Naperville rules!

The event at Anderson’s Bookshop in beautiful Naperville, IL, was wonderful! Fantastic group. Among many others: Lady Bonheaur (who has read Mistress of the Sun already, but not—yet—the Trilogy), Jennifer (who wept so hard on a plane finishing the Trilogy that the man next to her asked if she was all right), Janice (who exclaimed so emotionally that the Trilogy were the best books she has ever read she made me tear up, as well), Wendy (who followed Josephine’s story to Paris), Cristine (whose cat is named Josephine Bonaparte), and these three wonderful sisters, Laura, Anne, and Beth (“And there are two more sisters!” they told me).

Laura had a rare complete set of the Canadian hardcover editions, one of which she found in Germany, through eBay. I was so excited chatting with this wonderful trio of sisters that I messed up signing their books!

Hats off to this wonderful bookstore. Fantastic staff.

That nervous time before lift-off…

That nervous time before lift-off…

In four weeks my novel, Mistress of the Sun, will be officially published in Canada (U.S. publication will be in June). The time before a novel comes out are always hard. Will readers like it?

Believe me, it’s never easy. Over a decade ago, when I was just starting out, and piling up the rejection letters, Jane Urquhart—a wonderful best-selling Canadian author—told me: “Get used to it.” If it ain’t rejections, it will be reviews.

But getting “used to it” entails lots of nail-biting. Which is why sincere and unexpected enthusiastic responses mean so much. I had one such yesterday, a note from Bernard Turle on my Mistress of the Sun FaceBook page.

An endorsement from Bernard is extra-special because he was the wonderful French translator of the Josephine B. Trilogy. I’m not French, yet I write historical novels about French history, so I’m always concerned about how a French reader is going to respond.

Here is what Bernard so kindly wrote:

“I love Mistress of the Sun and I hope I shall do the French translation for my favorite publisher in Paris. I am so glad Sandra has chosen to work on women of silent power. I heard from her long ago that she was working on La Lavalliere and I so much enjoyed translating the Josephine trilogy that I was very keen and of course I enjoyed every minute of the reading. La Lavalliere is less known than other royal mistresses and the novel is a welcome addition to the literature on her. Among many other qualities, I like the point of view from which one sees history : through her : not in the light, not in the shadow, just in between. I sympathize with that position, which is typically a translator’s position.”

I love his phrase, “women of silent power.” Thank you, Bernard, mille fois.

That absorbed state

That absorbed state


“I slipped into that absorbed state I have come to associate with the writing process, or rather, that part of writing that precedes actually putting any words on paper.”

Susanne Dunlap, from her essay “Men Seldom Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses” in For Keeps; Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance, edited by Victoria Zackheim.

This sentence by Susanne, a friend, startled me. I know that feeling well. Quakers talk of being “moved to speak.” This sensation is similar, a welling up intense interest, a tumbling of voices and thoughts. It’s like falling in love, a feeling of inevitability—a feeling of being blessed.

This sensation of “possession” makes writing vital, addictive. It is also what makes its absence distressing. Writing Mistress of the Sun, I was “possessed” for almost eight years. Now that the novel is out in the world, I’m experiencing that same flat disinterest I felt after The Last Great Dance on Earth—the last of the Josephine B. novels—was launched. It helps to remember that I’ve been here before, that it takes time for the well to fill.