May Workshop: Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs!

dill and poppies

For the month of May, join in the journey as we venture back to the days when herbs entered into every aspect of life. From the ancients to the British Isles, colonial America, Native Americans, and the Granny Women, this workshop spans centuries. Plus, everyone who participates will receive the illustrated eBook of my new herbal, (recently revised to include yet more herbs and images) Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles (soon to be available in print as well as eBook).

While sponsored by Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, this May workshop is also open to the public. For more information and to register visit:

medieval herb garden smaller sizePlants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles 

Description: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises. ***In Kindle and Nookbook.

(Image of dill and heirloom poppies in our garden by Elise. Book cover also by Elise.)

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Gardening and Country Life in Glorious Color!

cover-for-swcI’ve labored away adding lovely images to Shenandoah Watercolors, my nonfiction book about life on our small family farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Given my love of gardening, this includes a strong focus on my gardens and love of nature. The book is already out in print with images, but now that kindle and nook E-Readers support colored photographs, I’ve added heaps more. Shenandoah Watercolors in available in  eBook and print format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I will also get it up on Kobo soon. If someone is dying for me to have it somewhere else, let me know.

Book description: Author/farm wife Beth Trissel shares the joys and challenges of rural life on her family’s small farm in the scenic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Journey with her through the seasons on the farm, owned by the family since the 1930′s, and savor the richness of her cherished gardens and beloved valley. This journal, with images of her farm and valley, is a poignant, often humorous, sometimes sad glimpse into country life. Recommended for anyone who loves the country, and even those who don’t. ***Shenandoah Watercolors is a 2012 EPPIC eBOOK FINALIST.

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Time Travel Romance Somewhere in the Highlands On Sale for .99

Sci-fi, Fantasy, Time Travel Romance Sci-fi, Fantasy, Time Travel Romance Time travel romance novella Somewhere in the Highlands is reduced from 2.99 to .99 through March 31st at Amazon.

 

Story BlurbThe MacDonalds are coming! When Elizabeth MacDonald (a.k.a Beezus Mac) thrusts a sealed gold box at Angus Fergus amid panicked requests for him to hide the stolen artifact, she has no idea the ancient cloth it contains bestows unearthly powers. Red MacDonald knows and he’s hell-bent on traveling 400 years into the future to claim the charmed relic, even kill for it. Protecting Beezus from his old nemesis is only one of Fergus’s problems. Before they can stop him, Morley MacDonald, descendant of Red MacDonald, snatches the prize and leaps through the time portal to head the MacDonald clan and kill Fergus’s MacKenzie ancestor. If he succeeds, Fergus will cease to exist.

Danger grows in the feud between the MacDonalds and the MacKenzies as the pair, along with an ingenious friend and high tech inventions, returns to 1604 Scotland to face these brawny Highlanders and reunite with kin. Will Fergus overcome his mistrust of Beezus and fan the growing spark between them before they battle Morley? If he waits, it may be too late.

Old Victorian StaircaseExcerpt From Chapter One:

Early November 2011, a Victorian home in historic Staunton, Virginia

Footfalls pounded down the stairs from the second story. A woman cried, “They’re coming!”

Beezus? Angus Fergus lowered his leather recliner with a thump. “Who is?”

Long brown hair spilling down over her red Trekkie T-shirt dress and hoodie, Beezus Mac tore into his living room. Particularly surprising as Fergus hadn’t even realized she was in the house.

“Here!” She thrust an ornate gold box at him. “Hide this!”

He set his laptop on the end table beside the jellyfish mood lamp and ‘There is no try, only do,’ Yoda coffee mug, and sprang to his feet. Warily, he took from her hands the gilded chest, its metal cold in his grasp. The only other light in the room came from the laserpod streaming a starry blue galaxy on the ceiling making everything appear surreal, especially her find—or take.

He gaped into her frightened eyes. “What is it?”

Darting glances over a slender shoulder, she insisted, “No time to explain. They’re coming. The MacDonalds are coming.”

An old fear welled in him. “All of them?”

“Not certain. I heard shouting behind me.”

Lock and Key series7No angry bellows reverberated in the old home. Yet. “Beezus, what have you done?”

She gulped out, “I borrowed your energy field detector—”

“Absconded with it, you mean.”

“And went through the portal,” she rushed on. “Only supposed to be an in and out job, but I was seen in the crypt.”

He dropped his gaze to the shine of gold. The reliquary had a disturbingly familiar design associated with some seriously bad mojo. It came to him—Raiders of the Lost Ark!

“Cripes, Beezus. Tell me you didn’t steal the Ark of the Covenant.” According to the Old Testament, anyone who touched it was zapped by a bolt from heaven.

“The original is God knows where, and considerably larger, Fergus. This is from Persia, or some ancient place, carried to Scotland by the Knights Templar.”

fierce highlanderThat accounted for it winding up with the MacDonalds. “Any idea how many irate Scotsmen are on your tail?”

“Might only be one. Sounded like more shouting than that.”

“If it’s the fiend I’ve encountered, all it takes is one.”

Fergus raced to a corner of the room, flipped open the head on the life-sized droid, a replica of R2-D2, and stuck the jewel-like chest inside its body at a vertical angle. He snapped the head shut. Turning around, he ran into the front hall, making a mental note to find a new place to stash his stuff now that Beezus knew of his secret safe—assuming he lived that long. He grabbed the lightsaber from the Chinese urn holding canes and umbrellas in the foyer.

Beezus followed at his heels. “But that’s just a toy!”

“Actually—” He hit a switch on the end and the weapon of the Jedi came to green glowing life. “It’s a taser. I made a few alterations.”

She drew up. “Cool.” Even in her near panic, she sounded impressed.

“Grab a stout walking stick while we’re at it.”

Springing to action, she snatched a heavy knobbed cane with an impish monkey head.

“You would choose that one.” The same cane Neil had wielded in pursuit of the Red MacDonald two years ago. Fergus pivoted and made for the winding staircase. “What were you doing back in the MacDonald camp at Domhnall castle?”

She clambered behind him. “That’s where the portal leads.”

“Still? I figured the portal would’ve shifted after it closed.”

ancient doorWhen he last passed through the wormhole connected to the mysterious door upstairs, it had been from the crypt below the castle chapel. He’d magnified the sensor in his energy field detector to pick up any activity, however slight, but not a blip or a buzz—until now. And Beezushad been the one to find it?

Annoyance and alarm melded in the flood of emotion coursing through him. “And you went through it because?”

“That reliquary should be mine. I’m the rightful MacDonald descendant.”

“How do you figure? There are hundreds of them, even got their own restaurant. You may have heard of it, Mickey D’s?

“Not this line. And I’ve got the key to open that chest.”

She probably swiped that too. In a flash of insight he realized Beezus Mac must be short for Elizabeth MacDonald.

“Why don’t the original MacDonalds have the key?”

“Lost it during one of the raids on the castle. It turned up later in the family. Domhnall’s in ruins now.”

Retro Keyhole“And the gold box I just hid?”

She panted, “In a Scottish Museum.”

Exactly where it belonged. Fergus never should’ve told her about the wormhole linked with this house and his adventure through it two years ago. In a moment of weakness, punch-drunk from too much caffeine, lulled by those bewitching golden-brown eyes and an overpowering desire to share with someone, he’d succumbed.

She’d hung around the perimeter of his cyber circle, a geek wannabe, or so he’d thought. A recent transplant to Staunton, she’d appeared on his doorstep as though drawn to him, the fortunate chosen one. He should have realized no woman that good-looking paid him much notice without an ulterior motive. If only he wasn’t so attracted to her.

“You’re fortunate you didn’t get stranded back there. The portal’s unpredictable.”

She was practically on his heels. “This is bad enough. You’ve got to keep the MacDonalds from coming through.”

“I can’t close a fricking wormhole, Beezus. Just drive back anyone emerging through it.”  Or die trying.

In his Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock T-shirt and jeans, he wouldn’t appear much of a threat to a 17th century Highland chieftain. But it was imperative to keep the Red MacDonald out of the house and the 21st century altogether. His last appearance here had fatal consequences. The man was a murderer, vowing vengeance. And none too fond of Fergus.

Well, the feeling was mutual.

full moon and clouds--blue-black night sky, hauntingFergus tore down the upstairs hall lit by the floral china lamp on the table along one gold print wall. A full moon shone through the windows, the old glass wavy in the light.

There!

At the end of the passage stood the intricately carved door, the oak darkened with age. The stained glass archway above it fanned out in a half circle of saffron, red, and gold like the entry to a chapel. The door to nowhere, so called as it led out onto a nonexistent balcony. But nothing could be further from the truth when the portal opened.

The aged wood swung wide.

Through the blackened archway appeared the demon Fergus dreaded ever to meet again, Red MacDonald. Shadows dulled the fiery mane blowing over his scarlet and green plaid, but Fergus spotted the great sword slung across one broad shoulder in leather back scabbard. The hilt of the claymore protruded above the giant’s shoulder blade.

One step closer and stout legs encased in full-length green trews came into view. Then those glittering blue eyes.

Man's_face_and_eyesHow he hated those eyes.

The enraged Scotsman pierced him with a glare. “You!”

A primal yowl tore from some place deep inside Fergus and he raised his lightsaber.~

***Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Time Travel Romance Somewhere in the Highlands is the sequel to Somewhere My Lass. Available in kindle at Amazon.

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New Release! Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles

medieval herb garden smaller size

After abundant research, writing, and seemingly endless revising, my first herbal is finally available in kindle at Amazon.  I initially embarked on this undertaking last year for the workshop I gave focused on herbs and medicinal plants of the British Isles. Participants were so enthusiastic, as have many who follow my blog, that I was inspired to go all out and turn this project into a much longer work. No small effort, but I enjoyed the process and learned a lot along the way. I’m always learning because this is such a vast trove of material to delve into. I’ve also had fun choosing images lo illustrate this book. Some are photographs of our garden taken by Elise, many are royalty free images I purchased, and a few are in public domain.  I hope you enjoy Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. A lot of these plants were brought to America with the early colonists and are widespread here now. Others are well and truly British and Scottish.

Elise did the gorgeous cover.

thyme with honey beeBook Description:  An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~

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Native American Sayings & Images

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.”

~ Ancient Indian Proverb

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.
~ Old Indian saying

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
~ Cherokee Expression

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. We are a part of the earth and it is part of us. ~ Chief Seattle

Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.”
~Hopi

Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find money cannot be eaten.
~ Cree Prophecy

May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.  May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.
~ Cherokee Prayer Blessing

Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my Sacred Space and love beyond my fear, and thus Walk in Balance with the passing of each glorious Sun.
~ Lakota Prayer

Honor the sacred. Honor the Earth, our Mother. Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we  share the Earth:-
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.
~Native American Elder

O’ Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.
~ Cherokee Prayer

We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.
~ Qwatsinas, Nuxalk Nation

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~ Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

…Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence. ~ Mourning Dove Salish

The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us…. ~Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

“One does not sell the land people walk on.” ~Crazy Horse, Sept. 23, 1875

“Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun.

“Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, ‘Never! Never!’”

~The Great Chief Tecumseh~ Shawnee

*Image of Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota

“When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”  ~Chief Aupumut, Mohican. 1725

“From Wakan-Tanka, the Great Mystery, comes all power. It is from Wakan-Tanka that the holy man has wisdom and the power to heal and make holy charms. Man knows that all healing plants are given by Wakan-Tanka; therefore they are holy. So too is the buffalo holy, because it is the gift of Wakan-Tanka.”

Flat-Iron (Maza Blaska) Oglala Sioux Chief

“When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.” ~ Chief Seattle

“I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows. We are poor…but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die…we die defending our rights.” ~ Sitting Bull Hunkpapa Sioux

“I will follow the white man’s trail. I will make him my friend, but I will not bend my back to his burdens. I will be cunning as a coyote. I will ask him to help me understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children, and their children. The Great Spirit has shown me – a day will come when they will outrun the white man in his own shoes.” ~ Many Horses

If you talk to the animals they will talk with you
and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them
you will not know them, and what you do not know
you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.

~Chief Dan George

“The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, he belongs just as the buffalo belonged….” Luther Standing Bear Oglala Sioux

“Our land is everything to us… I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it – with their lives.”

~John Wooden Legs, Cheyenne

*All images are royalty free. I am interested in purchasing more Native American images. Contact me at: bctrissel@yahoo.com

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Great Writing Quotes–With Fabulous Commentary

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” ~E.L. Doctorow

Although it worries my mother when I say I’m talking amongst myselves….

*Image of me writing surrounded by grandbabies.

“Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.”  ~Franz Kafka

Well that’s cheery, Franz, and why writers surround themselves with cats, keep pouring those heartening cups of coffee or hot tea, dive into chocolate, light candles, play our favorite music… sneak back online.  Again.

I especially like this quote:  “There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” ~W. Somerset Maugham English dramatist & novelist (1874 – 1965)

A word is not the same with one writer as with another.  One tears it from his guts.  The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.”  ~Charles Peguy

 I compare capturing just the right word to netting butterflies before they soar away.  Words flee my thoughts just as swiftly if I don’t snag them.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~Sylvia Plath

Amen to this Sylvia.

Although I must add there’s a difference between courage and writing about the worst life has to offer and calling it art.

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  ~Toni Morrison

I actually do, do this in my writing.

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.”  ~Sharon O’Brien

This is true as long as I am writing what I WANT.  Not what I think may sell.  And considering my sales of late, I must be in the minority about what’s popular.

Publication – is the auction of the Mind of Man.”  ~Emily Dickinson

And it’s going too cheap these days.  Not all books can sell for .99 on kindle or be free.  Assuming the author wants to eat.

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”  ~Mark Twain

I love Mark Twain, who, BTW, is an ancestor on my father’s side.

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”  ~James Michener

I can and do rewrite interminably.

“The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend.”  ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

Now, it’s the delete key on my laptop, but I remember the days of handwriting everything in ink and using whiteout until the pages were stiff with the stuff, then I’d crumple and throw until a pile accumulated around me and my faithful furry writing companions, both feline and canine.  As I write this there’s a small dog snoozing on one side, a large tabby purring under my arm and a playful kitten trying to get a rise out of someone.  To no avail.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”  ~William Wordsworth

Trust Wordsworth to come up with something  this lovely and poetic.  And to him I reply, I do!

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”  ~Vladimir Nabakov

What an optimist.  Face it, to most writers blank pages are scary.  Sit there leering at us and must be filled with something, anything, as fast as possible.  One can always edit something, but not nothing.

And similarly a quote by James Thurber: “Don’t get it right, just get it written.”

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

He sure knew what he was talking about.

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it.”  ~Jules Renard, “Diary,” February 1895

Heck, I’ve got a number of those floating around.  Not terribly marketable in that form though.

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.  ~Karl Kraus

Yes, there’s a lot of Yoda in writers.  We’re all striving to be Jedi’s.

“Size matters not.  Look at me.  Judge me by size, do you?” ~Yoda

“Do, or do not.  There is no try.” ~Yoda

And very apt for writing as well as training to be a Jedi.

“Writing is my time machine, takes me to the precise time and place I belong.” ~Jeb Dickerson, www.howtomatter.com

*Mine too.

“I love being a writer.  What I can’t stand is the paperwork.”  ~Peter De Vries

Or all the promo he probably didn’t have to deal with.

“A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.” ~Mignon McLaughlinThe Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Ah yes, there are times I wonder if the reviewer read the same book I wrote.   Other times, I delight that they totally got my story.

“I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.” ~English Professor (Name Unknown), Ohio University

This could have been said of me who got a D in a college class called The Novel.

“Most editors are failed writers – but so are most writers.”  ~T.S. Eliot

“For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain [and] the noise of battle.”  ~John Cheever

And all that other good stuff, seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling…the five senses.  I also like to include the sixth.

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”  ~Elmore Leonard

Oh gosh, me too.  Most people are probably skipping this post.

Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.  ~Francis Bacon

And this, dear readers, is the essence of my writing.  I am not a PLOTTER.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”  ~Joseph Heller

“Writer’s block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite.”  ~Terri Guillemets

“When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.”  ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

“A good style should show no signs of effort.  What is written should seem a happy accident.” ~W. Somerset Maugham, Summing Up, 1938

With these quotes I am in utter agreement.

When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.”
~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

I suppose it’s sour grapes to point out that Carroll was an opium addict.  However, opium alone cannot make you brilliant so I still have to give him that.

“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”  ~Lord Byron

Many writers are slightly mad.  I have a theory about writers, those who are on medication and those who should be.  I am.

“All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love Emerson.  And to this I say, let’s steal them back.

“What no wife (*spouse) of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.”  ~Burton Rascoe

I spend a great deal of my writing in these sorts of thinking times.

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”  ~Agatha Christie

Which also ties into the above quote, those vital pondering moments.

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”  ~Saul Bellow

“It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.”  ~Sinclair Lewis

And to all fellow writers I say, may the muse be with you.  And where would we be without the story tellers?  Now go snag those butterflies!

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Early American Christmas Cards and A Colonial Christmas Romance

Christmas, Bird,, Old-fashioned, Victorian Style, Christmas Card, Winter, Greeting Card,Ever wonder about the history of Christmas Cards in America? Here’s what I found.

From Something Olde: Christmas Card History

“In the late 1700’s merchants sent their customers best wishes for the new year. The cards were created on lithographs and hand-colored. A lithograph is an etching on a stone that can be reproduced on paper. Sending Christmas cards first became popular in England over 150 years ago.  In the 1840’s John Calcott Horsely was a curator at the royal museum.  He was late sending his usual holiday letters to his friends and relatives for Christmas.  He asked the artist, Sir Henry Cole, to design and hand-color 1,000 cards.  He wanted the card to show people being fed and clothed to remind his friends of the needs of the poor during this season.”

From The Old Farmer’s Almanac:

Holiday Cards

The first American to print and sell Christmas cards was Louis Prang of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who began publishing cards in 1875.

(In 1953) President Dwight D. Eisenhower is given credit for sending the first “official” Christmas card from the White House. An art print also became the standard Christmas gift for the president’s staff, a practice continued to this day.

Vintage Santa Christmas CardFrom Idea Finder:   “A relatively recent phenomenon, the sending of commercially printed Christmas cards originated in London in 1843. Previously, people had exchanged handwritten holiday greetings. First in person. Then via post. By 1822, homemade Christmas cards had become the bane of the U.S. postal system. That year, the Superintendent of Mails in Washington, D.C., complained of the need to hire sixteen extra mailmen. Fearful of future bottlenecks, he petitioned Congress to limit the exchange of cards by post, concluding, “I don’t know what we’ll do if it keeps on.”

Not only did it keep on, but with the marketing of attractive commercial cards the postal burden worsened. The first Christmas card designed for sale was by London artist John Calcott Horsley. A respected illustrator of the day, Horsley was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman, who wanted a card he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a “merry Christmas.”

Christmas sleigh rideFrom The History of Christmas Cards: At Christmastime, many people would send letters to friends and family far away, and children at boarding school would decorate paper and write letters to show off the writing skills they’d improved upon that term at school. However, the first official Christmas card was created in 1843 in Britain.

Sir Henry Cole, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, would write letters to family and acquaintances at Christmastime. He and others could buy decorative paper on which to pen greetings and good wishes, but he found it to be a cumbersome task. So Cole commissioned an artist friend, John Calcott Horsley to create a card with a simple message that could be duplicated and sent to all his acquaintances. Horsley lithographed and hand-colored 1,000 copies of this first commercial card. It was a three-panel card – the center panel showed a family celebrating and the two wing panels depicted people feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The card bore the simple greeting, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You,” which would become the standard sentiment of the mass-produced Christmas cards.

old time SantaCHRISTMAS CARDS RISE IN POPULARITY

“Christmas cards were quite elaborate and though the lithograph printing process helped in producing cards, they first became popular among the upper-class in England. However, the development and improvement of the postal system, making sending cards more affordable, was a big part of the rise in the popularity of Christmas cards. Early cards were not necessarily religious Christmas cards but favored images such as beautiful flowers, birds, scenery and other pretty things.

In 1875 Louis Prang brought the commercial Christmas card to the United States. Prang, a German lithographer, had developed a new innovative way of printing that made the process of creating Christmas and other cards much simpler and more affordable. Like British Christmas cards, Prang’s cards included various images that were simply pretty and tasteful, not truly having much to do with Christmas or even necessarily winter. However, some cards did include holly, snow and some other wintry or Christmas images. His cards became extremely popular in the U.S.; his company printed almost five million cards a year by 1881.”

christmas-holly

Well, you get the idea. In my holiday release, A Warrior For Christmas, (also in audio now!) I journeyed farther back in early America to the colonial time period and the holiday celebration in a wealthy household. However, the hero, a former Shawnee captive, would rather return to his adopted people in the colonial frontier.

Blurb: Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. He plans to return to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity–until he meets Uncle Randolph’s ward, Dimity Scott.

Deaf since a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, Dimity Scott intends to be cherished for herself, not her guardian’s purse, even if it means risking spinsterhood. Then the rugged newcomer arrives, unlike any man she’s ever known. Dimity has learned to manage her silent world, but unaccustomed to the dangers of the frontier, can she expect love and marriage from Corwin, who longs to return to his Shawnee life?~

***A Warrior for Christmas is available from all major online booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

Christmas Bells“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens

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