Book Review: A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

Book Review: A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
Perfectly Proper Press 2018

Rated: ♦♦♦♦♦

The past couple of years I have had three major back surgeries each requiring a three month recovery time. What do I do when I can’t get up and get around? Read of course! During each recovery period I discovered new authors–to me anyway 🙂 I have read quite a few books during this time so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

First up is A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews.
It’s novella length, it comes in digital, paper, and audio.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that I LOVE the cover! I leave the book out on my coffee table to glance at it as I pass by. No kidding.

Second thing is that if you loved Mr. Thornton as portrayed by Richard Armitage in the 2004 version of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell then you will like this book. Edward Sharpe is taciturn and Sophie Appersett is not. She is clever and outgoing.

The setting is a Christmas house party. Sophie invites Mr. Sharpe and his family to give herself and Mr. Sharpe one last chance to really get to know each other. The listing says that it’s a “Courtship of Convenience”. I don’t think so. Sophie genuinely wants to know who Mr. Sharpe is before she makes a decision about him either way.

I like her forthrightness and candor. I like his willingness to open up even though it makes him vulnerable.

My only issue is one I see popping up now and again in some recent Hallmark movies. It’s fodder for another post. And this story needs it as it’s predicated on North and South. I’m not going further than that because: spoilers.

It’s a clean read.
There is kissing.
It does not have a Christian story arc.
The writing is tight without redundancy.

 

A Christmas Scavenger Hunt: The Christmas Plainsong

Merry Christmas!

Welcome to this Christmas Round-Robin! At each author’s blog post, you will find a question that can be answered by checking out the free Amazon preview of their book. Provide the answer at this Google Form. Note: You must answer the questions for every author in the round -robin to be considered to win.

The prizes are:

First Place $300.00 Amazon Gift Card

Second Place: $150.00 Amazon Gift Card

Third Place: $75.00 Amazon Gift Card

At the end of my post is a link to the next blog, which will provide a link to the next blog, etc., to the very end. You must answer each question for a chance to win.

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I am excited to share my novella The Christmas Plainsong with you.

Have you ever wondered what happened to Scrooge after the night he spent with the Christmas spirits? We know he took care of the Cratchits, especially Tiny Tim, and we are told that no one kept Christmas as good as he. But what about Belle, the girl he left behind? How about his sister’s husband? It was this wondering and imagining that inspired The Christmas Plainsong.

In this second-chance-at-love story based on Dicken’s classic tale, Ebenezer Stack comes home seeking forgiveness from the woman he left behind.

Silverbelle Bennett got over Ebenezer Stack exactly thirty-three years ago when he chose money and a successful career over a happily-ever-after with her. Sure, she forgives him, but that doesn’t mean he has to be a part of her life…Even if her BFF and her father think they’re a match.

Can a redeemed Ebenezer Stack convince his long lost love that it’s never too late for love?

On to the scavenger hunt! Go to the book on Amazon at this link.

Answer this question: What is Silverbelle allergic to?

When you have the answer, fill out this form and head on to the next blog!

Thank you so much for visiting! The next author on the tour is Karen Witemeyer, who is telling us about her Christmas book, An Old-Fashioned Texas Christmas . You can find it at this link.  Remember that the round-robin will end on December 16th at 11:59 PM EST!

Supernatural or Paranormal?

Miracles Green Road Sign Against Clouds and Sunburst.

This is a question that I struggled with when I first decided to write a time-slip novella.

First the Merriam-Webster:

Supernatural: “1. of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible or observable universe; especially of or relating to God, or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil.

2. a.departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature

2.b. attributed to an invisible agent (such as a ghost or spirit)”

Paranormal: “not scientifically explainable”

Clear as a white squall. In fact, they seem to be saying the same thing, which is fine unless you are dealing with fiction. I dug a little deeper and essentially what I determined is this:

Supernatural pertains to things that go beyond the natural world as we see it. Healings are supernatural. Turing water into wine is supernatural. I would put Frank Peretti’s books, This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, and Prophet,  in this category.  While glimpses into the spiritual world in those books are fiction, the real world is a supernatural place. Angels, demons, and witches do exist. Fiction books that contain these elements therefore, for me, are supernatural.

Paranormal is where I would put books that feature creatures like vampires, were-creatures, and shape-shifters. Those creatures do not exist. They are dark, supernatural fantasy which I would call paranormal.

With those distinctions clearly in place I proceeded to write my first supernatural romance. It’s called Max: A Yorktown Christmas Time-Slip Novella. It will release on December 6, 2019. Obviously it’s a time-slip and that is the only supernatural element in the entire book. To date it is my favorite book of the several I’ve written.

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So what do you think? How would you define the difference between supernatural and paranormal in fiction. Which do you prefer?

Five Things About Old Virginia Houses

 

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1. An old Virginia house rarely stood alone, it was more like a complex that resembled a small village. Many of the services that the family needed were done in separate buildings called dependencies. Virginia, then as now, was hot and buggy. To keep down the threat of fire the kitchen was a separate building. The ones I’ve seen are two stories, square, and made of brick. The fireplace spanned one wall. Servants lived upstairs. Other buildings housed things like a dairy, smokehouse, icehouse, laundry, gardener’s tools, stables, and of course, the outhouse. 

2. They are smaller than you might think. To be fair, there is more than one type of house. In fact, at the time I am usually interested in, 1700 – 1800, the building codes were not as formal and stringent as they are now. You could build what you wanted. And they did. From a one-room log house on the frontier to the brick governor’s palace in Williamsburg, things were smaller than what one thinks of the grand houses of Europe. The governor’s palace reminds me of a four-square farmhouse with a large hall tacked on to the back. The picture of the hall here makes it appear very large when I visited I wondered how dancing was conducted in such a small space. Of course if one was living in a two-roomed log house a few miles away, the governor’s house was sure to feel like a palace.

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3. Many were built with a large central hallway and lots of windows to let the air breeze through. This was thought to keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter. The hall was not the empty space we see when we visit the old houses. It could be used as office space, school space, and once cleared of furniture: dance space. 

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4. This one is obvious, but really struck me when I was touring George Wythe’s house: there is no running water. That means no sink. That means no room to house the sink. I know about bowls of water and chamber pots, but it was not a simple thing to pop over to the sink and wash hour hands because you cut your finger while paring your quill or because you spilled ink on your skirt. 

5. Glass made in the colony was either green or blue. It is possible that some of the early houses started off with blue or green glassed windows until they could afford to import the clear stuff from England. Some old cabins used oiled paper to let in the light. 

The picture of the Randolf House was taken by me at Williamsburg, Virginia.

The picture of the layout of the governor’s mansion was taken by me from page 41 of The Mansions of Virginia 1706 – 1776, by Thomas Tileson Waterman, University of North Carolina Press, 1945.

The picture of the hall was taken by me at the Frances Land House in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

 

 

Plumpers

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My grandmother used to say that it was important to take care of your teeth because if you lost them your face would sag. So it was in Colonial Virginia. When I was researching my first historical novel, The Shopkeeper’s Widow, I found one source that said colonial women used wax to fill the gaps in their teeth and that these were called “plumpers”. The book was expensive so I didn’t buy it, I wish I had kept better notes because now, I can’t find my source.

When researching for this post all references I found referred to cork plumpers. It seems cork balls were used in the mouth to plump out the cheeks. And truthfully, it does make more sense than wax for the simple reason that wax melts.  If some did use wax, and they probably did sometimes—because what is ever absolute among resourceful people? I suspect it was beeswax due to its ability to withstand heat.

I kept thinking of those wax soda bottles that were so popular when I was a kid. It makes me much happier to think of them with cork balls than wads of wax gumming up the works!

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Here are some references:

Beauty and Cosmetics 1550 to 1950 (Shire Library) by Sarah Jane Downing

Buckskin Dresses and Pumpkin Breeches: Colonial Fashions from the 1580s to the 1760s (Dressing a Nation: The History of U.S. Fashion) by Kate Havelin

The Love for History Blog

Self Publishing: The fun continues

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It seems that each step of the way I learn about 60 things I wish I’d known before I sent my work out into the world. Oh well, live an learn, right?

1. It’s a good idea to have your edited book proofread by a professional proofreader one more time before you publish. Mine found a thousand tiny errors. Yes. ONE THOUSAND more errors. I must not have caught these when I went through and made all the fixes my editor suggested.

2. A professional format makes your book look, well, professional. Finding Boaz is beautiful in print and e-book now. I am in the process of doing the same for The Christmas Gift.
3. I have used Smashwords to reach platforms like iBooks, BN, and Kobo. But Smashwords does not support some of the neat layout features that are now in my books. So I had to create accounts at those platforms. The result was I lost all the reviews! At the Kobo I had one 5-star and two 4-star reviews. Gone. This makes me sad. Hopefully they will be replaced in no time when people see the new format and cleaner copy.

4. Due to the cost of all these nice things I have made the price $0.99. You can still find Finding Boaz for free at Smashwords, but the other venues it will be $0.99. Yes, Smashwords has the new proofread copy, just not the fancy layout.

5. The moral of the story is get it as good and shine as you can before you put it out there in the world. Then you can keep your reviews and maybe even get a bunch more!!

The kitten has nothing to do with anything other than he’s awfully cute!! Enjoy 🙂

“Room and Board”

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Have you ever wondered where some of our old phrases come from?

The more I read about Colonial Virginia the more interesting little facts I find. Recently I came across this little tidbit that I just had to share, this being the month of the biggest meal of the year.

“The family ate from a long board or pair of boards nailed together, which stood on trestles close to the fireplace. No one called it a dining table. It was, instead, the board table, and the cloth that covered it, if the family had one, was the board cloth. To sit ‘at the board’ was to eat, and a hired hand expected both “room and board”as part of his pay.”

~Everyday Life in Early America, by David Freeman Hawke, Harper and Row, New York, 1988,page 56

Photo Credit: http://theblacksheeponline.com