Music Monday: “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”

Hi, everyone. I thought I’d take you all back to the world of Bayou Fire this week. Lee Benoit‘s music was in heavy rotation while I wrote the book, and his band was the one I had in mind during the scene in which Amos and Diana are dancing at Mulate’s. Enjoy!

Sample Saturday, “Pompeii Fire”

Hi, everyone. Today’s sample is from my work in progress, Pompeii Fire. As always, since this is a draft, there may be changes to the final text. Enjoy!


Pompeii Fire v 2“How different life is now,” Stephanus looked around at the countryside. “To think that, just a few years ago, I was buying my freedom and my business. All of those years being paid to pick up people’s nightsoil in town, and look at me! I’m able to help an old friend set up his new business with both my time and my treasure.”

Drusus nodded. “I can only imagine.”

“No, I don’t think you can, my friend. You were never a slave. You never had to say ‘yes’ to things that made you want to choke. You never had to stand knee-deep in piss to clean clothes. The day my former master gave me the nightsoil route was the day my life changed. Everyone in town had to pay me to pick up their chamber pots to collect the urine, and my master let me keep the money. Now I’m a free man with slaves of my own. I don’t have to obey orders anymore, and no one can deny me my wishes.”

Drusus’ mouth straightened into a grim line. “Life is not so simple, my friend. I think we both know that. There is always someone above us to direct things. For instance, you must obey the aedile, or a senator.”

“Yes, yes,” Stephanus waved his hand. “But in daily life? No one may gainsay me. I only wish my Vorena had lived to see this day.”

Drusus shook his head. “She was a good woman.”

“Hmm. Yes. She was a modest, virtuous person, and she gave me a son. What woman could have wanted more from life?” Stephanus sighed with contentment. “Your Servilia was a good woman as well, although it was a pity she only gave you a daughter.”

Weekend Reads: “The Lost Apothecary”

The Lost ApothecaryThe Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not even sure where to begin with this exceptional dual-timeline novel. In 1791, apothecary Nella has devoted her life to helping women, whether with their own ailments or ridding them of problems of all sorts — especially abusive or philandering husbands.

In the present day, aspiring historian Caroline has come to London to sort her thoughts about her ailing marriage. On a whim, she decides to go mudlarking … and finds a glass vial with, unbeknownst to Caroline, ties to Nella’s shop. Caroline decides to research the little vial, and learns more than she bargained for.

This is an exquisitely-researched book about women’s roles, herbal medicine (including poisons) and 18th C. social mores, as well as a look at the complexities of human nature and how little of *that* has changed over time.

That I read such a lengthy novel in just two nights is telling; I did not want to put it down. There are some serious twists and turns in the modern-day portion of the book that keep the reader wondering what could possibly happen next. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Yes, But How Did It Smell? @JMmystery — Buried Under Books

Jeanne Matthews is happy to announce the arrival of a new historical mystery, Devil by the Tail, released in July 2021.  Jeanne has a yen for travel and a passion for mythology, which she works into her novels whenever she can.  Originally from Georgia, Jeanne lives in Washington State with her husband, a law professor, […]

Yes, But How Did It Smell? @JMmystery — Buried Under Books

Click through for an interesting article on how we describe smells when we write.

State of the Author: An Update

Hi, everyone. First, thank you to those who expressed condolences for the loss of Marmalade and Penelope. It was indeed a hard blow to us, and we’ve been more than a little paranoid about the rest of the colony. My husband and our housemate cut down the oleander tree and dug out the oleander bush in the yard at my request; we don’t know that they were the cause, but I felt better. (Oleander is poisonous, for those who don’t know). The oleander was planted by my late mother-in-law and we’ve had the colony for five years without an incident like this … but I’d still rather be safe than sorry.

Also, thanks to those who expressed sympathy for my recent pain management issues. I spent three days on “the big guns,” as I call my scrip; it really was that bad. I am much better today, but very tired; the most common side effects of my scrip is fatigue, but it also kind of messes up your sleep pattern because you’re off to bed early or napping for several hours during the day. As a result, last night I slept for two hours starting at 6:30 PM and then was wide awake until 12:30 AM — with a 5 AM alarm as I’m physically in the office today. I finished an entire novel last night.

If I thought I could get away with it, I’d curl up on the floor under my desk!

Anyway, I appreciate all of you more than you will ever know. Thank you.