A memorial: Mac the Cat

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Mac

Mac MacArthur

3/15/2000 – 2/29/2015

Being a certified Crazy Cat Lady, it would a failing if I did not post a message about the passing of my sweet kitty and writing companion.Mac and Trevor Tiger2

Mac was adopted through Hopalong Animal Rescue (http://www.hopalong.org.)  How could I resist a gorgeous cat with the same name as a favorite uncle (who passed away at the age of 104, annoyed by the “young women” always trying to pick him up – the ladies were all in their late 80s.)  He came home on the Ides of March, 2001.  Since we didn’t know his actual birthday, we decided that recognizing 3/15 was appropriate for the date.  I was told when I adopted him that he was a year old.

Mac on catnip2Last February he had Melanoma in his right eye and I had to have it removed.  We called him our Odin Kitty with his one eye.  It didn’t slow him down.  In fact, my Nature Boy was all the move active and curious without it.

He was my buddy for 14 years before this last April when he began to loose weight, stop eating, and ran a fever.  Cancer.  Specifically Lymphoma in his Kidneys.  As anyone knows, Cancer and Kidney issues are common for felines, and the treatments are well established.  However, Mac’s cancer resisted treatment and he began to decline rapidly.  I brought in Heaven from Home (http://www.heavenfromhome.com) to help him pass.  It was remarkably peaceful.  My dear friend Juliana came down and in the front garden he gently slipped away.  If you can handle the moment and afford it, this is genuinely the best method.  There are plenty of reasons why this might not be possible, but if you can, it is profound.  I think after all that Mac and I lived through (earthquakes, a fire, 3 boyfriends, 3 cars, 2 layoffs … life) I could not have parted with him in any less of an intimate way.Mac and his bed

I am grieving, naturally and normally.  It really has taken me this long to write about this.  And I can tell you just how empty my home is.

Grief is not limited to species or gender or race or any other division that is inflicted on life on this planet by us.  He was a friend.  He was a companion.  He was my writing buddy.  There is no replacing him, though someday I will meet another companion and we will develop our own relationship.  I like to point out that love is not like a pie – if someone wants a slice, the other slices must be diminished.  Our capacity to care and to love is a 100% each and every time we want to give that much – as often and as many times – at once, one at a time – it doesn’t matter.

So here’s to a writer’s best friend.  And a sad farewell.

I have been writing the story of Mac called The Resident of Lower Catswold.  You can find it in all its unedited glory here, November 2014, for your enjoyment.

Mac in repose

A Clockwork Alchemy: Book Release Party

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Some of you may know by now that I am deeply involved with the West Coast’s largest (well, I think so) STEAMPUNK convention.  What makes Clockwork Alchemy so special is the lavish attention they give to authors, both published and really thinking about it.

So, it should come as no surprise that we have a Book Release Party planned for Friday, May 22nd, 7pm – 9pm.  Not only will I be showing off my latest release, The Volcano Lady volume 3: The Great Earthquake Machine, but my wonderful narrator for the Gaslight Adventures audiobooks will be there to read for your pleasure. Yes, Mr. Patrick Golden will be in attendance.

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But wait … there’s more!  Authors Sharon Cathcart, Dover Whitecliff and Vicki Rorke, AJ and SJ Sikes, Anthony Francis, Kristen Weiss, Sparky & McTrowell, plus many more will be showing off their latest.

And … if you order in the next two minutes … just kidding …  We are releasing an Anthology of amazing stories by these same authors: 12 Hours Later: 24 Hours of Myth and Mystery.Twelve Hours Later-1

This is the perfect chance to get your books at convention prices (in some cases) and signed too!  I have to say that I am really excited about the whole prospect to meeting folks, shaking hands, and re-acquainting with old friends.  It really is the best thing for all authors – not only is there an ego boost (hey, I admit it) but get to learn from your readers.  It is one of those undeniable pleasures in becoming a writer.

So … make room on your calendar, brave the last of the commuter traffic, and come down to see us!

Friday, May 22, 7-9pm

Monterey Room (aka the Salon)

Double Tree by Hilton Hotel

2050 Gateway Place (off of First and Hwy 101)

San Jose, CA 95110

New Adventures Sunday!!! No less than 3 adventures!

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It’s here – The Great Earthquake Machine!  The Volcano Lady volume #3

I know, I know … it’s about darn time.  The latest volume in The Volcano Lady series is available in paperback and Kindle.  Smashwords edition will follow very soon.

But that’s not all!  Now available on Audible.com the latest and last installment of the audiobook Terror in a Wild Weird West.  The perfect thing to listen to during your commute, your afternoon of repetitive tasks, or anytime you want a great ride through the Steampunk Wild West.

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http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_hp_tseft?advsearchKeywords=Terror+in+a+Wild+Weird+West&filterby=field-keywords&x=0&y=0

But wait!!!  WAIT!  There’s more.  To be released May 22, just in time for Clockwork Alchemy, the West Coast’s largest Steampunk convention, 12 Hours Later – an anthology by amazing authors.  This book includes two chapters by me: The Miranda Gray Mysteries.  Yes – THAT Miranda Gray, Lettie Gantry’s best friend.  You can order a kindle copy now or you can get a signed paperback at the convention.  Such a deal.

http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Hours-Later-Tales-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00WUYMJ9O/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430672157&sr=1-1&keywords=12+Hours+Later

Adventure On Sale – No Kidding!

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Do you have your copy yet of the audiobooksmall DBC cover

Death and the Barbary Coast?

 

This is the perfect time.  Currently on Audible.com, it is on sale for 1 credit or less than $2.00.  I am not joking.  Audible randomly selects audiobooks to price at an incredibly low price.  Take a look here:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Death-and-the-Barbary-Coast-Audiobook/B00R8MCJJ8/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1421607536&sr=1-2

It’s my book and yet I adore listening to it as read by Patrick R. Golden.  To get myself in the mood to work on Volcano Lady novel #3, I listened for two hours … and I only meant to listen for a half hour.  That’s how great Patrick’s reading is!  Oh, I know that sounds funny, but lesson #1 to all writers is: love what you write and write what you want to read.

Snag your copy asap!  Audible doesn’t tell us how long these amazing sales go.

If you are new to Audible, you can do me a very big favor: select either Death and the Barbary Coast or The Yankee Must Die as your first audiobook, and they will give a bonus to Patrick and to me.  Thank you so much everyone!!

Burning Books and the New Year

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For those used to my usual happy, upbeat writer-type news, this may seem out of place.  Those who are friends on my private Facebook profile are a little too used to it.  So, let me apologize for the jolt and promise this is not my norm for my blog.  Oh, but it gets a little worse: this is going to be a bit of streaming consciousness with little editing (editing being one of my weaknesses.)  Yet – I’ll bet you will like the end.  If you can, and with my thanks ahead of time, stay with me.

I’ve known since childhood that my deepest, darkest monster was not depression but fear.  Unwavering, unrelenting fear.  Fear of risk.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of straying from the path.  Fear of ugliness.  Fear of disappointment.  All that fear, of course, lead to depression.  But hey!  I’m an artist, so this is just par for the course.  Throughout history, artists have been tortured souls looking for escape from their fears and pains.  It makes us better artists, ya know?  Show me an artist and I’ll show you a person with a terrified inner child and a big ass monster snickering under her bed.  Writer, painter, graphic artist, poet … whatever the art, it comes with pre-packed baggage.

Sadly, we all know this and in our modern age, we’ve demanded that the self-same artists get an off switch installed.  Use a pill.  Get a therapist.  Unless you have actual chemical imbalances, you just need to get the hell over it, right?  I can’t begin to tell you how much I wish there was an off switch.  Even to this wordsmith, there aren’t enough words to describe it – to describe the abandonment to the elements you feel when people tell you to just stop it, or hand you medications, or push another distraction at you, or when you realize that the money you just spent on therapy could have been used on a cool pair of shoes or to pad your savings account.  Mostly it’s the sensation of emptiness you feel when you are informed that you are just broken and its best that you don’t say anything that might make others feel uncomfortable.  They might even doubt your successes and question your purpose, because, don’t we all know that our heroes and visionaries are all unbroken?  No wonder artists are not held in high esteem anymore: we’re all broken, right?

I can think of the numerous times I’ve hidden my night terrors from a boyfriend in fear that he’ll roll his eyes and tell me any of the above socially acceptable yet horribly wrong statements.  I’ve apologized at least seven times this last year before posting about my unhappiness and asking friends for a little support.  Of course they gave it, but I’ve been taught to wonder if I haven’t pushed them further away by being needy.

This year, I decided that I would write all my fears down in a fear book – a lined, all paper journal that I intended to fill from cover to cover, and then burn at the next camping event I attended.  It sounded like a good idea.  It is a good idea – if you follow through.

2014 has been a nasty year with extreme highs and devastating lows.  In the first draft of this, I listed out everything, but I’ve decided not to.  I’ll just say that my anxiety and fear has paralyzed me until I’ve lost weeks to bouts of crying and exhaustion.  My fear book should have been full.  Where the hell is that off switch?

Thanks to those amazing friends of mine, I’ve received tons of advice, none of which provided a full answer … until this morning.  (See, I promised this would get better.)  It’s New Year’s Eve.  Last night, despite not being able to sleep until 2:30am, I dreamed.  I dreamed that I was juggling two job offers – two potentials that just made me happy.  The jobs were mine.  All I had to do was pick.  How’s that for a dream!  As I lay there, my cat cuddling with me in bed as he hasn’t for a few months (cats are like that … because they’re … cats,) I realized I don’t need an off switch.  Maybe a dimmer, but not an off switch.  And I’m not broken.

Fine – I have no special plans for NYE.  I’m alone again.  So why not burn that darn fear book tonight?  Before it’s all filled up?  What am I waiting for?

Ah, but my socialization started in: if you burn it, you won’t ever get to read all the pain over and over.  It’ll be gone and you can’t go back in to examine, analyze, relive, and appreciate all the suffering.

Damn straight I won’t!  There it was – the answer I needed.  And yes, it was in me the whole time waiting for the right moment to emerge.  Those damn internet memes were right all along.  Boom!  I saw myself clearly, doing what I’ve done for years, reaching back into the past and hiding there.  It’s safe you know.  It’s the dukkha I know.  Sure, it hurts like hell and depletes my energy, leaving me exhausted and bleeding. Whoohoo, let me just scrape open that old wound before it gets a chance to heal.  You see where I’m going, right?

Can’t live there anymore.  If, as one delightful friend told me in a year end Tarot reading, my last year was one that left me with a back full of knives (10 of Swords anyone?) why would I not pluck the stupid things out and slather on the ointments?   Because I won’t get hurt any worse?  Is there worse?  I don’t want to know.  I refuse to live my life as a human pin cushion (look at the card – it screams ouch!)

So here’s my New Year’s resolution: today, on the Eve, I can be sad or lonely or depressed or scared.  Then I’ll burn the book before midnight.  Tomorrow, I won’t have time to live in the past.  I need to hustle up an exciting new job that will bring with it all sorts of adventures and opportunities.  I accept no other outcome.  Don’t bother telling me I can’t.  I have a novel to finish and get into my reader’s hands.  What haven’t I done yet?  Who would I like to kiss?

Will I still get depressed now and then – yes.  It happens.  The real question is, will I go the distance and burn that fear book, whether I’ve written it in a physical journal or know it in my head – yes.  I can’t live there no more.

Okay, this was long and had a scary start.  I’m glad you stuck with me to the end.  My NY Resolution isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds, but there is absolutely no reason I can’t keep looking and moving forward.  I’m a nostalgic and sentimental fool, but that’s not where I need to reside.  I’ll be okay.  I’m not broken.  A little used and slightly bruised, but not broken.

May your New Year be what you ask for … remember to ask big and bold!

T.E.

New Audio book – Death and the Barbary Coast – on Sale now

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It feels a little odd saying something like, “on sale now.”  But, how could I not share?

Yes, the wonderful Patrick R. Golden (http://www.pisceancreed.com) Patrick Golden Profile Pichas outdone himself on the second audio installment of the Adventures of Tom Turner.

You can find your copy via the following links (and I suggest you hurry because the prices that are coming up for me are amazing.)  You know you need a little pick-me-up of adventure when the days are darkest and the holidays have left you exhausted.  Go for it!  Snag Death and the Barbary Coast for yourself.  You may also want to snap up the first installment, The Yankee Must Die.

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On Amazon.com, for use on Kindle or the Audible.com mobile phone app:

http://smile.amazon.com/Death-Barbary-Coast-Gaslight-Adventures/dp/B00RC3ZCDI/ref=tmm_aud_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1419625653&sr=8-1

On Audible.com itself:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Death-and-the-Barbary-Coast-Audiobook/B00R8MCJJ8/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1419355193&sr=1-2

We’re expecting iTunes to have it at any moment!

Thank you so very much

T.E.

A gift to my readers

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Every author needs a break or two from the great projects they hope to write.  This is mine.  While I was in Bath, I took the opportunity to pen down three pages.  Of course, I used a good dip quill and decent paper, all while sitting in the parlor of the restoredWriting in the parlor Regency house: The Admiral’s House.  I offer it to you here, to be read here.  I request that you do not copy it.  If you know someone who would enjoy it too, share a link to this post.

It is unedited, uncorrected, un-fixed … it stands as is.  Written on an afternoon when I was feeling the loss of time, knowing that I was going home all too soon.  Please enjoy it.  And if you are so inclined, please feel free to comment.

The Resident of Lower Catswold
– A simple feline story – by T.E. MacArthur

It is a solidly accepted fact that cats adore affectation. Whether it is the appearance of indifference to touch or dissatisfaction with a hearty meal, a cat is judged to be a Wise Feline based on how many affectations he has mastered.

He is also considered a Wise Feline if he has discovered his true potential in life. For you see, cats are most pleased with themselves when they are fully engaged in the practices of their hearts. And, of course, when pretending to have the opposite opinion.

He had decided very early on that being born an American cat – a domestic shorthair Tabby to be specific – did not please him at all. He was a special cat and he knew it. Every cat in the house was an American cat and he wanted something quite different for himself. After all, the most vital aspect of the feline’s early life was pleasing himself, which universally lead to knowing himself. How he would accomplish being anything other than what he’d been born as, he wasn’t certain, but he was determined. He was fully one year old and it was high time he set about becoming a Wise Feline, in terms he would dictate.

He had just given himself a proper cleaning, required before attempting anything serious, such as napping, eating, or becoming “not just another American cat.”

It was then that life rather rudely interrupted him. He would learn that this was generally the natural state of things, but to a one year old cat, interruption was just plain inconsiderate.

His human discovered she could not properly care for the extremely large family of cats she maintained in her home. As quick as one could say, “catch the sparrow,” he found himself in a cage – a cage no less! Surrounded by squawking birds, who mocked his predicament rather cruelly. For three days he stayed in that dreadful enclosure. The humans who ran what he decided was a shop were in great anticipation of an event in another day. He did not care. Human events that did not include generous plates of fish were of no interest to him. Irritated beyond measure, he folded himself into a furry cube and sulked.

Faces pressing against the window, trying to see the “kitty” were purposefully ignored with absolute distain. They left nose prints on the glass – quite undignified.

What was particularly galling was that he could not complain about it. You see, every feline, canine, and possible some of those twittering birds, clearly spoke, understood, and even read the local speech of humans. They were not, however, obligated to inform the humans of this fact. Few would reduce themselves so far as to point out this fact unless the humans, or one in particular, could achieve a very special level of trust. Dogs were more likely to withhold speech as they found it often prevented playtime. Humans who had learned their dog could speak spent far too much precious time asking the dog to talk and not enough simply throwing the ball. Amongst canines, it was generally understood that the best thing for humans was not to talk to them in words. Cats, however, had more complex needs, and thus tended to look for opportunities to trust and then speak with their humans.

Humans, on the other hand, simply didn’t tend to hear. Adult humans especially. They preferred speaking with each other, which was fine except that it lacked a feline perspective. To a cat, not having a cat’s perspective on the world meant that the conversation was going to be rather useless if not unnecessary.

Since no one in the shop had earned his trust, he was unable to explain to them that he was an out-of-doors cat, not an indoor one, American or otherwise. His needs were best met by sunlight, trees, and wind. He needed natural places to properly bury his “business.” To ask him to use the strange smelling sand and pebbles for such an important task was outrageous. Did they not understand that as a burgeoning Wise Feline and Predator, he had to change where he eliminated his “wastes” constantly so as to throw off the other, would-be predators – such as the heavy orange cat in the enclosure below him? Yet, he could not tell them. The humans were much too excited by their own plans and he did not trust them.

This was not to say that he did not like them, but “like” and “trust” were two different things.

Thus he sulked. Even when the big day arrived, and a dozen other cats were brought in cages to be displayed, he sulked. The tiny kittens were too young to understand that their prancing and playing was merely showing off and quite undignified. The orange cat below rubbed ridiculously on his bars, trying to get attention. It was almost too much to bear.

The morning passed, and humans continued to parade past his window. None of them paid him attention. By afternoon, he was beginning to regret his petulant behavior. Even the orange cat had been given the all-important sign that read: Hold for Pickup.
One human waited by the window. A female. Not young or old. Her head fur was dark as were her eyes. She looked sad. Slowly, hesitating often, she finally came into the store – past all the kittens, and birds, and staring humans with their squealing offspring.
The shop human spoke to her about how he had been brought to the shop, how he had been one of too many cats in one house. His name, the human female was informed, was Mac. That was not his name, but he never resented it when the old lady called him that.

“My uncle was named Mac,” the female said, a sad tone in her voice.
“He’s very sweet. Would you like to hold him?”

Wait? What? She was going to touch him? That was not fair, no one had asked him if he minded being taken from his comfortable situation. Of course, he was not comfortable in that cage. And when the shop human lifted him by his belly, his legs stretched a little. He’d been sulking for hours in the same position, and frankly, it felt good to move. This he could not tell anyone, thus he grumbled a bit as the shop human put him in the arms of the female.

Accidentally, he purred. Not a pleasant purr, but a combination of satisfaction being out of that cage, warm in someone’s arms, and yet afraid sort of purr.

“Do you have other pets at home?” the shop human asked.
Pets? Really, how rude. I am not a pet, Mac thought. I am a Wise Feline in development.
“No. My cat … passed away three months ago.”

Mac relaxed a little. She was a trained cat human, and she was sad to be without cat. This could be promising. Perhaps.

“I really shouldn’t …” she said.
“Oh, we are cutting the price for adoption today in half.”

Price? I have no price –
The female handed him kindly back to the shop human.

Wait! Are you rejecting me? Mac was horrified. Every feline that had been picked up was chosen to go to a home, some had already gone. But not him? What was wrong with him? Of course, he was just another American cat, he decided. Perhaps he was not so special after all.

So there he sat for another hour. This time he wasn’t sulking but feeling truly forgotten. Was it because he was so common? No, he was special and unique and rather handsome if he might say so – as he was a cat, he did say so. Yet, no one seemed to see this in him. Was it because he was no longer a bouncing kitten but not yet a Wise Feline? He simply didn’t understand. Why had she walked away?

He closed his eyes and thought as hard as he could about anything but the rejection.
The empty cages were being collected and the humans were congratulating themselves at how many cats had gone to new homes. But not him. Well, if they didn’t want him, he’d hiss at them and not let them touch him and …

The shop door opened. The female looked in … at him. “Are you still open?”
“Why yes.”

The female stepped into the shop, with a tired but fancy cat carrier. “I think I’d like to take him home with me.”

Mac’s heart raced but he didn’t dare move. He really hated carriers, but this was different. He could withhold his distain just this once. Was this really happening? The humans were too far away to be heard, but the female kept handing them pieces of colored paper and they handed her large white sheets with typing on them.

The shop human went to take him out of his cage, yet hesitated long enough to whisper to him, “We’ll miss you big boy.”

Unceremoniously, Mac was wiggled and wrangled into the carrier. He made no sound. The female spoke very kindly to him, as if she understood how he might feel. The open shop door allowed fresh air into his carrier and then it was done. He would never go back to that shop, and he suspected, never to any shop again. How he knew this, he didn’t really care. Such things were known by Wise Felines.

The female walked home, some few blocks from the shop. It was a nice neighborhood, or so he decided from his position only about two feet off the ground. Mac sniffed the air from his dark hiding place in the carrier. He could smell other cats and a few dogs. There were trees that needed to be climbed. Mice to be chased. And of course, a territory to be established. He would be patient though. They were not yet home.

Home? Yes. If he liked the place, he would call it home. If he didn’t, well then…

They stopped in front of a three story building with two large trees outside. There wasn’t much in the way of grass, but plenty of plants he could “water” when marking his territory.

“Ready for an escapade or two?”

Well, of course he was. A cat’s life was one exploit after another … in between naps.

“We’re on the ground floor, so I’ve decided this is Lower Catswold.”

Catswold? No, he knew better. The term as Cotswold. Still. As he could sense a lingering residue of the prior cat, which she clearly had tried to clean in her human way, he decided this was indeed Catswold.

“Welcome home, Mac.”

Welcome home indeed. In his quest to become a Wise Feline, and to decide what sort of cat he would become, this human female was in for quite an adventure. He might, someday, dain to speak to her.

An interview with no less than Tom Turner himself

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The Blackfriars Courant is a delightful bit of Victorian yellow journalism, at its very best.

Editor in Chief, Penelope Dreadfulle, snagged up some delightful comments for this interview.  It is possibly the most innovative “review” The Volcano Lady and The Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner has ever received.

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http://blackfriarscourant.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/exclusive-interview-with-tom-turner-scoundrel-or-hero/

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!!!

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In case you hadn’t heard, there is some exciting news to start off October.

First, the Audio version of The Yankee Must Die (the Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner #!) has been released.  You can now order this audio book, narrated by the brilliant and talented Patrick R. Golden, on Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes.

cover metafreeAlso, I will be lecturing this coming Saturday and Sunday (Oct 4-5) at Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium in Old Sacramento.  The schedule is being finalized but it looks to be marvelous fun!!

Bath or Bust!

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Really … I did have every intention of posting here while on my amazing trip to Bath and London in September.  I confess: I had little opportunity.  Why yes it was THAT much fun, but also I had dreadful connectivity issues while there.

On 9/11 I dared to board a flight for Heathrow from San Francisco.  A direct flight, which I must say makes all the difference in the world.  Though 10.5 hrs long, and while chasing the Moon, I couldn’t sleep.  I read some, cat napped, ate fairly good meals, and indulged in one of my current favorite movies: Cap Am 2 – The Winter Soldier.  I can stare at a long haired Sebastian Stan for hours, but that’s just me.  I made certain not to leave drool on my neighbors (its my karma to be stuck in middle seats; I have come to terms with this.)

Mrs. Charles TurnerThough no one really needs an excuse to go to England, I actually had one: the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.  Fourteen of us rented a restored Regency period house across from the Paragon and two blocks from the Assembly Rooms.  For the next 9 days we dressed in fashions of the 1790’s – 1810’s, and frolicked without a care along Milson Street, the Bath Abby, and the Roman Baths.  Tours were had to #1 Royal Crescent, the Fashion Museum, and a splendid night time Ghost Tour.  We even went astray to Lyme Regis to walk the Cobb as Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds in the 1995 movie Persuasion.

We had Tea, drank the waters (yikes!), attended concerts, held soirees, and danced at two balls.  It all sounds like a description of an average week in Bath as experienced by the divine Miss Austen herself.  Sadly, it was all too short a time.  The photo below is me, at Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, looking over her writing desk (a necessary photograph for any author.)

I’m sorry to report that while I was there I did not write a word for the upcoming Volcano Lady novel.  I was inspired and intrigued – and my research on England’s West Counties is greatly expanded, but alas, no novel writing.  This should not be taken to mean I did not write.  I did, penning (literally with a pen, seated at a 200 year old desk in the library) a start to a children’s book for adults called the Resident of Lower Catswold.  More on that later.

(Next: Off to the British Museum)

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