Thursday, October 31, 2013

Victorian Halloween Customs

Happy Halloween!

I hope you have a bewitching All Hallow's Eve.


Did you know Victorian Americans saw Halloween as a brand new holiday? A wave of Irish immigrants in the 1820's to 1840's, fleeing the potato famine, brought their Halloween traditions with them to America. The holiday was celebrated with a mixture of wholesome Victorian values and the mysticism of the spiritualist movement. Children were sent to bed and adults celebrated late into the night. Victorians downplayed the element of death, treating Halloween as a chance for merriment and matchmaking, much like our modern Valentine's Day. It wasn't until the early 1900's that Halloween became the children's holiday we celebrate today.


Divination and Spirit Contact

Divination was a popular Halloween activity for young Victorian women. The types of divination practiced had their roots in folklore and spiritualist practices. Using household items, like mirrors or apples, girls would attempt to find out who their future husband would be. 

Followers of the spiritualist movement practiced in seances where mediums tried to contact the dead. Dumb suppers were also held, in which participants ate dinner in complete silence and extra places were set to encourage the spirits of dead loved ones to sit at the table.


Matchmaking was common at Halloween parties in the Victorian era. It was partly to do with the time of year. A couple could be introduced at Halloween, come to know each other at various Christmas events and marry in the spring. Halloween parties were a chance for young people to socialize and for older relatives to scheme about their marriage prospects. Halloween was generally regarded as a holiday for unmarried adults and Victorian magazines and newspapers urged married couples to stay at home. This was probably recommended so that they wouldn't spoil the matchmaking plans of younger relatives.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Parlour Games

Many of the Halloween activities we know today originated in the parlour games of the Victorian era. Bobbing for apples and jumping candlesticks were common activities. Dancing and singing celebrated a successful harvest. Costume parties were becoming popular and women often dressed as traditional Halloween creatures like cats and bats, usually just adding a mask to a black dress they already owned. Ghost stories were common, but they took on the romantic themes of Gothic literature which was seeing a re-emergence.  Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker brought an eroticism to the Gothic revival movement that inspired the ghostly tales and plays performed at Victorian Halloween parties.


Festive Food

Pumpkins became an important Halloween food in the Victorian era. Irish immigrants had brought to America the tradition of carving turnips. The custom was reinterpreted as carving pumpkins, which were abundant during the Halloween season. Pumpkins were also featured in many Halloween desserts like pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Apples were used in pastries and incorporated into stuffing and other savory dishes. Caramel corn and candied apples were popular. Confectionary companies began producing candy specifically for Halloween. Candy corn and pumpkins were introduced in the 1880's.

Image: Pinterest

~ Courtesy of ~
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Wrap-Up

What?? The month is over already?? I completely forgot to do a wrap-up post for September. Gah! Well...I'm back on schedule, ready to tell you about everything I did in October.


I completed the first draft of my story! YAY!! This is the first draft and first story I've ever finished
A lot of firsts, right?! I have to admit I didn't have an amazing "wow-I-did-it" moment when I finally typed The End. I didn't do a happy dance. I didn't squeal or cry. It was 3:00 am. I was tired. So I went to bed. The next day, when I texted the good news to my hubby and CP, it still felt a bit surrealbecause I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. 

But I did it. I really did it! The more times I say it aloud, the more people I tell, I realize exactly what I accomplished and feel good. I did it. I really did it! =)

I'm currently revising, editing and fleshing out my scenes. I hope to have my second draft done by mid-December. Of course, I'll revise my goal if I need an additional month to finish this stage before I send off the story to Natalie for her to critique.


I didn't do much in October, but there were a couple of key moments.

A Bundle of Joy. I became an aunt for the sixth time. My fifth nephew was born mid-month.

Maxwell James

My sister-in-law took this photo. Seriously. She's an amazing photographer, don't you think? And her new little one is simply adorable.

A Beachy Getaway. This month my hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a trip to the Oregon coast. We had a wonderful time together, hanging out with my sister and her family. The weather was fabulous (very summer-like), and my sister was the perfect hostess (as usual). We watched movies, we ate at the Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City. We beachcombed and hiked the muddy trail to Cape Lookout.

The view from Cape Lookout.

My sister's dog, Sierra.
My boy, Sawyer.
 The dogs loved running on the beach. So did I. =)
Happy Reading! I only read 2 books in October. =(  I'm going to have to read 9 more books by the end of the year, if I want to reach my goal. Hmmm... November could be the perfect month to read some novellas.

How was your month?
Tuesday, October 29, 2013


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins November 1st!

Just a few more days left to sign up for NaNoWriMo, a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 pm on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

Click here to sign up!

I'll be unofficially participating in NaNoWriMo this year, along with some of my Celtic Hearts Chapter mates. I plan to work on my medieval WIP, Her Heart's Desire, during our writing sprints. It's not my goal to reach 50K words, but to simply write as much as I can in order to complete a rough first draft. If that doesn't happen, no biggie. It's not about the word count for me. It's about typing up my handwritten notes, adding movement and dialogue tags, and creating a detailed outline for this WIP.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What are your November writing goals?
Monday, October 28, 2013

Caught On The Cover (1)

RT Book Reviews blog occasionally spotlights favorite celebrities "caught on the cover," their likenesses spotted on some book releases. I love these posts! Check out who the bloggers over at RT found on the new October releases. 


Lacey Chabert went from our beloved Party of Five to our even more beloved Mean Girls, but now she's rocking leather pants and dealing with angels. What would Regina George say?

Is there nothing James Franco can't do? Movie star, soap actor, artist, author, student, our boyfriend, cover model!

We have long coveted Linda Cardellini's hair. And then when she got to make out with Jon Hamm on this season Mad Men, well.

Well, you already know everyone's YA boyfriend Mark, but he certainly didn't mention that he got to make out with Mrs. Ryan Reynolds!

Now that Christian Grey's up for grabs again, maybe Ian Somerhalder won't have to deal with dragons any longer.


We have loved Chord Overstreet ever since we heard his name was Chord Overstreet. 

Danielle Fishel (aka Topanga) is back on the small screen with Girl Meets World, but did you know she was also My Lady Quicksilver?!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cowboy Chic

In 1848 the U.S. acquired Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and California via a treaty with Mexico. In that same year, the California gold rush attracted thousands and thousands of fortune-seeking men. By the last quarter of the century the American West was rough and ready, and the place for action.

Enter the American Cowboywho rounded up herds of cattle, protected them from wild animals and thieves, and became a picturesque legend in his own time.

Here's what he wore:

STETSON: The high-crowned wide-brimmed felt hat, nicknamed "The Boss of the Plains", designed by Philadelphia hatmaker John B. Stetson. The Stetson protected a cowboy from the blazing sun and the deep crevice in the hat's crown kept him from being drenched during a downpour.

The hat cost $20 (a lotta money for a dude only earning $30 a month), but it lasted a lifetime.

Photo: Daniel Craig, Aliens & Cowboys (2011)  

Stetsons were available in black or white, so you could tell the good guys from the bad. You can guess which one made the best impression on a first date. ;)

Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (2013)

BANDANA: Folded and tied around the back of the neck with the triangle in the front. Nicknamed a "wipe", it was used to soothe an overheated brow, to pull up over the nose on a long, dusty trail, as a disguise so a man could play bandit, or to drop in front of a hot-looking honey so she could adoringly retrieve it.

Eric Balfour in The Legend of Hell's Gate (2011)

SHIRT WITH SNAPS: Snaps were better than buttons, allowing a cowboy to unfasten his shirt with only one hand while he kept the other firmly gripped around the horse's reins. Snaps were also handy when one hand was firmly gripped around a girl.

 Russell Crowe, 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

METAL BELT BUCKLE: Used to strike a match and light up that obligatory cigarette, afterwards.

CHAPS: Leather hides worn on top of Levi's which protected the thighs, and added a touch of animal magnetism to a cowboy's outfit.

Photo: Ben Foster, 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

HORSE:The best cowboys made sure to pick a horse that complimented their height. A man wants to look tall in the saddle, after all. It was also important for a cowboy to select a horse that wouldn't throw him. Getting thrown off a horse in front of a girl only made a man look dumb.

Viggo Mortensen, Appoloosa (2008)

BOOTS: With heels to hold the foot in the stirrup so a cowboy could stay astride.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Deepest Night

It's Teaser Tuesday time! 
Here's how to play:

1) Grab your current read.
2) Open to a random page.
3) Share two (2) "teaser" sentences (or more, if you like) from somewhere on that page.
4) BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!  (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
5) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.


"He sent me a glance from beneath his lashes. With the light cast up from below, he was all stark jawline and cheekbones and diabolical dark brows. I saw the dragon in him then as clear as could be. Only his eyes were reassuringly familiar: rich cobalt blue, the color of oceans, of heaven's heart."
~ page 17 of The Deepest Night by Shana Abé

Shana Abé is my favorite author. I'm loving this book!!
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cover Swoon Sunday: The Typewriter Girl

Take a lovely gown, a cameo pin brooch, a pretty heroine, berry and wine makeup colors, an elegant scroll design, moody dark lighting, Gothic colors, and you get one swoon worthy cover.

This cover makes me want to wear a cameo. And go back in time. 

What about you? Does this cover make you swoon?
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Friday, October 18, 2013

First Draft...Done!

I did it! I finally finished my first draft yesterday morning! *doing happy dance*

My CP texted Wednesday night to tell me she’d written The End on her first draft. I wasn’t surprised. Natalie writes like a speed demon when she puts her mind to it. Her drive and determination is super inspiring, not intimidating. Scratch that. It is a wee bit terrifying. So I panicked. I wondered if I'd ever finish my own story, and worried that if I didn't Nat would think I’m a total slacker and dump me as a CP. Ten minutes later, I got busy.
I ended up pulling an almost all-nighter, typing with the frenzied energy of a hungry rat who’d just devoured a package of double stuff Oreos. I knew I needed to stop revising and agonizing over every single word I wrote. I needed to get the words down—any words—and finish the draft. I managed to write nearly 7,000 words before I called it a night at 3:00am. 

Five hours later I was back at work. I wrote an additional 1k so I could type The End on my Highlander novella. I didn’t cry. I didn’t squeal in delight. Somehow it didn’t seem real, perhaps because my final chapters are very rough and I still have a lot to revise. Even so, I’m happy. 

I completed my first draft!!!!  

This is the first story I’ve completed, and it feels wonderful.

My draft is just under 40,000, right on target since I’m aiming for around 40-60k. I expect the total word count to fluctuate some during the revision and critique stages, and that’s okay with me. I wrote differently this time to complete the first draft, which means I have more than a few scenes that need to be fleshed out. I ended up using Nat’s detailed plot outline tactic to finish my book, and it made a huge difference. Basically, some scenes have dialogue, action, and descriptions of the characters and settings, while others are less detailed. Not worrying over word choice and other things allowed me to move the story forward and get everything down on the page. I struggled to write this way in the beginning because I love writing a clean first draft, but I decided to give it a try since Natalie was having so much success with this tactic. It paid off! 

My next stage is rewriting and revising, a process I enjoy immensely. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take; I still need to create a deadline that meshes with my goals. I hope to have a completed clean draft by mid-December, but if it takes another month or two then so be it. I would like to be querying before spring. I’ll get there. I know I will. How could I not with such an awesome, supportive CP on my side, right?

For the moment, I’m savoring my accomplishment and catching up on blogging and watching my favorite TV shows.
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