Sorting through a packrat’s nest

switchThey say 21 days of doing anything makes a habit. Blogging love quotes for 100 days is a habit x 4. No more searches, gotta stop myself from hunting down a love quote. I gotta stop. But I love love quotes. No… must… power down… the habit.

This morning I discovered the My Computer icon gone from my desktop along with a few quick start icons I had there. I managed to get everything back by using the System Restore. I consider this a portent of things to come. My new laptop hasn’t arrived yet. With a prayer to the tech gods this machine hangs on just a bit longer, I’ve been sorting files.

I’m a self-acknowledged info hound, a.k.a. file packrat,
packrat.fileswho really needs a manager, a personal assistant, or at the least, a good shaking. I even have files on floppy disks! What are the odds those are still good?

Needless to say, I’ve found other things to recycle today. Reposting perfectly good posts that debuted elsewhere really isn’t a bad idea during this busy holiday season. I always put a lot of thought and creativity into them to try to make them as interesting as possible, so hey, why not? I’m thinking I may do this again next December as sort of a year in perspective — where I’ve been, guest posts and interviews I’ve had, that sort of thing. After all, everything is new to someone who hasn’t already seen it and I have new blog visitors everyday. So anyway…

The first offering is a character interview I did for the Heart of Romance Valentine Celebration earlier this year. I give you a whimsical chat with Nicolas Halstead from Loving Leonardo and Loving Leonardo – The Quest.

I had an unusual experience the other day. It was a quiet day at home, inside and out. The snow was falling in that slow magical sort of way. It was just cold enough that snowflakes landing against my windowpane lingered a second longer as perfect six-pointed stars before falling to accumulate on the sill. I’d spent the morning seeing to author obligations and chipping away at my work in progress. I decided I’d take a much deserved break and enjoy a cup of tea.

I have a small collection of British fortuneteller teacups and saucers. They’re fun and fanciful little things for reading tea leaves back in the day. Several in my collection are from the Victorian era. That day, I chose the Aynsley bone china cup. I’ve been in a Victorian England frame of mind lately, unavoidable considering I’m wrapping up book two in my unusual Victorian polyamorous romance – Loving Leonardo.

Loving Leonardo is one of those color outside the lines stories for me. I like to stretch my abilities as a writer and I especially love challenges. The impetus for Loving Leonardo came right out of the headlines last summer. The US elections were underway and lines were drawn as political opponents dug their heels on key social issues. It got me thinking. Here it was 2012 and who you love, and who you wanted to commit your love to, were still hot issues as if love itself was a social condition and not a deeply personal thing.

At the time, the news was also filled with women’s issues and negative talk of “progressives”. I’d heard the term women’s issues combined with progressive before. That was the point to the Suffragettes 100 years ago! Before I knew it, I had a very American, very unorthodox, Victorian progressive heroine named Ellie.

My hero Nicolas Halstead is an art historian working for the famed Ashmolean museum. Nicolas leads a somewhat normal life as of a man of means, though he takes pains to hide his homosexuality from the world. He has to. Even though it’s no longer a death sentence, his nature is still a criminal offense at this time. One day Ellie, the daughter of an American consul, comes to call and confronts him with her knowledge of his particular predilection. To his incredulous disbelief, she proposes marriage. But there’s method to her madness. It turns out she wants him to help her rescue a previously unknown work of Leonardo da Vinci – a book of love poems and erotic sketches from Leonardo to his lover Salai. How could an art historian refuse?

Thus begins their unorthodox marriage and abiding friendship. The book is held by a man who has plans to destroy it for the vulgar thing he sees it as, so they race to Venice and devise a plan on their journey. They didn’t count on meeting Luca, himself a historian. Secrets are revealed as they share their common interest in Leonardo da Vinci. While they come to redefine their long-held notions of themselves, a man with a dark obsession comes into their lives. The story continues in the second book. I’ve enjoyed these characters so much, they may very well return for other adventures.

So as I sat with my tea, my mind revisited previously written story threads searching for that perfect crescendo to end with. Wouldn’t you know, Nicolas Halstead appeared beside me. What else was there to do but ask my Victorian gentleman questions…

Nicolas: Rose! Good afternoon.

Rose: Hello Nicolas, what brings you out on a day like this?

Nicolas: You, my dear.

Rose: Oh, I guess I did. How silly of me. I’m having a little trouble ending this adventure of yours. Any insights you could share that might point me in that direction?

Nicolas: Hmm…what would you like to know?

Rose: Well, let’s start with the women in your life. What can you tell me about them?

Nicolas: There’s my grandmother, Lady Augusta Halstead. I’d describe her as a stately woman of  dignity, for she takes her role as Dowager quite seriously. A week doesn’t pass where she doesn’t make the rounds to visit the Halstead tenants and parsonage. I’ve never found her affected or stuffy, though there’s no denying she has her finger on the pulse of society. She’s always ready to laugh and is affectionate in her own reserved way. That, and she loves to play mahjong with her friends. I don’t know what else to say other than I love her.

Rose: She raised you.

Nicolas: Yes she did. At a young age I’d lost both my parents and nanny to a coach accident. I’d have to say however, that my housekeeper Mrs. Fletcher played a far greater role in my upbringing. With my parents and nanny dead and my bones broken, I was naturally inconsolable. Grannie was dealing with her own grief, after all she’d lost her only son and daughter-in-law. Mrs. Fletcher’s tenderness saw me through my pain and loss. In fact, I’d bonded so thoroughly with that loving woman that my grandmother dismissed her hastily hired nanny and left me in Mrs. Fletcher’s care. Though I was too young to understand it at the time, I’d learned much later that Mr. Fletcher had passed just a month before I arrived in my sorry state. She’d needed me as much as I’d needed her. That Grannie made this small unconventional adjustment to her household was a demonstration of her concern and affection for the both of us.

Rose: That was unusual for the time.

Nicolas: Quite. Mrs. Fletcher still looks out for me. She was very fond of my parents and with Grannie’s help raised me in my father’s image. I couldn’t love her more than I do. To me, she is the only mother I remember.

Rose: And what about Ellie? Ah, that made you smile!

Nicolas: I’ll begin by saying her marriage proposal impacted my life in ways I hardly thought possible, and that she’s single-handedly brought me immense happiness. She’s helped me to discover myself. Not only do I adore her views and perspective, I consider Ellie a true partner in life and love. She’s opened my mind to things I’d never thought about before – women’s rights for example. I doubt half the men in my own House of Lords are as well versed in Britannia’s policies as she is in the politics of your America. My wife is by far the most intelligent women of my acquaintance, present company excepted of course.

Rose: Thanks.

Nicolas: You’re welcome, my dear. Ellie is delightfully refreshing. In general, I find Americans aren’t as stodgy in their mannerisms as we English are. My wife can be as bold as brass, but that’s one of the reasons I love her so completely like I do. She’s quick and witty and kind, and has a tremendous capacity for love.

Rose: And that brings me to Luca.

Nicolas: As you are well aware, Luca is a sensitive soul who’s been through much pain and isolation. I’d do anything to keep him safe and ease his mind. He’s compassionate, loving, and thoughtful. And to those he cares for, he’s self-sacrificing to a fault. In many ways, he and I are cut from the same cloth in our interests and views. But where I am reserved, Luca is bold and brave, far braver than I. He’s a man anyone would be proud to know, let alone love. Ellie feels that sentiment as well. It’s trite to say, but we three complete one another in ways we hardly realized were incomplete a mere six months ago. They love me unconditionally, and I love them for that and more.

Rose: It’s impossible not to feel that love between you. How does Thomas fit into this picture?

Nicolas shook his head and as quickly as he appeared, he was gone. He had his reasons. I refilled my cup and went back to my laptop.


Sample the unconventional award-winning Loving Leonardo story (books 1 & 2) Discover the surprisingly racy Victorian world through Nicolas’ eyes and immerse yourself in reader-interactive art history to see exactly what he sees.
Love Waits in Unexpected Places – Scorching Samplings of Unusual de5b2-ll-awardsLove Stories


holi2Response to my vintage holiday cards has been wonderful. It’s nice that other people appreciate ephemera like we do. If you’re here for the first time, my husband and I are building a vintage holiday postcard scrapbook one card at a time. I’ve been posting one or two each day and plan to keep it up from now until January.

The squirrel is cute, but check out this holiday potato. What the heck??



b1e43-eqpicJoin us today for ~ The Genesis of a Book
We’re featuring Domingo’s Angel by Jenny Twist

Several promotional opportunities for romance authors can be found on my Exquisite Quills group blog.


rb4uauthor Gemma Juliana’s blog day.

RB4U is participating in author Nikki Barrett’s READER APPRECIATION GIVEAWAY — Lots of prizes. Enter today!

Santa1Our December contest has approximately 30 prizes for one winner, including a $75 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. I’m adding a free book from my backlist to the loot. Read the pages and find the dancing Santas.

It’s double-digit cold here this morning. In my neck of the woods we’re a frigid -15° with this arctic wind. I recall trees exploding at this temperature when I lived in Chicago. I sure hope I don’t lose anymore of these precious old oaks.
I found  an ultra-tasty butternut squash recipe in my files just perfect for weather like this. This has to be the absolute best butternut squash bisque. Certainly the best I’ve ever tasted.

Butternut Squash Soup
Delicious and extremely easy to make.

3 to 4 cups of chicken broth (I use two 32 oz cartons of low sodium broth)
Half an 8 ounce brick of cream cheese
1 medium-sized onion chopped fine
6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (I use one large squash)
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/8 t. ground cayenne pepper

Combine and simmer until the squash is soft and mashable. Add cream cheese and stir in a figure-8 motion until melted. Use a stick blender or Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to pot, heat and enjoy!
Optional: a pat of butter or a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.  Use more cayenne if you want. A
5-Star Yum.



EQ coverExquisite Quills presents A Holiday Anthology Vol. 1
Many holiday short stories in several styles written
by more than a dozen authors. And it’s FREE!



About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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8 Responses to Sorting through a packrat’s nest

  1. Judy says:

    Loved your conversation with your character, Nicolas.

    • Thanks Judy. When I wrote Nicolas and Ellie (Elenora) I had in mind Dashiell Hammett’s characters Nick and Nora Charles. I found Nicolas and Ellie’s affectionate banter such fun, I thought they’d like to go have other adventures and solve mysteries. They may yet.

  2. J.D. Faver says:

    So many charming bits of information. Love the holiday potato. I’m late in getting the tree up this year. Trying to give CPR to my Christmas spirit. Thanks for the dose of cheer.

    • Yeah what’s with a holiday potato? I’ve never seen anything like that one.

      You’re welcome. This and a few more funny pictures and I’ll have you laughing all day long. 😉

      My holiday spirit is building. I’ve given to Toys for Tots. I have yet to OD on the holiday music. Half my gifts are made and more than half the shopping done. I cooked all the sausage for the big party on Christmas eve last night and it’s in the freezer ready to go. Timing is everything. lol We try for the 15th for our tree. Even though we cut our own, with the heat on in the house, it’ll be all needles come the actual holiday were we to get it earlier. I know people out my way have a tradition of putting their tree up the day after Thanksgiving. I do believe that would make me nuts.

  3. I’m actively looking for good soup recipes these days, so thanks for this one, Rose. I sense a lost piece of info about the potato postcard — perhaps it was a symbol of survival? Very unusual. Two years ago we lost way too many trees in this area after deep freezes. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again this year as we’ve just thawed out from a week of Arctic weather and while it will be warmer this week, more is heading this way next week. I hope your old trees survive. Reading the interview with Nicolas sparks my curiosity to know more.

    • Regarding the potato postcard, I wonder if it had to do with Irish relatives.

      When we lived in Chicago, we actually heard trees splitting open from the cold. Thinking on it now, perhaps the sap hadn’t all gone to the roots. Sad business. So far the oaks are holding up. Boy oh boy is it cold though. Even the little dog is having trouble with her too-cold paws when I take her out.

      Loving Leonardo is a different kind of romance. It has many layers and is a social accounting of the past 125 years. Stay warm!

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    Wonderful post, Rose. I hope your computer can hang on. I’m not looking forward to facing the demise of my baby. It’s gone everywhere with me.

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