When I was researching The Revelation of Louisa May, I spent a lot of time in Concord. The Concord Bookshop was a delightful place to visit and a useful place for me to do research. I can’t wait to visit on Sunday, April 26th at 3:00. I’ll be reading a bit from The Revelation of Louisa May and signing. Please join me!
For anyone in the Westport CT area — I’m going to be teaching a two-part workshop on writing Historical Fiction at the Westport Writers’ Workshop in October. I’d love to see anyone who is interested in this most fascinating of genres! If it’s not your cup of tea but you know somebody — please pass it on!
I was honored to be invited to speak as part of the Connecticut Author’s Trail. Last Tuesday I spoke at the Booth and Dimock library in Coventry, CT. It was a lot of fun — with a varied audience of teens, librarians, writers and readers.
Come to Shelton and see me and 20 other authors at the First Annual Southwestern Connecticut Youth Book Expo on Saturday, October 15th. There will entertainment of the kids and of course, we’ll all be signing books. A special shout out to Dorothy Sim-Broder, the owner of Written Words Bookstore in Shelton, for putting it all together!
I’m off to Wallingford CT on Wednesday October 5th to visit the Mother Daughter Book Club to discuss Prisoners in the Palace. The lovely Donna Marotti and her daughter met me at RJ Julia’s last spring and invited me. I can’t wait to meet the group. Read more here.
Last Saturday a lovely lady named Doe Boyle (you know she has to be writing kidlit!) invited me to be a speaker at her 13th annual garden workshop. (In the order of appearance) Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm), Rob Buyea (Because of Mr. Terupt), Ann Haywood Leal (The Finder Keepers Place), me!, and finally but definitely not least, Caragh O’Brien (Birthmarked) discussed the choices we make when we write for middle grade and young adult.
This is an issue I’ve thought a lot about. When I write my books, I’m borrowing stories from the past. When I wrote Prisoners in the Palace, I wanted to write about Victoria in the year before she became Queen. She was seventeen. Since one of the easiest rules of thumbs about Middle Grade v. Young Adult is the age of the protagonist…. I guess I’m writing Young Adult. This influenced teh story I told. A sixteen year old can be thinking about marriage (especially back then). Her interests are balls and gowns. And when Victoria is confronted with the unpalatable facts of life, it her naivete that keeps her from recognizing them, not her age.
My next book, Promise the Night is about an eleven year old named Beryl. She grows up in colonial Africa, seeing things that most American children her age would never ever see! But she only experiences adventures her young pre-teen self can handle. There’s not a lot of romance but there are some terrific friendships. Yup, middle grade.
Anyway, I spent a wonderful afternoon in the sun, under the shady trees, in Doe’s amazing colonial house. The attendees brought lawn chairs and a (delicious) pot-luck entree. Everyone was a writer — some well-published, others just starting. What we all had in common was a love of children’s literature and a respect for our readers. I learned so much from my fellow speakers too. Adam made the terrific point (which I knew as a parent, but not necessarily as a writer) that kids understand what they are ready to, and the rest flies over their head! Rob, a wrestling coach, couched writing in wrestling terms — there is no room so large as the room for improvement. Oh yeah, there’s a lot of discipline required too. Ann amazed us with her recollection of and tolerance for her 12 year old self. Caragh reminded us that writing is its own reward — publication, sales, awards are all gravy!
A terrific day!
Let’s do a shout out for the independent bookstore! RJ Julia’s in Madison CT is an amazing store. Their booksellers know books and are passionate about them! But they are also trying every way they can to leverage technology.
Kaley is in charge of Children’s Books and she’s a big fan of Prisoners in the Palace (thank you Kaley!) She arranged for me to come speak last weekend. We had about 15 people and a great discussion. Some folks came all the way from Waterbury and Manchester to hear me (still in awe of that).
So visit your local indie. Don’t buy the book from Amazon — they don’t need the business. But its a sad world when all we have left is the big chains. And if the chains leave… then there’s nothing. There’s an example close to home. Fairfield is the next town over from mine. There’s a wonderful children’s book store owned by Jimmy Giff and his mom Patricia Reilly Giff and a Borders. Well now the Borders is gone. To paraphrase my husband’s favorite band, the kids are alright, but what about the grownups? The nearest bookstore is…. a Barnes and Noble.
Coleytown Middle School has a bookfair and I’m invited for the entertainment… I’m opening for a band! Come see and support a great cause. Here’s the website.
At A Life Bound by Books, historical fiction doesn’t get much love. Not until now! Prisoners in the Palace gets 4/5 stars and this accolade: “People, such as myself who tend to stay away from anything set in the far past should pick up Prisoners in the Palace and find out just what you’re missing.”
I was invited to do a guest blog and I got to talk about one of my favorite things… my cover! Read more.
Renee, besides being a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, loves romantic fiction. So when she thinks I’ve gotten the romance right, I’m absolutely delighted. She said recommends Prisoners in the Palace for anyone who ” likes historical fiction with a lot of drama and a little romance thrown in the mix.” Read the whole review here as well as my musings on the romance, or lack thereof in Victoria’s life.