As a writer of historical romances—most set in Victorian England—I find I have to pay close attention to the calendar. Not just the modern American calendar with which I’ve grown up, but the British calendar too: all the rituals, traditions, and observances that are part of their culture and heritage. So, in that spirit, Happy Michaelmas!
One of the annual quarter days, Michaelmas is observed on September 29 and marks the end of the harvest and the start of the year’s accounting. It also marks the onset of autumn, the beginning of the fall terms at British schools and universities, and the opening of the law courts.
|Blackberry Pie (Devilishly Good?)|
According to custom, special foods are eaten at Michaelmas, like bannocks and “stubble goose.” And a Michaelmas pie is often made from the last blackberries of the season, which are not picked thereafter, owing to the legend of the devil cursing the fruit after St. Michael expelled him from heaven and he landed in a bramble bush!
I would like to share my own Michaelmas harvest, in the form of a now completed series, which started almost four years ago with Waltz with a Stranger and continued with its sequel, A Song at Twilight. Since then, I’ve written two novellas set in the same universe, involving several of the same characters.
The most recent, A Scandal in Newport, was released just last month. A light-hearted romp with a whisper of intrigue, A Scandal in Newport features Thomas Sheridan and Amy Newbold, the secondary couple from Waltz with a Stranger, who find romance and danger when they travel to Newport, Rhode Island—playground of the American aristocracy—for the summer season.
In honor of the new release, A Wedding in Cornwall—written last year—has been given a new cover. Although I liked the original landscape cover, a more unified look seemed desirable now that The Heiress Series is complete. (Plus, I was a sucker for the romantic image of a woman gazing out to sea…)
|The Heiress Series (# 2.5)|
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Finally, I collected both novellas in The Heiress Brides, a paperback edition especially for lovers of print books!
Wrapping up this series was deeply satisfying, but also slightly bittersweet. Much has changed since I first began it, and I hope that I have grown both as a writer and a person in the intervening years. I’m also not closing the door entirely on the characters: some may well get their own stories down the road. In the meantime, I have a whole roster of projects on which I hope to get started… once I catch my breath!
Have you started or finished any project this summer? What is your personal “harvest”?
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