Regency Censorship

An_Early_Newspaper_Office_20858vPat here, just back from South America and not quite ready to post on travels. So here’s a shorty, the promised blog on newspapers in the Regency. I’ve already told you how it took nearly half a week for news of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo to reach London. What startled me was learning that the newspapers took so long to report the news because they had NO journalists anywhere—editors simply waited for official court documents before printing an edition telling the British populace that Napoleon had been defeated!

Read more

Hundred Days of Story Telling

Rice_SecretsofWycliffeManor600Pat here, deep in writing mode and frantically trying to finish a draft before taking off for the jungles of South America.

Finishing a book would be much simpler if I could just plan ahead—especially if I could plan six books ahead. But I can’t plot even one book in advance. And so here I am at Book #4 of the Gravesyde Priory Regency mystery series and oddly enough, history is messing with me.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ve written enough Regencies to know when events take place, but there’s that planning thing that doesn’t happen. When I started the series, I knew how the first book needed to begin. I wasn’t thinking timelines. I just needed to have my heroine raising her  orphaned nephew six years after a riot in Egypt. So I simply checked when Napoleon’s troops left and dropped the story into 1815.

As my heroine reads the letter about her strange inheritance, Napoleon is escaping Elba. When she sets out for rural Staffordshire in March, she’s unaware that Louis XVIII has fled Paris. I knew it, but it didn’t matter to the story.

Just as we worry about putting gas in our cars, food in our pantries, and buying school clothes while we’re possibly on the brink of World War III, my heroine was worrying about her nephew, not Napoleon. We can’t do anything about it, so we stick to what we can control.

Read more

A Writer’s Life

Rice_SecretsofWycliffeManor600I am writing this on Sunday, August 20, for reasons, below. If you’re not interested in the fabulously glamorous life of a multi-published author, move on. Otherwise, hang around. I’d offer you a beer or glass of wine for my pity party, but it would have to be virtual…

Today, I dumped 20,000 words of Book #4 of my Gravesyde Priory Mystery series into my “Maybe Next Time,” file. Six weeks of hard work, plotting, developing characters, writing, rewriting… out the door.

Well, I never actually throw out that many words. I file them away, hoping they may bubble and ferment and take on a life some day. But I’ve been struggling with this story for weeks, and I think the yeast is dead. So they now reside in a file with a lot of other flat bread. Index

I still need to write a book. I have ideas. Never any shortage of ideas. I even have one, a better one, to fit the timeline of the series. But see above about bubbling and fermenting… this takes time. So, while the sky darkened on what ought to be a bright August day fit for wildfires here in Southern California, I sat at my desk and researched the Hundred Days War and French surnames. And brainstormed with myself. The humidity reached 100% (this is desert country—we don’t do humidity. We don’t even have air conditioning), and I had to throw a towel over the story bowl and let it rest.

PillowsWe were told a tropical storm was headed our way and to batten the hatches and stay home. So we went out and gathered all our outdoor pillows and brought them inside. Took down the wind chimes, folded up any chairs that fold, brought the ceramic planters down off the walls.

The heavy clouds broke, and the rain started. This is usually the day we go hiking on the bluff above the ocean, but there are flood warnings out. We live right at sea level, a mile from the sea, just down the road from a major flood channel. So instead of hiking, we went to Costco to get in our walk. Did you know you can walk a mile going up and down the aisles of Costco? We usually walk two miles, but I didn’t think we could afford them. Came out with all kinds of yummy frozen goodies to test in our new freezer. If the power goes out, we can test our new solar battery.

It’s still raining. Since I operate on solar power like our battery, there is very little story fermenting happening. So I read social media. Oh golly gee, there’s an earthquake in Ojai, a hundred miles from here. Hope the tropical storm doesn’t blow them off the bluff. I’m thinking all the recommendations for boarding up our windows and filling up our bathtubs may be overkill. It’s still raining, barely. But we didn’t feel any shaking, at least. More pillows

Day isn’t over and I need to feel useful. Did a first read for a fairly new author. Fell asleep by page 50. Not a good sign. Fine, then let’s hit social media. I do love my reader comments on Facebook, and the slices of life from other authors, and the chance to buy a favorite author on sale. I do not appreciate Facebook’s thug tactics of forcing me to read ads instead of posts, but I do my best to navigate around them and keep up with fellow authors. Twitter and Instagram… I have yet to see the point. And now that X has taken away my tweetdeck, I can’t find anything or anyone, so I wandered off.

Since we had some old celery and carrots and a leftover Costco chicken carcass from our prior trip, I figured a rainy day was perfect for chicken soup. I’m still trying to lose pounds from the Alaskan cruise, so I resisted baking, which Rainis what rainy days are best for.

Tried to find a movie on the umpteen streaming channels, but we don’t remember titles, and nothing looked interesting, so we switched to watching Astrid and Afterparty. I adore books and programs with autistic characters because I relate to them so well, so Astrid is a favorite. Afterparty—is just silly, but good silly. Neither of them give me ideas for resuscitating the flat pages or inflating the new ones.

I mourn the beautifully developed characters and the budding romance that may never see the light. I had mystery suspects with names beginning with X, Y, and Z even! Who could resist? Apparently, I can. That’s six weeks worth of work, buried in a Word file.

We went to bed still waiting for the winds that never arrived. Sometime during the night, one of the top-heavy scheffleras turned over, but the pot was plastic, so no harm done.

And that was our hurricane party—pretty much a normal rainy day back in Kentucky. I know Rice_TheMysteryoftheMissingHeiress_600x900elsewhere they had flash flooding and a few trees toppled here and there, but California hurricanes are petulant toddlers compared to east coast raging teenagers.

But I got a blog out of it, so there’s that. How’s the weather treating you lately? Is it as weird as it is here? Dumped any favorite projects lately?

(there should be a sample for book #2 on my website at )

Ask A Wench: Where Do You Write?

Pat here:

This month, the wenches are all under the gun and chose an easy fun question to discuss: “Do you find that the seasons or weather or time of day can affect your creativity or productivity? What is your favorite place to write?”

Nicola's gardenNicola: I’m writing this sitting in our living room with the view in the photo. This is a problem because on the rare fine days we have had this summer I would prefer to be sitting out there enjoying the garden. I generally find this time of year quite soporific, especially if it’s humid weather; by the early afternoon I want to take a nap which could go on for several hours! It doesn’t help that August in the UK is holiday season and so there’s a sense of putting your feet up and relaxing. Sadly this isn’t on the cards when, like me, you have a 1st September deadline!

I’ve always been a bit of a lark rather than an owl so I will start work early, flag a bit in the early afternoon but get a second wind between about 4 and 6pm. Most of the time I work in my study at the front of the house which, because it’s a Victorian cottage, has thick walls and is cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. Autumn always feels an energising season to me which is odd when the trees are losing their leaves, but I love the colours and the sense of a crisp chill in the air. I’m definitely not someone who responds well to the heat which I think may come from my North European genes!

Read more

Alaskan Tour

Kenai fjord

Kenai fjord

Pat here: We’ve just recently returned from a cruise along the southern Alaska coast line, admiring glaciers and national parks, watching for wildlife, and resisting miles of jewelry. Mostly, I was looking for an easy trip involving little more than eating, drinking, and sleeping. We accomplished all that, although air travel is still a real pain, even from Southern California. If you ever have a choice, choose the Vancouver airport over Seattle!

Read more