Well, July certainly has been a memorable month! At my age and after my life it’s not often something happens to you – twice! – that has never happened before! I’ll tell you about my August releases (THREE of them, and they’re really nifty!) in a just a second, but I have to tell you about my adventures in Virginia and Arkansas.
Early in the month The Husband and I took a Hood’s Brigade tour of Confederate battlefields and cemeteries around Richmond, VA. It was fascinating – both places are so peaceful and beautiful – if much too hot! We toured the wonderful museum of the Confederate White House, a Victorianist’s dream. It was incredible, even if the multiple flights of stairs (my bête noir) were narrow and steep. One thing we did not do was drive down Monument Ave. I saw it once when all the wonderful statuary was in its proper place, and the thought of seeing it naked and ruined after the accursed vandals destroyed all that glorious art was just too obscene.
Something funny – one of our tour guides, a Civil War expert and former Army officer, also knew my dear friend Zahi Hawass! We had a lovely discussion about Zahi and his contributions to Egyptology… right in the middle of a Confederate cemetery! I thought that amusing, as well as proof of how small the world is.
We flew home on a Thursday, arriving after 7 pm (do I really need to tell you how flying commercial is Not Fun At All?) and at 9 am the next morning we were on our way to Murfreesboro, where Penny Richards, my dear friend and fellow blogger on Make Mine Mystery, invited me up to speak to her writers’ group, the Diamond Writers Association. The Husband was delighted, because Murfreesboro is home to the Crater of Diamonds state park, where you can go dig for diamonds. Now I know several jewelry stores here where lovely tame diamonds nest, but he wanted to stalk them in the wild, so…
Anyway, the workshop went fine – such lovely ladies! – and we were looking forward to the next day, but that night what I call the Arkansas Hurricane hit. It started about 10.30 in the evening and went until the wee hours. Rain so hard it was horizontal. A lightning strike in the field beyond the fence. Flooding at the bottom of the hill. Enormous branches and trees down. Needless to say we didn’t go diamonding – the mine is not a hole in the ground, but a huge bare ploughed field. That rain would have turned it into a rice paddy. We are going back, though! (I do want some diamonds!) When it isn’t so hot though, nor so prone to storms.
Then it was home for a week or so, and off (driving this time, thank goodness) to Hot Springs, AR for the National Reunion of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. We stayed in the venerable and elegant old Arlington hotel, one of my longtime dreams. There had been no special tours or anything designed for the wives, so I took my travel computer and worked in our room… got a surprising amount done on the new book, too! Of course, I also walked the main street and did some shopping… I’ll always find shopping! Bought a beautiful white straw fedora-style hat with a red Greek-key design, since I wear so much white and red.
And there’s where things started happening. One afternoon between floors 2 and 3 the elevator simply stopped. The panel lights went blank and we didn’t move. I have never been stuck in an elevator before, and it is not a comfortable experience! After a short time it bounced a time or two (not good for the nerves!) and proceeded to the 3rd floor, where the doors opened sweetly and we all dashed off. I reported it, of course, and thought no more about it.
Then the night of the Grand Ball we were going back upstairs and the same elevator (the middle one of three, if you’re interested) stopped, once again between the 2nd and 3rd floor. And did not start again. Between the Southern band in the ballroom and the jazz band (which was much too loud) in the lobby, no one could hear our screams for help. After a minute or two everyone in the elevator tried to call the desk or 911, but though there were six or seven of us no calls went through – except for one woman, who had a strange kind of phone I had never heard of. It rang the desk, and the clerk in a remarkably bored voice said he would take care of it. In another minute or two the panel lights came on and a few seconds later the doors opened – except we were now on the 11th floor! Needless to say, we all jumped out and about half the passengers decided to walk down. If I had tried to walk down 11 flights, I’d still be on my way down, so we waited for another elevator and got to our floor without further incident. These two were the first times I had ever been stuck in an elevator and I don’t want to repeat it!
After the reunion was over, we went up to Fayetteville to visit the famed actress Sally Bondi, my dear and darling friend of (mumble-mumble) years. It had been much too long since we had just visited and it was wonderful. I even got to deliver a writing workshop to a group of her friends.
I did have some photographs of all our various activities, but with three books releasing this month and including the information about last month’s late release and the tales of my adventures, I have been informed that including them would make this newsletter much too big. Sorry – maybe later.
Now we’re home, and intend to stay here until September, when we’re off to the Novelists, Inc. conference in St Pete Beach FL. Then in December… but I’ll tell you more about that trip later!
Remember last month I had put up a special re-release but didn’t have the information about it? Here we go –
TO A WILD ROSE released at the end of June, and is doing quite well. It’s a sweet Regency Romance about an artist and a duke and a magnificent garden.
Hyacinth Roote is the youngest of six daughters and, according to her mother, the one whom it will be hardest to marry well. Instead of an acceptable Society wife to a wealthy man Hyacinth wants to become an artist. In despair her mother takes her to the summer garden tour of her relative, the august and much feared Countess of Edensmarsh.
Though she finds the ‘marriage mart’ prospect of the house party unattractive Hyacinth does look forward to sketching the gardens – until she meets Vere, a lowly gardener and the most handsome, desirable man she has ever met. Unfortunately, Sir Nugent Gilbreath – a London style leader with £8,000 a year and a very bad reputation – pays marked attention to Hyacinth, a situation which dismays Hyacinth and sends her mother over the moon with dreams of a quick wedding. Mistaken identity, jealousy and the thorny circumstance of a missing duke complicate matters until thanks to a ball and a bit of magic, everything ends satisfactorily.
Now for this month’s releases… Since I’ve been running a little late getting this newsletter out, INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS released on the 2nd. It’s a tasty little sort-of horror tale (which won a surprising number of awards) about a young woman who must find out if the fantasy world her unknown late father invented is really fiction.
Aurora Mathis is coming home. Back to Merrywood, an estate she doesn’t remember. Back to the house in which her father died by his own hand. Back to where she is believed to have witnessed his death.
Charles Mathis captivated millions of readers with a series of eerie fantasy novels before taking his own life when Aurora was just a toddler. Raised by her repressive and ultra-religious mother, Aurora tried to hide from his infamy but now she wants to learn about the man she never knew.
She agrees to attend a convention honoring her father’s work but on arrival is filled with a gnawing sense of unease. Not only does she begin dreaming of the strange, inhuman beings who populated her father’s books, but she is shocked and angry to find Corwin Warrender, her old love, her old enemy, is an invited guest with an agenda of his own. When she starts receiving odd gifts and seeing the mysterious robed figure of a Mediator, the most unknown and fearsome creature her father created, Aurora worries she may be losing her mind.
As the happenings around her turn from odd to dangerous, Aurora begins to wonder if the magical world her father created may not be completely fictional…
The second release is CHRISTMAS CACTUS, a sweet contemporary romance releasing on August 16 in which a jaded and bitter writer must realize that true love is possible, no matter how hard she tries to push it away. She does not recognize the truth about her own romance, however, however, until she helps two other people to realize the depth of their love.
On assignment to do a story about the romantic magic of the Cactus Inn Lise Bergere is disgruntled. It has been a year since her boyfriend Drew unceremoniously dumped her and she finds the idea of romance distasteful.
To Lise’s surprise her boss Martin shows up, apparently hoping that the romantic atmosphere will influence her to accept his proposal. Then Drew, the man who broke her heart, arrives apparently intent on reviving what was between them, and just to complicate things Helga, the dumpy and unattractive office manager at Lise’s magazine appears to try for one last, desperate chance at fixing Martin’s interest.
Lise must write her story, sort everything out, and decide what she really wants… then see if she can get it. Is the Cactus Inn really magic when it comes to romance?
The third release is coming on August 30, a contemporary semi-gothic mystery called THE HOUSE WITH THE RED DOOR, set on a plantation in South Carolina. Assistant to a volatile writer of over-the-top romances, the heroine finds herself falling for the plantation’s moody master even as she begins to believe that the house is occupied by a malign ghost.
Writers’ assistant Bettina Kershaw accompanies her glamorous but demanding novelist boss to Porte Rouge, a luxurious South Carolina plantation house to research a new book. Bettina expects hard work; she does not expect the handsome wealthy owner to be attracted to her, nor the ghost of the house to attempt murder. Old debts and rivalries simmer just below the civilized surface, and life at Porte Rouge suddenly becomes very dangerous.
And that’s it for this time… Hope all of you stay safe and cool!