Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guest Blog: Tracy Wolff

I’m an information nerd. Even as a child, nothing thrilled me more than learning something new. From the smallest bit of trivia to the most involved research, I love digging in to a new subject and learning all that I can about it. This proclivity has led me to collect a bunch of degrees (I couldn’t choose just one subject to study) and it is also one of the many reasons (besides working in my pajamas) that writing is a perfect career for me.

As I start a new book, the possibilities of where to set it, what kind of careers my main characters should have and what time period it should take place in, stretch before me like a blank canvas begging to be painted. This is probably the most exciting time for me, because as I decide the facts of my character’s lives, I also decide what new and exciting subjects I’m going to be researching for the next few months.

In the case of A Christmas Wedding, my November Harlequin Superromance release, I got to combine two really fun topics—horseracing and weddings. And believe me, if you want to learn a bunch of absolutely fascinating trivia that will wow them at the upcoming holiday parties, these two subjects are loaded with it.

So, with no further ado, here are ten things I learned while writing A Christmas Wedding:

10. The skeleton of the oldest known horse is estimated to be 45 million years old.

9. The reason the engagement ring and wedding band is worn on the fourth finger of
the left hand is because the ancient Egyptians thought that the “vein of love” ran
from this finger directly to the heart.

8. Each of the three races in the Triple Crown (The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness
and the Belmont Stakes) has a signature drink that is served by the thousands
while the race is going on (Mint Julep for the Derby, Black-eyed Susan for the
Preakness and Belmont Breeze for the Belmont Stakes).

7. White became the wedding dress color of choice in 1840, when Queen Victoria
wore it to marry Prince Albert.

6. The fastest Derby ever run was in 1973, by Secretariat, who broke the two-minute mark and blazed the mile and a quarter in 1:59.4. Remarkably, each quarter mile split was faster than the one preceding it. No other horse has broken the two minute barrier in the Derby.

5. The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where revelers broke
a loaf of bread over a bride's head for fertility's sake.

4. In May 2006, Churchill Downs served custom-made mint juleps at a cost of
$1000 each at the Kentucky Derby. The mint juleps were served in gold-plated
cups with silver straws and were made from Woodford Reserve Bourbon, mint
imported from Ireland, Ice from the Bavarian Alps and sugar from Australia.
The proceeds were used to support charitable causes dedicated to retired race

3. For centuries the month of June was the most popular choice for weddings - but the
original reason dates back to the 1400s. At that time, June was the month for the
annual bath, which is exactly what it sounds like—the one time a year people
actually took a bath. Because the bride and groom were clean for the first time in a
year, it was deemed the perfect time for a wedding.

2. Since 1926, a silver bowl, made by Louis Comfort Tiffany (founder of Tiffany and
Company) and donated by the Belmont family, has been given to the winning
owner. The bowl is supported by three horses—Herod, Eclipse, and Matchem,
representing the three foundation sires of the thoroughbred world.

1. The kiss that is given by the bride to the groom at the end of the wedding ceremony
originates from the earliest times when the couple would actually make love for the
first time under the eyes of their entire village!

(Note from Amy: I'll have a review for this book up by the weekend...I'm really excited to read it now!)


Heather said...

Great post!!!

10. Cool!
9. Did not know that! Fascinating!)
8. Have never drank any of them!
7. Interesting.
6. Wow!
5. Ew?
4. Talk about a high carbon footprint!
3. Very ew!
2. Sounds pretty! I'll have to look that up.
1. Oh my goodness. *blush*

Paulette said...

This was great. I really can't understand why people don't read when there's so much fun, quirky, and just "holy cow!" stuff to learn out there.

Anonymous said...

I just love trivia and neat facts like that.

I watched the Secretariat race! That's how old I AM!

KyleeJ said...

Yeah, #3 is just icky.

Anonymous said...

Interesting trivia, Amy. Wow - the month of June, eh? I guess if you got married in the 11th month of unwashedness, May, you'd probably never've been able to consummate the marriage on wedding night!


Tracy Deebs said...

Marvin-- that's exactly what I thought when I found that out.

Ick is right, Kylee! Imagine the stench. Of course, that's why the French invented perfume . . .

Heather, I've got recipes for two of the three drinks up at my website-- I highly recommend the Black Eyed Susan.

Sheri, that's incredible! I read so much about that race while I was researching that I couldn't help imagining-- numerous times-- what it must have been like to be there.

Paulette, I'm an English professor and I say the same thing to my students regularly!

Tracy Deebs said...

Amy, thanks so much for giving me the chance to blog here! What a great group of readers :)

Anonymous said...

Worked in horse racing for over 30 years and Secretariat is still my favorite Thoroughbred (next to our own, of course). His Belmont Stakes win is my all time favorite race. My first novel is an epic about horse racing in the Northwest (Hope Of Glory).

Tracy Deebs said...

Oh, wow, Nicole. How exciting! And what a great title. A Christmas Wedding was at one time called, The Turn for Home, but alas, the title fairies didn't like it.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I'm glad the tradition has turned into just a kiss. My wedding guests really didn't need to see anything more than the kiss(es) and the first dance.

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