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24 Oct The Halloween Mash

halloween nightThis Sunday, October 27th, Writerspace is once again hosting one of their fabulous chat/giveaways, not surprisingly with a spooky Halloween theme. One of those pesky real-life commitments means I won’t be chatting this time, but I am offering two signed copies of The Flower Reader as my contribution to the many wonderful prizes.

Speaking of The Flower Reader—did you see the premiere of Reign last week on The CW? Are you going to watch it again this week? What did you think? The young Mary in The Flower Reader is two or three years older and has been through some major life changes. (I won’t specify what, just to avoid any spoilerage.) Will Reign‘s Mary experience the same changes? The show has enough of an alternate-history element that there’s no telling what they intend for their Mary, and if her life will run parallel to my Mary’s life or not.

To get back to the Writerspace Halloween Mash, the overall prizes include Kindles, autographed books from many of your favorite Writerspace writers, gift cards, and much more. You don’t have to be present to win, but you must be registered. To register, and for details on all participating authors and prizes, visit the Writerspace Halloween Mash site.

To chat with authors and readers (and the chats are always hilarious), just stop by Writerspace this Sunday, October 27th, from 8:00pm to 11:00pm ET.

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22 Aug Chat and Win!

This Sunday evening I’m participating in the Writerspace Beach Party, chatting live and giving away two copies of The Flower Reader, with signed postcard bookmarks. Come and chat with me, and register to win.

The event Writerspace Beach Party, featuring dozens of your favorite authors, is Sunday, August 25th, from 8pm to 11pm eastern time. Everyone will be chatting and giving away Kindles, autographed books, gift cards and more. You don’t have to be present to win, but you must be registered. To register, and for details on all participating authors and prizes, visit

Hope to see you there!

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04 Apr Tornados and Winners

First and most important of all, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to all my fellow Texans who are coping with injury and property damage in the wake of our violent tornados yesterday afternoon and evening. The storm passed right over us here in Coppell (and the tennis-ball-sized hail crashing into the roof certainly terrified the doggies) but (pending a professional roof assessment) we have only minor damage and a few tree branches down. My release-day booksigning was cancelled and rescheduled for Thursday. Looking around at the havoc wrought by Mother Nature certainly puts one’s book-release stress into perspective!

ETA: After inspecting everything in the daylight this morning, I find my poor little car, Willow-the-Skate (and of course there is a story as to why he’s named that), has a huge star-shaped crack in his windshield, and won’t be driveable until it’s fixed. Unfortunately he was totaled after another of our Texas hailstorms, so no insurance to help pay for it…

The Broadcasting Legend™ has chosen the winners of the three Flower Reader bookmarks. They are:

Terry Martini
Liz Michalski

Congratulations! I’ll be emailing each of you privately to get your mailing addresses.

A note to readers of Dear Reader and AuthorBuzz. There’s an offer this week for The Flower Reader, and to my horror my ISP abruptly announced (with only two days’ notice) that it was doing a “Server Performance Upgrade” and taking my website (including my email addresses) offline for several hours. This was scheduled to happen last night around 1:00am MDT, and last for an unspecified length of time. So if you tried to email my special “flowers” email address in the night and your email bounced, I’m so sorry! Everything is working now, so please try again, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

I’m guesting today at Tina’s Book Reviews, with a post about the real silver casket that inspired the story of The Flower Reader. History! Pictures! Another chance to win one of these beautiful limited-edition bookmarks, plus a free book! Don’t miss it. 🙂

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03 Apr 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…

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29 Mar Bookmarks!


Several people have commented that they’ve already ordered the book (and huge thanks for that!) and would like a chance to win one of the beautiful pressed-flower bookmarks on its own. So here it is. Comment below to be entered, and I’ll have the Broadcasting Legend™ draw a winner—what the heck, two winners—no, wait, let’s go all the way and say three winners—on Tuesday, April 3rd, the day The Flower Reader is released into the world. As always, extra social-media mentions get you extra entries. “Likes” on Amazon get you extra entries. The honor system prevails. International entries welcome.

I would just like to say something about social media. Early on I made a pact with myself that I would not comment on reviews, good or bad—that is the slipperiest of slippery slopes, and we’ve all seen too many ghastly brawls on Goodreads and Twitter and Amazon. But I do read them (how can any author really not read them?) and I sincerely appreciate every single person who has read and reviewed and commented on both The Flower Reader and The Second Duchess. It doesn’t matter whether you loved them or hated them or were somewhere in the middle. You read and you cared enough to comment, and I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. I truly am. You know who you are. Yes, you. And you too. Really. 🙂

Counting down the days…

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26 Mar Rinette is Off to Australia!

The thing about small town post offices is, everybody knows everybody. When I walked in this morning with Jemidar’s book and bookmark, Jackie greeted me happily and wanted to know all about the book and the contest. She helped me with the packaging—the “small flat rate priority box” was just a smidge too small, which was a big disappointment, because if I’d sent it priority I would have been able to track it. As it is—well, Rinette is on her own, and we’ll have to wait for Jemidar to let us know she arrived safely.

Anyway, we got the book and the gorgeous purple bookmark into the envelope and got the customs form filled out and just as Jackie turned to put the package in the outgoing bin, I whipped out my camera (I did ask first) and snapped this picture. So there it is. I’m really quite excited about this—it’s the first book I’ve sent to Australia. Australian readers, remember—the UK edition of The Flower Reader from Preface will arrive on your shelves this summer. I think I’ll save a bookmark as a prize for the first person to send me a picture of the book in the wild in Australia!

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24 Mar The Winner, Part Deux!

The Broadcasting Legend™ has once again chosen a winner of a signed advance copy of The Flower Reader, plus a handmade pressed-flower art bookmark. I must admit that I squealed when he pulled the name. It’s:


So now at last I have the opportunity to follow through on my promise to ship books internationally. I’ll start the package on its way on Monday, and track it here to keep us all up on date on Rinette’s adventures as she makes her way to Australia.

There are lots more opportunities to win. NAL is currently running a giveaway on Goodreads, with twenty-five copies up for grabs (US only for this one), so if you haven’t entered there, here’s the link:

Goodreads Giveaway of The Flower Reader

There are only a few more days to enter, so sign up today. There are more giveaways coming up, so watch this space.

Thank you all for your lovely comments this past week. Blake, I think the tussy-mussy (what a lovely old-fasioned term! I didn’t know people still used it) for your wedding, with the flower meanings, is the most delightful idea. Wnitney, I have to warn you that although Mary of Guise is instrumental in setting the story of The Flower Reader in motion, she dies in the first chapter and from that point on only exercises her influence through the secrets she collected and the effect they have on people she knew in Scotland, France and England. She is certainly present in spirit right to the end.

Again, warmest thanks to everyone who commented and helped to spread the word.

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19 Mar The Second Time Around

…love is lovelier, and luck, perhaps, is luckier! I’m giving away another book-and-bookmark combination this week, so everyone has a second chance to win.



The rules are the same—comment here to enter, spread the word via other social media and get extra entries! Like the first giveaway, this one is open internationally and everyone is welcome. The prize is a signed advance copy of The Flower Reader, plus a signed-and-numbered pressed-flower-art bookmark with the flowers and their floromancy meanings identified.

The contest will close at midnight Friday night, March 23rd, and I’ll announce the winner on Saturday morning, March 24th.

Remember, if this is your first time commenting here, or if you’re commenting from a different address than you used before, your comment will be held for approval—I’m sorry it has to be that way but you would not believe some of the spam that turns up. Your comment will not be lost, I promise, and I’ll add it as quickly as I can.

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17 Mar The Winner!

First I would like to thank everyone who commented—I didn’t want to clog up the comment list with posts of my own but I was so delighted to see each post pop up.

This morning, I wrote up slips of paper for everyone who commented (with extras for everyone who re-posted to other social media), tossed them all in my favorite popcorn bowl (temporarily free of popcorn), and asked The Broadcasting Legend™ to pick a winner. (There were really too many entries for me to be able to do my doggie/kibble trick.) The winner of the signed advance copy of The Flower Reader, plus bookmark #1/36, is:

Jessica B.!

Congratulations, Jessica! I’ll write to you privately to get your mailing information.

You know, this was all so much fun, and there were so many lovely entries—let’s do it again next week! I’ll post a new post on Monday morning, and everyone (except Jessica, heh) come back with new comments/reposts for another chance to win a signed advance copy of The Flower Reader and a gorgeous pressed-flower bookmark with floromancy details. Once again, the contest will be open for international entries.

Again, thank you all so much for all your lovely, lovely comments. You make me very happy. 🙂

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15 Mar Beware the Ides of March

…because it is my birthday! And a very suitable birthday, I think, for a writer of historical fiction with murders. And adventure. And political intrigue. And romance-with-a-capital-R. (Two or three capital Rs!) And, of course, beagles.

Don’t forget to comment on the post below for your chance to win a signed advance copy of The Flower Reader, plus a beautiful handmade, one-of-a-kind pressed-flower bookmark. Many heartfelt thanks to everyone who has entered so far!

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12 Mar Win a Signed Advance Copy of The Flower Reader


I’ve just received books—beautiful books! Look at the lovely embossing and rich brushed-gold metallic ink! I am just thrilled with them.

I’m also thrilled with my collection of the most breathtaking custom-made bookmarks, created by flower artist Lesley Hegewald of Butterfly Garden Creations. Each bookmark is unique, made from real pressed flowers and leaves, signed and numbered; what makes each one even more unusual is that I’ll include a note identifying the flowers used (thanks to Lesley’s care in keeping track) and giving their meanings in Rinette Leslie’s lush world of floromancy. On the back, the book cover art and information, of course, plus a few delicate strewn petals.

I’m giving away a signed advance copy of The Flower Reader this week, with one of these gorgeous bookmarks tucked inside. Comment below to enter! Tweet the link or post to Facebook or other social media and get your name entered again for each time you share! (Just tell me what you’ve done—I’m on the honor system.) Giveaway is open internationally—everyone is welcome. The contest will close at midnight Friday night, March 16th, and I’ll announce the winner on Saturday morning, March 17th.

Remember, if this is your first time commenting here, or if you’re commenting from a different address, your comment will be held for approval—I’m sorry it has to be that way but you would not believe some of the spam that turns up. Your comment will not be lost, I promise, and I’ll add it just as soon as ever I can.

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10 Sep Choosing a Winner

Sadly, Boudin is on injured reserve this morning, with an inflamed nictitating membrane (the third eyelid) in his right eye. He has an appointment with the aptly-named Dr. Clawson at ten, and we’re hoping it’s just a passing thing. Beagles are prone to something called cherry eye, which is more serious. So fingers crossed for our Boo!

Cressie, however, happily took up the slack as a lone honorary wolf. Here’s how it worked: since we had five commenters, I laid out five kibbles in a row.



I then manned (womaned?) the camera as the Broadcasting Legend™ carefully positioned Cressie in the exact center of the row, about five feet away. He then released the wolf beagle and I snapped the picture.



She made a beeline for Kibble Number Two, so Liz Michalski, as the second commenter, you are our winner! You will be hearing from Dee.

Thanks to everyone who visited and commented, and all our best to Dee Garretson and Wolf Storm.



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26 Feb 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 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 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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15 Jan 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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11 Dec I-10

Well, one of those roller-coaster weeks this past week.

First, the winner of the free copy of Death of a Dancing Master is Penny Tuttle! Yay, Penny! I’ve sent your email address on to Marilyn and she’ll send you your book.

The bad news of the week: poor Cressie hurt herself badly yesterday in the course of an early morning chase through the back yard. What she and Boo were chasing, I’ll never know—it was still pitch dark and all I could hear was normal beagle barking. I had gone to the door to coax them in, because it was a little too early for that—and then a yelp of shock and pain. Cressie came hobbling out of the darkness on three legs, crying and trailing blood. The Broadcasting Legend™ and I bundled her instantly into the car and took off in the dark for the emergency vet’s. Upshot: her left front leg was torn open right where it joins her chest, and her cephalid vein severed. Many stitches and fluids. Very fortunate we got her in as quickly as we did. She came home last night, bandaged to a fare-thee-well and still pretty woozy. She’s up and about this morning (you can see the little baggie over the paw-end of her bandage to protect it when we go out) and more alert.

The vet didn’t think it looked like a bite wound, although we’ve had some pretty aggressive wild critters in the back yard from time to time. We have gone over the back yard with a fine-tooth comb, trying to figure out how she could have hurt herself so terribly. We may never know. She certainly scared both of us half to death, and it may be a while before I let them out into the yard in the dark, unsupervised. I thought they were safe in our own securely-fenced back yard!

The good news of the week: a book club deal! The Second Duchess has been selected as a featured alternate for the Literary Guild, the Mystery Guild, the Doubleday Book Club, and the Book of the Month Club Online. Hooray for Barbara and Alfonso!

What I am reading: Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride. It’s way outside my usual comfort zone and I’m not sure what I think of it yet…

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06 Dec Death of a Dancing Master

A guest post today, from my friend M.E. Kemp. It’s okay, just call her Marilyn. Her new historical mystery, Death of a Dancing Master, was released this month, and I asked her to expand a little on the purity—or lack of same—of the Puritans…

Cracking the Stereotype
by M.E. Cook

I write an historical mystery series featuring two nosy Puritans as detectives. I chose Boston Puritans partly as a reaction to all the medieval mysteries that popped up after Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael series. American history is just as bloody and colorful as medieval Britain’s, I believe. I also knew that Puritans were supposed to keep an eye on their neighbors to keep them on the straight and narrow path, and nosy is a primary quality for a good detective. Another reason I wanted to write about Puritans was to set the record straight. Few peoples have been so stereotyped, even today. They may have tried to keep each other on the straight and narrow path, but they certainly didn’t always succeed.

If you want to see a painting of elegant clothing dripping with exquisite laces in shades of primrose, apple green or violet, look at a portrait of a Colonial—often Puritan—man. (Women weren’t far behind —early on they decided they would wear the latest fashions from London and Paris based on fashion dolls their sea-captain husbands brought them.) We forget that the first Puritans of Boston were actually Elizabethans, born and raised in that robust era. Eat, drink and be lusty —that was their motto, and our Colonial ancestors enjoyed themselves. It was the Victorian era that took all the fun out of life.

Tavern bills show the enormous appetites for food and drink that even a gathering of ministers enjoyed. Your average Puritan cleric could drink our most accomplished modern lushes under the table. No dainty appletinis for them. One special drink was made of rum, beer, molasses and breadcrumbs! Hearts of oak and stomachs of lead. Water wasn’t safe to drink —even tots drank hard cider on a daily basis. As for sex, they were probably more upfront about sex than we are. We’ve all heard about the bundling board. One man bragged that he “had” the miller’s wife four times a day—a “lusty big man,” he was called, and fined for adultery. On the other hand, the letters between Governor John Winthrop and his wife Margaret, who was left behind in England because she was far advanced in pregnancy, are touching and romantic.

Men and women remarried almost as soon as the coffin was lowered into the ground. Diarist Samuel Sewall was in his sixties and vigorously courting a wealthy widow, but she rejected him because he wouldn’t keep a carriage. Famous cleric Cotton Mather got himself into a romantic jam when he, a recent widower, was pursued by a much younger woman. Ministers were the rock stars of the day.

Puritans ate, drank, loved—and danced. My latest book, Death of a Dancing Master, is based upon the travails of a real dancing master in Boston. He wasn’t found with a sword in his gut but he was hounded and harassed by magistrates and ministers until he was driven from Boston. I thought to myself, think of all the suspects if the dancing master were found murdered! Think of all the angry husbands! I couldn’t resist knocking the poor fellow off.

I grew up in New England —my roots are deep, beginning in Salem in 1636. Boston is my favorite city, with much of the same seventeenth-century feel to parts of it. And there are no lack of resources —Puritans were great writers, chroniclers and diarists, with many of the great nineteenth-century historians fascinated by them. I present them as the real people they were, with the foibles and fancies of people today, except they dressed better than we do. If I crack a few stereotypes about them, I’ve done my job.

Win a free copy of Death of a Dancing Master! Just leave a comment on this blog post, and this time I’ll have Boo pick the winner. Contest ends Friday, December 10, 2010, and the winner will be announced next Saturday.

Death of a Dancing Master is also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local independent book store.

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01 Nov Cressie Picks the Winner

And the winner is Lisa Richardson! Lisa, I will write to you privately for your mailing address.

It was actually more complicated than I thought to work out a way to have one of the beagles pick the winner, because if there was no food involved they weren’t interested, and if there was food involved they’d simply pick the closest tidbit. So I printed out all the comments and cut them in strips, folded them, tossed them well in a little bowl and hid a Milk-Bone at the bottom. Then I turned Cressie loose. As she snoofled through the papers to get to the treat, the first one to fall out of the bowl (and I had to grab fast, because the papers really started to fly) was the winner.

I would like to thank everyone so much for stopping by and commenting. I wish I could send everybody one of the beautiful bookmarks. Wait, I can! Okay, if you entered the contest and would like a beautiful Dark Road to Darjeeling bookmark, write me offlist (my email address is under the “Contact” tab) with your mailing address, and I will mail you a bookmark. So a prize for everyone.

And now, back to sixteenth-century Scotland.

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30 Oct Saturday Round Robin I-4

The contest is over! Thank you so much, everyone who commented… I’m delighted that there were many new visitors to the blog, all with such terrific comments about Deanna Raybourn’s wonderful new Dark Road to Darjeeling. The winner will be announced on Monday.

The cover of The Second Duchess is now up on Amazon. Yay! Hope the rest of the bookstore sites will follow soon.

And speaking of covers—here’s the gorgeous cover of the German edition, titled Die Zweite Herzogin and scheduled for next spring. The piece of fine art that Rowohlt used is actually a portrait of an Italian lady, said to be Barbara’s mother-in-law Renée of France, by a Flemish painter named Pieter de Kempeneer, also known as Pedro Campaña. I love her earrings and wish I had a pair just like them! I am very fortunate in both my covers, and have my fingers crossed that someday there will be more.

Portraits are surprising sometimes. I’ve been collecting portraits of the historical characters who will appear in The Silver Casket, and was truly amazed when I found this one. It’s of Andrew Leslie, the fifth Earl of Rothes, who is the head of my heroine Rinette’s branch of the Leslies. Now if I just started describing a sixteen-century gentleman like this—light brown hair cut very short on the sides of his head and apparently moussed into a sort of pouf on top, clean-shaven with only a thin Douglas-Fairbanks-y moustache—no one would believe me. Yet here is the portrait, leaping to life off the page. History is pretty amazing sometimes.

What I’m reading: A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick. I’m kind of struggling with it. Also The Passage by Justin Cronin, which I’ve also had my issues with. I’ve just been kind of stressed and cranky lately, although I’m much better now. More about that later. Heh. Next up, at last (because I’ve really been looking forward to it), The White Garden by Stephanie Barron.

Our little town is having our trick-or-treating tonight, so am looking forward to hordes of darling little trick-or-treaters. We live within walking distance of a very fine elementary school, and so our neighborhood teems with adorable tykes. The doggies always go crazy on trick-or-treat night, and may have to be shut in the laundry room to keep them from slipping out or jumping up to play and scaring the tiniest ghaisties and bogles.

Ran across this quote recently: “What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is the collection of books. –Thomas Carlyle.