Photographed outside my usual cafe one morning.
Hey, I’m deep in the weeds, dear readers. You know what that means: my To Do list is outweighing my Hours Available list. A quick overview of what’s been going on at Chez Art and Words this month:
~ I finished two Top Secret book proposals. Hint: If published, the subject matter of these books will make Thea very happy.
~ I received feedback from my literary agent on the first third of the Next Novel. Good news: she loved it! Now onto finishing up the rest of the manuscript. (Egads.)
~ Related to above: I’ve completed applications for 2016 writers residencies. After my crazy-productive fellowship earlier this year at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, I’m eager for more.
~ I helped out at the Slice Literary conference. My duties included social media, so I’ve a plethora of great notes that I plan to share here once I catch my breath. One highlight: a panel featuring agent Jeff Kleinman and publishing iconoclast Richard Nash.
~ Thea started school anew and is winding her way toward middle school. (Egads again.)
~ On top of all this, I’ve reluctantly accepted the inevitable: I’ll be having surgery on the foot I broke last year to take care of some pre-existing issues. So I’m feeling the weight of Things I Must Get Things Done before my mobility becomes limited. I’ll be in a walking cast for six weeks. Nor will I be able to drive. (No egads, just a big sigh.)
~ Despite all this, I do have some lovely things planned for here once the weeds are less cumbersome. An interview with my fellow Venice-obsessed author Alison MaMahon (THE SAFFRON CROCUS) is on the docks, along with reviews of Amy Stewart’s just-published historical romp GIRL WAITS WITH GUN, and Hannah Tunnicliffe’s food-centered novel SEASON OF SALT AND HONEY. (Many thanks to the lovely people at Touchstone Books and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with ARCs of these novels.)
~ In other blog news, as of this Sunday I’m planning to return to my first of the month Snippet Sunday excerpts. So I hope you’ll check back then. After all, aren’t you curious what I’m working on these days? I know I am.
I’m in the midst of last preparations for the Historical Novel Society Conference, which is in Denver this year. Among the usual fun stuff at HNS, I’ll be participating on a panel about book design for historical fiction book covers. I leave first thing tomorrow morning, and my to do list is bursting at the seams.
In the meantime, some quick housekeeping:
~ I’m over at the Emerald City Book Review today with a guest post about converting The Lover’s Path from print to digital. I hope you’ll stop by! Read post here.
~ More book love over at the Book Drunkard: “So much is packed onto the pages and each and every morsel is a delight to read…. I savoured each and every word and sometimes read them aloud so I could hear what they sounded like coming off my tongue.” Read full review here.
~ A guest post about courtesans in 16th century Venice and book excerpt over at Book Lover’s Paradise. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the courtesan post.)
~ Julianne at Writing the Renaissance reviewed The Lover’s Path and proclaimed:
In the intricate, exuberant manner of the Renaissance art to which it pays homage, Kris Waldherr’s lavishly illustrated novella THE LOVER’S PATH tempts and tantalizes the reader into a unique reading experience. Originally released as a print book in 2005, Waldherr has recast her tale of forbidden love as an interactive iPad e-book. Convincing in itself, the fictional confession of a female musician’s journey on the path of true love gains a patina of authenticity from the nest of maps, scholarly articles, museum brochures and other ephemera which encompasses it. The result is an intriguing artifact that blurs the boundaries between word and image, fact and fiction, myth and lived experience and haunts the reader’s thoughts long after the screen goes dark.
~ You might be wondering what’s the photograph at the top of this post. It’s my attempt at sewing a Fortuny-style gown for HNS’s famed Saturday costume dinner. I think it came out nice! (Those of you with long memories might recall I sewed an Aesthetic style tea gown for HNS 2012.) Here are the instructions I used for my Fortuny-style gown, which were very helpful. I had to pleat the fabric before sewing it, which was tricky but fun.
~ And finally, The Lover’s Path official site is up at LoversPathBook.com, if you missed it earlier. It has links to all formats and a special launch offer through 7/5.
Final Fortuny-style gown. (Ignore the foot in the corner.)
Pleated fabric in progress. I twisted and boiled the fabric.
Sewing the gown itself. I used both a serger and a “regular” machine. Oh, and hand sewing on the beading too.
After much hard work, the e-book edition of The Lover’s Path was officially launched earlier this week! I’m still recovering from many late nights and full days behind the computer, but am very pleased at the overwhelmingly positive response thus far.
Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood wrote:
“The sheer design of the book is a delight for any bibliophile. Lavishly illustrated, the images, textures, and illuminated letters hearken back to a time when books were treasured things to behold. As deeply as I love physical books, e-books aren’t going anywhere. The Lover’s Path is a testament to the fact that electronic text can also be artistic and aesthetically pleasing.” Read the full review.
Also there: A guest post by moi about Pre-Raphaelites in Venice.
From Unabridged Chick:
“I’ve got nothing but swoony, swoony love for this one — get it and indulge in some lush escapist reading! With the playful and charming illustrated elements, this book drew out that sense of wonderment I get from reading, the visceral joy of being plunged into a story.” Read the full review.
Over at Unshelfish, Melinda wrote that The Lover’s Path was:
“A delicate, sensual yet powerful story leaving you stunned in beauty in its entirety. Exquisite.” Read the full review.
Also there: A guest post by me about creating the illustrations for it.
We got some love from Peeking Between the Pages too:
“The Lover’s Path: An Illustrated Novella of Venice by Kris Waldherr is an absolutely gorgeous book both in story and in the stunning art work depicted throughout its pages. It is a beautifully written tale of forbidden love that is accompanied by amazing illustrations that are a treat for a reader’s eyes. When I opened this book I fell into it and couldn’t put it down until I turned the last page…. I loved this book and can see myself delving into it again in the future.” Read the full review.
From CelticLady’s Reviews:
“Does the story have a happy ending? I can’t really tell you that, but what I can tell you is The Lover’s Path is a beautiful novella, filled with gorgeous pictures done by the author and a bit of a history lesson on the 16th century Italian Renaissance…. What a pleasure is was to read this book.” Read the full review.
More reviews will be coming next week. On top of all this, there’s now a dedicated webpage devoted to The Lover’s Path at LoversPathBook.com. I hope you’ll take a moment to visit. And with that, I’m going to go collapse onto a chaise.
Illustration from The Lover’s Path iPad e-book.
As I mentioned Friday, my guest for today’s Creativity Friday post is author Lynn Carthage, author of HAUNTED, a young adult gothic historical novel. My daughter Thea is currently reading it, and thoroughly enjoying it.*
More about HAUNTED:
Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Irving has traded life in San Francisco for her stepfather’s ancestral mansion in rural England. It’s supposed to be the new start her family needs. But from the moment she crosses the threshold into the ancient estate, Phoebe senses something ominous. Then again, she’s a little sensitive lately—not surprising when her parents are oblivious to her, her old life is six thousand miles away, and the only guy around is completely gorgeous but giving her mixed messages.
But at least Miles doesn’t laugh at Phoebe’s growing fears. And she can trust him…maybe. The locals whisper about the manor’s infamous original owner, Madame Arnaud, and tell grim stories of missing children and vengeful spirits. Phoebe is determined to protect her loved ones—especially her little sister, Tabby. But even amidst the manor’s dark shadows, the deepest mysteries may involve Phoebe herself.
As for Lynn, she has a secret—and it’s a good one. Under her real name, Erika Mailman, she’s published two highly praised historical novels for adults; HAUNTED is her first YA novel. I first met Erika at the Historical Novel Society conference in 2013. We instantly hit it off, and have stayed in regular contact since. (The real reason I go to HNS: to meet lovely writers who share my obsessions with women’s history and the gothic. ) When I learned Erika had decided to write for young adults under a nom de plume, I was eager to learn more about the why and how.
Without further ado, here’s Erika’s guest post about her alter ego Lynn, and the differences between writing for the YA and adult historical market. I hope you enjoy it!
Kris, thanks for hosting me today. You invited me to talk about my alter ego, and the difference of writing young adult historical fiction versus adult.
Under my real name, Erika Mailman, I’ve published two historical novels. The first, Woman of Ill Fame (Heyday Books 2007), is a historical thriller featuring an unapologetic Gold Rush prostitute narrator. You can right away see why I had to choose another name for publishing young adult fiction; I didn’t want teens to read HAUNTED, google me, and find that book.
Call me innocent, but I think kids grow up so fast these days…they have a lifetime of being sexual, so I wanted to provide a firm line between my adult fiction and my young adult fiction.
My second novel, Witch’s Trinity (Crown, 2007), is probably appropriate for a teen audience, but I can’t send readers there without them also seeing the “shameless hussy” book LOL. It’s about a medieval woman accused of witchcraft by her own daughter-in-law, at a time when women faced burning at the stake.
Which brings me back to HAUNTED, the young adult novel that came out from Kensington in February. I love historical fiction, and although the book features a contemporary setting in England, the mansion where the story takes place has a foreboding history and a connection to the palace of Versailles.
In fact, Book 2 of the series, which hits in February 2016, is set almost entirely in Paris and Versailles, and features timeslipping back to days when there was still a monarchy in place.
It’s been fun to merge historical with contemporary, with my heroine Phoebe Irving wandering the halls of the 1700s Arnaud Manor in England and over time learning tidbits about its history. I know a lot of readers enjoy historical fiction, but this sort of tactic may be more accessible. Phoebe has a modern perspective and can be an effective filter for the events of the past.
As to the differences in writing for teens versus adults: yes, I’ve had to take some language out of HAUNTED. For instance, a character named Miles exclaims, “No shit!” and I was encouraged to take that out. I did, because some big-box stores won’t carry books with that language, and to maximize my potential to someday have the book be carried there, I elected to listen to my editor’s sage advice.
I’m also keeping the romance between Miles and Phoebe lingering and drawn out … half the fun is in the suspense, right? And of course we have to have some complications that keep them swinging back and forth, towards and away from each other.
Finally, for those who are older, there’s been all kinds of data suggesting older people read YA fiction, with middle-aged women showing up as a high population readership. And I’ve had men email me praise for HAUNTED; will it help that Book 2 is narrated by Miles, a male?
If you enjoy a good ghost story, a dark and forbidding English manor setting, and characters who valiantly fight to protect their siblings, you might want to give HAUNTED a try.
Thanks for hosting me today, Kris!
My pleasure, Lynn-Erika—and thanks for a wonderful post! You can learn more, read an excerpt, or purchase HAUNTED here.
* Review coming soon!
So new year, new you? How are those New Year’s resolutions going thus far? For myself, as I mentioned last week, one of my intentions for 2014 was to offer more author and artist interviews on this blog. I’m delighted to introduce Lisa Alber, author of KILMOON: A County Clare Mystery. Lisa will be generously sharing about creating a positive moments jar, one of her favorite tools for keeping herself encouraged and inspired.
You might be wondering what a positive moments jar is. It’s exactly as described: a jar to collect scraps of paper upon which you write positive moments. What I especially like about this simple concept is that it makes happiness visually tangible. And what could be better than that?
Without further ado, here is our interview. And thanks, Lisa, for helping me keep my resolution!
Kris Waldherr: My pleasure! What inspired you to create your positive moments jar?
LA: I have Facebook to thank! Last year someone mentioned it on a post. I wish I remembered who because I’d thank her. I thought it was the perfect idea. I was completely swamped and stressed because KILMOON, my debut novel, was jetting its way toward publication in March — so much to do! — and I knew that if I didn’t take one little concrete step to memorialize all the good things, they’d slip past me in a blur.
And? I’m prone to depression, which means I tend to linger on the negative. So, a happy jar felt like just the thing. The act of taking that extra minute to savor a good feeling was helpful. And, of course, reliving the moments at the end of 2014 was a blast.
KW: How long have you been doing it? How often do you add to it?
LA: Last year, 2014, was my first year. I’m proud of myself for filling the jar because I’m not always consistent with rituals and routines. That said, I wasn’t consistent through the year, and I forgot a bunch of great things too. (Some of my book launch week festivities, for example.) But that was OK — making any part of the practice mandatory would have soured the experience.
So, I added to the jar as I remembered. There were times when I was more aware of my happiness than other times. For example, I didn’t write any notes in July and August. Zero. This seemed odd until I remembered that I was practically psychotic from lack of sleep around then. I was miserable, barely functioning, and working a lot with my doctor. I’m sure I had happy moments during that time, of course, but I wasn’t on the happy jar wavelength.
I also had a period of about two months, April through June, when I didn’t drop notes in the jar. This corresponds to post-partum book launch depression (which I’ve since heard is pretty common!) and putting my beloved dog, Luna, to sleep.
Seeing the larger pattern to my year comforted me — the two downer periods passed and they weren’t actually that bad even if in my memory they take up the whole year. Hardly!
KW: Has the jar influenced your creative process, especially as you published KILMOON? If so, how?
LA: I don’t think the happy jar influenced my creative process — not in a direct way anyhow. I can tell you this though: I’m starting 2015 in a positive frame of mind. I feel some energy around my writing, and I’ve already done some great work on my work-in-progress. I suspect that reminding myself about the good stuff in 2014 has helped me begin 2015 on an optimistic note, which is great for my creativity. The benefits of the happy jar will be in the long run, I think. I hope that the practice of happiness will become easier over time. There’s that saying about what we pay attention to flourishes. Sometimes these things take practice.
KW: How do you use the jar? Is it only for moments when you feel discouraged? Or is it to keep you going?
LA: I didn’t use it when I felt discouraged — just the opposite. I wrote notes when I was legitimately happy or proud of myself or elated or awed, not when I was trying to manufacture a happy feeling by, say, reminding myself to be grateful for the roof over my head. Gratitude lists are a different thing. (I do those too — in a journal.)
Seeing the jar fill through the year did buoy me up sometimes, but mainly it was an exercise in savoring the happy moments. If I was down, I didn’t put anything in the jar.
KW: Anything else you care to share?
LA: This year, I’m doing two things differently. One, I placed the jar in a central location where I see it all the time. Two, I have scraps of paper and a pen sitting right there. I seem to be forever scrabbling for pens or paper.
A few examples of my notes:
Jan: GOOD REVIEW FROM KIRKUS!!!! (I can tell how happy I was by the capitalization and exclamations points.)
March: Surprise and delight to see a lone viola blooming on my neglected deck.
April: LAUNCH PARTY. Owner of Annie Bloom’s said she’s reading KILMOON and loving it. Said their best launch party ever — set a new threshold. Woohoo!
June: FAWN!!!! (my new dog)
September: Such glorious sun and shadows and golden light.
September: Another authorial milestone to add to honorarium library talk and award nomination: XXX asked me to blurb his novel!
Thank you, Lisa, for an inspiring interview! I think I see a positive moments jar in my future.
More information about Lisa and her debut novel KILMOON: Lisa Alber’s County Clare mysteries feature Merrit Chase, a recent transplant from California, and Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern. KILMOON has been called “utterly poetic” and a “stirring debut” and received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant. Ever distractible, you may find Lisa staring out windows, dogwalking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. Visit Lisa online at LisaAlber.com.
Top photograph: Lisa’s positive moments jar—I like that it has a big bow on it, like a gift.