Archive for March, 2016

DABWAHA!

Friday, March 25th, 2016

It sounds like evil laughter, doesn’t it? Dabwahahahahah…. Which is not so far from the mark. The DABWAHA is an annual novel face-off determined by reader votes.

Right now, The Other Daughter is locked in battle with Susanna Kearsley’s A Desperate Fortune.

Voting is open at the DABWAHA site from now until midnight!



Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, March 18th, 2016

I’ve had a really remarkable run of good books. Hopefully, saying that won’t jinx it! This week, I took a chance on a few new (well, new to me) books:

— Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Where has this book been all my life? I was a little surprised to find it set in the present, or near present, rather than a Thirkell-esque England of the 30s or 40s, but the characterizations of life in a small English village were just as brilliantly satirical, dealing with large issues and genuine griefs even as it gently mocks all the little absurdities of life.

— Thomas H. Cook’s Places in the Dark. This murder mystery reminded me a great deal of Gone Girl before there was such a thing as Gone Girl, a twisty, turny, elegant narrative with a taciturn first person narrator, elevating misdirection to a fine art.

— Sonali Dev’s A Bollywood Affair. I had the great privilege of sharing a panel with Sonali Dev at Warren Newport Library last month and finally, belatedly, picked up her first book, which it seemed that pretty much everyone had been telling I had to read. And everyone was right. It’s a contemporary romance set partly in Michigan and partly in India, about a Bollywood producer and the woman who was married as a child to his older brother. Watching Mili and Samir get to know each other and fall in love felt like hanging out with old friends. Now I just have to get my hands on her second book, The Bollywood Bride….

What have you been reading this week?



Putting the “Her” back in History….

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

… over at Women’s History Month on the RAR website!

I’m so grateful to Bobbi Dumas for giving me the chance to orate from my internet soapbox on a topic that means so much to me: giving women in history the credit they deserve, from the monarchs who defeated Armadas (yes, Elizabeth I, I’m looking at you); to the enterprising female merchants of the Middle Ages, who picked up where their husbands left off; to the women who defended their homes and their monarch during the English Civil Wars.

The post is titled “Reclaiming Women’s History”, but I feel like it’s really less about reclaiming women’s history, as a separate discipline, and more about putting women back in the larger historical narrative– which is something that historical fiction does brilliantly, helping us remember that women did play a role in great events (Donna Thorland’s American Revolution set novels, The Dutch Girl, The Turncoat, et al, are a great example of women being woven back into the narrative– and not just sewing flags!). It’s not just a women issue, it’s a history issue. When we leave women out, we provide a skewed view of the past.

See what I mean about that soapbox?

To read more, head on over to the RAR page, where I’m talking about women in history, books, writing, and historical crushes. There are also two give-aways, one domestic and one international, so just head over to the post and leave a comment there by March 22nd for a chance to win!

Happy Women’s History Month!



Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Between the Fall of Poppies tour and working on Stand Alone #4, I’ve been very remiss with the Weekly Reading Round-Ups! So here’s a bit of a catch-up. I can’t remember everything I’ve read over the past few weeks, but here are some of the highlights:

— Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes. Don’t laugh, but I bought this years ago at a used bookstore thinking it was by Barbara Pym. Once I got myself unmuddled, it took me a little while to wrap my head around the fact that this psychological drama (and, belatedly, murder mystery) set at a school for PE teachers in England was by the same woman who had written one of my all time favorites, The Daughter of Time. As always with Tey, it’s beautifully written, with finely drawn characters, and flashes of insight into human nature. My copy is crumbling apart and I’m oh so delighted I stumbled upon it all those years ago.

— Juliana Gray’s A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. This isn’t out yet, but eventually it will be, at which point fans of Deanna Raybourn and Elizabeth Peters should rejoice, because Miss Truelove, the heroine of this new mystery series, is very much in the vein of those intrepid Victorian maidens. (Also Veronica Speedwell of Deanna’s latest, A Curious Beginning— although I have the feeling that Miss Speedwell and Miss Truelove might take umbrage with each other and have to be refereed by Amelia Peabody). A rollicking good adventure! (Full disclosure, Juliana Gray is the pen name of my bestie and Forgotten Room co-writer, Beatriz Williams– but I would have enjoyed this book just as much if it had been written by someone I severely disliked. Although in that case I would have probably been annoyed by enjoying it so much.)

— H.P. Wood’s Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. Another book that’s not out yet and one that wasn’t at all what I expected. When I saw the blurb about a lost English girl winding up among the sideshows of Coney Island, I’d imagined a gently satirical coming of age story. It’s certainly a coming of age story, but a very richly textured, multi-narrative, dark and gripping coming of age story set against a plague epidemic, a government cover-up, and the best and worst of human character that comes out in those sorts of desperate circumstances. Narrators include Kitty, the English girl; Zeph, a legless African-American man; Ros, a transvestite; and a host of others. Fascinating and deeply compelling. Definitely an “I can’t put it down” book with compulsively readable prose.

What have you been reading this week?



Ready… Peep… Go!

Monday, March 7th, 2016

It’s time for the 6th Annual Pink Carnation Peep Diorama Contest! In other words? It’s Pinkorama time.

The rules are simple: using those sugary, marshmallowy goodies (Peeps), recreate your favorite scene from the Pink Carnation novels. Any of the Pink books, novellas, or bonus chapters are up for grabs. Even though it’s not technically Pink, I’m including The Ashford Affair among the eligible works, just in case you feel like going Edwardian Peep, 1920s Peep, or Kenya Peep; That Summer, for Victorian Peep and Pre-Raphaelite Peep (or Dorrington Descendant Peep); The Other Daughter, for Bright Young Peeps; or The Forgotten Room, for New York Peeps throughout the ages. Two L (disillusioned law student Peep) and A Night at Northanger (ghost hunter Peep) are also fair game.

This is a particularly poignant year for the Pinkorama, since this was the year of the twelfth and last Pink Carnation book: The Lure of the Moonflower. The Pink Carnation finally starred in her own novel. Will she at last have a Pinkorama of her own?

Once your Peep creation is complete, take a picture (or pictures) of your Pinkorama and email them to me at willig@post.harvard.edu with “Pinkorama” in the subject line.

The deadline for the Pinkorama is Monday, April 4. I’ll post all the Pinkoramas here on the website and open it up to general voting.

As for the prize…. I would love to offer an ARC of the next stand alone novel, but since I’m still in the writing stage, that might be a bit of a wait. So, instead, the prize will be your choice of a copy of The Forgotten Room or Fall of Poppies.

If you’re seeking Peep inspiration, check out last year’s peeptastic entries or the Pinkorama Gallery!

Let the sugary fun begin!



Farewell, Poppies!

Friday, March 4th, 2016

My lap of the Fall of Poppies tour ended last night, with our final East Coast group appearance at WORD Jersey City, but you can still find us all together between the pages of Fall of Poppies!

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For more Poppy fun, you can join a bunch of the gang at Anderson’s in Chicago next Wednesday (3/9) and Joseph Beth in Cincinnati next Thursday (3/10). We’ve also left signed books behind us with RJ Julia and WORD, so if you’d like a signed copy, just get in touch with one of those stores!

And now back to writing the next book….



Jersey City– Tonight!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Watch out, New Jersey! A Fall of Poppies is heading your way.

Poppies RJ Julia

You can find Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Marci Jefferson, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, and me tonight at WORD Bookstore in Jersey City (7:30pm, 123 Newark Avenue).

As always, if you can’t make it to the event, but would like a personalized book or books, just contact the lovely folks at WORD at 201-763-6611 prior to 7:30 tonight and they’ll get those signed and sent off to you.

This is the last lap of the East Coast part of the tour, but you’ll be able to see assorted Poppies (sans moi) next week in Chicago and Cincinnati.

Fall of Poppies Tour



POPPIES in Madison, CT– Tonight!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Seven of the nine authors of Fall of Poppies will be appearing at RJ Julia in Madison, CT tonight!

FallofPoppiesREV2 Fall of Poppies Panel

Come join Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Marci Jefferson, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and me tonight at 7:00 at RJ Julia booksellers for discussions of World War I, writing, and just how hard it is to find a poppy pin for book tour.

If you would like a signed copy of Fall of Poppies, Forgotten Room, or any of the individual authors’ books, just give the good folks at RJ Julia a call at 203-245-3959 at some point before tonight and they’ll make sure it’s inscribed and mailed out to the right place.

Books make wonderful Mother’s Day gifts!



Happy Birthday, FALL OF POPPIES!

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…

It’s the release day of Fall of Poppies! The anthology centers around Armistice Day in 1918, featuring stories by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and me.

FallofPoppiesREV2 the-record-set-right

Here’s the official blurb:

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

What I find so amazing and wonderful is how different all the stories are, even with the same event at their core.

Look for Fall of Poppies wherever books are sold! And look for me, Beatriz, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Jessica Brockmole, and Marci Jefferson tonight (Tuesday) at Wilton Public Library, tomorrow (Wednesday) at RJ Julia in Madison CT, and on Thursday at WORD Jersey City.

Fall of Poppies Tour