Saturday, August 30, 2014


You have probably heard via my Facebook page or Twitter, I finished editing Anon, Sir, Anon on Thursday morning. There is one scene yet to finish (the fencing scene. I have my "terminologist" looking it over.) but for the purpose of saying it, Anon, Sir, Anon is thoroughly edited. Thursday afternoon, swept into the glory of having finished the actual book, I sat down and finished my map of Whistlecreig. I am making attempts to get the map into the print copies of the book, but if it turns out too complex to shrink to size, I will content myself with giving it space on a page on The Inkpen Authoress for those readers who want a closer look at Whistlecreig Manor & Environs.

In other news about Anon, Sir, Anon, I am pleased to announce that the official cover-reveal date will be released this week and there are at least

Two new reviews: 

The climax is spectacular. Surprising, deliciously suspenseful, and avoiding the common pitfalls that authors fall into. Rachel held just enough secrets from me so I could enjoy the suspense--and then, when the moment came for boldness, carried it off with aplomb. Bravo; well done!
(WARNING: one advanced reader left quite a lot of spoilers in the comments section so don't read comments unless you want to know everything about the book.

This little murder mystery bears all the things I've come to expect from Rachel's books: crackling wit, gloriously well-crafted prose, and quirky, lovable characters. On top of that, the plot was more tightly woven and credible, the character interactions flowed better, and the writing--though I was reading a version which had not yet been polished by an editor--is patently more colourful and compelling than in her other works. In addition, there's a streak of something a little darker in this book. From the plight of the victim, to the identity of the killer, Rachel Heffington proves herself ready to make hard authorial decisions.
Think you'd be interested in my mystery? Add the book on Goodreads and "Remember, remember the Fifth of November." I can't get over how helpful my subconscious was in choosing a release-date so memorable. ^.^ Thank you, latent brain of mine. And, because I'm nice that way and want to tempt you with bits of my "patently more colourful" writing, here are some of those snippets I promised an age ago:

Skirts and bicycles were certainly an invention of the devil’s wife. If it wasn’t the questionable modesty of hitching one’s skirt up to one’s thigh, it was the constant peril of being flipped stockings-over-collar off the front of the thing.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

“Bad things happen in bad weather.” Mr. Owens turned the hat he’d removed round and round and round in his hands and the mist dropped off in pewter slips.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

She took him in, studied him, turned him in her mind like a wooden doll to be examined at leisure.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

“The luggage...” Vivi pressed her fingers onto her eyelids to ease the headache that had advanced on her with the dusk. “Where on earth is it? It must be in the murderer’s possession.”
“High marks for effort, Harriet Vane, but you’re wrong.” He cast his still powerful frame into a chair and knocked on the table with his knuckles. “She left it at the station and said she’d send for it later. The police have it now.”
-Anon, Sir, Anon

Farnham drew his head back into the dining room and squinted at the pale moon-face of the grandfather clock. Eight thirty-ish. No, wait. Half-seven. He rubbed his eyes and glared at the stiff black hands. The last thing he wanted was spectacles.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

On the Kettering side of the road, the stream flowed their direction in blue kinks and ripples; on the left, it ran a few merry paces before hitting the mill-wheel and resigning itself with a peaceful sigh to a rest in the mill pond. Farnham felt a bit of that peace balm his soul. He could think. He could smoke. He would be all right, presently.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

Genevieve Langley, paragon of all things mannerly, was late.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
“Such a gorgeous morning for a ride.” Vivi’s smile was bright, hurried. “Weather so obliging. Barely needed my tweeds at all, which is nice because in London I’m always tweeding and one does get tired of looking like a graham biscuit.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

She drew the word out wallaby-wise and gestured with her little hand.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

Down the curve of her cheek strode a deep shade of rose. Girls could still blush! Fascinating. He’d thought it died out with modesty some years back.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Success With a Third-Grade Diploma

"Success implies endeavor."
-Mr. Knightley

I got my hair cut this evening.
I got bangs.
Farnham would approve.
(If you got that reference, you're a peach.)

The reviews for Anon, Sir, Anon are beginning to roll in and I am pleasantly ... not surprised, per se, but definitely un-vaguely gratified that I have (seemingly) succeeded with it. One thing I will say is that if you are toying with a novel set in another area of the world, it helps to have people belonging to that culture to read through and tap you on the shoulder when you've misspoken. Ness, of course, was invaluable in Stage Uno, but my more recent friend, Suzannah Rowntree , has made herself most useful by sending in a list of British slip-ups I made in the draft. Thanks to her, readers in the UK and Down Under will not be upset by the wrong geometrical pattern of Vivi's scones and the fact that I misused "chuffed". Thanks, Suzannah!

I have been having the most wonderful time feeling unstressed about Anon, Sir, Anon and then realizing, by turns, that I have to apply all of Rachelle's edits this week because St. Rachel is to format after that, and then I've got to get the cover out for a reveal and then I have to start asking for interviews and guest posts and start writing those because soon I'll be helping plan a wedding. Oy. I can't help but be excited, though, and it is a wonderful feeling to be this close to finishing a project of which you are decidedly proud.

On a seemingly random note, elderly people can be the most amusing things. And not by virtue of being senile (most aren't), but simply because they're allowed to say what they jolly well want and many avail themselves of this privilege. At a graduation party I attended this past weekend, I was given the job of corralling all the chillens into the twelve-passenger van and carting them home (Mama and Dad were off celebrating their 26th anniversary). As I stood there trying to pick out my siblings from a crowd of half-a-hundred other people below four feet in height, an older gentleman sidled over. This man was the father of a South African woman with whom I have been pleased to be acquainted, and as I was looking for one or another of the kids, he said to me: "Young lady?"
"Yes?" I answered with a bright smile. His accent was enough to bring that on.
"Is that your truck?"
He gestured to our van and I laughed. "It is my van."
"You drive that truck?"
"Yes. And I learned to drive on one even bigger."
"Women and girls in this country drive such large vehicles," he said with a wry smile.
I then explained to him the story of the van (how it was gifted to us on our driveway in the middle of the night by some good fairies) and how it better fit our family's needs than driving two cars everyplace.
"Can I give you an address?" he asked with a wink, "In case anyone wants to give you another free vehicle and you'd rather send them to me."

Oh, I love accents and interesting people. In addition to my conversation with the South African gentleman, I was able to spend a lovely evening at my grandmother's house, Sunday. We discussed everything from actors of the 40's to Doc Martin, from Charlotte Bronte's life to funny things heard on the radio, from the most terrible series on television (Dance Moms) to education opportunities and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As I've gotten older, I've realized that so much of my refined taste, my love of literature, elegance, art, and the like, comes from Grandmama. I never tire of hearing about her college experiences in NYC during the 1950's, nor of her exploits as a child in Norfolk, VA in the 30's and 40's.
As we discussed our annoyance with the lack of grammatical graces in most modern-day conversation (and one case in particular), I tried to excuse the person with: "But I am not sure what kind of education he had."
Grandmama raised her eyebrow (you've never experienced such disgrace as that felt by the person on the opposite end of the eyebrow), raised pointer finger, stuck her tongue in her cheek and said, with all the sass of an accomplished woman in her eighties: "That is NO excuse. My grandmother held national and regional offices in all the clubs of which she was a member. She memorized Robert's Rules of Order and chaired the meetings. She read all the classics and judged Flower Arranging shows at her Garden Club and taught herself Japanese floral art. She was smart as a whip and do you know what level of education she had?"
"I'm ... not sure," I said, feeling suitably impressed.
"Third-grade." Grandmama dropped her finger and tapped the wood of the table with her nail, just as she always had, the light catching in her amethyst ring, her mother's diamond engagement ring, her own wedding band, just as it always does. "And she educated herself because she cared. So none of this. Anyone can learn if they've a mind to."

Have I mentioned elderly people make me smile? And it's so true. Anyone can learn if they've a mind to. Your mind is a beautiful treasure and some people, like my grandmother's grandmother, have treasured it enough to hard-scrabble their way to wits. Please don't waste the opportunities you have been given. It's so much more inspiring to work your mind to the hilt.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Winner of the Half-Dozen Giveaway Is ...

Well. I got so busy with many things in my life this morning that I almost forgot to slip over to the blog and choose a winner for the Half-Dozen Giveaway! But I did not forget and for that, someone is going to be extremely happy.

I got so many fun entries for this contest, including several pieces of art so there might be a post coming up wherein I display the doodles, drawings, etc. of the constant entrants. We shall see. But none of you want to know that. What you want to know is whether you won or not.

And the person who won is ...!

I'm not really sure what sort of a name that is but Rafflecopter only gave me a choice of two email address so we'll call the winner "Wizzy" and hope he or she knows its real name! :D Congratulations, Wizzy! I have emailed to notify you of your win and I hope to be able to send your prize soon. To the rest of you, thanks a mil for participating in this celebration of my six-month authorship! Love all of you to bits. <3

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sell Him to the Gypsies for Half a Crown

utterly unrelated but lovely photo from Pinterest.
Because France.

When was the last time you read an absolutely smashing book? You know the kind ... they're rarer than we like to think but if you've read one, you know you've read one. I am so grateful to be able to say that I have read three amazing books this summer, and Wodehouse. Yes, Wodehouse is in a class entirely by himself. Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag, The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton, and Villette by Charlotte Bronte make up the trio of smashing books I've read recently.

I like each of them for different reasons.

Villette resonated with me because in a way, I've had similar experiences to those had by the main character, Lucy Snowe. I also enjoyed getting even more of Charlotte Bronte's ironic sense of humor. On my second or third re-read of Jane Eyre I caught some of it, but it comes out forcefully in Villette and I enjoyed that. Jenny remarked recently that if my tongue every comes out of my cheek, it'll be a modern medical miracle. Quite right.

When I bought The Man Who Was Thursday from the Focus on the Family bookstore during my trip to Colorado, I had thought I was in for a mystery. "Read Thursday," everyone kept telling me. "It's great." And it was ... but in an entirely different way than I expected. It's hardly a mystery in the general sense of the word; mysterious, yes. Dramatic? Definitely. But Chesterton and I share this in common: we can't keep away from writing absurd things and chuckling into our sleeves over it. I swear I caught it off of him. I found Thursday two parts allegory, one part mystery, one part nonsense and I loved it. The ending sequence at Sunday's home is quite heart-squeezing. You ought to read it.

Plenilune ... gosh. What to say about this that hasn't been said? I hope you have all marked down October 20th as the release date of this amazing novel. I am also going to do shameless things like direct you to my review of Plenilune so you'll want to read it, direct you to a post about the magic of Plenilune and how one non-fantasy-reader had an intelligent, gradual change of heart as regards the topic on some levels, and direct you to the blog of the author herself. All good things, all good things.

Also, me hearties (in case you missed it): the official release date of Anon, Sir, Anon is November 5th, 2014. Many thanks to Abigail for pointing out the unintentional wit of picking a memorable release date, and to my dear and invaluable Ness for her further explanation of the Fifth of November:
It’s like ... the fourth of July. But better. The day we stopped a terrible Catholic plot to blow up the houses of Parliament and our good King James and launch the country back into Catholic rule.

And so we hung, drew and quartered (and tortured) poor ol’Guy Fawkes and now celebrate with fireworks and bonfires. ‘Tis beautiful. In a really, really morbid way.
Ha. Said like a true Protestant, which makes me laugh. Also, no offense to any of my Catholic readers ... I'd rather not restart the English wars and I respect your denomination and the part it has played. Catholics and Protestants are rather a toss-up as to which has done more wretched or more wonderful things down the bloody banner of world history. Also, does anyone else see the irony in my dear little Brit thinking the Fifth of November is better than the Fourth of July? Lobsterback. Oh my. I could have wayyyy to much fun with this ...

If buttercups buzz'd after the bee

If boats were on land, churches on sea
If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse
If the mamas sold their babies
To the Gypsies for half a crown
If summer were spring
And the other way 'round
Then all the world would be upside down!

Ciao, ciao, darlings. Add Plenilune to your calenders. Add Anon, Sir, Anon to your calenders. As soon as my designer gets back from vacation, you should be hearing more about the cover reveal and in just a few days I'll announce a winner for the Half-Dozen Giveaway so keep your entries rolling! I have actually had someone do a Winnie-the-Pooh quote and another has sent me drawings and many of you have written me poetry. Wow, this is fun for me. Oh, and for a final happy before leaving you, Anon, Sir, Anon got its first rating on Goodreads .... and it was a five-star beauty.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Half-Dozen Giveaway Begins!

I just want to tell you that I had way too much fun creating the entries for this giveaway. I will not waste time trying to explain the very self-explanatory Rafflecopter giveaway, but I want to say this:

Only US entrants please.

Foreign shipping is terribly expensive, Lucy, and I can't afford to send three honking books overseas. Many apologies to people like my dear Ness and Joy Chalaby and others who are in possession of good accents but No Books. The rest of you, have at it! The giveaway begins tonight at midnight (or 12 AM of the 14th) and extends through the 21st. I will be choosing a winner on the 22 of August. Have fun and may the odds ever be in your favor.

P.S. We will not be having a Chatterbox for August because I forgot and it is now halfway through the month. You get a giveaway instead. Please don't be too terribly angry. I'll schedule one for September right off and we'll be back on track. :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Welcome to Modernity: Vivi & Farnham Get a Goodreads Page

triumphant author selfie

I am now officially finished with rewrites for Anon, Sir, Anon. I am also living proof that if one puts her mind to anything, one can accomplish it. I work three and a half days every week and live in a very large family besides. If I wanted an excuse for not getting writing-related things done, I would have it. But with a little clever rearranging of schedules and, furthermore, a healthy respect for waking up when my alarm tells me to, I have actually done it! So happy with the novel I've created this time. <3
 I am sending the last four chapters to my editor tonight and will be sending the file to my advanced-copy readers as well. If you have not been selected for the post of advance reader for Anon, Sir, Anon but are a discerning reader/reviewer with a healthy blog following (so sorry to be mercenary), feel free to send an email to and apply! I would like to reach a little farther in more uncharted territory--perhaps even to blogs I have never visited!-- so if you would like to read Anon, Sir, Anon and review it for before the soon-to-be-confirmed release date of November 5th, let's talk.

I also wanted to let you know that Anon, Sir, Anon officially has a Goodreads page! Those of you who will be reading the book can post your reviews there and/or on your blogs and learn more about the book there. And, because I know I haven't been as succinct as possible in what this book is really about ... the cover blurb:
The 12:55 out of Darlington brought more than Orville Farnham's niece; murder was passenger.
In coming to Whistlecreig, Genevieve Langley expected to find an ailing uncle in need of gentle care. In reality, her charge is a cantankerous Shakespearean actor with a penchant for fencing and an affinity for placing impossible bets.When a body shows up in a field near Whistlecreig Manor and Vivi is the only one to recognize the victim, she is unceremoniously baptized into the art of crime-solving: a field in which first impressions are seldom lasting and personal interest knocks at the front door.Set against the russet backdrop of a Northamptonshire fog, Anon, Sir, Anon cuts a cozy path to a chilling crime

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Half-Dozen is a Cozy Term

I almost want a limp so I can own this cane. <3

"A half-dozen" is a very nice term. It's an even number, meaning six, and a cozy word, sounding a little bit like doves and a little bit like "blowzy" and a little like cookies or doughnuts or something edible. A half dozen is half of a dozen, which is twelve, and twelve is also a nice number.

But you know me. I hate numbers. I'm only going on about half-dozens because very soon I will celebrate six months of publishment! 

August 14th marks six months; six months since I became a published author! In that six months I have published one novel independently, had a novella published in a collection with four other dear authors, and done much of the preparation for my second indie novel, Anon, Sir, Anon. In some ways it is hard to believe it has only been six months, seeing as I've been halfway around the world, got a job as a nanny, and worked at two summer camps in that period of time. Life has been full and beautiful and as I will be publishing Anon, Sir, Anon at the nine-month mark, I think it's time to celebrate Hobbit-wise by giving one of you a gift at this plummy half-dozen milestone.

(also, none of you got all five of the references of last post so I find myself disposed to be be generous. Lucky ducks, you!)

Beginning on August 14th and extending the week of its six month birthday, I will be hosting a giveaway! The winner of said giveaway will receive a copy of all my works in print as well as Eats Shoots And Leaves by Lynne Truss, a book most useful for those of us who find ourselves too liberal with grammatical errors. It'll be a lovely chance to win books you A) already love or B) would like to familiarize yourself with before you try to read anything else of my writing. 

Whatever your case, I hope you will take this photo, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or your preferred method of social media, and spread the word about the giveaway! I cannot wait to choose a winner (already! I am easily excited) and I trust you'll have fun with the creative entries I have planned. I look forward to the week of the 14th! Cheers!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why Can't the English?

One discovers the most astonishing things while rewriting. Since once again setting me foot on my native heath (and my name's MacGregor), I've been keeping busy with fitting rewrites for Anon, Sir, Anon into my workdays. I am terribly excited this evening because today was my last day of work this week which means that Tuesday night = Friday night = "a good half-day to think about this". (Did you catch my reference?) Steadily hath I plodded, doggedly, and I am actually nearing the finish line, added suspects and all. When this is finished, it shall go back to a couple beta-readers as well as to an actual editor. The cover is almost finished, waiting only for my back-cover blurb before actual completion. On that note, if you would like to be part of the cover-reveal as well as the release-date announcement and anything of that Release Excitement Co-op, would you please send a message to stating your interest. I will love you forever and a million red M&Ms (another reference.)

But I was saying one comes across astonishing things.

First of all is the fact that I have some rather good turns of phrase. I don't say that pridefully ... it's just that when a line I forgot about smacks me in the face and says, "Look at me! Aren't I lovely?" I have to notice. I really had forgotten about so many and I like them. They're as good as milestones to a marathon runner in her final quarter. Rewriting also gives one the opportunity of rephrasing things. I believe wholeheartedly that my skill has grown since the writing of Fly Away Home. I know The Windy Side of Care, while having its pacing constraints, was finer stuff than that, and Anon, Sir is going to be twice better. I love finding a rough gem of a line and playing with the rhythm of it. I think I've got this rhythm thing down .. a line can be drab and you just play around a bit with the cadence and you've suddenly got a good one. Here is an example:
"Her skirt brushed his pants leg and he jerked an inch to the side so that it would not catch in his wheels."
Sensible enough but it sort of drags out at the end. I tweaked it just now:
"Her skirt brushed his pants leg andhe jerked an inch to the side so {as to avoid catching it}that it would not catch in his wheels."
The sentence now reads:
"Her skirt brushed his pants leg; he jerked an inch to the side so as to avoid catching it in his wheels."
A much better sentence as a whole. I have been enjoying this process. It's like finally getting to use a small brush rather than a large one when finishing a painting. I hope my editor will not find terribly much to change about wording. I have also kept a better eye on descriptions and tried to turn phrases that will capture the imagination and say exactly what I want the reader to feel rather than stating the thing plain:
"That scar. She drew her eyes from it but they descended again and yet again until she felt peculiarly drowned in the guilty mark."
Of course one can't drown in a scar but one can feel drowned by a thing and that is the sensation felt by Genevieve Langley in this moment. I must admit that I have begun again to like rewriting. It panics me at first but just as I near the end, I always buck up and find myself having fun. Hurrah for forgotten magic. I shall do a snippets post at some point and catch you up on the stuff.
The second astonishing thing I have found is that the trio of Farnham, Doctor Breen, and Genevieve Langley unintentionally resembles that of Henry Higgins, Colonel Pickering, and Eliza Doolittle of My Fair Lady. In temperament and character; their relationships are entirely different. I can't tell you how astonished I was when watching My Fair Lady to recognize Farnham's demeanor in "Ordinary Man". Of course, Mr. Orville Farnham is not as chauvinistic as Higgins, but there is a bit of the "women have their place" in him as much as there is a "women have their place" in Vivi. (Catch you the distinction? There is one.) And Breen, dear Doctor and alkaline substance that he is, possesses Pickering's way of gallantry and smoothing the feathers of the cross old bear.

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that there has never been and probably will never be another actress as thoroughly lovable as Audrey Hepburn (Julie Andrews is a close runner-up)? She could play anything, I believe, and she was an inspiration in her personal life. And people waste time loving Marilyn Monroe who is most famous because she had an hourglass figure and a wart. Pshhh. (I do realize she was a fine actress. I am being hyperbolic.)

"She has such a bally fine profile, Jeeves."

I want to thank everyone who has supported my work by purchasing Fly Away Home (only $2.99 on Kindle. Shameless plug.) and The Windy Side of Care inside Five Glass Slippers. In order to be heard, an author must have readers and I treasure and applaud each of you for choosing me. Thanks a million. I pounce on each new review (low-ratings or otherwise) and thank you for taking the time to write them! They are an asset to me because through them I can learn what things I might consider changing in my up-and-coming work. Quite useful! I must say that it gratified me to have not one but several people come up to me at the camp at which I worked (there were 200 people there) and remark on the fact that I was wearing a black dress to the gala, and wouldn't Wade Barnett have disapproved? It was nice, being alluded to. Anyway, have a lovely night chaps and chapesses and I hope you'll leave a comment and say hello because I love youuuuuuuuur advice. (Another reference. First person to name them all, I'll send you an autographed copy of Fly Away Home. There ought to be ... five, not including the title. There.)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Book Review: Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag

"The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war.
To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare has been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her."
In giving Plenilune five stars, I hope I am not doing Jennifer Freitag a disservice; I am a reader quite easy to please and I give far more 5-star reviews than some reviewers. I go into a story willing to be pleased, wooed, won by the author. But now, waiting for Plenilune's orb to come crashing into the literary atmosphere, I wish I could retrieve some of those stars from some lesser books because to give a book five stars is to give it my all and that I wish to do now.

For several years I have read Jennifer Freitag's blog, The Penslayer, and enjoyed "snippets" of her writing. I read her first novel, The Shadow Things, and while I enjoyed it, I knew that her writing had grown since its birth and was anxious to read it in its modernity. Plenilune, I imagined, was something a bit more mature than the smaller, tentative Shadow Things.
A friendship gradually sprang up betwixt Jenny and myself but still I had not thought to get to read her "opus" before publication until one day (probably overwhelmed with pregnancy hormones and the pressures of life) Jenny caved and sent me Plenilune en masse. I did not ravage it in a sitting; Plenilune is not one of those novels that calls for such behavior. Indeed, try to swallow it whole and you'll be marked a glutton with no fine taste. It ought to be read, savoured, gentled into one's comprehension because if you try to swallow a moon at one go, you'll certainly feel it a surfeit.

Perhaps the thing that impressed me most in Freitag's novel was the fact that her writing as a whole--the characters, arcs, themes, sensations--stood scrutiny as boldly as one beautiful line in a post of snippets. She can conduct small magic in a line, pyrotechnics in a novel.

I left Plenilune feeling nobler. I can't explain it any other way than that Freitag managed to reach into a fierce, crimson, hidden part of me and call forth a banner-blaze not soon to be extinguished. You will hear readers say that Freitag's work is "like Tolkien" or "like Lewis" and I daresay they mean it well. But it's not. Freitag's writing is like Freitag. That's quite enough for Jenny; that's quite enough for me. I look forward to buying my own copy of Plenilune and prowling upon her doorstep for the next installment in the Plenilunar world.

(Five of five stars. Because of the realistic dealings with characters both good and evil, I heartily recommend Plenilune for ages sixteen and older.)