Thursday, May 29, 2014


Been wondering what the next book is about? Here's the cover flap copy:
The grisly murder of a West Indies slave owner and the reappearance of a dangerous enemy from Sebastian St. Cyr’s past combine to put C. S. Harris’s "troubled but compelling antihero" to the ultimate test in this taut, thrilling new mystery.

London, 1813. The vicious decapitation of Stanley Preston, a wealthy, socially ambitious plantation owner, at Bloody Bridge draws Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, into a macabre and increasingly perilous investigation. The discovery near the body of an aged lead coffin strap bearing the inscription king charles, 1648 suggests a link between this killing and the beheading of the deposed seventeenth-century Stuart monarch. Equally troubling, the victim’s kinship to the current Home Secretary draws the notice of Sebastian’s powerful father-in-law, Lord Jarvis, who will exploit any means to pursue his own clandestine ends.

Working in concert with his fiercely independent wife, Hero, Sebastian finds his inquiries taking him from the wretched back alleys of Fish Street Hill to the royal castle of Windsor as he amasses a list of suspects who range from an eccentric Chelsea curiosity collector to the brother of an unassuming but brilliantly observant spinster named Jane Austen.

But as one brutal murder follows another, it is the connection between the victims and ruthless former army officer Sinclair, Lord Oliphant, that dramatically raises the stakes. Once, Oliphant nearly destroyed Sebastian in a horrific wartime act of carnage and betrayal. Now the vindictive former colonel might well pose a threat not only to Sebastian but to everything—and everyone—Sebastian holds most dear.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Anyone who's read the Sebastian series knows my opinion of the mythologization of war. So it often comes as a shock to some to learn that I come from a very military family.

This is my dad, Raymond Lambert Proctor, who enlisted in the Air Corps at the age of 17, received a battlefield commission to lieutenant in the South Pacific in WWII, and retired a lieutenant colonel.

This is my husband, Steve Harris (on the left), who served two tours in Vietnam and retired a lieutenant colonel:
And this is my daughter Samantha, who is currently a captain on active duty as a doctor in the Air Force:
My sister, Penny, was a Marine captain and her husband, Derek, a Marine major, but unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures of them.

Memorial Day isn't about glorifying war but about honoring and remembering those who served and sometimes paid the ultimate price.

I'm proud of all of you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Here it is:

Coming March, 2015.

So what do you think? If you click on the cover, you'll be able to see it enlarged.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Author Swag

Saturday's "Lemonade Social" at RT2014 reintroduced me to a subject I haven't thought much about lately: author swag.

As I watched my fellow authors stake out their places behind the venue's high tables and begin spreading out their bait--I mean swag--I realized, Oh, dear; I only brought myself (and a few paltry old business cards). Back in the day, authors who printed up bookmarks were thought to be going the extra mile (full confession: I've never made bookmarks). But in this ebook age, who wants bookmarks? I'm told even postcards and rack cards are rather passe (so many end up in the trash that some conferences have outlawed "paper swag"). Today's cutting edge authors spring for personalized lip balm, magnets, buttons, sunscreen, pens, first aid kits, chocolates, key rings, sewing kits, mugs; you name it, some author has probably $$$$$$$plattered her name/book cover across it. I even heard of one erotica author giving away samples of personal lubricant emblazoned with her book cover (I am not making this up).

So my question to you is, Does this stuff really work? I mean, just because I pick up Judy Author's sunscreen does not mean that I will buy one of her books. Readers might eagerly scoop up chocolates, but the author's special wrapper is quickly thrown away and forgotten. I have a magnet on my fridge that I picked up at RWA2001 because I thought the cover was pretty; it's still there, yet I never bought the book and couldn't even tell you the author's name unless I went and looked at it. I do wear a Robicheaux Dock and Bait Shop baseball cap that Steve gave me, but he gave it to me because I'm a fan of James Lee Burke, not the other way around. And Steve has a BAD MEN T-shirt that John Connolly gave him, but then Connolly is a friend.

I do see a place for postcards and rack cards, which can basically serve as oversized business cards. I struck up a conversation with one author and took her rack card so I'd remember her name. The entire experience motivated me to spend hours today at Vistaprint designing new business cards and rack cards (that I'll probably never do anything with!). And I must admit it would be rather fun to make up some of their stuff as giveaways to readers I knew actually wanted it. In fact, I'm seriously thinking of ordering this mouse pad for myself...
But the merchandise that isn't junk is not cheap, and giving it away in the hopes someone will buy one of my books strikes me as desperate to insane. Your thoughts?

Friday, May 16, 2014

RT's Bourbon Street Pub Crawl

Imagine 2,000 dedicated, hardcore romance readers, ten publishers set up in ten Bourbon St. bars, free drinks, free beads, loudly blaring music, and a bevy of male cover models: that was last night's RT Bourbon Street Pub Crawl. If you ask me, the authors stationed at each bar were largely extraneous, since (unsurprisingly) the beads and the booze (and some mysterious giveaway at the end to those who collected at least seven out of the ten sets of beads) were the real draws.

I am glad I went, though, because half a dozen readers did come seek me out and talk to me (if only the music had been a little quieter). One blog reader, "vp," found some old F. van Wyck Mason paperbacks in her collection--including Rivers of Glory--and actually brought them to me! (She said she reread them first and warned me they have not aged well.) Thank you again, Vickie; that was an amazing thing to do.

I also had a good time talking to  new Penguin author Jan DeLima, who writes urban fantasy, and another author whose name I never did quite catch (did I mention the LOUD MUSIC?).

Thanks to a late, unseasonable cold front that came through on Wednesday, the temperature was balmy, which helps when it comes to Bourbon Street. And coming up on Saturday is the Lemonade Social, which I trust will be a bit more book friendly?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Audio Version of WHY KINGS CONFESS

This cover for the audio version of Why Kings Confess has been out a while, but I kept forgetting to post it. The narrator is, once again, Davina Porter.

Believe it or not, this is the second version; the first was not only of some Victorian dude, but he was bearded and lounging in a chair smoking a pipe. I don't know why art departments seem to think people wore the same style clothing from 1800 to 1900, so if you say "early nineteenth-century setting," they think, "Ah, yes; Victorian."

And while we're on the subject of covers, I've been told I'll be given permission to reveal the cover of Who Buries the Dead on May 21st. Once again, my editor and I asked that they not show a face, and once again, they did. But overall, I'm pretty happy with it, so I'm anxious to hear what you think. Watch this space.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Book Signing. In a Bar.

So it's happening this Thursday evening: I'll be heading for Bourbon Street for an author meet and greet and, if anyone wants, to sign books. In a bar. For some reason I find myself thinking of that scene in Sweet Home Alabama where the Reese Witherspoon character is in a bar and runs into an old classmate holding a baby in her arms. Reese says, "You have a baby! In a bar!" Babies, books, bars.... Hmmm.

Anyway, I'll be at the bar from 6:30 to 8:30, should any of you care to sashay in, say, "Hey!" and get your books signed. I hear that in place of a mechanical bull, they have a mechanical whale.

Rides, anyone?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day was one of my favorite holidays as a child, because I really, really loved my mother. Depending on where we lived, I'd pick her a bouquet of wildflowers from the meadows or blooms from an abandoned farmhouse or maybe just a bunch of bright yellow dandelions. I'd bake her a cake (although she actually preferred pies, but that always seemed too complicated for me). And we'd either make dinner or my dad would take us out to eat. I still remember many of the gifts I gave her over the years; some of them now grace my own home, bringing a smile to my heart whenever I see them because they remind me of her and all the joy that we shared through the years.

My love of gardening is one of the many gifts my mother gave me. And this lovely rose near my driveway gate came from her. So Happy Mother's Day, Mama; these are for you:

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Rule of Three. Or Six.

What is it about bad luck always coming in threes? Or sets of threes? It all started a few months ago when my refrigerator went on the blink. We barely got that replaced when we needed a new hot water heater. Then the dishwasher went out right before Christmas. The stove went the day after Christmas (always a lovely time to try to have new appliances delivered). The guy who installed the new dishwasher told us we'd better have our kitchen faucet replaced ASAP. That's five. So I should have known this was coming: last week, my washing machine died.
At first, I was almost happy about it, for I have hated the danged thing since it first broke down a month after we spent what seemed like a small fortune buying it. All together it broke down something like eight times in the first two years. Plus, no matter how hard I tried, I could not keep it from getting moldy. But the thing I hated about it the most was my own stupid fault, because I should have realize that you can't soak clothes in a front loader (I'm one of those people who really likes to soak). So I was excited about the idea of replacing it. Only, then I discovered just how difficult it is to find a machine--even a top loader--that will let you actually fill it up with water and turn it off to soak your clothes for as long as you want. Seriously? Doesn't anyone soak their clothes any more? I had to wait EIGHT DAYS to get this thing delivered from the Back of Beyond.

When the delivery guys wheeled it into my laundry room, they laughed and said, "You were smart; you went with one of the good ole fashioned kind. Them fancy new things ain't worth sh*t." No kidding. Now I have a mountain of laundry to work my way through. And I know it looks silly, but I decided I couldn't part with the dryer because I keep my paper towels and spare laundry detergent in the storage space beneath it. So now I'm eyeing my air conditioners and thinking, One dryer + two air conditioners=three. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

My Notebook

Some time ago, I asked readers to leave questions they'd like to see answered here, and I've slowly been working my way through them. So, here's a question from Liz:

My question has to do with your notebook. To what extent do you use a notebook and pencil/pen vs a computer. For instance, do you use the former to organize the plot and the latter to do the actual writing?

Once upon a time, I composed my books while sitting at the computer. Theoretically, writing at the computer is faster since it eliminates the need to transcribe. But then, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed my office, our house, and everything for miles around it, life was chaos; I had a book due, and I was finding it extraordinarily difficult to write. A friend of mine, Rexanne Becnel, has always written her books by hand, in a notebook, in a coffee shop. So I decided to try it (the notebook part, not the coffee shop part; I like solitude and quiet). The change broke whatever was blocking me; I was able to write Why Mermaids Sing in record time, and I've written by hand ever since.

I like it for a number of reasons. I have a bad back thanks to breaking it in a tobogganing accident years ago, so I find sitting for hours on a sofa, chair, or porch swing far more comfortable. Once upon a time it also took me away from the ever-present temptations of the Internet, but smart phones and iPads have wiped out that benefit. But most of all I like it because I find I write better by hand. Someone recently did a study showing that the act of holding and moving a pen stimulates creativity better than typing, so it's not simply my imagination.

In a sense, I've come full circle. When I first started writing, my kids were little and I wrote in a notebook because it was portable--I could take it to swim practice or dance classes or flute lessons.... You know what being a mother is like. Once upon a time I wrote on the backs of old printouts, but I've become more finicky with age. Now, I absolutely must use the same brand and weight of crisp white legal pads and the same type of pen every time I write. I try to type up each scene or chapter as I write it; I edit as I transcribe, and then I print it out and edit it some more. I keep the manuscript clipped together in sections. Here's the first part of book #11, which as you can see has no title yet:

 And of course, sitting on a sofa makes it easier to manage this guy:

Angel does love to 'help.'