Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HERSELF in Italian: Che Bella Fortuna!

I have a confession to make: Italy and I have been having a love affair for some time, now. Forgive me Paris, Bath, Carmel-by-the Sea, CA, Dorset, VT, and my beloved hometown of New York City -- but I adore Venice more than any other place in the world.

And pasta.

And Armani

And Botticelli

and the gutsy and gorgeous cortigiana onesta, Veronica Franco.

Italy has been molto bene to me, too. So far, three of my novels have been translated into Italian: PLAY DATES (Matrimoni, bugie e appuntamenti)

SPIN DOCTOR (Amori e centrifughe)

and THE MEMOIRS OF HELEN OF TROY (Il diario segreto di Elena Di Troia).

And I've just learned that the same publisher bought the rights to an Italian translation of HERSELF. I can't wait to see how they title it, since "Herself" is an Irish expression indicating that a woman thinks she's all that (and my book title has multiple meanings in the context of the story).

So I have something else to be thankful for this season. Perhaps I should skip the turkey and enjoy some Osso Buco instead!

Viva Italia!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Belated thanks for another award!

I don't know how I missed it, but way back in the middle of September, Lizzy J. over at Historically Obsessed ( honored me with the "Butterfly Award For the coolest blog I ever know".

I just noticed ... so belated thanks, hugs, and smooches to the uber-talented Lizzy for her admiration of "The Lady Novelist."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Writers' Night Out: A "Busman's Holiday"

This photo was taken at Bookmarks Bar at The Library Hotel last Tuesday evening by fellow history hoyden ( Tracy Grant, who blogged about her recent visit to NYC, her grand time at the grand opera, and the equally grand hours she spent with another history hoyden (pictured to my right), Lauren Willig ( [Sorry, I'm still such a Luddite, I don't know how to type a person's name and have that be the link to their site.]

Over drinks and lively conversation, we wondered if our readers think we live the glamorous life of parties and soirees nearly very evening. Of course if real life were a 21st-century version of The Thin Man, minus the murder mystery, we'd all be hard pressed to get any actual writing done. And both Tracy ( and Lauren are exceptionally prolific, not to mention talented.

As for me, sitting there in the bright pink sweater, my 13th book, NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire, is about to be published (release date is 1/5/10, which I've been referring to as "the eleventh day of Christmas"). I'm neck deep in research and writing for my 3rd nonfiction title (ROYAL PAINS: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Bastards, and Bad Seeds) to be published in the spring of 2011) and just received an offer from Random House to write a historical fiction trilogy on the life of Marie Antoinette.

So much for glamorous parties, soirees, and fancy cocktails. I've often wondered how some of the more famous literary alcoholics (Eugene O'Neill, Dashiell Hammett, Earnest Hemingway, Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams), managed to create such masterpieces on the sauce. I have one drink and my brain cells are no longer zinging with creative alacrity.

But, when in Rome ... and at the Bookmarks bar where some of the drinks are named for famous authors, I had to splurge for one such specialty cocktail in an evening given over to spirited shop talk with two dear friends and immensely gifted authors. Now that you're all dying to know what I imbibed the other night, it was called the "Dickens" and consisted of aged rum, muddled figs, and pumpkin Agave nectar. Why do I think Charles probably never tasted Agave-anything in his life? A good strong Port would probably have been Dickens' beverage of choice, but the Bookmarks concoction was quite delicious, even if it didn't give me the rabid urge to serialize my novels in popular periodicals.

Because I love what I do, and often hate to refer to it as my "job" (career, metier, calling, all being more suitable words for the way I personally view my profession), I often get so caught up in my research and writing that I forget how solitary the author's life can be. Consequently, it becomes such a treat to share the experiences of writing -- both the joys and sorrows of the craft itself, as well as "shop talk" about the process with those who are enduring (or enjoying) the same kind of life.

So, on a fairly balmy autumnal Sunday morning, drinking nothing more potent than a really strong cup of black coffee from a blend that Fresh Direct calls "Sinful Delight" (which in itself sounds like a romance title), I raise my Buckingham Palace mug (a purchase in person from their gift shop ... it has a gilt rim and a pretty black and white 19th c. engraving on it) to writers everywhere and especially to Tracy and Lauren for sharing such a delightful diversion last week.

Write on, my friends!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Queen is Dead! Long Live the Queen!

Undoubtedly there will be more news as I get the details, but I am DELIGHTED to announce that I have just accepted a terrific three-book offer from Random House for a historical fiction trilogy on the life of Marie Antoinette.

Although I got my exercise at the gym already today, I have been doing the proverbial "happy dance" since I heard the news, and shared a bottle of Prosecco with my agent this afternoon because I just had to give myself a couple of hours off from researching my nonfiction wip ROYAL PAINS, to digest the incredible news!

The first book, tentatively titled BECOMING, is about Antoinette's early years, from the day she learns, as a ten-year-old girl, that her mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, has opened negotiations to marry her to Louis-Auguste the dauphin of France -- heir to his grandfather Louis XV's throne. The first novel will end on the day she becomes queen of France.

I know exactly what time period each of the other two novels in the trilogy will span but I prefer to keep that to myself for the moment.

The only other information I have about this marvelous Random House contract is that this fresh start will necessitate a new pen name for my historical fiction (I will continue to write my nonfiction ROYAL series for NAL under my own name).

So, Amanda Elyot, who wrote 4 historical novels, and who was described by Publishers Weekly as "the queen of historical romance" [though she really wrote historical fiction, and there is a difference] has been officially declared dead. I loved her very much and I will miss her. For closure, I wrote an epitaph at the Northshire Bookstore's Halloween party last Saturday night up in Manchester, VT.

She lived to write another day ... but under another name.

"What's in a name?" asked the greatest writer in the English language. We'll find out. Right now my choice of surname is "Grey" -- it has royal overtones and "Leslie" is Celtic for "from the grey fortress, so it's my little personal inside joke.

As for potential first names, I'm becoming fond of (alphabetically) Annabel, Diana, Emily, Juliet, Olivia, and Vivien.

Feel free to weigh in! I welcome your suggestions.