- Haven’t been doing much but working. I have a wonderful, detailed outline for The Flower Reader and it’s an invaluable road map—it essentially keeps me on track with the major plot points, clues, character developments, and “what needs to happen now.” On the other hand, the way things happen sometimes doesn’t turn out to be what I expected at all. However much I may tear my hair out sometimes, storytelling is the thing I love to do most of all in the world.
- Was sent an advance tearsheet of a great “Editor’s Choice” review for The Second Duchess, to run in the February/Spring issue of Historical Novels Review, the journal of the Historical Novel Society. I am delighted! Want to read? Click here: The Historical Novels Review and scroll down a bit.
- March is Red Cross Month, and Writers for the Red Cross is mounting a fantastic month-long series of blog posts and giveaways to raise funds for the Red Cross. Make a donation of $25 or more and choose from hundreds of free books, including The Second Duchess. Will post more about this as March approaches. For now, please “like” the Facebook page.
- Was very sorry to read of the death of Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman), author of the wonderful “Mistress of the Art of Death” historical mysteries. I was hooked from the first book, and it’s hard for me to imagine there will be no more. Vale, Ariana.
- Writing-related Link of the Week: Finish Your Novel, a wonderful collection of essays by Timothy Hallinan, whose The Queen of Patpong is up for the 2011 Best Novel Edgar award. Queen of Patpong is the fourth of Hallinan’s Bangkok-set Poke Rafferty thrillers, and it is fantastic.
- Fun Link of the Week: A Femme d’Un Certain Age, where Tish Jett and her “evil twin” Cherie write about clothes, food, decorating, manners, style and life for ladies “forty-ish or whateverish,” all with an elegant French twist.
- Excerpt-a-ganza! The first chapter of The Second Duchess is now available here.
- The Second Duchess‘s giveaway at Goodreads continues! Sign up! And check back here for an international giveaway of a couple of advance reader copies. I think I’m going to wait until the Goodreads giveaway gets to 1,000 entries, so sign up now.
- Cressie News: all bandages, cones, and protective collars are off. She is once again romping free in the back yard and doing her Snoopy dance under the Squirrel Tree. I think we can declare her officially healed, and we are so grateful for all the good thoughts and prayers you sent her way.
- Congratulations to Karen Harper on Down River’s nomination for the 2011 Mary Higgins Clark Award, announced with the Edgar nominations this past week and presented each year by the Mystery Writers of America.
- Writing-related link of the week: Jan O’Hara’s Tartitude. Great reviews, thoughtful essays on the writing life, and really good comments. Get your vitamin C every day!
- Fun link of the week: All-Star Puzzles. Fun and free! I particularly like the mini-crostics and the picture puzzles. My way of starting my day.
As some of you might have seen already, I now have beautiful cover flats for The Second Duchess—a sample of the cover, back and front, as it is printed and before it’s bound onto the book. Each step in the process is a shock of “Omigosh, this is really happening.” I also have a huge carton of gorgeous four-color postcards and if you’d like one with a personal note (plus a few to hand out to your friends, of course), just email me at eloupas (at) gmail (dot) com with your address. They’re like bookmarks on steroids!
The giveaway of The Second Duchess at Goodreads is now live. Click to sign up—there are twenty-five copies up for grabs. This particular giveaway is US only, but in a couple of weeks I’m going to host a giveaway here which will be international. So stay tuned.
And you can now read the first chapter of The Second Duchess by clicking the “The Second Duchess” tab above and then clicking the link at the beginning of the text.
Cressie is continuing to heal well—the vet has signed off on her for now and our main task is to keep her from licking at the delicate (and itchy) scar tissue.
Writers’ link of the week: the Shrinking Violets. I love this blog and this group of people. This past week we’ve been choosing a word for our year to come, and my choice was “perseverance.” What would your choice be?
Fun link of the week: the Daily Digital. It’s the adventures of two handsome beagle boys and their “hard-working domestic help.” Heh. Laurie Kramer is a long-time friend of mine and we’ve laughed and cried over our beloved hounds for a good many years now. Her pictures are wonderful, her sense of humor is wry, and her followers’ comments often hilarious. Stop by and say hello!
My Scotland book has its final title at last: The Flower Reader. This was one of my top choices and I’m delighted—I think it’s intriguing and unusual, and it puts the spotlight right where it belongs, on my heroine Rinette Leslie, the girl who can read the future in flowers. I’ll probably have more to say about The Flower Reader next week.
Cressie is doing beautifully. She had another follow-up vet visit on Wednesday and Dr. Clawson (such an appropriate name for a vet!) pronounced her a champion healer. She’s still wearing her plastic bag (an invention of my own, of which I’m justly proud) and probably will be for another week at least, just to let the healing progress past the itchy stage. Here she is, “in the bag” and oh-so-bored with it all:
Boudin has been feeling quite left out, and so here’s a wonderful new picture of him as well, snapped by the Broadcasting Legend™:
In Second Duchess news, there’s a giveaway slated to start on January 15th on Goodreads. Twenty-five copies up for grabs! So mark your calendars to enter. And anyone in the Houston, Texas area—put a big red “X” on March 5th, because at 1:00 on that Saturday afternoon I’ll be signing at Houston’s iconic Murder by the Book bookstore.
My Link o’ the Week for writers: StoryFix from Larry Brooks. As Larry says in his subtitle: “Get it written, get it right, get it published.” A great resource, packed with energizing information.
My Link o’ the Week for historical fun: The page on Lochleven Castle in the Douglas Archives. I particularly like the sketch of what Lochleven Island would have looked like in the mid-1560s at the time of my story—the island today is much larger because the level of the loch has lowered. Lochleven! Just the word is embroidered with history and romance…
Happy First-Foot, as the Greeks say, for 2011! The beautiful sixteenth-century chopines above are Venetian, made of leather, silk and wood, and are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For an intriguing short essay on chopines, visit the Met here.
I am not making resolutions as such this year. Instead, I’ve been inspired by this wonderful post on one of my favorite websites, She Writes, about simply deciding what to take with one on the journey into the new year, and what to leave behind:
Cressie is continuing to heal. The Silver Casket is continuing to flourish, day by day. Time is continuing to count itself down to the debut of The Second Duchess on March 1st. All I can do is be thankful for all the good things in my life.
Happy happy 2011 to everyone!