Cover art revealed for The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal

Trying to stay calm and carry on is hard stuff indeed!

But holey moley, how can I stay calm when I just saw the cover for the next Maggie Hope book!!??

The fab-u-lous news below is directly from Susan Elia MacNeal's website, be sure to click that link to read more about the upcoming book and see one of Susan's pics of the Arisaig House, the setting for the upcoming book. 

SNEAK PEEK: The Cover of The Prime Minister's Secret Agent, Maggie Hope Mystery #4!
The cover art for The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is by amazing illustrator Mick Wiggins, who has created the art for all the Maggie Hope novels. Check out his fabulous website here
 The setting is Arisaig House, a manor house on the coast of Western Scotland, which was a SOE spy training camp during World War II. 

EMPTY MANSIONS by Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell Jr.


I don't know about the rest of you, but my goal for the weekend should be cleaning out a really messed-up, over flowing closet. You KNOW the kind, when the door opens, stuff falls out?   But...nah.... I think I'd rather finish this great book...and grab a cup of coffee.   

Spotlight on:  

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

When Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money?

Dedman has collaborated with Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. Dedman and Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter, born into a family of extreme wealth and privilege, who secrets herself away from the outside world.

Huguette was the daughter of self-made copper industrialist W. A. Clark, nearly as rich as Rockefeller in his day, a controversial senator, railroad builder, and founder of Las Vegas. She grew up in the largest house in New York City, a remarkable dwelling with 121 rooms for a family of four. She owned paintings by Degas and Renoir, a world-renowned Stradivarius violin, a vast collection of antique dolls. But wanting more than treasures, she devoted her wealth to buying gifts for friends and strangers alike, to quietly pursuing her own work as an artist, and to guarding the privacy she valued above all else.

The Clark family story spans nearly all of American history in three generations, from a log cabin in Pennsylvania to mining camps in the Montana gold rush, from backdoor politics in Washington to a distress call from an elegant Fifth Avenue apartment. The same Huguette who was touched by the terror attacks of 9/11 held a ticket nine decades earlier for a first-class stateroom on the second voyage of the Titanic.
Empty Mansions reveals a complex portrait of the mysterious Huguette and her intimate circle. We meet her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette’s copper fortune. Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, Empty Mansions is an enthralling story of an eccentric of the highest order, a last jewel of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms.

2013 Man Booker short list announced

WOW!  What an amazing group of books!  

The winner will be announced on October 15.

Man Booker shortlist 2013 book covers

Man Booker Shortlist 2013

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus)
The Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador)
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)

The above cover art work image and info was found at the Man Booker Prize official page, be sure to go there for lots more info about the books:

A LADY OF RESOURCES by Shelley Adina

Spotlight on: 

 A Lady of Resources by Shelley Adina

Today I want to tell you about one of my very favorite authors, Shelley Adina, who has just released the cover art for her next book in her Magnificent Devices series, A Lady of Resources!  It's the fifth in the wonderfully popular series by Shelley and I just can't wait!!

You can read the first chapter here  
I love sneak peeks, but...oh the agony of the wait.  ;)


A Lady of Resources by Shelley Adina (release date October 4, 2013)

You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family ... or can you? 

Now sixteen, the twins Lizzie and Maggie are educated young ladies who have not been called “the Mopsies” in years … except by their guardian, Lady Claire Trevelyan. With the happy prospect of choosing their own future, the girls can leave their dodgy past behind, and Lizzie can bury her deepest childhood memories where they can do no harm. Upon her graduation from school, Lizzie is awarded an enormous honor—but can she pay the price? Is she ready to be separated from Maggie and become the woman she believes she was meant to be—or will old habits tempt her into defiance and plunge her into disaster? 

On a dare, Lizzie picks the wrong man's pocket and nearly loses her life. But these frightening events bear unexpected fruit: The dream Lizzie holds closest to her heart comes true in a most unexpected way. But this dream, too, comes with a price. Lizzie must decide whether her true family is the one she was born to … or the one she chose that long-ago day when the Lady of Devices steamed into their lives …

Here's a bit about the previous books in the series, if you haven't read the series yet... WHAT are you waiting for??  Here's the link to her page with lots more info!

The Magnificent Devices SeriesLondon, 1889.Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin's son is Prime Minister.And steam is the power that rules the world.

The Magnificent Devices novels are set in an alternate Victorian age where the combustion engine has been a flop and steam-powered devices are capable of sending the adventurous to another city, another continent ... or even another world. Society is divided into Wits (those who make their way using their intellect) and the Bloods (those who have inherited what they have). Lady Claire Trevelyan has been born a Blood, but she has the heart, soul, and mind of a Wit. And therein lies the problem ...
Lady of DevicesHer Own DevicesMagnificent DevicesBrilliant Devices

A.C. (Ann) Crispin has died

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AC Crispin, author and advocate, dies at age 63
A.C. Crispin, a science fiction author who wrote popular tie-in novels to "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" and helped run the online watchdog "Writer Beware" that alerted authors to literary scams, has died.
Crispin died of cancer Friday at age 63, according to an announcement on the Web site of the publisher Tor Books, and on the site for Writer Beware.
Starting in 1983, she wrote more than 20 novels, many of them based on movies and TV series, including "Star Trek," ''Star Wars" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."


I was able to interview Ann (A.C.) Crispin back in May of 2011, just before her book THE PRICE OF FREEDOM was released.  It's a prequel of sorts to the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies, and tells the story of a younger Jack Sparrow.  

I am sharing my interview with Ann below.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Ann's family and friends.

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Cover images copyright DisneyPublishing

I was given the wonderful opportunity to visit with A.C. (Ann) Crispin about her newly released adult novel "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom." 

NC: Ann, we are getting pretty close to your book's release, are you getting excited?

AC: Oh yeah, I've been doing as much as I can in promotion, I've got people following my blog. You can visit my blog and see that I am giving away free collector's edition book plates. They are really nice. Disney paid for me to have book plates done and they are the back cover of the book with the skull and the ocean underneath it. They are 3 inches by 4 inches, a nice size and they are in full color! They just peal off and that way you can place the sticker part right on the page. This is a way for people to get a signed copy of the book, and get a nice book plate too. 

Ann Crispin's homepage

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Copyright A.C. Crispin, used with permission

NC: Since we are talking about signed books, are you doing any book signings or appearances anywhere?
AC; Yes, and the info is on my calendar on my website, and it will be updated. First I'm going to be at Richmond, VA. on the 19th of May signing at Stories Comics. Then I will be there for the opening (of the movie) in Richmond at the Regal Commonweatlth IMAX and Stadium 20 Cinemas.They're having a BIG extravaganza for the opening of the new film. They're having a pre-film party at 10:30 that night and then we'll all troop in and watch the movie at 12:01am. And then the next day I'll be there in Richmond in the theater lobby on Friday from 6:30 PM until 10:00 PM.

Then, on Saturday, I'll be signing books from 12 noon until 10:00 PM. If you look on my appearace calendar on my website, you can see the Val-pak coupon that went out giving my schedule and a picture of "The Price of Freedom."

There's actually going to be a pirate ship on a trailer in the parking lot, and you can get your picture taken on it, and a display of parrots, re-enactors dressed as pirates. They're turning the lobby into a Pirates of the Caribbean-ville, where they've built a nine foot high skull that you can walk through. It's on an artificial beach with water and sand and I'll be right there in the lobby with my stand-up pf the cover of the book and I'll be there signing books. I'll be there signing on Friday and Saturday, or until the books sell out!

Then I'll be signing book at Book Expo America at 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday the 24th.

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Image copyright Ann Crispin, used with permission

And I'll be going to Walt Disney World on May 26 and 27th, I wanted to sign at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but there's no place to set up. But the book will be there at the ride. I finally got to ride the ride now that it's been updated to include the Pirates of the Caribbean characters and that was a lot of fun! (Ann's calendar

NC: Is there anything that you can tell us that's not "out there"...that's not already on the net that would make us really want to read the books? 

ACC: Actually in Pirates of the Caribbean there are one of two Disney "in" jokes, I'm sure people who know Disney noticed them, like when they were talking about a little mermaid jumped up on deck.

NC: What can you tell us about a possible Peter Pan/ Capt, Hook connection?

AC: There was nod to Capt. Hook, who signs his notes "Jas. Hook" which is a short for James, and it's on the gamers' Pirates of the Caribbean Wikia. And they, the gamers, they know every detail! 

NC: I read in an interview where you were speaking about your Han Solo stories where you mentioned that you were not allowed to use any reference to the mysteries about his parents. So I have to ask, is there anything that Disney said you could not use..or conversely what you were free to use in your book's storyline?

AC: I wasn't allowed to write about Jack before he was aged 20, except in an indirect way. There are some references to him, where Jack thinks back to his earliest memory and at one point he remembers when he was a really little kid and they said, "how did you learn to swim so well?" and he said "the mermaids taught me" and how his earliest memory was climbing up the rigging of the ship when he was hardly more than a toddler.

In the early days I asked if I could say anything about Jack's mom and they said "no." I was used to that so it didn't bother me too much. I was told that I could go ahead and more or less, if I didn't come out and really state it, refer to Teague as Jack's dad. And there are a few references, for example, when Mistress Ching introduces him she says "and this is Jack Sparrow, Capt, Teague's uhh..." and she pauses for a second and says..."protege." And then Davy Jones at one point says "oh yes, you're of the blood of Captain Teague" and Jack says "yeah." So I was fairly open about it but not actually stating it. 

NC: I noticed that you are all over the place on the net, Depp sites, POTC sites, real pirate sites, etc., what group demands you, as a writer, to be the most detail oriented? 

AC: The gamers' sites, they want every detail. They are very meticulous about everything. /[b]

AC: As we just mentioned, you are all over the place on the net about "The Price of Freedom." I googled you and you are everywhere! You are really marketing your own book! What kind of time committment is that for you?

AC: A lot. I should be well along on my next book, but I'm not.

NC: Do you keep a list of everyplace you need to check in with? 

AC: Basically I just google myself, so I can go in someplace and update it. The last excerpt will just prior to the book release, and it's the full excerpt of "Jack takes a bath" and as a result is a lot more serious than the light-hearted short exclusive I gave. After Jack has that memorable meal he's talking to them and it presages the slavery issue a little bit because he's worried that they'll want him to haul slaves and then he finds out it's just hauling building materials to the boss man's house, and he's happy about that. Then later he walks down the hill and he thinks "you know, being gentry, they really eat very well, but they don't have any fun." Then he thinks that maybe I could save my money, maybe I could buy the Wicked Wench because he loves her so much.

And just for fun, I put in a bonus excerpt. It's the first swordfight in the book. It's short.

NC: Where you enamored with Capt. Jack when you started this?

AC: No, not really. I saw the first film, I went to see it by myself because Michael, my husband said "Pirates? I don't think so," and I was like, what a great movie, I want to see it again! And I dragged him off to see it and he was like, "that really was fun." I liked the first film so much and then I went to see the second film and it just didn't measure up to the first one. But still I liked Jack and his role in it. Then this prequel assignment came along, and I was like, I can do that, yeah I could!

So I agreed to do it, and I had a lot of fun with Jack. I've become much more of a Johnny Depp fan than I was when I first signed on to do the (book)... I'd seen him, of course, in movies like "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and "Blow" and the Jack the Ripper one, "From Hell" and I saw him in "The Ninth Gate" and Edward Scissorhands. I saw quite a few of his films, but not all of them. And I still haven't seen all of them.

NC: If I'm correct, this book will be your 24rd published novel. How is this 24th book different from the other 23 before it?

AC: Well, this one is by far, the longest book I ever wrote, It took me ten times as long to research it. I'd written in that period before for a young adult book that I may now have sold. It kind of kicked around for a while. Actually its a middle grade reader and it's set in the Revolutionary War. So I had some familiarity with the 18th century and I'm actually a buff on the American Revolution. I did a lot of studying about it, things didn't change all that fast then. I had to research individual things, and there wasn't a single scene in the book where I didn't have to stop and look something up -- except the one where Jack goes to the livery stable to hire the horse.

But my orders from Disney were, where it doesn't conflict with pirates continuity, be historically and nautically accurate. 

NC: Will you be writing another story for Disney?

AC: I have no idea. I don't think that Disney has any plans at the moment. I'm sure they're waiting to see how this book sells.

NC: Do you know how Disney will market this, age wise?

AC: This is definitely a book for at least young adult through adults, it's not a children's book at all. I wouldn't give it to a ten or twelve year old. It's got a fair amount of bad language (British style), quite a bit of violence, and it has some bedroom scenes. Not a children's book.

NC: Do you think they were going for a broad reader audience when they put the ship on the cover?

AC: I hope that maybe people who have enjoyed the films,or fans of the (Patrick) O'Brien books for example or the "Hornblower" books will see the ship and like that. 

NC: Did you work with any of the other Disney "pirate" authors?

AC: No, they have me this enormous volume of Pirates mythology, there's a lot of repetition in it, there's also a lot of material, there's hundreds of pages, it covers all three movies and it covers all of the characters, down to the level of secondary characters like Murtogg and Mullroy, Pintel and doesn't really give any real major detail about them, like if a character's name wasn't given they didn't make one up. I was responsible for all the Pirates mythology in that book.

I did get to make up some names, though. I got to name Ian Mercer, give him a first name, because he's safely dead. And I do refer to Teague as "Edward Teague" which I was told was his name. He's listed on the cast list for "On Stranger Tides" as Edward Teague. So Don Raphael, the Pirate Lord of the Caribbean calls him Edouardo. And Jack has a troubled relationship with Teague in this book, the two of them were not buddies at all during that time of Jack's life. I had to have that kind of conflict, a reason for Jack to do things, so he was undergoing a somewhat late adolescent rebellion. It's obvious he's afraid of Teague even as an adult, and more so when he was a youngster. Teague was Jack's Captain, for one thing, he sailed with him in my book. I really like the name I came up with for Teague's ship which was Troubadour. Teague play his guitar in the book.

NC: You're so good with coming up great names, I enjoyed the name Esmerelda. You came up with names that weren't necessarily modern names, but that fit the locale or the background of the character. Did you google old fashioned names? 

AC: I got my husband to help me look up Spanish names for Esmerelda's name and I thought of Conchita and a whole bunch of names, but I wanted something with some gravitas and Esmerelda seemed like a good name. It also means "emerald"...a gem. The idea of gems is pervasive through the book. Of course you have a whole string of names and Ana Maria is always in there, I think I named her DeSevilla figuring that's where her grandfather's ancestral lands were from, he was actually a "Don" in the New World and he was a nobleman. He probably had been in Spain too.

Esmerelda's actually part Aztec and that's one of the places that Jack finds out a little bit about the Treasure of Cortez. She actually has the pirate medallion tattooed on her right hip, and there was some doubt as to whether or not we could leave it there, we thought it maybe would be moved to a spot he could see with her clothes on. Eventually it was OK, there are two people in bed, of course he's going to see it, at first he thinks it's a bruise, then he looks and sees it's a tattoo. That's when she reveals a little something about the Treasure of Cortez, because I was setting up so if there was another book, I'd have something I could do about the Treasure of Cortez and her knowing a little bit about that. Although Jack, in my story doesn't have any tats at the beginning. But by the end, he gets his first.

NC: Jack hasn't been branded a pirate yet has he?

AC: Well, not in the first half. 

NC: Depp's an avid reader, do you think Depp would, or will read your book? 

AC: As far as I know, some of the studio liaison people at Disney are aware the book exists. I think Mr. Depp may know of it, but do I think he'll read it? He's a busy man. Who knows?

AC: Some people that I've written about actually read what I wrote. Several members of the "Star Trek" cast read "Yesterday's Son" ( and possibly some of my other of my other Star Trek books, it was the first Star Trek book that wasn't a movie tie-in to get on the (New York) Time's list. I know for a fact that Nichelle Nichols and George Takei and Jimmy Doohan and I think DeForest Kelley all read that book because they told me so.

NC: Isn't that wonderful for an author! To know that the people behind the characters care about what you're doing with the character!

AC: DeForest Kelley was one of the big three and so I was incredibly chuffed, he said "Oh I've heard about that book." Then later on, he said, "Yes, I read that book, I really did enjoy your portrayal of Dr. McCoy." I said "Well I gave Bones all the best lines" and he said " Well, that's only right."

NC: I understand that are going to be at the big Sci-Fi/Fantasy Renovation convention, what capacity will you be attending? 

AC: I'll be a guest, I wrote to them about doing some Pirates programming and I hope that Tim and I get put on some panels together to do some Pirate programming. Disney is sending me, so I'll be there primarily to promote the Pirates book. And I'll also be at DragonCon

NC: I've got one more question for you, you've been very generous with your time, and I thank you. What are you working on now?

AC: I'm starting a new book. It's a young adult, and it's science fiction, I've missed writing s.f. and young adult science fiction is kind of hot right now. "The Price of Freedom" took me about fifteen, sixteen months to write, but it's twice as long as the others.

NC: We thank Ann Crispin for her time visiting with us and we look forward to discussing her new Pirates of the Caribbean book: "The Price of Freedom." 

Here's a list of some links to Ann's site, blog, FaceBook page, Twitter etc. (Official site) (ACCess blog) (More about the book) (calendar) (News)!/anncrispin

Interview copyright © 2004-2013, this interview originally appeared on my other website.

PRAYING IN ROME by Timothy Cardinal Dolan



Cardinal Dolan was on Colbert's show! 

I saw New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Stephen Colbert's show Tuesday night!  Yup that's right, Cardinal Dolan on Colbert!  What a sight! I just love me some Cardinal Dolan!

Did you miss it?  No are his two segments, because believe me, you want to see this!

    Part 1

Part 2

Seems Cardinal Dolan's written a new e-book,  PRAYING IN ROME. 

Here's what the publisher wants you to know about the book:

"All eyes turned to Rome in February 2013 when Pope Benedict XVI announced he would resign the papacy. In the two months that followed, the world watched and waited as an elite and select group of men — the College of Cardinals — arrived in Rome to take part in the Conclave to elect the next pope. Among those men was Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 

In the eBook original Praying in Rome (Image, July 9, 2013) Cardinal Dolan reflects on the important period of the Conclave and the electing of Pope Francis, sharing his firsthand account of what happened during those days and what it means for the future of the Catholic Church. 
By turns, witty, provocative, and inspiring, Praying in Rome offers the reader a glimpse into what it was like for Cardinal Dolan during that most exciting and deeply spiritual of times."

You can go here to learn more about the book and order it for yourself!

**Papal smoke image found on google.
*** St. Peter's Square image found here.

Catching up!

Looks like I ended up taking a long sabbatical over the last couple of summer months. Who knew that I needed a break from blogging?  But I did, 'cuz life was calling me from all directions and I was facing a severe case of Blogger's burn out.

Lots of catching up to do now that it's fall and we're all back on schedule. I love summer, but I sure am ready to be back writing about books and authors! 

My favorite book this summer?

I know!  Really! A middle grade book, but I loved it! Too dang cute!

See ya tomorrow!

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