Monday, December 31, 2007

Yearly Resolutions

Happy New Year From All of Us to All of You!!

As we did last year, the scandalous Victorians and I—writers as well as history enthusiasts—are writing out our resolutions. Here they are. . . .


Do a better job separating the business end of writing from the creative end.

Finish Stalking Star. Rewrite and revise Westwind and Heart and Soul

Do a better job promoting Wild Card than I did for Wicked Woman

Blog more often. I do have research to share—I just never seem to get to it!

Re-vamp our blog to be prettier. We lost our Victorian house in the corner, and I can’t figure out how to get it back.

See if we can come up with a blog schedule, and extend guest blogging invitations to other Victorian history enthusiasts and/or writers. (anyone interested, btw, please feel free to email me at


I ended 2007 on a happy note by selling my vampire romance short story, Eternity Waits, to The Wild Rose Press. It's been quite a while since I've sold anything, so I want to continue my good fortune into the new year.

1) My biggest goal of 2008 is to write more.
I've joined HHRW's Historical Hearts Writing Challenge loop and plan to set both weekly and monthly goals there. Having a place where I'm held accountable is a big help in accomplishing goals.

2) Make more time to read both in and out of my genre.

3) Mail out partials to my first choice publishers for my new Civil War romance and enter it in as many contests as I can afford. I don't think that will be many, but maybe I'll luck out and place in at least one. I haven't started revisions on this story, but a request should get my engine running.

4) Do some cutting on my time travel romance and try to find another publisher willing to look at it.

5) Step up my promotion efforts in advance of my short story's release.

6) Complete the outline for my sci-fi romance and finish the first draft by the end of 2008.


1 - Be a more consistent blogger2 - Finish the 3 mss I have been tinkering with for the past year. JUST FINISH THEM!

2 - Finish the 3 mss I have been tinkering with for the past year. JUST FINISH THEM!

3 - Update my website more often

4 - Research more publishers, and send out queries


I am blog challenged. Love reading them, but don't do them well myself so I hideout meekly in my office ignoring requests. My goal is to create my own blog style and go for the gold.


I guess I'll say blog more and be more productive in my writing. I didn't put writing first as often as Ishould have this year, and since I have a lot going on in 2008, I really need to!

Mary Ann:

January 1st is one of my favorite days of the year. All my faults and bad habits disappear. I become a productive, efficient person. I handle emergencies calmly and always stay on track. I see the areas where I need to organize and fine tune my work schedule, my files, the top of my desk, my closet, etc. I luxuriate in the knowledge that this will be THE YEAR! Finally!

I will stop wasting time at the computer and produce great romantic prose each and every day.

I will have time to READ. Read BOOKS. I'll finish WICKED WOMAN and write my version of a review of it. I'll read RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE (Christmas gift from my sister) and find time to read some of the other books stacked around the house.

I will finish A MAN AT THE DOOR.



Uh oh. Tomorrow is January 1st. I start a four week workshop. There goes JANUARY!


1. Re-write, edit and submit Playing For Keeps by the end of March.

2. Research Wild Geese stories, begin the first installment.

3. Continue to publicize In Sunshine or in Shadow.


Rewrite Vein of Gold as a screenplay version, submit two more historical manuscripts for publisher review and consideration, and keep up with the Scandalous Victorians and the blogs.

And finally Jenn:

My New Year's HOPE is to get done everything on my last year's resolution list.

For those of you wondering, here's our list for last year--I wince at it, because I didn't do any of them!

So how about you? Any resolutions you want to share? Or any goals, hopes?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A gift I didn't know I wanted

Sex Wars, by Marge Piercy

This is a book that I didn't know I wanted for Christmas until my husband bought it for me. I originally thought it was a research book, but then I read the full title--it's a novel about the "turbulent post-Civil War period" . Here's a short bit from the inside cover:

"Post-Civil War New York City was the battleground of the American dream: an era of vast fortunes and crushing poverty; a time notorious for free love and the emerging rights of women, yet one that say the rise of brutal sexual repression and the enforcement of prejudice. . . . Embodying the times is Fredydeh, a spirited young Jewish woman from Russia. . . Interwoven with Fredydeh's story is a vividly wrought account of such real-life heroines--often at odds with the law as well as societal customs--Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Victoria Woodhull. . . .Depicted as well is the fundamentalist crusader Anthony Comstock, who fought to eliminate sexual expression, pushing for the passage of laws that still haunt our legal system."

Not a romance obviously, but oh man, this book sounds like it was written just for me. And it starts out in 1868 with Ms. Woodhull herself, reading in bed with her temporary lover sleeping beside her. Fantastic. Haven't read it yet, but I just had to write a post on it. When I'm done (don't hold your breath, my to-be-read pile is very high these days) I'll post a short blog on it again.

This one promises to be much fun. Oh and here's Ms. Piercy's website, for anyone interested:

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Our view is way different than the Victorians' view. Westerner's concept of them include (shudder) Paris Hilton and Britney Spears; I can't imagine why. Of course they also include senators, the filthy rich, and the filthier rich.

Will anyone remember them in 10 years? Probably not. Fame is so transitory.

But we do share some similarities: travellers, philanthropist, writers, those who did something new and revolutionary (the phone, the computer) or who broke social and gender barriers.

Here's a short list of Victorian celebrities. How many do you recognize?
Lord Shaftesbury, Elizabeth Fry, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Mary Seacole,
Robert Stephenson, Brunel, David Livingstone, Mary Kingsley, Florence
Nightingale and Alexander Graham Bell.
I can name something about 6 of them (if Robert Stephenson is who I think he is), and have heard about 1 more.

Lord Shaftesbury was huge in his time. Both politician and philanthropist, there's a memorial in Piccadilly Circus, London erected in 1893.

Elizabeth Fry was a prison and social reformer. She found the Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners in Newgate Prison, and started a school for those children imprisoned with their mothers. She's currently on the 5 Pound note.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert...we know who they are.

Mary Seacole was rejected by Florence Nightingale as a nurse even though she knew a great deal about herbal remedies. Of mixed Jamaican and Scottish descent, she then borrowed money to head to the Crimea, distinguished herself as a superb nurse, and was lauded next to dear Florence.

Robert Stephenson is not who I thought it that I think about it, that was Robert Louis Stephenson, and Stephenson is probably spelled differently. This one was a civil engineer, only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel; I've heard of him and now see why he's known by his last name alone. He did the Great Western Railway, several famous steamships, and other important bridges; all this helped modernize public transport and modern day engineering.

David Livingstone - Yes, that Dr Livingstone, I presume.

Mary Kingsley: Fascinated by Africa, she lived in Angola for a time learning how to survive in the jungle, travelled by canoe up the Ogowe River and collected specimens of previously unknown fish, and, after meeting the Fang tribe, she climbed the 13,760 feet Mount Cameroon by a route unconquered by any other European, and returned to England a celebrity. After writing 2 books about her journey, she became a nurse in the Boer War.

Florence Nightingale and Alexander Graham Bell - Yup, we know about them, too. They're not quite as famous now, but at least most school age children can claim to have heard about them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas In Time of War

As I reflect on what it must be like for our soldiers in Iraq and other far off places, as well as their families who had to spend Christmas without their loved ones, I have to wonder what it must have been like for families during the American Civil War.

The Civil War occurred during the height of the Victorian era. And Christmas was very important to the Victorians.

Here are a few links to give you a glimpse of what Christmas was like during the Civil War.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tuesday 10 - Christmas Gifts

Even though it's Christmas, I'm posting this beacuse I don't have to be anywhere until 2. Plus, I spent the last several days thinking of these.

Ten most memorable (but not necessarily best) gifts I’ve received over the years:

10 MP3 Player – I have one for my music, but I wanted one to download audiobooks from my library. I had to pick it out myself, but at lest I knew I was getting the right one. I opened it Christmas Eve and will be downloading Christmas Day.

9 Tea maker - I don’t drink coffee, so my godchild got me a tea maker – looks just like a coffeemaker, but with special inserts for tea bags and loose tea. One of the best things I’ve ever received!

8 Snoopy pendant – it was from Lenox, way too expensive, but absolutely adorable. I love Snoopy, ever since I was 2 and my maternal grandfather won a bigger-than-I-was stuffed Snoopy I dragged around with me by his poor neck. Same grandparents bought me this a couple years ago and I wear it every Christmas Eve.

7 Christmas Tree – yes, one year I got a Christmas tree for Christmas. Ok, early present. Pre-lighted (don’t do real), 6-footer. We loaded it into the car (you may begin laughing now). My mom of the bad hip, bad knee, bad foot and I lifted this boxed tree into the back of my Ford Escape. Done – then I went home. And had to carry the boxed tree up the initial flight of stairs to my condo…alone. I couldn’t do it; the thing was just too darn heavy! And there were steps. Tried pushing it, and watched it slide back down 12 of the 14 steps. I had to wait for my best friend’s husband to help, otherwise it might still be on the stairs, waiting.

6 Seesaw – I don’t know how old I was, but my paternal grandfather built one for me. Okay, okay, and my brother. I have no idea how my parents managed to fit it into the house, I never asked. But on Christmas morning when I came downstairs, there it was, and it was beautiful – I still have a very vivid memory of it in the living room. My cousin got one, too, but lucky for me I did have a brother; she was an only child. It’s really hard seesawing alone.

5 Draino – yes, you read correctly. When I moved into my current place, the tub didn’t have one of those honeycombed drains, so my very long hair ran straight down, clogging it every other week. One year, I got a 3-pack of Draino, neatly wrapped.

4 PJs, slippers, and a stuffed animal – every year my maternal grandparents gave them to me. Every year. I suspect this year will be no exception. The pjs I can deal with, they’re usually warm and big, and now my grandmother lets me pick them out. The slippers are great; my feet are always cold. The stuffed animal was cool when I was a kid, even as a teen. Now…I have nowhere to put them. Some are jammed into a box in my parents’ attic. Some are jammed into corners in various closets in my own house. I don’t know what to do with them!

3 Santa shops at Bamberger’s – You didn't know that? Well, he does. (Or did, since Macy’s bought them out and changed the name – probably still shops at Macy’s.) I was maybe 6. Clothes are staples when it comes to Christmas, and there I was, couldn’t even spell the word (had to look it up now bur or ber?), but I recognized that green box. “Hey,” I said in a story that’s still repeated today, “Santa went to Bamberger’s!”

2 Mustard Yellow Sweater - This was a strong contender for #1. It was my senior year in high school, the week before Christmas my grandmother had died, and this was what she got me; a hideous yellow sweater. I don’t know why she thought I’d look good in it, or why she hadn’t asked my mom (my mom claims to have told her neutral colors). I hated it. But I wore it twice because she had just died and I loved her dearly, questionable taste in Christmas presents aside.

1 A Roaster - Now I don’t cook. I can bake because of my addiction to chocolate, I can microwave, I can reheat, I can make noodles. My cooking/baking maternal grandmother insisted I needed a roaster. The thing is huge! I mean fit for a 30 pound turkey huge. I have no idea what to do with it except keep it in the box (where it’s happily resided for 4 years) and hope I never have to make Thanksgiving dinner.

What was your most memorable (but not necessarily best) gift? And don't forget to comment for our January 7th basket drawing!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas--A Basket for You

Merry Christmas from all of us Scandalous Victorians! This year to celebrate the season--and the winter doldrums--we're going to give away a basket of goodies. We'll be including many of the books we have on our site, a gift certificate to Barnes and Nobel, and (of course) chocolate.

To win, just log in and make a comment on one of our posts between now and Jan 6th (the 12 days of Christmas). On January 7th we'll pick the lucky winner out of a hat and post the name on our site. Good luck to all, and may your holidays be everything you hope for.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

As Christmas fast approaches, I'm reminded of all the Christmas traditions that we've inherited from the Victorians. So, here's a Victorian Christmas tree to brighten up our blog in advance of the holiday.

May you all have a merry, joyous, blessed and peace filled Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Victorian Movies

One thing led to another this afternoon and I got to thinking about Victorian-set movies. Googling them (Victorian movies) gave me 2 lists I could work with. The first was not as good as I'd have liked. No matter how much I love Herbie, there's no way you could convince me that Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo is Victorian-set.

Then I got to thinking of some popular movies, of which there are dozens. Phantom of the Opera jumped out at me. It's been done. And redone. And then done once more with Gerald Butler (yes ladies, you may now swoon).

It's the story that's loved, the anger and angst of the phantom, the romance of Christine and Raoul, and the classic good versus evil. But I wonder how many people realize the setting? Sure, they're in magnificent gowns and sharp tuxedos and horse and carriages clatter through, but do they understand the era? The innovations, the restrictions, the changing political views and reforms. Even the corsets.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday 10 Follow Up

I've got one for you, Dee, and it's even Victorian!

In Canda, the U.K., and I think the other Commonwealth countries, we still carry on the tradition of Christmas Crackers. I spent Christmas in Florida once, and while I didn't particularly miss the snow and cold, doing without the traditional stupid cracker nonsense totally depressed me.

So, I guess I'd better explain. Christmas Crackers are beautifully wrapped tube-like packages that sit on your dinner plate before the meal. Once everyone is seated, you cross your arms and hold your cracker out to the person on your left, while taking the end of the cracker of the person on your right. Once everyone is in position, you pull like mad. The crackers open with a big bang, and inside is a VERY cheap little toy of some kind (usually broken by the time the meal is over), a paper hat (many families INSIST you wear the hat if you want to eat) and a dumb joke or fortune-cookie-like saying. It has to be one of the stupidest traditions in the tradition of traditions, but that's what makes it fun!

On to the history. Apparently sometime in the 1850s, the cracker began simply as the idea to wrap candy in a paper twist. Then, a fortune was added to the candy, and then a trinket. Anyway, you can read all about it on this website,

According to this site, there used to be incredible crackers, much fancier than the ones we get every year. My favourite story is this one: "One of the nicest stories told by the staff is that of the gentleman who send a diamond ring and a ten-shilling note, with a letter requesting that a special cracker be made with the ring inside, as a proposal to his ladylove. Sadly, the gentleman did not remember to include his address! " The ring, I am assured, remains in the cracker company's archives.


Tuesday Ten--Victorian Christmas "Facts"

I was born skeptical—at times, downright cynical. Honestly, by the time I was 14 my sister had labeled me a cynic, so I am not so sure I believe all of what is here. The more traditional I did put into into a Christmas scene in Wicked Woman (not the Goose club!). I added the references at the end, if anyone can substantiate some of this, it would be very nice.

One thing seems for sure—our view of what Christmas is today developed mainly during the Victorian era.

1.) The first Christmas card came out in the 1840’s--1843 to be exact. Sir Henry Cole had John Calcott Horsley to design a card so he wouldn’t have to write a Christmas letter. These days, we seem to do both! The card sold for a shilling a copy.

2.) Queen Victoria herself introduced the Christmas tree in 1846. It was a custom brought by her love and husband, Prince Albert, from Germany. It quickly became the rage in England and else where, including the U.S. They did actually hang presents on the tree as the in the song I'll Be Home For Christmas. This was obviously before people bought cars for Christmas presents. . . .seriously a car? There are commercials, but it seems overboard to me. Okay, some editoralizing there.

3.) The use of mistletoe to decorate for Christmas came before the tree, and was, obviously, never completely usurped by the tree. We just added the tree to it, like we continue to add more and more onto Christmas tradition until some of us feel like we are breaking under the weight. All right, that was a little more editorializing there. . . .I'll stop now.

4.) Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol was (as most of us know) a Victorian novel, published in 1843.

5.) The Christmas goose in A Christmas Carol, was traditional Christmas fare in the south of England, while the north had roast beef. Reading this answered a lot of questions for me, as my family always had roast beef at Christmas, while I knew many others had turkey (American goose)

Gooses were, however, expensive. There wasa working class institution that allowed people without the means to buy a goose, to save up for a Christmas goose—The Goose Club. A worker contributed a small part of his weekly wages to the “club” generally run by the local pub . Sort of like the first Christmas Club account, I guess. Or layaway for a goose? Seems pretty weird to me, but this is what The Victorian Christmas Book says. . . .has anyone else heard of this? Don’t be shy, speak up! Apparently the club would also raffle off wine and port. Hmmmm. They’re pulling my leg, they’ve got to be.

6.) In England plum pudding was also part of the traditional Victorian Christmas feast. Originally it had plums but by Victorian time it was made with raisins and currents. Honestly, I’ve had plum pudding and I don’t think either is particularly good. That could be me. Oh, and they poured alcohol on it and set it aflame.

This also came out of the Victorian Christmas book, by Antony and Peter Miall. It has lots of real Victorian Christmas recipes in it. It appears, however, to be difficult to find new.

7.) The famous poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas was written in 1823. All right, I admit, that is not the Victorian Era. But I’m running out of facts here, so I’m sticking it in.

8.) Our view of Santa Claus as we know him today was established, some say, by Thomas Nash (1840-1902, so he really was a Victorian!) during the Victorian period, 1863-1886. He created a series of drawing for Harper’s Weekly, based, I imagine, partly on the famous poem. He gave Santa a white beard, depicted him in a toy shop, driving a sleigh etc.

9.) It took many years for Christmas to become a legal holiday in the U.S. Alabama was the first state to take legal note of it, in 1836. Boston—which had banned the practice, I believe in the 18th century—didn’t close the public schools for Christmas until 1870. Oklahoma territory declared it a holiday in 1890. I wonder what the Boston school children did before 1870? I can’t imagine parents sent their children to school. . . .

10.) The first Christmas movie was created in 1891—okay that’s a blatant lie, but I ran out of facts and I’m supposed to have 10. Does anyone else have any cool Victorian Christmas stuff to share? Doesn’t have to be documented or anything. I’m all for rumors and here say! Come on, people have to know something, maybe just want to tell us in what style you decorate your Victorian home. . . .

Christmas in America in the 1700’s and 1800’s (from the World book)
The Victorian Christmas Book, Antony and Peter Miall
Dickens’ Christmas, A Victorian Celebration, Simon Callow

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Victorian Occult: Part II

Beyond things that went bump in the night...

Societies worldwide changed dramatically and often to extremes during the Victorian era. So did belief systems, as all religions and spiritual beliefs saw a revival, renewed impetus, or introduction.

Spiritualism took hold with ball-and-claw effect. The popularity of Victorian séances directly corresponds to the advent of the Spiritualists.

To be fair, any number of upstart religions were categorized as occult groups. Included were Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and a number of Pentacostal offshoot groups that valued techniques once reserved for use in Dark Ages black enshrouded castle wings where crystal balls perched amidst blood-traced pentacles.

On the upside, communication with angelics reached mainstream levels, and any paranormal experience began to be viewed in that context. Fascination replaced fear, and proper Victorians could indulge in theosophical analysis of any new occult-relegated movement or discovery.

Whether a Victorian was espying a Puck or Pan, or stumbling into an abandoned Druid sacred grove rift with trapdoors and underground tunnels hiding magic tricks with smoke and mirrors meant to deter intruders...

Victorians enjoyed tales of the occult -- imaginery or not.

Watch for part III on Victorian occult….

Religion and the Civil War

As in most wars, both sides like to believe God is on their side. This was certainly true during the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, as well as generals of both armies were convinced God approved their respective causes.

It seems both sides in the Civil War used religion for their own purposes. Northerners used Chritianity as a calling to eradicate social ills, while Southerners focused on a literal reading of the Bible, but ignored social problems.

During mid-19th century America, people as a whole were devout, and religious institutions brought people together on a regular basis. Almost every person believed in a Divine being. Not believing in God was thought to be an aberration. "The Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century in particular greatly impacted American society."

". . . no other antebellum group had as much power to influence the greatest number of citizens on a regular basis as did America's clerical religious leaders." Robert. J. Miller/The Citizens' Companion/October, 2007

But what was the prevailing religion of this time period? The country was originally founded by Protestant fundamentalists, but the 19th century saw a great influx of immigrants bringing their customs and religious beliefs with them.

Civil War armies were said to be "the most religious armies of all American history." The Citizens' Companion/October, 2007

But the major religions represented were Calvanist-based Protestants.

Mid-19th century America was rampantly anti-Catholic, born of fear of immigrants from Catholic countries. But the Irish emigration of the 18th and 19th centuries slowly began to transfer the face of American religion and it had a major impact during the Civil War. "The Civil War for the first time witnessed large numbers of Roman Catholic chaplains in the field . . ."

Although primarily serving in the Union armies, as depicted in the movie Gettysburg when a priest gives the Irish Brigade a mass benediction before going out into battle, Roman Catholic priests also served in the Confederate Army as chaplains, although to a lesser degree. " . . . historians are only slowly recognizing the contributions of Catholics and minority religions in relation to the Civil War."

Southern leaders, including Jefferson Davis, held a low opinion of clergy in the service. They valued fighting men over praying chaplains. They also believed in the strict separation of church and state.

But, it seems both sides took what religious teachings they could use to justify their cause.

Sources: Miller, Robert J. 'The Citizens' Companion'. October, 2007. Vol. XIV - No. 4. pps. 11-15.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tuesday Ten: Cowboy Slang

I know what you're thinking -- she's not really going to do another cowboy blog, is she? *Grin* Sorry, but I was pressed for time this week and this kind of stuff comes easy for me, so here goes!

Cowboy’s had their own unique way of talking, some phrases more colorful than others.

Here for our Tuesday Ten, are some of my favorites:

Buckle Chaser – an aggressive cowgirl.

Catch Colt – a foal not sired by the herd stallions (an “accident”.)

Cut Proud – when a gelding acts like a stallion.

Crick in his getalong – a hobbling gait caused by an injury (love that one!).

Pounding Leather – riding hard.

Pull Leather – grab the saddle horn for safety.

Keeps his head pretty low in the herd – a horse or man that keeps a low profile.

Grub Liner – a cowboy who arrives just before supper and leaves before work starts.

Hurricane Deck – the saddle on a bucking horse.

High Pockets – a tall guy with long legs.

Victorian word, useless information for the day

I just looked this up while I was goofing off:

deadline--1864--a line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot.
From Merriam-Webster's 11 collegiate dictoriany.

I imagine, given the date, that the word came about during the Civil War. Here's a picture from Andersonville in Georgia.
Anyone else know of words with interesting 19th century origins?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Interview - Denise Eagan

Scandalous Victorian Denise tells us about her writing and her new release, The Wicked Woman.

Why do you write historical?

History fascinates me—I love to analyze where we were to understand better where we are. But then when I hear some new tidbit, my first thought is, “What if a man did this? What if a woman did that? What would happen if. . . .” “What If” is the quintessential question every fiction writer starts with. For me, history tends to spark it more than current events. Besides, I’m going to read historical stuff anyway—I might as well use it!

What part of the Victorian era/setting do you write in?

I write in all of the subsets of the era. Wicked Woman is set in 1855. The sequel, Wild Card is in 1885. I also write in different areas across the U.S. I can’t seem to think of the 19th century as split between The Old West, The Civil War, The Gilded Age etc. I seriously doubt the people back then did, either. From what I understand, the people who went West primarily went to get rich (especially the 49ers!). The first thing they wanted once they moved past subsistence living was to purchase luxury items from back East, that was their definition of Success. Moreover, San Franciscan Society copied New York Society, and New York Society copied London Society. The Civil War affected the entire country and its affects lasted long after 1865—much of the Western settlers were displaced Southerners, including freed slaves. The Women’s Movement started in the 1850’s, quieted during the war, and then came on strong in the latter half of the century. To me the era was all interconnected and I feel compelled to write it that way. I sure hope it comes across in my books.

What is it about the era that most intrigues you?

The rapid technological and societal changes. Technologically the 19th century starts with oil lamps, fireplaces, letters, and horses. By the end its progressed from oil to gas lighting to electric lighting, fireplaces to stoves to furnaces, letters to telegraph to telephone/cable for communication, horse to steamships and trains for travel. If a person lives only 60 years, say from 1830 to 1890, he would have seen the majority of those changes. It must have them with their head spinning, much like many of us feel today. I can’t resist exploring that.

As for societal changes we start with agriculture and shipping as the primary ways to make a living, and move into the industrial revolution. In the beginning large families were preferred to help create wealth. In the end they were a hindrance. Women started the period pretty much as chattel. At the end they were earning college degrees and often supporting themselves. In the beginning—maybe due to the changes in family structure?—sex was accepted as natural, something enjoyed by both parties. At the end it many assumed that women were almost entirely uninterested moved by sex. Birth control seemed to follow suit, from not available, to widely available, to illegal, at least in the U.S. Changes in law, medicine, and I could just go on and on. . .

Again, I feel compelled to explore all of it—the conflicts that the changes created are fascinating! To me conflict is best understood through relationships, and the best relationship books are romances. Not just between hero and heroine, but the conflicts within families that either help or hurt the romantic relationship. I just love it!

Where do you get your information?

From anywhere and everywhere. I read books (which I check out of the library in stacks), I surf the net, I watch documentaries, I visit historical sights (Gettysburg, Williamsburg, coal mines in PA , The Living History Museum in Iowa) I talk to fellow historically-minded writers on the Heart’s Through History writer’s loop. It’s all fun, except for those really frustrating times when there is one tiny piece of information that I can’t find. It’s not so fun then.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a manuscript which is a sequel to Wicked Woman and Wild Card . It’s currently (I’m bad at titles) named Stalking Star, about a Women’s Right’s advocate who is being stalked (I refer to him as a secret admirer) by a man who hates everything about the movement. In the meantime the heroine (a la The Bostonians) has rejected marriage to devote herself to the Cause. But she’s not happy with the Victorian assumption that she has also rejected sex. When she meets a Colorado rancher and sparks fly, she hopes that his Western roots will make him less conservative. By the time she realizes it doesn’t, she’s already hooked.

How many books have you written?
I think it’s 9. I haven’t counted lately because it’s pretty daunting seeing all those unsuccessful. A couple were early attempts at contemporary before I realized that I’m happiest as a historical writer. Almost all of them have a dead body in them somewhere. Sometimes it’s a death that’s haunting the characters (usually a murder :)). Sometimes somebody dies during the story. I just can’t seem to write a story without a body.

Do you write outside of the Victorian era, genre?

As I’ve said I have written a couple contemporaries and I do have some ideas for more of those, although my first love is the historical. I also have a Revolutionary War manuscript about a spy (highly disliked, by the way—spying didn’t gain a whole lot of cache until the 20th century.). The heroine considers herself a Tory. Couldn’t help but write that one, the conflict was so much fun, even if cliché!

What challenges have you faced in your career?

It took me 17 years before I got “The Call” and along the way I’ve faced all the usual—rejection, bad contest scores and critiques, bad agent/editor appointments, and of course the ever-present family intervention. But in the end I’m my own worst enemy. I listen to the negative voices in my head telling me I can’t get something published, I’m a hack not a writer, my plots are pure schlock—you name it those nasty voices have said it to me. The wonderful part about writing fiction is you get to live through your characters (which, other than being a re-enactor, is the only way to “live” history). The bad part is your mind can imagine truly horrible scenarios for your own life.

What is you writing schedule like?

Schedule? What’s that?

Seriously I do try to make up schedules, but I don’t always follow them. I try to confine promotion and the business of writing to the weekends. I find that the creative part of writing and business come from different part of my brain. It’s pretty hard to switch gears for me, too, so I’m better off having full days of one or the other.

Although I don’t write every day, the first thing I do every morning, right after I get coffee, is turn on the computer. If I think it’s going to be one of those days that I’m going to have a difficult time getting myself to work, I’ll open up a file and leave it on the screen to remind myself of priorities.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Victorian Christmas

I didn't write this, but thought it was appropriate to direct people to read it. Anne Whitefield over at Unusual Historicals wrote this fascinating blog: Holidays & Celebrations: Victorian Christmas Recipes

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday 10 - Sports

Sports with ties to or origins in Victoriana

There are lots of sports I could list here. With the advent of more leisure time, there was more time for the playing and watching of sports. Canoeing, rowing, running, hockey, all of it gathered momentum during the mid-to-later half of the 19th century. Here are 10 of those.

1. Baseball – Let’s forget the history of it, it’s too hard to track down. (And hey, Jane Austen made a reference to children playing "base-ball" on a village green in Northanger Abbey, written between 1798 and 1803, published 1818.) In 1845, Alexander Cartwright of New York City led the codification of an early list of rules (the so-called Knickerbocker Rules), from which today's have evolved. 19th Century Baseball

2. American Football – There are pads and helmets and braces! American Football, it is often said, is for wimps. I’ve seen Rugby, and that’s for crazy people. Walter Camp, player and coach at Yale University set down some rules in 1879. Read all about him and the significant rule changes from rugby and soccer.

3. Rugby – It’s convoluted, it’s mystifying…1838-39, 1841-42, 1845…here, just read it yourself, the site does a lot better explaining it than I could. Rugby

4. Football or Soccer – In America, it was a mishmash of changing rules until 1862 when Oneidas of Boston became the first organized soccer club in America. Princeton and Rutgers Universities engaged in the first intercollegiate soccer match November 6, 1876 (Rutgers won). The American Football Association was organized in 1884 in Newark, NJ, to maintain uniformity in the interpretation of rules and provide an orderly and stable growth. Elsewhere, though having been played for centuries in several similar incarnations, it wasn’t until 1848 and The Cambridge Rules that evolved into subsequent codes, including Association football.

5. Curling – I love Curling - it's one of the few WInter Olympic Sports I watch all the games to. When I visited Scotland, I saw the so-called first boulder they used. And I have no idea how they did anything with that but hurt themselves. The first Curling club was founded in Kinross, Loch Leven in 1668. The first national association was the Grand Caledonian Curling Club (founded in 1838). In 1843, the club got the privilege to be the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. This Club was the World Federation, till 1966, when the ICF (International Curling Federation) was founded.

6. Tennis –In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield designed a game for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales. It was based on indoor, or real, tennis. Wingfield borrowed both the name and much of the French vocabulary of real tennis. The first championships at Wimbledon, in London were played in 1877.

7. CroquetJohn Jaques II introduced croquet into England at the Great Exhibition in 1851. His display attracted such wide attention that the game speedily became the vogue, in Europe and throughout the British Empire.

8. Basketball - James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor, invented this sport in 1891. Here are the original 13 rules. Thirteen! I wonder how many there are now.

9. Roller Skating - Introduced in 1863, it was quickly made fashionable by the elite of New York City. Special skating dresses, allowing more freedom of movement, became popular by the 1870’s. The popularity of roller skating waned by the 1890’s, but like ice skating it helped lead to more freedom in dress and behavior for women.

10. Olympic Games – in Ancient times, it was last celebrated in 393AD, only to be revived by Evangelos Zappas in 1870 and 1875. The International Olympic Committeewas founded in 1894, and their first games were the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. (The First Olympics: Athens 1896. Great movie, probably not that historically accurate, but great movie!)

Tuesday 10...part 1

I have a blog all saved and ready to post. It's a great blog, really! And it's on my home computer. Which is at home, a place I won't be until about 7 tonight. But I have a lovely post on Victorian Sports ready to share, and I hope you'll come back tonight to read it!