Monday, September 24, 2007

Count Down to No Regrets

Well, it is just seven days until my book is on the shelves. Actually, it is a little bit longer than that here in Canada, October 5th, but that is fine, it just means I can celebrate for longer. I am getting quite excited though. I wonder if those butterflies in the stomach ever wear off? Does Nora Roberts feel this way--still? My guess is that she does.

This past weekend provided glorious fall days, clear blue skies, temperatures warm and pleasant enough to spend most of the day outside. I spent as much time as I could in the garden, but I did have some writerly things to get done. I arranged some booksignings and the dates will be posted on my website and on the blog. I started on a brochure and have ordered some bookmarks and some postcards. I also worked on my next newsletter and of course I did a little bit of writing.

I also received two new very very nice reviews. I will be also putting those up on my website over the next couple of days. As you can tell, I have lots of activity to undertake over the next little while. Anyway, in addition to the 4 Star review from Romantic Times, I got five ribbons from Romance Junkies (not posted yet so I guess I have let a cat out of the bag) and five red roses from Red roses for authors reviews.

How about that? I must be doing something right.

I never imagined how busy being a writer would be. Of course, some would say this blog is just adding to the work. But to me, this is fun. I get to meet all kinds of different people and they get to meet me in very informal circumstance as we chat about the Regency and the information I manage to uncover. I know I promised you some Regency interiors, and those are coming, but once in a while I am going to tell you about my books and my writing experiences and I hope that is all right with you.

Next Sunday, I get to meet my editor and my publisher. I am going to go to Chicago for the day. How very posh that sounds, doesn't it. SourceBooks is having its 20th birthday and they invited me to go and help celebrate. I will tell you all about that next week.

Until next time ~~ Happy Rambles.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Regency Style - Part II

I promised information on Regency building materials. But first a reminder. If you would like to win a signed copy of No Regrets, sign up for my news letter which will be coming out in the next two weeks and will announce the winner. Good Luck.

Back to our regular program~~
One reason why buildings in earlier eras had regional style was that the builders used local materials. Transportation was a nightmare if you recall. By the Regency more and more similarities were creeping in and to add to that in 1774 the London Building Act defined what a town house should look like. More on townhouses in a future blog.

Stone was a common building material if it was close by. Bath for example was made almost entirely of stone.

But unless it was close at hand, brick was the medium of choice, particularly in London.

Most building timber was imported, because English oak was no longer readily available. Timber was imported form Norway and the Baltic states or the West Indies, either oak or yellow deal for construction.

Glass is a subject that could deserve a blog on its own. Two kinds were available in the Regency (for building) crown glass and cylinder glass. Crown glass was the best. Made by blowing a bubble of molten glass then poking a hole in the end and flattening it. This is a picture of it being made in the 18th C. Panes were cut from the flattened sheet and were very fragile, hence the need for sturdy support structures, mullions, and glazing bars. The fact that they could rarely make panes larger than 16" x 18" is a reason why we see either small windows, or many paned windows from this period and earlier. They did not use the bull's eye glass of the Tudor era, it was dangerous and considered substandard. It came back as a fad in the Victorian era.

Cylinder glass was a cheaper, but type of glass, often used for upper stories, servants quarters, or in nursery areas, because since it was thicker it was less likely to break.

Wrought Iron is my last topic for today. It often shows up in my stories, because elaborate gates were made of it and they date back to the 16th century. In the 18th century it became a serious vogue to add decoratative railings, balconies, window grills etc and can be seen today all over Europe. It was used inside as well as out. In the Regency it was also used for torch lights and boot-scrapers.

But as I mentioned before. They were never ever painted black. That is Victorian. I gave you a picture of the Apsley House railings in a previous post, so here is a picture of the cast iron baluster at Osterley Park, designed by Adam.

Next time we will look at some more interior stuff. Until then Happy Rambles.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Regency Style

The last post I did, I labeled architecture. But truly, I think the word I was looking for was style. So not just the buildings, but the look of them and what was in them and how they were used.

I talked about Soane. He was the protege of George Dance the younger who was described as "a poet architect". These architects were of the Picturesque school and they aimed to imbue buildings with a mood. While Soane designed and worked during the Regency, Dance had a great influence on what was to come.

Of particular note is Dance's Newgate Prison built between 1770-80 with a forbidding rusticated (meant to look countrified) exterior pierced with a doorway overhung with sinister iron shackles. I don't think there is any doubt about the mood this entrance inspires. And don't forget that public executions were regularly held outside these walls during this period.

Prisons in the 1800's were horrific, not far off medieval dungeons. And it is a topic that I plan to spend some time on in a future post, since at least two of my heros are going to spend some time in prison. But we will come to that another day.

In the Regency era came the Greek Revival, led by Sir Robert Smirk. His best known work is the British Museum and in particular the great South Front shown in the picture. Although this was designed in 1823, during the Reign of George IV, it was not completed until 1852. He also designed Covent Garden Theater begun in 1808 and the Royal Mint started in 1809.

These are of course great public works, but they influenced what people wanted when they renovated existing houses and built new ones.

What about the houses people lived in? Well we will get to some of that another time, of course. I have lots and lots to share, but next time I think I will focus on the materials used for building.

Until next time Happy Rambles.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Regency Architecture

I thought we might focus on architecture and design occasionally over the next few months, mostly because it helps me when describing buildings. However, I will look at buildings that were around during the Regency, not just those designed and built in the period.

I did want to start with a Regency Architect and chose one of the most well known architects of the era is Sir John Soane (1753 to 1837)
Soane was the son of a bricklayer. I really like that bit of information about him. I imagine that he would have not just a feeling for the design of a building but the bones of it, the real structure. Perhaps that is why his buildings were reduced to the essentials. His father would have known the architects of the day, and he trained with Dance and Henry Holland and then studied at the Royal Academy which awarded him a scholarship to Italy.

Architects were considered of little more importance than a master craftsman during and prior to this period. He used his position of professor of architecture to have architects recognized as professionals culminating in the founding of the Institute of British Architects in 1837.

Most of Soane's buildings are gone or have been altered beyond recognition. The Dulwich Picture Gallery as the first public art gallery in England was started in 1811 is a good example of his work.

Soane concentrated on internal spaces and lighting. He avoided dark corners, hallways and stairways. His work in the Bank of England incorporated top lighting because the building had no windows. Here is the exterior of the Bank, followed by the the windows in the roof, to provide daylight from above.

And finally his house/office in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which is now a museum. This picture shows the house around 1802, before the loggia were glazed in.
Don't forget that all of those signed up for my news letter on publication date will be entered in a draw.

Until Next Time ~~ Happy Rambles.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Regency Ramble Events

What is happening in my world over the next two months?

October 1, No Regrets is released. Look for it in your local bookstore, or on Amazon.

October 15, Regency Ramble Quarterly Review. I will be drawing for a prize from my news letter list. To subscribe, see the side panel of my Regency Ramble blog and on my website

October 27, Book signing in Seattle, at the Emerald City Writers Conference. Sleepless in Seattle - I don't think so, but I will be signing and meeting with some of my American Title Sisters

November 5, Book signing at Chapters in Woodbridge. This is a very friendly store. If any of you are in the area drop by, you will also find some other great Toronto writers hanging out.

There will be more, but these are the things that are confirmed.

In my last blog I took a poll about whether you wanted to go around the circle again on Regency Fashions. The overwhelming response was yes. So next month we will again go month by month. I will try to give you new fashions and gowns, but if occasionally I duplicate, I hope you will forgive me.

Happy Rambles.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Regency Fashion for September

September is turning out to be a sizzling month as I impatiently count down to the release of "NO REGRETS". Romantic Times gave it a four star review and if you go to my website you will find it there.


I looked back to see when I started blogging the fashions by month and do you know I think it was October. So this is either my last month or I have to go around the circle again with new fashions for each month. What do you think?

I think you will spot right away that this is not Regency, even if you didn't look at the 1799 date, but will you look at those gowns? They are almost Victorian. But no. It really is 1799. Here is the description.

Morning Dress.—First Figure. White chip or straw hat tied under the chin; lilac or white muslin crown; muslin or lace frill round the neck. Close muslin robe buttoned down the front, and trimmed round the bottom with blue ribbon, or printed border; pale-green gloves and shoes.
Second Figure.—Round straw bonnet trimmed with white ribbon, and small flowers in front; the hair turned up behind. Jacket and petticoat of spotted muslin; white muslin sleeves and cuffs: the jacket trimmed round the bottom with white lace or muslin: pale blue gloves and yellow shoes.

Interesting that for the second one they call the gown a petticoat.

My second choice today is and evening dress from 1810, right at the start of the Regency. It really is gorgeous.

From La Belle Assemblee: An Evening Full Dress.

A pale blue gossamer silk dress, worn over a white satin slip; made with short train, and frock back; the hind part of the dress made entirely open, and tied down with small bows of white satin ribband; long sleeves formed of pale buff gossamer net, and the same as the gown, fastened down on the outside of the arm with small pearl brooches, the tops of the sleeves and bosom of the dress bound with silver edging, and trimmed with Valenciennes lace; the bottom and train is ornamented with a silver edging, a little above which is laid a rich Valenciennes lace; on the head is worn a bandeau of pearls, fastened in a knot on the right side, with Bird of Paradise plume. The hair is rather short full curls over the forehead, and curled in light ringlets on the right side of the neck. A scarf of pale buff silk (ornamented at the ends with white silk tassels) is worn fancifully over the figure, and confined in a pearl ring. Pearl earrings; shoes of pale buff satin; yellow kid gloves.

I think the Bird of Paradise plume is stunning, but I do feel sorry for the poor bird.

Until next time. Happy Rambles.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Regency Flora and Fauna for September

It feels good to be back in the groove. It has been quite a couple of weeks. I am in the thick of editing a novel that I hope will follow No Regrets. I think I have one more read through and I can send it off.

By the way, check out my count down to the publishing date for No Regrets in the side bar there!! I thought it was a cute little touch. Not sure what happens when it hits the date.

Flora and Fauna for September

Well, I think we all know how we feel about September. It marks the end of summer and is for many either back to school, or send them back to school. What did our Naturist say about September?

He says quite rightly, that the birds more or less stop singing the way they did through the spring and summer but notes the following:

One little bird, however, yet delights us with the sweetest harmony: in the calm mornings of this season of the year the woodlark carols in the air, chiefly in the neighbourhood of thickets and copses, with a soft quietness perfectly in unison with the sober, almost melancholy stillness of the hour. The sweet simple note of the robin is again heard, and the skylark delights us with his melody.

I expect we are all familiar with the British robin. It is much smaller than the North American bird and shows up on Christmas cards both sides of the Atlantic. Just in case, here he is again.

But what about the wood lark.

He is apparently related to the skylark. I really like this idea of a bird that sings in the quiet mornings of Fall, or Autumn as they woul dhave called it in Regency times.

There are lots of flowers still to be seen, including phlox and marigolds, golden rod and hollyhock, in fact many of the flowers we rely on today to make the shift into winter a colorful one. He waxes a little poetic about Dahlias, which are at their best in September and flower right through until the first frost. Dahlias grow from tubors and I can remember very well our neighbor growing rows and rows of them and entering them in contests. Dahlias were discovered in central america by the Spanish, and it was in the 1800's that they came into their own.

I found the following extract quite interesting.

Herrings pay their annual visit to England in September, and afford a rich harvest to the inhabitants of its eastern and western coasts. At Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, before the herring fishery commences, the priests, accompanied by a host of people, proceed to the sea-side, perform the ceremony of blessing the ocean, and invoke success on the labours of the fishermen, in prayers adapted to the

The folks at Boulogne-sur-Mer still celebrate the herring and have their annual herring festival in November. I think I will have to pay that one a visit sometime.

Until next time, happy rambles.