This weekend, February 17-18, 2023, is the Amelia Island Book Festival in beautiful Fernandina Beach, FL. Celebrity authors David Baldacci, Kate Quinn, Scott Turow, and Jeannette Walls headline the event, which benefits literacy in Nassau County, Florida. On Saturday, the Author Expo will feature numerous authors and genres (including me!). Visit the website at https://tinyurl.com/bdzjsmsa for more information. I hope to see you there!
A New Year
It’s 2023, and we’re ten days into the new year. I hope this is a better year for all. I’ve been working on the new book. The research has been, and is, fascinating. It’s also book festival season! Coming up is the Sunshine State Book Festival in Gainesville, FL.
This year the festival will be held at the Trinity United Methodist Church. You can get full details about the location and events at the festival website: https://sunshinestatebookfestival.com/index.html
There will be 150 authors and books in 15 genres, so there will be something for all readers. I will be in space 117, and hope to see you there!
Jane Austen and Fashion
A discussion on Facebook regarding cover illustrations caught my attention. The subject was clothing style depicted in cover art that was not compatible with the timeframe of the novel on which the art was displayed. Most of those who commented found such incompatibility to be disturbing. As a reader, I enjoy fashion details in historical novels. Such details bring the characters to life in my mind’s eye. Fashion, food, furniture, and other matters set the scene so that a reader can place the story in the time. A common point mentioned regarding Jane Austen’s novels addresses the fact that she does not describe her characters’ persons or their clothing in any detail, which is sometimes cause for lament and sometimes cause for curiosity. Why this lack of detail?
Jane Austen did not write historical novels. She wrote of her time for readers in her time. Some details would not have needed a great deal of stress or attention as her contemporaries would have known what she was talking about. However, one still wonders why so little attention was paid to appearances. We know Jane Austen was interested in clothes; her surviving letters to Cassandra frequently discuss clothing in detail. One example of this is the letter from Sloane Street written April 18th-20th, 1811. In this letter, Jane Austen discussed her shopping expedition, in which she purchased muslins for herself and Cassandra, bugle trimming and other items, including a new bonnet, and confessed a desire for a new straw hat.
We also know that Jane Austen had ideas about her characters’ appearances. In another letter from Sloane Street, this time dated May 24th, 1813, she told Cassandra of her and brother Henry’s visit to the Exhibition in Sloane Street, where she saw a portrait of Mrs. Bingley in which “Mrs. Bingley is exactly herself…dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments….” (1) She lamented not finding Mrs. Darcy’s portrait, and speculated that Mrs. Darcy would wear yellow.
Jane Austen’s earliest novels that were published during her lifetime were written before she was age 30: Elinor and Marianne (which became Sense and Sensibility) was written approximately 1795, when Austen was 20. First Impressions (which became Pride and Prejudice) was written in 1796, and Susan (which became Northanger Abbey) was written in 1798. Some examples of fashion during this time period are:
Portrait of Susannah Wales by her father James Wales, c 1747-1795
Man’s Fashion Plate c 1795
It is important to remember that none of these books were published until much later. In 1801, the family left Stephenton and moved to Bath upon her father’s retirement. After his death in 1805, Jane Austen, her mother and sister moved periodically until finally, in early 1809, her brother Edward made a cottage in Chawton available for the Austen women. Although Jane Austen had revised Elinor and Marianne heavily in 1798, and had sold the copyright for Susan in 1803 (the publisher did not actually produce the novel, and Austen finally bought the copyright back in 1810), none of her books had yet been published. The years between 1801 and 1809 had not been nearly as productive as her earlier years, although she had done some revisions on Susan and started The Watkins (which was never finished). Once settled in Chawton, Jane Austen resumed her work. Revisions on Elinor and Marianne, First Impressions and Susan continued.
Elinor and Marianne became Sense and Sensibility and was published in 1811. First Impressions became Pride and Prejudice, which was published in 1813. Here are some examples of fashion during this period:
Fashion Plate Half-Dress November 1, 1810
Five Positions of Dancing 1811
Fashion Plate Morning Dress April 1, 1813
As we can plainly see, fashions changed significantly in the period of time between the first drafts and publication dates of Austen’s first two published novels. It is not known if the first drafts of the novels had contained any fashion descriptions. If they did, all such descriptions would have had to be found and revised or removed (not an easy task in the days before computers). If left unchanged, the details would not have added charming historical colour; they would merely have been dated, outmoded, and would have been a distraction to her readers. Jane Austen was also well aware that there was no guarantee of prompt publication once a work was completed. By removing such descriptions (if they had been included in the original drafts) or not writing them in the first place, Jane Austen allowed her readers to visualize her characters for themselves. Certainly, her later novels, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion, continued this pattern of leaving such details to the imaginations of her readers. I believe Jane Austen deliberately chose not to include such details in her novels. I also believe that this technique contributes to the longevity and freshness of her novels that readers continue to enjoy today.
And that portrait of Mrs. Bingley? There were multiple possibilities, but a favourite contender was a portrait of Mrs. Harriet Quentin by Francois Huet-Villiers, painted before his death in 1813. See an engraving of that portrait produced by William Blake in 1820 here:
(1) JANE AUSTEN’S LETTERS, P. 221
JANE AUSTEN’S LETTERS, Deirdre Le Faye, ed. Fourth Edition. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011.
All images from Wikimedia Commons.
Succession for a Peerage by Regina Jeffers
Today, Regina Jeffers will be discussing issues of succession and the release of her new novel, THE EARL CLAIMS HIS COMFORT.
What happens to a peerage if the peer cannot be found or is presumed dead? What becomes of his wife? His children? This is a familiar plot in many Regency novels. I used it in the first book of my Twins’ trilogy, Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep. Angelica Lovelace’s father is the third son in the family, but when his eldest brother goes missing and the second son is dispatched with in an unusual plot twist, Horace Lovelace becomes the heir presumptive to the title. However, no one can be certain of the eldest’s death. People saw the Peer go overboard on his “honeymoon,” but there is always the possibility of his still being alive. [No “Gilligan’s Island” plot, but anything is possible.] Obviously, the authorities must wait to see if the Peer’s wife is pregnant and if she delivers forth a son, who would then be the heir apparent and displace Horace in the line of succession, but then what?
Such a search could take forever if there is no child to become the heir. We customarily think that after a person is missing for seven years, that he is declared dead, but that is not so in the case of a peerage. The search could take several lifetimes, though the Committee on Privilege of the House of Lords and the College of Arms may choose to set a time limit. Until the Peer is officially declared dead, his “widow” cannot remarry.
It could be possible for the heir apparent or the heir presumptive to act in the Peer’s place to oversee the property and the business of the peerage, but he cannot officially claim the title until a decision on the Peer’s death has been made.
Another incidence of inheritance plagues book 2 of the Twins’ trilogy, The Earl Claims His Comfort. In it, a doppelgänger attempts to unseat Levison Davids, 17th Earl of Remmington, by claiming the earldom is his rightful heritage. So what really occurs when there is a question as to the line of succession?
First, let us clear up some misconceptions. The most confusing of those, for some, is the difference between an heir apparent and an heir presumptive. The heir apparent can only be the peer’s oldest living son or the oldest of his grandsons ( son of the oldest son), if the peer’s oldest son is deceased. What’s most important to remember is that “if a man inherits a peerage, it is because he is the eldest surviving legitimate male who can trace a direct (father to son) lineage back to an earlier holder of the peerage. In other words, he doesn’t inherit because he was the brother or the cousin or the uncle of his predecessor, but because his own father, or grandfather, or great-grandfather, or great-great-grandfather, etc., was an earlier holder of the peerage. [“Eldest” in this context doesn’t mean that he happens to be the oldest of several different living men who can trace a direct line back to an earlier holder of the peerage, but rather that his line is the eldest, i.e., eldest son of eldest son; and all other lines senior to his have died out.]” (“Hereditary Peerages” https://www.chinet.com/~laura/html/titles03.html)
Although it has taken various forms, the Peerage Roll has existed since the Roll kept by Garter Principal King of Arms in 1514. The early ones still in the custody of the House of Lords are those from 1621, 1628, and 1661. Garter’s Roll was the official roll of the House until 1827. From 1827 to 1999, a sessional Roll became a part of Parliament’s history. After the passing of the House of Lords Act in 1999, the Clerk of the Parliaments ceased to preserve the Roll. Since the enactment of this parliamentary law, the Crown Office issues the Writ of Summons to those 92 hereditary peers remaining in the House of Lords. There is no longer an automatic entitlement to a Writ of Summons to the HOL, but this was not so during the Regency.
To claim a peerage during the Regency (and even now), certain statutory declaration evidence must be supplied by the claimant. For a son, this would include evidence of his birth, his parents’ marriage (and that they were married BEFORE his birth, not necessarily before his conception), the previous Peer’s death, and evidence that the late Peer had no legitimate surviving male issue before the birth of the claimant (meaning he had no elder legitimate surviving brothers). For a brother to succeed, the claimant would need all of the above plus evidence that the late Peer had no legitimate male issue and there was no surviving male issue between the birth of the Peer and that of the claimant (meaning the late Peer had no surviving sons). For a nephew to succeed, the person needed proof of his birth, his parents’ marriage, the birth of his father, the death of his father, the death of the deceased Peer, evidence that the late Peer had no surviving legitimate male issue, that there was no surviving legitimate male issue between the birth of the late Peer and that of the claimant’s father, and the claimant’s father had no surviving male issue before the birth of the claimant.
To make such a claim from a position of collateral succession, meaning those who stand to receive a portion, or all, of a deceased individual estate, but who are not direct descendants of the deceased person, the claimant needed to provide evidence of his birth, evidence to show the claimant is descended from the collateral relations of the Peerage/grantee, and evidence to show that all male lines from the very first Peer are senior to that of the claimant are extinct, and that no male senior to the claimant in. his. own line is still living.
Resource for parts of this piece come from the Ministry of Justice, Crown Office, House of Lords “Guidance Notes on Succession to a Peerage…” http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/GuidanceNotes2.pdf
Jeremy Turcotte has a lengthy list of extinct British peerages that was compiled in September 2013. I thought it might be of interest to some of you. Find it at https://jeremyturcotte.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/a-listing-of-extinct-british-peerages/
Introducing The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 in the Twins’ Trilogy, releasing September 16, 2017, from Black Opal Books
– a 2016 Hot Prospects finalist in Romantic Suspense
Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot and left to die upon the road leading to his manor house. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how a stranger’s life parallels his, while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.
Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon a road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.
Black Opal Books HERE
Barnes & Noble HERE
“Cannot recall the last time I slept in my own bed,” he murmured to no one in particular as he stood to gain his bearings. The room swirled before his eyes, but Rem shook off the feeling. Of late, it was common for him to know a dull vibrating sound marring his thinking.
Levison Davids, the 17th Earl of Remmington, set the glass down harder than he intended. He had consumed more alcohol than he should on this evening, but as his home shire often brought on a case of maudlin, he had drowned his memories. He turned toward the door, attempting to walk with the confidence his late father always demanded of his sons. Lev was not trained to be the earl. His father had groomed Rem’s older brother Robinson for the role, but Fate had a way of spitting in a man’s eye when he least expected it.
Outside, the chilly air removed the edge from the numbness the heavy drink provided him, and for a brief moment Rem thought to return to the common room to reinforce the black mood the drink had induced. A special form of “regret” plagued his days and nights since receiving word of his ascension to the earldom some four years prior, and he did not think he would ever to be comfortable again.
“Storm comin’,” the groom warned when he brought Rem’s horse around.
“We’re in Yorkshire,” Remmington replied. “We are known for the unpredictable.”
Customarily, he would not permit the groom to offer him a leg up, but Rem’s resolve to reach his country estate had waned. He had received a note via Sir Alexander Chandler that Rem’s presence was required at the Remmington home seat, and so he had set out from France, where he had spent the last year, to answer a different call of duty.
Sir Alexander offered little information on why someone summoned Rem home, only that the message had come from the estate’s housekeeper. Not that it mattered who had sent for him. Tegen Castle was his responsibility. The journey from France had required that Rem leave an ongoing investigation behind, a fact that did not please him, even though he knew the others in service to Sir Alexander were excellent at their occupations. Moreover, the baronet had assured Rem that several missions on English shores required Remmington’s “special” skills, and he could return to service as quickly as his business knew an end.
He caught the reins to turn the stallion in a tight circle. Tossing the groom a coin, Rem kicked Draco’s sides to set the horse into a gallop.
As the dark swallowed them up, Rem enjoyed the feel of power the rhythm of the horse’s gait provided. He raced across the valley before emerging onto the craggy moors. At length, he skirted the rocky headland.
He slowed Draco as the cliff tops came into view. When he reached Davids’ Point, he urged the stallion into a trot. Rem could no longer see the trail, but his body knew it as well as it knew the sun would rise on the morrow. After some time, he jerked Draco’s reins hard to the left, and, as a pair, they plunged onto the long-forgotten trail. He leaned low over the stallion’s neck to avoid the tree limbs before he directed Draco to an adjacent path that led upward toward the family estate, which sat high upon a hill overlooking the breakwaters.
When he reached the main road again, he pulled up on the reins to bring the animal to a halt. Rem patted Draco’s neck and stared through the night at his childhood home, which was framed against the rising moonlight. It often made him sad to realize how much he once loved the estate as a child and how much he now despised it.
“No love left in the bricks,” he said through a thick throat. “Even the dowager countess no longer wishes to reside here. How can I?”
It was not always so. Although he was a minor son, Rem always thought to share Tegen Castle with his wife and children—to live nearby and to relate tales of happier days.
“But after Miss Phillips’s betrayal and then, likewise, that of Miss Lovelace, I possess no heart to begin again.”
In truth, of the two ladies, Rem had only loved Miss Delia Phillips.
“Fell in love with the girl when I was but fourteen and she, ten.”
He crossed his arms over the rise of the saddle to study the distant manor house.
“Perhaps Delia could find no solace here,” he murmured aloud.
Even today, it bothered him that Delia had not cared enough for him to send him a letter denying their understanding. He had learned of Delia’s marrying Baron Kavanagh from Sir Alexander, with whom Rem had served upon the Spanish front. Sir Alexander’s younger brother delivered the news in a cheeky letter.
“I suppose Delia thought being a baroness was superior to being Mrs. Davids. Little did she know I would claim the earldom. More is the pity for her.” A large raindrop plopped upon the back of his hand. “If we do not speed our return to the castle, my friend, we will arrive with a wet seat.”
He caught up the loose reins, but before he could set his heels into Draco’s sides, a shot rang out. By instinct, Rem thought to dive for the nearby ditch. Yet, the heavy drink slowed his response, and before he could act, Remmington knew the sharp sting of the bullet in his thigh.
Draco bolted forward before Rem had control of the stallion’s reins. He felt himself slipping from the saddle, but there was little he could do to prevent the impact. He slammed hard into the packed earth just as the heavens opened with a drenching rain. The back of his head bounced against a paving stone, and a shooting pain claimed his forehead. Even so Rem thought to sit up so he might take cover, but the effort was short coming. The piercing pain in his leg and the sharp sting claiming his vision fought for control. The blow to his head won, and Rem screwed his eyes closed to welcome the darkness.
Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy
– a 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense finalist
-a SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Award finalist for Historical Romance
Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?
Meet Regina Jeffers
With 30+ books to her credit, Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era-based romantic suspense. A teacher for 40 years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and a Smithsonian presenter.
Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors: http://austenauthors.net
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Jeffers/e/B008G0UI0I/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1479079637&sr=8-1
Also on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Now for the GIVEAWAY. I have two eBook copies of The Earl Claims His Comfort available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Wednesday, October 4.
A Chat with Andrea Patten
Like many of us, Andrea Patten has been writing books — at least imaginary ones — since she could first hold a crayon. A favorite place to play was her grandmother’s desk with its endless supply of scrap paper from Gram’s classroom projects. “I’d spend hours on my stories, adding colorful covers and carefully stapling each masterpiece together. I loved writing “by Andrea Patten” in my best version of fancy handwriting on those covers.”
So, of course, one of the places her writer’s journey frequently took her was to ghostwriting. So much for the byline, huh?
“I worked for several people whose vision was far more inspiring than their ability to share it. I’m not sure how it happened the first time, but it was never uncommon for my immediate supervisor or her boss to stop by my desk and ask me to “have a look” at a speech, an article, a letter, or a memo before sharing with a wider audience.”
But those experiences helped her learn to write in different styles and voices: a CEO’s speech to motivate the staff required different writing chops than persuading legislators to provide funds for homeless teens.
“I wrote curricula and reports, financial disclosures and direct mail pieces… Brochures, classified ads, grant applications, staff bios, and company histories. It was excellent training and helped me appreciate the impact good writing can have,” says Patten.
Eventually, Andrea started to discover her voice as a writer. It’s honest, straightforward, and often funny.
“I worked in human services for a long time and wanted to continue to help people. I realized that part of that might come from sharing some of the fascinating ideas I’d picked up along the way. What Kids Need to Succeed is a book I wrote for parents, but it includes wisdom from the business world: when setting goals and making plans, start with the desired outcome in mind. Part of that book’s purpose was to help parents stop getting discouraged with day-to-day challenges and think about the bigger picture: raising future adults.”
Her latest release has similar roots. “Everybody talks about the Inner Critic, but most of the available advice doesn’t work. You can try to ignore “that voice” until you’re blue in the face but that’s not enough: the name of the game is to get it on your side… to make it an ally. You can learn to use its’ energy to your advantage.”
And, to anyone who has struggled with an Inner Critic (or Inner Editor or Inner Bully) this is very good news, indeed.
Here’s an excerpt from The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten
A few million years ago, when the inner alarm bell sounded, all stress was short-lived: prehistoric primates either responded and escaped or became part of the predator’s buffet. Period. Either way, intense stress did not last long.
Modern stress is different. It’s cumulative — and from the lizard brain’s point of view — relentless. From the jarring sound of the alarm to the gloom and doom news report that accompanies morning coffee, there’s no break. Commuting. Car horns. Caffeine. Kardashians. And that’s even before you get to work.
Most of us don’t pay attention to regular, vanilla stress. It gets stuffed because we think we should be able to handle it. We tamp it down or ignore it and assume we should be able to just power through.
Can you imagine the impact this has on the primitive part of the brain? From that perspective, we’re ignoring death threats which tends to make it cranky. Louder. More insistent. No wonder it wants to take over — you’re not paying attention and giving it relief.
Remember, the survival center’s job is to alert us to potential threats: it is NOT for deep thinking, nuance, delicate wording or high-level negotiation.
Continuing to ignore the needs of our primitive brains can lead to chronic stress, making us unreasonable and sometimes causing arguments. I don’t think that’s what it intends to do — it’s really just the old brain’s way of trying to get your attention.
To help you. When trying to get along with people at work or seeking compromise with a loved one, we need to get that thing tucked in.
Despite the problems it has caused for you, there’s much to respect and appreciate about that old brain. It:
• loves you and wants to keep you safe,
• is part of your hardwired survival mechanism,
• constantly scans your environment for threats, and • will not back down until it has been heard.
It takes hard work and a special sort of mindfulness to turn an Inner Critic into an ally, but do you have what it takes to turn it into an advantage?
Check with your local indie bookstore for the softcover version of The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten. It is also available in e-book or softcover on amazon.com
Here is the Amazon link for all US formats.
Here is the link for Amazon UK.
The Trouble to Check Her Blog Tour: Guest Post by Maria Grace
We have a guest with us today. Please enjoy this excellent post by Maria Grace. Maria Grace is currently engaged in a blog tour promoting her new book, THE TROUBLE TO CHECK HER, a Pride and Prejudice re imaging focused on Lydia Bennet. I have read it and enjoyed it very much.
The Dance of Courtship
To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love – Pride and Prejudice, 1813
Jane Austen’s society was governed by strict rules regulating the interaction of the sexes. Young women were always chaperoned in the company of men, leaving the dance floor one of the only places that young people could interact a little more freely. Under cover of the music and in the guise of the dance, young people could talk, flirt and even touch in ways not permitted elsewhere, making it an ideal place to meet potential spouses and carry on a courtship.
Every dance required a partner. During a public assembly, the Master of Ceremonies assisted couples by making introductions and suggesting partners to those who wished them. At a private ball, everyone was considered introduced, so any young man could ask any young woman to dance. A young lady signaled she was interested in dancing by pinning up the train of her gown. If asked to dance at a private event, she could not refuse unless she did not intend to dance for the rest of the night.
Gentlemen were expected to engage a variety of partners throughout the evening. Failing to do so was an affront to all the guests. The way a gentleman asked for a dance could begin a subtle and powerful conversation with a woman which would not otherwise pass by the watchful eyes of chaperones.
The offer might be made with eye contact and a quick gesture toward the dance floor; a smile, a bow and flowery words; a sweaty palmed, stammered request; or even a shrug and an eye roll of ‘well, I suppose you will do.’ A gentleman might request a dance in advance—a definite compliment to the lady. On the other hand, saving more than two dances for a particular partner was detrimental to a young lady’s reputation. Even two dances signaled to observers that the gentleman in question had a particular interest in her.
Balls might begin with a mixer dance in which dancers switch partners frequently, enabling dancers to ‘sample’ every partner on the floor. These provided an excellent opportunity to scope out partners for future sets, particularly if one was looking for someone of a particular skill level or personality to pair with.
How much can one learn in a fifteen- to thirty-second set of steps with a partner whose name you do not even know? Quite a bit actually. One might meet ‘Henry who lists to the left’ who leans to the left, does not hear the caller well, and easily confused. ‘Bob the leprechaun’ might be all smiles, but unable to count rhythm to save his life or his partners. ‘Dashing Dandy’ might be all too aware of the dashing figure he cuts to care much for his partner. ‘The Colonel’ could take himself and the dance very seriously and disapprove of missteps deeply.
Ladies too demonstrated their disposition on the dancefloor. The Bingley sisters, in very fancy gowns indeed, could be inclined to looked down their noses at less experienced dancers and effectively put them in their places. In contrast, Lady Congeniality might make it her place to make everyone feel welcome. Whomever might be there, the ball room floor was lively and full of characters.
The dances for the evening were all built from an array of standard steps. Most of them were simple maneuvers like: partners turn by the right hand and two couples all join right hands and turn once around. Complex movements like figure eights, ‘hays’ and dancing down the set were included as well. In many of the line-based dances, couples would ‘take hands four from the top’, that is they would form groups of two couples who would dance together for one repetition of the music. In simple dances, both couples would perform the same steps throughout the dance. More complicated dances might have the first and second couples executing completely different steps with one more complex than the other, as in Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot (featured in recent movie adaptations of both Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma.)
At the end of that repetition, the final steps ‘progress’ couples into new groups of four, first couples moving down the set to be first couple in the group one down from their previous position, and second couples moving up. In order for progression to work, couples at the top and bottom of the set would wait out a repetition of the music and not dance. This waiting out period offered a prime opportunity for couples to interact relatively privately on the dance floor.
In the span of a several minutes-long repetition, dancers might exchange pleasantries, flirtations, or even cross words. Whatever their conversation, though, they still had to pay attention to the music and other dancers so as not to miss their entry back into the set. At the next repetition they would rejoin the set, switching their role in the dance from first to second or second to first couple.
Not all dances offer these ‘time out’ periods. Circle dances and those done in sets of two or three couples required dancers to participate constantly, so little or no conversation might take place. Even so, a great deal of dance floor communication is possible without dialogue.
Speaking without Words
Eye contact could play a huge role in dance floor tête-à-têtes. From a practical standpoint, the eye contact made for a useful way to stave off dizziness from many rapid turns, but it has the potential for so much more. Eye contact might range from friendly and flirtatious to downright intrusive. Some partners engaging in constant eye contact, could hold their partners an intense, almost physical grip. Such exchanges could become demanding and intimate, isolating the couple in a room full of people.
Some partners might offer little in the way of eye contact, even to the point of avoiding any direct gaze with their partner. An avoidant partner could silently communicate a variety of things, from their own insecurity with the dance steps to distain for their partner.
Subtle physical contact on the dance floor, usually restricted to taking hands or joining arms at the elbow for a turn, also speaks volumes. Hands might be taken, barely touching and only as long as necessary, or held reverently, lingering as long as possible in the connection. In moves like passing ones partner in the middle of the line or circling back to back, how close or how far away ones partner remains communicates a strong message.
The way partners dance together creates a conversation of facial expression and body language as eloquent as the finest speeches. A more experienced dancer can subtly and patiently assist a less certain dancer through complex steps with glances and subtle gestures, encouraging and praising with eyes and smiles. Conversely, experienced dancers can declare disdain and even judgment on a struggling dancer even to the point of rough pushing or pulling that dancer into their correct position.
Partners who are equally anxious about getting the steps right, and good humored in their anxiety, could assist one another, laugh at missteps, and celebrate their victorious achievements progressing through a series of complicated steps. The experience could create a bond over the shared challenge. A gentleman might even kiss a lady’s hand after surviving such a trial—a most romantic gesture indeed.
When two proficient dancers partner, the flow of their coordinated movements could create a connection between them, linking them in purpose and action. The communication and energy flowing between them can be visceral and compelling, poignant as the deepest conversation.
Each dance itself possessed its own character, some being staid and elegant and others playful and flirtatious. Lord Byron’s Maggot—by the way, a maggot referred to a catchy tune, what we would today call an ‘ear worm’—suits its namesake. One set of steps involved a woman a man with a flirtatious ‘come hither’ beckon to follow her. The three couple dance, Hunt the Squiril (sic) requires the first couple to chase each other, weaving through the other dancers. These suggestive moves could be made as token gestures or with sincere energy.
It is easy to see how in the period, where conversation was restricted to ‘polite’ topics and interactions between unmarried individuals were strictly chaperoned, the dance floor offered the one place where open expression was considered acceptable. There, individuals could be dramatic, funny and flirtatious without censure from society at large—provided of course that they did not take their self-expression too far. Therein lays the power and allure of the dance floor for hero and heroine, for there alone might they express what they could not say directly.
Take a peek at the book blurb for THE TROUBLE TO CHECK HER!
Lydia Bennet faces the music…
Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey. That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.
It would improve her character, he said.
Ridiculous, she said.
Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond’s cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.
Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.
Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?
BN NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-trouble-to-check-her-maria-grace/1123601415
Meet the Author!
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.
She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.
She can be contacted at:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace
On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/
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 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/
Introducing THE RUSE by Felicia Rogers
It’s Christmas time, and books make fantastic gifts. Author Felicia Rogers is offering a holiday special of her novel, The Ruse, just in time for a last-minute gift, or for one’s self if looking for something to read when it’s too wintery outside! Felicia is a new author for me as well-we’re all for a treat! She has provided the post below-take a look…
The Ruse, Andrews Brothers, Book One
The fix is in…but her heart can’t be fooled.
Luke Andrews, Baron of Stockport, is in trouble. He needs a wealthy bride to secure future funds for his financially shaky estate, but the belle of the London season is a spoiled terror with an arrogant father. They’d try the nerves of a saint and Luke can’t quite bring himself to make an offer he knows he’d regret.
Meanwhile, Luke’s half-brother Chadwick never could resist a good game of Faro, or anything else, for that matter. With the baron away, Chadwick will play — gambling the estate’s remaining funds into oblivion. He needs to devise his own scheme to replace the money he’s lost, before his brother returns.
In Stockport village, Brigitta Blackburn doesn’t have two sticks to rub together — literally. With the estate in financial distress and rents high, food and wood are scarce. When she sneaks onto the baron’s land to steal some firewood, she’s caught, hauled before the play-acting “baron,” Chadwick, and offered a solution to her plight… and his.
But Chadwick’s ruse embroils them all. How can Brigitta accept what she thinks to be true, when she really yearns to follow her heart?
–a traditional Regency novel
Buy it Now:
Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/lt2lwkn
On sale for 0.99 from Dec. 24th to Dec. 29th!!!
See what one reader said about The Ruse:
By Kivey on Amazon: I honestly LOVED this book it was so awesome. Luke is a hunk and his brother well you all will see if you read it :). This book was very suspenseful. I was on the edge of my seat and laughed the heroine is just sooooo spunky. She is truly one heroine I wouldn’t want to mess with.
Fountains bubbled and birds landed in the baths. Luke took the long trail and walked by the fishing pond and hunting grounds. A rock jutted out from the mountain and Luke paused, blocking the sun from his face.
From his high perch, the ruins of Stockport Castle tumbled across the green below. He remembered being a lad and staring at the ruins while holding tightly to his father’s hand. His father’s vivid descriptions had almost made him feel as if he’d walked through the hallowed halls that lay destroyed.
Reality of how things that stood the test of time could still plunge into nothingness gnawed at his innards and he wished his father was around to offer wisdom.
Downhearted, he shoved his hands in his pockets and turned. Upon approaching the manse, he knitted his brows. A line of people gathered. Behind them, carriages lined the road almost as far away as the village.
He strode toward the crowd and joined them. Raindrops fell and he tugged his top hat lower. The throng groaned and waved umbrellas aloft. Before them the manse doors parted and they entered the east wing of the estate.
Tourists dressed in fine frocks with plumed hats filed into the main room, staring avidly about at his home. An individual Luke had never seen acted as a guide, lifting his hands and pointing at one side of the curved staircase. There a woman of refined grace descended.
The guide announced, “Introducing Baroness Stockport, Brigitta Andrews.”
Luke blinked rapidly as the woman turned, smiled, and waved. The crowd returned her actions. She continued to descend until she reached the landing, where she stopped.
From the opposite set of stairs, his half-brother Chadwick, dressed in regal attire, descended. The red coat emphasized his broad shoulders, which he held back. His face scrunched, he didn’t look at the crowd, but instead focused a look filled with unrequited hatred toward the woman on the landing.
The guide lifted his hand toward Chadwick and said, “Introducing the Baron of Stockport.”
Luke covered his gasp and huddled deeper into his coat. What is the meaning of this?
Before any further thoughts could drift through Luke’s mind, Chadwick stopped in the middle of the stairs and shouted, “And just what do you think you’re wearing?”
The woman bristled. “I’m wearing the yellow today, my lord.”
“The yellow? Blah. I’ve told you I detest yellow. Get thee upstairs and change this instant.” He pointed his finger above and the lady cocked a brow and glared.
“You will not tell me what to do! I’m the baroness and I can do as I please. If I want to wear yellow, then I shall wear yellow!”
Chadwick didn’t waver and Brigitta hitched her skirts and ran upstairs. Chadwick faced the crowd and apologized for his wife’s behavior before casually turning on his heel and leaving himself.
Shocked, Luke blindly followed the crowd. The guide led them through the entire east wing. They studied the wall of family portraits, swooned over the ancient family heirlooms, and ended with a riding tour of the grounds.
With each new sight his ire increased. While he’d been strangled initially by feelings of cold, blind rage, the trip on horseback through the grounds cooled his temper and now he was naught but confused.
The event ended and the visitors left in their carriages. Discreetly, Luke sneaked into the house through a downstairs window and raced on tiptoe to his chambers. He sat at a desk and pondered until his head ached. Finally, he pulled the servant’s rope that led directly to his personal valet’s room. He paced, his mind jumbled with nonsensical thoughts. The door opened and he blurted, “Jarvis, I have a problem.”
The valet entered and closed the door. A blank stare covered his face as he blurted, “My lord, we weren’t expecting you. Welcome home.”
“There is something foul at play here.”
Jarvis squinted, lifted his nose, and sniffed.
“Not an odor, Jarvis.”
He lowered his chin. “Excuse me, your lordship, but I fail to understand your meaning.”
Without pretense, Luke said, “In the east wing, Chadwick is pretending to be me!”
“Are you sure?” asked Jarvis, his voice lending to a squeak.
He rounded on the servant. “Yes, I’m sure! They called his name as the Baron of Stockport and last I checked that was me!”
Buy The Ruse on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/lkdksyd
Buy The Ruse on Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/lt2lwkn
Felicia Rogers is an author of eight novels and two novellas. When she’s not writing, Felicia volunteers with the Girl Scouts of America, teaches at a local homeschooling group, hikes, and spends time with her family.
To find out more information about Felicia Rogers use the links below. She loves hearing from readers.
A very special package came to me from England the other day. A dear friend sent me a copy of The Illustrated letters Jane Austen ‘My Dear Cassandra’. She sent it because she knows my love of all things Austen, and knew I would enjoy it. And I do…
I never liked reading letters written by famous people before. Somehow, I felt like it was an intrusion on the writer’s privacy, even when the writer was long gone. It’s hard to really “get” letters sometimes-you weren’t there for the inside jokes. When it’s an historical figure, there is so much background information that you don’t have. Context can be difficult. As I got older, however, I acquired a taste for reading them. One gains so much insight about the writer and his or her time. It is amazing, sometimes, how contemporary an individual from long ago can seem when one is reading her private thoughts. I have found Jane Austen’s letters to be fascinating, because of her wry, and frequently caustic, wit and the emotions which show through. Having read the Oxford edition of her letters, and used them for research purposes on more than one occasion, I am familiar with some of her letters and enjoy dipping into them.
This little books, however, is something special. Penelope Hughes-Hallett selected some of Jane Austen’s letters to her sister Cassandra, and others, and compiled them with illustrations-portraits, landscapes, drawings, paintings- carefully selected to illustrate the people, places and activities that Austen discussed in each letter. They are extremely well chosen, and give an additional dimension to the letters. The reader can actually “see” more of the context of each letter. This is a delightful book, and I would recommend it to any Jane Austen fan. I would especially recommend it to anyone who has shied away from reading her letters for any reason.
Although this is not a new book (originally published in 1990, with subsequent reprints), it seems to be readily available through AbeBooks, the Tattered Covered, and other book outlets. I highly recommend it, whether you want to read it yourself or desire it as a gift for your favorite Janeite!
Tasty Summer Blog Hop-Lucinda Brant, Guest Post
Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!
It is my great pleasure to introduce the lovely and talented author Lucinda Brant, who will be posting her Tasty Summer Reads blog as my guest today. Lucinda writes Georgian historical romances with wit and adventure, and crimances (crime with lashings of romance). Her latest release SALT REDUX is the sequel to the internationally best selling SALT BRIDE, and is a 2013 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Finalist. You can read more about Lucinda on her website www.lucindabrant.com And now for Lucinda…
Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!
SALT REDUX: Sequel to SALT BRIDE
Jane and Salt—four years of Happily Ever After
Sir Antony Templestowe—four years of Exile
Lady Caroline—four years of Heartache
Diana St. John—four years plotting Revenge
The time has come…
How does a brother cope with life knowing his sister is a murderess? How can a nobleman have the life he has always wanted when a lurking evil consumes his thoughts and haunts his dreams? What will it take for good to triumph over evil?
For readers who enjoyed Salt Bride, the story continues…
2013 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Finalist
Now for the Random Tasty Questions:
1) When writing are you a snacker? If so sweet or salty?
I drink coffee; lots of it! Making a cup of coffee gets me up out from in front of the computer screen. I have a Nespresso machine. I take my coffee black with one teaspoon of raw sugar. I usually just drink the coffee but occasionally I will indulge in a snack, usually a piece of the latest cake I’ve made – some faves are Zucchini and Carrot cake, Pear, Raspberry and Pistachio bread, Orange, Almond and Coconut cake.
2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants?
I use an A5 20 ring binder full of notes for each WIP. I get dressed for work each day in my writing PJs. I buy my “writing” PJs from www.peteralexander.com.au which have funky designs for summer and winter. Ah, the life of the full time writer.
3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it?
I’ve been cooking now for a long time, so don’t follow recipes but my taste buds! But I am new to making cakes. My daughter, who has moved out of home, was the cupcake and sweets maker. So I will follow a recipe when making a cake or dessert.
4) What is next for you after this book?
I’m currently writing book 4 in my Roxton series, DAIR DEVIL, which begins on the night before book 3 ends. It’s about a minor character in book 3 Alisdair (Dair) Fitzstuart, heir to the earl of Strathsay, and Aurora (Rory) Talbot, granddaughter of England’s spymaster general. It should hit the cyber shelves before Christmas.
5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book?
My books have elements of naughty, but if you mean the mechanics of sex, then no. But there is enough sexual tension to get all hot and bothered, that’s for sure!
And now for the really tasty part: the recipe!
Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Almond Warm Summer Salad
(sorry, but I don’t use precise measurements – but this is easy to do!)
About 20 Brussels sprouts topped and chopped in half
a quarter of cabbage (any kind) chopped
a big handful of dried ready to eat cranberries
a big handful of slivered almonds
Rice Bran oil to mix
Steam Brussels sprouts in microwave until tender but firm (but not mushy)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat with oil
Place in an ovenproof dish and heat in a moderate oven until Brussels sprouts have caramelized
Serve as an accompaniment to lamb, chicken or beef.
I have tagged author Prue Batten to carry on the hop. Prue Batten writes Historical Fiction and Fantasy. Her fantasy novel A Thousand Glass Flowers received a silver medallion in the 2012 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her latest book is the second in her Gisborne saga Gisborne: Book of Knights.
I’ll now have you hop on over to Prue Batten’s blog! http://pruebatten.wordpress.com/
Other Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop participants are:
Christy English http://www.christyenglish.com/2013/07/17/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/
Anna Belfrage http://www.juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.com/ or http://www.juditharnopp.com/
Diana Russo Morin http://www.donnarussomorin.com/index.html
Nancy Goodman http://rakesroguesandromance.com/2013/07/11/welcome-to-the-tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/
Lauren Gilbert http://laurengilbertheyerwood.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop