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1. Books with Bundles: Holiday Gift Giving

Books make the best gifts! And they are even better when bundled with toys.

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2. The life of culture

Does culture really have a life of its own? Are cultural trends, fashions, ideas, and norms like organisms, evolving and weaving our minds and bodies into an ecological web? You hear a pop song a few times and suddenly find yourself humming the tune. You unthinkingly adopt the vocabulary and turns of phrase of your circle of friends.

The post The life of culture appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Prize: Finlandia Prize

       They've announced that Oneiron, by Laura Lindstedt, has won the Finlandia Prize, the biggest Finnish literary prize; see, for example, the Yle report, Author Lindstedt slams government after Finlandia win.
       The winning title sounds intriguing both in premise -- "Seven women, each from a different country and unfamiliar to one another, come together in a white, undefined space just seconds after their respective deaths" -- and execution; for more information on the author and the book see the Elina Ahlback Literary Agency information page, and the (Finnish) Teos publicity page.
       Definitely something for US/UK publishers to consider, from the sounds of it; apparently so far only Hungarian rights have been sold.

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4. GIVEAWAY DAY #3: FYI - We Have No Connection Whatsoever with Elf on the Shelf!

This is day three of the Kindle giveaway of Tizzy's story, Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf. Here's the Magic Link:

Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, Santa's Izzy Elves #1
  It suddenly occurred to us Izzy Elves, however, that some of you might think this book has something to do with the Elf on the Shelf stuff.

We hasten to assure you that it does not. Yes, there are some shelves involved. Tizzy story is about how he was packed away inside a bookcase by mistake (by Whizzy, as it turns out) and ended up stranded in the living room of two naughty little boys. (They have to figure out how to help him get home to the Pole by using the power of their own imaginations.)

However, we would like to assure you that Tizzy and the rest other of us Izzy Elves would never SPY on any children and rat them out to Santa Claus!

In fact, in the original version of Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf, Bizzy talks about this (and obviously disappoves of it):

I’ve heard that some other elves spy on bad kids
But that’s way too creepy—that Santa forbids!

In the interest of Full Disclosure, we must tell you that Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) wrote Tizzy's story down many years ago, she did, in fact, call it The Elf on the Shelf.  By the time it was published, however, she found that someone else had used that title.  To avoid confusion, she re-named it Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf.

Therefore, a few people might be disappointed when they read this because nobody is a spy, but most are delighted!

And now you can find out what your reaction would be for free!

Here's the Magic Link again:

Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, Santa's Izzy Elves #1

Santa's Izzy Elves

 Whizzy         Bizzy
 Dizzy            Tizzy

 Blizzy            Fizzy
 Frizzy            Quizzy

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5. Books make great gifts (WolfSinger Publications sale)

WolfSinger Publications is offering a 25% discount on our titles for the Holidays.

Visit http://wolfsingerpubs.com/HappyHolidays.html for more information on our 25% Holiday discount.

From now through the end of December you can save 25% off WolfSinger titles ordered through CreateSpace (print) or Smashwords (ebook)

Remember Books make great gifts!!!

Feel free to share with anyone who might be interested.

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6. Kate McGovern, author of RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES, on learning how to structure a book

We're thrilled to have Kate McGovern with us to share more about her debut novel RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES.

Kate, what was your inspiration for writing RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES?

I came across a news article in 2007 about a young woman who was wrestling with the same decision as Rose--should she get tested for Huntington's or not. Her family didn't want her to take the test. Ultimately she did get tested, and learned that she had the mutation. I was really moved by the way she articulated how that knowledge affected her life choices, her aspirations for her future. It stuck with me, and almost six years later I started writing RULES.

How long did you work on RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES?

I started writing the draft in 2012, but I only wrote the very first page, and then I put it down for a year. When I picked it back up, I wrote the first draft in about 6 months. I revised for a few months after that, and then signed with my agent. We sold the book about 14 months after I started writing it in earnest. But like I said, I'd been percolating on the subject matter for almost six years before I even wrote down a word.

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7. Pop-up Art Shop

Back from the printer
with my first tiny print run 
of sight word cards. 

 Tomorrow, it's this:
And after that, I'll get the Etsy shop oiled up and rolling. 

 Gorgeous books about creative learners:
I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann 
The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

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8. Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye by Samantha Seiple

Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye  by Samantha Seiple Scholastic Press. 2015 ISBN: 9780545708975 I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. Grades 6-12 This review reflects my opinion and not that of the Cybils YA Nonfiction Committee Over the centuries, immigrants have enriched our (American) culture and Allan Pinkerton was no exception.

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9. ‘Lost Property’ by Аsa Lucander

When you lose something dear to your heart, there is only one place it can be found: The Lost Property office.

The post ‘Lost Property’ by Аsa Lucander appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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10. भेडचाल

भेडचाल हम और हमारी भेड चाल यह जानते हुए थी कि ये रास्ता कही नही जाता….  पिछ्ले दिनों दिल्ली से लौटते वक्त, नेशनल हाई वे पर, बहुत सारी भेडें सडक इस तरह से घेर कर चल रही थीं मानों हाई वे न होकर किसी खेत की पगंडडी हो इसलिए कार की रफ्तार बेहद धीमी करनी […]

The post भेडचाल appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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11. Women onstage and offstage in Elizabethan England

Though a Queen ruled England, gender equality certainly wasn't found in Elizabethan society. Everything from dress to employment followed strict gender roles, and yet there was a certain amount of room for play. There are several cases of (in)famous women who dressed as men and crossed the bounds of "acceptable behavior."

The post Women onstage and offstage in Elizabethan England appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Prize: DSC Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title strong shortlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (in London, of course, because ...).
       It includes one novel in translation, K.R.Meera's Hangwoman, translated from the Malayalam by J.Devika; see the Penguin India publicity page.

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13. NY Times 100 Notable Books

       The New York Times has announced its 100 Notable Books of 2015
       After a mere three titles in translation in 2013 and eight last year they impressively managed to include what appears to be fourteen this time around.

       Last year I had reviewed five of the titles by the time the list was published, this year it's ... six:

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14. My tweets

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15. Review of the Day: The Red Hat by David Teague

51xONVs2CGLThe Red Hat
By David Teague
Illustrated by Antoinette Portis
Disney Hyperion (an imprint of Disney Book Group)
ISBN: 9781423134114
Ages 4-7
On shelves December 8th

There is a story out there, and I don’t know if it is true, that the great children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore had such a low opinion of children’s books that involved “gimmicks” (read: interactive elements of any sort) that upon encountering them she’d dismiss each and every one with a single word: Truck. If it was seen as below contempt, it was “truck”. Pat the Bunny, for example, was not to her taste, but it did usher in a new era of children’s literature. Books that, to this day, utilize different tricks to engage the interest of child readers. In the best of cases the art and the text of a picture book are supposed to be of the highest possible caliber. To paraphrase Walter de la Mare, only the rarest kind of best is good enough for our kids, yes? That said, not all picture books have to attempt to be works of great, grand literature and artistic merit. There are funny books and silly ones that do just as well. Take it a step even farther, and I’d say that the interactive elements that so horrified Ms. Moore back in the day have great potential to aid in storytelling. Though she would be (rightly) disgusted by books like Rainbow Fish that entice children through methods cheap and deeply unappealing, I fancy The Red Hat would have given her pause. After considering the book seriously, a person can’t dismiss it merely because it tends towards the shiny. Lovingly written and elegantly drawn, Teague and Portis flirt with transparent spot gloss, but it’s their storytelling and artistic choices that will keep their young readers riveted.

With a name like Billy Hightower, it’s little wonder that the boy in question lives “atop the world’s tallest building”. It’s a beautiful view, but a lonely one, so when a construction crew one day builds a tower across the way, the appearance of a girl in a red hat intrigues Billy. Desperate to connect with her, he attempts various methods of communication, only to be stumped by the wind at every turn. Shouting fails. Paper airplanes plummet. A kite dances just out of reach. Then Billy tries the boldest method of reaching the girl possible, only to find that he himself is snatched from her grasp. Fortunately a soft landing and a good old-fashioned elevator trump the wind at last. Curlicues of spot gloss evoke the whirly-twirly wind and all its tricksy ways.

Great Moments of Spot Gloss in Picture Book History: Um . . . hm. That’s a stumper. I’m not saying it’s never happened. I’m just saying that when I myself try to conjure up a book, any book, that’s ever used it to proper effect, I pull up a blank. Now what do I mean exactly when I say this book is using this kind of “gloss”? Well, it’s a subtle layer of shininess. Not glittery, or anything so tawdry as that. From cover to interior spreads, these spirals of gloss evoke the invisible wind. They’re lovely but clearly mischievous, tossing messages and teasing the ties of a hat. Look at the book a couple times and you notice that the only part of the book that does not contain this shiny wind is the final two-page image of our heroes. They’re outdoors but the wind has been defeated in the face of Billy’s persistence. If you feel a peace looking at the two kids eyeing one another, it may have less to do with what you see than what you don’t.

Naturally Antoinette Portis is to be credited here, though I don’t know if the idea of using the spot gloss necessarily originated with her. It is possible that the book’s editor tossed Portis the manuscript with the clear understanding that gloss would be the name of the game. That said, I felt like the illustrator was given a great deal of room to grow with this book. I remember back in the day when her books Not a Box and Not a Stick were the height of 32-page minimalism. She has such a strong sense of design, but even when she was doing books like Wait and the rather gloriously titled Princess Super Kitty her color scheme was standard. In The Red Hat all you have to look at are great swath of blue, the black and white of the characters, an occasional jab of gray, and the moments when red makes an appearance. There is always a little jolt of red (around Billy’s neck, on a street light, from a carpet, etc). It’s the red coupled with that blue that really makes the book pop. By all rights a red, white, and blue cover should strike you on some level as patriotic. Not the case here.

Not that the book is without flaw. For the most part I enjoyed the pacing of the story. I loved the fairytale element of Billy tossed high into the sky by a jealous wind. I loved the color scheme, the gloss, and the characters. What I did not love was a moment near the end of the book where pertinent text is completely obscured by its placement on the art. Billy has flown and landed from the sky. He’s on the ground below, the wind buffeting him like made. He enters the girl’s building and takes the elevator up. The story says, “At the elevator, he punched UP, and he knocked at the first door on the top floor.” We see him extending his hand to the girl, her hat clutched in the other. Then you turn the page and it just says, “The Beginning.” Wait, what? I had to go back and really check before I realized that there was a whole slew of text and dialogue hidden at the bottom of that previous spread. Against a speckled gray and white floor the black text is expertly camouflaged. I know that some designers cringe at the thought of suddenly interjecting a white text box around a selection of writing, but in this particular case I’m afraid it was almost a necessity. Either than or toning down the speckles to the lightest of light grays.

Aside from that, it’s sublime. A sweet story of friendship (possibly leading to more someday) from the top of the world. Do we really believe that Billy lives on the top of the highest building in the world? Billy apparently does, and that’s good enough for us. But even the tallest building can find its match. And even the loneliest of kids can, through sheer pig-headed persistence, make their voices heard. A windy, shiny book without a hint of bluster.

On shelves December 8th.

Source: F&G sent from publisher for review.

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16. Connecting Ideas

One thing that has become clear here at the University of Edinburgh College of Art is that nothing goes to waste. And I don't just mean things - I also mean ideas.
     Recently, we were assigned a project based on a field trip to a local museum - the Talbot Rice Gallery, Dovecot gallery and studio, and artist Luc Tuymans. I wasn't able to attend because I had a one-on-one with one of our visiting speaker/illustrators at the time, but I had recently been to the Museum of Modern Art II with my book binding class, so I went with that.
     We were to create a piece of art based on what we saw and how it influenced us. But we didn't have much time to do it (as in, I had about an hour first thing Friday morning). We're in the middle of a term paper deadline and the final semester review is looming, so this was to just be a quick and fun thing.
     And here's where my entire semester tied together.
     At the museum, they took us back into the archives where I saw Le Chants des Morts (The Songs of the Dead) - a book of poems by Pierre Reverdy, illustrated with marks made by Pablo Picasso. (CLICK HERE to see what it looked like.)
      I loved the idea of these simple abstract shapes framing the lovely words. So, I thought I'd do something similar. But how? I didn't have time to buy any new art supplies because the art store wasn't open yet. I had to punt. Then I remembered the project we did at the beginning of the semester. It was a performance art project where several of us painted symbols of our new home into a silhouette of Edinburgh caste all over an enormous piece of paper taped to a wall. We ended up with an enormous scribble of blue paper, which we were planning to throw away. Until I had the idea to make a cat and tape it to the window next to my desk. It's about five feet tall and looks amazing with the light coming through it.

We also had a lot of blue paint leftover. Score! I knew where the big brushes were kept since we'd used them for the performance piece as well. Score again.
     I made blue marks onto some bumpy watercolor paper I keep around then scrubbed the paint to get rid of any globs so that they'd dry quickly. In the process I ended up with some lovely textures marks (it was an old crusty paintbrush - gotta love it). Fellow student Michal saw what I was doing and said, "Hey, it's an 'e' for Elizabeth!" So, I flipped it over - no more "e." Ha! Fixed that!
     For the poem, I used the India Ink teacher Kasia has been having us use in our figure drawing class. I've loved making shapes with the ink and a simple paintbrush. Turns out it made for nice text too.
     I chose one of my favorite quotes by Steven Wright about his enormous seashell collection because I'll be using it in my TEDx talk, which I'll be giving in February (more on that later).
     In the end, all these ideas, experiences, and supplies came together and I made this.

     Surprisingly, I actually love the way it turned out! During our feedback session someone suggested I do a series of them. I figured it would be a wonderful way for me to get down into the screen printing studio, so I've done it! More on that soon. Meanwhile, who knew!? I'm suddenly an abstraction artist!
     Gads, I love it here.

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17. First School Visit

Your first school visit can be nerve-wracking, but a little preparation goes a long way.


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18. Spotlight and Giveaway: One Rogue at a Time by Jade Lee

The second in Jade Lee’s saucy Rakes and Rogues series, One Rogue at a Time, comes out this December! To celebrate, Jade played a quick round of ‘Would You Rather?’ with us and sent an excerpt from the book to share.

Would you rather never be able to speak again or only be able to speak in pig Latin? Never speak again. I’ve never managed pig Latin even though I’m counted quite clever at times. Plus, I mostly write and text these days anyway. It would be easy to adapt to an electronics-enhanced life that speaks for me. (Or is that cheating?)

In this excerpt our heroine (nicknamed Bluebell) is angling for our hero to take her to London where she can meet her father for the first time. She’s bargained for speaking lessons, and now she’s bartering for a ride to London. But she isn’t prepared for the price he demands.

“You want me to take you to Oxfordshire and then on to London,” Bram accused. “You want me to dress up this fine carriage and let you appear before your relations like a fine lady. You’ve been planning that from the moment you met me.”

“Ooo, an’ me a simple maid from ’Ull. Wot makes ye think I could muster all that?” She exaggerated her accent such that his back molars ground together in disgust.

“Admit it. That’s what you want.”

She lifted her chin. “And what if I do? You’re free t’ say no.”


“There. Fine. Ye’ve said it. But I can pay—”

He grabbed her chin, pulling it—and her—toward him. Part of him thrilled at finally touching her pristine skin. Part of him watched how her eyes widened and the pupils darkened, her mouth slipping open on a gasp. Was she afraid of him? Yes. Obviously. And he tried to care. He tried to tell himself that he didn’t want to punish her for crimes she hadn’t committed. But she was a schemer just like the others, and so he damned her all the same.

“I will take you to London,” he said, his voice low, his breath hot.

She didn’t answer, and he didn’t care.

“But there’s only one payment I’ll take.”

“No,” she whispered. “I’m a lady.”

“Say it all you like, Miss Bluebell, but I know the truth.”

She swallowed, trying to pull herself back, but she was still sitting on the barrel, so she had nowhere to run. She stilled and her eyes narrowed.

“Wot truth? That I want to go to London? That I want proof o’ my father? Or that you’re nothing but a man with ruttin—”

He kissed her. He wasn’t slow, and he wasn’t remotely gentle. And the fact that she was completely untutored in the way of kissing infuriated him even more. She was a lie. She deserved all the pain he could give her. She was…

She was an innocent, and he had to soften. He had to become gentle with her, and so he did. He didn’t want to, contradictory beast that he was. He liked his anger. Stoked it to a hot flame, but not against her.

So he softened. He gentled.

Where before he had simply wrenched her mouth to his, he now petted her chin. And though he had forced his tongue into her, he eased his penetration. He teased her and then pulled back.

“You are a lie,” he said to her panting chest.

“You are a brute,” she answered, anger vibrating out of her.

“Yes, and worse. I’m a bastard.”

“You’re not even ashamed.”

Oh, he was. He was riddled with shame, but he wouldn’t let her see it. She had to know the truth about him before she tried to play her games. “I’ll take you wherever you want to go, Miss Bluebell. But I’ll be taking you as I do it.”

He felt the impact of his words on her body. She shuddered, but she also licked her lips. Part of her wanted him, brute though he was.

“I am a lady.”

“Ladies spread their legs for me all the time.”

“Not me.”

“Then I’ll not take you anywhere.”

He felt her accept the truth of his words. Her body bowed, and her shoulders drooped. But when she spoke, her voice was strong with conviction.

“I don’t need you to take me. I’ve coin eno’. The mail coach goes to Oxfordshire and London.”

“You’ll be prey to every bloke who sees you.”

She finally jerked her chin away from the stroke of his fingers. “’At’s been true since I first started filling out a dress.” And then before he could anticipate her move, before it even registered that he was in danger, she lifted her knee.

How she’d maneuvered it so perfectly, he didn’t know. But one moment he was hard as a rock, still thinking of ways he could make her willing. The next there was a blinding flash of white-hot pain, and he was crumpled onto the ground.

He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. He just knew pain. And one word:


Title: One Rogue at a Time

Author: Jade Lee

Series: Rakes and Rogues, #2

Pubdate: December 1st, 2015

ISBN: 9781492605027

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…

A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose

As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.

Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide

Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been crafting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ballgowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of reader awards, she brings laughter into the sexy nights of England’s elite. Quirky characters and sexy banter are her hallmarks. Find out more at her website www.JadeLeeAuthor.com, or check out her wild contemporary half at www.KathyLyons.com.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1YfzuQt

Apple: http://apple.co/1W51eGq

BAM: http://bit.ly/1SBnt3Q

B&N: http://bit.ly/1Meqntw

Chapters: http://bit.ly/1Qt8yLv

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1YfzAYf

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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19. Best sale of the year! Black Friday Sale at Phyllis Harris Designs!

Hi Friends,

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving( for those of you who celebrated in the US).

I know you are all busy, busy...so I will keep this short and sweet. :) This sale will be offered through Cyber Monday, November 30, 2015.

Here  we go! Let the Christmas shopping begin!

You my friends, are the reason for the joy and success of
Phyllis Harris Designs and I cherish you and your support.  I so appreciate you sharing our website with your friends and family; and I wish you all a blessed Christmas season!


Gifts that give back

Phyllis Harris Designs & You – Giving the gift of love and healing
Every purchase of a heart-warming Phyllis Harris Designs illustration print donates 5 percent of every illustration print sold from our website to Children's Mercy Hospital.  

Be sure and follow my social media networks to keep up with all that is going on. Here are the links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhyllisHarrisDesigns
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhyllisHarris
Instagram: http://instagram.com/phyllisharrisdesigns
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/phyllisha/

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20. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 30 - 11.27.15

0 Comments on Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 30 - 11.27.15 as of 11/28/2015 8:31:00 AM
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21. #782 – The Runaway Santa by Anne Margaret Lewis & Aaron Zenz

The Runaway Santa: A Christmas Adventure Story Written by Anne Margaret Lewis Illustrated by Aaron Zenz Sky Pony Press     11/03/2015 978-1-63450-589-1 32 pages     Ages 3—6 “Once there was a jolly Santa who wanted to leave the North Pole on an adventure before Christmas! Mrs. Claus, ever watchful of her sweet Mr. …

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22. Analysing what Shakespeare has to say about gender

Humans are very good at reading from start to finish and collecting lots of information to understand the aggregated story a text tells, but they are very bad at keeping track of the details of language in use across many texts.

The post Analysing what Shakespeare has to say about gender appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. The Fifth Dimension review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Martin Vopěnka's The Fifth Dimension, just out from intrepid Barbican Press.

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24. Setting the Story by Margot Justes Redux

I write romantic mysteries for a niche market, my stories deal with art, travel, a bit of mayhem and romance. I might preface that with-I love art and I love to travel-and have been fortunate to be able to do so. The old adage write what you know and love is true.  

When I started writing, I knew my novel would be set in Paris. In my youth, I lived there for a year, and have since gone back a few times. It stood to reason that my first romance should be set there. I’m familiar with the city, and over the years from my perspective, little has changed in the City of Light. The Louvre now has Pei’s Pyramid at the entrance, a few buildings have been added, but the age old charm, the cobblestones, the meandering streets, the essence and soul are still very much there.

The first time I visited Bath, England, many years ago, I said I must come back, and I did. My second book is set there. My third hotel book, is set in magical and mysterious Venice. All three cities are unique and romantic places.

My heroine is an artist, and through her eyes, I introduce my readers to my favorite artists, allow her to live in exciting places, give her mysteries to solve, and someone to love. The best of all worlds.

For me it is essential to visit the place I write about, get a sense of the culture, the everyday, mundane activities that make up our lives. The magical moment of sitting in a cafe, sipping an espresso, and watching people go by. An image is created that will allow a glimpse of that perfect intimate moment.  A sculpture in a garden described so well that the reader can almost reach out and touch a sinew, that is the wonder of the written word.

Rodin has always set my pulse racing, his work is strong, exuberant, poignant to the point of agony, and sometimes even mischievous. I tried to bring that sense of joy and discovery to my hero in A Hotel in Paris, and hopefully to my readers. I find solace in art, for me it’s therapeutic. You don’t have to be an art scholar to enjoy it, it’s everywhere we turn, it surrounds us, all we have to do is take note.

Imagine tea at the Pump Room in Bath, and that first sip of the heavily scented Earl Grey tea, you take a deep whiff to savor the smell of the bergamot oil, take a bite of that a fresh scone still warm, loaded with clotted cream and strawberry preserves-except that I skip the cream and go directly for the jam, lots of jam. Those are all real memories that will enrich a story.

Visit a restaurant that has been in business since the early 1600s, watch out as you step down on the crooked stairs and touch the warped wall, coated with gobs of thick paint as you continue your descent that doesn’t seem to end, and then you gingerly sit down in a rickety old chair and hope you won’t be sitting on the ancient brick floor instead.   
From the Rodin Museum in Paris, to the Pump Room in Bath, to the dark and narrow canals in Venice, where the water mysteriously shimmers in the moonlit night. It’s all there. Familiarity with a location makes it easier to write about, it makes it come alive.

Even though I write contemporary romance mysteries, I love history and art, and that is what I write about. It goes back to the beginning, write what you know and love. 

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
A Fire Within
Blood Art

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25. Currently Reading... The Queen's Agent by John Cooper

I've had this since Wednesday and am about 100 pages in already. I picked it up when in Dymock's in the city, shopping for a gift voucher for the only one of my Book Club students to have attended meetings regularly since Year 7, now graduating from our campus as a big Year 10 girl. 

Book shops are a danger zone for me. I almost always leave with a carry bag with a new reading treat in it. And wonder where I'm going to put the thing. I do donate all my review books to the school library and have recently offered some of my adult does fix books to Continuum for raffles and trivia nights, but it's not enough. 

Still. I ended up buying this book and having a cold drink and a croissant at Ganache, a chocolate shop/cafe opposite the bookshop, reading eagerly. The lady at the counter at Dymock's said, "Ooh, you're going to have a nice surprise! It's only $8.95!" That was a nice surprise - the sticker said nearly three times more!

Enjoying so far. I have read quite a lot of stuff about this era, usually from the viewpoint of Gloriana herself(including a couple of YA novels/docudramas by Jane Caro), but not usually from the viewpoint of those who served her. This is a bio of Francis Walsingham, best known as her spymaster. He was that indeed, and very good at his job, but he had a lot of other responsibilities, which kept him up from first thing in the morning(in bed, yet!) till late at night. He got sick from it all.

There's no doubt that Elizabeth was a great monarch and had an amazing life and things must have been very hard for her as a woman ruler - a king could have married an overseas princess or even, sometimes, a subject, as her father had, but that wasn't an option for her. Marry a foreigner and your people automatically assume he's going to take over(and may well be right about that) and most of the foreign princes were Catholics anyway. Marry a subject and the mutterings will be that he isn't good enough for you. And chances are that he will also try to take over. The only man she would have thought she could trust was Robert Dudley and after what happened to his wife, they just couldn't marry. There would always have been mutterings that he'd killed her to marry Elizabeth. (IMO, if he had done that, he would have been a fool and from what we know of him, Dudley was no fool.)

So, yes, she had a hard time of it and handled it well.

But it must had been really hard to be workíng for her! As a lady in waiting you would likely be screamed at and cuffed when Her Majesty was angry about something that had nothing to do with you. And if you were one of the loyal men in her service - and she did manage to choose some very loyal servants - you'd work and work till you dropped on something she had required of you and she might change her mind. And Elizabeth did, quite a lot, and she wasn't always right.

So, I'm reading the bit where she was considering marrying the Duke of Alencon, and the headaches this gave WLsingham..Fascinsting reading!

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