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Monthly Archives: November 2014

bodfp_smallWhenever I’m at a loss for a topic for this blog, I take a peek at Hillman’s Hyperlinked and Searchable Chambers Book of Days. The Book of Days (or, if you like, the real title: The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, Including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of Human Life and Character) was published in 1832 by Robert Chambers, a prolific writer particularly known for his reference books.

The Book of Days is arranged around the calendar, and contains interesting essays and trivia. The original work was printed in two volumes, each 840 pages long. It is an incredible feat of research.

Today’s date in the book contains who was born this date, who died, and the saint whose feast day it was. There was an essay about mermaids and about the “Circe of Carlyle House, Soho Street,” Teresa Cornelys. Mrs. Cornelys ran an upscale Assembly Room where great balls and masquerades were held.

The last essay of November 24 was this one:


The great social and religious festival of New England, from which it has spread to most of the states of the American republic, is a legacy of the Puritans. They abolished Christmas as a relic of popery, or of prelacy, which they held in nearly equal detestation, and passed laws to punish its observance; but, wanting some day to replace it, the colonial assemblies, and, later, the governors of the states, appointed every year some day in autumn, generally toward the end of November, as a day of solemn prayer and thanksgiving for the blessings of the year, and especially the bounties of the harvest.

Thanksgiving day is always celebrated on Thursday, and the same day is chosen in most of the states. The governor’s proclamation appointing the day, is read in all the churches, and there are appropriate sermons and religious exercises. Families, widely scattered, meet at the bountiful thanksgiving dinners of roast turkeys, plum pudding, and mince and pumpkin pies. The evenings are devoted by the young people to rustic games and amusements.

The subjects of the thanksgiving-sermons are not infrequently of a political character, and in the chief towns of the union, those of the most popular preachers are generally published in the newspapers. The thanksgiving festival, though widely celebrated, is Not so universally respected as formerly, as the influx of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians has brought Christmas again into vogue, which is also kept by the Unitarians with considerable solemnity. As a peculiar American festival it will, however, long be cherished by the descendants of the Puritans.

Not a mention of shopping in Chambers’ essay. When you shop on Black Friday, don’t forget to put Megan’s The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior and Susanna’s A Christmas Reunion!

How many of you are planning plum pudding and an evening of rustic games and entertainments this Thursday?

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a newsy post of news. To make it worth your valuable time, there are pretty book covers AND at the end of the post, a way to read my upcoming December release before it’s actually released. Consider yourself teased. And now, on to research books, holiday stories, a hot deal, a boxing hero, a free book, and a demon.

Boxing Book!

Most of you know by now that A Notorious Ruin features a boxing hero, among other things boxing. I did a lot of reading about boxing and boxing culture of the period for this book. There are lots of great resources in publications of the time, subject, of course, to any and all agendas that a given author might or might not have. It was fun reading.

You might recall that I posted about some great research from David Snowden, particuarly his book Writing the Prizefight, which yesterday won the 2014 British Society of Sports History’s Lord Aberdare Literary Prize. It’s a book you should consider having on your reference shelf. Snowden is on twitter as @PierceEgan so if you’re curating lists and the like, he’s a good follow.

Other Book News

Did you get your copy of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms yet?

Cover of Christmas in the Duke's Arms.

Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

There have been some very kind words about all the stories. So, hey! You should get your Holiday stories now!

My contribution is titled In The Duke’s Arms. Because you can never have too many dukes. Though I will admit I limited myself to one.

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play | All Romance eBooks | Print

Fresh Fiction (Reviewed by Monique Daoust) had this to say:

An Exciting, Sensuous and Romantic Regency Christmas!

Ms. Burrowes’ story is ingenious, sensuous, and elegant, and her vocabulary is positively dazzling! It’s spectacularly well-written, the characters are engaging, and it’s very witty; it left me giggling several times. A delicious story of seduction!

In The Duke’s Arms is simply wonderful! The characters are very complex and the interaction between Ryals and Edith is utterly compelling; it’s a joy to watch Edith try to tame the gruff Duke. The story is unhurried, and it’s quite the feat that Ms. Jewel can turn developing passion into something quite suspenseful. The author possesses a perfect knowledge of the period’s language and idioms and writes in a fluid, flowing style that perfectly suits her characters.

Ms. Neville’s contribution is joyful, playful, as expected splendidly written, and quite funny at times. I loved that Robina is a strong and independent woman within the rules imposed by society; she’s a wonderful character as is the dour Wyatt.

Ms. Galen certainly does not disappoint! Those already familiar with this brilliant series will rejoice at getting a final glimpse at some beloved characters. The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe is fast paced, exciting, dynamic; the characters are delightful, and it’s also very passionate. A more than fitting conclusion to a fabulous book!

And then there’s A Notorious Ruin

A Notorious Ruin by Carolyn JewelFrom a post at Avon Romance:

Ms. Jewel slowly exposed their good, bad & ugly & I loved peeling the many layers back & seeing their inner essence. Let chat about sex, because HELLO it’s a romance. Ms. Jewel uses all forms of NAUGHTINESS with swallowing-lightening shivers & quivers to all my girlie parts & assorted NEKKIDness!
— Patty McKenna Van Hulle

Make Kay of Fresh Fiction had this to say:

A long awaited sequel blends eroticism and Regency elegance…

Jewel did a superb job of evoking the era and locale. The lovely and explicit sex scenes also rang true and yet did not pull me out of the era, which I thought masterful. I am glad that Jewel has gone back to this series, and I’m looking forward to the next of the Sinclair Sisters to fall in love.

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Seven Wicked Nights — Until November 16th!

Seven Wicked Nights by Carolyn Jewel and others

Seven bestselling historical romance authors offer seven sexy stories featuring dukes, lords, rakes, scoundrels…and the unforgettable heroines who bring them to their knees. These stories range in length from long novellas to delectable little bites.

This $0.99 collection goes away November 16th. You should get this while you can.

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Scandal — Still Free!

Cover of Scandal


RITA finalist and free at the vendors below. If you haven’t read me, this is a no-cost way to find out what you think.

This book took my breath away. – SBTB

WOW. Simply, wow. That is the only word I can use to describe this masterpiece. It has been such a long time since I have read such a rich, emotional and tension filled romance. Not only did Scandal have me hooked from the very first page, but this is the first book, in a very long time, where I had to read straight through into the wee hours of the night because I couldn’t put it down. When an author can write such a book, that book is destined for greatness. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scandal becomes one of the favorites of 2009, and perhaps placed on most reader’s lists for all time favorite historical. – Romance Novel TV

Readers looking for a deeply emotional and very well-written book will love this one. I have a certain weakness for flawed but redeemable characters, and this tale very much hit the spot. I cannot wait to see more historicals from this author in the future. –All About Romance

Jewel plays readers’ emotions like a virtuoso, ensuring they will eagerly follow her characters into dramatic, intensely passionate and gripping love stories that will steal your heart and make you beg for more. She grabs you at the first word and never lets go. – Kathe Robin RT Book Reviews

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And lastly, I tease and tempt you with an upcoming release and a way to read it before it’s on sale…

Cover of Dead Drop

Dead Drop – Not a Duke

Dead Drop turned out to be Book 6 in the My Immortals series. Demons instead of Dukes. It’s a short novel, at 42,000+ words.

I’m writing what I guess I have to start calling Book 7 in the series now. I have no buy links for Dead Drop yet since I don’t quite have final files yet. Sometime in the next two weeks. The on-sale date will be December 20th.

How, you are wondering, might you have the chance to read this before the book is on sale? Well, I set up a members-only section of my website, and I’m posting the chapters there every few days. Files are subject to update as I play whack-a-mole with typos lurking in the proofreading rounds.

If you happen to subscribe to my newsletter, you will get the login and password to the members only section and can start reading now. If you want. I’ve posted through chapter 6. I believe Chapter 7 will go up sometime tomorrow or the day after.

You can subscribe at my website.

There. That’s all the book news.

Ahhh…. The joy of vacation.  I’m just back from NYC where I was able to meet up with Risky Megan which was loads of fun. I am assuming she will have excellent news to share with us soon.  My trip to NY was writing business related as it turns out I got elected to the RWA Board of Directors. And yes, for those of you wondering, my tiara was a perfect fit. (grin) I looked very spiffy.

I’m home now and on vacation for the rest of the week, which is lovely and so far I have done an epic amount of not very much at all.

I am going to share an interesting thing I came across the other night as I was procrastinating, beginning my vacation doing important research.

This pdf about medieval pigments is my favorite thing ever  just about since that time I was working with my son on the Roman wax tablet project.

Don’t be fooled by the rather boring B&W cuneiform tablet photo on the first page. The rest of this document discusses pigments and bonding agents identified from the beginning of human history through about 1500 and talks about how to make them. With pictures.

This is fascinating for history geeks. And how did I find this you might ask? Because of twitter. Someone remarked on a story in which the author compared the heroine’s breath (or something) to cinnabar. And there was a WTF discussion and much wondering about cinnabar in food. And one person said the most they could find was some medieval references to recipes.

And I thought, huh. This cannot be right. If cinnabar was safe to eat we would be eating it now. And if it was not safe to eat, we would have stories that listed poisonous food people ate in times past, and we do not have such stories involving cinnabar. So I Googled the subject myself and found that first off, cinnabar is toxic. And second off, cinnabar and recipes occur in the context of recipes for paint.

And that lead me to the medieval pigments pdf which I read from start to finish with much excitement because that’s how we roll here at the Riskies.

It’s not much of a surprise to learn that modern chemistry has taken some of the vibrancy out of paint pigments. Some modern colors don’t have the iridescence of pigments that were once made from organic minerals or metals.  OK, yes, also much of the poison (but not all). Don’t distract me with product safety arguments. Orpiment, by the way, is actually arsenic. Who knew? Certain colors and their composition are lost to us. The ingredients point, as well, to the importance of world trade. Ear wax, my friends, reduces froth in a binding agent. I did not know that either. Nor do I know who dug around in their ear and said, huh. I wonder what happens if I put this in the binding agent for my paint?

Now I am sharing this information with you. Because that’s how I roll.

You’re welcome.

2014_Black_Friday_SnowHere’s the view off my back deck. So pretty!

I have nothing very Regency for you today, except the thought that while Christmas is mentioned in many (all?) of Jane Austen’s novels, I can’t recall any mention of buying presents. Not having written a Christmas Regency, I haven’t done any intense research into the subject, but most of what I’ve read seems to revolve around food and parlor games.

unplugIf I had my way, that’s how it would still be. This whole idea of a mad rush of shopping from Black Friday to Christmas gives me the hives. I’m a firm believer in the concept of Unplug the Christmas Machine, a program for reclaiming the warmth and meaning of Christmas or any other holiday.

I’m not that excited about buying presents, maybe because I’m ambivalent about receiving them. I don’t want New Stuff when I have Old Stuff that works. I do like to get more books, music and the occasional bit of jewelry, but most people don’t know my taste well enough to choose what I’d really like. I’d rather just treat myself occasionally. So I worry about whether I’m choosing the right thing for others. That’s why in my family we use lists. But I’m fine with the idea that we could give gifts to the children and as adults, just enjoy the other parts of the holiday season.

I’m not seriously opposed to Black Friday. If any of you went out early or are out there now, I hope you were/are warm and safe and having a good time. But it is not my thing. I sometimes enjoy shopping, I’m enough of an introvert to prefer to do it when the stores aren’t too busy. In response to those ads encouraging me to “win” Black Friday, sorry, I don’t want to play.

As for shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself, I won’t do it. I believe store employees should have the day off to be with their families, if that is what they want.

But perhaps for some people, the prospect of spending a whole day with family is the very reason they’re eager to get out and shop. I get that. Some families are nothing like the ones shown in holiday advertising. Sometimes you need to get away. Personally I’m inclined to look for better solutions: ways to cope with family such as meditation or taking a walk, adapting traditions that don’t work well, finding other people to be with or spending the time volunteering.

Which makes me think a lot about holiday advertising. Commercials show those perfect-seeming families and at the same time, urge everyone to show their love—or distract themselves from the lack thereof—by spending more time in stores or online.

Is it messed up? What do you think?


I am recycling a post from  a few years ago when Thanksgiving and the birthday of George Eliot, born November 22, 1819, coincided.

Let us give thanks for George Eliot. Highly literate and educated despite being born into the sort of provincial society she depicts in her novels, she left England at the age of thirty after the death of her parents and traveled in Europe, returning to become a writer for the Westminster Review. Her life was unconventional (she lived out of wedlock with a married man, George Henry Lewes, for years–as she grew in fame and fortune Victorian society accepted the liaison. After Lewes’ death she married a man twenty years her junior; go, girl. And she earned a living as a writer, “coming out” as George Eliot, a name she adopted early in her career.). Interestingly Eliot’s books rarely turn up on lists of “my favorite romance novels” in the company of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

Why? Here’s a reason, in her own words:

Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic – the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which makes the advancing years as a climax, and age the harvest of sweet memories in common.

Consider Middlemarch, possibly her greatest work, where the emphasis is on the community itself and the burgeoning romances are only part of the big picture. She subverts the marriage of true minds–Lydgate and Dorothea, two peas in a pod of innocence and idealism–and instead pairs them with partners who, in Lydgate’s case, are far their inferior. rsewellAnd Dorothea and Rufus Sewell, oops, Will Ladislaw–well, I can only conclude that he’s great in the sack and has the right sort of politics, certainly nothing to turn up one’s nose at, yet I digress–I’m left feeling that she sacrifices herself to romance. And I certainly think Mary Garth could have done better than Fred Vincy. Of course Eliot was smart enough to know that if she paired up Lydgate and Dorothea, there would be no book; that the troubling and imperfect relationships and their uncertain outcomes makes the book a brilliant masterpiece.

Now I love Daniel Deronda for similar reasons–the relationships aren’t what you think they’re going to be–and there’s no overt happy ending but a huge amount of interwoven complexity. She took the risk of trying to write about a truly good hero–Daniel, making a journey of discovery into his origins, forging his own destiny–and even she couldn’t quite do it. Daniel is really only interesting when he’s suffering, upon rare occasions, some sort of negative feelings–when he acknowledges his own snobbishness in becoming associated with a family of Jewish shopkeepers (oh, the vulgarity! How embarrassingly materialistic they are!). So Daniel is the turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner, handsome to look at, but a bit bland and occasionally dry. The rest of the book–the gravy and yams and cranberries and the rest of the delicious accompaniments, the fabulous secondary characters and their love interests and concerns–is Eliot’s unconventional triumph.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.

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