Tea Party winners: Roseanna M. White's winner is Debbie Wilder, Denise Weimer's print copy of Widow goes to Andrea Stephens, Debra E. Marvin's winners for Ebook collection are Cheryl Baranski and Rachel Koppendrayer, Carrie Fancett Pagels' ebook collection goes to Joan Arning and paperback to Connie, Gina Welborn's winner is Regina Fujitani, Gabrielle Meyer's paperback copy of A Mother in the Making is Teri Geist DiVincenzo

Friday, March 30, 2012

Why is all the rum gone?

I live in Louisiana, in the parish that is the dividing line for cotton and sugar country. The rise of Louisiana in the 18th century isn't so much tied to cotton as it is sugar. Admit it, we all love sugar. Sugar was one of the many reasons Jefferson wanted New Orleans.

There's a theory out there that says sugar was discovered as a by-product of making rum. It's not true, but it sounds cool. The process of boiling cane juice to make sugar was discovered in India in the first millennium, B.C. Herodotus knew of it in the fifth century, B.C. The plants slowly spread from India and South Asia to the Mediterranean, probably thanks to Alexander the Great, and then Columbus took it to what is now the Dominican Republic in 1493.

The first attempts at cultivating sugar in Louisiana were dismal failures.  Jesuit priests brought it from the Caribbean islands to New Orleans in 1751 and attempted to cultivate it without much success. The variety they brought in didn't like the weather. After much trial and error a variety known as Creole cane finally took root and grew very well in our strange, borderline sub-tropical climate.

But it still wasn't making money. Enter Etienne de Bore, a French Creole. The year is 1795. the place is Destrehan Plantation. De Bore was an innovator and figured out if he could streamline the process of making sugar and speed it up, untold riches were available. So that's exactly what he did in 1795. The same year the cotton gin was invented.

Sugar is still a vital part of Louisiana's economy. We produce thousands of pounds of sugar every year, along with cane syrup and molasses. I freely admit it, I'm partial to Louisiana sugar. It's available at every store with Domino's Sugar on the shelf. Sugar is also produced from sugar beets and corn, but those two can't make brown sugars, cane syrup and molasses.

Many people think white sugar comes first in the process. That's not true. Raw sugar comes first. Then dark brown, light brown and finally white. The crystals don't turn white until the last drops of molasses have been extracted. The juice itself looks and feels like slimy water that's been sitting in a bucket for two weeks. It has a slightly sweet scent, but most people never guess it holds white gold.

Which brings us to the rum. And pirates. Rum is fermented cane juice and it comes in many varieties. The clear stuff is the lightest grade. The darker the rum, the higher the molasses content. Some brands of dark rum are so dark and thick, at first glance you could mistake it for molasses. Only the bite of the alcohol when it hits your nose or taste buds tells you it's not molasses. Dark rum makes great eggnog, according to my dad.

In the 18th century sugar came in cones, like the ones pictured here. They can be purchased from Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. You can also buy the pictured sugar nippers.

Back then, making sugar smelled like molasses cookies fresh from the oven. I know it first-hand from working at Kent Plantation House. Every second Saturday in November is Sugar Day, when the reproduction 1840's sugar mill is lit and sugar is made. Nowadays it smells like an elephant died under your window.

Tons and tons of waste is produced, and many Louisiana mills now burn that waste to generate the electricity the mills use. Some of it is now being turned into paper, which is heaven to write on and more environmentally friendly than other papers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Historical Fiction Covers

When I first began writing seriously way back in the 1970's, there was very little Christian fiction available other than Janette Oke's prairie romances. Since then the CBA market has exploded and readers now have a huge array of books in many genres to choose from. Cover art has also grown tremendously over the years, becoming more sophisticated and varied over time. Trends for covers are ever-changing as you can see from the montage above even in the brief time frame I've been published. I think cover art is the best part of publishing but realize each of us have very different cover preferences. Right now for historical fiction, a woman in the foreground seems very popular.

Each publisher has a different process for covers so I'll speak to Revell's specific direction. More than a year before the manuscript is submitted to my publishing house, Revell's marketing team sends me a detailed questionaire as to cover direction. I'm able to provide a lot of input, samples of period dress, color preferences, background scenery, and other variables - my vision of what that "dream cover" might look like.

My publisher then partners with a designer to achieve a cover that "pops" in industry lingo. This time, for Love's Reckoning, the designer sent round a portfolio of 18th-century gowns and hats to choose from. I was able to select my favorites. The model the designer chose, based on how my heroine looks in the novel in terms of hair color and age, dressed in this period gown for the photo shoot. Many, many different shots and poses are taken in order to achieve the right look.

At this point, cover direction becomes somewhat of a mystery to me. The designer and publisher work together to create a final cover with the right color scheme, background elements, font, and more to strike the right tone of the story and give readers a glimpse of what's between the pages. Sometimes publishers get this right and sometimes they don't. I think the covers here for Catherine, Ruth, and Carla and co-authors are very well done. They make me long to read the books! And that is just what cover art is intended to do:)

Are there any upcoming books releasing this year that have stellar covers to you? What would your dream cover look like?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Kelly Long - Author of New Colonial Amish series

Last year, when our new member to Colonial American Christian Writers, Kelly Long, told me she was writing an Amish Colonial series, I was thrilled!  I was the only one in the group writing about characters who had emigrated from that part of Europe. Plus with the interest in the Amish, I really hoped and prayed that when this book came out we’d also have an increased interest in colonial American books.  I have had the pleasure of listening to five of Kelly’s eight books/novellas. She is an amazing author. 

I am looking forward to reading Arms of Love (Publisher -  Thomas Nelson, 2012) when it becomes available for purchase on April 3rd.

Kelly, what got you interested in the colonial time period?
It was truly because I felt there was a missing piece in our cultural perceptions of the Amish—their past. I wanted to look at their flight from Europe to their beginnings in Lancaster County, America. At the turn of the eighteenth century, there were only 500-1200 Amish in America.

What inspired your latest colonial work?
This latest work, Arms of Love, was inspired by a desire to explore Amish beginnings as well as to pay tribute to those who suffer from PTSD, a disorder which has ravaged two of my loved ones. And, I wanted the chance to do a Novel Bible Study…a four week study at the back of the book which uses the novel as a launching off point to discuss Biblical application in everyday lives.

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?
Two of my children were born in New Hampshire…I’d like to go back there for a bit for the memories.

Kelly, do you have a favorite colonial recipe you enjoy?
I can share an Amish recipe… Readers, you can find a Whoopie pie cookie recipe from Kelly this coming Saturday on CQ!

Get connected: Kelly Long can be found on Facebook (Fans of Kelly Long) or Twitter (KellyLongAmish) or blogging on Fridays at Amishhearts.com or Amishliving.com

Giveaway:  Kelly Long books can be purchased at CBD and other book sellers. Kelly will be giving away a signed copy of Arms of Love!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dr. John Clarke Stands on Truth

"Since we have heard the word of salvation by Jesus Christ, we have been taught, as those that first trusted in Christ, to be obedient unto him both by word and deed; wherefore, if we be forced to your meeting, we shall declare our dissent from you both by word and gesture.” Dr. John Clarke

In the Massachusetts Bay Colony a law was passed by the General Court, November 12, 1644, banishing those who "refused to countenance infant baptism and the use of secular force in religious things."

Dr. Clarke, along with Obadiah Holmes and Mr. Crandall were arrested for holding an unauthorized meeting. They were to be forced to attend a Congregational meeting. The above quote was Dr. Clarke's response.

These three men were willing to endure the consequences of their dissent. Indeed, Obadiah Holmes received a whipping for it.

Almost 300 years later, we find our country in a similar struggle over freedom of religion. A Catholic priest declared that his faith, his conscience, would cause him to stand firm even unto death. Such is the power of convictions of faith.

Throughout the ages men and women died for their faith, standing firm that what they believed were right. Yet, in our day to not stand strong has become a virtue. To allow others to impose their ideologies upon us, making us accept theirs as superior to our own seems at times to be considered right. Our "national religion," therefore, becomes founded upon assimilation rather than freedom of conscience (the core of freedom of religion).

But true believers in Christ are exhorted to hold firm to the truth even when faced with persecution.
"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me." John 15:18-21
How will you respond when your faith is tested and your life or livelihood threatened? Will you hold to it, or will you succumb to the pressures of government, society, or friends?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Indigo in South Carolina

Eliza's grandson's wife is pictured here--
there are no known portraits
of Eliza surviving.
By Susan F. Craft

              I recently attended the Francis Marion Memorial Days at Camp Bob Cooper near Summerton, SC, where more than 50 presenters devoted their time over the three-day event to make sure everyone received a hands-on history lesson. At more than 20 different stations visitors learned about life during the American Revolution – about Hessian and German soldiers, blacksmiths, quill writers, tomahawks, muskets, rifles, pistols, clothing, crime and punishment, and flint boxes and fire starting. 
            The station that caught my eye was the one where Peggy Chiappetta presented the story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and demonstrated how to dye cloth with indigo and various other herbs and plants.
Famous South Carolinian, Eliza Lucas, who was born in Antigua in 1722, took charge of her father’s plantation near Charles Town, SC, when he, as a British Army officer was called back into the military. She was only sixteen.  Her mother was ill, so Eliza ran the estate and cared for her mother and younger sister.
            She traveled to England, where she learned the “social graces” that comprised most of a woman’s education at that time.  Because she excelled at everything she attempted to learn, she was allowed to study botany, a subject that interested her.  Still in her teens, after she returned home to South Carolina, she received indigo seeds from her father in the West Indies. Her knowledge of botany gave her a great advantage as she experimented for three years ways to make a high-quality blue dye from the indigo plant.
Mrs. Peggy Chiappetta
            Mrs. Chiappetta gave the following fascinating account of how indigo was processed.
The three- to four-foot tall bushes would be cut and thrown into a pond where they were allowed to rot. That pond would be drained into an empty pond, taking with it the purple water and leaving behind the rotted plants. Slaves would then beat the surface of that pond with sticks, stirring up the oxygen which interacted with the water, forming particles that sunk to the bottom.  When ready, that pond would be drained, leaving behind purple clay that was fashioned into bricks, which is how the dye was sold.
Mrs. Chiappetta demonstrates how to dye with indigo.
            Eliza was eventually so successful at producing indigo plants, that she allowed them to flower and to produce seeds which she gave – not sold -- to other planters. This provided such a lucrative business for South Carolina planters that Lewis Booker Wright in South Carolina, A Bicentennial History (1976) wrote, "So rapid was the development of the industry that by 1748, South Carolina shipped England 134,118 pounds of indigo cakes, and it remained a profitable crop until the Revolution."
Historian Edward McCrady wrote: "Indigo proved more really beneficial to Carolina than the mines of Mexico or Peru were to Spain . . . . The source of this great wealth . . . was a result of an experiment by a mere girl."
In 1744, Eliza married a widower, Charles Pinckney, a Chief Justice of the Province, and they had four children, Charles Cotesworth, Thomas, another son who died, and a daughter, Harriott.
After her marriage, Eliza continued experiments with hemp and flax and revived the silk culture in the Lowcountry. She took over management of her husband's several plantations and Charles Town properties after his death in 1758.
Her two sons became national figures: Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who was a general in the Revolutionary War and a signer of the United States Constitution; and Thomas Pinckney, also a Revolutionary War officer, later a general, and the United States Minister to Spain and to Great Britain.
Eliza died in 1793, and President George Washington, who had been so impressed years earlier by his meeting with her, requested to be a pall bearer.
The Charleston City Gazette, in Eliza Pinckney's obituary, wrote, "Her manners had been so refined by a long and intimate acquaintance with the polite world, her countenance was so dignified by serious contemplation and devout reflection, and so replete with all that mildness and complacency which are the natural results of a regular uninterrupted habit and practice of virtue and benevolence that it was scarcely [possible] to behold her without emotions of the highest veneration and respect. Her understanding, aided by an uncommon strength of memory, had been so highly cultivated by travel and extensive reading, and was so richly furnished, as well with scientific, as practical knowledge, that her talent for conversation was unrivalled. . . .”
Here are more pictures of the Francis Marion Memorial Days.
Colonial woman's flint candle lighter.

Colonial gentleman's rope of tobacco.
Mr. Holloway from TN explains how to make char 
cloth and how to start a fire with flint.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Francis Cabot Lowell: Businessman, capitalist, spy

After winning physical independence from England, economic independence was next. And that independence was tied to textiles.

In the 1760's, a British businessman, Richard Arkwright, committed industrial espionage to establish his waterframe spinning jenny and his power loom. These two machines revolutionized the textile industry in England and led to the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in order to keep up with demand for raw cotton. Before the gin cotton fabric cost as much as 60 cents a yard. After, 10 cents a yard.

In 1810, Francis Cabot Lowell (1775-1817)  from Massachusetts took a trip to Europe and ended up in Manchester, England. For his health he said. His real purpose was to tour the Manchester mills and bring the machinery schematics back to America. A successful venture capitalist and businessman from an old Boston mercantile family, he graduated from Harvard the same year Whitney invented the gin, in 1795.

At first Lowell tried to legally obtain the machinery plans. When that didn't work he drew on his fascination and aptitude with machines--and his photographic memory--to commit the intricate looms and spinning jennys to memory. There is some speculation he may have used secret compartments in his steamer trunks to hide notes from the very thorough British customs officials. If those notes did indeed exist, he destroyed them.

He returned to Boston in 1812 and began the task of recreating what he'd seen. And improving and speeding up the machinery. Both tasks were accomplished and left elite engineers and mathematicians of the day in awe of his mechanical genius. Two years later he presented the first working model. By 1815, over 27 million pounds of cotton had been spun and woven in the United States.

He built his first mill in Waltham, Massachusetts, on the Charles River. This picture is that building. It was the first mill to cover the entire production--from raw fiber to finished cloth--in one building. 

The town of Lowell, Massachusetts--the center of the 19th century cotton textile industry--was his vision, but he did not live to see it built. The filthy, dangerous, deadly conditions in Manchester appalled Lowell and he knew it would never work in America. Using the paternalistic mindset common in his social class he created an entirely different model for a mill town.

After his death in 1817 Lowell'ss brother-in-law, Patrick Tracy Jackson, moved the mill 30 miles north of Boston on the Merrimack River, to a place where the river fell 32 feet in less than a mile. This down slope provided the water power for the mills. Now known as the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, it dominated the textile industry here for close to 100 years.

Next time you wear your favorite cotton dress or shirt or even your favorite pair of jeans, thank Francis Cabot Lowell's photographic memory and skills as a spy.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review of Lisa Norato's Prize of My Heart

Review Prize of MyHeart 
(Bethany House, 2012) 

I loved this book!  I received a softcover book from the publisher and it read fine.  But I enjoy using my Kindle and so I purchased it to read the story.  

The War of 1812 is over and a privateer,  Captain Brogan Talvis, can search out his son, Ben, now five-years-old. Having acquired money through his exploits, he has arranged for a ship to be built in the shipyard of the family who adopted his son. His wife, shortly before her death in a fire, gave away their son to strangers.

Little Benjamin was renamed Andrew and called “Drew” and is being cared for by Nathaniel Huntley, a widower. Huntley’s daughter Lorena has essentially been raising the boy. She is a winsome character with a strong faith.

Brogan plans to take the child with him when he departs with his ship.  But he falls in love with Lorena, whom he initially mistakes for a household servant, startling her on the beach one morning.

Mr. Huntley has sponsored and helped a gifted young architect, who has been friends with Lorena and who persists in seeking her hand in marriage despite her continual refusals. A British citizen, the suitor has accepted an excellent offer in England and intends to take Lorena with him.

Brogan has a choice to make when Huntley reports his daughter has been taken away on board a ship bound for England, apparently against her will. Should he take Ben and sail away or race after the beautiful young woman who has captured his heart?

Nice job with the spiritual arc of the hero, who has had a very rough life.  The secondary characters are well-developed and add great flavor to the story. 

The Huntleys have their own secrets, too. When these are revealed will Brogan be able to pick up the pieces of a heart and soul betrayed and deceived?   Read and find out!

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email to be entered to win a copy of Lisa's new release.  Drawing will be late Saturday.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

George Washington on Discipline

"Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak and esteem to all."

GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to the Captains of the Virginia Regiments

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:10-13

People who believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again fight a war. Like the Virginia Regiments, we need to be disciplined.
  • We need to be disciplined in prayer, practicing to do so always.
  • We need to be disciplined in Bible reading, studying it with the same fervor a soldier studies how to use his weapons.
  • We need to be disciplined in meditation, drilling God's Words into our minds so that we cannot forget His marching orders for us.
  • We need to discipline ourselves to attend regular church services and fellowship with other believers to build camaraderie amongst our fellow soldiers.
  • We need to discipline ourselves in the wearing of our armor so that it becomes comfortable, molding to us like our own skin.
What regiments should we practice so that we can be formidable and procure success?
  • Daily time with God in prayer and worship,
  • Daily Bible reading and study,
  • Daily meditate on His Word,
  • Regular church attendance, not just Sunday morning worship service, but becoming involved in your local church's activities: Sunday School, worship services, evening services, Bible studies, outreaches, prayer meetings,...make it a point to be in your church whenever the doors are open, serving in whatever capacity you can.

Have you completed your daily regiment today?

Friday, March 16, 2012

George Washington's Boyhood Homes


George Washington lived in three homes during his childhood. Last month we looked at his birthplace at Popes Creek, later know as Wakefield, located in Westmoreland County in the northern neck area of Virginia.           

Mount Vernon ~ Twentieth Century
The Washington home at Popes Creek burned in 1735 when George was three. At that time, George’s father Augustine moved his young family sixty miles up the Potomac River to their Little Hunting Creek property which had been in the Washington family since 1699. While there is no definitive reason why the Washington family made the move, the fact that Augustine needed to manage his business pursuits including iron mining interests in what is now Stafford County, Virginia made the Little Hunting Creek plantation far more convenient than the Popes Creek property. The Washington family lived at Little Hunting Creek for three years until 1738, when they moved south to a 260 acre farm, known as Ferry Farm, on the north bank of the Rappahannock River.

Augustine’s eldest son Lawrence, by his first wife, inherited Little Hunting Creek in 1743, shortly after Augustine’s death. That same year Lawrence married Ann Fairfax, the eldest daughter of his neighbor William Fairfax. He renamed the plantation Mount Vernon to honor the British Naval hero, Admiral Edward Vernon, whom he had served under in the West Indies. George Washington would return to Mount Vernon a number of times over the next fourteen years to visit Lawrence, with whom he had a close relationship.
Original Family Crypt ~ Mount Vernon

Lawrence drew up a will shortly before his untimely death in 1752, leaving Mount Vernon to George, who was managing the estate, with stipulations that his widow was to have the use, benefit and profit of all his lands, and that their daughter Sarah, if she lived to majority, would inherit the estate. However, Sarah died shortly after Lawrence’s death and Ann remarried and left Mount Vernon. George Washington moved to Mount Vernon again in 1752 at the age of twenty to manage the property. By 1754 George had bought his sister-in-laws’ interest in Mount Vernon and the plantation remained his for the rest of his life. During his lifetime he made many improvements and expansions to the property. George and Martha Washington’s tomb is located on the Mount Vernon estate.

George & Martha Washington's Tomb ~ Mount Vernon
Built in 1831
Mount Vernon, located sixteen miles from the nation’s capitol, is one of the country’s oldest and most popular ongoing preservation sights.

Next month, learn more about Ferry Farm, where George Washington would spend from 1738-1752.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spinning A Yarn

I can imagine all sorts of activities that might take place during Colonial American celebrations—perhaps games or speeches. But spinning on a spinning wheel?

 Much to my surprise, the skill of spinning wool and flax was much celebrated, as described in Shirley Glubok’s Home and Child Life in Colonial Days.” And, at least on one occasion, was on display for all to admire:

 “At the fourth anniversary in 1749 of the ‘Boston Society for promoting Industry and Frugality,’ 300 ‘young spinsters’ spun on their wheels on Boston Common. And a pretty sight it must have been: the fair young girls in the quaint and pretty dress of the times, spinning on the green grass under the great trees.”

 If you have recovered by now from the image of this unexpected and spectacular exhibition, you may now marvel at the term “young spinster.” In Colonial America, a spinster was a word attributed to a woman, whether young or old. It, of course, implied that only women did this particular art of turning raw flax or wool into the useable strands that were woven into cloth.

The history behind the production of flax in America is fascinating. When the colonies were young, they needed a way to clothe the growing numbers of people. Animal skins only went so far.

 So a mere 20 years after the Mayflower found refuge at Plymouth, the Court of Massachusetts passed a law for colonists to grow flax. This is the plant that, after many months of growing and processing, can be spun into linen—the material used for much of their clothing. It was determined which colonists were already adept at growing the crop and using a spinning wheel, and it was ordered that both girls and boys be taught the art of spinning. Classes were started so the children could learn the skill.

 Flax was so important to these early settlers that a bounty was offered to encourage the growing, spinning and weaving of the plants. Families were actually required to spin a certain number of pounds of flax per year or be fined!

 The fields of flax were a lovely display when in bloom, adorned with small blue flowers (see photo).

 Months of arduous labor went into preparing the flax plants just so they could be readied for the spinning wheel. The long process was back-breaking, starting in the spring with planting the seed (thrown the same way you would toss grass seed) and weeding the tender plants, which was done barefoot by women and children. If thistles were in the field, they had to wear 4 layers of woolen stockings to protect their legs.

 By July, flax was ready to be man-handled, pulled out by the roots, laid out to dry, combed for seeds, and the seeds collected for the next year. Then the heavy work began: stacking, washing, more drying, braking, hetcheling—terms we rarely use anymore.

 A hetchel tool is very intimidating to view with its sixty-or-so long, sharp, iron spikes protruding from a heavy board. It is so frightening to look at that I used this flax tool as a weapon between enemies in my first novel,The Road to Deer Run.” The hetchel was not a tool one wanted to trip over in the dark!

 But over time, growing flax lessened in importance in the colonies. The process took over a year from the time of its planting to being useable as linen ready to be sewn. Flax could also be difficult on the land.

 “Growing flax was very hard on the soil so farmers eventually started raising more sheep, for their wool and for meat, plus they could live off of pretty marginal land,” said Dennis Picard, historian at Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Colonists began blending the fibers of linen and wool, producing the cloth known as “linsey-woolsey.”

 The men were not without responsibility in the production of clothing, however. The looms used to weave the yarn into cloth were heavy and difficult to use. While women certainly did do weaving, men often did this cumbersome task as well.

 Of course, once the cloth was produced, then came the arduous task of hand-sewing this material into clothing for the entire family.

 While today we casually add to our wardrobe by a trip to the mall, the early Americans must have highly valued each and every shirt or gown as precious—evidence of the skilled labor that invested months of hard work into its production. Pieces that were homespun treasures, indeed.

 Photos of spinning wheel, loom, and linen garments taken by the author at Storrowton Village Museum, West Springfield, MA.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lisa Norato Book launch party - Out to Sea with our Federalist Gals!

This is Lisa Norato's inspirational fiction debut! Congratulations, Lisa!  And she is joined by Federalist era friends Roseanna White and MaryLu Tyndall for this tea party aboard HMS Quiller!!!  Scoot into the bench at the captain's table and tell the cabin boy what you care to drink - only tame stuff for the ladies, please!

What a lovely doll Patricia Iacuzzi has brought to the party to offer as a giveaway to one of our guests!  Dressed in federalist era clothing, she is a pretty lass.

MaryLu will be giving away a copy of one of her books!

Roseanna is  happy to give away a copy of  Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland!

Lisa will be giving away a copy of Prize of My Heart. Watch for our upcoming review of this lovely book, here on Colonial Quills!

Dolls by Pat Iacuzzi, Federalist Lass

Dolly recommends that you read Lisa Norato's interview from last Monday.

Have you ever sailed on the open sea?  

Do share!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Williams on the Need for Repentance

“I was persuaded and am, that God's way is first to turn a soul from its idols, both of heart, worship, and conversation, before it is capable of worship to the true and living God...” Roger Williams

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” I John 5:21

When we place something before God in our lives, we are guilty of idolatry. God should have preeminence in our heart. He should hold a superior position to all things in our lives.

Go back with me to when Roger William lived, in the 17th Century. He first dwelt among the Puritans, who excommunicated him primarily because of his position on baptism. Mr. Williams had put God first in his life, and God blessed him. He then went and dwelt honorably amongst the Indians.

An easier chose would have been to drop his convictions and live “peaceably” among the Puritans. Isn’t that what we would do today? Often by conforming to the organizations we associate with, we demonstrate that we love man and man’s praise more than God.

The Apostle Paul struggled with the constant barrage of words spoken against his right to apostleship. In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul sought to defend himself, and in so doing he reveals the preeminence of Christ in his life. This is what he says in Galatians 1:10:

“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

The praise of men would not be an idol in the heart of Paul.

If the Holy Spirit has convicted us of holding something above God in our lives, what should we do? Repent, i.e. turn away from it. Here are Jesus’ words on the matter:

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:37-39

Have you laid down everything in order to pick up your cross and follow Jesus? Have you repented from the idols you’ve set up and have come to worship in truth the One True and Living God?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Weevils anyone? Food on board a ship.

Sailing on an 18th century tall ship wasn't always as romantic and adventurous as the movies portray. Even if you love the sea, even if you drool over the gorgeous sunsets, and even if you were just a passenger with no work to do, the food alone would have put you on a permanent diet! Especially if you were on a long voyage such as the crossing to England which could take well over a month depending on the weather and the type of ship.

Let's face it, without refrigeration or a fresh source of water, there wasn't much the cook could do after the fresh meat and vegetables ran out.  Hence the staple food for seaman throughout the western hemisphere was the sea biscuit or ship's bread, sometimes also called hard tack. Made with flour, a little salt and just enough water to make a stiff dough, it was then baked so hard that sailors had to soak it to make it edible. Weevils and maggots often made their home in the biscuits and sailors would either pick them out or eat them if they were hungry enough.

When the ship first set off from port, they would carry a supply of fresh beef and vegetables, sufficient to last the crew for two days.  After that, it was back to the normal sea rations. You may remember the famous book and movie, Mutiny on the Bounty, which was based on true events.  Here's a list of food items brought on board for their 18 month journey:

  • Sea biscuits
  • Casks of salt port and beef
  • dried peas
  • malt, barley, wheat, and oatmeal
  • sauerkraut,
  • rum, beer, wine and water. 
  • Hard cheese

Hmmm, Sounds delicious!

Some ships, however, were able to carry life stock which was a huge plus. Cages and stalls were built below decks to house chickens and pigs and sheep.

Of course all this only lasted so long and when the fresh meat, veggies and livestock ran out. . . well

Here's a list of the normal weekly ration for a seamen  
1 1/2 pounds of biscuit per day
One pint of beans three times a week
3/4 of a pound of rice twice a week
a gill each of molasses and vinegar twice a week
a daily allowance of either coffee, tea, or cocoa
a half gill of grog twice a day (rum and water) 

Speaking of grog, the 2nd biggest problem on board ship was fresh water. Bounty took 42 tons of drinking water in its tanks below deck . Of course you can imagine how nasty that water became after only a few days in these casks. Which is why seaman would add rum to the water to kill the germs and make it drinkable. Hence, where we get Grog from.  All this water had to serve not only for drinking but for bathing and cooking as well!

Scurvy, however, was the biggest problem. Without fresh fruits and vegetables for a long period of time, the seamen became deathly ill and many of them died. It was a terribly debilitating disease that ate away your muscles and rotted the gums in your mouth.  Not until well into the 19th century did mariners  understand that the problem was a lack of vitamin C found in fruits and veggies. Many experiments were preformed in the mid-eighteenth century and it was discovered that men who ate lemons or potatoes while at sea never got the disease and the British Navy henceforth ordered that lemons be brought on every voyage.

So the next time you go on a cruise in the Caribbean and you're piling food on your plate from the all-you-can-eat buffet, remember how there poor sailors suffered in the olden days!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Colonial Treasures Where I Dwell

One thing I love about the area of central/western Maryland where I live is the abundance of history. As I walk in the historic district in my town, I pass town homes, churches, and shops, that were built as far back as 1742 on down into the early 1900s.

There is one such place that I'd like to share, a place you most likely have never heard of.

Built sometime in 1758, Schifferstadt is the one of the oldest and most treasured historic buildings in Frederick, Maryland. It is one of the best examples of early Colonial German Architecture in the country, and as a home built as refuge.  Settlers in central and western Maryland were in fear of attacks by the French and their Indian allies during the French and Indian War.

'Joseph Bruner, a German immigrant and his family left their village of Klein Schifferstadt in 1729 in hopes of gaining independence, including the right to own property and build a home in the "New Land." He purchased 303 acres of virgin timber in 1746, cleared and farmed the land, and built a modest wood structure for his family home. Joseph Bruner named his farm Schifferstadt after his hometown in the Palatinate region of South Western Germany.

Joseph's eighth and youngest son, Elias Bruner, bought the farm from his father in 1753, and built the stone farmhouse in 1758 that we know today as Schifferstadt. Although its exterior and interior have been altered over the years, Schifferstadt maintains many original architectural features.'
 Quoted from the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation website

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a walk on the grounds. The first thing I noticed was the exceptional craftmanship of the laying and chinking of the sand stones.  The house has a warm feeling to it. The door inviting to all guests. Inside one finds fireplaces with built in cupboards alongside them, broad windows that allow plenty of light to enter, a winder staircase, and a  vaulted cellar. In spring and summer there are gardens of flowers and vegetables.

Schifferstadt is now a historical museum. If you ever in this neck of the woods, Schifferstadt is located 50 minutes from Baltimore and Washington, DC and 30 minutes from Gettysburg, PA, and only open on Saturday afternoons, April through October.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lisa Norato Interview

LISA NORATO is the author of PRIZE OF MY HEART, published by BETHANY HOUSE, March 1, 2012. Lisa Norato is also the author of two romances previously published by Five Star Publishing.  Her website is http://www.lisanorato.com. She is a brand new member of Colonial American Christian Writers and we are so happy to have her in our group!

Lisa, what got you interested in the colonial time period?
I grew up on the New England coast, exposed to and influenced by its rich history and folklore.  I went on school trips to living history museums like Plimoth Plantation (depicting 17th century Pilgrim life in Plymouth, Massachusetts) and weekend outings to Old Sturbridge Village (depicting early New England life from 1790-1840).  As I grew older, summers always included day trips to historic Newport, where on one occasion I toured a eighteenth-century replica of Captain Cook’s square-rigged ship Endeavor, and family vacations on Cape Cod, including a visit to the Whydah Pirate Museum in Provincetown filled artifacts of the 1717 pirate wreck.  With this long-engrained appreciation for the time period, a New England early American setting seemed the natural choice for my work. 

What inspired your latest colonial work?
Prize of My Heart began with the idea of a man searching for his lost son, the most precious thing in the world to him.  As I thought it over, I was reminded of the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac.  What if he were forced to choose between the son he loved and obeying God?
The novel takes place during New England’s Federal period.  Like most romantics, I’m inspired by the works of Jane Austen.  I love the Regency era, but I knew for my own story, I wanted my characters to be American.  At the end of the war of 1812, well-built sailing vessels were very much in demand in America, and by this time Duxbury, Massachusetts, had developed into one of the country’s leading shipbuilding centers.  My heroine’s home is actually modeled after the King Caesar house, the Federal style mansion of shipbuilder and merchant, Ezra Weston II built in 1809.  During this time, Lloyds of London named him owner of the largest trading company and fleet of ships in America.  The house is preserved and owned by the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society and is opens for tours.

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?
I work in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, where I love walking along nearby Benefit Street.  Benefit Street is its own outdoor history museum, as it’s lined with historical architecture dating from the 1780s and includes churches and residences, from elegant mansions to modest homes, all built in the period’s Federal style.  In keeping with the period architecture, the front doors to these dwellings open up onto the sidewalk.  If not for automobiles parked on the narrow street, the view is literally like glimpsing back in time 150 to 200 years.  Most of the buildings have plaques outside their doors to indicate the year they were built and other interesting information.

Giveaway:  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Lisa’s new release!!! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Prayer, Our Greatest Weapon

I "feared the prayers of that Godly youth (Furman) more than the armies of Sumter and Marion." Lord Cornwallis, British General during the American Revolution

Prayer: the direct line to God for those who believe. What could be accomplished if we were like this Godly pastor, and well known spokesman against the British, Pastor Richard Furman, and prayed for our country?

The Apostle Paul told the church of Ephesus to put on the whole armor of God and pray.
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" Ephesians 6:18
Later, he would write to Timothy:
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." I Timothy 2:1-4
Paul clearly stated that
"...we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12
What would be accomplished in our country today if Godly men and women throughout this nation prayed fervently for our country and for our leaders? Could we see the enemy tremble with fear even as Lord Cornwallis feared Pastor Furman?

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Art of the Olde Fashioned Insult

Have you ever noticed the skill and creativity with which Shakespeare's characters insulted one another? The delightful wit in Austen's biting repartee? The grin-inducing charm of a pirate calling someone a scurvy dog?

Oh yes, insults have always been used--and prior to this modern age, were a work of art that relied less on the vulgar and more on the brain. They were clever, they were cruel, and they often make modern readers giggle.

When writing historical fiction, we have a real challenge when our characters get upset with one another. Our heroines can's just call our heroes jerks--it would leave them scratching their heads and asking, "Have I tugged on you too forcefully? Whatever do you mean?" Our heroes, prior to the mid-19th century, can't call our heroines snobs--they would quirk their delicate brows and say, "Am I a shoemaker? Pardon me, sir, but you must have mistaken me for someone else."

Nay, dear readers, our insults must be as old-fashioned and charming as our characters, must convey the true art that a good insult has been throughout history. All so you can smile while the characters pivot on their heels and huff away.

And so, for your reading pleasure, I offer you this list I've compiled of historical insults. So next time your spouse or neighbor ruffles your feathers, you can surprise them into laughter by demanding, "How dare you, you unctuous scalawag!" ;-)

Some favorites of the medievalists:

You dog's body!
You worm!
You son of a sow!
You misbegotten spawn of hell!
You fewmet of a hare!
You jackanapes!
You squirming adder!
You vile, spitting shrew!

Shakespeare offers us the following:

A Filthy Piece of Work
A Mere Dull Shadow
A Mind Diseas'd
A Very Toad
Abandoner Of Revels
Abject Drudge
Affable Wolf
Affecting Rogue
And Nothing Of A Man
Amorous Surfeiter
Anointed Sovereign Of Sighs And Groans
Arrant Counterfeit Rascal

Or mix and match the nouns and adjectives below! (You'll find that animals are very popular, LOL)