Machu Picchu!

Pat Rice in Machu PicchuPat here:

I spent a good part of October in South America. IT Guy and I are fascinated by ancient civilizations, hence our trip to Egypt last year. This year, we finally made it to Machu Picchu, not nearly as old as Egypt but with a lot of uncanny similarities, which is what fascinates us. As much as I would like to study the origins of the Incas, I simply don’t have the time to devote. Should I ever retire… I’d probably keel over in a coffin. So let’s not go there. We just visit and admire.

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What We’re Reading in October

Some of it was realNicola here, introducing the ever-popular Wenches monthly round up of what we've been reading. As always, our virtual shelves are groaning beneath the weight of recommendations and we hope you will share your reads with us – and add to the TBR pile! – as well as enjoy some of the books we're talking about. October is the perfect time to curl up with a good book, so without further ado, let's dive in!

Anne here. The standout read for me in October was Some of it Was Real, by Nan Fischer. It’s a contemporary, and though there’s a relationship, it’s not really a romance. Sylvie Young is a psychic-medium, a rising star on the verge of having her own TV show. Thomas Holmes is a journalist looking to resurrect his failing career by writing a story exposing her as a fraud. Thomas doesn’t believe in Sylvie’s “powers” and calls people like her “grief vampires” who prey on people’s distress.

Mysteries surround Sylvie’s early childhood. Adopted at the age of six, she has no memories of the time before that — and what little she does remember is fractured, comes in dreams, or sparks panic attacks. Sylvie decides to take Thomas on a journey with her to discover what they can about her past. She hopes he will learn to accept and believe in her powers — even though she’s not entirely confident of them, and augments them with research about her audience — which she calls “forming bridges”. It’s a complicated situation. And Thomas is determined to prove her a fraud.

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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!

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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.

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Ask A Wench —about storytelling

Anne here, and today the wenches are responding to the question: Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

Little engine

Pat said:  In my case, I must accept that I was simply born with a love of books and writing. I can’t even say it’s in the genes because from what little I know of my family, my Great-Aunt Norma was the only one who wrote. She was a librarian and vanity-published a book of poems. She might possibly be the reason I love books, although that’s hard to say. For birthdays and holidays, she would sometimes send books the library didn’t want, even though they were inevitably much too old for a toddler who couldn’t read. So I’d pore over the wonderful pictures of lands far away and attempt to puzzle out what the words might say. To this day, I remember being appalled at a news announcer talking about an i-land when it was so obvious that he was talking about land surrounded by a body of water which. . . is land.

I can also remember a really old book of children’s poetry that I marked up with crayons as I sounded out the words. I don’t know how old I was at that point, but I apparently knew my letters and sounds but didn’t know better than to draw on books.

I have no memory of anyone ever reading to me, although I do remember the stories in the Little Golden Books (remember Pokey Little Puppy and the Little Engine That Could?   and kicking up a fuss until a book got tossed into the cart. Someone must have read the books to me at some point so I could follow the story later, when I tried to read it on my own.

All I really know was that I devoured every book in the house, reading and re-reading since my selection was limited. We had no library. By the time I was in fourth grade, I was buying classical English literature from the Scholastic bookfair with my tiny allowance. And since I never had enough to read, I wrote my own, filling notebooks full of stories.

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