Tuesday, December 22, 2020

We Wish You a Merry (Victorian) Christmas!

What is it that makes me get sort of goofy and sentimental about the Victorians and how they elevated the celebration of Christmas to a fine (if florid) art? The candles, the decorations, the food—the sheer coziness—and the emphasis on home and family…it paints a very beguiling mental picture, doesn’t it?

But it certainly isn’t just me (and feel free to comment and make me feel less sheepish. 😉) I’ve found some splendid bits around the interwebs by other just as beguiled and fascinated by Victorian Christmases as I am, such as this video about Victoria’s Christmas dinners by history blogger/filmmaker Lindsay Holiday:

Now, you probably know by now that I’m all about the 19th century clothes... While I’m usually more excited by clothes from the earlier part of the century, I couldn’t help being delighted by a video by CrowsEye Productions about Queen Victoria being dressed for an evening Christmas party, as depicted in this popular engraving from 1848 as seen above right at the beginning of the post. The dress isn’t exact, but close enough:

And just because it’s really neat, here’s Prince Albert getting ready for the same party:

While I expect that I’ll be dressed in a considerably more casual fashion on the 25th (because of course I’ve given my lady’s maid the day off), I’ll be enjoying the holiday...and Regina and I hope that you will be doing the same. A very happy Christmas to you, dear NineteenTeen readers, and we’ll see you in the new year. 😘

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Always Kiss at Christmas (and Enter Giveaways Too)

Are presents starting to appear under your tree? They are here. I’ve finished wrapping the ones I bought for family, and packages from friends have been arriving.

So has a book! Two years ago, I published a novella about the origin of the love story between Meredith Thorn (born Mary Rose) and Julian Mayes in a Yuletide Regency collection with five other authors. I’m pleased to say I could bring it out this Christmas all on its own, in both print and ebook, as an addition to the Fortune’s Brides series: Always Kiss at Christmas. It’s available now at 99cents.

Mary Rose has one goal for her mother’s annual Christmas Eve party: convince her childhood friend Julian Mayes to marry her. She has always admired Julian. Surely one moment under the kissing bough will convince him they were meant to be together. Newly hired by a prestigious London law firm, Julian is ready to shake the dust of the countryside off his polished boots. But he’s always had a soft spot for Mary. As the danger to her future becomes clear, will one kiss be enough to prove to him how far he will go to protect her?

If you’d rather listen to your love stories, Never Marry a Marquess is now out in audiobook. The amazing Jannie Meisberger once again lends her talents to finishing the Fortune’s Brides series in style.

And, if you act quickly, you have two opportunities to introduce yourself to some fine reads.

TODAY ONLY—December 15, 2020, you can still enter this giveaway to travel the world, from the comfort of your cozy chair. Multiple winners will take home a print bundle of 13 sweet historical novels by some of the most beloved authors in the field, including Karen Witemeyer, Rachel Fordham, Jen Turano, Laura Franz, and Heather B. Moore. US readers only. Enter here.

Through December 27, 2020, fourteen different authors are sharing about their sweet reads for Christmas. To learn more about the stories and enter for a chance to win a $70 Amazon gift card, go here.  

Lots of ways for your Christmas reading to be merry and bright!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Marissa's Bookish Doings: Past, Present, and Future

First, some award news: I’m delighted to report that Evergreen won first place in the Young Adult category of the 2020 International Digital Awards, sponsored by Oklahoma Romance Writers of America. Between Silk and Sand won the same category back in 2018, incidentally.

In other award news, Evergreen is a finalist in the Paranormal category of the 2020 Golden Leaf Award, sponsored by New Jersey Romance Writers…and yes, other books of mine have been honored in this contest, including Skin Deep winning the Paranormal category in 2017 and both Betraying Season and Courtship and Curses being finalists in the Young Adult category.

I’ve discovered that I really enjoy making “book trailers”—teaser videos for books, much like movie trailers. Whether they’re much good is another issue. 😜 Still, it’s exciting, as an author, to find images that resonate with my vision of my stories…and after all, it’s just another form of storytelling. All of which is a roundabout way to get to showing you the video I created for an older book of mine, By Jove:

What do you think?

And finally, some future bookish news. Between a family bereavement at the beginning of the year and the weight of the present pandemic, my writing has slowed to a snail’s pace. But even snails eventually reach their destinations: in 2021, look for a new young adult book from me as well as a new story in the Leland Sisters world featuring Persy and Pen (and Charles!)…and a new venture: I’ll be co-editing an anthology of ghost stories for Book View CafĂ©, due out in September. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

19th Century Christmas Wish List, 2020

Have you been shopping earlier than usual this year? I have, partly because whatever I buy will have to be shipped to me before I ship to those I love. Yes, I could ship direct, but I want to see the items, and I like wrapping things. But if you’re still looking for the reader, or writer, in your life, or you’re interested in things that make a nineteenth century aficionado’s heart go pitter-pat, then allow me to direct your attention to some of the lovelies for this year. 

To start, there’s a nice overview of the Regency period, well-told, that I somehow missed last year: Robert Morrison’s The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writers, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern.  

For some calming thoughts and a pretty craft, try Regency Dress Fashion Coloring Book: A Fashion Adult Coloring Book in Grayscale for Fans of Jane Austen, by Caroline James. 

More interested in making a statement, Jane Austen style? Try a t-shirt proclaiming your membership in the Society of Obstinate, Headstrong Girls. (Wish I could have been a charter member!) 

And if you’d like some wonderful vintage posters and maps, look into Cartolina of Canada.  

Then there’s the “just cuz” category: 
What nineteenth-century-like goodies are on your list this year?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

A Parsnip in a Pear Tree?

I was recently introduced to the idea of parsnips as holiday food. I thought it a fine idea, even though I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a parsnip. But I discovered that Mrs. Beeton had a great deal to say of them in her Book of Household Management, which we’ve discussed before

According to Mrs. Beeton, parsnips are native in Britain and in season from November through June. They could be found growing wild in meadows and along the roadsides but were also cultivated. She warns that the young root is sweet and smells good, but an older root can cause vertigo and delirium. Parsnips can be used to make bread and wine as well as eaten as a vegetable. As a vegetable, they were served with salted cod and egg sauce, as an accompaniment for boiled beef, as dressing for a sheep’s head, and as garnish for boiled leg of pork.

So, courtesy of Mrs. Beeton, I give you two recipes for parsnips.

Parsnip Soup

1 lb sliced parsnips
2 oz. butter, melted
1 quart beef, vegetable, or chicken stock
Salt and cayenne to taste

Put the parsnips into the stewpan with the butter, and simmer them till quite tender. Then add nearly a pint of stock, and boil together for half an hour. Pass all through a fine strainer, and add the remainder of the stock. Season, boil, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Boiled Parsnips

Parsnips, washed, scraped thoroughly, and black specks removed; cut into quarters if large
Water, salted at the rate of 1 heaped tablespoon of per gallon

Put parsnips into boiling water, and boil them rapidly until tender, ½ to 1 hour, depending on the size of the parsnips. Drain and serve. Serves 1 parsnip per person.

Need a little company while you’re cooking for the December holidays? Consider preordering the audiobook for Never Marry a Marquess. It’s available for preorder now and can be downloaded beginning December 8. 



Happy Thanksgiving! Marissa and I will be out next week. We'll see you on Tuesday, December 1.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Walking Out in Style

1809 through about 1812 were especially good years for La Belle AssemblĂ©e fashion plates: the illustration quality, production values, and sheer delightfulness of the clothes make them standouts in the magazine’s long history. And this Walking or Carriage Dress from the May 1809 edition is no exception.

The text reads:

English Costume

No. 1.— Walking, or Carriage Costume

A fine cambric round gown, with high collar, finished with needle-work and scalloped lace; a correspondent trimming round the bottom of the dress. A Spanish spenser of black or puce-coloured velvet, edged with gold lace. A waistcoat or wrap front of marble, or leopard satin, with collar the same as the spenser, edged also with gold lace. The Vigonian helmet, or Patriotic bonnet, composed of the same materials; the helmet edged with gold lace, and the crown crossed with gold cord, terminating on one side with a cone tassel. Hoop earrings of wrought gold; necklace of variegated amber; gloves, York-tan, and half boots of tan-coloured kid, laced with black cord.

I just love this plate—so tailored and elegant! The long points on the spenser are unusual (and unexpectedly modern), and the masculine styling on the waistcoat a charming contrast with the smooth flow and flirty lace hem of the cambric dress. The masculine theme continues in the watch and chain (complete with a fob!) at the waist, suspended from the bottom of the waistcoat. I’m intrigued by the description of the waistcoat fabric as potentially being of leopard-patterned satin—unexpected for a Regency-era dress!

The description of the quietly stylish hat also intrigued me. A “Vigonian helmet”—sounds like something from Star Trek, doesn’t it? But it turns out that “Vigonian” pertains to items of felt made from vicuña hair…though as it states that the hat is made from the same materials as the waistcoat and spenser, color me confused.

What do you think of this outfit?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Date That Word!

Many authors of historical fiction work hard to use period-correct terms. For many years, I coveted a copy of The Oxford English Dictionary, which dates the origin of words. I was overjoyed to come upon an abbreviated version (The Oxford Universal Dictionary, only 2,515 pages) at a rummage sale a few years ago. I also knew about Google ngrams, which track the use of words in digitized books held by Google. For example, from 1804 to 1810, the use of the word redingote increased, only to plummet from 1810 to 1812 before increasing again. But this week I stumbled upon the Merriam-Webster Time Traveler site, which I must admit is rather addicting!

The Time Traveler shows which words first appeared in print for a particular year. For my Nothing Short of Wondrous, set in 1886, I might have used apochromatic (describing a lens that corrects aberrations), attackman, and Broncobuster. My hero and heroine might have eaten French fries and drank milkshakes. I thought snow-in-summer particularly appropriate for Yellowstone.

On the other hand, 1804, the year my Grace-by-the-Sea series is set, debuted such gems as apiculate (ending abruptly in a sharp point), chicken-livered, shunpike, and underclothing. Dr. Bennett of The Artist’s Healer might not have been pleased to see medicinal leech come into vogue, and Rosemary Denby, who will be the heroine in the upcoming The Governess’s Earl, would not like to be called a vulgarian. But what surprised me most was that 1804 was the first year Sir Roger de Coverley appeared in print. I had thought both the dance and the fictional character to predate that time.

Then again, words that first appeared in my birthyear included biodegradable, DEFCON, hovercraft, microcircuit, radio-galaxy, and upmanship. I think I’ll take apiculate instead!

And speaking of dating words, Marissa and I are going to time it so that we take turns posting on Tuesdays, so look for a post from her next week and me the week following.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Regency Fabrics, Part 30(!)


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 May 1813 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is excellent; the page itself is free of foxing and is only slightly toned. Two of the samples (numbers 3 and 4) shows some foxing, but overall they’re in very good condition. It's interesting to note that three of the fabrics shown are intended for morning or "home costumes," rather than for more public attire.

Here we go!

No. 1. A Smolensko striped imperial washing silk, calculated for morning or domestic wear. It is either formed in a high wrap, with full sleeve, and falling collar of lace or needlework; or in the round robe, of a demi height, bordered at the several terminations with jonquil satin. It is sold at about one guinea and a half per dress, by Mr. Millard, Cheapside.

My comments: A very finely woven fabric with white background very flat, though the yellow chevron chains have a nice sheen. It would definitely require lining because of its sheerness (unless it was for a summer dress, and even then...) Charming!

No. 2. A delicate figured sarsnet, of Persian lilac, or blossom colour, designed for the spring cloak, spencer, or pelisses, but is equally appropriate for the evening bodice or robe. Articles of this material admit only of fancy trimmings of the same nature, or those of plaited net, feather trimming, or thread lace. It is manufactured and furnished by Messrs. Sutton and Meek, 53, Leicester-square.

My comments: It is difficult to tell if the color has changed or faded, but my sample is of a soft grayish-pink that is quite attractive. It is a little sturdier than the previous sample, but not much, and would definitely require lining if made into a cloak or pelisse, if only to give it some body. The pattern is pretty, with little diamond-shapes standing out from the background, and a lovely silky hand.

No. 3. A grey and black printed striped muslin, admirably calculated for that slight sort of mourning which is usually adopted at the conclusion of a court mourning; formed in morning wraps, or high round robes, trimmed with black love ribbon, with hats of black chip and feathers, or black lace hoods, or mob caps; it composes a very pretty morning dress, or home costume. It is sold by Messrs. T. and J. Smith, Tavistock-street, Covent-Garden.

My comments: Again, I expect this has changed color in the intervening 200+ years because my sample is now a quite lovely sky blue color and not at all appropriate for mourning! Also very light-weight, even with the stripes of slightly heavier thread woven in.

No. 4. A buff-coloured Chinese silk, calculated also for domestic wear, admitting of no trimming so appropriate as those of satin of the same colour, plaitings of net, or borders of lace. This article is furnished us by Messrs. George & Bradley, Holywell-street, Strand.

My comments: It would not be a stretch to call this "silk muslin"--the weave, texture, and weight are that of a good quality cotton muslin, but the silk gives it a sheen not seen with a cotton fabric. Again, a good summerweight fabric, though it would require lining or an underdress.

What do you think of this month’s fabrics?

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Beauty of Wonderland

“Wonderland.” That is the name given by early tourists to Yellowstone. You can see why. It’s hard to find a location in the US that features so many scenic wonders. Of course, probably the most famous is Old Faithful, the geyser that goes off on a remarkably reliable timetable. My heroine, Kate Tremaine, was more fond of the features in the Lower Geyser Basin, which she had to explain to Will and his men:

 A little farther along, she reined in beside a pool as blue as the sky overhead. His men stopped around her, and O’Reilly craned his neck to peer over his horse’s head into the depths. 

“As you can see by the steam, every pool around here is hot. This one is Celestine Spring, but most of the others are geysers. Unlike Old Faithful, they’re not predictable. If you’re riding, listen for a hiss and watch for an increase in steam. If you’re on foot, you’ll feel the rumble in the ground before they start.” 

So, that was how she’d predicted the eruption yesterday. He caught her eye and nodded. Her smile brightened the day even further. 

She led them past a group of lodgepole pines struggling to stay alive in the minerals and heat and through an area where the ground looked as if it was covered with bubbles that had hardened into rock. She nodded toward a pool as blue as blueberry preserves. 

“That’s Jelly Geyser. It’s a frequent squirter, so watch for it. Farther out, that pale white hole with the crusty sides is Jet Geyser. It will shoot almost as high as my hotel. Over there is Spasm Geyser. It’s more of a bubbler. That one with the yellow center and the green front is Clepsydra. She should go off . . . now.” 

As if the geyser obeyed her least command, water shot up from multiple vents, sending steam into the air. Except for Bess and Mrs. Tremaine’s horse, the other horses shifted, balked, and it took a moment for his men to get them under control. 

“Every three minutes,” she explained. “You’ll get used to it. But the biggest show around here is Fountain Geyser.” She nodded to the large, still, blue pool they were approaching. 

“Doesn’t look so bad,” Waxworth said. 

“You wait,” Kate said. “It will shoot twice the height of my hotel and last for more than a quarter hour. The only one bigger in this area is Morning Geyser beyond it and closest to the hotel. But it’s rarer.” 

“Who named such things?” 

That bewildered tone was Lercher’s. Mrs. Tremaine must have realized it, for she turned her head to give him a look. 

“Some were named by explorers, but many were named by the US Geological Survey. This way, gentlemen, and try to keep up.” 

Will bit back a smile as they rode past the hotel again. His men were looking more concerned by the moment, picking their way along and giving every colored patch of earth wide berth. Danny waved from the porch. Franklin waved back. 

She pointed out Twig Geyser, a creamy pool that could shoot water up a few feet for as long as an hour; the Leather Pool, which was as brown and rough as its name; and a patch of gray ground that hissed like a pot on the boil. 

Suddenly, she reined in. His men followed suit, jerking on their reins and glancing around as if expecting a geyser to go off on either side. Instead, she pointed across the geyser field to the circuit road beyond. On the other side of the dusty road, a small clearing was nestled among the pines, sage dotting the pale soil, its gray-green leaves holding the golden yellow of the fall bloom. Among them, shoulders dark and humps tawny, a dozen elk browsed. Will caught his breath. 

“Oh, for one shot,” Waxworth said with a groan. 

She swiveled in the sidesaddle to glare at him. “For shame, Private. Look at that power, that majesty, and your first thought is to kill it?” 

Waxworth flamed. “No, ma’am, my first thought is how many hungry cavalrymen one of those would feed.” 

“I’ll keep you fed, Private,” she promised. “You just make sure those beauties go on living to inspire others.” 

“Remember the rules, Private,” Will added. “No hunting on park lands.” 

Waxworth deflated with a sigh. 

But his other men were nodding. How extraordinary. They were surrounded by animals and geology meant to inspire, and the greatest source of inspiration, for him and his men, was Kate Tremaine. 

Those links once more, for your convenience: 

The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Launching Something Wondrous

Today’s release day for the second book in my American Wonders Collection, Nothing Short of Wondrous. Yay! The historical romance is set against the backdrop of Yellowstone National Park, American’s first national park, and received a starred review from Booklist.

It is 1886, and the government has given the US Cavalry control of Yellowstone. For widowed hotelier Kate Tremaine, the change is a welcome one. She knows every inch of her wilderness home like the back of her hand and wants to see it protected from poachers and vandals.

Refused a guide by Congress, Lieutenant William Prescott must enlist Kate's aid to help him navigate the sprawling park and track down the troublemakers. But a secret from his past makes him wary of the tender feelings the capable and comely widow raises in him. When her 6-year-old son is kidnapped by a poacher who wants the boy to guide him to the place where the last of the Yellowstone bison congregate, Will and Kate must work together to rescue him, save the bison, and protect the park. In doing so, they may just find that two wounded hearts can share one powerful love when God is in control.

I think the Revell staff did a phenomenal job capturing the feel of the book in this trailer.

You can find Nothing Short of Wondrous at fine online retailers and bookstores near you (the Amazon link is an affiliate link):

Baker Publishing Group
Barnes and Noble
Christian Book
Independent bookstores near you
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide

Friday, October 16, 2020

No More Than 30

The story of the American bison has been documented many places, from books and articles to movies, and I had thought I knew it. But when I was researching for Nothing Short of Wondrous (out next week!), I learned a few things that surprised me.

You may have read that once vast herds of these majestic creatures roamed the Great Plains. Historians estimate there may have been as many as 60 million, and they lived as far east as the Appalachians. Loss of habit, competition from cattle, and overhunting by nonindigenous hunters decimated their ranks.

So, here’s the first thing that surprised me. I tend to think of late-Victorian era hunters as starting the trend in killing massive numbers of bison. The hunting actually began as early as 1830. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hudson’s Bay Company on the West Coast traded 75,000 buffalo-hide robes in 1844 alone.

Here’s another thing that surprised me: By the 1870s, bison hides were being tanned for leather and their bones were being used in making fertilizer and bone china (that mountain of bison skulls is horrifying!). Because they were becoming valuable, ranchers began picking up stray calves and starting their own herds. Wealthy hunters also moved in for the kill. At one point, 5,000 bison a day were being killed.

As early as 1886, fewer than 350 bison remained in wild herds. The largest single group may have been the one in Yellowstone National Park.

It numbered no more than 30.

That number stunned me. Small wonder my heroine, Kate Tremaine, will do anything to protect them. Kate loves her wilderness home and the others who live beside her.

She may be fictional, but a number of real-life people felt the same way. The turn of the century saw conservationists around the country coming together to protect the bison. By 1910, numbers had increased to more than 2,000 in the US and Canada. Ten years later, that number was more than 12,000.

Today, the Yellowstone herd alone numbers around 5,000, and estimates of other herds on public and private lands are closer to 500,000 total.

Now, that’s a comeback story!

I hope you’ll come back next week when we celebrate the launch of another story, Nothing Short of Wondrous.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

La Belle Assemblee, Up Close and Personal

Some months back I was fortunate enough to find a complete Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts <cue Marissa hyperventilating> and shared it here with you. Now, my heart is again going pitter-pat over another exciting (to me, anyway!) find: a complete, as it was published, copy of La Belle AssemblĂ©e!

The cover is a very sturdy paper, and features a logo of the Three Graces (this changed over the years—issues in its early years had an Egyptian-inspired design) and some hints of the treats within: a portrait of Lady Elizabeth Belgrave as well as two full-color prints of “female fashions.” We can see by this year (1825) that founder John Bell was no longer publishing La Belle AssemblĂ©e; rather, George Whittaker was at the helm, and had been since 1823. The back cover features advertisements of new-released books, and ads for the New British Library and Reading Rooms in Cheapside and for marble chimney-pieces (but very superior chimney-pieces, as the purveyor held a royal warrant.) The inside covers feature books published and/or printed by Mr. Whittaker.

The interior is of a lighter-weight but still very sturdy paper; most of the pages are still sewn in place, though a few signatures have come loose. The table of contents features stories, essays factual (Contemporary Poets and Writers of Fiction, No.1—a serial, no less) and humorous (Christmas in the Country), pages of original poetry, a section of fashion (and the featured fashion prints, this month an Evening Dress and a Morning Visiting Dress, complete with the protective piece of tissue paper between them, as can be seen above), and a sort of round-up of reviews and commentary on newly-published books, music, drama, and art as well as of “Literary and Scientific Intelligence”, in which we learn that Mr. Matthew Clarke was awarded an exclusive patent by the tsar to erect gas lighting in Russia (wow--that's a big contract!), and that a mummy unwrapping was held at the Bristol Institution. There’s an advertising supplement too, but I think I’ll save that for a future post because there are some wonderful ads in it.

Among my favorite parts of La Belle AssemblĂ©e are the Births, Marriages, and Deaths page (this month noting the death “At Worle, aged 103, Mr. Joel Bishop. He was the father, grandfather, and great grandfather of 180 children, of whom 115 are now living.”) and the note to Subscribers and Correspondents, where submissions were (quite publicly!) accepted or rejected, in terms amusing, kindly, or, on occasion, rather barbed. My favorite in this issue reads “From the extreme difficulty we find in decyphering the MS. of a tale which has reached us without either title or signature, we find ourselves under the necessity of retaining it for further consideration.”  Oops! 😊

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Elk’s Temple

Sounds like part of an Indiana Jones movie title, doesn’t it? It’s actually a hotel with a pub and taverns owned by the McMenamin family in one of the oldest parts of Tacoma. I had the pleasure of dining there recently, and I thought I’d share some of the history with you.

The gorgeous Beaux Arts era building was originally finished in 1916 and served as Lodge #164 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. It was one of the largest lodges in the country. The first floor originally held a gymnasium. The second floor featured a gorgeous ballroom and banquet room, while the third held a library, billiard room, card room, and dining room.

But, by 1965, the club was outgrowing its space. Most of the members had migrated to the suburbs, so the Elks followed. A few years later, the new owner opened it to the community to host events. At one time it held a theatre and a dinner theatre. But when he died in 1986, the building sat empty for decades.

Well, not entirely empty. A massive, white stone building at the end of the city center was too good to pass up for any graffiti artist in the area. Many snuck in at night to decorate the inside as well.

The McMenamins invested $34 million to renovate the building, but, as is the family’s style, they worked hard to preserve the history. Various hotel rooms are themed and named for people in Tacoma’s history, from politicians to musicians. The colors are vibrant, the dĂ©cor as eclectic as it is historic.

If you’re out this way, I recommend dropping in for a tour and a bite at one of the pubs. There’s even a secret pub in the building as well as a “secret” fifth floor (none of the elevators and only one of the six stairwells reach it). On our visit, my husband and I found the fifth floor, but alas, the secret pub still eludes us.

Another reason to visit!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Calling All Regency Writers!

If you are an author or hoping to be an author of stories set during the early nineteenth century, rejoice! October 1 saw the birth of a new writer’s organization. Regency Fiction Writers advances the professional interests of writers of the extended Regency period of England (1780 to 1840) through inclusion, networking, advocacy, and education. The international non-profit welcomes writers of all types of fiction set during the period we all love. Marissa and I are founding members.

Below is information from the press release, used with permission.

“The Regency period is a perennial favorite among readers,” said Vanessa Riley, critically acclaimed author of more than 20 novels set during that time. “It has spawned hundreds of bestselling books and dozens of popular movies.” Riley is President-Elect of the new group and will take the reins in January 2021.

“Our authors write award-winning stories that cross genres,” added Ann Chaney, 2020 President. “History, mystery, romance, and speculative fiction, among others. It’s a rich heritage.”

Between October 1 and December 31, first year dues are $25, rising to $50 plus a processing fee in 2021. For that fee, writers of any race, creed, religion, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, or ability can network with their peers around the globe through online forums. They can also learn from monthly programs on history, marketing, and industry insights and gain additional visibility for their books through active online properties and marketing initiatives.

Regency Fiction Writers is an outgrowth of the Beau Monde Chapter of Romance Writers of America®. The chapter recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Chapter members voted to leave Romance Writers of America in part because they hoped to expand beyond the boundaries of the romance genre.

For more information on the new organization and to join, see the website

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Such Language! Part 28

More lexigraphic levity and laughter, courtesy of the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Enjoy!

Mouth: a silly fellow. A dupe. To stand mouth; i.e. to be duped. Sir Archibald is such a mouth that he believed my little sister’s claim that she’s engaged to the Duke of Wellington.

Oak: A rich man; a man of good substance and credit. I have no use for empty titles; I’ll take an oak over a spendthrift viscount any day.

Elbow-shaker: A gamester, one who rattles Saint Hugh’s bones, i.e. the dice. Aunt Amelia might want to be more vigilant about the people my cousin Sarah associates with at parties; rumor has it that Sally has become quite the elbow-shaker, and will have to pawn her earrings to cover her losses.

Baker-knee’d: One whose knees knock together in walking, as if kneading dough. My brother Thomas is glad that knee-breeches are no longer worn at town parties, as he is ferociously baker-knee’d.

Queen Street: A man governed by his wife, is said to live in Queen Street, or at the sign of the Queen’s Head. His friends tease Papa about living in Queen Street, but he is very happy to have Mama take care of all the fussy and boring bits of life.

Smoky: Curious, suspicious, inquisitive. My little sister’s angelically blank expression when discussion at dinner turned to diary-keeping was decidedly smoky.

Willow: Poor, and of no reputation. To wear the willow; to be abandoned by a lover or mistress. Henry has been wearing the willow since Georgiana met the young Duke of Flatpurse, but I suspect it will be Georgiana’s turn next as the Duke was seen taking Miss Plumpocket riding in Hyde Park.  

Friday, September 25, 2020

Pictures from Wonderland

First—thanks to Roxanne C, for your comment last week. Contact me at reginascott@owt.com. I know you mentioned you had a copy of the book you won. Let’s see what else I can find you.

The heroine of A Distance Too Grand, Meg Pero, is a photographer, specializing in stereographs, those double pictures that allowed people to approximate three-dimensions in her time. But when I was researching Yellowstone National Park for the second book in my American Wonders Collection, Nothing Short of Wondrous, I discovered another early photographer had made his mark there.

Frank Jay Haynes was born in Michigan in 1853. He didn’t do well at his first profession, traveling salesman, so, when he went to live with family in Wisconsin, he took the opportunity to apprentice as a photographer. F. Jay opened his own studio in 1876 in Moorhead, Minnesota. But he wasn’t content to stay there. It seems that traveling part of his salesman’s job stayed with him throughout his life.

Less than a year later, he started taking his equipment on the road, traveling via stagecoach from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Deadwood, South Dakota, taking pictures of the scenery and the people along the way. The next year, he traveled from Bismarck to the Pacific Ocean and followed that up with a tour down and up the Missouri River. His pictures made excellent prints, postcards, and, yes, stereographs.

Perhaps because his popularity was growing, he won a contract with the Northern Pacific Railroad to take publicity shots along the line to Bismarck. With a free pass to ride any train, he could go where he liked, when he liked. Along the way, he met then Yellowstone superintendent Philetus Norris, who invited him to come tour Wonderland and photograph its scenic beauty. During his two months in the park in 1881, F. Jay shot more than 200 pictures. And he came back the next year to shoot more.

Again, his stature grew, to the point that, in August 1883, he was chosen to accompany President Arthur in touring Yellowstone and serve as the official photographer. He still found time to photograph the golden spike ceremony of the Northern Pacific in Montana. But Yellowstone had so impressed him that he applied for and won a concession to be the park’s first official photographer. His studio opened in 1884.

But Yellowstone was only really accessible from May through September. What do to the rest of the year? F. Jay purchased a Pullman car from the Northern Pacific and refitted it as a traveling studio, calling it the Palace Studio Car. He traveled all over the west for the next 20 years in that car, taking pictures of local places and local folks. He was part of the one of the first winter tours of Yellowstone in 1886 and photographed the journey from my native Tacoma to Glacier Bay, Alaska, in 1891 for the Puget Sound and Alaska Steamship Company.

When he passed away in 1921, his son Jack, who had been helping him, inherited his business and carried on the tradition until his death in 1962.

And if you’d like to experience a little of Yellowstone, hop over the Goodreads, where you can enter a giveaway of a print copy of Nothing Short of Wondrous, due out October 20, 2020. 

Picture perfect!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Fine Harvest...of Tassels?

After an exceptionally hot and dry summer, the weather has suddenly turned cool and autumnal (though still dry) here in New England…and in fitting with that “hello Fall!” theme, I’m pleased to present, courtesy of the September 1810 (though the outfit is stated as being for October) of La Belle AssemblĂ©e, a “Pelisse Dress of Autumn.” And oh, what an outfit!

The description reads, A pelisse dress of autumnal brown sarsnet, made low in the neck, trimmed down the front and round the bottom with a rich trimming of vandyked white satin, ornamented with silver frogs; the sleeves buttoned on the inside of the arm, to correspond with the front of the dress; over the bosom is tied a light white net mantle, scalloped, and ornamented with acorn tassels. White satin bonnet, with a bunch of wheat in front, and short lace veil. Brown sandals and gloves. Green parasol.

The pelisse dress, on its own, is pretty snazzy, though the description and the image are somewhat at odds: the text describes the front trimming to be silver frogs (a popular borrowing from military uniforms), while the illustrations puts in tassels. The sleeves buttoning up the inside of the arm are a neat conceit, though the decorative panels over the breasts are not quite the thing (though this sort of thing appears in several La Belle Assemblée from around this time.) There appears to be either a white petticoat or underdress as well, which you can see peeping out below the vandyked hem.

The hat is…interesting. I rather think the bunch of wheat is a tad much, though certainly in keeping with the autumnal theme of the ensemble. The little face veil is fun and flirty, and can also be seen in several other outfits of the time in La Belle AssemblĂ©e. And the general tassel theme of the outfit is continued in the green parasol, ornamented with more of the same.

But it’s the white net mantle that really draws the attention: purely decorative, of course, as it doesn’t offer much in the way of warmth or shelter from the elements. But can’t you just see those deep ends of the “scollops” fluttering in a cool autumnal breeze?—unless, of course, the little acorn tassels (again, perfect for autumn!) weigh it down.

And of course, we can’t forget the fashion accessory at the lower right-hand side of the image. Were it two hundred or so years later, might this fashionable miss carry her dog in her reticule? 

What do you think? Will you be sporting tassels this fall? 😉

Friday, September 18, 2020

More Happy Birthdays, with Presents!

Like Marissa, I find it hard to believe we’re on our 13th year of blogging. We’ve shared posts on fashion, locations, historical figures, our books, our trips, and all kinds of research. Here’s a few statistics. Nineteen Teen has been

  • Viewed more than 930,000 times
  • Visited by readers in the US, UK, Russia, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, China, Brazil, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, Spain, Japan, and Qatar.
  • Commented on more than 4,000 times

And we’d love more comments!

So, where would you like to see us go from here? What sorts of posts delight you the most? Do you miss the Young Bluestockings Book Club? Would you like to see more guest posts?

Anyone who comments on this post before Thursday evening 9/24 East Coast US time, will be entered into a drawing for an autographed print copy of A Distance Too Grand (October 2019), the first book in my American Wonders Collection. I was delighted to see it getting some love this week from reviewers.

The bloggers behind Lone Star Literary Blogger’s Choice Awards for 2019 named it Best Christian novel of the year and gave it the Perfect 5 award too. That award is for any book the bloggers reviewed last year that earned a 5-star review from every blogger on the tour. Nine of the 52 books received that award. So honored! 

And, in something guaranteed to have a historical author running for her smelling salts, Booklist named it one of the Top Ten Romances for the last year! 

So, got a comment for us?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Happy Birthday to Us…Yet Again!

We’ve done this so many times now that I’ve decided I'm having one of these installed on my keyboard.

Once again, it’s NineteenTeen’s birthday…and this year, we are appropriately able to claim “teen” status as this is our thirteenth year of blogging.

(Marissa pauses to sit back in her chair and stare out the window in shock for a long moment.)

It being our birthday and this being a history blog and all, cake is of course in order…perhaps this “wedding cake” Victorian house would appropriate for a party, for a change of pace? Not very edible, but so very pretty!


Thirteen years. I’m still in shock.

Anyway, 13 years and 1,245 posts later, Regina and I are still at it. We thank you most sincerely for following along our bloggy journey, and that you’ve been amused, entertained, and (occasionally) informed by our posts. If there’s a topic we haven’t written about that you would like us to investigate, or a subject youd like us to revisit and provide more info on, drop us a line and well do our best to oblige.

And in the meanwhile, please celebrate with us! After I’ve recovered from my shock, that is.