Monday, July 25, 2011

For you Historical fans (of which I'm one)

I am so thrilled to have a guest blogger here today. I met Michelle Diener at the Orlando RWA conference. This woman impressed me. She was so refined and so elegant and so funny. Okay, maybe I hated her. Just kidding. She has this fabulous accent--because I'm an American; I'm sure to her ears, I was the one with the accent. And she writes historicals. You know, the meaty kind. So when I found out her book was coming out August 9, I knew I had to have her come by. Please welcome Michelle Diener.


Thank you so much to Gabi for inviting me to visit today.

My debut historical novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is due out on August 9th, and it is set in Tudor London, in the pre-Anne Boleyn days of Henry's reign. My series was really driven by my interest in Susanna Horenbout, the heroine of the book, who was a real person, an artist from Ghent (which is in current day Belgium), who was acclaimed by some of the most famous artists of her day as exceptional. Unfortunately, no work remains today that can be attributed to her, except for a brass plaque, and even that isn't definite. She was obviously talented, and her father sent her across to England to work in the court of Henry VIII as an illuminator and painter.

I was fascinated by the idea of a woman who was so accomplished, working in a field which was almost entirely dominated by men, and the problems and trials she must have faced. Because I'm mean that way, I've also thrown her into dangerous court intrigue as well, and given her a dangerous (but delicious!) courtier to deal with. Lucky for me, she really did marry him in real life, so I could include a romance between her and Parker, the courtier Henry asks to look after her, with a clear conscience on the historical accuracy front.

But because this is a mainstream novel, and the elements of romance do not drive the plot, I build their growing awareness for each other in whispers, rather than bold shouts. I have always loved the more subtle approach to a growing relationship in novels, my tastes being defined early on by masters of understated but strong sexual tension like Mary Stewart. I hope Susanna and Parker's growing passion shines like a bright thread of gold through the book, in much the way Susanna would work gold leaf through the border of an illumination. It doesn't overwhelm the story, but the book would be the lesser for it if it wasn't there.

But I'm interested, do you love an over-the-top passion in your books, or the silent, simmering awareness like I have in In A TREACHEROUS COURT? Or are you happy with either? I've got a copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT to give away to a lucky commenter. (US residents only, unfortunately!)

Michelle Diener lives in Australia with her husband and two children. She's worked as an editor, a publisher, managed a small IT business, and now writes full time. Her debut historical novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is due out with Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books on August 9th, and the second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, is due for an early 2012 release. You can find out more about her at her website (, her group blog ( or follow her on twitter or Facebook

Thanks for coming by, Michelle. Can't wait to get my hands on this one.

Make sure you leave a way to reach you in your comment. The giveaway will run for a week (until Aug 2) , and then I'll pick a winner.

Books I'm reading now:
Killing Me Softly by Maggie Shayne
Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen by JK Rowling (Yes, in German)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I'm in the depths of revisions right now, so this one will be brief. One to make you laugh.


Be sure to watch to the end.

Be sure to stop by next week. I'm having a guest blogger --Michelle Diener, author of In A TREACHEROUS COURT. With a giveaway.


Books I'm Reading Now:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (Yes,I've already seen the movie; then again, I've already read the book too.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Confession

I have a confession. Yesterday was the first day in months that I felt like a writer again. Yes, months. This feeling goes back long before I left for Europe on my Grande Tour. Of course it was hard to work while eating gulyás made by my relatives on an open fire in a kettle like they used to do on the Puszta (Oh. My. God. Amazing).
I expected it to be difficult to work as we walked along the canals of Venice. I knew nothing would get done as hiked through the Alps trying really hard not to break into songs from the Sound of Music. But even before that I couldn't get into the right frame of mind because of the job.

Teaching. One of the most beastly, infuriating, frustrating, incredible, rewarding, satisfying jobs I have ever done. I couldn't write while teaching because I threw myself into my work. That's how I operate. I had one year teaching where I decided I wouldn't care about the kids, I would hold myself back and distance myself from the job so I could write. That was my worst year teaching. So I decided never again. I am happy to say that my final years of teaching were...well, see above. Thank you to my students for showing me so much and inspiring me. And to the administration (not the immediate administration) and the "laws" and the so-called improvements and the "new" ideas...yeah, not so much.

I always said that teaching would be what I was meant to do if I didn't know what writing was like. But writing did so much more for my soul. Oh, it is beastly, infuriating, frustrating, incredible, rewarding, and satisfying too. But even more deeply. And yesterday was the first time in months I fell into bed at 11:30 feeling like I did good work that day. I was a writer. Not someone who writes when she can, when she doesn't have essays to correct, when she has a spare moment. I was a writer and everything else was the second thought.

Can't wait for the rest of my life.

Books I'm reading now:
Warrior by Zoe Archer
In Scandal They Wed by Sophie Jordan

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'm Baaaaack

The answer to the mystery I've been posting really isn't much of a mystery at all. I was in Europe for the past month. I didn't really want to publicize it because I didn't need the world to know that my house was empty, but I'm home now.

Things I noticed (not historical or touristy): cars have become bigger in Europe since the last time I was there; I saw a number of small SUV's and even one Dodge Ram and one full size SUV. However, the Smart car was everywhere. I love the Smart car. Instead of parallel parking, they would just park perpendicular to the curb and wouldn't take up any more width than a regular car. Also scooter riders in Rome are crazy. I take that back. Any drivers in Rome are crazy.

The food was wonderful everywhere we went (except when I cooked to save a little money). They eat more sensibly than we do too. A large breakfast with proteins, fruit, cheese, etc. A large lunch--that's the hot meal of the day. Then a small dinner--usually a cold sandwich or an omelet or a salad. And they walk everywhere. I lost five pounds without trying. And squid is a staple in a couple of the countries I visited. Yum.

Odd state of affairs: in the US, if you bring your own bags to the store, they pay you five cents for each; in Europe if they give you bags, you pay them.

Italian gelatto has put me off of inferior ice cream for life.
Ditto for Swiss and German chocolate.

The Europeans know how to do recycling.

But their showers are too small (especially if you're 5'10" and your husband is 6'3"). They don't see a need for screens (thus the mosquito bites covering my daughter's arms), and air conditioning is not everywhere, and where they have it, it's pretty weak. Now you could argue that we Americans are spoiled, but really, if you live in a country where it regularly is humid and temperatures in the summer get to 36 degrees Celsius, wouldn't you think air conditioning is lovely?

My hair was wild. The humidity everywhere made my head look twice as big as it normally is.

We had a wonderful time. So many experiences and adventures. But it is nice to be home.

If you're interested, I've posted an album on my FaceBook page under Gabi Stevens Europe Trip

Now to work diligently on my new project.


Books I'm reading now:
Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase