History A'la Carte 1-31-13

We all love archers, don’t we? A look at archery to start your History a’la Carte.

And now, a  new installment of History a’la Carte to start the new year. I am always amazed to find out how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice Blog Hop and Giveaway

blog hop botton Today is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.  To celebrate, I’m taking part in a giant Jane Austen fan letter blog hop!

We all know  Jane Austen said it best.  A New York Times article last week suggests research agrees:

Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens

By STEVE LOHR Published: January 26, 2013

ANY list of the leading novelists of the 19th century, writing in English, would almost surely include Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain.

But they do not appear at the top of a list of the most influential writers of their time. Instead, a recent study has found, Jane Austen, author of “Pride and Prejudice, “ and Sir Walter Scott, the creator of “Ivanhoe,” had the greatest effect on other authors, in terms of writing style and themes.fallen petals copy

These two were “the literary equivalent of Homo erectus, or, if you prefer, Adam and Eve,” Matthew L. Jockers wrote in research published last year. He based his conclusion on an analysis of 3,592 works published from 1780 to 1900. It was a lot of digging, and a computer did it.

via Literary History, Seen Through Big Data’s Lens – NYTimes.com.

bluebird mag copyThat’s some pretty high praise for any author!

Jane Austen has some of the mosbutterflies copyt quotable words out there and I wanted to share a few of my favorites in conjunction with some of my favorite pictures.

I am in the process of having these graphics printed up in various forms. Two lucky winners will be the first to see these goodies and hold them in their hands. I will be giving away two 4×6 magnets featuring my grumpy bluebird.bleeding heart pstr copy

Comment below for your entry into the contest.  Extra entries can be earned for new blog follows, twitter follow, pinterest follow, facebook page likes and a double entry for e-newsletter subscriptions. All extra entry activities can be access from the button in the right hand sidebar.

Be sure and visit the other sites in the Blog Hop!

1. Courtney @ Stiletto Storytime 23. Diana Oaks 45. Courtney Sheets
2. Dani C @ Paulette’s Papers 24. Wendi Sotis 46. Lauren @Marie Antoinette’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century
3. Cassandra Grafton 25. P O Dixon 47. Lú thien84 @ My Love for Jane Austen
4. Kate @ Musings 26. Indie Jane 48. Eustacia Tan @Inside the mind of a Bibliophile
5. Nicole 27. Jessica Grey 49. Catherine Lawrencce
6. Jessica @ Peace Love Books 28. Brenna Aubrey 50. Ashley @ Wholly Books!
7. Short and Sweet Reviews 29. Kate McKinley 51. Bettie Lee Turner
8. Rebecca (Rivka Belle) @ A Word’s Worth 30. Reina M. Williams 52. Phylly3
9. Book Addict Katie 31. CandyM @ So little time… 53. Heather Vogel Frederick
10. Sally Smith O’ Rourke 32. Erin K. 54. Faith Hope & Cherrytea
11. Erlynn @ Books Hug Back 33. Media Darlings 55. Josie Brown
12. Deborah/ The Bookish Dame 34. Moira Bianchi 56. Audrey Bilger
13. Marilyn Brant 35. Farida Mestek 57. Chantal
14. Missy @ Invincible Love of Reading 36. My Jane Austen Book Club 58. Cindie @ Cindspectus
15. Maria Grace 37. Mary C. M. Phillips 59. Sharon Lathan
16. Angie Kroll 38. Monica 60. Austen Authors
17. Nancy Kelley 39. Living Read Girl 61. Marlyn @ Stuff and Nonsense
18. Kathy 40. Rebecca McFarland Kyle 62. Jessica @ Literary, etc
19. Darcyholic Diversions/ Barbara Tiller Cole 41. Laurel Ann (Austenprose) 63. Amie @ amiemccracken
20. Abigail Reynolds 42. Jaimie Bell 64. Susan Mason- Milks
21. Jennifer Becton 43. Misty @ The Book Rat 65. Jen @ altered type

Get to know Michele Kallio

Please join me in welcoming Michele Kallio this morning. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
 Michele KallioWhen did you start writing?
     I wrote a few short stories in high school, but I didn’t get serious about writing until the story idea for Betrayal began buzzing around inside my head in 1999.
What did you do with your earliest efforts?
     I am afraid they are lost.  I did show them to family members and teachers, but I guess I never thought to keep them. I have the original notebooks for Betrayal, three large spiralbound notebooks which I like to re-read and I am continually amazed as how much the story has evolved.
 What made you choose to write in the genre/time period you write in?
     I have had a life long fascination with Henry the Eighth and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.  It is hard to explain except to say that from the moment I first read about them in high school I have wanted to learn more about their lives and the Tudor Age in general.  So it seemed a natural progression to go from reading about them to writing about them. Continue reading

History A'la Carte 1-24-13

In honor of all the bathing posts this week, a look at some not-so-modern conveniencesl to start your History a’la Carte.

And now, a  new installment of History a’la Carte to start the new year. I am always amazed to find out how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

Hints on Etiquette- Victorian Style

by Grace Elliot

Hello and a big thank you to Maria for hosting me. Last year Maria visited my blog and posted a fascinating article inspired by Mrs Rundell’s cook book – similarly, my inspiration is taken from a handbook: “Hints on Etiquette and the Usages of Society, With a Glance at Bad Habits.” 

This book was one of many that sprang up in the early Victorian period, devoted to helping women fulfill their twin role as wife and mother. The aim of these books was to stress the desirability of being the model wife in socially and domestically – advice that the modern reader may find unsettling and comical.

In the 1830’s respectability was everything and the key to this was knowing the correct etiquette, defined as:

“A shield against the intrusion of the impertinent, the improper and the vulgar….” 

But ‘Hints on Etiquette’ held strong views on those rising above their station and voices a scathing opinion:

 “Shopkeepers become merchants…with the possession of wealth they acquire a taste for the luxuries of life, expensive furniture, and gorgeous plate; also numberless superfluities, the use of which they are imperfectly acquainted. But although their capacities for enjoyment increase, it rarely occurs that the polish of their manners keeps pace with the rapidity of their advancement. In all cases, the observances of the Metropolis [seat of refinement] should be received as the standard of good breeding.”

 For the unwary, such as our country-lass-come-to-the-city, everything was a mine field – from introducing friends and paying a call, to whom to invite to dinner and table manners. I pity those not born into society for the task of fitting in must have seemed Herculean. Even something as simple as bumping into an acquaintance whilst in the company of a friend, could be a mine field.

“Never introduce people to each other without a previous understanding that it will be agreeable to both.”

The risk of them proving not to be a kindred spirit was too great!

The reason (from Hints on Etiquette) runs like this:

“A stupid person

may be delighted with the society of a man of learning, to whom in return such an acquaintance may prove annoyance and a clog, as one incapable of offering an interchange of thought, or an idea worth listening to.”

Victoria Ettiquitte


Neither, should you take an uninvited friend, to the home of another, because:

“….there is always a feeling of jealousy that another should share our thoughts and feelings to the same extend as themselves, although good breeding will induce them to behave civilly to your friend on your account.”


I quite like the concept behind some Victorian social etiquette, such as calling cards (and a chance to turn unwanted guests away as “Not at home”) and the idea of a fifteen minute visit (before conversation runs thin). But on the whole Hints on Etiquette gives the impression of a snobby, stuffy society where people judged each other on their accents and style, rather than substance and loyalty.

What do you think?

How important are manners in the modern world?

Grace Elliot

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace believes intelligent people need to read romance as an antidote to the modern world. As an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work.

Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats. The Elliot household consists of five cats, two teenage sons, one husband, a guinea pig – and the latest addition – a bearded dragon!

Find her at:

Her website:  “Fall in Love With History.”
Amazon  Facebook  Twitter@GraceElliot
Grace Elliot website

Hope's Betrayal

Her  latest book

Amazon US

Amazon UK



Get to know Alyssa Goodnight

I am excited to welcome fellow Austen Author Alyssa Goodnight today! I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

Alyssa Goodnight

Writing is such a challenging endeavor. What got you started on it and what keeps you doing it?

I started writing because I was curious as to whether, having read so VERY many Regencies, I could write one myself.  So…I gave it a shot, wrote an opening, decided I liked it quite a lot, and decided to keep at it.  It is certainly difficult to keep going in the face of rejections and less than flattering reviews, but I can’t help myself.  I love books, I love words.  I guess I just want to be part of a world where a really good metaphor can make a difference.

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them?  Did you still have them?

Since I’m super stubborn, my earliest efforts (revised ad nauseum and edited) are my self-published debut novel, Unladylike Pursuits.  Quite a few people have read it, and a number of them have told me exactly what they think (good and bad)!

What made you choose to write in the genres/time periods you write in?

I chose the Regency period because I had been reading Regencies almost exclusively for years.  I knew the basic structure of those novels; I was familiar with the ton and all its trappings.  And then…my reading tastes shifted and I began reading chicklit style novels, in which the romance was a little more secondary.  And then came Jane Austen spin-offs and retellings.  And that eventually led to the writing of Austentatious and, my latest, Austensibly Ordinary. Continue reading

History A'la Carte 1-17-13

How about a Regency Ball to start your History a’la Carte.

And now, a  new installment of History a’la Carte to start the new year. I am always amazed to find out how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

Dancing at a Regency Ball and a new feature

I decided to do a little spring cleaning on the site here. So I am retiring the Tuesday Technology feature and replacing it with something I hope you will enjoy even more: Regency Life. You can find it in the menu below the header. It contains articles and bits of fascination about life in the regency era.  There are already a number of posts under that heading, but today’s will be the first official ‘Regency Life’ Post and we’ll celebrate it with a bit of dancing!

Dancing at a Regency Ball

In a society governed by strict rules regulating the interaction of the sexes, the dance floor provided only of the only places marriage partners could meet and courtships might blossom. The ballroom guaranteed respectability and proper conduct for all parties since they were carefully regulated and chaperoned.  Even so, under cover of the music and in the guise of the dance, young people could talk and even touch in ways not permitted elsewhere despite the supervision of chaperons.

A young woman did not dance more than two pairs of dances with the same man or her reputation would be at risk.  Even two dances signaled to observers that the gentleman in question had a particular interest in her.  Pairs of dances and usually lasted half an hour, so an undesirable dance partner could have been quite a burden, especially considering dancing in a large set involved a lot of standing around waiting one’s turn to dance. However, if one’s partner were pleasing company, it was possible to have private conversations under cover of the crowd.

Dances of this era were lively and bouncy. Ladies pinned up the trains of their ball gowns for ease in performing the steps. This also signaled potential partners that they meant to dance that night.

Steps ranged from simple skipping to elaborate ballet-style movements.  Country dances, the scotch reel, cotillion, quadrille made up most of the dancing.  Many versions of these dances existed and often the lady of the leading couple would get to select the specific one that was to be danced.

In the country dance, a line of at least five couples progressed up and down the line in various figures as dancers would swing from partner to partner. As they reached the top, each couple in turn would dance down until the entire set had returned to its original positions. In large sets, this could take an hour to complete.

Country dances basically had only one step that was used to create various chain patterns and shapes along the dance floor. These dances were very flexible in the number they could accommodate.

English Country Dance

Some insisted that reels were better suited to private balls than public assemblies because of their merry character. In this dance four, or sometimes six, dancers would perform interlacing figures with one another then pause for a sequence of fancy footwork similar to a Highland Fling.

The cotillion was a French import, with elaborate footwork. It was performed in a square or long ways, like the country dance. It consisted of a “chorus” figure unique to each dance which alternated with a standard series of up to ten “changes” (simple figures such as a right hand star) common to cotillions in general). Some considered cotillions out of fashion by 1800.


The quadrille was a dance for four couples, in a square. It consisted of five distinct parts or figures assembled from individual cotillions without the changes, making it a much shorter dance. The music for the dance was often adapted from popular songs and stage works.



One dance not likely to be found in a Regency era ball was the waltz. When it was first introduced, the waltz was regarded as shocking because of the physical contact involved. Even Lord Byron was scandalized by the prospect of people “embracing” on the dance floor. It was unlikely to have been seen often in public assemblies until the latter part of the Regency era, and even then, not often.


by Maria Grace Copyright 2013, all rights reserved

Get to know Donna Russo Morin

Join me in welcoming Donna Russo Morin to the site today.

When did you first start writing?
In the womb, or at least it feels that way in my mind. I did start writing as a very young child, probably as soon as I knew how to write.  My mother still has the stories I’ve written about numbers in love and animals wanting to be president.  My work became a little more serious during my junior and senior high school years, influenced by the turbulent times, turning to anti-war poetry as well as feminist treatises. My college years found me following the dark and gruesome path of the King (Stephen, of course). It was until a few years later that I found my true ‘voice’ in historical fiction.

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?
I’ve kept everything I’ve ever written, more as a reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I began getting published with my short horror works and book reviews, which were published in newspapers and magazines across the country (pre-internet days). Continue reading

Austenprose Reviews Darcy's Decision

You know it is a very good day to wake up to this kind of a review on Austenprose.com.


12 January 2013 by Jeffrey

For 200 years, I suspect many enthralled readers of Pride and Prejudice have silently pondered the question “What would Darcy do?” Author Maria Grace endeavors to put her own spin on this with her debut prequel novella Darcy’s Decision, in her Given Good Principles trilogy…

With admirable originality the author has created a morality drama with Biblical undertones stressing mercy, forgiveness, and what makes a man truly great. She showcases the familiar well-loved characters of Pride and Prejudice quite accurately: Darcy, Wickham, Richard Fitzwilliam, the Bingleys, Mrs. Reynolds, as well as introducing her own cast of loveable loyal neighbors and old family friends. Chief among these is John Bradley, the vital mentor to both Darcys – father and son. The wise old Clergyman counsels young Darcy and the dialogue is beautiful in its timeless truth…

At scarcely 120 pages, the author still manages to lavish her debut work with historical accuracy, helpful footnotes, and scintillating dialogues. The author’s unique voice is most apparent in her descriptions of facial expressions, posturing, gestures, and mannerisms. A scene where Wickham is bound up and is being interrogated by Darcy and his buddies is so vivid and comical that I was in raptures mentally visualizing the entire episode…

I found Darcy’s Decision richly entertaining with a very plausible variation on “what if?” If Darcy doesn’t wear the mantle of hero yet with you, dear readers, I predict he will once you finish this read. Next stop? The Future Mrs. Darcy, or course!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars © 2013 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Read the entire review at:  Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog.