March 2021 Update

Ladies of the Secret Circus header

Let’s just say it…I should be better at keeping up with my blog! There is so much to cover that I don’t even know where to begin.

First, The Ladies of the Secret Circus hits stores (and online) on March 23rd.  If you’re in the UK, it is already out in paperback.  I’m not going to lie, this second book was a tough one.  No one tells you just how difficult writing a second book is.  You’ve had an unlimited amount of time to work on your first book until you’re fortunate enough to get a book contract, but then on the second, you now have a looming deadline.  I think every writer feels their second book just isn’t as polished or perfect as their first.

That said, I’m really happy with this book.  I took the bones of an old novel that I had sitting around and wrapped it around a fantastic circus tale that I wanted to write about. So far, the reviews have been good.  It’s gotten two starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal:

“Fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus will love this page-turning story of dark magic, star-crossed love, and familial sacrifice.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Highly recommended for lovers of timeslip fiction, readers who enjoy their genres very bent indeed, and those who have dreamed of running away to the circus.” – Library Journal (starred review)

I’ll be doing several events around the launch with my dream list of writers like Erika Swyler, Gwendolyn Womack, Greer Macallister and Rena Rossner.  Signed copies of the book will be available through the book events.  If you’ve liked the music from my books, I’ve compiled everything into a Spotify Playlist for both A Witch in Time and The Ladies of the Secret Circus.

I’ve debated (agonized) about writing about this next bit.  I’m a pretty private person, but I’ve been talking with two dear friends who are just heroes to me on their bravery, so here it goes…In between books one and two, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Some of you know this story, so I’ll condense it here to avoid repeating myself. In August, was working on the developmental edits for LADIES when I got the call about my routine mammogram.  This fairly small and non-aggressive 6mm tumor was hiding behind a benign cyst and was nearly missed.  That is the condensed version. The real-time version was terrifying. Getting diagnosed early certainly gave me a lot of treatment options.  I’m forever in the debt of Dr. David Euhus at Johns Hopkins who sat down with me before I went into surgery and began asking me details about A Witch in Time that only someone who read it (or, in his case, listened to it) would know. With Covid-19 safety protocols, I was alone in the hospital for surgery, so to not feel like a number to my surgeon, put me at ease with him immediately.  A course of radiation therapy followed until right before Christmas.  When you finish radiation, they have you ring a bell and read a Thoreau quote: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”  As cancer seemed to take a wrecking ball to all my plans, reading that quote just caused me to break down crying.  I cannot tell you how much the small kindnesses by the medical staff at Sibley Hospital meant to me as well as drawing strength from the other patients who sat with me in the waiting room as Christmas carols played on the sound system.  I was lucky for so many reasons.

As a result, the release of book three will be pushed back a little bit, but I can tell that I’m already grappling with questions on mortality that will make their way onto the page as only can be done in historical fantasy.  Here’s a little preview of my book three inspirations:  Francoise Dorleac, Dark Shadows, Victoria Holt romances and Amboise, France.  I’m soooo excited about book three.  And for those of you who have asked about whether I will write Luke’s story, I’m definitely tossing the ideas around in my head.  Luke needs a story of his own!

March newsletter photo

L-R: The view outside my window in North Palm, the book, Gidget on the lawn chair

So how has cancer changed me?  To be closer to my support system, I decided to sell my house and moved to Florida for the winter.  I put everything in storage, packed up my Volvo and took the two dogs to live in West Palm Beach with my boyfriend.  I’ll make my way back up to the DC area, but for now, I have adored living in West Palm and the life of a digital nomad!  I’ve been on the road a lot in the past few months, so much thanks to Subculture Coffee, Harold’s Coffee Lounge, Butcher and Bee (totally obsessed with whipped feta and honey) and The Harbinger (The Best Friend is amazing), for making the journey memorable!

Finally, like everyone, I’ve baked too much bread and watched too much TV during this pandemic.  My favorites have been Bridgerton, Lupin, Ted Lasso and The Queen’s Gambit.  On my TBR pile right now is The Lost Apothecary, The Sanatorium, and These Violent Delights.