February 23, 2014 • 14 Comments
I also got to go to Dartmoor and stay in the Postbridge area. It’s right near the place (in the Bellever Forest area) where Conan Doyle stayed while writing The Hound of the Baskervilles.
This is the pub on the East Dart I used for the Schoolmaster’s secret conferences. The publican (after plying me with the local scrumpy—bleh) told me “the true tale” of the Hound according to local legend.
According to our jolly barkeeper, the tale dates from the time of the temperance movement in the mid-nineteenth century. The wife of the pub’s owner convinced him to stop selling alcohol, but since that was bad for business and no fun, the publican would meet with his friends after hours and have a pint in the cellar. When the wife discovered he’d been smuggling in drink, the townswomen rolled the offending barrels out into the streets and smashed them. Beer poured in rivers down the cobbled lane. A large wild dog that had been roaming the moors came along and drank its fill of the offending liquid. It then ran wild, mauled some sheep, and finished by drowning itself in the East Dart. An acquaintance told Conan Doyle about the incident, and the idea of a savage dog roaming the moor got folded into his tale. Do I believe our friendly barkeep? I don’t know. I will never trust a man who sells me scrumpy like that.
When I mention writing more books in the series, many readers ask for more of Sherlock Holmes, so clearly other people are as interested in his character as I am. During the interviews I’ve given about the Baskerville Affair series, I’ve come up with some sound bites about his appeal. So now how about YOU? What keeps you coming back to Mr. Holmes? Leave a comment and enter my contest to win one of two $25 Amazon gift certificates.
February 22, 2014 • 3 Comments
Please note the Baskerville celebration contest will be posted live here on February 23!
For even more fun, visit HERE to join the party live on Facebook Feb 23 at 7:00 pm EST & meet lots of other authors, steampunk fans, and generally fun people.
February 21, 2014 • 3 Comments
Who doesn’t like an excuse for a holiday? While researching my series, I travelled to the south of England and of course encountered the cream tea. Nine times out of ten, it was a simple affair consisting of a cup of tea, one or two small scones, clotted cream, and maybe preserves. There was nothing overdone or fussy but everything was absolutely fresh. This wasn’t a huge surprise since, in some cases, the cows were literally in the back yard.
When I got home, I started to experiment with scone recipes to recreate the experience (minus the cow). I started with traditional Victorian recipes, but soon started doing my own thing. I came up with a recipe I really like for lemon cranberry scones, which balance the sweet and tart and still taste great with cream, butter or even plain greek yogurt (yes, I’m strange). Here you go:
2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp of salt
3 tablespoons of sugar
Cut in ¼ cup of butter
Make a well in the center and pour in the juice of one large lemon and enough milk so that the total volume of liquid is 2/3 cup
grated rind of one large lemon
½ cup dried cranberries
Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a floured surface. Roll out until it’s about an inch thick and cut into 2 inch rounds with a floured cutter. Brush the tops with a little milk.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
For a traditional taste, omit the cranberries and lemon and use heavy cream for the liquid. Currants are also a nice addition.
February 16, 2014 • 1 Comment
Susan McCaskill, the seamstress who made my fabulous costumes, has many talents! It’s with great pleasure that I give a signal boost to her new, independently published children’s book, Penelope Parker: Witch in Training. It’s written for a young reading level, maybe about seven to ten depending on the reader. here’s the blurb:
Penelope Parker is a ten year old girl with a problem; she has just been expelled from school! Now what on earth could a ten year old girl have done that was serious enough to get her expelled?
Well, Penelope has special powers, the trouble is she can’t control them. Her father is a wizard and her mother Mundane, with no powers at all, so the powers Penelope inherited from her father are not balanced by those of her mother. This causes no end of catastrophes, one of which ends with Penelope being expelled.
From that time on, Penelope’s life was never to be the same. Follow her adventures and the scrapes she and Hecate, her talking cat get into, and the danger just around the corner.
and a link to Amazon: here
And here is Sue:
First, I’d like to thank Emma Jane Holloway for hosting me on her blog; it is much appreciated!
My book Penelope Parker: Witch in Training started rumbling around in my head a little over ten years ago. I played with it, wrote a couple of chapters, and made notes. Then Life intruded, and it sat collecting dust until last year, when I decided I wasn’t getting any younger, and the book was not going to write itself. (It did, but that’s another story.)
Penelope herself is based loosely on me as a child. I was gangly, a square peg in a round hole, and was mercilessly bullied. I also saw things others didn’t, and I’m sure my mother worried about me!
Gillian Barrington-Smythe, the antagonist, is also based on a girl I knew at school. She came from a rich family, and was spoiled and used to getting her own way.
The other characters just emerged fully formed from the recesses of my brain, and I’m not sure where they came from!
The school Penelope was expelled from is also the school I went to in England, as is the headmistress. Unfortunately, the school no longer exists; there is a council estate there now.
I love the Harry Potter series, but I always felt that a few more strong female characters would have been good, so I set out to do just that. There aren’t too many books in the fantasy genre that have a female as the main character, so Penelope was born, partly from me, partly from fantasy.
All the main characters are female, and the only males in the book are the fathers, Gwyddion and Marcus, Hecate’s brother, Paddy, and Jacob. I think that will continue, at least for the next book, and we’ll see what happens after that. I’m already working on the second book and hope to have the first draft finished by April if all goes well.
About the author:
Susan (or Sue, as she prefers to be called), was born in post war England, and lived there until the age of nine, when she and her mother emigrated to Canada. Her father died when she was eight, and left a huge impression on her. Both her parents encouraged her to read, and learn. She has always believed in fairies and elves, and probably always will, and as a child, she saw things many others didn’t, and as a result she was thought to be a little strange.
Although she has been in Canada for so many years, she still misses the English and Welsh countryside, and because of this, her novel is based in the ancient, picturesque town of Betws-Y-Coed, and the surrounding countryside.
Sue lives on beautiful Vancouver Island, with her husband and her demanding cats.
February 8, 2014 • No Comments
1. You’re vaguely disappointed when your date has a tan
2. Staking your roses takes on a whole new meaning
3. You know the moon phases the way others know what’s on TV
4. You scream when you catch your kid with foamy toothpaste mouth
5. You wonder which of your classmates discovered the New World
6. You can’t bring yourself to buy silver jewelry
7. You only drink merlot
8. You worry about the guy who lives in the basement apartment and works nights
9. You fantasize about the guy who lives in the basement apartment and works nights
10. A story with strictly human characters seems . . . just wrong.
February 4, 2014 • 2 Comments
I was trundling through the countryside and spotted an intriguing looking junk–ahem–antique shop. As I have no willpower in these matters, I stopped to have a look. See what I found! The cutest possible cast iron doorstop. And how can it be metal, antique, and a mouse and not be Evelina’s Mouse?
February 3, 2014 • 2 Comments
Superiority—by which I mean being feline—is a burden. For one thing, I’m obligated to observe the staff struggling with meaningless day-to-day activities while my needs go unmet. Case in point: the Human Entity plays on the keyboard while my food bowl has been empty for FIVE ENTIRE MINUTES.
Nevertheless, I am a compassionate lord. I assist with the keyboard, mostly by blocking it from view. I can do this with the television also.
There are times I wonder how many great works of literature have been assisted by kindly efforts such as these. Humans owe so much to their protectors. In fact, I see a paper product stalking the house. I will immediately stalk it through the hallways, ripping shreds from its hide until there is nothing left but softly quilted entrails, which the Human Entity then collects while cursing like the peasant she is.
It is sad to lead such a life as mine, wherein the most heartfelt service is cuttingly ignored. Pity my wounded yet noble spirit.
Until later, my treasured devotees.
• No Comments
I picked this story up because I was aching for something fun and quirky and entirely different from what I’ve been reading lately. This fit the bill admirably. And, since I’ve always suspected that computers are inhabited by otherworldly forces (possibly maleficent) and that IT specialists are a peculiar species of wizard, the premise of the tale did not overly strain my willing suspension of disbelief.
The best thing about this story is the narrative voice. It’s told in first person by the main character (John Golden) with editorial footnotes by his non-corporeal sister and business partner, Sarah. The footnotes introduce an interesting rhythm to the text, creating a comic timing to the punchlines. At its best, the tone is snappy, smart and very funny. Occasionally it flirts with excess, maybe throwing in one footnote too many, but that’s a small transgression given the overall quality. The plot is not overly complex but substantial enough to carry this short piece and showcase the world and the highly entertaining personalities in it.
Would I revisit this world? Absolutely. This isn’t the same old, same old.
January 19, 2014 • No Comments
January 3, 2014 • No Comments
The winning comment on the guest post by Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Writer/Creator of Boston Metaphysical Society Comic was Elaine, who won a book from The Baskerville Affair trilogy. Congratulations!