Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mistress giveaway winners

Kate Bienvenu and Carole in Canada, you are the winners!

Please contact me at sophieturner1805 at gmail dot com and let me know your preference of format and where to send it. Congratulations!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pornography in the Georgian era + a giveaway

 We're stopping at my own blog today for the most provocative of my posts for Mistress: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, with Parts Not Suitable for Those Who Have Not Reached Their Majority. Yep, we're going to talk about pornography.

The portion before the jump won't have any illustrations or graphic exerpts, so don't worry if you're not wanting to see the, uh, nitty grittier details. After the jump will be decidedly NSFW, however.

It's safe to say that "research pornography in the Georgian era" was not something I expected would wind up on my to-do list when I first began writing JAFF. It became necessary because in Mistress, it is of the utmost importance for Darcy and Elizabeth's first night together to go well, and Darcy, being a well-read, considerate guy, takes it upon himself to do the research so that he's better prepared to woo her:
He had considered returning to the establishment he had gone to in his younger days – those days in which he had wanted any woman, and not a particular one – and requesting a woman, someone who could help him learn such arts, but to do so would have made him feel inconstant to Elizabeth. So he had gained his knowledge through books, as best he could, books sold in the unsavoury little shops on Holywell Street, read during the carriage ride back to Pemberley and ever since. It was not unusual for the master of Pemberley to hide himself away in the library or his private sitting-room for much of his day, so this prompted no particular notice from his servants, although they all would have been wholly scandalised if they had known what he was reading. They would have been still more scandalised, to know the state of arousal some portions of these books put him in. To read of such things, to see such illustrations, and then consider doing them with her, was to know an almost overwhelming desire.

I don't like to write with knowledge gaps, just presuming that everything Darcy would need to know was magically out there for him to read. So I embarked on my own research, to see what sorts of materials would be available to him.

John Cleland's Fanny Hill would almost certainly be on the list, the fictitious memoir of a former prostitute. This is one I suspect he would already have read at some point in his life – indeed, I suspect it's been passed around at Eton since just after it was published. It was illustrated, although the illustrations were somewhat crude compared to others.

For more ideas on how to, erm, go about things, L’Aretin Francais would certainly have been on the list. I don't have a firm opinion on whether Darcy would have learned French in addition to the classical languages that would certainly have been part of his gentleman's education, but comprehension of French is not necessary to find this book useful for his purposes. Because it's all about the illustrations. And whoa are they some illustrations.

Caricature sketches often ventured into the pornographic. Of these caricaturists, Thomas Rowlandson was probably the most famous of the time. Common sexual themes in Rowlandson's work included voyeurism and adulterous couples in the midst of being discovered. Below is one of his less bawdy works; two more are beyond the jump.

I expect that the illustrations you'll find beyond the jump weren't the only ones out there at the time, nor were the works mentioned in this post the only ones available. That Lucy Inglis writes of the pornographic shops on Holywell Street in Georgian London: Into the Streets indicates that there was a fair amount of material out there for sale, and I suspect only the most (in)famous has survived.

I didn't just look at pictures and read Fanny Hill, though. I also read two books on pornography and sex during this era, which were very useful to gain a greater understanding: Sex in Georgian England by A.D. Harvey, and Governing Pleasures: Pornography and Social Change in England, 1815-1914, by Lisa Z. Sigel. The most important theme that came out of these was the notion that during the Georgian era, writings about women's pleasure underwent a key change, from indicating that women did gain pleasure during sex to stating, well, the opposite.

The older Conjugal Love Reveal’d (Tableau de l’amour conjugal), by Nicolas Venette, shows the attitude of the earlier writings, and I like to think Darcy acquired a copy or found one in some dusty corner of the Pemberley library:
But above all the beauty of the face and the handsomeness of the body in the harmonious proportion of its members most powerfully excite us to love. If a young man beholds a virgin of a blooming and agreeable carriage or if youth of a lusty make or comely is seen by a girl there is a desire which from the eyes convey to the heart. In a word, man and woman, like a loadstone have an attracting virtue, and a mutual desire for each other. From seeing, they must proceed to touching; and as from the steel and flint there sparkles fire, so from the mutual conjunction of their bodies there follows conception; and the womb of the woman is the mould where the child is formed.
That "mutual desire for each other" is what Darcy is hoping for, but Elizabeth's experiences, and what she's generally been told, align more with the later philosophy, that women are not supposed to like sex.

I also had to decide on, ah, terminology to use for certain things, and gave a read to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, as well as the timelines linked out of this Gizmodo article. Some of them are decidedly NSFW; some of them are entirely hilarious to modern sensibilities!

And now we've come to the end of the non-graphic portion of the post. For those who want to win a copy of Mistress but don't want to see the illustrations, you can enter the giveaway by posting a comment on this alternate post.

Mistress giveaway entries

This post is for those who want to enter to win a copy of Mistress, but don't want to view the NSFW portion of the Pornography in the Georgian era blog post.

Leave a comment below by midnight on March 29, 2017 to enter to win. And follow the rest of the blog tour!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Interview at More Agreeably Engaged

I'm over at More Agreeably Engaged today with a fun interview on Mistress!

And if you missed the last two posts in the tour, they were some lovely reviews at Of Pens and Pages and Margie's Must Reads. I have been so amazed by the reception of the story so far!

And tomorrow, we are back here at my blog with a special post on a topic relevant to Mistress...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mistress blog tour launch post: Masculinity in the Regency

It's beginning! The "Mistress" blog tour kicks off with my guest post at My Jane Austen Book Club. I'm writing about something that made headlines a little while back: that powdered-hair drawing of Mr. Darcy, and a topic quite relevant to "Mistress," masculinity in the Regency.

I hope you'll all join me for the whole tour, where we've got lots of interesting content and excerpts from the story, as well as chances to win at every stop.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Evolving "Mistress," a Giveaway, and a hearty thank you

The blog tour officially kicks off tomorrow, but today I'm in my usual spot at Austen Authors talking about "Mistress" (and offering a giveaway). Namely, how all of the feedback from readers helped me extend and improve the story.

And I wanted to say a particular thanks here, for many of the readers of this blog are those who participated in that process. As I write this, "Mistress" has 10 reviews on Amazon, and all of them are five stars. Some of them are from you, dear readers, but some are from those who read the book fresh after it was published.

I am amazed at the reception of this story, particularly because I was worried about how it would be received, with its adult scenes and Elizabeth's having been married before.

I think it comes down to the wonderful expanse of feedback that you gave me, which enabled me to make it a much stronger story. Plot holes were filled, characters were more thoroughly developed, and the sections where I was rushing were fleshed out and made richer.

So THANK YOU. This story would not be what it is today without you!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mistress, consent, and tea

It's happening! Mistress is now out for Kindle, and paperback should be following in the next day or two.

If you've read my other work and are considering this, you should know that it contains fairly explicit adult scenes -- several of them. It also contains a lot of other story, though; they definitely don't just jump into bed. This is a story where sex is central to the storyline, and part of my aim was to make that sex fairly realistic (up to and including a break to use the chamber pot). It's also a story about regrets; Persuasion is decidedly my favorite Austen story, and the autumnal hindsight of that story was very much an influence on this one.

It's probably come as a surprise to some that I'm even writing something that doesn't "fade to black," and I promise the Constant Love series will continue at its current level of chasteness. It wasn't even something I'd intended to do when I started in this genre, although I read some of it. What made me want to do it was the rather tremendous number of stories out at the time that put Darcy somewhere in the span between confident debaucher and out-and-out rapist.

The latter I have the biggest issue with, obviously. I'm fine with rough sex or even BDSM between consenting adults, but stories where the female doesn't consent (and even specifically says no, or to stop), and then ends up enjoying it later anyway, I believe contribute to rape culture. The message it sends is that it's okay to do this, because she'll wind up liking it. It is NOT okay.

My issue with the whole range, though, is that Pride and Prejudice already has a character who is a rake and a seducer of young women. His name is Mr. Wickham. The whole point of Wickham is to be the antagonist, and Darcy's opposite, so the absolute last thing I want to read is something where Darcy acts like Wickham. It would make a lot of sense for there to be stories where Wickham does these things, but I suspect not a lot of people would want to read them. We don't like Mr. Wickham, in large part because he does those things.

So the idea for Mistress was born out of, essentially, a counterpoint to those stories. Darcy's character arc in P&P is to change his behavior, and better show that he's actually a really considerate guy. At the risk of sounding like the fortune cookie game, Mistress shows that he's a really considerate bed.

And he has to be, because Elizabeth is a widow, and she's spent her (thankfully) short marriage getting poked every night by Mr. Collins. Ick, I know. I didn't want to go into detail on it, because, well, nobody wants to read that, but also because there's a real gray area as to whether what she went through was rape, and this really underlines the situation for women in her time.

Legally, it wasn't rape, because he was her husband, and in those days, technically his property. She went willingly, if reluctantly, to bed with him because it was her duty. This is easiest to couch in the tea consent analogy:

So using the tea analogy, she basically contractually obligated herself to drink a cup of earl grey every night, without ever having drank a cup of earl grey, and then found out bergamot is disgusting. Consent is, unfortunately, implicit in the marriage vow, and she's married an inept, inconsiderate (and due to the circumstances, domineering) man.

So what is Mistress, then? Well, I may as well continue the tea analogy. After absolutely loathing earl grey, let's just say Elizabeth has sworn off tea. And let's say someone returns to her life, and says I love you, please try English breakfast. It will be much better. And she says, okay, I'll try it, but just one cup. And he makes the tea, and he's like, here, make sure it's not too hot before you drink it. Would you like some milk? Or sugar? I made some scones, would you like to have a scone with your tea?

And that, folks, is how I want my Mr. Darcy to be. He's a gentleman, and he makes an amazing cup of tea, a cup of tea so damn good he doesn't need to force anyone to drink it, a cup of tea that is indeed so good that the next question is, of course, "May I have another cup of tea?"

Why yes, Elizabeth, of course. You may have as many cups as you choose to ask for. And no more.

I hope you all enjoy Mistress -- I know it's been a long time in development, and that's in large part because I used so much reader feedback from the online posting and other touchpoints to improve it. So for those who gave feedback, THANK YOU, and I hope you enjoy the finished product. You might want to give the Spotify playlist a listen as you read.

As always, if you enjoy the story and wish to help support my writing, Amazon and Goodreads reviews are much appreciated!

And if you're interested in winning a copy or just reading more about the series, I'll be embarking on an extended blog tour for this one, with opportunities to do so at every stop:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Audiobook giveaway winners

The winners of the new A Constant Love audiobook are...
  • Anji Dee
  • Anji (Goodreads)
  • Bryanne Colvin
  • Laura Sommo
  • Tajana Centis
Congratulations! Please email me at sophieturner1805 AT gmail DOT com so I can get you your audiobooks.

That’s Right, it’s a Post About Privies

Yep, I decided to go there. My latest for Austen Authors is a post about where people went when they, well, had to go , during the Regency...