Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Such Language! Part 18



A bit of 19th century slang and cant silliness, courtesy of the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Enjoy!

Belly Timber: Food of all sorts. (My little brother swore to Cook that unless he was provided with some belly timber at once, he would perish of hunger.)

Uppish: Testy, apt to take offence. (Cousin Lucretia is apt to be uppish whenever anyone mentions the fact that all of her suitors from last season are now engaged elsewhere.)

Znees: Frost or frozen. Zneesy weather; frosty weather. (It has been such zneesy weather these last weeks—do you think there will be a frost fair on the Thames?)

Baker-knee’d: One whose knees knock together in walking, as if kneading dough. (George thought he looked very fine in his go-to-Almack’s black silk breeches, but his being baker-kneed rather ruined the effect.)

Pogy: Drunk (We adore our Uncle Fred, but he does have a lamentable habit of crashing Mama’s dinner parties when he’s pogy.)

Waggish: Arch, gamesome, frolicsome. (But his waggish behavior when he does usually saves him from one of Mama’s scolds.)

Shabbaroon: An ill-dressed shabby fellow; also a mean-spirited person. (Cyril, who is fabulously rich, often affects the appearance of an utter shabbaroon to keep all the fortune-hunting misses at bay.)

*Cake, or Cakey: A foolish fellow. (I do wish George’s Oxford friends weren’t such cakes; it’s embarrassing to be forced to acknowledge them at our local assemblies.)


*Aha! Readers of Georgette Heyer will recognize this term, which she famously used in the expression "making a cake of himself" in The Unknown Ajax and The Nonesuch and others of her books.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Nineteenth Century Heroine: Putting on a Good Face

I’m researching a new series (lovely, lovely research!), and my first heroine is slated to be a cavalry officer’s widow. I wanted her to be well traveled—having followed him to Egypt, Flanders, and Portugal. I’ve seen the Sharp movies. I know the infantry’s enlisted men had ladies in the barracks and in their tents on occasion. So I wondered: Could an officer’s wife have followed him? Could she have bunked with her husband while on campaign? I found several sources that talked about army regulations and traditions, encouraging men 1) not to marry and 2) not to bring their wife and children with them.

And then I discovered this post’s nineteenth century heroine.

We know little about her, not even her name. She was the wife of a British infantry officer during the War of 1812, and she accompanied him to Canada with their infant daughter. She left behind a memoir that could well have been turned into a novel (or a movie!), though she only sent it to a trusted friend whose papers were provided to a museum on his death. Here’s what she said about arriving in Kingston on Lake Ontario:

“…we took possession of our tent by the light of a brilliant moon -- can you imagine anything more delightful or novel than there being at the end of a long day's journey in a very crowded waggon. I could not tear myself away from the door of my tent for hours. The encampment was on a quiet delivity sheltered from the winds by a green hill covered by a magnificent forest and before was the calm expanse of water in the Harbour, reflecting in the moonbeams, and all around us the snow white canvas tents with the bustling soldiers assembling their campfires for cooking their suppers, or resting on the grass, or posting sentinels. It was a beautiful scene and I enjoyed it thoroughly, fortunately without any presentiment of the change which was approaching.”
Ooo, the plot thickens. It seems her dear husband had been chosen for special duty, namely sailing upriver on a secret mission. If he succeeded, he could return to her. If not, the ship would continue to Niagara. Either way, she and their baby daughter Tilly would be left alone in a strange land. What was a lady to do?

Work out a way to go along, of course. She even convinced her husband to agree with the mad plan. He and his men went aboard, while she stayed on shore, waiting for her chance. She was shocked to find the ship a tiny thing with no sleeping accommodations. But she refused to give up.

“Our travelling bags were already on board and with Tilly in my arms I followed at a short distance, not wishing to make myself conspicuous as I would have been had I kept with the party. This, thought I, is one of the consequences for which I thought myself quite prepared. The moment was approaching when I must either be separated from my Husband or take my chances with him in actual perilous mission. It is exactly what I expected and wished and I tried to think it very exhilarating and kept up my spirits and my courage by talking to Tilly and telling her as we walked what a Hero and Heroine she had for a Papa and Mama and what a fearless girl she ought to be with such an example of valour.”
 At last, she made her way aboard, walking boldly past men and crew. No one seemed to notice her. Not even her husband!

“I suppressed the momentary conviction to ‘turn the white feather’ and putting my plaid mantle closely round little Tilly I quickly stept on board without raising any objections from any one so that the first glance of my Husband looking for us found me seated very comfortably in a corner of the deck upon a pile of greatcoats which I had arranged for my own accommodation.”
But alas, all was for naught! The officer in charge noticed her and demanded that she leave.

“I now thought to try the aspect of my pretty face which I have sometimes found a very powerful ally when all other means failed so I thereon gave the old gentleman the full benefit of my most insinuating smile while I pleaded for permission to stay where I was.”
Unfortunately, her attempts failed. The lady was put ashore. And what happened next? I would love to know! Only a piece of her memoir is available online, and for that we are thankful!

You can find the full snippet at the War of 1812 website, courtesy of Access Heritage.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Must be the Season

File:Woodland path.jpgWe have a lot of seasons these days. There are the four seasons—winter, spring, summer, and fall. Then there’s the television season, which seems to fall in many different periods depending on the network, fill-in-your-favorite-sports seasons, and the holiday season, which is fast approaching. In early nineteenth century England, of course, there was only one Season. Or was there?

We’ve talked about the Season, that time between Easter and the beginning of hunting season (another season!), when the aristocracy flocked to London. Young ladies made their debuts. Marriages were contracted. Almack’s held its famous balls. And Parliament sat.

That, more than anything else, drove the Season. Your dear papa or older brother must take his seat in the Lords, and you came along to see and be seen. But you see, Parliament didn’t always sit just in the spring and summer months.
Older Regency romance novels talk of the Little Season, but many of us authors have looked in vain at period sources to discover what and when that might be. My theory is that the Little Season happened in the fall, when Parliament happened to sit later or arrive earlier than usual.

For example, in 1812, Parliament adjourned on July 30, but a general election was held in October. The newly elected in the House of Commons took their seats on November 24 and continued sitting with the House of Lords until July 22, 1813. Likewise, Parliament began sessions on November 4, 1813, and adjourned July 30, 1814. I cannot imagine every gentleman left family behind the entire time or huddled together over a pint without a ball or two to liven things up. This fall/winter time in London may have been what has been deemed the Little Season.

But at the moment, we seem to be in another type of season entirely. A sale season. Marissa mentioned Tuesday that her award-winning story, Skin Deep, is on sale through today. My publisher has put 500 of its books, including my A Convenient Christmas Wedding on sale for $1.99 from October 7 through 10.

It also so happens that my Art and Artifice, the second book in my Lady Emily Capers, parts of which were published as La Petite Four, is on sale for 99 cents through October 14.

Lady Emily dreams of joining the famous artists of the Royal Society for the Beaux Arts until her longtime betrothed Lord Robert declares his intent to marry her, immediately. What can the fellow be thinking! And why is handsome Bow Street Runner Jamie Cropper dogging Lord Robert’s steps, and Emily’s?  It’s up to Emily to use her art to uncover artifice and discover whether Lord Robert has something up his sleeve besides a nicely muscled arm. Along the way, a duke’s daughter might just form a perilous passion for a most unlikely suitor.

You know, it's always the season to read.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Recent Acquisitions: Bathing Place Assembly Ball Dress

Now, I ask you, dear NineteenTeen readers: is this print not perfectly wonderful?


I’m not absolutely certain of the date of this marvelous “Bathing Place Assembly Ball Dress” print from La Belle Assemblée. One source lists it as being from January 1813...but would anyone really be interested in “bathing place” attire in winter? On the other hand, the placement of description of the dress at the top of the plate is in keeping with other La Belle Assemblée prints from 1809-1810, so I’m going to go with August or September of one of those years.

It shows a young woman strategically posed before a full-length mirror so that the viewer very conveniently gets a look at the back of this delightful dress. I can’t begin to guess the materials used, but the style gives more than a passing nod to drapery techniques—the ribbon drawing up the overskirt and the peplum-like decorations  in back make me think of custom window treatments. Note the tops of the sleeves—strips of the green fabric, woven in a lattice—and the frill of lace extending all around the neckline, and the little lion’s head belt buckle.

And her hat! It’s a delightful cross between a Nelson bicorne and a Carmen Miranda head-dress and utterly made of win. Notice too how her hair is arranged, with a braid across the forehead ending in a fetching little curl!

We’ve seen another “bathing place” costume recently—the evening dress that was actually a walking dress, also from La Belle Assemblée. I’ve yet to discern what it is that separates an everyday ball dress (if there is such a thing!) from a Bathing Place ball dress. Perhaps a touch more informality than one might expect in a London ball dress?

And speaking of bathing places (but not ball dresses), my Cape Cod-set contemporary fantasy, Skin Deep, is on sale for 99¢ now through next Friday, after which the price will be going to $4.99—so now’s your chance! You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, theApple iBookstore, and Kobo. Happy reading!
 
 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Better Than the Sound of Silence

Two people dear to me are beginning to lose their hearing, and both are too proud to wear hearing aids. I find myself raising my voice a lot and attempting to enunciate more clearly than usual. Had they been born in the upper class in the early nineteenth century, however, they might have used an ear trumpet.

You may have seen the horn-shaped things in old movies or read about them in books. Basically, the cone collected sounds and funneled them to the ear. Made from silver, horn, or wood, some were custom designed for a particular client. In 1800, Frederick Rein opened the first commercial shop in London.

Most had to be hand-held or placed on a stand on the table, and thus were quite visible. Some were collapsible for easy transport, but still evident in use. Like my two darlings, not everyone wanted to advertise their loss of hearing. So, Rein also developed less noticeable types, such as twin flower-shaped horns worn over the top of the head like today’s headphones. He also developed an acoustic urn that sat in the center of a table, collected sounds from around the room, and funneled them down a long tube to the listener. For the King of Portugal, he designed a special chair, where open-mouthed lion heads on the arm rests channeled sounds to the top of the chair, near the king’s ears. Talk about stealth hearing devices!

Other famous people besides the king said to have used ear trumpets during the early nineteenth century include the painter Joshua Reynolds and Beethoven.

Now, allow me to trumpet a little. I’m delighted to report that I have an audio book for the first time! “An Engagement of Convenience” has been recorded as part of the Summer House Party audiobook by Brilliance Audio. I can’t describe my delight when I heard my words being read aloud for the first time by someone other than me! 

And I hope Daisy and Lynn Lovegreen will be equally delighted. Lynn won the $25 Amazon gift certificate from last week, and Daisy won a copy of one of my books (e-book for Edwards and Williams’ titles, print copy from my stash for my Love Inspired titles). Contact me at reginascott at owt dot com with your physical address, and I’ll send those right out. Thanks for being part of Nineteen Teen as we head into our next 10 years!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Regency Fabrics, Part 16

Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics.

As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like.

Today’s three samples are from the October 1810 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is moderate; while the physical integrity of the fabric samples is good, there’s a lot of spotting on the top sample that obscures the pattern somewhat—mildew, perhaps? The other two samples are in good condition.

Here we go!


No. 1 and 2. A most lively and appropriate furniture print, from Mr. Allen’s 61, Pall-Mall, adapted principally for drawing room curtains and sofas. Boudoir draperies have a most pleasing effect when composed of this article. The most happily contrasted linings are, shades of green, blue, and purple, with variegated fringes to correspond.

My comments: I will confess that my first impression of this pattern was a memory of the little circular gummed reinforcement labels for three-hole punched paper (remember those?) The fabric itself is very finely and evenly woven, with a smooth glazed chintz finish and sufficient weight to mean this fabric definitely draped well. But, um, paired with green, blue, or purple lining? Not in my boudoir, thank you very much!

No. 3. This is an article very superior of its order, forming a neat and delicate intermediate kind of robe, and procured at the most modest expence [sic], being offered from 8s. to 14s. the dress, at Millard’s, in the city. The proprietor of this fashionable resort, which we have had occasion to notice in the foregoing numbers of our Repository, has, we are informed from the best authority, succeeded in forming connections with the great commercial cities in Russia, India, China, South America, Germany, France, Spain, Scotland, and Ireland; and thus rendered the establishment a grand depôt of every article which in elegance or utility can render a mansion comfortable or attractive, as far as relates to the requisite and ornamental furniture for drawing-rooms, eating and sleeping-rooms, nursery, &c. Ladies’ dresses of every degree, and of a superior description, as well as those for general use, are exhibited in abundance; and selections for forming new establishments made be readily made, and executed without delay. Here the nobility and gentry, the merchant, the country trader, and the public, are regularly supplied; and we cannot withhold the just portion of merit which belongs to the proprietor, whose persevering industry, ingenuity, and taste, have completed a depot on so vast and useful a scale. The assemblage of valuable India shawls, and of those manufactured in this country, are, we understand, immense in this establishment.

My comments: Well, it might have been nice to know a little more about the fabric and a little less about the industrious and ingenious (and unnamed!) proprietor in whose establishment this superior article could be purchased! It’s a very fine (and sheer—would definitely require a lining) muslin striped with a thin double line, of red and and white, twilled. Very dainty for a morning dress, I’m sure. Oh—did you notice the reference to the fact that the proprietor appeared to be trading with France? I would have thought that the little matter of being at war with that country might have interfered with trade, but evidently not!

No. 4 is a neat and appropriate article for gentlemen’s waistcoats, and is styled silk toilonet. It is ¾ yard wide, and sold by Messrs. Smith and Ash, fancy waistcoat warehouse, Prince’s-street, Soho, facing Coventry-street. The taste, utility, and reasonableness of this article, are too obvious to need further comment.

My comments: Hmm. I can’t help suspecting that further comment wasn’t forthcoming because the actual samples hadn’t been delivered to Ackermann’s offices before print time, but maybe I’m being cynical. It’s a curious fabric, without any modern counterpart that I can think of: heavier in weight, rather stiff, and in texture somewhere between flocked (like a velvet) and sueded, but not particularly soft to the touch. There’s a bar pattern woven in at wide intervals, of a single thread each of charcoal, brick red, and white. 

And did you think I forgot? The winners of our commenter drawing from my birthday party post last week are...

For the $25 Amazon gift card, veedham!
and for one of my print books (your choice),  mamafrog!

Ladies, if you would, please contact me via marissa @ marissadoyle dot com (removes spaces etc.etc.) so we can arrange for you to receive your prizes. Thank you all for commenting...and reading NineteenTeen!

(Oh, and a postscript: this is the last week By Jove will be on sale for 99 cents, so if you've been dithering on picking it up, now's the time to grab it before the price goes back up. You can snag it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple's iBookstore, and Kobo, as well as at Book View Cafe's own store (in both epub and mobi formats.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Nineteen Teen Turns Ten—Let Me Hear You Roar!

My word—ten years of blogging. Who would have thought? I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. I’d tried journaling and found that the writing pulled me away from my work in progress. Not good for a commercial author. At first the words for blog posts dripped out slowly, somewhat painfully, and at times I struggled to figure out what to cover on a given week. And then I realized—you like research too!

Oh, lovely, lovely research. I spent much of this week going down a long list of questions for the book I’m working on now. Were cats and dogs spayed and neutered during the Regency? (Verdict still out—anecdotal evidence suggests George Washington and other heroes of the Revolutionary War neutered dogs. But cats? More research!) What color are the stones in castles in Surrey? (Tan or warm gold, it seems.) Did cavalry officers’ wives lodge in tents with their husbands or in nearby towns? (Either and both). Which Hussar regiment saw duty in India before the Napoleonic wars? (Apparently none—foot soldiers only.)

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned about pedestrians, hobby horses, the original of matches, and the Grand Tour, research I hadn’t planned to undertake until a blog post beckoned. So thank you, Nineteen Teen readers, for making me smarter on the nineteenth century.

Now we stand on the threshold of a new decade of blogging. As we have in the past, we’d love to know where else you’d like us to venture. Please share your thoughts. We’ve done posts in the past because of your encouragement. What are you hungry to learn?

The writer of any comment with suggestions, or birthday wishes, or even just a stray “hi” will be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card and one of my books (any of my self-published backlist as an e-book or select Love Inspired Historical print books from my stash, including this month’s Mail-Order Marriage Promise). The comment opportunity ends at midnight Thursday, September 28. Winner to be announced in my September 29th blog post.

Nineteen Teen—10 years strong. Let me hear you roar! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Once Upon a Time...

It's story time, dear readers! 😁

One day, about ten years ago, I plucked up my courage and hit the “post” button on my first blog post, announcing to the world that the immortal words of two debut YA authors explicating the finer points of 19th century cultural history as it related to young adults would henceforth appear in this place (or something like that.) And with that, NineteenTeen made its debut.

Ten years later—yeah, ten!—Regina and I are still at it, closing in on 1000 posts (this one will be # 972.) We’re still talking about the stray bits and piece of history we run across and how history can intersect with today, still talking about books, and still having a lot of fun.

There have been some unexpected develop-ments along the way. I started collecting early 19th century fashion prints mostly because I wanted to be able to show what young ladies were wearing in this era, and have ended up a 19th century fashion diva as a result with several albums of beautiful prints that give me a great deal of pleasure as well as knowledge (and they take up a lot less space than shoes!) I’ve met authors and read books that have become new favorites. I’ve been led down delightful paths of research on different topics, and hope that you have too.

But the best—the absolute best—part of blogging on NineteenTeen has been my partnership with Regina. We had just met back in 2007, nervous new acquaintances rooming together at the RWA national conference in Dallas that July. As I recall it (correct me if I’m wrong, Regina!) I suggested the idea of starting a blog together just as we were saying good-bye in the hotel’s lobby. And now, we’re here, still blogging...except now, I count Regina as one of my dearest, closest friends. So thank you, NineteenTeen readers, for reading our blog—and enabling a beautiful friendship along the way.

AND...since it’s a birthday party, there have to be presents—for you! Everyone who comments today will be entered to win one of two prizes—a $25 gift card to Amazon, and a print copy of any one of my book (winner's choice.) Comments close at 11:59 pm on Sunday 9/24/17, and will be announced in next Tuesday’s post.

That’ll be our 974th post, incidentally. Thank you for coming along for the previous 973. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Nineteenth-Century Heroine: Taming the Frontier(sman)

One of the things I’ve enjoyed in my Frontier Bachelors series is discovering (or rediscovering) real-life heroes and heroines in my own backyard. We’ve talked about the irascible Doc Maynard, who some consider the rightful father of Seattle. That's him on the right. But that venerable gentleman was brought to heel by the powers of love, and Catherine Broshears Maynard is to blame. 

Catherine was born in 1816 near Louisville, Kentucky. She was 16 years old when she married her first husband, a dashing Mississippi river boat pilot. Israel Broshears gave up the river for her and turned to farming. In 1850, they joined a wagon train for Oregon, along with family members on both sides. Tragedy struck when the train reached Nebraska in the form of cholera. Catherine lost her husband, mother, and brother-in-law that day. But she gained a devoted follower.

Doc Maynard came upon the ailing party and tended the ill, even to the point of helping Catherine bury her family. Despite his work, several more died in the days that followed. He stayed with Catherine, helped her drive her team all the way to The Dalles on the Columbia River.

Doc had intended to continue to California. Instead, he followed Catherine to Olympia, where her brother had a business. In 1850, she was one of a handful of unmarried white women on Puget Sound, was pretty, and had an engaging personality. I wish I could have found a picture of her, but all were copyrighted.

Dark-haired, with a round, winsome face and maidenly curves, she was besieged by suitors, but she told her family she would marry Doc Maynard, or no one. One story says her family threatened to shoot him if he showed up at the door again.

See, there was a little problem. Doc was already married, though unhappily. He petitioned the territorial legislature to grant him a divorce, which they did in 1852. Unfortunately, no one told Lydia, his first wife. Without her consent, the divorce wasn’t legal. Catherine may not have known that, or she might not have cared, for she married her gallant doctor in January 1853 and never looked back.

Over the next 20 years, Catherine had many adventures. She made friends with Chief Seattle’s daughter, travelled by canoe up the Black and Green Rivers, and was nurse at Seattle’s first hospital. When Doc was sent to Port Madison to serve as Indian Agent, she lived without even a tent for shelter for some months. And when some of the Native Americans rose up in protest against the unfair treaties of 1855, Catherine and several Native American women canoed across Puget Sound to warn Seattle of the coming danger.

Album de la flora médico-farmacéutica é industrial, indígena y exótica (Pl. 81) BHL11238588.jpgAfterward, Doc too attempted to become a farmer, building Catherine a fine clapboard house on Alki Point. Alas, he proved a much better doctor than farmer. Catherine liked to joke she was the only farmer she knew who was always starving. Legend has it she planted the first dandelions in the area, as a medicinal plant. My dear husband would have a few words to say to her about introducing that plant.

Doc passed away in 1873, leaving Catherine a grieving widow once more. But that didn’t stop her from contributing to the community she so loved. She opened a free public library in her home. During her later years, in her 60s and 70s, she rode astride over Snoqualmie Pass many times to visit family in Ellensburg, where she opened another hospital, birthed babies, sewed up gun-shot cowboys, and even amputated a man’s leg to save his life.  

Catherine died in Seattle in 1906 at the age of 90. Her funeral was one of the largest ever held in the City. She is remembered as a grand pioneer lady, who tamed not only the frontier, but the legendary Doc Maynard.

And speaking of legendary, next week we celebrate a legend in the making--10 years of Nineteen Teen! Join us for a very special blog birthday, with presents for you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A-choo!

Mmm, another fashion print for my collection!

That’s what I thought when this charming Morning Walking Dress print from the November 1811 edition of La Belle Assemblee arrived in my mailbox last week. It’s an interesting design for a dress: the orange tunic trimmed with lace and navy blue braided frogging—a dashingly military touch!—over a muslin under-dress...the matching close-fitting hat with its bold, sweeping blue feather...the strappy shoes peeping out at the bottom... wonderful!

But as I peered closely at it to admire the details (regrettably, there are brown spots known as "foxing" around her face--after all, this is over two hundred years old), it slowly occurred to me to pay attention to what the lady in the snazzy ensemble was actually doing: she’s holding a small golden box in her left hand, while bringing the fingers of her right hand up to her nose...

Good heavens—I do believe the lady in this print is taking snuff!

Snuff—at it most basic, powdered tobacco—was popular in the 18th century and into the early 19th. The Prince Regent was devoted to snuff-taking, as were many of his friends: there were snuff shops where various blends of different tobaccos and other herbals were sold, and mixing one’s own preferred recipe was a hobby among some die-hards. Even some ladies took snuff—including the Prince Regent’s mother, Queen Charlotte—but its use wasn’t as widespread among women because...well, it could eventually stain one’s nostrils and upper lip a not very flattering brown, and often led to unattractive sneezing. Not an alluring lookbut obviously some ladies didn’t mind...!

On the other hand, here’s something to not sneeze at: for the next several days, you can get By Jove on sale for 99 cents! It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple’s iBooks store,
as well as directly from the publisher, Book View Cafe.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Gentlest Wallin of All

Mail-Order Marriage Promise is the sixth book in my Frontier Bachelors series set in pioneer Seattle. Originally, I was only going to have three books in the series—one each for three friends who sailed from the East Coast to the West Coast after the Civil War to become brides for frontiersmen. The friends included Allegra Banks Howard (The Bride Ship), Catherine Stanway (Would-Be Wilderness Wife), and Maddie O’Rourke (Instant Frontier Family). But something funny happened when I wrote Catherine’s story.

I met the Wallins.

Pa Wallin was originally from Sweden. He immigrated to the U.S. and settled in the Great Lakes region, where he met and married Ma Wallin, who had Swedish and English blood. They proceeded to have five boys and a girl, the youngest of which was only four when they set off on the Oregon Trail, ending up in Washington Territory, just north of Seattle.

You see, Pa Wallin had a dream. He envisioned a graceful city along the shores of Lake Union, with parks and bandstands and libraries and schools. He wanted someplace people could feel at home, regardless of where they’d originated. When he died in a tragic logging accident, it fell to his oldest son, Drew, to lead the family and build the town that honored their father’s legacy.

So far, the noble Drew (Would-Be Wilderness Wife), pragmatic Simon (A Convenient Christmas Wedding), and charming James (Frontier Engagement) have had their own stories told. Mail-Order Marriage Promise tells the story of the next brother, John.

John is the dreamer of the family, the peacemaker. John’s strength comes from the books he devours. He  would rather think through a problem then raise his fists and fight to the end. Though Drew, Simon, and James are all within a few years of each other, John is actually 10 years Drew’s junior. He grew up looking at his older brothers as heroes. No one was a strong and dependable as Drew. No one was as smart and logical as Simon. No one was as witty as James. With them for comparisons, it’s no wonder John doesn’t consider himself hero material.

But then, sometimes all it takes is a smile of encouragement, a desperate need no one else can meet, and heroes are made.

I hope you’ll give John Wallin’s story a try. Here are the buy links one last time:

Harlequin   
Kobo  
An independent bookstore near you 
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Keeping a Promise

When you start writing a series for a traditional publisher, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to finish it. Tastes changes, priorities shift, lines fade away. Knowing that, I’m pleased that I will be able to finish my Frontier Bachelor series for Love Inspired, telling the stories of siblings John, Levi, and Beth Wallin in 1870s Seattle, beginning with Mail-Order Marriage Promise, releasing today.

Stunned that his sister ordered him a mail-order bride, John Wallin insists he’s not the husband Dottie Tyrrell needs. The scholarly logger knows Dottie will make the perfect wife—for some other man. Yet he’s compelled to invite the lovely widow and her infant son to stay with his family…but only until she can find her own way. 

Dreams of true love are for other women. Betrayed by her baby’s father, Dottie just wants a safe home for her precious child. But who could resist a man with John’s quiet strength? When her secret past brings danger to their door, they may yet find this mail-order mix-up to be the perfect mistake…

Here’s a little taste:

“I can’t deny that the wilderness holds dangers,” John told Dottie, pouring the milk into the steel can. “But my family has worked hard for nearly twenty years to tame the wilderness. If you look closer, you may find things to love about the area.” He set the pail on the floor. “Here, let me show you.”

He held out his hand. She looked at it as if the gesture was foreign to her. Then a shudder went through her. He refused to back down. He couldn’t see her going to sleep this worried.

He almost shouted a hallelujah when she slipped her fingers into his grip.

He led her through the house, pausing in the bedroom doorway to check on Peter, who had indeed fallen asleep, then out onto the porch. The velvet black of the night wrapped around them. He pointed up at the semicircle of stars. “See there?”

He could barely make her out in the darkness, but he saw her shadow move as she must have looked up. “The stars?” she asked.

“Exactly.” He leaned closer, caught that sweet apricot scent. “See that long dip down and across? That’s Ursa Major, the great bear.”

He heard the smile in her voice. “Peter would like that.”

“You might like this one better. See that M shape? That’s Cassiopeia, the queen.”

She must have turned her head to look at him, for he felt her breath brush his ear. “Where did you learn that?”

“I read about it in a book.” He felt a little self-conscious admitting it. Men were supposed to go out and discover things, not sit at home and read about them. “Catherine’s friend Allegra Banks Howard loaned it to me. It had the latest scientific theories about stars and galaxies. Do you know Earth is only one planet among a group of planets, and that group is only one of perhaps millions out there in space?”

“My word.” She sounded as awed as he’d felt when he’d read the book.

“Those stars look like tiny pricks of light to us, but they’re as big, or bigger, than the sun. We’re the ones who are tiny, in the scheme of things.”

“I feel that way sometimes,” she murmured, and he thought she was looking up again.

“But they’re so far away,” John told her. “There’s nothing there to harm us. Now, listen.”

She stilled beside him.

“Do you hear that shush-shush sound? That’s the waves on Lake Union.”


She nodded, and a curl caressed his cheek. “I didn’t know a lake could have waves.”
“I understand larger ones do. Lake Union isn’t that large, but the breeze from the Sound encourages the water to move. Now, take a deep breath.”

She inhaled.

“What do you smell?” he asked.

“Something dry and flowery, and just a touch of brine.”

“The pungent flowery scent is the cedar not far from the house. It’s a massive thing, probably been growing more than a hundred years. I didn’t have the heart to cut it down. I’ll show it to you and Peter. And the touch of brine is Puget Sound, beyond the hill behind us. To me, this is the smell of home.”

She drew in another breath as if she wanted to sense it, too.

He put his hands on her shoulders, turned her to look down toward the main clearing. “Now, see those lights? That’s Drew and Catherine, James and Rina, Beth, Harry, Tom and Dickie. You shout loud enough, and every one of them will come running to help you.” He turned her back to face him. “And so will I.”

“Will you?” Her voice begged him for the truth.

“Always,” John promised. “You’re safe here at Wallin Landing, Dottie.”

He felt her trembling in his grip. He only wanted to assure her that nothing could hurt her, that he wouldn’t let anything hurt her. It seemed only right to lower his head and kiss her.

As he’d expected, her lips were soft and sweet, and something rose inside him, demanding that he protect her, cherish her, take the risk that she could be the one for him.

He’d meant to comfort her, lessen her fears. Why was he the one who was suddenly afraid?

You can find Mail-Order Marriage Promise at fine online retailers and bookstores near you:

Harlequin   
Amazon  
Kobo  
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Day Seattle Built a Railroad

The Transcontinental Railroad shaped the course of many a state’s history. The towns it passed through experienced building booms, population booms, business booms, at least in the short term. The towns it bypassed in some cases shriveled up and died. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Seattle reacted badly when its leaders learned that the Northern Pacific Railway had chosen Tacoma to the south as its terminus on Puget Sound. 

Arthur Denny read the telegram aloud from the city center to an eager crowd expecting good news. When they heard the decision was for Tacoma, cries echoed against the single-story buildings. The newspapers decried such an unfair decision. Seattle had the better harbor. Seattle had the Territorial University. How could the jewel of the Sound have been overlooked? Right then and there, the city fathers vowed they would not suffer silently.

They’d build their own railroad.

The plan was ambitious. They would lay trestle across the bay and out to the coal fields being developed on the other side of Lake Washington. From there, they would push the tracks up into the mountains, crossing what is now Snoqualmie Pass but what was then no more than sparsely traveled trail, to wend across the eastern half of the territory to Walla Walla. Think of it. The timber, salmon, and coal from Seattle heading to the burgeoning agricultural depot of the state, a major supply center for the gold mines in Idaho. Their fortunes were made.

It didn’t matter that they lacked any expertise in laying track or building the structures needed to span bays, rivers, and mountains. Within a week they had elected commissioners for the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad and filed articles of incorporation. It didn’t matter that they lacked funding. They issued $10 million in stock. You could buy it for $100 a share, or you could pay in-kind—by working, lending tools, or splitting wood for railroad. They had vision, they had purpose. They had the will of the approximately 800 people who called Seattle home.
File:A.A. Denny, Seattle's first steam locomotive (5017555191).jpg

For nearly a year, the papers kept the story alive. On May 1, 1874, canons boomed and the Seattle band played while every man, woman, and child in Seattle marched out to a spot some 3 miles south of the city to begin felling trees and clearing the way for the track that was to be laid. Everyone, from Mayor Henry Yesler to the most common sawmill worker, helped for free. The men did the heavy work; the women brought food and drink for a massive picnic to keep their spirits and energy up. Together, they managed to clear and grade 1 mile that day, and 12 miles by the end of October, when weather made it more difficult to work.

The Seattle railroad never did make it over the mountain, but it did arrive at the coal mines, bringing tons of the black gold to ships waiting in the harbor. You might say it was a labor not of love but of justification.


And speaking of labor, Marissa and I will be off next week and the week after for Labor Day, but come back September 5 to celebrate a new release in the Frontier Bachelors series, in which the Seattle May Day picnic looms large, Mail-Order Marriage Promise.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Retro Blast: Big White Horses

Although this week is all about shadows (did you get to see the eclipse yesterday? )summer for me summons thoughts of sunshine and green...and, occasionally, big white horses. Enjoy this retro blast from 2011.)
 
Our first summer excursion is to Wiltshire, a county southwest of London about halfway to Cornwall. Wiltshire is home to Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge, probably Great Britain’s most famous prehistorical site; it’s a place of rolling, open hills, called downs, with little farming due to the poor nature of the soil.

But it’s the nature of that poor soil that makes Wiltshire—and other places across southern England—the first stop on our Summer Tour. Forming the hills under that thin soil is chalk—yes, the white stuff formerly used to write on blackboards in classrooms. And at some point back in prehistory, someone figured out that you could cut shallow trenches in the soil to expose the underlying chalk, and create enormous pictures spreading across hillsides…like this:That’s the 374 ft. long White Horse of Uffington, (nearby in Oxfordshire, by the way, not Wiltshire) dating back to about 3000 years ago. But in historical times, chalk cutting became a popular pastime for landowners, and Wiltshire is home to several of them. There’s the Westbury White Horse, carved in the 1770s for a Mr. Gee (though it may have covered an earlier figure—mention of a horse carving there dates back to 1742):
And here’s another, the Cherhill White Horse, carved in 1780 by a Dr. Alsop and measuring about 160 feet across:The somewhat smaller--62 ft--Marlborough White Horse was carved in 1804 by schoolboys from a nearby school, and refurbishing it was a yearly school tradition. These chalk figures require upkeep—weeding and replenishing the chalk—at frequent intervals: So what inspired people to spend a great deal of effort to dig trenches hundreds of feet long to form these pictures? The 18th century was really the first great period of English landscape gardening, and carving chalk figures into hillsides was one way to play with the landscape, if you happened to own hundreds of acres in chalk down country. I am sure our young 19th century tourist misses, on their way perhaps to view the stately homes at Longleat or Fonthill Abbey (which I shall write about later this summer), enjoyed side trips to view these images, startlingly white against the green summer grass.

And enormous horses aren’t the only chalk carvings around; huge figures of men also exist such as the Wilmington Figure (which may also date to prehistoric times) and the Cerne Abbas Giant, probably carved during the English Civil War as a sort of satirical cartoon of Oliver Cromwell! The practice continues even today, as a White Horse was created just in 2003 at Folkestone in Kent, overlooking the terminal for the Channel Tunnel. And they remain a tourist attraction in the 21st century; visit http://wiltshirewhitehorses.org.uk/ to learn more about Wiltshire’s White Horses.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Redefining a Bluestocking

Bluestocking—an educated or literary woman. Derogatory.

Hey! Derogatory? I wear the bluestocking label with pride. That’s one of the reasons Marissa and I named our reading club The Young Bluestockings. I like to think most of my heroines are bluestockings of one sort or another. But only one truly epitomized the breed as viewed by early nineteenth century Society.

Eugennia “Jenny” Welch reads widely, discusses the books with a select group of friends (who also include a gentleman or two—shock!), and puts what she learns into practice. For example, when she was trying to learn how a tailor creates gentlemen’s coats, she stopped by that famous clothier Weston and asked him questions. The poor man he was measuring at the time was so embarrassed he hasn’t been the same since. She’s captured insects for study, invited the Egyptian expedition to practice digging in her rear yard so she could observe, and categorized English pottery of the last century. But something is missing, and she isn’t sure what.

In fact, she’s afraid to tell her bluestocking friends the truth: she secretly wishes a handsome prince would ride in and propose marriage. When charming Corinthian Kevin Whattling does just that, she is stunned. He claims to have admired her for some time, but only came forward now because he must marry an heiress to discharge his debts. Her head warns her to beware, while her heart begs her to pull him closer.

Once one of the most successful intelligence agents among the aristocracy, Kevin Whattling gave up his commission when his younger brother was killed in an illegal boxing match. Now deep in debt, his only hope is to marry a wealthy wife. But as he tries to convince Jenny he is besotted, he finds himself falling under her spell. When a danger from Kevin’s past threatens them both, they must trust each other to win a love far greater than any fortune.

Thus, The Bluestocking on His Knee has been transformed into The Heiress Objective, now available from fine online retailers such as

Smashwords     
Amazon    
Kobo 

Here’s to bluestockings everywhere!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Retro Blast: Summer Amusements

Since this post was originally from December 2014, the Goya exhibit is no longer at the Museum of Fine Arts...but roller skates will never go out of style.

A few days after I discovered (to my enormous glee) that yo-yos were all the thing in the 1790s, I happened upon an article in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts magazine MFA Preview. There’s a very fine exhibit of the work of Spanish artist Francisco Goya on display there right now, but what really grabbed me was a reproduction of a sketch he made some time in the mid 1820s that’s part of the exhibit—I don’t have permission to reproduce it here, but you can see it in the exhibit preview slideshow on the Museum of Fine Arts website. The sketch was made sometime between 1824 and 1828, when Goya was living in Paris, and is entitled “Locos Patines”... or “Crazy Skates”—and it shows a rather alarmed gentleman wearing roller skates. Yes, roller skates—and if you look carefully at the background, you’ll see someone riding a hobby-horse, the precursor of the bicycle.

So of course I had to look into the history of roller skates, which actually date back to the mid-18th century and were first seen either on the London stage in 1743 (presumably in a dance number!), or in the Netherlands at some point in mid-century on the feet of an anonymous gentleman who wished to go ice skating in the summer, depending on whom you ask. A John Joseph Merlin seems to have been making an early form of in-line skates in England in 1760, and the first patented skates appeared in France in 1819, also with an in-line wheel configuration (which makes sense, if you consider that people were indeed trying to ice-skate without ice.) An English patent followed in 1823 for the Volito, another in-line skate design, with wheels in graduated sizes which enabled easier turning (that's it, above right.) By the late 1850s, public roller skating rinks were opening in London.

Curiously, all the internet sources I researched state that skates with four wheels situated two on either side of the foot weren’t invented until the 1860s in New York...but there in the Goya sketch in the 1820s we have skates with just that configuration. I have the feeling there was a great deal of experimentation going on with their design...but who knew that roller skating was another popular 19th century pastime!

I wonder if the young Princess Victoria ever tried roller skates? :)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

She’s Here!

Who’s here, you ask? Why, this lovely lady!

Nevertheless, She Persisted, an anthology of short stories by authors from Book View Café and edited by Mindy Klasky, releases today. I’m obviously very excited—it’s my first published short story—but there are eighteen other stories in this compilation worth getting just as excited over. This anthology celebrates women who persist through tales of triumph—in the past, present, future, and other worlds.

From the halls of Ancient Greece to the vast space between stars, each story illustrates tenacity as women overcome challenges—from society, from beloved family and friends, and even from their own fears. These strong heroines explore the humor and tragedy of persistence in stories that range from romance to historical fiction, from fantasy to science fiction.

From tale to tale, every woman stands firm: a light against the darkness.

Table of Contents:

“Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan
“Sisters” by Leah Cutter
“Unmasking the Ancient Light” by Deborah J. Ross
“Alea Iacta Est” by Marissa Doyle
“How Best to Serve” from A Call to Arms by P.G. Nagle
“After Eden” by Gillian Polack
“Reset” by Sara Stamey
“A Very, Wary Christmas” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
“Making Love” by Brenda Clough
“Den of Iniquity” by Irene Radford
“Digger Lady” by Amy Sterling Casil
“Tumbling Blocks” by Mindy Klasky
“The Purge” by Jennifer Stevenson
“If It Ain’t Broke” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
“Chataqua” by Nancy Jane Moore
“Bearing Shadows” by Dave Smeds
“In Search of Laria” by Doranna Durgin
“Tax Season” by Judith Tarr
“Little Faces” by Vonda N. McIntyre

It’s available in ebook form (epub and mobi) from the Book View Café website store as well as all the usual retailers—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBooks...and in print too.

And yes, my contribution, “Alea Iacta Est”, should be of interest to NineteenTeen readers, as it’s set in 1817 and features a young lady who chooses not to let the fact that she wears petticoats keep her from her intellectual passion...for RPG-style war games. ☺

I hope you’ll read it...and all the stories in Nevertheless, She Persisted.

Friday, August 4, 2017

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation, Part 2

Marissa and I so look forward to the Romance Writers of AmericaTM annual conference because, as she noted on Tuesday, we get to spend almost a week visiting, learning, visiting, meeting with editors and agents, winning awards (okay, only one of us won an award, and you know who that was!), celebrating these crazy careers of ours, and visiting some more. This year there were some changes to the cherished conference schedule, but one thing did not change. The first event, and in many ways the premiere event for us, is the Beau Monde mini-conference and soiree on Wednesday.

As we’ve mention, the Beau Monde is the Regency special interest chapter, for authors who write about the early nineteenth century. Most stories are set in England, but some are set in France or Italy, and the daring Darlene Marshall writes Regency stories set in Florida and the Caribbean. (What’s not to love about Regency pirates!) The mini-conference generally features fascinating workshops, a keynote address (this year by one of my personal favorites, Kate Pearce, who writes the marvelous Kurland St. Mary mysteries as Catherine Lloyd), a silent auction of Regency-related goodies with the proceeds going to a literacy charity (Marissa took home a sugar bowl and creamer in the Regent’s own pattern), a soiree with music and dancing in the evening, and the Royal Ascot Awards.

The Royal Ascot is the only writers’ contest specifically for Regency-set manuscripts. Once upon a time, I entered and learned a great deal. But I wasn’t nearly good enough to reach the final stage at that point in my writing journey. This year’s contest, organized by Kalinya Parker-Pryce (an author to watch, ladies!), featured a chance for readers to weigh in on their favorite manuscript as well as judging by established Regency authors. The winner was the charming Louisa Cornell, who was also inducted as the Beau Monde’s next president. (Her published novel came out after she entered the contest.) Here’s to you, my dear!

Of course, one of the reasons I love the soiree is the clothing. Many ladies come in Regency or faux-Regency garb. Here’s the lovely Elizabeth Baron in a coral-colored gown made from antique sari material. Fabulous! 


My picture of the marvelous Cora Lee did not turn out, but she was kind enough to send me an alternative. Isn’t the embroidery gorgeous? The blue matched her eyes!


As always, I was sad to see the week end. I learn so much at the conference that I often feel as if I’ve grown a few sizes (maybe it’s the wonderful food!), and the world seems far too tight when I come home. But my mind’s teeming with new ideas for my next self-published series and projects to pitch to my editor and other publishing houses. So, you know what I’ll be doing the next few weeks.


By the way, a certain young man of my acquaintance will be heading to his final year of graduate school next week, and I will be helping send him off, so I will rejoin you on August 18 with news of the publication sort. Until then, happy reading!