Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Did They Really Say That?

One of the joys of leafing through the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue is running across slang expressions and figures of speech still in use today that you would never guess were particularly old...but as it turns out, are. Here’s a list of the ones I’ve run across, along with their definitions as listed in the DVT, that make me laugh...and marvel at their longevity. Enjoy!

Sea Lawyer: A shark  (Yes, really!  This reminds me of an anecdote that I posted about a while back. Who knew lawyer jokes had such a long and distinguished history? )

Coming!  So is Christmas: Said of a person who has long been called, and at length answers, Coming! (We use this all the time in my family, so it totally tickled me to find it here.)

Birth-day Suit: He was in his birth-day suit, that is, stark naked. (Okay, this one totally surprised me—it just doesn’t sound old, does it?)

Black and White: In writing. I have it in black and white; I have written evidence. (Another very modern-sounding expression—maybe because we have a picture in our 21st century heads of 19th century paper being brownish rather than white?)

Kick the bucket: To die. He kicked the bucket one day; he died one day. (I did a little research on the origin of this phrase; the Oxford English Dictionary favors the one which involves pigs to be slaughtered being hung from a beam to allow the blood to drain from the carcass, the beam in question being a trébuchet or buque in French (so presumably a Norman borrowing?)

Bears and Bulls: A bear is one who contracts to deliver a certain quantity or sum of stock in the publics funds, on a future day, and at stated price; or, in other words, sells what he has not got, like the huntsman in the fable, who sold the bear’s skin before the bear was killed. As the bear sells the stock he is not possessed of, so the bull purchases what he has not money to pay for; but in case of any alteration in the price agreed on, either party pays or receives the difference. (Wow, who knew?  It looks like the terms date from as much as a century before, tied up with the South Sea Bubble incident of ca. 1717.)

All right!: A favourite expression among thieves, to signify that all is as they wish, or proper for their purpose.

And speaking of all right, Regina and I thought it might be an all right time to have a group read since we haven’t done one for a long time. So mark your calendars for the week of March 29, when we’ll be discussing Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1853 classic Cranford. Regina and I will provide some history, but we hope you’ll jump in with comments and opinions.  And the cool thing is you can find Cranford for free on-line, at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as at Project Gutenberg. 
Happy reading!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Four Things on a Friday

Oh, but I have some goodies for you! I’ve been collecting them for some time, but one came in this week that made me decide I simply had to post. So, without further ado, here are four things you need to know this Friday.

Ever wonder about those words in old Westerns? What’s the difference between caboose and calaboose? If someone claims you’re in a feeze, is that a compliment or an insult? Wonder no further! Check out the online dictionary of Western slang. You might see some of these terms working their way into Nineteen Teen, because they’re simply too much fun!

Like to sew? Want to stitch up some period outfits? See what you can find among collection of free historical costume patterns, ranging from medieval to early twentieth century, and coats to underthings. I’m wondering about new Regency gown for a trip this summer. We’ll see! 

I’ve known for some time about the lady Regency dress up doll online (and been known to spend far too much time playing with outfits). But I was delighted to learn this week that the same artist, the wonderful Sarah Vaughn, has a gentleman dress up doll as well. You will never get to your chores again. Be warned.

Finally, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one mourning when the world lost the wonderful Alan Rickman a few weeks ago. Mr. Rickman was famous in recent years for portraying Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, but he will always be dear to my heart as Colonel Brandon from the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibilities (not to mention from Galaxy Quest). Here’s a short film with him in another Regency role, along with some faces well-known for period acting. I would wager than had a great time doing this. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

1810--What a Year It Was

I promised you a new series, didn’t I? Well, today it begins...but first, a little background.

I’ve had an idea for an adult Regency story for years...but some ideas take a long time to marinate. I jokingly say that the girls in the back room had to think about it for a while...and in 2015, they let me know they were ready to get started. The story has turned into a serial, told in novella-length episodes that are complete stories in themselves but include an overarching plot (and developing romance, of course!) that interweaves with the events of the individual stories.

The story takes place over the course of 1810 and will end in 1811, which means I’ve been doing a lot of research about that one year...and it was a pretty interesting one. So I thought it might be fun to examine some of those events that inspired my serial, because we’re all about weird history stories here at NineteenTeen, right?

So what was going on around the world in 1810?  Although my serial of course will focus on England and its concerns, there was a lot of interesting stuff happening elsewhere...
  • Napoleon divorces his Josephine in order to marry Marie Louise of Austria, and adds Holland and the German kingdom of Westphalia to the empire, but French forces under Marshal Masséna are expelled from Portugal
  • Beethoven composes Für Elise
  • Lord Byron, sojourning in Greece, swims the Hellespont 
  •  General Bernadotte, one of Napoleon’s marshals, is elected Crown Prince and heir to the throne of Sweden.
  • Frédéric Chopin, composer and pianist, is born, as were Robert Schumann, English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (who wrote the wonderful Cranford, among others), and P.T. Barnum.
  • Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Chile take varying steps toward independence from Spain.
  • The first steamboat on the Ohio River begins operation . 
  • King George III is declared insane (again.)
  • And for you Regency boxing fans, the great 40-round match between Cribb and Molineaux takes place.
Stay tuned for the first post soon!

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Lady of Many Devices: Award-Winning Author Shelley Adina

Nineteen Teen is delighted to welcome Shelley Adina, with whom Regina admits to having an author crush. Shelley writes wonderfully detailed books full of characters you can root for. We sat down with her to learn more about what she's been up to, and where she's going next with her intriguing Magnificent Devices series.

Nineteen Teen: You have written about life and love in Amish communities, a posh teen boarding school, and an oceanside community in the Pacific Northwest, but perhaps your most popular series is set in an alternative 1889 London, where Victoria is Queen, Charles Darwin's son is Prime Minister, and steam is the power that rules the world. What drew you to 19th century England and steampunk stories?

Shelley: I’ve been a fan of steampunk since the 1960s, when we’d watch Wild, Wild West and then act out our own episodes. I always had to be James West because I was the oldest, but secretly, I wanted to be Artemus Gordon, inventing all the cool weapons and gizmos, and knowing where all the secret cupboards were on the train. I was a bookish child, reading English authors like Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse, Linnets and Valerians, The Dean’s Watch) and R.F. Delderfield, and Canadian authors like L.M. Montgomery. Maybe it was the libraries I consorted with, but then, there was almost no contemporary fiction for what we now call middle-grade and YA readers. There was a lot of fiction written and set in the 1800s and early 1900s for that age group, however. I think my tastes were set early … until I discovered Nancy Drew and my love of cozy mysteries.

19 Teen: Your heroine, Lady Claire Trevelyan, starts out in the aristocracy but yearns for something more. What do you like best about Claire? What sometimes challenges you?

Shelley: What I like best about Claire is her inability to stay down for long. She’s had her share of setbacks, but as she advises the Mopsies, “Look around you, catalogue your resources, and then apply your intellect.” That bit of advice has saved her (and me) many a time. The thing that challenges me about her is that she’s so loyal to her friends and the people she loves that it never occurs to her that she shouldn’t dash off and attempt to help when they get into trouble. This turns out to be quite a conflict in books 7 and 8, when Andrew Malvern, whom she honestly loves, has a fairly reasonable expectation that when they marry, she might settle down. I don’t think settling down has ever occurred to her, and a little maturing has to take place before she realizes that sometimes you have to give other people the chance to be the hero.

19 Teen: Your understanding of both the times and the technology really shine in your books. How did you get so wise on steam and did you uncover anything really surprising in your research?

Shelley: ::whispers:: You know a lot of that isn’t real, right?

Seriously, I’m fortunate in that a man who builds steam-powered engines lives not three miles from me. If I need to know the rate of burning coal for a steam train on a three-percent grade over 80 miles, he’ll run the calculations and tell me. (“If a train left London at 4:00 p.m. at sixty miles per hour …” Who knew word problems would ever be useful?)

As for surprises, one day, I was sitting at breakfast in a lovely B&B a thousand miles from home (www.abbeymoore.com), and at the next table sat a submarine captain and his mariner wife. It so happened that I needed to know how an undersea dirigible would operate, so I asked them if they would mind applying their imaginations to it. We had a very entertaining talk over the frittata about everything from oxygen levels to how one might escape out of a torpedo tube, much to Ian the innkeeper’s delight.

19 Teen: If you had been born in your alternative England, would you be a Blood (aristocrat, born to wealth) or a Wit (those who live by their intellect) and would you be satisfied with that?

Shelley: I’m definitely a Wit. I would have been a writer then, too, and hold lovely salons so that my writer friends and I could talk about the subject we love best over tea cakes and wine. Oh, wait. We do that now!

19 Teen: You have a new book out this month, squee! Tell us something about it.

Shelley: I’m so glad you brought that up. Here’s the story summary:

Her father started a war. She intends to stop it.

Her father may have sacrificed his own life to save hers, but heiress Gloria Meriwether-Astor is finding it difficult to forgive him. After all, how many young ladies of her acquaintance will inherit wealth, beauty, and a legacy of arms dealing? Now the Royal Kingdom of Spain and the Californias is about to declare war on the Texican Territory and Gloria simply will not allow it.

In company with Alice Chalmers and the crew of Swan, along with a lost young Evan Douglas seeking reparation for his own sins, she takes to the air. Her intention—to stop the train carrying the final shipment of monstrous mechanicals into the Wild West. But they should have known that making a deal with air pirate Ned Mose in exchange for his help could never end well.

What is a lady of principle to do? For the lives of thousands may depend on her ability to stop the war … even if it means losing everything and everyone she has come to love …

“It’s another element I love about these books; from Claire to Gloria to Alice to Lizzie and Maggie to Lady Dunsmuir, the women in this series generally like and respect each other. Other women are not required to be lesser—weaker, more cowardly, less intelligent—in order for Claire to be awesome. She is not an exceptional woman, she is an awesome woman among awesome women.” —Fangs for the Fantasy: The latest in urban fantasy from a social justice perspective

19 Teen: Sounds fabulous! Where is the Magnificent Devices series going next?

Shelley: Well, Gloria’s journey from former finishing-school mean girl to woman of principle and strength is just beginning. In the course of her attempt to stop the war (which will comprise Books 10–12), she will stretch the limits of her capabilities and beyond, will learn who she really is, and will become a force to be reckoned with in her own right. (It is no coincidence that the aforementioned posh boarding school in San Francisco is the Gloria Stanford Fremont Preparatory Academy, hm?) She will stop asking herself, “What would Claire do?” and begin to ask herself, “Is this the right thing for me to do—and how will it affect the people I care about?” She, too, has grown up in a world of privilege, and like Claire, must have it all stripped away so she can see what she can make of herself on her own.

19 Teen: Pop quiz round:

Fruit trifle or chocolate truffles? Fruit trifle, no question. Be liberal with the brandy.

Chamomile or Earl Grey? It depends on whether the stomach is unsettled. If so, the former. If not, the latter.

Napoleon or Wellington? Heavens. What a question for this citizen of the Commonwealth. Wellington, of course.

Empire waist or bustle dress? You tricky minxes. You’ve heard about my Regency prequels, haven’t you, dubbed “Prinnypunk”? The steam engine was invented during the Regency, as you know, with the help of Claire’s great-grandmother, Loveday Trevelyan. I have the clothes all ready to go. I just have to figure out how to make the goggles stay on a bonnet. And write the books.

Cats, dogs, or chickens? Chickens! In fact, I just wrote three of them into Gloria’s book. I didn’t mean to, I swear—I just opened a door and there they were, roosting on the bedframe in a deserted house! When they followed the characters out, I was helpless in the matter.

19 Teen: Where can our readers learn more about Shelley Adina?

Shelley: I’d be delighted if you’d visit http://www.shelleyadina.com. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, too, and get a free short story set in the Magnificent Devices world!

Thank you, ladies—it has been such a pleasure talking with you. Now … you were saying about trifle and tea …?

19 Teen: Right this way, my dear. And, if I might inquire about borrowing your goggles . . .

RITA Award® winning author and Christy finalist Shelley Adina wrote her first novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler who loves to imagine what might have been. Between books, Shelley loves playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fashion with a Steampunk Twist: Guest Author Shelley Adina

Please give a warm Nineteen Teen welcome to Shelley Adina, bestselling author of the Magnificent Devices series.

It has been said in withering tones that steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown. But I can assure you that isn’t true! Fashions in steampunk novels can be as varied as the women who wear them—from peacock feathers to dusty cotton. The guiding principle, though, is the maker philosophy; in other words, one creates one’s outfits to suit one’s activities and personality.

In the opening chapters of Lady of Devices, it’s no coincidence that my heroine Lady Claire is dressed in a seersucker school uniform (indicating she is given no choice in her dress) and completely forgets her appointment with the dressmaker (a response to being given no choice at home, either). It’s a sign of things to come, when she joins forces with a street gang who make their living as rag-pickers, and learns firsthand about making an outfit out of nothing. But every heroine has to start somewhere, because the girl who forgets her fitting with the modiste who outfits the royal princesses has a mother described like this:

“Lady St. Ives sat upon the forest-green brocade couch, its width sufficient to accommodate the bustles and petticoats of the fashionable, in the forefront of which she maintained a dashing lead. Her navy-and-white striped silk skirts were overlaid by a polonaise of navy damask trimmed in gold ruching, and gold rosettes drew the eye to a square neckline and the statuesque figure that was the envy of many a dumpier matron. The fact that Claire had inherited her father’s height but not her mother’s figure, her father’s unruly auburn mane and not her mother’s blonde curls, was a continuing source of despair.” —Lady of Devices

Elaborate gowns have no place in the world of mad scientists, stolen airships, and explosions that Claire must learn to live in. As the books go on, she develops her own taste, which runs to practical navy skirts and pretty blouses (known as “waists” in those days) with sleeves that can be rolled up so as not to get in the chemicals.

But her favorite outfit is her “raiding rig,” which she has put together to suit herself and her own needs as the leader of the cleverest gang in the London underworld:

She had dressed carefully in raiding rig for the occasion, in a practical black skirt that could be rucked up by means of internal tapes should she have to run or climb. She had dispensed with a hat for the evening, choosing instead to simply leave her driving goggles sitting in front of her piled hair, a gauzy scarf wound over it and around her neck. A leather corselet contained a number of hooks and clasps for equipment, and instead of her trusty rucksack, she wore a leather harness with a spine holster specially made to the contours of the lightning rifle she had taken from Lightning Luke Jackson three weeks ago. She was pleased to see that her lacy blouse remained pristine white.
“Great Caesar’s ghost,” Lord James said, gaping at her. “What in heaven’s name have you got on?”
“A costume,” she said, twirling like a ballerina. The fact that her rig was both practical and sensational delighted her. “Do you like it?”
“You look like an air pirate. Let those skirts down at once. Do you want His Royal Highness to see your knees?” —Her Own Devices

In the fictional steampunk world, a woman can wear couture if it suits her, or put together her own practical outfit. And in the real steampunk world outside books, a woman can do the same. Some like to comb secondhand shops and up-cycle pieces to assemble something new and old at the same time. Some buy ready-made outfits from online stores. And some find pride in their own craftsmanship, designing and sewing Victorian or neo-Victorian costumes that reflect their personalities and the characters they play at events and conventions.

I do a mix—I’ll pair a bustle and skirt I made with an formal dirndl bodice in black silk that I found in a mountain town in Austria (see picture). Or I’ll wear a store-bought Edwardian striped skirt with a middy blouse and bolero jacket I made. With both I’ll wear my Timberland buckled boots, which have the advantage of being comfortable, practical, and stylish. One must, after all, be able to dance as well as shoot in any ensemble one wears!
RITA Award® winning author and Christy finalist Shelley Adina wrote her first novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.S. in Literature, an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler who loves to imagine what might have been. Between books, Shelley loves playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

Friday, January 22, 2016

For the Love of Steampunk

It’s no secret that Marissa and I are in love with the nineteenth century. Most of our works have been set in that era, and we’ve been gleefully blogging about our obsession with various facets of the history since September 2007. What you’ve probably guessed from some of our posts is that we also have a fascination with science. So what better than a genre that mixes both!

Steampunk is speculative fiction that sets fantastic inventions against a (generally) nineteenth century backdrop. Think Jules Vernes or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Steamships ply the waters and sail the skies; steam engines propel amazing machines across a landscape populated by gentlemen in Bowler hats and ladies in bustle dresses. If that’s not enough to set you drooling, consider the incredible world-building that goes into creating what is essentially an alternative universe.

Now, some of the steampunk out there is rather dark, and I’m not, so I tend to gravitate to the more adventurous and romantic stories. Some of my favorites are Kenneth Oppel’s Matt Cruse trilogy (Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber) and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series (Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath). And I have high hopes for The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher, which is on my to-be-read list.

And then there’s the Magnificent Devices series by Shelley Adina. High society meets creative invention. Young ladies find ways to move from queen of the ballroom to the captain of a dirigible. Be still my heart!

Sound like something you might be interested in too? Well, you’re in luck. Shelley will be our featured author next week on Nineteen Teen! On Tuesday, she takes you into the world of steampunk fashion. And on Friday, we will get her to spill all her secrets, including where the series going next.

Strap on up your aviators and lace up your corsets. Next week, Nineteen Teen goes steampunk!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Regency Fabrics, Part 8

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. So here we go!

We have three fabrics from January 1810*; overall condition is very good considering their age, apart from some raveling of the samples themselves.

Nos. 1 and 2. A ruby damask furniture chintz, calculated for curtains, sofas, beds, &c. The linings, which form the most pleasing contrast of this elegant article, are, Sicilian or celestial blue, spring or pea-green. For dining-rooms, deep borders, of plain or fancy-cut velvet, have a rich and appropriate effect. For drawing-rooms, the draperies should be the colour of the lining, tastefully blended, and fringed to correspond. This article is manufactured and sol by Mr. Allen, 61, Pall-Mall.

My comments: What a lovely, rich color! Though the scan isn't doing it justice, it looks just like a lightly glazed modern chintz, printed in a classic brocade pattern, thought perhaps just a slight bit heavier than a modern chintz. It's a little hard to imagine it paired with a celestial blue or pea green lining, though!

No.3. A mazarine and orange flowered gossamer silk, adapted for full dress. This striking and brilliant article we recommend to be formed in Circassian or Polish robes, and worn with white satin or crape slips. If formed as a round dress, it cannot be constructed too simple: the glowing richness of its hues renders every auxiliary unnecessary. Diamonds and pearls, or white beads, are the only ornaments which can be allowed with robes of this article. It is furnished by Harris, Moody, and co, Pall-Mall.

My comments: This sample has very clearly not aged well, as it appears to be an inoffensive silk brocade in a denim blue with a cream-colored floral pattern woven in. However, from the description, it was originally a deep purplish blue with orange flowers...oh my! Again, I have to wonder how well the fashion prints in Ackermann and elsewhere reflect the reality of what was actually being worn. As for the weight and feel of the fabric--it's simply lovely, with an attractive sheen that alas is not coming through on the scan and a silky hand, lightweight enough to float yet with enough heft to drape well. I wouldn't have said no to a dress in this fabric, orange and purple notwithstanding!

No. 4 is a most delicate cotton, or mole velvet. It exhibits a pleasing and convincing specimen of the lightness and delicacy to which the perseverance and ingenuity of the manufacturer has brought this article. Robes, mantles, and coats, composed of this material, with well-contrasted linings and trimmings, have a most seasonable and fashionable effect; and are purchased less than half the price of the silk velvet, which is ever a favourite article with our elegant females for winter wear. Trimmings best adapted for mantles and coats, are, leopard-skin, American squirrel, or grey fox; besides many fancy borders in Chinese silk. For robes, gold, silver, and white beads, form a lively and elegant association. This article is furnished us, and sold, wholesale and retail, of all possible colours, from 5s. to 7s. per yard, by John Sutterfield and Co. Manchester.

My comments: Another delightful dress fabric, this time in what we might today call velveteen: it's a lightweight fabric with a light nap, and would do very well for a winter dress though perhaps a little too lightweight to make a very good mantle or coat, even trimmed with fur (leopard? Yikes!)

*And speaking of 1810, stay tuned for a new series I’ll be kicking off in a few weeks...