Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last day! Day 12 Happy New Year's Eve

On New Year's Eve, Valerian makes a fateful resolution while he waltzes with Philippa on p. 58

The tradition of making resolutions on the new year is reported to go back to Ancient Babylon in 153 BC. Later, the Romans brought the custom to England as the empire spread throughout Europe. I had some difficulty with the web address, so I didn't post a link for today's news on resolutions. But I thought it was interesting that resolutions have been around for a long time!

Good luck with yours!


11th Day of the Viscountdown: Dec. 30

We're almost there. Since banking plays a large role in the villain's life, I thought I'd focus on the banking system today. Lucien is an investor, and he opens up the Provincial Bank of Truro as the first step in establishing his mining cartel. I had fun learning about 19th century banking in England. What I learned in a nutshell was this:
Noblemen had access to very stable and established banks in London like Coutts, the Bank of London and Childs. But others who didn't have the means to travel to London to bank, relied on county or provincial banks. These banks weren't regulated and often went bankrupt. The bank managers in these cases often used the money put in the banks to back investments and if those investments didn't pay off, funds were lost and not replaced.
To read more about banking options, check out this link:

10th Day of the Viscountdown! St. Piran's Day

It's Dec. 29, just a few days to go until The Viscount Claims His Bride hits bookshelves.

To celebrate, this entry looks at St. Piran's Day. On page 166, Valerian and Philippa go down to the village to celebrate St. Piran's Day, a Cornish holiday among miners. St. Piran is believed to be the Saint of mining and miners in Cornwall. The day is filled with fair booths, games for the children, contests for the men, local folk food and dancing in the evening featuring Cornish style dances like furries and scoots. To read more about St. Piran, check out this link:

The image posted on the righthand side is the St. Piran's flag!

see you tomorrow


Sunday, December 28, 2008

9th day of the Viscountdown!: What is the Eastern Question?

One question I asked myself as I began plotting the book was "what happened after the Napoleonic Wars?" Sure, there was the Vienna Conferences and all that, but surely foreign policy didn't stop in the 1820s. The answer to my question was that Britain devoted to their interests on the European Continent, primarily in the eastern region because it was so unstable in the wake of Napoleon's defeat. Kingdoms were restructured, some were even eliminated, and there was a strong nationalist movement throughout the continent.
The Eastern Question focused on what the west was going to do about an unstable eastern European arena plus and unstable Turkey in the face an empire minded Russia. The balance of power in Europe made this an important consideration in order to avoid another Napoleon. Also, it was important because the Eastern theatre represented a huge economic opportunity as well as the avenue for lucrative trade routes into Asia Minor and India.
Britain's largest concern was figuring out how to protect their access to the Dardanelle Straits in Turkey. Valerian is heavily involved in this effort during his years abroad.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

8th day of the Viscountdown!: The Language Koine

Valerian is a dab hand at languages and his two wards, Lilya and Constantine, speak a language called Koine. You can find the reference to Koine on page 215. Koine was the language of the Phanariots. Koine rose in the 4 and 5th centuries around Macedonia and became a regional 'super dialect' for business and trade. Koine also influenced 'New Greek.' I didn't post a link today because most of my information about Koine was contained within articles that dealt with other issues as well. However, for a quick review of Koine, there's a decent write up on wikipedia (which is not one of my preferred sources of info in general).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day 7 of the viscountdown: The Uprising in Negush

Welcome back from the holidays. Here's part II of the Phanariot bit. The Phanariots were eager to break away from Ottoman rule and in 1822 their rebellion surged in the province of Negush.
The uprising found some success and spread to neighboring areas but ultimately was squashed by the Ottomans. Valerian was involved in the rebellion and several references are made to this event in the second half of the book.

Apparently, not much is known about the uprising, which makes it perfect for the story. If you to read more about Negush uprising, check out this link:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 5 of the Viscountdown! Dec.24th

Merry Christmas Eve! Today's viscountdown factoid is about the Phanariots. This is part one of two items I'll mention here about the Phanariots. First, what is a 'Phanariot?' The Phanariots were a group of powerful Christians living in the Ottoman Empire. They often held government positions, controlled business and trade. Many were wealthy and involved in shipping. At one time in the early 19th century, the Phanariots were responsible for controlling 600 ships between the Black Sea and Venice. However, some Phanariots were interested in breaking away from Turkish rule and establishing their own powerful Christian State.

During Valerian's time abroad, he worked with the Phanariots. At first, Britain was sympathetic to the 'idea' of the Phanariots' cause, but later as it became apparent that a strong Christian state in the east would create issues for Turkey that boded ill for British water rights and a British passage to India, Britain changed sides. The second half of the book, deals with Valerian's involvement in that switch and how it led to tarnishing his love of diplomacy. Today's link is a chance to read more about the Phanariots and their role in the Eastern Question. I'll be taking the 25th off for Christmas, but the link on the 26th, will be about the Uprising in Negush so stay tuned! Learn more about the Phanariots!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day 4 of the Viscountdown!: The Bickford Fuse

On p. 185 in Chapter 14, Valerian and Phillippa and her brother, Beldon, have a dinner conversation about a man named Bickford who is patenting a new kind of fuse for blasting in the mines. Valerian and Beldon decide to ride over the next day and talk with him about his invention. The Bickford fuse was a big step forward for mining safety since it took away a significant amount of risk miners faced when lighting the traditional reed fuses.

Bickford did exist, he did craft this fuse and did design his own production line for mass producing that fuse in the 1830s. If you're interested in reading about this piece of Cornish mining history, try this link:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Day 3 of the Viscountdown! Trist House

Welcome to Day 3 of the Viscountdown! Today is all about Trist House where one of the chapters is set. On p. 75 in the book, Lucien suggests that Valerian would enjoy a visit to Trist House to see the new landscaping being done.

Trist House is located in Veryan, very close to Truro and it was indeed renovated at that time by Samuel Trist, who wanted to improve the lands. Many of the items mentioned in the chapter as being 'plans in progress' for the landscaping did actually come to pass. Estimates guess that 1,000 pounds were spent on the landscaping renovations.

If you want to read more about Trist House, try this short but informative link

Have a great day and stay warm!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 2 of the Viscountdown! The Chusan Palm

on Page 154, Valerian is re-planting a Chusan Palm he'd sent back from his travels in Italy. The story of the Chusan palm is an interesting one. It's origins actually date back to the Chusan Island in China and it grew on high mountain tops as well as thrived in warmer Meditteranean climates. If you'd like to read about the history and care of a Chusan Palm, this website is extremely informative: I've also included a photograph taken in Cornwall of Chusan plams.

Also of interest is the history of the palm in Britain. I took a little liberty here. The Chusan Palm doesn't show up in Britain until 1849 thanks to the efforts of Robert Fortune who brings some seeds to Victoria and Albert for planting in the gardens at Kew. I decided Valerian would beat him to it, after all, the Chusan or fan palm was popular in Italian gardens and it was becoming a common practice for British citizens abroad to bring home exotic items. It is generally held that as the British Empire expanded, more and more exotic items found their way to Britain. If you'd like to read more about the spread of the Chusan palm to Britain, this website proved helpful.

Finally, the reference that Valerian is in Italy gave me the idea for the Undone Short, "Pleasured By the English Spy," due out later in spring 2009 (although it's obviously a prequel to the Viscount Claims His Bride since it focuses on Valerian's years abroad). When is Val in Italy? For the marriage of his friend (the Hero in Pleasured by the English Spy) Andrew Truesdale. I think it's fun to read the Undone Short and say "hey, I bet that's when Valerian picks up the palm!

Today, Italy is one of Europe's primary growing places for the Chusan palm. Hope you enjoyed this foray into horticulture!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays! The Viscount Countdown is on!

As of December 20th, it's just twelve days until 'The Viscount Claims His Bride" hits bookstores on January 1, 2009. Here's my version of the 'twelve days' of Christmas--twelve links, one each day, that relate to scenes and information used in the Viscount. Our very own Viscountdown, if you will.

Here's day 1: The geography and weather of Cornwall. I'm in the Seattle area and we've been doused with a beautiful round of snow that has the kids out early for Christmas break. They've been out for three days now and the roads have been far too slick to drive on and it's been extra cold. BUT, Cornwall is actually a bit more temperate than Seattle or most of England during the winter months. Spring comes much earlier to the Cornwall region and fall sticks around a bit longer than it does in other parts of England. (That's not to say Cornwall doesn't get cold, because it certainly does) In the book on p. 90-92 there's a fun scene where Valerian makes a wager about the weather. If you want to read more about the weather and unique geography of Cornwall, check out this link.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pleasured by the English Spy

My next e-book for the Undone Shorts officially has its own title now: Pleasured by the English Spy. Ohhhh that title sounds so great! I can hardly wait to see the cover. I just finished the "Dear Reader" letter for it this morning. The short features Valerian Inglemoore's friend from Libertine Lord, Pickpocket Miss, Andrew Truesdale. He's off to Italy to see if there's any substance to an independence movement being planned. If so, he's to squelch it. His efforts lead him to a villa in the hills overlooking Florence and into the arms of the lovely Olivia. Val and Camden Mathison from Libertine Lord Pickpocket Miss make an appearance at the end for the romantic wedding in San Lorenzo church!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy December! 4 star review for The Viscount Claims His Bride

The Viscount Claims His Bride earned a 4 star review in the Dec. Romantic Times. This is great news. The book comes out Jan. 1, so we still have waiting time until it's on the shelves, but definitely get it on your reading lists!.