Monday, February 28, 2011


The manuscript for When Maidens Mourn is finished and sitting in my editor's inbox, ready for her to open on Monday morning.

I have a bunch of interviews lined up this week that I'll be posting, but at the moment I am exhausted and in serious need of sleep! Night all.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It’s Cover Time

Someone must have heard me complain about being given only a few days to come up with cover ideas, because this time I actually have ten days advance notice of the looming cover conference for When Maidens Mourn (will I ever get used to that title?). I have a few ideas, most playing off Waterhouse’s Lady of Shalott painting. But the more the merrier, so... Cover suggestions, anyone?

And to get you in the mood, here’s a sneak preview of….

When Maidens Mourn
Chapter One


Tessa Cooper hummed a nervous tune beneath her breath as she pushed through the tangled brush and bracken that edged the black waters of the ancient moat. She was very young—just sixteen at her next birthday. And though she tried to tell herself she was brave, she knew she wasn’t. She could feel her heart pounding in her narrow chest and her hands tingled as if she’d been sitting on them. When she’d left the village, the night sky above had been clear and bright with stars. But here, deep in the wood, all was darkness and shadow. From the murky stagnant water beside her rose an eerie mist, thick and clammy.

It should have wafted cool against her cheek. Instead, she felt as if the heavy dampness were stealing her breath, suffocating her with an unnatural heat and a sick dread of the forbidden. She paused to swipe a shaky hand across her sweaty face and heard a rustling in the distance, the soft plop of something hitting the water.

Choking back a whimper, she spun about, ready to run. But this was Lammas, a time sacred to the ancient goddess. They said that at midnight on this night, if a maiden dipped a cloth into the holy well that lay on the northern edge of the isle of Camlet Moat and then tied her offering to a branch of the rag tree that overhung the well, her prayer would be answered. Not only that, but maybe, just maybe, the White Lady herself would appear, to bless the maid and offer her the wisdom and guidance that a motherless girl like Tessa yearned for with all her being.

No one knew exactly who the White Lady was. Father Clark insisted that if the lady existed at all—which he doubted—she could only be the Virgin Mary. But local legend said the White Lady was one of the Grail Maidens of old, a chaste virgin who’d guarded the sacred well since before the time of Arthur and Guinevere and the knights of the Roundtable. And then there were those who whispered that the lady was actually Guinevere, ever young, ever beautiful, ever glorious.

Forcing herself to go on, Tessa clenched her fist around the strip of white cloth she was bringing as an offering. She could see the prow of the small dinghy kept at the moat by Sir Stanley Winthrop, on whose land she trespassed. Its timbers old and cracked, its aged paint worn and faded, it rocked lightly at the water’s edge as if touched by an unseen current.

It was not empty.

Tessa drew up short. A lady lay crumpled against the stern, her hair a dark cascade of curls around a pale, motionless face. She was young yet and slim, her gown an elegant flowing confection of gossamer muslin sashed with peach satin. She had her head tipped back, her neck arched. Her eyes were open but sightless, her skin waxen.

And from a jagged rent high across her pale breast flowed a rivulet of darkness where her life’s blood had long since drained away.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This Hurts


As many of you no doubt already know, Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week, which is going to be a crushing blow to the already ailing publishing business. Most publishers had already quit shipping new releases to the troubled bookstore chain, which is said to owe $230 million to publishers and distributors. The chain has announced plans to close some 200 of its stores, starting immediately.

I personally have a soft spot for Borders, which is where our Monday night writers group has been meeting for nearly ten years now (except for a brief interlude after the store was walloped by Katrina). There's no denying the chain missed the boat with the ebook revolution, which for example now make up a quarter of my own sales. But a hefty chunk of my paper book sales were through Borders, so having all those boxes left sitting in the warehouse is painful. This isn't just about the chain itself; the fallout will be felt by publishers, distributors, and authors.

Eventually it will all sort itself out, but the transition is going to be traumatic. And I'm selfish enough to hope that MY Borders won't be one of the ones to close.

Now, back to writing... Almost finished!

Update: More bad news. Just heard Borders will be closing both of their New Orleans area stores.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Title Change


It's official: book number seven in the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series in now called When Maidens Mourn (instead of Why Maidens Mourn).

Some found the title difficult to say; others thought it implied that maidens always mourn. Personally, I thought the "why" version tread a little too close to "Why Mermaids Sing." So hopefully this bit of tweaking will help.

I currently have my head down, working frantically to finish this manuscript, which is due 1 March. So you might not hear from me again until then!