Monday, March 19, 2012

Broadside Jackets, Pirate Style

In the 1600's the new dignity of the French court affected men, completely derailing the sexy short doublet.  During this era the justaucorps was born, a boon to all men with less-than-perfect derrieres.

 Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

 Philip Winchester in Crusoe

 Circa 1710

The garment started as a slender, knee-length coat with short sleeves to offset the elaborate cuffs of shirts and doublets. But by the end of the century, when it acquired a nipped-in waist, full-length sleeves, and a massive cuffs of its own, it became the foundation of everyday menswear.

 Heath Ledger in Casanova
French, circa 1750

Circa 1775

Dandies adorned their justaucorps with embroidery, straps, braids, and the hottest new feature - slash pockets.

 Vanity Fair

Don Luis de la Cerda, Duke of Medinacelli

Napoleon's Fist Consul uniform

The horizontal pockets were placed just out of reach, near the hem of the coat: and as if to offset their inconvenience, they were decorated with buttons topped by a neat row of totally useless buttonholes.

Ralph Finnes, The Duchess

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Friday, March 16, 2012

First Line Friday: Firelight

This week I started reading Firelight, the first book in the Darkest London series by Kristen Callihan.  I've heard good things about this book and author, and am looking forward to finding out if this historical paranormal romance is as good as those rave reviews.

Here's the first line...

"The knowledge that Archer would soon end the life of another cut at his soul with every step he took."

It isn't the best hook I've ever read, but it's pretty darn good.  Why?  Because when I read the line, it 1) got my attention 2) peeked my interest and 3) made me want to keep reading.

And, of course, that's exactly what a hook should do.

So what do you think?  Do you like this first line?  Does it make you want to read on?
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Workshop Wednesday: Navigating through the Mechanics of Writing Dialogue

Need to work on the craft of writing?  Why not take a writing workshop?

This week I'm spotlighting Navigating through the Mechanics of Writing Dialogue, an online course sponsored by my Celtic sisters, the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. This course takes a look at more than just commas, periods, and quotation marks.  If you have questions about dashes and ellipses or how to break up dialogue correctly, then be sure to sign up.

March 19 - March 30, 2012
Instructor: MM Pollard
Fee: $15/CHRW members, $20 for non-members

Click here to read the full course description and instructor bio, and to register.

~ Course info copied from the Celtic Hearts website.
Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Sweet Smell of Success

Like the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, the Greeks used scent as a way to beat the heat. 

At the games at Daphne in the ninth century B.C., over two hundred women sprinkled the air with perfume; small boys marched around with aromatic golden plates filled with myrrh, saffron and frankincense; and young ushers held perfume for arriving guests to sample.

 Ancient Greek glass perfume bottles - 4th to 1st century B.C.E

 Pottery perfume bottles - 6th to 3rd century B.C. E.

After the runners, throwers, and fighters finished, the victorious Syrians gave everyone in the audience his very own crown of frankincense.  Sounds like nice parting gift, eh?

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Workshop Wednesday: Bringing Pirates to Life

I enjoy taking online writing workshops.  They're a great way to learn something new, hone your craft, and connect with fellow romance writers.  So I've decided to do a new blog post on Wednesdays to spotlight some of the upcoming workshops offered through my RWA Chapters, Hearts Through History and the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

First up is Bringing Pirates to Life, a class sponsored by Hearts Through History.  This workshop explores the difference between the reality and mythology of Caribbean piracy during the mid-seventeenth through the early eighteenth centuries, and how writers can create believable characters that fit within historical parameters.

March 26, 2012 - April 20, 2012
Registration Deadline: March 25, 2012
Instructor: Cindy Vallar
Fee: $15/HHRW members, $25/others

Click here to read the full course description and instructor bio.  Click here to register.

~ Course description and info copied from the Hearts Through History website.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Straw Style

In 1798, twelve-year-old Betsey Metcalf plaited strands of straw into braids and fashioned them into a bonnet lined with pink satin, creating the first straw hat.

Split Straw Bonnet, circa 1810

circa 1820

 Leghorn Straw Poke Bonnet, circa 1850-1820

Once the needle in the haystack was found, every last straw was used to make hats.  Fourteen thousand people in England alone made their living from the straw hat industry.  Round, sailor, and soft felt-like shapes were popular.

 circa 1840-1850

Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility

Like other "rustic" eighteenth century fashions, people who wore straw hats - and shoes and even bands of straw decorations on their silk dresses - were neither countryfolk nor poor.

 The Crawley sisters of Downtown Abbey

By 1846,when Zachary Taylor led an army of men into the throes of the war with Mexico, he didn't dream of wearing anything else.  He donned a hickory shirt and a straw hat.

Zachary Taylor

 circa 1905

The bell-shaped Cloche hat was developed in 1908 by iconic French designer Caroline Rebous.

Cloche Flapper Straw Hat, mid 1920s

It became wildly popular with the young flapper girls of the 1920's, because it allowed women to tuck their hair up into the hat to give the appearance of having short hair. 

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Releases


It's March.  Already?  Where did February go?  Even with the extra day, the month went by way too quickly.  Why am I surprised?  After all, February is the shortest month of the year.

Spring is just around the corner, and so are a lot of new book releases.  Here are the ones I want to read:

What books are you looking forward to reading this month?