The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Newgate Prison

Newgate Prison - London's most famous, or perhaps infamous, prison; commonly held those convicted of a violent crime, those awaiting execution or transportation. Over the years it became more than that, holding criminals of lesser crimes. It always seemed to be filled beyond capacity, hinting at either a society lost to lawlessness or a system of punishment that was too harsh. Prisoners with enough money could better their lot, receiving private rooms and even entertaining on a small scale.

For more details, see this post: Prison in Regency London

Book Review and Contest at Romance, Old School

Click on over to my book reviews blog, Romance, Old School and check out the review I wrote for By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager. Anyone leaving a comment on the review will be entered to win an autographed copy.

Happy reading, writing, and blogging!

Monday, September 28, 2009

~Homemade Monday~ Regency Cosmetics: Freckle Wash

I am of the definite opinion that Regency cosmetics are not the safest to use. Nevertheless, here is one for you to mull over and wonder how these women survived as long as they did.

This recipe is taken from The Servants' Guide and Family Manual, 1831, page 99:

"Freckle Wash. TAKE 1 dram of muriatic acid, half a pint of rain water, half a tea-spoonful of spirit of lavender; mix, and apply it two or three times a day to the freckles, with a bit of linen, or camel-hair pencil."

Muriatic acid is now known better as hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive liquid that will eat the rust off of metal. Ouch. I like my freckles, thank you very much.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Regency Money Questions Answered

On the Historical Hussies blog, Regency romance author Linda Banche recently posted about the worth of Regency money. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was when she shared a link to a currency converter that actually converts money from hundreds of years ago into today's equivalent!

I tried the converter myself this morning. I was intrigued to note that £1 in 1270 (the earliest year the converter will do) had the spending power of £532.72. Wow.

For some concise info on Regency currency, I suggest checking out Linda's earlier post, Regency Money.

Please note: All links in this post will open in a new tab or window, depending on your browser settings.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where Does Your Novel Start?

I'm truly curious. What is it that starts the novel in your head? Is it a character? A situation? A source of angst that makes you want to "speak" your two cents on the subject? Perhaps the plot starts to swirl and you need to fill in the details? What is it?

For me, I think it often starts with a character. This could be why my novels are so character-driven. My focus is on feelings, human interactions, and cause and effect. When I "meet" a character who intrigues me, I develop his background and record the bits and pieces of his life that he generously shares with me. Or she. (Does that sound crazy?) Granted, not all details are provided by the people in my head. Sometimes I have to embellish the details.

I digress.

Now you know what starts me on an imaginary journey. What is it for you?

Friday, September 25, 2009

~Photo Friday~ All the Little Babies

Babies are always photo worthy. Here are some baby pics I've taken. (You may notice I do not post pics of my babies' faces. Call me paranoid, but...OK, yes. I'm paranoid.)

The first one (left) was taken April 3, 2007. Taking the lead is my daughter, Marilayna, and following in her footsteps is her baby brother, McKinlee. He still follows her around.

The next (right) was taken May 13, 2007. McKinlee discovered the cold, cold sand in the brand new turtle sandbox that day. Yes, he did eventually spit out the binky in order to better taste the white sand.

Next are the wild kitties my children have encountered.

First, we have Marilayna at the Queen City Creamery in Cumberland, MD, on May 12, 2007. We went for ice-cream and found animals. This was as close as she would get to the baby tiger.

McKinlee's kitty adventure on August 1, 2007 involved a stray kitten that I named Princess Consuela for the brief time that she lived with us. He wasn't too sure about her...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Smelling Salts, Hartshorn & Sal Volatile

Ever wonder exactly what smelling salts, hartshorn or sal volatile are? Ladies of Regency England seemed to rely heavily on one of these items when in a swoon. OK, so maybe the lady in the swoon was not aware enough to worry one way or the other. However, those around her relied on one of these items to aid in reviving her.

All three of these items are, in fact, the same thing. Technically, the little bottle that was waved under the nose of the prostrate lady contained ammonium carbonate, which is a crystalline substance that releases ammonia gas. It is this gas that irritates the membranes in the nose, causing the muscles to commence breathing.

Sometimes this substance was from a distillation of hart (deer) horn shavings. It was called sal volatile by some because of its effectiveness and swiftness in reviving the prone.

All I can say to that being wafted right under my nose is...OUCH.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Self-Publishing Opinion Poll

Just out of curiosity, I have constructed a new blog poll about self-published authors.

Simple question: When you hear that an author is self-published (whether they use a print-on-demand publisher, do everything themselves, or use a service such as iUniverse, Lulu, Booksurge, etc) do you automatically assume they went with self-publishing because they were rejected by a "real" publisher? Does that mean their book is crap or do even the big guys get it wrong once in a while?

Please feel free to discuss the topic below. This is a subject that has been on my mind for several months now...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Betrayal is FREE Until 9/26

I have activated a coupon at If you use this coupon, you can download Betrayal for free in the format best suited for your e-reading device.

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, simply add Betrayal to your cart and enter this code, RR98G, during checkout.

Betrayal's blurb (from Smashwords):

England 1816. Bri has been running for years. Just when she thinks she may have escaped those pursuing her, she finds herself thrown into Newgate Prison...where Adam finds her. Hired by Bri's family, he is determined to return the heiress posthaste. When it becomes clear that her family does NOT have her best interests at heart, she must accept Adam's help, something her pride will not allow.

~Homemade Monday~ Regency Receipt #1: Walnut Ketchup

Mondays are now "Homemade Monday" here on my mindless blog. This is when I will explore different recipes, some of which will be Regency Receipts, such as today's, and some of which will just be simple recipes for bath and body care products. (I used to own a natural bath and body care business. OK, so I technically still own it.)

All that aside, not all of these recipes will be ones that I have personally tried. I do not recommend you try the Regency ones unless you are already experienced in doing so. Some of them, cosmetic recipes in particular, involve the use of ingrediants that can be quite dangerous.

Today's recipe (or receipt since we are stepping back in time for this one) is taken from Modern Domestic Cookery and Useful Receipt Book by Elizabeth Hammond, 1819, page 83:

"Walnut ketchup. While the young walnuts are tender, press out two gallons of the juice, let it simmer, and skim it well, then add four ounces of anchovies, bones, and liquor, the same quantity of shalots, three ounces of cloves and ginger, with two ounces of mace and pepper each, and three cloves of garlick, let the whole simmer till the shalots sink, then pour it into a pan, let it remain till cool, after which bottle it, and divide the spices; cork very tight, and tie down with a bladder. This should never be used under one year and will keep for twenty."

I don't think this is a recipe I would ever try. But then, I don't care for walnuts...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photo Friday : Lilies Galore Part 1

Most of these lilies are from the gardens of my mother and my sister-in-law. They really like lilies and the last few years they have steadily expanded their gardens and flower beds.

This is just part 1 of my lily photos.

If anyone knows the names of any of these, feel free to share your knowledge. I can't remember all the names my mom told me.

First, the ones I know...

The bright pink spotty one is a stargazer. The orange one at the very end, I believe, is some sort of wild one (at least, it spreads like one), a tiger lily, possibly. The orange one grows in wild abandon on my Maryland property. The rest of the pics were taken in Michigan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review of Illuminations of the Heart at Romance, Old School

I recently had the honor of interviewing the talented Joyce DiPastena in regard to her newest release, Illuminations of the Heart. My review of her fabulous "sweet" medieval romance (and the interview) posted today at Romance, Old School, my book reviews blog. Please stop by and leave a comment. Those who comment are entered to win one of four prizes.

Hope to see you there!!

~Regency Wednesday~ Lady's Maid

Today's Regency post is about a very important person in an upper class household, the lady's maid.

The lady's maid was the personal servant of the mistress of the house. She was in charge of her mistress' clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics. She made sure her mistress was always presentable and attended to her every need.

In the servants' hierarchy, she was basically equivalent to the master's valet or "gentleman's gentleman". Hence, she had a bit of cache, as it were, among the lower servants, being addressed as Miss.

In the introduction to the section titled Lady's Maid in The Servants' Guide and Family Manual from 1831, it says:

"THE principal duty of the Lady's Maid is her personal attendance on her Mistress: she ought, therefore, to possess the qualifications of propriety and polite behaviour; and her conduct should be uniformly influenced by correct principles, and strict regard to religious and moral obligations. Although these ought, strictly speaking, to be the qualifications of every servant, yet in no instance will their necessity be more evident than in the situation of the Lady's Maid. Again, her education, and share of the useful and ornamental branches of female acquirements, ought to be considerable; neatness and gentility of person and address will be great recommendations; and cheerfulness of temper and mildness of manners will ensure her the esteem and respect of her superiors.

Her employment is extremely simple, and far from laborious, and is, in most instances, little more than an agreeable exercise of useful qualities. Simple and little varied as are her duties, taste will be regulated, and her services otherwise rendered valuable by her attention to particular instructions and connected with the toilette and the wardrobe, as well as the personal ornament, dress, and decoration of her mistress."*

Below is a book clip of the above quote. Clicking will take you to the Google book.

*The Servants' Guide and Family Manual, p 97 (1831)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Photo Friday : My Maryland Backyard

I think the property we own in Maryland is one of the prettiest properties I've ever seen. If all of our family didn't live in Michigan, we'd still be down there.

The property is almost 6 acres with a crick and a mountain. Yeah, most of the backyard is a mountain. Gorgeous.

Spring of '07

Spring of '07

Summer of '07

Winter of '07-8

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Regency Wednesday : The Cravat

Ah, the cravat. Such a simple word for something that was anything but.

Cravats got their start as little more than a glorified bib in the 1600s. They evolved into something more of a fashion trend and eventually became the modern-day necktie.

In Regency England, the cravat was an essential piece of a gentleman's dress. Most often made of white linen, they could be as long as several feet, and they were tied in a variety of ways, such as the ones shown in the picture to the left.

The trend for cravats became so ridiculous that gentlemen would try to think up new ways of tying them, often resulting in uncomfortable, cumbersome styles. A paper called Neckclothitania was written about it and published as part of a satirical document in 1818.

*Pictures link to the Wikipedia pages associated with each, including copyright information. Cravat image owned by Charlie Huang (cc).

Friday, September 4, 2009

100 Members Book Giveaway Celebration

Hello! I posted about this on my reviews blog but thought I should mention is here as well.

Over at Goodreads, we are having a celebration in our Clean Romances group. We just reached 100 members (106 as of this post) and want to celebrate by giving away books. 14 books have been generously donated for the giveaway. We are accepting book donations until September 7th (not required, by the way); the drawing takes place September 8th with the winners announced on the 9th.

How can you be entered to win? First, you have to join Goodreads. It's fun and free. If you are already a member of goodreads, you're halfway there! Then, you have to join the Clean Romances group. Also free. If you do those two things, you are automatically entered to win. It's that simple.

Hope to see you there! Happy reading, writing, and blogging!

Photo Friday: Lake Michigan

As I mentioned on Wednesday, Fridays will now have themed posts. I have decided to call this Photo Friday. (Incidentally, if someone else uses the same name--a distinct possibility since there are so many blogs out there--I apologize. At this time, I am unaware of any.)

For today's post, I have decided on some recent photos of Lake Michigan. No explanations or sales pitches, just the beauty of nature. Enjoy!!

Oh, and these pics are copyrighted so please ask me before using them, thanx!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Regency Wednesday: Almack's Assembly Rooms

I have decided I will do themed blog posts on Wednesdays and Fridays. Today is Regency Wednesday, in honor of the fact that Almack's assemblies were held on Wednesday nights during the British Regency.

I am not going to do a long post full of details. More along the lines of a simple explanation for those who may not know very much about the time period.

I will start with the place that inspired me to use Wednesday as my "Regency" themed day.

Almack's Assembly Rooms

Almack's was a social club attended only by the crème de la crème of Regency Society. Located in King Street, St James, London, it was ruled by six or seven patronesses at any given time during the Regency. In 1814, they were Mrs Drummond Burrell, Lady Esterházy (who was Princess Esterházy after 1833), Lady Jersey, Lady Cowper, Lady Castlereagh, Lady Sefton, and Lady Lieven (who was Princess Lieven after 1826).

To attend, one had to apply for vouchers at a cost of ten guineas. Eager attendees were allowed in only if they had one of these coveted vouchers. Being denied vouchers for any reason could ruin the social aspirations of the seeker. If one received vouchers only to lose them later, one may as well pack one's bags and leave London.

The outer appearance of Almack's was nothing special but neither was the interior. The patronesses wanted the focus to be on the Society within, the people and manners, not the amenities. It was a social club to the core, a place to see and be seen.

Dancing was the premiere entertainment at Almack's with gossip running a close second. Reputations were made and broken with shocking regularity.

Almack's was an important part of Regency history. The famed novelist Georgette Heyer often mentioned it in her Regency romances. At times, she is even credited with having invented Almack's. It was a real place, however.

If anyone has something about Almack's they'd like to share, please leave a comment. Even if all you want to do is point out where I've erred.

*Dates were taken from the Wikipedia article Almack's.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And the Winner Is...


Congratulations, Park Avenue Princess! Contact me with your mailing address before September 7th to claim your prize. If you do not, another name will be drawn.


Thanx again to all who entered! I encourage you all to become a facebook fan of JAYSDESIGN Jewelry. In doing so, you will be entered to win a necklace. All those who already are fans are already entered to win. The first drawing will be held on September 30, with a new drawing the end of each month until further notice.

Thanx again, all. Happy reading, writing, and blogging!

Update: Regency Giveaway

The entry deadline for my Regency Giveaway has been reached. The winner will be announced tomorrow, September 1st. (Ok, so that's technically later today.)

Thank you to all who entered.

For another chance to win a gorgeous piece of jewelry made by JAYSDESIGN Jewelry, check out his new facebook fan giveaway. Become his fan and you are entered to win. If you already are his fan, you are already entered. Click here for details.


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