Friday, April 29th, 2016
This will be just a quick post, since I’m about to grab the Even Littler Blue Bag and hop on a plane for Boston for today’s talk and tomorrow’s signing. Also because I’m having a hard time remembering what I read this week. Some of it is for a Contest That Shall Remain Nameless, so the books also have to remain nameless. And some of it is just because I have writing brain right now, which precludes memory of such things as what I read the day before yesterday and where I left the toddler.
The stand out? Josephine Tey’s The Franchise Affair, in which a country lawyer needs to prove two women in an isolated house innocent of abducting a teenage girl. The girl’s story is oddly plausible… but there’s something off about it. But how to prove it? I’d read this book years ago and had forgotten just how compelling it is. I felt bereaved when it ended and it’s taking a major act of will to go back to reading the books I’m meant to be judging rather than plunging straight into another Tey.
What have you been reading this week?
Friday, April 22nd, 2016
So many apologies for the radio silence here lately, all! I’m deep in the writing cave right now with the next stand alone novel (75,000 words down; 40,000 left to go!), a narrative non-fiction essay for an anthology about Paris, and various other fun stuff.
But I promise, as soon as this book is in, regularly scheduled programming will resume here on this site. And I’ll also have some announcements to make about books to come. So expect a lively summer over here!
In the meantime, I’ve mostly been clinging to old favorites to get through the mushy middle of the work in progress. Right now, I’m re-reading Georgette Heyer’s The Talisman Ring, featuring smugglers (ahem, free-traders), evil cousins, missing rings of great antiquity, a hero who refuses to ride ventre-a-terre, and a heroine with a delightful sense of the absurd. (Is it just me, or would The Talisman Ring make a brilliant movie?)
Before The Talisman Ring was Jennifer Crusie’s Agnes and the Hitman, because Crusie is also a master of brilliant mayhem and never more so than in Agnes and the Hitman, which features an old plantation house, a perfidious chef, the mob, a wedding, flamingos, and, oh yes, the aforementioned hitman. So good.
Before that, I went on a Donna Andrews binge, re-reading Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos (murder and mayhem at a reenactment at the battle of Yorkville, with flamingos) and We’ll Always Have Parrots, a fan convention for a tv show that bears more than a passing resemblance to Xena: Warrior Princess. If you haven’t read Andrews yet, start with Murder with Peacocks and work your way through.
I made the mistake of attempting to read some Victoria Holt, but, although The Judas Kiss is, without doubt, an excellent read, the current work in progress is trending so dark and so gothic, that putting gothic on gothic was a bit like watching Crimson Peak while playing the Bach toccata. So I’m trying to keep the reading light– and, hopefully, keep the work in progress lighter by extension– until this manuscript is done.
I had a choral director a long time ago who always advised when singing high to think low to keep the top notes from going screechy. That’s been my writing maxin for a long time now. When writing funny, I tend to read serious, and when writing serious, I tend to read funny, in the hopes of keeping the manuscript from going over on the one side into pure farce and on the other into pure melodrama.
What have you been reading recently?
Friday, April 15th, 2016
Because every Pinkorama this year was, without doubt, a winner, the dominant theme in the voting being, “But how? How can you make me choose?”
The Convent of Peepsino edged out slightly ahead (Miss Gwen preens and blows a speck of dust off the tip of her parasol), but it was such a close-run thing all around that I’m just declaring it a group win.
Take a bow, Kayse, Colleen, Candace, Cassandra, and Rachel!
For anyone who missed them and would like to admire sugary artistry in action you can find (in the order in which they were submitted:
— The Convent of Peepsino by Kayse
— Amy and Richard’s Spy School Meets the Phantom Peep (plus video!) by Rachel
— Happily Peep After by Candace & Cassandra
— The Unpeepable Truth by Colleen
by clicking on either the title or the picture.
So many thanks for these amazing productions! Kayse, Colleen, Candace, Cassandra, and Rachel, if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know whether you’d prefer The Forgotten Room or Fall of Poppies (or one of the other books), I’ll send your prize your way!
The winning judge is… Maria! (Of Comment #20.) Congrats, Maria! Email me and I’ll send your book your way.
And now a word about Pinkorama to come: although the Pink series has officially wrapped up (although there may be some offshoots), I would be thrilled to keep the annual Pinkorama the, well, the annual Pinkorama as long as you’re still willing to Pinkorama with me.
What do you think? Shall we make a date for Pinkorama 2017?
Wednesday, April 13th, 2016
It’s a party and you’re invited! Authors of America’s First Daughter, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, are hosting an online birthday bash for Thomas Jefferson.
There will be games, merriment, historical chit-chat, and, of course, party favors. Allison Pataki, Sarah McCoy, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Lynn Cullen, Erika Robuck, Kate Quinn, Donna Thorland, and I will all be popping in to gossip about history, chat about writing, and give away copies of our books. So please pop by and share the fun! You can find the link to the Facebook page here.
GUEST AUTHOR SCHEDULE
6:10 Allison Pataki
6:30 Lauren Willig
7:00 Sarah McCoy
7:45 E. Knight
8:00 Sophie Perinot
8:30 Lynn Cullen
8:45 Erika Robuck
9:15 Kate Quinn
9:30 Donna Thorland
Shhh… Don’t tell Mr. Hamilton. I don’t think he’s invited. But he’s pretty busy these days with that whole Broadway thing.
Monday, April 11th, 2016
Hats off to Kayse, Rachel, Candace, Cassandra, and Colleen for this year’s gorgeous Pinkoramas (aka Pink Carnation Peep Dioramas)!
They run the gamut from pseudo-medieval books within books to Napoleonic to 1920s to modern.
Here, in the order in which they were received, are the Pinkoramas of 2016:
1. The Convent of Peepsino, by Kayse, from The Passion of the Purple Plumeria.
For more Convent of Peepsino, click here.
2. Amy & Richard’s Spy School Meets the Phantom Peep, by Rachel, from The Masque of the Black Tulip (with video!).
For more Spy School, click here. For the video, click here.
3. Eloise & Colin, Happily Peep After, by Candace & Cassandra, from The Lure of the Moonflower.
For more Happily Peep After, click here.
4. The Unpeepable Truth, by Colleen, from The Other Daughter.
For more Unpeepable Truth, click here.
I am blown away by your talent and ingenuity! Thank you so much, Kayse, Rachel, Candace, Cassandra, and Colleen, for these amazing depeeptions. Who knew there could be so much emotion and action in a peep?
Which is your favorite Pinkorama of 2016? Place your vote in the Comments section below, and one person will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of either The Forgotten Room or Fall of Poppies.
Winners will be announced on Thursday….
Friday, April 8th, 2016
I’m so happy that The Other Daughter got a shout-out in this year’s Pinkorama!
From Colleen, we have the moment in The Other Daughter when our mild-mannered governess, Rachel, learns that her father isn’t dead and a botanist, but alive and an earl: “It’s the unpeepable truth that her father is alive”.
Doesn’t that header sound oh so appropriately like a silent film card?
Returning to England too late for her mother’s funeral, overcome with grief…
…Rachel lies down on her mother’s bed and discovers…
… a page from a recent issue of The Tatler with her supposedly dead father’s picture in it.
You can just see the surprise and horror on her candy face.
Don’t you love the details of her mother’s room (the lace counterpane and pictures) and her very prim skirt and shirt? Who knew that a Peep could look so convincingly post-Edwardian?
Thank you so much, Colleen, for bringing The Other Daughter to the sugary screen!