Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No Regrets Is Available!!!!

There is nothing more moving than holding a copy of your book for the first time. At least to me. Here is a picture from this past weekend.

This was taken at the Emerald City Writers conference, and apart from all the wonderful workshops and the other authors, I signed No Regrets for the very first time.

Here is the picture to prove it. No Regrets should be in stores here in Canada this week, but it has been spotted in America already. My newsletter will be going out this week and if you are a subscriber, you will be entered in the draw to win a signed copy. Good luck to you all.

Today, I am blogging over at Titlewave where I get together with the other American Title Finalists who were in the historical contest two years ago. We have become sisters, it seems, after all we went through in the contest, we could not part, so use the blog as a way of keeping contact.

Several of my sisters were at the Emerald city conference and you will see us all at the booksigning standing behind Gerri Russell who, while incapacitated by knee surgery, was her usual charming, sweet self. Also in the picture you will find Ruth Kaufman, Gina Black and Theresa Meyers, and me, in pink.

Today, I am interviewing Christine Wells about her book Scandals Daughter a Berkely Sensation on the Titlewave Blog. Drop by and leave a comment. You could be the lucky winner of a signed novel.

Until next time, have a Scary Halloween and Happy Rambles

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dogs as Pets in the Regency

My last doggy post for a while, I promise. By the way, has anyone seen No Regrets in a store yet. B&N said my copy was in the post, so it must be close.

If any of you live in Seattle, I am signing at the Emerald City Conference this weekend. Do drop by and say hello.

OK here we go. Dogs as Pets

It is my sense that despite the last post which indicated some working dogs were not treated well, given the number of times dogs show up in family portrait, the Englishman and woman with leisure, have always loved their dogs.

One of the most famous breeds are King Charles Spaniels, which were favorites of that monarch and pictured here with his children.

By the Regency these dogs had much shorter muzzles and a more domed head than is pictured here, so much more like the King Charles we know today. I did like this Royal picture though.


The truth of how the Pug came into existence is shrouded in mystery, but he has been true to his breed down through the ages since before 400 B.C. Authorities agree that he is of Oriental origin with some basic similarities to the Pekingese. China is the earliest known source for the breed, where he was the pet of the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. The breed next appeared in Japan and then in Europe, where it became the favorite for various royal courts.

The Pug became the official dog of the House of Orange after one of the breed saved the life of William, Prince of Orange, by giving alarm at the approach of the Spaniards at Hermingny in 1572. What a great story!!!

This picture is from 1808: Although today’s Pug is distinguished by an almost flat face, the Pug of 1800 had a distinct muzzle, and in this case cropped ears.

Italian Greyhounds

This smallest member of the Greyhound family is of very ancient lineage, for its history dates back at least two thousand years. Although its name suggests that the breed originated in Italy, cynologists believe this charming little dog originated in Egypt. Eventually, the breed was taken by Roman soldiers from Egypt to Mediterranean areas, where they soon became the favorite companions of Greek and Roman ladies. . . By the Middle Ages, the breed had spread throughout southern Europe when they became known as Italian Greyhounds.

It has never been used for work of any kind, it is a natural sight hound. Throughout the centuries Italian Greyhounds have been favored as pets by royalty: Catherine the Great of Russia, Mary Queen of Scots, James I and Charles I of England, Frederick the Great of Prussia and Queen Victoria were a few royal owners of the breed.

And of course this picture is the one I just had to pick, because in the picture of the greyhound is a Maltese. It is hard to see the little dog he looks more like a pillow, but he is there. And so my little dog's breed was also around in the Regency. One of these days, one of his ancestors is going to star in one of my novels. Until Next time. Happy Rambles.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Regency Europe - Italy

The nice thing about going to Europe is that much of it is way older than the Regency era, so it means you can have your story set in other places besides or as well as England. Toying with an idea, this summer we decided to take a trip to Italy during our normal visit to England.

Now I must say, this was a very special trip for us, a joint birthday celebration. And we took the Orient Express from London to Venice. I have never felt so pampered in my life. However, as we all know, they did not have trains like this during the Regency. On the other hand, I think it gave me a sense of the luxury our nobility would have expected in their everyday lives.

The main point of the trip was to look at Venice, probably the city as close to the original as any one could find on the continent. This first picture is taken out of our hotel window. Yes, we actually looked down on a canal. What a thrill.

Obviously, these canals were like this during the Regency era too. During that era, Venice was like a rag doll, pulled back and forth between Austria and France under Bonaparte.

And the next picture is also taken from our hotel window directly into a garden. I notice all kinds of these little walled courtyards of green tucked into the most unlikely places. Of course the big palaces had amazing gardens, but it was these little tiny spaces that fascinated me the most.

As did this next spot, a landing place for gondolas to deliver or pick up goods. These days everything is still done by boat, but gondolas are for tourists and ceremonies, groceries are delivered by motor boat and garbage is picked up that way as well. Because of all the bridges and the streets which are paved, in addition to the canals, there are always people pushing hand barrows along streets and up and over bridges. I think Venetians have to be very fit to manage all of that walking and stair climbing.
Definitely something to remember when setting a book in this city. You also have to know your way around. The alleyways twist and turn, so it is very easy to get lost, as we found to our cost.

This last view just seemed so old world to me, with the building encroaching right over the walkway, leaving only an old tunnel, the boats lined up along the walls, along with the grills and the balconies and the washing hanging out of the window.

Of course the history of Venice is a whole other story, but I hope you enjoyed this little peak at my vacation. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Regency Dogs - Part III

Well, why not, since I am on a roll as they say.

I am going to continue with sporting dogs, and in particular with the pointer, because it is such an old breed. Obviously, given our distaste for hunting these days, this is not something anyone is going to describe in any great detail, but that doesn't mean you should not know about them. I am also experimenting with blogger. They have this Play thing that shows images as they are mounted. I am such a geek. I just have to see if my picture will come up, when I post it here.

Anyway, a little bit about the pointer. They developed in England at the same time as they developed in Europe, and their job is to stand perfectly still nose pointing at game in the grass, or on water, until the hunter has time to get off a shot, be it bow and arrow, or gun or until the greyhounds could be brought up for coursing. Obviously, they have to stand still or they will frighten away the creature too soon.

Around the eighteenth century wing shooting became popular, meaning pointing at a covey of birds until hunters are in place, they the birds are sent up to be shot, "on the wing". Pointers are used for this too. These days, they are better off shooting clay pigeons, me thinks. Fortunately, camera glare on this picture obscures the victims. lol

Hmm. I guess the pictures go up when you post the blog. I will let you know next time.

On with dogs. I could not pass up the opportunity to look at one of my favorite breeds. The collie. Sheepherders. I think I may have mentioned in a previous post that I had the privilege of watching a modern shepherd work with his dogs, when we were in Wales earlier this year. The shepherd whistled, the dogs worked and the sheep got organized into the proper pens. Fascinating. Next time I go back, I am going to interview that man, if I can.

Collies fall into the category of herding dogs. Though this kind of dog has existed in Britain for probably more than three centuries, they were not the dog of the landowner or aristocrat, and therefore not the prized possession of those who kept records. And not the subject of a lot of paintings either, according to an expert.

From The Working Border Collie, by Marjorie Quarton:
The first ‘sheepdogs’ were savage creatures whose function was to protect their masters’ flocks from wild animals and human marauders rather than to herd them. It would be interesting to know the story of the first exasperated shepherd who thought of training the hunting instinct of his dog so as to gather his sheep and goats and to fetch or drive them on command. Wild dogs round up helpless animals such as sheep in order to single out one and kill it for food. . . It must have occurred to some observant dog lover centuries ago that, if a single dog could be trained to head off a flock of sheep on his own and stop when told, the sheep could be penned unharmed in folds.

I had to include the following from Quarton, even though it made me feel sad.

The early writers about working dogs were working men. James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, wrote a touching story called ‘Duncan Campbell, or the Faithful Dog.’ The dog, Oscar, a collie, is treated with a casual cruelty by everyone except his master; the story shows how little working dogs were considered in those days. Hogg also wrote often of his own collies, Sirrah and Hector, in the early 1800s, showing a love and understanding all too rare at the time.

This picture was painted before 1805.

The last dog today is a Corgi, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II.
Rather than an herding dog, this dog was bred to chase cattle further afield on common land, so that they did not over graze close to home. Your typical ankle biter, right? And that was its job, to nip at the heels of the cattle and move them along.

Sadly, once the fences went up, the need was lost. But it is a very very old breed.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dogs in the Regency

Mr. Teasy Weasy looking as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Hah!

Do dogs have table manners? Well it might be the sort of requirement one would ask of a dog in the Regency. Mine certainly doesn't. Which is what generated me thinking about posting on dogs again. My sweetie-pie demonstrated his lack of table manners on
Thanksgiving at my in laws. After we left the table and were sitting outside on the patio, my brother-in-law leaped from his seat, pointed in through the window. "Is that your dog?"

There was Teaser, like a statue, four feet square in the center of the table checking out the crumbs. And not for the first time. But we in our house have learned never to put edibles on the table without someone there on guard. It took a half a pound of butter and a steak to get the message, but we are now well trained.

However, Teaser is a pound puppy, and didn't arrive in my house until he was six. So we can forgive him. Fortunately, he is small, a Maltese. But I must say, I would not like him to lead my brother-in-laws Golden Retriever astray, especially not on his antique dining room table, which fortunately was still covered by its table cloth.

While people did have dogs as pets in the Regency, and a pug is always a safe bet for this, many dogs were working animals.

I will put up more of the pet-style dogs in a future post, but we should remember that people still hunted their meat, be it animals or birds and they were important to the supply of food for guarding sheep and such like.

The Spaniel is one such dog used for hunting. This 1815 picture is of a Water Spaniel. Apparently water spaniels, and in particular the Tweed Water Spaniel, are the forerunner of the Golden Retriever, which was not a recognized breed until 1835. So no Golden Retrievers in books about the Regency please.

Spaniels were bred to flush game out of dense brush. By the late 1600’s spaniels had become specialized into water and land breeds. The English water spaniel (extinct) was used to retrieve water fowl shot down with arrows. Land spaniels were comprised of setting spaniels—those that crept forward and pointed their game allowing hunters to ensnare them with nets, and springing spaniels—those that sprang pheasants and partridges for hunting with falcons, and rabbits for hunting with greyhounds. During the 17th century, the role of the spaniel dramatically changed as Englishmen began hunting with flintlocks for wing shooting. Goodall & Gasow (1984), write the spaniels were "transformed from untrained, wild beaters, to smooth, polished gun dogs."

Springing spaniels would lay the foundation of all modern day flushing spaniels. In a single litter of springer spaniels, the larger pups would become springer spaniels, the smaller pups would become cocker spaniels, and the medium-sized pups would become Sussex spaniels: Size alone was the only difference.


They were used as harriers originally, for hunting hare and rabbit. They used scent, not speed and were followed on foot. Secord's caption to this picture says, "The Beagle, one of the oldest breeds of dogs, is a scent hound developed in England to hunt in packes." I would also find this picture useful to describe countryside and the gentlemen themeselves.

One last dog, then I must go.


In the late eighteenth century, the Bloodhound was used to pursue deer which had been shot and injured but not killed. More chillingly, we are aware that these dogs were used to hunt escaped prisoners.

I think Teaser would be proud if he knew he had inspired yet another post on dogs, but the little rascal's fast asleep under my desk.

Until next time when I will try to find some more interesting dogs for you, Happy Rambles, and may your dog remain under your table.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Regency Life and Living

I thought we might have a bit of fun today, as I used to say to my girls before they got too growed up to have fun. I thought you might be interested in what we regency authors worry about when we are writing our books.

I know that readers also think about this things because I had a wonderful e-mail from a reader in Australia and I know I won’t be in her bad books if I quote just a little bit of her note:

I find many of the stories marred by poor research. Such things such as referring to foil wrapped confection. I must say I have to agree.

My Regency chapter, The Beaumonde, recently had a long discussion about the wearing of gloves at dinner. It was hard to find evidence, and sometimes you try to find portraits from the day as a clue, but generally agreed that ladies would remove their gloves while eating and while playing the piano and doing needlework, etc, but for everything else, including dancing, they would wear their gloves.

My intro picture shows two ladies shopping in Ackerman's Art Gallery in 1812, in their gloves. How hampering that would have been. This next one shows them dancing. One way of avoiding those male sweaty palms, I should think. But then when you finally did get to touch a male hand, skin on skin, it must have been quite an erotic experience. Remember that touch in the most recent version of Pride and Predjudice? Shivers down the spine, ladies.

The next pictures are of things where a lady would need some finger dexterity and therefore, as you can see gloves were not worn. I do wonder what they did with the darn things. They must have been forever getting lost, particularly those that were white or York tan, because they must all have looked the same.

Another interesting question arose about whether a man would wear his Hessian boots to a ball. We thought not, and indeed it was certainly expressly forbidden by Nash at the pump rooms in Bath, which probably meant that they would have if it had been allowed. Although a soldier in full dress uniform might, as seen here at the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball before Waterloo. Note however, that some of the soldiers in uniform are wearing dress shoes.

Well, I hope you enjoyed seeing into a writer's exciting life, lol.

Until next time, Happy rambles.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Giving Thanks,

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.

Today, our family will be sitting down to a dinner of turkey and other goodies and taking a moment to appreciate how fortunate we are. We have interesting lives and valuable contributions to make to friends, family and community. We have traveled to visit relatives and to see some of the world around us.

Canadian Thanksgiving has been a removable feast. The history I have discovered - and of course I always have to dig into the history is as follows:

The first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

No record is found of a Thanksgiving Day between 1872 and 1879.

From 1879 to 1898, both inclusive, it was observed on a Thursday in November. In 1899, it was fixed on a Thursday in October, where it stayed until 1907, with the exception of 1901 and 1904 when the date was fixed on a Thursday in November.
Who know why that was. lol

From 1936 to 1956, inclusive, a proclamation was issued yearly to appoint the second Monday of October as Thanksgiving Day. In 1957, a proclamation was issued fixing permanently Thanksgiving Day on that day, thus eliminating the necessity of an annual proclamation. There is a whole lot more than this of course, but I didn't want to drive you mad.

On our thanksgiving day I can't help but recall that I have met some wonderful and kind people during my foray into this blog and during the course of becoming an author. I can only hope they realize that they are appreciated, no matter what time of year.

For those of you whose Thanksgiving is today, or later in the year, I hope that your giving of thanks is as warm as ours.

I look forward to chatting with you later in the week about the customs and lives of those in the Regency.

Heartfelt best wishes and happy rambles


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Regency Fashion for October

Wow, here we are heading for the Canadian Thanksgiving next week end. After that I will be in Seattle at the Emerald City Writers Conference and my first booksigning for No Regrets with my American Title sister Gerri Russell.

October of course signals that winter is just around the corner. But what did our fashion mavens decide we should wear.

Here we are in the year before the Regency actually begins in October 1811.

Now just look at this outfit from La Belle Assemblee. This is a tunic of sky-blue-silk, the buttons down the front are self covered with the same silk. Over that is loose short dress of plain India Muslin. the long sleeves and the front of the dress is trimmed with a quilling of lace, and tied down with bows of white satin ribbon and deep French lace flounced round the hem. Ribbons blue Persian confine the arms and form the sash. A white lace hood, lined with blue, and double quilling of French net in the front tops of the outfit. It is worn here with pale buff kid slippers.

I must say I am not so keen on the hood, but the gown itself looks comfortable and the high neck would help keep our lady warm in the cooler mornings of October.

This gown is from 1814, and is clearly an evening gown. This one comes from Paris via the Journal des Dames et Des Modes. the triple row of lace at the bottom of the underskirt is stunning as is the embroidered decoration on the overdress. I just can't get with the turban though. Still, if it is all the rage, I am sure we are wearing it.

These two plates seem to really show the progression during this period. The earlier gown is flowing and more classic, the later one the fuller skirt leading into the hoop skirts of the next era. Yet the high waist still lingers, along with the low cut neckline for evening. Remember that at this time, English women had just discovered French fashions again. By 1818, Napoleon was safely ensconced on Saint Helena. Poor man. He caused lots of trouble, but that does seem like a very uncomfortable thing to do to a person.

I have a friend who comes from Saint Helena. His mother still livers there. One of these days I would love to visit that tiny isolated island.

That is all until next time. Until then Happy rambles.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Regency Flora and Fauna - October

October. The nights are drawing in, instead of sunsets at 9:30 pm, they are now at 6:30 pm. A noticeable change. The leaves are turning yellows and reds and various shades of brown. So what are we seeing in gardens and the countryside as we go for a carriage drive or take a stroll through fields and woods.

Well, after you've stopped looking into the eyes of your beloved (romance alert) here are a couple of things of interest in the natural world.

Our naturist tells us that in England in October in the Regency, we will still see geraniums.
Geraniums have a vary interesting history, because they were originally misnamed and have kept the wrong name ever since.

The first plants were brought from South Africa to England by famed plantsman John Tradescant in the early 17th century. African pelargoniums (called geraniums) quickly became popular conservatory plants, although rare enough that only the well-to-do could afford them. By the beginning of the 18th century, both amateur enthusiasts and serious scientists groups were hybridizing species and propagating the new plants from cuttings.

Around the same time the 18th century the Turkish "Secret Language of Flowers" was introduced to Europe by Lady Mary Wortley Montague 1869-1762, wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople and interesting lady in her own right, and look at that gown, but before our time.

Flowers had long been a sign of romance but now lovers were able to send secret messages to each other by means of sending a posy of flowers. Each flower had a specific meaning and the order of arrangement had much to do with the intended "message". The French seem to have taken this idea to heart.

In 1819 a French woman writing under the pen name of Madame Charlotte de la Tour (Louise Cortambert), wrote and published "Le Language des Fleurs" which offered seasonal floral and anecdotal advice to those wishing to send "secret" messages to each other.

The geranium was offered as comfort.

Enough with the flora, I can also tell you a little bit about the birds. One bird in particular interested me, the the ring-ouzel which our naturalist tells us "arrives from the Welsh and Scottish Alps to winter in more sheltered situations". And here he is. Interesting bird and not one I recall seeing in England although I did live in the south east which is where they are supposed to winter. They are, apparently a very shy member of the thrush family.
The other bird mentioned is the swallow. Around this time they leave for Africa. This bird I recall fondly. "One swallow does not make a summer." My mother said this English proverb with dates back to the sixteenth century every spring without fail. Just shows how we keep up our traditions in our family. It sure gave one the feeling that summer was just around the corner though!

Until next time, Happy Rambles.