Giving away some Victorian/Regency shawls

PreludeCoverCamy here! To celebrate the release of my debut Regency romance, Prelude for a Lord, I’m planning to hold a giveaway in September! (Originally it was mid August but another book deadline has kept me too busy to put this together. :P)

I wanted to do something neat so I’m going to be giving away some Jane Austen tea (a tea blend from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England), a violin ornament (since Prelude for a Lord is about a mysterious Stradivarius violin), and an autographed copy of the book.

But I also wanted something really special to give away, so I’ve spent the last several months knitting! I’ve knit 4 (finishing up the 5th) lace shawls to give away!

I picked patterns that were published in the early Victorian era, but most of the patterns were most likely in use in Jane Austen’s time (in the Regency era), they just weren’t published in a book or pamphlet—they were probably passed down from mother to daughter verbally. The yarns I’ve used are definitely modern lace yarns—very fine wool, a wool/silk blend, one mohair yarn, and an alpaca yarn—dyed with vibrant colors that I doubt Jane Austen ever saw. :)

After knitting, I blocked the shawls by washing and dampening them (carefully so they don’t felt) and then pinning them into shape so they have nice points to the edging. Here’s one of the shawls I’ll be giving away:

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Sign up for my email newsletter so you’ll be informed when the contest starts! Head to CamilleElliot.com and fill out the form on the right side. When my contest is live, you’ll get an email to let you know how to enter.

I’m also giving away three copies of this book to Regency blog readers who join my newsletter! So join my Camille Elliot email newsletter and then leave a comment here to let me know you joined it, or if you already belong to my newsletter.

Kombucha Tea and the Scandalous Violin with Camille Elliot author of Prelude for a Lord

Vanessa here,

I have the pleasure of welcoming one of our own, Camy Tang, to my southern porch. Camy, you are here on a very good day the humidity has dissipated, and I think I feel a breeze. So let’s get into this wonderful new book, Prelude for a Lord.PreludeCover

Tell me about the heroine, Alethea Sutherton. Some have told me she’s awkward and scandalous. Now that is an accomplishment.

Lady Alethea has felt alone and unloved for most of her life except for two people, her half-sister and her neighbor, Lady Arkright. After her sister is forced to move away and Lady Arkright dies, Alethea feels adrift. Her music is her solace, but because musical circles and instruction is limited in England, she is determined to find a way to move to Italy, where she can play and learn the violin without censure.

Wanting to travel doesn’t sound too scandalous. Can you tell me more of why she feels censured?

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady.

Really? Mental note: Get my daughter back to the pianoforte, no violin. Oh, go on Camy and tell me more. I’ll get you another cup of Kombucha tea, unless that is also too scandalous.

It wasn’t until I started researching violin players in the Georgian and Regency era that I discovered that most Englishmen considered women playing the violin as incredibly unladylike because it raised the arms above her head and exposed her armpits. Can you believe that??? That’s why the pianoforte and the floor harp were considered ladylike instruments, because a woman’s arms never rose too high up. There was a child prodigy violinist who played in England a few years after the Regency era who was absolutely brilliant, but she ran into criticisms that her choice of instrument was scandalous.

So, given that the violin was scandalous, of course I had to write about a woman who played it. :)

Ok, it’s hero time. Tell me about Lord Dommick. Is he tall, dark and handsome?

Lord Dommick is incredibly loyal and loving to his mother and sister. He is also brilliant as a musician, but like most people during that time period, his views of women musicians are limited to pianoforte and harp players and singers. He considers Lady Alethea scandalous, which is what he needs to avoid after his ex-fiance destroyed his reputation after he returned emotionally scarred from war. He needs to repair his reputation in order to assure his sister’s comeout in London in the spring.

His love for his sister drives his concern for his reputation, but it also blinds him to how he is trying to solve everything on his own. His faith is just a byword and doesn’t impact his daily life until he has nothing left to depend upon.

But is he handsome? Can get a cute and brooding?

Yes, and he is brooding.

Okay, brooding can go a long way. Camy Tang books are known for high-kick bottom action, what drew you to the Regency.camywebcopy

I have been reading Regency romances since I was 13 years old, and I’ve read hundreds if not thousands of them since. I got them mostly from garage sales or thrift stores or eBay auctions. Nowadays, I buy them on ebook. :) I even read some Regency research books just for fun (!!!) but never seriously considered writing one until my editor at Zondervan (and a fellow Regency romance lover) dared me to write one.

 

I actually got this idea about a recluse musician many years ago, but never thought about writing it until I was coming up with the plot for Prelude for a Lord. I had a scene in my head where the hero plays with the heroine for the first time, and it’s magical. They both discover things about the other during that rehearsal time. My story pretty much started from that one scene and then the other characters and the mysterious violin appeared.

No wonder your love of the Regency has led to the development of Camille Elliot. If you ever see me writing chocolate jingles, just buy the bars and say nothing. It will be our secret. Seriously, I think it’s wonderful for a passion to come to life, to be birthed from things that touch our hearts. I know you impart pieces of your journey into your characters. How did your Christian Walk affect Lady Althea and Lord Dommick?

My characters almost always have a spiritual arc that is born from my own spiritual struggles. In Protection for Hire, my romantic suspense, I wrote about my own experiences when I had first become a Christian in college and was struggling with how to move forward in newness in Christ after all the terrible things I’d done in my life. In Prelude for a Lord, the heroine feels incredibly alone because of the things in her past that have shaped her, which mirrors how I felt for many years before I became a Christian. Even now, I struggle to remember the truth that God loves me incredibly deeply and He has never left me alone.

That is a great message everyone needs to read and feel. I am realizing many miss this. Hopefully, books like Prelude to a Lord will help. Is Prelude to a Lord a series? You know Sonata to a Sultan, Treble with an Earl, well you get my question.

Yes, I hope to write 3 other books about Dommick’s friends. :) I’m not sure yet if the other books in the series will be contracted by Zondervan, but if not, I’ll definitely self-publish them. If the series is contracted by Zondervan, I’ll also write another Regency series to self-publish in between the times my Zondervan books come out so that there isn’t so much time between releases. As a reader myself, I know I hate it when an author’s books are spaced too far apart!

Well Camy (Camille Elliot), thanks for stopping by and braving my pot of Kombucha. Camy will be have giveaways and other exciting things for the release of this book, but you have to tune into her newsletter for details. Go to her websites:

http://www.camytang.com/

http://www.camilleelliot.com/

Camy writes Christian romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance under her pen name, Camille Elliot. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, and for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher. Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she’s writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she’s a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church’s Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon.

New Regency Book: Prelude For A Lord

It’s our very own Camy Tang, writing as the fabulous Camille Elliot! We’re very excited to announce her new Regency novel, Prelude for a Lord. 

About the book:

PreludeCoverAn awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England—1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.

But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul.

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .

Find out more about Camy’s alter ego and links to purchase the book at camilleelliot.com. She’s also giving away three copies of her new book to people who join her email list!

 

What do you “hear” when a book mentions music? Do you ever look up the songs mentioned?

What’s the Deal with Almack’s? by Susan Karsten

An exclusive venue, in the true meaning of the word “exclusive” (as in exclude!), Almack’s required membership fees (called subscriptions) and had a powerful doorkeeper.

Lady Jersey, a famous Almack's Patroness, via Wikimedia Commons

Lady Jersey, a famous Almack’s Patroness, via Wikimedia Commons

A committee of high-born ladies, known as patronesses, further added to the exclusivity factor. They controlled access to tickets and, therefore, who could enter the prized environs.

Though it cost money to get in, money alone didn’t guarantee entry, nor did birth status. Other factors considered were: wit, beauty, careful dressing, being a good dancer, or simply having good taste might tip the scales in your favor.

The despotic patronesses held weekly meetings to select attendees. Once “in”, there were still strict rules which had to be followed, or you risked being turned away. You must arrive on time, properly dressed.

Interior of Almack's via Wikimedia Commons

Interior of Almack’s via Wikimedia Commons

Six or seven patronesses ran Almack’s. Lady Jersey, daughter and wife of earls, was a chatterbox heiress, strictly maintained the cachet of the club. Lady Sefton, married to an earl, considered more amiable, was a renowned society hostess in her own right. Lady Cowper, know for her with, tact and affability, was known to smooth over quarrels. Formidable Lady Castlereagh, Icy Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, ruthless Countess Lieven, and spiteful Princess Esterhazy round out the committee.

It almost makes one not want to even try to gain entrance. Do you think you’d have made the cut? (fantasy here!)

To See and Be Seen ~ Regency’s Rotten Row

When I was a teenager, I spent hours strolling the wide halls of the mall, perusing the CD stores and the Hello Kitty paraphernalia in Hallmark. Then I got a job there and got to watch parades of teens do the nightly mating dance around the three layered fountain.

Regency England didn’t have a three story monolith of retail opportunities, but they did have a wide lane where the elite of London’s society went to see and be seen.

Rotten Row today via Wikimedia Commons

Rotten Row today via Wikimedia Commons

Running for one and quarter miles across the lower edge of Hyde Park, Rotten Row gave the Beau Monde a parade ground of epic proportions. The bridal path was covered in a mixture of gravel to support carriage wheels and a soft bark mixture called tan to protect a horse’s legs. It was wide enough for three carriages to ride abreast of each other down the path.

In the mornings, the path was one of the few places in London where horses could be exercised or ridden at a fast pace. It was the domain of grooms and ladies and gentlemen who wished to let the horses go for a good run.

The entrance to Rotten Row from an 1804 drawing, via Wikimedia Commons

The entrance to Rotten Row from an 1804 drawing, via Wikimedia Commons

But come evening, from around 4 in the afternoon until 7 or 8, riders and drivers were expected to maintain a sedate pace so that people could admire each other’s horseflesh, finery, or their latest romantic attachment.

All the riders and carriages in the park were owned by the well-to-do since hired hacks were not allowed within the walls of Hyde Park. Some people took this to extreme, buying and personalizing fancy carriages, which they then paired with horses that coordinated or even matched their rigs.

Should someone wish to participate in the parade without a horse or carriage, walking paths lined each side of the bridal path. More common folk could often be found along here as well, though, treating the parade of ton member as a form of entertainment or celebrity watching.

With the decline of the local mall in most areas, where have you found people go to see and be seen these days?

 

Regency Best Dressed List ~ What would you wear?

Kristi here. It’s no secret that part of the Regency era’s appeal is the clothes. Fancy and glamorous, yet relatable with it’s lack of hoop skirts and horse hair bustles. I’m going to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in September and one of the events is a dinner where everyone is invited to dress up as one of their characters.

I don’t have a Regency era dress. I’m seriously considering making one (with the help of my considerably more sewing skilled mother). If I do it will probably be a fairly simple cotton one, not a fancy ballgown. But if I were to dream, what kind of Regency dress would I want?

MorningGownRuffleFirst off, it would definitely be an evening dress. The ruffles around the neck and face that often accompany morning dresses would drive me insane.

Second, I’d want some color. I have no desire to look like a ghost walking around in an all white gown. I’d stay away from the lavenders and purples, since those indicated a state of half-mourning. Red would be a bit garish, though the Hubs always likes me in it. I think I’d lean to the blues or greens. I see more blue in Ackerman’s prints than green, so we’ll go with blue.

GauzyEveningDressI think my favorite would be something like this, but with a blue underskirt instead of the pink. ReproductionBlueDress

And guess what? I could actually order a reproduction dress very similar to it… though of course it’s rather expensive. It’s gorgeous though, isn’t it?

PlaidEveningGownOf course, this was all dreamed up before I came across this beauty. One day I’m going to have to write a heroine with the gumption to walk into a ball wearing a plaid evening gown. That is just amazing.

What about you? Do you have a dream Regency outfit?

Catching Up with Reflections Bloggers

Inspirational Regencies Represent!

The Romance Writers of America had their annual awards ceremony this past weekend. Inspirational Regencies were well-represented when our very own Kristi Ann Hunter won the Golden Heart award for unpublished Inspirational manuscripts. You can check out the other winners, including the Rita for best published Inspirational romance at the RWA website.

Here a Book, There a Book, Everywhere a new Book!

In addition to her anticipated Regency (coming out in August!), Camy Tang just released a contemporary romantic suspense in an anthology titled Sealed With a KissShe’s also busy working on two series for next year: a romantic suspense and a regency set.

Speaking of August releases, keep an eye out for Vanessa Riley’s new Regency tale: Swept Away.

Ruth Axtell has stepped a few years past our beloved Regency to delve into the equally stunning Victorian world. Her novelette, Victorian Spring, is available now and the start to a fabulous new series.

Friend of the blog, Kristy Cambron released the first book in her WWII series. The second one comes out in April.

And a Crazy, Wonderful Life It Is

In addition to sending books out through her agent the hopefully-soon-to-be-published Susan Karsten is super busy. A son getting married, two girls headed off to college, and a 25th anniversary to celebrate make for a full and wonderful life!

Laurie Alice Eakes recently returned from the RWA conference.

 

What about you? We’d love to know what’s going on in your life!

Why is Everyone Standing in the Hall? A post on Regency terminology

As an American, reading books set in England – particularly historical England – could sometimes be confusing. Once I started researching the time period, I realized that certain words had different meanings “across the pond”. So for everyone like me, I’ve put together a list of a few things that used to confuse me. Hope they help!

Hall

Hall is one of those words that seems simple, but has vastly different meanings on each side of the Atlantic. I always wondered why people spent so much time standing around in the hall. Wasn’t it cramped?

Because in America a “hall” is a passageway – usually on the narrow side – that rooms open off of. In Regency England the hall was the area the front door opened into. Similar to an American foyer or vestibule. In large English homes, the hall is a room in an of itself, often a fairly large one since visitors were sometimes required to wait there a while before being admitted further into the house.

Living “in” the street

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Jane Bennet mentions that her aunt and uncle live in Grace Church Street. In American English, that implies Grace Church Street is neighborhood or even an apartment building or some other such collection of living spaces.

What is actually means is that her aunt and uncle have a house with a Grace Church Street address. In America we would say they live on Grace Church Street. It’s a distinction that some modern day Regency authors use and others don’t, but now you won’t be confused if you ever come across it.

Townhome

It’s just that: your home in town. When Americans normally think of as being townhomes are actually called terrace houses in England. These are houses that share a wall with another house on one or both sides. Many homes in Mayfair are terrace houses, but not all. So when the heroine heads to her townhome for the season, she’d probably sharing a wall with her neighbor, but not necessarily so.

First Floor

Have you ever seen characters going up to the first floor? Or looking down from a first floor window? For an American that can be quite confusing – to the point that I try to avoid saying which floor they’re on at all.

The “first floor” in America is actually the “ground floor” in England. So people had to actually go up stairs to reach the first floor.

 

What other terms do you find yourself stumbling over? Any other words you’ve found have a double meaning?

What are your favorite Regency romance plots?

Hi guys, Camy here! I was talking with a friend of mine who also loves Regency romances and we were discussing our favorite Regency plot types.

PreludeForALord lowresI am embarrassingly fond of “secret baby” plot lines as well as “marriage of convenience” (which I just this moment remembered is in Prelude for a Lord—I am nothing if not predictable). My friend loves “friends discover they love each other” plot lines, and she also favors strong female lead characters.

So it got me wondering, what do other Regency lovers prefer?

So please weigh in! I am super curious to know what types of story lines you prefer in your Regency romances. I’m including a list I got off the internet to jog your memory, and I have to admit some of these gave me a chuckle while others made me nostalgic for some of my favorite Regency books.

1. Secret Baby
2. Cinderella (rags to riches)
3. Opposites Attract
4. Bodyguard
5. Second chance/First love rekindled
6. Reunion
7. Stranded
8. Love Triangle
9. Marriage of Convenience (mail-order bride)
10. Beauty and the Beast
11. Sleeping Beauty/Ugly duckling
12. Amnesia
13. Fish out of water
14. Blackmail/Revenge
15. Forbidden love
16. Mentor/protégé (boss/employee) (Maids, housekeepers, governesses)
17. Princess/Pauper; King/Beggar maid (impoverished ladies/lords)
18. Bad boy/good girl; Bad girl/good boy (Rakes/virgins and scandalous women/respectable lords)
19. Best Friends
20. The Road to Adventure

If you think of any other types of romance plots that aren’t listed here, please do mention it in the comments!

London Lights, by Susan Karsten

How do you picture your Regency characters flitting about London by night? Until 1807, London went about by the feeble flicker of oil lamps.


Special interest groups fought against gaslight, fearing the loss of the whale-oil trade. The inflammatory Bill of 1816 (supportive of gas lighting) would also ruin the navy, the ropemakers, sailmakers, etc. etc. according to its opponents.

Yet gaslight did more for prevention of crime “than the days of Alfred the Great”. Lighting at night brought safety, but also enhanced the reputation of London as the City of Sin. “London Lights” was a slang term referring to the regency age’s gilded immorality.
Nightlife entertainments in London were hideously vulgar, and respectable citizens did not take their families out after dark to public venues. My source says the “flaring gaslight” was appropriate to the rough and tumble array of available diversions.

Information is from: Life in Regency England, by R. J. White, publ. 1963

What do you picture for lighting when you are reading or writing regency fiction? Please leave a comment.