Monday, January 9, 2012

Where Did 2011 Go?

I'd intended to write this post on the first of the year, figuring at least it would become an "annual tradition" to write a blog post -- which was never my original intention when I began blogging. But I got so busy! On January 1, 2012, I was deep into revisions of my upcoming nonfiction opus, ROYAL ROMANCES: TITILLATING TALES OF PASSION AND POWER IN THE PALACES OF EUROPE (a November 2012 release from NAL), and didn't have a moment to lose, because I expect to see the copyedits of my upcoming novel, DAYS OF SPLENDOR, DAYS OF SORROW, the second book in the Marie Antoinette historical fiction trilogy.

So where did 2011 go? Here's why, despite my best intentions, I never got back to the blog site all last year to update my readers on anything of note (though, in my defense, I did post a bit on my other blog,, including a post about being at the royal wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.

Speaking of which ... Happy 30th Birthday, Kate! (her big 3-0 is today, so at least I did something on time!)

2011 began with a commission from Barnes & Noble, through a specialty publisher in Seattle that produces novelty books. They wanted a book on 1000 years of the British monarchy, poking behing the palace doors (mostly bedroom doors), along the lines of the books I've been writing for NAL these past few years. But this would be a heavily illustrated 172-page hardcover that would also contain facsimiles (tucked into large opaque envelopes inserted within the book) of historical memorabilia. The kicker was that I had about a month to write the first draft of the text because the book had to go into production well before the royal wedding so that the photos of William and Kate, and any additional tweaks I would make to the chapter on their lives, would go in at the end of the process, and the book could be available for purchase well before the Christmas holiday season.

The result, after an intense gestation period, is THE ROYALS: THE LIVES AND LOVES OF THE BRITISH MONARCHS, a title chosen by Barnes & Noble. I had hoped for some sort of subtitle along the lines of "From William the Conqueror to William of Wales" to give readers a sense of the scope of the volume. It's a gorgeous (and very affordable!) product and for all the hard work, I am tremendously satisfied with it.

THE ROYALS was released on September 22, 2011 and because it is a B&N exclusive, is available only at their brick and mortar stores or through their website at

While I was working on THE ROYALS, I was also doing promotional appearances (in-store, guest blogs, and interviews) for ROYAL PAINS: A ROGUES' GALLERY OF BRATS, BRUTES, AND BAD SEEDS, my first book release of 2011, the third book on scandalous royals and royal scandals for NAL.

Oh, and I was also writing the second novel in the Marie Antoinette trilogy. Meanwhile, during the winter and early spring of 2011 through a web site I discovered through the Publishers Weekly daily blast I answered the call for an expert on the upcoming royal wedding.

Blam! Suddenly I was coast to coast (literally -- from St. Thomas, V.I. to Hawaii!), and everywhere in between, I was giving radio interviews, sometimes twice a day. The Australian and Canadian Broadcasting Companies came knocking. So did and the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps most exciting of all: the CBS Nightly News with Katie Couric wanted to interview me, which we did at The Players in New York City, which stood in for a London location. And they were excited that I planned to actually be in London for the week of the royal wedding, because they could use me for an additional interview.

So ... I bought the hats and took my pastel colored silk suit to the drycleaners (as it turned out, Carole Middleton wore almost the same color!). And then, as often happens in TV-land, where schedules change on a dime, CBS ran my interview at the top of the week of the royal wedding, while I was still in NYC.


So I was a bit disappointed that they didn't do a second interview from the Tower of London, but I still had an amazing time in the capital, soaking up the mood and granting other interviews by phone to major media outlets internationally. And two days before the wedding while my husband and I were strolling past Buckingham Palace, perhaps because I was all dressed up I was stopped by an Italian broadcast journalist and did an on-camera interview for her!

But just two weeks before the wedding, I spent a week in the O.C., recording the audio book of BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE in "Beautiful Downtown Burbank." Actually, the studio is in Woodland Hills, but I couldn't resist the old Laugh-In line. It was my first audio book, as an author, and as a narrator-actress, and was a fantastic experience. At Random House Audio/Books on Tape, the directors really direct the narrators. They don't just stop and restart the machine when you goof. They work with you on the nuances of performance and it was great to work as a true voice actor. There were so many characters to voice in the audio book of BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE that as an actress I wished the writer sometimes hadn't put so many people in a scene at the same time!

The rest of the spring and summer was spent on Marie Antoinette. The first novel in the trilogy, BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE, was released on August 9, the same day as the audio book.

I completed and submitted the manuscript of the second novel, DAYS OF SPLENDOR, DAYS OF SORROW, followed by the synopsis of the final novel, THE LAST OCTOBER SKY. DAYS OF SPLENDOR will be released in the spring of 2012 ... stay tuned for cover art!

Then it was time to turn back to nonfiction and the ROYAL ROMANCES manuscript, which I submitted during late fall in time to tackle the revisions to DAYS OF SPLENDOR ... and no sooner did I submit those to my fiction editor than the edited manuscript of ROYAL ROMANCES showed up in my inbox, which took me all the way through the holidays. So I watched the ball drop from Times Square with Lola Montez and Ludwig I and George VI and Elizabeth Bowes Lyon.

I nearly forgot to mention the week I spent in early November recording the audio book for Carrie Bebris's Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery THE DECEPTION AT LYME. Carrie really captures Jane Austen's wit and tone while making her stories quniquely her own. The book is delicious fun, as was narrating it, and required me to stay in character with an English accent for the duration of the novel, as well as voicing many of Austen's beloved characters. The audio book of THE DECEPTION AT LYME is scheduled for release later this month.

So -- that was where 2011 went for me! An unprecedented (for me) three books released in a single year, as well as three heavily researched (two nonfiction and one novel) written and submitted. Did I sleep? Barely? And I didn't take a vacation unless you count a road trip to Michigan for back-to-back book signings.

And that's why I wasn't blogging here, though you can catch a number of guest posts on Historical Fiction blogs that I did on behalf of BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE.

I've made a New Years resolution to try to post more often here ... but a deadline looms. It seems a deadline always looms. In the meantime, you can find me on Facebook, and occasionally, when I remember, on Twitter!

Happy 2012! How did you spend 2011 and did you make any resolutions for 2012?