The Elderly Earl’s Estate

At long last, Book 5 is available…well, on Kindle, at least. We are still fighting on the paperback, but hopefully that will be resolved by the end of the week. I am so proud of this book. It is the start of a new chapter in Jo and Alistair’s life and relationship, as they head to Ireland for their honeymoon, and a bit of mystery.

The dime novel excerpts are a thing of the past now that Jo is trying to find her own voice as a writer. And most of the characters that have peopled the first four books remain behind in New York, but there is a new cast of eccentric individuals for Jo to charm as she sleuths her way across a new continent.

Here’s the cover:

Kindle Cover

And here is Chapter One to whet your appetite:


Oh, Alistair…it’s so beautiful! I never dreamed I’d see Ireland for myself.”

The setting sun lit the sea ablaze as I stood at the rail of the ship eagerly craning my neck to catch my first sight of Dublin. The voyage across the ocean had flown by, and now I would finally see the land of my ancestors. The city itself crowded up to the dock, as if eager to meet me as well.

Overhead, gulls wheeled and screamed, diving for fish in the shallows beside the dock. The chill January air carried a strong scent of the sea, and the unpleasant tang of rotting seaweed and fish.

On the boardwalk before us, people jammed the dock, chattering and pointing. There were hundreds of them!

I’d thought the throng seeing us off in New York huge, but this smaller dock made this crowd seem twice as large. I clung to Alistair’s elbow, a bit intimidated by the sight. He slipped an arm around my waist, and smiled down at me. “They won’t bite, Jo. I promise.”

When the crew began ushering disembarking passengers towards the gangway, I took a deep breath and let it out. “Shall we?”

You have your things?”

I touched the waistband of my skirt, comforted to feel the rustle of paper beneath my fingertips. At my mother-in-law’s advice, my travel papers and folding money were pinned in a pocket hidden beneath my skirt. With the smart traveling jacket I wore reaching several inches below my waist, there was no hint of this arrangement to be seen. I slipped one arm through Alistair’s, and the other through the handles of my trusty reticule. “I’m ready.”

Let’s go find a porter to collect the rest of our belongings. I’ll also need to make arrangements for a cart of some kind to transport Phaeton, but that can wait till morning if we find somewhere to leave him overnight. Perhaps the shipyard has a place.”

We walked as we discussed the matter. People pushed and shoved all around us—some coming up the gangway as well as others going down. It flustered me a great deal to be trapped in such a throng of people, I must admit.

The porters were hard pressed to keep order in the chaos. I tightened my grip on Alistair’s arm until my fingers hurt, terrified we might be separated in the crush.

Someone bumped me quite hard, nearly knocking me off my feet and sending me staggering. As I reached out to steady myself against the railing, I felt a sharp tug, and looked down to see a slender figure about my height clutching my reticule in one hand and a knife in the other! He slashed through the strings just as I made a dive for it. My fingers just brushed his sleeve before he was off, weaving through the crowd like an adder.

Stop, thief!” I yelled, lifting my skirts to run after the miscreant. No doubt foolish of me, but I was too angry to think clearly.

My cry caused heads to swivel, but no one lifted a finger to stop the rogue. I struggled forward, but I hadn’t the facility of movement the villain had in his serge trousers. My skirts were far too cumbersome.

What’s wrong?” asked Alistair—whose view of the incident had been impeded.

That street rat stole my bag!” I pointed to where the fellow was even now disappearing at the edge of the crowd.

He glanced over his shoulder just before he vanished, his features almost elfin under their coat of dirt. A wide grin split his face, and he touched the brim of his cap before he was gone.

Alistair! He has my reticule.” Tears were fighting their way toward my eyes, more hot and angry than sorrowful.

Did you do as Mother said?”

Yes.” My fingers brushed my papers again.

So there isn’t anything of too much value in it, is there?”

I suppose not. Thank goodness, I put my pistol in the trunk last night.”

His face blanched. “Yes. Yes, that’s indeed a good thing.” He put a comforting arm about my shoulders. “Let’s speak to the porters—he may well dispose of the bag when he discovers it contains nothing of value. We’ll have them keep an eye out. You can make a report with the harbormaster as well, but I doubt there’s anything to be done about the theft unless he discards the purse.”

I laid my head against him. “You’re probably right.” Suddenly, a thought struck me, causing me to start upright with a gasp.

What is it, Jo?”

My journal is in my bag. And the latest draft of the book I am working on. I’ll have to start completely from scratch. What a bother!”


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I can’t believe I haven’t posted a new blog all year. Well, I have given up on the Patreon experiment, so maybe I will be better at keeping things updated here.

We’ll see. Today, I am procrastinating when I should be working on The Elderly Earl’s Estate edits. It is being particularly obstinate…but on the other hand, I’ve just added a new character who may turn out to be extremely important along the way, and I have FINALLY found a good opening that even the boys like. 😉

I’ve also discovered my new favorite band Steam Powered Giraffe. If you do not know this band, remedy that situation. It is amazing to me how they seem to have put Phaeton’s soul into lyrical form. In particular, Brass Goggles, Automatonic Electronic Harmonics, and Electricity Is in My Soul seem to speak to me of my automaton. I’ve been obsessing for a week now. Newell threatened bodily harm if I didn’t play something else…

The cover is coming along better than the book. I’ve acquired permission for my images and put everything together to my satisfaction, so we are good to go there. I will save the reveal for next week so that I have something to post.

Now go listen to the Giraffe!

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The Elderly Earl’s Estate

524931980_06acca31e7_o(Muckross House: Image copyright John Menard)


While there is a ways to go with the edits, I am very pleased with the progress on this so far.

Jo and Alistair have taken their relationship on the road as they cross the pond to Ireland to meet Jo’s dying grandfather, the Earl of Braedon, before continuing on a Wedding Progress trip through Europe.

And there are complications around every corner. First of all, Alistair promised the University that he would consult with a colleague half the country away. And when she’s left on her own Jo ALWAYS gets in trouble. 😉

Tradition and science weave throughout the story, and an entirely NEW cast of supporting characters make their Conn-Mann debut.

From the historical to the humorous, the new characters should expand Jo’s universe and yours too!

Stay tuned for more information, and a cover reveal coming soon. 🙂

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Researching Can Be Fun

I love research. I sometimes disappear down the rabbit hole for hours. I was actually looking for something else when I found the information about the Central Park Zoo Escape happening in November of 1874.

(An illustration that accompanied an 1893 article in Harper’s Weekly about the hoax.)

It actually changed my plans for Book Four of the series. I was originally going to have Jo and Alistair heading off to Ireland at the end of Book Three…but the Hoax was too fascinating not to work into the story somewhere. And it became a pivotal part of the action.

Happy accidents like this can add some interesting flavor to whatever you want to write.

Make sure you keep track of anything that might add color to your work. For example, this is my folder set up for the books:


And, within each of those top level folders are more bookmarks:


Some of the information may never make its way into a book, but it is far better to have things you don’t use than not have something at your fingertips that you wish you could remember.

And always be on the lookout for new things. For example, a friend suggested that I contact the Irish Consulate in my hometown, and the gentleman I spoke with gave me a lead to someone who was a historical personage in Ireland at the time, and a perfect character to have a cameo in the next book.

To summarize:

  1. Research — it’s fun!
  2. Bookmark — make sure you don’t lose track of the info you find.
  3. Keep your eyes and ears open — you never know where your next idea will come from.
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It’s Here!

Despite a few bumps on the production highway,

Front Cover Only

is now live on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback editions.

I learned a few things on this one. First of all, the new Kindle template is a dream to work with. I tried to use my goto method, and was getting lots of random code generated. Ick! Jo knows nothing of Chinese…

So I went to the template, and I will definitely be using it from now on. Continue reading

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Home Stretch

I have finished the polish edit on The Fiercely Formidable Fugitive, and I still really love this book. I think there is something for everyone in it–romance, intrigue, a gun-fight…but I won’t give too much away.

I’ve started working on the cover, but I think I may see if I can do something a bit different than I originally planned. If I can pull it off, I’ll share soon.

Now comes the fun part–the formatting. 😛 But it isn’t impossible that I MIGHT have it for the June 10th show in Wimberley. Hoping for SoonerCon at the latest. Depends on how fast it goes this time.

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This will take awhile…

…especially as I am trying to get the edits of The Fiercely Formidable Fugitive finished…but I am making headway on putting this site back together. Still need to find some of the media and so forth. Ignore the broken links for now. I may have to edit out some of the pictures since I don’t have unlimited space any more…

Still, it is better than pointing people to a website that doesn’t exist. 🙂

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