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summer 2001

Howdy, folks

It's just ole Jim. Carol Reynard is getting ready for the baptism of yet another grandchild; and Shirl is puny, so you're stuck with me again. And even I'm sort of in a tangle since I started running a combination hospital and vet clinic. This place is bedlam. Shirl is sick with two separate infections for which she must take three kinds of medicine. Both of our 19-year old geriatric tom cats are sick and on meds. Panther has irritable bowel syndrome for which he takes the anti-inflammatory prednisone--which is also one of Shirl's medications--and a special medicated soft, stinky food. And Leopard, who is half blind, is on high blood pressure medicine. None of them can keep their medication schedules straight, so you can guess who is the primary care-giver around this zoo. It ain't easy. Yesterday, I walked into the kitchen to find Shirl spreading Panther's yuky food on a cracker. She thought the stuff was chopped liver. This morning I went into the kitchen and found Panther batting around one of Shirl's antibiotic bottles he had gotten off the counter. I have no idea what he had in mind, but he couldn't open the safety cap. Where is a visiting nurse when you need one?

And since it is vacation time, I'll probably be needing one soon...for myself. In about two weeks, we are off to Colorado and, what for me, has become a yearly near-death experience. Those of you who have read Shirl's newsletters before (which I always seem to write) will remember our friends the Voits who live in the mountains outside of Denver and who have several horses and one equine familiar-- a one-eyed, stumble-bum, malevolent, horse-like creature--named Albert. Ah Albert! Albert who insists on sliding down sideways on almost vertical mountain slopes: blind side turned down-slope, of course. Albert who cunningly pretends to stumble into pine trees bristling with dead, sharp- pointed branches that are conveniently a scant inch or so above his back but just about groin-high to his rider. Guess who always has the pleasure of riding Albert? I'd be safer hang-gliding while dangling from the talons of a vulture! But Pam, Bob, and even my own wife, find my antipathy for the beast and his for me to be a marvelous joke! Shirl may not be yuking so hard if one day that staggering bag of glue walks me into one of those sharp-pointed branches, which by the way are called “widow makers.” Even the Wretched Redhead would be appalled when I whispered lascivious suggestions in her ear in a falsetto voice like Tiny Tim singing “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips.”

Shirl just walked past and suggested sweetly that I stop whining. I suppose she's right. You can't help me with my problems, but maybe you can help her with one of hers. She's working on a trilogy that she is tentatively calling “Hands Across The Waters.” She doesn't much care for that name and neither do I. We would sure entertain any suggestions that you might have for a better one. Here's an overview. She's writing three books to be titled Yankee Earl, Rebel Baron, and Texas Viscount. The books will span the Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian eras. In Shirl's words “the common theme is an American male inheriting an English title and marrying an Englishwoman." Raised in the New World where bloodlines are not the measure of a man, these Americans confront a whole new way of thinking and living as Old World peers. To help them achieve this transformation, they require the help, often with humorous consequences, of English noblewomen...each is strong and unconventional enough to match wits with her stubborn lover--be he latter day buccaneer, haughty Southern planter, or uncouth Texas cattleman.” Can you think of a trilogy title that might be catchier than “Hands Across The Waters”? If you come up with any ideas, enter them in the guest book.

Here's something to watch for. The sequel to Wicked Angel will be out next March. Wanton Angel will center on the adventures of another of the wild Blackthorne clan, Beth, Alex's tomboy cousin. A hellion as bold as Alex, Beth leaves home for Naples to study painting only to be taught “techniques” of quite another kind by Derrick Jamison, the son of an earl, a counterfeit wastrel, but a real spy in the service of his country. The story sweeps from Naples to an Algerine harem and on to Regency England. As usual for one of Shirl's books, there's lots of adventure; and if I'm not mistaken, and I seldom am, Wanton Angel is a fitting title. There are more love scenes in this book than in her last two books combined. Oh yes, Alvin Francis Edward Drummond shows up again. This time he has been forced to pose as a...well...Drum is not happy. Look for excerpts at this website in the fall.

And don't forget the trilogy title. I'm going to give you a preview of the first book in “Hands Across The Waters.” Chapter one of Yankee Earl is on the website now. Remember. Your mission is to come up with a better trilogy title than “Hands Across The Waters.”

Take care


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