Friday, August 20, 2010

Rex Carolvs means what?

Continuing the illustrated, annotated version of Last Night's Scandal...

As followers of the Two Nerdy History Girls blog are acutely aware, I spend a lot of time on historical trivia that many readers probably don't find all that thrilling. You can imagine my excitement, then, when a reader is sufficiently intrigued to ask me to explain an obscure detail in one of my books. 

Today's query relates to this exchange:
     “What have you got there?”
     “Dunno.  Brass button?”
     “Let me see.”
     After scraping off dirt, Roy said, “A medal, maybe.”  He peered at the object.
     “Old medal?” said Jock.  “Some of them fetch a good price.”
     “Could be.”  Roy scraped some more and peered some more.  Then he spelled out painfully, “R-E-X.  Then a mark, not a letter.  Then C-A-R-O-L-V-S.”
     Jock, whose reading skills extended to recognizing a tavern sign, said, “What is it?”
     Roy looked at him.  “Money,” he said.

My alert-to-details reader wanted to know what REX CAROLVS signified.

The reference is to King Charles I, who appears as Rex Carolvs (Rex Carolus) on the coins of his reign.  One of the plot elements of the book deals with a legend dating to his reign, the turmoil of the Civil War, and its unfortunate conclusion for him and those who supported him.

These illustrations are by Classical Numismatic Group.  You can see more examples here and here, at the Welsh website, Gathering the Jewels.  Another fine example is at the British Museum.  You can even buy a reproduction at the Royal Mint.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The clothes Olivia bought in Paris...

OPERA DRESS. A DRESS composed of rose-coloured chaly, a low corsage finished by a lappel of a perfectly novel shape, which falls very far over the sleeve, and is embroidered in a light running pattern in white lloize silk. The sleeves are between the Amadis and gigot shape. The fronts and border of the dress are embroidered en tunique in white floize silk. The embroidery, narrow at the waist, becomes progressively broader, and is very rich round the border. The chemisette, which falls, en pelerine, over the bust of the dress, is trimmed with a double fall of blond lace, set on with very little fulness; it is fastened in front by a richly-chased dead gold brooch. A rose-coloured crape hat; the crown is low, and round; the brim, short at the ears, and rather deep, is ornamented on the inside with palmettes of gauze ribbon to correspond: on the outside is a blond lace drapery which falls a little over the left side of the brim, turns hack en bavolet, and passes under the right side, where it meets the palmettes. This drapery is ornamented with a loose rouleau of gauze ribbon, terminated at each end, by a full bow. A bouquet of rose-coloured ostrich feathers, is placed near the top of the crown on the right side. The hair is parted on the forehead.  Ear-rings, bracelets, and ceinture buckle dead gold.

  WALKING DRESS. A HIGH dress composed of gros de Naples ; the colour, a new and extremely rich shade of brown. The corsage, made to sit close to the shape, is ornamented in a very novel style with a row of points lightly embroidered, which forms it in a heart shape before and behind. The sleeves are à l'Amadis. The pelerine is made with a standing three-pointed collar, which descends in front in the lappel style. A very broad trimming is set on full round the border of the pelerine: it is surmounted by a row of pattes with a gold button in the centre of each. Satin hat of the same colour, lined with white satin, but bordered with the material of the hat round the edge of the brim, the inside of which is trimmed with coques of lilac and white striped gauze ribbon. Bands and bows of ribbon arranged in a novel style decorate the crown. Neckknot to correspond with the dress, fastened by a gold clasp. Bottines of chocolate coloured gros des Indes. A sable boa tippet, or cachemere shawl, should be thrown carelessly round the shoulders.

What Olivia wore

Alert readers will have noticed the comments running through Last Night’s Scandal regarding fashions.   I thought I would post some illustrations, to give you a better sense of what my characters were talking about.

You'll find the description for the Carriage Dress and Bonnet(at left) over at Two Nerdy History Girls.  Here's more from FASHIONS FOR NOVEMBER, 1831 from La Belle Assemblée

DINNER DRESS. A DRESS of rose-coloured gaze Polonais, over a gros de Naples slip of a similar colour. The corsage is cut low ; it sits close to the shape behind; the front is arranged in folds which cross so high in the centre of the bosom, that very little of the blond lace chemisette is seen. The sleeves are between the gigot and Amadis form, but incline more to the latter shape. The chemisette is made with a round collar, which falls low over the back and shoulders, and is trimmed with a double fall of blond lace. The hair is parted on the forehead, and arranged in a platted braid en couronne on the summit of the head. The ends of the braid, disposed in corkscrew ringlets, fall over the comb placed behind the couronne. A ferronière composed of gold chain, with a ruby agraffe, is brought rather low upon the forehead. The jewellery worn with this dress should be of gold and rubies. Swansdown boa tippet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Julia Child's Kitchen

A few weeks ago, on a trip south for a wedding, we stopped in Washington D.C. for a couple of days, to visit friends and, of course, museums.  I have a long list of places in D.C. I want to visit, but there's never enough time for more than one or two.  This time, inspired by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci's marvelous performances in Julie and Julia, I went straight to the Smithsonian to visit Julia Child's Kitchen. 

(To be strictly accurate, my journey was somewhat straight.  It was necessary to detour round the Boy Scouts parade.  There were several thousand of them in town that weekend, and the 100+ temps made even those brave lads faint, some of them.  But more of that at another time.)

Following up on my blog about Julia Child at Two Nerdy History Girls, here, for you viewing pleasure, are more photos.

There's a ton of fascinating info about Julia Child and her kitchen here, at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History site.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ebooks abroad

Just shoot me now.

I should have titled this blog “Ebooks in Hell.”

I have received several messages from irate disappointed readers regarding problems they’re having getting Last Night's Scandal in ebook format in the UK and Australia.

For the record:  I did not forbid anybody to sell ebooks of my stories in any country.  Neither did my agent or my publisher.

What happened is that ebook sales went suddenly from nowhere to somewhere, and the publishing world wasn’t ready.  You took them by surprise, ebook readers.  Now they’re all going, “Eeek—what do we do?” and running around screaming and clutching their heads.

At least in my imagination they are.

I am not sure why they weren’t ready or why they’re having such a hard time working this out.  It seems as though it should be so simple.  Book distributors and retailers have been navigating the shoals of foreign rights/tax laws/duties, etc. forever. I have no trouble getting a print book from the UK or Australia.  I just click the button at the online bookstore.  You’d think ebooks would, if anything, be easier to buy than print books.  There’s no packing and shipping.  You click the button and Presto! the book magically appears in the device of your (Gentle Reader’s) choosing.  What, exactly, is the problem?

Believe me, I did try to find out.  And now I have a headache and would like some very strong medication, because it's even nuttier than I supposed.  There’s apparently some confusion among some retailers about where they can legally ship ebooks and there are some import issues and misunderstandings about territorial restrictions.  And then there’s that thing where everybody and his Great Aunt Sophronia is coming out with a new, wonderful ebook reader—and so is this one allowed here and is that one allowed there and can this store sell this one when it already sells that one?

There’s more, but this is as much as I understand and can relate coherently.

However, they will sort it out—and soon.

Meanwhile, Gentle Reader, I ask for your forbearance.

Illustrations courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540. USA.  Above left:  Beauty holding a book, by Toyonobu Ishikawa, c. 1742Below right: Albert Morris Bagby's new novel Miss Traumerei, by Ethel Reed, 1895.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Last Night's Scandal makes the lists

Given the heavy competition this month, I was amazed and thrilled to learn that Last Night's Scandal made the New York Times Mass Market list (at #32), the USA Today Bestseller list (at #81), and Borders (at #9).  This is pretty exciting, considering the lists cover only a few days since the book came out.

Lisle & Olivia's story has also received some really nice reviews at Smart Bitches Trashy Books and All About Romance

That's enough bragging for now.  We will soon return to our irregularly scheduled blogging.