Apologies, hope to be back soon!

Moving has kept me from a lot of things I enjoy–like hanging out at the Risky Regencies. This move has been more problematic than most, and I’m still dealing with items that were damaged by the Movers from Hell and other matters.

The new house has plenty of room for me, my college student daughters, and our stuff–even our books! But it lacks proper storage–especially for our books! This picture is of my future writing room. My writing desk didn’t make it around the bend in the stairwell, so I have bought a new one and will pick it up once things are more settled. Although is not quite Regency era (I am guessing early 1900’s) it makes me think of what a Regency lady might have used. I will post a picture once I get it home. One of my largest bookcases didn’t make it up the stairs (sob!) so I am planning to buy some modular shelving that can be built inside the room. For now, everything has to stay in boxes, and my writing remains on hold until I get other, more critical areas of the house functional, like the kitchen (although I did find the coffee maker).

Anyone have stories to tell of past moves. Advice for coping until I can find things?

Thanks for your patience, everyone. I will be back soon, I hope!

Elena

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Familiar Foods From the Eighteenth Century

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet (pun intended). I’ve been coming up blank all week about a topic to post about (nothing was grabbing me). So last night I pulled out my copy of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy with the intention of finding the strangest, most unfamiliar recipes I could. Instead, I immediately stumbled across apple fritters. APPLE FRITTERS!!! How on earth aren’t our characters living on these?

Apple Fritter Recipe

So now I’m looking for other familiar stuff … and what do I spot but Pain Perdu. FRENCH TOAST!!! Fricken French toast is period. Why aren’t my characters eating this constantly? Also, now I want French toast.

Sure looks like French Toast to me!

Ok, this last one I’m not at all sure about: Flour, powdered sugar, egg whites, butter, cream, and blanched almond flour. It’s not a macaroon, but it’s definitely some kind of almond cookie. Historical cooking sites show me things that seem like shortbread or a drop cookie. They appear to have been around since the Middle Ages, and I’ve never heard of them! So these are now on my list of things to make and taste.

What is a Jumballs?

Any familiar foods you’ve been shocked to discover were period for the characters you were writing or reading about?

Posted in Anything but writing, Food, Frivolity, History, Isobel Carr, Research | 2 Comments

Walking Bath

One of the joys of writing Historical Romance is the research and the best way to research is to go to the places you write about.

Some writers get a story idea and then they go to the location of the story and do some research. Me, I visit a place and then make up a story using that setting.

That’s what I did for A Lady Becomes a Governess, Book 1 of my Governess Swap series, out this month from Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon Historical. A Lady Becomes a Governess was mostly set in the Lake District. I visited the Lake District (and fell in love with it) on my last England trip with Kristine Hughes Patrone’s Number One London Tours.

Kristine and I also spent a day in Bath–the hottest day of the year there–90 degrees F. We walked Bath from one end to the other, seeing most of the famous buildings and streets, so when I needed a setting for Book 2 of my Governess Swap series, Bath was perfect.

My hero and heroine needed to walk Bath much like Kristine and I did. They walked from the Pump Room to the Royal Crescent to the Upper Assembly Rooms. Because I’d been there last year, I remembered vaguely where things were, but, for the book, I needed a map so I could be as accurate as possible.

I found a very cool one, HERE. It shows a present day map that can be overlaid with a historic map. You can move the circle to anywhere on the modern day map. My book is set in 1816, so I used the map from 1818.
This gave me the names of the streets in 1818, some of which were different than today.

Of course my hero and heroine had to visit the Royal Crescent and the Circus.
As I was researching the Royal Crescent and the Circus, I discovered that a navy Admiral, Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton, lived in the Circus and he fit perfectly into my book! I love when that happens.

I also needed two inns and a little searching led me to the AustenOnly blog and to the White Hart Inn, which was where Jane Austen had the Musgroves staying in Persuasion. The White Hart was torn down in 1869, but this wonderful blog even had a picture of the inn.
The second inn was where I briefly had my hero and heroine stay. The Westgate Inn was where the Royal Mail coaches stopped.

This year I’m going to Scotland with Kristine and Number One London Tours. I’ve never set a book in Scotland…….Here’s to a first time!

Do you ever use travel to inspire a story? Do you like to visit places where books, TV, or movies were set?

By the way, A Lady Becomes a Governess is available now in both ebook and paperback if ordered directly from Harlequin. The paperback will be at other online vendors June 19 and the ebook on July 1.

Posted in History, Places, Regency, Writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Teaching Urchins: Another Unsung Hero, or Regency Roots of Educating the Poor

My last “unsung Regency hero” (Dr James Blundell, May 2) was aware that his pursuits could have a huge impact on the future, and indeed, he was right. Today’s hero, a cobbler named John Pounds, also had a great impact on the future, in the area of education, but he seems to have been completely unaware that his efforts were significant beyond the immediate benefit, even when he became famous and famous people came to see what he was doing. I believe his story is celebrated in Britain, but here in the U.S. he is pretty much unknown. Have you ever heard of him?

Education for the poor was a controversial idea during the Regency years. In my Christmastide Regency story The Lord of Misrule (not finished yet, working on it!!), my heroine’s father, a rather enlightened vicar, belongs to the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor, which was a real organization. Education for the masses had supporters among the aristocracy –most famously the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, although he became active post-Regency. Many in the upper classes, however, still feared the kind of upheavals that had happened in France only decades earlier, and strongly opposed the concept of educating the poor. They felt education would only make the masses dissatisfied with the conditions of life in Britain and could lead to the same kind of tragic horrors that revolution had caused across the channel.

A split existed along religious lines as well: most of the support for poor education came from the non-conformist churches, and the established Anglican Church would not condone cooperation with them.

 Against this background of contrasting opinions we find John Pounds, a simple cobbler who had a shop in Portsmouth. Did John Pounds have a stake in this fight? Not directly, but indirectly he definitely did.

Known in his time as “the Crippled Cobbler of Portsmouth”, John Pounds was born in 1766. In his teen years he was apprenticed as a shipwright at the Portsmouth Dockyard, but just 18 days after the death of his father and just before his 15th birthday, he was crippled by a fall into a dry dock at the shipyard which nearly killed him. After a rather miraculous recovery but unable to continue in that line of work, he learned the cobbler’s trade which sustained him until his death in 1839.

 Pounds was apparently simply devoted to the idea of doing good –a humble man improving the lives of the many poor children who roamed the streets of Portsmouth. Armed with warm baked potatoes with which to entice them, he would seek out destitute, often homeless children to invite to his small shop, where he ran a school of sorts and also made certain they were clothed and fed. As he made and repaired boots (no re-soled  dancing slippers, as his was not an upper class clientele) he taught these neediest of children, often homeless, to read, write and do sums. He taught them moral values and trained them to live good and productive lives. Sources say that at times he would have as many as 40 children in his shop at once, along with assorted birds, cats and dogs for whom he also cared.

Not surprisingly, his customers took note. Word of his good deeds spread. Supporters tried to give money to help the cause, but the humble yet independent cobbler would only accept donations of clothing or food that directly benefited the children. Famous people including quite probably Charles Dickens (who grew up in Portsmouth) came to see him, and no doubt left inspired by his selfless example.

Pounds did not set out to become the originator of the Victorian concept of “Ragged Schools”, but he has eventually become recognized as such. The prominent Scottish preacher and philanthropist Thomas Guthrie who is often credited as a founder of the movement, himself credited John Pounds as the originator in the 2nd edition of his influential pamphlet “Plea for Ragged Schools” published in 1849, ten years after Pounds’ death.

It is unlikely that John Pounds had ever heard of the London tailor Thomas Cranfield, who started a free day school for poor children near London Bridge in 1798. Another unsung Regency hero, Cranfield established more schools and by his death in 1838, just a year before Pound’s death, had created 19 schools serving London’s poor for free. Certainly his efforts also contributed to the movement toward the Ragged Schools, but his story is less documented, sadly for us.

Pounds never considered what he was doing to be a “school” or ever tried to establish an institution to offer what he did. From all accounts, the personal love and care he lavished on the children that benefitted from his ministry could never be duplicated in a formal setting. Yet it is estimated that over his lifetime the humble cobbler educated more than 500 children.

The most vivid account of John Pounds’ life and achievements is the book written by The Rev. Henry Hawkes, “Recollections of John Pounds”. Hawkes became acquainted with Pounds during the last six years of the old shoe mender’s life and his first person narrative includes descriptions by many other people who were contemporaries and Portsmouth residents. The book has been reprinted in its original form (ISBN: 978-0-9573951-0-7), published by the John Pounds Memorial Church.

Don’t you think one of the fascinating things about history is the parts left out? Do you suppose that grief played a role in John Pound’s fall at the dockyard? He started teaching children about ten years after he opened his shop on St. Mary Street. What do you suppose got him to start when he did? Perhaps a special child who triggered the desire to help? Or a practical need to be established enough in his trade before he could begin to make a difference? He was apparently a devout man who would bring the children to church with him once they were decently clothed. His church helped support his mission –was there an influential minister who helped inspire John? I haven’t read the Hawkes book about him. I wonder if any of these questions are answered in it!!

Posted in History, Regency, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Three Suo Jure Countesses of Sutherland

I know that one of the things we all love is peeresses in the their own right. I’ve been preparing for a workshop on the inheritance of titles in the UK, and I’ve come across a couple of cool and illustrative cases (this one is extra cool because it happens three times!). The Earl of Sutherland is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created circa 1230 for William de Moravia.

The first Countess of Sutherland in her own right was Elizbeth de Moravia, the 10th Countess (younger sister of the 9th Earl). She held the title from 1470-1535. There doesn’t seem to have been any fuss about her inheriting. She married a younger son of the Earl of Huntley and their male descendants went on to hold the title until the 18th Earl died without a male heir.

Elizabeth, 19th Countess of Sutherland

You can read about the case for the 18th Earl’s daughter inheriting on Google Books in Proceedings Relating to the Peerage of Scotland, 1707-1788 (starts on p. 354). Lady Elizabeth was five when some douchebag tried to claim her title by making out that his bastard ancestor was in fact legitimate under Scottish law (he wasn’t). But her guardians were having none of it! There were also two other men who made claims but then threw their weight behind Sir Robert’s claim (anyone should have the title but the girl!).

“On 26th March, a Petition of his Grace John Duke of Atholl, Charles Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, the Honourable James Wemyss of Wemyss, Sir David Dalrymple of Hailes, Baronet, Sir Adam Fergusson of Kilkerran, Baronet, Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, Esq; and John Makenzie of Delvin, Esq; Guardians to Elizabeth, claiming the title and dignity of Countess of Sutherland, was presented and read …”

At this point, the House of Lords threw up their collective hands and delayed until the next session, telling everyone to get their ducks in a row and prepare for the Select Committee on Privileges. When the Committee finally convened, it requested additional proofs to be printed and lodged at least fourteen days before the hearing. They further ordered that the agents of the claimants (all claimants have a solicitor acting for them) exchange with each other the case they intended to print beforehand so they could answer it.

After almost two years of back and forth, the Committee decided in favor of Lady Elizabeth, the legitimate daughter of the previous earl. So, Elizabeth, 19th Countess of Sutherland (Peerage of Scotland) grew up and married George Granville Leveson-Gower in 1785; he inherited the title of Marquess of Stafford from his father in 1803. He was made Duke of Sutherland in 1833 (Peerage of the United Kingdom).

Their son thus inherited the Earldom of Sutherland from his mother and the Dukedom of Sutherland from his father. The two titles continued united until the death of the fifth duke. The earldom then passed to his niece Elizabeth, who became the 24th Countess of Sutherland in 1921 (the heir apparent is her son).

So there you have it, the THREE suo jure Countesses of Sutherland.

 

 

 

Posted in History, Isobel Carr, Research | 1 Comment

Practical Research: Tablet Weaving, or, When Sandy Did Battle with an Ancient Craft

Hello everybody! Despite appearances, I haven’t actually fallen off the edges of the earth (wheee!); instead, I got a new day job at the beginning of the new year, and it’s taken me a while to get used to the new rhythm of my daily life.

What’s really exciting about this life with the new day job is that for the first time in my adult life, I actually have free weekends, which leaves me with enough time for all kinds of fun things.

Like a tablet weaving workshop.

(Tablet-what?!?)

It’s a really old technique for weaving ribbons and fabric borders. The oldest archaeological finds date to 900-800 BC, but murals found in Greece suggest that tablet weaving might even be older and might have been used to create ribbons as early as 1500 BC. Iron Age Celts certainly loved it, as did Germanic tribes and the Vikings later on. In Europe the craft continued to be popular until the 15th century, when it started to slowly disappear.

A collage of three pictures: one showing the empty loom with the balls of cotton thread lying next to it. The second showing the main gate of the Saalburg, a reconstructed Roman auxiliary fort. The third showing the loom with the warp threads running through the holes in the tablets.

“Tablet” in this context refers to flat pieces of bark, bone, stone, leather, horn, wood, or (more recently) cardboard into which holes have been drilled. Through these, the warp is threaded. When you then turn the tablets, different threads are lifted, and by using various colors for the warp, patterns are created.

Traditionally, the weavers would have tied one end of the warp around their belt and the other around a piece of furniture, a pole, or perhaps their own foot, but these days, small looms are available, which make the whole process a lot more comfortable.
If you ever manage to thread them, that is.

When I attended the aforementioned workshop, the threading of the dratted loom took me half a day, and at times, I was ready to give the whole thing up, go home, and have a good cry.

But once you have managed to thread the dratted thing, it is very easy to create simple patterns – though as a beginner you will inevitably struggle with tension, knobbly edges, and, worst of all, loose threads. And if you’re really lucky, you even manage to pull some of the warp threads off the loom! Hooray!

But all the trouble is worth it at the end: Not only can you create the most intricate patterns with tablet weaving, but the resulting ribbons are also very strong and sturdy. And who knows? While you’re weaving you might even make new friends as you and your neighbor commiserate over the tribulations with the tablets.

And this, really, was one of the main reasons for me to take the workshop: I wanted to explore an old craft that would have brought women together in the past. I find it fascinating to explore explore female communities – and as all crafters know, pattern swapping is a great way to strengthen communal bonds! 🙂

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It’s May

It’s May. It’s May. The lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray…

from Camelot, Lerner and Loewe

Happy May! I don’t know about the rest of you, but here in Virginia we finally have our beautiful May when the cherry blossoms flutter to the ground while the dogwood and azalea bloom. The trees have those bright green new leaves and the grass is thick.

No wonder May Day festivities are common in lots of places.

I’m revisiting an old blog posting of mine about May Day festivities in the UK. Here it is, slightly altered for today.

May Day festivities in the UK have their roots in the spring fertility festivals of the Celts and Anglo Saxons. And today villages and towns still celebrate with May Poles, May Queens, and Morris dancing.

May Day celebrations in the Regency were less popular, but festivals in some towns and villages continued to celebrate Spring and the beginning of Summer.

Here’s a blog on All Things Georgian about May Day in Georgian times.

May Day is also called Garland Day in some places, where children make garlands and use them to decorate various things and march in parades.

Bonfires are often a part of May Day celebrations. Edinburgh marks May Day with the Beltane Fire Festival including dancing and fire displays.

Other celebrations include jumping into water. At the University of St. Andrews, students run naked into the North Sea. In Oxford Magdalen College students leap from Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell.

Unfortunately we are a few days to late for another tradition. We ladies should have rushed out to our gardens on May Day and washed our faces with the morning dew. Folklore says that May dew has magical properties and will give you a beautiful complexion all year round.

Oh, darn!

Happy May, everyone!

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Appreciation, or How Princess Charlotte Saved My Life

If this were Regency times, I wouldn’t be putting my thoughts into writing today. Given the medical misfortunes I’ve suffered recently, I would be dead. Sobering, right? Let me tell you, right now my appreciation for a certain Regency doctor and his contributions to modern medicine is boundless. I’ll get to the part where Princess Charlotte fits in shortly. Bear with me!

Diane’s March 5th post about the Brontes and the ways disease decimated their family was a vivid reminder of how far modern medicine has come in the understanding, prevention and treatment of diseases. I am thanking God and the stars right now for the similar advancement in medical tools and techniques, and understanding of the human body. In particular (and also most appropriately in this year of 2018), I am grateful for Dr. James Blundell, who was so horrified by the frequent deaths of women from bleeding after childbirth that he managed to re-open the medical world to studying the possibilities of blood transfusions.

To really understand what he accomplished we need to briefly look back further. You see, medical researchers in the mid-1600’s had tried to investigate and study the idea of transferring blood to help save lives. Unfortunately, most of their results had been pretty disastrous. This led authorities in France (the Chamber of Deputies), England (the Royal Society of London), and even the Pope (Papal Edict of 1678) to formally prohibit any further experimentation or study on the transfusion of blood.

Fast forward 150 years, and enter our hero, Dr Blundell. Born in 1790, he became a prominent London obstetrician, studying under Sir Astley Cooper, known for his achievements in vascular surgery, and also under his uncle, Dr. John Haighton, focusing on midwifery and physiology. He attended the University of Edinburgh, obtaining his medical degree in 1813. He returned to London to begin his medical practice and was recognized as a lecturer with his uncle on the topics of physiology (1816) and midwifery (1817) at the combined schools of St. Thomas’ and Guy’s Hospital in London.

Post-partum hemorrhage was a common cause of death for women after childbirth and the lack of remedy for it horrified the young obstetrician, sources say. I believe it is no coincidence that Dr Blundell was moved to break the 150-year-old taboo on studying blood transfusion after such a much-loved and very public figure as Princess Charlotte died from post-partum hemorrhaging in November of 1817 while her physicians stood by helplessly.

With his star on the rise, at the age of 27, Blundell had perhaps both more to lose and more potential for success than more established physicians of the period. All in the following year, he performed the first known successful blood transfusion, using a husband as donor for his wife, published an important paper titled “Experiments on the Transfusion of Blood by the Syringe” and was named a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians.

Blundell modestly claimed he investigated the transfusion of blood “with a view of keeping this valuable option before the profession in the hope of adding something to the body of facts.” He performed 10 blood transfusions between 1825 and 1830, with a 50% success rate.

Throughout the Regency period and beyond, Dr Blundell continued to have a major impact on the field of medicine, and not just in the area of blood transfusions. Frustrated by the limited tools he had to work with, he devised new tools and methods, and his research also opened up new areas of study, particularly that of abdominal surgery. He became the sole lecturer on his topics at St. Thomas’ and Guy’s upon his uncle’s death in 1823. His lectures were collected and published in several versions during the 1830’s, culminating with “The Principles and Practices of Obstetricy as at Present Taught by Dr. James Blundell” (1834).

Two years later, however, the doctor had an “irreconcilable” dispute with the administration at Guy’s Hospital and retired from teaching at the age of 46. He did continue his private practice, and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1838.

The biography of Blundell by Stacy L. Adams at the Healio.com website has this to say about Blundell’s later life: “Often referred to as eccentric, in his later years Blundell had both interesting and unusual sleeping patterns. He rose midday and saw patients in his home in the afternoon hours. After dining he began a round of house calls as late as 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. He carried many books with him, which he read between calls by the interior light affixed to his carriage. Blundell retired in 1847 and moved to a large house in Piccadilly, London, where he lived in relative anonymity. He died on Jan. 15, 1878.”

Would Dr. James Blundell have been inspired and horrified enough to pursue his “forbidden” research in 1818 without the public tragedy of Princess Charlotte’s death? Who can say? I am eternally grateful that he did. When a “simple” surgical procedure I had at the beginning of March went horribly awry, I was able to have five blood transfusions over about as many days until my doctors were finally able to stop my internal bleeding. Without Blundell’s discoveries about many aspects of transfusion (which I’ve not gone into here), doctors who came after him would not have made the discoveries they did, including the typing of blood (c. 1900) or the importance of matching donor/patient blood types, or even the development of blood banks. Do you think Dr. Blundell could ever have imagined his work leading to anything like those?

I do want to give a shout out to all the people who donate blood to blood banks around the country. Are you a blood donor? What do you think about that? You never know when the life you save could be that of someone you know. Someone’s gift of blood saved me –along with all these other historical matters! If you are healthy and able to give blood, I hope each of you reading this post will consider donating the next time a blood drive happens in your area. Think of poor tragic Princess Charlotte and heroic Dr. James Blundell, forging ahead where no one dared to go for 150 years before him. Thank you!

Posted in History, Regency, Research | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

House Hunting!

She was busily searching through the neighbourhood for a proper situation for her daughter, and, without knowing or considering what their income might be, rejected many as deficient in size and importance.

“Haye Park might do,” said she, “if the Gouldings would quit it — or the great house at Stoke, if the drawing-room were larger; but Ashworth is too far off! I could not bear to have her ten miles from me; and as for Purvis Lodge, the attics are dreadful.”

For the past few months, I’ve been busy selling my current house and looking for a new home, and like Mrs. Bennet in the quote above from Pride and Prejudice, I have been thinking about locations and room sizes. If I were as unrealistic about my means, I might also be dreaming of a stately home in England. Googling around, I found this list of stately homes for sale at the Telegraph: “Buy Your Own Downton Abbey” (I couldn’t find a date for this, but if you’re in the market for a stately home, I guess you could inquire!)

I rather like Mynde Park Estate, in Herefordshire, parts of which date from the 11th to the 18th century. Can’t you just picture coming up this drive in an elegant carriage?

By Roger Cornfoot, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67645180

Langham Hall, in Norfolk, is also very pretty. And it has an orangery!

By Bob Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14339309

Since I am not, in fact, as unrealistic as Mrs. Bennet, I managed to find a nice house within my budget. Although the wheels are still turning on both house sales, it looks like this will be my new home. Although it does not boast an orangery, it does have a cute porch!

Have you had any interesting experiences house hunting?  What would be your fantasy home?

Elena, hoping to get back to writing soon!

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It’s Been A While So Let’s Catch Up!

Hello there. Carolyn Jewel here. I am cautiously hopeful that I’ll be able to post here  regularly now that my life is less hectic than it has been for the last couple of years. Since it’s been a while, let’s catch up!

My son officially graduates from college at the end of this week (March 23, 2018) and starts a full time job next week. Cue the happy dancing! Oddly, I am finding ways to stress about this.

I’m almost caught up on a long-standing sleep deficit. It’s scary how you can “adjust” to this and then scarier when you realize how you hadn’t really adjusted at all…

I’ve been making friends with Freddie, my sister’s macaw. I’ve written a few posts about this very interesting and rewarding process over at my blog: Making Friends with Freddie

It’s good to be back. I’ve missed being here.

Before I get into the writing-related information, what have you been up to? Let me know in the comments.

Writing

I did manage to publish some historical stories while I was working on keeping my head above water.

In the last quarter of 2017 I put out Surrender to Ruin, Book 3 in my Sinclair Sisters series.

Image is of a super hot Regency era gentleman who looks like he wants you. Right now.
Cover of Surrender to Ruin

The first two books are Lord Ruin, and A Notorious Ruin.

iBooks | Amazon | cJewel Books | Google Play | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords | Print

I also published  The Viscount’s First Kiss, a historical novella in the anthology How To Find a Duke in Ten Days.

 

A Duke is standing to the side with a ducal estate in the background. He looks a but smug, as would I if I were a duke
Cover of How To Find A Duke in Ten Days

You can get the anthology at the links below. My novella will be available as a standalone story sometime next week. The anthology has stories by Grace Burrowes and Shana Galen. Our stories all feature the search for a possibly mythical ancient manuscript.

iBooks | Amazon | Google Play | B&N | Kobo | Print

I also got reversions for Not Wicked Enough and, in a bit of a surprise very recently, Not Proper Enough.

A blonde Regency lady looking a bit sassy. As is proper.
Cover of Not Proper Enough

iBooks | Amazon | cJewel Books | Google Play | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords | Print

This is of interest (I hope) mostly to US and Canadian readers. Berkley Books had North American rights so I have long had both books out everywhere else. Now all the versions are the same.

In case anyone made it all the way down here, THANKS!

What have YOU been up to? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments