Tuesday, December 19, 2017

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

It’s that time of year once again, when the darkest days become filled with the light of holiday celebrations. Regina and I will take the next week or so off to celebrate the season with our families and friends, and we hope that you will be doing the same. Look for us again in the new year of 2018 (wow—can you believe it?) for more books, more history geekery, and more fun. In the meanwhile, we wish you the very best!

To end on a festive historical note...got any holiday party plans? Why not rock your next party with a hairstyle Lizzie Bennett herself would have envied?  You'll need long hair...but the technique isn't too difficult, and the results are gorgeous! With a gold ribbon or a sprig of holly (carefully) tucked into the back, you'll be the belle of the evening.

There are actually a lot of Regency hairstyle videos out there that lots of fun to watch. Now, if only my hair were longer than my shoulders...

And from me personally, here's my favorite holiday video of all time--a reminder that even in the middle of the most humdrum of times and places, wonder and beauty can still take us by surprise. Enjoy!

As we come to the end of our tenth year of blogging, Regina and I thank you most sincerely for being NineteenTeen readers. ☺ See you next year!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Carols 1874-Style

File:Vickery Atkins and Torrey - Christmas Card.jpgWe’ve talked about Christmas carols in early nineteenth century England before. When I was researching the period around His Frontier Christmas Family, however, I knew I had nearly 100 years more of songs to choose from. So, what would have been popular carols on the Seattle frontier?

Angels from the Realms of Glory—originally published in England in 1816, this standard was in many hymnals during the period in England and abroad.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night—though originally published as a poem in the early 1700s in England, it was set to music as early as 1850 and also made up part of the established hymnal.

We Three Kings is of American vintage. Composed in 1857 by a minister for a city-wide Christmas pageant (and, dare I say, used in pageants large and small ever since), it was widely circulated.

Silent Night was originally a German hymn, composed for Christmas Eve mass. It was translated into English in 1859 in America, so it could easily have reached the West coast in time for a Wallin Christmas in 1874.

My personal favorite Christmas hymn is O Holy Night. I have been known to belt it out at the least provocation (just ask my neighbors or the people in the next town over). First composed in 1847 in French and translated into English by an American in 1857, it inspired soldiers in the Civil War and beyond. I imagine the Wallins would have been proud to sing it.

And speaking of music, if you'd like to know more about the music boxes of the period, head on over to Petticoats and Pistols, where I'll be guest blogging today (December 15). 

May you be surrounded by music this Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

It’s Jane Austen’s Birthday, But You Get the Presents

Authors of past centuries may continue to be read, revered, studied and debated long after their deaths, but I don’t think there’s one who has such a passionate popular following as a genteel but wickedly humorous spinster from a quiet corner of Great Britain who wrote only six completed novels and a handful of lesser and unfinished works.

Yes, you all know who I’m talking about. ☺

Can't you just picture them all huddled over their phones?
This coming Saturday (that's December 16) will be the inimitable Jane Austen’s 242nd birthday. Well into her third century, she continues to delight readers with her characters’ matrimonial adventures and misadventures...and inspires the question, “How would things have been different for the Bennett sisters if they’d had a good dating app?" The BBC thinks they might have an answer...
On a slightly more serious note, research into The Divine Jane’s work and life continue—not only on the content of her work, but how she put it together. There’s a saying among writers that writing is revising, and it’s very true: the books you see on bookstore shelves have been written, re-written, revised, polished, edited, and possibly re-written and revised and polished again. For us spoiled writers of the 21st century, our trusty computers make it a relatively easy process (well, except for getting the actual words right!) But for authors in the benighted pre-computer era, revising their work was a chore: what did you do when, say, you decided that a paragraph had to be inserted into an existing manuscript page?  Well, if you were Jane (and others on her era, I presume), you wrote it down on a separate piece of paper and pinned it to the original manuscript in the spot where it was to be inserted. Between crossing out words and sentences and writing in new ones and pinning in longer additions, it’s easy to understand why an important part of preparing a manuscript was sitting down with a large stack of paper and copying the whole thing—making a “fair copy”—before sending it off to the publisher.

I’ll bet Jane would have loved Post-it notes...

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Nature of a Hero, by Guest Blogger, Beth Wallin

Greetings, Nineteen Teen readers. Mrs. Scott asked me to stop by and opine on the nature of a hero. I think she’s hoping I’ll tell you everything about my brother, Levi Wallin, who is the hero in her December release, His Frontier Christmas Family. Levi thought himself quite the hero when we were growing up. You never heard such bragging! To hear him tell it, he could shoot the farthest, chop down trees the fastest, and capture the most hearts of any fellow for miles around. Silly! Our brother John can shoot the farthest (and I rival him for accuracy), our oldest brother Drew holds the record for number of trees felled in a certain amount of time, and middle brother James has probably captured more hearts than the rest of my brothers combined.

And really, are those traits what make a hero?

I think a hero should be known by the quality of his character and the depth of his sacrifice for others. Take Drew, for example. He’s the quiet sort, when he isn’t bellowing orders to his logging crew or demanding that the rest of us fall into line. But he took over the family when Pa died, and Drew was only 18! He was more of a father to me than brother. He never thought of himself, only us. Talk about character and sacrifice.
I don’t think Levi sees himself that way. Certainly he didn’t when he ran off to seek his fortune. Gold. Fah! I quite agree with Callie that such riches are fleeting. Still, I can’t blame Levi for being caught by the lure. Thousands of men are drawn away every year by tales of strikes in the mountains. It’s just that he came back different. The Levi who left was brass, all shine and easily tarnished. The Levi who returned is silver, refined and softened.

Something happened to him on the gold fields. He won’t tell us what. I’m hoping Callie can pry it out of him. He simply must tell her the truth if they’re to make a match of it.

There! I said it. I’d like to see the two of them marry. They truly are perfect for each other. Levi has been to the gold fields, so he understands better than I ever will how Callie grew up, what shaped her, what scares her even now. And Callie is so very practical. Have you seen those trousers she wears? Why didn’t I think of that? Far more useful for mucking stalls and chasing deer. Of course, I’d never give up my dresses, but once in a while …

Levi has hero potential. His character has deepened since he left. He’s willing to sacrifice to bring Callie, her twin brothers, and her infant niece to Wallin Landing, making a place for them in his home. He’s now an ordained minister. Callie has a real chance of winning his heart. She just needs a little help, and I know exactly what to do.

I only wish I knew what to do about a certain lawman. But that’s a story for another time.

I understand you may need these, so here you go. And I look forward to seeing you again in March, for Frontier Matchmaker Bride.

The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Welcoming His Frontier Christmas Family

When I first starting writing about pioneer Seattle and discovered the Wallin family, I knew the youngest brother, Levi, would make an interesting hero. Levi was the pesky younger brother, always getting into trouble, always trying to prove himself. When he was nineteen, he struck out to make his fortune, heading to the gold fields of Vital Creek in the Omineca area of what is now British Columbia. Those of you who read Mail-Order Marriage Promise know that he returned years later battered and wiser. And now, Levi is about to find a family of his own.

His Frontier Christmas Family launches this week.

After taking guardianship of his late friend’s siblings and baby daughter, minister Levi Wallin hopes to atone for his troubled past on the gold fields. But it won’t be easy to convince the children’s wary elder sister to trust him. The more he learns about her, though, the more he believes Callie Murphy’s prickly manner masks a vulnerable heart…one he’s starting to wish he was worthy of.

Every man in Callie’s life chose chasing gold over responsibilities. Levi—and the large, loving Wallin family—might just be different. But she can tell he’s hiding something from her, and she refuses to risk her heart with secrets between them. Even as they grow closer, will their pasts keep them from claiming this unexpected new beginning?

Here’s a taste:

As Callie held a squirming baby Mica, Levi positioned the sled, then nodded to Frisco and Sutter to climb on. Once the boys had scrambled into place, he pulled back slightly.

“One, two,” he started.

“Three!” Frisco shouted, and Levi pushed.

They shot down the hill. He had barely straightened before they had reached the bottom and spun to a stop. Leaping off the sled, they looked up at him expectantly.

Levi motioned with his gloved hand. “Well, bring it back up. You ride it, you carry it back. Those are the rules.”

They each grabbed a curved end of a runner to drag the sled back up.

Callie shook her head. “They’re going to wear themselves out.”

Levi shot her a grin. “We should be so fortunate.”

Her chuckle made him feel even warmer.

But while he enjoyed having her beside him, watching the boys’ excitement, he wanted to try something else.

“Care for a turn?” he asked Callie as he positioned the sled for another run.

She shook her head, stepping back. “I’m not putting Mica on that.”

Levi nodded to Frisco and Sutter, who climbed back aboard, then he shoved them to start. Their delighted squeals echoed back up the hill.

Levi straightened. “I wasn’t asking about Mica. I was asking about you.”

Callie eyed her brothers, who were hurrying back up with the sled. “I don’t know. What if it tips over?”

“Then we’ll fall in the snow,” Levi said with a shrug.

She raised a brow. “We?”

“Did you think I was going to wait much longer for a turn?” he teased.

Callie handed Mica to Sutter as he came abreast. “Hold her. I’m going down with Levi.”

Sutter’s eyes widened.

Frisco held the sled in place as Levi helped Callie settle near the front. Then he climbed on behind her, legs straddling hers, chest pressed against her back, arms braced beside her. Her body was tense, but he hoped that meant she was as excited as he was to give it a try.

“Push,” he told Frisco, rocking forward to help the boy.

Frisco shoved, and the sled was away.

Wind whipped past Levi’s cheeks as they flew down the hill. The trees, the snow, everything became a blur, until it was only him and Callie, dashing through the snow. Her laughter tickled his chest as she shouted against the air. He wrapped his arms around her and hung on.

The sled spun to a stop at the bottom of the hill. For a moment, he just held her, resting his cheek against the top of her head. His chest was heaving, but not from any exertion. He didn’t want to move.

But she shifted against him, and he knew he had to get up. Climbing off, he offered her his hand to rise. She scrambled up, eyes shining, cheeks red. There was nothing for it. He pulled her close and kissed her.

And all at once the sled seemed tame. Even the thrill of finding a nugget in the stream was nothing compared to the feel of Callie in his arms. This was what he’d been seeking all his life, this exhilaration, this joy.

Callie pulled back to stare at him, and he couldn’t tell whether she was shocked or delighted.

“Hey!” Frisco’s call echoed down the hill. “You got to bring it back. Those are the rules.”

The rules. The rules said Levi was a minister; Callie was his ward. The rules said he was to treat her like a sister. But there was nothing brotherly about the emotions singing through him.

You can find His Frontier Christmas Family at fine retailers, such as

The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Come back on Friday, when Levi’s sister Beth has her say about the doings at Wallin Landing.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Nineteenth Century Wish List, 2017 Edition

Every year, I am delighted to see all the amazing gifts of interest to those who enjoy writing or reading about the nineteenth century. Here are some suggestions for this year.

Ah, there’s something about a library, whether private or public. Can’t get enough of the scent? Try a soy candle that smells like old books.

Sometimes it’s important to state a truth. The PendantLab has a lovely necklace that states "I was born with a reading list I will never finish." I'm sure you can relate.  

How about inspirational quotes to, well, inspire you? There’s this one from the inimitable Jane Austen.

Fuller Light Quote Square Sticker 3" x 3"Or this one from women’s rights activist Margaret Fuller 

And keeping track of the day has never been more stylish than in this lovely calendar with anime-style fashion illustrations from the Regency.

The Servants' Story: Managing a Great Country House by [Sambrook, Pamela]Of course, no wish list would be complete without some books! The Servant's Story looks particularly interesting, detailing behind-the-scenes life with the Dukes of Sutherland.

And the marvelous Mimi Mathews has collected some delightful stories about animals during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

Christmas also means a new Regency-set Kurland St. Mary mystery by Catherine Lloyd (my personal Christmas treat). 

Anything you’re looking forward this year in Christmas gifts? If you’ve spotted something related to the nineteenth century, I’m sure the other readers of NineteenTeen would love to know!