Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Joys of a Victorian Christmas by Tara Kingston

Welcome back to History Undressed, guest author and my good friend, Tara Kingston! (Okay, and I must plug this! Tara and I have an anthology releasing in print together on January 9th! PIRATE'S PAST has her tale, Claimed by the Captain and my tale, A Pirate's Bounty!) Today Tara's giving us a taste of Christmas during the Victorian era. Leave a comment for your chance to win an ecopy of CLAIMED BY THE CAPTAIN! Happy Holidays!

 
The Joys of a Victorian Christmas

By
Tara Kingston


Trimming the Christmas tree is a favorite tradition in my family. Every year, I relish the chance to reflect on cherished memories triggered by ornaments that have a sentimental place in my heart and add to my ornament collection with new and beautiful acquisitions that will someday become treasured favorites. I can’t imagine Christmas without a beautiful tree. Without the influence of the Victorians, decorated Christmas trees as well as many other holiday favorites  might never have become beloved traditions.

Victorian Christmas traditions were centered around the family. Of these enduring celebrations, perhaps the most beloved is the Christmas tree. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert,  brought the custom of a decorated Christmas tree from his German homeland. Not long after his marriage to Victoria, Prince Albert had the first Christmas tree displayed in Windsor Castle in 1841. Several years later, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children celebrating the holiday with a Christmas tree, and soon thereafter, families throughout England boasted a decorated tree during the Christmas season.

Many other popular Christmas traditions became popular during Victoria’s reign. Some of these include:

* Christmas Cards ~ the combination of the halfpenny postage rate, which allowed a letter or card to be mailed throughout England inexpensively, and the advances in affordable color printing technology brought Christmas cards to popularity. By 1880, more than eleven million cards were produced each year.

* Exchanging Christmas Presents ~ The giving of small gifts at New Year’s shifted to become a central part of the Victorian holiday tradition. Gifts were given and placed under the tree in anticipation of the holiday.

* Christmas Carols ~ Yet another Victorian tradition, the singing of favorite holiday songs (which were at the time new and popular hits) to mark the holiday season emerged during this era, as did the custom of traveling in groups from house to house to joyously sing Christmas carols.

* Christmas Vacation ~ During the Victorian era, middle class families began the tradition of taking time off from work to spend with their families.

* Mistletoe ~ Who can resist a kiss beneath the mistletoe? This girl certainly can’t! What a lovely holiday tradition!

These are just a few of the more popular Victorian holiday traditions that continue to endure today. In the spirit of gift giving, I’ll be giving away a copy of Claimed by the Captain to one commenter. Simply tell us which holiday tradition is your favorite and why…it does NOT need to be one of these five. Many more Victorian traditions remain popular favorites. What are some of your favorite traditions?

I’d also love your friendship this holiday season. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, or stop by my blog or webpage.

Merry Christmas! May you have a wonderful holiday season!






Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Scottish Christmas by Sky Purrington

Today I'm excited to welcome guest author Sky Purrington to History Undresed! She has a special holiday treat for us--a bit of history on Christmas in Scotland. Enjoy and happy holidays!


A Scottish Christmas
by Sky Purrington

Hi Everyone! I’m thrilled to be visiting Eliza Knight’s, History Undressed blog. I hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday season so far. It’s hard to believe that Santa will be coming down the ol’ chimney in a few short days.
For those of you unfamiliar, I write a cross genre of paranormal and fantasy romance. While I have titles covering everything from vampires to ghost hunters, by far my favorite works include those written about time-traveling Highlanders. Like Eliza, I’m crazy about history, especially Scottish history. I suppose that’s why I can’t sit still in one time period.
Before I go any further I’d like to host a Christmas contest. One lucky commenter will win an E-bundle of my ‘The MacLomain Series’ This includes one short story and three full novels. Prize will be either offered in E-book fashion or can be ‘gifted’ straight to your Amazon Kindle.
I thought for this visit to keep in Yuletide form and share some age old Scottish Christmas history and traditions. When I did a little extra research for this blog post I discovered something interesting, and a little sad.
Christmas was banned in Scotland for FOUR HUNDRED years!
According to Rampant Scotland.com , “After the Church Reformation in the 16th century, the celebration of Christmas was frowned on by the Kirk, which regarded it as a "Popish festival". Mass was banned in Scotland at that time and "Christmas" or "Christ's Mass" was included in that. There are records of charges being brought against people for keeping "Yule" as it was called in Scotland. Amazingly, this dour, joy-crushing attitude lasted for 400 years. Until the 1960s, Christmas Day was a normal working day for most people in Scotland.”
Oh, religion does have a way of changing the rules on occasion, doesn’t it? In the MacLomain Series, my Highlanders accept both the old pagan ways as well as embrace the new God so there’s no stress in my medieval clan! Then again, they’re wizards. I suppose magic helps smooth things out. *winks*
So let’s talk first about pre-400 years of no Christmas. Those were the glorious days when the Yuletide celebrations lasted from December 25th to January 6th. The Scots word "Yule" comes from the Old Norse "jól, which was a midwinter pagan celebration of the winter solstice.
Believe it or not, the celebrations are the direct results of the Vikings when they first came to Scotland. They were all about celebrating conquest and plunder. However, their original version of this mid-winter festival lasted a whopping twenty-four days. Yep, those boys knew how to party! Naturally, the overindulgence launched a mammoth feast on the eve of Yule.
According to Friends of Scotland.gov.uk, “The Vikings stuffed their faces with vast quantities of food and drink after which they stumbled off into the winter night to light a huge bonfire in the goddess’ honour. Today, fire and light plays a major part in Yule celebrations in many areas of Scotland from Biggar to Shetland.
When William of Normandy conquered England in 1066 the English Princess Margaret fled north and was shipwrecked on the Scottish coast. Her Christian influence helped turn the previously pagan Yuletide season into a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.”
Some fun facts…
~Many ancient superstitions and rites held significance for Scots during the Middle Ages. For example, decorating houses with evergreen trees and mistletoe. Our modern trees are newer versions of this ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represented a celebration of the renewal of life, while Celtic peoples long considered mistletoe to have magic powers. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility.
~In Scotland a sprig of mistletoe continues to be hung from ceilings and in doorways to bring luck and ward off evil spirits. Kisses are welcome too!
~Christmas cards are said to have been invented in Edinburgh, Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century.
The history of Christmas in Scotland is rich and closely tied with many of the traditions of England, especially in more modern times. But some are unique to Scotland. Many households decorate their evergreen (particularly holly) with strips of their tartan. Also, it’s a ‘must’ to have a short bread on your holiday table, whether it be Scottish Black Pun, Dundee Cake, Scottish Shortbread (bannock) or Maisie Magennis Dumpling.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Scotland at Christmas, History Undressed. Though Christmas wasn’t directly at the heart of it, I spent several years researching and writing about Scotland. To this day, no country has touched my heart like she has. If you enjoy Scottish time-travel, my ‘The MacLomain Series’ is currently being offered at .99 CENTS PER NOVEL for a limited time. Though The King’s Druidess (shorter tale) leads out the pack, I thought to share the blurb from Fate’s Monolith (The MacLomain Series- Book 1).
Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday Season!
Best Regards,
Sky
A bit about Fate’s Monolith
Arianna Broun, a Scottish born colonial American has been haunted by the reoccurring dream of a phantom Scottish warrior. Her infatuation with the dream intensifies until All Hallows' Eve, when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. After several bizarre encounters she runs to her safe haven deep in the woods. When dawn comes too early, Arianna is eager to go home. But fate has other plans.
Laird Iain MacLomain has long awaited the arrival of his promised bride. She claims to not be the woman intended for him but she fits the description given him of her, all fire and defiance. That defiance will end up costing them everything and rips them apart. However, a Scottish Chieftain with magic at his disposal is capable of most anything. Will he hold Arianna in his arms again or is she lost to him forever? Only time will tell.
The MacLomain Series is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Learn more about Sky Purington at her Website 



Monday, December 19, 2011

LADY SEDUCTRESS'S BALL Release Day and Blog Postings

Happy Monday! Less than a week until Christmas! But one of my gifts has come early, and that is the release of my novella, LADY SEDUTRESS’S BALL, a Regency erotic romance, with Carina Press!


In celebration of my release today, I’m blogging at Fresh Fiction on how I think cookies are a lot like books J Stop by and visit! (and enter for a chance to win a copy of LADY SEDUCTRESS’S BALL!) http://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=3844 And I will be blogging at several other places this week as well!


Tuesday:
Wednesday:
Thursday:


Lots of chances to win prizes!


Blurb:


Invitation to Pleasure


As the wife of the elderly Earl of March, Olivia Covington has never known the intimacies of the bedroom. Though her curiosity is piqued by the shocking whispers of society ladies, she is too wary of causing scandal to indulge in an affair. But Tristan Knightley, Earl of Newcastle, tempts her to throw off propriety.


Tristan wants Olivia for his own, and has sworn off all others until he can rid himself of the obsession. He is sure once he has a taste, he will tire of her, and can return to his rakish existence. Unable to wait to have her in his bed, he invites her for a tryst at Lady Seductress's Ball...


24,000 words


LADY SEDUCTRESS’S BALL has already gotten great reviews! Click here to read 9 reviews, averaging 4/5 Stars: http://bit.ly/uslJNe


Carina Buy Link: http://bit.ly/rs3v8f ($2.69)
Amazon: http://amzn.to/uNxWQl ($2.99)
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/sHY6z1 ($2.99)
Apple: http://bit.ly/uGoIaJ ($2.99)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Have a Nook? Need a Cheap/Free Read?

Do you have a Nook? Looking for a book to read? An awesome new website featuring daily deals--cheap reads, free reads and even books to splurge on!  Got quite a few historicals up there this week! Check it out! http://www.nooklovers.com


Cheers,
Eliza

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Searching for Camelot in the Dark Ages by Persia Woolley

Today I am pleased to introduce you to historical author, Persia Woolley, author of the Guinevere Triology, which Sourcebooks Landmark has re-issued (originally written in the 1980's). Leave a comment to win a paperback copy of Guinevere, the Legend in Autumn  ! (1 winner/US & Canada only) Enjoy!






SEARCHING FOR CAMELOT IN THE DARK AGES BRITAIN
by Persia Woolley



What a pleasure it is to write for the History Undressed readers!



When I set out to do a realistic, historically accurate version of Camelot, told in first person by Guinevere, I figured it would mean about six months of research and six of writing. My first two books--both non-fiction--had taken that long so I thought a novel would also. Instead I spent 11 years researching and writing the Guinevere Trilogy and loved every moment of it.



It began in 1980 with a lot of reading and included four trips to Britain, all of them managed on a shoestring. My itinerary was a blend of where I needed to go for the story and how far away the nearest hostel was. Whenever possible the different stories are set in their legendary domains--Gawain goes into the Wirral to meet his fate with the Green Man and Igraine has her life-changing encounter with Uther at Tintagel. But where stories could not be geographically placed I spread them out all over Britain as Arthur and Gwen would have made regular progresses throughout the realm, cementing alliances, checking crops and assessing defenses.



My longest trip lasted four weeks and extended from London up to Hadrian's Wall then slowly down to Old Sarum. It was at that ancient chalk hillfort that a widow who walked her dog there twice a day pointed out that in Gwen's time there wouldn't have been a single strand of ivy allowed to grow on the steep sides of the bank-and-ditch, lest it give marauders a handhold for launching an attack. As a result the white chalk mound would have been visible for many miles, rising up out of the plain. That description and setting was reason enough for me to move the wedding from Winchester to Sarum.



The shortest trip came after I'd spent a week on a journalists junket between Glasgow and Edinburgh. We were wined and dined every night but as my compatriots were winging back to the States I was extending my ticket for another week, trading my professional clothes for wool pants and parka and running for the last bus to Carlisle in the rain!



On those trips my wardrobe was strictly functional (pants, shirt and sweater) as everything had fit in my backpack. Hostels are only open at night, so my days were spent climbing over Roman ruins and Celtic hillforts, poking about small museums or working my way along Hadrian's Wall. The discovery of a hermit's cave near Warkworth Castle fit so well with Lance's spiritual nature, it was logical to make that charming spot Joyous Gard.

 

The people were wonderfully friendly, and I'm much indebted to the cleaning lady who talked about a Neolithic site near Threlkeld Knotts where people occasionally lived into the Dark Ages. Or the bus driver who explained that what I was looking for on the River Eden could be found down the path behind the farm we were just coming up to. He let me off with the understanding that when he came back in 45 minutes he'd pick me up again if he could see me coming toward the road; otherwise I'd have to hike back to the nearest town on my own.



By the end of the project I had hauled or sent home roughly 1,000 books, maps, pamphlets and handouts from museums that covered everything from flora and fauna to how to hang wild game, most of which requires a number of days to become edible by humans. Added to that were all the books bought here in the States, often from obscure catalogs which carried very scholarly texts on arcane subjects.



Probably the most unique publication in my bedside reading was the thesis of a student tracing the patterns of taxation by both the Romans and the Saxons on the wagons carrying salt to the interior of the island. The student reasoned that if the people in 650 A.D. had the same taxation hubs as those in 400 A.D. one could surmise that the routes had been at least partially open through the intervening years.



From there it was an easy step to having Arthur and Gwen discuss how to get the locals to keep the roads cleared in return for the safe delivery of the salt they needed.



I sometimes joke that I'm a frustrated architect who only writes novels because I can make a living at it. That is true as far as it goes, though the living is often as much feathers as fowl. But the lure of houses, barns, forts, holy places and town layouts inevitably creeps into my work.



It's one of the reasons I made my Gwen a northern Celt who has to go south to marry that king, whether she wants to or not. Not only would Arthur have picked a bride from among the tribes whose rebellion he'd crushed, I as the author wanted her to be an outsider so she sees everything with fresh eyes and notes it for the reader.


Coming from the north she would have grown up with  wattle-and-daub round houses as well as crannogs (houses built over water) on lakes in southern Scotland. And she would have heard about the brochs of Gawain's home turf. The deserted Roman buildings would have been usable and often their locations are phenomenal, such as those at Ravenglass or Hardknott Pass.



Evidence of these structures is generally found in archaeological reports and sometimes on the Ordinance Survey maps of Britain. Whenever possible I went to sites that were being developed by experimental archaeologists, such as Butser Farm in Hampshire which had an example of the Celtic roundhouse. I see on the net that it's been moved, but am sure wherever it is, there are birds still nesting in its thatch.  



There was also the Saxon settlement of West Stowe. I well remember that gray and dripping day, and expensive cab fare--without a car one has to hire a fellow for several hours so he will wait and bring you back to public transportation. Compared to the ease with which one can call both places up on computers nowadays, I can't help feeling both primitive and antiquated! But I got to sit in those buildings, to watch the way the shadows fell and stare at the ceilings, the eaves, the trenches dug to drain the rain away...you just can't do that on your computer!



Now, with Google Earth and Wikipedia and every town's tourist board touting their local attractions, it feels as if one might do the research without ever leaving home. But nothing can replace actually standing where your characters did, be that on the wall around Chester or the headland of Tintagel or the top of the Tor at Glastonbury. To smell that wind, to squint into that sunset, to watch a flock of starlings bank and sweep across that sky is one of the great perks of writing historical fiction...at least for me, and I suspect every other such novelist.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Persia Woolley is the author of the Guinevere Trilogy: Child of the Northern Spring, Queen of the Summer Stars, and Guinevere: the Legend in Autumn, as well as How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction. She lives in Northern California. 

Visit the author:



ABOUT THE BOOK
Guinevere, the Legend in Autumn by Persia Woolley (Historical Fiction)

The conclusion to a celebrated Arthurian trilogy based on more than a decade of research, Guinevere, the Legend in Autumn is a startlingly original recreation of the tale of Arthur and Guinevere, seen from the perspective of a likeable, realistic Guinevere, a Queen who deserves to become a legend.

Surrounded by traitors, trapped by destiny, Britain's spirited Queen Guinevere recounts the last, dramatic years of Camelot. At King Arthur's side, she reigned over the fabled heroes of the Round Table as her heartbreaking honesty, courage, and integrity were challenged by those she loved most. Torn between duty and desire as he rescued his Queen, condemned to the stake for treason, Lancelot swept her away as she bartered her soul to save Arthur and Camelot from the furies of fate. This is Arthurian epic at its best–filled with romance, adventure, authentic Dark Ages detail, and wonderfully human people.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yes, Dear Reader, There is a Santa Claus by Victoria Gray

Yes, Dear Reader, There is a Santa Claus

By Victoria Gray

I indulge in a love affair every year at Christmas time with an older man who has a bit of a weight problem and truly never heard of the Atkins diet, but he’s a flashy dresser with an even flashier means of transportation. He’s generous, possibly to a fault, and I don’t usually go for a big, ZZ-Top style beard, but he’s the exception. My home is filled with images of this man – his face is even on my Christmas ornaments. My husband doesn’t mind my interest. He’s not in the least bit jealous. In fact, my darling husband, a man who reminds me more than a little bit of Clark Griswold, searched Ebay to find an old, somewhat cheesy plastic rendering of him that was first crafted in the sixties. So, who is this mystery man?

You guessed it – Santa Claus, that jolly resident of the North Pole who now attracts NORAD’s interest every Christmas Eve. Long before Santa’s sleigh was tracked on radar, Santa became an indelible part of American culture. A century before Macy’s Thanksgiving parade ushered in the Christmas season, the poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas introduced the image of Santa Claus that many Americans cherish. From the young toddler sitting on Santa’s lap to the homeowner competing with his neighbor to have the grandest light display in the neighborhood, the image of a jolly old man with a white beard, red suit, and reindeer at the ready brings to mind the joy and warmth of Christmas.

Amazingly, Santa’s image became a vital part of America’s Christmas tradition during the Civil War. Cartoonist Thomas Nast’s portrayal of Santa on the cover of the January 3, 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly depicted Santa seated on his sleigh, complete with hat and beard,  presenting gifts to Union soldiers on the battlefield. Three decades later, an eight-year-old girl, Virginia O’Hanlon, wrote a letter to the New York Sun that spawned one of the most famous editorials in history, Francis Church’s response. Church, a former Civil War correspondent who’d seen man’s inhumanity to man in vivid terms, responded with the immortal line, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His touching, philosophical response viewed the existence of Santa in terms of love and goodness and giving.

One of my most enduring images of Santa emerged from the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street. The classic film charmed generations. Remade decades later, the premise was the same – Santa is real, if only in our hearts. What a lovely message to remember during the holiday season.

What images bring Christmas to mind most vividly for you? Does mistletoe bring back memories of a treasured kiss, or would cookies for Santa stir memories of Christmas past? What signs of Christmas touch your heart?

*~*~*~*


Leave a comment for a chance to win my new release, Surrender to Your Touch. One commenter will be chosen to win a free pdf of the novel.
Surrender to Your Touch is available from Amazon.com: E-book or Print,

and

The Wild Rose Press:  E-book and Print

I hope readers will stop by my website and my blog, www.victoriagrayromance.com ; www.victoriagrayromance.blogspot.com.

I’d love for you to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Darcy for Everyone!

I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and JA Fan-fic, so I thought I'd pass along this email I received from Sourcebooks! 

Cheers and Happy Birthday Jane!

*****

A Darcy for Everyone! Sourcebooks Celebrates Jane Austen’s Birthday!
From Tuesday December 13th – Friday December 30th the following eBooks will be priced at $1.99 at all online e-tailers. Whether you like Darcy as a tortured vampire, a modern day rock star, a Texas rancher or anything and everything in between! There truly is a Darcy for everyone!
A Darcy Christmas – Carolyn Eberhart, Sharon Lathan and Amanda Grange
Darcys & the Bingleys – Marsha Altman
Darcy’s Voyage – Kara Louise
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star – Heather Lynn Rigaud
The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice – Abigail Reynolds
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One – Sharon Lathan
Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard – Belinda Roberts
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife – Linda Berdoll
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre – Amanda Grange
Pemberley Chronicles – Rebecca Ann Collins
Pemberley Ranch – Jack Caldwell
Searching for Pemberley – Mary Lydon Simonsen
Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy – Sara Angelini
Darcy and Fitzwilliam – Karen V. Wasylowski
You can find all of the titles and information here:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Colin Falconer Introduces His Novel: HAREM

Welcome back to History Undresesd today, Colin Falconer! Today he's talking with us about a bit of fascinating history behind his re-release, HAREM. Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of HAREM.  Enjoy!


HARĒM
History Undressed
by
Colin Falconer


The word 'Harēm' conjures an element of fantasy for most people; of women in gauzy veils draped languorously beside steam baths against a background of incense and marble. A cross between a high class bordello and a spa resort.
 
 
Most men are disappointed to learn that the Ottoman harēm was in fact run by the Sultan's mother.
 
 
She had assumed the title of 'Valide Sultan' upon her son's ascension and thus became the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire. It was the ultimate achievement for a former concubine and slave. She was now head of a palace that had once been her prison, and also wielded enormous influence over her son's political decisions and by extension the Empire that had enslaved her.
 
 
She also regulated the relations between him and his wives and children.
 
 
Do I dare say it? This caused friction.
 
 
Far from the indolent massage parlour of male fantasy, the harēm was in fact a hotbed of intrigue and ambition. All the women were in competition with each other; and every one of them wanted to be the next Valide.
The Sultan was allowed just four principal favourites but an unlimited number of concubines. Far fewer Sultans took advantage of this arrangement than you might think. Most Sultans preferred their favourites to a different girl every night.
 
 
The Australian actor Jack Thompson perhaps explained the reason for this best. He lived with many years with twin sisters. Many men seemed to think this was an ideal arrangement and one reporter questioned him about it. Jack answered: 'You know what it's like coming home after a night out and having to face one woman? Well imagine having to face two.'
 
 
The rank and file concubines were chosen for their exceptional beauty and intelligence. Inside the world of the harēm they were considered the contemporary equivalent to a 'one night stand.' Should she be chosen for this honour and fail to arouse sufficient interest during the encounter, she might never see the Sultan again. But if she was asked back repeatedly she became an iqbal, a favourite.
 
 
But pleasing the Sultan was only part of it; it was also essential to get pregnant with a male child so that she could become one of the Sultan's 'wives'. Then, although technically still a slave herself, she was given her own apartments, slaves, and eunuchs.
 
 
She could now one day become the most powerful woman in the Empire - or finish her days in a weighted sack at the bottom of the Bosphorus.
 
 
But the concubines and kadins were only half the story. Eunuchs were the integral other half of the harēm. There is a myth that once a man has been castrated he loses his desire for women. Sadly, from my research, I learned that this is apparently not the case. It must have been truly torturous for these men to be surrounded by naked and exquisitely beautiful women and still retain their yearning.
 
 
There were two sets of eunuchs; the white eunuchs came from the conquered Christian areas of Georgia, and Armenia, or as prisoners of war from Hungary and Germany. They were only partly castrated.
 
 
(Imagine what happens in lambing season - it was like that.)
 
 
The black eunuchs however were completely 'shaven'. Most of these operations were performed at a Coptic monastery in Egypt. The boys were brought there from the Sudan as young boys. Their average age was eight. The survival rate was ten per cent.
 
 
Enough said.
 
 
Should a eunuch survive this procedure and rise to become the Chief Black Eunuch he would then find himself the third highest-ranking officer of the empire, after the Sultan and the Grand Vizier and functioned as the private messenger between the Sultan and his mother. It was also his appointed task to lead a new odalisque to the Sultan's bedchamber, and was the only "man" who could enter the harēm should there be any nocturnal emergencies.
 
 
Being in control of the Harēm and head of a net of spies in his fellow Black Eunuchs, he was deeply involved in almost every palace intrigue and these men even gained power over the Vizier and the Sultan himself.
 
 
The Chief White Eunuch was the head of the harēm bureaucracy and was supposed to have no contact with the harēm women, but this was not always the case in practice. As they were not completely 'shaven', they sometimes retained the ability to satisfy a lonely harēm  girl. A few years after Suleiman's death they were banned from the Harēm completely as too many of the girls were falling pregnant without the Sultan's assistance.
 
 
Far from being the fantasy place of nineteenth century art, the harēm was in fact a sad and lonely place of intrigue and deadly spite. For young women it must have been a terrible and dolorous place.
 
 
But oh, let me tell you; it was just a fantastic background for a novel!
 
 
COLIN FALCONER is the author of WHEN WE WERE GODS, ANASTASIA and many other books of historical fiction. His work has been translated into seventeen languages. His latest novel SILK ROAD, was published in London last month by Corvus-Atlantic.
 
 
 
 
 
 





Thursday, December 8, 2011

Video of the Week! Horrible Histories -- The Tudors Song

Okay, yes by now you must realize I am a Horrible Histories junkie! I love these videos!  Enjoy :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Callie Hutton Presents an Early 20th Century Interview with her Characters

Today History Undressed would like to welcome guest author Callie Hatton, who has written up a special interview with her hero and heroine from A Wife by Christmas!

August 11, 1906: The Guthrie Sentinel, New Community News, Page Two


The Guthrie Sentinel is proud to introduce our readers to Mr. Max Colbert, the new Principal of the Logan County High School.


Reporter: The former principal, Mr. David Robinson, had been in that position for quite some time. Do you anticipate making changes now that you’ve taken on the job?


Mr. Colbert: I have gone through files Mr. Robinson left behind, and spoken to several teachers. It does appear some changes are needed, particularly with the staff.


Reporter: Will you be letting some teachers go?  Is that the changes you anticipate?


Mr. Colbert: Not at all. I’m re-thinking our list of acceptable teacher activities. Several pursuits do not reflect well on the teaching community. It is important that we represent ourselves with dignity and decorum.


Reporter: Are there any activities in particular you would like to see abandoned by your teachers?



Mr. Colbert:  One of our teachers is actively involved in Women’s Rights’ movements, which is totally inappropriate for a teacher of young minds. There are other things as well, which we’ll deal with one at a time.


Reporter: Do you anticipate any problems with the changes you plan?


Mr. Colbert: Not at all. I’m sure all the teachers will be happy to have a strong leader guiding them, and encouraging them to put forth their best efforts both in and outside of the classroom.



Reporter: Well, we certainly wish you well in your endeavor.  Thank you for joining us today.


Mr. Colbert:  Thank you.  I look forward to a productive year.



August 11, 1906: The Guthrie Sentinel, Spotlight on Our Citizens, Page Three:


Today we interview Miss Ellie Henderson, History teacher at Logan County High School, and spokeswoman for Guthrie branch of The Women’s Rights Movement.


Reporter: Miss Henderson, how does your activities with the Movement fit with your job as teacher?


Miss Henderson: Quite well, actually. Our Principal, Mr. Robinson, is very supportive of our activities. He encourages us to think for ourselves and embrace whatever causes we see fit.


Reporter: Are you aware that Mr. Robinson has retired from his position at the high school?

Miss Henderson:  I heard rumors to that effect at the end of last term, but I don’t think it will make any difference to our Movement.


Reporter: Suppose your new principal is not supportive of your activities?


Miss Henderson:  I don’t see that as a problem, sir. I’m sure our new principal will be just as accommodating as Mr. Robinson has always been. Men are much more enlightened in the new century.


Reporter:  If any of our readers wish to join your organization, where can they find you?


Miss Henderson: We meet every Tuesday at the Library at eight o’clock. We welcome all those interested.


Reporter: Well, we certainly wish you well with the Movement, and your teaching career. Thank you for joining us today.


Miss Henderson:  Thank you. I look forward to another year of instructing young people and opening their minds to the benefits of equal rights.

~~~~~~~~~~


Max Colbert and Ellie Henderson are about to start the school year. By December, sparks are flying. Will they resolve their differences? Or has the school become a battle ground between two stubborn combatants?

A Wife By Christmas, available now from Soul Mate Publishing will answer those questions.  www.soulmatepublishing.com

Visit my website: www.calliehutton.com for more information on the book, which is a sequel to A Run For Love, also from Soul Mate Publishing and available now.


Excerpt:

Guthrie, OK
November, 1906

            Max Colbert glared at the woman perched on the edge of the chair across from him.  History teacher Ellie Henderson had been a thorn in his side the size of the Oklahoma sky ever since he’d been appointed principal of Logan County High School three months ago.

            She sat there, humming. Humming! His gut twisted and he clenched his jaw.  Drat the woman for being so unconcerned while he fumed.  It was important to get his emotions under control, needed his years of experience to kick in.  He took a deep breath and leaned forward.

            “Miss Henderson, your unapproved activities have gone too far. I am going to have to fire you.”
            Ellie’s right eyebrow rose, meeting him glare for glare. “No. You can’t.”
            “Yes I can, and I am.” Blood rushed to his face.
            She stood and placed both palms on his desk, and leaned in. “I will tell my Uncle Jesse.”
            Max pushed his chair back and got to his feet. He moved close enough to see the light dusting of freckles across her nose. “It won’t make any difference.”
            “It will if you plan to be Territorial Superintendent of Schools.” They were now almost nose-to-nose.
            Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. “I will get that job on my own merit.”
Not without Senator Jesse Cochran’s endorsement.”  Her hazel eyes narrowed.
His jaw tightened, his mouth working as if to say something. Then like a rag doll, he collapsed into his seat and leaned back, eyes closed. “Miss Henderson, you are a pebble in my shoe.”
            “And you, Mr. Colbert, are a horse’s behind.”
            He opened one eye. She again sat primly on the edge of her seat, adjusting her skirts.  The two red dots on her cheeks the only indication of her anger.
“You may leave now,” he said through gritted teeth.
            Ellie bowed her head slightly. “As you wish.” She stood, smoothed back the hair always loose from her bun.  With head held high, she sailed from the room, closing the door softly. Her skirt stuck in the door. She re-opened it, yanked the skirt and banged the door shut.
Max winced at the sound, his left eye twitched.

 
I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Ellie and Max. I would love to hear from you. One commenter will receive a free download of A Wife By Christmas.

Callie Hutton

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Workshops Presented by Eliza Knight for 2012

"He said/She said" -- Writing Fictional Dialogue

(1/9/12 - 1/23/12)


Learn the mechanics of writing dialogue, and how to make your character's conversations pop.

  • Craft/mechanics of writing dialogue
  • What to write and what not to write
  • What moves the story along
  • Tags/action tags
  • Mixing dialogue with action/narrative
  • Making character GMC shine through speech
  • Viewing indivual personality traits/morals/values through speech
  • Weaving backstory into dialogue
  • Dialect
Multiple lessons, exercises and critiques provided each week. Your readers will be able to "hear" what your characters are saying.

&

 
S.E.X. -- Writing the S.ensual E.vocative X.perience

(1/23/12 - 2/6/12)

Writing love scenes can be some of the hardest (no pun intended) prose to create. By the end of this workshop you'll know how to write love scenes like no other! (This workshop is intended for both mainstream romance and erotic romance writers, and writers of mainstream fiction!) In this workshop you'll learn:

  • Sensual language/body part terms
  • How to make your scenes come alive with sensory details
  • Weaving emotion into love scenes (the scenes have to move the story along, no gratuitous sex!)
  • Making each scene unique to the characters and the story
  • The mechanics of the body (ie... anatomy & positions)
  • Getting yourself in the "sex" mind-set
  • Dialogue in love scenes
  • The differences between mainstream romance and erotic romance
Multiple lessons, exercises and critiques provided each week.

***Warning! Be prepared... this class comes with an advisory. It will get dirty... It will be fun. It will be an interesting experience. You will write better sex.
 
 
Each workshop purchased individually is $15 or you can purchase both at a discounted rate of $25.
 
Click HERE to register.