Archive for April, 2012

If You Like….

Monday, April 30th, 2012

We all have our own bizarre trope preferences. One of mine (result of a childhood reading Victorian-set gothics) is books with governesses in them.

If you like books featuring governesses, you’ll probably like….

— Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. How can one not lead off with Jane Eyre? It’s the origin of all other governess novels. (The 2007 Masterpiece Theatre version was particularly excellent. Just sayin’.)

— Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting. Possibly my personal favorite governess novel of all time.

— Victoria Holt, Mistress of Mellyn. No one writes Victorian governesses like Victoria Holt. And where better to start than at the very beginning, with her first book? (Because, as another governess has advised us, “Let’s start at the very beginning… A very good place to start….”).

— Barbara Michaels, The Master of Blacktower. Not my favorite Victorian-set Barbara Michaels (cough, Sons of the Wolf, cough), but Barbara Michaels plus governess still equals an excellent read. (For another Barbara Michaels variant on the governess theme, see also Black Rainbow).

— Jill Tattersall, The Wild Hunt. I adore Jill Tattersall’s books. They’re a rare and wonderful hybrid: Regency gothic.

— For something somewhat less gothic, Christina Dodd has not one governess, but an entire governess series, starting with Rules of Surrender. My favorite is #6, My Favorite Bride, her Sound of Music tribute book. Don’t get me started on my Christopher Plummer obsession.

— The 90’s remake of Dark Shadows. Okay, okay, this isn’t a book, but it does most certainly have a governess. I still get chills down my spine when I hear “My name is Victoria Winters….”

— And then there’s my own governess book, The Orchid Affair. For more on that, here’s an interview I did about it last year.

Do you have any other governesses for me?

Clearing Out

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Since I’m moving apartments in May, I’ve started shifting some of the prodigious piles of books that pass for home decor in my current place. In the interest of not breaking the movers’ backs, some of them will have to go.

For the next few Sundays, I’ll be listing books I’m giving away. If you want any of them, just email me and I’ll mail it to you! Purely first come, first serve. I hope this gives people a chance to try new authors or new series.

AMENDED TO ADD: All the books below were snapped up in about ten minutes flat! Thanks for your enthusiasm, all, and I’m so sorry I didn’t have enough copies for everyone. I’ll be putting more books up for grabs next Sunday.

Here’s this week’s haul:


Austen Samplers and Marzipan Pigs

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

One of the perks of my job is that many fabulous and random things come my way in the course of the day: in this case, Jane Austen cross stitch patterns and marzipan pigs.

The link to the Jane Austen cross stitch patterns was sent to me by Rosie. (Thanks, Rosie!) My favorites? Jane Austen and the One That Got Away, the Eliza de Feuillide souvenir (Austen’s cousin Eliza was one of my inspirations for Emma in The Garden Intrigue), and– sorry, it had to be done– Darcy & Elizabeth at the Zombie Ball. Fortunately, the zombies seem to be behaving themselves. For the moment.

Entering the realm of much cuteness, Celine sent me these pictures of a marzipan pig for Eloise. (For those who haven’t read The Orchid Affair yet, Eloise has rather a thing for marzipan pigs.)

It appears to be cozying up to a large pile of Pink books.

Here’s the Extreme Close-Up:

I have been informed that it did, indeed, taste just as good as it looks.

Happy Saturday, all!

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, April 27th, 2012

This week, I’m very grateful for the kindness of friends (okay, my Tennessee Williams drawl just did not come out right on that one). Actually, the kindness of one friend, who sent me this care package:

I haven’t watched the movie yet, but, as you can imagine, neither of those books went un-read.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

— Anne Fremantle, editor, The Wynne Diaries The Adventures of Two Sisters in Napoleonic Europe.

If you like pure, unmediated history with a tang of epistolary novel, this is the compilation for you. These are the diaries and letters of Betsey and Eugenia Wynne, along with the letters of some of their friends and compatriots, including Betsey’s husband, Captain Fremantle, arranged chronologically. The letters run from 1789 through 1820 and provide a brilliant, court-side view of many events and characters with which we’re familiar, from Admiral Nelson to our old buddy, the Duc de Berry. For anyone who gets annoyed with “in the early nineteenth century, a lady would never…” here’s your rejoinder. These ladies got around.

— Julia Spencer-Fleming, One Was a Soldier.

I love this series. The character development, the plotting, the prose. For those who haven’t read these Adirondack-set mysteries, start with Book I, In the Bleak Midwinter.

— Jo Goodman, If His Kiss Is Wicked.

How did I never discover Jo Goodman before? This is a beautifully written, cleverly plotted 1820-set romance. It’s not a light and fluffy bonnets and beaux book, but darker, in a way that reminds me a bit of Meredith Duran’s books. Very highly recommended. (Thanks, Vicki, for sending it to me!)

— Kate Saunders, Wild Young Bohemians.

I’m a huge fan of Kate Saunders’ The Marrying Game and Bachelor Boys, so I was thrilled to discover that she had three previous books out. This one, about a group of Oxford friends in the 1980s, the family home with which one of them is obsessed, and the path of destruction that follows that obsession, is a little… odd. Compelling, but odd. I spent most of it hating most of the characters, but couldn’t stop reading anyway.

What have you been reading?

18th Century Cosmo

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

18th Century Cosmo has it all: true confessions, advertisements, a quiz, even a centerfold. All I can say is, you guys are the best 18th century editorial staff ever. 18th Century Cosmo significantly enlivened a rainy week.

The voting was neck and neck, with every article having its partisans, but, in the end, a few shot ahead.

The winners of the 18th Century Cosmo contest are:

— In third place: 5 Ways to Spot a Rake, by Stephanie R.

— In second place: the Cosmo Quiz, For Heaven’s sake, is he a rake? by J.L.

— And in first place… Most True and Faithful Confessions by Chelsea and Kat.

I’d like to use my authorial prerogative and award Special Honorable Mentions to the two visuals: the advertisement for Mrs. Loveney’s Academy for Reforming Rakes by Chloe F and the watercolor centerfold, Burton Kemble, by Cassandra.

Kudos, ladies! You may pick your prize– any book or piece of Pink paraphernalia is fair game. Just email and let me know what you’d like! (And where to send it.)

Chosen from among the judges to receive a copy of The Masque of the Black Tulip is… Gifty, of Comment #47! Congrats, Gifty! Just email me with the requisite mailing info.

I’d like everyone who contributed an article to 18th Century Cosmo to take a great big bow. You are all superb. With any luck, this will all shortly be up on the Diversions page for posterity! (Or at least the foreseeable internet future.)

If anyone missed out on 18th Century Cosmo while it was on newsstands, you can find the full edition here.


Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I’ll be teaching my very first online seminar for Writer’s Digest University next Thursday at one o’clock.

The program is on The Ins and Outs of Writing a Series (you can find the full description by clicking here).

It’s a rather ingenious set-up. The program lasts an hour and a half. I talk in real time and participants can email me questions along the way, so I’m responding as I would in a real classroom. (Minus the being able to bribe people with chocolate chip cookies. That usually worked well for me with undergrads.) Participants receive a video of the presentation a week after, so they can replay it as many times as they like.

I will admit, I am a bit nervous about teaching a class full of people I can’t see!

If this one goes well, I’ll be doing a couple of others in the fall, including one on How to Write a Love Scene. Stay tuned!

Overseas Winner

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

After reading all your comments yesterday, I wanted to hijack a time machine and take off for obscure historical locations. The problem would be figuring out which first! So I’ll just have to stick with writing about lots of different times and places.

In the meantime, we have a book to give away. The copy of Beatriz Williams’s Overseas goes to…

… Allison, of Comment #42!

Allison, if you’ll email me your details, I’ll pass them along to The Author, who will send you your book.

If you didn’t win, repine not. Beatriz will be back next week with a Q&A and another copy to give away.

Stay tuned for 18th Century Cosmo winners later today!

Last Chance to Vote…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

… for your favorite 18th Century Cosmo articles! I’ll be tallying up the votes and posting winners tomorrow.

Thanks to the generosity of one of the participants, it looks like we might be able to get all the articles formatted into “magazine” form! If that happens, 18th Century Cosmo will have a permanent home on the Diversions page.

“Overseas” Give Away

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

As those of you who are regular visitors to this page know, I’ve been raving (in a good way!) about Beatriz Williams’ Overseas for quite some time. I’m not usually a fan of time travel, but I make a few major exceptions: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, Susanna Kearsley’s The Rose Garden, and Beatriz Williams’ Overseas.

Amiens, France, 1916: Captain Julian Ashford, a British officer in the trenches of the Western Front, is waylaid in the town square by Kate, a beautiful young American. Julian’s never seen her before, but she has information about the reconnaissance mission he’s about to embark on. Who is she, and why did she track him down in Amiens?

New York, 2007: A young Wall Street analyst, Kate Wilson learned to rely on logic and cynicism. So why does she fall so desperately in love with Julian Laurence, a handsome British billionaire with a mysterious past?

What she doesn’t know is that he has been waiting for her… the enchanting woman who emerged from the shadows of the Great War to save his life.

The book doesn’t officially come out until May 10th, but, because Beatriz is a hugely lovely person, she has offered us two copies, not of the ARC, but of the actual, finished book– two weeks before anyone else gets their hands on them.

See? I told you she was lovely.

I’m going to give away one book today and another next Wednesday, when Beatriz is going to come over to the site for a Q&A. (So if you have any questions you’d like to ask her, let me know!)

For an early copy of Overseas, here’s your question:

If you could visit any place in any time period, where and when would it be?

One person will be chosen at random from among those who comment. The winner will be announced tomorrow.

Teaser Tuesday: Writing Wednesdays

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

That does sound a little recursive, doesn’t it? Not to mention alarmingly alliterative. (This is the last time I let Augustus Whittlesby write my blog headers!)

I’m launching a new feature on the website: Writing Wednesdays. Like everything else on the website, this is a figure-it-out-as-I-go sort of thing, but the idea behind it is to lightly touch upon some topics of interest to budding authors.

As to what those topics may be– well, that’s where I turn it over to you. Shannon (hi, Shannon!), who gave me the idea for this series, has already asked that I address issues of time management. I’m also going to look at character development, dialogue, and that dreaded beast, Writer’s Block. As to the rest… it’s entirely up to you.

None of these are intended to be exhaustive essays on the topic. They’re just going to be short little pieces to get the writing conversation started.

Since we have give-aways scheduled on the blog for the next few Wednesdays, I’ll be launching our Writing Series on May 16th. Rather like Masterpiece Mystery, it will run through the summer. If there’s sufficient interest– and more to address– I’ll keep it going through the fall.

So with all the housekeeping out of the way, here’s the real question: what writing-related issues would you like to talk about?