Friday, April 29, 2011

Picture Day Friday

In honor of the royal wedding I got up at 1 o'clock this morning to watch...

Image copyrighted by
Princess Charlotte's dress when she married Prince Leopold in 1816. From La Belle Assemblée May 1816: "Her dress was silver lama [lamé] on net, over a silver tissue slip, embroidered at the bottom with silver lama in shells and flowers. Body and sleeves to correspond, elegantly trimmed with point Brussels lace. The manteau was of silver tissue lined with white satin, with a border of embroidery to answer that on the dress, and fastened in front with a splendid diamond ornament."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Royal Wedding Stories

In conjunction with Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding, publishers Harlequin and Avon through their imprints Historical Undone and Impulse, respectively, have commisioned novellas from established authors on Royal Weddings. Each book costs $1.99.

Halequin's six novellas revolve around Prince William's forebears from the 12th to 19th centuries.

"Once we heard about Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement, it got the editorial and historical authors' creative juices flowing," says Mills & Boon Editorial Director Linda Fildew. "These seven short stories brilliantly capture the drama, pomp and ceremony and high passion of real-life royal weddings. From Eleanor of Aquitaine to Queen Victoria, these royal romances through the ages bring history vividly to life."

What the Duchess Wants by Terri Brisbin (Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and Henry of Anjou, the future Henry II, 1152).

With Victoria's Blessing by Mary Nichols (Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1840).

Lionheart's Bride by Michelle Willingham (King Richard and Prince Berengaria, 1191)

Prince Charming in Disguise by Bronwyn Scott (Prince George and Caroline of Ansbach, 1704)

A Princely Dilemma by Elizabeth Rolls (George, Prince of Wales—future George IV—and Princess Caroline of Brunswick, 1795)

Prince Charlotte's Choice by Ann Lethbridge (Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold, 1816)

The Problem with Josephine by Lucy Ashford (Emperor Napoleon and Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, 1810)

Avon's entrée is the Royal Weddings anthology with stories by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley, and Loretta Chase all set against real-life British royal weddings.

The Wedding Planner by Stephanie Laurens (Lady Margaret and Gaston Devilliers, backdrop of a royal wedding)

Ever After by Gaelen Foley (Eleanor Monford and Earl of Archer, Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold, 1816)

The Jilting of Lord Rothwick by Loretta Chase (Marquess of Rothwick and Barbara Findley, Queen Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert, 1840)

Since both Ann Lethbridge and Gaelen Foley unwittingly chose to tell stories about the same couple, I'd be interested in reading how each story unfolds.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Cursory Overview of the Middle Ages II

Last week, I did a post on the Middle Ages in Europe. Here are the main events of the Middle Ages (400–1500) in the UK and Ireland.

Early Middle Ages

Early 400s: Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade England.
430: Saint Patrick's Irish mission begins.
490: Victory for Celtic Welsh and Britons in Battle of Mons Badonicus against Anglo-Saxons.
563: Saint Columba founds mission in Iona.
577: The West Saxons continue their advance at the Battle of Deorham against the Britons.
597: Christianisation of the Anglo-Saxons begins with the arrival of St. Augustine in Kent.
663: Synod of Whitby. Roman Christianity triumphs over Celtic Christianity in England.
672: Birth of Venerable Bede known as the Father of English History.
685: Battle of Nechtansmere. Picts defeat Northumbrians, whose dominance in Scotland ends.
731: Bede writes his famous The Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
793: Holy Island of Lindisfarne is sacked. Viking attacks on Britain begin.
795: Death of Offa marks the end of Mercian dominance in England.
825: Battle of Ellandun. Egbert defeats Mercians. Wessex becomes the leading kingdom of England.
840: Kenneth McAlpin becomes king of the Picts and Scots, creating the Kingdom of Alba.
871: Alfred the Great assumes the throne, the first king of a united England.
897: Death of Alfred the Great.
910: Edward the Elder, son of Alfred, defeats the Northumbrian vikings at the Battle of Tettenhall.
1022: Harold II the last Anglo-Saxon King of England is born.

High Middle Ages

1066: In the Battle of Hastings, the Normans are victorious over the Anglo-Saxons. The Duke of Normandy become William the Conqueror of England.
1073: Tower of London is built.
1086: Compilation of the Domesday Book, a great land and property survey, is begun.
1099: First Crusade.
1106: Henry I becomes of England.
1107 Through the Compromise of 1107, the Investiture Struggle between the English monarchy and the Catholic Church is ended.
1117: The University of Oxford is founded.
1118: The Knights Templar are founded.
1147: Second Crusade.
1152 The Synod of Kells-Mellifont established the present diocesan system of Ireland and recognized the primacy of Armagh.
1171: King Henry II of England lands in Ireland to assert his supremacy and the Synod of Cashel acknowledges his sovereignty.
1174: King William I of Scotland is captured in the Battle of Alnwick by the English.
1188: Richard I ascends the throne of England.
1189: Third Crusade.
1199: The reign of King John.
1200: Fourth Crusade embarks.
1209: The University of Cambridge is founded.
1215: Magna Carta is signed by John.
1241: The Welsh Prince Gruffydd is imprisoned and falls to his death in a bid to escape.
1257: Provisions of Oxford, England's first written constitution, is forced upon Henry III of England.
1263: The Barons War led by Simon de Montfort force the king to submit to government by council leading to the formation of the English Parliament. 1272: The reign of King Edward I (son of Henry III) 1274: Thomas Aquinas' work, Summa Theologiae is published. 1296: Edward the Confessor of England invades Scotland, starting the First War of Scottish Independence.
1297: William Wallace emerges as the leader of the Scottish resistance.

Late Middle Ages

1307: Murder of the The Knights Templar.
1311: The Great Famine begins.
1314: Robert the Bruce restores Scotland's de facto independence at the Battle of Bannockburn.
1324: Roger Mortimer, the first Earl of March, leads the barons in a rebellion against King Edward II.
1327: The king was forced to abdicate in favour of his young son, Edward III whom Mortimer helped to bring in power.
1328: The First War of Scottish Independence ends in Scottish victory with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton and de jure independence.
1330: When King Edward III came of age, he executed Roger Mortimer.
1337: The Hundred Years War begins. England and France struggle for dominance of Western Europe.
1348: The Black Death kills nearly a third of the population. London's population is halved.
1377: The reign of King Richard II (grandson of Edward III, son of the Black Prince)
1380: Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature, begins to write The Canterbury Tales.
1381: Peasants' Revolt in England instigated by a new poll tax.
1381: The Bible is translated into English by John Wycliffe.
1399: John of Gaunt dies and King Richard seizes his lands. Gaunt's son, Henry Bolingbroke invades England, become King Henry IV, and condemns Richard II as a tyrant. 1415: Battle of Agincourt. Henry V and his army defeat a numerically superior French army, partially because of the newly-introduced English longbow.
1453: The Hundred Years War ends. Calais is the only English possession on Continental Europe 1455: The Wars of the Roses begins in England between the Lancastrians and Yorkists. 1461: Edward IV becomes king. 1482: William Caxton sets up a printing press in Westminster
1483: Richard III becomes king. 1485: Thomas Malory composes Le Morte d'Arthur. So end the Middle Ages.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Picture Day Friday

Image copyrighted by Wedding gown designed by Lazaro.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Cursory Overview of the Middle Ages I

Image copyrighted by

Here's a very brief and shallow overview of the history of the Midddle Ages in Europe. The period termed the Middle Ages is between the fall of the Roman Empire in 400 AD and the beginning of the Renaissance in 1500 AD. This large era is further divided into three parts: the Early Middle Ages (400–1000ish), the High Middle Ages (1000–1300), and the Late Middle Ages (1300–1450ish). In Britain, the High Middle Ages started with the Norman Invasion in 1066.

With the fall of Rome, Germanic people invaded the former Roman Empire: the Visigoths settled in Spain; the Vandals in North Africa (retaken a 100 years later by the Byzantines); the Ostrogoths in Italy; and the Suevi and Burgundians, and Franks in France; the Huns formed a European empire; and the Angles and Saxons invaded England. The Vikings took over northern France and parts of the Mediterranean region, the Lombards replaced the Ostrogoths in Italy, and the Slavs invaded Eastern Europe. The Romans continued to dominate the small eastern Mediterranean region.

In the 600s AD, the Byzantines crushed Persia, which was subsequently taken over by Muslims. The Muslims also took over Carthage, while the Slav occupation of the Balkans began. The Slav-Persian joint raid of Constantinople was foiled, but the Arabic conquest succeeded.

Image copyrighted by The Celtic Society of Southern Maryland By 700 AD, the Islamic empire took over Spain and North Africa. In France and Germany, Charlemagne built the Holy Roman Empire. In Russia, the Vikings and Slavs built a kingdom together in a rare moment of collaboration in history. The Viking attacks on Britain began.

Around 1000 AD , the beginning of modern England, France, and Germany can be seen. The Spanish Reconquest began Europe's fight against Islamic rulers. The Crusades took the fight into Jerusalem. Italy was still struggling between the unification under the Holy Roman Empire and its individual kingdoms. Poland and Russia continued to be fractured into kingdoms. The Roman Empire now known as the Byzantine Empire was losing ground to the Seljuks.

In the Late Middle Ages, Poland, Russia, and Italy profited from the Mongol Empire's Silk Road trade. By the early 1300s, however, Europe suffered from both war and disease, like the bubonic plague, which killed millions of people and led to the collapse of the Mongol Empire. England and France began to fight the Hundred Years' War, while Germany and Italy fought a long series of wars as well. The last of the Crusades ended in failure. Scotland is now de jure independent.

The end of the Silk Road trade in the 1400s forced traders to look for other ways to get things from China and India. Explorers began to try to find a way to sail from Europe around Africa to China. In 1453, the Ottomans conquered the last traces of the Roman Empire in Constantinople. In 1492, Spain forced the last Muslim rulers out of Granada and the Spanish found a sea route to the new world, thereby establishing trade routes independent of the Mongol and the Arabic ones.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blogs Around the Web

My blog Why Are Medievals Less Popular Than Regencies? is up on Heroes and Heartbreakers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Manuscript Submissions Formatting

The following manuscript submission formatting guidelines have been excerpted from this article by William Shunn.

  • Black type on white paper
  • One-inch margins all around
  • Left margin should be justified, except where there are paragraph indentations. The right margin should be jagged, not justified
  • First page should have your real name (if different from the name you're writing as), address, phone, and email in the upper left hand corner; your word count in the upper right hand corner; and the title and below it your name in the center of the page
  • Second page onwards, header should have last name / title / page number in the upper right corner. Shorten long titles to one keyword. No header on the first page
  • When starting a new chapter, write "CHAPTER ONE" in the center of the page. Leave two blank lines before the manuscript text
  • Courier New or Times New Roman font (Courier, my preference)
  • Double-space between lines
  • Single-space after a terminal punctuation
  • Use left indentation of half an inch to denote the start of a new paragraph instead of a blank line
  • If using Courier font, underline all italicized words
  • Use straight quotes instead of smart quotes
  • Use two hyphens to indicate an em-dash. Do not replace with an actual em-dash symbol
  • Indicate a paragraph/scene/point-of-view break with a "#" character centered on a line by itself instead of a blank line

    [Copyright © 1993, 2001, 2003, 2010 by William Shunn. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License (see licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/). You are free to copy, distribute, and display the work for non-commercial purposes only, so long as you credit the original author and do not alter, transform, or build upon the content and its formatting in any way. All other rights reserved. The definitive version of this article is found at Direct all inquiries to]

  • Friday, April 15, 2011

    Picture Day Friday

    In honor of tax day...

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Poem In Your Pocket

    Thursday, April 14 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. As Just Janga says: "Throughout the day, people in libraries, schools, bookstores, and workplaces will be sharing with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors poems that are carrying in their pockets. The Academy of American Poets suggests that online communities can participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day by posting a poem on a blog or social networking page."

    Since today is a gorgeous bright and sunny day here, and I see blue skies outside my window, a fluffy white cloud behind some tall everygreens, and yellow daffodils nodding in the neighbors' yards, this poem Daffodils by William Wordsworth is perfect for this ocassion. I memorized it for class in middle school, and I can still recite parts of it from memory.

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    A Prayer of Jane Austen

    Jane Austen The piece below is one of three evening prayers written by Jane Austen. says that the capitalization shown belo is taken from a little booklet Three Evening Prayers: 'composed by my ever dear Sister Jane' and in the Handwriting of Cassandra, Henry and Jane Austen. This booklet was distributed at the 1994 annual general meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

    "Give us grace, Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our Hearts, as with our lips. Thou art every where present, from Thee no secret can be hid. May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our Thoughts on Thee, with Reverence and Devotion that we pray not in vain."

    "Look with Mercy on the Sins we have this day committed, and in Mercy make us feel them deeply, that our Repentance may be sincere, and our resolution stedfast of endeavouring against the commission of such in future. Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own Hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of Temper and every evil Habit in which we have indulged to the dis-comfort of our fellow-creatures, and the danger of our own Souls. May we now, and on each return of night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing Thoughts, Words, and Actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of Evil. Have we thought irreverently of Thee, have we disobeyed thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline us to ask our Hearts these questions Oh! God, and save us from deceiving ourselves by Pride or Vanity."

    "Give us a thankful sense of the Blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by Discontent or Indifference."

    "Be gracious to our Necessities, and guard us, and all we love, from Evil this night. May the sick and afflicted, be now, and ever thy care; and heartily do we pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort and protection of the Orphan and Widow and that thy pity may be shewn upon all Captives and Prisoners."

    "Above all other blessings Oh! God, for ourselves, and our fellow-creatures, we implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not, by our own neglect, throw away the salvation thou has given us, nor be Christians only in name. Hear us Almighty God, for His sake who has redeemed us, and taught us thus to pray."

    "Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Archetypical Stories

    [This blog of mine was first published by Romance Novel TV. I'm reposting it here with their permission.]

    It is a much quoted maxim that there are only seven stories in fiction and that all others are based on them. The son of Irish playwright Denis Johnston says that plots for plays are in fact eight distinct ones. I posit that there are eight romance tropes also. They are...

    Romeo and Juliet
    Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy finds Girl, HEA

    Eliza Doolittle
    Waif/urchin/governess/ward changes herself, moves up in the world

    Beauty and the Beast / Cinderella / Achilles
    Alpha hero meets soft-hearted damsel who reforms bad boy / Unrecognized virtue recognized at last / Boy/Girl have Fatal Flaw, redeemed by Girl/Boy

    Faust Saga
    Debt must be paid, hero and heroine meet, fulfill quest, fall in love

    Marriage of Convenience
    To end historical feuds, caught in lovers' tryst, to solve a mystery, to save family from destitution, or mail-order

    Secret Baby
    H and H meet, fall in lust, hero goes away, heroine has baby, H and H meet again, fall in love, reunion

    Love triangle

    Friends to Lovers
    Childhood Friends suddenly discover Chemistry

    Which ones are missing? Which can be combined? Which are your favorites?

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Blogs Around the Web

    My blog The True Measure of a Book: Great Characters in Romance for Heroes and Heartbreakers takes a look at the questions Sidney Poitier raises in his memoir Measure of a Man and applies them to books.

    Picture Day Friday

    "Monster Soup" by William Heath (1795–1840) is a satirical engraving showing a lady discovering the quality of the Thames water. By the 1820s, public concern was growing at the increasingly polluted water supply taken from the Thames in London. Image © Wellcome Library, London.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Finding Your Romance Quotient

    [This farcical blog of mine was first published by Romance Novel TV. I'm reposting it here with their permission.]

    Harlequin's definition of a romantic is someone who is: Respectful, Open, Mature, Affectionate, Natural (straightforward easy-going), Thoughtful, Intuitive, Confident.

    However, no two people can agree on what is romantic in every situation. We all express romance differently and feel it differently. Some are gung-ho about it, others are tentative. But one thing we can all agree on is that we want it in our lives. So, I invite you to test your inner romantic.

    1. Romance to you is…
    (a) A phone call once a week
    (b) Accessible and naturally a part of your life
    (c) Spending time exclusively with one another

    2. An ideal date consists of…
    (a) Dessert out with friends
    (b) A movie and take-out at home
    (c) A candlelit dinner followed by a horse-drawn carriage ride

    3. For your one-year anniversary you…
    (a) Surprise your partner by inviting all your friends over
    (b) Make advance reservations for a weekend getaway
    (c) Fly to Venice and have champagne on a gondola ride

    4. You're invited to dinner. You show up with…
    (a) A potted cactus
    (b) Long-stemmed daises (the new "in")
    (c) Three dozen red roses

    5. For an unexpected treat, you buy your partner a…
    (a) Bag of supermarket candy
    (b) Box of chocolates
    (c) Personalized box of chocolates

    6. You express your love by…
    (a) Writing both your names with a chalk on a rock
    (b) Slipping a note saying "I Love You" in the jacket pocket
    (c) Tattooing both your names on your posterior

    7. On a Friday evening, you would…
    (a) Pick up a pizza on the way home
    (b) Pick up the fixings for a salad and some wine and cook a pasta dinner at home together
    (c) Drive to a specialty-foods market 45 miles away and arrive home armed with three bags of delicacies

    8. On a Sunday morning, you would…
    (a) Say: "Honey, could you please turn the coffee-pot on?"
    (b) Bring two steaming cups of coffee back to bed
    (c) Warm up a towel in the dryer while your significant other is showering

    9. You demonstrate your thoughtfulness by…
    (a) Taking an entire Saturday to a job the car mechanic could've done in an hour
    (b) Drive the car over to the car mechanic and get the oil changed
    (c) Hire a mechanic to come over to the house to get the job done

    10. When your soul-mate says, "We need to talk"…
    (a) You invent an excuse and exit the house in 30 seconds flat
    (b) Say: "Sure, honey. Go ahead. I'm listening"
    (c) Exclaim in delight: "Darling, of course. Whatever you want to talk about I want to talk about, too."

    If you scored…

    Mostly A's: You need to hire a Romance Consultant right away for long-term improvement in your Romantic Quotient. For an emergency RQ adjustment, e-mail Keira.

    Mostly B's: Congratulations! You're navigating the sometimes choppy waters of romance very well on your own.

    Mostly C's: Whoa! Perhaps, you need to rein in your romantic impulses a tad, if for nothing else than the health of your wallet.

    So, what did you score? Were you surprised? Why or why not? Which other questions belong in this quiz?

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Blogs Around the Web

    My comments on Firoozeh Dumas's Funny in Farsi, about an Iranian-American's hilarious immigrant experience, were published in the Los Angeles Chronicle.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Yum, Yum, Books

    We went to an edible book festival on Saturday, where some people cooked the books and others ate the books.

    The Seattle Edible Book Festival, organized by the Seattle Center for Book Arts, is a festival celebrating books and food and the people who love them. "It combines the creative and culinary talents of NW bibliophiles, foodies, book artists, chefs, bakers, librarians, kids, and punsters."

    Competitors must create and bring a piece of edible art related to books: it can be a pun on a title, refer to a scene or character, look like a book (or paper, scroll, etc.), or just have something to do with books. Every type of book—children's classics, detective novels, biographies, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short stories—should be sculpted from a smörgåsbord of foodstuffs. Whatever the inspiration, the basic rule is: It must be edible.

    Judging Categories at this year's festival were:
    •Most Pun-derful
    •Most Drop-dead Gorgeous
    •Most Delectably Appetizing
    •Best Young Edible Artist (K-12)
    •Best in Show — voted by the audience

    The schedule was as follows:
    •11:00 to 12:00 Edible Entries accepted, installed, and photographed
    •12:00 to 1:30 Public viewing and voting for Best in Show
    •1:30 to 2:00 Celebrity Judges award prizes
    •2:00 Edible Books eaten by everyone with tea, coffee, and milk.
    (Folks were far too busy stuffing their faces and their boxes to bother much with beverages. I was one of them.)

    The Book of Kells

    The English Muffin Patient

    A Citrus Timepiece (Clockwork Orange)

    Comfort Me With Apples

    Fast Food Nation

    Bridge Over the River Chai (Bridge over River Kwai)

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

    Original Book

    Edible Versions

    In Defense of Food

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Blogs Around the Web

    My comments on the following books have been published by the Midwest Book Review in their April issue:

    The Maude Reed Tale by Norah Lofts (Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

    Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum Peril and Romance by Marthe Jocelyn (Candlewick Press)

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Picture Day Friday

    Suédois Dessert by Master Chef Antonin Carême. Illustration by C.F. Plummerey c. 1835. Image copyrighted by Glen H Sparky.

    Here's a recipe for suédois with apples and almonds (in French). As you can see, the dessert as such looks simple and is easy to make. However, in the hands of the hugely talented master pâtissier Carême, it's a work of art.

    Issue 1.2 of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies

    Issue 1.2 of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) is now available. JPRS is a peer-reviewed academic journal which is freely accessible online. Eric Selinger, the editor of the journal, writes that:

    The Journal of Popular Romance Studies is dedicated to publishing scholarship on romantic love in global popular media, now and in the past, along with interviews, pedagogical discussions, and other material of use to both scholars and teachers. With this second issue, we make good on that mission in several new and exciting ways. We expand internationally, and into cyberspace, with essays on web-based Chinese romantic fiction, on single women in British middlebrow novels of the interwar years, and on debates at the popular Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website about “plus-size” heroines in popular romance fiction.
    Alongside these, we have our second author interview, this time with groundbreaking science fiction author Joanna Russ, reflecting on her decades-old engagement with slash fiction and fandom. And this issue inaugurates what we hope will be an on-going series of “Pedagogy Reports,” this one focused on the challenges and rewards of “embedding” Georgette Heyer’s romance novel Sylvester in a University of Tasmania course on historical fiction, teaching it alongside canonical literary texts.

    Table of contents for issue 1.2:

    JPRS welcomes comments on all of these contributions.