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04 Mar …And What the Inspiration Hath Wrought

© The British Library Board

Image © The British Library Board

Last week I posted about the Felbrigge Psalter, and how it inspired part of my new book in progress. Here’s a tiny snippet incorporating part of what that inspiration produced:



What will become of the book when I am gone? I have no daughter to leave it to. Ah, well, the direct line of mother-to-daughter has been broken before, and will be broken again, and the book will go on. It is not the blood that counts, but the fact that we have all been women, from the first of us to the last. We have all added something, words from those of us who could write, drawings from those unlettered, pressed herbs and flowers, stains and spatters from long-ago batters and sauces, ground grains of spices sifted into the paper itself. The book was a psalter at first, the Little Hours of the Virgin bound in embroidered linen three hundred years ago and more. Now the original pages have been mostly scraped and overwritten and new pages sewn and pasted in and interleaved. It has become a book about tasting, about cookery and herbalism and women’s magic. What are the Little Hours of the Virgin, after all, but ancient women’s magic?



I’m fretting about the rhyming “spatters” and “batters,” but so far I haven’t been able to come up with a suitable word to replace one or the other. The speaker here, by the way, is on her deathbed in 1572, which is why she describes the book as being three hundred years old.


There’s much more, of course. The working title for this book is The Taste of Cloves, and it has a contemporary storyline woven in with the historical storyline, which is a first for me. But somehow it just happened. Inspiration is funny that way…


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21 Feb Inspiration

Felbrigge Psalter


You just never know when something is going to drop a seed into your subconscious, and then when you least expect it, burst forth with an idea. For example, a while ago I came across some articles on a 13th-century psalter with an embroidered cover, which is in fact the oldest known English embroidery on a book. The book still exists, in the British Library. Here are some more details:


The Felbrigge Psalter


What if, though, such a book had not found its way into a museum, but had instead been passed down secretly from woman to woman. lovingly preserved, added to and un-written and re-written through the centuries? What if…


Well, there are more what-ifs. Lots of them. Next week sometime I’ll post an actual snippet from my work-in-progress, describing my fictional version of the Felbrigge Psalter.

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13 Feb Today We Have Chocolate



Because even if today is Friday the Thirteenth, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!


I’m writing about love, sex, power, and chocolate in the Renaissance today on Sia McKye’s popular blog, “Over Coffee.” Love, sex and power abounded in the sixteenth century, as of course they have in every age of humanity, but chocolate, not so much. So let’s all be especially grateful for our Valentine choccies.


Today We Have Chocolate


See you there!

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10 Feb Books Can Be Characters, Too

Photo Credit: Sandwich Town Council.

Photo Credit: Sandwich Town Council.

A central “character” in the new novel I’m working on is a 700-year-old psalter/scrapbook that has been passed down lovingly and carefully through twenty-four generations of (not always related) women. So you can imagine my fascination and delight to read this morning that researchers have found a 700-year-old copy of the Magna Carta stuck in a Victorian scrapbook in the county of Kent, England. So papers, and by extension even a whole book, can survive (if in a somewhat tattered condition) for hundreds of years outside museums! This lovely, quirky story has made my day.


Amazing! Original Magna Carta Copy Found in Scrapbook


Will share more about my own wonderful old (fictional) book later on.

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05 Feb The Mighty Huntress

Cressie and the Squirrel


I just spent a good twenty minutes watching Cressie creep across the back yard one coyote-like step at a time, with her eyes utterly fixed on an insouciant squirrel perched on the fence. I didn’t dare open the door for fear of scaring the squirrel away, so I shot this through the window. I swear, you could see that thought bubble over her head.


Needless to say, the squirrel got away, as they all do. Well, most of them. She’s actually caught two over the course of her thirteen years, and each time, as dear Miss Rossetti says, the birthday of her life was come. So she lives in endless hope (Cressie, not Christina Rossetti), bless her little beagle heart.

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31 Jan Does Tempus Really Fugit?



Fascinating article about a new book by philosopher Brad Skow of MIT, describing something called the “Block Theory” of time. Muchly simplified, the idea is that we (and everyone and everything else) exist scattered in time, with the “spotlight” of our concept of “present” moving from one moment to the next but with all moments, past, present, and future, existing all at once in the fabric of spacetime.


Does Time Pass?


The fact that I’m interested in theories of time that allow the past and present to co-exist is a big hint that what I’m working on combines the past and the present!

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24 Jan Old Favorites

Old FriendsHave been re-reading old favorites for the past few weeks. This fascinating study:


Favorite TV Reruns May Have Restorative Powers, says UB Researcher


…does ramble on and on about television, but if you keep reading you’ll come to the phrase “re-read a favorite book.” Yes! I’ve always felt that re-reading old favorites made me feel better, and now there’s scientific proof!


Here’s a snippet from a lovely comfort book:


“I realized at that moment, more strongly than hitherto, how fantastic, even macabre, was my presence amongst them, unseen, unborn, a freak in time, witness to events that had happened centuries past, unremembered, unrecorded, and I wondered how it was that standing here on the steps, watching yet invisible, I could feel myself involved, troubled, by these loves and deaths.” —Daphne du Maurier,
The House on the Strand.

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15 Oct Open Link to The Chimera Jewel


Now free for everyone—the short story originally published in My Weekly magazine, and set in the world of The Second Duchess!


“The Chimera Jewel” by Elizabeth Loupas


Here’s the thumbnail sketch My Weekly used to describe the story: “In sixteenth-century Ferrara, a magnificent jewel empowers two very different women—an ardent young girl and a dignified duchess whose love is no less passionate for being carefully restrained…”


This is a PDF file, which includes the beautiful artwork My Weekly commissioned for the story. Remember you can click the “+” icon to increase the size of the image and the type. Don’t have a PDF reader? You can download Adobe Reader free:


Adobe Reader


Subscribers to my mailing list received a link to this story last week, so if you want early dibs on special content in the future, be sure to subscribe by clicking the link above to my “Contact” page.


Many thanks to My Weekly for permission to republish the story and the art. Everyone enjoy!

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18 Aug A Delivery by the Royal Mail!

I received a package today via the Royal Mail, which was exciting enough in itself! But inside was a copy of last week’s issue of My Weekly Magazine, with “The Chimera Jewel” inside:




My Weekly does such a beautiful job of laying out stories with luscious, evocative artwork. I am thrilled that my story featuring Barbara and Alfonso from The Second Duchess found such a wonderful home.


Remember, sign up for my newsletter to get the first information on where you will eventually be able to read “The Chimera Jewel” online!




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07 Aug The Chimera Jewel

Love, says Duke Alfonso to his duchess Barbara of Austria in The Second Duchess, is a chimera of poets and adulteresses.


And in a new short story called “The Chimera Jewel,” which I’ve written exclusively for My Weekly magazine, Alfonso presents Barbara with a particularly meaningful gift:


                In the box there was a jewel, encircled with diamonds and sapphires, depicting a graceful but clearly mythological beast fashioned in gold and embellished with more precious stones. It had the forequarters of a lioness, the head of a horned goat rearing from its back, and a snake for a tail.

                “A chimera,” I said. A mythological beast, yes, but also a symbol of something that could exist only in the imagination….


It was a wonderful experience to enter the world of sixteenth-century Ferrara again, the color and excitement of the Berlingaccio revels, and the endlessly fascinating relationship between Duke Alfonso and Duchess Barbara. So mannered and cool on the surface, yet burning with fire and ice underneath. The chimera jewel is Alfonso’s way of saying “I love you” to his second duchess—something he would never “stoop” (as dear Mr. Browning puts it) to say in so many words.


What does Barbara do with the jewel?


Well, that’s the story. :)


Buy this week’s copy of My Weekly and read “The Chimera Jewel” for yourself. You’ll also be offered a chance to win the UK mass-market paperback edition of The Second Duchess.


Not in the UK? Well, My Weekly is generous with allowing the rights to the story to eventually revert to me. Use the form below to sign up for my newsletter, and one day soon I’ll send out a link to “The Chimera Jewel” online!




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11 May Mother’s Day 2014

Mother's Day 1947

It was Mother’s Day 1947. In those days (gulp) taking pictures was a rarer and more formal thing. Someone (my father? My grandfather?) lined up the women of the family for a snapshot with fourteen-month-old me in my beautiful young mother’s arms. I don’t remember it, of course–not even the enormous sunbonnet. Can you imagine putting something like that on a toddler today?


Left to right, my paternal grandmother Elizabeth Schroeder Gross (I’m named for her, although that’s a story in itself), my aunt Margaret Gross Paugh, me, my dear dear mother Margaret Fleming Gross (to whom The Flower Reader is dedicated), and my maternal grandmother Bonnie Otto Fleming. Bonnie’s real name was “Bonnalynn”–one has to wonder where that came from, as she was born in 1887. But her mother’s name was Margaret Roxanne Landers, so perhaps a penchant for fanciful names ran in the family. In any case, she herself hated “Bonnalynn” and called herself “Bonnie.” but I loved it and always thought that if I were ever fortunate enough to have a daughter of my own (which I’m not, alas) I’d name her “Bonnalynn.”


Perhaps one day there will be a “Bonnalynn” in a book….


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09 May The Women of the Medici

Wife, mistress, sister and cousin of a powerful and alchemy-obsessed Grand Duke… an alchemical soror mystica and a grandmother with the eyes of a revolutionary… the women take center stage in The Red Lily Crown. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t a few powerful men in the background as well. Here’s a lovely review from the Pittsburgh Examiner:


History, fiction, sex, scandal, schemes, and alchemy all combine to make up one of the best historical fictions novels of 2014!


Read the entire review here!


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27 Apr Now Pinning The Red Lily Crown!

I’ve started a Pinterest board called “Travels with Chiara,” for pictures of The Red Lily Crown in the wild. I’d love to have any kind of pictures–your copy of the book in your favorite reading place, your copy of the book with your pet or pets (I especially love pet pictures, of course), copies of the book in bookstores and libraries and wherever you go. You can post a link in the comments, or send your pictures to me at travels (at) elizabethloupas (dot) com.


I’m looking forward to Chiara’s travels around the world!


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24 Feb Advance Copies of The Red Lily Crown!

Want to get your hands on THE RED LILY CROWN before everyone else? Sign up for my newsletter and you could be one of three winners to receive an advance copy! Here’s the link:

Notes from Elizabeth Loupas Newsletter

These are the rare, plain-brown-wrapper ARCs, and they will be signed and personalized and accompanied by postcards which a) will feature the full color cover, and b) make great bookmarks.

Sign up now! The winners will be announced in the first copy of the newsletter on March 4th, and the books shipped immediately to the winners!

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19 Feb Beauty, Cruelty and Madness

theredlilycrownhomeFabulous four-star review for The Red Lily Crown, upcoming in the March issue of Romantic Times! A tiny taste: “Loupas’ reputation as a force in historical fiction gains momentum with this exciting, well-crafted story… a vivid portrait of the time, giving readers an in-depth picture of the beauty, cruelty and madness, and the superstitious nature of powerful men and women.”

I’m going to be giving away some signed ARCs very shortly, so come on over and “like” my Facebook Author page:

Elizabeth Loupas Facebook Author Page

…where I’ll be posting details on how to enter to win. Or click the cover image to pre-order if you want to be sure to have your copy shipped (or zapped to your Kindle) on the day of publication!

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13 Jan Eyes of a Revolutionary

2014 is here at last!

My own dear mother always chided me: “Never wish your life away.” But I have to admit I’ve been wishing for 2014 to arrive, and with it, on April 1st, The Red Lily Crown at last.

My mother was one of the models for Nonna, Chiara’s grandmother, who suffers fools not at all and is no fool herself. Well, here she is as she steps into the story:


[box type=”shadow”]


And then Nonna herself came to the door of the shop. She wore the same severe black widow’s habit she’d worn for as long as Chiara could remember, with an unbleached linen wimple and a black veil like a nun. Her face was wrinkled as a walnut shell, but her eyes were hard and bright and aware, the eyes of a young woman, a revolutionary. Which she had been, fifty years ago in the days of the third republic. They were changeable eyes, brown to green to gold, set deeply under slanting brows. All her life people had told Chiara she had eyes just like her Nonna’s.





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