Novels and Puppies


So today’s the day. The Flower Reader goes out into the big wild world.

Writers feel all kinds of strange things when their books are released. Pride, sure, and apprehension, and vulnerability, and hope, and moments of joy, and middle-of-the-night, it’s-too-late-now sinking moments of oh, no, I should have written that part this way and not that way.

But mostly I feel—I don’t know—helplessness. Empty-handedness. That puppy has sneaked out the door and you can offer it all the Milkbones you want—you’re never going to get it back. It’s on its own and it doesn’t belong to you anymore. In fact, it’s suddenly all grown up and not the cute fuzzy puppy you’ve been used to as you pored over it and petted it and brushed its silky fur—it’s a great big spotted dog with teeth and claws and—floppy ears? But wait, you didn’t mean for it to have floppy ears! Where did the floppy ears come from?

Too bad. If people see floppy ears, floppy ears there are.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of people like floppy ears.

It’s just—not what you thought it would be. You write a book and you love it and think it’s yours, and then somehow it gets away from you and becomes this self-sufficient wild thing, hiding in the cucumber vines and foraging for its own food. It may still have your tags on its collar (“Hi! My name is The Flower Reader! If you find me, please call xxx-xxxx. Reward!”) but don’t be fooled. It’s not yours any more.

I’ll post the winners of the bookmarks tomorrow! The Broadcasting Legend™ is out today and I need his magic touch to do the drawing.

A lovely kickoff review by Melissa, the Avid Reader, at Confessions of an Avid Reader!

I am guest-blogging today at Julianne Douglas’s Writing the Renaissance. Do you like your historical fiction with fictional characters, or without? There are pros and cons to both sides…


  • Allison Macias

    I started the book last night. Only got 50 pages in before my husband told me I needed sleep.
    I love it so far, so don’t feel helpless. There are those who will not be happy ever. But the true fans will be happy that you have shared your wonderful story with us!

  • Liz Michalski

    Congrats on your book birthday! I can’t wait to read … and maybe you should try offering popcorn or chocolate instead of Milkbones. You never know….

  • Booklover

    Congratulations, Ms Loupas! I am usually not the one for novels that have anything to do with Scotland and/or Mary Stuart. But I shall read your novel. I came across The Second Duchess by chance – it was given to me by a publishing house I work with. I fell in love with it. I recommended that they buy it. I hope they do. And I hope I get the chance to translate it. I couldn’t put it down, really. I am headed for the bookstore for The Flower Reader as soon as I get a check… and pay my bills, unfortunately. That might take some time but I will read it for sure. And if you write a sequel about Ferrara, count me a reader for life.

    • elizabeth

      Thank you so much–I would be thrilled to see The Second Duchess in Bulgaria, and of course to have you be the translator! Someday I’d love to write a second book set in the Ferrara of Barbara and Alfonso… in the meantime, I’m working on a book set in Florence at about the same time, centering around Barbara’s sister Johanna/Giovanna, her husband Prince Francesco de’ Medici, and Prince Francesco’s beautiful and ambitious mistress Bianca Cappello.

      I hope you get hold of The Flower Reader and that you enjoy it.

  • Booklover

    Florence? Really? You’ve got me hooked right here. I love novels about Rennaisance. I love reading them and I love translating them. Johanna of Austria… she was related to Marie de Medici, right? She was her mother?

    You are an interesting author, Ms Loupas. Most authors these days prefer well-known historical figures that everyone writes about. You turn to those who have not been prominent in novels. How very daring of you. I admire your courage and I can’t wait to see more of you.

    Maybe one day you’ll write something about the Valois? They seem to be a little neglected in favour of the Tudor and Borgia lines and still they are so fascinating. Anne of Brittany, Claude and Renee of France, Isabeau of Bavaria… they are all waiting for someone to bring them to life.

    • elizabeth

      You’re right, Johanna was Marie’s mother. Poor Johanna–not a happy life for her, and when they examined her skeleton as part of the Medici tombs project they found she had awful scoliosis of the spine. She must have been in constant pain, and yet she gallantly bore child after child to Prince Francesco, while he flaunted his mistress in her face. As you can tell, I’m much more sympathetic to Johanna than I am to Francesco and Bianca!

      I didn’t specifically start out to write about lesser-know historical figures. I was inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” which led me to Alfonso II d’Este and Barbara of Austria. From Barbara, it’s an easy step to Johanna. With a little side trip to the Scotland of Mary Stuart.

      I love your ideas. Renee of France was, of course, my Alfonso’s mother, and is mentioned briefly in The Second Duchess. I only wish I could write a hundred books at once! 🙂

  • Booklover

    Poor Johanna, indeed! I am sure her husband thought nothing of her very physical suffering. I am sympathetic to her, too. I have no sympathy for Francesco and Bianca. After all, Henri IV did have his share of infatuations but he is known to have treated Marie de Medici with respect in other areas, let alone the fact that he did write her affectionate letters. I am sure Francesco never did!

    Am I to understand that this is your third book? I can’t wait to read it.

    Yes, I remember Renee of France, Madonna Renata, is mentioned in The Second Duchess. My, she did have quite a life!

    Pay no attention to my suggestions whatsoever. I am like a child in a sweetshop – I want everything and I want it now, if you’d be so kind. Wrire. Just write. And I’ll read.

    • elizabeth

      Yes, the book about Prince Francesco, Johanna and Bianca (and some fictionalized characters as well) will be my third book. LOL–I’d better get busy and get it done! 🙂

  • Booklover

    Music to my ears! Good luck! I’ll check here to keep myself updated.