Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Article Gleaning

I love reading informative posts on web sites and blogs, and many times they're as valuable to me as a researcher as anything I find at the library or book store. Recently I came across this interview by Lisa Hix at Collectors featuring Monica McLaughlin, a writer and jewelry historian whose knowledge of antique baubles is fairly breathtaking.

From this one interview I gleaned so much valuable information it's almost ridiculous; here are a few examples:

Jane Austen’s ring was sold in an “English Literature” auction, not in a jewelry auction. (Did not know this)

“Memento mori” means “remember you must die” in Latin, and it’s a theme that’s been around as long as Christianity. It was used in jewelry from around the 16th to 18th centuries, most often in beautiful rings that are enameled with tiny skeletons, skulls, or coffins. (I've heard of this sort of jewelry but I'd never seen a real example of it until the pic of the four rings in the article.)

In the late 1800s, detachable orbs known as coach covers were used to disguise diamond drop earrings during the daytime or while traveling. (Brilliant idea that I've never heard of before.)

Skirt lifters, or dress holders, are clever little contraptions that women used in the late 1800s to prevent the hems of their dresses from getting dirty. (Also news to me.)

Poison rings always fire up the imagination! They’ve been around for centuries, and they certainly could have contained poison—either destined for some unfortunate enemy, or for the wearer, should he or she find themselves captured and in a bad situation. (I suspected the last part of this but never had confirmation; now I do.)

When you find something like this online it's best to dupe it to your hard drive or print out a paper copy as some sites dump old pieces or require you to pay to access their archives. You should also verify any hard facts and glean more details by looking for other sources as confirmation and augmentation, such as this piece on what was sold with Jane Austen's ring and when at the auction and the resulting intervention by the British government to keep the ring from being taken out of the county.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kit Arrives

Today is the release day for Disenchanted & Co., the print edition bindup of my Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed e-books, aka the first novel in my Disenchanted & Co. steampunk urban fantasy series for Pocket Star. If you'd like to know just how much I love this series, head over to my writing blog today to read what I did for love.

Online places where you can buy my book:


Barnes & Noble

Monday, January 27, 2014

Timely Winner

The winner of the Timely giveaway is:

Deb Salisbury, who wrote I'd like to finish the Victorian bathing suit I've been 'working' on for months. It keeps falling to the bottom of my to-do list.

I don't know about the rest of you but I definitely want to see a pic when it's done! Deb, when you have a chance please send your ship-to address to so I can get this package out to you. Thanks to everyone for joining in.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lovely to Meet You (Really!)

Today I met quite a few people at the steampunk and industrial show at Renninger's Antiques while I played Publishing Fairy and handed out about fifty signed books. While I was too busy chatting to take any pics I really enjoyed the chance to talk to fans of the genre as well as the many immensely talented artists working at the show.

If you're visiting here because you met me today and have any questions, please feel free to leave them in comments or e-mail me at

Friday, January 24, 2014


We needed a couple more 2014 calendars for the house (okay, I admit, I'm not happy unless there's one in practically every room) so I stopped by BAM to shop their 50% calendar sale, at which I found this:

Cynthia Hart's 2014 Victoriana Calendar is a 25th anniversary edition, so they packed it with extra goodies: four lovely die-cut postcards, a neat standing year-long desktop calendar, plus a code to get a free digital page-a-day calendar online (and because of the light I darkened it quite a bit to tone down the flashy spots, so it's a bit lighter than this.)

It's odd, sometimes, what sort of calendars attract you. I have black-and-white Zen in the office but nothing in the kitchen, which is pretty much where I live when I'm not sleeping or writing. Also, I'm not usually into chicky stuff like this -- Ansel Adams really is more my speed. Still, for some reason I simply could not resist it. Everytime I look at it I'll think Victorian for sure.

Since I saved 50% I picked up an extra to give away here on the blog. Which brings me to this:

If you'd like to win the lot, in comments to this post name something fun that you'd like to do this year by midnight EST on Sunday, January 26th, 2014. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the Victoriana calendar package along with a signed print copy of Disenchanted & Co. and a signed print ARC of The Clockwork Wolf. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, so please join in.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

30 Days = World

It's often tough to find free online resources for world-building that are as complete and detailed as Stephanie Cottrell Bryant's 30 Days of World building tutorial, which can be read online or downloaded in several different formats, and covers an amazing range of topics. Here's the list:

Day 1: Climate & Variety
Day 2: Physical Planet
Day 3: Mood & Setting
Day 4: Cataclysms
Day 5: The Map
Day 6: Races
Day 7: Recent History
Day 8: Econ & Politics
Day 9: Language
Day 10: Mood & Culture
Day 11: Focus In
Day 12: What If
Day 13: Plot Hooks
Day 14: Education
Day 15: Resources
Day 16: Limits of Spec
Day 17: Mood II
Day 18: Spec & Society
Day 19: Character
Day 20: Plot Hooks
Day 21: Flora & Fauna
Day 22: Geography
Day 23: Culture II
Day 24: Mood III
Day 25: Sky
Day 26: Anti-What If
Day 27: Plot Hooks
Day 28: Left Out
Day 29: Character II
Day 30: Last Day

I've heard from many writers that the tutorial was immensely helpful to them since I mentioned it a couple of years back on my writing blog, so I'm reposting it here for my builder visitors.

Monday, January 20, 2014

We've Come a Long Way, Baby

I'm currently researching the different types of advertising in Victorian newspapers, and in the process compiling quite a collection of oddities. Here are some ads I found this past weekend that tickled me:

Refreshing to see the houses were offered on terms to suit the buyer; try to find a bank loan officer now willing to do that.

Victorian rehab: if they didn't cure you, you didn't have to pay. Lindsay Lohan would be a billionaire.

These two are sad -- and rather scary, to think people would list children like an unwanted piece of furniture.

And last but not least:

Yep, electric underwear!

Friday, January 17, 2014


The winner of the First Hat Box Giveaway of 2014 is:

Anne V., who wrote I am looking forward to renovating our new house and to taking time to learn new crafting skills-the kind of skills that involve fire but not burning down the whole new house.

Anne, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to address to so I can send your tote and books to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Windows Into the Past

The Daily Mail recently published a fascinating photo sampler here of retail shops in Shropshire during the Victorian era, which makes me think window-shopping was a lot more fun 125 years ago.

Photo collections like these can be gold mines for storytellers researching a particular era; there are hundreds of details to be gleaned from each image. I'm current world building a merchant's quarter in Toriana and want to get more of a Victorian feel for the names of my shops and what they advertise in their windows, and these pics are being immensely helpful, particularly with how the shops' signs should look and be worded:

Historic photos provide many excellent opportunities to engage your imagination. When you examine them, jot down notes on what attracts you (and what doesn't.) Imagine yourself in the picture and make a list of what you think your senses would detect. For example: what are the predominant colors you'd see, and what scents would be the strongest in this spot? If there are any people in the photo, make up a name for each, and (if it's not readily apparent) an occupation. If you want to use the person as a character, first see if you can envision more details about their history, family and daily life (I always test my vision of a photo-inspired character by writing a one-page bio.)

When using old photos to inspire your storytelling you should also digitally store or print out copies for further study and future reference; you may get more use out of them for other stories, too, especially when the images are highly-detailed like these.

Related link: Story Portraits

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First Hatbox Giveaway of 2014

In two weeks the print edition of Disenchanted & Co. will be hitting the shelves nationwide. This series has been such an interesting experience that sometimes I forget how long the journey to this point has been (five years!)

What will never fade is my gratitude to all the people involved in helping me realize this unlikely dream, and if you don't mind I'd like to mention a few that went above and beyond for me: my guy and our kids, who have done just about everything but write the books; my editor, Adam Wilson, who has worked alongside me tirelessly, who has been so generous and understanding, and in every way has proven to be a huge blessing in my writing life; the amazing Jeff Somers, a wickedly talented writer and my video producer, who is also quite possibly psychic; NYT bestselling author Darlene Ryan, my dear friend, my wonderfully gifted colleague, and my rock through whenever things got turbulent; and last but not least, all of you regular visitors to the blog who have stopped in and cheered me on and helped spread the word and otherwise provided such generous support for the series. I've been looking forward to this release for five years, but I couldn't have made it here without you. Thank you all for being there for me.

Naturally I thought I'd give away the first copy of the print edition of Disenchanted & Co. here on the blog. Good thing I checked Her Ladyship's hat box this morning, too, because she also has a couple of things to contribute: a print ARC of The Clockwork Wolf as well as one of my handmade crazy quilt totes (this one includes one of my stitching experiments with holographic thread and burnout velvet, as well as some luscious violet silk velvet patchwork.)

If you'd like to win the tote and the books (which I will sign for the winner), in comments to this post tell us something that you're looking forward to this year by midnight EST on Thursday, January 16th, 2014. I'll draw one name from everyone who participates and send the winner the lot. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, so please join in.

Monday, January 13, 2014


I apologize for neglecting the blog; I've been wrestling with what exactly I want to do with it for 2014 (as well as finding the time to do it.) I think I've got most of it figured out now, so thank you all for bearing with me.

My video wizard Jeff Somers has produced an updated version of the first official video for Disenchanted & Co. that features the new release date and the cover art for the print edition:

Jeff is also putting together a new video for The Clockwork Wolf, so stay tuned for more details on its online debut.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stranger than Fiction

First, Happy New Year to everyone from Kit & crew. I hope 2014 proves to be wonderful for all of us. Now, here is an odd fun fact I found while wandering around the internet during the holidays:

Rumsen city's tube system in the Disenchanted & Co. books was an idea conglomerated from several inspirations, including my own childhood fascination with tubes and tunnels. But did you know there once (briefly) existed a very similar pneumatic tube array in Victorian England?

(Link filched from Gerard over at The Presurfer)