Archive for April, 2014


Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Guess what just arrived in the mail today, brightening an otherwise grim and rainy day?

Manzanilla arcs

Advance copies of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla!

Karen, Winter, Candace and Cassandra, I need your snail mail addresses so I can put your Pinkorama prizes in the mail to you!

Now I just need to think of a good contest question so we can send some more of these on their way….

So Many Apologies!

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

It belatedly came to my attention that no one was able to enter yesterday’s contest. I am so so sorry for the inconvenience! The glitch now appears– cross fingers, knock on wood– to be fixed.

To make up for lost time, I’ll be keeping the contest up and running through Friday, with winners to be announced on Saturday. So, for the chance to win a signed copy of The Ashford Affair, just click here!

I will also be running a contest on my Facebook page tomorrow– so there will be three copies of Ashford up for grabs instead of two!

Again, so many apologies for the internet gremlins. The website underwent a major overhaul a couple of weeks ago, during which time an entire ant colony of bugs appears to have crept into the system, eating old posts, stopping comments, swallowing my picture archive…. Let’s just hope we’ve finally stamped out the last of them!

In the meantime, there’s an Ashford Affair contest to enter….


Monday, April 28th, 2014

April is the month of The Ashford Affair (it came out in hardcover in April ’13, and paperback at the beginning of this April), so it seemed appropriate to round off April with a giveaway of the new paperback edition of The Ashford Affair.

Here’s the official blurb:

Ashford PaperbackFrom New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig comes The Ashford Affair, a page-turning novel about two women in different eras, and on different continents, who are connected by one deeply buried secret.

As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards—but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything. . . .

Growing up at Ashford Park in the early twentieth century, Addie has never quite belonged. When her parents passed away, she was taken into the grand English house by her aristocratic aunt and uncle, and raised side-by-side with her beautiful and outgoing cousin, Bea. Though they are as different as night and day, Addie and Bea are closer than sisters, through relationships and challenges, and a war that changes the face of Europe irrevocably. But what happens when something finally comes along that can’t be shared? When the love of sisterhood is tested by a bond that’s even stronger?

From the inner circles of British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl.

There have been some lovely things said about Ashford since it came out last year, so I’m so excited to have the chance to share it in a whole new edition– which includes an extra chapter that was cut from the end of the hardcover.

(For those of you with the hardcover edition, you can find that “lost” chapter here.)

Already have your own copy of The Ashford Affair? Feel free to give this one away to a friend. I’m happy to personalize it to whomever you like.

So, for a signed, paperback copy of The Ashford Affair, here’s your question:

Which is your favorite book that goes back and forth in time?

Two people will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of The Ashford Affair in paperback.

You can find an excerpt from Ashford here, an audio excerpt here, and reading group questions here.

Winners to be announced on Friday!

The Coffee Chart

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

As many of you have heard, my writing process has a great deal to do with caffeine consumption. Just as I swap out music from book to book, I also have a different signature drink for each manuscript– my go to beverage, so to speak.

For your amusement, here’s the (updated) coffee chart for the last four books:

The Ashford Affair (winter/spring 2012): grande caramel mocha with whip.

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (summer 2012): grande caramel macchiato. (Miss Gwen scorned whipped cream as excessively fluffy.)

That Summer (winter 2012/spring 2013): grande skim cinnamon dolce steamer with whip. (Since I wasn’t allowed caffeine, I tried to make up for it with a super dose of sugar.)

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (autumn 2013): venti decaf peppermint mocha with whip. (I still wasn’t risking caffeine, but decaf was a step closer! And Sally Fitzhugh strikes me as a peppermint mocha sort of girl, don’t you think?)

Right now, I’m working away on the next stand alone novel, aka the 1927 Book. I haven’t come to a drink landing yet, but so far this is looking like a decaf skim venti hazelnut latte kind of book. Because if I can’t go caffeinated, at least I can go up a size?

What are your favorite coffee beverages?

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, April 25th, 2014

I confess, I’ve been rather boring this week. My 1920s voice was slipping, so I did an intense research refresher, mostly of books you’ve seen listed here before.

I did take a break from 1920s immersion, though, to finally, finally start a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages: Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, a must-read for any bibliophile.

What have you been reading this week?

p.s. You may remember that I mentioned a couple of secret projects in the works…. Stay tuned for a big announcement coming up soon!

More Happiness for THAT SUMMER!

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

When a new book is poised to come out, I always hold my breath until the four big trade journals weigh in: Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and RT Book Reviews.

The first of the lot just came in this week– and it couldn’t be more positive.

According to RT Book Reviews, That Summer “is a story that will linger in your mind”.

Here’s the full paragraph:

That Summer (3)“Willig stretches her writer’s wings as she crafts a double love story stretching from Victorian England to the present day. With its alternating viewpoints, this is more than a love story or a mystery; it’s a tale exploring the lives of two women and how secrets create and destroy relationships. Willig cleverly leads readers into two mysteries, answering some questions, but leaving others untouched. Willig brilliantly demonstrates how the truth can bring freedom and understanding. This is a story that will linger in your mind.”

(And, yes, I may have re-read this a time or two today as I was trying to gear myself up to work on the next book.)

Thank you, RT!!


Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

ARCs of Pink XI, aka The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, are almost here!


Between now and May 21, my publisher is giving away fifteen copies of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla on Goodreads. To enter, just go to the contest site, here.

Sally and her pet stoat both wish you the best of luck.

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla appears in stores on August 5th. To read an excerpt, just click here.


Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

And the winner of the advance copy of That Summer is…

Gayle! (Of Comment #28.)

Congrats, Gayle! If you email me with your info, I’ll pop your book in the mail to you.

Thanks so much to everyone for their wonderful book suggestions. This was an If You Like on a grand scale!

More on That Summer coming up soon…. Only six weeks until it arrives in stores!

Teaser Tuesday: the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1849

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

It’s Tuesday and we have… more pretty pictures for you!

A major scene in That Summer is set at the prestigious Private View at the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1849, where my historical hero, Gavin Thorne, is showing his painting, Mariana in the Moated Grange.

Private View Royal Academy

(The picture above is of the Private View of 1881, but it gives you an idea of what Private View day would have looked like. Just picture much fuller skirts on the ladies….)

Mr. Thorne and his Mariana are my own inventions– but the rest of the Exhibition was lifted right from the historical record. Want to see some of what my heroine would have seen?

While I was researching That Summer, I hit a stroke of amazing luck. I was able to acquire one of the original programs from the show, the very program that my heroine would have held:

photo (8)

Shall we open it up and take a look?

The fledgling Preraphaelites were well-represented in the Exhibition of 1849. John Everett Millais made a stir with his Lorenzo and Isabella:


In the meantime, William Holman Hunt exhibited Rienzi, or, more volubly, Rienzi vowing to obtain justice for the death of his young brother, slain in a skirmish between the Colonna and the Orsini factions, a history painting about the fourteenth century Roman folk hero, Cola di Rienzo.


But where, you may ask, was that most iconic of them all, Dante Gabriel Rossetti? Much to the annoyance of his friends, he had taken himself and his Girlhood of Mary Virgin off to the Free Exhibition at Hyde Park Corner rather than waiting for the RA show in May– possibly because he was afraid that he wouldn’t get a good placement in the RA show.

girlhood of mary virgin

Because Rossetti jumped the gun, and exhibited before the others, his is the first of the Pre-Raph paintings on which the initials PRB (Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) can be found. (Hunt and Millais were not amused.)

You can play a fun game of “spot the PRB” in each of these paintings. For example, it’s hidden on the bench on which Lorenzo and Isabella are sitting in Millais’s painting.

You can also play “spot the painter”, since, to save the cost of models, the artists all sat for each other. And, for my fellow Goblin Market fans, that’s Christina Rossetti as the title role in Rossetti’s painting of The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.

The Royal Academy Exhibition was the big debut of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood– so I couldn’t resist having my imaginary Pre-Raphaelite, Gavin Thorne, be a part of it.

Monday Give Away: THAT SUMMER!

Monday, April 21st, 2014

This Monday, I have for you… an advance copy of That Summer!

Here’s the official blurb:

That Summer (3)2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn’t been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house—with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas—bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house’s shrouded history begins to open…

1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur’s collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion.

From modern-day England to the early days of the Preraphaelite movement, Lauren Willig’s That Summer takes readers on an un-put-downable journey through a mysterious old house, a hidden love affair, and one woman’s search for the truth about her past—and herself.

For an advance copy of That Summer, here’s your question:

What are your favorite novels about art or painting?

(With thanks to Pam and Alexandra for the contest idea!)

The winner will be announced on Wednesday.

That Summer comes out on June 3 (which is coming up surprisingly soon!). I’ll be doing a bit of touring for That Summer, so keep an eye on the sidebar for new author appearances.

You can read an excerpt of That Summer here.

That Summer is available for preorder from Amazon, B&N, Books A Million, Indiebound, Powell’s, and wherever else books are sold.

More pretty Pre-Raphaelite pictures coming up on Teaser Tuesday tomorrow!