Wishing all of you a year full of hope and happiness and lots and lots of good books!
Thanks to all of you who entered the MANOR OF SECRETS New Year giveaway! Shelley Summers has won the ARC and the books by my fabulous blurbers. I'll be giving away more books as we get closer to the launch of BRAZEN, so stay tuned!
So how many of you out there are looking forward to 2014? For me, this past year has gone by in a blur, so it comes as a surprise that we are at the end of it. And that there is only a month until MANOR OF SECRETS is out in the world. (for information about the launch party, see here.)
To celebrate, I'm giving away not only a signed ARC of MANOR OF SECRETS, but also two books by the amazing authors who read it early and provided blushingly enthusiastic blurbs. I'm a keen enthusiast of the 1920's, so of course I had gobbled up both Jillian Larkin's VIXEN and Teri Brown's BORN OF ILLUSION when they were published. I'm delighted to be able to share them with you, too.
From Goodreads: If you loveThe Great Gatsby, you'll want to read the Flappers series. Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.
From Goodreads: From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.
Most writers I know are nervous about their books going out into the world. I worry, especially, when I know my book is being read by someone I respect and admire. Which is why the following blurbs brought tears to my eyes when I read them: "There's no secret about it: I loved this book! From its glittering start to its breathtaking finish, Charlotte and Janie are intriguing, wonderful protagonists. Downton Abbey, watch out! Adventure awaits!"
—Jillian Larkin, author of The Flappers series
"Manor of Secrets is a delicious Edwardian novel loaded with exquisite historical detail. Longshore's characters are nuanced, well drawn and enjoyable through and through. A must read!"
—Teri Brown, author of Born of Illusion
They definitely make me look forward to the new year!
But of course, I'm not just looking forward to my own books coming out next year, I'm looking forward to many, many more, including A MAD, WICKED FOLLY by Sharon Biggs Waller, INTO THE STILL BLUE by Veronica Rossi, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO by Stasia Ward Kehoe, LADY THIEF by A.C. Gaughen...And those are just in the next few weeks!
So leave a comment below, telling me what books you are most looking forward to in 2014, and enter to win! (open to U.S. and Canada only--sorry International folks! Hopefully the next one!)
One of the most exciting things about writing historical fiction based on real people and real circumstances is that the timelines are verifiable and the events in the novel can be attached to actual dates.
Four hundred seventy-two years ago today, Cat Howard caught a glimpse of her own future--and her own guilt--when Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham were executed for their disastrous relationships with her. Not a happy occasion, to be sure, but in history pinpointed dates are often only set down for births, deaths and weddings, and sometimes not even then. I have to take my precision where I can get it.
In honor of these two young men--one of whom may or may not have been as bad as I portrayed him, and one of whom may or may not have been as blameless--I'm going to let Kitty tell you how it happened...
In the next few weeks the Tower grew gluttonous on the incarceration of traitors. They brought in the dowager duchess after she burned a coffer full of papers said to belong to Francis Dereham. The rest of the Coven came, too. The number of prisoners soon exceeded Tower capacity. Lower-ranking and obviously innocent members of the duchess’ household were shipped off to other prisons. But not I. The duke stood outside the Tower gates, outside the prison, outside the very law itself and exclaimed loudly and constantly that he knew nothing of his slatternly niece’s dubious conduct. He vilified her. Condemned her. Stood free upon the back of her guilt. The Howard men groveled at the feet of the king, swearing loyalty. And were allowed to go free. And Edmund Standebanke continued in the king’s service. Men, I thought. Even guilt can’t shackle them. But then Francis and Culpepper were executed. Pulled from the Tower by an ox-drawn cart, met with the jeers and silent judgment of Londoners. Culpepper’s sentence was commuted to decapitation. Francis was not so lucky.
I write about historical England, but one of my favorite holidays of the year is Thanksgiving. It was created by Abraham Lincoln and celebrates the first year of survival of the colonists who settled on this continent in the 17th Century. (But don't quote me on any of this, because I am ashamed to admit that my U.S. History is rather shaky at best). Canadians celebrate similarly in October, but I think we are the only country in the world that gets the fourth Thursday in November off.
It's not the uniqueness or the patriotism that gets me, though. And it's not that the day dedicated to feasting. It's the fact that the celebration is centered around getting together with loved ones. There are no presents, no fireworks, no bunnies. For me, Thanksgiving has always been about bringing people together, just to be.
And to eat.
My favorite Thanksgiving dish is something my mother introduced into family gatherings when I was a kid. She and her friend looked at the table sagging with turkey, potatoes, yams and dressing and said, "There are no green vegetables here." And because she had young children, who (given the choice) would rather eat turkey than broccoli, she devised a clever ruse to get all of us to eat our vegetables.
Our pre-dinner appetizer was vegetables and dip. And not just any dip. A special dip. That we only get on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's still my favorite food of Thanksgiving and I look forward to it every year. It's especially good with fresh, raw green beans.
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. dill
1 Tbsp. parsley
1Tbsp. grated onion
1 (scant) Tbsp. Beau Monde seasoning
Just mix everything together, let sit for a bit (or not) and serve with carrot sticks, broccoli, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, snap peas, cauliflower (if you like that kind of thing) and, of course, green beans.
Beau Monde seasoning can be tough to find in some places, but it adds the necessary salt and je ne sais quoi to the dip. I've never tried to omit it, but if you do, let me know what you think!
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and happy last week of November to everyone else. I'll be taking the week off social media to spend time with my family (and to read over the first pass pages of BRAZEN). See you in December!
Last week I went to New York on writerly business. Seeing editors and publicists and meeting other authors. You know.
My companion-in-arms was the fabulous Joanne Levy, author of SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE, one of the funniest middle grade books I've read in a long time (and definitely one of the best titles I've ever heard).
On Monday, I met with the amazing Aimee Friedman, my editor at Scholastic for MANOR OF SECRETS, and we discussed history, Downton Abbey, travel and good books.
That night, with Joanne, Betsy Bird (GIANT DANCE PARTY), Ame Dyckman (BOY + BOT, TEA PARTY RULES), Lynda Mullaly Hunt (ONE FOR THE MURPHYS), Elisa Ludwig (PRETTY CROOKED, PRETTY SLY) and Sarvenaz Tash (THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST), we told the Children's Media Association (and their compatriots) about our Journey to Publishing--all the inside scoop on getting an agent, publishing a book and the surprises and adventures that happen along the way. We also had a Giant Dance Party.
On Tuesday, I visited the Penguin offices where I finally got to meet my publicist, some of the fantastic marketing and publicity team, and one of my literary idols, Ken Wright, who is now head of Viking by way of being a kick-ass agent. I also fangirled all over the incredible Leila Sales, author of PAST PERFECT and THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE (and also, from what I've heard, a damn fine editor). But the highlight was getting the chance to have a good, long chat with my own awesome editor, Kendra Levin, about what happens next.
I managed to squeeze in all kinds of touristy things--the double-decker tourist bus, the Empire State Building, a Broadway show, Times Square at night--I even rode the subway. But for me, the tourist highlight was visiting the New York Public Library to see the ABC of It exhibition on children's literature and traveling through Good Night Moon, Charlotte's Web, Where the Wild Things Are and one of my favorite books of all time, The Phantom Tollbooth.
This is Milo's car. Judy Blume sat here. Awesome.
I can honestly say now that I love New York. It's busy and crazy and overwhelming and magical. Special thanks to the bus driver who got me to the airport on time, the friendly postal worker, the smooth-talking stranger at the street corner pizza place, the chef at Home whose secret ingredient was "a clean heart" and the countless New York City drivers who managed not to run me over as I stared up through the canyon of buildings to try to catch a glimpse of the sky.
Having spent time as a freelance travel writer, travel agent, coffee shop barista, bookseller, ship's steward, construction company contracts manager and Montessori preschool teacher, I have finally found my calling. I write historical fiction for young adults. I am represented by Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management.
When poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach Anne Boleyn on how to shine at court, she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, but more than popularity, Anne wants a voice. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history.
When her best friend marries Henry VIII, Kitty Tylney must learn to walk the fine line between secrets and treason, discovering that in the Tudor court, the price of gossip could literally be her head.