Regency Friday Fun and Giveaway!

One of the best things about writing historical romance is that I get to do research about the clothing of the period.  By the strictest definition, the Regency period coincided with the tenure of the Prince of Wales as Regent while his father (George III) was deemed unfit to rule.  But in terms of cultural and social definitions, most of us recognize the Regency as spanning the years between the 1790’s all the way up to 1830. Fashions changed pretty drastically during that time and there’s lots of research fun to be had when setting a book during the Regency.

I stumbled across a very entertaining website that allows you to dress up your Regency hero and heroine like paper dolls.  There’s everything from undergarments to accessories, including a gentleman’s pistol and a lovely bouquet of flowers to give to his latest flirt.

Two other great stops on the web to learn about clothing of the Regency period are Candice Hern’s lovely and hugely informative website and Loretta Chase’s Two Nerdy History Girls blog, which she writes with historical fiction author, Susan Holloway Scott. If you love the Regency period as much as I do, I guarantee you’ll really enjoy following both Candice and Loretta.

So, what’s your favorite historical period for clothing?  Is it the Regency period with it’s beautiful, flowing dresses, the Tudor and Elizabethan eras with dresses that were more like works of art, or do you love the changing fashions of the Victorian Age?  One commenter will win a copy of my novella in the upcoming anthology, An Invitation To Sin.


Let’s All Go To The Lobby To Get Ourselves A Treat

Remember that ad campaign from the 1950s?  The one with the animated boxes of high-caloric snacks parading across movie screens?  Innocent at the time, it now seems slightly sinister when you realize just how much crappy stuff folks were pounding back with each tub of popcorn or cup of soda.  Of course, the serving sizes were smaller than today’s gargantuan servings, but it’s the demented joviality of an ad telling us to consume junk food that really seems so odd.  Or maybe it’s just the sight of a dancing bag of popcorn that gives me the creeps.

In these days of cultural and medical sensitivities, it’s an interesting and hilariously horrifying exercise to look back at the ad campaigns of the Mad Men era.  These were the Wild West days of advertising, where just about anything was acceptable to push a product down our naive little consumerist throats.  Hey!  It was the 50’s and early 60’s, a seemingly golden time of prosperity and peace, and the rising middle class.  We were buying into a lifestyle and, as they have always done, advertisers were hell-bent on luring us into consuming their products.

Some of the most prolific and bizarre ads – at least to our modern eyes – were the smoking ads.  Using movies stars to promote smoking was a popular technique, including stars who would be future presidents.

Even doctors were getting into the act.  After all, if your doctor smokes, how could it be bad for you?

Babies have always been popular vehicles to sell products, even cigarettes.

Really, Mom.  Just light up the damn cigarette!  It’s either that or scream at your kid.  Who knew that cigarettes could prevent child abuse?

Of course, companies have been using babies to sell products for decades.  Here’s an even earlier example that expounds the health benefits of beer for both mother and child.

And we ALL know how good sugar is for babies, right?

Whew!  And if you survived all the smoking, drinking, and junk food consumption, who knows what shape you’d be in when reached your Golden Years?  Not to worry.  The advertisers had a solution for that, too.

From cradle to grave, the Larry Tates and the Don Drapers of the world were looking out for us.  Of course, that kind of silly, obvious advertising would never work on us today, now would it?

 

 

 


It’s (Mostly) Fun And Games At The Bookstore

I stopped by my local Barnes and Noble yesterday to pick up a few books.  Four great-looking reads in four genres:  a contemporary romance by Toni Blake, a paranormal romance by Angela Knight, a historical romance by Jennifer Haymore, and a romantic suspense by Laura Griffen.

My idea of a good time

Angela Knight and Toni Blake are on my auto-buy list, and I love Jennifer Haymore’s elegant and heartfelt historical romances.  Since my latest project is a Christmas historical romance, I thought I could pick up some tips from Jennifer and enjoy a great read at the same time.  I’m new to Laura Griffen, but I’m always looking for a good romantic suspense.

It wasn’t all fun and games at the bookstore, though.  Every time I stop by one of the big chains, I notice less shelf space for books.  At Barnes and Noble, some of that space has been given over to the NOOK display, which is all about reading and buying books.  So that’s great.  But more and more floor space seems to be going to kid’s toys and games, and lifestyle products.  In the romance section, shelf space for authors’ back titles is really contracting.  There’s quite a bit of room for new releases, but if you’re not one of the big dogs, forget about seeing back titles.  And even for most of the big dogs the bookstores only carry a few back titles for each author in stock.  Unless you’re looking for a book by Nora Roberts or Fern Michaels, good luck finding an older book.

I have mixed feelings about this.  More romance readers are buying on-line, either at Amazon or from e-book retailers, and that’s great.  But I really like to browse for back titles and it frustrates the hell out of me when I can’t find them in the bookstore.  I guess that most stores have just given up trying to compete with Amazon, and I think that’s a crying shame.  I adore hanging out in bookstores, but there’s less and less incentive for me to go there.  Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What about you?  Are bookstores still a place you like visiting, or have they become an exercise in readership frustration?


Social Media – Love It Or Hate It?

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with social media.  It’s like crack, luring me in with the promise of a better tomorrow, until I realize that I have totally wasted today on Twitter, or Facebook, or Goodreads.  But is it really a waste?  I’ve stumbled across so much fascinating information by using social media, discovering all kinds of interesting articles, blogsites, and websites on history, pop culture, politics, and the arts.  I rarely surf the internet anymore.  Rather, I follow the specific links I find on Twitter or Facebook.  Even better, I’ve discovered people.  Wonderful, funny, intelligent people, including writers, publishing industry professionals, and readers, from all over the world.  Some have even become friends, and how utterly cool is that?

So it seems that what I have to do is manage my addiction and use social media to enhance my personal and professional relationships, and support my work.  To that end, I’m reading a couple of really good books that deal with social media.  One is a fabulous how-to book by Kristen Lamb, entitled We Are Not Alone.  This is a social media guide for writers, and it deals with the big questions about social media and why people – not just writers – need it.  The book also provides a nuts-and-bolts guide for setting up your own social media sites and accounts in clear language that is truly helpful to techno-peasants like me!

Kristen writes for Who Dares Wins Publishing, an independent publishing company created by Bob Mayer and Jennifer Holbrook-Talty.  Bob Mayer is another great resource for writers and anyone aspiring to get published.  He uses the skills and mindset he learned as a Special Forces soldier to teach writers how to conquer fear and bring discipline and positive change to their professional lives.   Bob is also a really good writer and an all-around cool guy.  Along with Jenny Crusie, he wrote one of my favorite books, the hilarious Agnes And The Hitman.

And you know how I found out about some of these folks?  Through social media, of course.  I even follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

How about you?  Social Media:  a positive vision of the future, or the bane of our existence?


The Story of Yukon and the Christmas Cookie

The holidays are over and it’s back to reality, right?  Just in case you’re experiencing those back to word/school/life blahs, here are some very cute pictures of Yukon the Norwegian Elkhound and his favorite Christmas present.  Food was involved.

Look! Another present for me!
What could it be?
Oh, joy of joys! Cookies!
I can barely control myself.
I'm drooling, but I can't help it.
Excuse me while I clean up.
All gone? I hate that!

Fortunately, there’s still a whole box of cookies left, but Yukon’s mom is very sensibly doling them out.  After all, Yukon doesn’t want to have to start the new year on a diet!


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