Tea Party Winners: Debra E. Marvin's winner is: Kathleen, Jennifer Hudson Taylor's winner of her MacGregor Legacy series is Chris Granville and second winner is Britney Adams for the plaque and For Love or Country novel:, Angela K. Couch's winner is: , Carrie Fancett Pagels's winner per random.org is Beverly Duell-Moore for a copy of BCB and second winner for colonial goodies is: Carrie Moore Gould, Denise Weimer's winner: Janet Marie Dowell, Shannon McNear's winner is: Adriann Harris, Pegg Thomas's winner is: Susan C

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Have you the coin for that?

The American dollar has been around for a long time. During the Revolution, Congress knew it was imperative to have our own currency and not be totally reliant on British pounds, so they had paper money struck in Philadelphia.  But those diabolic Redcoats got creative and destroyed our currency. How? Oh, it's pretty simple. Counterfeiting.

During the Revolution, the British began counterfeiting Congressional dollars pretty much as soon as Congress started printing them. The result? Well, a dollar was, shall we say, not off to a great start. In many parts of the young country prices had already risen to absurd numbers because of the boycott. In New York, they had the opposite problem--imported goods were still reasonably priced, but they couldn't get staples. The price of a pound of beef raised something like 800% in three years. And if you tried to pay with dollars? Ha!

They were, literally, using the dollars as wallpaper.

The British were so set on this plan to undermine the new American economy that they set up a counterfeiting headquarters on a ship the New York governor used as a floating state house. They'd sprung a forger from jail and put him to work. Nice, eh? The one flaw--their paper was too thick.

Until, that is, they stole several reams of paper from the press in Philadelphia. After that, the dollar was pretty much destroyed. After the war, most people traded in silver coin, using the Spanish silver dollars, which equaled eight reales. And when they needed a smaller coin, they pieced them into half, quarters, etc.

Which meant that folks got so good at dividing these silver circles that they soon had eigths and tenths. But, um, have you ever tried to tell the difference between an eighth of a small circle and a tenth? Yeah. The people of the new United States weren't all that fond of it either. 

This was the point when independent gold and silver smiths became authorized to create their own money with the approval of the government. You could bring in your pieced silver, hand it over to the smith, and get in return a nice, easy-to-use shilling. Naturally, the smiths got the good end of this deal by coating a less-expensive metal in the silver and so keeping the difference.

One of the most prominent smiths of post-Revolution America was John Chalmers of Annapolis. The Chalmers Shilling was brilliant, in part because of its marketing potential. The front of the coin had "I. Chalmers Annapolis" emblazoned around it, which meant that everyone using the coin knew the name of this one smith.

What I find really interesting is the back of the coin. In case you can't make it out, those are two birds fighting over a worm, with a snake in the background waiting to strike them.

Keep in mind that at the time there was a huge debate about how big or small the federal government should be, whether authority should remain mostly with the states or be given to the centralized government. Well, Chalmers made his politics known with this image. The birds represent the states, and the image is a cautionary tale--let not the states bicker among themselves. If they do, the federal government (the snake) will be ready to swallow them whole.

And there you have a brief history of early American currency. That'll be two shillings, please.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Interview with Laura Feagan Frantz

Interview by: Carrie Fancett Pagels

Laura Frantz is the author of The Colonel’s Lady, due out "officially" on August 1, 2011.  I am hoping to see it earlier as sometimes happens, a few weeks earlier than that day. She is also the acclaimed author of The Frontiersman’s Daughter (2009), and Courting Morrow Little (2010).

Published by: Revell

Laura’s website is http://laurafrantz.net

Laura, what got you interested in the colonial time period?

Ever since I was very young and read those little historical bios in my elementary school library – Betsy Ross, Daniel Boone, Dolly Madison and others – I’ve been colonial crazyJ. I still remember standing by that particular shelf, puzzling over which ones I’d read and liked best and which I’d yet to check out. The period itself is so rich, full of fascinating people and events, that it’s easy for a novelist to draw inspiration from.

What inspired your latest colonial work?
The real-life colonial hero, George Rogers Clark. I fell in love with his story and the painting of the young George while visiting Locust Grove in Louisville, Kentucky. But he had such a tragic life I decided to give him a happier ending. Writing The Colonel’s Lady was the result. I hope readers become smitten with him and his revised story, too!

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?
There’s nothing like Colonial Williamsburg. It’s truly like stepping back in time. If I could live my life over again, I think I’d attend the college of William and Mary and be a lifetime re-enactor at CW, scribbling stories on the side. Being a writer in residence there is my idea of heaven! I’m also very fond of Olde Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts as well as Fort Boonesboro in Kentucky.

Laura, do you have a favorite colonial recipe you enjoy? Would you care to share it with CQ readers? Readers, you can find Laura Frantz’s recipe for Kentucky Cornbread this coming Saturday on CQ.

If you care to say, you can tell readers where you live and what colonial places you have in your state or your home state if different.
I live in Washington state now but Kentucky is my home. Since Kentucky was not one of the original 13 colonies, it doesn’t have a great deal of colonial history other than being the “wild west” during that time period. Daniel Boone opened the area for settlement and colonials poured into the area, forcing the Shawnee and other tribes out of their beloved hunting grounds. Most settlers came into Kentucky after the Revolutionary War was won.

Giveaway: Laura has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of The Colonel’s Lady to a reader. J Please leave your comment and your email address for a chance to win! TCL will release August 1.

The Colonel's Lady is available for pre-release through Amazon
Order yours now and you will also be notified when it ships!  I have seven in my cart and will also be buying a Kindle copy. Laura can be counted on to write a "must read" book and I am looking forward to getting my copies in my hot little hands soon!

Thank you so much Laura for doing this interview for us. Laura is a contributor to CQ, also, so come back to check on her posts!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Colonial Recipes: Apple Tansey

Rita Gerlach shared this recipe with CQ readers.
Apple Tansey
Rita said, "Apple Tansey is yummy! I found the recipe on the Colonial Williamsburg website. It is original, from the 'The Compleat Housewife' book, published in America in 1742."

To make an Apple Tansey:

Take three pippins (apples), slice them round in thin slices, and fry them with butter; then beat four eggs, with six spoonfuls of cream, a little rosewater, nutmeg, and sugar; stir them together, and pour it over the apples; let it fry a little, and turn it with a pye-plate. Garnish with lemon and sugar strew'd over it.

Note: Rita says she uses water instead of rosewater.

Thanks, Rita, for the recipe!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Using the Bible for Research

To be more specific, using the King James Version. While in the 17th Century most of the colonists used Geneva Bible (1560), by the 18th Century the King James Version (otherwise known as the Authorized Version) became the most read version.

What can you learn from this Bible?

How language was used. For example, did you know that ‘ye’ was used as the subject of the sentence but ‘you’ would be used for the object?

How verses would have been quoted by people in that time. They didn’t use the NIV or the NASB to quote a verse. Those versions did not exist at that time.

Word choices. The King James Version used words the colonists were familiar with, and in many cases, used on a daily basis. For example, the word charity would still be understood to mean love in the 17th Century.

Sentence structure. While readers today may not appreciate a novel written with the complex sentence structure found in Romans or Philippians in the KJV, you can get a feel for how people spoke and wrote. If you doubt this, read some of the sermons written by John Winthorp or letters by George Washington or read the account of Patrick Henry’s discourse in the courthouse at Spottsylavania when he defended the Baptist Ministers indicted there.

Most educated men were well-versed in the use of Scripture. In fact, when the Puritans arrived in America, they determined to educate both boys and girls so that they could read the Bible. For them, the Bible played a major role in forming society and the laws they sought to establish. There are many sermons or articles written by men that demonstrate how they attempted to make the colonists conform to what they understood Scripture to say.

Governors of the Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and other New England colonies were men who knew Scripture and based their decisions on their understanding of the Bible. Dr. John Clarke, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, John Hart, and many others who were instrumental in creating the liberties we presently enjoy founded their beliefs on God’s Word.

While some people did not believe in God nor abide by Biblical precepts and principles, if you read letters, diaries, and other writings from people of the time you'll discover that those most influential knew the Bible to some extent, whether they had a personal testimony of salvation or not.

Therefore, to better understand how society functioned, what people believed and valued, you should also be well-versed in the Bible, particularly the KJV, since that is what many read.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

George Whitefield - Colonial Celebrity

If I'd lived in colonial America, one of the people I'd have wanted to see was George Whitefield, "the boy preacher." If I had, I'd have ridden the wave of the Great Awakening, that incredible revival which began more than 200 plus years ago.

George Whitefield makes an astonishing preacher sans hero. Born in England in 1714 , he preached from 40-60 hours a week and crossed the Atlantic thirteen times to minister to America. Huge crowds gathered to hear him speak and he was so wildly popular, even in his early 20's, that his heartfelt prayer became, "O Heavenly Father, for Thy dear Son's sake, keep me from climbing."

We can learn so much from godly heroes of the past, men like John and Charles Wesley, Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland, and John Cennick who were also converted about this time. Granted, none of them were perfect but we can focus on their fine points and how they changed history. Here are some fascinating facts about Whitefield and the early state of Christianity in America:

*The term Great Awakening (meaning conversion or salvation) refers to a religious revival in America beginning in 1734-1750
*In colonial times, most pastors simply read their sermons to their congregations in church buildings; Whitefield preached extempore, without notes, in the open air to crowds of many thousands who could hear him clearly
*As a young man he began a lifelong habit of reading the Bible on his knees
*He was slight in stature but had a voice like a trumpet
*He arose each morning at 4 am
*He was plagued with poor health throughout his life
*He had a great sense of humor
*He was a part of the "Holy Club" while at Oxford
*He was close friends with Benjamin Franklin who printed many of his sermons, thereby helping spread the gospel, though Franklin himself was a Deist
*He had a heart for orphans and the poor
*Whitefield said he would "rather wear out than rust out" which he did in 1770

Another powerhouse preacher had this to say about Whitefield, "He lived. Other men seem to be only half alive; but Whitefield was all life, fire, wing, and force." ~Charles Spurgeon

Here are a few of my favorite Whitefield quotes taken from his Journals:

The weather was cold, and the wind blew very hard; but when the heart is full of God, outward things affect it little. (January 15, 1738)

Had great comfort in reading the Scriptures. Was afterwards a little inclined to heaviness but drove it off by a long intercession. Prayer is an antidote against every evil. (January 18, 1738)

If it were not for the corruptions of my own heart, which are continually stirring, what have I to disturb my peace? But as long as those Amalekites remain in my soul, I shall never be perfectly at ease. (April 7, 1738)

Lord, teach me in all things simply to comply with Thy will, without presuming to say, even in my heart, "What doest Thou?" (August 13, 1739)

My favorite books about Whitefield:

George Whitefield, Volumes I and II: Arnold Dallimore
Journals: The Banner of Truth Trust
George Whitefield's Daily Readings: Edited by Randall J. Pedersen

Have you heard of George Whitefield? What historical figure would you most like to meet today if you could? From any century?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Interview with Rita Gerlach

Rita Gerlach is the author of 'Surrender the Wind'.
Published by: Abingdon Press
Date: August 2009
Rita is also the author of three other books.  Her website is http://ritagerlach.blogspot.com/

Rita, what got you interested in the colonial time period?
I’ve always had a romantic soul for days long ago. It is not solely the fashions, the modes, the historical dates and famous names that have intrigued me. What draws me to the Colonial period is how differently people lived, how the majority had a strong belief in God and the precepts of the Bible, that men believed their word was their bond, and that love and family were of greater significance than today. It was a time of great changes in the world with the birth of a new nation.  

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?
I live in an area rich in history. So there are many places I enjoy visiting. But I have to say by far it has to be Rose Hill Manor in Frederick County, Maryland that inspires me the most. It isn't far from where I live. Rose Hill is open to the public, and when I walk through its black lacquered door into its broad airy foyer, hear the creak in the floorboards and smell the age of the house, I feel I've stepped back in time. The land was purchased in 1778 by Maryland’s first elected governor, Thomas Johnson. He gave it to his daughter, Ann Jennings, on the eve of her wedding day. Ann and her husband John built the manor beginning in 1789 with its completion in 1792. The upstairs bedrooms are furnished with colonial furniture and roped off. It is one of the most inspiring places I've ever been that reflects this time period.


The property features the beautiful white manor house, an icehouse, log cabin, blacksmith shop, carriage collection and two barns. Throughout the year there are colonial fairs, a quilt show, and a Christmas event for the children. I especially love seeing the craftspeople in colonial costume.

If you are ever in my neck of the woods in central Maryland you may want to plan a trip to Rose Hill Manor. My town, Frederick, has a stunning historical downtown, with homes, churches, and shops that go back to it's founding in 1745. Further west of Frederick in Washington County is Fort Frederick, built along the Potomac River during the French and Indian War. Harpers Ferry is another great place to visit, with it's beautiful historical buildings and a river walk, as well as Antietam and Monocacy Civil War battlefields.
My other favorite place is the Potomac River. I love walking the canal walk. The river is the major setting in the new book series I am writing for Abingdo Press, 'Daughters of the Potomac'. The first book in the series will be released in April 2012. If readers would like to be on my mailing list they may contact me directly at rpkg@comcast.net

Rita, do you have a favorite colonial recipe you enjoy? 
Apple Tansey is yummy! I found the recipe on the Colonial Williamsburg website. It is original, from the 'The Compleat Housewife' book, published in America in 1742.
Would you care to share it with CQ readers?  Readers, you can find Rita Gerlach's favorite recipe from Colonial Williamsburg for Apple Tansy this coming Sunday on CQ.

Giveaway:  Leave a comment to win a copy of Surrender the Wind.

Available in paperback, Kindle and Nook.

The Daughters of the Potomac Series coming to bookstores in 2012.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tavern Meringues - Colonial Recipes


Serves 6
  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer or balloon whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly until stiff peaks form.
Transfer the meringue to a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe 3-inch-long, 2-inch-high ovals onto the baking sheet. Bake until firm and light tan colored, about 30 minutes. Turn the oven off for 1 hour, leaving the meringues in the oven. Turn the oven on again to 250°F and bake 30 minutes longer. Turn the oven off and leave for at least 2 hours without opening the door.
Slice the strawberries and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the confectioners' sugar over. Crush about a third of the berries with a fork and let the mixture stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To serve, arrange the meringues in individual bowls and top with a generous scoop of ice cream. Spoon or ladle the strawberries over and serve at once.

Submitted by:  Tiffany Amber Stockton
CFP: Thanks Tiffany!  This looks yummy!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tools of the Trade: Taking Flight to Write

A while back I went to Charleston for some extensive research for an early 19th century novel I was writing, and during the July 4th weekend I'll be heading back to research a colonial story taking a new set of characters from Scotland to colonial Charleston. 

I've been pouring over historical maps and comparing them to current maps, but nothing beats an arial view of everything, so I took a flight tour over Charleston, SC. While street names change, houses are torn down and new ones built, buildings and bridges that didn't exist now do, the layout of the land, and how the ocean flows through the channels and how the rivers lay don't change as much. It was a beautiful mixture of history and present-day culture from a broad view that many don't get a chance to experience. I was able to see how my characters would arrive to shore from the sea in their sailing vessels. Plus, such an adventure ignites the fire of writing that is bound to remove any serious case of writer's block.

The photo to the above is of the Cooper River Bridge. It opened in 2005, replacing Pearman Bridge, which opened in 1966 as a means to assist with the weight limit that was assigned to the Grace Memorial Bridge, which was opened in 1929. 

This is the Ashley River. It was magnificent to see how it lays across the land. It was named for Anthony Ashely Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and chief Lord Proprietor of the Carolina Colony. Charleston was actually founded in 1670 on the western bank of the Ashley River at Charles Town Landing, not the peninsula location, it's current location, where it moved ten years later.

This is Historic Charleston and Battery Street, which is lined along the harbor. Some of these homes are a couple of centuries old. It's hard to believe they've survived hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and weathered the test of time. Many have been restored as they would have looked during the height of the colony.
As I prepare to write my story, I can just imagine what it was like back then. Chalmer Street still has the cobblestone road and some of the street lamps that look just like the gas lamps they had back in the Victorian period. And with all the carriage tours around the city, old church bells ringing, one can easily imagine living and existing in those by-gone days. This is exactly the type of mind-set I need to be in when I sit down to write my story. 

Research doesn't have to be confined to books, maps, and Internet searches. Once in a while, we can spice it up with creativity. What one thing have you yet to try that you'd love to do?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Literacy in Colonial America

“No country on the face of the earth can boast of a larger proportion of inhabitants, versed in the rudiments of science, or fewer, who are not able to read and write their names, than the United States of America.”
The Columbian Phenix and Boston Review, 1800

For the past four years I have been employed by an adult literacy organization in my community. According to ProLiteracy America an estimated 90 million adults have low functional literacy. This includes a person’s ability to read and write, use computers, do basic math, and skills to develop fundamental English as a new language. 30 million adults in America function at the lowest level of literacy, unable to accomplish those tasks, while an additional 60 million people function at only a slightly higher level.

It astonishes me that this day in age there are still so many adults with such low levels of literacy when at one time our country boasted of almost universal literacy. Yet contrasting the rate of literacy in the 21st century to that of the 18th century is difficult as measurements vary based on how literacy is defined, and is proportional to the population considered during these time periods.

In New England there was a population of 120,000 (1706), 250,000 (1734),500,000 (1762),1,000,000 (1790). Today the U. S. has a total population of over 310 million people.  But we must keep in mind that in colonial America only the Anglo population was considered in literacy estimates, excluding Indians, African Americans, slaves and indentured servants.In Virginia, an entire 40% of the population who were slaves were disregarded. Slaves were largely illiterate and prohibited from learning to read as a means of social control.

Historical records are incomplete so the information that has been studied on literacy in our country's past is estimated, but educational historians assert that New England in the late 18th century had the highest literacy rate in the world at the time, nearly 100% in Boston.  Literacy was higher in New England and the mid-Atlantic colonies than in the South. Literacy was also higher in cities than in more rural areas. In New England the literacy rate was 60% between 1650-1670, 85% between 1758- 1762, and 90% between 1787 - 1795. In Virginia it was between 54% & 60% in the late 18th century. Literacy in early New York and Pennsylvania was high, owing much to their Dutch and German immigrants. While the average literacy rate was about 70% it was higher than in England, although when taking into account the illiteracy among Indians and African Americans this would place literacy for the total population slightly lower than in England. Immigrants to the American colonies were also more literate than the general population of the countries they left, although Scotland and Wales also had high literacy levels. There were varying levels of literacy among New England women in the eighteenth century - between 45% - 67% during 1731-1800, though some estimates found female literacy to be 90% by the Revolutionary period.

There was a great emphasis on universal literacy in the early colonial era of the 17th century largely based on the puritan belief in the importance of Bible reading. To this end a 1642 New England law stated, "See that all youth under family government be taught to read perfectly in the English tongue..." By 1647 the Massachusetts General Court passed the "Old Deluder Act" calling for the establishment of grammar schools to thwart "one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men form knowledge of Scriptures." So while we may think of literacy in the most basic terms of having the ability to read and write the English language, literacy in the American Colonies held a primary importance on reading.

Students would master their horn book and then move on to the New England Primer. Boys learned to read, write, and do basic math, went on to become apprentices and perhaps obtain a higher education. Reading and writing were taught as separate skills and writing was not considered necessary for females, so she would learn more practical skills and reinforce her reading as well as embroidery skills by working on a sampler. Both the New England Primer and samplers incorporated moral themes into the text.

18th century New England Primer
18th century Sampler

The ability to read the printed word didn't necessarily result in the ability to read handwriting in any "hand" (writing style). And being able to write one's name or copy phrases did not mean one could compose. Colonists were often expected to put their name to deeds, parish registers, and baptismal records in early America. While some could write, others simply mastered writing their own name, but many signed these documents with their “mark”. Writing in colonial America was predominantly a male skill and tied strongly to class and occupations such as lawyers, clerks, scolars, physicians, clergy and businessmen. But women who could read, write, and do basic arithmetic were better prepared to run their households more efficiently and correspond with friends and family through letter writing. Later in the century women had more opportunity to expand their education.

Literacy has always had the potential to free individuals to be better educated, get better jobs, participate more in their communities, guide morals, and help the next generation to be more literate - both now and in colonial times.


Writing the Past: Teaching Reading in Colonial America and the United States 1640-1940

The Instructor, or American Young Man's Best Companion Containing Spelling, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetick, George Fischer, 1786
Published by Isaiah Thomas, Worcester

Every Man Able to Read - Colonial Williamsburg

How to Read 18th Century British-American Writing

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fiction Sampler: The Duke's Redemption by Carla Capshaw

Award winning Inspirational Historical Romance author earned a Bachelors degree in International Studies from the University of South Florida, and a Master of Theology from International Theological Seminary.  Over the years, she has been blessed to visit forty-eight states and twenty-five countries, including a year spent teaching English in the People’s Republic of China.

"Ms. Capshaw’s ability to bring her readers into the time periods that she writes about is staggering. " - Eye on Romance reviews

The Duke's Redemption
Danger and intrigue follow Elise Cooper wherever she goes. Surviving on her wits and her faith, Elise, code named the Fox, is the most elusive patriot spy in South Carolina.  When a double agent threatens to turn Elise over to the British, she fights for her life and makes a narrow escape...

But when Drake Amberly, fifth duke of Hawk Haven, learns of his brother's death and the failed investigation to find the spy who shot him, he heads for America determined to see the murderous brigand brought to justice.  Once in Charles Town, he follows the Fox's trail to Brixton Hall Plantation where he meets Elise Cooper.  As Drake tracks the Fox, he and Elise fall deeply in love. Once they wed, everything seems idyllic, until a trap he sets for the Fox exposes his beloved as his sworn enemy, forcing him to choose between his quest for vengeance or the traitorous wife whose love and faith may prove to be his downfall or The Duke's Redemption.

Excerpt from Chapter Two
Charles Town, South Carolina, 1781

The fine hairs on Elise’s arms and the back of her neck stood at attention, alerting her to the odd sensation of being watched. 

She glanced around the ballroom, trying to appear nonchalant.  Her breath caught in her throat when she noticed the man observing her.  He was dark, she noted, handsome in a fierce sort of way.  His sculpted lips turned in a half smile, but it was the long scar along his jaw that intrigued her.

Tall and broad shouldered, the stranger cut a fine figure in black waistcoat and breeches.  His stark white shirt and elegant, but simple stock stood in sharp contrast with his golden skin.  He wore his black hair tied at the nape, one of only a few men in the room bold enough to refuse a wig.  
His gaze captured hers.  His magnetic eyes bore into her, seeming within a moment to discern her darkest secrets.  He rattled her nerves, made her instantly more aware of herself in a manner that was most disconcerting.   To a woman used to being in the midst of trouble, he seemed the essence of it. 

She decided then to steer clear of him, for in one glance she knew his ilk: pure danger in masculine form. 

Zechariah patted her hand.  “Elise?  Are you ill?” 

She blinked and looked down into her spymaster's round face.  “I’m fine.  Why do you ask?”

“You’ve nearly drawn blood.”

Her gaze fell to where her fingernails dug into his linen-clad arm.  She released him immediately. 

Zechariah fiddled with the froth of lace at his wrist.  “Get hold of yourself, girl.  You'll never accomplish what you must if you're more skittish than a colt." 

Elise narrowed her eyes and bit back a sharp retort.  She kept her expression cheerful so as not to give away the game to onlookers, but she resented his tone.  She despised his hold on her life.  But he’d offered the escape she’d prayed for as part of the bargain she'd made to free her sister.  For now, she could do little but accept his sharp ways.  Others believed she was his ward, when in actuality he was her warden.

"I'm neither skittish nor incapable of performing my task.  The man by the mantle, the dark one, he startled me is all.  I turned to see him staring a hole in my back."

Zechariah observed the man covertly.  "That, my dear, is Drake Amberly, the man you’re to investigate.  You’d do well to encourage his interest.  If he were to become besotted with you, it would make your task much easier."

Elise bristled with indignation.  Her instincts warned Amberly was the one man in the Colonies she should avoid at all costs.  “I have a troublesome feeling about him.”

“Perhaps meeting him will alleviate the sensation.”  His tone cloaked a rod of iron.  “Allow me to introduce you.” 

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  The unease she’d labored under for much of the day increased.  Her palms grew moist.  The closer she walked toward Amberly, the faster her heart raced.   

When they came abreast of the man, Zechariah extended his beefy paw in greeting.  He spoke loudly, competing with the party’s din of music, dancers and conversation.  “Amberly, I’m pleased to see you’ve joined us.  I hope the journey from Charles Town was not too taxing."

“Not at all.  The river was smooth, the boat swift.  I arrived before an hour passed.”

“Excellent, I’m glad to hear it.”  Zechariah rocked on his heels, his hands clamped behind his back.  “I trust the maid saw you settled?”

“Most comfortably, thank you.  Your hospitality is much appreciated.” 

Even as he spoke with Zechariah, Amberly’s eyes returned to her face again and again.  Heat rose to her cheeks for no reason at all.  She hoped the powder and rouge she’d applied before the party disguised her reaction.

“We’re pleased to have you here.”  Zechariah turned to her.  “Amberly, I’d like you to meet my ward, Miss Elise Cooper.   Elise, this is Mr. Drake Amberly, direct from London.   He’ll be staying with us for the next few weeks.”

No one told her he’d be a long-term guest.  She offered her hand politely, schooling her features to prevent her dismay from reflecting on her face.  His large, tanned hand engulfed her much smaller one.  He bowed and kissed the back of her knuckles.  His scent of spice and soap teased her senses.  She shivered, aware her response to him was profoundly peculiar.  Only the force of her will kept her planted before him. 

Intense, lushly lashed eyes caught and held hers.  “The pleasure is all mine, Miss Cooper.  I am most fortunate to make your acquaintance.”

His voice was deep and smooth except for a few clipped words that reminded her of the English upper class.  The observation brought her halfway back to her senses.  She had to remember her orders, not allow herself to be waylaid by a handsome face.  

She giggled, resorting to her role as a featherbrain.  Experience had taught her a man let his guard down around a woman he considered a simpleton.  “I’m charmed, Mr. Amberly.  A girl could lose her head with a man as handsome as you in the room.”

“Why thank you, Miss Cooper.  I’m flattered.”

He seemed more amused than complimented.  She tapped him playfully with her fan and gifted him with a flirtatious grin.  “Surely not.  I’ve seen the other ladies swarming you tonight.  Most likely you’ve grown weary of praise.”  She motioned toward the dancers behind her.  “Forgive my boldness, but would you be so kind, sir?  I truly love to dance.  Since my escort is the guest of honor, he’s obliged to take a turn with the other ladies tonight.  I fear I’ll be left to sit with the matrons if one of you fine gentlemen doesn’t take pity on me.”

“It would be my honor, Miss Cooper.  However, I never acquired the skill of dancing.  May I interest you in some refreshment instead?”

“You never learned to dance?  How unusual,” she remarked, her eyes as wide and innocent as a babe’s.  

“Dancing isn’t a sport in large demand on a ship.”
She smiled coyly.  His refusal to dance might work to her advantage.  Perhaps she could get him alone, away from the crowd and music that would disrupt conversation and her ability to uncover more about him.  “I so wanted to dance, but I suppose a glass of refreshment will do.  Why don’t you fetch us a drink?  I’ll gather my shawl and meet you in the garden.  It’s such a pretty night.  I see no reason to waste it indoors.”

Amberly grinned. “A superb idea, Miss Cooper.  To the garden it is.”

For a chance to win a copy of The Duke's Redemption, please leave a comment with your email address. Winner will be drawn next Monday.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Colonial Recipes: Applejacks

APPLEJACKS (no, not the cereal)

1 Cup light brown sugar
1 Cup chopped, unpeeled apples
½ Cup shortening
1-1/3 Cup sifted flour
1 Egg
1 Tsp nutmeg
½ Tsp baking soda
½ Tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, combine together shortening and sugar. Then, add beaten egg. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the mixture. Beat it, until mixed well. Then add chopped apples to this mixture. Shape the mixture in small balls and drop these balls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake them for about 12-15 minutes at 375°F.

Submitted by: Tiffany Amber Stockton

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tools of the Trade: Google Books

Google Books
Beyond the Search Engine
By Laurie Alice Eakes

While studying for my master’s degree in history, I enjoyed the privilege of an enormous library that could, consequentially, obtain books from near and far, new and very old. Once I left there, research became such a let-down. Phrase dictionaries didn’t quite have what I wanted to find out. The information about a social attitude of the day eluded me no matter how many contemporary sources I read. And how did critics of the time truly feel about Daniel Defoe’s most famous work Robinson Crusoe?

Amidst controversy and delight burst Google Books. Whether or not they should be scanning and selling versions of books under copyright is not the point of this discussion. Here I am talking about getting the most out of searching books and the wonderful other sources no longer under copyright or, as the proper term is, in the public domain. Right now, this is still anything published before 1923. That date will move, but that’s getting into extensive and complex copyright law with which I will not bore anyone, including myself. Be assured that most of your favorite hymns and carols and songs the historical author of anything prior to 1923 wants to access for one’s story may be freely used just like the King James version of the Bible.

To keep this basic for a blog post and not a treatise, I’ll give you some basic dos and don’ts to follow for best results.

1:         Don’t treat Google Books like a search engine. This is fine if you know exactly which book you wish to find, and it’s pretty useless otherwise.

2:         Get to where you will receive the best results this way:
A: books.google.com  No www or anything else. Just what I have.
            B: Click on Browse
            C: Click on Advanced search.

3:         This gives you so many searches, I’m going to walk you through an actual search. And how I filled it out.
1: with the first option: all of these words, as you would with a Google search, use as many terms as you think you need. I kept mine simple to start with. My hero of the next colonial novella I’ll be writing (out 2012 in Colonial Courtships) is a baker. He runs the town bakehouse. So I want to know about Connecticut bakehouses.
            2: I don’t have an exact phrases necessary here; however, this is particularly useful when searching specific names such as North Carolina.
            C: In this first round, I don’t have unwanted words, but I will to narrow down the results.
            4: I use full view only because these are the ones in public domain.
            5: likewise, I use all materials because journals, periodicals, etc. are wonderful resources.
            6: here is the fun part: limit the years. I want nothing past say 1770 for close to as accuracy as I can get in the story, so I can limit my years from say 1700 to 1770 and keep limiting, again, to narrow results.
What I get are several useful resources I can click on and read or save in my Google library for future perusal and reference. I can download them onto my computer. For those of you with e-readers that will take PDF files, it’s research gold.

I got too many results and received results with plantation information. So I could do a second round with the word plantation eliminated.

In researching one project, I found a list of businesses in a particular town in the 1850s and the owners of those businesses. Talk about a treasure!

One can also search Google Books to learn if a phrase was used at a particular time if other search resources fail you. Take the expression “catch up” as to get the latest details on someone’s life. If you want to know if your colonial heroine and her favorite cousin she hasn’t seen in three years would “catch up” on their lives, you can search for it to read in context in your time period. It wasn’t used that way then, by the way. I looked it up once. It was used as in to pick up a dropped thread or getting entangled in something. So you can see how the term became used to find out what your friend’s latest status report has evolved.

For historical researchers, I think this advanced search feature of Google Books is one of the most grossly under-used resources on the Web. People don’t find it on Google, and stop there. Go a couple more steps, and you will find everything from when doctors started to perform caesarians for difficult births (something I read a lot about for When the Snow Flies), to save the mother and baby, too, to details about specific times, to when a term was first used in proper context.

Enjoy and play around and do, please share your successes. If you have frustrations, leave a post and I’ll see if I can talk you out of saying it’s worthless by showing you other tricks.

Oh, yes, you may wish to click the results in English, too, unless you want another language!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In Ye Olden Days: Dance in the Colonial Period

By Pat Iacuzzi
Dancing in the eighteenth century, an important social and courting ritual, was a good way to discover if a partner had sound teeth, pleasant breath, good confirmation, and was generally healthy. Dancing also taught poise, grace and balance.

Wealthier women’s additions of panniers (French for basket), a wide dome-like structure that tied around the waist and covered the hips to minimize the size of the waist, caused the petticoats worn over them to flare out, sometimes as wide as an arm’s length on either side. This was considered the woman’s compass, and it took great skill to dance within the restricted area allowed by her clothing—or her partner to dance around it!

For those living in the aristocratic southern colonies of America, balls provided a means of socializing for families who lived on estates separated by long distances.  Guests found pleasure in attending all day and through most of the night, and many celebrations continued three to four days.

A favorite dance called the minuet, first performed as a court dance in France, then in England, became popular with the wealthy after 1700 in the colonies. Dancers followed the French court models using English translations of Feuillet’s Treatise on Dancing, frequently used by dancing masters after 1706.

The minuet called for the highest ranking couple in the room to dance first, holding the floor on their own, (similar to a bride and groom’s first dance at a wedding reception today) then each couple down the social scale presented themselves for a solo performance. Each dancer was carefully scrutinized by the other guests, and the slightest mistake in step patterns was duly noted. Too many errors could mean loss of invitations and banishment of a dancer for the season, thus damaging prestige and social opportunity. After the formalities, the floor was open for contra, or country dances, the more common line and square dances where all could unwind and enjoy themselves.

For those of modest means in the northern and southern colonies, dancers preferred Scottish reels and other country dances. These dances appeared to deftly avoid the code of status by grouping several people together in order to carry them out. During the Commonwealth period (1649-1660 under the rule of Oliver Cromwell), court dances were forbidden. Puritan John Playford’s popular English Dancing Master (1651), published through the eighteenth century, contained almost one thousand country dances.

Attending balls and dances in both north and south was one of the few ways colonists could meet a future husband or wife. Indeed, a pleasant task for most, dancing contributed to courting and marriage—and most likely, avoidance of the Bachelor Tax!

Note from the Federalist/Regency period: Mr. Darcy’s (Pride and Prejudice) refusal to dance did cause a flurry among the guests, but as the wealthiest man there, he’d hardly have to worry about banishment. Not so easily managed by those of lower economic status in the room however, even though they might be born to the peerage.

Another Note: In 1789, the first inaugural ball was held in New York City for George Washington and his wife Martha.

Below is a video of dances favored during colonial times; the first six or seven are country dances (note the simpler homespun clothing). Further along, a minuet is performed by a solo couple. Enjoy!  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Interview with Tiffany Amber Stockton, by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Tiffany Amber Stockton is the author of Promises, Promises
Published by: Barbour/Heartsong Presents
Date: February 2008
Tiffany is also the author of eight books.  Her website is www.amberstockton.com.

See our Fiction Sampler of Promises, Promises

Tiffany, what got you interested in the colonial time period?
I have always been fascinated by history, but growing up in Delaware and living just 5 miles from a preserved Colonial town helped increase my love of the Colonial era. That, in turn, led to a passion for our founding forefathers and the nation for which they risked everything to establish. Films, books, research trips, and lectures. I absorbed and explored them all. And when I first began my pursuit of professional publication, it seemed natural to set my stories in this era. It just happened to be a bonus that my editor loved it as well. J

What inspired your latest colonial work?
Well, my latest work is yet to be released. It won’t come out until May of 2012. It was inspired by researching various trades that existed and the background provided by the author who spear-headed our team to write the collection. The title of that novella is Trading Hearts and will appear in Colonial Courtships next year.
The Colonial series (Liberty’s Promise) in which Promises, Promises is featured was inspired by a home about 2 miles from where I lived for 15 years. The home was built in 1740 and has a historical marker at the end of its drive. Through research and a visit to the current owners of the home, I discovered not a lot of detail was known about the family or the home beyond a few facts. So, I took a creative license and made it up. J The facts I did have, though, I made sure to maintain so historical accuracy could be preserved. The house is featured on the cover of all 3 books in the series.

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?
Yes. When I get the chance to return to Delaware, I love to visit Old New Castle. It not only was the inspiration for this novel, but the town remains preserved from Colonial Times when the town was in its hey-day. You can walk the same cobblestone streets, stroll along the same river, and even enter the same churches, eating establishments, and shops once occupied by colonists living 300 years ago. Once a year, residents and business owners open their homes and their shops to the public for touring. It’s quite an experience. And I also love it more than Colonial Williamsburg because it isn’t over-run with “tourist” markings.

The most fascinating piece of information I learned is New Castle was supposed to be what Williamsburg is today, only the residents and business owners didn’t want their town turned into a big tourist destination. So, the site was moved to Williamsburg, a town which is world-renowned for its Colonial depictions and atmosphere. It kind of makes me wonder how New Castle would be different had the original plan been carried out.

Tell readers where you live and what colonial places you have in your state or your home state if different.
I currently live in Colorado, but I grew up in Delaware and was surrounded by Colonial era influence. From Philadelphia down to Washington, DC. But, the entire East Coast is obviously saturated with towns and places to visit. And we could get anywhere in 6 hours or less from where we lived. It was rather convenient. Now, it seems to take forever to get anywhere out here in the mountain state. And there isn’t much influence from Colonial times here. Colorado didn’t even become a state until 1876, more than 100 years beyond the Colonial era. If I want Colonial influence, I have to travel back East.

Giveaway:  Tiffany is doing an autographed giveaway. Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win.  

Bio: Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning author, speaker, online marketing specialist, and a freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a toddler daughter, a baby boy, and a vivacious Australian shepherd named Roxie. She loves to travel, sing, cook, and study history.

Her writing career began in high school with the publication of her first children’s book, but she didn’t pursue adult fiction until she wrote her first novel in 1999. She joined ACFW in 2002 and attended their annual conferences each year, receiving a request for a proposal in September 2004. Two years later, in December 2006, the request resulted in her first sale. And in January 2008, her debut novel released.

She has since sold eleven books to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards and in 2009, she was voted #1 favorite new author for the Heartsong Presents book club. Read more about her at her web site: www.amberstockton.com.

Thanks so much, Tiffany for this interview!

(CFP) Readers: You can find Tiffany’s recipe for Applejacks this coming Saturday on CQ!  It looks delicious and Noooooo……….., it is NOT the cereal!!!

Don't miss our Fiction Sampler of Promises, Promises