HuzyefeTuranUnsplashby Mary Jo

When I was a kid in Western New York, tomatoes were just another vegetable.  I didn't grow them in my garden, and while there were plenty of farm stands with great produce, I don't remember tomatoes as being especially prominent. (Picture: Hyzeyfe Turcan))

Now I live in Maryland, where it is warmer and a there's a much longer growing season, and tomatoes are treated as almost a religious experience.  People (justly) rhapsodize about the heavenly taste of perfectly ripe Eastern Shore tomatoes and swap tips on where to buy the very best tomatoes. Which is important because there are a fair number of disappointing red imposters lurking under signs that say "Tomatoes."  (Developing tomatoes that ripen at the same time and are a uniform red might have been good for mass production, but in my experience, the texture is too often like Styrofoam.)


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Priory chapels and perpetual curates

Enrique_VIII_de_Inglaterra _por_Hans_Holbein_el_JovenPat here: I believe I promised you last time to talk about my research into the Anglican Church. We all know the history about Henry the Head Chopper who wanted a divorce and the pope refused to give him one, so he created his own church. That’s not what I researched. Instead, I spent hours trying to figure out if my isolated manor might have a chapel or a vicar or what on earth they did for Sunday services.

I wasn’t researching because I just wanted my folks praying. They were nicely handling that by reading the English Book of Common Prayer on a Sunday morning—in the ancient great hall that was once a priory chapel, before Henry’s men tore it down. But under the Marriage Act of 1753, one cannot marry without a real church and real clergyman (unless you’re a Quaker or Jewish), and that’s a bit of a problem in a mystery series with a lot of romance.

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Regency Tailoring

Rice_SecretsofWycliffeManor600Pat here. . .

New cover! What do you think? I’m returning to historicals but in mystery format with lots of romance, not as a pure romance. Doors close on ghosts and intimacy. <G> So far, anyway. The cover depicts the heroine first approaching a once-abandoned manor deep in rural Warwickshire, sort of. The actual location is one of the complications I’m researching. (And of course, she arrived in a carriage with accompaniment, but covers don’t allow for details.)

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Jane Austen’s Career


Pat here:

The heroine of the Regency historical mystery series I’m currently scribbling is a novelist. She’s not poor, but she has expenses her income can’t meet. So I was interested in how much she might earn as a beginning writer. Of course, Jane Austen instantly came to mind.

It’s a fascinating bunny hole to dive down. Did you know writers had to pay for publication then? It didn’t necessarily have to be upfront, but one way or another, they paid for the printing. If one was well known and had an influential patron who could recommend your books so a group of people would pay in advance, one might serialize and pay as you go. Neither my heroine nor Austen were in that position.

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The Long and Winding Rhodes

Rhodes-openingAndrea here, looking out on another very grey, gloomy and cold day here where I live. January has been a dreary month, so it’s no wonder that I’m in the mood to plot more foreign adventures to sunny climes, especially as this past November I took my first trip abroad since before the pandemic.
For me, travel—even if it's done in an armchair—always brightens the spirits. It sparks a sense of wonder as I explore new sights, sounds and tastes. And of course, it  lights a fire to the imagination if I get to visit place that I want to feature in my books. The November trip—an amazing cruise from Istanbul to Athens—was extra special because it did include a fascinating place that I have in mind for upcoming stories . . .

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