Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Friday Fact

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Russian Nobility

One would think that since Russia had nobility, that it would follow normal nobility titles, like in England. One would think wrong. This is Russia remember? The country that Churchill described as "a riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma". Probably part of the reason why it fascinates me so.

Once you get the hang of it, Russian nobility titles are quite easy to remember and it doesn't get near as confusing as, say, what do you call the second cousin of the Duke of Whatever.

At the very top is the tsar. He was the King and Emperor of All The Russias. Peter the Great is the one who first accepted the title of Emperor. Prior to that, tsar just meant king. His wife was the tsaritsa. Not the tsarina, that's not an actual term in the Russian language, and they would know after all. It's tsaritsa.

The children of the Tsar and Tsaritsa are the Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses. The most famous example of this is of course the children of Nicholas and Alexandra. The Grand Duchesses were Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. It's also easy to remember what order they were born in. OTMA. That was the abbreviation they used to refer to each other as a group. (Anastasia, btw, was not one of the missing skeletons as previously believed and purported by Anna Andersen. And the two missing skeletons were found about a week ago)

Alexei was a Grand Duke and the tsarevich. That means he's the Crown Prince. He was actually tsar for a grand total of one day after his father abdicated. Grand Duke Michael could not be considered the tsar until he accepted the abdication of his brother. Until he did, Alexei was the Tsar.

The title of Grand Duke and Grand Duchess could ONLY be bestowed on the children of the tsar. That part is quite simple. But their children could not be called Grand Duke or Grand Duchess. Usually they were princes and princesses.

Underneath that is Prince and Princess. The kicker is you didn't have to be related to the tsar in any way to be a prince or princess. It was a title that could be handed out like a dukedom or earldom in England. Then comes Count and Countess, or as it's called in Russian a graf. Then comes baron. Then you've got your landed gentry, the skilled tradesmen and then the peasants.

In some ways it's a little odd, but also very easy to keep track of once you get used to its simplicity. And honestly, this is about the only thing that Russia has ever done simply.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lookit the pretty sidebar!

So yeah, I spent a good chunk of yesterday playing with my template. Had a lot of blogs I wanted to put on the side, and managed to find a few more when I was on Camy's blog. It's so nice to be plugged into such a wonderful network of my fellow writers. Have also added the totally awesome ACFW logo, and what I'm currently reading. Did that about 15 minutes ago, lol.

I did it today. I quit at Kent House. I can't take it anymore. There's too much crap and politics and stuff going on and I'm getting blamed for so many things that are in no way my fault. They're mostly the fault of my boss's habit of not paying attention to what she's doing. And just a whole lot of other stuff going on. I had already planned on leaving at the end of the year, but just can't take anymore.

Immediately after my post Thursday, I called Hobby Lobby. It's my favorite store in town. Yes, more favorite than the bookstore. (but only because my bookstore is a Books-A-Million and not a B&N and I just don't like going in there. They're always re-arranging things!) They were hiring, mainly cashiers. Not my idea of The Perfect Job, but a heck of a lot better than where I am now! Filled out an application, talked to the manager, got an interview appointment. That was this morning.

I got the job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so beyond thrilled. I feel so much better already and I still have two weeks left at KH. Will start at Hobby Lobby on the 10th. My main duties will be as a cashier, but I'm also going to be trained in the fabric and framing departments. The fabric department includes all three of my preferred crafts- counted cross-stitch, knitting and crochet. In addition to sewing notions, fabric, patterns, etc. And the framing department. I've taught myself how to lace stitched pieces and dearly want to learn more about framing, specifically matting and how to professionally mount everything in the frame. So I am terribly excited about the frame training! I'll have to work 2 evenings a week, no big deal, and every other Saturday. Again, no big deal. They're closed on Sundays, so I know I'll always be off that day unless inventory has to be done and that's voluntary most of the time. And even if I do, it's not till after church anyway. It's a Christian company at the corporate level, which is another thing that drew me to working there. They play instrumental hymns over the sound system!

The bad news is that I won't make the LA-CFW Christmas party because I'll be working all but one Saturday in December. Totally understandable though. The one Saturday I'm not working is when I'll be in New York seeing The Little Mermaid. Both of my trip plans will be honored with the time off since I told him about them during the interview process and not after I took the job. But I will make the Christmas party next year because I'll be an MT then and you rarely work on the weekends.

I'm still planning on going back into transcription next year. I just can't stay at KH any longer and be able to leave with my sanity intact. And I've never done anything like this before, so I'm looking forward to the different atmosphere and the change and not having to put up with junk and small non-profit politics. Will still be continuing with my course work for transcription, and writing time will be continue to be very limited.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Name Game

The Rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.

2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

4. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.

5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

My middle name is LeighAnn, and yes there's a story to it!

L- LOVE seafood and chocolate
E- easy to please when it comes to food. I'll try just about anything once.
I- introvert
G- go-getter, once I set my mind to something you can't stop me
H- handy with tools
A- able to ride any roller coaster placed in front of me
N- non-conformist
N- needle savvy

The story. My mom's middle name is Anne, hence the Ann. Only Papa forgot the E when he went to fill out my birth certificate. The Leigh is for Vivien Leigh and my Mamaw Wilder who was named Lee Otta.

Thanks to Mama for helping me fill this out! Since there are 8 letters and I can't come up with 8 people to tag, feel free to swipe and fill out.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Friday Fact

Yellow Jack!

Yellow Jack was one of the many names for yellow fever. Yellow fever was the scourge of the 18th and 19th centuries in the Western world.

The disease itself is native to sub-Saharan Africa and is carried by aedes aegypti mosquito. It was brought to the Western world on Dutch slave ships, probably sometime in the 1600's. The disease killed hundreds of thousands of people in Western Europe and America, maybe even millions. It could be found in London, Paris, Brussels, New York, Philadelphia and even Boston. One outbreak in Philadelphia in the late 18th century cost the city nearly 20% of its population.

It's known as yellow fever because the second stage brings about jaundice. Most people know that turns your skin yellow. The disease attacks the abdominal organs. It starts out with fever and chills and a monstrous, splitting headache. It comes on suddenly, much like influenza.

The disease has two stages. Most people only went through the first stage and recovered just fine. The second stage is the stage that was deadly and led to the great fear of yellow fever. It was a very painful death that included lots of vomiting and bleeding in the stomach and intestines. Very nasty way to go. It wasn't until 1900 that it was discovered that yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes. We have Drs. Walter Reed and James Carroll to thank for that. And the Spanish-American War.

Yellow fever struck every summer, usually starting up in mid-June and the outbreaks would last until first frost killed the mosquitoes. If you survived the first stage of yellow fever, you were then immune to the disease. But only if you continued to live in an area where yellow fever was a problem. It eventually died out in the north once the slave trade was made illegal, but lived on and on in the South because we don't have really cold winters. It was considered to be a white man's disease. The slaves and their descendants were genetically immune to the disease.

The image of Yellow Jack is courtesy of the University of Virginia Healthcare System. They have an excellent online collection of yellow fever history and a wonderful write-up of how the mosquito theory was confirmed.

I've also been tagged for the middle name meme. However, I have 8 letters in my middle name so I'm going to have to do some thinking on it and will post my answers this weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Sometimes you just know something. It can happen all of a sudden, or be gradual.

Just now it was all of a sudden. My time at Kent House is over. I will be leaving as soon as another job has been secured, and then in January I will switch over to transcription as planned.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Business cards

I've been doing a lot of thinking about business cards over the last couple of weeks. I need to have some for conference next month. (31 days!) I know that it needs to have my name and address and phone number and email on it. Also plan to put my blog on it since I don't have an official website yet. That's at the top of my list to do next year when finances aren't such a big worry.

Some people like to put a picture of themselves on the cards. I'm a little hesitant to do that though because I want mine to stand out. I also don't have a picture that I think looks good enough to put on a business card, they're all either too fancy or you can tell I've been out in the wind and sun all day.

So I had a pretty unique thought. 98% of what I write can be directly tied to Russia. I say 98% because there is one plot idea (The Yellow Flag) that doesn't have a Russian character in it, and that's because I can't come up with a good way to get one to central Louisiana in 1860. I'm thinking about using a picture of something Russian.

First thought was maybe St. Basil's Cathedral. But finding one that I could use without permission could be difficult. So then I started thinking about what Russian things I have access to where I could take the picture myself. There's my Russian rag doll, but she's not noticeably Russian to anyone except me. Then I thought matroiskha dolls! Practically everyone knows those are Russian. The one my mom has is kind of normal and has a run-of-the-mill color scheme. But the one my grandmother has from the Ukraine is nothing short of amazing! It's lilac and gold and white and pink and blue and light yellow. I just love it, and I already plan to take a picture of it so I can use the colors in a cross-stitch design.

I'm seriously considering putting this doll on my business cards. That will definitely make them unique, and will force me to install the drivers for the color printer, which is something I really need to do anyway. Thoughts?

Friday, August 17, 2007


It's after 10 here and I just realized that I forgot to post my Friday Fact. I have a cold, so I'll pick back up next week when my brain resumes functioning. At this very moment I can't even remember what I was going to do, lol.

BTW, a sneezing cat is hilarious! My Munchkin has a bad case of the sneezes. I keep telling her to stay out of the cobwebs and dust bunnies but she just isn't listening.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

And here we go again!

The annual Watching of the Gulf has begun. His name is Dean and he's a Category 2 with an eyewall getting firmer and stronger with every Hurricane Hunter flight. This is bad. Very bad.

He's headed for the Lesser Antilles Islands and the Dominican Republic. He is moving fast, which is good if he stays moving fast once he gets over land. That means there won't be as much time for him to inflict damage. It's uncertain where he'll head once he's into the western Caribbean. They're pretty sure Florida is safe though.

That's not the part that's worrisome. The worrisome part is that one model has him making a sharp turn at the Yucatan Peninsula and aiming straight at Louisiana as a Cat 4 or higher, making landfall somewhere between Baton Rouge and Lake Charles. We can't take another hit of that intensity. Our coastline won't survive it and neither will the cities and towns down there. If this is what he does, I would be offline for days, maybe even a week or more. I saw prayer shred Katrina though, she went from a 4 to a 1 in 2 hours that Sunday, so if he does take the Louisiana based worse case scenario, you can better believe a call for serious prayer will be going out from every Christian in this state. I'm nearly 200 miles inland so storm surge is never a worry, but we do have to contend with eyewalls and 100mph+ winds. The eyewall of Lili in 2002 went right over my house and Rita's passed within 100 miles. Her eye was so big that we got the outer part of the innermost band right before the eyewall.

By Sunday we should have a better idea of what's going to happen. My dad's going to fire our generator up this weekend and make sure everything's in working order. There's no such thing as being too prepared when you live on the Gulf Coast.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mermaid tickets!!!!!

I have my Mermaid tickets!!!!! The Little Mermaid on Broadway that is. :D 12/1 at 8pm in the evening, in the balcony.

I'm going to see my best friend in New York. It's my birthday present to myself I guess. A present that's going to cost me an arm and a leg! Conference registration is cheaper than my plane ticket, and that's after making my trip go from Tuesday 11/27 to Tuesday 12/4. Ria wants me to see New York at Christmas, and I want to see New York at Christmas. And this means we'll have celebrated each others birthdays with each other. That's going to be fun!

And cabbage rolls.... Ria's Greek, and her mom is very Greek. Mrs. S. was born in the topmost village on Mt. Olympus. Doesn't get much more Greek than that. And man can she cook! So I'm going to freeze to death, turn into an icicle, see an awesome show, stuff myself with Greek food and celebrate my BD with my best friend. Life is good! (this also means Ria won't have to mail my present to me, lol.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Light bulb moment!

I love and adore light bulb moments. You're sitting in your chair, or the car, or standing in line at the grocery store and all of a sudden... BAM! It just hits you, like lightening. (10 points for whoever knows what movie that line is from)

I'm sitting here in my chair, reading the ACFW loop digest and thinking about one-liners. I'm preparing to put together a one sheet for my Epic to have at the conference, and I'm mulling over one-liners. The individual stories have names, but the series itself does not. The working series title is The Belov Chronicles, which I don't really like. It's alright, but there's nothing catchy about it.

The one-liner for A Time For War is tentatively: A family separated by world war- will they ever come home again? More playing on themes and drawing them out.

And it hits me. The Light Bulb Moment. The name of the series is the Homecoming Trilogy.

Me and hidden themes again. A family separated by war, a home torn apart by yet another war, a family scattered to the winds and just looking for another place to call home. And then in the 3rd one, it all comes full circle with a return to the ancestral home and the passing on of family secrets, then going back to the new home and beginning again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Kaye's Friday post inspired me to post this picture of The Munchkin. I'm using it as my Facebook picture right now. On its own, it's a funny picture. With the addition of text, it's a scream! It's a thumbnail, so click and it'll get bigger. After I snapped this shot, she proceeded to shove her head all the way into the glass and drink the water that was in it.

She's feeling much better today. She's jumping up on things and following me around. Currently she's asleep on my desk. It's one of her favorite nap spots.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Munchkin update

The munchkin has been to the vet. She got stung last night, probably by a yellow jacket. Her favorite pastime this week is chasing bugs. There's a nest beside one of our flower beds, one that she loves to play in because there's lots of moths and butterflies to chase.

The vet gave her a shot for the pain and swelling, and some antibiotics just in case. Considering her history, having abx on hand is not a bad thing! She's housebound for the day, maybe tomorrow too. It's rather amusing watching her hobble around.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Friday Fact

I nearly forgot to put this up! We have company and The Munchkin is wounded again.

The Zodiac Man

The history of bloodletting as a medical practice is quite fascinating. This week, we're discussing the Zodiac Man.

No, he's not a character in a book. He's a chart. Up until the mid 19th century, theories of medicine were based on the ancient theory of the Four Humours. This theory came about during the Greek Empire. Those four humours are black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. The medical theory stated that all four humours must remain in balance for a person to be healthy. If they were sick, one of the humours was either out of balance or there was too much of it. Certain diseases were tied to certain humours. Fevers were generally tied to blood.

The Zodiac Man entered the picture during the Middle Ages when astrology was at its height. It's a drawing of a man, and around him are the twelve zodiac signs. Each sign was attached to a different part of the body. When the barber or the doctor decided a person needed to be bled, the first thing he did was consult the chart. For instance, if the sign of Scorpio was highest, then he would bleed from the upper left thigh.

I'm rather fond of this image of a German Zodiac Man. There's also one of an Aztec man, and this one that appears to be from the early Middle Ages.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Very disappointed

I love dolls and I love Nancy Drew. Put the two together and it's perfect, right? Well, maybe not.

Earlier this year Robert Tonner was licensed to produce dolls of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. The Boys came out about 5 months ago, and I was immediately VERY impressed and want them badly. Very badly, though Joe will have to lose the glasses and they need their clothes swapped out. I probably won't get any of the other things though. The only part that matters is having my very own Frank that I don't have to share with Rokia! This is very important as Rokia likes to imagine that he belongs solely to her and she doesn't like to share.

They announced at the same time that a Nancy doll was in development. Needless to say I got excited. Lots of Sleuths got excited. She went live on the website today.

And I'm terribly disappointed! She looks nothing like what Nancy Drew should look like and her face isn't even up to the usual Tonner standards IMO. (have a look at the Tyler Wentworth collection, gorgeous faces on that line) She's sub-part for Tonner. Since the boys are the Undercover Brothers versions, she's got to be the Girl Detective version of Nancy. But even considering that, she doesn't look like Nancy. She doesn't even look like Emma Roberts! That would be acceptable because Emma played the part well. They used a new head sculpt on Nancy. They should have worked a little harder on it! We Sleuths wanted a period Nancy. Cloche hats, smart frocks, t-strap heels. That he could have done beautifully.

I almost feel betrayed, as strange as that sounds.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


It comes in all shapes and sizes. All forms and mediums. Songs, poetry, a line in a play or movie, a scene in a favorite TV show. The newspaper, the sports cast on the evening news, a line you write in another WIP. Sometimes Inspiration will drop an entire story into your head, as happened to me with the line in another WIP. Sometimes it's just an idea, or a character.

And sometimes, it's just the vaguest inkling that there's a story in there somewhere, but no matter what you do, you can't quite grasp it. I'm talking about a painting by British fantasy artist Josephine Wall. It's titled Alternative Reality. Here's the blurb Josephine put under the painting:
Life is full of choices! Having stepped into a mysterious mirror portal, her reflection is caught between two worlds and she must decide to which reality she belongs. Should she enter the hurly- burly of Victorian London street life that feels so familiar to her, and yet so distant? Or perhaps the eerie neglected buildings are all that remain of a palace where once she was a princess. The indecision is yours!

The moment I first saw it, I fell in love with it. It's a breathtakingly beautiful piece, the play of color and light is amazing and the detail is nothing short of stunning. Ms. Wall truly has a God-given gift with paint and brushes. I came across it thanks to my cross-stitching obsession. Her art is charted for stitching by Heaven and Earth Designs. When she was first signed, Bob and Michelle asked all of us to go through her site and make a list of things we wanted to see charted. I immediately put AR at the top of my list. (btw, I highly recommend a browse through the Surreal Gallery. There's a stunning piece in there called Stairway of Dreams that brings to life every booklover's most wonderful fantasy, bottom row of thumbs, first one on the left)

Months went by, she didn't come out. So I downloaded the wallpaper so I could gaze at it whenever I wanted to. A few more months went by, she still didn't come out. Then, last October, on the 29th, she was released as a chart. I abandoned all plans for that evening, bought it, stalked my email and was eternally thankful that Bob had mercy on me and sent it straightaway. I printed it out and set about preparing to start. I was even a very bad girl and took it to work with me the next day so that I could grid it. (the chart is 20-something letter sized pages!) Once that was done, I put in the first 30 stitches while I was still at work. It was a slow day.

It's been nearly a year and I'm still as in love with the piece as ever and get an unspeakable thrill every time I pull it out to stitch on it. But the inspiration, you say!

There's a story lurking in that painting somewhere. I feel it in my bones! Why is she so torn between the world in the mirror with the fallen down castle, and the real world of late Victorian London? What happened to the castle? What is the lady saying to her daughter as they hurry down the street? Why is she dressed in an evening gown?

Someday I'm going to find that story. And I'm going to write it.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Friday Fact

I finally hit on a regular feature for my blog! I have all of these weird little historical facts stored in my brain, from various things I've researched or things I've just stumbled across. So I'm going to start sharing them, one every Friday. Well, every Friday that I remember.

The first one has to do with yellow fever and the Caribbean version of the Flying Dutchman legend. I was going to link to the article where I saw it, but I was just doing random search strings on yellow fever and can't remember which string turned it up.

Yellow fever was rampant in the white world in the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the worst yellow fever epidemics in history was in Philadelphia in 1793. Several facts may have to do with yellow fever because that's the theme at work for the next two months.

The crew of a ship contracted yellow fever and they all died at sea. It was said that the ship was the Flying Dutchman. The ship continued to drift in the Caribbean until it finally sank. Sailors seeing the empty ship started the story of a ship that was crewed by the dead.

I'm very curious to know which Flying Dutchman legend is the one that inspired the Dutchman made famous in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Research holy grails

Weather is important in books. I'm a firm believer in that. In historical fiction that's not set in a well-known place, the weather often gets overlooked.

The Yellow Flag is set in a place that's not very well known. Most people have never heard of Alexandria, LA. That's part of the reason why I want to write something historical set in my area, so more people will hear about it. I'll even have a real person or two from area history making cameo appearances or being mentioned in passing.

And the weather. It's a forbidden love romance, and the weather can wreak havoc with those stolen moments that the hero and heroine try to grab. I just realized this morning that I have access to day-by-day weather reports for the entire year of 1860. The high temperature for the day, when it rained, how much it rained, and how dusty the roads were after 3 weeks of no rain in the middle of the summer. It's all contained within the ledger of one Robert Cruikshank Hynson. He was a merchant and a banker in Alexandria before buying a plantation to play with in his retirement. He turned into a wonderful farmer, didn't take him long at all to learn how to complain about the weather! Recording the weather was one thing that he was most faithful about from 1854 until 1875, minus a year and a half during the War.

This morning I wrote down that scene that landed in my head yesterday. It wasn't much, only 400-something words, but it was still writing and it felt good!