Some writers promise themselves something special when they receive that long-awaited first book contract. One of my agency mates, Billy Coffey, got a tattoo. While his tat is way cool, I’m a wimp when it comes to pain, so I didn’t go that route.
When I began writing, I dreamed of going to book signings wearing a Victorian gown. As soon as my agent called to say she’d sold my story, I contacted a talented seamstress I know. Patricia Ricci makes vintage clothing sold at Gold Discovery Park in Coloma, California (where James Marshall discovered that nugget that launched the Gold Rush back in January 1848) and in historic Virginia City, Nevada. She also does custom work, so I commissioned my gown.
When I first met with Patricia, I only had a rough idea what I wanted. The heroine in my debut novel loves violets and wears a stunning purple gown in a pivotal scene, so that’s the color I chose.
While I wanted the gown to appear to be a real Victorian creation, I opted to use modern fabrics for ease of care and transport. The skirt and bodice are made of polyester satin, the darker accent trim of cotton velvet, and the petticoat and bustle of rayon taffeta, all fabrics that can be dry-cleaned and won’t show wrinkles the way the silk and cotton women wore in the 1800s would. I will wear a bustle, but I’m not willing to squeeze into a corset since I need to be able to move–and to breathe.
Patricia showed me some patterns, and we settled on the basic design. Having seen some of her work, I felt comfortable giving her creative license. As I expected, her ideas were great, and when I left the first day, she had a plan in place.
At each fitting, I grew more excited as the gown took shape. And then it was ready. My husband and daughter went with me for the delivery, and Gwynly snapped these photos. Patricia outdid herself. The dress is gorgeous, and I couldn’t be happier.
Our daughter, The Fashion Queen, is big on accessories, so I have mine: Victorian boots, a hat, gloves, a beaded reticule (handbag), and a fan–all replicas. When I attend the Awards Banquet at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in St. Louis two weeks from now, I’ll be the short gal wearing a beautiful purple dress and a big smile.
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If you’d like to contact Patricia to discuss the possibility of having her make a garment for you, send her a message on Facebook. She’s the Patricia Ricci in Placerville, California. Just so you know, she will be busy again soon because my hubby is having a frock coat made so he looks the part of the handsome Victorian gentleman at my book release party and when he accompanies me to my book signings.
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If you’re a not-yet-published writer, have you promised yourself something when you sell?
If you’re a published writer, did you treat yourself to something when you sold?
If you’re not a writer, do you plan a reward when you meet a goal?