See you in NY!

Are you in the greater NYC area? Then head over to Lady Jane’s Salon at Madame X on Monday, February 4! I’ll be reading and celebrating Lady Jane’s 10th anniversary. They’ve got a great line-up and I heard a rumor my publisher’s folks will be there with a little swag. Here are the details and I hope to see you there!

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Why, they’re just GIVING them away!

Hey, y’all! My publisher is giving away ARCs of A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION on Goodreads! You have a week to enter and 25 lucky readers will get their hands on this one early. Good luck!

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Y’all, I am BEYOND DELIGHTED to announce that we have a special partnership with The Fountain Bookstore in Richmond to offer pre-orders of A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION with a special bonus: a Veronica Speedwell journal entry! Hit up The Fountain by March 11 in order to reserve your copy. Oh, and did I mention all pre-orders will also be autographed? Go reserve yours now!

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Peeking behind the newsletter

Do you subscribe to my monthly newsletters? You can sign up on the landing page of the site or use the handy form in the right-hand sidebar of this journal. Your information is never shared, and I send one and only one newsletter per month. Here is a look at what I sent in January:

Dear Readers,

Happy 2019! I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start. I love the fact that January is a month named for the dual-faced god Janus. There’s the interplay between light and shadow, death and rebirth. It’s the month when we resolve to do things but are also recuperating from having done all the things in December. We have such good intentions! And we have fewer resources, it seems. So many of us—and this is a northern hemisphere thing I’m talking about—have less energy, less will-power, less determination. It’s so easy to slide into a post-holiday funk and just give in to the impulse to put on flannel jammies and flop in front of Netflix. (And if you’re going to do that, I recommend TRAVELERS or DERRY GIRLS.)

Some people start the new year with rituals, choosing a word to set an intention for the next twelve months. If I were going to settle on a single word, it would have to be “transition”. So much has changed, is changing, will change for us in the space of a single week in January. My husband has resigned his job in order for us to form our own company; our daughter is moving two and a half hours away, and I will be officially post-menopausal. All within three days.

These are all good changes, positive changes, changes that have—apart from menopause—come from choice. And it’s a privilege we don’t take lightly that we are able to decide to choose a different tack. We have no idea how any of it is going to shake out. We’re casting the runes and waiting to see what turns up. We’re gambling, not because we’re inherently risk-takers but because the confines of where we are no longer suit us. (There are appropriate metaphors I could use about butterflies and the chrysalis. Feel free to insert the Anaïs Nin quote about bursting out of bud here.) We’re creating a small earthquake of our own, but sometimes you have to make the tectonic plates of your life shift in order to create something new.

I said I didn’t choose menopause and that’s technically true. What I have chosen is my response to it. It’s odd that you can’t say you are in menopause except in hindsight. It refers to the year you went without periods for the first time, and you can only identify that when it’s finished. After that, you are post-menopausal. So it’s all a big guessing game, a chance to play “expect the unexpected” with your hormones, your body and mind. My strategy in living with the changes has been simple. I agree with all of it. Hot flashes? Fine. That’s my body sorting itself out. Moodiness? I recognize when I wake up prickly as a hedgehog and take that as a sign to be careful and kind with myself and others. I don’t fight tears and I don’t fight anger. I acknowledge and accept.

I have stopped dyeing my hair and discovered that my grey isn’t coming in grey at all—it’s silver. So now I just say I’m growing my own crown. I drink a lot of water and swallow my evening primrose oil and go to bed as early as I need. I lift weights and I do yoga, making my peace with imperfection and happy that it’s called a “practice” for a reason. Some days I fall out of camel pose; other days, I hold corkscrew, my heart lifted to the sky. I am a woman in transition and I have decided to thrive in the “unknowing” of it all. 2019 will bring questions and possibly answers, some endings and better beginnings. If you’re perched on a precipice, we’ll perch together. And then we’ll step out into the openness beyond. We’ll weave our own magic carpets and feather our own wings, and we’ll be just fine out there on the horizon.

Happy reading!



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Happy New Year!

Alright, my lovelies, we’ve got a happy change to announce! MONTHLY CONTESTS ARE BACK. Be sure you head over to the Contest page of the site to enter for January’s prize–and give your reading pals a heads-up too.

If you haven’t already signed up for the monthly newsletter, be sure to do that before January 5 so you don’t miss this installment. Just pop your info into the box to the right————> or on the landing page of the site.

Also, pop on over to Instagram and give a look to @raybourncreative, the new entertainment company my husband and I are launching. We’ll be starting each month with a watch word. Take a screenshot to get yours for January!

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*waving farewell to 2018*

This is my last post for 2018, my dears. I hope it was a grand year for you! It was a complicated year for me with lots to process. Most of it was good, some of it was not, and all of it was thought-provoking. 2019 is shaping up to bring changes–MANY of them. There are years where you just roll peacefully into them, like a hedgehog shaking off a winter sleep. And there are years where you feel like you’re perched on the edge of a precipice, ready to test new wings. (And you really, really hope they’re not made of newspaper and wax.)

2019 is a precipice year. It’s the year where I get to put my philosophies about living large to the test. It’s a year of certain change and uncertain results. It’s a year of expecting the unexpected and learning to shake hands with the unknown.

Several years ago, when I was at a particularly low point and flirting heavily with anxiety, I decided to create an actual personification of stress. I wanted to befriend her, to sit with her and get comfortable because I knew she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I visualized myself in an English cottage kitchen (I have a serious fixation about AGAs, y’all), and she knocked at the back door. When I opened it, she was always wearing a neat tweed suit and brogues with a carpetbag in hand. Only her hat was out of character. It was huge and lavish with cabbage roses in unlikely colors.

Did I mention I gave her Helen Mirren’s face? I wanted her to be familiar–strong and not likely to put up with any nonsense I might give her. I called her Dame Uncertainty and invited her in to tea. She sat down and unpacked her carpetbag while I brewed the pot. And every time she pulled something out of the carpetbag, it was a surprise to me. That was the part of the meditation I hadn’t planned. But each time it was something that clicked into a spot deep in my psyche, like the last piece in a massive puzzle, the finishing touch that said, “I see the bigger picture, child, and I know how it all ends.”

These meditations were silly and fun and made me think. They also helped me to cope, reassuring me that I had all I needed to do all I wanted. I don’t know if she will make an appearance in 2019, but if she does, I will invite her in again and offer her tea and scones and thank her for coming.

Happy 2019, my dears. I hope the coming year is so very good to us all. XO

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Want to know more about the inspiration for Veronica Speedwell?

Check out my piece on Margaret Fountain for Frolic Media!

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‘Tis the season…to see what’s on Hulu

In the same way that I adore a bit of holiday kitsch in my reading, I am a sucker for a good black-and-white seasonal film. (I’m also completely powerless over the Hallmark holiday movies and I’m probably sunk in a torpor in front of Netflix as you’re reading this.) Here are some of my must-views of December:

*HOLIDAY. Not the Kate Winslet/Cameron Diaz/Jude Law thing but the utterly fabulous Katharine Hepburn/Cary Grant film. Worth watching for Hepburn’s affinity for a stuffed giraffe alone. It’s not as sweet as you’d think; it’s like my favorite chocolate cookies which are spiced with cayenne–it has an edge that makes the sweetness all the tastier.

*CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. The original with Barbara Stanwyck. Enchanting in so very many ways. It even has a COW.

*THE LION IN WINTER. I’ve mentioned before that this is my go-to film when I’m wrapping presents. I start with Eleanor of Aquitaine’s arrival at the Christmas court and wrap all the way through the climactic dungeon scene. Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn are unspeakably glorious in this, and whatever your family difficulties, hey, at least y’all aren’t trying to stab each other, right?

*THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. The definitive version, in my opinion. No one else will give you singing cabbages, of which I think Dickens himself would have heartily approved.

*BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: THE ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS. I raised a Disney child, so I make no apologies for this. But the songs are hideously catchy–you’ll be humming them through Epiphany.

*TUNA CHRISTMAS. Never shown on TV, available only through a spendy DVD, this is the follow-up to GREATER TUNA, a tale of small-town life in rural Texas. This is the filmed stage show, and the gimmick is that two actors play all of the parts, to tremendous and hilarious effect. I never watch it without a pang of homesickness for all things Texan.

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Please note…

As of December 31, 2018, I will be deleting my personal Facebook account and author page. You can catch up with me on my website, my newsletter, Twitter, Instagram, and email–there are even Veronica goodies on Pinterest and Spotify! Sign up for the newsletter to get all the latest updates; it goes out once a month ONLY and your information is never shared. Or, follow me on Instagram or Twitter or check the site for the latest info. I’ll be posting to the online journal more often in 2019, and OH HAPPY DAY we’re starting up the monthly contests again with lots of great prizes to be had. If you’re reading this on the website, there will be two more December posts; if you’re on Facebook, this will be the final post on that platform. Excelsior!

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Throwback post!

Every year I like to post my favorite holiday reads in case anyone is looking for a little seasonal joy. My December joys largely involve AGAs and mince pies and–occasionally–a bit of murder. Here are some from my shelf that get a frequent reread this time of year:

*NIGELLA CHRISTMAS. The definitive holiday cookbook with options for every possible kind of feast. Worth buying for the snappy prose and utterly perfect roast potato recipe alone.

*MARTHA STEWART’S CHRISTMAS. A throwback to be sure, but I love flipping through the pages to remind myself exactly how much labor I’m saving by NOT making my own potpourri and wrapping paper.

*WHITE CHRISTMAS. I love color too much to ever be able to pull off a white Christmas myself, but Tricia Foley does it in elegant style.

*JANE AUSTEN’S CHRISTMAS. Full of charming Georgian traditions and snippets from Austen novels. A lovely gift for an Austen devotee as well.

*THE SANTA KLAUS MURDER. A snow-bound country house, a dead body during the holiday celebrations. What more could you want?

*COMFORT & JOY. Contemporary and stylish family upheaval. Just the ticket if you like playing Peeping Tom on other people’s chaos.

*CHRISTMAS AT COLD COMFORT FARM. NOT to be attempted unless you are a diehard Gibbons fan and have read CCF at least three times. It’s not her best, but it does still have charm.

*EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY CHRISTMAS POEMS. Perfect for dipping in and out of during the season and absolutely essential if you end up stuck with people who demand you sing for your supper. Whip this out of your pocket and recite something seasonally appropriate.

*JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. This has become my compulsory annual re-read and the season hasn’t properly started for me until I’ve plunged into Jane Austen’s world and the delights of a corpse at Christmas.

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