Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Huge SORRY to My Readers in Houston

I have had to cancel my planned booksigning at Murder by the Book in Houston this Saturday. I can't tell you how sorry I am; I was really, really looking forward to it. MBTB always has a wonderful crowd of readers and I've so enjoyed my last two trips there. But I finally admitted to myself that I am simply too ill to make the flight there and back.

If they're willing to give it another try, I would love to come next year for the release of What Darkness Brings. Hopefully I'll be better by then!

My sincerest apologies to all who were planning to attend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Virgin Territory


Yesterday, I wrote the first chapter of the ninth book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series. This part of the writing process is, for me, an exhilarating blend of trepidation and excitement: excitement for this shiny new idea that beckons and beguiles, and worry that it won't come up to the standards set by the previous books or that the story contains some fatal unseen flaw that will eventually cause the entire book to crumble into an unfinishable mess.

It's at this point that I can sometimes become confused when I talk to my readers, who've just finished the newly released book while I am obsessed with the events and people of a book they won't see for two years. Floating in production between us is the book I just finished, What Darkness Brings, which won't be published for another year. The time lag is frustrating for me, too, but the truth is that I am a very slow writer and these books take a long time to plot, research, and write. I wish I could write faster, and I know I could produce a different kind of book faster. Just not these.

What is this new book about? Hmm, I think maybe I'll keep that quiet for a while yet. Its working title is Why Kings Somethingoranother. (Yes, I actually put that at the top of the synopsis I submitted to my editor.) She loves the idea, incidentally--especially since this book will finally answer one of the questions she's been asking me about for ten years now: What happened to Sebastian in the war that came so close to destroying him?

The image above is a free wallpaper from this site.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Booksighing at Garden District

I had my first When Maidens Mourn booksigning at Garden District Bookshop on Saturday. I have a wonderful group of friends from SOLA, our local chapter of RWA, who loyally turn out for my booksignings every year. But this year I actually didn't know over half the people there, which made me feel pretty good until the bookstore staff started telling me about a bestselling vampire writer who'd just done a signing there. She's on a multi-state bus tour with her male cover model (complete with red contact lenses), a small army of staff, and a promotional budget that included a case of champagne and a giveaway in which the grand prize was an iPad (one per signing). Sigh.

Still, I had a great time, and I hope everyone else did, too. Thanks so much for coming!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


When Maidens Mourn officially went on sale yesterday. Did you know that people call their author friends and wish them "Happy Pub Day"? It's true.

I spent yesterday clearing leaves out of my garden beds, spreading mulch, and mowing the lawn. It was a lovely, lovely spring day, and I was determined not to waste it. Plus, working to repair the last six months' neglect seemed far more productive and sanity-preserving than the way some writers of my acquaintence spend their pub day, namely obsessively checking their books' sales rank at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Oh, look! It's up to 142 on Kindle! Oh, no; now it's fallen to 351! But wait... Much better to spend the day bagging leaves and smelling roses.

The photo above is of a bloom on my orchid tree. The flower is as big as my hand and has a lovely light fragrance. The tree is about fifteen feet high, and this year our winter was so mild that it is breathtakingly covered with blooms. Much more pleasant to contemplate than Amazon's sales rankings!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Inspiration for WHEN MAIDENS MOURN


I practice my morning yoga to a CD that concludes with Loreena McKennitt's haunting rendition of Tennyson's poem, "The Lady of Shalott." I've owned this recording for years, and yet my heart still aches each time I listen to it. The idea for the story that eventually became When Maidens Mourn developed slowly, over many months of mornings. It began with an image of a woman who had devoted her life to research and writing, only to realize she was missing out on the important things in life. And then, as she reaches for life, she dies...her body cast adrift on an ancient waterway.

The YouTube link above has Loreena McKennitt's song. The words to Tennyson's poem are below. And When Maidens Mourn officially goes on sale Tuesday, 6 March!

The Lady of Shalott

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower'd Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, burning bright,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance --
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."