Tuesday, May 4, 2021

It’s Always Sunny in Regency England

Well, no, no it isn’t, any more than it’s always sunny anywhere. Even the driest places on Earth occasionally experience a rain shower (except for the Dry Valleys in Antarctica, which haven’t seen rain in millions of years, apparently, but I don’t intend to set a story there 😊). But I recently caught myself slipping into the habit where every day in my books is a perfect sunny day, and my characters take strolls and sit in open carriages wearing nothing more than a muslin dress and a spencer. It seemed appropriate when I was talking about the Dorset seashore in August, but November?

Ahem. No.

Fortunately, there’s an intriguing site now parked under Weather Web. Researched meticulously by Martin Rowley of Dorset, it pulls together reports of weather in England for centuries, including 1800 to 1849. For example, based on recorded observations, we know that 1805 was a dry summer in London but 1807 was a wet one. January 1810 saw 10 days of fog in London. And January 1820, when George III died and Prinny became king (though he wasn’t officially crowned until later), the weather was terribly cold. Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, recorded 10 degrees below zero at one point.

One of the most intriguing events is recorded on December 14, 1810. On that day, at Old Portsmouth in Hampshire, what is believed to be the strongest tornado ever reported in England touched down. It barreled through Old Portsmouth and on to Southsea Common, blowing down chimneys, peeling back roofs, and levelling houses. Meteorologists believe it was a T8 on the TORRO scale, with winds exceeding 213 miles per hour. Miraculously, no deaths were associated with it.  

Now, I may not be able to pinpoint the weather in Dorset in November 1804, but I can be reasonably sure it rained, a lot, and the weather hovered between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, requiring me to study lots of lovely shawls, pelisses, cloaks, and redingotes in which to wrap my heroine.

Writing historical novels is such a difficult thing. 😊

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

What Lay Beneath Those Teaser Posts…

 

This!

 

I’m happy to announce that my new young adult fantasy, What Lies Beneath, will be out on September 14 from Book View Café!

War. Spies. Gossip and lies. Mythical Creatures. Falling in love. And it’s still only July.

It’s 1917, and everyone is doing their bit now that America has entered the Great War—everyone except 17-year-old Emma Verlaine. Her overprotective dad won’t let her go to nursing school while he’s off doing war work; instead, she’s been sent to stay for the summer with her Gran on an island off Cape Cod, and the most she’ll be able to do for the war effort is knit socks. Socks!

As it happens, island life isn’t so bad. There are the seals that seem even more fascinated by her than she is by them. There’s the new Navy Air Station that guards the coast from German U-boats where she’s determined to get a job. But most of all there’s Malcolm, whose family owns a resort hotel on the island and who gives her swimming lessons and delicious kisses.

But danger lurks in the waters off the island. Only Emma can save her new home—if she accepts that everything she thought she knew about her life is a lie, and that the seals are following her for a very good reason…

It was quite a change of pace to write a story set firmly in the twentieth century, after dwelling so long in the nineteenth. Telephones! Airplanes! Bathing suits! Working women! And as you saw, the research for this book was a lot of fun: 1917 had so many more similarities to our world, yet still some crucial differences. But some things will never change—young women striving to find their place in the world…and love. It was also great fun to set a book in a place I know and love so well, and to incorporate real bits and pieces of history, both national and local, into the plot.

What Lies Beneath is up for pre-order at Amazon (affiliate link), Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, Googleplay, and Smashwords, and will also be available in print from your favorite bookstore. And if you're feeling impatient, there's a sneak peek over on my website to whet your appetite.

I hope you'll enjoy it!


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Here’s Your Chance: New Release and Three-Book Sale

She’s out! The Lady’s Second-Chance Suitor, the fifth book in my Grace-by-the-Sea series, launches this week.

Hester Todd hoped never to run into her first love, Rob Peverell, again, until she does just that at the annual Grace-by-the-Sea Harvest Ball. Rob broke her heart seven years ago, sending her flying into the arms of a dashing naval lieutenant instead. Now a widow with a daughter she adores, Hester has finally found a little peace with her past. But one moment in Rob’s company, and her heart begins to whisper of a different future.

A tragedy propelled the rapscallion younger son to the title of viscount, and Rob is struggling to become the man his sister and tenants need. Romance at the moment is out of the question, but Hester always knew the way to his heart. When smugglers once more try to infiltrate the little coastal village, Hester and Rob must find a way to trust each other and protect their families and friends. In doing so, they may find that true love always deserves a second chance.

To celebrate, I’ve lowered the prices on the first three books in the series. Through April 21, the ebook version of The Matchmaker’s Rogue is 99 cents, The Heiress’s Convenient Husband is $1.99, and The Artist’s Healer is $2.99. Tell your friends!

The Lady’s Second Chance Suitor is available as an ebook (print too on Amazon) at fine online retailers such as

Smashwords  

Amazon (affiliate link) 

Barnes and Noble 

Apple Books 

Kobo 

Return to Grace-by-the-Sea, where romance and adventure come home.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

More Hints...a look back at May 1917’s Fashions

I’m back to be a dreadful tease with another Blast from the Past about 1917 and what was going on then...with a promise that in my next post, I’ll stop being mysterious and explain why. Till then...enjoy these wonderful fashions!

* * * * * * * *

So I got hold of a beautiful copy of the May 1917 edition of The Delineator, a magazine published by Butterick, now best known for their sewing patterns. Well, you know that their magazine would have to have gorgeous fashion pages—over twenty of them!--and you’re right. So I thought it was time to have some slightly more recent Fashion Forecasts, which will continue through the summer months.

 
The fashion section begins with a look at the latest Paris fashions, with the headline, “Fleet-Footed are the Fashions that Defy the U-Boats”. Designers mentioned include Georgette, Marthe Wingrove, Magraine-Lacroix, Laferriere, and Parry.


 
One thing you’ll notice that differs from the 19th century prints that I post is that dresses are usually not labeled “Morning Dress” or “Walking Dress” or what have you. What started with this issue of The Delineator was individual breakdowns of the cost of making each pattern, including estimated cost of fabric, trim, findings and patterns, as a result of expected belt-tightening with the newly entered war. The dress at left has a total cost of $4.94, and the dress at right costs a mere $3.37.


 
Silhouettes are interesting in this year: though many of the dresses shown still have waists, the general lines are hinting at the coming “vertical”, straight look of the twenties. Busts are still low, an echo of the previous decade.


Parasols and creative millinery were definitely in. The pink hat at right very definitely resembles a type of military hat known as a “shako”; hardly surprising to see, the month after the US had entered the war.


 
Separates—blouses and skirts, or two piece suits—were also in vogue.
 
What I found especially interesting is that there was a separate section of clothes intended especially for teens, though that exact term is not used. Still, the pattern descriptions are for 16- and 17- and 18-year-olds--a definite change from 19th century fashion.


The biggest difference I can see between these teen clothes and the more grown-up patterns is that the hemlines seem to be a trifle shorter.

More “teen” fashions, along with some younger girl outfits.

 
Children’s clothing is also included, both for girls...


And for boys. Note the ringlets!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What do you think of May 1917’s fashions?


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Hearing Grace-by-the-Sea

It’s not surprising that authors hear their characters in their heads. Sometimes they start talking before a story is plotted. Sometimes they start talking during the plotting. Sometimes they’re particularly stubborn and don’t make themselves truly known until the book is fairly far along. What’s really surprising, at least to me, is when someone else hears those voices too.

Such is the case with my new audiobook, The Matchmaker’s Rogue. My wonderful narrator, Jannie Meisberger, had done such a good job with the Fortune’s Brides set that I asked her to try her hand at making the characters in Grace-by-the-Sea come alive. She did a fantastic job, as always, with my hero and heroine, and even managed to sing in Lord Featherstone and Mr. Crabapple’s voices when called for.

But Maudie, ah Maudie. She was difficult.

That shouldn’t surprise me. Those of you who have read the series know that Maudlyn “Maudie” Tully, the elderly aunt of my heroine, Jesslyn Chance, is her own person. Having been widowed young, she retreated into a fantasy world and never came out. Maudie has tea with fairies, picnics with mermaids, and an ongoing battle of civility with trolls. I hear her dear, droll, prophetic voice so clearly.

Funny that others don’t.

“Close,” I said to Jannie. “But a bit more mysterious.”

“Closer, but perhaps a little higher?”

“Nice, but too slow. Try it faster.”

I’m so glad Jannie has the patience of a saint.

In the end, she did Maudie and the others justice. Here’s a little listen:

The Matchmaker’s Rogue is now available at Audible and Amazon, and soon iTunes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Rural Regency: Life in a Small Village, by Guest Blogger, Gail Eastwood

[Nineteen Teen is thrilled to welcome back traditional Regency author, Gail Eastwood, to the blog. Thank you, Gail, for sharing about your delightful village.]

We do love the grand London ballrooms, beautiful gowns and elegant lords and ladies of Regency romances, don’t we? But far more people in England during the early nineteenth century lived in the countryside than in the few major cities, most often in small villages. (The Industrial Revolution was only just starting to create the big changes that were yet to come.)

Romance can happen in a small village just as well as in an elegant ballroom, can’t it? What about all those popular “small town” contemporary romances? I wanted some of those rural Regency folks to find love, too. Welcome to Little Macclow!

My new Regency series, “Tales of Little Macclow,” is set in a tiny Derbyshire village well off the main roads and quite backward, especially by fashionable standards. The warm-hearted characters who live there, or pass through, have become quite real to me as I work on Book Three and prepare for the other books to come. I hadn’t intended to start a series when I invented the village. I just wanted to write a story set during the twelve days of Christmas and to strand a fashionable lord in this adorable small place still practicing ancient customs! I wanted a place with plenty of snow, but still not too far to the north, so I chose Derbyshire in the Midlands and fell in love with that setting.

The resulting tale, Lord of Misrule, is Book Two in the series, even though I wrote it first. Readers wanted more of Little Macclow, so for Book One, Lord of Her Heart, I went back eight months earlier and told the story of how the village seamstress, Sally Hepston, found her soul-mate (who isn’t an actual “lord”, by the way).

Little Macclow is full of features you would find in most typical small villages. The people aren’t wealthy. There’s a communal village well where the folks with no other source for water go to fetch it (and exchange gossip, of course). Many don’t even have an oven in their little cottages, so they depend on the village baker for bread or even cooking a roast for them! They are very dependent on the goodwill and care provided by the local squire and his wife who own the whole village. Little Macclow is very lucky, for Squire Hammon and his wife Lady Anne (who everyone knows was an earl’s daughter, so she is much revered) are benevolent, good-hearted people with a genuine fondness for all of the villagers.

Who are some of these other people? The heroine of Book Two is the vicar’s daughter, and her father is a crusty widower, so will he ever find love again? Sally Hepston’s sister Ellen works at the local inn, as does the innkeeper’s oldest daughter, Becky. Everyone thinks Ellen will marry her childhood sweetheart, Peter, the innkeeper’s oldest son, who works across the street at the livery stable. But will she? And who will Becky find, when a few more years have passed? There are plenty of tales to be told in a small village, and interesting people to meet!

Would you like to visit Little Macclow? Dip into Books One and Two in my Tales of Little Macclow series. To know when new books in the series come out (and get a free short story), please sign up for my newsletter! (or visit my website). Thanks, Regina and Marissa, for inviting me to visit the blog!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Retro Blast (and a Future Hint): Doing Their Bit

Life has been very busy these last few weeks for me on several fronts...one of them being related to this post, originally made in 2014. I’ll be telling you more about it soon; accept this as a touch of foreshadowing (mwahaha!)

 * * * * * * * *

Writing a story set in 1917 has been a fascinating experience for me. It’s not a time I knew a great deal about, so there’s definitely been a learning curve...but I’ve been having tons of fun with it (as you might have noticed!)

One thing that has struck me as I do my research to write this story is how much World War I was truly the first BIG media-covered war (though the Spanish-American War in 1898 was in many ways a rehearsal for it). By 1917 the cinema had become an important part of people’s everyday lives; in the newsreels shown in theatres, moving picture footage of actual battlegrounds and armies could be seen. Also, photography was now more easily reproducible in newspapers and magazine, and both of these served to bring the war “home” in ways that just hadn’t been possible before. And let’s face it, war is big news. It sells a lot of newspapers and magazines, so there was plenty of coverage of it in popular media.

That coverage extended to media intended for a female audience. World War I was probably the first war that called strongly on all American citizens, male and female, to help in whatever way possible. For men, it was enlisting, obviously. But women, too, were encouraged—heck, exhorted, as in the editorial above from the June 1917 issue of Ladies' Home Journal—to “do their bit.” The countries at war with the Kaiser not only needed soldiers, but support personnel, war materiél, and food to feed their civilian populations. Belgium in particular was experiencing famine conditions as no one could grow food when large swathes of the country formed the battlegrounds of the war, and cross-Atlantic trade had been severely hampered by German u-boat activity.

So in a very real sense, women did have to “do their bit” for the war effort. Since they were the homemakers, they were the ones in charge of purchasing and preparing food...and they were the ones who could cut down on the use of wheat, beef, and other food that could be shipped overseas to feed troops and hungry European civilians, and learn to make do with other food sources.

But food wasn’t the only place women helped. Since so many young men were being shipped overseas to fight, young women began to replace them on farms and in factories. And let’s not forget medical personnel and other support people, from clerks and secretaries in Washington to ambulance drivers on the western front.