So I decided to go turbanless (I don't want the faux sequined shawl for this) and actually tried to do my hair. I never practice hair. But I found out that my tiny curling iron will curl my hair from straight, which is good. I may or may not wrap the strip of fabric I hemmed for the bird dress around my head. We will see.
The plan had been to make the pants for the beach pajamas. And fix the straps. I moved them a tiny bit after checking them and didn't check them again. Never a good plan!
But it's earlyish. I still may do something...
The trip home continued my streak of good travel luck--not only was jennil at the airport (it was so nice to have more time to catch up! It's been so long!) my flight got in half an hour early!
I've even unpacked and fixed the handle on my suitcase--the screw in the handle came out. It was easy--unzip the lining, find the missing bolt, and screw it back in. I also tightened the other screws since they weren't sticking out of the backs of the bolts.
Anyway, I'm very much in the mood to sew, but I think I only have machine sewing. But I might make the beach pajamas belt by hand to avoid turning a tube. I hate turning tubes more than just about anything sewing wise...
This is the second novella length story in my Unquiet Spirits series:
- Buried With Him – short story,
- The Wages of Sin – novella
- Communion – short story
- Waters of the Deep – novella
Charles and Jasper have been living together for a while, having moved in to Jasper’s house and adopted the ghost girl, Lily. They’ve made a name for themselves as the people you call in to investigate when disasters happen that seem to have supernatural elements. But domesticity has been wearing on Charles, especially when he is ridiculed in the public papers for it, and it may take a murder or two to save their relationship.
If you haven’t read the previous stories in the series and you would like to get them for free, sign up for my newsletter
You’ll receive links for Buried With Him, The Wages of Sin (including Communion) and two other novels for free:
Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.
My new novella, ‘Waters of the Deep‘ is coming out tomorrow.
It’s a gay historical supernatural murder mystery set in the 18th Century, and I’ve noticed that when I say this to people they generally reply “oh, right; the Regency period.”
While I would certainly like to read Pride and Prejudice, the GBLT version – where Darcy and Bingley end up together – the Regency is very different in terms of dress and social mores from the 18th Century proper. The French revolution 1789-1799 may have lasted only 10 years, but it made a huge impact on the culture of the time. In Britain, at least, society became much more anxious, much more inclined to self-discipline and morality, self restraint and prudishness – as if by being conventionally virtuous they could stop the same thing from happening there.
Before the French Revolution, British society had been noisy, bumptious, rude and confident. You see a glimpse of it in Jane Austen with all those crass, vulgar, big-hearted old people who embarrass their more refined children and grandchildren. In Patrick O’Brien’s series of sea-faring novels set in the Napoleonic era, Jack Aubrey’s father, who damages Jack’s prospects of promotion by being loud and annoying in parliament, and damages Jack’s prospects of inheritance by marrying his chambermaid, is also a nod to the livelier, cruder days of the 18th Century proper.
Five reasons to Love the 18th Century.
- Start shallow and work up 😉 The clothes! This was probably the last period in history when men were allowed to be as gorgeous as women.
This is the era of the poet-shirt with the big baggy sleeves and the neckline down to the navel, with or without ruffles or lace, as you prefer. Rich men wore multi-coloured silk outfits with wonderful embroidery, contrasting waistcoats and knee breeches with fine silk stockings underneath. Poor men wore the classic highwayman/pirate outfits complete with tricornered hats. Did you know that a good calf on a man’s leg was considered such a desirable form of beauty that some men stuffed calf-enhancers made of cork down there?
- Pretty deadly gentlemen. The nice thing about all this male peacock display is that it could not be taken for a sign of weakness. All these gorgeously plumed lads had been training to fence and fight and ride and shoot since they were old enough to stand up. Ever seen ‘Rob Roy’ where Archie Cunningham slices and dices Liam Neeson as Rob Roy, while wearing an immaculate ice-blue waistcoat and extravagant Belgian lace?
There’s something very attractive about a class of men with Archie Cunningham’s ruthless intelligence, masterly swordfighting skills and love of expensive tailoring, but with the ‘evil bastard’ gene turned down a little. One of my heroes in the Unquiet Spirits series – Charles Latham – teeters on the edge of that refined man of honour/dangerous sociopath divide. He is less murderous than simply spoiled, privileged and entitled, but at times it’s a struggle not to want to box his ears. Bless him.
For the first time in history ships and the provisioning of ships had advanced to the point where navigation was relatively reliable. Enough food and water could be stored aboard so that voyages could continue for months or even years at a time. From the perspective of the West, this was an age of exploration and discovery, when the old superstitions of the past were for the first time being investigated to see how much was true about them. In Jasper and Charles’s world they are rather more true than in our own.
- Filth, pamphlets and pornography.
Unlike Jane Austen’s time, when a well brought up young woman could be horrified by the idea of acting in a play, or writing to a young man who was not her fiancé, the 18th Century was much more… robust. Filthy, in fact. Literally filthy – streets full of horse manure and dead dogs, through which live cattle were lead to slaughter at the markets every morning (sometimes escaping to break into banks and terrorise the bankers). But also redolent with filthy language; swearing, f’ing and blinding, referring to a spade as a spade, and various bodily functions by their Anglo-Saxon names. The 18th Century style of vocabulary in a gentleman’s coffee house would be too crude for me to subject refined persons of the 21st Century to. But because of this overabundance of filth you do also get a great sense of vitality and humour, of people who are unashamed and determined to squeeze the last particle of enjoyment out of the world. People who cannot be cowed. Their pornography reflects this; bumptious but strangely innocent (or perhaps just plain strange.) Very much not safe for work link: http://joyful-molly.livejournal.com/
5. The Gay Subculture.
By the early 18th Century urbanization had reached a point in London that there were enough gay people in one place to begin to recognise each other and form a subculture of their own. There were well known cruising spots such as the Inns of Court, Sodomite’s Walk in Moorfields or Birdcage Walk in St. James’ Park. The technical term for homosexual people at the time was ‘sodomites’ but they called themselves ‘mollies’, and there were molly houses where they could go to meet up and ‘marry’. Famous mollies like ‘Princess Seraphina’ – a London butcher – spent a great deal of time in drag. He seems to have been accepted into his community without a lot of fuss, as there are records of him dropping round to his female neighbours’ houses to have a cup of tea and borrow their clothes.
I really recommend Rictor Norton’s ‘Mother Clap’s Molly House’ http://www.rictornorton.co.uk/ as a great guide to that culture; scholarly but easy to read, generous and fascinating. So fascinating I had to set at least one of my stories around a fictional molly house in Bermuda. That’s Desire and Disguise, in the ‘I Do’ anthology, in which an unwary straight guy stumbles into the house by accident and gets a little more than he bargained for. You might also be interested in this ‘choose your own adventure’ site:
Mother Clap’s molly house, you’ll be relieved to know, was so called because it was run by a gay friendly lady called Margaret Clap, not because that was something you were likely to get there!
In short, the 18th Century in which the Unquiet Spirits series was set could not be more different than the prim and refined era of the Regency novel. I can’t offer a comedy of manners, only a fair degree of lust and violence, badly behaved ghosts, bad language, and dangerous men in gorgeous clothes. But if you enjoyed The Wages of Sin, this is both more of the same and something a little bit different. I hope you enjoy it!
Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.
Well, except for ironing. Ironing is definitely not ready...
What's important to you in a reader/narrator/actor--particularly in fiction? Have you ever figuratively thrown an audiobook across the room because some particular thing about the reading bugged the crap out of you?
For example, do you value voice quality above all? Can't stand certain types of voices? Would listen to Alan Rickman reading the phone book?
Or is vivid characterization most important? Do you like really dramatic character readings? Or are subtle variations enough for you to keep track of the story?
How much do you care about authentic dialect, accents, and accurate representation of, say, foreign words in a text?
What about male versus female voices? Have you ever felt that an audiobook would have been improved by an actor of a different vocal gender?
And pacing: do you use the playback speed control on your audiobook app if someone is too slow? Too rushed?
Here's why I'm asking: I'm thinking seriously of hiring a voice actor to create an audiobook of Restraint. I know what I like, but in the long process of workshopping the novel I've learned that my taste is pretty specific, maybe even alienating to people who might like my work if I opened it out a bit more.
I can't please everyone, of course, but if I'm gonna shell out for this production, I'd like to get a sense of your taste, too, and try to meet it.
The beach pajamas are also well underway. I have a tiny bit--the neckband to be exact--more before the bodice is just handwork. Amazingly, the pattern fit straight from the envelope. I just lengthened the hem a tiny bit. Hopefully I'll get to that in a bit :)
I probably could be done with it now, it just needs skirt closures and the skirt basted to the dress, but I knew I wanted beetle wing embroidery, so I started beetle wing embroidery. I was going to do a scrolly thing with smooth purl, but given that I've never done that before and I'd have to do it on the bodice itself, not in a hoop, I decided just spangles and beetle wings. Those I know don't have to have hoops! My two inch sample of sewing the purl down came out fine though :)
The suffragette evening dress is so close to being done! All that's left is to sew the second half of the waistband, closures, and cover the waistband with chiffon. I decided to leave off the train. I really liked the skirt as is, and holding the chiffon up as a train didn't really make me want the train. I was already worried about the weight of it. So, with so little time to go, it's a decision I'm happy to make.
Of course, I also want to do a little neckline embroidery, but that shouldn't take too long if I decide to do it...
And the picture is the skirt in my lap. I love this lightweight taffeta so much :)
I had to redo the eyelets on one side. They were only going through one layer of cotton. Not good. I'm glad I noticed before they all burst into one giant eyelet. It was an easy fix, just back it with a strip of cotton and redo it but a little annoying! I also put the drawstring back in, which is fine now that it just pulls it a little. Thankfully the way I redid the binding left the mechanism for it in place!
Anyway, It's time to hem the chiffon skirt. Three panels, so loads of chiffon hemming. Aiee. I really want this done (and the bodice for the beach pajamas patterned) before going to the Jane Austen Festival. I'm pretty sure that I can...
I was going to machine sew the taffeta underskirt but then realized two things. One, I'd only sew the skirt seams, not the hem. Two, this is a very lightweight taffeta and I'd probably have to adjust things on the machine. So, hand sewing it is!
The chiffon overskirt is hand sewn too because just no. Even if it selvage to selvage. And I just realized I'm going to need a center back opening in it (despite it being open in front) so that'll be just a slit.
Anyway, I think the way it's going I'm all of a sudden going to have a dress...
But back to the bodice, the silk is once again mounted onto the lining. Now to gather it so it can be artfully shirred over the bodice. Then sew that down. Then straps, then skirt, then trim, if time.
I did decide to go with one of the first fashion plates I found instead of the handkerchief hem. It'll be a cream lightweight taffeta underskirt with purple chiffon gathered around it and open in front and a separate from the waist train. It'll be nice and floaty in the chiffon!
It looks like the back is going to be very open, perfect for the Votes for Women!