Saturday, May 30, 2015

History Week Part II: Erin O'Quinn


Like Dean Pace-Frech, I am fascinated by the last turn of the century the nineteenth turning to twentieth. I set my series of Gaslight Mystery novels in 1923 and 1924, several years after my colleagues stories. But what I have to say today about condoms can easily pertain to his time and his characters too.

This very brief look at condoms is my unabashed way of introducing a series of novels called "The Gaslight Mysteries, published by Amber Quill Press, and found on their website bookstore:

and on my Amazon author page:

Historians of such esoteric subjects agree that condoms were first used for prevention of pregnancy, and by wealthy men only. That makes sense, since women were naturally held to the task of avoiding impregnation, and only wealthy men might wish to keep their seed from being spread outside the marriage bed.

Early condoms, perhaps worn first in ancient China, were apparently small devices that covered the glans only, made from oiled silk paper or lamb intestines. Later, in Japan, they were made of tortoise shell or animal horn. Ouch . . . not for the wearer, but for the receiver!

When a particularly deadly strain of syphilis broke out in Europe in the late 15th century, condoms began to be developed to stop the spread of this disease. One treatise describes linen sheaths soaked in chemicals and allowed to dry. These devices, which covered the glans only, were tied on with a ribbon, giving a whole new meaning to the words babys bonnet.

After 1500, penis protection became much more widespread throughout Europe. They were called condoms gradually, starting in the mid-1600s; and they might be made of animal intestines and bladders, or of linen.

Heres an interesting note from Wiki: 

In the late 15th century, Dutch traders introduced condoms made from "fine leather" to Japan. Unlike the horn condoms used previously, these leather condoms covered the entire penis.

The notorious philanderer Casanova was proud of his assurance caps, and was reported to have given public demonstrations by blowing into them, proudly showing their lack of holes (see photo).

In spite of oppositionmainly from the clergycondoms, once developed, multiplied quickly. According to Wiki, they were sold at pubs, barbershops, chemist shops, open-air markets, and at the theater throughout Europe and Russia. Once they spread to America, land of invention and individuality, condoms became more and more sophisticated.

In my books, the characters are able to buy their protection from the gay pub or Molly House called Paddys, a logical place to find sexual appurtenances.

In the first novel HEART TO HART, Michael slips a clumsy latex condom out of his dresser drawer. It seems that, since the mid 1800s and Charles Goodyears discovery of processing natural rubber, condoms could be made of stretched rubber, wrapped around the penis and held in place with a rubber ring. These early condoms were thick as a bicycle inner tube. One imagines that while one partner might barely tolerate the enlargement, the other might suffer the indignity of feeling nothing at all.

Anyway, by the time Michael was seducing Simon, condoms were being made from latexrubber suspended in water rather than in gasoline or benzene. These protective devices were stronger, thinner, and had a shelf life up to five years.

In the second series novel SPARRING WITH SHADOWS, Michael slyly leaves a package for his flatmate. Its a condom made of thin animal bladder, the latest in American-made protection, thin enough and pliable enough to ensure the mans pleasure as well as the other obvious benefits.

Many of the photos that follow are taken from the following website: a gallery of images assembled by Ethan Persoff,
Thanks, Ethan. I use them with gratitude.

Just a note: The U.S.-manufactured Sheik and Ramses brands were well established by 1882.  Trojans, also developed in America, were popular then as now. (As a USC grad, I have to add here: Go! Trojans!)

 Paper packaging was, and remains, a popular dispensary for condoms.

In the source listed above, Ethan Persoff notes:

The very interesting book "Remember your rubbers!" (Collectible Condom Containers) by Elliott, Goehring and O'Brien published by Schiffer Publishing Co., strangely does not show any of the examples offered here on eBay by us. Does this mean these are rarer than their tin counterparts?

It also states the following on paper packaging: "Interestingly enough, both the oldest and newest rubber packages are envelopes. India rubbers, latex rubbers and animal membrane prophylactics are found in envelopes. Most hold one dozen rubbers lying flat, though a few can be found with one quarter dozen. Genuine Liquid Latex rubbers came packaged with four (rolled) to an envelope and wrapped in cellophane. Rarer are envelopes with a single rubber in the package"

To conclude, I need to add that my fictional men use condoms sparingly, and not at all when they become exclusive lovers in the novels TO THE BONE and THIN AS SMOKE. But we as readers need to realize they were not only available, but necessary in an age when syphilis, The Great Pox,  was a scourge and a killer.

Erin OQuinn sprang from the high desert hills of Nevada, from a tiny town which no longer exists. A truant officer dragged her kicking and screaming to grade school, too late to attend kindergarten; and since that time her best education has come from the ground shes walked and the people shes met.
In celebration of History Week Part II, I will be giving away an Ecopy of my first novel, A Place to Call Their Own, which is available from JMS Books.  Comment and follow me and the other folks on Twitter to enter to win!

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Friday, May 29, 2015

History Week Part II: Angel Martinez

So excited to have Angel Martinez as part of History Week Part II today!

The Perils of the Historical for the History Buff

Some musings on writing Fortune’s Sharp Adversity…

Did you realize that the old city of Amiens in France had not one wall, but two? Were you aware that farmers punted in on the canals to the Saturday market from marshes on the north side of the city? Do you have any idea what would have been sold at these markets?

No? None of it? And I’m positively batty for getting all hyperventilated and starry-eyed about it?

Understandable. But this is what happens when you set a history buff loose on historical fiction. The phrase Fortune’s Sharp Adversity comes from a set of lines in Chaucer, which set me thinking about loss and regret. The request from my publisher to “write something set in a French speaking part of the world” then set me thinking about French cathedrals, the glorious, soaring gothic ones to be exact.

From there I fought a losing battle and had to dive into research before I could even think about character and plot and, you know, the story. I spread maps of Amiens on my desk from various centuries, trying to pinpoint the famous cathedral and all the landmarks that would have been important in the late medieval period. I devoured research on the Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens, one of the most stunning and, at the same time, most surprising of gothic cathedrals. Research followed on local farming and industry, rulers, bishops and wars during construction. The completion of the marble meditation labyrinth in 1288 gave me a final date. The discovery that (oh joy!) the stone sculptures decorating the massive doorways had been painted provided vector and velocity.

But this is what a historical should be about, this need, this obsession with detail. What did people wear? What did they eat? How did they live and how did this influence their attitudes?

Sadly, much of the history of Amiens Cathedral has been lost over the centuries in various fires, but with a little imagination, and a feast of research, we can fill in the blanks where we must.

Philippe is very much a product of his times, an artisan who has seen the best and worst of mankind, and Etienne…well, you’ll have to read about Etienne.

It’s a little jaunt into past material culture and the next best thing to time traveling, this research gig. (Fortune’s Sharp Adveristy is part of the AmberPax collection “The French Connection.”)


In the year 1288, Amiens Cathedral is still a hive of construction. Philippe works as a painter, cheerfully decorating the stone carvings. Lamed in the crusades, alone in the world, he feels he has found the perfect life, with a safe place to sleep and work he loves. He tells himself he is content, that is, until the night he spies a man in a scarlet cloak, kneeling in the sanctuary, clearly distraught. For Philippe, the world will be forever changed.

Lord Étienne Michelant has fallen far and fast. Once the beloved youngest son of a powerful family, now he has nothing and, unbeknownst to church officials, he lives atop the cathedral’s unfinished tower. In Philippe, he finds everything he ever wanted in a man, and he curses fate that they met now. Tangled in dangerous secrets and arcane enchantments, Étienne knows any hope of love is futile.

It will be up to a crippled painter to try to prove Étienne wrong and to navigate his way through the maze of enigmas surrounding him.


The tension eased from Étienne’s jaw. His thumbs stroked the backs of Philippe’s hands. “What shall we do this evening, eh? If we were at my home, I could court you properly, with lute and song and poems scratched out in my atrocious hand.”

Philippe couldn’t stop the laugh that slipped from him. “Is that what you’re doing? Courting me?”

A little smile quirked a corner of Étienne’s mouth. “I did say I wasn’t doing it properly.”

“Ah, well, as long as we’re set on impropriety.” He leaned in carefully, as if Étienne might startle like a wild stag, and brushed his lips over that upturned corner.

Long fingers clutched Philippe’s hands tight and Étienne’s breath caught, short and sharp. “Philippe…”

Not accustomed to being pursued, are you? He freed a hand to cup Étienne’s face, steadying him and making his intentions clear. The fathomless longing in those green eyes threatened to stop his heart. Whatever the cause of Étienne’s troubles, he couldn’t imagine that this wry, gentle man was a murderer or a thief, and a heretic would hardly seek sanctuary in a church. “There will be an answer, Tien. Whatever troubles you, there is a solution for everything.”

“So simple for you to say.”

Philippe’s brow creased. The man had no inkling when to stop talking sometimes. He slid his hand back and tangled his fingers in the thick mass of Étienne’s fawn-brown hair. By rights, Étienne should have smelled terrible, and had a few days’ worth of beard, but it wasn’t so. Smooth skin met his lips when he feathered kisses along that strong jaw, a hint of clove and anise clinging to Étienne.

With a hesitant nuzzle, Étienne turned his head, and searched after Philippe’s lips, capturing them finally in soft nudges, holding them hostage with a swift succession of tender assaults.

Bonfire sparks leaped in Philippe’s veins. He let go a ragged moan and wrapped Étienne tight in his arms. Étienne’s arms slid around him in answer, his strength stealing Philippe’s breath in a rib-creaking embrace. The hard muscles spoke of arms accustomed to heavy exercise. A nobleman, but not a soft one. This one can wield a sword.

The tip of Étienne’s tongue licked along Philippe’s lips, pleading for entrance. He opened to the wordless request, sucking Étienne within the heat of his mouth. Their tongues dueled, the kiss turning fierce, hands roaming over backs and shoulders, both of them panting through their nostrils like rutting bulls.

Étienne pulled back first with a soft laugh. “Did you neglect to have supper this evening? You threaten to devour me whole.”

“A different sort of hunger.” Philippe combed his fingers through Étienne’s hair, pleased when his eyes closed and he leaned his head against Philippe’s hand. “Do you wish for…more?”

“Perhaps.” Étienne stroked Philippe’s arm in slow circles, raising goose flesh along his skin. “Perhaps soon.”

“But not tonight.”

Étienne shook his head, still gulping for air. His all-too-infrequent smile flashed. “We are courting, after all.”

About the Author:
Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres. Her experiences as a soldier, a nurse, a banker, and an underpaid corporate drone give her a broad view of the world and a deep appreciation for the astounding variety of people on this small planet.
She currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband of over twenty-six years, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.
To contact Angel with praise, adulation, sarcasm, and complaints to the management (any management, she’s not picky, but it might not solve your flight reservation issue) please try these linky things:

In celebration of History Week Part II, I will be giving away an Ecopy of my first novel, A Place to Call Their Own, which is available from JMS Books.  Comment and follow me and the other folks on Twitter to enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Untamed by Madeline Dyer


As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides—because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being.

But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.

Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.

Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.

Pages or Words: 95,870 words

Categories: Alternate universe, Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult, Dystopia

The cloth is heavy over my face. Some light filters through it. I can see the flashing green and red lights of the box high up on the ceiling. It's some sort of power-base, I'm sure. Before they brought the cloth, I saw lots of metal components and wires hanging from it, stretching to the corners of the room. My brother, Three, would love to examine it.
The cloth over my face gets tighter. It presses against my nose, trying to force it down. I can feel their hands all over my body, pushing me onto the platform with cold fingers. I know better now than to resist. But they don't believe me. They aren’t taking chances, they say.
“Join us willingly.” It's the same man. Always the same man who speaks. Raleigh. The one who called me a fighter. The one who promised he'd break me.
Katya's a lost cause. She went willingly.
“No,” I gasp. My word tangles in the cloth. I blink and my lashes drag against the material.
“Very well.” He's smiling. I know he is. His voice is always lighter and amused-sounding when he's smiling. “Very well, indeed.”
The water slams against me.

About the author:
Madeline Dyer is a fantasy and science fiction writer, whose fiction has been published by several small presses. Having always had a love for mythology and fantasy, it seemed only natural that Madeline would write speculative fiction due to the endless possibilities and freedom this genre offers. A number of her short stories appear in print and eBook anthologies, as well as online. Untamed is her debut novel.

Where to find the author:

Publisher: Prizm Books
Cover Artist: Brandon Clay

Tour Dates & Stops: May 28, 2015

Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Untamed’ by Madeline Dyer

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