Day 3: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Day 3: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Welcome to Day 3 of the quote-a-day countdown giveaway, to celebrate the November 1st release of Beloved and Unseemly. To learn more about the contest and prizes, along with what the lady professor is up to in book #5, click here:

The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

Okie dokie then, here’s today’s quote!

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Hope your weekend is going well, and thanks for spreading the word!

~Kathy

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Day 2: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Day 2: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Welcome to Day 2 of the quote-a-day countdown giveaway, to celebrate the November 1st release of Beloved and Unseemly. To learn more about the contest and prizes, along with what the lady professor is up to in book #5, click here:

The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

So here you go, the Day 2 quote from Beloved and Unseemly:

day2-beloved-quote

 

Happy Weekend, everyone, and thanks so much for spreading the word!

~Kathy

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The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

Only twelve more days until Beloved and Unseemly, book 5 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries, is released!

 

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A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….
Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.

The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.

To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.
Pre-order here for November 1st delivery:

Are you excited? I know I am. To get us all in the mood, I’m doing a countdown promotion that I call “The Twelve Days of Concordia.”

 

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Each day, I’ll post a quote from the book here, as well as on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. For everyone who responds or promotes me – on these or other social media venues – I’ll add your name to a digital “hat” for a prize drawing on November 1st (release day)! Twelve people will win, and current subscribers (as of November 1) will be added to the drawing, too. Commenting and/or promoting the book release on multiple days will increase your chances of winning! If you’ve already read the Concordia books, these make great gifts as well, and can be read across devices.

Prizes

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Winners 1-8: your choice of any ebook or audiobook in the Concordia Wells series (including the new release!)

Winners 9 and 10: your choice of any ebooks/audiobooks

Winner 11: your choice of any 2 ebooks/audiobooks, and a signed paperback copy of Beloved and Unseemly

Winner 12: GRAND PRIZE! All 5 ebooks in the series and a signed paperback copy of Beloved and Unseemly 

**If a winner of a paperback happens to live outside the continental U.S., I will substitute an Amazon gift card in order to avoid the expense of international shipping. Sorry about that.

So, here we go! Today’s quote is the opening line from Beloved and Unseemly:

day1-beloved-quote

Can you help me get the word out about Beloved and Unseemly? I would really appreciate whatever you can do! If you are spreading the word on a venue you don’t think I will see, drop me a line here so I can add your name to the giveaway. And thank you so much for your support!

Next quote…tomorrow!

See you then,

Kathy

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1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)

1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)
Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.

Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.

In writing about the world of Concordia Wells, I have to make sure the lady professor and her colleagues are always suitably attired in the style of the day.

I use a variety of sources for descriptions and sketches of what these ladies wore during the Progressive Era. Two of my favorite books for research are the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalog of 1897 and Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898.

1897 Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue

Other sources include newspaper advertisements from a search of Chronicling America (a digital archive of 19th century U.S. newspapers from the Library of Congress), and etiquette books of the period, such as Manners and Social Usages by Mrs. John Sherwood, an 1898 self-help book (yes, they had those way back then!), which I quote from extensively in book #5 (more about book #5 in a moment).

I also have to keep reminding myself not to overlook YouTube, which has a surprising collection of old film footage and picture montages. Below is one I think you’ll enjoy. If you want to skim (it’s a bit long), there’s a wedding dress at 5:12 and a series of bicycling outfits similar to what Concordia wears at 10:06.

 

Announcement:

Book 5 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries is complete and we have a cover! Official release day is Tuesday, November 1st. For those of you who have read the series from the beginning, book 5 comes full circle in several ways that I’m hoping you’ll find satisfying. Here’s a portion of the cover and the blurb:

 

belovedandunseemlyheader

 

A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….

Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.

The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.

To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.

 

I’m so excited and can’t wait for you all to read it! I’ll post the full cover reveal in my newsletter and here on the site when the links go live. I know you guys have been so patient(!) waiting for this next Concordia installment, and I really appreciate your loyalty.

If you don’t want to wait for November 1st, you can be one of my advance readers! I’m offering ten free advance review copies (ARCs) of the ebook version of  Beloved and Unseemly.

I love ARCs. Not only does the reader get a freebie ahead of time, but releasing the book “in the wild” may generate early reviews. Reviews then help prospective readers decide if this book is their cup of tea.

Please note: readers receiving ARCs are under no obligation whatsoever to rate the book or post a review. This is per Amazon reviewer policy and I agree wholeheartedly. If something is free, it should not have strings attached. (But if you do decide to rate/review the book, Concordia and I thank you very much!)

So, if you’d like an ARC, send me an email at: contact(at)kbowenmysteries(dot)com. Let me know what format you want: mobi (Kindle) or epub (Nook or iPad/iPhone). I will send them out to the first ten readers who ask. Thank you!

Until next time,

Kathy

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1890s Perceptions of Electricity (shared post)

1890s Perceptions of Electricity (shared post)

One of the joys of researching historical mysteries is discovering new-to-me historical blogs. Icing on the cake is when the blogger generously shares her talents. A special thanks to the author of this piece, Tine Hreno, for permitting me to re-post this fascinating article on 1890s’ perceptions of electricity. I know you’ll enjoy it. As you’ll see from the full article, not only was electricity a source of light and power, it was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to make some quick money on electric “health” products, such as the rheumatism ring below.

Image via Sears Roebuck Catalog, 1897.

Image via Sears Roebuck Catalog, 1897.

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Popular Perceptions of Electricity in the 1890s

by Tine Hreno

If you lived in a major city, like London, electricity had become part of your everyday life by the 1890s. You might not have it in your home, but even if you did, you might not understand what it was.

Even electrical engineers, like Nikola Tesla, used words like “energy” to describe that which was generated by electricity and that which he felt after sleeping. It’s not clear that many people distinguished between the two. Tesla actually got the idea for tuning radio frequencies through his belief that he and his mother were tuned into the same frequency when she died. Still, Tesla understood more about electricity than most people do today, but the electrical revolution was spreading rapidly.

A town called Godalming, Surrey, built the first central station to provide electricity to the public in the fall of 1881. They did so because the disagreed with the rate the gas company was charging them. I understand the feeling from dealing with my internet provider. Godalming’s system was first used for their street lamps, but within the year more than 80% of its homes were connected. Overall, the town wasn’t happy with their new electrical system and reverted to gas (also a familiar feeling in dealing with new internet providers). However, by 1882, London had a large-scale power station at Holburn Viaduct.

Read the rest here (and check out the cool lithographs and product advertisements): Writers in London in the 1890s: Popular Perceptions of Electricity in the 1890s

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

Psst…by my next post, I should have some book news.

Until next time,

Kathy

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August 30, National Toasted Marshmallow Day

August 30, National Toasted Marshmallow Day
Image courtesy of Nina Hale, creative commons license.

Image courtesy of Nina Hale, creative commons license.

Okay, so it’s a made-up holiday (sponsored by the National Confectioners Association), but what’s not to love about celebrating that iconic summer treat, toasted marshmallows? The history of the marshmallow is pretty cool, too.

Althaea officinalis, illustrated by Leonhard Fuchs. Citation link: http://catalogue.wellcomelibrary.org/record=b1000513

Althaea officinalis, illustrated by Leonhard Fuchs. Citation link: http://catalogue.wellcomelibrary.org/record=b1000513

Marshmallows were originally made from the root of the Marshmallow herb, also known as Althaea officinalis. The Egyptians made candy/cakes from it, mixing the sap with honey and grains. One source says the Egyptians reserved such a treat for the gods and that everyone else was forbidden to eat it, but I have not been able to confirm that with other sources.

The sap of the Marshmallow root was long known to soothe sore throats, and the Greeks and Romans used it medicinally as both a liquid and lozenge. It was the French who finally turned it into a candy in the early 19th century, whipping it to an airy consistency. However, extracting the necessary sap from the Marshmallow plant was time-consuming. Only small, local sweet shops prepared it, mixing small batches by hand.

Our commercially-produced marshmallows bear little resemblance to these earlier confections. Once it was discovered (late 19th century) that gelatin and egg whites could substitute for the consistency provided by the Marshmallow root sap, the marshmallow no longer had Marshmallow in it.

Nonetheless, many people enjoy our modern-day marshmallows, and it’s nice to see that vegan and kosher varieties are now more widely available. An occasional fluffernutter sandwich, rice krispy square, MallowCup, or smores beside a campfire can be a fun treat, right?

Speaking of treats, here’s a recipe for our family’s favorite marshmallow dessert, cookie pizza. Enjoy!

Cookie Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite sugar cookie dough (we use Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix, but you can use the already-prepared 18oz pkg of refrigerated dough)
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups M&Ms
  • 2 cups mini-marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 deg F, or per sugar cookie baking instructions.  Divide dough, and press into 2 ungreased pie pans.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Cool.

 

2. In either a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave, melt chips and sweetened condensed milk until smooth and blended.  Spread over crusts.  Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.

Bake 4 minutes, or until marshmallows are lightly toasted.  Cool and cut into wedges.

 

Want to read more about marshmallows?

NATIONAL TOASTED MARSHMALLOW DAY – August 30 | National Day Calendar

Wikipedia: Marshmallow (includes a video link as to how marshmallow was made from the root)

The History of Marshmallows

Boyer Candies (makers of MalloCups)

 

Do you enjoy toasting marshmallows, or using them in a recipe? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

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It almost didn’t happen: the 1896 Summer Olympics

It almost didn’t happen: the 1896 Summer Olympics

olympic rings

Olympic fever is going strong right now, with the Summer Games in full swing in Rio. There’s something wonderfully ironic about lounging on a sofa, chowing down on Cheetos, and staying up past one’s bedtime (making the next-day’s early-morning walk unlikely) in order to watch dedicated athletes strain every muscle and sinew to earn the designation of Olympic champion. But hey, there’s no judging here. Pass me the Fritos. *wink*

Most of us learned in school that the Olympic Games go way back to the 8th century B.C. Of course, it hasn’t been going on continuously since then. There was a lengthy dormant period after the Romans invaded Greece, which pretty much lasted until the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century. The Olympic Games were revived in fits and starts during the 19th century, but really didn’t have any momentum until 1894, when the first International Olympic Committee (IOC) was formed, sports societies in eleven countries were courted, and the host city of Athens was selected for the 1896 Summer Games. The Greeks in particular were delighted, and the Greek royal family gave their blessing.

Except…it almost didn’t happen.

Greece during this time was suffering from financial and political instability. The position of prime minister alternated frequently between two men during the last decade of the century, and the IOC was so over budget that the committee predicted the cost of hosting the Games would be triple the original estimate and therefore impossible to raise. Members resigned.

Commemorative stamp of Greece, 1896. Wikimedia Commons.

Commemorative stamp of Greece, 1896. Wikimedia Commons.

Enter Crown Prince Constantine, who assumed the presidency of the IOC and put out an appeal to the Greek public for money. Between royal donations, public contributions, the sale of commemorative postage stamps, and ticket sales, they were able to come up with the needed funds.

There were still penny-pinching measures, of course. The swimming events had to be held in the cold Bay of Zea because Greece couldn’t afford to build a stadium swimming pool. The sailing races were canceled because not all of the boats had proper embarkation points available. There was no Olympic Village for athletes (the first one was 1932). Competitors had to find their own lodging.

Other interesting bits of info about the 1896 Summer Games:

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Female athletes were excluded from the 1896 Summer Games (they began competing in the 1900 Paris games). One of the organizers of the 1896 Games said that the inclusion of women competitors would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect.” In spite of the ban, Greek runner Stamata Revithi ran the marathon course the day after the men’s race. Officials wouldn’t allow her to finish inside the stadium, nor did they otherwise recognize her achievement in any way (she had collected signed affadavits as to her start and finish times). You can read more about her here. As a side note, the United States has this year brought the largest contingent of female athletes (292) to Rio, and the women outnumber the men (263).
  • We are accustomed to gold, silver, and bronze medals for first, second, and third place. At the 1896 Games, first-place finishers were awarded a silver medal, olive branch, and a diploma, while second-place received a copper medal, laurel branch, and a diploma. Nothing for third place.
  • Athletes weren’t officially sponsored by their nation of origin back then. Historical accounts conflict as to the exact number of countries represented. The estimate is 11-14 countries.
  • 241 athletes competed. Amateur status was required.
  • There were 43 events, spanning 9 sports.

 

The Sun, 18 April 1896. Via Chronicling America.

The Sun, 18 April 1896. Via Chronicling America.

Are you following the 2016 Olympic Games on television? Do you have a favorite sport? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

 

 

 

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You can’t fix stupid, 19th century style

You can’t fix stupid, 19th century style
I need this mug. Image via Amazon.

I need this mug. Image via Amazon.

As my regular readers know, I run across some strange, funny stuff in the course of my research. Most of the time it has nothing to do with what I’m actually looking for. *sigh* On the bright side, that means I can tuck it away to share with you guys!

In an age where nearly everyone’s pocket holds a camera and information can be shared instantly across the globe, we are confronted with a daily barrage of stupidity (especially in an election year, but let’s not go there). It’s easy at times to believe that we (collectively speaking) are just about as stupid as is possible without killing ourselves.

 

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Ah, not so fast. The 1890s had its share of boneheads, too. Check out the story of this doctor, as recounted in The Iola Register (Dec 24, 1897). The text can be a bit tough to read, so I highlighted some of the interesting bits:

 

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Read the full article here, via Chronicling America’s archive.

 

Wow. Sounds like the opening scene of a low-budget sci-fi movie, or the origin story for a Spiderman super-villain. What if Dr. Connors had injected himself with cocaine instead of reptile DNA? Feel free to let loose in the comments. Maybe Stan Lee is looking for alternate timelines.

lizard

I also wonder…did Dr. Glynn’s patient list decline after the incident? (The bright side: more free time to poison himself). Did he ever write that treatise on poisoning, or did a subsequent “experiment” do him in? I guess we’ll never know.

So, what do you think? Have we grown more collectively idiotic, have we improved, or are we about equal with the past? What’s the funniest (non-lethal…hey, it’s almost the weekend, we want to kick back) story of stupidity you’ve run across lately? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

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