A New Passion for China

I have always had a fondness for china.  It just FEELS good when used.  Somehow food looks prettier on a porcelain plate, and tea definitely tastes better out of a bone china mug or cup.  However, I have not actually purchased any for quite some time.  Recently, the passion reared its head and the urge to buy was irresistible.  Even more peculiar, none of these recent purchases go with my existing sets.

Cream and sugar Nippon (Morimura) c 1911

I fell in love with this Nippon hand-painted cream and sugar set.  It has a Morimura mark and is definitely hand painted.  The tag indicated it was made between the 1890’s and about 1920’s.  I checked on line, and did not find an exact match for this pattern, but did find some similar that were all dated to 1911, which feels right.  Cream and sugar sets are so appealing, and can be used in other ways (as well as a useful adjunct for serving tea, with all the different kinds of milks and sweeteners we use these days!).

Royal Albert Symphony Series 1970’s


The next item I fell in love with was the cup and saucer in the Royal Albert Symphany Series, with the little roses on the pale green background.  It doesn’t match the Old Country Roses tea set, but coordinates nicely; it would definitely work as an extra cup, if needed!  Royal Albert produced variations of this pattern for some time.  It was not hard to find that this particular pattern, the Symphany Series, was produced in the 1970’s, and appeared in different colors.  I was very happy with the pale green, and snapped it up.

Queen Anne china (English), Regency pattern, 1940’s

My last find occurred in a delightful shop in Fernandina Beach.  It made me think of one of my favorite novels by Patricia Wentworth, SHE CAME BACK (American title), in which a main character  had “the familiar tea things-Queen Anne silver and bright flowered cups bordered with gold and apple green….” (1)  I was traveling and not expecting to make a purchase, but I could not resist.  It was a total impulse buy.  Again, it doesn’t match the tea set but tones with it beautifully in color and style.

None of these purchases were expensive, or intentional.  None are especially old or valuable.  However, all three were very satisfying.  While I doubt if I make any more purchases (at least for a while), I expect to enjoy using these new finds over time.  Unexpected pleasures!

(1) Wentworth, Patricia.  SHE CAME BACK. 1945: J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and New York.  P. 141.

Photos by me.

Where has this summer gone?

I thought that yesterday was the 4th of July; now it’s almost the middle of October! Where has this summer gone? On one hand, I look around and feel like the time just vanished. On the other, I do see signs of accomplishment. Work has been done on my next novel, which should be coming out this winter-more editing on what has been completed and more writing done, moving forward. On the work front, new procedures have been implemented and there are new programs yet to learn; again, moving forward. It seems funny; when I was a child, summer seemed endless (especially August, when I was waiting for school to start again). Now time seems to go by in the blink of an eye. It is truly alarming to go into a store and see Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations leering at me from all sides. Talk about rushing the season! I miss a more leisurely progression, where one has time to really enjoy the now, instead of rushing headlong through the pleasures of today to get to the next holiday or the next event. It seems so unappreciative, even disrespectful of our life and time. I will at least strike my own small blow: no Hallowe’en decorations until that week; no Thanksgiving decorations until that week; DEFINITELY no Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. It’s important to savor the pleasures of today. Time slips by quickly enough; there is no reason to try to make it go even faster.

More Company’s Coming!

The Vicar of Wakefield: The Welcome by Thomas Rowlandson (from Wikimedia Commons)

July is a busy month! Author Anna Belfrage will be posting on the blog on Thursday July 24, 2014 in celebration of her new book Revenge and Retribution, 6th in her popular Graham saga. Please be sure to stop by and check out the blog. (Hint: there’s a preview!) You won’t be disappointed.

The Queen of Bedlam Tour: Guest Post by Laura Purcell

Author Laura Purcell has just released a new novel, The Queen of Bedlam, about Queen Charlotte who was the wife of King George III. She is on tour for this release from June 9 through July 15th, and we are fortunate to have her stop by. Today Laura has written a wonderful post introducing the six daughters of George III.

Six Princesses

George III and Queen Charlotte had a remarkable fifteen children, thirteen of which made it to adulthood. They were unusual amongst monarchs in being particularly keen to have daughters. Once they had provided an heir and two spares, they were heard to say they hoped they would have no more sons! Similarly, when George III’s first grandchild was born, he rejoiced to hear it was a girl.

Nice as it was to be appreciated, George’s six daughters later had reason to find his love suffocating. His fondness for them, along with natural fatherly anxiety, made him reluctant to arrange marriages. Fear of parting with his daughters became more pronounced as George III began to suffer from mental instability; it seemed the princesses would never find freedom. In consequence, the girls humorously referred to their home as The Nunnery.
Here is a short introduction to the six princesses and their remarkable lives.

Princess Royal

Charlotte Augusta Matilda was the eldest Princess, known amongst the family as “Royal”. She was a talented artist but a poor dancer and hated music. It is also rumoured that she dressed very badly.
Beloved by her father, who she greatly resembled, Royal often clashed with her mother Queen Charlotte and had a reputation as a “tale-bearer” amongst her sisters.
Shy, stuttering and often clumsy, Royal was nonetheless a determined woman. She was the only one of George III’s daughters to marry before the age of 40 and with his consent. Her husband was the only one to be found – the famously fat Frederick of Wurttemberg. Despite the shifting fortunes of the Napoleonic wars and rumours of domestic abuse, Royal lived a happy life in Wurttemberg. She remained there with her step children after her husband died.

Princess Augusta

Augusta was the second of the six Princesses and the most popular. Her easy-going, unaffected nature endeared her even to people who disliked the royal family.
Augusta was a beauty but not vain, letting hairdressers and wardrobe women do whatever they liked with her appearance. She was good-humoured, kind and extremely patriotic. Sometimes, she went a little overboard in her fervour. During the Napoleonic wars, Augusta unleashed her wit upon the French in letters to her family, and was even scolded by her father once for not respecting the death of enemy troops.
Her sisters often teased her about her “military rage” and it is suspected she secretly married a solider, Sir Brent Spencer.

Princess Elizabeth

A talented artist, Elizabeth illustrated several poems and decorated the inside of Queen Charlotte’s cottage at Kew. The third of six sisters, she was Queen Charlotte’s favourite and close companion. She often struggled with her weight and was known to her younger sisters as “Fatima”. She frequently got in trouble for her blunt honesty.
Elizabeth finally achieved her aim of marriage at the age of 48 but sadly never had the chance to bear the children she dreamed of. Her husband was a large man with mustachios who smelt of tobacco. The match was much mocked in the press but Elizabeth was devoted to her mate.

Princess Mary

Mary, the fourth daughter, was the great beauty of the family. She was fascinated in the world outside the palaces and subsequently became a great gossip. Despite adoring clothes and fashion of every kind, she was not a shallow woman – she devotedly nursed her sister Amelia through her last illness to the detriment of her own health.
Mary finally married her cousin William in her forties – it was whispered he had proposed to her no less than twenty times over the years. This was the Duke of Gloucester, known in the press as “Silly Billy”.
While the marriage was not precisely happy, Mary made the best of it. She took frequent opportunities to escape from the marital home and visit her brother the Prince Regent, to whom she was devoted.

Princess Sophia

“Little Sophy” was the darling of the attendants and a very caring woman. As a young girl she reportedly gave all her pocket money to help poor prisoners. Her chief hobbies were sewing and reading, though she was also an accomplished equestrian.
Sophia was, perhaps, overly sensitive and often made ill by sudden shocks. Her health, never good, became terrible in later life, robbing her of sight and nearly all hearing. She bore this, as everything else, with sharp wit and good humoured forbearance.
It is rumoured Sophia gave birth to an illegitimate child by her father’s equerry, Thomas Garth, and there is strong evidence to support this. However, scandal mongers at the time maintained Tommy was incestuously fathered by Sophia’s brother, Ernest.

Princess Amelia

The youngest sister and child, Amelia was “the little idol” of the family. Her father adored her and many historians blame her early death in 1810 for the final loss of George III’s mind. Spoilt as a child, Amelia grew up into a spirited and almost feisty Princess, defying her mother to keep up a love affair with her beloved Charles Fitzroy. She is recorded as being old-fashioned in dress and untidy with her inkstand. Sadly, she died at the age of 27 after a long, agonising illness, which she bore with great fortitude.

(All images from Wikimedia Commons.)

Here are Laura’s buy/social media links:



We’re expecting a guest!

Princess Charlotte meets Leopold

On Monday July 14, 2014, the talented author Laura Purcell will be posting on my blog. She is currently touring with her recent release, Queen of Bedlam (don’t you love the title?). Please be sure to come by to enjoy her post, and cruise through the links.

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Best-selling author Patrick Redmond (his latest novel is THE REPLACEMENT) was kind enough to tag me for the Writing Process blog hop. You can visit his blog here: http://patrickredmondbooks.com/blog/2014/04/21/writing-process-blog-hop . He had been tagged by Marie MacPherson, author of THE FIRST BLAST OF THE TRUMPET, (Her blog is HERE http://mariemacpherson.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/writing-process-blog-hop-2 ) who encouraged me to participate. I thank them both!

A few simple rules apply to this blog hop: 1. You publish on a Monday the week after being tagged and answer four questions and 2. Link back to the blogs of the person who tagged you to let him or her know you appreciate it. On to the questions…

Question1: What am I working on right now? I am working on another novel set in the late Georgian/Regency era, a romantic historical novel involving a young woman coming into her own. She is rather shy and uncertain of her place in her world, and is not very trusting of her own abilities and choices. I also have notes for a sequel to my first published work in process, as well as a non-fiction project.

Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre? This question is almost impossible to answer. I would like to think that my personal tastes, values and interests influence my characters and their stories. However, since one or another of my characters takes over at some point, other issues and viewpoints can creep in. It is impossible to keep my own feelings out of the story, but sometimes the characters take the story into directions I had not planned initially.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do? I write what I enjoy reading. I have always loved historical novels, whether romantic or otherwise. Historical novels can provide painless doses of historical information that inspire the reader to find out more. They take the reader away to another time and place. They introduce the reader to characters that will hopefully become almost alive, people one would like to befriend or the villain that one loves to hate. Novels explore the human condition, emotions, reactions-characters in a novel sometimes show us something about ourselves. Historical details of time and place can give us parallels to our own time and place-we can see how far we have come in some respects and how some things remain constant in others. Although I love novels that have a grand sweep of stirring events, my favourites tend to involve the personal, the interactions of normal people in their own daily lives and, if possible, a happy ending.

Question 4: How does my writing process work? I must confess that I don’t have a set process. The beginning varies. It may start with a “What if…” question. Sometimes a character wakes up in my mind. Occasionally, scraps of a dream become an inspiration. Once I have the initial idea, I try to identify the characters whose voices will be the main ones for my story. I flesh out those characters first: name, description, likes and dislikes, talents and interests, family background. Research is crucial. Although I tend to focus on the personal lives of my characters, sometimes real people creep in. I also want the place descriptions to fit, the locality to be accurate. While I want my characters to be unique and appealing, I also want them to be true to their time and place. I make a general outline of the plot, and add notes of details I want to include. Then I do more research. Sometimes the writing comes quickly, other times, not so much… Then that little piece fits into the puzzle and I’m off again. I reread and edit as I go along, to make sure that the story line fits together.

Who is next? I would like to tag

Barbara Monajem
Barbara Monajem writes award-winning historical romance and paranormal mysteries, including THE MAJIC OF HIS TOUCH, UNDER A NEW YEAR’S ENCHANTMENT and her most recent BACK TO BITE YOU, due out May 1st! She blogs with the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers HERE http://pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com/ and has her own website HERE http://www.barbaramonajem.com/
Barbara Monajem-Under A New Years Enchantment-Harlequin 2014

Guest Post: Shop to Live, or Live to Shop? by Grace Elliot

Once again, I am privileged to welcome author Grace Elliot to my blog. She is launching her new book, The Ringmaster’s Daughter with a fantastic blog tour. Take it away, Grace!

The Ringmaster's Daughter Blog Tour

Shop to Live, or Live to Shop?

I love history, especially the 18th century and the more I learn about the Georgians, the more it appears they oversaw the birth of many things familiar to us today. Take shopping as an example.
Before the 1700’s most trade was done direct, straight from producer to customer. If you needed a chicken, you went to a farmer to buy one and if the farmer produced surplus stock, then he took those chickens to market. Likewise craftsmen produced to order and had no need of shop premises because customers approached them directly. People shopped out of necessity, rather than for leisure – perhaps with the except ion travelling pedlars hawking more unusual goods such as tea, tobacco, spices and ribbons.
But in the 18th century London expanded at a tremendous rate. Money was poured into building grand terraces, opulent squares and imposing town houses –all of which needed fixtures, fittings and furnishings. A demand for merchandise was born that distanced the consumer from producer. Canny merchants spotted the opportunity to buy good and supply them to towns and cities – the demand for goods as luxuries, rather than necessity had started.
These shops were often open from 8am to 11pm and as more shops opened so competition for custom grew and window displays became important to entice the shopper inside. Bow fronted windows gave a larger stage on which to showcase goods.
But this fledgling consumer society was not without disadvantages for the shopkeeper. The majority of goods did not have a fixed price and could be bargained over (a hark back to haggling in the market) and it was considered ‘odd’ to marks items with a price tag and not haggle. When a purchase was made, it was usual to put goods on account, rather than pay up front. Often a customer ran up an account for a year before settling what he owed – and if he didn’t feel like paying in full, there was little a shopkeeper could do about it.
As the century deepened, so shopping became an entertainment in itself, with people idling away the hours at different shops but with no intention of making a purchase:
“I have heard, that some Ladies, and those too persons of good note, have taken their coaches and spent a whole afternoon in Ludgate Street, or Covent Garden, only to divert themselves in going from one mercer’s shop to another, to look upon their fine silks, and to rattle and banter the shopkeepers, having not so much the least occasion, much less the intention, to buy anything; nay, not so much as carry any money out with them to buy anything if they fancied it.”
Daniel Defoe – The Complete Tradesman
Indeed, shopkeepers were expected not only to put up with having their time wasted, but to be cheerful about it!
“[The shopkeeper] must never be angry, not so much as seen to be so, if a customer tumbles him £100 worth of goods and scarce bid for anything”
Daniel Defoe – The Complete Tradesman
So you see, in the 18th century people stopped shopping to live, and lived to shop! It was also a time when people with spare income spent it on entertainments such as the theatre or visiting a pleasure garden. My latest historical romance, The Ringmaster’s Daughter, is set in the Foxhall Pleasure Gardens, which are the Georgian equivalent of an amusement park, and one of the places created to take advantage of the new phenomena of consumerism.

Grace Elliot
Grace Elliot

Author Bio.
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is housekeeping staff to five cats, two teenage sons, one husband and a bearded dragon.
Grace believes that everyone needs romance in their lives as an antidote to the modern world. The Ringmaster’s Daughter is Grace’s fifth novel, and the first in a new series of Georgian romances.

The Ringmaster’s Daughter – synopsis

1770’s London
The ringmaster’s daughter, Henrietta Hart, was born and raised around the stables of Foxhall Gardens. Now her father is gravely ill, and their livelihood in danger. The Harts’ only hope is to convince Foxhall’s new manager, Mr Wolfson, to let Hetty wield the ringmaster’s whip. Hetty finds herself drawn to the arrogant Wolfson but, despite their mutual attraction, he gives her an ultimatum: entertain as never before – or leave Foxhall.

When the winsome Hetty defies society and performs in breeches, Wolfson’s stony heart is in danger. Loath as he is to admit it, Hetty has a way with horses…and men. Her audacity and determination awaken emotions long since suppressed.

But Hetty’s success in the ring threatens her future when she attracts the eye of the lascivious Lord Fordyce. The duke is determined, by fair means or foul, to possess Hetty as his mistress – and, as Wolfson’s feelings for Henrietta grow, disaster looms.

Buy Links
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I2650GS

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I2650GS


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Website: http://graceelliot.wix.com/grace-elliot

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Ghoulies and Ghosties

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-legged beasties

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord, deliver us!

(Traditional Scottish prayer)

It’s Hallowe’en, and, at this time of year, my thoughts turn to an American classic, Edgar Allan Poe.  I grew up with the old Hammer films, and loved Vincent Price in The Mask of the Red Death, The Tomb of Ligeia, and others.  (I remember looking into and under the car in which I was travelling after seeing Ligeia at the theater!)  However, no movie ever had the ability to create an atmosphere of sheer skin-crawling creepiness the way Poe’s writing did.   In Poe’s classic stories and many of his poems, the line between this world and the next was very thin, and both sides were inhabited by beings human and… something else.  Horror and romance, love and hate, were all combined into a misty other-world.  Poe was a master of creating things that went bump in the night!

   The poem The Conqueror  Worm starts with a gala night, and proceeds to madness, horror, and an unexpected end.  The last verse illustrates the atmosphere Poe created:

“Out – out are the lights – out all!

And, over each quivering form,

The curtain, a funeral pall,

Comes down with the rush of a storm,

And the angels, all pallid and wan,

Uprising, unveiling affirm,

That the play is the tragedy, ‘Man,’

And its hero the Conqueror Worm.”

Of course, any celebration of Hallowe’en brings forth The Raven with all its moody repetition…

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary….”

Illustration for THE RAVEN by Paul Gustav Dore’


Then, there are the short stories.  Once read, who can forget Berenice?  “…But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born.  Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.”  This musing leads to a conclusion.  “Yet its memory was replete with horror – horror more horrible from being vague, and terror more terrible from ambiguity.”  (I won’t tell you what it was…)  I don’t read Edgar Allan Poe’s work as often as I once did.  However, when I do, it’s still important to have a good light, a cozy blanket and a locked door.  It also doesn’t hurt to say an old Scottish prayer just before turning out the light to go to sleep!

Good Lord, deliver us!

Sleep tight (don’t forget the night-light)!

COMPLETE STORIES AND POEMS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE.  Doubleday & Co. Inc., Garden City, NY, 1966.

Scottish Prayer, Traditional. Things That Go Bump in the Night. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/bump.html

Image: Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Gustave_Dore_Raven3.jpg