Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In Which Boswell Takes Over This Blog for the Evening

An open letter to Trouble the Dog.

Trouble, so now you're a multi-millionaire. But face it, it can get lonely there in the Big Apple. So here's a suggestion for you, from one canine to another:

Come stay with me in Apex, North Carolina.

It's good here in Apex. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, Dad goes out and buys me a sausage biscuit at Biscuitville. (Do they have a Biscuitville in Manhattan? I rather doubt it.) And I'm sure with you in the house Dad would have no trouble at all buying two biscuits, one for me and one for you, seven days a week.

And then there's Mom. Mom spends most of her time staring at a computer screen or with her nose in a book, but she's cool in her own way. She's not the type who has a fit if a guy whizzes on the bushes once in a while. (I mean, sometimes you just have to go. Right?) Mom likes having me sleep with her and Dad at night, and I'm sure it wouldn't be any trouble (ha ha) to accommodate you as well. Heck, we'd probably buy a king-size bed so everyone would be comfy. And she's pretty reliable about handing out treats at night after my last walk.

So you're wondering, what's it like in Apex? Well, let me tell you, Apex is a great place for a dog. Oh, sure, it's a bit hot here in summer, but it can get pretty hot in New York too, you know. And we don't get the really cold weather that you guys up north get, so you don't have to worry about taking walks when it's bitterly cold. (Dog to dog now, don't you get tired of wearing those sweaters in February? Be honest.) Oh, and there's a dog park in nearby Cary where we can mingle with our own kind (a pass is required, but I think you can afford it).

Now, it's true that New York has some things that Apex doesn't have, like theater, opera, ballet, and art galleries, but let's get real. We're dogs. We don't need all of that high culture--we've got rear ends to sniff.

Yup, I think it's a real dog's life in Apex, North Carolina. And I'm positive that once you've given it a try, you'll agree. So just have your trustees drop Mom an e-mail. She'll be checking daily.

Your new friend,


Talking 'Bout Those Tudors

A while back, I did an article for the Historical Novel Society's Solander magazine on the Laurien Gardner series of novels about Henry VIII's wives. (To date, three have been published.) I've been given permission to reprint the article on my website, so take a look here.

Speaking of the Tudors, after a prolonged absence during which I began to experience severe withdrawal symptoms (such as trying to arrange all of my belongings by the Library of Congress cataloging system and date-stamping my children), I finally made it back to my favorite university library last weekend. I picked up some interesting books, including S. B. Chrimes' biography of Henry VII (with the dazzlingly apt title of Henry VII). I haven't the chance to read it straight through, but have been flipping through it at random, and I'm finding it fascinating. Most historical fiction, if it depicts Henry at all, tends to focus on his avarice, so it's interesting to learn about the other aspects of his character. I'll be adding a copy of this one to my already overcrowded shelves.

And speaking of Henrys, I'm making this a Henry month, as Ian Mortimer's The Fears of Henry IV is on the way!

Monday, August 27, 2007

What Did Buckingham Want to Say?

We know that before his execution, Henry Stafford, Richard III's ally suddenly turned rebel, asked for an audience with Richard, but was denied. Sadly, we now have no idea of what Buckingham meant to say. So what was it? Here are a few possibilities:

Sorry sorry sorry!

You know, don't you think we should just chalk this one up to experience?

I know this looks bad, but I can explain everything.

I just wanted to express my high sense of esteem for you. I don't think I've ever had the chance to do so.

I've still got lots of great ideas in my head. Let's do supper, shall we?

Just kidding!

Shouldn't you sleep on this?

I know I shouldn't speak ill of a lady, but it's really that Margaret Beaufort dame whose head you should be going after.

Remember how much fun we had stealing the crown? Doesn't that count for anything?

If you spare my life, I'll dish some real dirt about my wife's sister Elizabeth Woodville.

Remember, if you kill me, someday some guy will write me a speech in which I get to talk about it being All Souls' Day and act very repentant and noble, and you'll just be yelling for a horse.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Special Guest Post

I'm pleased to have Nan Hawthorne doing a guest post tonight. Check out her Blue Lady Tavern blog and her Novels Set in Dark Ages and Medieval England blog.

How to Become a Fictional Character... In Just Minutes a Day!

By Nan Hawthorne

Monday I am a Seattle police detective who can turn into a lioness whenever she wants.

Tuesday I am the son of the King of a Saxon kingdom in the late 8th century who is engaged to marry the daughter of a scientist currently drifting without rescue in the emptiness of space while his family mourns him on a moon of Saturn.

Wednesday I am the ghost of a Roman woman whose life was only a little less dramatic than her afterlife.

Thursday I am a street kid searching for food in the middens piles in 10th century Winchester along with his stray puppy he named Brother.

Friday I am an embittered charter member of the Irish Republican Army who has been receiving letters from his ancestors who died in the Great Potato Famine.

Saturday I write stories about Raven, the Northwest Indian trickster god.

I take Sunday off to write my blog.

This is all possible because of an engaging Yahoogroup called Ghostletters. With Ghostletters you must write as either a historical or fiction character, the latter either being original or drawn from literature, movies, television, comics, you name it. You must stay in character. You can write stories about your character, and you can have one or many. The only things you cannot do is post as yourself or as a character already reserved by another member.

The result? A bisexual vampire corresponds with a former member of a shapeshifter mob. The Vice President of Hell shares memories with a blue demon named Pniff. Sam Malone throws a ghost story party at Cheers and has among his guests a Scottish immortal, an Irish bard from the 8th century, a supervillain called Serious Man, a street smart African American middle schooler, a quantum physicist, and many others. Sam Clemens throws in an astute and witty comment now and then. His contemporary P T Barnum, currently deceased, talks about the Greatest Show in Hell he is planning to travel with. A time traveling lute player puzzles over where – and when -- he has landed this time. A DC detective hunts for a spider-like monster terrorizing the capital. Three bright private high school students share the angst ridden adventures of adolescence. Need I go on?

Ghostletters is, as I said, a Yahoogroup. You join by visiting Most people join and read all the witty exchanges an d storytelling, others jump right in keyboarding fingers first, introducing themselves or jumping into conversations between cats and bottle imps and superheroes and sexy Breton mercenaries and medieval ladies in waiting and you can just guess.

The beauty of Ghostletters is that as a creative writing group it is engaging and fun. You participate just as much or as little as you wish. You get to try out and develop characters as you decide – or find out – how they react to given situations. You never know what you will find, what will happen, who will drop your character a note.

Check it out! If you have questions write to Master Timothy Bernersley ( You can also visit the Ghostletters wiki at

Monday, August 20, 2007

Between a Bride and a Highlander (Warning: Back Patting Here)

As you Amazon US denizens may have noticed, pulling up a listing on Amazon will now indicate if a book is on a "Top 100" list in various genres. One of the lists is for historical romance, a category that apparently isn't to be taken too literally, since some non-romances, like The Other Boleyn Girl and The Traitor's Wife, also appear on there.

Yup, that's right, The Traitor's Wife is #77 out of the list of 100 as of this posting (it fluctuates hourly). (Philippa Gregory is rather higher on the list.) My own novel has been going on and off the list according to its Amazon ranking over the past few days, but it's fun to see it when it hops back on. Currently, it's sitting snugly between Secondhand Bride and The Immortal Highlander.

Just thought you had to know (and frankly, it is grin-inducing on a Monday for a self-pubbed author to be on the same list as 99 traditionally published ones).

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Keyword Searches of the Month

Here are a few phrases people recently Googled to arrive at my website:

where do i train in ireland to become an embalmer

I don't know, but I hope you found something good to read between classes!


Well, that one could be narrowed down a bit . . .

anne neville naked

Shame on you! What would Richard III say?

gilbert de clare property which is said to have been the biggest in england.

Well, after that last one, I hope the searcher was referring to a castle.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Reign of Edward II as Told by the King

(King Elvis, of course)

"This Is The Story"

"Your Life Has Just Begun"

"Can't Help Falling in Love"

"He Is My Everything"

"From A Jack To A King"

"Hey Little Girl"

"The Girl I Never Loved"

"He'll Have To Go"

"Don't Be Cruel"

"Without Him"

"Every Effort has Been Made"

"My Boy"

"I Need Somebody To Lean On"

"I Can Help"

"He Knows Just What I Need"

"Woman Without Love"

"What She's Really Like"

"Mean Woman Blues"

"My Baby Left Me"

"When It Rains It Really Pours"

"That's What You Get For Loving Me"

"I Want To Be Free"

"Out Of Sight Out Of Mind"

"Fire Down Below"

"There Goes My Everything"


"Write To Me From Naples"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Musical Title Talk

A while back on this blog, I reviewed a historical novel by Juliet Waldron called Mozart's Wife. Not terribly long after that, I reviewed a novel for the Historical Novels Review by Nancy Moser called Mozart's Sister. And on my pile of books to be reviewed is another for the HNR, again called Mozart's Sister, this one by Rita Charbonnier.

So if you're writing a novel called Mozart's Mother, Mozart's Aunt, Mozart's Niece, or Mozart's Mother-in-Law, you may want to have your publicist send me a copy, as I'm clearly on a roll.

Speaking of titles, are there titles that, through no fault of the poor author or publisher, just repel you? I'm that way with titles with the word "Song" in them, as in Susan's Song or Song of Apex. I have a book to review with such a title. It looks like a perfectly good book, and the title makes sense in the context of the story, but it's not one I would pick up in a bookstore if I were browsing because I've always found such titles irritating for some inexplicable reason. Maybe it's because when I was a teenager it seemed as if every other tearjerker made-for-TV-movie had such a title. Pure prejudice on my part, I know. Are there titles that just rub you the wrong way?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Friday Night Follies

As this is the first night in several days that I've been able to sit at the computer without sweating miserably (it's been HOT here), I thought I'd edify you Tudor fans with the following:

Now for Anne Boleyn courtesy of Simpsonize Me:

I tried to do Richard III for the Yorkists among you, but he didn't work out very well, I'm afraid:

At least there's no hump!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Multiples

Booking Through Thursday

Do you have multiple copies of any of your books?
If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read?
If not, why not? Not enough space? Not enough money? Too sensible to do something so foolish?

I have multiple copies of a few Dickens books, because in addition to modern paperback editions, I also have some early editions and some specially illustrated editions. I've also bought different modern editions of the same book so I could see different introductions and different end notes. In short, if you ever want to come to a party where the main activity consists of reading Bleak House, I'll be your hostess with the mostest!

I also have multiple copies of a few historical novels, mainly because I have a weakness for tacky cover art and saw a cover I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Now, gods, stand up for serpents!

As Sarah points out in her blog, January 2008 is going to be a big month for serpents:

Suzanne Arruda, The Serpent's Daughter
Bernard du Boucheron, The Voyage of the Short Serpent
Ariana Franklin, The Serpent's Tale

This reminded me of my earlier post about the heavy representation of bastards in historical fiction. So (as it's 86 degrees at 11:15 p.m., down from 103 degrees this afternoon, and my brain is fried), why not change serpents to bastards?

The Bastard's Daughter
The Voyage of the Short Bastard
The Bastard's Tale

Eager for some more (courtesy again of Sarah and Library Thing)?

Boudica Four: Dreaming the Bastard Spear
A Dream of Fair Bastards
Feathered Bastard
The Jewelled Bastard
Madame Bastard
The Poisoned Bastard
Bastard and Storm
The Bastard and the Moon
The Bastard Dreamer
The Bastard Garden
The Bastard in the Garden
The Bastard on the Crown
The Bastards of Harbledown
The Bastard's Tooth
The Subtle Bastard
Twilight Rising, Bastard's Dream

Alas, my own Library Thing shelf shows that my library is completely lacking in serpents. I do, however, own a copy of Bastard King. Which may prove something, but I probably won't be able to figure it out until the temperature drops another ten degrees.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Jane Kirkpatrick.'s A Tendering in the Storm

I've been given a copy of Jane Kirkpatrick's A Tendering in the Storm to review, but sadly, a couple of deadlines are looming this week, so it's still in the RMS (Read Me, Stupid) pile. In the meantime, as Jane Kirkpatrick is doing a blog tour this week (you can see a two-part interview with her by Sarah beginning here), here's a summary of her novel:

Based on a true story, this lyrical novel gives voice to a mother’s fears for her family and a woman’s search for her truest self.

In the second book of the Change and Cherish series from best-selling author Jane Kirkpatrick, strong-willed Emma Giesy and her husband branch off from a close-knit and repressive German religious community of the 1850s to work and live independently in the remote coastal forest of the Washington Territory.

But when Emma suddenly finds herself alone and pregnant with her third child, this desperate mother makes a series of poor choices, hoping to ensure her family’s survival. She eventually finds herself entangled in grave circumstances, having fueled the fires of devastation with her own loss and disappointment. Can she rescue her family’s future from the embers of her actions?

Wondering if an angry God has abandoned her to the consequences of her willfulness, Emma must come to terms with her own vulnerability. As clouds of despair close in, she faces the difficult question of whether to continue in her own waning strength or to humble herself and accept help from the very people she once so eagerly left behind.

Jane Kirkpatrick is the best-selling author of two nonfiction books and twelve historical novels, including A Clearing in the Wild and the acclaimed Kinship and Courage series. Her award-winning essays and articles have appeared in more than fifty publications, including Daily Guideposts and Decision. A winner of the coveted Western Heritage Wrangler Award, Jane is a licensed clinical social worker as well as an internationally recognized speaker and inspirational retreat leader. She and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 acres in eastern Oregon.

I'll be a better blogger soon, I promise!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Peculiar Hazards of Shakespeare in the Park

From the Associated Press:

Ohio Cops Embarrassed After Raiding Shakespearean Swordfight

Thursday, August 02, 2007

KETTERING, Ohio — Romeo slays Tybalt for killing his friend, Mercutio.

Ah, Shakespeare.

Police in this Dayton suburb responded to a report of a swordfight in a public park Tuesday night. They found actors rehearsing a scene from "Romeo and Juliet."

"Nobody was hurt, except for us from laughing so hard once we figured out why the police, an ambulance and a fire truck pulled up with sirens flashing," said Dawn Roth-Smith, co-directer of the outdoor production by Playhouse South that opens Saturday.

"Somebody driving by must have seen our rehearsal but missed the big green sign we have up for our play," Roth-Smith said. "I apologized to the officer for bringing them out for no reason. He told me I should tell my actors they're doing a great job."

Beware reports of witches in the park when the same group rehearses "Macbeth" next summer.

Imagine what would have happened if they'd been rehearsing the red-hot-poker scene from Marlowe's Edward the Second!

Thursday Talk

I checked in at Booking Through Thursday today, where the question was whether one had ever written a fan letter to an author. Great question, but as my answer consists of an utterly boring "No," I'll just post my answer there.

Nan Hawthorne has posted a bunch of mini-reviews on her blog, Novels Set in Dark Ages and Medieval England. Some of them look quite interesting, but I think I'll take Nan's cue and pass on the one that featured a chastity belt.

There's a couple of reviews here of a book that I know rather well. Thanks, Telynor and Carla!

And a few posts ago, I wondered whether there were historical novels where a male character, facing death, set down the story of his life. Well, lo and behold, I soon learned of a brand new novel, The Confession of Piers Gaveston by Brandy Purdy, which takes that very approach. I finished it yesterday (it's a fast read) and enjoyed it thoroughly. Gaveston's a lively, sympathetic narrator, and I especially enjoyed the role the Earl of Pembroke plays in the novel. So check it out!