A Roundabout History of the Victorian Carousel

Antique CarouselMy fascination with carousels began when I was a little girl. Growing up in Florida, there was a carousel at the mall where my parents would take me to ride a very special horse. A white carousel horse named Abigail. I have faint, precious memories of riding Abigail, round and around, to a magical combination of music and lights while my daddy’s hand rested at my back holding me safely in place upon a colorfully painted saddle.

I suppose this lingering memory is to thank for subconsciously inspiring my latest novella, The Best Man in Brookside. In this Victorian era tale, my characters Donovan and Sophia are thrown together on an English village’s fair committee and tasked to revive an old, very special, carousel into a steam-driven marvel.

This concept of a steam-powered carousel was incredibly fun for me to research because I am both a history geek and a whimsical Steampunk at heart. Since there were so many interesting facts that failed to make the cut of my tiny novella, I’d like to share some of my harvested knowledge with you now in A Roundabout History of the Victorian Carousel!

Antique Carousel

The First Carousels: Early carousels were rather small and unimpressive contraptions—simple platforms built with mounted wooden horses turned about by a man or a real horse pulling a rope. Despite their simple construction, the popularity of carousels increased with the passing years and by the mid-19th century, the carousel was a staple at fairs delighting children across England. Continue reading

EVENT: California Gold Rush Collection Release Party

A brief jaunt away from my regular blogging schedule to issue a special invitation!

California FB Event-Small Size

I will be making an appearance at the Facebook Release Party to chat about my Victorian novella, THE BEST MAN IN BROOKSIDE. I’m so excited to share Donovan and Sophia’s story with you! Hope to see you there!

1-Brookside Town Meme

Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Love of Horses

Horse InspirationKeeping up with the British Royal Family is rather a hobby of mine. I follow them on Facebook, read biographies and history books, and watch every PBS special I can find about their thoroughly interesting family tree.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite the mental store of important and random trivia facts. For example: Did you know that Queen Elizabeth loves horses? Furthermore, did you know that her horses are trained using the art of horse whispering?

Indeed, in the 1980’s the Queen was one of the first to employ renowned American “horse whisperer” Monty Roberts, famous for his gentle Join-Up method for training racehorses. In fact, it was at the Queen’s suggestion that Roberts penned a book about his unique ideas, The Man Who Listens to Horses, which went on to sell over five million copies worldwide.

In addition to employing horse whisperers, Queen Elizabeth herself is also quite skilled in the art. Back in 1981, while riding her favorite mare Burmese in the Trooping of the Colour–a ceremony that marks the reigning monarch’s official birthday–someone fired six blank shots at the Queen, spooking poor Burmese who then attempted to bolt. Despite sitting side-saddle, the Queen was able to calm Burmese, regaining control of her mount in a few strides of canter. A most impressive feat!

Below are 16 photographs documenting Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Love of Horses!

Little Elizabeth, age four, astride her first Shetland pony. Image Source: The Royal Collection via Telegraph.co.uk.

Little Elizabeth, age four, astride her first Shetland pony. Image Source: The Royal Collection via Telegraph.co.uk.

Queen Elizabeth had her first riding lesson at age three and was given her first horse, a Shetland pony named Peggy, by her grandfather King George V on her fourth birthday. Isn’t she just darling?! Continue reading

8 Must Have Items for Letter Writing

By now, most of you know that I’m a devoted letter writer. I love how writing a letter momentarily disconnects us from the dizzying speed of social media and allows us to rediscover our five senses. Remind ourselves of the tangible world beyond glowing screens and the people who live there.

Today I hope to inspire you to take up this restorative art form. To get you started, here are my 8 Must Have Items for Letter Writing! (Be sure to read to the very end for some exciting news!)

Lovely Blue Stationary

1. Lovely Stationary

Stationary, like fashion, can display one’s personality. Take advantage of this by choosing stationary that reflects your unique style. This makes it more fun for you while writing the letter and more precious to the one who receives it in their mailbox. When someone can recognize you in the personal elements of a card—before even reading the words—that transforms stationary from mere paper into something worth treasuring. My favorite brand is Punch Studio, which I pick up at TJMaxx or Marshall’s. I adore this line’s Victorian inspired style and intricate details, like designs that flow into the envelope’s interior. Continue reading

Around the World in 6 Libraries

Library Quote E.B. WhiteIt should not come as a shock that my favorite Disney princess is Belle from Beauty and The Beast. I think all writers, bookworms, and imaginative sorts are drawn to Belle. I mean, she’s intelligent and quick witted. She reads voraciously. She flies across bookshelves on wheeled ladders with reckless abandon. Her lovable father is a creative inventor and—quite obviously— a Steampunk. (Goggles + Inventor + Steam-powered wood-chipper = Holy Cogsworth! How did I not see this before?!)

However, I think the thing to be most loved and envied about Belle is the manner in which she is wooed by her shaggy prince—with the gift of a library.

Not just any library, my dears. That library. That. Magnificent. Library! The one which causes book-lovers jaws to drop with an audible gasp and dream dreams of having their own Beauty and The Beast library one glorious day. *le sigh*

After writing my novella, The Substitute Bride, I realized my love for Belle and that library had unintentionally infused itself into my Victorian era tale. I have a bookworm heroine, Gwen. A slightly gruff hero, Elliot. And a rather grand library tucked away in an English country manor where they learn to love amidst the aroma of old books.

Therefore, in honor of Belle and Gwen and everything magical that can happen where books reside, let us now venture on a brief journey Around the World in 6 Libraries!

1. The Library of Congress ~ Washington DC, USA

The Library of Congress ~ Washington DC, USA. Image Source: Pixabay CCO PD

The Library of Congress ~ Washington DC, USA. Image Source: Pixabay CCO PD

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on treasure island.” 

~Walt Disney

Continue reading

Duchess Catherine’s Hats on Parade

The Royal Wedding

The wedding day of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011 in London, England.

Back in February, I introduced you lovely readers to my hat obsession and hosted a Downton Abbey hat parade in honor of the farewell season.

Since I enjoyed that post so thoroughly and since this month marks the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s fifth wedding anniversary, I thought it a fitting time to honor one of my style inspirations—the always elegant, Catherine Middleton.

Strike up the band and unleash the ticker tape, it’s time for fancy fascinators and haute couture hats to go on parade!

 

 

Duchess Catherine’s Hats on Parade

Catherine at the 2013 Christmas Day service. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images Europe.

Catherine at the 2013 Christmas Day service. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images Europe.

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the Christmas Day service at Sandringham on December 25, 2013 in King's Lynn, England. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the Christmas Day service at Sandringham on December 25, 2013 in King’s Lynn, England. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images Europe

This bow-embellished green hat by Gina Foster is a fun addition to Catherine’s tartan coat and exudes a definite Brigadoon vibe! When one dons such a hat, one can only hope to find Gene Kelly under sable skies. (If you caught the song reference, you are my people!) Continue reading

4 Reasons to Preserve Antique Books

From my personal collection: Lives of the Queens of England by Agnes Strickland, circa 1845.

From my personal collection: Lives of the Queens of England by Agnes Strickland, circa 1845.

I love books! Actually, a more accurate word might be treasure.
I treasure books, so much, that on the rare occasion when I lend a beloved book, said borrower receives a charmingly delivered threat on their life if said book should be damaged whilst in their possession.

The sight of torn pages and a battered spine makes me want to cry, especially when it’s an old book. Antique books ought to be treasured so they last for future generations.

But Angela, you say, why bother saving old, musty books with their contrived language and outdated narrative style?

First of all, if you cannot appreciate the studious perfume that is the scent of old books, then I legitimately pity your nose. Secondly, I present for your consideration . . .

4 Reasons to Preserve Antique Books.

1. For the History
Antique books are time capsules through which we can remember our history. Not simply remember, but experience and understand historical facts from a human point of view. Without Oliver Twist could we truly understand the hardships an orphaned child faced in 19th century London? We might read the statistics, but Dickens’ words give those statistics a name and elicit feeling. His “out-dated” prose makes us care about history. A triumph which does not fade though its pages yellow. Continue reading

Special Event Update & YouTube Link

And now we momentarily meander from my regular blogging schedule for a special event update!

Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection

On February 24th, I participated in a Google Hangout On Air Broadcast for a book club at The Greatest Gift & Scripture Supply Store in Pueblo, CO.

During this particular event, I shared the inspiration for my novella, The Substitute Bride, in The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collectionand talked a little more about my fascination with Steampunk and automatons.

Here’s the YouTube link for those who missed the live event. Enjoy!

SPECIAL EVENT: Lassoed by Marriage Virtual Author Event

Let us meander from my regular blogging schedule, so I may invite you to a special event!Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection

On Wednesday February 24th, at 12 pm (CST) you are invited to watch a LIVE virtual author event where I shall share the true story behind-the-story of my novella, The Substitute Bride, in The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection from Barbour Books.

During the event, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about me and ask questions.

You can attend live at Google Hangout On Air Broadcast or in person with a book club at The Greatest Gift & Scripture Supply Store located on 505 N. Grand Ave
Pueblo, CO 81003.

I hope to “see” you there!

Downton Abbey Hats on Parade

Downton Abbey Hats on Parade MemeOne thing which makes me a 21st century Victorian lady is my obsession with hats! I rarely leave the house without a hat upon my head. In fact, on the rare occasion when I depart my home hatless, I feel rather odd. Like something is missing. You see, hats give me a shot of confidence and make me feel pulled together. Polished. Ready to face the world. Hats are my secret style weapon. Indeed, a truly great hat can take an already pretty ensemble and transform it into one that is marvelous and memorable.

Nothing proves this more, in my mind, than the costumes of Downton Abbey! While the gowns as a whole are quite lovely and the jewels rather sublime, the hats are the cherry on top that grab my attention, episode after episode.

Therefore, in celebration of the final season, I present to thee a selection of my favorite Downton Abbey Hats on Parade!

Lady Cora Crawley

Lady Cora Crawley / Source: Pinterest

Classic in black and cream, this hat brings to mind the horse racing scene of My Fair Lady. “Every duke and earl and peer is here. Everyone who should be here is here. What a smashing, positively dashing spectacle. The ascot opening day.” Continue reading