News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why Do We Wear Fragrance?

Continuing our discussion on how to create a fragrance:

After 32 years retailing fragrance in my shop, I've concluded that there are three reasons most people wear fragrance:
1. To be accepted and win approval of others.
2. To attract the interest of the opposite sex.
3. To be identified as "one of the group."
    Consider reason #1.  There was a time when a strong, noxious odor was desirable, but you'd have to go way back to primitive man. If you were in danger of being eaten by another animal, it would be important to smell bad, therefore inedible.
     Today smelling good is desirable.  For instance, many of my customers wanted something to wear while doing business, what I called "Boardroom Fragrances." For men, I would suggest Caswell-Massey's Jockey Club--fresh, clean, not floral. Never anything sweet. Something with juniper, or sandalwood. Avoid Ralph Lauren's Polo--it has been taken over by college kids and you don't want to smell like a college dorm.
     For women, I told my clients that they didn't want to smell like somebody's wife. Boardrooms are, after all, very sexist. Sandalwood with a snitch of orange is good. Never wear a heavy floral. Stick to citrus. Good old Jean Nate`. My favorite for any business, including female candidates running for office, is Estee` Lauder's White Linen. It is clean, light, and finished with a touch of tangerine. It is good for close contact, like nursing. Sick people are very sensitive to odors.
       There are times when you simply want to wear what you like . . . be yourself. This is when you can wear Patchouli, among friends, but never in a crowd. It might smell yummy to you, but to a lot of people it smells like old varnish. To me it smells like the underside of moss, and I like it, but my favorite smell is an aroma chemical named hydratropic aldehyde dimethl acetal. It has a fungal odor, like mushrooms growing. Clearly I can't go around smelling like a raw mushroom, so I made a room spray of it for my bedroom.
      Reason #2. To attract the opposite sex. Haarmann and Reimer, a huge international fragrance house, did a study once to determine what personality types were attracted to what fragrances. They were thinking of selling, but the interesting part was what attracted men to women. Macho, athletic types liked musk, sandalwood, patchouli. Women were definitely attracted to musk, spice, and Bay Rum. Most men liked fruity odors  on women, like apple and strawberry, commonly shampoo scents, or very light, fresh scents. For late evening activity, there is an Australian oil called "Meditation," which has incense notes and frankincense. Very sexy.
   Most often mentioned by men in my store as disliked were Jungle Gardenia, or anything with orchid, rose or jasmine. Women liked their men to smell outdoorsy or woody, but surprisingly, Bay Rum was the most popular scent, especially if it was spicy. It can't be found anywhere, hardly.
       Reason # 3. The most primitive reason of them all. I had a client, a man, who was a union organizer. When he went into a factory, or any blue collar environment, he always wore Old Spice. The next choice was Aqua Velva. He wanted to smell "familiar." Believe it or not, those were the two best selling men's fragrances in 1995 and probably still are. Patchouli is a social statement going back to 1960, but women should not forget the single note fragrances, like Freesia or Hyacinth. You can always buy the oil to wear.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Without a Nose There'd Be No Sex. Who Knew?

      Rogue-Phoenix press will release my new novel, Love in a Small Town, in October. Learning how to make a perfume is an important part of the plot. Since Professional Perfumer was one of my job descriptions in one of my former lives, I decided to write a few blogs on perfume making and the important role scent plays in our lives. We all know about how smell protects us from fire and spoiled meat, but few know the important role it plays in human procreation.
The following quote is from my book, Accidental Alien, wherein aliens, who are plants living on the planet Agra, which contains only plants, are trying to understand animal (Earth) behavior. The whole matter of human sexual activity amazes them. As one alien, a moss, explains:

"The human male has little choice in the matter. His nose controls him, though he is not aware of it, because, although his body can detect female sex hormones, he is not aware of the odor. His hormonal makeup forces him to act at any opportunity. The female has scent glands behind her ear. When a fetal egg has ripened, she emits a scented hormone called 'Copulin.' Sex glands in nearby males are stimulated by this odor to produce another hormone, testosterone, in their saliva. He coaxes the female to allow him to put his mouth on hers, Earthlings refer to this action as kissing, and the saliva arouses the female, encouraging further male mating activity. Fertilization takes place."

We’ve never been able to incorporate hormones into commercial fragrance, but our desire to smell good to others supports a billion dollar industry. Creating a fragrance isn’t difficult. It requires scented oils and grain alcohol, available at the local liquor store. The fragrance Sarah makes in my new book is one I made and sold in my store as “Shakespeare’s Flowers.”
This week I’ll explain the different materials used as scent. Next we’ll discuss the various scents you might want to start your own collection; then we’ll go on to possible mixtures. There are three materials generally available on the retail market. The first, essential oils, are distilled from living plant material: wood, leaves, stems, and flowers. They’re generally found in health food stores or online, and are the oldest, historically. They were made by simple distillation, a process discovered in the Middle East, as early as 3,000B.C., by men attempting to discover “the essence of life.” They roamed the desert, distilling everything in primitive pots, down to the tiniest part, hoping they’d discover the key to everlasting life. The oils use for fragrance and healing became important later on. Today a similar process, called extraction, but less expensive is used. The Romans were crazy about roses and scented everything with rose oil.
Many flowers cannot be distilled, so most fragrance today uses perfume oils, which and are not nearly expensive as essential oils, and are manufactured in a laboratory. They are generally available online and are recommended.
The other fragrance source comes from chemicals that have no counterpart in nature. They are simply compounds found to have odor useful in perfume manufacture.  I’ll only mention aldehydes, which are compounds with one carbon atom and attached oxygen atoms. Aldehydes go by names such as C 12, which means one carbon atom and twelve oxygen atoms, and smells like fresh air, or C 16, which is like peach. One chemist, on the other hand, described aldehyde C 10, as “ten nights on a troop train.”
Don’t worry about these; just know that most fruit scent is an aldehyde. Coco Chanel was the first person to use one in Chanel #5. I think it was Aldehyde C 12MNA. The French, who only, at that time, used “real” oils, were scandalized.
For a complete biography and a list of my books go to:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Where does a writer find a new idea?

I’m between books with nary an idea to jumpstart my writing, but an idea can come from anywhere. You have to pay attention to the moment in which you’re living.

    The idea for Christmas For Annabel, a holiday romance, came in a Hobby Lobby store in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was October, so, of course, the Christmas decorations were out. I saw three-foot trees made of feathers, and had to wonder. What if one was made of black turkey feathers and it was eight feet tall? ? Who would have such a thing? A hunky millionaire, of course, with an ambitious girlfriend who decorates. Big Bird gone Goth and having a meltdown.
     Maddie’s Choice, a romance, came from a news article about cattle rustling in local cattle ranches. Reports of a fight between two motorcycle gangs about who controlled the local drug trade added a twist. Add a bull with a craving for chocolate, a New York romance novelist, a hunky cowboy with PTSD, and a gun battle, and there you go. Gideon’s picture is on my website.
     Rogue-Phoenix Press will publish The Haunting of Aaron House this October. It is a paranormal about ghostly possession. It has a lot about spells, folk healing, and witchcraft that exist today in the town where I grew up. My paternal grandmother was a witch and I use a lot of what I learned as a child in this book. I can’t wait for you to meet Phineas and Amalie, the two really nasty ghosts from the 1800s, bent on murder.
      The same publisher will release Love in a Small Town after Aaron House. The small town is my home, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which looks a lot like it did in 1879, when it was founded. Single parenthood, teenagers, and the human need for loving companionship are themes here.  David Martin who, until two years ago, was a confirmed bachelor, is suddenly widowed and a step-dad to teenaged Sarah who doesn’t fit in to small-town living. They both need to find love.
        I wrote Accidental Alien, for the fun of creating a whole host of weird but funny characters, both here and in outer space.  Daniel is a plant who looks human, as is Aine, his gorgeous would-be assassin, and a personal weapon of mass destruction. Daniel is a shape shifter; Aine is a Shirley, the hooker, has her own app, and Benz and Arnanno, two very confused detectives—their own comedy act. Little Leon is a homeless eight-year-old gangster in training, devoted to his stray cat, Scooter, who escapes death when rescued by a werewolf, aka Daniel. See Daniel, Scooter, and a plant werewolf on my website: