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25 Apr 2011 Peeking Out

…and blinking in the bright light of real life…

Well, The Flower Reader is done. I’ve been unconscious for the past week. We’ve had storm after storm—thunderhail, lightningwind, windyrain, every combination you can imagine. Power on and off.

And I have the best idea for my next book…

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02 Apr 2011 Saturday News

May I just say that I love The Flower Reader? I love Rinette Leslie, so fragile and so ferocious, so different from Duchess Barbara (although I love Duchess Barbara too). I love Nicolas de Clerac:


I turned my head, and there I saw the queen’s advisor and secretary Nicolas de Clerac, costumed as Urania, the muse of astronomy, his white silk tunic and gathered mantle embroidered with scattered silver globes and compasses. There were blue and silver streaks of paint around his eyes. All the same, he did not look foolish or mischievous as the other gentlemen did; woman’s costume or no, if I had met him alone in a dark place I would have been afraid of him.

I love Mary Stuart, eighteen years old, already once a widow, French to her elegant and privileged and mercurial fingertips, glimmering so briefly against the dark background of Scotland’s grim and inflexible Reformation.

Ahem. Well, enough about The Flower Reader for now. Mark your calendars for April 2012!

Many wonderful reviews and interviews for The Second Duchess. Writer Unboxed, Coffee and a Book Chick, Tartitude (this is part II, which I’m highlighting because of the granddaughterly wonderfulness, but check out part I as well, via the link in the first paragraph), Realm Lovejoy’s Blog Realm (and check out her wonderful sketch of Duchess Barbara), Reading the Past, Sia McKye’s Over Coffee, and Theresa de Valence’s Reviews by TdV, just to list a few. I am following the excellent advice to avoid commenting on reviews of one’s own work, but I would like to say here that I am so grateful to everyone who read and reviewed and commented in any way on The Second Duchess.

In April and May, look for endcaps at Barnes and Noble featuring Showtime’s The Borgias—among the books in the displays you’ll find The Second Duchess. Alfonso, of course, was Lucrezia Borgia’s grandson and the last Borgia duke. If you subscribe to Showtime, watch for the Barnes and Noble spot featuring their fabulous trip-to-Rome sweepstakes—you might just catch a glimpse (a tiny glimpse, but still) of The Second Duchess’s cover.

If you’re a Goodreads member, consider joining the Goodreads group “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book.” The Second Duchess is one of their two featured books of the month for April, and there should be an excellent, no-holds-barred discussion.

Link of the Week: Thorn from Jesus’ Crucifixion Crown goes on Display at the British Museum. This particularly fascinates me because the thorn (wherever it might have actually come from) is wrapped in a strand of Mary Queen of Scots’ pearls. How did it come to be connected with the pearls? Did she do it herself? Did someone else do it after her execution? One could write a whole story around this intriguing relic.

And finally, the good news of the week: Rosie, one of the two “Booksigning Beagles” from my Second Duchess signing at Murder by the Book, has found her forever home! In fact, she and her litter-sister Portia were adopted together, so they will not be separated. I will update you all on Dulcie, the other darling Booksigning Beagle, when I have more news.

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23 Mar 2011 I’m Here, Really…

…I’m just so wrapped up in finishing The Flower Reader that I’m trying to stay offline as much as possible. Here are some pictures from my wonderful signing at Houston’s Murder by the Book, to round out the month until I can take a breath and really write a coherent post.

Books and beagles--I am in heaven!

I love talking about the sixteenth century, Ferrara, Barbara and Alfonso! Ask me anything!

Readers are the best!

Little Dulcie is a star!

Baby Rosie is a star, too!

I had to snuggle Dulcie.

Rosie--that wonderful clean-puppy smell!

When you share an event with beagle puppies, you find out who has the real fans!

Thank you for coming! Buy lots of books! And adopt us, please!

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04 Mar 2011 In the Wild!

Well, the day finally came. The Second Duchess was released on March 1st, and is now in the wild at bookstores everywhere. I still don’t quite believe it.

I’m posting a day early this week because later this morning I’m off to Houston for an appearance at the iconic Murder by the Book. If you’re in Houston, please stop by! It’s a great day for MBTB, with authors Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison at 6pm, Sarwat Chadda and Rachel Hawkins at 3pm, and me (plus a melting-eyed bevy of adoptable beagles, courtesy of Houston Beagle and Hound Rescue) at 1pm. There is method in the beagle-rescue madness, because both of ours were adopted from HBHR, and of course there are two Elizabethan pocket beagles playing featured roles in The Second Duchess.

On the release day itself, March 1st, The Book Carriage in Roanoke hosted a wonderful party and gave The Second Duchess a fabulous send-off. I was very nervous, but the first question was “What’s your book about?” and I started talking about the sixteenth century and Ferrara and the Este and Barbara of Austria and Robert Browning, and they pretty much had to bring out the hook to get me to stop. Heh. Here’s a picture:

I’ll check back in when we get home with all the details and more pictures, and some fabulous links.

And don’t forget that this is Red Cross Month! Check the main Writers for the Red Cross page for daily blog posts, auctions, and book giveaways (including The Second Duchess) for donations.

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26 Feb 2011 Winners!

I tried to get the beagles to help me choose the winners of the signed ARCs of The Second Duchess, but as we like to say around Casa Loupas, they have no “reposable thumbs.” So although I logged in to the trusty random number generator site, poor Boudin still struggled with the keyboard.

However! With a little help from Mama, the selection of the random numbers was successful, and the winners are:

Theresa de Valence
Mari Bonomi

Congratulations! I will be writing to you both so you can send me your snail-mail addresses.

I will also send a signed postcard (which is not only very pretty but works perfectly as a bookmark) to anyone who asks. Yes, international requests are welcome. Just drop me an email with your mailing address… my email address is under the “Contact” tab above.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and those of you who are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area… I’d love to meet you in person at the book launch party this Tuesday, March 1, at The Book Carriage, 304 North Oak Street, Roanoke, Texas.

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19 Feb 2011 The Great ARC Giveaway Commenceth

Enter today to win one of two signed ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of The Second Duchess! I welcome international entries—although if you’re in Germany, the German edition of The Second DuchessDie Zweite Herzogin—is releasing in April from Rowohlt, and if you pre-order that I’ll love you forever.

Now, as I said last week, I get very frustrated by giveaways that make me do specific complicated stuff other than just leave a comment in order to win. Naturally I’d love to have you spread the Duchess love, but this contest is completely on the honor system. So to enter, just leave a comment here. Then as the spirit may move you (and of course I hope it moves you a lot) tell a friend, tell a perfect stranger, ask at your local library, blog, tweet, post to Facebook or your favorite message board, suggest the book to your book club, skywrite the title across your city (well, no, probably not that, heh)—I’m sure you’ll come up with lots more fantastic ideas. If you want to share your idea in your comment, all the better.

You have all week to enter, let’s say through midnight CST on Friday, February 25th. The beagles will choose the two winners and I’ll announce the names here on Saturday morning, February 26th.

Good luck to everyone!

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12 Feb 2011 Counting Down the Days

  • Less than three weeks left until March 1st, The Second Duchess’s official release date. I am excited, scared, thrilled, and anxious. Is this really happening at last? Sometimes it doesn’t seem quite real. Have you pre-ordered? It would be wonderful if you would–you can place an advance order at your favorite bookstore or online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Books-a-Million, and of course your favorite online independent bookstore. If you’re in the Dallas Metroplex, please order from The Book Carriage. If you’re in Houston, please order from Murder by the Book.
  • And speaking of The Book Carriage–this beautiful independent bookstore in Roanoke, Texas, is hosting my release-day booksigning event for The Second Duchess, from six to eight in the evening on March 1st. Roanoke is halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, so convenient for everyone in the metroplex. If you’re anywhere in the area, please come by to say hello! There will be an open bar (espresso bar, that is) and lots of fun and good conversation. The address, phone number and driving directions for The Book Carriage are here.
  • I’ve just been scheduled for my first live book club chat! This one is via telephone, although I can Skype as well. Would your book club like to read The Second Duchess? Would you like me to chat with you live (probably with beagles barking in the background)? Write to publicist Kayleigh Clark (Kayleigh dot Clark at us dot penguingroup dot com) at Penguin to make the arrangements. It’s free! Yay!
  • Don’t forget that March is Red Cross Month! Make a donation of $25 or more via Writers for the Red Cross and choose from hundreds of free books, including The Second Duchess.
  • Giveaways for The Second Duchess are still open at Goodreads and for Library Thing Early Reviewers. Sign up now—who knows? This may be your lucky day.
  • While we’re on the subject of giveaways–next week here at Playacting on Paper I’m going to host my own little giveaway of two signed ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of The Second Duchess. And my giveaway will be open to entries worldwide, so if you’re outside the US, this is the one for you. I have to admit that I hate it when contests make me do stuff other than just leave a comment in order to win—so although I’d love to have you spread the word, my contest will be on the honor system. Leave a comment here—and do whatever you’d like to build the Duchess love. Tell a friend, ask at your local library, blog, tweet, post to Facebook or write a review. It’ll be up to you, and your ideas will probably be more creative than anything I could ask for, anyway!
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29 Jan 2011 List of the Week

  • 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.
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22 Jan 2011 List of the Week

  • 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.
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15 Jan 2011 Giveaways!



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!

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