Jackie Barbosa, Historical & Contemporary Author

It has been said that the romance community is the most supportive and generous of all the genre communities and I have seen the evidence many times over in different situations.

Last week one of our beloved authors, Jackie Barbosa, lost her seventeen-year-old son in a car accident. Although most of us will never be able to understand the depth of her and her family’s pain, Jackie’s loss is also our loss and we grieve for her and with her.

Today, in support of Jackie and her family, I’d like to introduce you to some Jackie’s books. One of the first stories of hers that I read was one of the Lords of Lancashire series, THE LESSON PLAN. I loved the way everything is blended seamlessly into the story: the emotions, the history and that wicked naughtiness that makes her heroes spark.

Jackie Barbosa's THE LESSON PLAN cover

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The next one I read was BEHIND THE RED DOOR. This was much spicier than my usual fare, but the excellent storytelling kept me turning pages and rewarded me with three great novellas that I might have missed out on otherwise.

Jackie Barbosa's BEHIND THE RED DOOR

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Jackie also has two free historical short stories available — THE REIVER and NINE LADIES DANCING (part of the 12 Days of Christmas Anthology) — so you can get to know her wonderful writing with no obligation. Of course, I hope you fall in love as I have and explore her full catalog.

Jackie Barbosa's THE REIVER cover12 Days of Christmas Anthology cover

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I had the treat of hearing Jackie read from SKIN IN THE GAME, one of her contemporaries, last fall at the San Diego Lady Jane’s Salon. The wry humor, the sexual tension and the details that made this female football coach believable were all present proving she is at home in this genre as well and her writing strengths shine here as well.

You can find information about her and her many books on her website: http://www.jackiebarbosa.com/

My heart aches for this very talented author and amazing woman who is always so generous with her time and knowledge of publishing. And while buying a book and leaving a positive review if you enjoyed it may not seem like much, it can really lift an author’s spirits and I hope you’ll join me in sending some good thoughts and light in these dark times for Jackie and her family.

A memorial fund has been set up in her son’s name. Details to donate can be found on The Season For Romance website. Any and all donation amounts are greatly appreciated.

Fragrant Rain 09/52

Fragrant Rain 09/52: Photo of a raindrops clinging to a climbing vine of flowers by Kristen Koster on Flickr.com

Fragrant Rain

We’ve been getting some much needed rain here in SoCal for the past several days. The intermittent downpours haven’t dampened the scent of these pretty little pink flowers that bloom right outside my kitchen window making it seem like we’ve had a quite fragrant rain come through. Usually a steady rain here makes everything smell either squeaky clean and fresh or it brings out the deep, rich, earthy smells. So this heavy floral scent is a noticeable change.

I’m not sure what kind of flowers these are exactly, but when you walk outside and the breeze blows the right way, you get hit with a wall of fragrance, even from 15-20 feet away. It’s a heady sweet scent to match their girly pink blooms. The fence that they’re growing on has been taken over by it and they’re threatening to consume the bird feeder hanging there as well.

Hopefully the rain will help rather than hinder (in the case of recent burns areas where they’re experiencing mudslides and flooding) in the long run. Of course, lots of spring rain generally leads to lots of underbrush growth that then dries up after 5-6 months of no rain and provides lots of tinder in the fall. Vicious cycle.

I also noticed I’ve been forgetting to put my EXIF info for my photos this year. I’ll try to go back and add them at some point, but in the meantime, you can click on the photo to go to Flickr’s site and click on the … icon and choose EXIF info to see which camera, exposure, aperture, focal length and ISO Speed is used in each shot. It’s something I should pay more attention to in the shots I feel work, but I’m usually much more appreciative of the serendipitous successes than ones that I try to manufacture.

Catching Up: Weekly Photos 06-08/52

I’ve been rather quiet and off the net more than usual the past three weeks because my mom passed away suddenly on February 2nd and it’s been quite a shock and as you can imagine, posting my weekly photos was the last thing on my mind. This necessitated a trip back to Maryland where I grew up. Of course, it being February, I had to sneak in between the snow storms and also be back home in time for our daughter’s 17th Birthday party this weekend. It’s challenging trying to figure out what you’re going to pack when you haven’t had to deal with winter and temperatures below freezing in about 20 years.

Dawn over Coronado Island 06/52

Dawn over Coronado Island by Kristen Koster on Flickr
This is from the early morning flight out from San Diego. Wave goodbye to the warm weather! This one was actually taken with my iPad.

A Real Winter Storm! 07/52

A Real Winter Storm!
I came to realize that while I like seeing snow and think it’s rather pretty, I don’t like the reality of the slush and the bother that comes after the pretty wears off. I also didn’t much like it every few days or so, especially when my husband and kids were scheduled to fly in on Valentine’s Day.

Pound Cake 08/52

Pound Cake
This is the cake I baked for our daughter’s 17th Birthday party yesterday. The recipe is one my grandmother got from an old German lady who refused to make it again after she tried my grandmother’s version. I suspect the farm fresh eggs and raw milk from the neighbor’s cows put her city-acquired ingredients to shame. My family has always baked pound cakes in a tube pan instead of a loaf pan. Maybe this is a regional thing? I don’t know, but they sure come out pretty this way.

Peekaboo Bird of Paradise 04/52

Photo of a Bird of Paradise plant peeking up from behind another bush by Kristen Koster on Flickr.com

Peekaboo Bird of Paradise

A bit more color from here in Sunny SoCal for those of you still gripping with cold temperatures and the occasional snowstorm. Spring is coming! Don’t lose faith!

I’ve always like these bird of paradise plants. They can always be counted on to bring a spot of color to the winter months here and the flower formation and even the leaves are interesting in the right light. What I didn’t realize before we actually had any in our own yard, was just how dirty they can also be. The dead brown flowers will rarely be mistaken for a bird of any kind. At least they don’t smell…

January has been a quick month and I haven’t found my way out of the yard yet. MUST work on that this year. I’ve been eyeing the neighbor’s tree, but that’ll be another flower so maybe it won’t count. I need to drive out to the dam one day and see if I can find something interesting there now that I’ve got this zoom lense. Unfortunately, the water won’t be spilling over like the last time we was out there.

Sunny So Cal 3/52

Photo of Palm Trees in late afternoon sun in Sunny So Cal by Kristen Koster on Flickr.com

Sunny So Cal

While the rest of the country has been dealing with temperatures well below normal, we’ve been having a heat wave here in Southern California. My car’s thermometer hit 90˚F on two separate days this week. Now, granted this was because the car had been sitting in the sun with the windows up, the temp never dipped below 86˚F either afternoon after opening it up and driving to school. It’s just not natural to have summer in January. We’re not in the southern hemisphere!

So why are we so hot? The Santa Ana winds have been blowing in off the desert to the east. We haven’t been getting any cool ocean breezes where we live — it’s a bit inland. But instead of having warnings about extremely low temperatures and worrying if we’ve left faucets to drip so they don’t freeze, we’ve been experiencing a different kind of anxiousness. You see, we’re experiencing a drought here in the desert (Yup, we pipe in all our water and irrigate the hell out of everything! Oh, and to ski, they draw up lake water and manufacture their own snow.) and with the winds and temperatures that high, the humidity in the single digits or low teens… we get put under a red flag warning. The means there’s a danger of wildfires. Luckily the few that started last week in the county were put out quickly, but it seems that one area closer to LA wasn’t as lucky.

Even in the middle of winter and usually when we’d be expecting a deluge of rain in about a month or so, we’re parched beneath those gorgeous sunny skies. Everywhere has its own problems. Just some insight into how paradise isn’t always what it appears to be. It looks like the winds have stopped now, but I’d send gladly ship out some of our heat if I could.

A Regency Primer on London Parks

When talking about the Royal London Parks in the Regency, the first thing to remember the word “park” held a different meanings from how we (especially Americans) typically think of them today.

So get those visions of benches, swing sets, picnic tables and those box-shaped grills on metal posts out of your head, because our Regency folks would say a “park” refers to a large open tract of land that is often used for grazing cattle or a place where deer were hunted. You’ll often see the land surrounding a country manor house referred to as a park as well and the author just means that there is a lot of open land surrounding the place that may or may not be landscaped or fenced off.

London Parks in the Regency Era

Today, we’re going to talk a bit about some of the parks that Regency Era heroes and heroines might have visited. And I’m using Regency Era to mean the long Regency, which continues through the reigns of George IV, William IV and ends when Queen Victoria was crowned.

Hyde Park

London Parks: Hyde Park section of "Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace"

Hyde Park section of “Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace”

  • The entirety of the park encompasses nearly 400 acres of land, so finding someone there was by chance or a prearranged meeting in a particular location.
  • The Fashionable Hour: 4:30 to 7:30 pm during the Season (late January or February until May). This is when riders and people drove around the park in their carriages, preferably open ones so they could see and be seen.
  • Rotten Row; a corruption of route de roi or King’s Route in French. Known for fast riders.
    Rotten Row was the famous stretch of road in the park notorious for speed demons on horseback.
  • For the fairer sex, the Ladies’ Mile promised a more sedate bridle path.
  • Driving one’s fanciest carriage around the graveled pleasure-driving roads known as the Ring.
  • The Serpentine — really a man-made ornamental pond that wound through a section of the park. Very shallow.
  • Known location for illegal duels & quite attractive to thieves and ruffians.

St. James’s Park

  • 57 acres
  • Near St. James Street — location of the gentleman’s clubs… not the safest for women who wished to keep their reputations intact
  • Pedestrian except for a few select notables with Royal dispensation to drive carriages there
  • John Nash was commissioned by George IV and remodeled the park in 1826-1827.
London Parks: Green Park, St. James's Park and Buckingham Palace section of "Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace

Green Park, St. James’s Park and Buckingham Palace section of “Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace

Green Park

  • 47 acres
  • John Nash landscaped the park in 1820, as an adjunct to St. James’s Park.
  • The park has no buildings or lakes like many of its neighbors.
  • Readers familiar with the Victorian era may recognize it as the location of an assassination attempt upon the Queen by Edward Oxford on June 10, 1840.

The Regent’s Park

London Parks: The Regent's Park section of "Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace",

The Regent’s Park section of “Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace”,

  • a 410 acre site on the North side of London – formerly Marylebone Park and very marshy.
  • Prince George commissioned John Nash to redevelop the park in 1811 — terraces, geometric layout with an outer circle and an inner circle, cultivated flowerbeds and classical statuary.
  • The terraces — housing for the very wealthy – each situated so as to overlook the park in such a way they might each perceive the park was theirs alone.
  • Nearby Regent’s Street, one of the first planned developments of London, was designed and built as a commercial area separating the less than respectable Soho from the posh and fashionable Mayfair.
  • Regent’s Park wasn’t open to the general public until the late 1830′s and then only for two days a week.

More information regarding a variety of other Regency-themed topics can be found on my Regency Resource page. If you’d like more information on a specific place or topic, please let me know in the comments section below.

Madagascar Lace 2/52

Photo of Madagascar Lace, a lacey-leafed aquarium plant by Kristen Koster on Flickr.com

Madagascar Lace

After dealing with a couple of nasty algae blooms in our fish tanks, my husband has decided that plants are the way to beat it back and keep it from coming back again. As a result, both our tanks are looking very lush and pretty, but they’re also sporting complicated tables with fertilizer and mineral dosings.

This Madagascar Lace is his newest purchase and is one of the harder plants to keep happy. He’s been having good luck in the small tank (plants are closer to the lights) so hopefully it will thrive in there like the swords have done and graduate to the big tank when it gets big enough.

The fish? They don’t seem to care one way or the other. In the big tank they like the new thin grasses that must taste like spaghetti to them and enjoy uprooting whatever’s in their way. The smaller tank seems to like having more places to hide, but when you add cherry shrimp to the mix, this just makes it harder to tell if you have any left or not.

Fish are tricky to get good pictures of! Talk about your moving targets! And the sound of the shutter whir, just sends them scattering almost guaranteeing a blurry result. For the big tank, I’ve learned to use my big lens and sit across the room to “sneak” up on them.