I’m horribly late, partly because I slept late, but also because I feel still groggy.  In explanation, we have an accepted offer on a house — not short sale — and hopefully will be permanently housed in a month and a half.  Early days, yet, but tentatively that’s the plan, and just this is farther than we’ve been since November.

I must have been under a great deal of stress I didn’t even realize, because not only did I sleep better than I have in months, but I woke up late and still feel rather “boneless.”  I also actually feel like working, it’s just that all the little stuff getting there (breakfast, admnistrivia) took forever.

So, establish that I’ve been under a lot of stress.  In such times I tend towards horror.  In the days of the old writers’ group, my friend Becky Lickiss used to say she could tell when I was really depressed, even if I was putting a good face on it, because I always wrote horror.  And the darker the horror, the more depressed I was.  I’d never noticed the correlation.

Now Horror is qualified, when it comes to reading.  I write horror, I can’t read it.  Or at least I can’t read straight up horror, with the meaty skulls and snakes, if you know what I mean, or iow gross-out horror is right out.  And as for creepy horror, well, supernatural horror can scare the bejeezus out of me, but as someone who grew up with a definite tradition and local stories, most of it just makes me roll my eyes and go “that doesn’t make any sense.”

Most of the horror I read is in fact dark fantasy, and about the darkest is Repairman Jack, by F. Paul Wilson.  (Some books are darker than others.  And some are terrifying, but the thriller aspect and… well… it’s human wave fiction, definitely, keeps me reading.)

There are some interesting observations on the series, which appears to have been written from several points inward.  What I mean is that he started with several isolated stories, which are then tied in into a grand theory or conspiracy or something.  Being a writer one can’t help but wonder if he started out with the world built and then went several places in it, or if he simply had these stories and novels, and came up with a world to fit them all into.  It doesn’t matter, of course, but as a fellow craftsperson, one is curious on how the thing one likes was made.

I’m not going to go any deeper into Wilson’s work, though at some point there MIGHT be a post about it.  I do like it very much.

I will mention in passing that the vaunted craftsmanship of traditional publishers never fails to amaze me.  I realized as I was reading the books that my copy of bloodline would not open and kept saying it was licensed to another user (which is stupid.  Look, there’s only one user for this kindle.  That’s doesn’t even… ow, my head hurts.)  After a session with Amazon’s customer service, the problem was fixed and I opened the book for the first time since I first bought it…

And stared at the title page wondering if I’d made a mistake or they had.  The title page says this book is By The Sword, another book in the series.  I decided to read some of the text before complaining — I re-read By The Sword recently — and hot d*mn the book is not By The Sword, but Bloodline.  Which has, atop of it, all the title and copyright info for By the Sword.

I am forever deeply impressed with the craftsmanship and professionalism of the great houses, and the professional care they give to every one of the books contracted to them.  This is me, doing a slow clap in appreciation. And for this you charge the price of a paperback for an ebook.  Of course.  I mean, there’s all that expert help you need to pay and layers and layers of fact checkers and all…

So, where was I?

When I realized I was worsening my depression by reading horror, I decided to read fluffy regency romance.  I read a lot of these.  I don’t require historical accuracy.  I don’t remember most of them a minute after I read them.  It’s just something that doesn’t use up brain cycles, but feeds the need to read.  I read it usually when I’m writing something COMPLETELY different, so that my writing doesn’t become taken over by someone else’s vision/style.

Now, again, while some regency romances (Heyer!) compare well to any other book of any other genre, most of the field’s production (like any other field.  Only regency tends to have happy endings and has relatively less PC bs to fight through)  is what could be called “popcorn”.  They are not well researched, they recycle plots, the characters are extremely well dressed stereotypes, etc.  That’s fine.  As I said above, they tend to be relatively “happy” and angst free, and that’s what I read them for.

OTOH I didn’t feel like spending money (none of the better authors had anything out in a series I follow) and I didn’t want something so riveting it ate up brain cycles.  So I went to Kull and started looking at the better rated regency romances.

I downloaded one with 300 reviews and something around four and a half stars.

And then I started reading it.  By page seven I was wondering if this was written by someone with a cognitive deficiency or just a product of our education system.  It told me, for instance, that London was divided into two sections, the High section where the rich people lived and the low section or low town where the “disadvantaged” lived.

I thought “okay, that’s weird.” but decided perhaps the author had thought that she’d fill in stuff later, then forgot in one section.  I mean reducing the richness of Regency London to “two sections” was a little odd, as though it were Podunk, population 300, but okay.  Give the dog a bite.

By page eleven my eyebrows were attempting to meld with my hairline.  This woman described the day of the Baron’s wife and his daughters and started by telling us that every morning they went around and bought all the food for the household, which they then brought home and gave the servants to cook.  And, btw, older daughter wonders why they can’t just cook it themselves.  After all it’s a family of four.  She often sneaks down to the kitchen to cook in secret.  (Wait, what?)

There follows a highly unlikely escapade in which the two girls go to a street fair (which sounds rather like a high school carnival) in the middle of the night.  yes, in Regency London.  Two young girls.  Middle of the night.  There is a bit of “what are chaperones needed for?  We know the way” — chaperones or GPS?  We report, you decide — but that’s really not any more egregious than in the average Regency, even /particularly traditionally published regencies. (Because feminism, and girls should be allowed to walk around unarmed, after dark, because men and women are exactly alike, and don’t you go talking of different body strength and ability/likelihood of pregnancy in an age where there was no real way to avoid it, you sexist.  We KNOW you just want to keep women down.  Eleventy)

Anyway, I kept reading.  And then the dark stranger who saves them (of course they require saving.  This in no way makes them inferior, you sexist) upon being accosted by the older girl the next morning (She told mom she was going on an errand for an elderly neighbor.  Because Regency ladies ran errands to the store instead of sending a servant.  Totes) tells her he hates the guys who tried to attack her the night before.  As in “I hate those guys.”  Verbatim.

The book didn’t go against the wall because it’s Kindle, and kindles are expensive, but sweet mother of pearl, what a mess.

It’s very clear the writer is trying very hard — and failing — to think herself into another time and place of which she had vague inklings through reading maybe a couple of regency romances.  She knows the ladies of the family spend a lot of time shopping, and being innocent of any knowledge about the incredibly complex rituals and manners of the time, or of the difficulty of showing up every day in a somewhat different attire during the season, she decided “well, they didn’t have refrigerators.  I know! They’re buying the food for the servants to cook!”

Then there is the whole cooking matter.  It is clear that this woman is unaware of the difficulties of cooking “for a family of four” using only coal fired (or perhaps wood fired) stoves, and no dishwashers or refrigerators, no microwaves or other conveniences.  Particularly when the class of the family dictated they host meals and balls.  “Cooking for a family of four” was probably a full time job for at least two, more if entertaining and/or visitors came into it.  But I’m fairly sure this writer was imagining microwaves, only more steampunky.  And viewed people having servants at all as some sort of social injustice.

We’ll look away at her idea that chaperones aren’t needed and somewhat demeaning in a world where a family’s honor (and sometimes fortune) depended on an unsullied daughter.

And we won’t even mention the serious malappropism of “those guys.”

Instead, I’m just going to remind you that this woman has 300 highly favorable reviews and an enviable rank on Amazon.

And that both she and her reviewers likely vote.

Have a happy Monday!

253 thoughts on “Assumptions

  1. I wonder what color the sky is in that author’s world? [Wink]

      1. But of course, the author was living on a Fantasy Earth and that’s what the world was like in her Earth’s past. 😈

      1. Don’t know about any TV Show. It’s something I heard on various places about somebody who seems to be from another world.

  2. Back when I was a literally agent in my misspent yoot, our outfit did a lot of business packaging Romance series. One of the packages we came up with was American Regency romances, using the conventions (and they are as the laws of the Medes and the Persians) of the Regency romance but set in the new Republic. It might have been easier to translate from the Farsi at that.

          1. well, we’ll just say your name seems incredibly familiar. THANKFULLY I’ve thrown away all my rejections, so… At the time I was writing a games of thronish thing (only with real humans) and someone had told me I had to make it one book and 100 k words. It will eventually come out as a trilogy…

      1. OT: in the show NCIS, if the investigation takes them onto a ship that’s close to shore, do the characters become littoral agents?

            1. Ah yes, the ongoing saga of the LCS (Little Crappy Ship). Which will go down in history with the F-35, hopefully all the way down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

    1. Well, there’s New York City society, Philadelphia society, Boston society, Charleston society… all fairly different in the early 1820’s. And if you want to talk Pittsburgh or Cincy or Bardstown society, it will be more different still. And of course New Orleans society was practically another country.

      Most of the conventions would work, but they just would look and work different. And you would probably have a lot more church.

  3. Ah, the post-prepost post. Yay! ~:D

    “…this woman has 300 highly favorable reviews and an enviable rank on Amazon.”

    And Apple is the biggest company in the world, despite their #$$((^%*&#$(@#_#$_$(^)*%^)&^%+(_$$#+)_%!!!!!! machines being 99% non-fuctional. (iPod back-ups that don’t actually back anything up, incident #1387 this year, so far. Sadly, Linux and Microsoft are no better, they just fail horribly in different places.)

    Quality is a relative thing, so I think. I know it when I see it, some apparently do not. Hence the success of things like Apple, IKEA, CNN, the Hugos… But I repeat myself.

    1. Apple has some great successes and a lot of bandwagon. I’d say three quarters of users are signallers.

    2. I shocked my computer teacher when I returned to college when I told her that her favorite OS was the worst one I’d ever used. (She was greatly enamored of Solaris… I have to wonder if she was using a different operating system of the same name. The version I limped for even simple programs, much less the big one we had to run.) She then proceeded to ask me which one I thought was the best. And was further shocked when I told her they all sucked and gave her a run down on how the big ones sucked. The other vet in the room who’d been in IT before gave her a similar spiel when she made the mistake of asking him what he thought. She never talked to either of us again.

        1. At least when DOS 3.0 failed, it tended to fail exactly where you’d expect- because you asked it to do something it couldn’t.

          1. I encountered it learning AutoCAD (12?) to do a project. The time the good machines would take to do a 3-D rendering would be about the time it would take to burn a fairly full CD, if not a DVD, nowadays.

    3. It must have been many, many years ago – I remember reading an article where someone was fantasizing about the programmers for Windows, Apple, and UNIX all got together and put the good parts together for the “Ultimate Operating System.”

      Somehow, I don’t think it would work out that way…

    4. Clearly, phantom, there are at least (at last count) 300 amazingly unintelligent people out there. Tip of the iceberg says there are likely 3000 out there who’ll buy and love the book. Also likely to vote for Bernie.

      1. Crap seems to multiply like rabbits while quality increases slowly, if at all. What kills me is how many people seem not to be able to tell shite from shinola, or if they can still use them interchangeably. Normally I wouldn’t care a damn what other people do because Aspy, but it is negatively impacting my life of late.

        Apple for example, spends a tremendous amount of effort making it impossible for me to see what’s in the storage of my iWhatsit. No other company makes it this hard to get a simple file directory of a device, or move files from one place to another. I can only assume they do it to keep idiots from wrecking their iPods. There must be a huge constituency of idiots out there for this to be necessary.

        CNN maintains their company policy of “All DemocRat Propaganda All The Time” despite their viewership having shrunk to pre-boarding passengers trapped in airports.

        My solution is to not have cable TV and switch to BlackBerry at my earliest opportunity. A BB will at least let you see what’s on the damn storage chip, and let you install a bigger one if you want. Major plus, at this point.

    5. I figure I must either have had phenomenal luck in my (total of three) Apple devices. My first iPod–gotten used to begin with–lasted me a good seven or eight years before it stopped working properly. The current one is still going strong. And my iPad is still working great.

      Possibly, it could also be because the two iPods were both the ‘classic’ style, ie, made for audio (and video if you don’t mind a very tiny screen) and nothing else. I never have updated the software on it, and never been asked to. The iPad is the solid middle-generation, so maybe it’s the same situation–it’s got fewer bells-and-whistles of the ‘latest thing’ but correspondingly works more reliably? With that one, though, I still live in dread of every software update, in the fear that THIS will be the one that borks it.

      (And when the time comes to replace the tablet–hopefully not for another ten years or so–I likely *won’t* get an Apple product.)

  4. I hate her. She obviously doesn’t deserve all those reviews, and ought to share them. Either that or I should take up writing really crappy fluffy romances.

    Or maybe dinosaur porn. Can I combine them?

    Yes, this is me on allergy meds. My doctor doesn’t understand why I won’t take them all the time.

    1. I’ve considered writing crappy romances but I don’t see where I wouldn’t slash my wrists.
      And I briefly thought “Hey, Pam and I could colaborate on dinosaur porn.” BUT THEN I realized our dinosaur porn would be more like you know “tech porn”: we’d lovingly describe the natural history of dinosaurs, with all the sciency names and stuff… because geeks.

      1. I tried, several years ago. Honest. I can’t get enough sex in there for it to qualify. And, and, I laughed at it when I reread it. It just didn’t work. I mean, really? Sex with a big dangerous lizard? Over and over? I mean, a books worth?

        I kept trying to put in a plot. I world built. And somehow the sex was so rare, and so pointless . . . Maybe Nyquil would do the trick. That stuff I took last night has me walking around in a fog doing stupid, so maybe . . .

        1. weren’t both characters dinos? Glad to be back. Tablet is up and running. It’s a Toshiba. I’m using Chrome. Since Brandon Eich left Firefox is totally wonky. My phosphors are coming to you from Downtown LA.

          1. Blah, blah, Pale Moon or Waterfox. At some point I’m going to try Brave.

            1. Another vote for Pale Moon. I started with it after the Eich kerfuffle, and it was sort-of compatible. Now, I find it can do 99% of what I need, barring the odd neanderthal-designed site that requires me to break out Internet Exploder Explorer.

              1. Likewise. Jumped to Pale Moon fleeing a glitch in Firefox. Finally turned out to be a dying video card. Haven’t found a reason to go back.

            2. Well, the import tool seems to have worked. If this comment works, at least.

          2. IIRC, that one was Sarah’s fault. She said something about a T-rex Shifter. A senator, loosing his temper and eating the VP, or some such. A couple of us jumped on the band wagon. No, I’ve written much worse trash than that one.

            1. I’d love a T-Rex shifter transmission! Make my car go in leaps and bounds, waving it’s tail behind it. Eating Pintos and Priuses!

        2. I’ve got a similar problem. I’m sure I could do well writing real strange, niche porn, but every time I try things like plot and character development keep getting in the way.

          1. <lifts hand.
            REPRESENT brothers and sisters. And it irks me too. I'm fairly sure I'm not prudish. It's just WRITING other people having sex is like reading other people having sex. If it's not me, I don't care.

        3. Obviously you never caught Dr Jane and Cynthia McQuillan singing “Sexy Rexy”….. There isn’t a video, unfortunately.

          “”Cause when a predatory female is determined to breed,
          Does no good to hide, run, reason, or plead.
          She’s gonna satisfy that Tyrannical need,
          Sexxxy Rexxy!”

          1. OK, it’s getting late. I found myself considering whether I could do that for a veggie centerpiece (yes, a pickle – some spinach, lasagna noodles…) OK, twenty minutes till bedtime.

        1. Cake Wrecks! Oh no, I’m not going to get sucked into that time sink where I just collapse, laughing, and end up useless for several hours.

          The last time I linked that site, I sent a clannie off on a huge rant about the baby cakes and birthing cakes. He probably went on for an hour or so, sending the other woman in the channel and myself off on whoops for a while. He greeted me with ‘BAAAAAAAAAAAABYYYYYYYYYYY CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKES!!!!” for a while after that.

      1. Oh, don’t say nasty things about one of my fondest movie memories. Ray Harryhausen dinosaurs. Raquel in a fur bikini. Movie heaven for an eleven-year-old.

    2. Either that or I should take up writing really crappy fluffy romances.

      Or maybe dinosaur porn. Can I combine them?

      If Thou Wert a Dinosaur, Mine Own True Love?

          1. You guys do realize there are actually things like this out there, don’t you? They beat the hell out of my books in the ratings.

            1. I am saddened, truly, to hear this. I guess truth is stranger than fiction. Or the market for fiction is even weirder than what I conceive of in jest.

              1. I knew that it existed… that they rank as high as they do is somewhat… disappointing? Discouraging? Dismaying?

                Yeah, let’s go with dismay.

              1. Well, normally I wouldn’t, but since the recommendation comes from you… 😉

                Not sure I need to read the sample, though. The blurb sounds like a modern “feminist” retelling of the Gor books. And what’s with the planet name… “Orpheseus”?

                  1. Wow. You . . . um, may have been a touch too generous. That’s bad and not in a good-bad (Killer Tomatoes, Rocky Horror) way.

                  2. At least the Dino porn girls admitted it was joke. At least it was a joke until they discovered they could make better money writing dino porn than they could at the careers they were going to college for.

                  3. I’ve seen that book before and wasn’t interested in it, so I have no intensions (especially after Sarah’s warning) of looking at the sample. 🙂

                  4. I read the sample, and I have to revise my opinion… the book is a wonderful and evocative narrative. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reading something by Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, or Jules Verne and thought “this is an okay story, but what it really needs is genital restraints.”

                    Definite Hugo/ Nebula material.

                    1. I liked the “restrained at hand, foot and genitals” Amanda and I — this book was a freeby at RWA and it took us minus five seconds to figure out what a told mine it was — would ambush each other with choice passages. That one is forever known as “dangerous genitals.” I mean, were they afraid the genitals would jump out and mug someone?
                      This is the book I started reading in the car as I got home. Son, who was then 16 and just practicing driving, pulled over to the side of the road, turned around and said “I can’t drive and laugh at the same time. STOP reading that, or I stop driving.”

                    2. There needs to be a collaboration:

                      If You Were A Genitally Restrained Dinosaur, My Love

                  5. I think I actually reaad one of those. Maybe the first one? Apparently the women on the planet the blurb speaks of aren’t actually slaves, they just let the men think that they are, in order to control the male agression? Or is that different one? ( Could there be two such series? Scary thought.)

              2. It hits the same sweet spot (except for women) as the early GOR books. It’s not SF; it’s space porn, and as such need not so much as nod toward reality. Viewed that way, it’s actually pretty good, of its kind. I see very well why she’s making a living off it. It’s not my thing; I could read one or two but then I’d be done forever. But there IS a massive market for this sort of stuff, as [checking] 34-and-counting GOR novels can attest — and not just among the low-information set.

                1. Thirty-four? I need to get on line and see what my first editions might sell for… (Yes, the forebrain does eventually fill in. You pick up some very odd things before it does.)

              3. Tylenol before bed now… Trying to decide whether to wash the eyes with whiskey or rum…

              4. Looking at her numbers and ranks, she sells 1 book a day more than you do, give or take. Now, if she has a second pen name that’s doing better, she might have something to envy but as it stands… *waggles hand*

                (I have an app that does it for me. Not for public consumption but reasonably accurate)

              5. Make a Western and you’ve hit my trifecta of awful.

                I can see it now: the hunky dino-cowhand wrangling the free-range genitals on the wide and dusty prairie….

                1. You think Peter Grant might consider that as part of the Westerns he’s writing now?????

            2. Yes there are, and despite the ratings they remain unreadable. This is a shame, as a dinosaur romance sounds like something that could be fun.

    3. Actually…there is, in fact, dinosaur porn. It’s a thing. Specifically, human/dinosaur porn is an actual subgenre. (I refuse to go anywhere near it, but a friend of mine was laughing himself sick over one he’d grabbed in a fit of ‘horrified fascination’.) There is also gay dinosaur porn…

      (I did look up some on Amazon out of morbid curiosity. Plotline seemed to be the same as most ‘modern’ romances–though in this case, the one I remember was an instance of the gay dinosaur porn–with the alpha-male-CEO–also a dinosaur–and his less alpha male love interest/personal assistant. o.O I dared not look further than the blurb, because while I am no scientist the logic-brain was sputtering “HOW WOULD THAT EVEN WORK?! and then shut down.)

      1. Augh, I just KNEW as soon as I hit ‘post’ that I hadn’t read down far enough–the dinosaur girls, etc were already mentioned.

        Still, I’m boggled at the fact that this is a Thing other than a joke…

        1. I need to look at pictures of kittens and puppies running around in sunny meadows now. Gaahh.

  5. Sigh – I reviewed a book or two like that, in my reviewing days, before I wised up and used the “look inside’ feature to check.

    “As I said, I wanted to enjoy the book and take no very great pleasure in administering a less than favorable review, but the anachronisms in language and in character’s attitudes eventually became too many and too monumental to let pass. Essentially, this is a late-twentieth century soap opera dressed in a few cosmetic shreds of 19th century raiment. The characters are all but modern; practically none of the high Victorian constraints which would have limited their conduct and attitudes, and formed their habits of speech are anywhere to be seen. There is no sense of the hurly burly of 19th century life, nothing of the atmosphere, the very real differences that there are, between our lives and those a hundred and thirty years ago. Would the wife of a man in prosperous and comfortable circumstances really be running a business herself? Working in her husband’s business, perhaps, or perhaps if she were a widow… that struck a false note to me, because of the very modernity of it. And a respectable and well-brought up but willful teenage girl would have not even considered running off to New York City (on the train with some of her slightly older girlfriends), to stay un-chaperoned in a hotel, and to go out drinking and dancing with those friends: this was in the era of Edith Wharton, not “Sex in the City”. Perhaps a rebellious girl might have gone as far as go for a walk un-chaperoned for an hour or so with a boy that she fancied, to more or less the same effect on her parents. Among the language anachronisms which struck me was the use of the term “sex slave” – a very modern term, whereas during that period something like the word “concubine” would have rather been used. Finally, the writer fell into the habit of ‘telling’ the readers essential information, rather than ‘showing’ it, through the character’s conversation and actions. This could have been a rather interesting and compelling narrative of a family in turmoil, but it was sunk for me on the iceberg of period anachronisms.”

    Original review posted on Blogger News Network, where it earned a snotty comment to the effect that “This reviewer should check her history before knocking a great book.”

    Was this regency by the same author, you think? Or just the same mind-set?

    1. Oh, your review reminded me, the “Scandal” in town at the time was that a married man had been caught with a prostitute. A) no woman would say that in public, though they might hint it. B) No mother would allow that to be discussed in front of her unmarried daughters and C) NO ONE WOULD FIND IT A VERY GREAT SCANDAL IN AN AGE WHEN MOST MEN KEPT MISTRESSES. Geesh.

    2. “Perhaps a rebellious girl might have gone as far as go for a walk un-chaperoned for an hour or so with a boy that she fancied, to more or less the same effect on her parents.”

      That depends — whoops, you mentioned New York City, and it would have been scandalous there. Also in Newport. But the Bostonians that used Bar Harbor as their vacation spot thought that ridiculous Europeanized prudery. Wholesome American customs prevailed in Bar Harbor, where young men and women went for unchaperoned walks in the pine woods, and went on row-boats likewise. (There were, to be sure, limits. Had to be a row boat. Row boats can’t be becalmed.)

        1. Well IIRC when sailing, you have to keep your mind on what you’re doing as well.

          But the point was IMO is that in a sail boat, you could claim the wind died when you stopped sailing to do “other stuff”.

          If you stopped rowing, it was obvious that you wanted to do “other stuff”. 😉

        2. Not to mention the likelihood of capsizing in a rowboat if things get…out of hand.

  6. Great grief and good gravy. I’ve been spoiled by reading Anne Perry, who writes Victorian era murder mysteries that look, sound, and feel genuinely Victorian.

    1. I angst because in the first musketeer book I’d failed to investigate how laundry was done in Paris (and really, rented boats on the Seine? How was I to know?) Something like this book would HAUNT me.

    2. This is why when I scribble, I tend towards fantasy or sci-fi. I get lost in the history when I’m looking up this or that, and oh, look at the time! It’s three a.m. and I’ve got no writing done and work to do- err, today. Crap.

  7. Why can’t we do the cooking?!?

    Something tells me that the author has never started towards dinner with an unplucked chicken.

    Let us see … cooking for a family of four of nobility? Type in ‘Regency England, cooking’ into the search engine:

    This took me less than a minute to find… along with other articles and a collection of recipies from The Jane Austen Centre in Bath.

    1. I’ve never started toward dinner with an unplucked chicken, but my mother did when she was a girl. She doesn’t miss it. I used to see women in South America quite regularly going home from the marketplace with live chickens.

      1. I’d like to see some yuppie’s reaction to being presented with a live chicken at the Fresh Organic Free Trade Free Range Health Bazaar.

        “Here’s your fresh chicken.”


        “Well, a dead chicken isn’t fresh, now is it?”

        1. I had a BBQ years ago and invited some coworkers. Glenn saw that I was grilling chicken and yelled “I don’t eat CHICKEN!” He stormed off and returned with a couple steaks.

          Later his wife pulled me aside and explained how Glenn had grown up a poor share croppers son. One of his common childhood chores was to catch, kill and pluck a chicken for dinner. It was his job until he left home.

          He vowed to never eat chicken again.

          1. I don’t know how I would have reacted if I had to be the one to do it ALL the time, but in general, cleaning a chicken wouldn’t have bothered me when I was growing up. I’d probably have used my dad’s method of gutting one (at least this is what he did when field-dressing rabbits): Cut open the belly, grab the critter by the hind legs and the head, and swing it hard and sharp, so the guts go scattering behind.

            1. Cleaning and butchering can be done fairly fast and indoors. The hassle is in the plucking which is a messy process which is done outdoors – step 1) catch and kill a chicken, step 2) dunk chicken in hot water while rubbing the chicken’s body to get all the pin feathers soaked (at least a minute), step 3) dunk chicken in ice water (if available, cold if not) until the skin puckers, step 4) pull all the feathers out, using the back of a knife to pluck the pin feathers (note when the skin starts pulling like it might tear soon, dunk the chicken back in the ice water until you can again pull feathers out easily, about every minute in the summer or 4 minutes in the winter), step 5) rub your hands together to get some feeling back into them while contemplating the 20 minutes (will take longer if you are out of practice) you just spent plucking a chicken and noticing the pin feathers you missed before deciding that you can live with a few pin feathers because the water you spilled down the left leg of you jeans during the second ice water dunk has frozen solid, step 6) remove neck and crop, step 7) give chicken to mother for butchering, cleaning out innards and cooking while keeping her from noticing the pin feathers you missed until after you complete the next step so that she removes them herself (in a nice warm kitchen), step 8) dump water and clean up all of the feathers (do not attempt to dump water before handing chicken to mother to get out of redoing the missed pin feathers if she catches them, it is only works if she accepts the chicken and you get the water dumped before she notices otherwise you’ll be drawing new ice water and removing them yourself).

              Although I did not grow up a poor share cropper but on an actual owned farm, I understand completely the man who refuses to eat chicken. I am not that extreme myself, but I am no fan of skin-on chicken (the skinless stuff is great, no plucking).

          1. The blanching (before preserving) kills the bugs. But you do have to do a pretty heavy duty kitchen patrol as you get rid of the shucks and silk.

      2. I doubt that either your mother or the women you saw in South America tried to pull off preparing multi-course evening meals. Never mind doing so and managing to appear in proper dress to sit down for said meal.

        1. Indeed. That’s what upper-class families would pay the cook to do. And they wouldn’t go shopping for food in the marketplace, either. That’s why the butcher and grocer had boys to do the deliveries, or perhaps in an emergency, a kitchen maid or scullery maid might be sent out. But a daughter of the house? Inconceivable!

          1. Indeed! The lady of the house’s *only* job in relation to the kitchen was planning the meals with the cook, so the cook (or housekeeper) knew what to order.

      3. Mi mama’s first cookbook has a recipe for arroz con pollo.
        The first instruction is: “Primero, mata el pollo.”

        …Now, personally, unless that particular chicken has pissed me off, I prefer to pay someone else to kill ’em. Especialmente because I suck at plucking chickens, and like pheasants, often lose most of the fat by losing my patience and skinning the bird.

        1. That’s what tweens and teens are good for.

          It’s not like I’m making them do anything I didn’t do at their ages, after all.

      4. Nor have I, but many a time I’ve started toward dinner with a live squirming fish. I can’t be arsed with other creatures, as yonder is Costco.

      5. My grandmother started toward dinner with a hatchet. And the usually non-help of a grandson in trying to get hold of the stupid thing by the legs.

        I have not yet found her recipe (if ever it was written) for chicken and dumplings, dang it. When and if I do, though, I think I’ll start somewhere after step one.

        1. The hatchet was Grandpa’s job. I can still hear Grandma, “Oscar, I need a chicken!”.

    2. I drew the line at gutting. I was quite happy to pay three cents more per pound for someone else to clean the bird and to remove the head and feet. Even so, two other grad students listened to me talking about cooking said chicken(s) and turned odd colors. Apparently they had not realized that one can by entire birds and would do so voluntarily. (Pssst. Broth-n-bits. Where did they think chicken broth came fr— Belay that thought.)

      1. The bird flu epidemic a few years ago spurred Southeast Asians to finally begin buying dead birds at the market.

      2. Before we moved to home education The Daughter was in an elementary program at a magnet school. With the help and support of the PTA all the classes worked on various garden projects. This included a simple vegetable garden. There were a number of students who were both shocked and disgusted to discover that vegetables grew in the dirt!

  8. Mazel Tov on the house deal! Here’s hoping that this one doesn’t fall through! 😀

    Trad pubs charging the same (or more) for e-books as for actual hardcopy – one reason I don’t do e-books. Granted there are some infrastructure requirements viz. e-books that hardcopy don’t have, but it works the other way ’round as well. It’s as if they thought pixels cost the same to produce as physical pages.

    “And that both she and her reviewers likely vote.”


  9. “Instead, I’m just going to remind you that this woman has 300 highly favorable reviews and an enviable rank on Amazon.

    And that both she and her reviewers likely vote.

    Have a happy Monday!”

    OW! That burns! What did I do to you?……….:D

    1. Does that actually follow as being a problem, though? Yes, she’s writing some sort of imaginary era, but at least I didn’t see complaints about illiterate writing. I mean, obviously her history is off, but her marketing is on. Since most politicians invent their own history, this does not seem to me to be sufficient to disqualify her
      Perhaps the brand of feminism she favors is dyscivic, but the thing about Regency-styled romances is that they tend to be rather pro-family in general, so that offers a point in favor of her vote, and the votes of her fans. Generally Romance fans are not men-haters, and not hating half the population strikes me as a remarkably good place to start these days.

      1. Well, IMO the problem is “suspension of disbelief”.

        We go into a book/story knowing that it’s “made up” but want to believe that it could be true.

        When the author touches on a subject that the reader knows very well and the author gets it terribly wrong, then the reader’s “suspension of disbelief” can be destroyed.

        Depending on the reader and how many errors the author makes, the reader might make it through the book but might not.

        Mind you, the errors might be something the average person might miss but the knowledgeable person might not.

        Barbara Hambly talked about novels set in (IIRC) Victorian England where the women’s hair was described as flowing freely.

        The problem was (for her) in that time no respectable woman would wear their hair that way in public.

        Even the most “radical feminists” of that time wouldn’t wear their that way in public.

        Mind you, I think what Sarah is saying is that any research into the era of that book would have prevented the errors she saw.

        It’s not like it was errors that only an extremely knowledgeable person would notice.

          1. In the author’s notes at the beginning of the fic, she said she didn’t beta hee. So I won’t read her. I

        1. Well, IMO the problem is “suspension of disbelief”.

          That’s it. I recall watching The Flintstones when young and I could deal with the humans & dinos together, and the names that got morphed to include ‘rock’ or ‘stone’, and the animals-as-appliance/machinery (bird phono graph, elephant vacuum cleaner, etc.) I could suspend disbelief that much. But the rear axle should have fallen off of Fred’s car. Just couldn’t get past that.

        2. Drak, it’s one thing to suspend belief, and another altogether to hang it by the neck until dead, and then letting the body rot.

        3. the real dreadful problem is that your readers will have much more expertise than you given that there are so many more of them — one reader will notice clothes, another military tactics, a third the history of ideas.

          AND — there are the readers who will be jolted out if you get it right because they are wrong.

          1. AND — there are the readers who will be jolted out if you get it right because they are wrong.

            Or editors/publishers, David Drake described Roman Shields as being plywood but his editors/publisher believed he “got it wrong”.

            He got away with saying “laminated wood” but his editors/publisher didn’t realize that “plywood is laminated wood”. 👿

            1. I am of two minds on that notion. Yes, plywood is certainly laminated wood, but I doubt that the term “plywood” was in use at the time (though I could be wrong).

              1. The term might be modern but the term correctly describes Roman Shields.

                On the other hand, I see your point.

                1. I’ve heard of readers being jolted out of stories by four-letter words that we can prove are Anglo-Saxon in origin. They just didn’t expect the vulgar words to be the same in an exotic land.

  10. Though not so for our most esteemed Evil but Beautiful Space Princess hostess, but for us mortals, here we encounter yet another example in the “Holy Mackeral, even I could write something that’s better than this!!!” which is for me more of a motivator than all the pep talks in the world.

    1. Yep, nothing like reading some absolutely dreadful bit of writing and thinking – hey, this author got an agent and a publishing deal, over and over again – to start thinking that yes – you can.

      1. Yes, but then there’s all those lovely authors that know their stuff. Life’s too short to waste on reading bad books. *grin* Plus you get to see what’s done right, and maybe try it out for yourself.

      2. Indeed. I, for example, actually did the math to figure out how far a dragon flying upside down at 200 mph goes in 130 milliseconds. Pretty far actually, almost half a dragon-length. (Dragons are 100 feet long, y’know.)

        Why 130 milliseconds, precisely? Well, you’ll have to struggle through all my other mistakes to find out. Bwahahaaa!

  11. Sounds like what happened when I tried reading a certain Harry Potter fanfic (please don’t judge me) that I don’t dare name lest his minions descend upon us, because it had like a bajillion and one reviews so I figured it couldn’t be that bad. Boy was I ever wrong.

  12. Ah, that reminds me of one of the early, early reality shows I caught an episode of once–I think it was “Victorian House”? Yeah. The wife (who was the one who wanted to live all Victorian) was *hammered* by the end of the day. And she had daughters and a maid. I also recall reading dear Pepys’ accounts of Laundry Day in his house. It was a 24 hour day, once a month. And he walked on eggshells around his wife before and after, because it did not sweeten her temper 😉

    I’ve seen the magical transformation of clucking hen to roast (aided by an axe…) Other than getting to see some of the bits that aren’t included in the grocery store version, the “authentic” way smells far too much of scalded feathers and you can keep it.

      1. Burnt feather certainly do stink. Chicken coops don’t smell all that nice either, but the cleanings do make a fair addition to compost.

      2. Amen. Even if the plucking is made a million times easier with boiling water, that smell…

    1. Ah yes, the “1900 House” series from BBC. Laundry day certainly gave the wife a whole new respect for modern conveniences. Also, the fact that clothing was expensive meant that laundering was a weekly, all-day chore.

      1. Yeah, I started to say that laundry day was once a week, not once a month, when my mother was a girl, according to her tales. Start by boiling water in a big iron pot; shave off some lye soap, and go forward from there.

        That was twenty years or so before my time. I do remember remember seeing someone render lard, probably in the same iron pots.

        1. When I was a child, I thought it was so neat – the galvanized washtub, and the big hand-cranked wringer that fit over it.

          I was somewhat disappointed when Gram went “modern” – an electric wringer…

          Which reminds me, I need to go throw the rags from the daughter’s car wash into the dryer.

  13. Of course Sarah Hoyt would read Georgette Heyer (one of my favorite authors of all time). It’s simply what awesome people do. 🙂

  14. Ya know, Regency Era is not my specialty. Victorian social history is not my specialty. And even I wouldn’t do something like that! Ye gads and little fishes.

    The short story I started a few weeks ago has finally let me finish it. And it decided it wants to be part of the next-but-one Cat novel. Which is supposed to be on the back burner until I get the next Colplatschki book done. Which decided there will be one more, after that one. I need a (ginger) beer.

    Paws crossed on the house.

    1. I understand. It’s not your fault. It’s those people living in your head.

      *clears throat, whispers* If you ever find out how to make them wait quietly and politely in line for their turn, tell me how you did it.

    1. Money does not bring happiness. It rarely brings sorrow, either, though.

      Satan, get thee behind me…

  15. Ah Sarah, the new house is in the Denver area isn’t it?

    I heard reports of a very strange house spotted in that area.

    One with Chicken Feet.

    Hope that not your new house. 👿 👿 👿 👿

      1. Does Sarah want that “individual” as a neighbor? [Nervous Smile]

        1. Begging pardon, esteemed elder dragon, were you in the military? The way you put “individual” in quotes reminded me of the way the drill sergeants would used it, with connotations of disdain.

          1. More because I don’t want to refer to certain beings in a manner that would start a fight.

            There are beings that would (strangely) dislike being referred to as a person.

            1. And then there’s Delirium. Who didn’t seem to dislike it but *was* somewhat boggled.

    1. Didn’t know Baba Yaga’s house was on the market … makes me wonder what exactly was involved in that offer.

      1. Well SHE won’t willing sell it so if anybody purchased it, SHE would come after HER house.

        That’s why I hoped Sarah hadn’t purchased it. 😉

  16. Keeping fingers crossed that house closing goes smoothly and you have your new home. (PS While waiting, perhaps re-read anything by Heyer; very relaxing and comforting when stressed by modern life.)

  17. YEEHAW!

    Sounds like life is getting back on track for you (and family)!

    Now, we cannot possibly be connected – but I have been sleeping on the right schedule, and producing (mostly) quite well during the days this last week.

    Maybe some general karmic field stuff here? Let’s all try to keep it around…

      1. It looks like someone borrowed the karmic multimeter again – can anyone make out whose signature this is on the signout sheet?

  18. Having finally had the time to read the post (beyond the “accepted offer on a no short sale house”) – Oh… My… Ever… Loving… God.

    Maybe I should write Regencies. (And make sure everyone here knows the pen name to very carefully avoid!) I do have one short that is just about there, in an early time period (not Regency) – but I realize quite well that it has zero historic accuracy. It’s one of the group I am playing with to hone my feeble skills in various places.

    And – seeing the problems that Amanda just had (see MGC) – what is that F. Paul Wilson book even doing on Amazon? Since they are so picky about those little details like titles, covers, and legal info that goes with the actual book? Curious minds would like to know…

  19. One reason I prefer steampunky fantasies to historicals is that I can sort of accept the ahistorical bits (you know things like people having baths daily, grrrrls running away to become sword wielding mercenaries etc.) assuming the author does a slight bit of handwavium to explain it away.

    Though the servant thing is an issue and will only get worse as these days no one in the developed world has servants so they don’t understand how to handle them

    1. My daughter stayed with a well to do Argentine family as a teenager. Sarah was an exchange student. We were part of an exchange skiracer program. She had a hard time adjusting to no chores. Drop your clothes on the floor. Don’t make your bed. Someone is payed to do that. Serious culture shock.

      1. For a time my sister’s office assistant was the niece of the King of Spain. Apparently she arrived with the opposite notion, but soon learned better. (Eldest Uncle thought it was good for the younger relatives to experience having to work for a living, so off she went.)

    2. In time we’ll get to the point where “handling the servants” means knowing how to reboot them when they get wedged, and downloading patches to their software. Barring a major collapse, it’s very likely that we’ll have domestic robots doing a lot of household chores within a few decades. They may not have quite the personality of Rosie in the Jetsons, but they’ll still require a certain level of management (not to mention protection from being hacked, which is already becoming an issue with the Internet of Things).

      1. (not to mention protection from being hacked, which is already becoming an issue with the Internet of Things).

        Embrace the word “airgap” Also the phrase “disable bluetooth” 🙂

        PS Google “bluetooth toilet japan” for a giggle

        1. I am deeply offended because I am a (roll d6):
          1. Saberhagen’s Berserkers
          2. Necron
          3. Dalek
          4. HAL 9000
          5. Cell
          6. Bolo


  20. Since it is about supper time, thank you for improving my appetite with that last sentence.

  21. George looked on with a mix of pity and ambition as his father the King threw another one of his fits of madness. “I hate those guys,” the Prince replied.

  22. Speaking of popcorn reads, I read one a couple months back (published less than a year ago), it was a perfectly forgettable thriller/mystery. Not bad, a decent read, but fairly predictable, and therefore forgettable/interchangeable with any other generic thriller/mystery; except for one thing. The big bad guy at the bottom of conspiracy, was a Senator that was an almost exactly 50/50 mix of Obama and Cruz. Not explicit positions, that sort of mix would be too head explodey, and no political positions were really mentioned. But I mean a first or second term ( I forget) Democrat senator from Texas, with aspirations to become President, half Cuban, hiding his place of birth, raised by a single mother, etc., etc.
    It was actually fairly skillfully done, except it was overdone. I’m assuming, since the book was otherwise completely free of politics that the author decided that if they were going to have a political figure as the head bad guy to avoid alienating readers they would mix two opposites and hopefully the readers would picture whoever they preferred to hate as the bad guy.
    It worked as far as this reader is concerned, at least it didn’t alienate me, but it did cause some raised eyebrows, headshakes, and a rueful laugh, at what I’m pretty sure the author didn’t intend as humor.

  23. Most people who chatter about The Good Old Days really want the Disneyland version — and that’s exactly what this sort of book is providing. A cool adventure in a picaresque setting based upon a past era, but without anything that would get in the way of the fun.

  24. Glad to hear that life is getting back on track. Our time here’s too short for the rest of that crap.

    As far as writing horror, I’ve been told my writing’s horrifying, but I don’t think they were talking about the same thing. 🙂

  25. The giant squid slowly hauled itself up the stairs to the balcony, where it waited for its next meal to come along…or perhaps a young Japanese girl who loved having tentacles wrapped around her, so they could star in an anime comic.

  26. Coal powered microwave!
    Somebody tell Colman, for decades there have been rumors of their impending release of a camping microwave. The first rumblings I heard had it being white gas powered, now days all you hear about is ‘soon a propane powered microwave….’ But like fusion power, it is always ‘next year.’
    Obviously the answer is that older solid fuel – coal!

  27. Side note; you can read the whole post if interested (the title is Bones Murder of a Meninist”) at TiaT but as a result of reading both your posts back-to-back I realized (and commented) that:

    “t actually reminded me of the post yesterday on ATH about that poor regency romance writer: half-assed research + putting in anything from my personal knowledge (cos I AM the whole world, past present and future) makes even half-way informed viewer apoplectic.

    But the production values are decent, the character interactions are enjoyable, and the plot moves along at a brisk clip, especially if you stick your fingers in your ears and shout la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you to the giant holes.”

    Which might make you less depressed about the state of the voting populace.

    We still have lousy taste in entertainment fiction, of course 🙂

  28. This reminds me of the quick google search I did on titles in England at the time of Richard I (Robin Hood story… sort of.) and discovered that they were insanely simpler than I had expected. And very, very different. There will be much more research before this AU hits anything resembling prime time. Nor the more modern things set in that world. (The British precedent system had me head tilting soooo many times.)

    1. In medieval times, only an emperor was Your Majesty. A king was Your Grace. Surprised me to find out that certain writers were right.

      1. It started changing in England during the Tudor period if I recall correctly, though I’m still doing research. (Fun with alternate universes that I still want to get mostly correct.)

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