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The Christmas 2011 edition of the newsletter.

Christmastide Greetings!

We're about to dance into the twelve days of Christmas, which happily coincides in the northern hemisphere with the days slowly lengthening. This is why the northern parts of Europe, the one's with the shortest days, have winter festivals of light such as Yule, particularly associated with fire, and Saint Lucy's day, when a young woman portrays Lucy or Lucia wearing a crown of candles.

Light is so central to our lives and yet we take it for granted until something like a power cut reminds us of the reality. In the world of my novels people had to be ingenious with winter light. They carried candles shielded by glass covers and used reflectors to direct candlelight onto their reading or work.

You can see one used by George Washington here.

In the past, moonlight was important for it is possible to see well by moonlight on a clear night. The famous Lunar Society of the 18th century was not particularly concerned with the moon; it was a group of scientists and philosophers in the northern part of England who met when the moon was full and travel easier.

Country events might be timed close to a full moon for ease of traveling. However, the problem of returning home in the dark, with the increased hazard of highwayman added, meant that most balls ended at dawn. They would break at about midnight for a supper, then dance on until dawn when a breakfast might be offered before they staggered out to their coaches to return home. One thing about those aristocratic revelers of the past -- they had stamina!

You'll see this sort of situation in A Scandalous Countess, where Lady Maybury makes her return to the beau monde at a ball hosted by her sister at Hammersmith. Now, Hammersmith is part of London, but in 1765 it was a village on the Thames which was far too far from the heart of the world for Georgia Maybury's taste. Unfortunately her being unjustly the center of a scandal makes discretion wise.

At least the tantalizing scarred ex-naval officer, Lord Dracy, is there to challenge and amuse her. And to help her when scandal explodes yet again.

A Scandalous Countess will be out in early February. It's not listed as an e-book yet, but it will be out for all e-readers.

You can read a short excerpt here.

Do you share my problem -- a tendency to get slow and depressed as darkness sets in early?

In case you do, I'm sharing my solution -- SAD lights.

SAD is seasonal affected disorder and a lot of people of all ages have it. Sometimes we think it's normal to get depressed and slow as winter creeps in, but it's not. It's possible that in the past it was less common because most of us spendt more time outside, working on the land and walking to and fro. Today some people drive into an office block in the dark in the morning and out again in the evening and hardly get any exposure to sunlight at all.

Add to that, winter sunlight is weak, and even an hour or two out in it, with a reasonable amount of skin exposed -- shiver! -- is probably not enough, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to go for a walk in the middle of the day.

There are all kinds of SAD lights -- mine's a little portable one called the Litebook (which sounds like an e-reader, doesn't it?) -- but unless you're bouncy and full of joy in the shorter days, you might want to look into getting one with any money left over from Christmas.

May your stocking be full of wonderful books, and your season merry and bright!


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