Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

I've listed my resolutions and dreams on my group blog, www.jungleredwriters.com
Do hop on over and see what I and my Jungle Red sisters are resolving.
It will be an uncertain new year as John has health problems and we don't quite know his diagnosis yet so please send prayers and positive vibes in our direction.

Let me wish each and every one of you a blessed, peaceful, joyful, healthy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Party's Over

Today was sad in a way as our Christmas houseguests went their various ways, to Phoenix, LA and Sonoma, leaving us with just our Aussie kin. It was also a big sigh of relief that I won't be cooking breakfast for sixteen people again, nor endlessly loading and unloading the dishwasher. But as the year draws to a close it has reminded me how precious family is to me. To be surrounded by people I love and who love me is a great blessing. To sit around, everyone laughing or singing or playing highly competitive games of Spit or Scrabble is about as good as it gets.

I just wish that holiday celebrations did not have to include so much food. I can see how the tradition started. Long ago, when ordinary people led simple lives for most of the year and a boring diet with little meat and sugar, the Christmas feast really meant something. To be able to have turkey or goose and Christmas pudding full of fruits and brandy was the ultimate in good fortune for those people. For us who eat what we like every day, it doesn't mean much any more.

So now there is enough laundry and housecleaning waiting for me to work off some of those extra pounds. And I'd like to wish you all a happy, healthy New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

If you want to see me and my Jungle Red sisters celebrating the holidays, please click on the link below.

http://sendables.jibjab.com/view/C37MGaHNJImVxwwFxQQp

And my very best wishes for a blessed Christmas.

Rhys

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Touch of Magic

Yesterday I took my two granddaughters, Lizzie and Meghan, aged 12 and 9 to the Nutcracker Ballet in San Francisco. It's a tradition that started when Lizzie had just turned three. The other grandmother and I splurged for the front row of the orchestra stalls. She was entranced by the whole thing, peering down into the orchestra pit and waving at the players as they warmed up. When the music turned scary, she hid under her seat. When we got home she re-danced the whole ballet for us--we especially loved the mouse king dying and her version of the Russian dance!

We've been every year since, adding sibling Meghan when she was old enough. I keep expecting them to tell me they are now too old for such childish pleasures but they still seem to love getting dressed up in party dresses. And I have to confess that I still feel the magic too. All those adorable little girls dressed in their Christmas finery and wishing they were Clara. And that haunting music. And the glorious ballet of the real adult dancers--the pas de deux and the Russian dancers! And the excited children in the audience, really into the story--there was a collective gasp when the first mouse appeared, and when Clara magically turned into a princess.


But this year I found strange thoughts creeping in. I could suddenly see the brother Fritz's point of view. Everyone favored Clara. She was given the toy. He wasn't. He was always scolded. No wonder he tried to snatch it away from her. And during the interval that is exactly what my granddaughters said. The psychology of the Nutcracker!

Another thought always goes through my head as I watch Clara dancing. I am back at ballet school, aged 11, which I guess is about Clara's age. And I have grown too tall. When a ballet is cast my friends are the wood sprites and I.... am a tree. I kid you not. I was a tree in the fricking ballet. I dropped out soon after, not wishing to spend my life as a tree/flagpole/giraffe in subsequent ballets. So I stare at that stage and think "I would never have been Clara."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hooray for Royal Weddings

As the year draws to a close and we all start assembling our "best of" lists, I'm thrilled to tell you that Naughty in Nice, my latest Lady Georgiana book, showed up on the immensely popular Tressugar.come list of favorite books. So thrilled.

And for someone who writes about the royals it was a perfect year. Obviously the royal wedding was the highlight--but which royal wedding, do you ask? Apart from Hollywood royalty like Kim Kardashian, there were several real royal weddings this year, each a brilliant spectacle. In Bhutan the king married a well educated, well traveled commoner in a big Buddhist ceremony. In Monaco Prince Albert finally tied the knot. The queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips married a rugby star in a definitely relaxed and not at all royal ceremony and then there was Kate and Will's big day. This has to be my favorite royal wedding ever and the only one that has felt to me like a real love story and happily-ever-after.

Did you have a favorite royal moment this year? Should we take bets on what Kate and Will will name their first child?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The real tree revealed.

After several people emailed me about the lovely Christmas tree on my blog I have to confess that it's just a stock photo I found and not mine at all. So in the interests of full disclosure, here's a picture of my real tree.
Please do not examine too closely the inadequate nature of the gift wrapping. Luckily it's dark.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's a Wrap.

I have skills but gift wrapping is not one of them. That was brought home to me today when my church had its annual giving tree and everyone brought wrapped gifts. Some of them were true works of art--ribbons, bows, sprigs of holly, mini santas.  Mine--well, my had paper around it, stuck down with Scotch tape. That is the extent of my wrapping ability.

I suppose at heart I'm a practical person and it doesn't seem worth going to lots of trouble for something that will be ripped off and discarded. At least that is my excuse. Maybe I'm just not good at creating Martha Stewart worthy gifts. But I have to confess that I love to receive them. I have a friend who has a craft boutique every year and her gifts always have such interesting additions to the wrapping--beads and small toys that make the present fun.

Maybe it's because I have to do all the wrapping that I just want it done as quickly and painlessly as possible. Sixteen people all with a couple of gifts makes a lot of presents to wrap. with the smaller ones I now go for bags. They look good with no effort. But there is no bag big enough for a large kitchen appliance. Or for some toys.

One year we decided to have a green Christmas and made fabric bags to be reused every year. I still have them. The problem is that after they've wrapped something once, they need laundering and ironing before they look good enough to wrap something else.... and ironing is another of my lacking skills!

Ah well. It's the thought that counts, isn't it?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trying to Make up my Mind

If you're feeling confused this week, it's because I've been trying out new designs for this blog. I thought the old one with the lighthouse was a little blah so I experimented. The black one was dramatic, right for a mystery writer in many ways, but the side bar was hard to read. So now I'm going with the hint of historical and mysterious and I hope ease of navigation.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Perfect Christmas


My shopping is almost complete and guess what, I haven't bought a single Lexus to put under the tree.  Actually if my family had their way, it would only require a very small tree because so many people want gift cards to their favorite stores. How Christmassy is that? We might as well not exchange gifts at all but set up a clearing house with a debit and credit system. you would have spent fifty dollars on me so that's a fifty dollar credit in my column, but I would have shelved out one hundred on the kids, so I'm minus fifty.

Call me old fashioned, but I am still looking for the perfect Christmas, one with simple home made gifts and lots of laughter around the fire. I got a sample of it a few years ago when I took a Christmas markets cruise up the Danube and we stopped off in small towns along the way. They were selling hand made wooden toys and carved ornaments and the scent of mulled wine and sausages and spices hung in the cold air. Children, bundled up against the cold, looked in wonder at the twinkling lights and the magical toys. And I thought--that's the feeling I want at Christmas!

I understand it's not realistic. How many of us have the time to carve a few toys in the evenings? I'm even thinking of serving store bought cookies this year. The problem is that we have so much, year round that people think we have to raise the hype to make Christmas special. Hence all those commercials about a Lexus with a bow on it. But actually we want to go in the other direction--to retreat from the commerical side of life and make Christmas magical and simple and other-worldly.

When I was growing up in the dark ages Christmas was the only time we had turkey. So it was special. It was the only time in the year that nuts and tangerines and dates appeared in stores so they were special too. And Christmas plum pudding and mince pies were treats. Now we can buy any food we want, any day of the year. So nothing really to look forward to.

This year I plan to try hard to recreate my ideal Christmas. We'll have the whole extended family and I'm hoping it will be cold enough for a fire in the hearth and mulled wine and singing Christmas carols and silly family games that have us all laughing. Any tips on how you conjure up the Christmas spirit?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Are the Royals worth it?

As the author of the Royal Spyness series, I've been doing royal gossip Mondays on my blog. Today I'm going to be a little more serious, because the news of Prince William's brave and daring rescue last week made me want to counter all those people who complain that the royal family are not worth keeping around.

There is a small but vocal minority in Britain that thinks we should do away with the royals and make Britain into an efficient republic like America (pause to chuckle here).  These people think the royals sit around idly doing nothing in their expensive palaces and sip tea while receiving vast amounts of money from the working poor.

This may have been true in the days of King Charles Ist but the modern royals have a work schedule not many of us could emulate. I go on a book tour for about two weeks each year. Two weeks of waking early, flying to a new city, touring bookstores all day, sometimes doing some radio or TV interviews, then speaking at an evening event before collapsing exausted into a hotel bed. At the end of two weeks I am whacked. However the queen has been doing this every day of her life. Every day of making speeches, meeting new people, eating three meals a day with strangers watching and the press ready to jump if you make a false move. Let me tell you that it requires stamina.

And the other members of her family do similar amounts of goodwill and charity work. Princess Anne is the real family workhorse. Prince Charles was mocked twenty years ago when he started an organic farm. Now it seems he was way ahead of his time and his methods are being copied all over the world. And now Prince William is serving as an RAF search and rescue pilot and proved last week that this is not a grace and favor position but he is indeed walking the walk. I watched the video of him holding the helicopter steady a few feet above a raging ocean while his fellow officer rapelled down to pluck men from a sinking cargo ship. And his brother was fighting in Afghanistan until his presence was leaked to the press and he had to be whisked out for his own safety.

As the new Duchess of Cambridge (I refuse to call her Kate Middleton as the press still does) will find out, she won't have a life of leisure ahead. And I bet she'll perform splendidly.

So three cheers for the hardworking royals. Oh, and by the way.... they cost less than President Obama!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Making a list, checking it twice.

Many people I know are cutting back on Christmas this year, but I'm doing just the opposite... not exactly from choice. It started when my brother in Australia announced that he and his wife would be paying us a visit over Christmas. This would be the first time in ten years so my daughter Clare announced that she and her family had to come and join in the fun. (My son is currently living with us and daughter Jane and family live close by so that's an extra 5 people). Then my daughter Anne from LA asked if she could bring a friend who would otherwise be all alone over Christmas.

So that makes 16. Sixteen people for almost a week.
We are lucky in that we have a big house with enough rooms to put people but I'm currently buying or borrowing air mattresses, a fold up table, and trying to get my list of presents done well in advance.

Then there's the little matter of food. Christmas day is easy. Big brunch then turkey. mince pies, Christmas pudding. The day after Christmas (that we still call Boxing Day) is easy. John's turkey curry.
But the others? I was all set to buy a Costco lasagna until I realized that Anne and her friend don't eat red meat, or dairy and the friend doesn't eat gluten, and my brother and his wife are diabetic and don't eat any refined starches. So I hit on the brilliant idea of a paella one night, a seafood cioppino and brown rice another and one night of soups and baked potatoes.

Any other brilliant suggestions, please? Easy. Dairy free. Red meat free. Refined starch free. And tastes good. What a challenge....

I expect we'll muddle through. I plan to put up a roster so that there are the right number of people to help in the kitchen at all times and I've told John he is on constant food buying runs. And I'm telling myself it will be fun. It will be fun... it will be fun....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

I was standing in the grocery checkout line yesterday and the headline on all the tabloids read "Kate Pregnant".In Touch Magazine actually "confirmed" the rumor, although no word has come from the Palace. This is what the magazine said: ""Since before they even got married, it's been made clear to William and Kate that having children should be their number-one priority," the magazine's source disclosed. "Queen Elizabeth II, in particular, has been dropping so many hints about wanting a great-grandchild - and an heir to the throne - that Kate feared she wouldn't be able to face her without baby news," the insider added." And to add fuel to this rumor the magazine showed pictures of Kate with her hand on her stomach, although I think this just proves she's holding her coat closed!

Obviously Brits want to know when there might be an heir to the throne (especially if it's a girl, a future queen!) but why this fascination around the world? And why this fascination with preganncy in general? If any movie star reaches iconic status the headlines will always debate whether she is pregnant, wants to become pregnant, has been pregnant etc etc.

And all those photos of stars exposing big bellies--why are we suddenly so fascinated? Pregnancy used to be a private time. It was not done even to mention it. Remember those maternity clothes that were so voluminous one could invite an army to come and camp inside them? As if they fooled anybody--we all knew there was a large belly somewhere under those folds and gussets. We just didn't want to look at it.

In a world in which many countries are witnessing zero or negative population growth, why are we then so fascinated with those about to give birth. What springs to mind is Margaret Attwod's The Handmaid's Tale! We want the population to continue--we just don't want to do it ourselves. So any pyschiatrists or pyschologists out there--why do we want to look at pregnant bellies these days?

Poor Kate. When she actually does become pregnant, she'll be photographed at every stage. She'll be observed to see what she eats and drinks, whether she's off her food or eating for two. I hope she stays in Wales, out of the public eye!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday shopping Song

Will you be standing outside a store at 4 a.m. tomorrow? Not me. There is no item in the universe that is important enough to me to make me do that. In fact more and more lately I've been doing my Christmas shopping online. And last year I wrote a song about it, that I'd like to share with you again today as you rush from store to store:

Dashing through the web,
 googling sites like mad
Christmas time is here again,
bargains to be had
Oh
Click click here, click click there,
buy it all online
Overstock and Amazon.
Christmas will be fine.

Click Click here, click click there
Bought it all online
Presents bought and wrapped and shipped
Have a glass of wine!

Happy Black Friday to all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Small Blessings

Since it's Thanksgiving week and nobody will have much time to think about anything except turkey and pumpkin pies, I thought I'd concentrate on the small things that make life worth living. Obviously I'm thankful for health and family but this is a good time to reflect on what really makes me happy.

Here are some of the things I've come up with:
A roaring fire on a cold winter night, and a hot chocolate and a cat on my lap... and a good book.
A long hot bath with a citrus scented scrub.
The sound of splashing water on a summer's day.
The sound of children playing in water on a summer's day.
Time to watch the clouds floating by or a good sunset.
An evening walk with time to talk.
Hiking with my friends.
Laughter around the table.

And you know what? None of those things cost a penny (apart from the hot water in the bath) How strange our society has become that we equate happiness with spending (buy Mom a Lexus for Christmas) .
My sisters at Jungle Red Writers are going to be talking about gratitude later this week and suggested starting a gratitude journal. I think that's a fine idea. So I'll start right now. I'm grateful that I'm sitting with my patio door open and warm sun streaming in and that my fingers all work properly to type, and that I have so many online friends who communicate with me and enjoy my posts.
Life is good, friends. Make the most of it. Make every moment special. We are the only species on earth who doesn't live in the moment, but worries about the future and broods over the past.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, won't you, and if you have time, then share your list of small blessings.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Remember that old rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me?"
We used to chant it in school when someone insulted us. It never really made us feel better, of course.

And I feel the same way about reviews. I just read one in which the reviewer clearly didn't GET the book. It was Royal Blood, that is supposed to be a comedy spoof on vampires. The reviewer blasts my heroine for being stupid enough to believe in vampires. Well, I guess that reviewer has never been in a castle in Transylvania at night, with no electricity, during a snowstorm. If the situation is right, one starts to believe in anything. I have stayed at various old castles and houses in Europe and trust me, if you hear a strange noise in the night or see something moving that you can't identify, even the most rational of us can begin to believe in ghosts, ghouls, vampires etc.

So why should I feel so upset about one review? It's just one person's opinion, after all, and there are people in the world who actually like Lady Gaga. I don't think most people realize how fragile most writers' egos are. We never believe what we have written is any good until our agents and editors tell us so. As we write we go through pockets of despair in which we tell ourselves that we are writing rubbish and will never write anything of consequence again and all our fans will leave us and the publisher will drop us. Then we get an email from our editor saying "This was fabulous" and we dance around for a few days saying "It's fabulous. I always knew it."

Some writer friends have made a pact never to read reviews. I should learn to follow that advice, but I love reading the glowing kind and I have to say that before online bloggers I always got only good reviews from the traditional sources, PW, Kirkus, Booklist etc. They have all given me starred reviews. RT Reviews always makes me a top pick. So I have to remind myself that online reviewers are not pros. They give a personal rather than an unbiased reaction to what they read.

Sometimes I'm tempted to respond and explain where the reviewer didn't quite understand what I wanted to achieve, but that's not a good idea. And besides, if one person didn't GET my book, then I still have improvements to make in my writing. So it's back to work, I guess.

And tell me--are you ever influenced by reviews? Do you read the Amazon reviews before you buy? I confess to doing that before purchasing something eletronic and if a book got all 1 stars I don't think I'd try it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Royal Gossip Mondays--Will and Kate to separate!

This is the kind of headline you'd expect to see on a supermarket tabloid but it's true. In the new year Will and Kate will be eight thousand miles apart. Not from choice. He is being deployed for helicopter search and rescue training in the Falkland Islands. And if case you don't know where they are, they are tiny bleak islands in the South Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Argentina. They have been settled by the British for more than a hundred years, but Argentina still claims them--hence the Falklands war about twenty five years ago. It was a short, bloody conflict in which a lot of badly trained Argentinian troops faced crack British units with inevitable results. So maybe it's not the smartest thing to send Prince William there to bring world focus to that region and stir up old wounds. In fact there have already been mutterings of an "Act of agression" from certain Argentinians--especially now that oil has been discovered nearby. Stay tunes!

It won't be any beach jaunt for Wills--unpredictable weather and absolutely nothing to do in the evenings, literally stuck at the end of the Earth. Rough terrain with sheep. And really tough flying conditions. That's what William will be facing for eight weeks.  A lot like Angelsey in winter, actually. And poor Kate will be getting all the scrutiny, not to mention the ongoing speculation as to whether she's pregnant.

The pregnancy rumor started when she wouldn't eat something that contained peanuts the other day. I suspect she won't remain alone at the farmhouse in Anglesey while Wills is away. Maybe go home to her parents (or the in-laws?) as their future apartment at Kensington Palace isn't quite ready for them yet.
One thing that's clear--they will miss each other desperately. They haven't been apart since the wedding and still have that radiant happiness.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who am I writing for?

I'm about to start thinking about a new Molly Murphy mystery and also to come up proposals for the next three Lady Georgie books and I realize this is becoming harder than it was before. Not because I'm running out of ideas--far from it. I keep coming up with fun little twists and interesting plotlines for both series. The problem is that I am now so engaged in social media that I am in constant contact with several thousand fans. And they tell me what they like. I heard a lot of griping because Darcy did not figure prominently in Naughty in Nice. Of course there was the dashing and sexy Jean Paul de Ronchard instead but for keen fans of the series it just wasn't the same.

When I started writing mysteries I literally wrote for myself. I didn't think what might sell, what might make the NYT bestseller list or what might win an award. I knew what story I wanted to read and I couldn't find it on the shelf, so I wrote it. Now I feel all kinds of pressures--good reviews, bestseller lists, and above all pleasing my readers. It's got to be fun and sexy and dramatic and a good story but most readers want the story to be a personal one for Molly and Georgie. They want romance and heartbreak. They want their emotions involved.

This is now mmore of a challenge with the next Molly book because if you read Bless the Bride you'd know that Molly is now married. No more of that lovely romantic tension or the will they, won't they. So I have to think long and hard about where I want to go with that series. Children of her own to worry about, I'm sure. Daniel in danger. Cases that involve her personal life. So.... any suggestions as to what you'd want Molly to do next?

This raises an interesting point: should a writer keep her readership in mind when she writes, especially in a popular series. If the publishers had their way, we'd write the same book, over and over. Find a popular concept and stick with it. Look at Patricia Cornwell--that's exactly what she's done. Until now I've gone where I want to with my heroines, tried new things (like Molly meeting Houdini) and different tones for the books. But now I'm increasingly aware that my readers expect a certain kind of book when they see my name. Added pressure to perform and to please.

So, dear readers, what do you think? Should a writer write to please her readers? Should a series be consistent in tone and darkness so that the reader knows what to expect?  Do you get bored and lose interest if the stories are too similar or annoyed if they are too different? I guess I'm trying to please everyone and in the end the only person I can please is myself.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Long Live Queen Kylie!

Rhys here with my royal gossip Mondays:

It's finally official: parliament has voted and Will and Kate's daughter will be queen, if they have a female child first. This is quite a departure from tradition in which the male always inherited the title--which still holds true for dukes, earls and lesser nobles, as far as I can tell. I can't see that peers would want this to change, as the property always goes with the title and a woman always takes her husband's name. So that would mean that if a duchess inherited the stately home, it might then become the property of her husband's family--or at least that family name. So no, that wouldn't work, would it?

But European royal families have been allowing the oldest child to inherit the throne for ages--ever since kings were not supposed to lead armies, I expect. So the Netherlands and some Skandanavian countries have had queens. And queens, I have to point out, are not a bad idea. Britain rose to heights of great glory under Elizabeth I. Brtain achieved an enormous empire under Victoria and Queen Elizabeth has been universally admired throughout her long life. Even the conquest of Everest happened on her coronation day, which was a good omen. Queens also seem to live longer. Victoria had her diamond jubilee on the throne, and so has Elizabeth. So the country doesn't have to go to the expense of a coronation too frequently!

So hooray for queen Vicki or Lizzie or whatever Will and Kate call their oldest child (let's just hope it's not Queen Tracy or Kylie. I don't think so. Kate has worked hard to fit in to the royal mode, even taking eloqution lessons for months before the wedding so that any trace of a lower class accent was stamped out. It seems that Will and Kate are trying hard not to make waves, to fit in, to be sensitive to their future roles. So I'd be betting on a Victoria II or even an Elizabeth III. That is if they have a girl. The royal family has done rather well in producing heirs and spares recently.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Busy in the Jungle

Hi, everyone! Happy Halloween!
This week I'm hosting my group blog, Jungle Red Writers. It's pretty much a full time occupation so I won't have time to post on Rhys's Pieces. But we have some great stuff coming up at Jungle Red--
Today we all chat about A Room of One's Own--what our writing space looks like.
Tomorrow we have a visit from a hunky TV actor Blake Berris who plays a bad guy on the new NBC version of Prime Suspect.
Wednesday I'm joined by my internet guru Terry Kate who will share tips about optimizing an online presence.
Thursday I'm reposting my piece on the effect of 99 cent Kindle books on the publishing industry
Friday the Jungle Red Sisters offer advice on Writers Block
and Saturday Vicki Lane comes to guest blog.
Sunday we host a writer's challenge.
So it's a perfect week for writers and would be writers on Jungle Reds.
Visit us at http://www.jungleredwriters.com/, and stop by our Jungle Reds Facebook page.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Prepare to be Scared.

Getting ready to migrate south to Phoenix for the month of November. Actually I have to be there before Halloween so I can go around trick and treating with our little grandchildren. Since I missed out on Halloween as a child, I have some catching up to do. Today Halloween is also celebrated in England but it certainly wasn't when I was little. I think some people had parties and bobbed for apples etc, but there was no door-to-door stuff and no dressing up.
I remember my first Halloween in California. I was alone in the house one evening when there was a knock on the door and outside stood a very cute black cat. Trick or treat, she said. I had no idea what she was talking about and no candy in the house. It's lucky I wasn't TPed that night or had eggs thrown at me.
The interesting thing to me about Halloween is how long it has survived--a festival of the most primitive superstition in a modern world. It was a Celtic festival, of course, the night when they believed the doorway between this world and the other world was opened and ghosts came forth. People dressed up in scary masks so that the ghosts and ghouls would see them and think they were one of their own, thus not touch the living and take them back to their world. Christians kept the feast day as All Souls and then All Saints, proving how smart they were in incorporating old religions and giving them a new twist.

You can imagine how frightening it was in the days before electricity and how easy to believe in things that go bump in the night. But it's interesting to me how we still love Halloween today. Some kids like it better than Christmas and not just because of the candy. It's fun to be scared in a safe way--which is why mystery books sell so well, I guess!

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's a Mystery to Me!

This year I am a judge for a children's mystery award and one of our discussions has been what constitutes a mystery. Many of our stories have mystserious elements, but are essentially fantasies. Think of Harry Potter--we want to know the truth of what happened to his parents, why he was the only one to survive Voldemort's killing curse and why he has to stay with the Dursleys. But it is more quest novel-classis battle of good versus evil like the Lord of the Rings.

I suppose my definition of a mystery novel has to involve a central puzzle--be it missing person, stolen jewel or other crime and a central character whose quest it is to solve this puzzle and thus put the universe to rights.

So it was interesting for me to go to my group blog, Jungle Red Writers, this morning and read the comments on how the stakes have been raised in mystery writing and whether people now expect more violence and adrenalin rush.  I felt that one way the stakes have been raised is in the involvement of the sleuth and our emotional investment in him or her. Hercule Poirot was an outside obvserver with no personal involvement in the crimes he solved other than a sense of justice. But today's sleuth is dealing with a personal battle in many cases--a tragedy in his or her own life that mirrors the crime she has to solve, personal demons, a villain with a grudge against her... I agree that this makes for a more compelling book.  I have always read mysteries for the enjoyment of the puzzle but it wasn't until I found Tony Hillerman in the 1970s that I became hooked because he made Jim Chee and the landscape around him so real and so compelling. My favorite sleuths since then are wonderfully flawed humans like Morse.

So does a mystery have to involve a dead body, a murder, a villain? It seems to be that way these days although not all of the Sherlock Holmes stories involved a murder, did they?
I suppose murder is the ultimate crime in any society which goes along with that raising the stakes idea. If we read a book with no murder, we are constantly waiting for the discovery of the body.

But for me the good mysteries involve personal relationships that lead to that murder. And they rise or fall on the character of the sleuth. Plots are fun, with twists and scary scenes--cellars at midnight with a killer on the loose. Clever methods of killing are fun. But essentially we have to care about the people or it's just like a video game.

So what do you think defines the mystery novel?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Historical Goofs

A Facebook friend sent me a very interesting link today to an article about Downton Abbey--remember the TV series about the stately home in the 1930s?

The second series is now airing in the UK and all sorts of complaints are coming in about the anachronistic language that jerks viewers out of the period. Apparently characters say thinks like "get knotted" which really come from the Sixties. 
Here's the link: http://www.aoltv.com/2011/10/21/downton-abbey-criticized-for-historically-incorrect-language/?ncid=webmail2

Correct language for the period is always a high priority for me when I'm writing both my series of historical mysteries. I want the reader to feel he or she is in New York in 1903, or having fun with Lady Georgie in 1930s England. If a word sounds too modern, I have broken the spell. The funny thing is that some slang I know was in use in 1900 I simply can't use because readers would find it too modern. Phrases like "far out" for example were in use then.

So how do I make sure that I keep my readers in the period, when obviously I wasn't alive at either time? Well, for Molly I try to remember how my great-aunts spoke. They were born in the late 1800s and several things were different about their language:
They were horribly formal. Only close family was addressed by our first names. Other friends were Mrs. this and Miss that.
They had huge vocabularies as a result of all that reading as young women. They'd never use filler words like "you know".
They didn't use any kind of swear word, or any word that might seem delicate--a body part, the bathroom etc.
A lady really remained quiet in the presence of gentlemen.
So I channel them when I'm in Edwardian times--although I can't keep Molly quiet too often!

For Georgie--well, I knew older people who were young in the Thirties. I remember their slang. I had friends who called each other "Old Bean" or "Old Fruit." I also adore P.G Wodehouse and channel Bertie Wooster for my young male characters. I watch Thirties movies. And for the grandfather in the series, who is an old Cockney, I only have to remember the way my father spoke. Actually the grandfather is a re-creation of my father.  Because my family background spanned the classes--father self-educated to become a research engineer, mother from a professional and artistic family--her father was an orchestra conductor. Then I married into a family in which Georgie would have been right at home with the cousins with silly nicknames and butlers and stately homes. So I get Georgie right because I have been an observer in all these worlds.  I'm only surprised that Julian Fellowes, writer of Downton Abbey and also part of that upper crust, has slipped up in his efforts to get it right.

So watch the new series then tell me what you think.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Does the 99 cent Kindle signal the Death of Publishing?

I confess to checking my Amazon stats at regular intervals--I know. It's an obsession that results in bleak despair every time my numbers go down, but I can't stop myself.

Today I found myself checking the top hundred mystery bestsellers and what a surprise--I find that most of them are ninety nine cent Kindle books. Several of them are by names I recognize--legitimate writers. So I'm wondering several things--can they actually make a good living by selling their books at 99 cents? That means they earn 33 cents a book. A thousand books gives them 300 dollars.(which it will have cost them to have the book set up in Kindle format) Ten thousand gives them $3000 . That means they have to sell an awful lot of books before this is worth their while.
Perhaps some people do sell a hundred thousand kindle books. But how would readers find out about you if you're not on that bestseller list?

My next point to ponder is whether we are lowering the expectations of the readership. Some of those 99 cent books will be good. Most of them will be poorly written and have been rejected by regular publishers. Will readers come to think that this is how a story should be? Silly question really. They are already used to the fragmented style of TV drama , the lack of characterization of action movies.

And my third point--how will this affect the publishing industry? I've already been given one star reviews by Kindle readers who are angry that my Kindle books are being sold at $11.99 (a price set by my publisher for the first year). Will those readers eventually force down the price of all books as the power and scope of the e-reader grows?

I had an interesting brush with this myself last spring when St. Martin's had me write a free e-story featuring Molly Murphy, to coincide with the release of Bless the Bride. The cover clearly says A Molly Murphy Story. It is not a full book. Suddenly I find that it had risen to #2 on free Kindle. Then I find that I am getting all these one star reviews because IT IS NOT A WHOLE BOOK.  This blew me away. It was free. It was a good story.  It's like getting a sample chocolate at Sees Candies and then complaining because it's not a whole box.

My point is that readers are becoming entitled. They want the best, right now, and they don't want to pay for it. And those people putting up their own 99 cent stories on Amazon are sadly catering to them. It may just mean the end to legitimate publishing.

What do you think?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Royal Gossip Mondays Resume

Now I can breathe again after all the promo for Naughty in Nice, I'm going back to my Royal Gossip Mondays, sharing little snippets about the royals from recent news or things I've uncovered from royal history.

Last week the big news was that the Line of Succession is to be debated and reconsidered. Until now a son always took precedence over a daughter. Elizabeth only became queen because there was no son. Now I believe the plan is to overturn that three hundred year old statute and replace it with one that gives a female child equal right to the throne.

So if Will and Kate have a girl first, there will be another queen in our future. Makes sense, doesn't it? I think a queen has more press appeal and glamor and one has to admit that the whole royal thing is great for tourism. Also she is not as likely to have sexual flings as princes seem to be.. and thus disgrace the royal name.

This whole tradition of the heir and the spare seems strange now, but birth order and sex really made a huge difference to lives in the past. Remember Pride and Prejudice--Mr. Collins was going to get the family home because the Bennetts had no son. My husband's grandfather was a second son--the spare. Thus he was sent out to the colonies and when he returned late in life and in ill health, he lived fairly simply in a rented house (okay it was a big rented house and I'm sure there were plenty of servants) BUT his older brother got the property, the money, the title, EVERYTHING.

Today that seems so unfair, doesn't it. My brother-in-law has inherited a large family property. They have eight children and I believe a trust has been set up so that they will all inherit the property equally. How that will work, I'm not sure. Open to squabbling.

The most interesting speculation about the line of succession at the moment will be whether Charles will step aside in favor of his more popular son?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just Plain Kate

I was at the checkout counter of the local supermarket yesterday and I read the tabloid headlines while I w.

aited for a slow checker. One of them said "Kate Middleton puts on pounds in preparation for a baby."
A couple of things about this made me think... first why are tabloid headlines so obsessed with babies. In a society where childbearing has become almost a thing of the past, it seems that every popular icon has to be continually pregnant or adopting from Africa to be appealing to the masses. "Is Jen Pregnant?" "Will Angelina adopt twins from Ethopia?"  Frankly who cares, but pictures of big bellies seem to sell copies. Weird.

The other thing that I thought was strange is that she is still refered to as Kate Middleton. Actually she is now Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge. So speaking of her as a commoner by her former name is in fact a put down. You're still no better than us--that's what it's saying to me. You may have married a prince but you actually aren't royalty

I've noticed the same sort of attitude with President Obama. When Clinton or Reagan were presidents, no one ever refered to them as Bill Clinton or Ronnie Reagan. They were President Clinton. President Reagan. And yet commentators and tabloid headlines often refer to the current president as Barack Obama. Is that their subtle put down? Are they saying, as they did with Kate, "You're an ordinary person, no better than us?"  What do you think?

And as for Kate putting on pounds--she was really too thin for her wedding so that she looked great in her dress. And it's not necessarily for a baby that she's gaining weight, but rather it's lving in a cold Welsh farmhouse with bitter winds howling outside the door. One needs more fat to survive up there. Trust me, I know.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Never Enough

Yesterday Apple unveiled the latest version of the iPhone and guess what? Apple shares dropped significantly because..... it wasn't the iPhone 5 that people hoped for and expected. It was only a faster, more efficient version of the IPhone 4 with added brighteners.

I am alarmed by this trend of wanting and expecting more and more. We have become a people of entitlement. I found this out as a writer when I was asked by my publisher to write a Molly Murphy story, a prequel to the series, to be offered free on Kindle so that people who hadn't read the books would have a chance to get to know Molly, and hopefully buy the books.

There was a good side to this. It rose to number 2 on Free Kindle, which was quite amazing. However I started getting all these one star reviews which alarmed and upset me, until I realized that people were not judging the quality of the storytelling. They were punishing me because it was only a short story and not a whole book. Reviews said "I feel cheated. I was expecting a whole book."

Let me reiterate that this was free. They were getting a whole,complete and good story. Did they really think I was going to devote six months of my life to writing a book for which I would receive no payment? Don't they realize that writers have to live and eat?

I'm reminded of that song in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:
I want the world. I want the whole world.
I want to lock it all up in my pocket. It's my bar of chocolate.
Give it to me now!

Violet came to a bad end for singing that, but it's now the prevailing attidude. It starts with kids who have their own phones, TVs, iPods, computers etc etc by the time they are 8. Then there is nothing left to look foiward to. They want to be excited, entertained but they've been given all there is and they've lost the ability to entertain themselves. I can remember how proud I felt when I saved up for several years for a real new bike instead of the clunky old thing we'd bought at a jumble sale. I earned that bike. It was mine. It felt good every time I rode it to school.


So I'm sorry for this generation becasue there simply aren't enough technological innovations to keep them excited and happy. And I'm sorry for those people for whom a free story wasn't enough. Obviously they've never tried to do anything creative like write a story, so how would they know what goes into it?  Too bad.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Rainy Monday Blues

A rainy Monday in California and I'm feeling lost. My friends from England have gone home. I've worked like crazy to do the copy edits on my next Molly book called Hush Now, Don't You Cry, and I've sent off my next Georgie book to my editor and agent. Now suddenly I have nothing to do except for a large mound of laundry (we had eight people staying over last weekend). And did I mention that it's raining?

If it had been a lovely clear sunny day I could have escaped to the great outdoors to refresh and rejuvenate myself. But frankly when it is dark and rainy all I want to do is to curl up in bed and nap. Maybe I was another species in my past life and I need to hibernate, or at least fly south. My thoughts have definitely turned to Arizona, where we have a condo to which we will be heading at the end of October.

One of the main reasons I bought the condo in the first place was that I don't do winters. I don't mind a big roaring fire and crisp snow outside the door, but dark skies and dreary rain seem to sap all my energy. At the condo I wake early to morning sunlight streaming in through tall arched windows and I'm up and ready to go.
This is necessary because I write two books a year and the Molly book has to be written during the winter months. So pretty soon I'll be tossing around story ideas and then after the holidays I'll settle down to writing Molly book 12.

Writing two books a year is a pretty hectic schedule, especially since they both involve quite a bit of research. I keep thinking of slowing down and doing only one book a year, but frankly I have to admit that I'm one of those writers who has to write. I feel lost if I'm not working on something in my head. I'm simply not good at doing nothing. As for retirement,,, I can't even picture what I'd do if I wasn't writing. I'm not one of those people who can play bridge three times a week or potter around my garden all day.  Luckily it's a career that can go on until I'm ninety (I believe P.D. James is over ninety now, isn't she?)

So maybe tomorrow I'll finish that laundry and then start toying with new story ideas--what should Molly do next? How can she go on detecting after her marriage? Any suggestions?

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Perfect Weekend.

I know I've been rather silent this last week. I've a good excuse, or rather good excuses. I had book signings and a live Facebook chat, but also one of my oldest and best friends arrived with her husband to stay with us from England. Penny and I met on almost the first day of college and have stayed close friends ever since. Her lovely centuries old home in Lincolnshire is always my first port of call when I arrive in England. It's everything I fantasize about when I grow nostalgic for the country of my birth--lovely gardens, old church clock chiming the hour, sitting in the sun eating home grown strawberries and cream, strolling to the village pub for a hearty meal. She even rings the bells in her church and I've been to watch (and tried it without being jerked up into the tower).
It's her first visit to California so I'm cramming as much as possible into their visit. Also Saturday was my birthday and all 4 of my children flew in to be there. We had a lovely family weekend and it made me realize what is really important to me. Not eating out at a fancy restaurant. Not expensive presents. But sitting around the table with those I love, talking and laughing and sharing. That is my top pick for happiness.

Would you like to share yours?

Oh and two bonus reasons for happiness:
I had well over 500 birthday greetings on Facebook, which I found so moving
also
 My new paperback of Royal Blood was seen in Costco this week. My happiness is now complete!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Come Chat with Me.

Great week of traveling, speaking signing my new book, Naughty in Nice, is now over. It was lovely meeting readers old and new in Dallas, Houston, Cave Creek, Scottsdale, San Mateo and Corte Madera. Now  I'm back home and catching my breath. And the week ahead features a unique event, one that I haven't tried before. My publisher Penguin has invited me to hold a live chat on their Facebook page, called The Crime Scene.

It's on Wednesday September 21 and it's at 3 p.m. Eastern time, which makes it noon Pacific Time, 8 p.m if you're in England. 9 in continental Europe and very early morning in Australia. I'm hoping that readers from all these places will come and join in. So if you have anything you'd like to discuss, any questions you want to put to me or suggestions for future Georgie book, Wednesday is the time.

There is nothing hard about it. Simply show up at the page and type on the wall the way you would normally.
During the hour I'm chatting I'll be giving away a fun prize or two. Maybe something naughty and French?

I look foward to meeting as many of you who can slip away from work, take a lunch break, an early coffee break or put the kids down for a nap. Get out the brie and crackers, the French wine and we'll celebrate together. Are you in?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Signs of Fall

Home for a breather from the heat of Texas and AZ. And I've decided I must have been a swallow in my past life. Because I was driving down the street today and I noticed that the leaves were turning yellow. And my first thought was, "It's fall. I need to get out of here."

You wouldn't have thought that someone raised in the bleak damp cold of Britain would need to live in perpetual summer, would you? But fall always stirs flashes of alarm in the depths of my pysche. I suppose it's something to do with the image of approaching old age that I equate with winter. Or maybe it's just that I hate being cold.

At my signing in Houston the other night one of the audience asked, "Do you have a thing about rain?" and she said that my characters always complain of being cold or wet or both. So I guess I must channel my own feelings into Molly and Georgie.  I grew up in a big drafty house where the wind whistled down the corridors so I do relate to Georgie and Castle Rannoch. And I love sunshine and warmth. Perhaps there was a tad too much of both for the past few days, but I'd rather be hot than cold.

The audience suggested that someone would be doing their PhD thesis some day on the leitmotif of rain in Rhys Bowen's novels. So I wondered how you felt about weather. Does it affect you much? Do you love seasons? Do you even like rain? And what about weather in books? Is it important to you?

I'm off to get ready for my big launch party at Book Passage tonight. I'm bringing French goodies (not naughty ones but different cheeses and a truffle pate as well as madeleines and meringes and of course lots of champagne) I'll get John to take pictures.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rhys reports from the Road

RHYS BOWEN As those of you who Facebook and Twitter will know, I'm on book tour. I didn't like to blog over the 9/11 weekend as I felt weighted with the solemnity of the anniversary.

But I had a great weekend in Dallas including a luncheon with Fresh Fiction and dinner with my fellow Jungle Red Writer Deborah Crombie (who also happens to be one of my favorite people). Oysters, white wine and good conversation. A perfect evening.


Today I'm in Houston, back at the Hotel Zaza--site of last year's encounter with the Afghan tribesman in the bathroom (large photograph of staring tribesman actually). Sorry to disappoint but this year I'm not in the Splendida Suite but an ordinary room, minus Afghan. But there is an eye in my bathroom....


And today I had a real Lady Georgie incident. You know how things sort of happen to her? Well, I was in the window seat on the plane and the flight attendant handed me my orange juice.Only she thought I had a good hold on it when I didn't. And orange juice went everywhere... dripping off my tray, running down my pants and into my seat.I had been reading my Kindle so I kept that held high in the air so it didn't get orange juice in it. It took ages for the hostess to bring me more napkins and I tried to clean up. My pants were light beige linen and surprisingly don't look too bad, except sticky. So I've rinsed them out in hotel bathroom and am hoping for the best. I have a spare outfit but it's not as cool and the temperature is 102.  Why do these things happen to me? I never spill things at home.

Off to Murder by the Book tonight. More tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Busy, Busy....

Did you ever have one of those days when you have so much to do that you don't know where to start?
I have one today, and instead of doing any of those pressing things, I'm writing my blog.

Later today I have friends arriving from England. That means making their bed, cleaning their room and making it look welcoming. Also cleaning my kitchen, making sure my husband hasn't left his papers all over the rest of the house, buying enough food and cooking a meal that can be served cold if their flight gets in late.

At the same time I need to prepare for my book tour which starts on Saturday (if you'd like to attend one of my signings please check my website, http://www.rhysbowen.com/, and if you'd like a signed book, but can't make it to one of the signings, you can call one of those stores in advance and I'll be happy to personalize a book for you.  Everywhere I'm going will be HOT so how does one look cool, calm and collected when the temperature in all the places will be over 100? Not easy. And I'm supposed to post about the upcoming tour on all the right sites.  (On a side note, those of you who followed last year's tour will be intersted to know that I've been put in the same hotel in Houston that had the portrait of an Afghan tribesman in my shower, making me feel I should shower in a burka. I wonder if I'll get the same room... or rather The Splendida Suite as it was called? Stay tuned)

And it's my week to be host at http://www.jungleredwriters.com/ so I've had to make sure my posts will be up and running for the days when I'll be on the road.

And the day I return I'm hosting a launch party at Book Passage in Corte Madera, my local store. Which means planning French food and champagne to be ready. Help. Going a little bit crazy.
Now I know those of you who are working mothers will be sniffing at this and saying, "That's nothing. Stop whining." and you're right. When I had four kids who had to get to morning swim practice by siz a.m. I had four lunches to make at five a.m. Then a day of writing and then in the car from three to six as they did swimming, gymnastics, plays, dance, soccer... you name it. In those days I really was running from dawn to dusk. But I'm out of the habit so this feels like a lot to me.

Those of you who have bought and read Naughty in Nice--thank you. Please make sure you enter my contest...details on the previous post and on my website. And if you liked the book I'd really appreciate your posting a review on Amazon.com. There is one truly terrible review up at the moment and it shows up first!

Okay, back to work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Launch and Contest News

It's here: Naughty in Nice is officially in stores today. Or on your Kindle or Nook or Google Reader. Maybe it won't have reached your library yet, but make sure you request it.

So to celebrate the launch I'm running a contest. Here's the scoop.

Celebration of Naughty in Nice contes.
Prize: A fun French themed basket including a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble.
How do I enter?: Buy the book in any form during the month of September (or check it out from your library). Read it and answer this question..... Who is the man into whose embrace Georgie rushes at the beginning of Chapter 30?
Send your answer to rhysbowen@comcast.net by September 30.

Simple, isn't it? I look forward to your replies and will announce the winner at the beginning of October.
And now for our current contest winner--for the best comment during my month of French fun. It's Liz, who made so many good comments during the month.
Well done, Liz. Please contact me with info on where to send your prize.

And this week I'll be blogging all week at Jungle Red Writers. Please stop by at http://www.jungleredwriters.com/

Monday, September 5, 2011

Final Countdown, Last Day

Here we are, folks. Last day before launch. I'm sitting at my computer, making sure everyone knows that Naughty in Nice will be released tomorrow, then rushing out to buy stuff to stock goodie bags for my signings next week. (events schedule is on my website... which is still a work in progress, BTW)

So here's the last snippet that should entice you to read the whole thing. Enjoy:

I pushed open the door to the restaurant to see several men standing around our table. To my horror I recognized one of them as Inspector Lafite.


“Ah there she is now,” one of the men said.

“Inspector,” I eyed him coldly, “What are you doing here?”

“I have come for you, Lady Georgiana,” he said.

“If you wish to ask me more questions, you can see that this is not a good time or place. I have nothing more to tell you, either on the necklace or on the death of Sir Toby,”

“I do not wish to ask you questions at this moment,” he said. “We will do that at the police station.”

“The police station? I’m not going to any police station at this time of night.”

He took a menacing step toward me. “I insist that you accompany me, mademoiselle. I am arresting you for the murder of Sir Toby Groper.”

I stared him. My mouth was probably open, which I know is not acceptable for a lady. But you must admit it’s not every day that one is accused of murder.

“If you will please step outside, mademoiselle,” Lafite said quietly. “I’m sure you do not want to cause a disturbance and scandal in such a place as this.”

Shock does funny things. I looked at his comical face with its exaggerated mustache and I started to laugh as he took my arm.

Jean-Paul however had leaped to his feet. “Are you mad?” he demanded. “This young lady is the daughter of an English duke. She is related to royalty.”

“Her background is of no consequence,” Lafite said. “Please come with me quietly, mademoiselle, and let us have no unpleasantness. I am sure you would not wish to cause embarrassment to Monsieur le Marquis.”

One of his men took my other arm. I was conscious of faces staring at me as I was led through the restaurant and out to the street where several police motor cars were drawn up.

“Now, mademoiselle. Get in please.” Lafite opened a rear door of one of the cars for me. I was moving mechanically, like a puppet, but Jean-Paul stepped between me and the police vehicle door.

“This is absurd,” Jean-Paul said, his eyes blazing. “You know who I am and I can vouch for her.”

“Forgive me, Marquis. Of course we know who you are. However, we have reason to believe that this young lady is guilty of this terrible crime.”

“What reason?” I demanded.

“I am not at liberty to discuss this here. We will wait until we are in the privacy of the police station. Now please enter the automobile.”

“I’m coming too if you are taking her,” Jean-Paul said. He tried to force his way into the motor car.

“I am afraid that is not possible, Marquis. You must realize this is a very serious matter. You cannot be allowed to interfere with the course of justice.”

“Then I will go immediately to telephone a lawyer friend of mine.” Jean-Paul scowled at him, then touched my arm gently. “You are not obliged to say anything until you have a lawyer present. Do not worry, ma petite. It is all a horrible mistake and we will have you back home in no time at all.”

For the first time I realized the enormity of what was happening to me. “Please go and tell my mother where I am. Madame Chanel and Vera will know what to do.”

“They will be hammering at the police station door like ravening wolves,” Jean-Paul said with a smile. His hand touched my cheek. “Courage, cherie. All will be well.”

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Countdown: Day 6

Only two more days before I go into a store and see my new baby book all shiny on a shelf. It's a thrill that never gets old.

Here is today's snippet from Naughty in Nice, and one, I'm afraid, that shows Georgie can be rather clueless at times--not a good trait for a detective!

On Sir Toby's Yacht in the Med:


“Stop it, please,” I said, grabbing one of his hands.


“A touch of modesty. I can understand that,” he said. “Well, we’ve a good selection of bedrooms. Young ladies often like the pink one. Lovely bouncy bed in there. Come on.” He grabbed my wrist and started to drag me across the saloon, then down a long wood paneled corridor My heart was beating so loudly that I was sure it must have echoed back from those walls.

“Let go of me,” I shouted, as anger overtook fear. “I am not going to bed with you and that is that.”

“Frankly you don’t have much choice, my dear.” He continued to propel me forward.

“When we get back I’ll go to the police and report you for rape.”

He gave a great guffaw of laughter at this. “To the police? For rape? A young girl who begs Sir Toby to take her out on his lovely yacht? Flutters her eyes at him? The police would understand that you got what you were asking for. They are men of the world. Now shut up talking and be a good girl.”

“I want to be a good girl,” I said, “and that doesn’t include making love to a complete stranger.”

“Oh come on. You bright young things…”

“And another thing—I’m not a bright young thing. I’m a—“ I was about to say ‘member of the royal family’. I only swallowed it down at the last second. –“respectable girl from a good family,” I finished lamely. It only made him laugh all the more as he tried to shove me down a steep staircase ahead of him. I turned and kicked him hard on the shin, then pushed past him back onto the deck. Then I ran. I don’t know where I thought I was running to. It was a big yacht, but I couldn’t play catch-me-if-you-can forever, could I?

The breeze had turned into a strong wind and met me full in the face as I came out onto the deck. Also there was now a big swell. I thought about diving off and swimming but the land looked awfully far away. Good swimmer that I was, I didn’t think I could make it. Besides, great storm clouds were now moving in closer. I wondered hopefully if this would make us return to port.

“You can’t escape, you know, you silly girl,” came Sir Toby’s voice after me.

I ran to the other end of the deck and ducked behind a life raft. Then, over the throb of our engine I heard the higher whine of a speed boat. I stepped out and waved desperately as the boat came racing toward us, sending up a sheet of spray. The speed-boat driver waved back and approached the yacht. When he was close enough I saw that it was Jean-Paul de Ronchard.

“Jean-Paul!” I shouted.
He slowed the speedboat to a crawl.
“Help me. I want to get off!” I shouted.
“Come on then. Jump!” he shouted back.
It was a long way down to the water and the boat was rising and falling with the swell of the waves. I hesitated.
“You do know how to swim, don’t you?” Jean-Paul shouted.
“Of course, but…”
“Then jump. I won’t let you drown.” He had cut the motor and bobbed alongside.
“Ah, there you are, you minx,” Sir Toby boomed, coming around the corner toward me.
I took a deep breath, climbed over the railing and jumped.

If you want to know what happens next then reserve your copy of Naughty in Nice at your local bookstores, online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble or at your wonderful local library!
Then read the book, answer a question and enter my contest.
Details coming this weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Countdown Day 5

Tuesday is getting closer and closer and I hope these little snippets of story are convincing you that you need to read Naughty in Nice. I'm not saying "buy" because I know that we can't all afford to buy new books and I think libraries are wonderful resources. What I hope you'll do is read and recommend. Oh, and enter my contest... details coming this weekend.

Here is today's snippet:
flirting is not one of Georgie's major skills, but she is trying it on the dangerous Sir Toby....

“Well, then, miss Georgie, I hope you’ll come down and swim in my pool one day soon. And maybe we could go for a spin on my yacht.”


“Could we really? I adore yachts.” I wasn’t sure if I was overdoing it.

“Then it’s settled,” he said. “Come over and I’ll take you out on the yacht tomorrow. Come any time you like. I’ll have the crew standing by.”

“That’s so kind of you, Sir Toby,” I said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

“Not at all. Delighted to help out. See you tomorrow then.”

I gave myself a pat on the back as I left. I had positively had him eating out of my hand. Now if I could just find out if he had the queen’s snuff box at the villa, it should be an easy enough matter to slip inside and pinch it when I went down for a swim. Suddenly I felt very daring and worldly. I had flirted with a dashing marquis. I had had invitations from two English boys and wangled an invitation from Sir Toby. All in all a good evening. I chose not to remember the not so good parts.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Final Countdown, Day 4

It's getting close...only 4 days until launch Next Tuesday!
And on Monday I'll announce the details of my fun launch contest.

So here is snippet number 4.

Coco Chanel has persuaded Georgie, much against her will, to be a model in her fashion show for the elite expats in Nice. Georgie is sure something will go wrong.....

“And for my piece de resistance I give you the royal look, as modeled by a member of England’s ruling family, Lady Georgiana Rannoch,” Chanel announced.


There was a gasp and then applause. The catwalk stretched into darkness, looking about a mile long. I was conscious of upturned faces, sparkling jewels, champagne glasses. I forced one foot in front of the other, trying to walk as I had been taught. I was going to do this. I had done harder things in my life. I was not going to stumble. Step followed step. I was going to get through it.

Then suddenly it was as if my foot wouldn’t move, as if something was holding it fast to the floor. I felt myself pitching forward, stumbling, trying to right myself. I might have done so but the end of the runway was before me. Flash bulbs went off in my face, blinding me. I vaguely heard gasps of horror as I staggered then pitched forward into blackness

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Countdown, Day 3

Five days to go until Naughty in Nice is born--it's like the end of a pregancy: expectation, can't wait to get it over, just a little worried....

So here is snippet three from my new book. And keep watching for a contest announcement toward the end of the week....

On the Train to the Riviera where Lady Georgie is heading on a dubious errand from Queen Mary:


I looked down the rows of white clothed tables, their silver and china gleaming in the glow of little lamps. From here I couldn’t see a table that wasn’t occupied and wondered what the protocol was about joining someone on a train and whether I could ever pluck up courage to do that.

Of course the first person I noticed was the handsome Frenchman, sitting alone with another bottle of champagne beside him. He looked up from his soup and caught my gaze. He didn’t smile or nod as would have been usual. Instead he frowned at me.

“You are English?” he asked in French.

I replied that I was.

“Curious,” he replied. He was about to say something else when a voice from further down the car called to me, “I say. Aren’t you Georgiana Rannoch?”

It was a smartly dressed English lady, probably in her late forties. She was sitting with an exquisite and obviously French woman. I agreed that I was.

“Would you like to join us?” the first woman said. “It’s rather full at the moment but we have room, don’t we Coco?”

The Frenchwoman nodded and smiled. “Bien sure,” she said, waving a cigarette holder in my direction.

The Englishwoman stuck out a hand. “You look the spitting image of your father. I used to know him well. I’m Vera, by the way. Vera Bate Lombardi, and I believe we’re related, at least through marriage.”

I sat down on the chair she had pulled out for me. She waved imperiously and a waiter appeared. “My lady will be joining us, so set another place and you’d better bring us another bottle of Veuve Cliquot.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to dine with a rather bossy Englishwoman who claimed to be related to me, but it was better than standing like a wallflower.

“I actually stayed at Castle Rannoch when you were little,” she continued, “although I don’t suppose you remember me. We went out riding together once. You were a splendid little horsewoman.”

“Thank you,” I said. “I don’t often get a chance to ride any more and I miss it.”

“So do I,” she said. “I’m in Paris most of the year now, traipsing around behind Coco, and one can hardly get a decent gallop in the Bois de Boulogne..”

“You do not traipse behind me,” Coco said in English. “It makes you sound like a dog on a lead. Since you take bigger strides than I, then I am usually running to keep up with you. But you must introduce us, Vera. This very English young lady will not speak to me unless properly introduced.”

I laughed, but Vera said, “Sorry. Bad of me. Coco, this is Bertie’s daughter, Georgiana Rannoch. And this is my dear friend and business partner, Coco Chanel.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Count Down--Day 2

Only 6 days to go to the release of Naughty in Nice.

Here is snippet number 2--which takes place with the Queen at Buckingham Palace: 

“A valuable snuff box is missing from my collection, Georgiana.”


“Stolen, you mean?”

“I’m rather afraid so.”

“Isn’t that a matter for the police?”

She shook her head firmly. “I can’t mention this to the police. It’s too embarrassing. You see the snuff boxes were on display in one of the niches in the Music room. Two weeks ago we held a large reception there for the New Year honors. Shortly afterward, I noticed one of the boxes was missinGeorgig. So the choice of culprit is either one of the servants, or one of the guests at our reception. I have conducted a secret investigation of the servants, but those who were in attendance that night had all been with us for some time and had impeccable backgrounds. Which leaves only one conclusion—a person who attended that elite gathering made off with one of my snuff boxes

Georgie's task--to retrieve the snuff box from a notorious bounder!
 
Naughty in Nice in stores Sept 6, or order now from Amazon!

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Week Countdown starts Now!

Starting a one week countdown to the launch of Naughty in Nice on Sept 6th with snippets from the book designed to make you rush out and pre-order it, or at least line up at your local bookstore at midnight on the sixth!

And watch out for contest details at the end of the week. I'll be announcing the winner of my comments contest and telling you about the new publication contest both of which will offer fun and French prizes (no, not naughty ones)

So here's snippet number one:

The Riviera had never looked more inviting. The sun sparkled on a sea of deepest blue. Elegant couples strolled beneath the palm trees on the Boulevard des Anglais. The scent of mimosa blossoms hung in the air while a seagull soared lazily overhead…I gave a contented sigh.


“’ere, watch it, love. You’re slopping soup all over.” The gruff voice that brought me back to the present with a jerk. I wrenched my eyes away from the poster on the wall and down to the scene in front of me. A long, gray line of shabbily dressed men, muffled against the bitter cold, snaked across Victoria Station. They clutched mugs or bowls and stood patiently, eyes down or staring, as I had been, into a world that nobody else could see but them. I was currently helping out at the station soup kitchen. It was a bitter and bleak January day, and I felt as cold and miserable as those poor wretches who shuffled past me.