Friday, April 18, 2014

What You'd Be Wearing (in 1898)

I recently acquired some new additions to my Victorian American papers collection; a nice assortment of magazine pages showing the current fashions for ladies. So if you were out shopping for a new outfit 116 years ago, this is what you could buy:







Your little girl could also get these then-new styles:



And if you were worried about how or even if you'd fit into all those wasp-waisted dresses, you could first clamp yourself with this fashionable iron maiden:



I don't know about you, but I'm kind of glad I was born on this side of the turn of the century. :)

(All of the above pages were purchased as part of a vintage paper bundle from Jessica at LovelyFever on Etsy.com)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dogo Onsen

Dōgo Onsen (道後温泉) is the oldest hot spring in Japan, and is located in Matsuyama, in the prefecture of Ehime on the western coast of the island of Shikoku. Filmmaker Brad Kremer created this gorgeous video to show how it began and what it evolved into over the last century -- a great visual buffet of world-building ideas.

The Legend of Dogo Onsen 道後温泉 from Brad Kremer on Vimeo.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Library Thing Giveaway

Kit and crew are going international:



To spread the love among my fellow book lovers I'm giving away ten signed print copies of Disenchanted & Co. to members of Library Thing, and it doesn't matter where you live -- residents of all countries are welcome to put in a request (you can find the official listing here, about halfway down the page.)

My only request of the winners is that they post a review of the book somewhere online (I'm not picky.) The folks at Library Thing will choose the ten recipients on April 23rd, so you've got two weeks to put in your request.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What We Watch

Now that I have a little down time from promoting the new series, I've been looking for films and series to add my Victorian video collection. I found the North & South miniseries here primarily because I'm a huge fan of actor Richard Armitage and have been ever since he starred in MI-5 (aka Spooks) as troubled heartbreaker Lucas North (yes, another North! That compass heading might end up being his trademark.)

At the moment I'm only about halfway through North & South, which is based on Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell's novel of the same title. The characters are strong, the plot is decisive and the settings and costumes are rather marvelous, but what I most appreciate is the focus on telling the story without the usual explicit or sensational elements that so often ruin television and film productions of fictional works. The actors carrying every scene based on the strength of their performances, and I really love that. There is a certain amount of violence, but it's very mild in comparison to what we see on the small and big screen these days, and I find it's appropriate to the story. P.S., for those of you who are Downton Abbey fans, actor Brendan Coyle (aka Mr. Bates) has a very interesting role in this production.

Writers, I think what we watch can help us shift gears. When you write in a certain time period, it helps to immerse yourself in that era however you can. While I'd rather read books or listen to music, watching films or television series set in the period can certainly help. Listening to authentic voices from the era of your fiction can help retune your inner ear for dialogue purposes, for example, and seeing the many different ways actors protray their roles can help you refine your character depictions on the page.

Aside from the value watching period shows and movies affords the work, it's just fun. I get so tired of contemporary crime dramas and psychological thrillers, and taking a bit of a time travel trip via a historial series or movie provides a bit of an escape. I may never be able to actually go back to the Victorian era, but I can visit it whenever I like -- thanks to North & South and many other wonderful productions like it.

Do you like to watch Victorian-era shows or films? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in comments.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

True Colors

Art and storytelling have very strong ties in my head. As a novelist I have to relay an entire story universe's spectrum using only words, and those are printed solely in black ink on white paper. I'm lucky in that I'm also a quilter and painter and amateur photographer, so I can draw on my knowledge of and experience with color from other sides of my creativity to assist in breathing color into my fictional worlds. Having myriad relationships with color helps, but all one absolutely needs as a storyteller is curiosity and the willingness to think in color when you're writing.

The way I've tried to expand my color sense when writing is to create character and story palettes first and consider inventive ways I can work them into my world. More than anything color palettes give me a creative nudge whenever my worlds and characters begin to fade into black ink on write paper.

Here's one of my more inspiring character palettes:



I built the palette using colors I wanted from four photographs and a painting of mine, some beads I'd bought from a lampwork artist, and combined them with an image of the character's body model. Once I assembled this palette I had a great visual resource to reference whenever I was character or world-building, and it also helped solidify innumerable details involved with my vision of the character; never a bad thing.

I'm not the only artist who does this, as I learned when I visited Roxy Radulescu's Movies in Color blog and saw the palettes she compiled from interesting movie stills. She's approaching it from the opposite direction that I do, in that she creates palettes based on finished creative works, but it's a technique that might work for someone who has little or no experience in building a palette from scratch for their world.

Do you have to create color palettes to be a great storyteller? Absolutely not. Your vision may be already fully colorized in your head, and you may have no trouble translating what you see in there onto the page. But if you do wrestle with depicting your story in color, and/or feel your world is a little too black-and-white, it doesn't hurt to give it a try.

(Movies in Color link swiped from Gerard over at The Presurfer)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Cover Art

I'm cross-posting this announcement from my writing blog, as I'm very pleased to share a new horror cover for my next novel, and as you'll see it's absolutely a career landmine landmark:



I would love to hear your opinions of it, but before you comment I'd like to point out some of the ways in which it's going to ruin my life help create buzz for the new series. While I have considered killing myself over haven't always fared so well with pink covers in the past, I think this one is worse has so much more potential to create buzz. You won't find this particular shade of pink on anyone's just anyone's novel, you know. In fact I think it's destined to become my personal cover art curse career trademark color.

The authentic Victorian-era model used to depict my protagonist is also tragic a thoughtful and provocative choice, especially considering her physical and mental disabilities striking appearance. Very few ladies can pull off looking like a loon wearing a top hat. I applaud the art department for reaching out to the local mental institution modeling community to find such a special lunatic lady.

I'm also utterly appalled enraptured by the new title chosen for my story; I think it will completely mislead reassure readers as to the compulsory sex scenes romantic content of the story. Romance readers, you no longer have to fear the appropriate troubling genre label of urban fantasy or steampunk on my books; as the title screams suggests it's all about the love.

And if any doubts about the new cover linger in your mind, you might want to check the date. Yep, gotcha!

Original image credit: Izismile.com