Just think…

Our refrigerator died yesterday. No fixing it. We had to buy a new one. It won’t be delivered until Monday, which was nine days faster than the other place we found that had one. So, no ice for drinks. Everything in the fridge must go. Terrible tragedy…

Just think what life was like for Ma Stark and Vanessa trying to keep house and cook for a household with no refrigerators. As worldly women, it is possible they had iceboxes, (and certainly, Leonora would have,) but it still wouldn’t have been the magic box we take for granted–ice and water in the door; separate drawers for vegetables and meats; storage in the doors.

What about the cooking itself? No microwave magic. Food had to be cooked on the stovetop or in the oven. Kitchens were hot and steamy. TV dinners were a thing of the future. Everything was made from scratch.

And speaking of TV. There wasn’t one. In-home entertainment in 1875 was reading, playing games or music, or actually having a conversation. The identification of radio waves by Heinrich Hertz was still more than a decade in the future.

There were no automobiles to hop into and go to a non-existent movie. Those wouldn’t exist for decades.

No wonder Jo and her friends get into so much trouble! They’d be bored if they didn’t. 😉

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When a Character Has a Real Tombstone…

When I was getting ready to write The Elderly Earl’s Estate, set in Ireland, my next-door neighbor put me in touch with the Irish Consul here in Austin. The gentleman in that office at the time suggested I put Lady Rosse into the book because she was such a fascinating individual of the time period.

I looked into her, and she was exactly the sort of woman that Jo would find intriguing. She was a photographer in the early days of the art. She was a blacksmith. And with that skill, she helped her husband build a telescope that was considered a technical marvel in its day and has recently been restored.

She also lived nowhere near where I was setting the book…but a visit to a friend took care of that bit of fudging. This was allowable in my estimation. Changing her personality or behavior–as far as I could discern it–was not.

I had such a good time having Jo and Mary meet that when I needed Fred and Kevin to consult a lawyer in 1875 New York I wanted it to be another strong female historical personage.

Unfortunately, the first woman lawyer in New York State did not pass the bar for another ten years or graduate law school until 1898.

However, Kate Stoneman had a background as a law copyist and executrix of her aunt’s estate. She read law books for fun and enlightenment. She was also involved in the early days of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and this gave me the perfect hook to have her in the city for them to consult.

Introducing a bit of real-life history into your story is both entertaining for the reader and enlightening for the author, as I learned about two amazing women this way. Hopefully, by adding them to the books, it will bring them to life a little and pique the reader’s interest enough to find out more.

The most important thing to remember when using a historical personage in a book is to be mindful of their reputation and respectful of their accomplishments. Treat them as you would hope others would treat you in the future.



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Let’s Go to the Marketing…

Today’s stop is on the Blogging Authors blog. I give most of my favorite marketing tips, but there are always a few other things to discuss. Marketing is a never-ending job. Take this book tour, for instance. It’s a way for me to get the book (and, by extension, the series) in front of a lot of eyes who might not hear about it otherwise. Pump Up Your Book is an award-winning marketing service that does a great job building a promotional tour for you. That’s definitely a great way to go if you have the resources.

If your budget is a little tighter, then check out the opportunities through 4imprint for interesting and clever promo items. For paper goods like business cards or postcards, I like VistaPrint. As I say in the guest post linked above, I don’t give out pens fast enough to make them a good marketing tool, but if you go to a lot of events, people really do tend to gravitate to them on the “freebie” table. When I did buy pens, I liked National Pen for those. For stickers or bumper stickers, a good place to go is 123Stickers.

Think outside the box when you look at your book. What is something special that you can highlight? For one of my books, the YA The Right Hand of Velachaz, I bought a lot of little insect-shaped erasers from Oriental Trading Company and put them in little plastic bubbles like you used to see in the bubblegum machines. Then I put them in a larger container. Kids got to pick an eraser out of the container, and if they got a dragonfly (which featured in the book) they won a prize. Otherwise, they got an eraser. Win-win.

For another set of stories, I got these little pins with flashing lights on them. I thought they were so cool–until someone cautioned me that they could be detrimental to epileptics. So…I stopped giving those out. You have to be careful of such things.

If you are looking for a bigger prize, like for a giveaway, CafePress or Zazzle can let you create something cool. For example, here is my CafePress shop for the Chronicles. One of the mugs would make a nice prize. And, of course, everyone loves an Amazon gift card. The cool thing about those is that you can send it virtually when you get home. 😉

Promotion and marketing is all part of the author’s job too. Unless you can hire a full-time publicist…and that is a dream that most of us can’t afford.

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New Day, New Stop, New WordPress Editor…

New Day in Texas

Today’s blog tour stop is an interview at The Dark Phantom. They asked some great questions, so you might learn a bit more about my writing process…or lack thereof. I think you will find it says a lot about me…

Also, I am trying the new WordPress editor, since this is “the coming thing,” as Brisco County was wont to say…

So far…not as intuitive as the old editor, so I may opt to stay with it. Hey, I’m officially an old lady since the start of the pandemic, so I might as well act like one, right?

I find it fascinating to think how far websites have come since my first one (and BOY! it was hard to get access to that…) in 2001.

Then there was the MySpace page, which is apparently lost to the sands of time, for the most part.

I tried LiveJournal (where my old posts have apparently also been eaten…) Blogger (as part of Mocha Memoirs…I like the linked post a lot…), GoDaddy, and I don’t even remember all the others. For a time, I had my sites on a friend’s server, and that worked best, but when he shut that down, I came to WordPress as my new home.

So, I can’t complain too much about these changes. The interface is similar to MailChimp.com, which I use for newsletters, so I expect I’ll get used to it. I did like the ability to switch between Visual and html though. It came in handy quite often.

But maybe this will motivate me to do those updates I’ve been meaning to get done.

How about you? What has your web presence journey been like? Do you have other recommendations?

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Why I Am Getting a Late Start Blogging Today…

Today’s tour stop is at A Title Wave. I love that name! It looks like it will be a lot of fun to explore in the future.

Such a late start to the day…you ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right? And with the chaos of Covid-19, it’s even worse!

I went to pay my sales taxes, which were already late due to the surgery in December, and then, by the time that I was feeling up to getting things done after that…we were on lockdown. So, I go to the office I have been going to for the last fifteen years to find a sign on the door that they were permanently closed at that location and their other office across town hadn’t opened yet due to an abundance of caution. At least I manage to get the online system to accept me again–I’d been locked out for years–and get them paid. (You better believe I wrote down every single field connected to it now!)

My next stop was to get the car registration updated, as I realized with horror yesterday that my 4-20 sticker was no longer cute, but passe. Since I don’t know where the official registration paperwork is, I went to the Comptroller’s office to get it taken care of. Well, I started to go there…and then I realized I would need a current inspection first, so I went to the dealer to get that done. As an electric car, it is both easier and cheaper to get it done at the dealer than any of the several stations I passed on the way across town…

That part went fine. They got me in and inspected very quickly. So, I went back to the Comptroller. Only to find their office was closed too. Luckily, they have someone standing outside to answer questions and she assured me I would be okay if I went home and filed for the sticker online. Apparently, there’s a non-enforcement order in place at the moment, so even a month out-of-date, I shouldn’t get a ticket before it gets here.

So, basically, most of what I did today I could have done online without leaving the house. But I did get barbeque for lunch. And it felt like the sort of day Jo would have…lol

My take-aways: Be better about deadlines, and keep track of important paperwork!

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How Do You Choose a Book’s Voice?

Guy flying on a fast rocket ship, hand to forehead looking far away for destination, has to choose a way as cloud arrows leads to three different directions.

Today’s book tour stop is a special one. They asked for the guest post to be written from a character’s Point-of-View. Of course, Jo volunteered. 😉

The PoV that you choose for a particular piece can define how your reader engages with the book, and how much the narrator can be trusted. You basically have three choices: First, Second, or Third Person Point-of-View.

I knew from the beginning that the Conn-Mann series would be in First Person because that was the challenge I set myself–to do a long-form piece of fiction with this PoV. It’s tricky to pull off for a long term story. I had done a few short stories this way before, but novel-length had always eluded me.

The hardest part of First Person is that the reader should only get the thoughts and observations of the narrator. For example, Jo’s first impression of the newspaper editor at the beginning of The Marvelous Mechanical Man is that he is an “odious, little toad,” and she spends several books avoiding him. However, she revises that opinion later when she bothers to spend more time with him.

Is he really so despicable? No. He just reacts to her in the manner that his upbringing and time-period suggests.

Jo often finds things to be one way and has to adjust her thinking after gathering more data. This is both the positive–the reader learns with the narrator–and the negative–they don’t always get the correct facts of the situation–of First Person.

Second Person PoV is rare to find, and I think this is because it is very difficult to pull off well. I, myself, only managed it once–though I haven’t given up the idea of trying again someday. This was a piece for the Empty Rooms/Missing double anthology for Horrified Press. Here’s a sample:



The room is empty now. Why is it empty?

Where is the cradle that Grandfather made for your mother? Where is the layette with all the painstakingly embroidered dresses and onesies? Where is the rocker that Danny bought at the thrift store because it reminded him of his mother?

You circle the room. There is nothing here. Not even a scrap of paper or a diaper pin. Where has everything gone? Even the bright yellow walls have been repainted gray. Why did he do that?

You drift toward the door…and it is drifting…you feel as if your feet aren’t even touching the ground. How odd…

I think you can probably see why this PoV is usually reserved for Choose Your Own Adventure books…

Third Person PoV is so popular it’s twins! In this style of writing, the narrator can know everything that everyone knows–omniscient point-of-view–or only the perspective of one particular character–limited point-of-view. This is the PoV of most writing these days, with Limited being the favorite twin.

If you are a writer, and beginning a new piece, you should let the story tell you the PoV it needs. I’ve told this story elsewhere…but when I wrote my story “Broken Crystal” for Dark Divinations (an anthology I desperately wanted to be a part of) I wrote the first draft in Third Person PoV. I liked it, but it didn’t feel like it was the best it could be. I sent it to a friend for review, and she suggested I try rewriting it in First Person PoV, and it made a world of difference.

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All Aboard! The Tour Resumes…

Today’s stop is the delightful land of unicorns at Sybrina’s Book Blog. Check it out, and while you are there, look at all her lovely unicorns!

Jo hasn’t run into any unicorns yet but in The Elderly Earl’s Estate, she must get to the bottom of a mysterious banshee haunting her grandfather’s estate, and the mermaid sightings off the coast of Ireland.

I have been a lover of folklore since childhood.  I even took a class in it in college simply because I loved it so much. Therefore, it was very satisfying to put a little of that love into the series. It wasn’t the first time I’ve mentioned the strange creatures of fairyland, and it won’t be the last!

What is your favorite mystical creature? I must admit a fondness for elves and fairies…(which you can see on display in the non-Conn-Mann book, Mutiny on the Moonbeam.)

As Jo and Alistair continue their adventures, I am sure they are likely to run into more interesting creatures. After all, the Continent is full of them!

unicorn breaks through the paper, close-up


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