Category Archives: Conferences

Dressing up like a Victorian lady, Part 4: Reticules and other ways to carry things

Let’s face it, we are a society that totes things. To attend the Baltimore Book Festival dressed like a Victorian lady, and still have all my ‘necessities,’ I needed a reticule. In other words, an era-appropriate purse.

My research led me to a timeline of purses titled Please Don’t Ridicule my Reticule! by Joan Kiplinger on a fabric website. (I’m seeing a trend here linking sewing and costume-making!) The descriptions and many illustrations led me to pulling out an unused crocheted doily belonging to my grandmother. I began fashioning a velvet interior, thinking I’d close it with ribbons and decorate the edges with beading…

However, I am wearing a riding skirt and hat. Plus, between the two choices of boots I showed in my ‘Part 1’ post, I have preferred the brown ones. They may look more like work boots, but that fits the riding skirt and image of landowner Mistress Constance Gere. And they bring together the brown belt, accessories and leather gloves I have gathered. I began scanning through images of reticules and came across this fashion plate, again from the Kate Tattersall website. You go, R. S. Fleming!

reticule-1863-revers-1851-52-revers-1866

The plate illustrates the author’s Victorian Fashion Terms: Reticule. It’s captioned: “Stunning white riding habit with a cutaway jacket and leather reticule 1863.”

Exactly what I needed!

I did quite a bit of leather work in high school and have sewn since, so it was easy for me to make a paper pattern and dive into a box of materials my mother saved and gave me to use with my kids. I liked the shape of the reticule in the fashion plate, so copied it best I could. Here is the process.

After tracing pattern on underside of leather and cutting with an exacto knife (We don’t seem to have the leather scissors anymore), I punched holes along the edge and began lacing the pieces together with a flat leather needle.

Lacing a leather reticule 1Constructing a leather reticule 1

The front and back are matching shapes sewn to 5 cm wide strip. Note You need to make it longer than the actual side length to give the corners room to turn. If I have made a simple U shape, i wouldn’t have needed the extra holes. Luckily, I had room to add them as I sewed.

Lacing a leather reticule 2

The reticule is designed to hang from a belt. Before lacing one the flap to close the top opening, I made two strips the right length, and laced a loop at the top of each. They were then sewn into the back through two sets of holes.

Leather reticule belt straps

My worst dilemma was finding a closure. Some options were sewing on two wooden buttons to lace a piece of cord around, or creating a peg in a leather loop fastener. I wanted something more personal…and it had to be done quickly because I am running out of time before the BBF event tomorrow. I looked around the house…and found one of my stone Zuni carvings had a pinched belly, perfect for looping several rounds of waxed string with beads and a piece of leather lacing.

closure of leather reticule

I added a piece of leather on the back of the flap where I threaded the lacing to hold on the carving, so its weight will not pull at the single leather.

Back of closure on leather reticule

I made a simple loop strung through two bottom holes to secure the stone animal. I would like to braid a more substantial piece and also trim the flap edge with a line of lacing, but I have no more time to punch holes or figure out circular braiding–which I hope I can purchase!

My reticule will work well for my smaller items, such as my keeping my real glasses handy.

leather reticule

But it’s always handy to have other containers for things, ones that are still Victorian-era appropriate–meaning natural materials and handmade. I grabbed a small crocheted bag made by a friend to hold my cash.

crocheted bag

My brass compass already lives in a leather pouch, easily found if you visit out west. I added the gears (actually a button) for a more steampunk look.

leather pouch

For larger items, I’m taking a basket that looks old because of its rustic construction.

basket with embroidered cloth

I’ve lined it with an embroidered table cloth I never have out, but will be nice to see for a few hours. it was made by my great-grandmother, and will hide my water bottle and a few snacks.

Lastly, I believe I will take along a small purse my grandmother gave me that was her mother’s. I believe that puts it in the 1880-1890s.claw pouch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure if it’s alligator or crocodile, but that coin purse has some wicked claws on it! And now, I believe my Victorian costume is complete. Here is the Maryland Romance Writers stage schedule at the Baltimore Book Festival. Hope you can join us this weekend.

I didn’t notice until I hit publish, but this is my 200th post for my website! Thanks for joining me.

Dressing up like a Victorian lady, Part 2: Acccessories

Dressing properly isn’t just the clothes; the accessories must be right to make a correct historical presence. I have a few more things to prepare for my Victorian costume to be ready for the Baltimore Book Festival.

Anyone and everyone going out of the house in Victorian times wore a hat. During the time The Unraveling is set, men wore top hats, boys and working people might wear caps. Women had more choices in head wear, from ruffle-, ribbon- and bead-decorated silk, cotton or felt, to plain straw and cloth bonnets. I took a few liberties with hats in my more casual hidden realm, but decided my costume would be incomplete without a hat. Along with my blouse and split riding skirt, I bought my hat from Historical Emporium. A riding hat.

Riding hat

I figured that fit, but I’m worried how that trailing veil will hold up.

No properly-dressed Victorian adult went out without gloves. Again, because my characters live and work on a farm, I took liberties and forgo gloves except when they are in the Derby. However, like the hat, I decided I needed them…unfortunately after I had placed my order. It’s darned hard to find plain leather dress gloves these days. I considered using my lace fingerless gloves from my steampunk costume.

FIngerless lace gloves

I could wear a ring with these, but frankly, they don’t look right. Another option is cutting down a thin pair I found in the Halloween section, or wear a fleece lined pigskin pair I have from long ago.

Pigskin gloves

Not quite the right color since most of my outfit is black. Tomorrow I’m calling around to try to borrow a pair.

I needed stockings to wear with my boots. But what kind? A search of Victorian stockings turned up Kate Tattersall‘s (Victorian Adventuress Extraordinaire!) fabulous website. In addition to Kate’s adventures (due out in January 2016), author R.S. Fleming has posted many well-researched articles, including on silk hose, colourful stockings & socks. From this essay, I learned stockings are the longer ones–up to the thighs–and socks the shorter. I decided knee length would be appropriate, a knit style in wool. I was dreading spending too much more money at REI, where I know knee high wool socks are plentiful, but Target is closer and I found both thin and thick versions for half the price.

Wool stockings

I’m leaning more toward wearing the brown boots, but need to have a trial period of walking around the house now that I have the socks!

Dressing up like a Victorian lady

When I first decided to attend the Baltimore Book Festival, I also decided to dress Victorian, the era my series The Luminated Threads is set. I already knew it’d be fun because I put together a steampunk costume for a RWA conference a few years ago.

Dressed as a Steampunk Astronomer

But that was fantasy and easy–I could collect up and wear anything I liked, which I did and won second place in our fantasy chapter’s annual contest. Putting together a Victorian look involves more preparation than going to your local retailer or party supply store, and this time I wanted to be a bit more correct…but not completely correct. I only had the funds to dedicate to what people would see, not the underthings. If you want an entirely correct version of dressing Victorian, please see Victoriana Magazine’s How to Dress 1860s.

Also, I wanted to dress like a character from my 1868 series, but not the heroine. Annmar enters the story wearing a mourning outfit, and one more formal because she works with business clients, drawing advertisements for their steam machines. Because I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt wearer, I chose to dress like the owner of the farm Annmar goes to work for, Mistress Constance Gere:

A woman strode along an avenue created by rows of fruit trees. She was tall, her lean figure dressed in the style Mrs. Rennet wore, a ruffled blouse topped by a suit vest styled for a lady. But unlike Mrs. Rennet, this lady had on a split skirt, the kind worn by women who rode horseback. She would most certainly be holding a sword when she rode—

I’d seen this split skirt online in Historical Emporium. I’ve trolled their site along with other research sites, and they seem the most reasonable and easily accessible, unless you go to a con or DIY. Also because of finances and figuring out what I want to do in the future, I decided to reuse my vest-style corset. The black Brush Twill Riding Pants would work perfectly. Unfortunately, even though I carefully took measurements, the size was too big, so a replacement is on the way. They seemed sturdy and not too long, which was a concern because I am only 5′ 4″.

Historial Emporium Brush Twill Riding pants.The blouse was a simple decision: The Victorian Ladies Blouse in white.

Victorian ladies blouse with stand up collar

The collar is the correct stand up one, the sleeves are nice and full. I like the fabric and the fit.

Boots…my old ones looked and felt great, but the sole cracked after only a half-dozen wearings. I ordered the Victorian Ankle Boot, tried them on–they fit fine–and my husband said, “What are you thinking? You’re going to sprain your ankle. Again.” Uh, right. I do have a issue with weak ankles and lengthy sprain recovery. And getting around any festival or conference is no walk in the park.

Victorian ankle boot

But they’re so cute. sigh.

With a week to go, I was running out of time. I scoured the internet for likely substitutes with Victorian low heel boot and found Payless had something that would do, and in stock locally! I ran over and voila:

Black low heel lace up bootsBrown low heel lace up boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I have a decision to make. The black boots will likely go unnoticed under the black riding pants. However, Mistress Gere is a farm owner and likely to be wearing rougher work boots, the kind Annmar sees the other farmworkers wearing:

“May I borrow a pair of those boots in the back hall?”

“The Wellies?” Mary Clare frowned. “They’d be huge on you. Try my work boots.” In a thrice, she had them off.

Annmar laced the leather boots and stood. These fit better than the ones last night. And walking— “Much less sloppy,” she told a grinning Mary Clare. Her sore feet and the rough ground slipped from Annmar’s mind a few steps into the orchard.

I also envision Mistress Gere needing to carry a few items out to the fields, which would be much easier if she wore a belt and hung things from it…clearly I have more work to do this weekend!

Going to UtopYA?

We’re less than 24 hours from the start of UtopYA, an author-fan con a fellow steampunk author has raved about.

UTOPYA

It’s four days of fun in Nashville, Tenn, an easy drive for me (who likes driving across country–really!) and the focus is on young adult and new adult supernatural and contemporary fiction–right up my alley! But sadly I’d already booked my summer with self-publishing and trying to squeeze in a bit of writing. LOL.

Instead, I’m going in spirit with my friend Nooce Miller. Nooce has spent weeks, not just getting her print book formatted to perfection for the Saturday night author signing, but creating an exciting raffle basket, giveaways and running down the best deal in the midwest for a beautiful banner.

Nooce Miller at UtopYADoesn’t Theo look lovely fullsize, wielding her geared shotgun to protect her airship! It’s Nooce’s first signing as a published author–I’m so excited for her! If you’re traveling to Nashville, pop into the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel and look for Theo’s magenta airship on Saturday, June 20th.

Have fun, Nooce! *waves* Totally enjoy your first signing. 🙂

Thanksgiving = Chessiecon

Over the weekend following Thanksgiving, the mid-Atlantic region is treated to Chessiecon, a science fiction/fantasy con presented by the Thanksgiving Science Fictions Society in Timonium, Maryland.

Chessiecon2014

Sessions on many aspects of SF/F are offered across as many as 12 rooms–art, music, gaming, dance, spiritual, videos, and literature.

But best of all, one of my favorite YA authors, Tamora Pierce, was the Guest of Honor.

T Pierce at Chessiecon

Tamora has attended many of the Darkover (predecessor of Chessiecon) cons since she was Guest of Honor in 2005. The young adult author read from one of the two novels she currently has in progress. The Gift of Power goes back in time from her Wild Magic Books to trace the antics of young Arram Draper as he comes into his wizard powers, before he became known as Numair.

Tamora was asked a some great questions. A few that intrigued me:

What drives the pace of your work?

TP: Quiet. Daily readings with Bruce ( I *think* this is a crit partner). Deadlines. An exciting part of the story. Her health and emotion of the house. Currently, the kittens dropped in her airlock. It does depend on the story–a current WIP about Alana has coem easily after the idea came along.

Where do your ideas come from?

TP: I read a lot, and not just fantasy. I’m reading more science fiction these days. Thrillers, and YA when I can get my hands on it. I’m a news addict–both BBC and American. I get a lot of ideas from non-fiction reading.

You’ve had Alana for 30 years. What’s it like living with these characters?

TP: I don’t know. This is what my life is like.

 

I liked this last answer a lot. I  believe it’s hard for writers to think of their characters as anything but real. And speaking of ‘real people’, I  attended the Diversity in SF/F panel.

Diversity Panel

With Carl Cipra moderating, the panel of D.H. Aire, Heather Rose Jones, Timothy Liebe, and Mary Fan urged writers not to force awkward inclusion, but to think into the characters’ backgrounds to determine who they really are.

The YA Fiction panel addressed a little of the history of the YA genre and how we’ve gotten to today’s offerings.

YA Fiction Panel

With Elektra Hammond moderating, Katherine Kurtz, Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe reviewed their favorites:

Sara Beth Durst’s ICE

Kendare Blake’s ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

Cory Doctorow

Libba Bray’s THE DIVINERS

Tom Pollock’s THE CITY’S SON

Nancy Farmer’s A GIRL NAMED DISASTER

Lauren DeStefano’s WITHER

Howard Steven Pines’ THE WHALE SONG TRANSLATION

D. M. Cornish’s MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO series

 

The con continues Saturday (some activities until midnight!) and Sunday, Nov 29-30, 2014.

Or there is always next year:

Chessiecon2015

Have a great weekend!

My RWA14 Conference Round-up

dklswlhw

What’s it like to attend a conference with 2500 other writers? I can only speak from my experience with the Romance Writers of America National conferences:

Exhilarating, educational and exhausting.

San Antonio, TXThough a week has passed since the latest—the 34th—held in San Antonio, my head is still reeling with new ideas. Most writers leave very inspired to implement learned skills and techniques. Because I followed the conference with visiting relatives, I’ve experienced more of a reflective period. I’ve caught up on sleep and listened to additional recorded workshops—ones I couldn’t get to because so many are offered—and thought about what I heard, rather than diving into writing again.

When I first joined RWA, I attended craft workshops to improve my writing, and career Elevator wrapssessions to learn about the publishing business. Over the last three years, workshops targeted at self-publishing have increased. This summer, many well-known names in independent publishing presented, appeared on panels, or offered question and answer sessions: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Marie Force. Hugh Howey was in attendance. (I’m going to be very embarrassed if he presented and I missed it!) Three authors, Eliza Knight, Angie Fox and Deanna Chase, presented ‘How to Quietly Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing’ to a mid-sized room packed with women in business casual sitting in every seat and on the floor.

I wish I had taken photos of the audiences. Romance writers, including more men than in previous years, are re-thinking their roles in book publishing.

Industry-focused presentations included: ‘What Good is an Agent?’, ‘Is There a Case for Traditional Publishers and Agents?’, ‘Indie Success with No Publishing History’ and ‘The Hybrid Author.’ iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, CreateSpace, ACX and Audible held open houses.

Jennifer Jakes and Kimberly Killian of the Killian Group

Jennifer Jakes and Kimberly Killian of the Killian Group

I can’t even begin to list the workshops on social media and marketing. I took advantage of sessions such as how to vet an independent editor, formatting, developing your brand, and cover design.

Tiffany Yates Martin presenting 'Get It Edited'

Tiffany Yates Martin presenting ‘Get It Edited’

I talked and questioned and listened. In every venue—especially the bar—an excited buzz about publishing strategies lurked. Not just getting an agent, or submitting to an editor, hoping a story would be picked. But how to manage your work in the clouds of digital press.

It’s a growing publishing world out there, writers. And the instruction book is open!

Off to RWA 2014

dklswlhw

The Romance Writers of America National Conference is this week and I’m looking forward to workshops, the trade show, meeting with friends, and especially finding new books.

 

2013 Put Your Heart in a Book Contest

Congratulations to my fellow finalists in the 2013 Put Your Heart in a Book contest! This event for unpublished writers is sponsored by the New Jersey Romance Writers. The winners will be announced at the NJRWA Conference October 18th.

Historical
Sacha Devine – The Ring
Laurie Benson – A Proper Scandal*
Patricia Kratina – The Viscount With a Wicked Wink

Paranormal
Nadine Mutas – Blood, Pain, and Pleasure
Mary Ann Worden – Heart of Atlantis
Laurel Wanrow – The Farm *

Short Contemporary
Leigh Raffaele – Brewed For Love*
Debora Noone w/a Delsora Lowe – The Rancher Needs a Suitable Wife
Catherine Cervantes – One More Time

Single Title
Pamela Gibson – Perfect Balance
Lena Pinto – True Partners*
Catherine Vignolini – Poser

Young Adult
Amy DeLuca – Four Bullets
Caroline Dunsheath – Last Wishes
McCall Hoyle – The Thing With Feathers

*denotes NJRW member

Contest Final!

I’m please to announce The Farm ( now The Unraveling) has finalled in the NJ Romance Writers’ 2013 Put Your Heart In a Book contest! I entered my steampunk fantasy in the Paranormal category back the end of June, and it’s now gone on to final judging. Winners will be announced at the NJRWA Conference October 18th. It’s a great regional conference; if you’re on the east coast, consider attending.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my fellow writers and crit buddies on Critique Circle. I’ve been working on this New Adult genre novel through this online writing forum and have met a number of great writers there. I regularly exchange critiques with a half dozen of them in the private queues, as well as pop into the public queues, and can’t say enough about how these exchanges have helped me to improve my craft. Check out Critique Circle at www. critiquecircle.com

Contents of that very short thank you speech

Every week I notice that someone who found my blog did so via the search words thank you speech. Yep, I had a post back in October when I made one, my first for winning first place in a contest that was announced live at a conference. It’s always a good idea to have something prepared, because it is quite nerve-wracking to stand before a crowed auditorium if you don’t do it much.

But I never said what the speech was. I ran across the little slip of paper the other day in my NJRWA conference materials and decided I better post this so these speech givers–probably as scared as I was–have some additional material to add to their arsenal.

Thank you. I’m honored to be chosen. I’m here with members of my home chapters of Maryland and Washington Romance Writers who have supported me on my writing journey.

The second sentence came directly from my friend and chapter-mate, Laura Welling. Thank you, Laura! After that is was easy. Three sentences. You, of course, should insert your own group–writing or otherwise–in the acknowledgement section.

Good luck!

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