Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TV Tuesday -- two links

I found this via Tara Kirby:
'Camelot' vs. 'Game of Thrones' vs. 'Borgias': Which epic TV series is best for you?
This seemed especially relevant considering my TV Tuesday entry from last week. It's reductive, yes, but still helpful and extremely entertaining. (I have a feeling my pal Michelle will NOT be watching Game of Thrones after reading this!) I'm probably going to take a pass on The Borgias, but the other two are still on my radar. Which one(s) will YOU be watching?

And via Ellen:
Jennifer Garner will play Miss Marple in a new Disney reboot.
A film rather than a TV show, but since I usually associate Miss Marple with the small screen, I'm including it. Yes, I am horrified by the concept and thoroughly agree with the comments. "Hell to the no" pretty much sums it up, in my opinion! How about you?

Other TV updates:
-- Still haven't watched last week's ep of The Good Wife but have already been spoiled by EW and the CBS promos. Argh.
-- Last week's Fringe was partly ridiculous but mostly awesome. So good to see Henry again, though Andre Royo must have been thinking "you want me to say that? And do that? (Still...I confess to leaking a few tears over that scene.) Did they say FOUR WEEKS until the next episode? Wah.

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy things for a Monday (+ 1 sad thing)

Had a great time at the SCBWI OK conference this weekend. All the presenters were top notch and extremely generous with their advice, but I bonded particularly with Kate Jacobs (Roaring Brook Press) over a shared devotion to Omar from The Wire (hee!), and my socks were completely knocked off by Nicholas Eliopulos of Scholastic, who gave a very inspiring talk about genre fiction. (If you have an MG or YA boy book, please consider adding him to your submission list -- I bet he would be lovely to work with! Here's an interview with him if you'd like to know more.)

Best part of all was spending time with my crit partners Brandi and Lisa.

Here we are after having just stuffed ourselves at Abuelos. Mmmm . . .

In other news, I finished South Riding yesterday. Sometimes I feel like I should force myself to take a break from my YA addiction, and this was just the ticket. I agree with Andrew Davies that this novel, originally published in 1936, is "as bold and ambitious as Middlemarch by George Eliot," and Sarah Waters is spot-on in calling it "a twentieth-century classic." I won't bore you with my ill-explained summary of the story. Instead, I offer the trailer of the BBC adaptation as a teaser:

I can't wait until this mini-series comes to the U.S.! If you know me at all, you know the story of a girls' school headmistress taking a post in the English countryside is TOTALLY my thing. And the cast is spectacular, don't you think? I love the idea of Anna Maxwell Martin as Sarah Burton.

P.S. I know many are mourning the loss of Diana Wynne Jones. My condolences to her fans.

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday favorites

Two things today:

1. I'm going to the SCBWI Oklahoma conference this Saturday! Yes, I am a conference junkie, but there are always so many lovely people at the Oklahoma regional events, and I get to hang out with Brandi Barnett and Lisa Marotta. Yay!

2. Duran Duran is on Ellen DeGeneres today. Set your DVRs!

Did you know Ellen was featured in the "Rio" video? Check it out:

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your weekend. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TV Tuesday

I'll try to be more positive for this week's TV Tuesday by talking about two new shows that intrigue me, both coming to cable in April.

So many dear friends are RABID about George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. How many times have I wondered "Who the heck is Jaime Lannister and why is everyone swooning over him?" Well, I'm about to find out, and I'm taking the easy way by watching the HBO mini-series that premieres April 17. (If it appeals to me at all, you know I'll read the book so CALM DOWN.) HBO had me at Sean Bean, but I'm also looking forward to seeing that cutie from the shortlived New Amsterdam playing Jaime. Actually, the entire cast looks pretty strong. YAY!

Chime in if you'll be watching!

(Learn more about GAME OF THRONES here.)

This could suck and I'd still watch because I'm THAT obsessed with the Arthurian legends. I'm also fairly obsessed with Eva Green. (And there's Philip Winchester!) Decent cast overall, but this is STARZ so I'm a little nervous. (The character descriptions on the website are so sappy that I kinda want to barf. And they've written Morgan as King Uther's daughter? WRONG!) Still, I can't help being excited. And I'm already hating Guinevere based on the few clips we see of her in this trailer. YAY! At least that is as it should be.

Anyone else planning to watch this? I think STARZ has already shown the first ep, but the series officially premieres on April 1.

(Learn more about CAMELOT here.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011


The Duran Duran concert was great -- best I've ever seen! I'm already plotting how to see them again on this tour.



I have more photos (and videos) in a locked entry on my LJ, so if we're friends there (and you're a Duran Duran fan), go check it out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friday Favorites -- a day early

Today we head down to Dallas for some shopping and fun. Tomorrow night we see my all-time favorite band play at the Winstar Casino.

It's surreal. Duran Duran still making albums 25 years later? Duran Duran in Oklahoma? At a CASINO?

Ah well . . . I'm looking forward to it.

I remember when they seemed so cutting edge:

Weren't they cute back in the Rio days? I was so young and hick back then, growing up in small town in Tennessee, and they were so British and sophisticated. Their videos opened up whole new worlds to me.

They're older now, but they've still got it going on:

I wonder if Simon will be sporting the beard tomorrow night? And will he be pouring himself into tight leather trousers, as usual? *giggle*

Poor Steve will have to endure me dancing and singing through the whole concert.

Old Lady Sonia thinks "I'd better wear comfortable shoes."

It's gonna be fun! I'll be sure to report when we get back.

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TV Tuesday - the slump

My pal Brandi Barnett and I decided we would blog weekly about TV, since we LOVE to talk about it (but rarely watch the same shows). I was excited because I am unapologetically obsessed with TV and will never pledge to watch less of it -- it gives me so many great ideas for my own writing!

But this week, TV is not thrilling me.

Well, I will say that Steve and I stayed up until midnight to watch the final three episodes of Pillars of the Earth. I still don't LOVE this miniseries -- too rushed, too many caricatures -- but it certainly was suspenseful.

Yesterday I tried the first 10 minutes of Desperate Romantics, which I seem to remember squeeing about on LJ a few years ago when it was first airing in the UK. I mean, the premise seemed quite lovely. The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood as young, sexy, libidinous lads! Sadly, I don't really like the cast and so far the tone is a turn-off for me. 10 minutes does not qualify as giving it a fair shake, but I just can't be bothered to watch more at this point. I'd actually rather watch old episodes of Midsomer Murders for my Britfix. (Sonia = old lady)

Worst of all, I've been feeling rather neutral about Fringe lately. *MILD SPOILER ALERT!* There was the ep where they went there and I merely raised an eyebrow. No squeeing -- it didn't seem particularly romantic to me. (They didn't write it that way, did they? What did you think of it? Did I miss the blog coverage of this?) And then there was the flashback episode, which I found interesting. I actually had to rewind and watch certain scenes a few times to get the universes straight, so that was nice. (Or I'm just really slow.) And then last week's ep -- I'm so glad that Peter and Olivia are behaving themselves and being honest and having a nice time. That's refreshing. But the last scene made me laugh. Not sure I'm that excited to watch Olivia channeling William Bell, but it's an innovative way to push her and Peter apart for a bit.

And I'm way behind on CASTLE, VAMPIRE DIARIES, and LAW & ORDER UK.

What's getting you excited on TV lately? Am I missing anything brilliant? (Haven't checked BBCAmerica for new shows in a long time.) It's one of those times when I think I need a new TV obsession...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Giveaway results!

Well, you're all winners in my book! So many lovely participants -- you're all very charming and your book/tv/film recs were WONDERFUL. In fact, I hope to devote an entire blog entry to the recommendations you made. Thank you all so much for participating and making this incredibly fun for me. I look forward to getting to know you better through Twitter, Facebook and Blogger! Hope you stick around. (& not just because there will be more giveaways in the future!)

So, without further ado, our Grand Prize winner is . . .


She will receive the ARC of THE REVENANT, hardcover copies of THE VESPERTINE and CLARITY, plus a boatload of swag.

Our two runners up are . . .

Dana Wright and Jessica Ring!

They each receive a pre-order of THE REVENANT, plus swag-o-rama.

**Winners were chosen randomly by the random.org sequence generator!**

I have emailed the winners. If for some reason I don't hear from them within a week, I will do another drawing.

Thanks again to everyone for participating. I seriously wish I could give each of you a ginormous hug. Looking forward to seeing you around!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Favorites

I ran across a poem yesterday, and it made me smile. I'm a fan of Billy Collins but had somehow missed the fact that he'd written a poem entitled "The Revenant."

I confess to having hoped it would be sexy and Victorian, just like my book one of my favorite poems of his, Taking off Emily Dickinson's Clothes.

But . . . not quite. Check out this video of him reading it:

Later today I'm giving a presentation to Oklahoma History students (three presentations, actually) on the history of the Cherokee Female Seminary. On the day before Spring Break. Wish me luck!

P.S. My thoughts are with the people of Japan after the devastating earthquake/tsunami. As far as I can tell, my brother was nowhere near the epicenter, but we're still waiting to hear from him. ETA: He's okay!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Four frivolous questions - Kim Harrington's CLARITY

Today I'm asking Kim Harrington a few questions about her debut novel CLARITY -- which was a blast to read, I must say! I'm already looking forward to the sequel, entitled PERCEPTION. (And I happen to know that Kim has written about 100* more novels since she sold CLARITY, so there's plenty more coming down the pipeline.)

*slight exaggeration

So without further ado . . .

1. VERONICA MARS (which you mention in your acknowledgments) offered us teen noir crime detection with a femaleprotagonist, but CLARITY ups the ante with paranormal teen noir crime detection (along with an equally spunky heroine). What inspired you to go this direction? Why psychics?

To be honest, when I was a little girl I wanted so badly to be psychic. I read all these books about ESP and tried to read my friends’ minds and all that. So maybe creating main characters with paranormal gifts is a bit of wish fulfillment. Plus, it’s so fun to write!

2. I read in a great interview at Novel Novice that, as part of your research, you actually went to psychics for readings. Did they say anything that gave you a chill – any evidence of a legit paranormal ability? Or was it mostly just an entertaining show? (Or not-so-entertaining?).

None of the ones I visited were chill-inducing. They mostly made general statements that almost anyone my age could fit into their life somehow. But it was definitely entertaining and fun! I should totally drag you to one when we’re in Salem together in April. We can blog it! Agree now! Publicly! :)

I AGREE. Can't wait! (Hey, if we're going to be ghost-busting in our haunted hotel rooms, might as well get a psychic reading, too. May prove helpful.)

*Ahem* Back to questions . . .

3. Also, during your research did you find any other “family acts” of psychics? I loved this bit, especially the backstory – the ways of the Berkshire Hills spiritualist community that spawned the Ferns could be a novel of its own. Are there actual communities like this?

I did visit one family of psychics who worked out of the first floor of their home. They didn’t do tandem readings. You just got sent into a room with whoever had an opening. I’d already written CLARITY at this point and was working on the sequel. So I was excited to visit a family of psychics, but unfortunately this one ended up being the least entertaining of all of them. Ah well!

Regarding the “spiritualist community” the Fern family originates from, I did base it off two areas. One was a community in Western Massachusetts that I found on the Internet. The other is the more well-known community of Lily Dale, NY.

4. I know from your blog and Twitter that music is an important part of your creative process. What songs kept you inspired while writing CLARITY?

I'm definitely inspired by music when drafting a novel. For CLARITY's darker scenes, songs like Placebo’s Running Up That Hill, Echo & The Bunnymen’s The Killing Moon, and Closer by Kings of Leon got me into the right mood. For Clare's general kick-assery, I listened to Army of Me by Bjork and Daughters of the Kaos by Luscious Jackson.

Wow, it's a little weird to hear that Placebo cover of "Running Up That Hill" because, being old, I am much more familiar with the Kate Bush version (which is not nearly as creepy and therefore less suited to your needs). Thanks so much for answering my questions, Kim!

Readers, if you'd like your own copy of CLARITY, plus more books and SWAG, please check out my giveaway.

Or find CLARITY at all the usual places: IndieboundAmazonBarnes & NobleBorders.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

TV Tuesday


Steve and I finally got around to watching the Pillars of the Earth mini-series. We just finished the episode where a MAJOR CHARACTER suffers a brutal death. Wah.

I first read Pillars of the Earth in college. Seems like I'd read a bunch of Follett's suspense/spy novels before that and enjoyed them. This book, having a medieval focus, really captured my fancy. At the time I thought it was one of the best books I'd ever read, and I encouraged everyone in my aquaintance to read it.

Since then I've read more Follet books, some of which have made me shake my head. ("Really? That's what you think of women, Ken?") I couldn't finish the sequel to Pillars because one scene offended me so deeply that I threw the book across the room and never returned to it.

I tell you all this merely to make it clear that I'm not sure anymore how great Pillars of the Earth truly is. I mean, I barely remembered the plot details before we started watching the mini-series.

That said, what do I want to say about the mini? The production values aren't as high as they should be for a story with such an epic scope, but they're not bad. Many of the actors are a bit stagey and prone to mustache-twirling, but Rufus Sewell and Matthew Macfadyen (so cute with his attempts at a Welsh accent) are really putting their all into it. Eddie Redmayne and Ian McShane are fine. It's hard to see a charming actress like Sarah Parish (who was WONDERFUL in the Shakespeare Retold Much Ado About Nothing) play an evil schemer who makes out with her own son in the downtime between fighting & pillaging (was this in the book?). Still, she's a memorable character.

And it's a very watchable show.

I think my main problem with this production is how the story has been so severely compressed. A lot of people have said that the novel would have been twice as good if it had been half as long, but this script takes that to an extreme. Duh, Sonia -- this is what happens in a mini-series. BUT! I remember (perhaps inaccurately?) lots of fascinating details in the book about cathedral building and village life -- and a great deal more character development. This adpatation, however, reduces it all to a back-and-forth between the Kingsbridge gang and the Hamleigh/Waleran gang. Our poor Kingsbridge heroes make 5 inches of progress only to have the evil Hamleighs knock them back 10 feet. Rinse and repeat. And poor Jack! His character development is so herky-jerky. He's a mute idiot. No, he's a genius stone carver! Ooops, he's dead. No, he's alive! He's kissing Aliena. NO, she's pushing him away! He's fighting Alfred. Now he's banished! No wait, he's a MONK!

Also, the sex scenes make me queasy. I mean, Jack kissing Aliena is sweet, but all the other scenes just seem too sweaty, filthy and furtive to be the least bit titillating.

But like I said, we keep watching.

And Rufus really is quite good!

If anything, this has been educational in that it will make me more conscious of how I'm balancing progress and reversal in my plotting.

Anyone else out there a fan of the book? Have you seen the mini? Thoughts?

Gosh, I had some vague musings about FRINGE, but I suppose that can wait until next TV Tuesday . . .

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Monday, March 7, 2011



Hey guys! THE REVENANT will debut in just over three months. Can you believe it?

I'm having a giveaway to celebrate. There will be THREE winners!

The first name drawn will receive an advance reader's copy of THE REVENANT, plus swag:

Swag includes a signed bookmark, a super-cool Ouija Board keychain (with planchette inside), a not-so-cool REVENANT keychain (use it for a spare key), some REVENANT stickynotes, and whatever else I can rustle up.

PLUS . . . a copy of THE VESPERTINE and CLARITY, both chock full of mystery and paranormal deliciousness, along with swag:

vespertine clarity
Saundra Mitchell graciously included a bookmark and gorgeous dance card (see my interview with Saundra here), while Kim Harrington (interview forthcoming) kindly offered up a bookmark and signed bookplate!

PLUS . . . a cool journal from teNeues:

I bought one of these journals in Paris and FILLED IT UP. (See, here's a photo of me using mine.) I'm that "writer" who always gives up on a journal before it's 1/4 full, but this one was so nice because it was compact and yet also opened flat and was easy to write in. (I love that the pages are lined on one side only.) I ordered a bunch more when I got home!

AND FINALLY . . . an assortment of fabulous Elevensies swag:

You will never lack for bookmarks again!

The second and third names drawn will each receive a pre-order of THE REVENANT, delivered to your door somewhere around June 14, without you having to lift a finger! And though you'll have to wait for this hardcover copy, it will be prettier and clean of typos (hopefully). These winners also will each receive REVENANT and Elevensies swag, plus a lovely teNeues journal -- so you will get something now AND something later!

All you have to do to enter is COMMENT BELOW. Easy, right?

You are not required to do so, but if you'd like additional entries thrown into the pot, you might:
1. Include in your comment a recommendation for a favorite ghostly or paranormal book/film/tv show. I love getting recs! + 1 entry
2. Tweet about the contest. Please use @soniagensler so I can see it. + 1 entry
(Here's a sample tweet: Win an ARC of @soniagensler's THE REVENANT, plus THE VESPERTINE, CLARITY and swag galore! Pls RT. http://tinyurl.com/4vnfz8h)
3. "Like" my brand new author page on Facebook and tag me in an update about the giveaway. + 1 entry
(The above tweet would work pretty well on Facebook, too!)
4. Follow this blog, if you like -- it gets lonely sometimes. + 1 entry

To make matters as simple as possible, I am temporarily allowing anonymous comments. Just make sure you give me a name (it's funny how many times people have entered my giveaways without providing a name) and, if you announce this contest elsewhere, identify your twitter/facebook handle so I know you when I see you!

You have until 11:59 p.m. (or thereabouts) on Sunday, March 13, to enter. Winners will be announced on Monday, March 14. ETA#1: You can leave an email addy now, or just check back on Monday and email me directly if you're one of the winners!

ETA#2: What the heck, in for a penny, in for a pound. Let's open this to international entries!

Good luck and thanks for entering!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Four frivolous questions - Saundra Mitchell's THE VESPERTINE

Today I'm pleased to share an interview with Saundra Mitchell about her latest novel, The Vespertine, just out from Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt.

1. Your first book, Shadowed Summer, was a contemporary ghost story. The Vespertine is set in the late 19th century. Please share three things that captivated you about this time period.

First, I enjoyed the latitude. Instead of hanging out at the coffee shop, my characters could hang out at the park and goof off with a bow and arrow. It was perfectly reasonable for one of the characters to meet another when he came to sketch an autopsy in his living room. No seriously! There were so many interesting places to go and unusual things for them to do.

Second, I love how modern it is. The industrial revolution is starting, cars are coming, trains are connecting cities, states, countries. Telegraphs send instant messages, and telephones are coming. Suffragettes are demanding their equal rights, Spiritualists are trying to crack the code of death, Scientists are discovering radium and vaccines, Aesthetics are brazenly exploring sensuality-- this book may be set in our past, but it's also set on the very edge of the characters' future. It's a time so ripe and trembling with change that it was a delight to explore.

And thirdly, it was just plain fun to write characters who could use words like folderol, gibbering, miasma and temerity in common conversation. Reading through period newspapers to figure out the depth and parameters of the language of the time was like eating candy for me.

2. Tell me true, Saundra – why are 19th century boys so sexy? (I confess to swooning several times for Nathaniel.)

You're going to give that boy a big head, Sonia! :) I have to say for me, part of the appeal is the wardrobe. Cravats are hot. (Are they ever!) Morning coats are hot. Day gloves are hot. And the levels of intimacy were so different! I got the wickedest thrill out of writing the scene where Nathaniel leaves his glove in Amelia's pocket. Oh la la!

3. As someone obsessed with 19th century mediums, I loved the scene with Lady Privalovna – did the details of her performance come from research, your imagination, or both? Please explain!

I did tons of research on spiritualism and spiritism, which is why you see Amelia trying out some automatic writing in the book. (Not to mention collecting gloves and doing directed breathing!) These were method popularized by 19th century mediums. The Fox Sisters and Hélène Smith were serving up seances with these techniques, and they weren't the only ones.

But I have to admit, Lady Privalovna's show was all theatre-- that sequence came directly out of Harry Houdini's attempts to debunk the spiritualists in the early 20th century. He described how those performances were much more like magic shows than actual magic. He even went on tour with an Exposure Show, demonstrating how to produce mystical raps and ghostly manifestations. I'm just sorry I didn't manage to work in a Pepper's Ghost!

4. I suppose you might classify this novel as paranormal historical. (Or do you have a better classification?) Are there any other books or films in this genre that you would recommend? Something that lovers of The Vespertine would enjoy if they were dying for more? (Like me!!!)

Historical romance, historical fantasy, paranormal historical, paranormal romance, gothic... THE VESPERTINE gets around, yo. BUT! I really think that if you like THE VESPERTINE, you'll love THE SEASON by Sarah MacLean (historical romance,) A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray (paranormal historical,) WILDTHORN by Jane Eagland (gothic!), THE PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS by Michelle Zink (paranormal historical,) KINDRED by Octavia Butler (historical fantasy,) and THE REVENANT by Sonia Gensler (paranormal historical!) However, I suspect you've read that last one. :D

Thanks for the kind mention of my book, Saundra! And thanks so much for answering my questions.

Readers, be sure to check out my review of The Vespertine at Book End Babes, and check back on Monday when I introduce my book giveaway, featuring a hardcover copy of The Vespertine, an ARC of The Revenant, and much more!

The Vespertine is currently available from: IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & NobleBorders

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Paris 2011

Bonjour, mes amis!

Two photos for your consideration:

Is this my last smile before being hauled off to the Cherche-Midi, or am I merely getting cozy with my new French boyfriend?

And what in the heck is this?

Learn the answers to these questions at my Flickr page**, where you'll find my favorite photos from the Paris trip. Please let me know if any of them tickle your fancy!

**Personally, I think Flickr works best when you click on the first thumbnail and scroll through by hitting "next" -- that way you can see the entire picture and have time to read the text, which doesn't always happen when you select "Slideshow."

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]