Friday, November 21, 2014

A Thanksgiving Ms.tery

Happy Thanksgiving!  As we have in the past, Marissa and I will be out next week spending time with families and friends.  Hope you get an opportunity to do the same.

In the meantime, I wanted to divulge the solution to a little mystery that presented itself recently.  A sharp-eyed reader (bless you, my dear!) spotted a problem with my November release, The Bride Ship.  Every time the word Miss should have been used, the word Ms. was inserted instead.  Ms., while originally coined around the dawn of the twentieth century, did not come into favor until much later when it was championed as the most appropriate way to identify a woman regardless of her marital state.  While once it may have been used as the abbreviation for Mistress (as opposed to Master), it is now the female equivalent of Mr. 

No historical writer worth her salt would use it in a book set in 1866.  No historical editor with any sense would allow it.  So how did it appear in The Bride Ship?

Many hands touch a book before it is published, and the process varies from publishing house to publishing house.  In the process I’m most familiar with, writers submit a manuscript, which is edited by an editor looking at bigger picture items like plot, characters, and pacing.  Her job is to make that book as strong as possible.  A copyeditor then checks facts, word usage, and continuity.  Her job is to make the book as accurate as possible.  The writer revises based on comments, and everyone takes another look at it.  Finally, a proofreader goes through it to catch any possible typos or grammatical errors.  Her job is to make it as clean as possible. 

I approved a manuscript (ms) with Miss in it.  My editor approved a ms with Miss in it.  The copyeditor approved an ms with Miss in it.  The proofreader msapplied an obscure rule on titles to change every last instance of Miss to Ms.  It is a very clean ms, just not an entirely historically accurate one.

Ms.tery solved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Still Here, Part 3

A few weeks ago we looked at the birth of the let’s see what items that were on the shelves of Piggly-Wiggly that we might still recognize today! Parts one and two of this series are available here and here.

As we head into cold season...Luden’s Cough Drops have been soothing coughs for a long time now. (Women’s World, August 1917)

Of course, if we want to keep germs at bay, we should have reached for the Lysol in the first place...(The Delineator, May 1917)

 Yes, they still make film, even in this digital age.  (The Red Cross Magazine, August 1917)

Spicing up sandwiches since 1867... (Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1917)

Though national Prohibition had not yet arrived, there were enough "dry" counties around... (Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1917)

Hmm. Shampooing with it?  (McCall’s Magazine, August 1910)

I just love this one--6,175 games played with one deck. Someone actually counted?  (Collier’s Illustrated Weekly, March 15, 1902)

And this week’s grand prize winner: I never knew that baked beans could be scientific...did you? ☺ (The Youth’s Companion, September 20, 1917)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Locating Our Winners

Congratulations!  We had 10 commenters last week (one who sent via Facebook because of difficulties posting here), and a total of 20 books up for grabs, which means everyone won!  Emily W, jewel allure, Kim Ellis, Diane Spigonardo, Chemystress (Patricia Z), Miss Monica, Daisy, Jennie Coleen561, QNPoohBear, and Chris Heidegger, please e-mail me at to let me know which of the books you’d like, first come, first served. (I know QNPoohBear wants a copy of Ballrooms and Blackmail, and Chris would like The Husband Campaign.)  I will also need physical addresses for those of you who want one of the paperbacks. For those choosing e-books, I will let you know how you can get a copy for free.

Be patient with me--I’m about to go on 6 unexpected days of travel with limited access to e-mail, but I’ll respond as soon as I can, and I’ll send out all the books when I return, around November 20.

In the meantime, I wanted to share an online resource that might help you visualize life in early nineteenth century England.  Whether you love reading books or writing books or both, it helps to be able to locate the action.  In nineteenth century London, where was fashionable Bond Street in relationship to the famous ladies club Almack’s and could you get from one to the other in a pinch?  Would the number of curves near Kensington Palace have slowed down someone racing a mail coach? What was the fastest way to get out of town when chased by an angry father?

For answers to these questions and more, try the MOTCO database, a collection of antique maps and prints of London, the Thames, and other parts of Britain.  Maps cover London and its environs in 1746, 1799, 1830, and 1862. The helpful folks at MOTCO have even indexed them by place names so you can pinpoint exact locations you’ve heard about. 

Among the maps, one of my personal favorites is Richard Horwood’s 1799 map of London, Westminster, and Southwark, which claims to “shew” every house in the town.  The gigantic map is laid out at 26 inches to a mile and set up online in a total of 32 squares.  I printed them out on 14- by 11- inch paper and had my youngest son put them together like a puzzle.  The resulting map was over five feet long and resided on the wall of my entry way for several years while I plotted various stories. 

When you have a mother who writes historical novels, you never know what’s going to end up on your walls or on your shelves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Great Silence

Today we are observing Veterans Day in the U.S....but we’re not the only country to observe a holiday. This day marks the 96th anniversary of the day that hostilities ceased on the Western Front in 1918, marking the end of World War I, and is the 95th anniversary of Armistice Day (now called Remembrance Day) in Great Britain, which was first observed in 1919.

The first World War had an almost incalculable effect on England. A bit over 2% of the population were killed in the war—slightly over 700,000...but those 700,000 were a large chunk of the male population between the ages of 18 and 35...effectively decimating a generation of young men, among them the best and the brightest, the future leaders of the nation. And with the loss of a generation of young men, a generation of young women became spinsters, many of them never marrying, or emigrating elsewhere. Add to that the effects of the global influenza pandemic, and it’s plain to see that England had a great deal to mourn.

Yet when the first anniversary of the 1918 Armistice approached, no formal observation of the day had been planned...until Prime Minister Lloyd George was told about a letter sent to the London Evening News by an Australian journalist named Edward Honey, proposing that the first anniversary of the Armistice be observed by a nation-wide five-minute silence, something that could be done by every man, woman, and child no matter where in Britain they were. Lloyd George was very taken with the idea, and convinced King George V to decree a modified form, a two-minute silence. An announcement from the king appeared in all major newspapers on November 7 stating:

Tuesday Next, November 11, is the first anniversary of the Armistice which stayed the worldwide carnage of the four previous years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom. I believe that my people in every part of the Empire fervently with to perpetuate the memory of the Great Deliverance and of those who have laid down their lives to achieve it. To afford an opportunity for the universal expression it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities. No elaborate organisation appears to be required. At a given signal, which can be easily arranged to suit the circumstances of the locality, I believe that we shall interrupt our business and pleasure, whatever it may be, and unite in this simple service of Silence and Remembrance.

And at eleven o’clock on the morning of November 11, 1919, all England was silent. Trains stopped running, ships in British waters cut their engines. Motor traffic came to a halt, telephone operators unplugged their switchboards, pedestrians on busy streets halted, workmen laid down their tools, and schoolchildren stood wide-eyed and silent under the gaze of their teachers. For two minutes, everyone remembered.

Although the name of the observation has changed and Remembrance Sunday has taken its place, the two-minute silence is still observed every year...and while the last living veteran of the war died in 2012 (a woman named Florence Green, age 110!), Britons still remember.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Free Books!

Yes, you read that right. I’m so excited about the publication of The Bride Ship that I’m giving away a handful of it and other books. If you leave a comment on today’s blog, even a “hi, I’m here!” kind of comment, I will enter you in a drawing for your choice of the following:

A paperback copy of The Bride Ship

A paperback copy of The Husband Campaign

An e-book copy in the format of your choice of Secrets and Sensibilities, the first in my Lady Emily Capers series

An e-book copy in the format of your choice of Ballrooms and Blackmail, the most recent in my Lady Emily Capers.

If you already have all of the above, choose one to give away to a friend or family member for Christmas.

I have five copies of each of the books up for grabs. All you have to do is say hello, tell me why you like the blog, suggest something for the future--anything. That’s the only way I’ll know your name so I can list it when you win. Feel free to let others know about this giveaway, so they can get in on the action too.

And do come back next Friday when I will announce the winners.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Bride Ship Launches!

After waiting more than 30 years to write this story, I can’t believe it’s here!  The Bride Ship launches today!  A few folks received early copies through the Love Inspired Readers Service or Amazon (who surprised me by releasing the book Saturday), and I thank you for the kind reviews many of you left.  I was a little nervous straying from my beloved Regency period but Booklist, the magazine from the American Library Association, called The Bride Ship “a captivating, adventure-filled romance that effectively conveys the grit and gumption required by those who settled the American far west.” 

As you can guess by my recent posts, the book takes up when Mercer and his Belles leave New York for Seattle.  And one of his Belles is Boston socialite Allegra Banks Howard.  Here's the blurb:

What was his brother's widow, his first love, doing on a ship full of prospective brides headed out West? Clay Howard had been tasked with escorting the Boston belle home, but he didn't anticipate Allegra being so strong-willed, or that he'd wind up traveling with her just to keep her from leaving without him! 

Allegra Banks Howard isn't going to let Clay interfere with her plans for a new life with her daughter on the frontier. True, Allegra needs his wilderness savvy, but if Clay thinks he can rekindle what they once shared, he had better think again. Because risking her heart for a second chance at being his bride isn't something she'll undertake lightly…. 

Here’s an excerpt:

Allie didn't remember reaching the bottom of the stairs aboard the Continental. The touch of Clay's hand on her arm drew her up.

“Be reasonable, Allegra,” he murmured, offering a smile that would once have set her to blushing. “I have no intention of being an annoyance. But I think we both agree it’s my duty to protect you.”

“Duty?” Allie shook her head. “This journey was my choice, sir. You have no duty to protect me from my future. I can handle myself on the frontier. You forget, my ancestors civilized Boston.”

Clay snorted, dropping her arm. “Is that your reason for going? You think the fine citizens of Seattle need to be civilized? There isn't a fellow in the Territory who will thank you for it.”

“On the contrary,” Allie insisted. “Mr. Mercer assured us that we will be welcome additions to the city, serving to bring it to its full potential. He, sir, has a vision.”

Clay rolled his eyes. “Spare me. I've spent the last hour watching how easily Mercer’s plans fell apart. No one seemed to know who had paid for this voyage and who hadn't. It wouldn't surprise me if Mercer had skipped town with your money. You've been duped, Allegra. Admit it.”

Anger was pushing up inside her again. Why were her ideas never taken seriously? Why was she always the one who had to bend to another’s insistence?

“Just because you dream small, Clay Howard,” she told him, “doesn't mean other men have the same narrow vision. And neither do I. I will pay you back every penny you spent to buy our tickets, I will allow you to spend time with Gillian as you requested, but I won’t listen to another word against our plans. Do I make myself clear, sir?”

Any Boston gentleman who had borne the brunt of her anger would have begged her pardon, immediately and profusely. Clay merely lowered his head until his gaze was level with hers. Something fierce leaped behind the cool green.

“Don’t expect me to jump when you snap your fingers, Allegra,” he said. “I paid your passage because this trip seems to be important to you. But I won’t nod in agreement like a milk cow to everything you say. I've been to Seattle. I know the dangers of the frontier. I owe it to Frank to protect you from them.”

As if in agreement, the Continental shuddered, and a deep throb pulsed up through the deck. Allie was tumbling forward, her feet not her own. She landed against something firm and solid--Clay.

His arms came around her, and she found herself against his chest. His gaze met hers, seemed to warm, to draw her in. She couldn't catch her breath. Once, she’d dreamed of his embrace, his kiss.

Heat flared in her cheeks at the memory, and she pulled herself out of his arms. “You owe Frank nothing, Clay Howard. And you owe me less. If you insist on coming to Seattle with us, you’d better remember that.”

To read more of Allie and Clay’s story, visit my website, where you can also find links to buy the book at online retailers and bookstores near you.