Snippet Sunday: Was he to stay?

Posted on Nov 1, 2015 in news & muse, novels & fiction, Snippet Sunday, the Next Novel

Snippet Sunday is a monthly meme organized by Stephanie Dray in which historical authors post six sentence snippets of their novels (and sometimes a little more). For the sake of organization, I’ve decided to post mine on the first Sunday of the month. You can read my previous snippets here.

November’s snippet is a little longer than six sentences. It’s from the Next Novel, which I’m using NaNoWriMo to finish revising. The Next Novel is set in 1851 England and 1837 France; this post offers more details.

Robert glanced up at the clock above the mantel: he’d been listening to Isabelle for just over two hours. While she’d spoken, he’d sensed the years fall away, the rose garden at Weald House blooming anew with spring’s bounty, the birds fluttering about like a storm. He’d even felt the presence of Hugh, with his thick sensual lips and amused gaze; he’d seemed a tangible presence staring at him from across the library. In these hours, Robert had grown far from his physical pain, his worries for his wife, his father’s precarious health. Even the loss of his camera to Isabelle, and Hindlay’s anticipated rage, didn’t weigh as much as it might have.


Isabelle met Robert’s eyes with a frank emotion that startled him. He waited for her to speak, or give some sort of signal. Was he to leave? Or had she more to say?

Creativity Friday: Obligatory NaNoWriMo post

Posted on Oct 30, 2015 in creativity, news & muse, novels & fiction, the Next Novel

An excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book
, Big Magic. Because those ideas aren’t going to come to life on their own. Partner up!

November first is around the corner, and you know what that means: NaNoWriMo!!!!!

Long time readers of this blog know I love NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) with the heat of a thousand blazing suns. Even if you don’t wanna be a novelist, it’s worth doing NaNoWriMo at least once because it teaches the oh-so-important lesson of going forth to do crazy creative things that seem impossible. If you can pull a 50,000 word novel draft out of your gut in a month, you can do anything.

Though I’ve been hunkered down in Chez Art and Words for the past three weeks recovering from foot surgery, and even more hunkered down with book deadlines (more on these below), I’d be remiss to let NaNoWriMo commence without giving it a serious shout out. Here are some previous blog posts regarding NaNoWriMo:

NaNoWriMo: Trick or Treat?

NaNoWriMo Advice from Author Vicky Alvear Shecter

Stuff I like: NaNoWriMo

What the Heck is NaNoWriMo?

The Morning After

In regards to foot surgery and book deadlines, though it’s never fun to have two bones cut and repositioned in one’s foot, the surgery went extremely well. After three weeks of hobbling in a surgical cast, I am now down to one crutch, and able to walk a few steps here and there. (I am extremely grateful to my family and friends for all their help these past weeks.) Yet, in a weird way, the timing couldn’t have been better, though it sucks majorly to be immobile. This enforced hermitude (is that even a word?) enabled me to get a lot of work done revising the Next Novel, for which my agent has set a deadline. In addition, it seems a long-aborning Secret Project will be coming to fruition, though it’s too soon to share anything more.

In the meantime, I’ll be using the month of November in a manner unintended by NaNoWriMo: to revise the Next Novel, which is currently a 100,000 word draft in need of serious editing, and still missing a few scenes. Hey, I’ll take the creative energy wherever I can find it.


See the three little screws? That’s where my bones were moved. Yikes!

Snippet Sunday: The Snow Still Fell

Posted on Oct 4, 2015 in news & muse, novels & fiction, Snippet Sunday


Snippet Sunday is a monthly meme organized by Stephanie Dray in which historical authors post six sentence snippets of their novels (and sometimes a little more). For the sake of organization, I’ve decided to post mine on the first Sunday of the month. You can read my previous snippets here.

October’s snippet is from the Next Novel, which I’m chin-deep in revisions right now. The Next Novel is set in 1851 England and 1837 France; this post offers more details. This particular excerpt marks the start of the last chapter, and seems to anticipate the turn of the year here in the northern hemisphere.

The snow still fell. The snow would keep falling—this Ada knew with a certainty she could not explain, but there it was. Ever since she was a child, she had a strange, almost supernatural sense about the weather that her father had considered yet another of her unnatural talents. Today, though, Ada used her foreknowledge of the snow to convince the obsequious Herr Doktor Engelsohn to finally depart their hallowed threshold lest he remain with them until spring arrived. “The snow will continue until morning at least,” she informed Hugh with her old authority, who then translated her warning for the doctor. (By now, Ada’s German was good enough that she understood much of the doctor’s words, though she lacked confidence to speak the language herself.)

Above: Photographed in Brooklyn during a snow storm.

Semi-Wordless Wednesday: A morning message

Posted on Sep 30, 2015 in interviews, news & muse, novels & fiction, reviews + press, the world around me, Wordless Wednesday


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.)

cover_girl_waits_with_gun_amy_stewart~ 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. :-)


Snippet Sunday: You shouldn’t have followed me here

Posted on Aug 9, 2015 in apps & e-books, news & muse, novels & fiction, publications, Snippet Sunday

In my attempt to catch up here, I’m back to posting Snippet Sunday excerpts. New readers of this blog might be wondering, “What’s Snippet Sunday?” It’s a monthly meme organized by Stephanie Dray in which historical authors post six sentence snippets of their novels (and sometimes a little more). For the sake of organization, I’ve posted previous snippets on the first Sunday of the month.

Though it’s a week late for the first Sunday of the month, August’s snippet is from the THE LOVER’S PATH, which is at last out and about in the world as an e-book. (Woohoo!) This particular excerpt occurs toward the end of the first chapter, and is when my protagonist, Filamena, meets her beloved for the first time. It’s eight sentences, not six. But hey, it’s been a while, amirite?

Cloaked in the darkness of night, I felt safe, hidden. I inhaled the clean, acidic scent of spring, felt the soft earth beneath my feet. My heart began to slow. The stars were bright, the moon a thin sickle in the deep blue sky. Nearby, church bells struck the ninth hour of the night, their metallic clang softened by the lapping of canal water on the other side of the garden wall.


A brief sliver of light appeared from the palazzo door as it opened, then closed. And the young man stood before me again.


“You shouldn’t have followed me here,” I said.

More about THE LOVER’S PATH: Filamena Ziani is the much younger sister of the most famous courtesan in sixteenth-century Venice, Tullia Ziani. Orphaned as an infant, Filamena has come of age bent like a branch to her sister’s will, sheltered and lonely in the elegant but stifling confines of their palazzo by the sea. Then a dark-haired stranger offers a gift that will change the course of her life forever: a single ripe plum, and an invitation to walk along the lover’s path, wherever it may lead. Read more here.