
The answer is no. An English duke is referred to as ‘your grace’ or ‘his grace’. They’re dukes – much too grand for a mere ‘my lord’. All the other titles are ‘my lord’. No, wait, not all of them. Baronets are referred to as ‘sir’. Mustn’t forget them. But their wives do get to be ‘my lady’.
Now if the hero in question is an heir the dukedom, then matters get a bit more complex. The heroine can still swoon “Oh, my lord…” if he is the heir apparent and eldest son of the current duke. In that case, the fellow would be granted the use of his father’s 2nd most lofty title to use as a courtesy title until he inherits the fabulous dukedom. If his father is the Duke of Fabulous, the Marquess of Awesome, then the eldest son gets to use the Marquess of Awesome title. He’d be Lord Awesome and would be the heroine’s ‘my lord’. But if he’s a mere younger son, then he’s simply Lord John Smith (first name, surname), and she’d swoon “Oh, Lord John…”. But not Lord Smith. Never that.
Confused yet? I hope not. But English titles can be tricky beasts. Get them wrong, and an author can ruffled a reader’s feathers. But it’s not too difficult to get them right, as long as an author has a good reference book or site at her fingertips.
My absolute favorite, go-to reference site is this one -
Correct Forms of Address
I thank Laura for creating all those wonderful, neat and tidy tables every time I click on the link. Most anything an author would need on the subject of English forms of address is right there, in those lovely tables.
Jo Beverly also has a wonderful article on English Titles –
English Titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries
So that’s all for me today on the subject of tricky titles and how to make them not so tricky. And if you have a great resource for English titles, I'd love to hear about.
HER LADYSHIP’S COMPANION – Berkley Sensation
Lush. Elegant. Sensual Historical Romance
CONVINCING ARTHUR – Loose Id/July 2009
OBJECT OF HIS DESIRE – Samhain Publishing
Gay Erotic Romance…in the Regency era
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The hero in my western historical romance, SEDUCTION, owns a lavish hotel with all the modern amenities available to a small town of the late 1870s in the old west. My inspiration for his hotel came from hearing family stories about various hotels, mostly in Texas where my great grandfather worked as manager in the late 1800s.
Recently I heard on the Texas news channel that the famous Tremont Hotel in Galveston is reopening after the completion of needed remodeling following last summer's destructive hurricane. The name Tremont Hotel struck a chord with me, so I checked a story about my great grandfather. Of all the hotels he managed he did not work at the Tremont, but my great great grandfather was connected to the first Tremont Hotel in Galveston. The Tremont Hotel recently remodeled is the third Tremont Hotel on Galveston according to the article I read at The Handbook of Texas Online.
My great grandfather worked at the Rice Hotel in Houston, however, and that's where he met his wife, the daughter of the grandfather connected to the Tremont Hotel and later the Rice Hotel in Houston. That in itself is enough to inspire a romance story for me, but there are more hotels my great grandfather managed that also inspire me. He managed the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. He managed a small hotel in Wooten Wells, Texas. There's a story.
Wooten Wells has a "build it and they will come" history. A young married couple settled there and discovered their well water turned everything either yellow or red. At first discouraged, they soon discovered the water was mineral water with wonderful curative properties. When the news got out, people flocked to Wooten Wells to bathe in the mineral water baths which the man built with the help of friends. He built houses and hotels for people to stay in, and businesses popped up as the area turned into a health resort. I won't tell you the rest of the story. You can read about it online.
My great grandfather later managed the Vogel Hotel in Dallas before taking a job with a company in El Paso. I have a copy of a menu he wrote for one day's dinner meal at a hotel named the Carson and Lewis House. I believe it was in New Orleans, and may have been associated with the St. Charles Hotel there. If anyone has any information on the Carson and Lewis House, I would love to hear it. The menu gives dinner as 12 to 2 p.m. and starts with soup, okra and tomato. Fish follows with hot salmon, roast beef, chicken with dressing, venison pie, and corn bread. Vegetables include Irish sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, rice and green peas. It lists relishes, pastry of peach cobbler and dessert with apple cake, cheese, oranges, and raisins. Beverages include coffee, iced tea, and buttermilk. The cost is seventy-five cents. This can be
helpful information for historical fiction writers of stories about the old west in the late 1800s.
Food and meals are often mentioned in romances. Meals provide an opportunity to reveal something important about the characters in the story. In all of my stories this year, including SEDUCTION, available now, and ARE YOU GOING TO THE DANCE, coming soon July 31, meals are prepared and enjoyed by the characters in various scenarios ranging from dangerous to frivolous. I hope my readers will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I'll be drawing someone's name from my newsletter members for a copy of one of my stories in July. So please visit my web site where you can sign up for my newsletter.
I'd love to read your comments or answer your questions about Historic Texas Hotels.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
It isn't an often-done period when it comes to historical romance. Everyone is so used to stories set in medieval times or Regency or Victorian. I just had to be different, didn't I? Yeah, I do like to be unique. But there is a specific reason I chose this time period and it has to do with kilts.
My historically set stories are Scottish and I wanted my heroes to wear the great kilt or belted plaid aka feilidh-mhor (great wrap) or a breacan-feile (tartan wrap). My research told me those were not worn until at least 1575 or perhaps slightly later. So if I accurately wanted my hero in a great kilt I couldn't put him in medieval times (although I love medieval stories.) No, I couldn't pull a Braveheart and ignore historical accuracy completely.
I have visited the wonderful Tartan Museum in Franklin, NC as part of my research. http://www.scottishtartans.org/kilt.html or http://albanach.org/kilt.html are among the best websites for researching kilts and other Highland dress. I want to quote something from the website:
"The truth of the matter is that only one document has yet been found that dates from before 1600 and without a doubt describes a belted plaid, the earliest form of the kilt. It is an Irish source, written in Gaelic. In the Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell written by Lughaidh O’Clery, we read of a group of hired mercenaries from the Scottish Hebrides, employed by O’Donnell in 1594."
The girdles in this case would refer to belts and the mottled cloaks would be the plaid. A few more examples of early kilts. The red one is Lord George Murray about 1746. The second one shows two ways to wear a kilt, with the top portion used as a cape for warmth, or with the top portion secured at the shoulder. The third pic is Lord Mungo Murray, around 1680.
For the purposes of my stories, I also needed the Highland clan system to still be firmly in place, so they had to be set before 1746 and the battle of Culloden. And because of the plots of a couple of my novels, I needed a time period of relative peace between England and Scotland. So that's why I chose the reign of King James I & IV. He was king of Scotland first, then at Queen Elizabeth's death, he became king of England too.
Once I decided this time period would fit the needs of my stories, I delved into it to learn all I could about King James and his time period. But I couldn't focus on him and England completely because my stories predominantly take place in Scotland.
Some of my stories (like Devil in a Kilt) are time-travels. Would I like to time-travel back to 1621 Scotland? Hmm. That's a tough one. In one way I would like to... if I knew I could get back to modern day! I do like my modern conveniences, health and safety. There is nothing particularly romantic or appealing about the reality of the time. There were plague epidemics going on at various times, not to mention revolts, rebellions, riots, and clan feuds. One could be tortured or hanged for something minor. Hygiene at the time was abysmal, whether personal or in the streets. When I was in Edinburgh, I took a tour of Mary King's Close and the tour guide was not shy about presenting the gruesome facts of the 1600s. And since we were right there on that narrow, steep, dark (now underground) alley, it was all very easy to visualize. The furthest thing from a romantic fantasy.
I do escape into my stories and mentally travel back to 17th century Scotland, but I must put my own romantic spin on them. I'm not writing a history textbook; I'm providing fun entertainment and that means a hot man in a great kilt who bathes regularly. :)
Check below for a way to enter to win a copy of my book, to be released in July!
Kidnap This Logo!
And You Could Win!
To celebrate its Fifteenth Anniversary in June, Red Sage is throwing a party! Every party needs presents, and here’s a gift that could win you the July Secrets anthology and Calista Fox’s new novel, Object of Desire!
Here’s how to play the party game.
Anyone can play! All you have to do is “kidnap” this logo and post it on your blog or website. Copy and paste the jpg image of the anniversary gift to your own blog or website to kidnap it. Be sure to include these instructions so people know how to play!
Invite your readers and friends to send an email with the subject line “Ransom Note” to eRedSage@gmail.com Inside this email, they must include a link back to your kidnapped logo.
Then you and your friend will both be entered into a drawing to win free trade paperbacks! Every time one of your readers sends a ransom note with a link, you will be entered again! Each Ransom Note is worth two entries in the drawing -- one for the person who sends the Ransom Note, and one for the linked blog or website. And you both can win!
Want more chances to win? Invite your readers and friends to kidnap this logo, and then you can enter again by sending a Ransom Note linking to your friend’s blog or website!
The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win! But get your entries in by June 30. We'll be drawing the winners on July 1!
Group blog or website? No problem! Just be sure to sign your post so we know who the winner should be!
Good luck, and have fun!