Friday, June 27, 2014

Quiz: Name that Prof!

In my new release By Jove, Theo Fairchild is thrilled to find herself working toward her doctorate in the very prestigious Classics Department at John Winthrop University in Boston. The faculty are at the top of their field, the best of the best...for a very good reason!

I’ve put together a little quiz I’m calling Name That Prof; let’s see if you can figure out just why the faculty members that Theo meets in By Jove seem strangely familiar...

1. Professor Arthur Waterman, Theo’s advisor, swims laps every morning in the university’s pool, keeps tanks of pet tropical fish, and wears a large diver’s watch. He just might bear a passing resemblance to:
A. Jacques Cousteau
B. Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea
C. Michael Phelps’s older brother

2. Professor Henry Forge-Smythe, who teaches Theo’s class in Pre-Roman History, walks with crutches, has a very beautiful wife, and when not teaching indulges in a metalworking hobby. He kind of calls to mind:
A. Long John Silver
B. Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths
C. Tiny Tim Cratchit, thirty years later

3. Department secretary June Cadwallader is fond of peacock blue, dislikes female students, and does her best to rule the Classics Department (and its chairman) with a rod of iron. She is somewhat similar to:
A. Ivana Trump
B. Hera, queen of the Greek pantheon
C.Cersei Lannister

4. Renee Frothington-Forge-Smythe, wife of Professor Henry Forge-Smythe, loves shopping, reading romance novels, and the color pink. She reminds you a bit of:
A. Barbara Cartland
B. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love
C. Kim Kardashian

4. Professor Di Hunter teaches Greek, coaches the women’s field hockey team, and is quite disgusted when she happens upon Theo and Grant sharing their first kiss. She might make you think of:
A. Katniss Everdeen
B. Artemis, the Greek goddess of the chase
C. Queen Elizabeth I

5. Professor Paul Harriman also teaches Greek, plays several instruments, and has cut quite a swathe through the hearts of the female students at John Winthrop. He is somewhat reminiscent of:
A. Justin Bieber
B. Apollo, the Greek god of music and poetry
C. Brad Pitt in a gladiator costume

6. Professor Bellow, who directs the Classics Department’s museum, has a habitually somber expression, a dog named Kirby, and prefers to lurk in his office in the basement of Hamilton Hall. He rather resembles:
A. Riff Raff (okay, so how many of you know who he is? ☻)
B. Hades, god of the underworld
C. Your creepy Uncle Hubert

So...are you sensing a pattern here?

Don’t forget, By Jove is on sale for its introductory price of $.99 through tomorrow, June 28, so now is a great time to buy it before the price goes up.

And I’m still on tour (blog, that is) so do stop in and say hello!

A brief note about our upcoming schedule: Regina will be taking next week off, then alternating weeks for posts over the next two months so that we can enjoy summer fun with our families. Have a good Independence Day vacation!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

By Jove is here!!

I am thrilled, delighted, and generally dancing in my chair to announce that By Jove, my very first book for adults, releases today from Entangled Publishing! It’s a kind of a romance, kind of a contemporary fantasy, and totally a book of my heart. Most authors have books of their hearts—stories that for one reason or another mean a little bit more to them no matter what others think. By Jove is one of mine, and I hope you’ll give it a chance to find its way into yours!

What’s it about?
For Theodora Fairchild, returning to graduate school after three years of teaching Latin to unenthusiastic middle schoolers is a dream come true. The professors in the Classics Department at John Winthrop University in Boston are the best in their field; the classes are varied and intellectually stimulating…and she meets brilliant, sweetly nerdy post-doc Grant Proctor.

As she gives in to her feelings for Grant, someone seems determined to keep them apart—no matter the consequences. Things are not quite what they seem in the Classics Department, and someone there has plans for Theo that don’t include Grant. When Grant disappears, surviving the semester becomes only one of Theo’s worries; her wits and wisdom may be the only things that can save the man she loves.

Why did I write it?
I wrote this book before Bewitching Season was even thought of, which is quite a while it’s really, really cool to have this story finally see the light of day. It was inspired by a dream—yes, really!—which is why I always keep a light-up pen and notebook next to my bed. That actual dream doesn’t appear anywhere in the book, but it’s amazing how a small thing can inspire an entire book. I also studied Latin for eight years in high school and college and loved it almost as much as Theo does, so it was probably inevitable I’d write about Latin some day.

Where can you get it?
You can get By Jove now as an ebook at all the usual sales outlets...and today through June 28, it’s at Entangled's special introductory price of 99 cents. So if you think you’d like to give By Jove a try, now is the time!!

Anything else?

I'll be doing a blog tour over the next few weeks, so if you'd like to follow along, I'd love to see the friendly faces of regular NineteenTeen readers on my journey through the blogosphere. The schedule can be found stop by!!

If you'd like to read the first chapter of By Jove, it's right here on my website as well as on Entangled Publishing's site.

And thank you for happy-dancing with me on my book birthday!

Friday, June 20, 2014

From the Women of England to Wellington

This week marks the 199th anniversary of the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo.  As we've mentioned in previous posts, Wellington ended up a much celebrated gentleman, with nations and royalty showering him with gifts and mementos.  One of my favorites, however, is said to have come from a very different set of people, the women of England.

The Wellington Monument in Hyde Park, also known as Achilles, was paid for by a ladies subscription amounting to 10,000 pounds sterling and cast from cannons captured at the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria, Toulouse, and Waterloo. Created by popular sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott, the 18-foot bronze statue sits on a plinth of Dartmoor granite to rise a total of 36 feet above the pebbled path near Hyde Park Corner.  Even before it was erected in 1822 it was surrounded by controversy.

For one thing, Westmacott must have focused more on his art than the dimensions of its intended location, for when the statue was moved from his studio in Pimlico, Achilles was found to be too big to fit through the gates of Hyde Park! Not to be deterred, the movers merely knocked a hole in the wall to move it through.

For another, critics could not decide whether it was great art or a cheap knockoff.  Newspapers and books of the time either praise the fact that the statue resembled one in Rome, where Westmacott had spent some time on his Grand Tour, or scolded the artist for failing to live up to his Roman pretensions.  Some deemed the body magnificent; others complained that it didn’t look enough like Achilles (and you would know how?).  One critic even lambasted Westmacott for including visible straps holding the shield in place on the statue’s arm.

And then there was the matter of Achilles’ lack of clothing.  The statue is said to be the first nude male figure on public view in London.  The ladies who had helped raise the subscription had not seen the design and were rather shocked by the anatomically correct statue.  Some seemed to feel their reputations damaged by association.  A fig leaf was hurriedly placed over the offending section.  It remains there to this day, even though it has been chipped off twice.

And if you’re a lady enamored of Greek or Roman statuary, or anything Greek or Roman, I urge you to return next week, when Marissa will be launching her first book for adults, by Jove.

Er, yes. By Jove.  No need to raise a subscription.  Fig leafs not required.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tagged! What, How, and Why I Write

It was my turn to get tagged for the Writing Process Blog Tour, making the rounds in the writing world (and which Regina participated in a few weeks ago.) Thank you to Tracy Bilen, author of the upcoming YA thriller Watch Your Back coming soon from Spencer Hill Press, for tagging me! You can read about Tracy's stop on the Writing Process blog here (and in general check out her really cute website!) Thank you, Tracy!

What am I working on?
It’s been a little hard to squeeze writing time into my schedule these last couple of weeks as I’ve been busy with pre-release promotion and nail-biting (very time consuming, nail-biting) for my first adult book (and first contemporary, too), By Jove, which releases from Entangled Publishing in one week! I’m pretty darned excited...but you’ll be hearing lots more about it next week. Just saying. ☺

In terms of works-in-progress, right now I’m working on a YA set on Cape Cod in the summer of 1917, just after the US has entered World War I. It has beaches, dances, secrets, lies, a handsome young man, seals (or are they just seals?), a Scottish seamstress, u-boats, German spies, and a lively young heroine who saves the day. And I’m writing it in first person, which is a bit of a change for me but this story just demanded it.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Um...because it’s mine? No, seriously: every book is different because every author is different. Every author has her own voice, her own way of telling a story. If you give five authors the same outline from which to write a story, you’ll end up with five very, very different tales. It’s why so many readers will have “auto-buy” authors: because they just love how that Regina Scott writes. ☺

Why do I write what I do?
Mostly because I have to. Because if I didn’t the stories would gang up together in my head and beat at me with their fists and shout in my ear (or whisper seductively, as the case may be) and not let me sleep at night. Writers can be funny that way; our stories often take on personalities and identities in some strange way, and do that sort of thing.

How does my writing process work?
I generally know, as I’m wrapping up work on one novel, which will be next (see above about the shouting and whispering.) But before I reach that point, an idea will have been sparked somewhere, somehow (on more than one occasion, as the result of a dream) and I will spend quiet moments noodling over it, asking myself “what if” questions about it and seeing if there’s “enough there” for the idea to be made into a book-length story. I’ll often write out a synopsis of the story at this point as a way to help make that decision, and if there really is a spark of life in it, fragments of scenes and speech and character development will also pop into my head, so I’ll scribble those down as well.

Once I’ve mentally (if unconsciously) chosen to write a book, I’ll work more on that rough synopsis and try to flesh it out further, concentrating on the beginning of the story (the characters, their wants and aims, the plot conflicts), and then...I’ll start writing. I keep refining my synopsis as I go on, adding and changing and sometimes going back and removing or altering things. It’s like a lantern I hold up as I walk down a dark corridor: it illuminates best in a close circle around me (which means the current and next couple of chapters). Beyond that, things remain shadowy until I move a few feet forward.

As for the actual process of writing...I write best in the mornings, so I try to get busy pretty promptly after rising or getting back from the gym. I reread what I’ve written over the last day or two and edit it, adding in details or whatever else is needed (it’s often more bare-bones than it should be), which sets me up beautifully to pick up the thread and move on.

And now it’s my turn to tag two authors, both of whom are my fellow RWA chapter-mates. Be sure to check out their stops on the Writing Process Blog Tour next Monday!

Always the hopeless romantic, Rebecca Paula writes gritty historical and NA romances full of social misfits, swoony heroes, and angst. She’s a graduate of Emerson College and a former journalist. When not writing, she is most likely reading or daydreaming about her next travel adventure. Rebecca lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their cat, Bella. You can find her online at her website, on twitter, or the Modern Belles of History blog.

Christine Tetreault fell in love with romance fiction in college and hasn't looked back. She writes contemporary romance set in her native New England and beyond. Learn more about Christine and her books at her website and at her blog, Happily Ever After.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

What's That Underfoot? The Lure of Floorcloths

In April, I waxed poetic about the sailcloth carpets I’d found in Dumbarton House and Carlyle House in the Washington, D.C., area.  Frequent commenter QNPoohBear gave me some hints as to where to find more information, and now I admit I’m even more fascinated!

Floorcloths appear to have originated in France, perhaps descending from tapestries and other wall and floor coverings.  Quite popular in England and America in the 1700s and early 1800s, they were generally made of woven linen canvas, at lengths of over 100 yards, cut down to the necessary size for a particular room. Through an elaborate stretching and sanding process, artists painted them with heavy paint that might include lead and then varnished them to protect the design. By the 1800s, entire factories were devoted to the process, as seen in this print from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The resulting cloths might be plain (Thomas Jefferson is said to have had a green one) or they might resemble black-and-white marble tiles, landscape backgrounds, or even fine carpet. Cubes and Greek key patterns were also popular, as was the compass pattern shown abovefrom Carlyle House. From what I’ve been reading, it appears they were most often used in areas where the wood floor needed to be protected, say from spills at the dining room table or in high-traffic areas like entry halls and stairways. My hypothesis going in to this research was that they were most likely used by middle class families as a less expensive floor covering, but it appears that they were used by the wealthy or famous as well, gracing such homes as the Presidential Mansion in America.

While the popularity of floor cloths waned with the invention of linoleum, a number of sites herald the reemergence of the art today for durable, relatively low-cost floor coverings. I ran across a number of sites that offered ones hand-made by artists or even advised you on how to make your own.

I'm game.  In fact, I think it might be cool to see one painted to look like a book cover.  Anyone else want one?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Queen’s Indian Servants, Part 1

First, a little background.

When you think about it, being Queen Victoria was probably a rather lonely prospect. She had been raised to be very aware of who she was—basically, the very top of a large pyramid. No one was her equal, especially after Prince Albert died (“There is no one to call me Victoria now,” she said on his death.) She just didn’t have any BFFs, especially as she grew older, because how can you be BFF with someone who rules substantial portions of the planet? Her children were afraid of her even though they loved her; her half-sister, though also dearly loved, was scarcely in a position to be her chum. She was almost never alone, surrounded by ladies-in-waiting and equerries and other courtiers almost constantly...but while their relationships with her could be affectionate, there was always that certain something that kept them at arms’ length—not only on the Queen’s part, but on theirs.

One exception to this was the Queen’s “Highland Servant”, John Brown. He somehow managed to remain unimpressed by her position, called her “woman” to her face, and seems to have cared deeply for her in his peculiar, brusque way. Interestingly, all those ladies-in-waiting and equerries and her family all seem to have loathed John Brown, just because of the special place he held as her favorite servant and friend. When Brown died in 1883, the Queen was nearly as devastated as she had been after Albert’s death: she had lost her only friend. The fact that she was buried with mementoes not only of Albert, but also of John Brown, says a great deal about the depth of her feelings.

In 1877, Queen Victoria adopted the title “Empress of India.” She was fascinated by India, and in 1886, after attending the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, decided that she wanted to employ some Indian servants in her household in time for her Golden Jubilee coming up the following year. She asked the man in charge of one of the exhibits, a John Tyler, superintendant of the Central Jail in Agra, to recruit her two servants. As a result, in June 1887, Mohammed Abdul Karim and Mohammed Buksh, the former employed by Tyler as a clerk at the jail and the latter a servant of Major-General Thomas Dennehy who was joining the royal household, came into the Queen’s Service. Though she didn’t yet know it, the Queen had found a new friend...and her family and household found someone to hate as much as they had John Brown.

To be continued...

Friday, June 6, 2014

How Did 19th Century Pioneer Ladies Say "I Do"?

What is it about June and weddings? Once held to be the luckiest month in which to marry, it’s still one of the most popular times here in the U.S., with the best venues, caterers, and photographers booked more than a year in advance.  And of course weddings are so romantic, the joy of a couple pledging their lives to each other.  Sigh.

I’ve written about more than one wedding in my twenty-seven published stories set in early nineteenth century England, from grander affairs in a church to eloping to Gretna Green and being married by a so-called “anvil priest,” otherwise known as a blacksmith. The service in the Book of Common Prayer, the manual for the Church of England, is relatively easy to find online for the time period. Very helpful authors and researchers can provide detail on the wedding breakfast or the wedding gown, as in the lovely post this week by author Katherine Givens.   

But now I’m writing about a wedding ceremony in pioneer Seattle, 1866 to be exact.  And the details are sketchy to say the least.

Certainly the East Coast magazines were full of advice to new brides.  I can find pictures from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine that look not too different from what we’d expect--yards of white satin with lace trimmings, embroidered bodices, long sheer lace veils that flow from the head to past the hips, orange blossoms in the hair.  Godey’s even advises what to include in the trousseau:  six trimmed cambric petticoats, four morning wrappers (two cambric, two of wool in a neutral color), plain handkerchiefs embroidered with your initials, a neutral-colored traveling dress finished with heavy silk cord with matching cloak and bonnet, and three silk dresses for morning calls. I can hear my brave pioneer ladies laughing now.

So, how did a lady say “I do” in the early days of Washington Territory?  There were two churches in 1866 Seattle, called the brown church and the white church because of the colors they were painted rather than using grander names that signified their denominations. They each had an officiating minister, but the ministers were known for traveling other places to marry folks. There’s an account of the Reverend Daniel Bagley marrying one young couple in his study. At least one pioneer lady recalled marrying in the Occidental Hotel. Vows appear to be a mere “I do” responding to the minister’s list of duties for husband and wife. 
 Of course, even that can be quite romantic, with the right gentleman at your side!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fashion Forecast: June 1917

What was the well-dressed young woman wearing in June 1917?

June being the month it is, she might have been wearing white and carrying a bouquet. Here are a couple of pages of bridal fashion from McCall’s Magazine:

And from The Delineator. Anyone who has purchased a wedding gown in the recent (or not so recent) past might be amused (or enraged) by this extract from the description: “This bridal costume can be made for $7.94 in a medium size. It requires 2 7/8 yards silk crêpe 40 inches wide at $1.00, 3 ¼ yards satin 40 inches wide at $1.25, findings, trimming, pattern, .99. It will take about 12 bunches of beads at .30.”:

Some spectacular millinery is in evidence on this page from The Delineator...but even more interesting is the bloomer dress second from the right. Here’s the description: "The next step in the woman movement is the bloomer dress (design 9235). All women who both “spin and toil” will find this a very comfortable and serviceable garment that is attractive as well. If you would sprinkle the lawn or clean out the attic you might as well be practical about it as well as feminine. The soft fulness from the yoke, front and back is pretty, and if you are to lose yourself in dust why not turn up the convertible collar for protection and use a longer sleeve and cover the whole question with a sensible cap. Of course you need not have the pockets. Use gingham, percale, chambray, or Japanese crêpe." Note that she’s wielding a vacuum cleaner hose!

June also means the start of—you guessed it—bathing suit weather. Here’s a sight you won’t see in Ackermann’s! Recommended fabrics, by the way, include satin, taffeta, silk poplin, shantung, wool jersey, and mohair. Yessiree—a mohair bathing suit. Note that several are worn with stockings, though not all—and the young lady at left has hers daringly rolled half-way down her calves. (The Delineator):

An interesting silhouette you’ll see a lot this year is displayed in the dress at left in this page from McCall’s: it was known as “barrel” style, for obvious reasons:

Here are a few more general dress images, to give you a flavor of what was in (hint: parasols, do ya think?) From The Delineator:

The Delineator, again (love these color images!) Note the sheer blouses, or "waists" that require some of the products we learned about back in January:

And McCall's (the outfit at far right is definitely in the barrel style):

McCall's again:

June is graduation month as well, and McCall’s had a selection of charming dresses (in white, of course) for graduating young ladies:

More teen fashions from The Delineator:

And more, also from The Delineator:

What do you think of June 1917’s fashions?