Sep 12 2017

So, uhm, yeah…Harvey

Important discovery…hurricanes and book launches do not mix well.

Some of you might have noticed that the blog has been a little on the quiet side since just before A Less Agreeable Man released. That was not exactly the plan to be honest. A book launch is supposed to be fun and busy, right?

What’s more, since January, I’ve been posting on Random Bits of Fascination three times a week, every week, and honestly, I’ve been loving it. I admit it, I’ve been pretty proud of maintaining that schedule and hopefully providing you guys some fascinating bits of reading to brighten your week. But even more than that, I really enjoy blogging and hanging out here with you guys.

I hate breaking my schedule and my routine, but I suppose I should have some satisfaction that it took a record breaking hurricane to make that happen. 

Yep. that’s right. I’m blaming Harvey for all this.

Rising Waters, part 1

I’ve been told that (at least parts of) this adventure would make for interesting reading—rather like Sharknado, I think, in the vein of disaster-comedies. I’ve been trying for two weeks now to settle down and actually write it up. But between recovery efforts, trying to get the boys off to start their university schedules, managing the rest of the book launch, and just coping with the stress left over from the storm, putting letters together, much less actual words just wasn’t happening. I mean seriously, I could have put my dragon-cat, Minion, (the one with thumbs) on the keyboard and come out with something far more comprehensible that I would have written. 

But things are better now (ie: I’ve had sufficient quantities of chocolate to subdue a major dragon) and as close to normal as they are going to get in my community for quite some time. So now it’s time to write again. I think it will take several posts to tell the whole story. So let me take you back a few weeks in time and start at the very beginning.

Lesson one: No matter what you do, ALWAYS check the weather

I’m generally a very organized and prepared person, to the point that my kids tease me mercilessly over the little things I do to make my life easier, like the way I unload the groceries onto the conveyor at the store. I put them on a specific way so they can get bagged with like things together and they are easier to put away when I get home. Makes sense right? Even the boys know this because they tease me, BUT they appreciate it when it comes time to store all the groceries.

That being said, I have a particular workflow that I lean on when I write. I get the final draft done, contact bloggers to set up a book tour, while that is in the works, do the final edits and send off the proofs to my diligent and ever patient proofreaders. (They really are saints…) While waiting on the proofs, I finish setting up the tour, plan the posts I need to write and gather the research and notes for all of the articles and make my tour spreadsheet. Yes, I said that, a spreadsheet.

Then it’s back to compiling the proofs and creating the final draft of the book. At that point, I create an electronic Advanced Reader edition for bloggers and reviewers to have a looky-see at the book before the tour. From that file, I setup the pre-order for the book in advance of the tour. (Yes, I’m sure you’ve been dying to know about the exciting secret life of indie writers. I promise it gets more interesting…)

It’s at this point that everything went utterly sideways. Totally and completely upside down and sideways.

Late on August 23, I set up the pre-order which then locked me into a timetable determined by Amazon, one that I could not break out of without serious consequences. Lucky me. Never once did I think, “Gee, this would be a good time to turn on the news and check the weather forecast.” I should have.

The next morning I woke up to news that Tropical Storm Harvey was now Hurricane Harvey and would hit somewhere between Corpus Christi and Galveston on the 25th, probably as a category 1 storm, possibly a 2.

Back in 2008, Hurricane Ike’s eye wall passed directly over our home. It was ‘just’ a category 2 storm. We were left without power for nearly two weeks after that. Two weeks. And I had a book launch setup for 7 days hence.

Perfect, just perfect.

So, going off past experience, I figured we’d get out power knocked out as soon as it made landfall on Friday morning, just like happened with Ike. I needed to get our final hurricane preparations in place AND accomplish at least two weeks of book launch work in 48 hours. 

So what needed to be done? Well, on the hurricane front, we were fairly well prepared. Our area never flooded in the past (yeah, that’s another post…) so the official word was to shelter in place. Done that before, we know how to do that. Got an autopilot setting for it, we’re good.

Early preps had been done when the season started. Generator had been checked out; had extra propane for the grill; batteries were in good supply as were candles and lamp oil. So all I really needed were basic groceries, to get laundry done and vacuum the house. (When you don’t have power for two weeks, you want to start out with all the underwear and socks in the house CLEAN! Ok, I concede, vacuuming though was not a necessity, just a comfort thing for me)

In the back of my mind, I figured we’d end up having at least part of my family–my rather carnivorous family–staying with us at some point because of the generator and the fact we don’t flood. (The irony will become clear in the next couple posts… 🙁 ) So when I went shopping I got about a week’s worth of meat, cooked it all and tucked it into the fridge. It sounds a little odd, but since I could be reasonably sure we could keep the fridge on the generator, I’ve found that having cooked meals that we only need to heat up is a lot easier on all of us during the stress a hurricane brings.

So, with the kitchen full of various things cooking, middle son–the one who had been at my elbow telling me I was overreacting to the storm news–had job interviews scheduled for Friday and Saturday the downtown canceled for the storm. In light of that, we decided he’d go back to law school the next morning, before the storm was scheduled to hit, so he could drive in on dry roads. I hated sending him away when I wanted all my chicks under my wings, but it was the right thing.

Lesson Two: There’s nothing like a good list  

With all of this swirling in my scattered brain, I sat down to format final book. Exactly the sort of detailed fiddly thing I love to do when I don’t have two brain cells to rub together. With the help of one of my old check lists, I was able to get through formatting and upload all the formats by midnight. (Note to self, I’m not just a packrat–there’s a good reason for keeping old lists after all!)

Thing one done.

Got up early the next morning to start getting book tour stuff ready. So thankful I didn’t have to figure out what I was supposed to do. Just jumped on the first line of the spread sheet and cranked through. Granted, I may not have been at my usual peak of warm wittiness (I can hear you snickering, don’t think I can’t…) but lots of posts were being written as I watched the news of the storm hitting Rockport–leveling Rockport to be more accurate–as it came ashore at a Cat 4, not a Cat 1 storm. All our coastal cities know there’s a risk of hurricane damage, but storms just don’t spin up from a Cat 1 to a Cat 4 overnight. They just don’t. Except when they do.

Already the storm was doing totally unprecedented things.

Then the rains moved up the coast and started pounding us.

Aug 31 2017

A Less Agreeable Man Launch Day

Getting a book written and published can be more complicated that it looks when real life decides to keep happening.

An alternative title for this post might be ‘And Now You Know the Rest of the Story.’

It’s been quite an adventure getting this one to the finish line. Seriously, this one has been like no other. To start with, I got half the book written, then chased a shiny plot bunny into a dragon den and got caught in that alternate reality for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did. I love it there. But it did put this one up to a bumpy start. 

I got started back in on it, and then my dad had surgery. No gory details, we’ll just leave it at it took two months to get past, two months without getting much writing done. On the heels of that, we took a trip and and anther month passed with no writing getting accomplished. 

So then, I focused in earnest and put nose to grindstone, getting this one edited. Literally on the day I thought I was finished, I took a step back (cue music here–with a little help from my friends…)  and realized that a MAJOR edit was still necessary. Those of you who followed along with the serial posting will notice a lot of material edited out of the final publication version. Never fear, it will live on in the bonus materials menu here. The process of getting the manuscript trimmed down to size was … ah … difficult … shall we say. Yeah … yeah … we’ll just leave it at that and move on. Wanting to jump off a cliff counts as difficult, right? (Oh wait a minute–I DID that on vacation–but yeah, that’s another post…)

That finally accomplished, then the final straw struck. Natural disaster. Seriously, not joking. As I sit writing this, I’m watching the radar as hurricane Harvey is bearing down on us. The news of it came out just after I submitted the files for preorder at Amazon and got locked into a deadline. The last time we had a storm like this heading for us, we ended up without power for 2 WEEKS. No exaggerating. So now I’m in a flurry trying to get the next two weeks of posts for the blog tour ready before the storm makes landfall tonight since I may be literally in the dark after that. 

No pressure right? I’d ask what else could go wrong, but yeah, my computer had major issues last night when I had that thought. My superhero husband got it working again, but now I dare not even think that, much less ask. 

But, fingers crossed and hoping the creeks don’t rise (literally in this case), here we are at launch day! 

It started out as The Heir of Rosings Park, looking like this. Not bad all in all, but I really love the new title and look that we came up with.

This will be the last of the Queen of Rosings Park books. So those of you who have been waiting to start the series until all the books were out, your wait is over! The first book Mistaking Her Character is Elizabeth’s story. The second The Trouble to Check her is Lydia’s. A Less Agreeable Man is Mary’s story.

Now for the question you all have been asking: Is there a giveaway?

Yes there is.  Leave me a comment below for a chance to win an ebook version of A Less Agreeable Man. 


Congratulations Emma, winner of the ebook!

If you’d like to whet your appetite a bit, you can find the posted chapters of the original version here for the next couple of weeks, then I’ll move them to the ‘Bonus Material’ menu.

I’ll be posting other deleted scenes here over the next month, so keep watching this site!

Aug 25 2017

A Less Agreeable Man–cover reveal and preorder link

 Last week I was a little cruel and left you with this view of the new publication title for ‘The Heir of Rosings Park.” Today I’ll be righting that wrong and put a little whipped cream and a cherry on top to make up for being mean.

So with no further ado, here’s the complete cover!  

I think my cover artist hit it out of the park with this one. I just love it! What do you think?

Now for the whipped cream and cherry.  The book is on Amazon for preorder!  Official launch is 8/31!

Aug 22 2017

History A’la Carte August 2017


It can’t possibly be a surprise that I read tons of history articles each week. I just can’t help myself–I’ve got to share some of the fascinating things I’ve come across. Here are a few of my recent favorites: 


Horse Heredity in the Dark Ages

The early medieval warhorse had two jobs. The first was to charge into battle with a fully armed and armored warrior on his back. The second was to beget foals as strong and brave as he was.

An Elegant Block-Printed Cotton Gown, c1805

There are several features that make this dress unusual. First is the fabric itself, a block-printed cotton that was intended to mimic lapis, reflecting the era’s interest in nature as inspiration for design. The fabric was printed with a curved hem border design (called “to form” or “a disposition”) to be incorporated into the garment’s finished design when made up.  Also of interest is the fact that the dress has a pair of matching long sleeves or mitts to offer extra options to the wearer.

Saint Christopher: A Tough Guy Protecting Medieval Travelers

Travel in medieval times was often slow, unpleasant, and dangerous. At any time, someone could break a wheel, a person or animal could get sick, a storm could arrive suddenly, or brigands or demons could attack. You needed all the protection you could get and who better than Saint Christopher, a giant of a man so tough that only God was a worthy master?

Strange Discoveries: Greek Fire

In the ninth century Emperor Leo of Constantinople wrote of Greek fire, “Such a weapon is fire prepared for siphons from which it is hurled with thunderous noise and smoke, burning down ships at which we direct it….” We know of Greek fire today because of its terrifying reputation among those who experienced the power of this incendiary weapon. The term developed during after the first Crusade in the twelfth century. The Byzantine Empire called the dangerous combustible substance ‘liquid fire’ or ‘sea fire’ because of the first usage in naval battles, where it burned on all surfaces, even water.

And so to bed – 18th Century night attire

As well as being essential items of clothing to help people stay warm on those cold winter nights and to cover their modesty, people clothed only in their night apparel provided the caricaturists of the day with a plentiful supply of material,

Edward Curtis’ Photographs of Kwakwaka’wakw Ceremonial Dress and Masks (ca. 1914)

The Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw (or Kwakiutl) are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, covering the territory of British Columbia on northern Vancouver Island and the adjoining mainland, and on islands around Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait. United by the common language of Kwak’wala, the broad group can be divided into 13 nations, each with its own clan structure and distinct histories. According to Kwakwaka’wakw folklore their ancestors (‘na’mima) came to a given spot — by way of land, sea, or underground — in the form of ancestral animals that upon arrival shed their animal appearance and became human.

Napoleon’s first love captured in a ring

Napoleon conceived an attachment for Mademoiselle du Colombier, who, on her part, was not insensible to his merits. It was the first love of both; and it was that kind of love which might be expected to arise at their age and with their education.


A particular secret for a styptic water that quickly stops bleeding wounds and torn guts.” The descriptive title continues by suggesting that you can “try it on a rooster by piercing its head with a sharp needle, and the rooster will heal in fifteen minutes.”

Was Napoleon good at billiards?

The first recorded reference to a billiard table is found in a late 15th century inventory of the possessions of King Louis XI of France. By the Napoleonic era, billiards was popular among all classes of people in France.

The prank that tore apart the family of William the Conqueror

It is not surprising to hear of brothers playing pranks on each other. However, when your father is King of England, the ramifications could lead to more trouble than anyone would realize.


So, what was your favorite tidbit today?


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Aug 19 2017

And the Winner is…

Heir of Rosing Park iconThe readers have spoken and the consensus is clear….

Last week I asked your opinions on the publishing title for The Heir of Rosings Park and the response was overwhelming!

Thanks so much to everyone who spoke up and offered their thoughts.

So without further ado, here’s the title to watch for at the end of the month:






Ok, yeah, I suppose that was a little mean. I won’t keep you in suspense for too long though. I’ll reveal the full cover next week!





Don’t miss the first two books in the series:



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