Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Conversation with Deanna Raybourn about her brand new release A Spear Of Summer Grass–– Here's a little secret she shared with me: " I’m a member of the DAR and 19th cousin to the Queen of England.”

A Spear of Summer Grass
A Spear Of Summer Grass
384 pages
ISBN-13: 9780778314394

Book blurb:

Paris, 1923
The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savanna manor house until gossip subsides.
Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, ...

Here’s what #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts has to say about Deanna Raybourn; "With a strong and unique voice, Deanna Raybourn creates unforgettable characters in a richly detailed world. This is storytelling at its most compelling."

Deanna, welcome it’s always a pleasure to e-meet an author from my favorite publisher, and according to you “The Finest Publishing Company on The Planet”, Mira.
Did I actually say that? Yeah, sounds about right. I’m very fond of my publisher!

Tell us about your new novel.
A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS follows the adventures of notorious flapper Delilah Drummond as she is exiled to Africa to keep a low profile after her latest scandal. What she expects to be a period of extreme boredom turns out to be the making of her—from the vast landscape to the exotic wildlife to the characters who are larger than life, she’s changed by who and what she encounters. She reconnects with people from her past, including a few ghosts, and plunges into new relationships, most notably a friendship with a Masai and a dangerous liaison with a hunter by the name of Ryder White.

What’s the biggest draw for you about writing historical fiction?
I love the sense of escaping to another time, of being a traveler in someone else’s world for just a little while. My degree is in history and English because I always planned to write historical fiction, and I am particularly fascinated not by the differences, but to what connects us. I am always looking for the commonality—the bonds that tell us that being a mother in 14th century Japan or 19th century France was not so very different from being one in 21st century America. The trappings and technology might change, but fundamentally, people are the same and that’s reflected in the documentation of their lives. Plus, there’s a delightful and slightly naughty thrill in reading diaries and letters from people who are long dead and perhaps never expected their private correspondence to be read by strangers. The Regency courtesan who sold her memoirs to settle her debts is not so very different from the reality show star whose sex tape propels her to fame.

This is a stand alone novel, but you also write the Lady Julia Grey Series.
 What’s the biggest difference between writing a stand alone from a series novel?
With the first Lady Julia book, SILENT IN THE GRAVE, I thought I was writing a stand alone! I didn’t realize until I was very nearly finished that I didn’t want to turn loose of the characters. I also realized that it would be more tempting to publishers if they thought they had a series on their hands, so I left the ending just open enough to leave room for a follow-up. With the other stand alones, I’ve known from the beginning that I had one chance to tell their stories, so there is more pressure to say everything you want to say about who these people are. With Julia, I’ve had the luxury of over half a million words to let her character develop very slowly. In a single book, you have to move more quickly, but you also have to make the development believable. And some characters don’t develop much at all, and you have to know they aren’t going too far when you start with them so you can be consistent. I find there’s more freedom in a stand alone because you don’t have to refer back to incidents you wrote years before. It’s very difficult to predict exactly how you want things to evolve in a series, and you can get caught by circumstances you created two or three books before that don’t suit you any longer. Extricating yourself can be tricky. There is none of that complication with a stand alone—you’re in, you’re out. No need to carry that continuity through hundreds of thousands of words.  

As a historical fiction novelist and fan of the genre I must ask, are you a fan of Downton Abbey?
Yes! I haven’t loved every storyline unreservedly, but I am thrilled that it’s got such a huge following. I’m hoping this means we’ll see even more programs like it in the future. And I love Julian Fellowes’ eye for oddity—he has a treasure trove of eccentric anecdotes from friends and family and he weaves them into his scripts beautifully. I also think he does a fabulous job of integrating larger questions—the role of “surplus” women in society, divorce laws, homosexuality, etc.—with more intimate family and domestic problems. Plus, I’m smitten with the costumes.

In your bio it says that you “write what you read”.
Do you ever venture as a reader out of your comfort zone?
Rarely. My comfort zone covers a fair bit, and I do expand it, but there are some things I simply will not read—anything that makes me want to peek under the bed before I get into it, for example. And ever since I had my daughter I haven’t been able to read any book that deals with abused or jeopardized children. I believe reading should be pleasurable, first and foremost. If I’m not enjoying a book, I don’t finish it. Life is either far too long or far too short to spend it in the company of books you don’t love.

Do you ever see yourself publishing anything but historical novels?
Possibly. I have actually written a contemporary novel, but my agent has never shopped it because I think it needs major revision and I haven’t had the time to break it down to the bones. I wrote it just after I moved to Virginia and all my historical research was still packed away in boxes. I needed to write, so I pounded out a magical realism book with a contemporary setting. Maybe someday it will see the light of day…

When you set down to write, do you have one favorite place or do you write wherever you are?
Always in my little pink study. Our house was built in 1940, and my study is what used to be the sewing room—very small and with excellent light. I painted the walls pink, my husband put up a ton of shelves, and after he painted the ceiling turquoise, we hung a little chandelier that my great-aunt had given me. I keep my RITA on a shelf—holding a pink parasol from a cocktail, as well as the queen’s coronation portrait, and a framed saying of mine that a friend cross-stitched for me, “Be pretty like you mean it.” All my favorite books live in there, along with the collages I create for my current work in progress. It’s appallingly girly, and far more feminine than I want the rest of the house to be, but it’s restful and creative and happy—all the things I need when I’m writing. I don’t, however, proofread there or work on copyedits. Those things are done either in bed or at a café.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I am passionate about college football, and as a sixth-generation native Texan, I’m naturally a Longhorn fan. But anybody who follows me on Twitter or Facebook already knows that, so here’s something else: I’m a member of the DAR and 19th cousin to the Queen of England.

How does this release day compare with your first?
Pure excitement and no fear! Releasing your first book is like bringing that first child home from the hospital—gut-wrenching, stomach-churning anxiety coupled with almost hysterical excitement and a feeling of being purely overwhelmed. Later releases are like parenting an older child. You have a better idea of what you’re doing, you know you’re good at some of it, and you know there are things that are beyond your control. So you cross your fingers and hope for some luck to take care of the rest!

Will you be having any signing events to celebrate the new release?
Absolutely! I am kicking things off with a flapper safari brunch at Murder by the Book in Houston—an independent that has been extremely important to me and to hundreds of authors. I’m following that up with signings at the Fountain in Richmond, Mysterious in New York, One More Page in Washington DC, and a reading at Lady Jane’s Salon, all of which I am thrilled about. And I’m also signing with Nora Roberts at her store in Maryland, Turn the Page. Details are on my website, www.deannaraybourn.com

Deanna, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions, and good luck with the novel.
My pleasure—thanks for having me!

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Monday, April 29, 2013

**GIVEAWAY** - Kensington 2013 Beach Reads

                    2013 KENSINGTON BEACH READS + GIVEAWAY

It's never too early to start planning our vacations whether you go to some exotic place where your drinks come equipped with their own umbrellas or you prefer colder climes or if your favorite place to vacation is in your backyard it's always good to get your "Beach Reads" planned in advance.
Here's Kensington's line up for 2013. Be sure and pre-order the one's that tickle your fancy.

Plus (drum roll please and thank you very much Kensington Publishing) you have a chance to win not one but two of the novels that are listed below.
Between Heaven and Texas by Marie Bostwick and
More Than You Know by Nan Rossiter
entering is easy just follow the steps on one or both of the rafflecopter widgets below.
There is no purchase necessary. So are you feeling Luck? :)

I'm pleased to announce the 2013 Kensington Beach Reads

MAY 2013

MORE THAN YOU KNOW by Nan Rossiter
(Kensington Trade Paperback / May 2013 / 978-0-7582-8389-4 / Women’s Fiction)

New York Times bestselling author Nan Rossiter returns to small town New England in her third novel, an emotionally compelling and heartwarming story of three sisters who gather to celebrate their mother’s life and find new inspiration for living their own…

HONEY PIE by Donna Kauffman
(Brava Trade Paperback / May 2013 / 978-0-7582-8053-4 / Contemporary Romance)

With starred Publishers Weekly reviews and reader acclaim, New York
Times bestselling author Donna Kauffman’s fourth novel in her Cupcake
Club series is a delicious mix of small-town life, hot romance, and tasty confections…

(Kensington Hardcover / May 2013 / 978-0-7582-8671-0 / Women’s Fiction)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels is at her very best in this page-turning, richly rewarding new standalone novel filled with unforgettable characters, as a family is torn apart and then brought back together in a fight to save their fortune from a vengeful ex-wife.

(Kensington Trade Paperback / May 2013 / 978-0-7582-6929-4 / Women’s Fiction)

In a luminous spin-off to her heartwarming Cobbled Court Quilts series, New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick delves into the life of one of her readers’ favorite characters, Mary Dell Templeton, and her journey from a Texas ranch to becoming a wife, mother, and celebrated quilter.

JUNE 2013

(Kensington Trade Paperback / June 2013 / 978-0-7582-8142-5 / Women’s Fiction)

In her assured and poignant third novel, Elizabeth Bass – acclaimed author of Miss You Most of All and Wherever Grace is Needed – weaves a quirky, heartbreaking story of family, friendship, and loss that explores the relationship between a sixteen-year-old girl and her single aunt.

HOME FIRES: Book 2 in the Hope Springs series by Lois Greiman
(Kensington Trade Paperback / June 2013 / 978-0-7582-8122-7 / Women’s Fiction)

The second in award-winning author Lois Greiman’s series set in the quirky town of Hope Springs is a heartwarming story of country living and simple joys—perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr.

BEYOND THE STORM by Joseph Pittman
(Kensington Trade Paperback / June 2013 / 978-0-7582-7698-8 / Women’s Fiction)

From the author of Tilting at Windmills and A Christmas Wish, comes an emotionally compelling novel with the heart and warmth of Nicholas Sparks, as two people are reunited at their twentieth high school reunion.

SOMETHING WICKED by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
(Zebra Mass Market / June 2013 / 978-1-4201-1848-3 / Suspense)

New York Times bestselling authors Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush join forces to craft this chilling, edge-of-your-seat thriller, where a crazed killer sets a terrifying mission in motion to destroy the Colony and everyone in it…

JULY 2013

TELL ME by Lisa Jackson
(Kensington Hardcover / July 2013 / 978-0-7582-5858-8 / Suspense)

Hailed by Harlan Coben as “one of the best in romantic suspense,” #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson brings back Detective Pierce Reed and reporter Nikki Gillette from her two biggest bestsellers, The Night Before and The Morning After, in her new and most electrifying novel to date.

(Kensington Trade Paperback / July 2013 / 978-0-7582-7534-9/ Women’s Fiction)

Holly Chamberlin, bestselling author of Tuscan Holiday and One Week in December, invites readers to spend an unforgettable summer in Maine in a heartfelt novel focusing on the relationship between a mother and her teenager daughter.

(Kensington Trade Paperback / July 2013 / 978-0-7582-8575-1 / Mystery)

Invoking the tradition of To Kill A Mockingbird, Michael Hiebert’s literary suspense novel set in Alabama in the late 1980s tells the riveting story of a small southern town haunted by tragedy, one brave woman’s struggle to put a troubling mystery to rest—and its impact on the sensitive boy who comes of age in the midst of it all…

(Kensington Trade Paperback / July 2013 / 978-0-7582-7354-3 / Fiction)

Set against the fascinating historical backdrop introduced in Lisa See’s bestselling Dreams of Joy, acclaimed author Mingmei Yip’s The Nine Fold Heaven is a lushly detailed and engrossing sequel to Skeleton Women.


(Kensington Trade Paperback / August 2013 / 978-0-7582-5940-0 / Fiction)

Cathy Lamb, the acclaimed author of Julia’s Chocolates and A Different Kind of Normal, returns with a heartwarming new novel about family dynamics and the revelations that can come with going home.

(Kensington Trade Paperback / August 2013 / 978-0-7582-8470-9 / Fiction)

In a beautifully written, thoughtful, and engaging novel in the style of Luanne Rice, Mary Carter—the acclaimed author of My Sister’s Voice—brings a story of a woman rediscovering herself while exploring the majestic city of Florence.

(Kensington Trade Paperback / August 2013 / 978-0-7582-8632-1 / Contemporary Romance)

In the third of her Amour et Chocolat series, after The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss, Laura Florand elevates contemporary romance to women’s fiction with lush descriptions of Paris, artisanal chocolate, and the sensual pleasures of falling in love.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28th Thought For The Day and a little history


Here's a thought for this Sunday

“Practice hope.
As hopefulness becomes a habit,
you can achieve a permanently happy spirit.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale

[File:Norman Vincent Peale NYWTS.jpg From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]Norman Vincent Peale (May 31, 1898 - December 24, 1993) (aged 95) was a Protestant preacher and author (most notably of The Power of Positive Thinking) and a progenitor of the theory of “positive thinking”. In 1945, Dr. Peale, his wife, Ruth Stafford Peale, and Raymond Thornburg, a Pawling, New York businessman founded Guideposts magazine, a non-denominational forum for celebrities and ordinary people to relate inspirational stories. Source

Today's history provided courtesy of Wikipedia

1503 – The Battle of Cerignola is fought. It is noted as the first battle in history won by small arms fire using gunpowder.
1611 – Establishment of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines, the largest Catholic university in the world.
1788  Maryland becomes the seventh state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
1789  Mutiny on the Bounty: Lieutenant William Bligh and 18 sailors are set adrift and the rebel crew returns to Tahiti briefly and then sets sail for Pitcairn Island.
1792 – France invades the Austrian Netherlands (present day Belgium), beginning the French Revolutionary War.
1869 – Chinese and Irish laborers for the Central Pacific Railroad working on the First Transcontinental Railroad lay 10 miles of track in one day, a feat which has never been matched.
1930 – The first night game in organized baseball history takes place in Independence, Kansas.
1945 – Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci are executed by a firing squad consisting of members of the Italian resistance movement.
1948 – Igor Stravinsky conducted the premier of his American ballet, Orpheus, in New York City at New York City Center.
1952 – Occupied Japan: The United States occupation of Japan ends as the Treaty of San Francisco, ratified September 8, 1951, comes into force.
1965 – United States occupation of the Dominican Republic: American troops land in the Dominican Republic to "forestall establishment of a Communist dictatorship" and to evacuate U.S. Army troops.
1970 – Vietnam WarU.S. President Richard M. Nixon formally authorizes American combat troops to fight communist sanctuaries in Cambodia.
1986 – The United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise becomes the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal, navigating from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to relieve the USS Coral Sea.
1994 – Former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst Aldrich Ames pleads guilty to giving U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union and later Russia.
1996 – Whitewater controversy: President Bill Clinton gives a 4½ hour videotaped testimony for the defense.

Enloy your Sunday!!