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It is Columbus Day, a federal holiday here, but one lots of employers trade for the day after Thanksgiving.

Did you know that Christopher Columbus asked King Henry VII of England for the money to fund his search for a shorter route to the Far East? King Henry said no.

He also was the first to bring cocoa beans to Europe, only he didn’t really appreciate this finding.
After he robbed the cargo of a Mayan trader, he made this comment:
“They seemed to hold these almonds (the cocoa beans) at a great price; for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen”

We, of course, understand that extreme need for chocolate.

Take this Christopher Columbus multiple choice quiz
My favorite:
Why were his crew extremely nervous?
A. Columbus had a drinking problem so he was a bit odd at times
(Did I tell you this quiz was intended for children?)

But Columbus has not much to do with the Regency…

So, I thought you might be interested in the legalities that formed the basis of Scandalizing the Ton. These came from Nancy Mayer of the Beau Monde Chapter of RWA, who helped with this part of the story.

It has to do with a posthumous child, the unborn child of a deceased earl, in this case.

The title and inheritance cannot pass until ten months after the father’s death so that, should the man be married, his wife has time to produce the baby. If this baby is a boy he will inherit.

The wife was not allowed to say whether or not she had intercourse; the paternity of the child could only be contested if it could be proved the wife had not been in proximity of her husband. In Scandalizing the Ton, I had to be sure that Lydia’s deceased husband had been with her within a month of her encounter with Adrian. (The time sequence of Scandalizing was another thing that took some careful thinking)

Here’s a real kicker. If a widow marries again and bears a child within the ten months, she can decide whose child it is; that is, she can say it is her deceased husband’s child or her new husband’s child. The child is the legal child of whichever husband she selects.

Of course, this is not true today, but there weren’t any paternity tests in the Regency.

And speaking of Scandalizing the Ton (do I talk about anything else these days?), our sometimes commenter here, the lovely Mallory Pickerloy, went on a search for Scandalizing the Ton at her local Wallmart and she took photos.

Here’s the display of Harlequin Historicals

And here is a photo of a whole shelf. Can you see Scandalizing the Ton in there? (this is a little like Where’s Waldo?)

Here’s the photo of the whole book department there, which is a large one.

Thank you, Mallory! I am very tickled that you took the photos!!

Any other Scandalizing the Ton sightings?

Thanks to everyone who visited me yesterday. I’ll announce a winner a little later today.

(I’m also blogging about sprucing up your Golden Heart entry at Wet Noodle Posse today)

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Yes, here’s Diane Gaston, to talk about her newest release Scandalizing the Ton, and one lucky person will win a signed copy of the book–your comment or question enters you into the contest. So chat away and have fun.

4 Stars! In this spin-off of The Vanishing Viscountess, Gaston deftly portrays the era and brings back previous characters. Her sensitive, compassionate and sensual romance shows how the power of love can overcome adversity. — Joan Hammond, Romantic Times BOOKreviews

Scandalizing the Ton has everything you want in a romance novel – love and passion, scandal and secrets….Debby Guyette, Cataromance

Tell us about Scandalizing the Ton (and congrats on the great reviews!).

Scandalizing the Ton is my Regency Paparazzi story, my idea of what it would be like for a Regency lady to be the victim of the historical equivalent of the media frenzy we’ve seen around celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Or Anna Nicole Smith.

Here is the backcover blurb: Lady Wexin, once the ton’s foremost beauty, has been abandoned by her family and friends, and creditors hound her. Her husband’s scandalous death has left her impoverished and the gossip-mongering press is whipped into a frenzy of speculation when it becomes clear the widow is with child. Who is the father? Only one man knows: Adrian Pomroy, Viscount Cavanley. He has cultivated the reputation of a rake, but in truth yearns for something useful to do. Delicate beauty Lydia Wexin could pose an intriguing and stimulating challenge.

Your hero, Pom, appeared in an earlier book. (Is that really his nickname?) When you created him, did you anticipate that he would have his own story?

Sigh. I didn’t realize when Pomroy first appeared in Innocence and Impropriety that “Pom,” as his friend Tanner called him, was a derogatory Australian term for a British person. Pomroy was a minor character and I had no plans to make him a hero, even when he was mentioned in The Vanishing Viscountess, Tanner’s story. When I selected Lydia as my next heroine, though, Pomroy was the perfect hero for her because of his reputation and his connection to Tanner. I couldn’t go through the book calling him “Pom” (my British editor told me) so I gave him a courtesy title and contrived to have Lydia call him Adrian, which I thought was a pretty cool hero name. He’s Adrian throughout the book—except to Tanner.

How would you define your books?

My niche at Harlequin Historical is to write about the Regency Underworld, the darker, grittier side of the Regency. The Mysterious Miss M, my first book, set the tone with its heroine who had been forced into prostitution. Since then I’ve tries to focus on the seamier side of gambling, of the theatre, and I also sent a marquess on the run with a beautiful fugitive. Scandalizing the Ton examines the darker side of the press during the Regency.

Do you find US and UK readers have different demands or expectations, and how do you meet both?

I mostly leave this up to my editors to help me get the varying expectations correct. (See my answer above about “Pom.” – there’s a lot I don’t know about the UK !). I do believe that the UK readers would want me to get their history and their geography correct. As a result, I try to be as accurate as I can be. Mostly, though, I believe both US and UK readers primarily want a good story. That is what I try to deliver.

How did you start this book: with the characters, or with the idea of a book about paparazzi in the Regency?

I started with the character of Lydia , who had to suffer for the sins of her former husband. At the end of The Vanishing Viscountess I’d left poor Lydia , totally innocent of any wrongdoing, in a very unhappy situation. She deserved a happy ending and someone like Pomroy … Adrian … who was a light-hearted charmer, seemed perfect for her.

I originally focused on the pregnancy aspect of the story and had a villain who, in the end, abducted her baby. My editor accepted it but added, “Diane, do you realize you have ended the last three books with an abduction?”

Acck! (Amazing how blind one can be to such things) It was back to the drawing board for me. The paparazzi element had always been part of the story, but my friend Julie suggested I make the press the “villain.” Once she said that, I knew I had my story, a story I could put my heart into.

What’s your favorite scene?

Probably the initial scene when Adrian is caring for Lydia and it leads to lovemaking. I like to write these premature love scenes between two people who are obviously right for each other but who don’t even know each other yet. It’s like a foreshadowing of what is meant to be between them.

What was the most troublesome scene to write?

Oh, gosh. I can’t think of a troublesome scene (or one more troublesome than all the others). What was tricky was sustaining the love story between Lydia and Adrian when they really were not together for a significant part of the book. I did that by keeping them in each other’s thoughts and by the scene when Lydia sees Pomroy…er Adrian …pass by in a carriage.

What’s next?

The very next thing is my novella in the anthology I’m doing with Amanda and Deb Marlowe. We had such fun plotting this together. The anthology is called The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, to be released May 2009, and it will be a featured book in Harlequin’s Diamond Jubilee. Mine is the first story and here is the set-up:

When the Duke of Manning ran off with Lady Linwall it had been the scandal of its day. Did they care? Not at all. Their home, Welbourne Manor, soon housed a happy miscellany of his and theirs—but not hers, not the young son she left behind. Now all the children are grown, this estranged son is on their doorstep, and all their lives are about to change.

There are more books coming, too, but you’ll hear more about them a bit later. Scandalizing the Ton really brings to an end the series of books that began with The Mysterious Miss M, which makes me a little sad, but I ran out of characters and I was coming perilously close to the end of the Regency era. I have a new trilogy planned and this is what you’ll hear more about as time goes on.

And you can always check my website!

Ask away… your question or comment enter you into a contest for a signed copy of Scandalizing the Ton.

p.s. sneaky promo from Janet, who’s guest blogging over at Historical Romance UK today. Come on over and chat!

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When I’m writing a Regency, I like to try to be as authentic as I can be, so I do a lot of examining period house floor plans, looking at lots of photographs, thinking about carpets (see the comments on Andrea’s blog yesterday!). I almost always have a “real” house in mind for my characters, and I almost always try to set that house in a real place.

Much of Scandalizing the Ton takes place in Mayfair, so I did a lot of looking at maps of the area, trying to make certain I put Lydia’s house in a “real” part of Mayfair. When I wrote the first draft, the opening scene took place behind Lydia’s townhouse, in the mews. Note the cover. You can see the door of a stable in the background.

After I sent in the first draft of the manuscript, my editor, Linda Fildew (pictured on Amanda’s blog last Saturday), said one of the other editors walked through Mayfair at the location I’d given Lydia’s townhouse and there were no mews there. On the corner, however, there was a fence with a gate into the garden. So if you read the first scene , you’ll notice that Lydia and Adrian meet on the pavement and go through the gate to the garden. The cover had already been designed by then.

This wasn’t the end of my mapping woes, though. I received additional revisions. I thought I’d share a bit of how it went:

Linda: I’ve been poring over maps from the early 1800s and am struggling with the road layout. P1 Chesterfield Street appears to run south of Charles Street when the story has it running alongside Hill Street which is north of Charles.
From a modern map this road is called Chesterfield Hill, but can’t find this on the 1802 map of London’s streets that I’ve been looking at. Could I ask you to check this, please? You may have better recourse to maps than I do.

Diane: I’ve discovered the problem! On the modern map, the street that intersects with Hill Street is named Chesterfield Hill (Chesterfield in 1827 intersects with Curzon and Charles). In 1827 Chesterfield Hill was named John Street. I’ve made the changes.

Isn’t this the best? My editors walk Mayfair and pore over period maps!

The map I used for Scandalizing the Ton was Greenwood’s Map of London 1827 available online. Part of the Mayfair section of the map is shown above.

My question….Does it matter to you that the geography is right?

For more about the history of gossip and scandal that inspired Scandalizing the Ton, take a peek at my Behind the Scenes feature. For more of my mapping adventures check this Behind the Scenes.

I have a new contest on my website, several chances to win some of my backlist.

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My oldest friend…er, I should say, my friend for the longest time...came into town and we took a little road trip in Maryland.

Barbara and I knew each other in high school in Alabama. We both lived in Ft. McClellan, then an army post. I showed you photos of my house there and talked about the trip we took to our (censored) year High School Reunion in 2006. That was Excellent Adventure, Part 2

But we also had Excellent Adventure, Part 1 in October of 2005, when my last Diane Perkins book was released.

This Excellent Adventure, Part 3 took Barbara and me to Baltimore and Annapolis where it mostly rained and we mostly wandered from restaurant to restaurant. Seriously, we had Maryland steamed crabs and I’ll bet very few of you did that over the weekend. Tie in to Risky Regencies — we saw the Baltimore Basilica, America’s first cathedral, built during the Regency. In Annapolis we stayed at the Robert Johnson House, now a historic inn but during the Regency, a private home.

In Baltimore we stopped by the Barnes & Noble at the Inner Harbor and found Scandalizing the Ton. Here’s proof!

The highlight of our trip, however, was our first stop at Edgewood Arsenal, an army post where both Barbara and I lived twice, but never at the exact same time. In those days it was called Army Chemical Center but they changed the name when “Chemical Center” became politically incorrect-or so I suppose.

Army Chemical Center was a beautiful post on the banks of the Gunpowder River. It was a wonderful place to be a kid, with no end of things to do. We could walk to the library, the movie theatre, could ride bikes to the swimming pool and around the post along the river. We played tennis in the evenings, practically in our back yard.

I lived in an old farmhouse with bricks dating back to the 1700s (tie in to Risky Regencies…this house existed during the Regency) There’s an historic sign outside it that says Presbury Preaching House. Barbara lived in a house on the river very nearby.

My house (and me):
I found this online and it must refer to the family that owned my house.

Early Methodist usually built a preaching house and school on the same grounds. Private homes were also used to hold meetings. Such meetings were held at the home of James Presbury, father of Joseph Presbury. Joseph Presbury donated land for the Old Brick Church of Gunpowder Neck, December 23, 1772, where the earliest written record of a quarterly conference is still available.

Barbara’s house (and Barbara):

The heartbreaking part of this is that my old historic house is a shambles, the wood unpainted, the porch and the grounds full of clutter. At some point it had been turned into offices, but it was not in use now. There is scaffolding on one end so maybe there is some effort to restore it, but no one worked on it while we were there.

Even the residences in use, beautiful houses, probably build in the 1940s, like Barbara’s old house, had peeling paint in places.
The whole post was deteriorating, paint peeling, some buildings deserted, very little activity. It was very sad.

But we were ecstatic that we’d found where we’d lived.

Have you traveled back to your childhood homes? Or are you there still?

Have you had any Scandalizing the Ton sightings? The release date is Oct 1 so it should be showing up on the shelves.

I have a new contest on my website. Several chances to win books from my backlist.

And there’s still time to donate to Cystic Fibrosis for our Unleash the Story challenge.

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This blog is dedicated to Amanda who should be frolicking in Paris at this very moment!

Today, Sept 22, marks the 216th anniversary of the first date on French Republican Calendar, or it does as long as you don’t count time the French Revolutionary way.

What egotists these revolutionaries must have been. They decided to count time differently than the rest of the world and what they invented seemed to be a mess. Here’s what they did.

The French Republican calendar began on Sept 22, 1792, the day of the French proclamation of the Republic. Of course, they didn’t decide this until a year later so Year I (they counted in Roman Numerals, which certainly would have become an issue when computers came along) had already gone by. The new year started with the Autumnal equinox, so it was slightly different each year.

There were twelve months, three months in each of the four seasons. The names of the months all had to do with weather and agriculture. The first month (our Sept-Oct) was called Vendémiaire or “Grape Harvest.” No confusion there. Next, around our Oct 22-23 comes Brumaire or “Fog” followed by “Frost.” I won’t exert myself to name them all, but one of the summer months Thermidore pops up today when we order Lobster Thermidore from our ritzy restaurant menu. There is some sense to dividing the months into seasons (hey, Pope Gregory figured that in the 1500s, giving us our present day calendar) and to naming them for what they are, I grant the Revolutionists that. Of course, these names made no sense to French territories around the world with completely different climates. Even so, it made dates sound very pretty, like “Dix Thermidor An II” – the day Robespierre was executed.

The Revolutionists were quite clever in changing the length of the week from 7 days to 10 days, the 10th day being the day of rest. You have to hand it to these champions of the common citizen; they figured out how to lengthen the work week by three days. Eventually the citizenry caught on that they were working more and the number of days in a week had to change back.

They were very unimaginative in naming the days of the week, however. Translated from the French, a language that sounds beautiful no matter what, the days of the week were called first day, second day, third day, and so on.

This decimal system caught on with these guys. A day lasted 10 hours, an hour 100 minutes, and a minute 100 seconds. Pretty cool if you were paying an hourly wage since the hour was nearly twice as long. This lasted only two years, though, and the only benefit has been to those lucky people who own antique clocks displaying Revolutionary time.

As you can guess, this was a confusing mess and although the Revolutionists declared that their calendar would right the wrongs of the old Gregorian calendar, it instead created an even more confusing system of leap years. In 1806 Napoleon did away with this nonsense and Gregorian time was restored. I can almost visualize him sweeping his hand and saying (in pretty French), “Enough! Back to the old way. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

You have to wonder what the English thought of the French hubris in reinventing time. One imagines a lot of shaking heads and out-loud guffaws.

On the other hand, until 1751 England had refused to use the Gregorian calendar because it was “papist.” When they did change, there had to be an adjustment of 11 days, so Sept 2, 1752 was followed by Sept 14. Hogarth painted a picture of the citizenry rioting and shouting, “Give Us Our Eleven Days.” Of course there is no evidence that any rioting happened.

If you could change time, what would you do? I’d give myself a couple extra weeks to finish my w-i-p.

I give total credit for this information to Wikipedia

I’m still fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis

Countdown to Scandalizing the Ton release day—Nine!

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