Monday, September 15, 2014

Of Corset Matters

As Napoleon began to consolidate his might, he grew preoccupied with building a dynasty. To do so, he needed a male heir to assure his throne and lots of male infants to swell the future armies. So, in 1800, he issued a denunciation of corsets -- they interfered with pregnancy, he declared.

Jean Simmons in Désirée (1954)

Of course, the dictum fell on deaf ears. Fashion conscious French women, including his two wives, continued to wear corsets.

Jacqueline Bissett in Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987)

Corsets gave pain a new meaning in the nineteenth century as women laced up whalebone garments to achieve an ideal eighteen-inch waist. Anna Pavlova wore a pink corset to dance her "dying swan".

Costume designed for Anna Pavlova for Dying Swan.
Sarah Bernhardt wore hers in the bath.

Sarah Bernhardt
And even in the heat of darkest Africa, missionary Mary Livingston wouldn't dream of discarding her corset.

The word comes from the French corps, or "body". Some sort of corset or lacing to make the body appear slimmer was worn as far back as the Golden Age, when Greek lovelies strapped leather bands around their breasts and hips under their chitons.

Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)

The modern corset, which shaped the bosom and hips while accentuating the waist, evolved during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. While this was far from the time of equality between the sexes, they did share some vanities: the corset was worn by men as well as women.

The shape of corsets changed continually with the changing ideal of what the body silhouette should look like. Sometimes women wore corsets which accentuated or raised their bosoms. Sometimes corsets diminished or emphasized the hips.

Abbie Cornish in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

The Effigy Corset of Queen Elizabeth I

In the sixteenth century the corset, stiffened with stays of metal, wood, or whalebone, formed a sort of armor around a woman's body. Her hips were enlarged and supported with the farthingale and her décolletage emphasized.

French Iron Corset 1580-1600 collection
Kyoto Costume Institute

17th Century Wooden Corset

Short-waisted in the seventeenth century, corsets became longer, more pointed, and cone-shaped in the eighteenth century.

Tight corset, circa 1770

Marie Antoinette's corset
Image: Pinterest
The nineteenth century vogue for Scarlett O'Hara-like waists meant that women had trouble breathing as corsets were more and more tightly laced.

Gone With the Wind (1939)

In fact, corsets were so tightly laced by the mid-1800's that they restricted breathing, causing ribs to overlap, and were a general pain in whatever they happened to be constricting.

Half-boned Stays, 1770-80's, French.
Image: Pinterest
Stays, 1765
Image: Pinterest

Corset, 1830-40's
Image: Pinterest

Circa 1902
Image: Pinterest
Rachel McAdams and Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Victorian Corset
Image: Pinterest
Doctors, philosophers, and reformers railed against the confounded contraptions. But fashion is fashion, and no matter how uncomfortable, women weren't willing to throw them out until styles changed. That happened around the turn of the century, when designer Paul Poiret created the corsetless chemise.

Finally, women could breath easier for a while -- at least, that is, until the invention of the girdle.

-- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --
Friday, September 5, 2014

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week...

Historical Fiction. I love historical fiction, even novels that feature an alternate history. I'm currently reading Margot by Jillian Cantor, which tells the "what-if" story of the survival of Anne Frank's sister and her hidden identity in a new country. 
This story is a beautiful, suspenseful, and very moving re-imagining of Margot's life. I simply cannot put it down. I have a feeling the book is going to haunt me long after I finish reading it. I love when that happens.

Rusk Shampoo. A while ago I was in dire need of some new shampoo. What's a girl to do? 
Take a poll, of course. ;) 
I asked my family and friends what their favorite shampoo was, and why. My CP highly recommended her shampoo: Rusk: Deepshine Smooth. I finally bought myself a bottle.

OMGILOVEIT! My hair has never felt or looked so soft and shiny.

Okay, I don't have messy red curls...I wish!

Finding Carter. I'm totally hooked on Finding Carter.

The MTV drama tells the story of a sixteen year old girl who discovers that her seemingly perfect mother actually abducted her as a toddler, and that her real family, including a mother, a father, a twin sister, and a little brother, lives about two hours away. When her kidnapper goes on the run, Carter has to adjust to life with the family she never knew.

I really like Teen Wolf (which also airs on MTV), so I figured I'd give Finding Carter too. I'm glad I did. It's very compelling. There are lots of dramatic moments. The characters are complex. I like all the characters, especially Max. He's adorable and sweet and cool.

I can't to find out what happens in the penultimate episode of season one this Tuesday night.

What are you loving this week?
Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tips on Surviving Revision Hell

Are you deep in Revision Hell? Don't despair. You can tackle those revisions and still keep your sanity. Just jot down the following tips from author Lydia Kang, then put them into practice. You're bound to have success.

1. Character Arc Sheet. Your main characters must go through a transformation through the book. Make a list of what these are, and the events that herald those changes for each character.

2. Relationship Arc Sheet
. Like the notes above, this one is specific to relationships between characters.

3. The Fix-It List
. As you revise and re-draft, you can't get everything perfect. You'll lose a ton of time fixing every last bit with every single sentence, so make lists of things you need to go back and fix later. That way, you keep the flow of your work going forward. This is mostly about keeping certain details consistent. ("make sure this all happens within a one week period" or "make map so location makes sense"). Stuff like that.

4. The Theme List
. If you use a lot of themes in your story--such as foreshadowing, motifs/symbols, or underlying mysteries-- they need to be revisited frequently enough that they're not forgotten by the reader. Eyeball this list as you revise every chapter.

5. Major Revisions. Every chapter has to reveal something important that propels the story forward, opens up new questions, or changes the dynamics of the plot or relationships. If one of your chapters is mostly filler, ax it.

6. Pretty Up the Prose. The prose in your first draft can be simple and not elegant. Take the time during your second or third pass to really work on making a turn of phrase more beautiful where it's needed, without overwriting.

7. Trim the Excess. Slash and burn the redundant and purple prose. It may hurt to do so, but it's a great way to tidy things up.

8. Pay Attention to the Acts. The three-act plot structure of storytelling works well. Revisit the structure of your story to keep it on target.

9. Pay Attention to the Highs and Lows
. It's important that the stakes increase as the story progresses, and that the interval lows worsen. 

10. Be Willing to Make Sacrifices. You've probably heard the term "kill your darlings". Well, it's not just about letting go of certain characters, but certain scenes and even huge chunks of your plot that simply aren't working. Be open minded about how your story could improve if you learn to let go. Remember you can always recycle what you've lost for other stories.

11. Take Breaks
. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Exercise occasionally. Take breaks! If you don't take care of your body, your brain won't be able to revise.

And there you have 'em. Helpful tips, eh? That Lydia Kang is a smart woman. =)

My main characters must go through a transformation through the book. I make lists of what these are, and the events that herald those changes for each character. Since CODE is a sequel, I'm often referencing the arcs in the first book. They have to be different but build on what the characters have already achieved in book one. - See more at:

-- Image and text courtesy of author Lydia Kang via The League of Extraordinary Writers blog--

My main characters must go through a transformation through the book. I make lists of what these are, and the events that herald those changes for each character. Since CODE is a sequel, I'm often referencing the arcs in the first book. They have to be different but build on what the characters have already achieved in book one. - See more at:
Monday, September 1, 2014

September Releases

I heart Fall. The air is brisk. The nights are cool. Fingerless gloves are in fashion. It's not even the first official day of Fall, and I already have the urge to eat soup, drink hot apple cider, watch football, wear a cardigan, carve a pumpkin, crunch dried leaves under my booted feet.

And read a new book or two, of course. ;)

Highland Spies, Book One
By Victoria Roberts
September 2, 2014

Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do-he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.

Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess-a job easier said than done-she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.

Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?

Gosh, this cover is gorgeous. I love all that purple. *slobbers*

By Kiersten White
September 9, 2014

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion's nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn't -- power, money, status...and magic.

But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

I love a hero named Finn -- especially a gorgeous, enigmatic one from a secret world. ;)

By Claire Legrand
September 30, 2014

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

OMG. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book, inspired by
The Nutcracker.


By Jessica Verday
September 9, 2014

Summoned to Philadelphia after her mother's death, seventeen-year old Annabel Lee hopes this new start will be her chance to make her dream of  becoming a surgeon a reality.

But there are dark secrets in Annabel's new home: whispers of strange activity, unsavory characters making deliveries in the dead of night, and a wave of murders sweeping the city. And when her father deems her interest in medicine unseemly and forbids her from practicing, she's determined to prove him wrong.

With the help of handsome laboratory assistant Allan Poe and his unsettling cousin, Edgar, Annabel probes into her father's research. But the links she discovers between the experiments being conducted, the stories Allan writes late into the night, and her new city's gruesome crimes can be no coincidence. And she'll sacrifice everything to stop them.

Ooo. So dark and gothic. Yes, please!

By Kiki Sullivan
September 2, 2014

Eveny Cheval has just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn’t seen her hometown since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn’t have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies—and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.
Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends collectively known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest guys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything—including an explanation for what’s going on in this town. They want to bring Eveny into their circle, share their darkest truths with her, introduce her to handsome, enigmatic Caleb Shaw. And Eveny doesn’t trust them one bit.

But after murder strikes in Carrefour and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she’s forced to turn to the Dolls for answers. Something’s wrong in paradise, and it’s up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right.

Pretty Little Liars meets Beautiful Creatures. Cool.

What's on your must-read list? 

Book blurbs from authors' websites.
Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Wrap-Up

I'm sad that summer is over. I don't feel like I did enough summery things this month. And now it's time to put my flip flops and beach chair in storage.

Oh well. *shrugs* August wasn't a total waste.


1) Revisions. I edited more chapters of WHB. I'm halfway through my revisions. If I work hard in September, I'll meet my deadline. *fingers crossed*

2) Updated Images. I updated my Twitter and Facebook cover images. I also updated all of the photos on this blog's WIP pages with royalty free images.

3) Blog Posts. I wrote and scheduled some blog posts for September.

4) Research Books
. I discovered a few research books that I want to buy.

5) Pinterest. I add new inspiration boards to my Pinterest account. I adore Pinterest. I know some people view it as a huge time suck.

I agree that it can be a bad thing if you don't monitor your usage closely. For me, Pinterest is a just-before-bed activity that both relaxes and inspires me. 


1) Portland. My BFF and I took a day trip to Portland, Oregon on the second weekend of the month. We met up with my big sis and BIL for a fun-filled afternoon. We went to the Farmer's Market, to VooDoo doughnut, and to Powell's bookstore. We had dinner with my cousin, who'd just flown in from Texas for business meeting.

GRIMM set sighting!
Me at the Governor Hotel
Pocket Jamie got in on the fun, too. He looked verra braw in Portland. ;)

Feeling spicy in Portland with my BFF and Pocket Jamie.

2) Vet Visit
. I took my puppy Milla to the vet for her second round of vaccinations. She did very well. She only piddled a wee bit (right on my hubby) when she was confronted by a big dog in the waiting room.

Milla got on the scale at the vet, and we discovered that she weighs 8.6 pounds. My hubby and I weren't surprised. Milla is a big girl. She's twice the size of our other Mini Doxies at that age.

She's still learning how to walk on a leash without pulling. It's a slow process. Good thing my hubby has the patience of a saint.

3) Outlander
. I am (like half the women I know) addicted to Outlander. I've waited a loooong time for this book to become a mini series, and the wait has been worth it. Sam and Caitriona are perfect as Jamie and Claire.

God, this scene was SO HOT. I can't wait until they smooch and more!!!

4) Books. I haven't read enough books this month.

IKR! Sad, sad news. I've simply been too focused on my writing lately. I have 20 novellas loaded on my Kindle, and I intend to read all of them in September (along with a couple of novels).

How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!
Friday, August 29, 2014

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week...

Social Networking. I love Facebook and Twitter. But only on days ending in the letter "y".

These social networking sites keep me connected with other writers, most of whom live far away from me (like my CP). It's so convenient and fun to go on Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with good friends, especially the ones who share my passion for books and writing.

Doris Day. I'm a big fan of movies, old and new. This week I watched The Thrill of It All (1963) starring James Garner and Doris Day. I adore her.

1) Her wardrobe is amazing. 2) Her voice is stunning. 3) Her characters are all smart and strong-willed but also sweet and sexy. 4) She throws the best stompy tantrums. 5) She's classy and brilliant. 6) She's a cultural icon.  

Red Pens. I used to dislike red pens. What kid wouldn't after she gets a report back from her school teacher all covered in comments and red marks? These days, I love my red pens. I use them all the time.

Red pens are nice to use when I edit my own work or cross out stuff in my writer's notebook.

Long Weekends. Oh long weekends how I love thee, let me count the ways.

I love staying up late. I love sleeping in on lazy mornings. I love afternoons spent reading a good book. I love long walks in the sunshine. I love lunch dates. I love spending extra time with my hubby. I love visiting my parents.

I love long weekends!

What are you loving this week?
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Adjust. Revise. Rewrite. Step by step. Page by page.

Check. Check. Check. I'm getting my revisions on. But it's taking for-evah. Gah!

I'm in Revision Hell. *deep breaths*


Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration. Things aren't that bad. Really. I enjoy revisions. Seriously. Unfortunately, it's taking me a lot longer to whip this chapter into shape than I expected. First, I struggled with some dialogue. Then I realized I needed more details -- just a wee bit more movement to ground the characters in the scene. That took more days than I wanted. I wasn't trying to make the words perfect. Honest. I just needed to put them where they belonged. Once I did that, I moved on.


The biggest challenge has been the opening for my heroine's POV. It took me a whole lot of brain power and several drafts before I finally wrote an opening I could live with. That happened Monday. 

I had hoped to surprise my CP with two completed chapters when she returns from her beach vacation this weekend. Yeah, that's not going to happen. 

Revisions are hard. I need chocolate. STAT.

On the bright side, I'm satisfied with everything I've written so far. And I feel a sense of accomplishment because I pushed myself to keep revising when I felt like giving up. Yay me. ;)