Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home By Christmas

This post is to let my readers know about the short story called "Home By Christmas". It was written by a group of ACFW members who all share a passion for European historicals. It is our hope that with this story we can all get our names associated with European historical fiction, and in the process begin building a loyal readership.

The story will begin posting here on December 2, 2007. Please follow along as Griffon returns home by Christmas and attempts to mend the fences with his estranged family.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Goings on

The Friday Fact and Spotlight on Europe will be on hiatus for the next 2 weeks. This week is Thanksgiving and silly me having a retail job, I will be DEAD this weekend. By the time I get off work Saturday I will be a zombie, lol. And then I head to New York next week.

EIGHT DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In other wonderful news, I haven't been around anywhere just a whole lot for the last few days because I've been spending that time doing job applications and taking skills tests. Twas most productive time, because I have a medical transcription job!!!!!! I start in January. My last day at Hobby Lobby will be December 29th, then I'll have a few days off to rest and recoup and do whatever.

Since I'm a new grad, my new job starts off with a 2 week apprenticeship class. It's an unpaid one, but hey, it's only 2 weeks! I'll be working one-on-one with an editor to get me up to speed on how they do things, formatting issues, etc. I'm pretty excited. I'm going for a full-time position, and for the first time in my life I will have benefits! Health insurance, paid holidays and vacation time!

Zoe's doing well. She's getting a couple of her stitches redone right now because the wound isn't pulling together properly. At no additional charge to me! That made me very happy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Character Voice

In writing circles, you hear a lot about making sure your characters have their own unique voice. I'm sure a lot of beginning writers really wonder what that is. I know I did. I'm beginning to discover exactly what it is.

I'm focusing on A Time For War right now. It opens in 1894 and the main characters for the first part of the book are Sergei and Tatiana. Sergei is really coming to life. His family is rather wealthy, and most of their money has come from trade and shipping. He manages the business and travels a lot checking up on things.

His voice is very unique. He stays immersed in the worlds of shipping and banking ALL THE TIME. So that's how he thinks. Everything is thought of in terms of profits and loss, cargo and shipping, etc. When he thinks or makes comparisons, the things that he uses for reference all have to do with what he does for a living. To me, this is the core of what a character's voice is.

Sometimes it can take awhile to find that voice. I know it has for Sergei. He's lived in my head for many years, but only in the last 6 months have his thought patterns become clear to me. It's making him a better character and it's making me a better writer.

***
I think I'm catching a cold. Just FYI there may not be a Friday Fact tomorrow. Depends on how I feel when I wake up and whether or not my brain works.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spotlight on Europe

Family Guardian by Laurie Alice Eakes


Family Guardian is a Regency, set in England. This is Laurie's first hardcover release, and it won the National Reader's Choice Award for Best Regency. Not too bad a showing for your very first Regency!

From Amazon:

Surrounded by the most beautiful scents and potions in the world, The Honorable Miss Clarissant Behn toils away, unconcerned with romance. She doesn't spend her days planning a wardrobe for the Season or wonder who she will marry. Against all conventions and Society's rules, Miss Behn spends her days engaged in trade.

If anyone learns that her perfume business is the source of her family's prosperity, the scandal will ruin both her business and her chances of marriage. Years ago she loved her sister's forbidden betrothed, Tristan Apking. But he disappeared five years ago and is presumed dead.

But when Tristan returns to England, alive and mysteriously prosperous, keeping secrets could cost Clarissant his love and possibly their lives. Overcoming his deep sense of loss at her sister's heart seems to be an impossible feat. Juggling everything for everyone else, Clarissant tries to keep the balance while finding love and happiness for herself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Blahs

I've got a case of the blahs today. Don't feel like doing anything, don't want to write, don't want to read, don't want to cook supper. Kind of have to cook supper though...

I think part of if might be related to job hunting. I spent some time over the weekend applying for a medical transcription job, even though I haven't finished my course work yet. Never hurts to get yourself out there! I really liked the way the application process was set up. It wasn't "send in your resume and we'll make a decision", it was a test of my MT knowledge. Done in two parts, the first part was grammar and spelling and the second part was transcription. I nailed the first part, but I'm pretty sure I missed the second part by 2-3 words. I can re-apply at this company in 3 months, so I'll keep them on my list.

I got the email this morning that I didn't pass the second part of the test and didn't get the job. So in true form for me, I got right back out there on the job site and found a couple more. One is for an entry-level position, which is what will work out best for me right now I think. So now I play the waiting game again. I would love to have an MT job nailed down to start when I get back from Ria's house.

I do have a back-up plan in place though. It's requires a fee, though. I'll just keep checking the listings and applying and putting my resume out there and see what happens. So now I'm going to go attempt to fight this attack of the blahs with a stitching session!

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Friday Fact

The Sampler

The history of the sampler is a very long and colorful one. (yes, I meant to do that...) It began in the late 1500's/early 1600's in the form known as a band sampler. It was basically a band of linen about 6 inches wide and anywhere from 12-36 inches long. As a girl learned embroidery stitches, she would work those new stitches in bands across the width of the fabric. They were often worked in white on white fabric and gave rise to what we now call whitework.

Two samplers were generally worked. A simple beginner's sampler, and then a more advanced one.

In the 1700's, the sampler began to change. It was still considered a sample of all the stitches a girl could do, but it began to incorporate Biblical scenes, alphabets, letters and repetitive motifs. Many samplers can be connected to a particular region simply by looking at the motifs used on the sampler. In Germany, deer (or stags) were very popular, as was the scene of Adam and Eve with the Tree of Life. This motif sampler also gave birth to counted cross-stitch.

For the motif samplers, the mother would usually draw the pictures onto a piece of linen, and the girl would then cover the pictures with her stitches. Satin stitch, chains, knots of all kinds and stem stitch were some of the most popular stitches.

The art form was carried to the Colonies by the Pilgrims, and the first known sampler stitched on the North American continent was done by the daughter of Miles Standish. It's in the Plymouth museum I believe. The art continued to evolve and spread as the Colonies were settled.

In the antebellum South, the sampler took on a whole new meaning. Not only was it a sample of how many stitches a girl knew, it was also a rite of passage into womanhood. Upon successful completion of her second sampler, a girl was ready to begin looking for a husband. Through her father of course, as every good genteel Southern lady did.

The stitches learned were used to accent clothing and handkerchiefs and for decoration on anything that was made out of fabric- from bath towels to the table linens. Kent Plantation House has a lovely needlebook in its collection that's done entirely with satin stitch and stem stitch. Irises have been embroidered on the front, and a dense buttonhole stitch was used to cover the scalloped edges. The embroidered pillowcases and dresser scarves that your grandmother or great-grandmother used to do, came about out of this lost artform.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Zoe's home!

The Munchkin has returned home. With 5 stitches in her hip and looking quite pitiful where he had to shave her. At this very moment she's wolfing down a mid-afternoon snack.

This time I'm getting one of those lampshade collar things to keep her from pulling the stitches out. She's never had this many before.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Spotlight on Europe

Today is Nancy Moser, author of "Just Jane" and "Mozart's Sister".

Sadly, I haven't read either of them yet. I personally am not a fan of Jane Austen so I know I'll never read that one. Jane Austen fans in general are raving about Just Jane.

But I do want to read Mozart's Sister!


JUST JANE: Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennett, Marianne Dashwood... you probably know more about Jane Austen's characters than you do about Jane. Not anymore! I've written a bio-novel about her life, letting Jane tell you about her love life, family problems, and the struggles of being a woman novelist in 1800. She was a woman penned in by the restrictions of society (pun intended) yet a woman who was strong enough to discover the satisfaction of being just Jane.


MOZART'S SISTER: In 1763, 11-year-old Nannerl Mozart performed before the crowned heads of Europe with her younger brother, Wolfgang. But behind the glamour lurk dark difficulties—the hardship of travel, agonizing bouts of illness, and the constant concern over money. Their father, Leopold, is driven by a desire to bring his son's genius to the attention of the world. But what about Nannerl? Is she not just as talented? In a time where women's choices are limited, what hope does she have of ever realizing her own dreams?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Continuing Trials of Zoe- Part 2

Here we go again...... The Munchkin is at the vet. For another insect sting. It happened sometime Friday, and she spent all of Friday night on the roof hiding in a hole. I finally got her down Saturday morning and brought her in the house.

Last night it looked good. Woke up this morning, checked her over and the wound was the size of a nickel and oozing something awful. So we rushed off to the vet, and found out that it's abcessed. She has to stay there till Thursday at least, on IV antibiotics and pain medication. My poor baby! She's had such a hard year, the trouble just never ends.

So I'm about to have a huge vet bill to deal with. Again. Plus my trip and Christmas shopping. At this point, I don't see how I'm going to manage all of that if my cottage industry doesn't bring me in some more money.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Betrayal

Those of us who write fiction know that inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime without prior warning. Those of us who write historical fiction often find our enjoyment of history interrupted by said flashes of inspiration.

That's happened to me many times while touring various museums and watching documentaries on the History Channel. However, I thought it was safe to continue indulging in my love of haunted house specials, even though I don't believe in ghosts in that sense of the word.

Ha!

Those are no longer safe. This particular one was on A&E, and when I turned it on they were just finishing up the Salem cemetery where the accused witches were buried. Then they turned to Fraynham Hall in Oyster Bay, Long Island. I'd never heard of it before, but apparently it's haunted by the ghost of the owner's daughter who fell in love with a British officer. I didn't finish watching that segment though, because my brain wouldn't let me. Traitor!

I'm now brooding over an idea that involves a Scottish girl and her Patriot family in South Carolina, the Swamp Fox and a Russian courtier sent to the Colonies by Catherine to evaluate if she should have an opinion about the Revolution. His name is Stefan, she doesn't have a name yet, and it does have a romance sub-plot.

Why a Scottish girl? Because I had Scottish ancestors in South Caroline at the time. And I've long been fascinated by the Swamp Fox, so it seemed natural.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Friday Fact

Russian Succession

The Russian Succession laws are rather convoluted and anything but clear-cut. Here's the full rundown on the laws as they were in 1906, written much more clearly than I ever could! When the Duma was formed that year, the laws were slightly amended to allow the Duma to have limited participation.

These laws have given rise to some very heated discussions at the Alexander Palace Time Machine forum on exactly which Romanov has the best claim to the throne. Which is completely irrelevant anyway because the Russian people have no desire to restore the tsars. Their theory is at least with a democratically elected president, if they don't like him they can get rid of him without too much mess. You can't do with a tsar unless you assassinate the entire family. Kind of messy that, lol.

What these laws basically did, was kill the Romanov dynasty. If you didn't follow it to the letter and broke even the minutest detail of the law, you immediately lost all claim to the throne. Paul's motives were admirable, but in the end he sort of signed his own dynasty's death warrant.

This link is an interesting handbook that was printed in 1896 for use by English speaking diplomats. It basically explains to foreigners how Russian aristocracy works.

You can also consider this post a plug for the Alexander Palace Time Machine website. It is a Russian lover's dream come true! He has thousands of photographs, entire books and memoirs indexed online, and even menus from state dinners and Royal Family birthday parties. The discussion forum is vast, large and a little overwhelming at first glance. But it's also a treasure trove of information on the Romanovs and Imperial Russian history. He even has family expense reports.