Friday, February 22, 2013

A tea for February

Before I get to the tea: I want to announce that the winners of REVEL and THE DARK BETWEEN preorder, chosen through the mighty power of Random.org, are Carrie K and Regina Garvie! Congrats to both of them!

Now . . . TEA!

January was crazy, but I'm back with a tea recommendation for February.

In my early days of tea exploration, I shopped a lot at Stash. You often can find their bagged teas at the supermarket, but their loose leaf tea is quite good, too. The Stash website is a great place to spend some time, especially if you're not quite sure what you like and don't want to invest a great deal of money in sampling a few things. I've always been pleased by their offerings.


If you like a smooth black tea, you can't go wrong with the Kenilworth Estate Ceylon from Stash. Here's their description:

Long attractive leaves, exquisite flavor and subtle body. Excellent afternoon tea.

Ceylon teas from the Kenilworth Estate enjoy the seasonal monsoons which encourage the growth of the teas in the districts of Dimbula, Uva and Kandy. Select tender leaves picked after the first monsoon and processed during cooler weather, result in a creamy character unique to this estate. With long attractive leaves our Kenilworth Ceylon Orange Pekoe has the smoothness of a great Ceylon tea with the intriguing creamy top notes this tea is known for.


I agree that this is a great tea for afternoons -- it's not quite as dark and brisk as an Assam.


Last week, it seemed the perfect choice for "second breakfast." (Not just for Hobbits anymore!) Steve and I had an early breakfast at Panera -- one scone shared between us -- and by 10:30 I was starving. So I made a pot of Kenilworth Ceylon and enjoyed it with a slice of homemade cherry orange loaf.

[The recipe originally called for fresh cranberries, but I couldn't even find frozen ones this time of year, so I substitued tart cherries. They worked fine, but I will try with cranberries in the fall. You'll find the recipe here.]

What's your favorite tea for the cold month of February?

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Friday, February 15, 2013

Revel in mystery, monsters, & love -- enter my GIVEAWAY!

I'm a huge fan of Maurissa Guibord. Her debut novel Warped, the story of two young lovers from very different places and times, captivated me with its romance and suspense. I've been waiting with great anticipation for her new novel, Revel.

Check out the official synopsis:

There's an island off the coast of Maine that's not on any modern map. Shrouded in mist and protected by a deadly reef, Trespass Island is home to a community of people who guard the island and its secrets from outsiders. Seventeen-year-old Delia grew up in Kansas, but has come here in search of her family and answers to her questions: Why didn't her mother ever talk about Trespass Island? Why did she fear the open water? But Delia's not welcome and soon finds herself enmeshed in a frightening and supernatural world where ancient Greek symbols adorn the buildings and secret ceremonies take place on the beach at night. Sean Gunn, a handsome young lobsterman, befriends Delia and seems willing to risk his life to protect her. But it's Jax, the coldly elusive young man she meets at the water's edge, who finally makes Delia understand the real dangers of life on the island. Delia is going to have to fight to survive. Because there are monsters here. And no one ever leaves Trespass alive.

Sounds fabulous, doesn't it? Wouldn't you like to win a copy of your very own?

I can help with that!

To celebrate the release of Revel, I am giving away TWO (2) copies of the book. And I'll sweeten the pot by adding a couple of pre-orders of my own book The Dark Between, due out from Knopf/Random House in August.

This giveaway is open to US, Canadian, and UK residents!

--To enter, all you need to do is comment below with your name and the best way to contact you.

--I'll give you an extra entry if you tweet this giveaway. Make sure my Twitter handle is in the tweet.

Here's a tweet you can copy and paste -- easy peasy!
Revel in mystery, monsters & love! Win @Maurissa_G's REVEL & pre-order of @soniagensler's THE DARK BETWEEN. goo.gl/QKbTA Pls RT!

This giveaway is open until midnight (CST), Thursday, February 21. I will announce the winners on the following day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love is in the air . . . and in my books, and on my TV!


I was inspired by Carrie at Stalking the Bookshelves--and, of course, by Valentine's Day--to talk about my favorite romantic pairings from literature (with links to film adaptations).

Top Five Literary Couples:
--Jane Eyre & Edward Rochester from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (My favorite film version is from 2011.)
--Harriet Vane & Lord Peter Wimsey from Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, particularly Gaudy Night** (This will seem extremely outdated to the young 'uns out there, but I'll always love Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter in the BBC adaptation from 1987.)
--Anne Elliot & Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen's Persuasion (Take your pick: Ciaran Hinds or Rupert Penry Jones. Either way counts as a win.)
--Margaret Hale & John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South (Only one film adaptation that I know of, and it is PERFECTION--check the image at the top of this post for corroborating evidence. Of course, I saw the mini-series before reading the book.)
--Christabel LaMotte & Randolph Henry Ash from A.S. Byatt's Possession (Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam do a fine job in the 2002 film adaptation.)

**It looks like Harper Collins has released new trade paperbacks of the Peter/Harriet books. They are GORGEOUS!

Also on the short list:
Lizzie Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride & Prejudice, Percy Blakeney & Marguerite St. Just from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dorothea Brooke & Will Ladislaw from Middlemarch, Sue Trinder and Maud Lily from Fingersmith, and Helen MacFarquhar & Johnny Howell from The Love Letter.

Young Adult Romance:
Now I certainly consider YA fiction "literary" but I wanted to separate these books from the above list in order NOT to spoil the pairings. (Most of the novels listed below are fairly new.) It was hard to keep it to five--so many YA writers do a fabulous job with romance! But here is my short list (with a little cheating on the last one):

--Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
--The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (But read the first book, The absolutely wonderful Girl of Fire and Thorns, in order to fully enjoy the romance in this second installment. *fans self*)
--Chime, by Franny Billingsley
--Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
--Anything by Eva Ibbotson, but especially A Countess Below Stairs (Omigosh, the scene with the hair!)

Now, what are your favorite literary pairings? Tell me in the comments, or blog about it and link to your post below!

I will leave you with this random photo of Captain Frederick "You Pierce my Soul" Wentworth on a horse (as played by Rupert Penry-Jones).


You're welcome! :)

[Cross-posted at livejournal]

Friday, February 8, 2013

The NEXT BIG THING blog

I've been watching this meme go around, thinking it would be fun to do, but deadlines and commitments kept me from joining in. Recently, however, my friend Doug Solter tagged me again (here's his entry), and this time I couldn't refuse. It's always fun to talk about your newly birthed (or still gestating) fiction baby, right? So here goes . . .

What is the working official title of your book?
The Dark Between

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea came to me when I was researching Spiritualism for my first book, The Revenant. Somehow (I think it was through Barnes & Noble's analytics, bless them), I came across a book titled Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death. To me, this non-fiction book written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum read like a suspense novel. The main "characters"-- all founding members of the Society for Psychical Research -- were so briliant and tormented, so vividly and relatably human, that I grew to care deeply for them. Their narratives unfolded like a film in my mind, and I could easily envision an HBO series featuring their attempts to scientifically prove the reality of paranormal phenomena, along with the ups and downs of their turbulent personal lives. I really wanted to write a story set within this world, but it took me a while to find my own characters and conflicts.

What genre does your book come under?
I would say . . . Young Adult paranormal mystery.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ha ha! When I was planning this story (back in 2009?), I made a collage, which ordinarily is not my sort of thing AT ALL. I've always been a big fan of outlining and free-writing to flesh out a story, but I decided it would be a good change of pace to work with images instead of text. This is what I came up with for The Dark Between (click to enlarge):



First off, I have to say that all the images looked great...until I Mod Podged them. After that the poor collage looked like I'd left it out in the rain. Secondly, although I was at one point flirting with the idea of including some sort of EVP recording device, there's no phonograph in the story.

Now...actors. You can see that I chose an early photo of Jensen Ackles for Asher Beale, mostly because of his lovely freckles. (Or "frackles" as I'm told they're termed within Supernatural fandom.) (And yes, I googled "American actors with freckles" to find this photo.) For Elsie, a beauty with a dark secret, I chose the seductive yet vulnerable Scarlett Johanson in The Prestige. And for Kate, I chose a photo of Irish actress Elaine Cassidy from her performance as Maud in Fingersmith. (She looks particularly smeared from the Mod Podge, but it actually suits Kate's state of mind at the beginning of the book.)

All these actors were too old to play the parts when I made this collage, and that was years ago. Still, their faces inspired me.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
(I'm stealing this from the inside cover of the ARC. I guess it's the Library of Congress summary?

Three teenagers in Victorian era London spend the summer at a local college and soon discover that their hosts, the Metaphysical Society, may be conducting sinister experiments in an attempt to communicate with the dead.

There are some inaccuracies (it's actually set in Cambridge in the early Edwardian period) and oversimplifications, but this does convey the flavor of the book.

Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Alfred A. Knopf/Random House on August 27, 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Under a year, I think.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Here's what my publisher has to say about it: "A supernatural romance about the powers that lie in the shadows of the mind, perfect for fans of Sarah Rees Brennan, Alyxandra Harvey, and Libba Bray."

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As mentioned above, it was the founders of the Society for Psychical Research, as described in Blum's book Ghost Hunters, who inpsired the characters and situations in The Dark Between. I was intrigued by this group of extremely well-educated, thoughtful, and rational (for the most part) men and women who wished to make a serious study of paranormal phenomena. But I didn't really want to write about the adults. I wanted to imagine what it might have been like for their children, especially if these children were shocked or ashamed by their parents' activities, and particularly if one of them had been suppressing a paranormal ability for much of her life.

Thanks again to Doug for inviting me to participate! Two of my critique partners, Brandi Barnett and Dee Dee Chumley, will be joining me in blogging "the next big thing" next Friday, February 15. Be sure to tune in!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]