Monday, 29 April 2013

No.#1 Hot Summer Reads

I'm so happy!

No Gentleman Is He by Carley Bauer and Lynette Willows, published by Tirgearr Publishing, NUMBER ONE at Goodreads for Hot Reads for Summer!

Go check it out.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

"No Gentleman Is He" Sale! April 19th - 21st.

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To commemorate the 238th anniversary of this war, join us from 19-21 April as we knock back the price of No Gentleman Is He by Carley Bauer and Lynette Willows to just $2.38!

-- As the threat of war comes ever closer, wills are tested through gunfire, treachery, danger, and kidnapping. Does Colton dare trust Cassandra with Sons of Liberty secrets? More importantly, can he trust her with his heart? --

Reviewers said:

"I felt as if I was there living in those exciting, yet hard times, when this country began its journey to independence. It really retells the american history. It had everything you want and more. A beautiful love story and an exciting book, you really feel for these people in those times." ~ Dana, 5 stars

"I just finished reading "No Gentleman Is He", it really is a must read. I was wary when my wife suggested I read it. I looked at the cover. Was it a love story or was it based in historical fact? She assured me the book had enough of both to please any reader. Let me say, I wasn't disappointed." ~ Cole34, 5 stars

"I haven't read a historical romance in a very long time but I am so glad that I read this. This book had me hooked from the very beginning. I normally only have time to read at night, but found myself looking for opportunities to squeeze in a few chapters during the day. The story was well written and the attention to history made me feel like I was living in that time period." ~Diane, 5 stars

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Tirgearr Publishing:


Monday, 15 April 2013

Morgen Bailey Interviews Moi.

Morgen Bailey interviews me at her place, and she serves wonderful coffee and tea. We discuss traditional eBook publishing, my reading tastes, and how my co-author and I met and ended up collaborating on a series of Historic Romance novels.

C'mon over and chat with us!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Colonial Hygiene II: Soap & Shampoo?

Interesting enough for early Colonial Americans, bathing often did not involve soap.

On the smaller farm holdings, it was sometimes weeks or months before the men forayed into town for supplies. Because of the isolation, they never saw another human being besides their families. The women were the most isolated, since it was usually the husband who drove into town. It could be years before the wife saw anyone, left with only the children for company. So why would they bother to try and stay clean?

Townsfolk were a little pickier about their personal hygiene, since they did go out and meet with others, socializing and visiting. Even then, the poorer town folk could barely afford soap, so made do with good scrubbings with water before wandering out the door.
Soap making actually made its debut in pre-Roman Empire times, by the Babylonians who actually used soap to prepare animal fibers for weaving, and had nothing to do with cleanliness. It was only when Roman physicians began using soap in the treatment of disease in the early half of the second century that it gained recognition as a cleaning agent. It quickly evolved into a staple of personal hygiene and household cleaning.
Making soap was considered a time consuming, smelly, toxic chore. It was used sparingly only when absolutely necessary. More often, it was used to clean linens more than their bodies, and not just because it was troublesome to make. Because lye soap was extremely harsh on the skin, regular use was not prevalent until 1830 or thereabouts, probably due to “a new fastidiousness about body odor that increased the labor required to achieve decency,” according to one Boston newsman complaining about the increased stink in the town and its residents.

It was at this time that making scented oils to add to the caustic lye soap was also becoming much easier and cheap to produce, though for many years after, scented soap was still mostly the domain of the rich.

As I mentioned, soap was more commonly used to launder their clothing, which was time consuming in itself. It was considered far more efficient to either clean their clothes or clean themselves, but not both. So they washed their bodies with plain water (unless you were exceptionally dirty) and put clean clothing on. Often rose water, which was actually a vinegar and acidic, closed sweat pores and was used as a stop gap between washings, just like modern deodorant does.

Soap makers added salt to the basic recipe and produced hard soap that was formed into sheets and sold by the pound. Store-bought soap became increasingly popular as manufacturers were able to produce consistently high quality soap at a relatively cheap price. Scented oils were added to the caustic lye soap, though scented soap was mostly the domain of the rich. Common essential oils used were lavender, violet and sandalwood, which held the most appeal to people.

It was only in the first half the nineteenth century when people became a bit more fragrant, according to our modern noses, anyway.

Since soap was so caustic, it’s no wonder no one wanted to use it on their hair. It left hands red and rough, so one can only imagine what it would do to hair.

In fact, not much is known about eighteen century hair care. There certainly doesn't seem to be any written records, no recipes, nothing that would seem to help. It provides a distinct problem for novelists and even non-fiction writers when describing personal care. 

One thing is certain. Hair was washed far less than it is today. Imagine all those thick, long locks and how long it would take to dry in front of a fire, or outside in the sun. Hair styles reflected this problem with the elaborate and up-swept fashions that served to conceal oily and scraggly hair. Most styles involved braiding or knots covered by dainty caps or bonnets.
Can you imagine how long it took for this hair to dry and style?

So, what did they use then, if soap was out of the question because of its highly damaging effects, even making the hair fall out after use?

The only conclusion we can make is that they used plain water. In fact, there has been some reference to saving rain water, even though most had safe wells to draw their water from. Why rain water? Records indicate that rain water left hair shiny and silky, possibly because it lacked the mineral interference from ground well water. Oily hair is naturally resistant to water, as we all know when trying to wash a greasy pan, or get grease off your hands. However water, if worked with vigor on scalp and hair strands, can be quite effective on getting dirt from the hair. 

The natural oils, when left behind, actually made the hair softer, shinier and easier to handle. After all, most modern shampoos have detergent of some sort, leaving hair dry and fly-away, and even dulls the shine.

An experiment was conducted with en-actors of historical events. For accuracy sake and to test the theory, they only washed their hair with water as they speculated they did during the era. After a few weeks of never using shampoo or any kind of soap, their systems adjusted and their hair actually became soft and shiny, not in the least oily. So dedicated were they that they continued with this regimen for a whole year or more. It stayed soft, shiny, and far less oily than if they had used shampoo.

But now another problem arises; the smell of wet hair. As our modern noses got used to perfumes and soap smell, the natural smell of wet hair would be unpleasant indeed. For people of that time, however, it was not a huge problem. Rose water or other scents were often used if the lady wanted to be extra fragrant. Some men even regularly used “pomades” to scent hair and clothing. Some popular rinses were rosemary tea, or apple cider vinegar if they didn’t have rose water available.

There was another treatment regularly applied to ensure hair remained lice and pest free, to maintain its healthy appearance and feel. That old adage, “100 strokes a night” before bed, holds true. It not only de-tangled those long locks, but it also distributed the natural oil of the hair to the ends and preventing excessive oiliness at the roots and dryness at the bottom, cutting down on split ends. If a woman had an excessively oily scalp, right after washing they would vigorously rub the scalp to “wipe away” any excessive oil that wasn’t rinsed by the water.

It was also around this time that England outlawed slavery, finding the trade in human flesh distasteful. Now, you will have to bear with me on this, because an innovative product came about that would revolutionize cosmetics later on.

To prevent the embargo on slave ships entering English ports, the normal first stop for any slaver, American started to ship slaves directly to Southern areas like Florida, Brazil, Columbia, Guiana, Venezuela, and the Caribbean, most destined to work on sugar and coffee plantations. However, some were bought by slave traders from the Americas and transported by land north, to be enthusiastically purchased by tobacco plantations and large farmers. When some of these slaves came north, they brought with them a new concoction called “coconut oil”.

In South America, not only was coconut oil plentiful, but it was commonly used for cooking and frying. One can only surmise that it was also accidently discovered to be perfect for softening the skin and used as a moisturizer. The black people started to liberally use it not only their bodies, but they also discovered that the oil and milk from this fruit made the hair shiny and healthier, and it was even reported that older slaves delayed greying of the hair by using it regularly. For most women it was slow to catch on, seeing it as a “black beauty” procedure. They believed that this co-co-nut oil would result in their skin becoming darker, and since white skin was a sign of beauty and prosperity, they stayed well clear of it for a long time. Instead, they stuck to their arsenic and mercury laden cosmetics that eventually killed a good many women.

Marie-Antoinette: France had already become the leader in fashion, both in clothing and hair styles, thanks to this very reviled but often imitated trend setter.

However, there were also some forward thinking women that, when they discovered their slaves using it, quickly implemented the same toilette regime, delighting in softer skin and using it in their hair to tame the elaborate hair styles, as well as enjoying vibrantly colored hair that the oil accented. It also helped to cut down and reduce the effects of sea salt for those living on the coast. Sea salt often dried the hair and caused a straw-like consistency.

Coconut oil is still used extensively today in many cosmetic products, because of its natural makeup appealing to those who hate using chemicals, and because of its wonderful moisturizing properties.

And so there you have it. I hope this helps future writers, so they don’t to skirt around the issue of hygiene before the 20th century, for shampoo did not make its appearance until then.

If you find any other information I may have missed, please let me know in comments, preferably with a link to the source. Any comments are a joy to me and make my day, so let's chat!

Friday, 5 April 2013

An Apology; This is How I Work.

I thought I’d better put a short note up, explaining why I’m so late getting the second installment of Colonial Hygiene up.

I have a background in freelance journalism. Now, you have to understand, unlike staff reporters on a paper, I have to rely on my own devices to write an article, edit it myself, and get it sold to various print vehicles. So I have to be particular about what I report. A staff reporter, when they make a mistake, has the luxury of an editor to catch mistakes, and the reporter is readily forgiven unless it happens too many times. As a freelancer, one badly researched report can result in the paper becoming hesitant to take any further pieces from me, or being outright banned from submitting to them altogether.

I follow the basic creed of all good reporters; Who, What, When, Where and Why. If it calls for it, I also have to look into the lesser known rule, How.

I frankly don’t trust online sources, unless I know their reputation. I will avail myself, on occasion, to Wikipedia, but never take their entries as gospel. Let’s face it, they are submissions from the general public or corporations with an agenda, and sometimes they may not have their facts straight. Some do, but who can know?

So I will take notes from there and other online sites, and then make a short trip to my local librarian. Now, this poor woman cringes every time I walk in. She knows I will have an almost impossible assignment for her, considering we are in a small farming community. The good thing is, they are also linked with all the larger libraries, including the University library in the city, so there’s a good chance I will find some obscure books that will reveal what I need to know. She and I have about two or three hours of just looking though the computerized fiche just to find one small reference to what I’m looking for. I may have to wait a few days for a book I request, but at least I will have the straight facts from a respected, well known source. I will double and even triple check my facts with other publications, just to be sure they all coincide. Since my poor local librarian has recently gone into hiding every time I walk in, I decided to take the load off her a bit and visit the next town over, and go to their library. To my delight, I found the mother of my son’s friends working there, and we were long time friends. It will take her awhile to realize that my friendship is not strictly unselfish, but for now, she’s very willing to help.

Also, as per my penchant, I became obsessed with the research and ended up with a multitude of notes that no one could possibly be interested in, except for me, of course. I’m an addict when it comes to useless information. I wrote the piece, but also realized I had enough material for three long blog entries, and am now in the process of taking out all the boring and frankly disgusting information (soap making was indeed a very nasty, smelly process) that no one wants to know anyway. Hence, it's cut. 

*Note: if you want to know about soap making, there is a ton of information about that subject, so I decided to forego the pleasure of informing you here. 

Ergo, please be patient. I had a ton of cutting and editing to do, in an attempt to give you all an informative but interesting bit of information that you hopefully will find useful for your own projects, and to save you the trouble of doing all this nonsense yourself. I wanted to be sure that I was not only precise, but that you would at least find it entertaining. With me, that is a hard balance to find, because frankly, I’m an information geek. But at least I can cover what you wanted to know in one blog, instead of three.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Colonial Hygiene: Were They Dirty?

“Colonial America’s church leaders deemed bathing impure, since it promoted nudity, which could only lead to promiscuity.”

Other statements made are “Brides carried bouquets of flowers to cover up the their body odor” and “People bathed twice a year whether they needed it or not”.

To say that bathing habits from this time were disgusting and non-existent would be vastly inaccurate. Even today, personal hygiene habits are personal. Some washed several times a day, and some only washed up variably. They are also extremely hard to document, since little note was made of the fact. When was the last time you mentioned having a bath in writing?

Of course, Colonialists, and in fact everyone almost everywhere in Europe, had little opportunity to bathe as we understand it today. After all, tubs were notoriously hard to fill and empty with hot water, and it was time consuming and labour intensive. They didn't exactly have the indoor plumbing we have now. All we have to do is turn on a tap. In yesteryear, scores of buckets had to be filled, heated and emptied into the tub to even get enough to lie down for a good soak, and then there was the emptying afterwards. If they had a huge staff of servants, then I could them enjoying the luxury far more often than middle – low class residents of the community.

In fact, men often bathed in rivers and lakes, not only to get clean but more often as recreation, especially in hotter climates or after a hot, hard day’s work. It was not unknown to resort to horse troughs, as well, to get a quick clean-up of the face and hands. Women, however, for reasons of modesty and decorum, seldom indulged in these rough, outdoor activities. Instead they used the wash basins, using the water that was in the accompanying pitchers sitting on a discreet washstand somewhere private in their homes.

It was about this time in America that a series of warm mineral springs and hot springs were discovered further west in Virginia, where the bulk of “No Gentleman Is He” is based. Those wealthy enough to travel there to indulge, or those living close enough to travel, were fortunate to be able to attend and experience the pleasure of deeply immersed bathing. In the early 1800’s, spas sprung up, privately owned, and organized so that each group had their chance to indulge so that the sexes did not mix during this intimate procedure. After all, this was still a very oppressive, Christian society.

As for the hygienic habits of Colonialists, and indeed anyone in European influenced communities, of which America was certainly a part during the 1700’s, some washed daily and some did not. Some washed only hands and face, others took extensive sponge baths daily. In fact, William Byrd once wrote that he was relieved to bathe after several days in the wilderness, and Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia recommended that American soldiers should “wash their hands and face at least once every day, and his whole body twice or three times a week, especially in summer.”

There were also public baths in some towns, often attached to Inns. There were several in Richmond, right up until about 1950, and it was estimated that they served about 60,000 persons per year. But of course, they were limited to people who could afford to pay for them, and the poorer folk didn’t consider it a necessary expense when they were living from hand to mouth as it was. Most people, however, preferred to bath near a fireplace, especially in the cooler weather, and most had them in kitchens by the wood stove, since it was warmer and less toting of water buckets and clean up later. Needless to say, there was not a great deal of privacy.

Tomorrow or the next day, (depending on whether I will be busy writing on Book 2 of our Sons of Liberty series) I will be talking about what they used to bathe. Did they use soap? Did they have shampoo in 1700’s America? Stay tuned, and your questions will be answered.

**to be continued**

To view "No Gentleman Is He", the first in the Sons of Liberty series, a 5-star Amazon rated historical romance, please go here. Or go to Tirgearr Publishing: