Articles By Brenda Webb

About Brenda Webb

Before my obsession with all things Jane Austen, I worked as an administrative assistant to the president of a CPA firm. No longer working in that industry, thankfully, I enjoy spending time with my family and indulging my love of storytelling. Born on a farm in Cullman, Alabama, I proudly admit to being a country girl, and after years of living in the city, I have finally achieved my dream of moving back to the country. My husband and I now reside on a three acre mini-farm, sporting chickens and numerous rescued dogs and cats. Always a voracious reader, I rediscovered Jane Austen books after watching the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie. Searching for everything relating to Miss Austen, I eventually stumbled into the world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. After reading many of other people’s stories, I decided to try my hand at writing a tale that kept coming to mind and began posting that story on online. By November of 2010, I started my own forum, DarcyandLizzy.com, and many readers followed me to this site. Several of my friends insisted that I publish, and in April 2011, Fitzwilliam Darcy an Honourable Man became available on Amazon.com. It was followed by Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love in December 2012, and I am currently posting my next book, Darcy and Elizabeth, A Most Unlikely Couple on the forum. It will be published this summer. Anyone is welcome to join the forum and read my new stories before they are published, as well as stories by an array of talented JAFF writers. Just register at www.darcyandlizzy.com/forum.

Writers Contest

WRITERS CONTEST
As a reward  for the lovely writers who take time to post their stories on the forum, we are starting a new contest. 
Beginning July 1, 2018 and going thru December 31, 2018, all writers who post a story on DarcyandLizzy.com for at least four consecutive weeks (of course of a reasonable length a chapter . . .  no fudging) will be entered in a drawing for three Amazon gift cards to be awarded within two weeks of the contest end. Grand prize will be for $100 gift card and the next two prizes are $25 cards.

In the following six-month period (Jan. 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019) a writer can be eligible for one of the lesser prizes again, but not the $100 card until they have ‘sat out’ a six-month period in between.

Here is how you can increase the odds of winning: After you post for four consecutive weeks, your name is put in the pot. For every four-week period you post after that, your name gets put in the pot again. As you can see, for the benefit of this contest it would be more beneficial to post once a week for four weeks, rather than four times in one week.

I have added this because of questions asked: How long your story is will be up to you. To be fair, however, chapters should be at or close to 3000 words. Of course, the longer the story, the more times you name could be added to the pot.

We hope you will keep this in mind when you post next.

Mr. and Mrs. and More!

The following post is from DAILY WRITING TIPS website and details the permutations of abbreviations for courtesy titles. I thought it very interesting and hope you will too.

Mister developed as a variant of master. (Interestingly, the newer title came to pertain to married men, while master, once a title of respect for a social superior, was reserved for unmarried men and boys.) Originally, both master and mister were abbreviated Mr. before a person’s name as a courtesy title, but as master fell out of use, Mr. came to be applied solely as an abbreviation for mister.

Mrs. was originally a generic abbreviation of mistress before a name, but it developed into a courtesy title specifically for a married or widowed woman, while Miss, with no abbreviation, was adopted as an honorific for unmarried women. Ms. began as a variant abbreviation of mistress as a courtesy title in the 1600s but fell out of favor. (At the turn of the twentieth century, it was proposed as a substitute form of address for a woman whose marital status is unknown, but the idea did not gain traction, nor did the abbreviation catch on fifty years later when a couple of business publications brought the issue up again. However, after feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem adopted the abbreviation as the title of a new magazine for women in 1972, its use quickly spread.)

Because no native plural form of Mr. or Mrs. developed in English, the French abbreviations Messrs. (Messieurs) and Mmes. (Mesdames) were borrowed; Mses. developed in imitation, and the plural form of Miss, Misses, like the singular form, did not acquire an abbreviation. Because of the decline in use of such honorifics, the plural forms are rarely seen anymore.

As a reference to a man who embodies a certain quality, Mr. appears in such references as “Mr. Right” (the ideal man for a woman to marry) or “Mr. Big” (a man of significant authority and/or status). Missus, a derivative of mistress based on a casual pronunciation of the latter word, and Miz, a spelling based on the pronunciation of Mrs. or Miss in the southern United States, should generally be used only in dialogue in historically or geographically appropriate fiction. However, “the Mrs.” or “the missus,” spelled as shown as humorous references to one’s wife, are appropriate in informal writing.

I hope you learned something new, for I did!

 

  Brother, can you spare a dime? + An Announcement

Announcement

It has been said that all good things must come to an end, and I have found that adage to be true. Today, it is with a sad heart that I announce I am leaving Austen Authors. I began my journey with this group unsure if I could handle the duties of my forum, DarcyandLizzy.Com, write books and be a part of this wonderful group in light of my health concerns and my obligations to an older member of my family. Still, for over a year I managed to do it all and had a great time in the bargain!

Alas, nothing ever stays the same and as things have changed, I found that is no longer the case. Thus, I have decided to concentrate on my forum and what I really enjoy—writing. Though I will no longer be a part of this lovely group, I shall always appreciate the opportunity to participate that Sharon and Regina gave me.

I am not leaving JAFF and I will continue to support my friends at Austen Authors in every way possible. Hopefully, I will still see many of you on the forum and our Facebook pages.

Hugs and the best of luck to one and all!

Brenda

~~~~~~***~~~~~~

BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME!

One thing I love about writing Regency stories is that you learn a lot doing research. A new term I came across while I was writing Darcy and Elizabeth – A Promise Kept was money box. Like most, I had heard of a piggybank, but I had not heard the term money box. It seems both of these names were used during different periods in time, though the term money box was used most often until the late 19th century.

After reading about them, I went in search of pictures, and it quickly became evident that common money boxes of the early 1800’s were just plain ugly. Still, I decided to incorporate a money box into my latest story and share some of the pictures and information with you.

Pottery-money-box Tudor-Green-Ware
Pottery-money-box Tudor-Green-Ware

The practice of collecting coins by putting them in ceramic vessels dates back to ancient China. At some point, a clever bureaucrat must have figured out that using ceramic jars with a small slit near the top as their only

Crude yellow clay Money box 16th century
Crude yellow clay Money box 16th century

opening would ensure all taxes collected would be turned over to the tax authority. The populace dropped their taxes (coins) into the jar, and once finished, the collector had only to deliver the coin-filled jar.

By the Tudor period, the practice of ceramic boxes had spread to England where they were called money boxes or money jars. We most often think of a box as a square or rectangular container, but in its earliest meaning, a

box was a receptacle made of any material, in any shape, which held drugs, perfumes or valuables. Therefore, it was perfectly logical to call the pottery vessels in which coins were kept money boxes.

During the Regency period, a wide range of money boxes

16th or 17th Century Money Box
16th or 17th Century Money Box

were still in use, primarily by servants and their children. They were cheaply produced, of various shapes and sizes, but typically 10-15 cm tall and round, usually glazed in brown or green, had a penny sized slot cut into them and a characteristic ‘knob’ molded on top. Nearly all servants used one to hold spare coins collected over the course of the year. By tradition, on Boxing Day, they would smash the box and use the money to enjoy themselves and buy a new box for the coming year. For that reason, these money boxes were also known as Christmas boxes and rattling boxes.

Boxes were also purchased by the middle and lower classes as gifts for babies and young children.

It was customary for a parent or god-parent to give a baby a money box into which they placed a few

1586 -1603 English Money Box
1586 -1603 Money Box 

coins to start the child’s savings. Each year, on the child’s birthday or name day, family and friends might make gifts of coins which would be dropped into the child’s money box.

Dutch Delft Dog circa 1700
Dutch Delft Dog circa 1700

As they got older, children might also earn a few coins from time to time which they also slipped into their money box. Typically, the money box was entrusted to the child’s mother, who would safeguard it and present it to the child when they came of age. Though it seems the upper classes seldom bothered with money boxes, it is always possible that a doting and/or eccentric relative might give a more expensive money box to a child and slip coins into it each year on that child’s birthday as well.

Because the nature of the money box dictated it had to be destroyed to access the coins, most were made quickly and sold cheaply. Making square or rectangular objects was more labor-intensive; thus, for centuries most were made in the shape of simple jars with a small finial or button on the top. By the turn of the eighteenth century, potters began making them domed-shaped with decorated surfaces. After being coated with a yellow glaze, these pineapple-shaped boxes sold well, and with the use of simple designs, colored glazes and cheap child labor, many potters developed a steady business.

With the advent of ceramic molding, various shapes became inexpensive to create; thus, chicken shaped boxes were turned out in great numbers. Having a palette of white, yellow, red and brown glazes, they looked quite realistic. Then, as the nineteenth century began, dogs, cats, cows, sheep, elephants and lions joined the line-up. Buildings, primarily ceramic cottages and castles, were available at the beginning of the Regency period and by 1820, were increasingly more elaborate and expensive. Afterward, they were purchased more for household ornaments than for vessels in which to save money.

Very few money boxes have survived since they were smashed when their owner wanted the coins contained within, but I have included some photos of the nicer and more interesting ones below—some from other countries.

A Fabergé silver money box, Moscow, 1908-1917, the lid inset with 1 poltina silver coin of Empress Anna Ioannovna (dated 1732), the sides with trompe l'oeil casket straps, gilt interior
A Fabergé silver money box, Moscow, 1908-1917, the lid inset with 1 poltina silver coin of Empress Anna Ioannovna (dated 1732), the sides with trompe l’oeil casket straps, gilt interior

 

A rare English earthenware pottery stoneware saltglaze money bank.  Decorated with relief molded images of a portly gentleman with a tankard of frothing ale, windmills and dogs. The side of the box has an image of a huntsman on horse chasing a fox.
A rare English earthenware pottery stoneware saltglaze money bank. Decorated with relief molded images of a portly gentleman with a tankard of frothing ale, windmills and dogs. The side of the box has an image of a huntsman on horse chasing a fox.

Money Box Heads

Early Staffordshire Money Box Heads In the early 19th century, circa 1820, these were a tuppence a ton, widely made and given to children to encourage savings. However, as the only way to get the money out was to smash them, not many have survived.

~~~~~***~~~~~

Did you have a piggybank when you were a child and, if so, did you save for a specific purpose? I remember saving my money for our summer vacations and how thrilling it was to buy a souvenir that I selected. It would take several days before I would choose which one I simply had to have! How about you? Do you have any piggybank memories to share? I’d love to hear about them.

Information in this post came in part from: regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/pottery-money-boxes-of-the-regency/  and www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Piggy_Bank

Welcome to DarcyandLizzy.com!

welcome international

We are so glad that you found DarcyandLizzy.com! If you have come to join the forum and read JAFF stories free, please click on the pink DarcyandLizzy badge on the right side of the page. It will take you to the page to ‘sign-up’ for the forum. Once on the forum, you can easily come back to this blog to read the posts here. See you on the boards! 

 

By the way, some people have asked how to comment. Just under the heading of each post is Discussions: Comment.  Just click on Comment!

Who You Really Are?

Posted on Austen Authors on by • And Shared on this Blog!

After my last blog post, I heard from so many fellow writers, and a good many friends, who said that they were introverts, too. Many came as a surprise, especially among the writers I know and admire. In hindsight, I fear that I assumed that most writers were extroverts because of their ability to promote themselves and their books so well. Now I know that is not always the case.

However, having so many of my fellow authors claim they are introverts made me wonder how many well-known writers were, too. I looked for a list, but found that writers were always included as part of a larger list of famous introverts. After reading dozens of lists, J. K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss and Edgar Allan Poe were the only authors who were mentioned repeatedly. Below are just a few other famous introverts that were listed:

Clint Eastwood  Bill Gates  Abraham Lincoln  Audrey Hepburn  Eleanor Roosevelt  Sir Isaac Newton  Albert Einstein  Meg Ryan

Mahatma Gandhi  Laura Bush  Rosa Parks  Warren Buffet  Roy Rogers  Marilyn Monroe  Tom Hanks  Candice Bergen

George Stephanopoulos  Johnny Carson  Harper Lee

Best Day Ever

While I was researching introverts and extroverts, I found that you are not just one or the other. There are a number of variations of each and personality tests that will reveal which type you are.

Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, first published their test, the MBTI, in 1962, after studying the work of Carl Jung since the 1940s. Jung believed everyone experiences the world through four principal psychological functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking and that one is dominant most of the time. Katharine and Isabel gave his theory a practical application: to help women entering the industrial workforce for the first time to identify the sort of war-time jobs that would be “most comfortable and effective” for them.

Here is a chart that shows the different personality types on the MBTI:

MBTItypeChart Larger

And here are what the letters stand for:

The first letter is for introvert (I) or extrovert (E).

Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

I thought it might be fun to use this information to categorize some of our favorite Austen characters, and luckily came across this MBTI chart with the characters in Pride and Prejudice already done.

pride and prejudice personality chart larger

I think it hard to pin-point everyone precisely, but I cannot agree with some of these. For instance, Caroline is ISFJ which is ‘amiable and ready to sacrifice?’ I don’t picture Caroline as either of these. Georgiana is classed as ENFP, which is an extrovert and described as ‘life of the party?’ And Mr. Collins, who is ISTP, does not impress me as someone who is unpretentious—not attempting to impress others with an appearance of greater importance, talent, or culture than is actually possessed.

I do think it fascinating that Darcy and Lizzy are alike except when it comes down to T or P. Darcy thinks while Lizzy feels. What do you think? Do you agree with the type assigned to your favourite character? I would love to hear your opinion!

Meanwhile, if you wonder what type personality you are, there is a free MBTI test at this link. Free Personality Test

A more in-depth test can be had for a fee at the Briggs and Meyer Foundation. Myers Briggs Foundation

 

A Real Writer? Plus a preview of my next book!

Shared from Austen Authors blog

I confess I do not fit many people’s idea of what a real writer should be. Snoopy-the-writerMy confession may sound odd coming from someone who has published three books, has two more in the works, and belongs to Austen Authors, however, I got to where I am today by the hardest route— kicking and screaming all the way.

You see, I am an introvert. I would like nothing better than to crawl in a cave and write, emerging only to publish whenever I finish a book. Alas, in today’s world, there are so many people publishing, especially those new to JAFF, it seems one has to at least try to promote their books in order to sell them. And, since sales of my books are important to my livelihood, I had no choice but to crawl out of my cave!

Why don’t I consider myself writer material? The main reason is that I am not comfortable tooting my own horn. I was raised in an age when one did not self-promote. That makes it difficult for me to boast of good reviews and accolades. Moreover, I SMspend more time on FB talking to the people I went to school with than posting writer stuff. While I am on Twitter, I only tweet the articles on Austen Authors and the things happening on DarcyandLizzy.com. So, I have a long way to go using social media.

Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with promoting yourself and your books, but when I read about all the things my fellow writers are doing—writing seminars, ‘how to’ programs, dictating devices, special book writing apps, giving lectures, exhaustive research, JAFF organization meetings, to name a few—it makes me tired just thinking about it. At my age, I need to use all my focus to get the stories in my mind on paper while I can still remember them. smiles

While every person has their own way of writing, I stick with the basics. This means pulling up a Word document, thinking up alarge_You_know_you_re_a_writerunique plot, and getting started. Fortunately, I have never had problems imagining plots, and once I begin a tale, I cannot wait to get the story written.

I plan to publish my current story, Darcy and Elizabeth, A Promise Kept,in late February or early March, so be on the lookout for it. For those who aren’t following my posts on DarcyandLizzy.com, there is an excerpt below from the first chapter. I hope you will enjoy this little taste of my latest book. Let me know what you think!

 

 

400 X 600

 

Excerpt from Chapter One of Darcy and Elizabeth – A Promise Kept

William nodded and turned back to the windows. Millicent waited until the colonel was completely out of sight and then surreptitiously studied the man she had always loved, who by now was watching some horses frolic in a distant pasture. While his eyes were glued to the bucolic scene, he sipped a glass of brandy.

“A penny for your thoughts.”

Sighing deeply before he answered, William said, “I was thinking of Georgiana and wondering how she is faring now that she and Lord Charlton have settled in Ireland.”

“Are you worried about the marriage? I thought you approved of him.”

“I had no choice but to approve. Though I was not a great admirer of his late father, I could find no evidence that the son was not a gentleman in every sense of the word. None of my friends had anything bad to say about him, either. Still, I tried to persuade Georgiana to continue the engagement another year, just to be certain. She refused.”

“One and twenty is not too young to know your heart or to marry, Fitzwilliam, and, thanks largely to you, Georgiana has always been sensible.”

“I suppose you are right.”

Hoping to persuade him before Richard’s return, she broached the subject of staying longer. “Can I not convince you to wait until the end of the week to return to Pemberley? With the children at their grandmother’s estate, the house will be entirely too quiet after you leave.”

Glancing at her sideways, William said, “I thought your cousins were staying.”

“They are; however, they are not my idea of stimulating company. I fear that I shocked them when I chose to ride to the hounds alongside the men.”

William could not suppress a grin. “Perhaps that is because a lady is expected to ride side-saddle.”

“Then I suppose I am not a lady! And make no mistake—my cousins will lecture me about my misconduct until the day they leave.” Then she grinned. “And you, sir, have managed to change the subject. Will you not at least stay long enough to see the children?”

“I cannot possibly stay. There are issues that require my attention at Pemberley.”

“Why ever not? Lord knows you pay your stewards well to handle your estates. And you will just bury yourself in work at Pemberley—anything to keep from participating in the real business of life.”

“I have no idea what you mean.”

“I thought you abhorred deceit, Fitzwilliam! For years I have had to threaten to have Richard bring you against your will; otherwise, you would never have left your cave. Will you just admit that you enjoyed yourself once you arrived?”

“I was pleased to be in both your company and my cousin’s, and I enjoyed participating in the hunt,” William replied. Pensively, he took another sip of brandy before continuing. “I cannot say I enjoyed being on display again.”

“What do you expect? You are one of the most eligible men in all of England and will always garner the attention of parents with unmarried daughters. And the widows cannot help but flaunt themselves at you, praying to catch your eye.”

“I am only interested in one widow, and she will not agree to marry me.”

Millicent turned to examine William’s face for a certain truth. Not finding it, she walked over to a nearby chair and sat down. Wearily she said, “We have had this conversation far too many times.”

“Just because I am not madly in love with you does not mean we would not do well together. My father was of the opinion that friendship should outweigh love when two people speak of marriage. He and Mother were only friends when they married.”

“You were not formed for a marriage of convenience, Fitzwilliam, and marrying me would be exactly that. Besides, I am of the opinion that the heartache which permeates you so deeply is the result of an unrequited love.”

William’s brows knit as his voice rose. “As I have tried to tell you time and again, I have suffered no such heartache.”  

I am currently posting this story on the forum, so you may click on the Pink Button, Top Right to go there to read it.

RESOLVING NOT TO RESOLVE! (shared from Austen Authors)

 

Early 20th-century New Year's resolution postcards
Early 20th-century New Year’s resolution postcards

Have you already broken your New Year’s resolutions? I confess that I haven’t! Of course, that’s simply because I never made any. I used to make resolutions when I was younger, but then I realized I lacked the “want to” to follow through. The cartoon below represents my current way of dealing with those who ask if I’ve made any resolutions.

Hobbs pic

Still, after seeing so many mentions of resolutions in social media, some posted by my fellow Austen Authors, I began to wonder why the tradition began and when? Here’s some of what I learned.

It seems the Babylonians made promises to their gods in March of each year. BabylonOddly, their resolutions had to do with returning borrowed objects and paying their debts. Now, those are resolutions I could get behind! And, with any luck, the neighbor who borrows all our tools would be reminded to return them at least once a year!

Then came the Romans, who began each year by making promises to the god Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards towards the old year and forwards into the new. Their resolutions had a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others. This seems odd to me since they spent so much time conquering and plundering so many countries, but who am I to judge.

Janus
Janus

Then, when the Roman Empire took Christianity as its official state religion in the 4th century, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting. Christians chose to observe the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1st in place of the revelry indulged in by those who did not share the faith.

Supposedly, medieval knights had their own version of the New Year’s resolution called The Vow of the Peacock or of The Pheasant. One by one, during the last feast of the Christmas week, they would place their hands on a live or roasted peacock, brought in with great pomp in a large vessel of gold or silver by a bevy of ladies. It was presented to each in turn, and each madePeacock vow his vow to recommit themselves, for the next twelve months, to the ideals of chivalry. Afterward the bird was set upon the table to be divided amongst all present. The flesh of the peacock (or of the pheasant) according to the old romances, was the peculiar diet of valiant knights and heart-stricken lovers. Charles Dickens wrote about these oaths in a Victorian periodical he founded, All the Year Round.

The tradition has other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Jews reflect upon their wrongdoings and both seek and offer forgiveness. Christians act similarly during Lent, although the motive is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. In fact, the practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect annually upon how one can improve oneself.

I searched for lists of the most common resolutions, lists of which resolutions were most often broken and the length of time most resolutions were kept. Here they are in order:

Top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2015

  1. Lose weight and get fit
  2. Get organized
  3. Get out of debt and save money
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Eat healthier and diet
  6. Learn something new
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others achieve their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Lose weight and get fit
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Learn something new
  4. Eat healthier and diet
  5. Get out of debt and save money
  6. Spend more time with family
  7. Travel to new places
  8. Be less stressed
  9. Volunteer
  10. Drink Less

Length most resolutions are kept (enough said)

  1. One week – 75%
  2. Two weeks – 71%
  3. One month – 64%
  4. Six months – 46%

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finally, I saw this meme and thought these resolutions had a lot of merit even if vacuum is misspelled, so I am sharing it with you!

My dogs recs

Now, since I confessed that I stink at keeping resolutions, I wondered about you? Am I the only one? Does something have you buffaloed? For me it was and is exercising more.Exercise

If there’s something that has you intimidated, would you be willing to admit it? Remember confession is good for the soul. And, for those who obviously have their act together because they keep their resolutions, here is your chance to brag in the comments! I hope you will.

Information for this post came from: http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2040218_2040220_2040221,00.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_resolution And http://billpetro.com/history-of-new-years-resolutions

 

 

Christmases Past & A Giveaway

Reposted from Austen Authors!

One tradition I love most this time of year is watching Christmas movies—some I have watched every year since I was a child.

My favorites are the older movies: It’s A Wonderful Life,Its a wonderful life Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version), The Bishop’s Wife (Cary Grant version), A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version), White Christmas and Holiday Inn.

Miracle on 34th Street
Miracle on 34th Street

 

The Bishops Wife
The Bishops Wife

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grinch
The Grinch

I also enjoy some of the newer offerings like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Polar-ExpressCarrey version) and The Polar Express.

 

And, I would be remiss if I did not mention the animated classics: Frosty the Snowman and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yes, I confess I even like to watch the cartoons.Frosty The Snowman

While considering the movies which had left an indelible impression on me all these years, however, I began to wonder if those were the same movies that had impressed the majority of people. Therefore I googled lists of the top ten Christmas movies and, boy, was I in for a shock! These are not your grandparents’ favorites, or likely your mother’s and father’s, either.

Forbes list of the Ten Best Christmas Movies (feature films, not animated) included Die Hard (Can you believe it was #1?) and they had two others I had never heard of—Brazil and 1941. I suppose I am just too old-fashioned (or maybe just too old), but I never dreamed Die Hard would go down in history (with apologies to Rudolph!) as a Christmas classic.

Thinking this had to be an aberration, I looked for additional top ten Christmas movie lists and found some were worse than Forbes’, in my opinion. Many included Gremlins, Home Alone, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (I was afraid to look that one up to see what it was about) in their top ten. Are any of those movies your Christmas favorites?

I was beginning to worry I was the only one out of step when I found this list from AMC.com and felt somewhat vindicated:

  1. Elf
  2. It’s A Wonderful Life
  3. Home Alone
  4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  6. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  7. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  8. Miracle On 34th Street
  9. A Christmas Story
  10. Frosty The Snowman

So tell me. What movies do you associate with Christmas? If you absolutely love Die Hard, I apologize for disparaging it. Still, I would love to know your top three favorites and see if anyone is as old-fashioned as I am.

Since it is Christmas, I am giving away two prizes: A lovely 2016 JAFF Calendar from JT Originals 2016 300x234(http://www.jt-originals.com/2016-calendar.html) to the first name picked in a random drawing and a PandP Christmas Tree Ornamentpair of Darcy and Elizabeth Christmas Tree Ornaments to the second. Just comment before Friday at midnight CST and your name will be included in the drawing.

And, because I am incapable of leaving you with “vision of sugar plums” dancing in your heads, I am leaving you with pictures of Chatsworth (Pemberley in my heart) as it looks when decorated for Christmas.  And, as Tiny Tim said, “A Merry Christmas to us all. God bless us, every one!

Chatsworth-House-at-Christmas

christmas-generic

Chatsworth xmas

chatsworth-opener_2078637b

England Derbyshire Chatsworth House by kev747

stream_img

Thanksgiving Nostalgia (shared from Austen Authors )

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

When I realized that my post this month would fall on Thanksgiving, I had two thoughts. First, that everyone might be too busy cooking and eating to read it and, second, that Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the Regency stories I love to write. While there were harvest festivals and such, there were no Thanksgiving celebrations as we Americans (and Canadians) know them. I mention this because I like to share Regency information in my posts.

I have often wished I could include a Thanksgiving celebration in one of my books. Not only is that is my favorite holiday, but I can easily imagine Darcy being forced, for Lizzy’s sake, to spend every Thanksgiving either at Longbourn or with the Bennets at Pemberley. Can’t you imagine him suffering through Mrs. Bennet’s effusions over the roast pheasant every year? However, since I’m very reluctant to change continents or write a modern story, that will probably never happen.

Still, I was bound and determined to include my favorite picture of Thanksgiving in this post, so I started there. The painting below, Freedom From Want,  is by America’s beloved painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell, and it best exemplifies what I remember of Thanksgivings spent at my grandparents’ farm in Cullman County, Alabama, as a child.

 

Freedom From Want
Freedom From Want

And, once I found this painting I realized what this post needed to be about. Norman Rockwell included this picture in a series of oil paintings in 1943 he called the FOUR FREEDOMS.

These are among his best-known works and at one time, were commonly displayed in post offices, schools, clubs, railroad stations and a variety of public buildings.

Freedom of Worship
Freedom of Worship

 

Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Speech

 

Freedom From Fear
Freedom From Fear

These paintings—Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want—illustrate President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 1941 State of the Union address in which he identified essential human rights which should be universally protected. In my opinion, they represent America as our forefathers designed it—one nation, under God, indivisible. Our Declaration of Independence, which pre-dates and pre-exists the Constitution, states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

I thank God every day that I was born in the “land of the free,” and I try to pray for those who were not as fortunate. At this Thanksgiving, let those of us who value freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech and freedom to worship, make our voices heard.

My wish for you and your family is that your day is filled with love, laughter and thanksgiving for your blessings. To help bring you laughter, I am posting another of my favorite Rockwell Thanksgiving paintings, “Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey
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Off to Gretna Green and a giveaway!

Off to Gretna Green and a giveaway!

SHARED FROM AUSTEN AUTHORS

Do you just love those scenes in Jane Austen fanfiction where a couple we care about elopes to Gretna Green?Road to GG London Illustrated News 1871 2

The Elopement by John Collet
The Elopement by John Collet

Whether it’s Darcy and Elizabeth or some other couple we are rooting for, it seems so romantic to picture them rushing off to be married. Of course, we also cringe when a naughty couple such as Wickham and (fill in the blank) do the same. Still, I love to read about Gretna Green, and I thought I would share just a little about this life-changing village in Scotland and why it became legendary.

 

Arrival at Gretna Green
Arrival at Gretna Green

The reason for the exodus to Gretna Green was the Marriage Act of 1753—Lord Chancellor Hardwicke’s Act for the Prevention of Clandestine Marriages. The law passed after a good deal of debate about regularizing marriages to protect wealthy families from having their offspring preyed upon. Prior to this, London was infamous for “Fleet marriages” performed by clergymen who were in Fleet Prison for debtors.

Fleet Prison
Fleet Prison

Clergymen could live in the “Rules” area, just outside the prison (meant to provide them a sanctuary) and there they performed questionable marriages. They could not be fined for performing these marriages and were effectively beyond the law. The Fleet weddings were the bane of many a rich family. Underage heiresses were tricked or kidnapped and forced into marriages by unscrupulous men. Fathers also complained of sons who had married unsuitable brides. Even two dukes saw their sons married in these secret ceremonies. However with the Marriage Act, by 1754 the informal wedding had been swept away.

Under the act, clandestine or common-law marriages in England were made illegal. Now marriages required an official ceremony performed by a Church of England priest, unless the couple was Jewish or Quaker. The groom and bride had to each be 21 years of age, or have the consent of their parents or guardians. The wedding had to take place during daylight hours in a parish church within the Church of England’s jurisdiction. Banns had to be read for three Sundays prior to the ceremony, and the curate would ask if anyone knew any reason why either the man or woman could not marry. If the couple lived in separate parishes, the banns had to be called in each. Lastly, a license had to be obtained and the marriage recorded in the parish church.

Special Licenses avoided all these requirements but had to be obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury,4589307480_3f83dfee60 and the names of those to be married had to be written on the license. These constraints did not help those wishing to marry against the wishes of their families. By requiring parental consent, the act gave parents the right to reject any marriage they considered undesirable. A clergyman who performed an illegal marriage could be transported for up to fourteen years. Yikes!

This act also applied in Wales and Ireland. However, it did not apply to Scotland which was under its own legal system and where the age of consent was 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Hence marriages at Gretna Green became popular. It was not the only Scottish Border village destination, though it was the first village over the border on the main west coast route from England. It was not the closest place if you went north from London. If you went up the Great North Road to Scotland, it would take you to Coldstream Bridge or Mordington or Lamberton Toll, all on the eastern side of the country.

Moreover, marriage records show a number of Irish couples married in Scotland to thwart the Irish marriage laws. Gretna Green was not the most popular venue for the Irish, however. Instead they headed for Portpatrick in Wigtownshire on the far west coast because there was a daily packet boat service from Ireland to that village. Finally, the eloping couple didn’t necessarily need to go to Scotland at all. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man also allowed for clandestine marriages before their laws were changed.

Gretna-Green-Scotland-Eloping-Three-1024x768One had to be absolutely certain they were in Scottish territory when the marriage took place. The Berwick toll keeper, who usually presided over the weddings for those who crossed into Scotland there, was sent to prison for performing a ceremony in Berwick town itself, which was in England.

Under Scotland’s irregular marriage traditions, anybody could perform marriages whether they were farmers, the blacksmith, the toll masters, the landlord of the local tavern, a passing highwayman or a local smuggler. So, contrary to the common tradition of “anvil priests,” the blacksmith was not the only person who could marry a couple.

After reading this, I began to wonder if I would actually feel married if the ceremony was performed by a blacksmith, much less a highwayman or smuggler! How binding would that seem? I would love to hear your views on the subject.

 Information in this post came from the following: http://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/2013/11/ten-fascinating-facts-about-gretna-green.html  and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrigley_abduction

 

 

I had new covers created for my books, “Fitzwilliam Darcy An Honourable Man” and “Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love” and in celebration, I am giving away a Kindle e-book of each. Just leave a comment to this post by Midnight Friday (CST) if you would like to be in the drawing. Fitzwilliam Darcy An Honourable Man Mr. Darcy's Forbidden Love

 

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