Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I'm not voting for Romney

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.-- Ephesians 6:12

I don't usually do political posts on my blog. In today's climate it can be very divisive. And honestly, I enjoy it way too much and it would be too easy to let it take over.

I've paid attention to politics since I was five and asked my dad in October, 1988, if he was voting for Bush or Dukakis. I've been a National Review reader for years, enjoy the occasional diatribe from Rush and don't mind listening to Huckabee on the radio or TV.

Back in March I was all excited about the presidential race and totally on board with Rick Perry for President. I was less than enthusiastic about Romney last time, and less so this time. I did all the reading and looking at his record and listening to what he had to say, and thought I could vote for him. I was very pleased when he named Paul Ryan as his VP. If Ryan was atop this ticket, I'd be pushing the Republican button tomorrow morning.

For the record, I did not vote for McCain in 2008. I couldn't. His stance on the issues that mattered to me was the polar opposite of what I could vote for. The McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill was the last straw.

I went through most of the summer half-convinced I could vote for Romney, because this is most likely the most important election of my life. Then my pastor began to talk about the duty of a Christian voter on Wednesday nights and began to share the signs he sees in our culture. I have a great deal of respect for my pastor. He's been at our church for 37 years, was born right after World War Two and has seen many circumstances and presidents come and go. He has a doctorate in evangelizing Muslims, and a great deal of wisdom to share.

I then listened to my dad's input on these Wednesday night lessons. I also have a great deal of respect for my father, and he is my spiritual head. I choose to live at home under his protection, even though I'm almost 30. One thing he kept saying has stuck with me.

As a Christian, when I vote, I am giving the person I vote for authority to act on my behalf. I've always known this, but never has it been more important, to me, that this be the determining factor in who I vote for. I know without doubt I can't do that for Obama. Everything the man stands for repulses me. It came down to can I do this with Mitt Romney?

I've heard and seen all the arguments that exist. My decision has nothing to do with his record, his platform, his stance on issues, his tax plan, the Ryan budget, whether or not he'll repeal Obamacare. The only thing that matters is this: Can I stand before God and take responsibility for the actions of a man who denies Christ?

I ask the question this way because the truth of the matter is Mitt Romney denies Christ. Mormonism denies the divinity of Christ. They believe God the Father came to earth as fully human, had sex with Mary and conceived Jesus. They believe Jesus was just a man, one of God the Father's many spirit children, and that we as human beings are equal to Jesus. And one day we'll be gods of our own worlds. It's a radically polytheistic religion.

It's been interesting to me to watch some of the most respected Christians in this country go to great lengths to justify voting for a man, who at his core, denies the one thing that makes me a Christian. I cannot stand before God and say I take responsibility for the actions of a man who denies Christ, who I authorize with my vote to act on my behalf. That's what it all comes down to for me.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.-- Colossians 1:16

God ordains our rulers and sets them in place. Whether we like it or not, He ordained Obama to be our president right now. He may very well have ordained that Obama win reelection. If that happens, my task is to do what I believe God is telling me to do.

Mitt Romney cannot save this country. I happen to think we're screwed no matter what happens tomorrow. We're the Titanic, and we've already hit the iceberg. The nation God ordained in 1776 ceased to exist a long time ago. One man isn't going to change it. The only hope we have is revival. Which is more likely to happen under Obama than Romney. It's when things get really bad for the church that God makes His biggest moves.

But above all, this is a spiritual battle. The battle we're embroiled in is not one we will win in the ballot box, or by changing the man in the White House. It's one we can win only on our knees, as we cry out to God to save us. Our hope is not to be placed in men, specifically the man in the White House. Our hope is to be placed in God and God alone.

Paul wrote this to the Corinthians, but it's just as applicable to us as it was to them. Especially the last verse.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.-- 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Our faith must not rest in the wisdom of men. I see far too many people putting their faith in the wisdom of men right now. Our faith rests in the power of God. Whatever happens tomorrow is what He has ordained to happen. My job, as a child of the King, is to make sure nothing comes between me and Him.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This writer's life

After three years of what felt like nothing but curve balls, since May things have been pretty fantastic. (in my head, fantastic is said a la Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor)

First the whole space opera thing, which I'm still blowing full speed ahead on and having so much fun it oughta be illegal. Added some character images to its Pinterest board the other day. Also discovered a new plot twist in volume two a couple weeks ago. Very excited about it.

Everyone who's read it keeps going on about how amazing it is and I can't let it sit on my hard drive. It needs to be out there looking for a home. Despite the potential challenges of being a two-genre writer in two genres that don't usually meet, I'm embracing the challenge. The space opera has been submitted to the open calls at Harper Voyager and Harlequin, for their new direct to digital lines.

All things historical have been on hold for close to six months now. Even to the point where I've done very little fashion pinning and have been on Tumblr twice in the last six weeks. But lo and behold, it must not be the right track to set it aside completely for now. One of my crit partners told me Zondervan is doing an open call for their new digital line. Out came the finished historical so I can finish the character edit and submit it.

Speaking of the character edit, I really think it's the missing piece of the conflict. Everything is so much stronger now and I'm in love with the story all over again. Always a good sign.

Then yesterday, Rachelle Gardner had a very timely post about blogging. I've always struggled with the idea of being a regular blogger. It's not a shoe that fits me well, so to speak. I'm glad to see the "conventional wisdom" changing, and it takes away some of the pressure I've felt about building a blog. I'm not going to get rid of it, because I still want to do fashion stuff with it and the occasional post about whatever strikes my fancy. Like this one. And of course use it to share all the research I have to leave out while writing. But those posts will come when I have a sale and the book is on the horizon.

But as far as building a blog platform, I'm putting it to rest. My energy will go into Facebook, where I'm at all the time anyway, along with Goodreads and Pinterest. I have 140 followers, and I haven't sought out a single one. They've all found me. Most of them are not writers, and most of them are people I don't know. Pretty good return for zero recruiting work. What little I've done at Goodreads suits me, because it's more of a message board type thing. Which I'm way comfortable with.

So there it is. A peek into this writer's life right now.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wonders of the Met Museum

The Met Museum website is a treasure trove for costume fanatics. Though finding what you want can be a real pain, it's worth the effort.

Last week I found out the Met has digitized many of their exhibition catalogs. Of course I had to head over there and see what treasures could be found.

They did not disappoint. The Korean Renaissance (didn't know there was such a thing), Napoleon, posters, British fashion, samurais, a bunch of artists, Dior. Then the jackpot.

From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress, 1837–1877
Of course I have to have it. For so many reasons.

But then I kept looking, going through the pages, and found another gem.

The Imperial Style: Fashions of the Hapsburg Era

I haven't looked through it yet, but it should be another treasure trove because it covers a wider era than the Victorian catalog.

I love the Met!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The finished product

Yeah, I know, it's been a week since I got back. Turns out attending conference can cause a fibro flare. Who knew? Anywho, back to normal, fully recovered.

Me and Roseanna M. White. Author pal, fellow fashion nerd, and a midget.

This actually turned out to be the best picture. Randy Ingermanson took one with me too, but he didn't put it on Facebook. :(

I was quite popular Saturday night. I don't remember ever having that many pictures taken of me. Me and Roseanna as a pair were also quite popular.

Also, purple mashed potatoes!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A hearse! My kingdom for a hearse!

I'm going to do my best to be a regular blogger again. But only two days a week. Three is just too much for me, with as much as I'm writing. And honestly, the writing of actual novels is more important.

The plan is to resume doing dresses, on Thursdays this time. On Mondays or Tuesdays there'll be something else. Like today. Next week it's going to be about cotton, because cotton harvest is in full swing around here.

The title of this post is not a typo. I really mean a hearse. As in a horse-drawn hearse from around 1900. I heartily approve of the City of Grapevine, Texas, because they had a hearse on display in a glass carriage house.

How cool is this? The placard said it dates to around 1900. Back then it would have been painted black. The name of the funeral home is on the window of the hearse and through the window you can see a coffin. It's draped in the Confederate battle flag, which of course pleased me to no end.

There were also some coffins on display, but for some reason I didn't take pictures of them. Should have. Not everybody knows what 19th century coffins looked like. The wicker thing under the hearse appears to be a coffin, but there was no sign to go with it so I'm not sure. Doesn't seem very smart to have a wicker coffin.

Why am I posting pictures of a hearse? Partly because it's cool, partly because it was in the middle of downtown Grapevine, and partly because 19th century mourning fascinates me. Goes back to when I worked at Kent House. For the month of October the house is draped in mourning. When I first started working there it was a generic thing. But once I took over preparing the tours and doing research, I revamped it.

As it turned out one of the builder's sons had the decency to die in October. How nice of him! In 1853. Perfect. Of yellow fever. Which, coincidentally, is the theme of tours in August and September. Match made in heaven. Kent House is currently draped in mourning for Sosthene Baillio.

Also, I was in the middle of writing an 1860 funeral scene and couldn't figure out what I was missing to bring it to life. A description of the hearse fixed the problem.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Getting ready for the ACFW Awards Banquet

When you read this I'll be at my sixth ACFW conference. For years I've wanted to attend in full 1860's costume, but packing a hoop skirt into a carry-on suitcase is not something I want to say I've done.

So when I found out this year's conference would be in Dallas, and since I only live five hours away, this is the year I attend in a hoop skirt. I went to my costume closet in July to decide what to wear. My gorgeous lavender and white dress won out.

Slight problem though. Too small. The dress was made for me in 2006, and I've gained weight since then. The seamstress included all the fabric scraps with the dress and it became an easy fix. For the skirt anyway. Fitting the bodice to me required taking half of it apart, and I didn't want to spend the time doing it just to wear it for three hours. Oh, I forgot to mention. It's polished cotton. Polished cotton does not breathe. It's like wearing Saran Wrap.

Out came the trusty seam ripper. I let out the gathers, extended the waistband and sewed it back together. Took me about thirty minutes. All fixed!

So, what to do about a bodice? I hit the costume closet again and found an appropriate white blouse. More than a little plain though, so I took the crocheted collar off my lavender bodice and attached it to the blouse. Instantly dressed up!

But wait! There's more. My hair. I keep it short and layered. Not exactly period appropriate for 1860. When I was reeneacting all the time I did my hair in snoods. Period appropriate, no bobby pins to fall out. Except I didn't have a white one, and currently have no idea where they are. So what did I do? I made one. With #3 thread and a crochet hook.

Looks ridiculous draped over my hand, but awesome when it's on my head. It'll be trimmed with skirt-matching ribbon.

Still not done though. Accessories. I'm wearing polished cotton. In Dallas, Texas. In a room with 800 other people. I'm probably going to get hot. What did every Southern belle in the 19th century carry? A fan. I have a gorgeous Battenburg lace fan I've never had the chance to use. Matches the outfit to perfection. Also, I have a shawl. Purple silk with embroidered flowers and butterflies. A gift from a dear friend and fellow writer.

Still not done. The modern woman has to hide things when she's posing as an antebellum belle. Enter the reticule. It'll hide my cell phone, room key and banquet ticket, while completing the look of a genteel lady out for an afternoon stroll.

To see the complete ensemble on me, you'll have to come back next week.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Follow The Heart Scavenger Hunt!

To participate in the scavenger hunt you need to leave a comment on this post. I'm asking a question, so read to the bottom to see what the question is.

Follow the Heart by Kaye Dacus
Book 1 in The Great Exhibition Series
Coming from B&H Publishing in May 2013

Kate Dearing’s life is turned upside down when her father loses everything in a railroad land speculation and she and her brother are shipped off to their mother’s brother, Sir Anthony, in England with one edict: marry money.

Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate finds matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, her attentions stray to the one of the least eligible people at her uncle’s home—the garden designer.

Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy—man aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a friend of Sir Anthony’s, a wealthy viscount, shows favorable interest in her. But will marrying for the financial security of her family be the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?

Mandates . . . money . . . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?

About Kaye:

Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

Scavenger Hunt Trivia:
Directions: Each participating blog has both an answer and a question—but the answers and questions aren’t on the same blog. DON’T POST YOUR ANSWERS HERE! Collect the questions and answers in an e-mail—along with the address of the site where you found each—to be sent to Kaye Dacus once you’re confident you have all of them and be entered to win one of FIVE signed copies of Follow the Heart when it releases in May 2013. Visit for the list of participating sites in the scavenger hunt and rules for entering the contest.

Question: How many people attended the Great Exhibition?

Answer: Near the center of the Crystal Palace was the forerunner of the modern-day food court—a place to sit and eat, either the food you’d brought yourself and carried around with you all morning or food you’d purchase from one of the many vendors. Beverages were also plentiful: lemonade, coffee, tea, Schweppe’s soda water, and ginger beer. A relatively new convenience available in several locations throughout the building were “Waiting Rooms” or “Refreshment Rooms”—public restrooms, though visitors had to pay for the privilege of using them. “I fully sympathise with those who so bitterly complain of the lack of refreshments at the Exhibition. I tried the lollipops, and the worst and smallest sandwiches I ever tasted! The coffee I have found nearly always cold and good for nothing; tea I have never yet seen” (visitor to the Exhibition).

And now my question. Do you have a favorite NON American setting you like to read about in historical romance? Remember, you have to answer this question to be eligible for the grand prize.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Isaac: Days Four and Five

 Talk about a letdown! Isaac did nothing. Except litter pine cones across the yard.

Yesterday it stayed cloudy all day and the wind gradually died down. My sister stayed home from work and was playing the piano for a little while. The cat is Aisling, and she was not impressed. Right before I took this she walked across the keyboard, then after I took it she bit my sister's elbow.
Early this morning I wake up to pouring rain and a thunderstorm. I mean, pouring down buckets! The pool finally filled up where we don't have to put the hose until Sunday. Tomorrow I have to hook the vacuum up and let it do its thing.

Now the sun is shining, the humidity is through the roof and everything is back to normal. Power never even went out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Isaac: Day Three

On the left is the sky at one this afternoon. On the right, it's two hours later.

He's finally here. The wind really kicked up about 3, and started to sprinkle a few minutes later. Nothing like waiting 48 hours for it to get here. Most unusual, for a most unusual storm.

This is our swimming pool. You can see how low the water is. We let it do this on purpose because we're now in the 6-12" rain category and at some point the pool will overflow. Thankfully it won't be getting in the house this time! There's a built up concrete barrier at both French doors designed for hurricane-making-the-pool-overflow.

Here at our house we have a long, long, long history of roof problems during hurricanes, thanks to a very badly done flat roof that we tore down several years ago. But the problems continued until we were able to get a new roof put on the entire house, which finally happened after Gustav punched a hole in the roof of my bedroom. This time the house is good to go, but the chicken coop was another story.

We've had wind since yesterday and he already ripped some of the tar paper up. Eventually there will be shingles on it, but it got too hot to be up there doing shingles. Anywho, my sister and I hatched a plan, carted concrete pavers up there, retacked the tar paper and used pavers to secure crucial seams.

Naturally the first real rain band arrived while we were doing this. At one point we had to hunker down to keep from being blown off the roof. Just another day at our house getting ready for a storm. Not the first time we've nearly been blown off a roof. Won't be the last.

We're all ready to lose our power. Generator's fixed, gas cans are full, board games and lamps are ready. That's what we do when the power goes out and the storm's not over yet, play games. My dad was given a Doctor Who board game for his birthday a couple weeks ago and we haven't gotten a chance to play it yet.

I leave you with a video of the wind, taken around 3:30. The view starts to the left of the driveway, then pans up and to the right to catch the trees behind the house. The wind is barely tropical storm strength at this point. It's going to get worse overnight, because the eye is headed my way.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane Isaac: Days One and Two

I've been blogging on Blogger since 2006. It hit me today that I've never blogged a hurricane, though we survived Gustav in 2008. Granted, that one was a lot to deal with and blogging was the last thing on my mind. Gustav's the one who dropped a tree in my bedroom. Kind of hard to blog when you're without power for five days, without internet for nine and more worried about keeping the water out of the house.

Isaac is proving to be more difficult than usual for the computer models. They're only accurate about eight hours into the future. At this point he's just been upgraded to a category one hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph. Predicted landfall, which means the center of the storm coming ashore, is between Grand Isle and Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Houma will be getting a direct hit if he does indeed go ashore there.

These are the clouds above my house about forty minutes ago. They don't look anything special and there's no distinct spiral shape to them. A little unfortunate, because spiral band clouds are super cool. But I doubt we'll see any during the daylight. Looking out my window right now they're starting to get a little more dense and have some gray in them.

As the crow flies I live about 130 miles inland, in central Louisiana. For us to get hurricane force winds here the storm has to be a Cat 2 or 3 at landfall and moving pretty fast. Way faster than Isaac's pitiful 1o mph. We've gotten hurricane force winds only three times. Lili in 2002, who came ashore directly south of Lafayette and went straight up I-49. I live off I-49. Rita in 2005 who came ashore as a 3, and Gustav in 2008, a 2 at landfall. None of those storms were much fun, particularly the last two.

Day One of preparation was yesterday. Up here it consists of making sure you have bread, batteries, bottled water, lamp oil and in my house already ground coffee for the French press. We don't usually lose our water, even during Rita, but we always buy some bottled just in case. No such thing as too prepared. Day One also includes gassing up your vehicles and the gas cans for the generator. I had to drive ten miles north of where we live just to find a station that still had gas. Too many people got caught without the last two times and none of us will ever forget how miserable it was. All but one station by the house was already out by the time I left, and the lines were heinously long.

Yesterday I spent nearly an hour waiting in line gassing up my mom's car, putting some in the truck and filling gas cans. It's a normal part of getting ready. Several stations in town were out of gas by mid-afternoon and prices take a pretty significant jump. That's because a little over half the nation's gasoline refining capacity is located on the Gulf Coast, with at least a third of that right here in Louisiana. The refineries are shutting down in preparation for the storm.

The Saints are weathering the storm in Cincinnati and are scheduled to play the Titans Thursday night. However, Isaac's trajectory is still uncertain and he could rain out the game in Nashville. Drew Brees is very good, but even he'd have trouble throwing passes in 50 mph wind.

Today, Day Two, I woke up to wind. This morning it was coming and going, now it's fairly steady with occasional gusts. It will continue to pick up as the day goes on, though we'll probably top out at about 50 mph sustained. Especially if we stay on the west side of Isaac, which is the safer side. The rain will start arriving late this evening most likely. There's a band marching across Mississippi that'll probably make it here.

As a writer, what do I do to get ready? Since I have an Android phone, I'm making sure both my current WIP's are uploaded to my Google Drive with the most recent version for easy access on my phone if I need to look something up. I use Evernote to track stuff and I also have it on my phone. I have plenty of paper, and I'll be filling up my fountain pens this evening. We're planning to lose power, so when it goes off everything will get saved and I'll turn my computer off. Simple as that.

Provided I have power there will be another blog post tomorrow detailing Day Three.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hitting new milestones

I'm still going full speed ahead on my space opera and having so much fun I don't want to stop. So I'm not. Being unagented and unpublished still gives me a lot of freedom in which projects I can work on. It's nice and right now I'm enjoying it.

Yesterday I hit another magic milestone. 80,000 words. More precisely, 80,240 when I quit for the evening. I have a plan for what comes next in getting this thing out and I'm excited about it.

One of the difficulties in writing about aliens, even when they're humanoid, is showing people what's in my head. Thankfully I have a huge science fiction TV library to pull alien images from.

This picture is the Face of Boe, from Doctor Who. It's also pretty much what the people of my hero's race look like. Minus the ancient, scaly skin and tentacles coming out of his head. Also, my hero's race have bodies. The Face of Boe does not. He's just a floating head.

You'll have to forgive Boe for looking so bad. He's only several million years old in this particular picture from the episode Gridlock.

For nearly six weeks it drove me crazy trying to remember what alien inspired my hero's face. When I finally remembered I felt a little dumb, since I've devoured all 83 episodes of the Doctor Who reboot and am now working through Torchwood and have had multiple arguments with my sister about exactly when Jack Harkness becomes the Face of Boe, or the Face of Boe became Jack.

My humanoid aliens are also telepathic. Coincidentally, so is the Face of Boe. Or maybe not so coincidentally. With all the science fiction I've absorbed in nearly 30 years of being alive it's really a miracle it took this long to start showing up in my writing.

It's all David Tennant's fault. That's my line and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

On getting lost

I'm so lost in my space opera nothing else matters. I haven't curated my costume collection in at least a month now. The time I used to spend on Tumblr is now spent writing. And I'm not ready to change it.

For most of 2010 I felt lost. In a very bad way. A fog and months of emotional trauma I hope to never go through again. Writing has always been my outlet, and it dried up. I've never been much of a journaler, and though everyone kept telling me I needed to do it, I couldn't. It was too much.

I thought last February had been a big breakthrough. And it was. But it's nothing compared to this. 64,366 words since May 16th. Not counting what I've written since I wrote this up yesterday afternoon.

If you'd told me ten years ago I'd be totally lost in writing a space opera, I'd have laughed at you. Despite the fact Farscape was still on the air and dictated our Friday night schedule.

The closest relationship I can find for my historical romance and my science fiction is the whole lost cultures thing. When I'm writing HR, I love writing about cultures we have difficulty imagining. Like antebellum plantation life or the sunset of Imperial Russia. In my SF, I've created an entire race who had their past taken from them as punishment for a crime they didn't commit. After two thousand years they finally have the strength to fight to get it back.

I suppose I'm not really lost. But I am having more fun than I ever thought possible.

Monday, June 11, 2012

On creating worlds

I'm not usually much into visuals. I don't need a lot of visual information to write, besides character templates.

That's all changed now with my foray into science fiction. I'm building worlds from scratch here and the can look however I want them to. I love fall color and rivers and streams and waterfalls and silent woods and mountains. A lot of those things just don't exist in Louisiana, mountains, waterfalls and fall color in particular.

The planet my characters are on hasn't been inhabited in about 1700 years. Its beauty is untouched and magnificent. I'm taking the opportunity presented me to create this world in the image of everything I find beautiful in nature.

Things like the mountains of West Virginia in the fall, like the picture above. I've never seen purple trees before, but this planet has them. You don't see things like this second picture in Louisiana either. It's a picture from the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

I'm also in love with the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. To me it's one of the most beautiful things on the face of this earth. I started building this world around the lakes. This picture doesn't even begin to capture their beauty. It's a chain of lakes cascading down with more waterfalls than you can count and crystal clear water.

Creating planets and civilizations is one of the best parts about science fiction and fantasy.

I've created a Pinterest board for this series and I find myself referring it to quite a bit as I write. Especially now that my characters are on the planet and exploring it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A lady's wardrobe in 1880

Today's question comes from Janelle Mowry.

What style of dress would a young lady living around Pennsylvania wear in 1880? I'm most particularly interested in what they wear UNDER their gown. And what a day dress would be like in comparison to what they'd wear in the evening. 

You've come to the right place, Janelle! Here we go. Backwards. First up, a typical evening gown, from the most popular designer of the late 19th century (and my personal favorite) Charles Frederick Worth. He set the tone for fashion throughout this decade, especially for middle to upper class ladies. And living in Pennsylvania, your heroine certainly knows who Worth is.

This is one of his more subdued styles, but the decade didn't get crazy until after 1885, so it's a good typical example of an evening gown.

Now for a day dress. Yes, it's purple. Can't help it! As always, clicking on either picture will make it bigger. This one is an excellent example of a typical day dress for a more well-to-do lady. It shows the silhouette, the draping that was all the rage. There's quite a bit of ruching on the skirt that's exceptionally well done. The lower the class the lady lived in, the less elaborate the trimming and draping.

1880 is part of the transition from what's known as the sheath dress to the second bustle era. Yes, there were two, and each had a distinctive shape. I prefer the 1870's bustle myself, it's less severe.

Pegging what the bustle looked like is a bit tricky. Sometimes it looks like one was there and sometimes it doesn't. Since I trust Worth implicitly to set the tone for this decade I'm using the evening dress above as my basis for this answer.

It would have looked something like this one. Under this are the lady's drawers (also called pantalettes) and a petticoat. Then over the bustle cage there's one or two more petticoats, depending on the weight of fabric her skirt is made of. Showing one's bones was the height of rudeness. That's what the metal wires are called. And yes, it is possible to sit in this thing without killing yourself. It was done without thinking by the ladies who wore them.

Janelle also mentioned this was her first time writing a character who would wear actual fashion, instead of prairie type clothes. So, here are a couple of my favorite fashion resources. The first is Fashion-Era. It is one of the best sites out there for a general overview of 19th century and early 20th century fashion. She covers the silhouettes as well as the transition to each and has lots of illustrations.

The Holy Grail of fashion research is the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. Their website is HUGE. I mean HUGE. There are probably hundreds of thousands of dresses in their archives, and even though they're not on display they are on the website. It takes a little while to get the hang of searching and I'm still figuring it out. But for Janelle I suggest starting with "Bustle, 1880". You'll get a good range of results including the late 1870's through the end of the 1880's.

Welcome to the world of real historical fashion, Janelle! Be careful. It's addictive.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

More purple

It's been a little while since I did a purple dress. Heck, it's been a little while since I did a dress at all! Time flies and all that, it really does. Avengers, birthing a science fiction universe...

Believe it or not the purple didn't draw me to this dress. The print did. It reminded me of a drapery print I used several years ago to make an Empire dress. This fabric is silk and I was using cotton.

None of the pictures at the Met's website are big enough to show the details of the print, but it's very interesting. There's a medallion of some type included in it.

It's dated 1860, and I think that's about right. The skirt is very narrow though and was most likely worn without a hoop. According to the Met the woman who owned it would have been around 50 in 1860, so it makes sense. It wasn't unusual for older women to not fully adopt fashion changes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What happens when you grow up on Star Trek?

I love history and 19th century fashion, the Civil War, the Victorian era, lace and patent leather, curly hair and red lipstick. Swing music, the Andrews Sisters and jitterbugging. But that's only one side of me. You see, when I was about six, I had my first crush.

On Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Not Patrick Stewart the actor. Captain Picard the character. See, my dad's been a Star Trek fan since he was a teenager. Star Trek: The Next Generation (or Nitro as it's known our house) debuted in 1987, just before my fifth birthday. I remember watching it with him some and getting mad at my youngest brother when we had to stop watching it for awhile because it was giving him nightmares.

My mom doesn't understand science fiction. She's the only person in the house who still doesn't understand what's happening in Star Wars, though she's seen them all more times than she count. Papa passed on his love of science fiction to all four of his kids. My sister and I got the Star Trek bugs, and my brothers got the Star Wars bugs really bad. I mean really bad. This past Saturday my youngest bro was watching cartoon voice actors read the script for Episode IV. My other brother's favorite video game is Lego Star Wars and my dad plays both Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I grew up on Star Trek. When the SciFi Channel premiered, Papa stayed up all night watching The Twilight Zone. Thanks to the original SciFi Channel, our science fiction world expanded. Quantum Leap, Seaquest DSV, Tek War, Earth 2, Sliders, the short lived but lots of fun The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, The Twilight Zone and countless others no one shows anymore. And then, in 1999, Farscape, via Australia. Best. Space Opera. Ever. Our entire Friday night for four years revolved around Farscape. We just about cried when it was canceled, leaving us hanging with the hero and his fiancee turned into little crystal balls and scattered on the floor of an ocean.

I've continued soaking up science fiction, mostly of the Star Trek variety, throughout my life. I still love me some Captain Picard and it's not unusual for my sister and I to "argue" over who's hotter, Kirk or Picard. She says Kirk. I say Picard. Our last father-daughters date was May 2009, when the JJ Abrams Star Trek movie came out. We're counting the days until the next one.

A blog post is not enough space to go into the whole Doctor Who obsession currently running rampant through the house. Thanks to Netflix and my dad, who's been watching it since the late 70's. Suffice it to say September can't get here soon enough! Also, stay calm and DON'T BLINK.

Eventually, when you take in massive quantities of TNG, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Doctor Who and Farscape, it apparently does something to your brain. Now, I watch science fiction and love it. But I've never read it, despite the house being full of it and it being 95% of what my dad reads.

So what on earth am I doing writing it? I don't know. But on the night of Wednesday, May 16th I had a dream. Not unusual for a dream to spin out a story idea. It turned into an alien humanoid race who had their home world taken from them and it's been lost in the mists of time. They've been enslaved. Anyone familiar with science fiction at all knows it's a common theme, especially of the Star Trek variety.

No one was more surprised than me when the next thing I knew there was a whole galaxy to go with it and a story of one man's search for what freedom really means. You're reading this on Monday, but I wrote it Sunday afternoon and my word count was 22,000. I've set and broke THREE new personal records for most words in a day. Currently it's around 4200. In ten days. With no pre-plotting, no character development studies, nothing. Just sit down and it pours out.

I've decided to run with it. Probably won't stop until it's done. And I'm having so much fun!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Red ball gown

This gorgeous red gown caught my eye a couple weeks ago. It dates to 1842 and is at the Met.

What pulled me in is the criss-cross braid down the front. I've never seen one from this decade done like this.

Another interesting thing about it is the fabric. It's damask. Most unusual. The dress description on the Met's website provides some insight:
This is a striking example of how 18th-century fabric was treasured. The textile was probably originally a 1740s dress which was taken apart and then reconfigured into this fashionable dress in the early 1840s. The elongated waist and V-shaped bodice front emphasize the bust and wide shoulders and were key features of the dresses of the period.

Silk damask was incredibly popular throughout the 18th century. What's even more amazing, though, is the incredible condition the silk is in. Which is another clue that it's older than the 1840's. The introduction of analine-based, or synthetic, dyes in the 1840's created a very interesting reaction in silk as it aged. It shatters. That's exactly what it does too, and exactly what it looks like. I've seen shattered silk in person and it's at once amazing and painful. Red and mauve are the worst offenders. Mauve was also the very first synthetically created color.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Musings: Characters and real-world ethics

 I'm a woman of varied interests. I write historical romance, but I also have a legion of contemporary characters living in my head. Most have been there, in one form or another, half my life.

They range from soldiers to doctors to Thoroughbred horse trainers to professional football players. Yes, you read that right. This self-proclaimed history nut is also nursing a fascination with professional football that rivals my history obsessions. The central one is, of course, an NFL quarterback, and the positions around him have slowly been filling themselves in since Tebowmania hit full stride last fall.

When I'm tired or stressed (like I've been the last month), these guys come out to play. Recently, a new character went from a name and a position to a fully fleshed out person. What shocked me the most about him is his background. I'm from a traditional nuclear family, homeschooled and proud of it, very conservative, a Reformed evangelical in my theology, and very very traditional in my outlook on life. I don't even personally know anyone whose parents have divorced.

This character told me when he was eleven, he ran away from his mother to live with his dad. He considers himself raised by his gay father, and his father's boyfriend. Could have pushed me over with a feather. This character becomes a committed Christian in college, after the death of his high school sweetheart, and eventually goes to seminary.

He struggles a great deal with how to pray for the two most important people in his life. Who fear he will disown them some day. The thought of their son getting married in a church scares them, but they find the family of his wife-to-be open and willing to accept them as their new son-in-law's parents.

It occurred to me last week that his background is illustrating something that's happening in modern society. Something which many Christians are ill-equipped to handle, or simply afraid to think about. I've long been fascinated with the psychology of homosexual behavior, in part because I do have friends who are gay and I enjoy spending time with on the rare occasions I get to see them.

Yesterday afternoon I was reading an article by Wheaton College psychology professor Stanton L. Jones, about the various methodologies in research of homosexual behavior and how those methodologies and bad science are being used to craft public policy and the law of the land. The quote below is from the very end of the article, and I found it very striking in its truth and simplicity.
As moral and religious traditionalists face this profound polarization, it is important that we confess our own culpability in creating the mess we are in. We were complicit, even if ignorantly and passively so, in the cultural embrace of the disease conceptualization of homosexuality. We offloaded responsibility for the articulation of a thoughtful, caring, theologically rich and pastorally sensitive understanding of sexual brokenness onto the disease conceptualization, and thus were unprepared for the vacuum created by its timely demise. We have failed to articulate thoughtful understandings of human sexuality in light of evolving scientific findings and cultural developments. Perhaps most importantly, we failed and continue to fail to engage individuals who embrace homosexual identity with compassion, understanding, and love, and to seek to defend them against unjust discrimination and violence.
Sticking to the truth of the Bible is not an easy thing to do in this day and age. And our approach should never be one that causes another human being unjust distress.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beauty and Tragedy

I don't know why, but I'm drawn to striped fabrics during the 19th century. Might have something to do with the multitude of talented seamstresses who knew how to play tricks on your eyes with them.

This is an American made visiting dress dated between 1845 and 1850. Based on the tightness of the sleeves I'd stick it closer to 1845. You can see the skirt starting to take on a bell shape too.

Look past the shawl collar at the bodice. Make the picture bigger, I'll wait. The careful work it took to do that with these stripes is mind-blowing. The collar is also edged with piping made of the same fabric. Exquisite piece of work here.

This green one is just unfortunate in so many ways. It's a lovely print and color. But man! Was the person who laid it out drunk, blind, or both? It's late 1860's, though you can't tell from this picture. I didn't pin the back of it, but it's clearly no earlier than 1867 because it's made to wear over a bustle.

If this had been my dress and I paid for it, I'd have been one very upset customer with the bodice. There's nothing flattering about how the stripes were laid out. Tragic.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Romance in Unusual Places: St. Francis Xavier Cathedral

 The town across the river from where I live, Alexandria, is home of the Diocese of Alexandria. Which means we have a cathedral. St. Francis Xavier Cathedral downtown on Third Street. It's a beautiful brick building built in 1893 with gorgeous stained glass windows. These windows have a blue in them that was lost forever during WW2 when the German factory responsible for it was blown to smithereens.

Since Alexandria's water table is so high, the cathedral itself sits several feet above the ground and is one of the few buildings in the area with a basement. There's a sump pump in the basement that runs around the clock. Also in the basement you can see scorch marks on some of the bricks. The foundation was laid with the burnt remains of the big house at Tyrone Plantation a few miles northwest of town.

During Lent the Knights of Columbus sell fried fish on Fridays. My sister and I go as often as we can. March was very wet and blustery and this scene spoke to my inner romantic.

The building pictured above is on the west side of the cathedral. It was built in the early 1900's and at one point housed the St. Francis Xavier School. There was another building on the site but it's long since been torn down.

The bell tower in the background was added to the church in 1907 and has the most beautiful bells I've ever heard.

The other picture is taken from outside the school building, looking through one of the blown glass windowpanes at an interior staircase.

Most of the building is now used for storage. One section of it has been remodeled into a modern kitchen with a dining area and it is here the fish is sold and eaten by people from all over town. Whether we're Catholic or not. As Father Chad Partain is fond of saying, "During Lent, everyone in Alexandria becomes a good Catholic."

And it's all because of the fish at the cathedral.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blue Stripes

Believe it or not it wasn't the stripes that caught my eye on this one. It was the shawl collar. I've never seen anything like it on an 1850's dress.

It's at the Met, dated to 1854 and is made of silk. I'm guessing it was a dinner dress. It's a little too fancy to be a day dress and there are no under sleeves with it. Shoulders were usually covered up during the day.

Once I moved past the collar the careful attention to the diagonal stripes stood out. Click and make the picture bigger. I'll wait.

See the piecing in the middle? Amazing!

Here's a side/back view. As I thought it closes up the back. The collar has buttons on it over the arms. If you go to the dress's page on the Met's website, linked above, you can see details of the trim. I can't quite figure out what it's made of. I think it's cording of some kind woven and sewn together to make a kind of lace.

Whatever it is it's gorgeous and adds to the unique qualities of this dress.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Musings: Rejection

Well, it's finally happened. I've received a rejection that punched me in the gut and left me in tears. Last Tuesday, the 10th. A beautiful evening with a great meal cooked by my very talented brother, that I wasn't able to truly enjoy because I was so upset.

This is where having other writer friends comes in so handy. I was able to cry it out among friends who knew exactly how I felt because they've all been there.

The email stung in a big way because it felt like my love of history and my state was being rejected, that I didn't know what I was talking about. Of course that's not true, it just means I failed to do all of my job as a writer and sufficiently set up my very unique story in my proposal. I've got some work to do on the historical background section.

I'm writing about the French Creole culture, a very unique group of people in a very unique state. Where interracial marriage--though illegal during the time I'm writing about--was still quite common. So common in fact that in 1855 the state supreme court felt it necessary to expand the 1825 statute banning black-white marriage within the state, to include black-white marriages conducted out of state. When the 1825 law was passed the French Creoles just went to Paris or a French Caribbean island and got married anyway.

This was almost entirely an upper-class thing too. Lower classes couldn't afford to go to Paris to get married or afford the legal costs to protect their children. There were also Catholic priests who would perform mixed race marriages and they were recognized by the Church. Just not the state. But in a heavily Catholic state, the Church's certificate carried as much social weight as a state-issued marriage license. This is also the same state where minister-conducted slave weddings were considered normal. You don't find that in most other states.

Was life hard for these couples? You betcha it was hard! Nothing came easy and the men had to pay special attention to their wills to make sure their children and wife were taken care of. Interracial marriage became legal again in 1866 and remained legal until the first set of Jim Crow laws. Here in Louisiana the ones pertaining to marriage were repealed in the 60's. Decades ahead of many other states. Alabama only repealed their ban within the last five years and became the last state to legalize black-white marriage.

During all of the 19th century interracial marriage was technically legal in South Carolina. I say technically because it wasn't specifically forbidden until the Jim Crow laws. My heroine is from South Carolina, the one other state in the country with a significant, free mulatto population that freely mingled with whites and had nearly all the same rights. Her backstory was carefully crafted to make it natural for her to fall in love with a mulatto man.

The interracial element is a crucial part of this story. I knew it would be a tough sell when I started it. In my head. I didn't know how much it would hurt the first I was rejected because of the interracial element.

But how else can I use the yummy Shemar Moore as a character template?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Charles Frederic Worth

I love 99% of the designs of Charles Frederic Worth. He got his start in the 1850's and one of his most famous clients was Empress Eugenie of France. But in my opinion, his best decade was the 1880's. So today, we're taking a stroll through some of my favorite Worth dresses.

As always, please click to make them bigger. You'll be glad you did.

This blue one is just amazing. It's an evening gown from 1883 made of silk moire. That's a fancy way of saying the silk looks like it's been stained by water. Beautiful. And the color!

I'm not sure if this is an evening dress or a dinner dress, but I love the understated elegance of it.

I love stripes too. This one is from 1884, silk satin and cut velvet. The blue is the satin, and the cream is the velvet. Here's the dress's page at the Chicago History Museum. It's well worth the click to zoom in and see the detail on the velvet stripes.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Sancturay For A Lady

Sanctuary For A Lady
Naomi Rawlings
Barnes and Noble, Amazon

Every year it seems, another European setting pops up. This one is set during the French Revolution. Whoo!

I had the pleasure of watching this book sell, via one of my writers groups and got to meet her in person at ACFW conference last year. Naomi finaled in the Genesis last year and then had to withdraw because Love Inspired bought her book. Every writer's dream!

Naturally I was drawn to the book because of the setting, and also because Naomi is such a sweet person and it was so exciting watching it all happen.

This romance is built on the opposite sides of society thing, which I love. Isabelle de la Rauchecauld is the daughter of a duke, and Michel Belanger is a peasant with a hatred for all things aristocratic. Like most of the French peasantry, and for good reason. Their journey to love is poignant, bittersweet and perfectly paced.

The villain twist I did not see coming. Isabelle's journey to forgiveness of the villain eerily mirrored my own forgiveness journey of the last two years. The setting was masterfully crafted, with just the right amount of French sprinkled in to make it authentic, but not off-putting or confusing.

Another thing I found wonderfully refreshing is that Naomi pulled no punches in painting every viewpoint of the Revolution. I love it when bloody revolutions are looked at from every angle, and not just the one that's portrayed to us as the "right" side. Truth is, there was no right side in the French Revolution. It helped no one, and definitely not the people who needed help the most.

And as a descendent of a long line of woodworkers, both professional and hobby, I truly enjoyed seeing Michel's love of woodworking come alive on the page. It's not a profession seen often in fiction.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shoes shoe shoes

Last week I had somebody ask me a question about shoes in the 1860's. I, of course, directed her to my Pinterest boards, but it wasn't a "juicy" enough question to do a Fashion Central post about.

These are slippers of some kind, probably American. I'm guessing they're house slippers but I don't really know.

Over to the right is a pair of wedding boots, circa 1860. They would have been worn at a wedding, obviously. The toes are interesting, and from what I'm seeing in various places fairly normal for this period.

Now what girl doesn't want pink, high-top, button-up leather boots? They're from 1868.

These also date to around 1860. I pinned them because I've never seen anything like them before. They look to be a combination of silk and leather, and they lace up the side. I'm really not sure what to make of them, and the have the same shape and to as the white boots. They're in the Oakland Museum in California.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Things that make me go SQUEE!

In no particular order...

Things that make me go UGH

  • The Senate wasting my money on hearings for Bountygate (courtesy of Dick Durbin, D-Ill)
  •  Roger Goodell's hypocrisy
  • Campaign calls
  • Ron Paul supporters who paint their candidate's name on another candidate's sign
  • Tim Tebow to the Jets (really? REALLY?)
  • Allergies
  • Allergies
  • Allergies
  • Not sleeping good
  • Big Bang Theory being preempted by March Madness

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ball gown in blush pink silk

The current WIP is set in 1860 and the heroine desperately needs new clothes. The hero is a wealthy cotton factor and he buys her a new wardrobe. She's mulatto and living in his house under his protection, so it felt right for him to do it. He's also subconsciously trying to buy her love. What better way to do that than with clothes?

This evening gown is the finest thing she's ever owned. It's in the collection of the Royal Armory and Hallwyl Museum in Stockholm.

I'm guessing it's some type of silk. Moire maybe, aka watered silk. It doesn't look like taffeta at all.

What really drew me to it is the lace. I've never seen it swagged like that on the skirt. Divine isn't it? Also the massive box pleats skirt are unusual.

The point of the bodice is typical for the early 1860's. This dress is probably later than 1860, but since there will be no picture of it in the book I don't really care. It's not like I go into great detail about the point of the bodice and the shape of the skirt. She's not a seamstress. In fact, she hates sewing with a grand passion. That surprised me when she revealed it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lavender Stripes

Those who know me know with no explanation why I love this dress so much. For those of you who don't yet know me very well, I'm rather fond of the color purple.

Okay, so that's an understatement. Purple and its many variations is the best color on earth. Period.

Another reason I love this dress is because I have an 1830's dress custom made for me out of this exact fabric. Right down to the width of the stripes. I'm even going to guess this fabric is polished cotton, like me. Gorgeous to look at, torture to wear in the Deep South in any month besides January and February. This particular dress is French and dated to 1867.

I want to point out the draping on the front of the skirt. This is classic first bustle era. The front of the skirt became an artist's canvas and could sometimes get pretty crazy.

It's not often I come across a dress from this era with a front and side/back view. Again, on the back here you can see how the fabric is bunched up at the top, decorated with a bow, and is beginning to go crazy with ruffles. As the first bustle era progressed and then segued into the natural form era, seamstresses sometimes went NUTS with ruffles. I mean nuts.

The white between the stripes has faded to cream. Which was probably the cotton's original color. Bolls of cotton fresh off the plant are truly white, but once you start processing it it doesn't stay white. All the oils it comes into contact with from human skin builds up on the fibers and turns it cream.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elegant Simplicity

I love the simplicity of this dress. And the elegance. It hits every note of why I love dresses from the 1860's.

It's from 1865 and it's probably at the Met. I forgot to note where it came from...

The print is a little on the unusual side. Smaller patterns were more common. The fringe trim at the waist is also unusual for this period. But adds to the beauty.

There's no picture of the back, but just from this view and knowing what I'm looking at, I can see the beginning of the first bustle era. See how it's relatively flat in front and gathered in the back at the top of the skirt? This is the move to the first bustle era, which I think is the prettier of the two.

What's really cool about this post though, is that I have a picture of an actual hoop from this period that is very similar to the one under this dress.

Pretty cool, huh? It may be easier for me to see since I know what I'm looking at, but this hoop is starting to elongate to the back and become more of an oval shape. This started late 1863/early 1864. The reason it doesn't show up in American fashion until 1865-1866 is because of the Civil War. As the decade progressed, and as you can see in the 1865 dress above, the front of the dress changed to completely flat and the backs of the dresses became more and more elaborate.

Eventually the hoop disappeared completely and was replaced by the bustle. By 1870 the hoop was dead.

Next week I'll have a picture of a French dress from 1867 that beautifully illustrates the extreme change in the back of the skirt.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings: Hubris

I don't know if this will turn into a regular feature or not, but it's on my mind and this blog is a reflection of me and all my varied interests.

Hubris is one of my pastor's favorite words. It's always on display in man and is usually a big part of whatever trouble we get ourselves into.

I admit it. I'm a closet football fan. Not a diehard by any means, but there's an inherent fascinatingness for me about the game and the people involved. Due in large part to a character in my head who happens to play it at the highest level... The world of professional sports is a great place to find hubris on display. And unfortunately for Louisiana, we're right smack in the middle of it at the moment.

The Saints have fallen victim to hubris. The story broke late Friday afternoon (or as Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory would say, prevening). The Who Dat nation is very hurt and very disappointed. Some Vikings fans are calling for our Super Bowl title to be revoked, which is absurd. But it's still out there. One of the players named in the allegations is being crucified on Twitter. The entire magical run of 2009-2011 is now badly tarnished and possibly stained with blood.

What the Saints have done is wrong, make no mistake. Roger Goodell is well within his rights to do most of what the analysts are saying he'll do. Stuff like this has to be stopped for the good of the game and the lives of the men targeted. Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis knew what was going on, were told to stop it and didn't. The height of hubris, we're not going to get caught.

It's also a sad commentary on the state of mankind. And a reminder that we all need God's grace. Especially when we do something as stupid as putting a bounty on an opposing quarterback to knock him out of the game.

I'm praying for the team, and the fans. A lot of innocent people are going to be hurt in all this. The Saints gave Louisiana a reason to hope again, after Katrina and Rita. I'm pretty confident in saying most fans will stick by them, and stick up for them when necessary. Just because the defense screwed up doesn't mean the team's accomplishments should be negated.

Grace is always available for the asking. And I choose to extend it now and not be mad at the Saints for screwing up so bad. Because we all do it in one way or another.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Romance in Unusual Places

While we're on the subject of mourning this week, I also think old cemeteries are some of the most romantic places in the world. Especially old Southern ones filled with ancient live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, tombstones so old the lettering is nearly gone, crypts caving in due to age.

Southern cemeteries are especially pretty in the spring when the azaleas are in bloom. I took this picture six years ago in the historic cemetery at Grace Episcopal Church in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Some of the graves date back to the early 1800's.

The top picture is currently my desktop wallpaper.

Only in old cemeteries can you find graves like this one. There are several in this cemetery surrounded by ancient wrought iron, with worn, weathered tombstones. One is a family plot. There's also an old crypt (now empty, we think) that's falling in on itself. It's over a tunnel, lined with red bricks and still locked with a very old wrought iron gate.

The reason for me being in a cemetery taking pictures is my sister and I were down there spending the weekend at a friend's house six years ago. And it happened to my sister's birthday. Our friend is an amateur photographer and I had a new digital camera. A crappy one, to be honest, but it's hard to take bad pictures of such a beautiful place.

So we were in the cemetery taking pictures. Of the cemetery itself, of each other, doing poses, trying to look mysterious and other-worldly. Being young, twenty-something women in love with history and ambiance. It was a lot of fun. And I got some GREAT cemetery pictures out of it.