Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Full Moon Names

In the times before artificial light, the full moon assumed a special place in the month. The presence of light at night allowed some important activities to continue past dark. In the spring, planting could go on after sunset, and in the autumn, farmers could harvest the crops essential for winter survival. Travel was safer under a full moon, and illicit activities declined when illuminated with moonlight.

To mark their importance, various cultures gave the full moons names to indicate the seasons in which they occur and the activities performed then.

In England, my Regency characters call the full moons by these names:
January-- Old Moon
February-- Wolf Moon
March-- Lenten Moon
April-- Egg Moon
May--Milk Moon
June--Flower Moon
July--Hay Moon
August--Grain Moon
September--Fruit Moon
October--Harvest Moon
November--Hunter's Moon
December--Oak Moon

In North America, the most widely used names are the ones the Native American Algonquin tribes, which lived from New England to Lake Superior, gave the full moons:
January--Wolf Moon
February--Snow Moon
March--Worm Moon
April--Pink Moon
May--Flower Moon
June--Strawberry Moon
July--Buck Moon
August--Sturgeon Moon
September--Corn Moon (might also be called the Harvest Moon)
October--Harvest Moon (might also be called the Hunter's Moon)
November--Beaver Moon
December--Cold Moon or Full Long Nights Moon

The full moon name that causes the most confusion is the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. If that full moon occurs in September, the September full moon is the Harvest Moon. If the October full moon falls closer to the equinox, the October full moon is the Harvest Moon.

A few days ago, we had the March full moon, the Worm Moon here in North America. My Regency characters would call it the Lenten Moon.

Various sources disagree on some of these names. But if you want to read more about full moons, here are some interesting links:

Names in Multiple Cultures:

North America:


Thank you all,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

History of Gold

When thinking about the progress of technology, we think of iron and copper-working, but gold was the first metal widely known and used. Gold became a part of every human culture, not only for its luster but also because of its malleability and its resistance to tarnish.
In Homer’s writings, he mentions gold as the glory of the immortals and a sign of wealth among ordinary humans.
The oldest extant gold treasure map was created around the time of Seti I (1320 B.C.) in Egypt. In the Turin Museum is a papyrus and fragments, the “Carte des mines d’or”. It pictures gold mines, miners’ quarters, and roads to the mines. Some believe it portrays the Wadi Fawakhir region where the El Sid mine is, but like many ancient drawings, the map is a bit elusive and vague.
The "Gold of Troy" treasure hoard, excavated in Turkey and dating to the era 2450 -2600 B.C., showed the range of gold-work from delicate jewelry to a gold gravy boat weighing a full troy pound. This was a time when gold was highly valued, but had not yet become money itself. Rather, it was owned by the powerful and well-connected, or made into objects of worship, or used to decorate sacred locations.
Incas referred to gold as “the tears of the sun”.
The search for gold has fed the imagination of poets and writers, and long after Jason and the Argonauts searched for the Fleece, the promise of wealth drew men West and helped develop a country. The appeal of gold has never dimmed, and now, more than ever, we are reminded that the value of gold may rise and fall through the centuries, but it will never, ever, be worth nothing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Kara Louise: The Fascination of the Regency

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Kara Louise, whose latest book is the Pride and Prejudice retelling Only Mr. Darcy Will Do. Here she tells us about her fascination with the Regency.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Kara will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winner Kara selected is Chelsea B! Chelsea, I've sent you an email. Thanks to all for coming over.

Welcome Kara!

Thanks for inviting me back with you today to celebrate the release of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do. I’ve been asked to share about my favorite Pride and Prejudice character and two things that fascinate me about the Regency era. I am going to cheat a little on both topics.

Let me preface my first answer by saying this: In writing the variations of Pride and Prejudice, it is the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy that are truly my favorites. I love Mr. Darcy’s enduring love and desire to change himself for the better, whether or not he will ever have the chance to win Elizabeth’s affection. I love Elizabeth’s wit and intelligence, and that when she realizes the error of her judgment concerning him, she is able to not only see him as the good man he is, but readily falls in love with him.

But Jane Austen gave us a wide host of characters with such unique personalities that it’s almost a joy to write any of them. If I’m in the mood to be cruel, I can write a scene with Lady Catherine de Bourgh or Caroline Bingley. If I want to be evil, what better person to write than George Wickham?

Foolish? Mr. Collins. Silly? Mrs. Bennet. Shy? Georgiana Darcy. Sarcastic? Mr. Bennet.

But other than Lizzy and Darcy, the character I really enjoy writing is Col. Fitzwilliam. He doesn’t have a very big part in OMDWD, but he does have some good scenes in the prologue of the book, getting things rolling (and a smaller part toward the end). I always enjoy allowing him the opportunity to banter back and forth with his cousin, the fastidious and controlled Fitzwilliam Darcy. He always adds a bit of levity to the scene, usually to Darcy’s chagrin!

Col. Fitzwilliam converses easily, teases his cousin mercilessly, and unwittingly moved Darcy to feelings of jealousy when he seemed to find a rapport with Elizabeth at Rosings that Darcy was not able to do. He is, however, as loyal to his cousin as anyone can be. I like that about him, too.

And here I must clear up a misapprehension. Jane Austen never gives us Col. Fitzwilliam’s first name. Several stories have been written using the name Richard, and many assume that is his correct name. While it sounds right, I chose to use the name Patrick in this particular book. I hope you don’t mind.

As for the second question, I shall talk about only one thing I find fascinating in the Regency because it pertains to my book. That is, what it was like for a governess, since Elizabeth finds herself in this position after her father’s death.

A governess would have had to have all the manners and genteel upbringing required to raise the children in a like manner. She would have been educated so that she could teach the children in most subjects, such as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, grammar, and even some needlework. For some subjects, like music or painting, a master may have been brought in.

She was considered beneath the family for whom she worked, but was above the servants in the household, which often left her without anyone in the household who was her equal.

Finally, a lady became a governess usually due to some financial burden within her family that forced her into this employment.

I’ll explain this by using Elizabeth Bennet as an example. She was born and raised as the daughter of a gentleman. Despite not having a governess herself, as she told Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she loved reading and probably taught herself a lot. Despite having a silly mother, she was able to learn and exhibit the countless good manners that were expected of a young lady.

When her father dies, her family is suddenly without any substantial source of income. The house is entailed away, and when Mr. and Mrs. Collins move in, the Bennet ladies all move out. I chose to have Mrs. Bennet and the three youngest daughters move to Meryton with Mr. and Mrs. Phillips. Jane takes on a governess position with the Gardiners in London, and Elizabeth goes to work as a governess for six year-old Emily Willstone.

Even though the Bennets had not been very wealthy, they were an esteemed family, but now Elizabeth’s station in life is essentially quite a bit lower. Despite the fact that she would have previously been on slightly more equal terms with the Willstones, she now is beneath them.

She is fortunate that the Willstones treat her kindly and give her time on Sundays to visit the Gardiners and Jane. When Mrs. Willstone’s sister, Rosalyn, comes to visit, she and Elizabeth enjoy each other’s company. But Elizabeth can only attend the balls and theater and dinner parties vicariously through Rosalyn, who relates to her all that took place at these events when she returns from them.

Elizabeth eventually finds herself with the Willstones at Pemberley after being invited by Mr. Darcy, a long-time acquaintance of the Willstones. There she begins to see the good in the man that she was blinded to before, while realizing how much more beneath him she now is, despite the fact that her birth, manners, and education have not changed.

I hope this has made you curious enough to see how things work out between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and you will want to read Only Mr. Darcy Will Do.

Thanks again for having me here.

In this fresh and original retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet’s greatest fear comes to pass—Longbourn is entailed to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth finds work as a governess in London, widening the social divide between her and Mr. Darcy and making it more difficult than ever for them to find their way to each other...

Kara Louise grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved to the Midwest in 1991, where she enjoys the relaxed pace of the country. She began writing about nine years ago, first with a story inspired by her genealogical research. But that took a back seat when she discovered the writings of Jane Austen. She has written six novels based on Pride and Prejudice, including Darcy’s Voyage, answering the “what happened next” and the “what ifs” in Elizabeth and Darcy’s story. She lives with her husband outside Wichita, Kansas. Visit her at

Monday, March 7, 2011

History of Alarm Clocks

Ever wonder how the servants managed to get up hours before dawn? I mean, clocks haven't been around that long. Perhaps before they were invented , a nightwatchman or a night servant awoke the others.

However, clocks have actually been around for about 600 years. The first mechanical clocks appeared sometime in the 14th century, typically the huge ones set in towers like Big Ben (only it was made in 1858). By around 1620, Household clocks became common, and some of them even had alarms. Alarms have a "cam" that rotates every 12 hours. A lever falls into a notch which releases a train of gears that drives a hammer onto a bell over and over until it runs down. Later they had shut-off control which was a lovely addition, don't you think?

One of the earliest alarm clocks circa 15th century is a German iron clock with a bell. It was found in Nuremberg. The clock measured19 inches tall and has an open framework.

A lantern clock from about 1620 has an alarm set disc on front of the dial. A grandfather clock circa 1690 has a 30 hour hanging timepiece alarm.

Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire has been credited as the inventor of the first alarm clock in 1787. However, his alarm clock has been clearly predated by the German and English. When English clockmakers emigrated to the United States, they brought this skill with them.

Simon Willard of Grafton, Massachusetts, crafted alarm time timepieces called “lighthouse clocks” in the 1820's. There are also American wooden works shelf clocks which were made ain the 1820's and 30's which have alarms similar to many brass movement shelf clocks of the 1840's.

For further reading about alarm clocks from the 1500's, see “The Clockwork Universe, German Clocks and Automata 1550 - 1650,” Maurice and Mayr, 1980, Smithsonian, Neale Watson Academic Publications, New York. The book “Early English Clocks” by Dawson, Drover and Parkes, Antique Collectors Club, 1982, documents some early alarm clocks.