New Year Special Offer!

We all need as much cheerful reading as we can find in 2021, so Best Wishes Sister B is on special offer! In the US only, from January 5th – 12th the ebook is only 99c.

Happy New Year to all my dear readers, new and old.

The nunpegs* are pretty excited about it, as you can see. (*You need to read the book to understand nunpegs.)
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What’s Buffalo Bill doing here?

By Gessford NY – Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2948625

I’m working at the moment on the sequel to Poison at Pemberton Hall, provisionally called Death of a Generous Lady. In the course of the research, I stumbled across the fact that Buffalo Bill Cody and his 800-strong team of performers came to Cambridge with their Wild West show in 1904, the year the story is set. I don’t know yet how I can incorporate the great Colonel Cody into the story without him taking over altogether, but I think it will be fun finding out. The show (he never called it a show himself – he thought of it as a historical re-enactment, something educational, not mere spectacle) must have been astonishing in the days before film and tv. The cast brought 500 horses and travelled in three trains. They set up a small tented city wherever they went. Audiences were sometimes 12,000!

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Meet Vita!

The railings and the bicycle are both important in the story!

Published today is the next in the Edwardian mysteries series featuring the feisty young woman scientist, Vita Carew. It’s called A Thin Sharp Blade and is available on Amazon here.

Vita struggles to study science at a time (1903) when women rarely did.

She becomes involved in an investigation after her brother is injured in a boxing match.

The character came to me after a couple of ideas collided. One was a historic newspaper cutting about the murder of a boxer; the other was the stories I heard first hand from very old ladies who had studied science at university in the early part of the 20th century. They told me they were often excluded from lectures by male professors, and so they listened at the windows or from the corridor outside.

‘But weren’t you furious about that?’ I asked.

‘Oh, no. We didn’t bother with being angry, we just found a way round the obstacles they put in our way and got on with it,’ they said, cheerfully.

Some of these ladies went on to distinguish themselves in their scientific field and have long academic careers. I thought they were admirable, and so I loved the thought of writing a character like them.

It’s taken years. Along the way the Crime Writer’s Association very kindly shortlisted the book for the Debut Dagger.

I hope you enjoy it. I plan many more adventures for Vita. The next, The French Chef is ready later this summer.

It’s on Amazon in Kindle only at the moment. The paperback comes soon. Please read, enjoy, and if you could possibly write a review, that would be great!

It’s an odd feeling when you publish a book that’s taken so long. I feel as if a teenager just left home ie anxiety and relief in about equal measure!

Bon voyage, Vita!

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1: Conference Centre

Dear Emelda,

It’s rained without cease for the last five days here. We had been dry, so the water was welcome at first, but I for one have had enough of it now. The convent’s various damp areas are growing mould and the drains have stopped working again. We’ve all put our extra winter vests back on.

The chickens are gloomy, standing hunched and bedraggled in the doorway of their house. The ducks, on the other hand, are full of glee, splashing and diving in the pond – ducks adore all rain.

Rev Mother called me into her room this morning and put me in charge of developing a conference centre. 

‘You know all about conferences and that sort of thing, don’t you, Boniface?’ she said. She was standing looking out of her office window. I stood beside her and realised that she had a fine view of the cracks in the brickwork of the chapel as well as the stagnant puddle in the corner of the coutryard. 

‘No, not really,’ I said.

‘But you’ve been to some conferences about teaching and wasn’t there a writing one? You spoke at one I seem to remember. And you helped with the one we had here: Helping the Poor When You’re Poor Yourself. That was very successful.’

‘I made tea and handed out cake. You did the organising, as I recall.’

‘Could you be in charge of developing our new conference centre?’

‘What? No!’

‘How hard can it be?’ she said, moving back to her desk. ‘A few flipcharts, some chairs here and there. Refreshments…’ She was already on to the next thing. I watched helplessly as, with great finality, she crossed an item off her ‘to do’ list.

‘But Rev Mother, I think there’s a lot involved. I wouldn’t know where to begin.’ 

She picked a document off the desk and held it out. ‘Here’s a list of religious houses that already do it. Go and see a few, pick their brains. Start small, if you like. But don’t take too long, we need funds fast if we want to underpin the chapel and the drains aren’t going to fix themselves.’

‘But where can we put a conference centre?’ I asked. ‘All the usable buildings are full already.’

‘Long term we should have new buildings, I suppose, but for now you’ll have to carve the space out of what we already have. The front hall and parlour, for instance, they’re not used all that much and the little row of rooms down that passageway. Have a look at them. The rest of us will just have to shift up and make the space.’

That was a few weeks ago. Shifting up is exactly what we had to do. The easiest way to free up rooms was for the the younger sisters’ sleeping quarters to move up a floor. That was the easy part. Without many possessions to move, it didn’t take long to juggle sisters’ cells from one floor to the next. But one room had to be put in the attic – mine. Pavel made it out of timbers he found lying about. It’s a sort of loft conversion and really very comfortable as long as you remember not to straighten up under the beams. But there is still a lot of dust and an odd noise like a ticking that I can’t quite place. I thought it might be the owls whispering to each other in the nest they have in the roof but it doesn’t seem to come from that direction, and they don’t whisper, they hiss like a missionary on a bonfire, as Father Humbert would say. He sends his regards, he’s kayaking with the Young Carers this week. We always worry when he’s on an adventure holiday. He could hardly be wetter in the Lake District than we are here, even if he capsized all day long, but as you know he is notoriously accident-prone, so we always have additional prayers for his safe return. 

Do they still make galoshes, do you think? Or have they gone the way of liberty bodices? Asking for a friend.

Best wishes,

Sister B

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Borders Anthology 2019

Stories from the Horningsea Short Story Competition 2019 are collected into this anthology. They range from tales of imagined Bronze Age warriors hunting for eels to wry commentaries on Brexit.

All available on Amazon in ebook for Kindle or paperback. Click here to order online.

Amazon link

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