Hola, hello, bonjour: my newsletter, a winner, and a shout-out to Leah Marie Brown, a long-time fan

Hola, hello, bonjour: my newsletter, a winner, and a shout-out to Leah Marie Brown, a long-time fan


I sent a newsletter out this morning—read it here, if you haven’t yet—and I just had the pleasure of sending an email to the lucky winner of an autographed hardcover copy of The Shadow Queen. (If you get an email with the subject line You won a book (no, this is not spam!), don’t throw it out.)

Catching up on GoodReads, and saw a note from Leah Marie Brown announcing the trailer for her book Faking It (the first in an It-Girl series), which will be out May 12. I know that readers of this blog don’t expect to see a trailer for contemporary romantic comedy here, but 1) this trailer is funny, clever and smart (as I’m sure the novel is), and 2) Leah and I go back a long way.

A journalist with an addiction to travel (specifically France) and history (specifically French), Leah has been one of my most enthusiastic readers. She interviewed me on her blog On Life, Love & Accidental Adventures, writing:

[blackquote] Ten years ago, I read the first book in Sandra Gulland’s trilogy about Josephine Bonaparte and knew I wanted to write historical fiction.  Her sumptuous novel about one of the more fascinating women in history was so richly woven with setting details and evocative prose, it lit a fire inside my writer’s belly.

She interviewed me and other authors for an article in Writer’s Digest on travel research: “Have Plot, Will Travel.” Her book club read—and enjoyed—Mistress of the Sun. She bid on and won an autographed set of the Trilogy. She has followed this blog and is a friend on Facebook and GoodReads.

Over these many years, she has been writing, and publishing. I predict that her It-Girl series is going to be a hit.

Bravo, Leah!

Heartfelt teary memories of our California Thanksgiving last year …

A year ago, my California family had a big Thanksgiving: my dad and all his progeny were there. Richard and I flew up from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Our daughter and her family flew in from Toronto, and our son flew in from New York.


It was a huge gathering: four generations! You can imagine how wonderful it was. 

Dad, soon to turn 95, was always chipper but increasingly frail. Even so, it came a shock when he died a little over two months later. 

I’m so grateful that we had this family gathering. 

Here’s a beautiful poem my friend Jenifer McVaugh sent me this morning: “Thanks,” by W. S. Merwin:

with the night falling we are saying thank you 
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings 
we are running out of the glass rooms 
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky 
and say thank you 
we are standing by the water thanking it 
smiling by the windows looking out 
in our directions 
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging 
after funerals we are saying thank you 
after the news of the dead 
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you 
over telephones we are saying thank you 
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door 
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you 
in the banks we are saying thank you 
in the faces of the officials and the rich 
and of all who will never change 
we go on saying thank you thank you 
with the animals dying around us 
our lost feelings we are saying thank you 
with the forests falling faster than the minutes 
of our lives we are saying thank you 
with the words going out like cells of a brain 
with the cities growing over us 
we are saying thank you faster and faster 
with nobody listening we are saying thank you 
we are saying thank you and waving 
dark though it is

I have a lot to be grateful for, and one gratitude at the core of my being is that I have the very good fortune to be a writer … and with that, hand-in-hand, is my heartfelt gratitude for readers. I thank you so much. 

Broad-casting news—literally

As some of you may already know, I sent out a newsletter on Monday. It’s always a Big Deal, and always A Thrill.

Here it is if you haven’t seen it: my September 2012 newsletter.

When people sign up for the newsletter—(here: do it!)—I have no idea what part of the world they are from. Now, because the newsletter mailing service I use provides stats, I know I have readers everywhere:

The newsletter was read by many readers in Canada, US, UK, Mexico and France—of course—but also by readers in Australia, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Brazil, New Zealand, Thailand, Malta, Norway, Ireland, Israel, India, New Guinea and Russia!

It’s wonderful—wonderful!—to see.

I also get to see which of the links in the newsletter were the most popular. On the first day, it was—surprisingly!—my blog post on 17th-century breast pumps. Perhaps it was the warning that the reader would be grossed out. How can one resist?

The second favourite was a blog post on the revision process with the ominous title “The Slough of Despond (the swampy middle)“—which indicates to me that there are a lot of writers on my mailing list. Nobody but a writer would really resonate with the words: Slough of Despond.

Not one person has responded so far to the announcement of the (likely) (so far) title of The Next Novel:


What do YOU think?