Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fetch the Comfy Chair!

You’ve probably all noticed that most of the fashion prints I post in Fashion Forecasts are from Ackermann’s Repository, that splendidly illustrated journal of early 19th century culture and fashion. But along with the lovely depictions of fashion in each month’s issue, Rudolph Ackermann published many other plates: scenery from abroad as well as solidly English country houses, the latest in carriages, depictions of royal residences, and frequently, over the course of the magazine’s twenty year history, images of fashionable furniture. Paid advertising as we know it didn’t exist in the journals of the day, but furniture-makers hoping for a little free exposure must have flocked to Mr. A, hoping he’d depict one of their products in the Repository along with a flattering write-up.

One of my favorite prints of this type is this one, from the September 1810 edition: Library Reading Chairs.

Here’s the accompanying text:

PLATE 15: FASHIONABLE FURNITURE Our engraving this month exhibits two of the most convenient and comfortable library chairs perhaps ever completed. Each of them has become a favourite piece of furniture for the library, boudoir, and other apartments of the nobility and gentry. The first (on the left-hand side of the plate) is made of mahogany, or any other wood; the back, seat, and sides caned, with French stuffed cushions and covers; the arms corresponding; a movable desk and candlestick, affording every possible accommodation for reading, writing, &c. The whole chair is of itself completely comfortable.

The second is a more novel article, but equally convenient and pleasant: gentlemen either sit across, with the face toward the desk, contrived for reading, writing, &c. and which, by a rising rack, can be elevated at pleasure; or, when its occupier is tired of the first position, it is with the greatest ease turned around in a brass groove, to either one side or the other; in which case, the gentleman sits sideways. The circling arms in either way form a pleasant easy back, and also, in every direction, supports for the arms. As a proof of their real comfort and convenience, they are now in great sale at the ware-rooms of the inventors, Messrs. Morgan and Saunders, Catherine-street, Strand.

I want both of them! How about you?

Speaking of comfy chairs for reading...I’m happy to report that the paperback version of Courtship and Curses makes its appearance today, from Square Fish, Macmillan Children’s paperback imprint. For an excerpt and notes about the book, please follow the links to my website. And for ordering info, check Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Powell's, or the Book Depository.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Young Scientists: Michael Faraday, a Shocking Sort of Fellow

The nineteenth century is filled with people who started out in one direction and took another turn to fame.  Michael Faraday is just such a person.  A largely self-taught lad and the son of a blacksmith, he was apprenticed to a bookbinder in London when he was 14.  Reading the books he was binding gave him a great appreciation of science.  A customer of his master provided him with tickets to lectures by famed chemist Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution, England’s premiere laboratory.  Faraday was so fascinated by the demonstration that he took copious notes (some say up to 300 pages!), sending them to the scientist himself.  Davy was sufficiently impressed that he hired Faraday as his assistant.

Some, including Davy’s wife, refused to see Faraday as a gentleman.  He was even asked to step in as Davy’s valet when the previous valet quit.  However, valeting had its privileges.  Faraday traveled with Davy on a Grand Tour through France, Italy, and Switzerland, meeting the elite scientists of the day.  On Davy’s recommendation, he was made Chemical Assistant to the Royal Institution.  Following in Davy’s footsteps, he explored the properties of chlorine and other gasses. 

But what really fascinated him was electricity, which at that time was little more than a game to shock people at parties.  He squeezed in his own experiments while helping other scientists, using what materials were available.  For example, he constructed a voltaic pile using half pennies, sheet zinc, and paper wet with saltwater.  He discovered the principles behind the electric transformer and generator and made many other foundational discoveries, earning him credit for inventing the electric motor. He also took over the limelight at the Royal Institution, becoming an even more popular lecturer than Humphry Davy.

And people began to take notice.  Oxford University made him an honorary Ph.D. in Civil Law. He was offered a knighthood and refused.  He was twice suggested for president of the Royal Society, England’s professional scientific organization, and refused.  Supposedly he was asked to advise on the production of chemical weapons, and he refused.  He was, however, elected as a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Sciences.

One of his last areas of research was ways to improve lighthouses to help keep ships from floundering.  His recommendations were so well received that Prince Albert arranged for him to be given a house at Hampton Court, quite an elevation for a boy born to a blacksmith.

Some might even call it shocking.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: EMMA (1996/Paltrow)

Welcome to "Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema" at NineteenTeen!  Today we're discussing the 1996 feature film "Emma," starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, and Obi Wan Kenobi himself, Ewan McGregor!

(Interesting fact:  there were two adaptations of Jane Austen's "Emma" in 1996!  One was made for TV, and starred Kate Beckinsale;  the other was this, a little independent film with Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow.)

So: have you seen this "Emma"?

What did you think?

Did you like the costumes?

The casting?

The script?

If you've read the book, did you like the adaptation?

And perhaps most important of all, did you like the character Emma?

To aid the discussion, here's the cast list!

Gwyneth Paltrow … Emma Woodhouse
Denys Hawthorne … Mr. Woodhouse
Jeremy Northam … Mr. Knightley
Toni Collette … Harriet Smith
James Cosmo … Mr. Weston
Greta Scacchi … Mrs. Weston
Alan Cumming … Mr. Elton
Sophie Thompson … Miss Bates
Phyllida Law … Mrs. Bates
Polly Walker … Jane Fairfax
Ewan McGregor … Frank Churchill
Juliet Stevenson… Mrs. Elton

Please share your thoughts!  All opinions welcome!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Live from Atlanta, Sort Of

Hello, my dears, from sunny, thunder storm-prone Atlanta!  Marissa and I have been running between workshops, meetings with agents and editors, and workshop panels, and we wanted to share some of the highlights with you.

First off, the hotel is amazing!  Dozens of floors and glass elevators that zip from top to bottom.  Marissa and I are agreed that it looks a bit like a spinal column. 

Some of the publishers found a new way to use those elevators--poster space!  I am told these are called elevator wraps.  And I was absolutely thrilled to see one you might find familiar.

And here is someone else who might look familiar.  Marissa's book Courtship and Curses was a finalist for the best young adult book of 2012 for the Booksellers Best Award.  She very kindly let me tag along to the awards ceremony.  Doesn't she clean up good?

There are more than a few of our sister romance authors who are looking good here the last few days.  We attended the evening soiree of the Beau Monde chapter, those awesome ladies who write Regency-set romances.  They also know how to have our kind of a good time--great food, great friends, and English country dancing.  One of the most lovely dancers was Vanessa Riley, who as you can tell looks as if she's a young lady debuting in London society.  In a way, she is.  Her first  book, Madeline's Protector, an inspirational Regency romance, was out in April.  Congratulations, Vanessa!

Not sure we'll have time for another post this week, my dears.  But come back Tuesday to talk about the movie Emma with the ever-fabulous and entertaining Cara King.  See you then!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Charles Bewitched is here!

It's here!

For all those readers of Bewitching Season who've asked me when Charles "Chuckles" Leland would get his own story, I am delighted to announce that Charles Bewitched is here!

First, the blurb:

They'll never believe him back at school when he tells them how he spent his summer vacation...

In this novella follow-up to Bewitching Season and Betraying Season, 16-year-old Charles Leland is not looking forward to his summer holidays from Eton--not when he has to spend them cramming history to make up for a less-than-stellar grade last term. Even the thought of staying with his sister Persy and her husband Lochinvar while his parents are in Ireland can't cheer him up.

But studying quickly takes a back seat to finding out what has happened to Persy, who disappears from home the day he arrives. All signs indicate that she's been kidnapped by gypsies. But a gypsy boy named Nando convinces Charles that her disappearance has a much more otherworldly explanation.

Now Charles must brave the perils and sheer strangeness of the fairy lands to save Persy from being forcibly married to a powerful fairy lord. With the help of the fairy lord's own younger (and alarmingly pretty) sister, a copy of History and Policy of the Norman and Angevin Kings that he's supposed to read before September, and Her Majesty Queen Victoria, he might just do it...but will he also be able to save himself?

This novella was fun to write...I mean, Charles! It was also a fun way to wrap up, at least for now, the Leland Sisters series. I'm not saying I'll never come back to it...but for now, my writing for young adults is moving in other directions (and centuries!)

Also interesting was the process of publishing this story--finding professional editors and cover designers, learning how to format files and eventually upload them--it's been an education! I'm particularly pleased with the cover designed by YA author and designer Lisa Amowitz; she was able to take the image of a modern young man (who is totally Charles as far as I'm concerned) and turn him into a lad from 1842, thanks to a clothing image graciously lent to me by Christina, proprietor of Elegant Ascots (www.elegantascots.com), whose shop I serendipitously found on Etsy!

So...where can you find Charles Bewitched? As a novella, it is only available in e-book form...but that means you can purchase it from the Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook Store, and Kobo, with the Apple iBookstore coming soon.  Any other places that you like to buy ebooks from? Let me know and I'll see if I can place it there.

I sincerely hope you'll have as much fun reading it as I did writing it! And now...I'm off to Atlanta!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Calling All Atlantans

Just a short note to remind you all that Marissa and I will be blogging from the Romance Writers of America annual conference next week. If you are anywhere near Atlanta, Georgia, be sure to check out the book signing Wednesday afternoon from 5 to 7pm at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atrium Ballroom A-C.

It’s an amazing event with over 400 romance authors. The publishers donate the books, and authors sign them. All proceeds go to help fight illiteracy. The 2013 beneficiaries are ProLiteracy Worldwide, Literacy Action, Inc., and Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta. This event is open to the public and there is no entry fee.

Click here for a list of signing authors, including the two of us!

More next week, live from RWA Atlanta! And be sure to tune in on Tuesday, when I hear Marissa will have a special announcement.