Cruise – and France

My husband and I took a cruise to the Mediterranean. What a wonderful trip. We started in Rome, sailed to Florence, to Marseille and Sete and ended in Barcelona.

What a beautiful part of the world!

aix

We had a coffee at a coffee shop in Aix en Provence. There are coffee shops everywhere. People eat outside even when the temperature is in the fifties.

Behind the coffee drinkers, one can see white huts. There was a Christmas fair going on, each hut a different vendor.

sete town

We went to Marseille but I took no pictures. WE weren’t allowed to leave the bus and had to take a different route because of the yellow jackets (or yellow vests). Outside of Marseille, however, we stopped at Sete, a small fishing village. It is called little Venice because of the number of canals.

sete coast

As the sun was setting, we walked along the coast of the town. A truly beautiful place.

We did see some of the protests and the protesters, not in Sete, but on excursions to the countryside. Traffic was frequently diverted and, in some cases, stopped, and smoke from burning tires filled the air. Graffitti criticizing Macros was scribbled at toll stops and on walls (my French is not up to the task of translation) and there were a lot of people wearing the yellow vests. I never felt unsafe and I thought the discussions added a depth to the visit it might not have otherwise had. It certainly made the visit memorable.

 

 

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Speaking engagements

I had the pleasure of speaking at two libraries over the weekend. I met with a group at the Florida Library (in New York) on Friday and spoke at a fundraiser in Cohoes on Sunday. (It is pronounced Co-hoes, accent on the second syllable).

This is one of my favorite things to do. I do talk about my books, but the best part is always engaging the audience. I enjoy answering the questions and finding out what readers think. And it is sometimes surprising. We might have a long conversation about American History. Usually we talk about the Shakers. Or both shipping and witches in Salem. I did not realize how many see Will Rees, my main character, as self-centered.

I also get suggestions, some of which I take.Always a pleasure for me to get out into the world.

Will Rees #7 – Simply Dead

The Shaker Murders has not even been released yet and already I am doing the edits on the next one. The crazy world of publishing!

The Shaker Murders will be published in the U.S. February 1. (It is coming out this month in the UK. Go figure.)

And now the next one, Simply Dead, is complete and will come out in the U.s. in 2020. This is also set in Maine, during the winter though, and involves the Shakers once again.

I am working on #8 which I have titled A Circle of Dead Girls. I have set it against an early traveling circus. More information to follow.

Stay tuned.

 

The Luddites

A friend called me a Luddite the other day after a fit of yelling about computers.. (I am actually good with computers. But after my laptop crashed in June, I still haven’t gotten my finances straightened out. According to Quicken, I am $14,000 in the hole. Hence my rant about computers in general and online banking in particular.) But I digress.

The name-calling prompted me to research the Luddites. Yes, it was a real group – of weavers and other textile workers in the early nineteenth century. New weaving and spinning machines were coming into the factories.The owners said that the machines were more efficient – they probably were – and would make cloth cheaper – and they did. (The word ‘shoddy’ came into being shortly thereafter. Coincidence? I doubt it.)  The weavers were not opposed to the new machinery; that was not the issue. The problem was greed.

Weavers spent seven years in an apprenticeship before they could set up shop. Now they feared that the time and effort put into this craft was wasted. They had reason to worry. As the factory owners fired the men, they hired women and children, who they paid much less, to work instead.This was the beginning of six year olds working 14 hour days in a factory.

So the men protested. They blackened their faces and broke into the factories to destroy the new and expensive machinery. They purported to follow a fictional character called Ned Ludd(a stocking weaver) or another fictional personage King Ludd. Thus the name.

The British Government sided with the factory owners and made breaking machinery a capital crime. Soldiers were sent to quell the protests. A large number of men (both members of the protests and not) were swept up and accused of being Luddites. Those that were found guilty were either executed or transported. That ended the protests very quickly.

The situation was slightly different in the United States. The first textile factory came into  being in Massachusetts in 1814. Lowell, who had seen the textile machines in Great Britain, wanted to do the same in the U.S. (The city of Lowell is named for him.) He built his first factories beginning in 1816. But the  United States had a smaller population and there was not a large number of unemployed men so there was not the same labor pool. To solve the problem Lowell hired young women, who became known as mill girls, between the ages of 15 and 35. He of course paid them less than men. (To his credit, he chose not to employ children.) The mill girls were housed in company owned boarding houses, were strictly chaperoned and offered other ‘improving’ activities so the jobs had decent working conditions. This changed as the century wore on. The mill girls unionized, went out on strike a few times, and finally joined forces with another union.

Since my character,  Will Rees, is a weaver he is going to be affected by the increasing industrialization. In fact, will lose his profession in less than twenty years. He will be in his middle fifties by then, however, a fairly advanced age for the time, so he will have missed this huge change by only a few years.

Goodreads Giveaway

To celebrate the publication of my new book, The Shaker Murders, which is coming out in February, I am giving away copies of the book that comes before it. In the Devil’s Cold Dish, Rees and his family are targeted by someone who wants to destroy them. Rees is accused of murder and then Lydia is accused of witchcraft. As Rees’s hometown turns against them, mobs of angry men descend on his farm to capture Lydia and hang her. He spirits his family to safety and then returns to Dugard. On the run, he attempts to identify the person behind the harassment.

Flying

I just heard this morning that new guidelines are being set for seats. Good. Although the flight to St. Petersburg was not long, the seat was so uncomfortable I spent the few hours twisting and turning.

Okay, flying itself is no longer fun. I love seeing other parts of the country but getting there – not fun.

I don’t have much trouble with security; they seem to have worked out the kinks. (Although my right ankle always rings. Why? I don’t know. I think the equipment gives a lot of wrong positives. The last flight, both my husband and I got tagged on the right ankle. Weird.)

But I digress.

The thing I really find annoying and strange is this. If there is a stopover at Newark or Dulles, the plan lands on the extreme opposite of the airport. To get to the other side, passengers have to walk to a door and go outside to a vehicle that looks like a subway car on wheels. At Newark passengers go down this tiny cement stairwell that is one person wide. At the bottom, an employee checks your boarding pass (because – sarcasm alert – we all know you can wander around the terminals without being checked in by security) before he allows you on the bus. Then the passengers are driven to the other side of the terminal and dropped off.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot of walking at both arms of the terminals either. So an extra 20 – 30 minutes have to be added to the layover time just to cross the terminal. And then the passengers still have to reach their gates. On our way back from Florida weather delayed our plane by almost an hour. We were running!

I couldn’t help wondering what happens to a disabled person or someone who can’t run.

And flying is not so quick either. With all the stopovers and delays, the flight took almost 12 hours. This is why I drive whenever possible.

Bouchercon and More

I haven’t blogged for awhile. Quite awhile. We moved and moving absorbs all of your energy, psychic as well as physical. Now we are unpacking which is almost as bad.

The week, yes, one week after moving, we left for Bouchercon in Florida. This was another wonderful conference. St. Pete’s was actually cooler than New York! And a wonderful breeze off the water kept the air pleasant. The Vinoy hotel was magnificent. I love this chandelier in the Grand Ballroom. It was huge. It looks like glass snakes, doesn’t it?

chandelier

I attended several great panels. And, of course, I sat on a panel of my own. Jonathan Putnam (Lincoln and Speedwell mysteries) Christopher Huang ( a new author who writes about the 1920’s) Laura Anderson ( who writes about the Tudor Period). The panel was moderated by James Ziskin who writes the Elly Stone mysteries.

panel

I also had the opportunity to talk to several authors I admire besides those on my panel. I greatly enjoyed meeting R. J. Koreto who writes the Alice Roosevelt and Lady Frances Folks mysteries set in Edwardian times.

As usual, I came away with a long list of authors that I now have to read!