Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Not Whining

This isn't intended as a whine, but I thought I'd let you know what's going on in my life at the moment.

My husband is suffering a spinal problem that is making it hard for him to walk, impossible for him to drive, and causing him enormous pain. My life has been consumed for the past three weeks with medical appointments and physical therapy and picking up all the minutiae of our daily life that he normally takes care of, all under a huge cloud of worry. In the midst of this, Huckleberry died; my daughter is getting ready to move to North Carolina (I had planned to make the drive with her but now can't leave Steve), and we've also had air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical problems that make it feel like the Fates are throwing mud at us.

I am also trying to keep writing Sebastian #13 and shepherd two books toward publication. Yes, two. I should be able to reveal the cover for WHERE THE DEAD LIE, #12, very soon. And I will also finally, finally be able to talk about that other book--the non-Sebastian one--that I've been hinting about for what seems like forever. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


As many of you know, Sebastian and Hero's big, long-haired black cat was inspired by my own inimitable Huckleberry.

Huckleberry came to us as a tiny kitten just months after we moved to the States. Big, beautiful, smart, vain, and highly intolerant of most other cats, he was never demonstrative (you were allowed to hold him--only like a baby--for perhaps two minutes, then he'd had enough). But he was always, always, intensely affectionate, and he pined miserably whenever I left him, even for a few days. He followed me around the house all day, sleeping in the To Be Filed basket under my desk or in the special box I kept just for him under the coffee table near where I sit  to write my books in longhand. He went with me up to the lake on my weeklong writing retreats--an excursion he always loved because he got to be an only cat. At night he slept on a dolls' bunkbed at the foot of my bed--Huck on the top bunk, Thomasina (his foster mom, adopted as a two-year-old rescue at the same time) on the bottom.

I love all my cats, but Huck was my special baby. He was at my side (meowing) through all the heartache and horror of Katrina and its aftermath. He comforted me when my mother died and when my girls spread their wings and flew. Three years ago I almost lost him to a flare of what we discovered was chronic toxoplasmosis (most cats are able to wall it off; Huck couldn't, and I learned it had killed his mother at age 8). I knew it would only be a matter of time before it flared again. I strongly suspect his grief over Thomasina's death six weeks ago sent his immune system into a tailspin that left him vulnerable.

Yesterday, I had to thank my darling for all the joy and love, laughter and sweet, sweet memories he brought into my life, and said goodbye. He has left a giant hole in my heart and in my life, and I am frankly devastated.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


I've spent the last week going over the copyedited manuscript of WHERE THE DEAD LIE. Once upon a time I would get my original paper manuscript back with the copyeditor's marks on it. Now it's all done electronically with Track Changes. I liked the old way much better. Now I have to sit in front of the computer for hours and hours going through each of the copyeditor's little bubbles. Then I make a duplicate of the file, leave in all the changes but take out the bubbles, print out a clean manuscript, and go sit someplace comfortable and spend a couple of days reading it.

This is my last chance to make any changes. I will see the manuscript one more time before it is published, but at that stage I'll be reading galley proofs and the only things I'm allowed to change are typos or glaring mistakes (like calling a character by the wrong name).
I thought those of you who are not writers might be interested to see some of the copyedits (if you click on the images they will enlarge). I write fairly clean copy, although since my focus is always on story and flow, I can miss some dumb mistakes (like writing Eden when I meant Eton!). I always appreciate my copyeditors because they save me enormous embarrassment. I worry when I catch a dozen things after a copyeditor has already gone through a manuscript because I know that means some things are inevitably slipping past us. It's impossible for me to ignore story for words, so I'm a lousy proofreader. And then of course the copyeditors always change things I want put back the way they were.
Also this week I received the first version of the cover. It needs some modification, and it will be a while before I have approval to show it, but I'm going to cheat and share this screenshot of part of it because it's so striking--and because it's always sooo exciting when a manuscript inches this much closer to being a real book:

Saturday, June 04, 2016

This and That

Sorry I've been MIA for a few weeks. I've been busy with that project I can't talk about yet and that doesn't have anything to do with Sebastian. But hopefully I'll be able stop just hinting and actually talk about it soon.

In Sebastian news, Recorded Books has bought the audio rights for the next three books in the series (#13-15). They have also finally caught up with the earlier books, which means that the first eleven in the series are now available in audio. The audio for #12, WHERE THE DEAD LIE, should be out at the same time as the print release next spring.

And now for something you're not going to want to hear: because I have a new editor and her schedule for March was already full, it looks like WHERE THE DEAD LIE will be pushed back to an April release. I'm still lobbying to keep my old March slot, but . . .

In the meanwhile, they've done the photo shoot for the cover of WHERE THE DEAD LIE, so I should be seeing the mockup of that soon. And I've recently hit page 100 of the first draft for #13, which has no title yet. The first 100 pages of a book are always the hardest for me, so it's a huge milestone and big relief when I finally get past that point. I do wish I had a title for it, though; I find it oddly unsettling when I don't.

I've also been working on a long post about the rumors that Queen Victoria was illegitimate. More on that later!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Saying Goodbye. Again.

We lost Thomasina today. Even when you know a dearly beloved friend has lived a long, good life, it's still hard.

Because she was once feral (hence the cropped ear), we've never known exactly how old Thomasina was, but best estimates put her over seventeen or eighteen. When we first brought her home from the rescue group (just weeks after moving to New Orleans), she was so shy she lived in our spare room amidst the boxes for months, only venturing out after everyone had gone to bed. But Danielle slowly won her over. As far as Thomasina was concerned, the sun rose and set in Danielle--and the feeling was mutual.

Thomasina saw Danielle through all the painful adjustments involved moving to a strange new country, negotiating the American school system, and heading off to college and then graduate school. Last Wednesday, Danielle successfully defended her doctoral dissertation; on Thursday she accepted a position as assistant professor at a good university. And today, this.