Archive for the ‘Pinkorama’ Category

Pinkorama Winners!

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

The grand prize winner of this year’s Pinkorama is…

The Eagle Peeps Only Once, by Carrie and Laura!

Rossio Square 2 General Junot and floozies

Take a bow, ladies! Those costumes were unpeepably amazing. Who knew a sugary confection could look quite so military and French?

As soon as I have ARCs of The English Wife, one will be wending your way!

Thanks so much to everyone who created a Pinkorama this year! Thank you (in alphabetical order) to:

— Candace and Cassandra, for “Oh no! It’s a highway-peep…oh wait it’s worse it’s a poet-peep!”

Augustus & Emma 1

— Carla, for The Ashpeep Affair

Carla Ashpeep Affair

— Randy, for That Summer

Randy 1

— and Terrie, for The Passion of the Purple Peepmaria.

Terrie Pinkorama

I’m so impressed by your creativity and finesse. It’s no easy thing to create worlds out of pastel sugar, but, somehow, you did it. Thank you!!

And thank you to everyone who participated by voting! The two judge winners, chosen at random, are:

— Lynn S. (of Comment #7) and Rebecca B. (of Comment #23).

Congrats, you two! If you let me know where to send them, I’ll put your copies of The Forgotten Room in the mail to you.

And now to go back and admire those Pinkoramas another time…. Thank you so much to everyone for making this such a joyful annual tradition!

The 2017 Pinkorama Round-Up

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

In the order in which I received them, I bring you… the 2017 Pinkoramae!

1) That Summer, by Randy.

Fresh off the plane from New York, Julia encounters a mysterious portrait in the house she inherited in a London suburb. Who is that mysterious peep in the portrait?

Randy 1

Click here for a full description and more pictures of the scene.

2) The Ashpeep Affair, by Carla

It’s Kenya in 1926. As the train chugs into the station in Nairobi, Addie wonders– has she made a mistake in coming all this way?

Carla Ashpeep Affair

Click here for a full description.

3) The Eagle Only Peeps Once, by Carrie and Laura

In French-occupied Lisbon, the dashing spy known as the Peepflower waits to meet his contact, the Peep Carnation.

Rossio Square 2 General Junot and floozies

Click here for a full description and more pictures of the scene.

4) The Passion of the Purple Peepmaria, by Terrie

After an eventful evening spying on the Hellfire Club in the Roman ruins beneath Bath, Miss Gwendolyn Meadows is feeling a little bit scaly.

Terrie Pinkorama

Click here for a full description.

5) Oh no! It’s a highway-peep…oh wait it’s worse it’s a poet-peep! by Candace and Cassandra

No one expects a romantic poet! The household of Emma Delagardie in Paris is thrown into disarray as Augustus Whittlesby comes to call.

Augustus 1

Click here for a full description and more pictures of the scene.

As always, I am so blown away by everyone’s talent and creativity! So many thanks to everyone who participated. Each of these Pinkoramae is amazing in its own way.

And now it’s time to open it up to voting! Are you ready, judges? Here’s your mission: post your favorite (by number or title or number AND title) in the Comments section below. I’ll tally up the votes and announce the winner next Wednesday.

Two judges will be chosen at random to receive signed copies of The Forgotten Room.

Let the judging begin!

Pinkorama #5: POET PEEP

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

For our fifth Pinkorama, Candace and Cassandra bring us… “Oh no! It’s a highway-peep…oh wait it’s worse it’s a poet-peep!”

Yes, you guessed it: the one, the only Augustus Whittlesby.

And now over to Candace and Cassandra, who write:

In this scene from The Garden Intrigue, we visualize a moment detailed from the correspondence from Emma Delagardie to that grand poet, Augustus Whittlesby, esteemed author of 22 cantos of The Perils of the Pulchritudinous Princess of the Azure Toes.

“E. Delagardie to A. Whittlesby
Yes, it did make me feel better, even though you did look rather silly stalking through Saint-Germain on a sunny day all wrapped about in wool with only the top of your head showing. My footman thought you were there to rob the house and had to be soothed with a stiff brandy, even though we all faithfully assured him that highwaymen stalk highways, not private residences.

Why do I suspect that on the next chilly night you’ll be back to your shirtsleeves?

I’ve had an idea about our masque. What do you think about having Americanus run off with the Pirate Queen instead? Cytherea, while lovely, seems a bit inspid. It would be a twist that no one would ever expect!


p.s. The package contains some of those currant cakes you like so much. Please eat them so I don’t.”

Chaos ensues as Augustus Whittlesby calls on Emma in her grand Paris house.

front shot 2

Those poor footmen– no one expects a romantic poet!

House Chaos 1

Especially one with lusciously flowing locks….

Augustus 1

Emma is dressed as befits a fashionable matron, best friends with Napoleon’s stepdaughter.

Emma 2

Which is, of course, why she’s collaborating with Augustus on a masque for the Emperor’s entertainment.

Augustus & Emma 1

And soothing her distressed footman with brandy.

Footman 1

Those poor footpeeps never quite knew what hit them…. (Iambic pentameter, most likely.)

Don’t you love the appropriately poetic scroll beneath Augustus’s arm?

So many thanks to Candance and Cassandra for another sugary tour de force! (Tour de peep?)

Which brings us to the end of our 2017 Pinkorama entries! I’ll post a round-up of all the entries tomorrow and open it up to voting….

In the meanwhile, huge kudos to all the entrants!


Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

For our fourth Pinkorama, Terrie brings us… The Passion of the Purple Peepmaria Or My Life As a Lizard, by Miss Gwendolyn Meadows.

It’s spring of 1805. After a close encounter with the Naughty Hellfire Club in the Roman ruins beneath Bath, Miss Gwendolyn Meadows and Colonel Reid share a heated moment in a theatre storeroom.

Terrie Pinkorama

Note the Colonel’s all-over tan from all those years of soldiering in India.

Terrie writes: “No offense to the beautiful Gwen being portrayed as a Florida lizard….”

To be fair, the situation could make anyone feel a bit prickly. Er, scaly?

Thank you, Terrie, for showing us Miss Gwen in a whole new way! And for your expert lizard wrangling. (Can’t you just see Miss Gwen adopting a pet lizard?)

And now here’s a bit of the scene:

PlumeriaWilliam came to his senses, if sense it could be called, sprawled on the floor of a storage room at the back of the Theater Royal.

He rolled onto his back, blinking for a moment at the ceiling, as the remnants of what used to be his mind tried and failed to pull together what exactly had just happened. He hadn’t felt so dazed since he’d wound up on the wrong side of a rocket fusillade. His horse had bolted with him, shying and rearing in the midst of the flashing lights, the colors bursting all around him.

Compared to this, that had been bland.

A box scraped against the floor as Gwen braced herself against it, hoisting herself to her feet. Her dress was off her shoulders, her hair tumbling down her back. Her headdress had got lost somewhere; her petticoat straggled down below her hem. She looked wonderful.

William could have gone on lying there on the floor indefinitely—it was surprisingly comfortable for a floor—but since his position put him rather at a disadvantage, he hauled himself up to a sitting position.

Gwen was pacing around the room, searching for a lost slipper. He didn’t remember removing her slippers, but they must have been kicked off somewhere along the way. He did remember her stockings, the luxurious silk of them, and the even softer bare skin above.

“Ha!” said Gwen, and pounced on the slipper, jamming her foot into it with an air of triumph.

Shouldn’t there be—well, some cuddling? Some post coital discussion? Come back to the floor didn’t have quite the same ring as come back to bed.

On the floor… and on that crate… and against that piece of scenery propped against the wall….

To be fair, it was a matter of dispute as to who had been ravishing whom, but William couldn’t help but feel as though some sort of grand gesture or reparations were called for. He just couldn’t figure out what. He’d little experience with affairs of any sort, much less the sort that resulted in lying on the floor of a theater storeroom in a confused mess of scattered clothing. He had no idea what the protocol might be.

He spotted Gwen’s other slipper lying on the floor and leaned over to snag it. “Here,” he said, offering it up to her. “It’s not made of glass, but it will fit you just the same.”

A glass slipper? Or, possibly, a porcelain gown? Only the lizard knows for sure….


Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

For our third Pinkorama, Laura and Carrie present to us… Rossio Square: The Eagle Peeps Only Once, or, Love at First Peep.

It’s the final book of the Pink Carnation series, The Lure of the Moonflower. Or, to get us in scene, it’s Lisbon, 1807. The Portuguese royal family has fled to Brazil just moments before a French army, led by General Junot, trooped in to take over.

Here, in Rossio Square, the occupying French force is asserting its power over the local population.

Rossio Square

General Junot is basking in his victory, surrounded by assorted floozies. Note his distinctly snazzy uniform.

Rossio Square 2 General Junot and floozies

But, wait! That’s not a floozy. That’s our heroine, the Pink Carnation herself, cunningly disguised in a very exuberant hat and low peepoletage.

Rossio Square 3 Our Heroine

Our hero, however, does not know that… yet. He’s still waiting for someone to give him the code phrase: “The eagle peeps only once.”

Rossio Square 4 Our dashing hero

Don’t you love his Zorro-esque hat and cloak? This is a peep who knows how to blend with the crowd. Also who knows how to lean nonchalently against a pillar, which is a very good skill for both secret agents and romantic heroes.

Thank you, Carrie and Laura! I am just blown away by those peeptastic costumes. And who knew a Peep could have just that right look of world-weary disdain? (I’m talking about you, Jack Reid, aka the Peepflower.)

And now, just for context, here’s the text of the scene:

Lure of the Moonflower_deeper sky2The mood in the Rossio Square was nasty.

The agent known as the Moonflower blended into the crowd, just one anonymous man among many, just another sullen face beneath the brim of a hat pulled down low against the December rain. The crowd grumbled and shifted as the Portuguese royal standard made its slow descent from the pinnacle of Sao Jorge Castle, but the six thousand French soldiers massed in the square put an effective stop to louder expressions of discontent. In the windows of the tall houses that framed the square, the Moonflower could see curtains twitch, as hostile eyes looked down on the display put on by the conqueror.

The French claimed to come as liberators, but the liberated didn’t seem any too happy about it.

As the royal standard disappeared from view and the tricolore rose triumphant above the square, the Moonflower heard a woman sob, and a man mutter something rather uncomplimentary about his new French overlords.

The Moonflower might have stayed to listen—listening, after all, was his job—but he had another task today.

He was here to meet his new contact.

That was all he had been told. Proceed to Rossio Square and await further instructions. He would know his contact by the code phrase: “The eagle nests only once.”

Who in the hell came up with these lines?

Once, just once, he would appreciate a phrase that didn’t involve dogs barking at midnight or doves flying by day.

There was a cluster of French officers in the square, standing behind General Junot. They did go in for flashy uniforms, these imperial officers. Flashy uniforms and even flashier women. The richly dressed women hanging off the arms of the officers were earning dark stares from the members of the crowd, stares and mutterings.

Some were local girls, making up to the conqueror. Others were undoubtedly French imports, like the woman who stood to the far left of the huddled group, her dark hair a mass of bunched curls beneath the brim of a bonnet from which pale purple feathers molted with carefree abandon. Her clothes were all that was currently a la mode in Paris, her pelisse elaborately frogged, the fingers of her gloves crammed with rings.

A well-paid courtesan, at the top of her trade.

But there was something about her that caught Jack’s eye. It wasn’t the flashing rings. He’d seen far grander jewels in his time. No. It was the aura of stillness about her. She stood with an easy elegance of carriage at odds with all her frills and fripperies and it seemed that the nervous energy of the crowd eddied and ebbed around her without touching her in the slightest.

Her features had the classical elegance that was all the rage. High cheekbones. Porcelain pale skin, tinted delicately pink at the cheeks. Jack had been around enough to know that it wouldn’t take long for the ravages of her trade to begin to show. Those clear eyes would become shadowed; that pale skin be replaced with white lead and other cosmetics, in a desperate simulacrum of youth, a desperate attempt to catch and hold the affections of first one man and then another, until there was nothing left but the bottle—or the river.

Better, thought Jack grimly, to be a washerwoman or a fishwife, a tavern keeper or a maid. Those occupations might be hell on the hands, but the other was hell on the heart.

Not that it was any of his look-out.

The courtesan’s eyes met Jack’s across the crowd. Met and held. Ridiculous, of course. There was a square full of people between them, and he was just another rough rustic in a shapeless brown jacket.

But he could have sworn, for that moment, she was looking fully at him. Looking and sizing him up.

For what? He was hardly a likely protector for a French courtesan.

Go away, princess, Jack thought. There’s nothing here for you.

Or is there?


Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

It’s 1926 and a train is chugging its way into the station in Nairobi.

For our second Pinkorama, Carla brings us… The Ashpeep Affair.

In this scene, Addie has just traveled from England to Kenya to visit her cousin Bea, and, after coming all that way, she’s not quite sure she actually wants to be there.

Carla Ashpeep Affair

Just look at poor Addie, dragging her luggage from the train, hot and sweaty and uncomfortably aware that her sugar– er, hair– is frizzing.

Here’s a bit of the text of the scene:

Ashford PaperbackBeneath her cloche hat, her hair was matted to her head with sweat. Addie yanked it off, dropping it on the narrow bed. The movement of the train ought to have created a bit of breeze, but the screens were tightly fitted, their mesh clogged with the red dust that seemed to me to be almost worse than mosquitoes. With the screens down, the car was dark and airless, more like a cattle car than a first class cabin, the clatter of wheels against track broken far too frequently by the high pitched wail of the whistle.

Kneeling on the bed, she wrestled the screen open. The train chugged steadily along on its slim, single track—the Iron Snake they had told her the natives called it, in Mombassa, as she had struggled to see her belongings from ship to train, jostled this way and that on the bustling, busy, harbor. In the distance, she could see a flock of beasts, rather like deer, but with thin, high horns, startled into flight by the noise of the train. It was nearly midday, and the equatorial sun made the scene shimmer in a kind of haze, like a glaze over glass, so that the fleeing beasts rippled as they ran, like an impressionist painting.

She had never imagined Africa being so very green, nor the sky so very blue.

Her imaginings, such as they were, had been in shades of siena and burnt umber, browns and oranges, with, perhaps, a bit of jungle thrown in, as a courtesy to H. Rider Haggard. Perhaps she ought to have paid more attention to the books and maps David had brought, instead of watching him, his thin face animated in the lamplight, feeling a familiar mix of obligation and guilt, affection and dread. She hadn’t bothered to think much about Africa at all. There were books she could have read, people she could have quizzed, but she hadn’t bothered, not with any of it. When she had thought of coming to Africa, it hadn’t been of Africa she had thought.

You can only wonder where that Addie Peep is going to go next…. A swinging 1920s Peep party in the Happy Valley? Or right back onto that adorable train?

Thank you, Carla, for transporting us– and that Peep!– to Africa!

Pinkorama #1: THAT SUMMER

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Or perhaps Peep Summer?

For our very first 2017 Pinkorama, Randy brings us a scene from That Summer. It’s the summer of 2009, and Julia, jobless thanks to the recession, has just flown out to London to inspect the house she unexpectedly inherited from a great-aunt she can’t remember. The house holds many surprises for Julia… including the portrait of a lady.

(Note the corresponding picture of a gentleman on the other wall….)

Our jet-lagged Julia Peep in her white shirt examines the painting.

Randy 1

And look! There’s Julia’s cousin, Natalie, popping through the door to see what Julia’s up to.

Randy 2

Don’t you love the fireplace and those elegant blue drapes?

Here’s the text of the scene:

That Summer PaperbackThe switch was one of the push kinds. Julia pressed down on it. Blinking in the sudden light from the crystal chandelier, she found herself face to face with a woman on the wall.

For a second, the dark hair, the pale skin, the flowers made her think of her mother, of that faded image in an old snapshot.

But there was nothing faded about this picture. Even dimmed with dust and neglect, there was a vibrancy about the painted image that drew the eye like a magnet. It shouldn’t have. There was nothing particularly exotic about it, just a woman sitting in a garden, trees flowering all around her, roses twining as if reaching for her hand, the sun catching the gold lettering on the book that lay beside her, abandoned on the bench.

The woman’s clothes made Julia think of the cover of her high school volume of Jane Eyre, a tight-waisted dress in a deep, dark blue, with a modest white collar and cuffs. Her dark hair was uncovered, parted in the middle, pulled down smoothly to cover her ears, then looped and knotted in the back. Just another society portrait.

Except for her face. She was looking up, lips parted as though about to say something. The serenity of her hair and gown was belied by the turmoil in her face. She looked, realized Julia, as lost as Julia felt. The contrast between the woman’s restrained clothing, her carefully arranged hair, and the wildness in her eyes struck a deep and powerful cord with her. Julia felt a deep kinship with this unknown woman, whoever she might be, with the confusion and frustration all bottled into that prim exterior.

Whoever the artist was, he was pretty darn talented to have conveyed all that, just in the tilt of a head, the slightly parted lips, the luster of the eyes. Julia took a step forward, feeling as if, if she only got close enough, those lips might whisper secrets to her. She could practically hear the buzz of expectancy in the air around her. Even the dust motes seemed to have paused to listen.

A door opened on the other side of the room, and the mood shattered.

“There you are!” It was Nat, slightly breathless. “I just went to make sure I’d closed the back door. Hideous room, isn’t this? It smells like someone died.”

Thanks so much, Randy, for bringing this scene so vividly (peepfully?) to life!

Last Call for Pinkoramae!

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

I’ll be accepting submissions for the 7th Annual Pink Carnation Peep Diorama Contest up through midnight tonight! So if you have a last minute Peep inspiration, now’s your chance.

You can find the contest description and rules here.

The really fun part starts tomorrow! I’ll post each Pinkorama in the order in which I received it– and then open it up to all of you for voting. One judge will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of The Forgotten Room. The grand prize winner will receive an ARC of my upcoming novel, The English Wife.

See you here tomorrow for the Pinkorama display!

Unofficial poll: is it better when I (a) post the Pinkoramas one a day, or (b) post all the Pinkoramas on the same day?

Ready… Peep… Go!

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Are you ready for the 7th Annual Pink Carnation Peep Diorama Contest? It’s spring, which means… it’s Pinkorama time!

The rules are simple: using those sugary, marshmallowy goodies (Peeps), recreate your favorite scene from any one of my books, novellas, or short stories. There are the Pink books, for Napoleonic Peeps; The Ashford Affair, 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. (Can’t you just picture that World War II Peep?)

Two L (disillusioned law student Peep), “A Night at Northanger” (ghost hunter Peep), and “The Record Set Right” (World War I or modern Peep) are also fair game.

Okay, so the title is a little misleading. I guess it’s really more appropriately a Willigorama at this point? But that doesn’t sound nearly so catchy as Pinkorama, so Pinkorama it remains.

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

The deadline for the Pinkorama is Tuesday, May 2. I’ll post all the Pinkoramas here on the website and open it up to general voting.

As for the prize…. Every entrant will receive a signed paperback copy of The Forgotten Room.

The winner? Will receive an ARC of my January 2018 novel, The English Wife. (To be mailed as soon as those ARCs arrive.)

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

Let the sugary fun begin!

“Peepmas at Girdings”: a MISTLETOE Pinkorama

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

On the Twelfth Day of Turnip, Candace and Cassandra present… “Peepmas at Girdings”.

I love that this combines both The Temptation of the Night Jasmine and The Mischief of the Mistletoe.

As the house party at Girdings goes out into the woods to collect the Yuletide greenery on Christmas Eve, we can find Charlotte, in her red cloak, and Penelope, with her red hair uncovered (so Pen!)…

… while Arabella stands alone in her plain brown cloak, the hood pulled up over her blonde hair.

The servants have prepared a sumptuous repast…

… and some of the gentlemen are certainly enjoying themselves. (Check out the dogs yipping at their heels!)

But other events are afoot. As Robert and Tommy make their plans, Freddy parties, and Sir Francis Medmenham exudes sinister…

… We find the root vegetable we’ve been waiting for! Turnip is busy trying to cut down a tree with the wrong side of his axe, until Geoff intervenes.

Pretty amazing, no? Candace & Cassandra, I doff my (tiny Peep) hat to you!

As we leave Turnip and Arabella to their festivities once more, thank you so much to everyone for coming along with me and Turnip on this holiday adventure! May all your holidays be merry and bright– and your puddings unencumbered by secret messages or freakishly small spies.

Merry, merry, all!