Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The English Housewife-Ain't Misbehavin' by Sibelle Stone

Today I am delighted to welcome fellow author, Sibelle Stone to my blog.
Welcome, Sibelle.

Thanks, Anna. Great to be here.

In 1615,author Gervase Markham published a book, The English Housewife, Containing the inward and outward virtues which ought to be in a complete woman; as her skill in physic, cookery, banqueting- stuff, distillation perfumes, wool, hemp, flax, dairies, brewing, baking, and all other things belonging to a household.

Just reading the title is exhausting, and when you consider what the expectations were for a woman living in the seventeenth century, it might make you want to take a nap.

"Fabulous" colonial era gown
She was expected to “be a godly, constant, and religious woman,” and she should serve as an example to the household, learning and taking direction from men, most especially her husband and preacher. She should not preach herself, but act as a model, displaying the finest characteristics of piety and temperance.

Colonial home interior, Jamestown, Virginia
She should not express “violence of rage” passion and always maintain a pleasant, gentle mien -- especially toward her husband. And if he should make her angry, she is extolled to “virtuously suppress” any anger and present herself as a gentle, mild reminder of the higher virtues.

She needed to maintain her “proportion” by controlling her appetite somewhere between gluttony and the appearance of a consumptive. In other words, she shouldn’t be too fat, or too thin. Apparently, some things never change. If she can grow her own food, instead of purchasing food at the market, even better. Thrifty and skinny, what a woman!

Everyday garb
She should maintain her garments to be clean, comely and well-made. Probably by her or one of her servants. She must not be vain, nor decorate her clothing feathers or fancy adornments. She should avoid light colors too. Since most of the natural dyes made clothing "butternut brown" or gray, this probably wasn't much of a challenge.

An English housewife must be of chaste thought, stout courage, patient, untired, watchful, diligent, witty, pleasant, constant in friendship, full of good neighbourhood, wise in discourse, but not to frequent therein, sharp and quick of speech, but not bitter or talkative, secret in her affairs, comfortable in her counsels, and generally skillful in all worthy knowledge which do belong to her vocation.

It’s probably good there wasn’t on-line dating back then. I can’t imagine too many women responding to a profile that offered that as the description of the perfect mate. Strangely enough, there wasn’t any such description of the perfect husband.

While I consider Catlin Glyndwr, the heroine of my book, Whistle Down the Wind to possess many virtues, even she’s not the paragon the housewife book describes. After all, who wants to read about the perfect woman? Catlin possesses a kind heart, is willing to help others, is courageous, witty and sometimes wise. But, she makes mistakes, misjudges circumstances and is just beginning to learn to control magical powers. It’s even harder to be perfect when you’re a witch.

Blurb: "Whistle Down the Wind"

Arrested for using her magical powers to protect herself, Catlin Glyndwr faces the hangman’s noose. Descended from a long line of elemental witches, she can control the wind and weather. But the worst thing that can happen in 1664 England is to be charged with practicing of witchcraft. Especially when the accusation is true.

Sir Griffin Reynolds is visiting his closest childhood friend before embarking on a secret mission for King Charles II to the New World. When his friend becomes deathly ill while interrogating a beautiful woman accused of witchcraft, Griffin accepts her offer of help. In exchange for her freedom, she’ll heal his friend.

Griffin and Catlin embark on a journey to Virginia to save the colony. They succumb to the temptation of a white hot passion that blazes between them. But a Dark Druid stalks Catlin, and if he can’t possess her and her magic -- no man will. .
Buy Links: Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble

Sibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award winning historical romance author Deborah Schneider. Sibelle writes sexy steampunk and paranormal stories, filled with magic, mad scientists, dirigibles, automatons, and creatures that would scare the panties off Deborah. In her spare time Sibelle enjoys dressing up in Victorian ensembles, modding play guns into something that looks a bit more sinister and wearing hats.

Thank you Sibelle. I've read and enjoyed your book, Whistle Down the Wind.
If you enjoy history, Sibelle and I are collaborators on another blog devoted to historical fiction, History Ink.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Novel Possibilities

Over the course of the last few weeks I have taken my show on the road, so to speak, and given presentations to numerous service clubs etc. about the changes taking place in the publishing industry.

I use a power point presentation that I put together myself, which basically explains the immense possibilities available to self published authors as opposed to the control formerly exerted by major publishing houses.

The slides chronicle my journey through the learning curve of digital self-publishing and paperback formatting and printing.

Initially I was nervous about doing this, wondering if people would be interested. I can only say the interest has been tremendously positive.

Why is this? I think many people, particularly once they retire, have an urge to write and publish a book. It may be an autobiographical sort of story, perhaps about an odyssey they undertook, or like me they may have dreamed for many years about writing a successful novel.

Whatever the reason, there is a groundswell of interest out there in writing and publishing.

The trade off of these presentations for me of course is that I am getting my name out there and selling signed paperbacks! For example when I talk about Amazon author pages, it’s my page I show!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Play It Again, Nigel


Music was an essential part of life for medieval people. They loved it. Because their world was not as filled with noise as ours is, they had more discerning hearing. When a dog barked, they knew whose dog it was. They were sensitive to voices and they listened intently to music. I know you will enjoy the video at the end.

Here are some popular medieval instruments.
This particular GITTERN was a gift from Queen Elizabeth I to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was a small, round backed instrument, like a lute, but earlier versions had no neck. The "neck" was an extension of its teardrop shaped body. It had four or five strings and was plucked with a quill plectrum.


The citole had a holly leaf shaped body, a short neck, a flat back and three or four pairs of strings which were plucked with the fingers.


This modern day troubadour is playing a shawm, a long wooden pipe with a double reed at the top, like a modern bassoon, and a bell shape at the bottom. It resembles the main pipe in a set of bagpipes, but is much larger.

Nakers were metal drums, like kettledrums, played in pairs suspended  from the waist.

Here we see a REBEC, a fiddle with three strings, played with a bow.

This is a detail of painting entitled Angel with A Psaltery. This was a metal stringed harp, usually in a square box plucked with a quill.

Hurdy-gurdy player

 The HURDY-GURDY was a stringed instrument played by the rotation of a hand driven wheel passing over the strings.

Please be truly entertained by this modern day performance by a gifted hurdy gurdy player, Nigel Eaton.