Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
From all the writers at
Historical Hearts.

May your stockings and life
be filled with everything you desire.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Write Historicals? Steampunk? We know where you can sub it...

At Historical Hearts we are very proud to announce that our own Annie Seaton also known at Ann-Marie Smith has become an  editor for not one but three epublishers!

Below you'll find detailed information on how to sub to Annie and what exactly she is looking for in regards to submissions.

Ann-Marie is excited about joining Lyrical Press as both an author and editor, and looks forward to reading submissions packed with history and romance. She is also partial to romantic suspense and paranormal romance, and would love to read anything set in Scotland, Ireland or Wales as well as the deep south of the US.

Preferred genres: Contemporary romance, historical romance, steampunk.

Annie is the Head Line Editor coordinating all manuscripts for line editing at Musa Publishing. Musa Publishing is currently closed for submissions until January 1 2012. But for a full list of what Musa represent please visit their website.

Annie is an editor at Still Moments Publishing. Still Moments is currently open to submissions in the following romance genres.

Chick Lit, Romantic Comedy, Contemporary, Fantasy/Magical, Inspirational, Mystery/Suspense, Paranormal, Sensual, Western, Young Adult.

Congratulations Annie for your contribution to all these publishing houses, they are blessed to have you. May your email inbox be filled over Xmas and the new year with lots of historical / steampunk submissions.

But don't forget to keep writing those wonderful Steampunk novels. One of which 'Winter of the Passion Flower' to be released March 2012.

And to the writers submitting their work for representation or publication in 2012, Historical Hearts wish you all good luck!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Historical Hearts Good News

Well, it's been another great news week for the writers of Historical Hearts.
So without further ado, we congratulate...

Maggi Andersen, who has signed a contract with
Knox Robinson Publishing to publish her Georgian Romance
'The Reluctant Marquess' available 8th March 2012
Knox Robinson Publishing have signed Maggi's two
Regency-set historical romances
'A Baron In Her Bed' available September 2012 and
'The Folly At Falconbridge Hall' available December 2012

Maggi has also been busy creating a wonderful new
book trailer for
'Surrender to Destiny'

This week Anne Whitfield celebrated the release
of her Victorian historical saga novel
'To Gain What's Lost'

To wet your appetite, here's the blurb:

Anna Thornton leads a privileged life, but she's not content. When the dashing Matt Cowan sweeps her off her feet, she thinks her boring existence has changed for the better, only all is not as it seems. betrayed and faced with family secrets, Anna flees her home. Taking her trusted maid with her, she begins a new life, which is filled with events that will test her strength and self belief. However, fate sends a man to heal her heart, but will she trust herself to another again? Will the past recede enough for her to see a brighter future?

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords all all good book stores.

Our very own talented, Annie Seaton (Anne-Marie Smith)
has become a content editor with Lyrical Press Inc Publishing.
If you would like to see what manuscripts Anne is acquiring
please refer to her page at Lyrical Press here.

And last but certainly not least
Danielle Lisle has signed a publishing contract with
erotic Regency historical
'The Roses Bloom'
1st story in the series called
'The Rogues of Deception'
And it looks like Total-E-Bound are going
to publish the other two as well. Woo HOO!

Huge congratulations ladies
and keep the good news coming!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Man who Saved Christmas

In keeping with the season my first Historical Hearts blog has a Christmas theme.

As I said in my introduction to Historical Hearts my passion is the seventeenth century and in particular the English Civil War. In the years between the execution of Charles I (January 1649) and the Restoration of Charles II (known as the Interregnum), England was "ruled" by the puritans. Theatre, dancing, music - in fact most things that would be considered fun were frowned upon and banned and Christmas, that happiest of feast days, fell victim to the puritan edicts.

To the puritans the traditional merriment with the attendant drinking, feasting, frivolity and idleness that accompanied Christmas smacked not only of paganism, but (worse!) of Roman Catholicism (Christ's MASS). The tenet of puritan belief was that worship and devotion should be "pure" - based solely on the Scriptures. The Scriptures, of course, were silent on the celebration of Christmas, particularly with mummers, wassailing and carol singing. Oliver Cromwell is generally credited with the edict "banning" Chrismas but, in fact, it predated his rule.

frowning puritan
In 1645, a “Directory of Public Worship” was produced in Westminster to replace the prayer book.
"...THERE is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord's day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued."

In 1647 the parliament passed an ordinance abolishing the feasts of Christmas, Whitsun and Easter
"...Forasmuch as the feast of the nativity of Christ, Easter, Whitsuntide, and other festivals,commonly called holy-days, have been heretofore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained, that the said feasts, and all other festivals, commonly called holy-days, be no longer observed as festivals; any law,statute, custom, constitution, or canon, to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding..."

In 1652 this was taken further with a specific ordinance ordering shops and businesses to remain open on 25th December .
"Refolved by the Parliament...That the Markets be kept to Morrow, being the Five and twentieth day of December; And that the Lord Mayor, and Sheriffs of London and Middlefex, and the Iustices of the Peace for the City of London and Weftminster and Liberties thereof , do take care, That all such perfons as fhall open their Shops on that day, be protected from Wrong or Violence, and the offenders be punifhed.
Refolved by the Parliament...That no Obfervations shall be had of the Five and twentieth day of December, commonly called Chriftmas-Day; nor any solemnity ufed or exercifed in Churches upon that day upon that day in refpect thereof..."

William Winstanley
Christmas had been well and truly outlawed! Punishment for contravening this ordinance meant heavy fines and being placed in the stocks but many people still covertly celebrated the Nativity behind closed doors. 
In Essex, a barber turned poet called William Winstanley and his family lived in a Tudor farmhouse called, appropriately, "The Berries". Every Christmas day clandestine celebrations went on behind the closed doors of the Winstanley home. William wrote in his diary that he believed it was the duty of all Christians to celebrate the birth of their Saviour, with joyous festivity and open-handed generosity towards friends, relations and more especially the poor.

With the return of the monarchy in 1660 the Christmas ban was lifted, although, not surprisingly, after so many years it took some time for it to return to its familiar time of carousing and good cheer and the person who almost singlehandedly became responsible for restoring it to its proper place was no less than William Winstanley, our Essex barber.  Winstanley, writing as the poet Poor Robin Goodfellow, extolled the magic of Christmas. His wealthy patrons at court lobbied the King to set an example of hospitality and merriment. Christmas, Winstanley wrote, was a time for helping the poor and destitute and providing everyone with a happy time in the depths of winter. 

Winstanley kept up a relentless pro-Christmas propoganda for the next twenty years. He wrote about the holly and the ivy, the roaring log fires, the games, the music and the dancing, the food ("chines of beef, turkeys, geese, ducks and capons...minc'd pies, plumb puddings and frumenty...") and of course the carolling  (old favourites such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and I Saw Three Ships). According to Winstanley Christmas should last 12 days with gift giving on New Year's Day. 

By the 1680s Winstanley's Christmas had been restored in the form that we celebrate it today. Winstanley died in 1698, only a few days before Christmas.

So this Christmas time as we gather together with our families and share our "chines of turkey" and eat "mince pies" and sing the beloved old Christmas carols, spare a thought for William Winstanley, without whom we may have no Christmas. 

In  the spirit of the season I would like to share my own Christmas pudding recipe -  a genuine seventeenth century recipe. As I write my two puddings are simmering on the stove and the smell that is so uniquely Christmas is drifting up the stairs. Thank you Mr. Winstanley!


250g flour
1 tsp nutmeg
250g suet
1 tsp cinnamon
250g dark (Barbados) sugar
250g each of sultanas, raisins, currants and mixed peel
250g grated new carrot
100 slivered blanched almonds
250g grated raw potato
1 large wineglass of brandy or sherry
3 or 4 tsp mixed spice

  1.  Mix all ingredients thoroughly and put in greased basins, covered with greaseproof paper and a cloth.
  2. Steam for 8 hours.
  3. Cool and change cloth.
  4. 4.       Re-steam for 3 hours and serve with brandy butter, custard etc.

Notes:  Can be made not too long in advance and it can be frozen. It makes one large and one small  wonderful, dark, very rich pudding!

For more information on 
William Winstanley:  see the biography by Alison Barnes William Winstanley...the Man who Saved Christmas
The puritans and Christmas: see Anita Davison's blog The Puritans and Christmas on the Hoydens and Firebrands blog

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Historical Hearts Good News

A huge congratulations go to the following
Historical Heart Members
for their accomplishments so far this month!

Bronwyn Stuart who won
in the Historical category with her ms
'Behind the Courtesan'

Annie Seaton who signed a contract for her
Paranormal Novella
'Blind Lust' with Musa Publishing

Danielle Lisle who came second in the
in the Erotica category with her ms
'The Virgin at Goodrich Hall'

Congratulations again on a job well done, ladies!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Victorian Christmas

A Victorian Christmas  
 Carols,  Cards, Trees, 
        and Stories….

Many Christmas traditions we celebrate today were made popular by Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert. The Victorians, with their love of nostalgia and history, rushed to copy everything done by their  dear Queen. 

Decorating Christmas trees, sending Christmas Cards, singing Carols, and exchanging gifts found favour with the English masses, who eagerly imitated the Royal Family. From Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, and from church to table.      
                                    Hope you enjoy reading more about them,
                                                  Suzi Love  
Christmas Carols

           The word ‘carol’ comes from the old French ‘carole’ for a song written and played as a courtly dancing song. Carols then took on a more popular form, telling stories and celebrating religious themes for all seasons until the late 19th century when they became associated with Christmas.  

          In 1822, Davies Gilbert published “Some Ancient Christmas Carols”, in which he described a typical English West Country Christmas. The collection sang of food, drink, and good things celebrated at Christmas.
       The British Museum said: “Mr. Gilbert has taken advantage of old Time, and made safe, for some centuries at least, a record of our ancient Christmas Carols; and for this good deed has secured the gratitude of Antiquaries yet unborn. These Carols are genuine national curiosities.”

       They took the place of Psalms in all churches on Christmas Day and, as the whole congregation could join in, were greeted with huge approval. Carols were passed on orally from place to place, often with different words or tunes.

       The published carols included songs still popular today, including The First Noël, I Saw Three Ships, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. This collection was followed by compilations of carols from other scholars such as William Sandy’s works  in 1833 and 1852.

                Christmas Cards
Victorian, circa 1870
Victorian, circa 1870 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       At the end of the winter term, schoolmasters would set their pupils to work on Christmas Pieces, samplers of writing on superior paper with engraved borders, to show parents how they had progressed during the year. By about 1820, the engraved borders were enhanced with color and the children’s pieces became more decorative.

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole commissioned an artist from the Royal Academy to design a card he could send to his large circle of family and friends instead of writing them letters. Postage had been standardized  three years earlier and Cole had played a key role in initiating Uniform Penny Post.

Wanting to popularize the use of post, Cole hit upon a brilliant idea of spreading holiday cheer by sending cards. The card was issued from a periodical, Felix Summerly’s Home Treasury, and sold for a shilling a piece.

Lithographed and hand-colored,  it showed a family of three generations quaffing wine and caused a furor among the temperate classes. On either side were allegorical vignettes depicting the feeding of the hungry and the clothing of the naked and the whole thing was enclosed in a rustic frame of carved wood and ivy.
       Sales grew and designs and sizes changed. The first cards were meant to appeal to the masses and encourage them to send large numbers by post. So rather than focus on religious images, they showed sentimental or humorous images of family and children, fanciful designs of flowers, fairies, or reminders of the approach of spring.

       Cards were shaped as a bell, a fan, a crescent, a circle, or a diamond and were folding, decorated with jewels, iridescent, embossed, and carried either simple Christmas and New Year greetings or had verses and carols written in them. The next year, Mr W.C.T. Dobson produced a sketch symbolizing the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ which sold many more than the previous thousand and the novelty caught on. More Victorian Christmas Cards     More on Victorian publishers of Christmas cards

      Christmas Trees
       After Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert, the English adopted his German customs for trees and presents.

       In 1841, a large tree was decorated in Windsor Castle and the Queen and her family exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve. Presents were laid out on tables, each of which had a Christmas tree at its centre.

       On 24 December 1850 the Queen wrote in her journal, 
‘My beloved Albert first took me to my tree and table, covered by such numberless gifts, really too much, too magnificent.’

In 1860, a visitor to Windsor Castle described how the rooms ‘were lighted up with Christmas trees hung from the ceiling, the chandeliers being taken down. These trees…were covered with bonbons and little wax colored lights, some of the trees were made to appear as if partially covered in snow.’

In 2011, Windsor Castle’s Christmas  display follows Victorian tradition with a lavish dinner table setting and an artificial tree suspended from the Octagon Dining Room ceiling, where the chandelier usually hangs.

More on the Victorian Christmas Tree looks at Windsor Castle here.
Though carols, cards, and trees were either revived or started, a new trend began in the early Victorian era where Christmas stories were no longer simply told in families but were written down and published.

In 1843, Charles Dickens turned the Christmas season back to one of festivity and merriment when his novel, A Christmas Carol, was published.Under financial stress, he wrote it during a period of intense creativity and completed the work in a mere six weeks, having made no working notes, outline, plans, or preliminary drafts.

The sixty-eight-page manuscript is viewable at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. The Morgan’s collection of Dickens’ manuscripts and letters is one of the two greatest collections in the world, the other being Britain's Victoria and Albert Museum. 

NB - This story was immediately popular and critically acclaimed, and has been in print continuously for 157 years.

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