Editor, author, and super-cool human being, Heather Webb, takes us to London for the next stop on the tour! She edited the brilliant anthology, Fall of Poppies, which features a gripping collection of short stories about World War 1 from a tribe of bestselling authors. The stories take place all over the world, but we chose London for our stop, as the "Poppy" metaphor is so closely tied with England.
All About Fall of Poppies and Heather Webb
Top voices in historical fiction deliver an unforgettable collection of short stories set in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...
November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.
As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.
In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.
Heather Webb is the author of historical novels BECOMING JOSEPHINE and RODIN’S LOVER, which have been sold in six countries and have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, France Magazine, Elle and more, as well as received national starred reviews. RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Pick of the month in 2015. Up and coming, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, an epistolary love story set during WWI will release in the fall of 2017 by HarperCollins. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, and contributor to award-winning writing sitesWriterUnboxed.com and Writers in the Storm.
Bound for a new continent, and a new beginning.
In her illuminating debut novel, Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony.
They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens. Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness.
Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.
Aimie K. Runyan is an author of Historical fiction whose purpose is to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. Her debut novel, PROMISED TO THE CROWN, the story of three women sent by Louis XIV to help colonize his Quebec colony, was a ten-years-in-the-making labor of love. She loves baking, travel, hiking, and all things sacred unto nerd culture. She lives outside Denver with her loving husband and two adorable children.
Today is the start of a very exciting Blog Tour and Giveaway here at aimiekrunyan.com! We will be featuring 10 novels, all historical fiction, by some of the most talented authors in the business. One thing that ties these books together, aside from some fantastic writing, is a gripping location. We'll take you all the way from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Napoleonic-era Paris, Feudal Japan--and beyond!
Keep watching this space for the next two weeks and enter to win a mega-prize that includes all 10 of these books (signed!) and a gorgeous travel tote! The first stop on our tour is to Hollywood, and our tour director is none other than the lovely Anne Girard, author of Platinum Doll!
Some might think that the glittering Hollywood of yesteryear lives now only in grainy black and white photos, and on film, but there are still some wonderful locations for walking down memory lane, spots that harken back to the early motion picture capital of the world. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard is one such spot. In 1929, the hotel hosted the first Academy Awards in their ballroom. You might try to take a peek inside and imagine the linen draped tables, the tuxedos, gowns and champagne. This Hollywood landmark also boasts a beautifully reminiscent Spanish Colonial revival style interior (and guest rooms reputed to house ghosts!). It’s certainly worth a visit, or a drink at the bar where the likes of Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant once sipped martinis. Once you’re in the spirit, then move back outside and, just across the street, you can step into the shoes of icons from Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable to, my favorite (of course) Jean Harlow at what was once the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater. To cap off your nostalgic tour, just a few blocks away, The Hollywood Museum is a must-see. The museum, housed in the historic art deco Max Factor building, is a place to linger among movie props, costumes, scripts, and fabulous old photos from Tinseltown’s golden era. I especially loved their collection of Jean Harlow memorabilia, including a copy of her novel, Today is Tonight. It is a day not to be missed by anyone who loves old Hollywood.
Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.
It is the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Hollywood—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. Harlean becomes Jean Harlow and as she is thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family, a fragile young marriage, and her passion to perform, she is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she is willing to pay for it.
Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes--Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.
Anne holds a master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a bachelor's degree in English Literature from UCLA. A chance meeting with the famed author Irving Stone 25 years ago sharply focused her ambition to tell great stories from history, and write them only after detailed research and extensive travel to the places her characters lived. That determination has provided a fascinating journey that has taken her from the halls of Chenonceaux, to a private interview with one of Pablo Picasso's last surviving friends, and most recently an invitation inside Jean Harlow's home.
Since the publication of her acclaimed first novel, Courtesan, in 1993, a novel that remains in print today, her work has been translated into 18 different languages, bringing her international success and award-winning status.
Visit Anne at: www.annegirardauthor.com
It's been a LONG time since my last blog post (surgery, holidays, yadda yadda yadda) so I owe you all some book reviews! One of the brilliant books I had the pleasure of reading this winter was the amazing RODIN'S LOVER by the immensely talented Heather Webb.
To sum up my opinion: brilliant, tragic, captivating! Full review below!
In Heather Webb's second novel, RODIN'S LOVER, we explore the tumultuous and troubled life of the talented and haunted Camille Claudel, brilliant sculptor and long time mistress of artist Auguste Rodin. Webb deftly portrays Belle Epoque Paris, and the challenges that Camille faced as a woman in the art world. Camille faces derision from her critics, hostility from her overbearing mother, and her struggle to stand on her own without the interference from her well-connected and generally well respected lover. To compound matters, Camille battled tragic demons of her own (she suffered from schizophrenia) and ends up spending the last years of her life in an asylum.
Despite the tragic end of Camille's life, this portrait of a resplendently talented artist is vivid and captivating. I absolutely loved Webb's debut, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, and worried that I might not find this tragic tale as enthralling. After devouring this book, it's clear the author has added a layer of complexity and sophistication to her writing with this new work. Expect many good things from this author--she's becoming a force in historical women's fiction.
*Disclaimer: I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Writing is a slow business these days (by choice--sometimes the brain needs a break) so I'm working on making my daily routine more efficient.
Breakfast is my Achilles Heel. When I'm trying to dress myself, my squirmy three-year-old who wants to play with his truck, and my two-year-old who insists on wearing the pinkest, sparkliest thing in sight (with her snow boots) and getting out the door by 8 AM to get said truck-obsessed three-year-old to school, breakfast needs to be quick, easy, and preferably nutritious.
I have no guilt about the quantity of Eggos my children ate. But the habit gets expensive and there are healthier options.
Breakfast Hack #1:
Homemade Waffles: not just for Sunday Brunch anymore. Make up a double or triple batch of waffles using your favorite mix or old fashioned recipe, let cool completely, wrap in the quantity you'd use in a morning in plastic wrap (I wrap mine in twos), and place them in gallon freezer bags. Thaw in a toaster oven and BOOM. A much heartier breakfast than store bought frozen waffles. My kiddos love them with apple butter or Nutella.
Breakfast Hack #2:
French Toast: Pretty much the same drill as above using your favorite French Toast recipe. America's Test Kitchen has a slick recipe called French Toast for Sunday Brunch which provides a clever method for making a large batch of French toast in one clatter. To paraphrase it, heat oil on a rimmed baking sheet and let eight pieces of bread soaked in batter cook for four minutes on each side at 400 degrees. Cool and freeze as described for waffles above.
Breakfast Hack #3:
Dr. Weil's Multigrain Scones: Some odd ingredients in this one that you probably don't have on hand, but it's a good option for a fiber-rich breakfast on the go. Exactly the same amount of effort as making a batch of cookies. I make a double batch and they last a good long while in Tupperware.
Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/RCP00240/multi-grain-scones.html
The zesty lemon topping is a very nice touch. Caveat with this recipe: If you give them to a child who is not potty trained, changing the next few diapers will be very much like cleaning out a dirty birdcage. You've been warned.
I managed to make all three of these recipes in an afternoon and had three weeks of breakfasts as a result. I supplement with fruit on other healthy sides and it's one less headache on busy workdays.
Share with me: What are your time saving tricks?
Any of you with kids knows that the average weekend follows a predictable pattern. Mine looks something like this:
This weekend was different. We cashed in some sitting favors (Thank you to our dear friends. You know who you are) and went on up to Denver. We went to a loud, raucous Halloween party that did not involve any characters from Frozen. Anyone who got sick probably didn't have too much candy to blame. My only comment is that I did not do my 20s properly.
We then slept until 10 AM, had a leisurely brunch, cruised the mall for a few minutes (yes, a fountain pen may have been purchased to commemorate the sale of my book) and then we went home to collect the kids who promptly went down for their 2 PM naps.
The added benefit is that while I am tired, poorer, and exceedingly conscious today that I am 35, not 22, I am ready to tackle the week with a lot more enthusiasm. I stepped *way* outside my comfort zone and it paid off.
I'm calling it a win.
I've just completed the first read-though of my second novel. I can say this with certainty: It's in a great deal better shape than the first novel was at this point.
I know it's not complete crap. I can see when writing is garbage and I can fix it. Crap is easy.
What I fear is mediocrity. That the book is just OK. That it won't live up to the first book and the publishing industry won't laugh when it arrives on their laps, but shake their heads and say something akin to "I just didn’t' connect with it." (I take that for code as "it's not terrible, but I have no clue how to fix this or sell it.")
And that feeling sucks. Just ask this poor kitteh:
I think many of us writers have it, and we don’t talk about it because it's so damned uncomfortable. When we stumble onto our little gems and smile, laugh, or cry at a passage, we think it must be over the top in some way or that we haven't conveyed the vivid pictures from our head onto the verbal canvas. I think that feeling results in a lot of murdered darlings. Some who met their gristly end for no good reason.
For that reason I *highly* suggest saving new copies of your document for each new draft. You may realize that you have wielded the purple pen of fury in haste and need to perform CPR on a sentence, paragraph, scene, or even a chapter that landed on the cutting room floor.
The trick is to let go of the fear. Your early drafts will likely be "just OK". And that's…fine. Take the time to polish and revise and seek out solid beta readers. Take the advice that works and with each new project take that next step (or two or three) from OK to great.
From book to book, You may take a few backward steps too, if you write long enough. Look at Stephen King, for a prime example. If you rank his many novels, they don’t' get incrementally "better" each time. Some are better, some worse and the chronology of when he wrote the book doesn't much matter. Carrie, his first book, rates high on many lists. The Stand is one of his very finest and he's written many books since.
And that, my friends, is OK.
I'm sure many prolific authors are disappointed when their current book doesn't perform as well as their past works. That's what gives them the drive to write the next.
I am in full-force editing mode on my second book. Hence, not much Aimie Blogging time. One thing that is very enjoyable about writing a second book is that the *process* gets much easier (the work actually gets harder--because you know how badly you stink). That goes doubly for editing. I've had some writerly friends ask me about my process, and it looks a little something like this:
I read through the MS in order.
This phase is actually pretty quick. Three sessions or so of about 3-4 hours. Ideally I'd do it in one sitting, but my life doesn't allow for such a long stretch of *anything* at this point.
Once the read through is done I will:
That phase may take several weeks. And then? Beta readers. At that point my eyes are too close to the story and it's time to have others take a look. I ask one beta to read at a time, I make corrections, then send it on to the next. I generally use three beta readers--more if needed. After I get a good feel from the betas and make all the corrections, I take one more read to add the last coat of verbal varnish, then send it off to the powers that be.
Then it gets really, really scary.
But you know what? It's worth it.
If you have connected with me via Facebook or Twitter, there's almost no chance that you haven't heard the news: I GOT A BOOK DEAL! A two book deal, in fact, from Kensington books, the chance to work with one of the best editors in the business, and oh yeah--my childhood dream becoming a reality. There's that. Like many kids of my generation, this was spoon-fed to me as my mantra:
It's a lovely thought. And I believe it, too. Mostly. In fact, I've determined that success is a simple recipe, really:
That said, there are several good reasons why people don't take talent too seriously:
The other secret that few mention is that as soon as you get your book deal (or make then NBA, or get accepted to med school...) is that the laundry still piles up and the world keeps on turning. No laundry fairies, dammit all.
I don't want you all to think I'm jaded or in any way less than elated with my success. If anything, the fact that my life hasn't changed is reassuring. As though professional writing can inherently be a part of me without changing who I am. And that, my friends, is priceless.
I attended my second Zumba class yesterday. No one got hurt. Not me. Not the unsuspecting women next to me who had no idea they were exercising near a woman who has the coordination of a drunk three-legged giraffe.
And in the midst of the class I had a wonderful revelation: I am a terrible dancer and I don't care. As I attempted the steps in time with the instructor whose ability to dance and smile at the same time still baffles me, I realized that everyone else was doing their own thing and probably didn't have time to notice how badly I was doing. Even the super-intense women, clad in their Zumba merch? They were busy dancing and enjoying themselves.
It's a good lesson about life. We care so much about what others think, how people will react to what we do. The truth is that most of the time, they're invested in living their own lives and don't really notice what you're doing unless your actions pull them out of their own routine. Like if you topple into them mid Samba roll.
It was freeing to cast off the middle-school self-consciousness and just *dance*. Badly.
My name is Aimie and I'm a bad dancer. And that's fine.
Also? Down about three pounds. I'll take it!