Welcome to my blog.
Please feel free to comment and join in discussions. You may also email me directly (sgulland AT sandragulland DOT com) or through my contact page.
Here’s my latest newsletter:
With every issue, a subscriber wins an autographed book. Sally Petrunia from Penticton, BC, won for the last one, and I’ve just emailed the winner from this one. So subscribe! (Click here.)
There is more and more happening now as THE SHADOW QUEEN publication date approaches. April 8 is the day.
Here’s the wrap-around cover for the hardcover, showing the front and back covers, the flaps and spine (so cool):
I’m eager to see this book! I think it’s going to be gorgeous.
In case your book club is interested in reading The Shadow Queen, here are some questions for discussion. (Enlarge page to read or download.)
Just so you know, it will be published April 8, and the pre-publication price is great value.
(Enlarge to view or download.)
I subscribe to the wonderful Medievalists.net newsletter, The Medievalverse. Invariably, I find their posts fascinating, even though their historical focus is many hundred of years before “mine.” Here are some recent posts to give you an idea:
On Amicitia, a 1205 guide to friendship — or rather, a guide to 23 types of friends to stay away from: The Powerful, the Vocal, the Here & There, the Conditional, the Imaginary, the Shadowy, the Counterfeit, the Haughty, the Hunter … etc.
On this last, Amicitia advises: “Nearly all women are hunter friends since they do not cease to set up nets and lay snares in order to catch the souls, and the money, of the unwary.”
On what can be gleaned from urine: lots! By look, by taste, by smell.
On birthing rituals: “The postnatal ‘churching’ of a woman occurred forty days after the birth, when she attended mass … this time bringing a candle with her. The unclean nature of childbirth even applied to the Virgin Mary herself … and Mary’s churching was celebrated with a widespread holiday, called “Candlemas” in England, which occurred forty days after Christmas.”
If you are interested in history, I highly recommend The Medievalverse.
I’ve so much in the works, right now. For one thing, this website, which is being redesigned (long overdue!). Here’s a sample of how it is going to look:
The main change, however, is that the site will be simplified and weeded, to make it easier for you (all) to navigate. For example, I won’t have two blogs (one on writing and one on research), but one—this one. You will begin to see research topics covered here now and then.
The visual design is thanks to Kris Waldherr and the overall plan is thanks to Nancy MacDonald, who has a great deal of experience with author websites. My thanks to them both for their patience! (I tend to be resistant to change.)
Promotion plans for THE SHADOW QUEEN are coming together. (For those of you in the Vancouver and Toronto areas, see my Events page.) Doubleday has created a powerful book trailer which I won’t reveal until close to publication … so you will just have to wait!
I will soon get an email newsletter out. If you haven’t subscribed, do so here. With each newsletter, someone from the subscriber list wins one of my novels. (It’s such a pleasure to do this—giving is truly as rewarding as it is said to be.)
And, speaking of winners, Angela Guyton just won 20 novels (!!!) from various authors on a Goodreads promotion, including a copy of THE SHADOW QUEEN.
And, of course, I am writing/revising/researching GAME OF HOPE, my Young Adult novel about Josephine’s daughter Hortense. I recently was part of a panel of women writers at the San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference. Each of us read from our work for 5 minutes. I read from a diary I kept when I was 14—such an eye-opener! I definitely must revise the novel to include a fairly constant mention of Hortense’s love interest!
This ‘n that …
4 Easy Steps To An Irresistible Book Blurb (however, it’s never easy!)
Pixar’s 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling (excellent)
I’m at a research-intensive stage of Draft 2.0 of The Game of Hope. (YA1) I’m working to fill in all the pot-holes before sending it off—that is, all the xxx’s in the manuscript, the xxx’s I throw in while rushing through Draft 1. “I was offered a plate of xxx, xxx and xxx.” That type of thing.
Now I’m trying to figure all those xxx’s out.
If I don’t have the facts in my notes or books, I can usually find what I need to know on-line. I googgled “18th century cooking,” for example, and came up with a delightful “cheese wig”: a small bun coated with a cheese sauce that looked like a wig resting on a wig stand. (Then I googled images for “cheese wig”—gross! I don’t recommend it.)
If Google fails, I go to Amazon.com, and look for searchable books.
If that fails, I’ll go to Books Google.
I everything fails, and the answer is in a book I must have, I’ll order it.
I had an educational experience this morning. The book I want is out-of-print, but offered used on Amazon.com. However, I discovered that to ship a 1$ book to me in Mexico could cost $25 to $75 dollars. (With delivery in April.)
I cut over to Abebook.com, and bought the same book from a used bookstore in the UK for only $1.04 with delivery to Mexico for $7.75—and it may well arrive in a week.
Lesson learned: watch those shipping charges! And always check out Abebook.com.
(Another lesson learned: in looking for illustrations for this blog post, I discovered not to google images of “xxx”!)
I sent out a newsletter on the 1st of the month, in time for Groundhog’s Day (or Candelaria in my winter part of the world). If you’re not on the subscriber list, you may read “On groundhogs, duets & lists” here.
I’m happy to see that the ebook special for The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. is still on: under $2.00. (I was told that it would end February 2, so I’m pleased.)
I’m in the habit of emailing myself articles to later note on this blog. My inbox has gotten way out of hand, so I’m going to clip away at it from the bottom up. Here is one note I’ve long wanted to share:
Leslie Fulton, who writes the delightful blog Pepy’s Wife, has filled out a book survey and I was very pleased to see that Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe was her answer to the question, “Best sequel ever,” and further, that she described the Trilogy as a tour de force. (Go, Josephine!) (And thank you, Leslie!)
I love to see Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe singled out: a difficult middle child of the Trilogy, it was a challenge to write. Bestselling author Anna Quindlen recently listed it as one of her top 5 favourite love stories. (Sigh.)
I’m so busy! Writing the 2nd draft of The Game of Hope (working title of the first Hortense YA novel), preparing for publication of The Shadow Queen (soon!), a winter round of ailments, website renovation, etc. etc. etc. Where does time go? Please forgive me for not showing up here more often. Hang in!
I suspect that a longing for Paris will always be with me. My husband and I will be spending three weeks there next September, but already I’m eager to go.
Ann Coombs responded to my wish to see an exhibit at Malmaison by offering to be my eyes and ears. She’s there tomorrow! She’s been on an amazing European trip, and has been recently posting photos of Paris on her blog, PixieInParis.
We just got back from a wonderful if somewhat stressful week in Toronto due to the horrendous ice storm plus bouts of the nasty food-poisoning-like stomach flu that’s going around. Even so, we had wonderful family fun and many charming moments. (I hope never to forget baby Kiki opening her doll and embracing it gently.)
Now we’re back in San Miguel and Real Life.
Are you ready for the New Year? I’m not! There are any number of cultural traditions of having everything cleaned out and fresh for the new year. I still hope to at least be caught up with my bookkeeping, but time is short and there are other pressing priorities…including packing for two weeks at the beach. ;-)
We’ve made our resolutions, and one of mine is get to the bottom of the mail in-box three times in the year ahead. Wish me luck.
Another resolution is to deliver The Game of Hope ahead of schedule (it’s due December 1). That will take more than luck: that will take constant perseverance! I’m printing out draft one today and will take it to the beach for its first read/edit. Editing in a hammock by the ocean works for me!
By-the-way: do you Tweet? If so, you might enjoy making this year-end video summary of what you tweet about, your best tweet, who your biggest followers are, etc. Click here to see mine (it’s very short). From there you can make your own. It’s super easy. If you make one, please post a link of it in the comment section below. I’d love to see it.
|A greeting card by Smilebox|
These are the apps I use every day:
Letterpress I love this game! It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s just challenging enough to feel like worthy brain exercise. My goal for 2014 is to win now and then.
Kindle I absolutely love that I can read a book review, and in seconds download a free sample to check out. If I read to the end of the sample and I’m dying for more, in a few seconds more I’ve got the book.
(If only Kindle would offer a way to cluster books into files. I have far too many.)
I also love that I can highlight passages, and that they’re stored on my Kindle account on-line. This is fantastic for research: I copy the highlights and email them to Evernote or DevonThink, searchable databases.
Flipboard I don’t watch TV, and I don’t live where it’s possible to subscribe to a newspaper. On Flipboard, I can scan The Guardian, The New Yorker, The New York Times, CBC News, The Daily Beast and a host of other journals such as The Paris Review, and blogs such as Brain Pickings. I almost regret that I get all this for free. (There are ads, but they’re not intrusive.)
If you use Flipboard, you can subscribe to my own “magazine”— On Writing & Publishing, & Everything In-between. Interviews with authors and illuminating articles on writing and publishing. I add something new to it every day.
Instapaper I rarely read articles on computer, but when I come across one I want to read later, I click “read later” and it’s saved to my Instapaper account, and shows up on the Instapaper app on my iPad. Seamless.
Social Media: Ok, I’ll cluster these. I use both Tweetbot and Twitter because I can do things on one I can’t do on the other. Facebook, of course. Instagram! Pinterest! I also use the Goodreads app, but it’s a little tricky to manage.
Feedly This was the year I learned that nothing on the Net is permanent. My sister-out-law and I shared a Posterious blog we loved. The millions who kept blogs on that popular site were given only three days notice that the site was going to evaporate. Three days to figure out how to download all your posts!
Posterious suggested a way to download your content, but of course, with the rush from so many all at once, it was impossible. Fortunately, I was not travelling or otherwise out of touch. I painstakingly made pdfs of all our posts, so all was not lost, at least to us. I hate to think of people who were using that blog site to write a novel, a memoir, or delightful travel accounts. Gone. Poof!
And then Google Reader evaporated, which rendered great apps like Reeder useless. I subscribe to a number of blogs (the subject of the next 2013 round-up), and I love to read new posts comfortably on my iPad. Thankfully, Google Reader gave a long enough notice so that alternatives could be found … and that alternative was Feedly.
Feedly is great! I just hope it lasts. In the month or so of transition after Google Reader ceased to be I realized how much I missed reading the blogs I follow. The Feedly app interface is fantastic, presenting content in a magazine-link format, rather like Flipboard. Now if only all the people who have Google Reader links on their websites would switch to Feedly … we’d be set.
I use the following are apps when I’ve got my act together (which doesn’t happen to be at this moment):
Pocket Yoga Wonderful, and an excellent work-out. Be careful, however. I’m not sure it’s designed for out-of-shape-69-year-olds-who-sit-all-day-at-a-computer. (Moi.) I found out the hard way that some of the moves are not great for my back. I plan to get in better shape and go back to it.
Headspace This is a wonderful app (and educational program). Using it, I’m finally learning how to meditate—learning to tame my rabbit brain.
You can try it out for free, and then subscribe in increments.
Lose it! You know those last five pounds that are impossible to shed? I tried all year, and I was finally able to do it using this app.
What are your favourite apps? Share in the comment section below.
Because I am writing a Young Adult novel, I continue to read and very much enjoy them. Such a treat!
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. This is a wonderful Young Adult novel, very tender, very innocent, and utterly real.
Rowell’s newest Fangirl, is also getting rave reviews, and I’ve just started to read it. She’s an amazing writer. Treat a teen, but read her yourself!
Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado. For fans of The Little Prince, this is a special treat, but frankly, most everyone loves this novel. (All the members of my picky-prickly book club, for example.)
I had the honour to “blurb” it, and here is a short version: “… an elegantly alluring and poignant love story. … Spare and beautifully-crafted, the novel vividly evokes the world of fashion design and the French ex-pat community in New York during WWII. In a word: magnifique!”
I am sure that there is a reader on your gift list who will love getting this novel. Plus, such a gorgeous cover!
Blood & Beauty by Sarah Dunant. This is a masterpiece of biographical historical fiction, in my view.
Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger; I bought this book because it was on last year’s 10-best-of-the-year list by Quill & Quire. (Their lists are always unique and worthy.) I also read it because the main character is a teen, and I’m writing about a teen now: research, right? Well, not exactly. It’s a shocking novel about a girl who is lured into the sex trade—explicit, beautifully written, utterly convincing.
Rather strange to go from Maidenhead to: Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition by Jane Austen and Patricia Meyer Spacks, but such is the Reading Life.
For Austen fans, this annotated and visually lush edition is simply wonderful. There is a wealth of historical information in the annotations and illustrations—fantastic for a historical novelist working in that era (i.e. moi).
These are only five of a very long list! It was hard culling it down. For a list of novels I absolutely admire: see “my bookstore.”
I’ve caught shortlist fever. It’s irresistible—this impulse to sum up the year.
I will begin with the books I gobbled up and which made a lasting impression. It’s a very odd mix this year of wise, irreverent, profoundly sad and profoundly lurid. (Compare it to the well-rounded list for 2012.)
Note: Not included is my very long list of sometimes eccentric research titles.
And so here, in no particular order:
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed. I loved Strayed’s Wild last year, and so ventured onto her advice-column book, which I loved even more. My daughter loved it too. Strayed is wild and wise and calls it like it is.
Odd Type Writers: from Joyce and Dickens to Wharton and Welty, the Obsessive Habits and Quirky Techniques of Great Authors, by Celia Blue Johnson: inspiring and gossipy and fun. Every writer on your gift list would love this book … and buy one for yourself while you’re at it.
Paris, I love you but you’re Bringing Me Down, by Rosecrans Baldwin: about my favourite city, very funny. It’s not for people who are new to Paris, but for those who know it well.
Two memoirs that will stay with me forever because of their brave, sad and striking beauty, are:
Wave, a memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala. Read this book; it will open your heart. It’s a profoundly moving book about unbearable grief. That sounds scary, but trust me: this is a beautiful book.
Nocturne: On the Life and Death of My Brother, by Helen Humphries; Humphries is one of my favourite writers, and this is a stunningly beautiful and heartfelt memoir.
Now to the fiction shortlist, followed by my essential apps… Stay tuned.
I’m about to send out a newsletter about the fun things that have happened and are about to happen—plus, starting with this newsletter: one of the subscribers will win one of my signed books.
Using Random.org, I will send a signed copy of one of my books to a winner drawn from the list of all newsletter subscribers. Even if you live in Russia, even if you live in Japan! So get on the list!
Sign on here.
As many of you already know, I don’t send out many newsletters, so your in-box will not be overwhelmed. Also: no spam, I promise, and you may easily unsubscribe at any time.
Print this chart!