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


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!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation

Okay, so it wasn’t quite our summer vacation... but Regina and I are home from the Romance Writers of America’s annual National Conference, held this year in Orlando, FL...and we had a great time! 
The conference was held at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort (with overflow attendees staying a short walk away at the Swan.) Note the very large dolphins (in the classical style, not like Flipper) adorning the roof or the building. I have to wonder how often they get hit by lightning?

We were lucky enough to have a splendid view out over the lagoon and pool areas of the resort (that's it above.) Herons, ibises, and ducks seemed to enjoy hanging out in the lagoon...and on a few occasions, I saw ducks take to the swimming pool as well. The lovely view didn’t end when the sun went down: we got to watch a nightly display of fireworks and (speaking of lightning) one spectacular evening thunderstorm.

So what do we do at these conferences? Well, for one thing, we talk—about writing and our careers, about our families, about our lives. Regina is one of my dearest friends, and this is our only chance in the year to talk we make the most of it! But we’re also attending workshops on writing and the publishing industry (and sharing notes afterward if we go to different workshops); I found workshops by Lisa Cron (a story analyst and consultant ) and media specialist Fauzia Burke especially useful, as well as workshops on historical forensics and writing romantic adventure stories. We do other business-y stuff like meet with our agents and editors (sadly, my agent didn’t come this year.)

And we go to parties. Regina will tell you about one we attended on Wednesday night in her post on Friday, and I’ll tell you about the party we went to on Friday given by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of RWA.  There was terrific food (the tiny crabcakes and inch-long chicken pot pies were awesome), a costume contest in which my friend and critique partner (and Golden Heart finalist!) Janet Halpin won second place...and the presentation of the chapter’s PRISM Award for published books, in which Skin Deep won in the Best Urban Fantasy category. That’s me and Regina with my shiny crystal PRISM honor I’m most delighted and grateful for.

That’s my wrap-up for Regina and Marissa’s Excellent Annual Girls’ Sleepover/RWA Conference...but you know, we’ve been thinking that once a year isn’t enough...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Off to Orlando!

This week’s posts on Nineteen-Teen are going to be abbreviated, because as you read this both Regina and I are on our ways to Orlando, Florida for the Romance Writers of America annual National Conference...and our annual girls’ sleepover. I mean, we live on opposite sides of the country, so this is our chance to communicate by non-electronic means (which means we're going to talk and talk and talk.) We promise to post all the deets next week...but this week, we’re busy. Not that we might not post the odd photo or two...

However, before I catch my plane I just wanted to announce that Book View Café’s short story anthology Nevertheless, She Persisted which features stories of women who overcome challenges—from society, from beloved family and friends, and even from their own fears (and which includes my YA historical story titled "Alea Iacta Est")—is now up for pre-order with a release date of August 8! You can find it at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo...and a print version will be available in August as well. We’re pretty excited about this anthology--I hope you'll check it out!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Christmas in July, for Only 99 Cents!

Do these hot days and humid nights make you long for snowflakes and winter wonderlands? Well, you’re in luck. My True Love Gave to Me, my Regency Christmas story that begins The Marvelous Munroes series, is on sale for 99 cents at all major online retailers worldwide through July 30.

Genevieve Munroe is determined to give her newly impoverished family one last happy Christmas, including making peace with their long-time rivals, the Pentercasts. Then the handsome oldest son Alan proposes a wager: if he can give her all the gifts from the Twelve Days of Christmas song, she must marry him.

Alan’s wild gambit is intended to win Gen’s heart. After all, no Munroe would ever marry a Pentercast. But perhaps the joy of Christmas can open her eyes to the man behind the wager, a man determined to turn the twelve days of Christmas into a lifetime of love.


Merry Christmas, in July!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Retro Blast: Flirting with Parasols

I am not a sun-worshipper. In summer I can usually be found seeking any available patch of shade, slathered in sunscreen and wearing a large hat. I heartily wish parasols would make a comeback: they're fun and stylish...and evidently, one can do a lot more with them than use them to ward off unwelcome UV rays, as we learned from this 2009 post about Daniel Shafer's 1877 Secrets of Life Revealed. Enjoy!

I must say that I regret that parasols are no longer in fashion—a pity, as they have a long history stretching back to the ancient world (yes, Babylonian and Greek women—and men!—used parasols to fend off the fierce middle eastern sun.) The thing is, they’re just incredibly useful: you can carry around some shade with you on a hot summer day, create your own flattering lighting by carrying a parasol of just the right color, or make a decided fashion statement by coordinating your parasol with the rest of your ensemble. And when furled, a parasol makes a fine instrument of self-defense that doesn’t require a license to carry!

And of course, they’re such fun to flirt with—peeking coyly from underneath them, or swinging them insouciantly at one’s side…the possibilities are endless! Daniel Shafer certainly recognized this fact, and furnishes the following tips on how to flirt with parasols:

Like the Handkerchief, Glove, and Fan, the "Parasol" has its important part to play in flirtations, and we give the following rules regulating the same: 

Carrying it elevated in left hand:  Desiring acquaintance

Carrying it elevated in right hand: 
You are too willing

Carrying it closed in left hand: 
Meet on the first crossing

Carrying it closed in right hand by the side: 
Follow me

Carrying it over the right shoulder: 
You can speak to me

Carrying it over the left shoulder: 
You are too cruel

Closing up: 
I wish to speak to you

Dropping it: 
I love you

End of tips to lips: 
Do you love me?

Folding it up: 
Get rid of your company

Letting it rest on the right cheek: 

Letting it rest on the left cheek: 

Striking it on the hand: 
I am very displeased

Swinging it to and fro by the handle on left side: 
I am engaged

Swinging it to and fro by the handle on the right side: 
I am married

Tapping the chin gently: 
I am in love with another

Twirling it around: 
Be careful; we are watched

Using it as a fan: 
Introduce me to your company

With handle to lips: 
Kiss me

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips on how to secretly communicate with fans, gloves, handkerchiefs, and parasols…it’s rather like a 19th century form of texting, isn’t it?

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Emperor's Water Fountain

There is something majestic about a fountain, the sparkle, the cool mist on your cheek, the bubble mimicking a natural waterfall. But it wasn’t an eye toward nature that prompted the building of the Emperor Fountain at Chatsworth, home of the Dukes of Devonshire. It seems to have been a little old-fashioned one-upmanship.

William George Spencer Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, had been notified that no less than Czar Nicholas I of Russia planned to visit his home in 1844. Devonshire is known as the Bachelor Duke, for he never married, causing quite a few ladies to sigh with regret. He had ascended to the title at the tender age of 21. An avid horticulturist, he made friends with the equally young Sir Joseph Paxton and convinced him to take the position of chief gardener at Chatsworth. The Duke wanted a fountain, and it was Paxton who conceived of a way to create a gravity-fed one along the Great House’s south face.
You see, the Czar had a fountain at Peterhof Palace. It’s still among the biggest tourist attractions in Russia. Big being the operative word—jets and cascades and gilded statues. Devonshire wanted one that would shoot even higher.

He got it.

The Emperor Fountain at Chatsworth sits at the northern end of the Canal Pond, surrounded by natural boulders. It has shot as high as 300 feet. (In contrast, the highest fountain at Peterhof only reaches 60 feet.) The power comes from water pressure, the water dropping from an artificial lake 350 feet above the house through a narrow iron pipe. Since 1893, the pressure has also been used to generate electricity for the house.

Although the Czar never did come to visit, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia did stop by and marvel. So should we.

Do I hear another item being added to a bucket list?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Recent Acquisitions: Bathing Place Evening Dress

Just in time for summer...

Isn’t this a delightful print, from the September 1810 edition of La Belle Assemblee?  I mean...she’s wearing what we would call pantalettes, complete with a triple lace frill round each leg...not to mention sandals. The style itself is surprisingly simple, buttoning up the front. It’s cute as a bug, but certainly unlike any early 19th century evening dress I’ve seen before. Since no text accompanied it. I dug around on-line and found this in Google Books:

A gown of white French cambric, or pale pink muslin, with long sleeves, and antique cuffs of thin white muslin, trimmed with Mechlin edging; made high in the neck, without a collar, and formed in points at the center of the bosom, with three rows of letting-in lace; confined down the front of the dress with small buttons; and hemmed round the bottom with three rows of deep Mechlin lace; made rather short, and worn over trousers of white French cambric, which are trimmed the same as the bottom of the dress. A cap composed of lace and light green silk trimming, tied under the chin, with a bunch of natural flowers in front. Hair in full ringlet curls, divided in the front of the forehead. A figured short scarf of pale buff, with deep pale-green border, and rich silk tassels; worn according to fancy or convenience; with gloves of pale buff kid; and sandals of pale yellow, or white Morocco, complete this truly simple but becoming dress.
And there you have it—the reason it’s unlike any other evening dress is because it’s actually a walking dress...and perfect for that. Evidently an engraver for La Belle Assemblee took a mental vacation while working on this print, and gave it an incorrect title. Can’t you see a fashionable young lady out in society, visiting Brighton at the end of the London season, tripping blithely down the sands (not that Brighton has a very sandy beach), kicking at the waves, picking up pretty seashells, and generally having a time of it?☺

Friday, June 30, 2017

A June Bride Again

Once upon a time, a previous publisher invited me to write a story for an anthology on the theme of June Brides. Perhaps it was that song from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (“Oh they say when you marry in June, you’re a bride, all your life,” perhaps it was all the talk about brides being such a “thing” in romance, perhaps it was the humor that pokes up from time to time in my writing. But the title that sprang into my head was The June Bride Conspiracy.


The story quickly grew, centered around a Regency James Bond who wanted to retire and his sweetheart who wasn’t so sure she could compete with the glamor he’d once known.

I guess I’m old school, but I can’t imagine a more dashing James Bond than Sean Connery, with the possible exception of Pierce Brosnan. My father was a huge James Bond fan—he had me read Ian Flemming when I was in high school and see all the movies even if we had to rent them. So it’s little wonder that Allister Fenwick, Lord Trevithan, should bear a striking resemblance in word, action, and looks to an idealized James Bond.

The novella was hands down the easiest story I ever wrote. The words flowed, the plot came together, the characters sparkled. When people ask me my favorite among the stories I’ve written, The June Bride Conspiracy is always near the top of the list. It was earned my first “Top Pick” from RT Book Reviews, a rare honor for the industry publication.

But as I drew the story out to polish up for republication, I found myself surprised. The novella seemed to have changed, or, better stated, I’d changed. Places that had to be tightened to fit the space for a novella cried out for more.

So I gave it more--15,000 words, to be precise.

The June Bride Conspiracy is now available, deeper, stronger, and more vibrant than ever before. I hope you’ll give it a try.

Engaged to the dark and dashing Lord Trevithan, Joanna Lindby should be the happiest of ladies in Regency London. But every once in a while she wonders—why would this enigmatic lord choose her? She’s shy, quiet, unassuming, never arguing, always polite. But when a note arrives calling off the wedding, Joanna vows that she will be married in June, no matter the cost.

England’s top intelligence agent Allister Fenwick, Lord Trevithan, is shocked when his demure fiancée demands an explanation. He never sent that note. Someone is trying to come between them. Though Allister promised himself he would leave the world of espionage behind, he cannot help but be drawn into this case, if only to protect his surprisingly headstrong bride-to-be. Yet, is it an old enemy or an old friend causing the mischief? Can a little espionage unmask hidden hearts in time for a June wedding? 

You can find it at the following online retailers:

Coming shortly to Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo as well. Enjoy, and happy Independence Day next week. Marissa and I will be celebrating with our families, so we’ll catch up with you the week of July 10th.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Retro Blast: A Royal Wedding

Today’s post is a re-run of a post from April 2011—a re-run because I’m busy today celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary with my dear husband. Though my wedding was nothing like Queen Victoria’s (I emphatically did not have a wedding cake nine feet in diameter!), I, like the little queen, was—and still am “so very happy!”


Surely one of the most momentous royal weddings of the 19th century was that of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Victoria had proposed to her cousin in October—as a reigning monarch, she far outranked him—and the wedding was set for February 10, 1840—a scant three months later. Victoria had hoped for a private wedding, but her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, over-ruled her and so it was the first public royal wedding in decades—since George III’s wedding, back in 1761. The weather was beastly that morning, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds of people who came out to watch the queen drive from Buckingham Palace to the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. The Chapel was stuffed with as many seats as possible for visiting dignitaries and as much of the whiggish side of the British nobility as possible (of the Tory nobility, only the Duke of Wellington and Lord Liverpool, a former prime minister, were invited).

Albert, dressed as a British Field Marshal, entered the chapel first, and awaited Victoria, who walked down the aisle on the arm of her uncle, the Duke of Sussex. Her dress (viewable in the London Museum) was of her own design and fairly simple, of British-made white satin with a trim of orange blossoms. Her veil, worn with a wreath of orange blossoms, was literally one of a kind: it was made by lacemakers in Devon, and the design was destroyed so that the pattern could never be copied. She wore her Turkish diamond necklace and earrings and a sapphire brooch Albert gave her as a wedding present.

There were a multiplicity of clergy on hand, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishop of London all there to officiate. What there hadn’t been was a rehearsal, so that the dowager queen Adelaide was heard whispering to Albert about the proper order of the procession, and Victoria’s twelve bridesmaids (dressed in simple gowns also of Victoria’s design, with wreaths of white roses on their heads) struggled to hold onto the queen’s short train without stumbling over each other. Though Albert often seemed unsure and agitated—his English was not very good at this point, so following the service may have been difficult—Victoria was poised and calm and, as she wrote in her journal, “so very happy!” There were amusing family touches, too: Victoria’s uncle the Duke of Cambridge kept up a very audible, if cheerful, commentary on the proceedings. Her uncle Sussex, who gave her away, still wore his customary black skullcap which he always wore to keep his head warm. And like many mothers of brides, the Duchess of Kent was seen to shed tears.

After the ceremony the married pair returned to Buckingham Palace for a small wedding breakfast (relatively speaking) of family members and their households, the prime minister and a handful of cabinet members, the Royal Household, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London. Over a hundred wedding cakes were made, to distribute to various family members, Royal Household members, officers of state, and foreign ambassadors. The main cake was nine feet across and sixteen inches high, and decorated with all sorts of allegorical symbols of marriage and of the queen…oh for a photograph! And then it was time to change (Victoria wore a white satin cloak trimmed with swan’s down and a white velvet bonnet with plumes and Brussels lace) and head off to Windsor for their two-day honeymoon. Yes, two days. As Victoria reminded Albert, “You forget, my dearest Love, that I am the Sovereign and that business can stop and wait for nothing.” Not even true love, it seems!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Four Things on a Friday, Summer Edition

So many interesting things, so little time! Here are four that came past my gaze in recent weeks I thought you would want to know about as we move into summer:

  • A free Regency paper doll to print and color. Flora looks like she would be oodles of fun, besides being nicely period correct. Find the doll here and her clothing here.
  • Summer reading. Not sure how long it will last, but one of the lovely Timeless Regency anthologies, Spring in Hyde Park, is on sale for 99 cents. 
  • Eye candy when you’re inside hiding from the heat. I’ve been slowly adding to my Pinterest boards, with nearly 300 tall ship pictures, more than 200 cowboys, and nearly 150 of drool-worthy English estates. I generally don’t go mad for a certain designer, but oh, the House of Worth! That board has more than two dozen historical gowns and more coming.    
  • More ideas on dealing with the heat. Check out this lovely video on how historical ladies and gentlemen stayed cool.

Here’s to a lovely summer!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Regency fabrics, Part 15

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 four samples are from the September 1810 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is pretty good, with some toning on the fabric samples but not enough to obscure their details or colors. Here we go!

No. 1. A Cashmire shawl muslin, of agreeably contrasted ground and figure, adapted for the evening robe or wrap pelisse. The latter worn over a white sarsnet slip, and embellished with white satin or thread lace; the former worn quite plain, with a wing collar, and antique cuff of lace. The satin bead, pearl, or silver filligree ornaments, can only be admitted with lively and diversified article. It is sold by T. and J. Smith, 43, Tavistock-street, Covent-garden.

My comments: A finely woven, very lightweight material—the weave is moderately open, and the fabric has a smooth and silky hand. A dress of this would definitely require a slip underneath! The red and green pattern, vaguely floral in this orientation, is woven in.

No. 2. A morine corded cambric muslin, adapted particularly for the morning robe, Grecian wrap, and children’s frocks and trowsers. This neat and simply elegant manufacture requires no embellishment, save a simple termination at its edges, which should either consist of a tambour scallop or narrow antique lace. It is sold also by T. and J. Smith, as above.

My comments: This is lovely: the ribbing looks almost like a rope pattern, and lends it a slightly sturdier air though it’s still fairly sheer. It’s more tightly woven than No. 1, and of finer and more uniform thread thickness. A morning dress of this would be very graceful and airy, just right for summer.

No. 3. An Indian shawl cambric, comprising much unobtrusive neatness and utility. This article exclusively belongs to the simple order of domestic costume. It is sometimes seen in the high morning robe, but is better suited to the embroidered shirt and foundling cap of the same, which most agreeably relieve it. It is sold by Joseph Ord, 77, St. Paul’s Church-yard.

My comments: I am often struck, when I look at the prints from these Ackermann plates, how much they remind me of 1930s prints. This cambric is finely and tightly woven though the hand is not a smooth as expected, and the print crisp and clear under the age-toning spots.

No. 4. A white velvet, of a peculiarly elegant texture, adapted for the fashionable and beautiful art of velvet painting, now the reigning amusement of the leisure hours of our elegant females. Chairs, music-stools, screens, borders for rooms, curtains, and baskets for flowers, are composed of this rich and attractive specimen of female genius. It is purchased, together with the colours, and all sorts of paper work, drawings, &c. &c., at Ackermann’s Repository, No, 101 Strand, at 7s. 6d. per yard.

My comments: Well, well, well—painting on velvet! No images of Elvis here, though, I presume.  The velvet feels almost like a velveteen, with a very thick, low nap, and rather stiff (though that could have something to do with how it has aged rather than the original feel of the fabric.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Watching the Ships Come Sailing In

I have a book due July 31. I have galleys to proof for my 2017 Christmas book with Love Inspired Historical. My editor would like input on the cover for my spring 2018 book. I’m weeks behind in revising The June Bride Conspiracy for reissue. So, how did I spend a good chunk of my day yesterday?

Watching the ships come sailing in.

This week marks Tacoma’s Festival of Sail. More than 20 ships sailed down Puget Sound to join in. They ranged from turn-of-the-century racing yachts to replicas of nineteenth-century square riggers. Even my beloved Lady Washington was in attendance.

Here’s some I caught on camera as they arrived. (The colors appear washed out--that's because it was pouring rain on shore and shrouded with mist at sea. My family and I were some of the few who braved the storm to watch.)

Ah, my Lady Washington, our state’s tall ship. I’ve blogged previously about my short time sailing on her.  Today, she led the Parade of Sail, her canon booming. It’s enough to set a girl swooning.

Here’s the Cutty Sark (though not the original in Britain). This one was built in 1957, the first of ten ships in the Mayflower class. She’s made of teak. Such graceful lines!

And this is the Merrie Ellen, a schooner from 1922. Oh, could she skim the waves!

Finally, the Hawaiian Chieftain, the Lady Washington’s companion ship. I’ve also had the privilege of sailing on her. Such a beauty!

Marissa kindly shared the link to the Boston Tall Ship Festival, which starts this weekend. Even though the East Coast boasts many more distinguished vessels, and some came from South America and across the Pond to visit, Tacoma has one thing Boston cannot claim.

The World’s Largest Rubber Ducky.

Six stories tall. No lie. Those are the perks of living in the wilderness.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Now—and Soon-to-be—Here!

Book news for today, dear NineteenTeen readers, on stories old and new.

Firstly, in the “old” department, I’m thrilled to report that Skin Deep has won the Paranormal Category of the 2017 Wisconsin RWA’s Write Touch Readers’ Choice Award.  One judge called it, "One of the best books I've read in a while. Kept me spellbound!” (Thank you!) It's also a finalist in the Paranormal category of First Coast Romance Writers' 2017 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award as well as in the Urban Fantasy category of Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter of RWA's 2017 PRISM Award (which means Regina and I get to go to a cool party at RWA's national conference this year!)...more news on those next month.

Secondly, after a long learning curve during which I learned how to design book interiors and play with some nifty software, I’m delighted to finally offer readers a print version of my Leland Sisters novella, Charles Bewitched. You can find it at Amazon, if you’d like to give Chuckles a spot on your bookshelf next to his sisters.

And now, in the “new” department, I’ve written a short story titled “Alea Iacta Est” (that’s Latin for “The Die is Cast”) about a girl 1817 London (of course!) I’m even happier to announce that it will be appearing in an anthology titled Nevertheless, She Persisted, coming August 8 from Book View Café and edited by Mindy Klasky. It will be available in both print and e-book, and will feature “nineteen stories of persistence — in the past, present, future, and new worlds. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, these stories illustrate the power of women overcoming the challenges of other people, of society, and of their own fears.” (You can read the rest of Mindy’s announcement here.) I'll post again when it's available...and I hope you'll check it out, because it's going to be amazing.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Fast Facts About Multiple Blessings

Just like last year with the sampler of stories and recipes inspired by our stories, this year my publisher has put together a sample of the Lone Star Cowboy League: Multiple Blessings series with fun fast facts about the books. I thought I'd share a few of them with you. First, from Linda Ford's The Rancher's Surprise Triplets.

I like the fact that Louisa likes to read. I know a few other ladies who fit that description. :-)

Now, for Noelle Marchand's The Nanny's Temporary Triplets.

Hm, a hero who's willing to renovate. Sign me up!

And now my The Bride's Matchmaking Triplets.

If you’d like to see the others, look for your free sampler here

And look here for a short summary of all six of the books set in historical Little Horn, Texas, which features small town ranchers with big hearts. 

Happy trails, partners!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Birthing The Bride’s Matchmaking Triplets

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that the Lone Star Cowboy League: Multiple Blessings series winds up this month with my contribution: The Bride’s Matchmaking Triplets. I enjoyed returning to Little Horn, Texas, after last year’s A Rancher of Convenience. I hope you will too.

When mail-order bride Elizabeth Dumont’s intended weds another, her only option is to take a job as nanny to abandoned triplet babies. Though she longs to provide a real home for her three precious charges, as a single woman she can’t adopt. Until her onetime sweetheart, minister Brandon Stillwater, offers a match of convenience…

It’s only for the triplets’ sake—that’s what Brandon tells himself. Insecurities once drove him and Elizabeth apart, and now small-town rumors have made them man and wife. And though Brandon doesn’t want to risk his heart again, he’s not sure he can resist the feelings that are once again starting to bloom for Elizabeth. But can he convince her that this sweet surprise family is more than just convenient?

Here's how Elizabeth and Brandon first met, and what happened when he stopped by to help he feed the triplets after she and Brandon were reunited in Little Horn:

Her aunt Evangeline had been hosting one of her famous dinner parties. It was well known around Cambridge that Mrs. Dumont, wife of the influential financier, welcomed only the most interesting people to her table, so an invitation was cause to preen. As her niece, Elizabeth had dined with senators, adventurers, novelists, artists and scientists. That evening, attendees around the white damask-draped table had included the mayor and his wife, a man who had invented some sort of circuit for conducting electricity, an award-winning poet and the dean of the divinity school with his most promising student.

Brandon Stillwater.

As the least most notable person in the room, besides her, he would have had every right to sit quietly, speak only when directly addressed. Indeed, he had been quiet the first part of the meal. Then the inventor, a Mr. Lombard, had begun a paean to man’s ingenuity.

“Why, even now, in New York, a pneumatic system brings warm air in winter and cool air in summer,” he boasted, sleeve of his black dress coat coming perilously close to dipping into his creamed asparagus as he waved a hand.

“Amazing,” the mayor proclaimed. “We may have to rethink our futures, gentlemen. Science seems to have the upper hand.”

Brandon had merely offered them all a charming smile as he reached for his crystal glass. “I think I’ll stick with the Author of invention instead of the implementer.” And he’d calmly taken a sip as if giving them all a moment to think about what he’d said.

How could she not be drawn to such a man? He was only a year older than her, yet he seemed so confident, so sure of who he was and what he was meant to do. She’d envied him that.

“Ready for this little fellow?” he asked her now, smiling on the infant in his arms. She remembered how it felt to be cradled close, those strong arms around her, making her feel safe, loved.

Elizabeth scooped up a baby and shoved him at Brandon, anything to stop these memories. “Here,” she said. “I’ll take Eli. You take Jasper.”

If he was surprised by the urgency in her voice, he didn’t show it. But as they exchanged babies, his fingers brushed her sleeve and a tingle ran up her arm.

Why was she was still so aware of him after all these years? Even as she began to feed Eli, Theo watching them, she felt Brandon beside her. He held each baby so gently, every movement effortless. No other man had ever made her feel that she could rely on him no matter what.

You can find The Bride’s Matchmaking Triplets at fine retailers including
Barnes and Noble
An independent bookstore near you
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Nineteenth Century Heroines: Seeding the Future

Lilacs are a lovely flower—the scent, the color, the way they hang like plump grapes. It was a love of flowers and growing things in general that led this nineteenth century heroine to become a renowned hybridizer, developing more than 14 varieties of lilacs still treasured around the world.

Hulda Klager was born in 1863 in Germany. She was a toddler when her family immigrated to America, eventually settling in Woodland, Washington, about a half hour north of Portland, Oregon, along the I-5 corridor. They owned a farm, and Hulda grew up to marry a farmer. After reading a book by Luther Burbank about hybridizing and decided to experiment with apples. She hated having to peel so many of them to make a pie. She crossed a Wolf River apple with a Bismark and discovered a larger, delicious apple. She tried dahlias and roses as well. A couple years later, she started working with lilacs, developing deeper colors, bigger blooms, more hardy plants. By 1910, she had 14 commercial varieties to her credit, though at one time she had named as many as 100.

In 1920, she began opening her home and gardens each spring to share her lilacs with others. Her open houses were so beloved that towns around the area requested that she name new varieties after them, including the City of Longview, City of Kalama, City of Gresham, and City of Woodland. She was honored by Washington State and Harvard, among others, for her work. The death of her husband in 1922 made her rethink her work, but her family encouraged her to continue.

What happened next is best told in the words of the website dedicated to her work

“The spring of 1948 brought another great adversity when the swirling waters of the Columbia River swept across her property, wiping out her lilac gardens and nearly every other shrub on the place. Only the big trees withstood the flood but undaunted and at the age of 83, she set about rebuilding her garden. Many people who had purchased her lilacs in the past returned starts to her so she could replace her losses.

It took two years and a great deal of work but in 1950 she was able to open her gardens for Lilac Week once again — a practice she continued until her death in 1960.”

The seeds Hulda planted continue to bear fruit. Now a state and national historic landmark, Hulda Klager’s home and gardens continue to open each spring to share her legacy. Her life forms the basis for Jane Kirkpatrick’s Where Lilacs Still Bloom

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

1810, What a Year It Was: The Derby

One of the big events of the London social season didn’t actually take place in London at all, but twenty-ish miles south of the metropolis, in the small town of Epsom located on the rolling, grass-covered terrain of the North Downs. I am speaking, of course, of the Epsom Derby, the undisputed Queen of horse races.

Epsom was known first as a spa town—the source of the purgative Epsom Salts—beginning early in the 17th century, and the infirm (and not-so-infirm) of London and beyond tottered there throughout the next decades to drink the water from one particular spring. Horse-racing was first mentioned as taking place there early in the century—perhaps as a pastime for the healthy young members of families who accompanied older relatives visiting the spring. I can totally understand the attraction of galloping across the miles of open, green grassland! During Cromwell’s time racing was forbidden, but was back in force when King Charles II regained his throne; Samuel Pepys noted a visit there during which he saw Nell Gwyn, the king’s cockney mistress, having a merry time, and the King himself often attended races. By the 1680s there was an official course clerk, and fifty years later, twice-yearly race meetings were taking place.

Then, in 1778, the Earl of Derby (that's him at left) and a group of friends including Sir Charles Bunbury, the playwright Richard Sheridan, and politician Charles James Fox, hatched the idea of a new race for three-year-old fillies, over one and a half miles (most races at Epsom were in the two-to-four mile range), naming it The Oaks, after Lord Derby’s nearby house. In 1780 they added a second race, for both colts and fillies, over one mile (soon expanded to one and a half); Lord Derby and Sir Charles flipped a coin for the honor of naming this new race, and Derby won the toss—and so The Derby was born. Sir Charles probably wasn't too upset—his colt Diomed became the Derby's first winner.

The races soon became popular; several shorter races over the course of the meet made for more excitement among the viewers (and thus more bets placed!), which of course had the effect of drawing more than just the racing crowd, so that eventually a sort of country fair atmosphere took over, which in turn drew more crowds (helped by the location’s proximity to London.) A verse declaims,

On Epson Downs, when racing does begin
Large companies from every part come in.
Tag-rag and Bob-tail, Lords and Ladies meet,
And Squires without Estates, each other greet.
Bets upon bets; this man says, ‘Ten to one.’
Another pointing cries, ‘Good sir, tis done.’

Our friend Prinny, the Prince Regent, was one of those spectators; in the 1790s he built the first permanent structure at Epsom, the Prince’s Stand (a larger grandstand would finally be built in the 1830s). By the Regency, the Derby was an established “event” of the season, and an audience of thirty to forty thousand was the norm.

1810’s Derby, run on June 7, was no exception, drawing the usual hordes of racing enthusiasts from the lowest to the highest. What set it apart was the horse who would win that day, a three-year-old colt with “the lowest and longest, and most-double jointed horse, with the best legs...and worst feet I ever saw in my life," according to his groom.

Whalebone, owned by the Duke of Grafton, was running only his second formal race ever; he’d won the Newmarket Stakes just the month before. But despite his unprepossessing looks, he was a grandson (grandcolt?) of the mighty sire Eclipse, and went out favored to win...and win he did, leading the field throughout the race. Though his subsequent career was a checkered one, with a pattern of grand wins followed by disappointing losses then back to wins, his greatest victories came after he retired to stud: he was the progenitor of champions straight through into the 20th century and beyond—not bad for a horse described by a contemporary as “shabby”!