Tagged victorian

It Means Something Different in Romance (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Terminology for Romance Readers & Authors

In 2016 I shifted (slightly), Gentle Reader, and began writing more romance.

All my books have romance threads, but in my first two novellas (Poison or Protect and Romancing the Inventor) I brought those threads to the forefront.

Romancing the Inventor

Delving into not just the writing but also the production end of the romance equation has been extremely enlightening, especially given my particular background (both personal and professional). Conversational lingo in the Bay Area on the subject of such things, let us just say, is a whole lot different from what a girl plops in her book description on Amazon.

For example, in conversation ’round a cafe in the Castro I’d call Poison or Protect het, or breeder, with kink lite, but that sure ain’t the correct way to go about it on Amazon.

We are talking book descriptions here people

What follows is going to be me prattling on about romance novel book descriptions, particularly those that appear on websites like Amazon, Kobo, B&N, etc… (As opposed to book cover copy, which appears in print on book jackets and is usually slightly different.)

Let me say that again, I’m talking about vocabulary and semantics in ROMANCE NOVEL BOOK DESCRIPTIONS. This means… marketing! Hooray! I’m NOT dealing with how greater society would describe the relationships presented in said books, nor the choices/terms various communities would prefer used, nor the political correctness of this situation.

What I find fascinating is the marketing aspect, not the truth. (Ain’t that how the world works these days, anyway?)

I don’t know… warning?

Look, I think this is interesting and educational and fascinating. I’m not gonna describe any acts or what-have-you. But if you’re easily offended by anything beyond plain-old heterosexual intercourse, then you might wanna not read this. Okay? Bye bye now.

Still with me?

Here we go… Bum chicha baow.

On the surface?

Romance means the emotional tenors of the relationship are front and center to the plot of the story. Pacing is going to rely on feelings. Feeeeeeeeelings, nothing more than, feeeeelllingggs…

Sweet romance probably won’t have much (if any) sex details and it’ll likely end on a wedding (or at least an engagement).

Clean romance means that it really won’t have any nookie.

Erotica means it’s all about the sexitimes. Pace is going to be driven by physical encounters and those will be described in detail.

You Probably Know This But…

A stand alone means the whole story arc finishes in one book.

Cross-over characters means there will be side and background characters shared in other books by this author, or (in some rare cases) books by other authors too.

If you come at romance having read anything else first, here’s a shocker:

The word series. The traditional definition of series means linked books with the same main character(s) and over-arching plot that are meant to be read one after another (like my Finishing School books). In romance, series is far more likely to mean a shared world with stand alone books and cross over characters that can be read in any order (like my Supernatural Society novellas).

The exception is urban fantasy and paranormal romance, which are more likely to be set up as traditional series not linked stand-alones.

Frankly, I wish there were a better word than series deployed in romance, but it seems there is no going back now.

Lets Get Deep Here: Initialisms

HEA means happily ever after.

MLM means men loving men. WLW means women loving women. These come out of personal ads from, oh hell, the 1980s or whatevs. More common these days in marketing is f/f (means female female) and m/m (means male male) romance or sex (but likely both). These terms come out of slash fan fiction.*

These sets of initialisms used in descriptions quickly let readers know exactly what kind of relationship will be taking place in the book. There are cover art markers too, but these aren’t as specific. For example, there is a lot of cross over in cover art style (see: tattooed naked male torso + dark shadows + bold title) between contemporary m/m erotica (usually two muscled alpha males, often using the “gay for you” trope) and new adult bad boy romances (het, college age, fixed by snatch trope**).

LGBTQ means Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer. An all encompassing series of letters that, when used in a romance book description, usually implies that not only the main characters will be in a queer coupling (or more) but that there will be queer supporting characters and, probably, a level of understanding about real world queer communities.

More than you ever needed to know about multiples

Menagé. OK this term can get complicated (yeah yeah). In the strictest sense of the word, menagé should mean all three are getting it on together. However, I’ve found that in romance menagé often means two dudes getting it on with one girl (and NOT the other dude). Everything stays heterosexual. (Yep, there is a whole sub-genre of brothers who share.) This kind of menagé will almost invariably involve DP (double penetration).

As opposed to: m/f/m or m/m/m or f/f/f etc… the use of a slash to describe a menagé relationship usually means all parties involved are sexually together with each other, as a proper threesome.

Poly (from polyamorous) means three or more individuals romantically involved with each other. This term is not often used in book descriptions, and when it is, it implies that emotional connections between characters will be emphasized over sexual ones.

May/December describes a large age difference between the central romantic pairing. As age difference is also a power imbalance, this can edge into either disturbing or hot (but then, most things can when romance and/or sex are involved). Of course, it is always the power struggle in romance that is truly titillating to readers.

mPreg. Oh yes. Did you know this one? It’s getting more and more common in m/m shifter romances. And yeah, it means one of the dudes gets pregnant. Don’t ask.

 

OK there you have it. Signal marker terms in the romance genre. I’m sure there are a ton more but these are the ones I found interesting and surprising.

 

* MLM versus m/m, WLW versus f/f additional thoughts. As an anthropologist, I find the use of the word women (or men) as a opposed to female (or male) interesting. Women has implications of societal role, while female is more clinical. In anthropology, these words are all tied up in concepts of gender versus biological sex.

** “fixed by snatch” I’m not a big fan of the idea that a douchnozzle dude can be reformed by penetrating the perfect pussy. Oh, I’m sorry, was that crass? Then stop writing/buying it. New Adult romance has a lot to answer for.

{Gail’s monthly read along for January 2017 is A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer.}

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via Oᒪᗪ ᑭᕼOTOᔕ & ᙖᗩᙅOᑎ @photosandbacon Lila Lee at the Beach

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

“I hate the treadmill.”
“I thought you hated the elliptical.”
“I hate them equally. I can’t have one thinking it’s the favourite.”

~ The Weight Of It All by N.R. Walker

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“Truth often sounds like insolence to those unprepared to hear it.”

~ Starstruck Holidays by Lia Davis, Kerry Adrienne, Jennifer Loring, Merryn Dexter, B. Leslie Tirrell

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Why Do Some Writers Choose to Go “Indie”?

Book News:

Women Write About Comics says:

“The magic of Romancing the Inventor is not only that it takes what should be an agonizingly taboo situation and plays it out like your average romance, but also that any reader can come and experience Gail Carriger’s world without needing to ask too many questions. Carriger is fantastic at worldbuilding; and when there are questions, she has a brief glossary in the back for terms that have not been explained.”

Quote of the Day:

“Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Behind Romancing the Inventor: Blame Mercedes Lackey (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Back when I was first transitioning into reading adult books, Gentle Reader, it was pretty natural to cross from children’s fantasy (there was no YA as a category back then) into adult fantasy via Mercedes Lackey. (I still hold that Arrows is, in fact, YA. It simply has never been packaged that way. Silly marketing.)

For me that transition went pretty smoothly because, well… girls and soul bonded horses. I know, but in case you never guessed, I’ve always been a super girly girl (aside from being totally not squeamish about bugs and food and dirt and climbing anything that will stand still long enough for me to get up it and… where was I?) Oh yes, so child Gail began reading adult books because white horses with purple eyes on cover. Duh.

I don’t know that I have a pithy place I am going with this post. I guess I’m writing it because I get asked a lot:

Why do you include gay characters in your books?

I find the question confusing. Like, Gail, why do you include food in your books? Or descriptions of dresses? Or fragment sentences? It’s part of my DNA as a writer. My world view. My world.

But that also seems to trivialize the whole darn thing.

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-4-21-06-pm

I think a better question is, why on earth would I not?

Mercedes Lackey always inhabits her work with gay and lesbian characters. They are not always central characters, as they are the Last Herald Mage series, but they are always there. (Keep reading Lackey and you end up with poly relationships. Gail, age 14 thought Knight of Ghosts and Shadows had the most romantic ending of any book EVER, and kinda still does.) All these relationships are presented in a supportive light. Which made perfect sense to child Gail with all her Berkeley and San Francisco poet, artist, dancer, musician aunties and uncles (and uncles who were also aunties).

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-4-21-59-pm

Since then, I’m lucky enough to have socialized with Mercedes on a few occasions as a grown up professional author (and she is just as warm and wonderful as you might hope). I’m afraid when I first met her, my friend Lauren and I rather fan-girled all over her. Almost entirely because we wanted to impress upon her the fact that her books were so very important because they gave us a model of fantasy that included alternate sexuality. As she went to pains to point out, there were other genre authors doing this before her. But those authors were generally less accessible to young women. Her books were/are important because in them queer wasn’t a big deal. It just was. And so when Lauren and I began to write it just was for us, too.

And that, my darlings, is a powerful instrument of change.

So there it is. As we move to a place where I, as an author, am finally writing a LBGTQ main character the answer to your question of why is essentially… blame Mercedes Lackey.

{Gail’s monthly read along for October is The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something new and different for Gail, contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

NEXT UP

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1872 Fashion plate via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

1872 Fashion plate via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

10 Times Umbrellas Became Works of Art

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

5 Travel Pillows in Order of Ridiculousness

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

How to Create an Anthology

Book News:

Fan Art Lefoux by Cara Powers

Fan Art Lefoux by Cara Powers

Quote of the Day:

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


12 Things About Publishing This Author Wishes Everyone Knew (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Something a little different today, Gentle Reader.

90% of the FAQs I get at events stem from preconceived notions about the publishing industry. I had them too, before I became immersed. So without further ado, here are the 12 Things I really wish EVERYONE knew about publishing.

Gail Hat alone

1. The terms...

  • Trad means traditionally published with a paid advance, usually with one of the major publishers in New York (like Orbit, part of Hachette) or a small press (like Subterranean). There really aren’t many mid-sized presses left.
  • Indie (mostly) means self published (or it may refer to an independent bookstore, I know, confusing).
  • Hybrid means both.

2. Authors please, never expect anyone else to put in more effort than you.
From writing a book to publicizing a book to reading it. No matter how much you have paid or you have been paid.

3. The cover is the most important part of a book’s birth into the world.
Trad authors have too little control. Indie authors have too much. However, what you believe is a good cover (AKA pretty, nice, fun) may not be a commercial or market-friendly cover. (There is also price to consider. But cover first.)

4. Payment is (generally) monthly in Indie, and bi-annually in Trad.
Did you read that? Traditionally published authors are (if they are lucky) paid only 2x a year! Writing is not a get rich scheme. Even the most well-known authors make a great deal less money than you think they do.

5. Most authors have day jobs.
Even if the author is a full timer, most of her day is likely not spent writing, and most put in at least 12 hour days.

6. If an author is lucky enough to get a book tour, it usually means the following:

  • The publisher is covering the costs.
  • The author sells well enough already.
  • The author doesn’t sell well enough to say no to touring, but probably wishes she could.
  • The author’s presence is being used as a bargaining chip to leverage sales and/or future events.

7. In Trad, new authors are paid by the successful proceeds of the heavy hitters that have come before.
You may not enjoy that super popular book, but it’s likely that book is the reason you have the more-risky less-commercial novel that you love.

8. It helps to survive, as reader or writer, if you think of your beloved book as a marketable asset and not your precious baby.
That’s how everyone treats it. People are going to slam it, abuse it, wrap it in trash, deny it, publish it with missing lines or typos, willfully misinterpret it, and reject it: take a deep breath, move on to the next one.

9. An advance is called an advance because the author will not be paid again until they earn enough in royalties to compensate for that advance.
If they don’t “earn out” they get to keep their advance, but it’s never good in Trad if you’re not a profitable asset. Still confused? More on what advance really means.

10. A good indie book is expensive to produce in either time or money, usually both.
This is the cost of keeping control. Do it properly or not at all.

11. A film option does not a movie make.

12. Publisher or publishing venue: both are designed to get as much money out of authors and readers as possible.
This is not some weirdo personal vendetta against creatives, this is business.

Writers can feel pretty powerless in the big corporate world of publishing, but sometimes our greatest power is the ability to say “no.”

~ Carrie Vaughn

{Gail’s monthly read along for September 2016 is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair.}

SPECIAL RE-RELEASE

MySistersSong_ebook

My Sister’s Song

The warrior Mithra must repel a Roman legion alone and armed only with one very tasty weapon.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Afternoon dress, 1860, Charlotte, North Carolina. via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Afternoon dress, 1860, Charlotte, North Carolina. via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Book People Imprudence Display

Book People Imprudence Display

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

New Born Octopuses Are as Strange and Wonderful as You Might Imagine

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Reasons I Said No to 25 Queries (and how to avoid being one of them)

Book News:

Fan Art PP

Quote of the Day:

“Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


Amazon Kindle Automatic Book Update Issues (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

I’ve had  a number of people contact me about the fact that although I’ve updated the formatting and cover art for two short stories (Marine Biology & Fairy Debt), they aren’t automatically updating on Kindle device.

FairyDebt_ebook copy

Did anyone out there who purchased either story before the re-release have it update successfully?

I’d love to know. The new versions have the copyright information at the back rather than the front. (There’s no substantial content changes so don’t worry about that.)

Here is how to turn on Amazon automatic updating. (And here’s Amazon being sublimely unhelpful on the subject of issues.)

Here is how to manually update your Kindle device via your Amazon account settings.

But Gail, no matter what I do it won’t update!

I’m afraid this is an Amazon issue and I can’t diagnose it for you. (I can’t even do it for myself.) Fixing it will have to do with your account, operating system, e-reader type, settings, cloud storage, and a host of other things. If you have annotated or highlighted the original version there may be a safeguard in place that prevents any update.

All I know it that it’s supposed to automatically update.

MarineBiology_promo

Look, I’m just as frustrated as you. I deleted my version of Marine Biology from everywhere. I deleted it from my device. Then I double checked all bits of it were deleted by plugging my Kindle in to my computer in USB mode. Then I went to my account and deleted it from the cloud too. I rebooted my Kindle. Then I re-purchased the darn thing and… nothing. Oh I got the new cover, but only in gallery view. Everything else remains the 2013 version (2.0). I’ve tried googling, I’ve tried KDP forums, there’s unhelpful tips on updating for publishers and even more unhelpful tips on updating for readers. Yet nothing changes, those embedded extensions are like a cancer.

You longtime Kindle users know how buggy the darn things are. Right?

There’s that one book that will never stay in a category but always wants to be in the main drive. Or the one that, in the end, you have to manually delete by hooking your kindle into your desktop. Or the one that just won’t open no matter what you do.

Yeah. I have those too. Having hundreds of books with me when I travel still trumps everything else. Everything.

Your, extremely frustrated,

Miss Gail

P.S. And you, yes you with the supercilious expression, I don’t want no cheeky “just read the old fashioned way” comments.” Zip it. We all like what we like. And you will pry my e-reader from my cold dead heads. No wait, I want to be buried with it, just in case.

P.P.S. Don’t even get me started on nook…

Meanwhile… Parlourmaids Trouble Gail

While you face this crisis, I tumble down the British excessive “u” rabbit hole over the word parlourmaid. You see, I want to use the word parlourmaid because that’s how it was used and spelled (and in the USA we didn’t really have them, as such) but that means I must also use the word parlour. If I use parlour then why not colour? There in lies UTTER MADNESS.

Copy edit conundrum and impasse. You see how my life is?

What to do over the extraneous u?

 

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Working copy edit. Release date Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGT reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something utterly new and different for Gail. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

SPECIAL RE-RELEASE

MarineBiology_promo

Marine Biology

A short tale of seduction, selkies, and sushi.

Alex is a werewolf with problems – he’s unexpectedly alive, he’s quite definitely gay, and he’s been ordered into a partnership with one very flirty merman.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1860The Philadelphia Museum of Art _ OMG that dress!

186 0The Philadelphia Museum of Art via OMG that dress!

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

5 India Cloud at Copperfield's Books copy

With India Cloud at Copperfield’s Books

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

What’s Old is New: Double Rings

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Book News:

s.leady @fawksylibrarian Vieve from @gailcarriger's Finishing School made an appearance @Andersonsclib's Electric City ComiCon #ec32016

via @fawksylibrarian Vieve from @gailcarriger’s Finishing School made an appearance @Andersonsclib’s Electric City ComiCon #ec32016

Quote of the Day:

“Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.”

~Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


7 Questions For Gail’s Inner Writer (Occasional FAQ)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Gentle reader, today’s post is adapted from this one by Cathy Yardley.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve written my whole life. My first book was traditionally published in 2009 and I’ve been a full time author with the written word as my only income since late 2011.

What genre would you say you write?

Commercial genre fiction is what I say at cocktail parties. If someone looks interested and presses further I say SF/F for adults and young adults and historical romance. If they press further I say steampunk, but then I usually have to explain what steampunk is.

Have you taken classes or received instruction for creative writing?

No. I hated them in grade school, although I was always a good student and prolific writer, but they wanted me to be too literary. Thus I never took creative writing past high school. I went to panels and lectures on the business side of writing at conventions, but only work-shopped my stuff with a core critique group of close friends.

I try to give back to the writing community as much as I can, but you’ll notice I never teach workshops, offer to critique new writers, or participate in contests as a judge. I’m really not good at it.

What are some of your favorite writing reference books?

Does Strunk & White count? But these days I tend to just poke about online. Grammar Girl is awesome.

What do you think is the biggest problem you need help with in your writing?

I always worry about pace. My spelling is bonkers. I scatter commas like I’m a Roman covering Carthage with salt. Generally, my editors have to tell me what to add in rather than what to take out, so I guess, description?

What are your writing goals for the next 12 months?

These days I am shooting to write one novel and two-three novellas/short stories every year.

What are your ultimate goals for your writing career?

This is a great question that I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. I don’t quite know what the answer is right now, but I’m pretty happy with where I am, and where I’m going.

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Beta edit back, working now. Tentative release date Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGT reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something utterly new and different for Gail. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

SPECIAL RE-RELEASE

MarineBiology_promo

Marine Biology

A short tale of seduction, selkies, and sushi.

Alex is a werewolf with problems – he’s unexpectedly alive, he’s quite definitely gay, and he’s been ordered into a partnership with one very flirty merman.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1862 Magasin des Demoiselles Monday, September 1, 1862 v. 42, plate 120

1862 Magasin des Demoiselles Monday, September 1, 1862 v. 42, plate 120

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

1 Squid Swag copy

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

How Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Rights Reversions (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

Book News:

80sidol-tumblr talk to me about my love for ormond tunstell and ivy hisslepenny

80sidol-tumblr talk to me about my love for ormond tunstell and ivy hisslepenny

Quote of the Day:

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. I can resist everything but temptation.”

~Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


Behind the Magic ~ Imprudence Research & Reference Links

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Hello Gentle Reader, with Imprudence releasing oh so soon.

 

Here’s a glimpse into some of the research I had to do for this next Custard Protocol book.

Queen Victoria via  Elaine Powell @ManchesterSteam

 

Politics in the Sudan before and after Rue visits

 

Generally Useful Victorian Stuff

 

In Which Rue References Things You Might Not Know Of

  • Maxim gun (as opposed to the Gatling or the Nordenfelt)
  • Maahes the ancient Egyptian lion-headed god of war, whose name means “he who is true beside her”.
  • Sekhmet

“Our Homes in 1883 estimated that the average person needed 22 gallons of water a day, divided up as:
Domestic usage, excluding laundry 9 gallons
WCs 5 gallons
Baths, one a week 5 gallons
Washing clothes 3 gallons”
~ The Victorian House by Judith Flanders
(According to USGS.gov the average water use per person per day in the US is 80-100 gallons.)

“Milk is the great difficulty in travelling tea-making. It cannot always be easily obtained, and milk carried about with one in a bottle does not long retain its freshness in hot weather. Some people do not object to the condensed or Swiss milk one buys in small tins. It has the advantage of being extremely portable, but I must confess, personally, to finding its effect detestable in tea or coffee.”

~ Hints to Lady Travellers: At Home and Abroad (Royal Geographic Society) by Lillias Campbell Davidson (1889)

 

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Fashion plate, 1896 via shewhoworshipscarlin

Fashion plate, 1896 via shewhoworshipscarlin

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Victorian Sewing: A Brief History of Plain and Fancy Work

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

10 Fantasy Authors Who Fight the Patriarchy, Gender Stereotypes, and Possibly Dragons

Book News:

Difficult, But Fascinating: The Gail Carriger Interview with William Pinfold

Quote of the Day:

“By the end, Rafe wore the long-suffering looking of an eagle being ordered about by a flock of excited pigeons.”

~ Heartless

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


Behind the Magic ~ 4 Fun Cookies to look out for in Gail Carriger’s Imprudence

Posted by Gail Carriger

You may be a big fan of my books, Gentle Reader, or you my be a new reader (waves).

 

In either case here are a few exciting for-the-fans special things to look out for in Imprudence.

2Imprudence

Spot the Following?

  1. French lessons.
  2. The unbirth of a particularly important ghost.
  3. More about Alessandro Tarabotti’s sordid past.
  4. Lord Akeldama’s real name.

 

Yeah. So there!

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

 

Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they really are… is frightened.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Day dress, 1895-96 From the Cincinnati Art Museum

Day dress, 1895-96 From the Cincinnati Art Museum

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Lilli Curs Lap Paw

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Amazing Jellyfish Discovered in Ocean Depths Looks Straight Out of Sci-Fi

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

9 Story Openings To Avoid

Book News:

Alexia & Ivy

Quote of the Day:

“I love talking about nothing… It is the only thing I know anything about.”

~ Oscar Wilde


How Primrose Stocks an Airship Victorian Medicine Cabinet Chest ~ Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol Research (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Primrose is particularly good at her job of ship’s purser (and chief of supplies) aboard the Spotted Custard.

One of Primrose’s jobs consists of stocking the medicine cabinet on board the Spotted Custard. Alexia in the Parasol Protectorate series is rather infamous for insisting that either vinegar or bicarbonate of soda could solve all of life’s ills, however her daughter is a bit more (shall we say) prudent on these matters.

Via the Smithsonian’s Pinterest Board

I’ve listed the items as the Victorians might have. [In brackets is the use or perceived use and/or more modern term.] I hope it goes without saying that this is in no way a suggested medical selection for modern times. However, this is the internet, so I’m saying it.

A Household Medicine Cabinet 1870s ~ 1900

  1. Powdered ipecacuanha [induce vomiting]
  2. Purgative powder [laxative]
  3. Sulphate of quinine [malaria treatment]
  4. Chlorodyne [chloroform and morphine tincture] & laudanum [opiate in alcohol, often sherry]
  5. Carbolic acid [antiseptic]
  6. Castor oil [Ricinus]
  7. Eno’s fruit salts
  8. One bottle each of M’Kesson and Robbin’s compound podophyllin and aloes and myrrh pills [for warts and verrucas, also purgative]
  9. Stick of nitrate of silver [antibacterial, often used in eyes for conjunctivitis, skin infections, ulcers]
  10. Cholera pills
  11. Iodine [used on rashes and wounds]
  12. Tabloids of antipyrin and phenacetin [analgesic and antipyretic]
  13. Aspirin [willow bark extract]
  14. Salicylate of soda [pain relief, for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis]
  15. Boracic acid [disinfectant]
  16. Cough lozenges
  17. Tabloids of grey powder [mercury in calk, mainly purgative and antisyphilitic]
  18. Kay’s essence of linseed [coughs and colds]
  19. Clean undyed squares of cotton, wool, linen
  20. Oiled silk
  21. Roll of adhesive plaster
  22. Bandages [usually linen]
  23. Dressing forceps

Gail’s Sources:

I drew up this list from a combination of sources:

Foote‘s Medical Common Sense and Plain Home Talk (American 1871)

Southgate’s Things A Lady Would Like to Know (English 1876)

Davidson’s Hints to Lady Travellers (English 1889)

Steel & Gardiner’s The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook (1898, revised). Steel also includes recipes for common ailments, unfortunately not gun shot wounds.

Medical Common Sense & Plain Home Talk.

 

via @photosandbacon  Iron Cordial, King of Tonics, 1886 includes a remedy for being female

 

Other Blog Posts on Victorian Health & Medicine

 

via @photosandbacon

Now don’t even get me started on Victorian cosmetics.

Advertisement for Fould’s arsenic complexion wafers by H B Fould in New York, 1901. (Photo by Jay Paull_Getty Images)

{Gail’s monthly read along for July 2016 is Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger.}

2Imprudence

Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they really are… is frightened.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1895 via @AngelaKCouch Twitter Parasol, design c.1895-1900

1895 via @AngelaKCouch Twitter Parasol, design c.1895-1900

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

The Bookworm: Part Bookshelf, Part Cocoon Chair

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Seaside Fashions of the 19th Century

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Awkward Fear of the Romance Genre

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“I expect I shall feel better after tea.”

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Behind the Magic ~ Victorian Money Means Coins – Research Behind Prudence

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

This is one of those blog posts in which I demonstrate the nitty-gritty of research in an aggravatingly nit-picky way.

 

This is an amended reboot from 2012 when I first started writing Prudence.

Read at your own risk.

To protect the guilty I’m not going to name any names, Gentle Reader, and I’d like to state up front that currency is not my expertise.

However, I was reading a book of the alt-historical romantic variety. The hero visits a whore in Victorian London, 1883.

For her pains he “pulled out far more notes than planned and handed them to her.”

I had to put the book down.

It was very upsetting.

Coins vs. Notes in Victorian England

BANK NOTES!

First, bank notes are drawn on a bank more like a cashier’s check (or an IOU) than paper money today, which means the whore in our above example would have to go into a bank to redeem her notes or find herself a very non-suspicious tradesman, in modern times this is a little like trying to break a $1000 bill.

ON YOUR PERSON?

Second, no one regularly carried notes or paid for anything with notes until well after the 1920s. Culturally, no one would carry that much money into the kind of area of London where whore houses are located.

For services people paid with coin, with tradesmen (who handle goods) the wealthy actually paid via their butler or valet or abigail’s coin, or on account, because it was beneath them to physically touch money.

Even, as the author was trying to get across, this was a highly generous gesture, NOT WITH PAPER MONEY HE WOULDN’T.

*HEAVY BREATHING*

We writers all make mistakes. I have made more than my share. And there comes a time when every historical author must stop researching and begin writing (or the book never gets written).

I do understand and believe that some modernization is necessary in alt-history genre fiction because most readers want their books to be fun and entertaining. It is our business, as authors, to provide that first. (Now for genres like historical fiction or biographies this is a different matter. I am speaking in terms of managing expectations.)

BUT IT’S MONEY

However, I do think something as basic as currency should be second knowledge if you are going to write in any alternate time period. It’s like getting the basic clothing terms correct. (In another unnamed steampunk novel, a corset was referred to as a bodice. FYI, both terms are incorrect. At the time, a corset would have been mainly referred to as stays. The bodice is the top part of a dress. Thus, I spent the entire scene confused into thinking the character in question was swanning around with only her torso dressed, rather than entirely in her underthings as was intended. But, I digress . . .)

A corset AKA stays

Godeys July 1872 Bodices

On Victorian Money (from Baedecker’s London 1896)

  • sovereign or pound (gold) = 20 shillings
  • half-sovereign (gold) = 10 shillings
  • crown (silver) = 5 shillings
  • half-crown (silver) = (2 shillings & a six penny piece)
  • double florin (silver – rare) = 4 shillings
  • florin (silver) = 2 shillings
  • shilling (silver & same size as a sovereign) = 12 pennies
  • six penny (silver) = 6 pennies
  • three penny (silver) = 3 pennies
  • penny (bronze) = 4 farthings
  • half penny = 2 farthings
  • farthing
From lot at auction.

 

I know, I know, overly complicated. Think back to that wonderful scene with the money exchange in Room With a View when Cousin Charlotte comes to visit Lucy’s family.

“In England alone of the more important states of Europe the currency is arranged without reference to the decimal system.”
~ Karl Baedeker, 1896

Victorian Money in Terms of Value

In 1896: 1 sovereign was approximately: 5 American dollars, 25 francs, 20 German marks, or 10 Austrian florins.

To reiterate: The Bank of England issued notes for 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pounds or more. They were generally not used in ordinary life as most people “dealt in coin.” Gentlemen and ladies, when shopping, either had a servant with them to handle the coin (including gratuities & all fares) or paid on credit (AKA account). A shop would then send a bill around to the townhouse at the end of the month on Black Monday, which would be paid by the house steward, accountant, or personal secretary. A gentleman handling his own money is either no gentleman or engaged in nefarious activities like gambling or trade.

Baedeker advises letters of credit (AKA circular notes) drawn on a major bank for travel, to be exchanged for local currency upon arrival. He also advises never carrying a full days worth of coinage about your person.

It’s important, as historical writers, for us to grasp a larger picture – so allow me to attempt to put this into perspective…

Middle class wages per annum 1850-1890:

  • A Bank of England Clerk £75 to £500
  • Civil Service clerk £80 to £200
  • Post Office clerk £90 to £260
  • Senior Post Office clerk £350 to £500

So let’s say a middle class wage was anything from £75 to £500 a year, that’s £1.44 – £9.61 a week for a relatively comfortable lifestyle.

Since there is no £1 note, to “pull out far more notes than planned” as our unnamed author writes above, and give such to a whore, means at least £5 per note. More than one means at least £10. Not only should this character not have been carrying that kind of money, he just tipped that woman better than one week’s salary for the upper middle class to someone who likely could never break that bill, today that’s something on the order of $2,500.

A gentleman of lower standing, say a younger son with a Living could expect something similar to upper middle class £350-500.

Titled or large landed gentry could pull in anything from £1000 to £10,000 a year (what, you thought the 99% was a new thing?).

A dowry for landed country gentry’s daughter of few means would be about £100 a year.

Still, even the highest aristocrat wouldn’t tip in notes, ever. If for no other reason than it’s the kind of thing the neuvo riche, or An American might do. (It’s worth noting that poor were a great deal poorer, earning shillings per week or less.)

Later on, this same author writes “cost me twenty quid to delay matters” of bribing a coroner to delay a funeral. That’s a heavy bribe, about $5000. I couldn’t find any information on coroner’s pay in Victorian times (the job was either uncommon, not yet official, or went by another name) so let’s say grave digger, which is well below middle class, so a £20 bribe would probably be about a year’s income for the man.

End of Rant

A Budget from 19th Century Historical Tidbits

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. Or should I say “out of my chest”? Chink chink.

So, if you have a Victorian setting (really, anything up through the 1920s) what do we pay with?

Yes, that’s right children, coins!

This is also a rather depressingly clear indication of how Gail Carriger spends her weekends. I am such a dork.

“I may be a chump, but it’s my boast that I don’t owe a penny to a single soul – not counting tradesmen, of course.”

~ Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

As always, you don’t have to take my word for it. Earlier in time, but still relevant podcast…

More or Less Behind the Stats: How Rich was Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy?

How does this relate to Prudence?

Well might you ask. What I had to do (or thought I had to do) was determine the conversion rate between pounds and rupees traveling from England to India in 1895.

Unfortunately, Baedecker didn’t write for India.

What I ended up having to do was make some very loose estimations based on the above assumptions of middle class wages and the information I could source, which was monthly accounts for a household of four living in India on a diplomat’s wage between 1880 and 1897 (something on the order of £500 per annum). Here’s my fun chart:

Here’s hoping the above was, if not fun, at least informative or, if you yourself are an author, helpful.

Prudence by Gail Carriger

Pip pip!

{Gail’s monthly read along for January 2016 is The Raven’s Ring by Patricia Wrede. You do not have to have read any other Lyra books.}

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Behind the Magic ~ Finishing School Extras

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

So when I was doing research for the Finishing School series, Gentle Reader, I did a bunch of research into the Enigma Project.

 

It totally fascinated me (yes I’ve watched the various movies). Not a lot ended up making it into the books, but here is a peek at the vocabulary notes I took.

My first copy of Manners & Mutiny arrives in the office.

 

You can determine for yourself, Gentle Reader, what was actually utilized in the series.

  • Clandestine
  • Station X
  • Dispatches
  • Code Name
  • Cypher
  • Deception
  • Sensitive Information
  • Restrictions
  • Security
  • Secrets
  • Top Secret
  • Agent Provocateurs
  • Intelligencers
  • Unauthorized Disclosure
  • Compromise
  • Seal of the Confessional
  • Resources
  • Personnel Department
  • Protective Security
  • Vetting for Government Installation
  • Counter Espionage
  • Counter Insurgency
  • Domestic Surveillance
  • Registry

And then at the bottom in big letters I have scrawled:

Clandestine Scientific Information Act of 1885

Of course I ended up cutting the “Scientific” because that made it the CIA. And I can’t resist stuff like that.

the-vortexx-tumblr Victorian slang terms you never knew existed

 

More Resources on Victorian Spies

 

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The Book Nut says of Etiquette & Espionage: “Carriger has a way with this genre that makes it seem much more effortless than other authors who have tried the same.”

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Bon Ton Date-  Tuesday, March 1, 1853 Item ID-  v. 36, plate 31

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
19 Brilliant Umbrellas That Will Make Rainy Days Fun

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Female Spy: Mata Hari

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
8 Badass Ladies Who Changed Literature Forever

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~ Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald, By Honor Betray’d


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