Friday, October 11, 2013


In 1851, the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations opened in London. Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was a driving force behind this spectacular display of machinery, inventions and products from around the world. The purpose was to showcase Britain's role as the foremost industrialized nation of the world, and it was a huge hit.  A third of the British population, over 6 million people, viewed the exhibition. The proceeds were used to establish the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The event was held in a purpose-built building, the Chrystal Palace.

Made of iron and glass, the building was 1851 feet long, 454 feet wide, and contained almost one million square feet of space. It was remarkably modern in design and was a real feat of engineering.  Sadly, it burned in 1936.

Now, the Crystal Palace will rise again.  This is wonderful news for Victorian enthusiasts.  Can't wait to see it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Insanely Prolific"

That would be Peter Ackroyd, one of my favorite authors, who is 63 and has written 50 books.  And he does it all while drinking two bottles of wine every day of the week.

(Photo from the New York Times)

Not only is he prolific, he's versatile, writing history, biography and fiction.  His books aren't short or superficial, either.  His biography of Dickens checks in at 1,000 pages.  He's written great books on the history of London (which I try to read before every trip to that city), the river Thames, and is now at work on a history of England, projected to be six volumes.  My favorite book is Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination.  It's just what the subtitle suggests:  a history of all the things which have influenced British painters, musicians and writers. There are chapters on trees, rain, hills, the sea, and faith.  It's both enchanting and erudite.  

I was reminded of how much I love Ackroyd's work by this article, which appeared a few weeks ago in the NY Times magazine.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm Always the Last to Know

I don't cook, knit, scrapbook or decorate the house for Halloween, so it's no surprise that Susan Branch has never appeared on my radar.  I'm more likely to think of knitting needles as murder weapons, thanks to the hundreds of mysteries I've read over the years. I stumbled on this artist/writer/blogger/entrepreneur by accident.  Scrolling through the latest additions to my local library, I came across A Fine Romance, the diary of her recent trip to England. I checked it out.  Now I'm hooked.

I have a confession to make.  I'm a complete anglophile.  Thanks to my Grandma Pal's shelf full of Agatha Christie's books, I was an early convert to tea, sherry with the vicar and English country houses.  I may live in a contemporary-style house with contemporary furniture, but in my heart of hearts I yearn for a garden like this

outside a cottage like this

where I drink tea from a cup and saucer like this

I think you get the picture.  Back to Susan Branch.  When I'm feeling the need for something sweet and charming, I'll be visiting her blog.  It's a quick fix when I want to feel safe and cozy, and it's a wonderful antidote to all the negativity and vitriol emanating from our nation's capitol right now. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Invention of Murder

Some of the best social histories of the Victorian era are written by Judith Flanders, a British historian and journalist.  My library just acquired The Invention of Murder:  How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime.  

I've read a quarter of the book and can tell you it's meticulously researched and engagingly written. I've uncovered a few nuggets.

When the first police force was created in London, its members were given blue uniforms to accentuate that the force was not connected to the military (who wore red, as I imagine most of you know).  Soldiers were considered to be of low character and far too accustomed to violent death.

The current style of helmet worn by London bobbies was introduced in 1864.

Ever heard the expression "to read someone the riot act?"  The Riot Act of 1715 permitted "tumultuous and riotous assemblies" to be broken up with force only after the Act had been read aloud and a one hour period had expired.

The media hype surrounding the trials of O.J., Jodi Arias, and George Zimmerman, to name just a few, isn't a recent development.  Victorian era newspapers issued special editions covering famous trials, stage plays were introduced before the trials had even begun, and the public had a ravenous appetite for ghoulish detail.  The body of one murderer was publicly displayed after his execution - 30,000 filed by to have a look.  Fascinating stuff.  You can visit the author's website here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

You Always Find the Good Stuff...

after you've finished writing your story.  I was looking around on the internet, searching for some interesting tidbits to post about in the runup to the release of India Black and the City of Light, when I stumbled upon Victorian Paris.  Parisian whores!  Parisian food!  Parisian sewers!

And don't forget, City of Light is available tomorrow, October 1st.

Friday, September 27, 2013


India indulges herself with thoughts of chocolate and pastries at one of Paris's patisseries.  Alas, she's destined not to have any treats while she's in Paris.

"La Patisserie" by Jean Beraud (1889).  Yes, I know there's a diacritical mark missing from his name.  There's one missing from "Eugenie" in an earlier post, as well.  I confess, I'm too lazy to putter around until I figure out how to add it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Great Game

India Black and the City of Light is set against the backdrop of the "Great Game" between Russia and Great Britain.  For nearly a hundred years, from approximately 1813-1907, the Brits and the Russkis conducted a contest to see who would be master of Central Asia.  The Brits wanted to protect India (the country, that is, not our heroine) from Russian advances, and so spent a significant amount of time bribing the tribes living north and west of the colony to stay loyal to Britain.  When that didn't work, Britain brought out the guns.

For their part, the Russians kept probing south and east toward India.  The two never came to blows, but the Russians devoted quite a bit of time to poking Britain and watching the folks in London and Delhi jump.

French is off to Paris to exchange a Russian spy for a British agent, who has been picked up by the Russians while spying on their military in a Central Asian country.  India gets to play a small role in the Great Game.

The Great Game is the subject of one of the finest novels of espionage ever written:  Kim, by Rudyard Kipling.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Les Egouts de Paris

Did you know that you can take a tour of the sewers of Paris?  India takes one in the forthcoming India Black and the City of Light, but she doesn't pay for the privilege.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


While she's in Paris, India wants to stop by the House of Guerlain (est. 1828) for some perfume.  She will likely select the Eau de Cologne Imperiale, which was created for the Empress Eugenie in 1853.  It sounds quite nice, with its "rich lime and lime flower notes" (per Wikipedia).

Guerlain is still in business today, with thirteen locations in Paris, including their famous shop (pictured above) at 68, Champs Elysees, opened in 1914.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

City of Light

Ahem.  I was looking at my calendar the other day and realized that my digital short India Black in the City of Light will be available on October 4th, which is a few short days away.  The "City of Light" is, of course, Paris, where the story is set.  French is on his way to the city to exchange a Russian spy for a British agent, and India inserts herself into the assignment.  Much of the action takes place on Montmartre, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

It's beautiful today, but at the time of the story it was just under construction.  Here's what the site looked like when India and French were there.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Victorian Oddities

Can I interest you in a few desktop accessories?  How about this?

Or this?

Or perhaps your taste runs to this?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This is Creepy

A few idle pecks on the computer, and I found myself looking at this:

This is one of several photos from an article about the "Strangest Tradition" of the Victorian era:  postmortem photography.  You can read the whole thing here, if you're so inclined.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writers' Rooms

I never get tired of looking at the rooms where writers work.  An example below (photo from the NY Times).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Agatha Christie Rides Again

British author Sophie Hannah will be writing a new Hercule Poirot mystery.  The Christie literary estate is owned and managed by her grandson Matthew Prichard and he has granted permission to use the famous character.  I'll be reading this to see just how Hannah handles the material.  I'd be completely intimidated at the thought of carrying on Christie's legacy.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Library Journal

The Library Journal just did an article about the popularity of fiction set in the Victorian era, and India rated a recommendation from this esteemed journal.  It's particularly flattering to get a mention in the same paragraph as Tasha Alexander and Louis Bayard.

"David Morrell’s newest thriller, Murder as a Fine Art , works as a fine introduction to Victoriana for newbies. It weaves in distinctly 19th-century elements but is as accessible as any Dan Brown title. Do try these as well: Caro Peacock, aka Gillian Linscott (the Liberty Lane series), Philip Gooden (the Thomas Ansell series), Tasha Alexander (the Lady Emily Ashton series), Alex Grecian ( The Yard The Black Country ), Gyles Brandreth (the Oscar Wilde series), Charles Finch (the Charles Lenox series), Carol Carr (the India Black series), Louis Bayard ( Mr. Timothy ), Sally Spencer (the Inspector Sam Blackstone series), and Edward Marston (the Railway Detective series). Outside the box is Tabish Khair’s The Thing About Thugs, which sets an Indian protagonist in Victorian London. And doing her bit for cross blending, Joanna Campbell Slan has two hot titles in her new Jane Eyre series."

Monday, September 2, 2013


I've read a lot about the Victorian era over the years, so I'm familiar with most of the events and personalities from that age.  But every time I write one of the India novels, I have to bone up on certain specific topics.  A good starting point is this website, which has a wealth of material available.

The internet in general is a great source of information.  I can't believe how much material has been uploaded in the last ten years.  It takes my breath away.  Who knew you'd be able to find pictures of Victorian-era bombs and directions on how to make them?  Or photos of India's Webley Bulldog revolver?  Or the rate at which horses and carriages could travel?  It's a cornucopia of data you probably don't need to know, but it sure is fun reading this stuff.  Sometimes, it's too much fun.  I have to remind myself that all good research must come to an end and the writing has to begin.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Penny Farthing

Here's a gent from India's era, with his penny farthing bicycle:

I feel the urge to get India up on one of these.  Per Wikipedia, the name comes from the British coins 'penny' and 'farthing' (duh).  From the side, the bicycle looks like a penny leading a farthing.  

You'd think these are just a quaint reminder of our past, but some people still dig 'em.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Work, Work, Work

I've been doing quite a bit of that lately.  TC and I have decided to do all the maintenance projects around the house that we have put off for five years.  That's bad enough, but the people who lived here before us did nothing around here, so we have their maintenance to do, as well.  This week, I have used a cool product called "Howard's" which makes oak cabinets and trim look brand new.  I've done the stairs and the kitchen cabinets.  We've painted one bathroom and we've prepped a second for painting.

In the middle of this burst of domesticity, I took a day off to visit my mother.  I've also written 8,000 words this week.  And I've edited the digital novella India Black in the City of Light.  That was an easy task; I seem to have done a rather thorough job of cleaning up the ms before sending it off to my publisher last May.  I did have to remind the copy editor that in previous India stories we have used "Bulldog" rather than "Bull Dog" for India's revolver.  Either seems to be correct, but for the sake of consistency, we should stick with one.  And to my horror I discovered that I had used the word "memorandums."  Sheesh.  What was I thinking?

Next week:  At least 10,000 words, paint the second bathroom, prep TC's office for painting.  Yikes.

This picture is a total fake.  It would be more realistic if they were covered in paint and shouting at each other.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Master Gone

Another of the greats has passed.  It was announced today that Elmore Leonard has died, aged 87.

He was a prolific author and an exceptional prose stylist.  If you're a writer, it's worth revisiting his "10 Rules for Writing" on a frequent basis.

Monday, August 19, 2013

India vs. Carol: Who is Smarter?'

Apparently, India.  From HuffPo, this article says:

"Our technology may be getting smarter, but a provocative new study suggests human intelligence is on the decline. In fact, it indicates that "Westerners have lost 14 I.Q. points on average since the Victorian Era."

And the reason for this:

"...the fact that women of high intelligence tend to have fewer children than do women of lower intelligence." 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Writers Being Honest

I had high expectations when I heard about this article.  Unfortunately, the quotes from various writers were not nearly as funny as I had hoped, with the exception of this one:

"I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries."

Stephen King

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back Problems

I used to have them, until I bought a small recliner and put it in my office.  Now I sit in the chair and write on my laptop.  I look like this:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Interesting Women: Kate Field

I have a confession:  I don't relate well to feminists.  Far too much time is spent on trying to shame men into behaving differently.  Imagine the results if that much energy was devoted to realizing one's potential.  That's why I'm drawn to women like Kate Field, actress, writer, journalist and world traveler.  And she did it all during the Victorian Age.  Bravo, Kate!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Elizabeth Peters

Sad news today:  Barbara Mertz has died.  

Under the name of Elizabeth Peters she wrote one of my favorite historical mystery series.  I adore her Amelia Peabody novels.  The Vicky Bliss series is also very good.  She was a real titan in the field.  I always feel sad when a writer I have read and enjoyed for years departs this earth.  I'll miss her.

Burlesque, Anyone?

I don't know much about burlesque, except that in comparison to today's versions of adult entertainment, it seems downright tame.  One of burlesque's most notable women has died, and garnered a spot on the Telegraph's obituary page.  R.I.P., Dixie Evans.

Monday, August 5, 2013

That Dizzy

A new biography of Benjamin Disraeli, India's friend and employer, has just been published.

Dizzy was quite the character.  Here's what the reviewer in The Economist has to say about him:  An admirer of Byron, he became a romantic and a dandy.  He wore velvet coats and silk stockings and sashes and ribbons.  He partied hard and became indebted; in 1840 he owed 20,000 pounds, around $3,000,000 today.

It's hard to invent characters this colorful, and who needs to when Dizzy is at hand?

Friday, August 2, 2013

India in Paris

  The cover art for India Black in the City of Light has been added to the Amazon page.  Here 'tis:

Sorry, I don't have a high resolution image.  As the post's title indicates, this short story is set in Paris, with French and India exchanging a Russian spy for one of Britain's.  It's a standalone, so there's no need to read it before the fourth book. 

If you've purchased India Black and the Rajah's Ruby, you may want to refresh your memory by reading it before The Gentleman Thief comes out in February.  Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mainstream Media (Sigh)

I've pretty well given up on getting accurate, factual reporting from mainstream media, and that view has nothing to do with my politics.  I always thought that the criteria for being a serious journalist included the ability to fact-check and superior communication skills, but that's all changed now.  A college degree is not even required (I'm looking at you, Scott Pelley).

Speaking of Scott, I was watching the CBS Evening News on the night the Royal Infant's name was announced.  Pelley informed us that the child would bear the name of George Alexander Louis:  George in honor of the many British monarchs of that name, Louis for Louis Mountbatten, the Earl of Burma and the grand-uncle of the current Prince of Wales. and Alexander, as there have been three kings of Scotland of that name.  Okay, we're doing fine.  The information is correct.

But as Pelley is educating us on Scottish Kings, a graphic appears on the screen.  It's a portrait of Alexander

...the Great.

You know, the guy from Macedonia.  He's even got a laurel wreath around his head.  I kid you not.  Somewhere, a lot of real journalists are turning over in their graves.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rip Van Winkle Here

Hello?  Anyone out there?  It seems I was gone much longer than anticipated.  If you're wondering what's happening with India and French, I've completed the second India short story.  India Black in the City of Light is available now for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  The release date is October 1st.

The fourth novel in the series, India Black and the Gentleman Thief, is also available for pre-order.  Here's the cover:

Yes, I know.  Another headless woman.  Do you know why publishers do that?  They use models for these figures, and they don't want too many books with the same woman on the cover showing up under their imprint.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Taking a Break

I'm taking a break from the blog for awhile, as I deal with a few projects.  I'll catch up with you soon.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's Wednesday - Have an Interview

Head on over to Mysteries and My Musings for an interview with moi.  Ariel asked some great questions and I attempted to answer them.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Interesting Lives

Years ago I heard Garrison Keillor bemoaning the banality of American life.  "All you need to know about someone is that they live down the street from a Blockbuster's, eat at McDonald's and watch the Super Bowl."  At least it went something like that.  To be truthful, all I can remember is the part about Blockbuster's, which is amusing since that commercial enterprise is now just a memory.  In a way, I admire people who are satisfied staying in the same job for three decades or the same town for their entire lives.  That's just not me.  I suppose I get bored too easily.  I like change and travel and new hobbies.  I'm fascinated by people who stepped up to the plate and swung for the fence, whether they struck out or hit a homer.  Here's an obit for Barney Conrad, described as "novelist, diplomat, club owner who hung out with Sinatra and was gored by a bull in Spain."  What a life!

And yes, I do read a lot of obituaries.  I don't think it's unhealthy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Enthused, But Depressed

The disadvantage to writing is that frequently you stumble upon a writer so good you want to buy back all the copies of your own books and burn them.  I just read Gillian Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects, and could not believe the confidence and skill she exhibits.

It's a creepy novel which gives new meaning to the phrase "dysfunctional family," and it may not be everyone's cup of tea. I could quibble about a few plot points, but gosh, what a riveting, searing read it is.  And isn't it odd that you can always spot the flaws in other people's work but not your own? Anyway, the writing is the thing here, and it's superb.

I picked up the book because Flynn is getting lots of buzz (her third and latest novel, Gone Girl, has been optioned by 20th Century Fox) and because she's a Missouri girl, though she's deserted us for Chicago.

Check out her work, if you don't mind reading with your stomach clenched in a knot and an overwhelming sense of dread.  Here's a link to her website.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Last Angel

Mildred Manning, the last angel, has died at age 98. 

She was believed to be the remaining survivor of a group of 77 military nurses captured by the Japanese when the Philippine fortress of Corregidor fell in May, 1942.  She spent the remainder of the war in a Japanese POW camp, under appalling conditions.  She and her fellow nurses were the subjects of a book by Elizabeth M. Norman, entitled We Band of Angels.  Mrs Manning was another extraordinary woman.  May she rest in peace.  Her picture and the obituary are from the The New York Times.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thick Ed

I love getting feedback from readers, and learning what they like and dislike about my novels.  In this case, it's one of the minor characters from Shadows of Anarchy, an anarchist named Thick Ed.  I'm partial to Ed, which may sound odd.  Surely a writer likes all her characters?  Not true.  I like some, I'm ambivalent about others, and some I love.  I'm always interested in knowing which characters strike a chord with readers.  Anyway, here's a link to the review, which is very complimentary and thus made my day.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Tease

My thanks to Kimberlee over at Girl Lost in a Book for such a positive review of Shadows of Anarchy, which you can read here.  Also, Freda had nice things to say, although she's ready for the tease to be over.  What's the tease?  The sexual tension between French and India.  I talked about how difficult it is to know when to stop teasing and have the characters get down to business in this guest post.  Now I know what Freda thinks!  The rest of you are free to chime in with your thoughts.  All feedback welcome.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Couple of Reviews

A couple of reviews for your reading pleasure.  I definitely got some pleasure from them, as they are both very generous in their assessment of India's latest adventure.  Here is Jo's view of Shadows of Anarchy at her blog, "Fluidity of Time."  And Carol of "Carol's Notebook" has posted her take on the book here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Barnes & Noble, Again

More news about B & N.  The founder and current chairman, Leonard Riggio, has announced plans to buy back the retail portion of the business.  He only wants the brick and mortar stores, not the Nook e-reader division.  Nook lost $262 million dollars in 2012, and 2013 losses are expected to exceed this amount.  Nook and other e-readers are losing market share to iPad, other tablets, and smart phones.  There is much conjecture in the book world that e-readers are well on their way to becoming a thing of the past.  That was a short life!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review, Guest Post, and Whimsy

Yesterday I visited Lori's blog and discussed the challenges of writing a series.  You can read about it here, and don't forget to sign up for the giveaway at the end of the post.  Free India!

Dee De Tarsio, my hilariously funny friend and fellow author has posted a review of Shadows of Anarchy.

Thanks to both Dee and Lori for featuring India on their blogs.

A winter storm is engulfing the Ozarks today.  I'm watching the ice build up on the tree limbs and wondering how much longer we have until the power goes off.  We've a generator in reserve, though, having learned our lesson in the Great Ice Storm of 2007, when some people lost power for weeks. Now if we can just operate it without asphyxiating ourselves, we'll be in business.

And finally, here's a bit of whimsy for your weekend.  This cracks me up.  I laughed even louder when I saw that these guys also do a cover of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cognitive Dissonance

I've been experiencing some cognitive dissonance lately.  It's Barbara Pym's centenary this year and I decided to re-read all her novels.

If you haven't made her acquaintance, do so now.  Here's the Wikipedia entry about her life, and a link to the Barbara Pym Society of North America.  I can't praise her enough.  She wrote of very small worlds, examining the daily existence of spinsters, clergymen and anthropologists in exquisite detail.  Philip Larkin considered her one of the most underrated novelists of the 21st century, akin to a modern day Jane Austen.  I concur.  When I finish one of her books I want to drink tea (preferably with a vicar), have a boiled egg for supper, attend church, and learn to knit.

Why the cognitive dissonance?  Well, I don't want to read all of Pym's works in one go.  Each book is short, less than 300 words, and often around 200-250 words in length.  I like to savor them.  So I intersperse them with something as completely unlike Pym as I can find, which means Lee Child.

That's right, the Jack Reacher series.  There's no subtlety to a Reacher novel.  He's a drifter who winds up in the some of the unlikeliest places in America - small town Georgia, rural South Dakota - where he finds trouble with a capital "T" and proceeds to solve it with knives, guns and fists.  He's the strong, silent type and his character has not changed one iota from book #1 to the current release.  I confess I can't read these fast enough.  Child has a gift for simple direct language that moves the plot along faster than a speeding bullet (did I really say that?).  Well, it's true.  You may quibble with some of the logic, but you can't fight the torrent.  Just let the plot sweep you along and enjoy the ride.  When I finish one of his books I want to drink strong coffee, take a martial arts class, eat bacon and eggs, and travel without a suitcase.

You can visit Child's website here.  Needless to say, I do not own either of the pictures contained in this post.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend Miscellany

  • On Saturday night, the local news covered an event sponsored by "The Show-Me Clowns for Jesus." Seriously.  What a great title for a short story.  In the horror genre, of course.
  • For those of you who don't know, the nickname of Missouri is the "Show-Me State."  Versions of the origin vary, but it either means that we are stubborn skeptics who require proof of everything, or it originated in the mines of Colorado.  During a strike many workers were imported from Misouri, but most had no experience as miners.  Hence they had to say "show me" whenever they were told to do something.  I prefer the former explanation.
  • Our bird feeders have been a huge hit this year.  You can't go outside without the bluejays and red-bellied woodpeckers chattering at you to hurry up and go back inside so they can get back to the dinner table.  I find myself leafing through a bird book to prove that it is a white-breasted nuthatch outside the window and NOT a dark-eyed junco.  Is this a sign of age?
  • I took my mom to visit her new great-granddaughter.  She's adorable, but she's going to have to be a special child to outdo her older sister, who will be three next month and is adorable and quirky.  She handed Mom a photo of the baby and said, "Here, Your Majesty.  Take that home."  
  • We put a man on the moon almost fifty years ago, and we still couldn't figure out how to get those people off that boat?
  • Poor Marco Rubio.  Dry mouth, sweat, and drinking water on national television.  All the smart people on TV (and they have to be smart to be on the tube, don't they?) say his political career is finished.
  • Zero progress on the second India short story.  I just have too much time to do it.  It's not due until the end of May and consequently I am not in panic mode yet.  Hoping this will kick in soon.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

New Baby

What could be better than your latest book being published?  A new great niece, born today.  Her older sister has been waiting eagerly for this addition to the family.  We'll see how long that lasts.  Here's a lullaby for them both.

One More Time

I hate to admit to this, but every 3-4 days I google India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy to see if anyone is posting about my latest authorial effort.  And lo, today I discovered a new reader and a fabulous review.  Indulge me one more time and read this.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Another Perspective on Shadows of Anarchy

This one is from Jerelyn and the good folk at Paperback Swap.  If you haven't checked out this blog, it's well worth your time.  Thanks for the buzz, Jerelyn!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Party Time!

Time to break out the champagne-India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy appears tomorrow, the fifth of February.  That's the official publication date, though I wouldn't be surprised if you can't buy it now, as "official publication date" seems to mean "somewhere around the fifth of February."  I will be enjoying a suitable celebration to mark the date.  My, how times have changed.  Below on the left we see a Victorian couple pushing the boundaries of good taste, and on the right-well, I guess that's how the youngsters do it now.


Friday, February 1, 2013

4.5 Stars

That's what the reviewer at RT Book Reviews awarded India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy.  You can read the review here.  And I'm going to have to start referring to this book as Shadows, because typing the entire name is a drag.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First Review of Shadows of Anarchy

Copies of India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy have gone out to reviewers and I'll be waiting anxiously to see how it's received.  Luckily, Bev at My Reader's Block has relieved some of my anxiety with a favorable (and very kind) review.  Thanks, Bev.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Love Romances and More Review

I had a nice weekend, catching up on some reading and thinking about the next India eSpecial, which is due to the publisher at the end of May and will be published before the release of the fourth book in the series.  In the meantime, you can read a review here of the first eSpecial, India Black and the Rajah's Ruby.  Thanks for such a lovely write-up, Dawn.

Friday, January 25, 2013

India visits the U.K., Despite the Weather

Here's a review of India Black and the Rajah's Ruby, all the way from snowy England and the blog of my near namesake, Carol K.  Actually, I'm a little envious of all that snow.  It's supposed to be 68 degrees here on Tuesday.  January:  you're doing it wrong.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rajah's Ruby Giveaway

If you'd like a chance to receive a digital copy of India Black and the Rajah's Ruby, head over to Audra's blog.  She's giving one away to a lucky reader.  And while you're throwing your name in the hat, you can read Audra's very kind review of the prequel to the novels.

Monday, January 21, 2013

No Silent Night

I don't know about you, but Christmas always prompts me to do some very specific reading.  No, I don't re-read A Christmas Carol or The Gift of the Magi.  I read a history book and always about the same subject:  the European theater during WWII.  If the book is about the Battle of the Bulge, which took place around Christmas, 1944, so much the better.  During the holiday season, Hitler made a last, desperate attempt to stop the Allied advance into Germany by launching an attack against the American line.  The weather was brutal, the fighting was hard.  The tiny Belgian village of Bastogne was vital to German success, and the Americans rushed the 101st Airborne Division there just before the Germans encircled the place, trapping the famous "Screaming Eagles" for several days.

You may vaguely remember General Anthony McAuliffe's reply to the German demand to surrender as it's one of the legendary communications of the war.  "Nuts," he said, which I suspect puzzled the Germans who wondered about the sanity of an American commander who would demand snacks at such a time.  The messenger who delivered McAuliffe's reply assisted in the translation by helpfully explaining that "nuts" meant the same as "go to hell."  An even better example of the 101st's fighting spirit is the response of one of the paratroopers when he was told that the Germans had cut off all retreat:  "So they've got us surrounded.  Poor bastards."

This year I read No Silent Night: The Christmas Battle for Bastogne, by Leo Barron and Don Cygan.

It's a battle history and the general reader may find the description of various units and their movements a bit too detailed, but the book superbly recounts the emotions and experiences of the men, both German and American, who fought at Bastogne.

Why do I read this sort of thing around the holidays?  My best friend's dad participated in the Battle of the Bulge, and when the weather turned cold and the Christmas lights went up around our little town, Grant would remember the misery of Christmas, 1944.  It made a deep impression on me and connected me to a place and time and to men I would never meet in such a profound way that I've never lost interest in the topic.  Sadly, Grant has passed on.  I think he'd be surprised at the legacy he left with me.

Friday, January 18, 2013


I've been absent from the blogosphere this week as I caught up with a few chores around the house.  I'm happy to be back, especially since I can post this link to a terrific review of The Rajah's Ruby at Passages to the Past.  The ladies there are sponsoring a giveaway, so head over if you'd like a chance at a free copy of the Especial.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why I Won't Be Seeing The Movie

It was 66 degrees here on Friday and I spent the afternoon on the porch reading One Shot by Lee Child.  This book is the basis for the new movie "Jack Reacher," starring Tom Cruise as Child's 6'4", 250 pound hero.  Fans of the books were livid when the considerably shorter Cruise was cast as Reacher.  I had entertained thoughts about seeing the movie as I'm a fan of Child's series, but then the film got wretched reviews and I remembered that I have never really liked Tom Cruise and it would probably be best if I just read the book and stayed away from the movie.

I don't actually go to many movies featuring Cruise as I have a hard time detecting any acting by him when I do.  I just can't seem to look at him onscreen without thinking to myself, "That's Tom Cruise up there, pretending to be somebody else."  I did see "Valkyrie," on TV, and of course found myself thinking, "That's Tom Cruise up there, with an eyepatch this time, pretending to be somebody else."

One final note about Cruise.  I remember watching an interview with Christian Bale when the movie "American Psycho" came out.  Bale said he'd based his character, a smarmy smirking yuppy serial killer, on Cruise's persona.  I still laugh when I think about that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Last spring I posted a review of Maureen Sarsfield's novel Murder at Shot's Hall, which had been published in England under the title, Green December Grows the Graveyard. I preferred the English title but was puzzled by it.  Was it a line from a poem?  A country saying?  I searched the internet but found nothing.

And then last night I was finishing Barbara Pym's Some Tame Gazelle and ran across the following bit of dialogue among three characters, who were discussing the approach of Christmas:

"Yes, on Tuesday," said the curate.  "I can hardly believe it myself, the weather's so mild."

"They say a green Christmas means a full churchyard," declared Harriet with satisfaction.  "I dare say some old people will be taken."

"Taken?"  The curate looked puzzled.  "Ay, yes, I see.  I suppose we must expect that."

They were silent for a moment, until Belinda, not liking to see his young face clouded over, said, "I really can't think of any old people who are likely to die at the moment."

Mystery solved.  Obviously, a bit of English folklore.  I do like tidying up loose ends.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

An Exceptional Woman

Beate Sirota Gordon has just died.  

She was one of those amazing women who flew under the radar and only in the late years of her life received the accolades she deserved.  What did she do?  As a 22 year old member of MacArthur's staff in post-war Japan, she drafted a provision of the new Japanese constitution enshrining rights for women for the first time.  Read her amazing story here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So Far, So Good

I'm encouraged by the nice reviews of India Black and the Rajah's Ruby that I've been receiving.  I've written a grand total of four short stories in my life, with The Rajah's Ruby being the fourth.  I wasn't sure how successful I'd be at this sort of writing, so I'm pleased that the response has been positive.  Of course, there's no resting on laurels around here.  I've got to get cracking on the second India short story, which is due to the editor in May.  Do I have a name?  A plot?  The glimmer of an idea?  Nope.  I shall seek inspiration in the refrigerator, just as soon as I finish this post.

In the meantime, my thanks to Carol at Carol's Notebook, who gave the short story a terrific review which you can read here.

My appreciation also goes to Lori at Escape with Dollycas, who posted her favorable impressions here.

And a special thank you to Nancy at Romance Bandits, who added India Black to her list of favorite new books.