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...

Friday, April 23, 2010

~Photo Friday~ Wicked Orchid

Viewing the "Butterflies in Bloom" exhibit at Dow Gardens was a splendid experience. An added bonus was the Orchid Room. Of all the lovely orchids, this one was the one that I liked best. It has a sinister beauty that appeals to me. I think it would have a wonderful place in a fantasy novel.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

~Regency Wednesday~ Riding Habit

A riding habit was the costume or dress ladies wore when riding. I don't think I can put it more simply than that. :o)

The description for the fashion plate (shown here) from the June 1812 issue of La Belle Assemblée reads as follows:

"An habit of bright green, ornamented down the front, and embroidered at the cuffs à-la-militaire with black. Small riding hat of black beaver, fancifully adorned with gold cordon and tassels, with a long ostrich feather of green in front; or a green hat with black tassels and black feather. Black half boots, laced and fringed with green. York tan gloves. When this dress is worn as a curicle or walking costume, it is made as a pelisse without the riding jacket, and confined round the waist by a belt of black and green."*

The fashion evolved as all fashions do. The picture below shows the evolution of the riding costume from 1800-1842.**

A split riding skirt, though used in the middle ages by some women of note, was not acceptable riding dress in Regency Britain. This type of riding costume was not accepted until the early 1900s.

I suppose if one were to write a Regency heroine who flouted convention in every way she could, wearing a split skirt and riding astride would be a definite way to do just that. If the heroine cares at all for her reputation, however, she would never don such indecent garb.

*La Belle Assemblée, June 1812 (Google book)
**Historic Dress in America, 1800-1870 by Elisabeth McClellan, 1910 (Google Book)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lurking is Your Best Friend

I don't do it often but here's a brief bit of marketing advice for new authors.

Lurking is your best friend.

One of the first things a new author does is join different book sites to proclaim their new status in the world of literary achievements. This is excellent. However, one of the biggest mistakes I've seen new authors make is leaping in without first looking to see if the pool is full of water. Or full of sharks.

Every social networking site has groups set up for different subjects. Selecting the groups that focus on your book's subject, theme, or genre is essential and kind of a no-brainer. However, these groups have rules. Don't just start touting your book as the next best thing until you've made yourself familiar with the way the group works. Lurk for a bit. Get to know the members as people instead of potential customers.

I know you're excited, bouncing up and down in your chair as you clutch your precious book between your sweaty little palms. You want to declare your contribution to the world. Relax. I'm not suggesting you say nothing, just hold off mentioning your book. Let the group members know you are a person first, one who cares about other humans. Believe it or not, an opportunity will arise for you to introduce your book to the group. Often, (I'm thinking Goodreads here) group moderators will designate a folder or discussion thread for just such a declaration.

If the bottom line, money and sales rank, is all that matters to you, by all means, be a self-centered fool. It's that much easier to remove you from the group. One unassailable fact of book sales, however, may cause you to rethink that spam plan you have brewing in your fertile little brain. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. If the word going around about you is your inability to adhere to a few rules, readers may not want to waste their money on your book. After all, if you can't follow simple group rules, how many rules of writing did you break?

*Photo was taken by Filip Maljkovic and is in the public domain.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

~Regency Wednesday~ Bedlam

How often have Regencies made references to Bedlam or Bedlamites? I've used both terms in more than one of my novels and will probably use them in more. While longtime fans of the genre are probably familiar with the term and its source, newer readers may be a bit confused.

"Bedlam" is a corruption of the Hospital of St Mary Bethlehem, a religious house in London that was converted into an insane asylum when the monasteries were disbanded in the 16th century. The hospital retained the name along with the vulgar appellation.

In 1815, Bedlam was located in St George's Fields, Southwark.

*Further reading: Wikipedia article Bethlem Royal Hospital; Curiosities of London by John Timbs, page 51; The Penny Cyclopedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Volume IV, page 148


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