Rare Victorian - Update and Book Giveaway

Update and Book Giveaway

I know that I have been very silent in past weeks so I thought that I would give you an update on what’s going on and give away a copy of a recently published book that will be of interest to many of you.

My life has changed greatly in the past year as I have 1) been laid off 2) had some of my photography published in a book and 3) am moving to South Carolina and 4) have a book publishing deal.  Let me explain … or at least skip to the free book part if you don’t care about 1-3.


The Layoff

In February of 2010 I was laid off from my Software Consulting Management position, which was initially a shock, but since 25% of the division I was in was laid off – it made sense that the management above it had to be consolidated as well.  It was a relatively new job to me (compared to the rest of the management team), so I could expect some of the LIFO principle to be involved due to the experience that goes with tenure.

I dabbled in interviews for a new position but that wasn’t what I really wanted.

I immediately told my wife I would start my own software company and we agreed to rearrange our financial life to make that happen.  After all, I had been employee #2 (cofounder) of one company which was later acquired, employee #11 of another which eventually went public, employee #400 of another that later went public…. it was in my blood.

I spent a number of months training myself in technologies that are current favorites in the web-world and had some promising prototypes already working on several ideas.  I had a past product manager for Adobe ready to invest and be a part of it.  His overture was welcome but it was only weeks into my endeavors and I wasn’t ready to have a co-founder already.

Enter Photography

Initially I just took photos for fun.  For years, I just shot what was around me.

Then I started dabbling in photography as a way to decorate the walls of my vacation home with things that were local and important to me (The Chesapeake Bay) instead of buying art at retail prices and of subject matter that was kinda-sorta befitting the location of our home.

For those of you who followed along on OldHouseTours.com, you could see that I had a great desire to photograph historic homes in the area as well.

Long story short, one of those home photos became the photo for a charity event staged in the home – on flyers, tickets, website, etc.

I was contacted out of the blue for use of more of my photos for use in an upcoming book on Carpenter Gothic style architecture – “Storybook Cottages” by Gladys Montgomery.  Two of those photos ended up being published in the final book.

As soon as the book was published, I naturally bought a copy from Amazon, which you can do here.  I received the copy and oohed and ahhhed at the presence of my two photos – one which was full page.  In reality, they’re not really anything special or artistic – they are just very direct observations of the front of a house in Cape May and the trim within the Loch Aerie mansion.  More on this book in a bit…

Move To South Carolina

Amidst all my personal excitement, my wife was stalked on Linkedin by a headunter who kept returning to review her background but never contacted her.  After a while my wife finally reached out to her and asked what was going on.  The headhunter explained that she had a job in SC (we’re in Philadelphia) that was a perfect fit for her, but she figured that we wouldn’t want to move.

Long story short, the job was an amazing opportunity and the city (Greenville) was one that could fulfill all our requirements, so we took it.

She moved immediately and I have been stuck up North waiting for houses to sell… in a lame housing market.

Photography Book

Now something improbable happens.  I get contacted directly by the president of a book publishing company to do a book on my Chesapeake Bay photography.  It turns out that the director of the charity that used my house picture in their event  liked my Chesapeake Bay work and passed it on to the head of the company.  He liked it too and asked me to do a book solely of my work, which I couldn’t pass up.

So putting my “software work” aside, that is all I have been working on for months.

The book may never happen.  Lot’s of things could derail it along the way, but for the time being,  I have to turn everything in on August 1st and fingers-crossed, it gets published next year.

Here’s where the giveaway comes in.

The author of book “Storybook Cottages” mentioned earlier, Gladys Montgomery, sent me a free copy in the mail to revel in my newfound state of being published and I received it yesterday.  Since I now have two copies and I know there are many Victorian architecture fans out there, I thought that I’d give away one of the copies to one of you who does.

Here’s all you have to do to get a chance to win a free copy of the book:

1) Hit the “Like” button on my photography page on Facebook before August 31st and on that date, I will pick a name randomly and ship you the Storybook Cottages book for free.  What does liking my photography page do?  It keeps you in touch with my activities leading up to the launch of my Chesapeake book next year.  If you just “like” me until August 31st and unlike later, that is fine too.  No issues with that.

Anyway, I thought that I owed everyone an explanation of the slow updates on Rare Victorian as well as take advantage of an opportunity to get an extra book out to someone that would appreciate it.

More on the book from Amazon:

Charming old houses in a uniquely American form are lovingly showcased in this engaging book. Romantic, imaginative, and eminently photogenic, Carpenter Gothic homes feature fairy-tale–like exterior details—steep gables; pointed arches, windows, and doors; elaborate gingerbread trim; and porches—in addition to one-of-a-kind, highly desired interior features that imbue the homes with a wealth of character—arched entryways, bay windows, stained glass, fireplaces, and wooden ceiling beams. The first of the Victorian romantic architectural revivals to sweep America during the nineteenth century, the Carpenter Gothic style was inspired by the pattern books of Andrew Jackson Downing and made possible by the invention of the steam-powered scroll saw. Homebuilders created these delightfully fanciful houses in most states across the country. Storybook Cottages highlights both the picturesque exteriors of these homes as well as the incomparable interiors that give them such warmth. Presented are stunning photographs by Paul Rocheleau, Tim Street-Porter, Steve Gross, and Sue Daley, among others, along with illustrative examples from Downing’s pattern books, and black-and-white images from the Historic American Buildings Survey. The text examines the roots of the style, from Medieval Europe and Gothic cathedrals through Inigo Jones, Augustus Pugin, and the Gothic Revival; the role of the American Gothic, from the pattern books of Andrew Jackson Downing and Alexander Jackson Davis (Rural Residences, Victorian Cottage Residences, The Architecture of Country Houses) that inspired the style to the impact of the scroll saw, which allowed local builders to interpret Gothic Revival architectural details in wood, thus creating the Carpenter Gothic style; and the hallmarks of Carpenter Gothic, from sharply peaked gables to board-and-batten siding, peaked windows and doors, gingerbread trim on porches, stained glass windows, and decorated bargeboards, among other features. The primary focus will be on exterior architectural details in homes and carriage houses, but will also include decorative elements of the Carpenter Gothic style, from wallpapers to carpets and furnishings. The text will also discuss historic interiors, adapting the style for modern living, and floor plans, wallpapers, carpets, and furnishings inspired by the Carpenter Gothic style.



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  • james conrad - July 13, 2011

    NEAT! I knew about the move to SC, interesting what took you there. Charleston is my fav city in the carolinas, really great place and about the only colonial city that still stands in the south.

  • Sharon Clark - July 13, 2011

    Hi and glad you are “back”. Sounds as though you have been through the mid-life wringer and come out more or less OK.

    I am on your emailing list courtesy of Paul Tucker. I have a suite of 6 Merklen chairs I want to sell and through his article in ANTiQUES a few years ago, learned much about them and thence to you. I have taken the liberty of sending you pictures and the provenence for your comments, if, between house showings, you have the time to comment. thanks in advance.

  • james conrad - July 14, 2011

    I wonder, considering change is the one constant in life, if your affection for for victorian furniture forms has changed as well.

  • john/RVR - July 18, 2011

    John, congrats to you and your wife. Stay in touch. Your friend and friendly restorer!
    John, RVR

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