Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Do you play...croquet?

It's my favorite line from Alice in Wonderland. No, I don't know if it's from the books (though I suspect it is) or even which book it'd be from. It's from the Disney version. The Queen of Hearts is fantastic in it (as always), and asks Alice that line when Alice inadvertently stumbles onto her royal highness' kingdom. The king doesn't count here.

I've played croquet all my life, it was a favorite past time at my grandparents where my brother and cousin would play together in their large back yard. There were obstacles, fences, houses, window wells, flowers, and trees. It was great. Recently we invented our own 'house rules' version. The rules were difficult and changed with the person in the lead, but it made for some pretty interesting games.

It was also a favorite past time of the Victorians. The game as we know it was apparently invented in Ireland in the 1830s. It spread, though somewhat slower here in the states and Canada, but remains popular. And there are even professional games. I expect the competition is fierce.

What other 'modern' games have you played that can trace their origins to our era?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Erich Maria Remarque born 1898

You know, the author of the World War I novel All Quiet on the Western Front.

What does his birth have to do with the Victorian Era?

Very little, actually. But it was a great book, and I highly recommend it.

The celebrated American journalist H. L. Mencken called All Quiet on the
Western Front "unquestionably the best story of the World War." Both the book
and the 1930 film version were banned by the Nazis after their rise to power in
Germany in 1933 as “prejudicial to German national prestige.” Remarque went on
to write nine more novels, all dealing with the horror and futility of war and
the struggle to understand its purpose; his last novel, The Night in Lisbon, was
unsparing in its condemnation of World War II as Adolf Hitler’s attempt to
perpetrate the extermination of Jews and other “nonpeople” on behalf of the
“master race.”

And I had no idea he was married to Paulette Goddard! Cool.


The era as a whole had significant impact on the 20th century - we can still see the ramifications today. You can study WWII all you want, but without understanding WWI, you have very little hope of getting anything. And without studying the convoluted alliances of the late 1800s, you have very little hope of understanding WWI.

It's a vicious cycle.

But it does prove that all history is connected, and confirms that old adage "Those who don't understand history are destined to repeat it."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

You could WIN one of Four GRAND PRIZES!

Historical Romance Club is celebrating its 4th Anniversary with a HUGE Contest! With over Forty books generously donated by some of your favorite Romance Authors, the Historical Romance Club will be giving away Four GRAND PRIZES. The Diamond Prize Package; The Ruby Prize Package; The Emerald Prize Package; and The Sapphire Prize Package. Each package contains a mix of both e-Books and Print Books.

Prize List:

The Diamond Prize Package:

Faery Special Romances (print and bath salts) by Jaquie Rogers
The Importance of Almack's (e-book) by Denise Patrick
In the Wind's Eye (e-book) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Long Strange Trip (print) by Vicki Gaia
Midnight Magic (print - hardcover) by Shari Anton
Midnight Marriage (e-book) by Jean Fullerton
Secrets in the Annex (e-book) by Ann Cory
Summer Wind (e-book) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Tethers (e-book) by Sara Reinke
The Tribute (e-book) by Beth Williamson
Twilight's Kiss (print) by Marly Mathews

The Ruby Prize Package:

The Accidental Countess (e-book) by Melissa Schroeder
A Knight of Passion (e-book) by Ingela F. Hyatt
Allegra's Seduction (e-book) by Monica M. Martin
Always, My Love (e-book) by Phyllis Campbell
An Unexpected Engagement (print) by Sara Reinke
The Cheiftain's Bride (e-book) by Kate Hill
I'll Be Yours (e-book) by Marly Mathews
The Irish Countess (print) by Janet Quinn
The Mad Knight's Bride (print) by Kate Hill
Melting Iron (print) by Ann Cory
Sword of Rhoswen (e-book) by Brenda Williamson

The Emerald Prize Package:

A Dark Guardian (e-book) by Donna Grant
A Knight of Passion (print) by Ingela F. Hyatt
Come The Night (print) by Angelique Armae
Crossing the Line (print) by Catherine Stang
Dance of Desire (print) by Catherine Kean
My Lady's Protector: Knight of Pentacles (e-book) by Monica M. Martin
Prisoners of the Wind (e-book) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Twilight's Kiss (e-book) by Marly Mathews
Under a Warlock's Spell (e-book) by Ann Cory
Vows Of Deception (e-book) by Phyllis Campbell
The WyndMaster's Lady (e-book) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo

The Sapphire Prize Package:

Book of Days (e-book) by Sara Reinke
Cradle the Light (e-book) by Vicki Gaia
Cutlasses and Caresses (e-book) by Jean Fullerton
Dead Walkers The Protectorate (e-book) by Angelique Armae
The Earl's Enchantment (e-book) by Sara Freeze
Holding Out For A Hero (e-book) by Phyllis Campbell
In Sunshine or In Shadow (print) by Cynthia Owens
The Kilted Governess (e-book) by Janet Quinn
The Passenger (print) by Joie Lesin
Silk and Magic 2 (print) by M.A. duBarry
WindFall (print) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo

How to Enter:

Simply visit HRC ( http://www.HistoricalRomanceClub.com ) and click on the Contest Logo at the top of the Romance News on the index page. Be sure to read through the Contest Rules before filling out the entry form...And remember, you must be 18 or older to enter. ;)

Contest Closes:

July 31, 2007 at 9:00pm EDT. Hurry and enter today!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Victorian Names

This is something that I often have a difficult time with as a writer--choosing names for my characters. It's hard enough writing contemporary novels. A name can say a lot about a character. To write in a previous era, however, you not only have to choose a name that tells the reader about the character, but you need to find one that works in the period. A period that, as most of us know, if often misunderstood as prudish or ultra-conservative. Thus, often the names that were used back then deliver the same feeling.

Anyway, that was this morning's dilemma. I found a site:


with names from the era, taken from genealogy records. It was gratifying to me to note that most of the names I've chosen over the years are on this list.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Researching What I Don't Know

A discussion on the Hearts Through History Romance Writers loop inspired this blog.

In my time travel romance, Erin's Rebel, the hero, a Confederate officer, is in one of the trenches around Petersburg, Virginia, when Yankee shelling causes the trench to collapse, burying him.

He's pulled out but suffers a few broken ribs and a broken leg. My dilemma was--what did they do for broken bones during the Civil War? Were they limited to splints or had Plaster of Paris come into use by then?

Off to the web I went to do research. I checked a few Civil War medicine sites, but could find nothing pertaining to broken bones. Most sites listed very specific info about amputations, but nothing about how they set bones.

Yikes! I didn't want to cut off my hero's leg, just lay him up for a few weeks, while the heroine frantically searched for him.

So, I tried another approach. I searched for the origins of the use of Plaster of Paris for the setting of bones.

What I found was that Plaster of Paris came into use as early as 1852, nine years before the American Civil War began. In fact, even before that time ... "The orthopedic cast had been used since the 1800s. During the Crimean War, other materials that would harden into a cast were used to set broken bones." http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-orthopedic-cast.htm

This version was heavier than the Plaster of Paris cast that came into use later and required the patient to be confined to bed. http://www.castliner.com/history.html

"Plaster of Paris bandages were introduced in different forms by 2 army surgeons .... A brief note describing his" ... (Antonius Mathijsen 1805-1878) ... "method was published on January 30, 1852; it was followed shortly by more complete accounts. In these accounts Mathijsen emphasized that only simple materials were required and the bandage could be quickly applied without assistance. The bandages hardened rapidly, provided an exact fit and could be windowed and bivalved easily. Mathijsen used coarsely woven materials, usually linen, into which dry Plaster of Paris had been rubbed thoroughly. The bandages were then moistened with a wet sponge or brush as they were applied and rubbed by hand until they hardened." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cast_(orthopedic)

So, while they had shortages of all kinds of supplies during the Civil War and likely used splints and amputations as remedies in the field hospital, if a patient made it as far as a civilian or military hospital, plaster casts could have been used, since they existed well before the 1860s.

Since my hero is being cared for by his friend, a Confederate physician who's set up a hospital in the home of a Petersburg civilian, I decided that his friend could have squirreled away some supplies. And since the materials to make Plaster of Paris casts are simple and the cast could be applied by the physician without assistance, he'd be able to make a Plaster of Paris cast.

And my hero could keep his leg.

Sources: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-orthopedic-cast.htm

Monday, June 04, 2007

Wallace D. Wattles, Genius or Victorian Flim-Flam?

Wallace Delois Wattles (1860-1910) began his most famous book, THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH, with these words:
"Whatever may be said in the praise of poverty, the fact remains that it is not possible to live a complete or successful life unless one is rich. You cannot rise to your greatest possible height in talent or soul development unless you have plenty of money. For to unfold your soul and to develop talent you must have many things to use, and you cannot have these things unless you have money with which to buy them."
I'd call Wattles a genius - with a humorous streak! He said his writing was intended for "the men and women whose most pressing need is for money; who wish to get rich first and philosophise afterward."
His work is in the public domain. I've downloaded three of his books at no cost.
My most pressing need at the moment is losing weight, quickly, easily, and painlessly. So, my first priority has been to study his book, THE SCIENCE OF BEING WELL.
Somehow, this 19th century man, who lived in poverty most of his life - until he died a wealthy man in Elmwood, Indiana - came to know many things now supported by cutting-edge science.
He writes: "The Power that Heals is in the patient himself, and whether it shall become active or not does not depend upon the physical or mental means used, but upon the way the patient thinks about these means." In other words, he knew about the placebo effect.
Wattles also gives relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and biofeedback techniques - all in flowing Victorian language.
Here are some of his Chapter Headings:
8. Summary of the Mental Actions, 9. When To Eat, 10. What To Eat, 11. How To Eat, 12. Hunger and Appetites, 13. In A Nutshell (This goes into the rule of not eating until you have an earned hunger.) 14. Breathing, 15. Sleeping, etc.

The third readily available Wattles book is THE SCIENCE OF BEING GREAT. After I'm both thin and rich, I plan to tackle it!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Picture Pages

With the help of Mary Ann, I've added another picture page, this one of the American West.

We've got an old courthouse up there, which is now a museum, and the Driskell Hotel of Austin, opened 1886. It has some very cool old architecture including cow gargoyles, like the one pictured here. The hotel is still thriving today:
And there's a wonderful picture of a woman on a sidesaddle on the western page also! Because as rough and rugged as the old West was, when women could, they did their best to conform to Victorian societal rules, including using a sidesaddle.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be uploading more images on this pages, and creating other pages with more Victorian pictures, including Civil War photos and pictures from Newport RI, which I recently visited (and will be returning to).