Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy New Year Giveaway!

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 love The 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!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 20, 2013


Save the date!

I've just confirmed that the MANOR OF SECRETS launch party will be held at the Avid Reader, 617 Second Street, Davis, CA 95616 on

Saturday, January 25 at 3 pm.

That is three days before the actual release date!  So if you want an early copy, some cake, a lot of book chat and maybe a reading or two, I'd love to see you there!

If you have any questions, want to reserve a copy (or even have one sent to you), call the Avid Reader (530)758-4040

And heck back here on the 26th for a special giveaway!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Execution of Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham

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.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

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!

Monday, October 14, 2013

New York Recap of Awesome

Last week I went to New York on writerly business.  Seeing editors and publicists and meeting other authors.  You know.


(Yeah.  Right.)

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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

YA Scavenger Hunt!

Did you all know that the YA Scavenger Hunt starts this Thursday?  Eek!

I am so excited to be able to take part in the Fall 2013 hunt which includes a total of sixty (count them--sixty) YA authors of some of the most amazing books out there.  There will be exclusive content (*cough* Book 3. *cough*) from every author and prizes and just plain tons of fun.

Click here to get a preview of the rules (remember, the hunt is not up yet, so these rules are from the Spring) and here to get started at 12 pm PST October 3!

I will be on the RED TEAM.  Looking forward to seeing you there!






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Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Now?

I just sent in copyedits for Book 3.  This means I'm finished.  I will get one more look at the manuscript--after it is formatted and proofread.  At that point, I can make minor changes (a word here, a punctuation mark there).  But the heavy lifting is done.  The story is complete.

This is also the end of the series.  I've fulfilled my contract.  Three books set in the court of Henry VIII. This altogether thrilling, fulfilling and terrifying.

It's a little like starting a new book.  First drafts are difficult and scary and exciting.  And the big question that comes up every days is, "What Happens Next?"

Lucky for me, I received ARCs for MANOR OF SECRETS this week.  The arrival of actual, bound copies that really look like a book is always mind-blowing. Every. Single. Time. Plus it means I've got promotional stuff to do, bookmarks to be made, interviews, meeting new people, talking about books... There is plenty to keep me busy.

However, as much as I enjoy talking about my books, I love writing them more.  I need a new project.  One that grabs me by the throat and won't let me go.  One where I can lose myself in the characters and their lives. And I think I may have found it.

Now that I've fulfilled my contract, I can write about anything.  This is such a gift.  But it also a bit like leaping into the great unknown.  Starting something new--something entirely new and utterly different--feels a little bit like this:

But don't you think that just for a moment, that cat feels like it can fly?  That is also how starting a new book feels.

If you live in the Bay Area and want to know more about What Happens Next, author CJ Omololu and I will be discussing that very topic at the Walnut Creek SCBWI meeting on August 31. Come and ask questions!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Launch Party!

The publication of TARNISH is only a week away (eep!) and I went to my local independent bookstore today to finalize plans for the launch party.

This year, I'm doing something a little different.  My dear friend, and sister YA Muse Talia Vance and I are joining forces for a double launch party at the Avid Reader in Davis, CA on Saturday, June 22 at 4 p.m.

Talia's book, SPIES AND PREJUDICE, came out today and I am delighted to be able to share a podium with her.  We'll be talking about books, answering questions and playing Reading Roulette, as well as giving away galleys of upcoming novels from both of our publishers, Penguin and Egmont.

So if you're in the area, come by and say hello!

And have a slice of cake. :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

TARNISH Blog Tour!

Today I'm celebrating the kickoff of the TARNISH blog tour run by the fabulous Jaime Arnold at Rockstar Book Tours.  There will be reviews, interviews, a playlist and even a few secrets divulged, plus a giveaway of signed books and pretty Anne Boleyn-inspired earrings.  Today, we start at Tales of a Ravenous Reader with a clip from the audio book.

6/10/2013- Nancy @ Tales of a Ravenous Reader 
6/11/2013- Tara @ Hobbisites 

6/12/2013- Katie @ Mundie Moms          

6/13/2013- Anna @ Literary Exploration

6/14/2013- Christina @ Confessions of a Book Addict

6/17/2013- April @ Good Books and Good Wine 

6/18/2013- Jaime @ Two Chicks on Boooks       

6/19/2013- Mindy @ Magical Urban Fantasy Reads             

6/20/2013- Tara @ Taters's Tall Tails   

6/21/2013- Sophie @ Pageturners           

Friday, June 7, 2013


As most of you probably know, the announcement went out this week about my newest project.

Author of GILT and upcoming TARNISH, Katherine Longshore's MANOR OF SECRETS, pitched as a Downtonesque story of two girls living in very different worlds within the same Edwardian country house -- and what happens when those worlds collide, to Aimee Friedman at Scholastic, by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management (World). (From Publisher's Marketplace).

This is the story, written from alternating points of view, of Charlotte Edmonds--the daughter of the Earl of Edenbridge--and Janie Seward--the daughter of his cook and The Manor's kitchen maid.  It has been an absolute delight to work on and a real stretch for me as a writer.  The two points of view, the completely different historical period, writing in third person.  But it has also been just plain fun--so very different to write about people who don't eventually get executed for treason. :)

I hope you enjoy it, too.  It's currently scheduled to be released in February 2014, and I'll be sure to be telling you all about it between now and then!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two Weeks 'Til TARNISH (plus trailer!)

And things are starting to get exciting around here.  My author copies arrived last week:

Yes, I cried.

The Tudor Tuesdays blog tour is half over and has been so much fun! So far, I've shared excerpts and inspirations about Jane Boleyn, Henry Percy, George Boleyn, Henry VIII and today at Belle of the Literati, I talk about historical hindsight.  And we're giving away signed copies of TARNISH!

My blog tour will kick off next week, run by the fabulous Jaime Arnold at Rockstar Book Tours.  She's put together an amazing array of bloggers, who have asked tough questions and convinced me to write about some fascinating subjects.  Please drop by some of the posts!

Finally, today the trailer for TARNISH goes live on YouTube (eeep!).  Tell me what you think!

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Today registration opens for the North/Central California SCBWI Novel-Writing Mentorship Program (gosh, say that five times fast!).  This is a program designed to pair writers of middle grade and young adult novels with authors working and publishing in those genres.  And I am thrilled (and terrified) to have been chosen as a mentor.

You see, back in 2009, I was selected to be a mentee in the Nevada SCBWI Mentorship Program.  It changed my writing and how I approach it.  It made my books better.  When I wrote about it in August of 2010 on the YA Muses blog, I wrote this:

I was placed in a critique group with the calmest, most incisive and straight-talking critiquer I have ever met:  Susan Hart Lindquist.  Susan took my book apart and told me to put it back together.  In a nice, calm, incisive, straight-talking way.  I quietly freaked out, went home and did exactly as she said.

In the course of six months, I learned about arcs and archetypes.  I learned about the transformational quality of story.  I demanded too much from my 10-year-old character and he became twelve.  He gained another friend, a girl.  I learned about alchemy and time-travel.  I read masterful stories by brilliant authors of whom I'd never heard.  I struggled.  And Susan was always there.  She never sugar-coated, she never let me slide, but she always, always told me I could do it.

Unfortunately, the book I was working on had a frighteningly similar premise to one that his the New York Times bestseller list in October 2009.  Susan told me not to give up hope.  She berated me on Facebook when I posted that I felt dejected.  She told me my book was different.  She told me everything I needed to know to keep going.

But I didn't.  I set it aside.  I returned to the book I'd begun when she was reading my ill-fated middle-grade novel.  And I applied all that she'd taught me.  I thought through, in advance, character arc and story arc and archetypes.  I heard her whispers as I struggled to get my character to internalize emotionally as well as react.  This book has Susan's whispers all the way through it.

That book was GILT.  I have now written five novels, and to all of them I apply what I learned in that program.  I only hope that I can pass that knowledge on to my own mentees with the same calm, incisive, straight-talking way.  I know I will do my best, and I am beyond excited to meet and work with new writers.

I finished my blog in 2010 with this:  That is the mark of a good mentor.  Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, muttering about the Force in the dark, a good mentor remains in a person's psyche, bound to that person's work and future.

I can't guarantee I'll be a Yoda.  But I work bloody hard on my own books, and will apply the same drive and determination to whoever my mentee may be.  And I'm not the only one!  The North/Central SCBWI has an amazing list of mentors including Talia Vance, Kate Messner, Amy Goldman Koss...These people really know what they're talking about.  Sometimes, I wish I could apply.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Killing My Darlings--The Execution of Anne Boleyn

On May 19, 1536 at 9 a.m., Anne Boleyn was executed on the Tower Green by an expert swordsman imported from Calais in France.

The events leading up to this are complicated and far too numerous to go into here, but please check out the Anne Boleyn Files if you want to know more.  Today, I just want to talk about Anne.  And writing.
Miniature of Anne Boleyn, attributed to John Hoskins,
In the Collection of Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry 

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, talks about "killing your darlings".  This is the excision of characters/scenes/sentences/chapters that don't contribute to the forward motion of the story.  No matter how much you love them.  It's hard to kill your darlings.  That waiter who steals the single scene he's in, the lush description of a setting you never use, a chapter full of clever repartee that really has nothing to do with the plot.  But none of it is ever wasted.  If nothing else, you can blog about it later.

But what about actually killing off your beloved characters.  Or worse, knowing they are going to die?

I had a very difficult time writing TARNISH.  Especially the final few chapters.  Because--surprise surprise--Anne Boleyn chooses to pursue a relationship with King Henry rather than the man she loves.  Every single revision, I would get to those scenes and slow down. Stutter to a halt.  Rant and rail and rage.  And then make her do it anyway.  There's no getting around history.

You'd think I would have learned a lesson.  Unfortunately not.  My third book in the series covers the time period from 1533 through 1536, thus encompassing all of Anne's time as queen--and her execution.  The book is not about Anne.  She is not the narrator.  But still, every time I came to that fateful day in 1536, I slowed down.  Stuttered to a halt.  Ranted and railed and raged.

You see, over the course of writing TARNISH, I fell in love with Anne Boleyn.  With her cleverness and drive, her unique way of seeing the world and her desire to be part of changing it.  She was an amazing woman.  Truly, historically.  It's possible she was ambitious and manipulative.  It's possible that she could be ruthless.  But that doesn't mean I have to believe it or she wasn't an amazing person and a powerful influence on life in the 16th Century.

One of the reasons I love writing historical fiction is because I get to dive deep into the psychology and motivation of these incredible people.

And one of the reasons I struggle with it is because I already know the outcome.

For today, let's just say Rest in Peace, Anne.  You deserve it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

GILT Paperback!

GILT is now available in paperback, with a fabulous new design!  I love this cover, all silky and embossed.  What do you think?

If you want a chance to win a copy, check out my Top Ten Favorite YA Historical Reads on Read My Breath Away.


Visit the very first Tudor Tuesdays tour stop at Emilie's Book World.

You can order the paperback of GILT here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tudor Tuesdays!

It's time again for Tudor Tuesdays--a blog series leading up to the publication of my book, hosted by Kathy Coe at A Glass of Wine.  Every Tuesday for the next six weeks, various bloggers will be posting excerpts from TARNISH and a little insight into how and why I wrote the scene.  We kick off today with a giveaway of the paperback of GILT, published today (!!) and will finish on June 18, with a giveaway of TARNISH.

Below is the full schedule:

May 7th - Emilie @ Emilie's Book World **Paperback of Gilt kick off**
May 14th - Katie @ BlookGirl
May 21st - Rachel @ Beauty and the Bookshelf
May 28th - Kathy @ A Glass of Wine
June 4th - Kelly @ Belle of the Literati
June 11th - Jessica @ Read My Breath Away

Thank you, Kathy, for your superior organizational skills and unflagging enthusiasm, and thanks to all the fabulous bloggers who are making this possible!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two Months 'Til TARNISH Teaser

Thanks goodness for Jessica Spotswood, author of the brilliant BORN WICKED and upcoming STAR CURSED.  Our second books release on the same day, and I just noticed that Jess is celebrating today on her blog.  She's giving away some fabulous books (including her own!), so go check it out.

I've been in manic deadline mode, so I barely know what year it is, much less the date.  But when I saw Jessica's post, I had to do a little celebrating myself.  So I'm going to share with you a few behind-the-scenes snippets about TARNISH.

  • My Anne Boleyn doesn't have a sixth finger.  She isn't a poisoner.  She doesn't sleep with her brother.  But she isn't boring.
  • There is some love geometry.  Not exactly a triangle.  More like a...pentagon.  Fun stuff.
  • It was especially fun to write Henry VIII as a charming, sexy younger man--more like Jonathan Rhys Meyers than Ray Winstone.
  • Though all of my characters are based on actual people, my interpretation of them is influenced by people I've known or see around me.  Including ex-boyfriends, Benedict Cumberbatch and my husband.
  • My playlist for this book included songs by No Doubt, Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Coldplay, the Spin Doctors, KT Tunstall and the Dave Matthews Band.
  • I was terrified to write about Anne Boleyn.  But when the voice grabbed me on a long car journey, I couldn't say no.  I'm definitely a fangirl now.
And just because I feel like it, here's a little hint of that voice.  If you want to see more, check out the Tudor Tuesdays Blog Tour that will be run by A Glass of Wine beginning May 7 (the date of the GILT paperback release!) 

“Well, if it isn’t George’s little sister.”

The duchess jerks her gaze to find the speaker at the table of gamblers who have been slapping down cards and groats and boasts and bets at the far end of the room. And I whisper a blessing before I turn as well.

George looks how I feel, surprise glimmering for an instant on his face and then vanishing behind welcome. His hair is expertly tousled, his inky velvet doublet smooth and clean, his soft hands no indication of the dirt he gets into. He sits with Henry Norris, who appears to be paying more attention to my bustline than to the conversation around him. James Butler, my future spouse, is next to him, glowering, his hair thick and coarse over his beetling eyebrows. And at the far end of the table sits the speaker, dressed in green like a modern-day Robin Hood, his gold curls sporting a hint of red at the temples—the Kentishman from the king’s disguising.

He leaps from behind the table to approach me, moving with the hidden strength and lissome grace of a cat. I get the feeling this man will always land on his feet.

“Haven’t seen you since I broke my toe climbing the courtyard wall at Hever.”

I swallow a knot of vanity, and it sticks in my throat. Because he has seen me. He just doesn’t remember.

Or perhaps I just made no impression.

He stops and crosses his arms. Leans back and appraises me with his devastatingly blue eyes. He is still several strides from me, so we face each other like players on a stage, our audience all around us.

I glance at my brother, who expects my silence, and then back at this Robin Hood, who expects my response. He expects me to know him.

“Forgive me, sir. But I do not recognize you.”

He laughs.

“Thomas Wyatt.”

I do know him, or of him. His exploits are infamous in the maids’ chambers. Word is, he’s incomparable in bed. And he’s shared many. He’s a poet. An athlete. A miscreant.

“Your neighbor, from your days in Kent? We used to play naked in the fountain at my father’s castle at Allington. Without our parents’ knowledge, of course.”

He winks at me.

The other men laugh, and I hear a rustle of skirts and whispers from the duchess’s confederacy. I twitch a glance at George, who is glaring at me as if this man’s innuendos are somehow my fault. Wyatt smiles like a gambler who has laid down a hand full of hearts. I can’t let him get the better of me. I can’t let this man win.

“It’s no wonder that I don’t remember you, Master Wyatt, for we must have been much smaller.” I pause, blink once, and then open my eyes into blank innocence. “Though for all I know, some things might still be quite small.”

Monday, April 8, 2013

Best. Conference. Ever.

This weekend was my local region SCBWI's annual conference.  They call it Spring Spirit, and it really is a wonderful way to get that bright, new inspiration into my writing.

Spring Spirit 2008 was the first writing conference I ever attended.  The amazing Kirby Larson gave the keynote address.  She made me want to leap up out of my seat and dance.  She made me want to run home and write my heart out.  And I did.

This year, our keynote speaker was supposed to be the fabulous Richard Peck.  But due to an unfortunate series of events, he couldn't make it.  I received a phone call from our amazing regional advisor, Patricia Newman.  It went like this.  "Hello, Katy?  This is Patti.  I have a problem."  She then asked me if I could fill in for Richard Peck (!!) during one of the novel track breakout sessions.  I'd recently talked to groups of seventh graders about historical fiction and how to put the real into a story.  So I expanded my presentation and found myself in the main conference hall at 11:20 on Saturday morning, facing a microphone and about fifty writers.

I'm a little afraid of microphones.  I'd never given this presentation before.  I couldn't decide if I was starving or needing to throw up.  But I gave my presentation (even getting a few laughs in the right places!) and then got to go to lunch (turns out I was hungry.)

It was then that I met a fan.  A real fan.  A woman who was raised on Tudor history.  Who had recently decided she wanted to write for kids.  Who said she loved my book.  Who was delighted that Richard Peck hadn't made it because it meant she got to meet me.

My friends love my book.  My family loves my book.  My editor loves my book.  But I've never had a complete stranger approach me in person to tell me how deeply my characters touched her.  It meant the world and more.  She is my hero, in more ways than one.

This experience taught me two things:

Do it.  Even when you're afraid.  Amazing things can come of it.


Tell others how much you love their work.  Online.  In person.  I've just started learning to do this.  I used to think, "They know how good they are!" but sometimes we all need to hear it.  Mine came at just the right time.  So again, I have to remind myself: don't be afraid.  Amazing things can come of it.  It means the world.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Witness Steubenville

I hardly know where to begin.  I'm not normally political on my blog.  I write about history and writing and other writers.  But every once in a while, something occurs that I just can't keep quiet about.  For a while I thought I should.  "It's not my business," I said to myself.

But it is my business.  In my first book, GILT, my narrator, Kitty Tylney witnesses a rape.  And does nothing.  She's afraid--for her safety, for her position, for her life.  She has reasons.  To her, they seem like good reasons.  And she continues to allow things to happen without acting.  Until her own inaction comes back to haunt her.

The idea came to me after a case in a California high school where students witnessed a rape and did nothing.  I wanted to explore the psychology of a young person who experienced that and suffered the consequences.  Near the end of the book, Kitty has an argument with a young man named Edmund, who also witnessed (perhaps even abetted) the rape.

"I did nothing wrong!" Edmund tells her.  After all, he didn't rape the girl.  (He didn't hold her down.  He didn't post pictures on Facebook or take a video.)

"No, Edmund," Kitty replies. "You did nothing.  And that's not the same thing."

Everything about the Steubenville case makes me wonder what we've learned in the past four hundred years.  In 1539, Henry VIII pardoned Thomas Culpepper for raping an unknown girl.  Because Culpepper had a "promising future" at court.  There were other men present at the scene of the crime.  They are not named in the historical record.  They did not face prosecution.  They did not suffer consequences. (You might say that karma eventually got Culpepper and the king, when Henry had Culpepper beheaded for committing adultery with the queen, but that's another story altogether.)

What kind of world have we created where a girl can be sexually assaulted and it becomes entertainment?  First via text and YouTube and then via media that turn the case into a global morality tale--about social networking.  Outcry should not be about how young people display their entire lives for everyone to see.

Outcry should be about two young men who took advantage of a girl who could not say no.  (incapacitation through alcohol is no different from incapacitation by force.  Culpepper had his friends hold his victim down.  The Steubenville boys had their friends take pictures).

Outcry should be about what our children learn.  It's not OK to take advantage of someone who can't defend herself.  It's not OK to excuse yourself from your actions because "she was drunk" or because you have a "promising future".  It's not OK to take or process or pass around or publish photographs of humiliating, violent actions.  Ever.

Outcry should be that rape is illegal.  It is morally reprehensible.  It is emotionally corrupt.

It is wrong.

And it's not OK just to let it happen.  To watch, to witness and not take action.  Because sometimes doing nothing is still doing something wrong.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Congratulations to the winners of the UK celebration giveaway!  Thank you to everyone for entering, and for telling me all the reasons you love British history.  I love that so many people share my passion for it!

The winners are:

The ARC of TARNISH goes to Kelly Grabowski!

The UK paperback and English treats go to Rachael Hanson!

And the final UK paperback goes to Petra @SafariPoet!

Congratulations and thank you all!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cheers, Britannia! TARNISH and GILT Giveaway!

Today is a very, very special day for me, my friends, because today GILT makes its debut in the UK (and Commonwealth!!).  As you know, I am born and raised a California girl, but fell in love with England and embraced it as my adopted home many years ago.  I lived there for five years, go back as often as I can for research and cultural immersion and spend most of my days with characters from English history as my companions.

So it's a dream come true for my book to be on the shelves of British bookstores.  And thanks to Simon&Schuster UK, it has a gorgeous cover, as well.  I just love that Kitty gets a chance to shine.
I'm celebrating today with all of you, and wanted to share my joy by giving away copies of the UK publication.  One I will send internationally, the other to someone in the US or Canada along with fabulous British treats (Jammie Dodgers, McVities Digestives and Rowntree Fruit Gums--though I couldn't find any Hula Hoops or Walkers Crisps and refrained from including Mushy Peas or Marmite--you either love it or you hate it).

Also, because TARNISH will be published almost simultaneously in the UK and the US, I will be giving away an ARC internationally.

So please, help me celebrate!  Tell me why you love British history.  Help me tell the world how excited I am.  And let me thank you--for reading, for being history geeks and/or Anglophiles, for loving books.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 25, 2013

10 Reasons Why I Love British History

My first novel, GILT, will be published in the UK and Commonwealth on the 28th of February, and I'm celebrating this week with my love of Britain and British history.  And on Thursday, I'll be hosting a little blog party and giveaway (including chances to win the British paperback of GILT and an ARC of TARNISH!)

But today, I have to tell you why I'm such a history geek (though the reasons are countless, I've managed to nail down a few...)

10.  Blackadder.  History and quirky, irreverent British humor all rolled up into a sneering anti-hero, written by some of the funniest writers working today (Richard Curtis of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Rowan Atkinson, Ben Elton) and Britain’s best comedic actors (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and the fabulous Tony Robinson of Time Team).  I have a cunning plan to write a book starring Elizabeth I, just so I can have her say, “Who’s Queen?”

9.  Errol Flynn.  I know he’s Australian.  But my first introduction to history was through Robin Hood and Captain Blood and for years I expected history to be populated by handsome rogues. 

8.  Castles.  Crenellated walls, stone towers, clammy dungeons.  From motte and bailey structures of Norman England to the pretty, showy palaces of the Tudors.  I especially love the ruins—like Corfe Castle, destroyed by Parliament during the English Civil War.  There’s real history in those walls, my friends.

7.  British television costume dramas.  Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Vanity Fair, Call the Midwife…I could to on and on and on.  But that will have to be a blog post of its own.

6.  Archaeology.  After seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist (but ended up studying cultural anthropology instead).  I totally dig Time Team.  And the recent discovery of Richard III’s bones in a Leicester car park?  Made.  My.  Year.

5.  Costumes.  I spent part of my college career studying costume design for the theater.  I love those flat Renaissance bodices, 1920’s dropped-waist dresses, the elegant lines of Edwardian fashions (think Mary in Downton Abbey), Marie Antoinette’s hair, Joan of Arc’s armor…

4.  Shakespeare.  Richard III is my favorite history play, though old Will put a lot of fiction into his historical fiction.

3.  Murder and mayhem.  Why does this entice us so?  The Gunpowder Plot.  The execution of Anne Boleyn and all of the men accused of treason with her.  The Blitz.  I think it’s because in the midst of all the violence and injustice, we see who we really are and what side we’d take.

2.  Romance.  Not necessarily in the Romeo and Juliet, boy-meets-girl sense, though I love that, too.  But in the chivalry of King Arthur, the beauty and humanism of the Renaissance, the way Windsor Castle looks from the far end of the Great Park.  Blake’s vision of romance.

1.  Characters.  Kings and queens and commoners.  Matilda, Henry V, Francis Drake, T. E. Lawrence, Emmeline Pankhurst, Oliver Cromwell, and, of course, Anne Boleyn.  Fascinating people who lived in fascinating times.  I love to find the story in history, and story is all about the characters.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Tale of Three Covers

My Tudor series has had a makeover.  Many of you saw that the fabulous Fallon Prinzivalli over at MTV's Hollywood Crush agreed to reveal the new cover of TARNISH, and said some lovely things about it, too.

GILT also got a revamp.  And there have been some interesting reactions to it.  Personally, I love looking at book covers.  I love the mood they set, the way they feel, what they suggest about what's inside.  It seems like most readers feel the same way--but not the same way about each cover.

As an author, it's interesting to hear what people say about the covers of my books.  It's one of the things that I have absolutely no control over.  And I find it fascinating what images come up in other people's minds when they read what I've written.  So getting several different cover treatments has been very eye-opening.  And kind of like Christmas on a regular basis.  Oooh!  A new cover!  Shiny!

The designers at Penguin are such a creative team, and I think each GILT cover has had a very distinct feel.  I think each of them beg to be picked up for a different reason.

This is the image on the hardcover that many of you are already familiar with.  I have always loved how different it is from just about every other YA novel out there.  I adore the font and am still looking for the perfect match to the lipstick.

This is the original paperback design and I hate to tell you it will never be printed.  Again, the gorgeous font, the lush imagery.  Though some were worried it might be a bit too suggestive for teen readers (or their parents!)

So my publisher decided on a redesign for both books.  No models.  No sexytimes.  But still elegant, luxurious and something that I, personally, would pick up in an instant.
What do you think?

The paperback of GILT will be released May 7.