As Summer Comes to A Close…

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chatelaine award

BTSaward_nominee_2015As summer comes to a close (and where did it go, anyway?), I can’t help but look back on all the places I’ve been, the wonderful people I’ve met, and the adventures I’ve enjoyed. Not that there haven’t been bad times, as well. I count the 96 bug bites I received during a single walk in the woods as one of those (I won’t attempt that again without an ample supply of DEET), but as a happily-ever-after kind of gal, I’m going to focus instead on the positive. Here’s just a short list of the things I enjoyed best about this summer…

Best Concert: Mumford and Sons in Raleigh, NC
Most Awe Inspiring Site: The night sky over Blue Hill, ME
Most Fascinating Person: The man who hunted Green Mambas, Puff Adders, and Gaboon Viper snakes for their venom (!!!)
Best Eats: Given this summer’s several pound weight gain, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but Perry’s Lobster Shack in Surry, ME is definitely a contender.
Best Book: Edinbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
Best Eye Candy: Aiden Turner of Poldark (after my husband, of course :)
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Best News: That Once Upon A Wager placed first in the Debut Novel Category of the Chatelaine Awards, sponsored by Chanticleer Books Reviews. Yay! And that Once Upon A Scandal is a nominee for the BTS Red Carpet “Rising Star” award, sponsored by BTS Magazine and Book Reviews. Double Yay!! Many thanks to my fabulous editor at Crimson Romance, Julie Sturgeon, who made both books so much better. She works magic!

And now I better get back to writing that next book, as yet untitled…

All the best,

Julie

My Apologies In Advance For A Commentary on The Donald….

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The Donald

The Donald

I usually post about romantic fiction, Regency England, love, or if you follow me on Facebook, the impossibly hot Ross Poldark, from the new PBS series on Sunday nights. In a perfect world, none of us would descend into the fractious world of politics. But a recent news story has had me thinking about what it means to be a hero (that wonderful characteristic we treasure in every male protagonist in the romance genre.) In short, I’ve learned what a hero does not do or say. This is for you, Mr, Trump.

Dear Donald:

I’m a writer. In others words, I make stuff up on a daily basis. So we have more in common than you might think.

But there are differences. I write historical fiction, not revisionist history. Broadly defined, that’s a distortion of the historical record to suit one’s own interests and ambitions. Like what you’ve done to John McCain.

As in… John McCain is not a war hero.

And you know what? You might be on to something. So he got shot down over Hanoi on his twenty-third bombing mission. So he was captured by the North Vietnamese and viciously tortured. Who cares that after a year of said torture, he refused the offer of an early release, because it meant leaving behind fellow prisoners who’d been there longer? The dumb looby bought himself an extra four and a half years as a POW with that mistake. And he carries the physical consequences of that decision to this day.

If McCain was a real war hero, like Rambo, he’d never have allowed himself to be caught. After falling from the sky in a heap of flaming metal, he’d have sprinted through the North Vietnamese woods like a wild cheetah on the hunt, eluding capture until he could exact his revenge.

I like the way you’ve redefined the word “hero.” It’s so much simpler now. You’re not a hero unless you escape from the enemy. Unless you emerge unscathed. Unless you live.

It should be the bar by which we measure heroes going forward.

Those guys who stormed the beaches at D-Day but didn’t to live to tell the tale, they’re off the list.

Those soldiers who braved enemy fire to save a fallen comrade, but died for their efforts, they’re off the list too.

And how about those idiots who threw themselves on a grenade to protect the solders around them? Need I say strike three?

All of those soldiers who bled out on the battlefields of history had the wrong of it.

The better choice, by far, would have been to get a medical deferment so they didn’t have to go to war in the first place.

Thanks so much for clarifying things.

 

Sincerely,

Julie LeMense

 

Welcome to Painshill Park! Once Upon A Scandal Now Available…

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Painshill Park

Painshill Park, Cobham, Surrey, England

Today is the release day for Once Upon A Scandal, the sequel to my debut novel, Once Upon A Wager, and I’m excited and nervous all at once! I sincerely hope people enjoy it, because I had such a wonderful time writing the story of Jane Fitzsimmons and Benjamin Marworth. The two characters really crafted themselves, and I just came along for the ride.

When you have a moment, I urge you to find out more online about the glorious Painshill Park, Benjamin’s home in Scandal. One of the finest remaining examples of an 18th century English landscape park, it was created between 1738 and 1773 by the Hon. Charles Hamilton. I find it fascinating that many of the tree specimens planted there were actually imported from Philadelphia, which is not far from where I live. During Hamilton’s life, it attracted the most famous horticulturalists and botanists of the day, and a few other people besides, including (as noted in Scandal) Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Catherine the Great of Russia.

If Benjamin showed up at the door in 1813, he’d have been greeted by a disgruntled Henry Lawes Luttrell, the 2nd Earl of Carhampton, a subsequent owner.

Unfortunately, the original home is long gone, but the estate grounds are still maintained by the Painshill Park Trust. I can’t wait to get back to England so I can go for a visit!

Here’s a link to more information…

http://www.painshill.co.uk

All the best,

Julie

Revving Up for Once Upon A Scandal

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9781440586651So perhaps it’s best not to post onto one’s blog after two glasses of wine (or maybe three…) But I’ve just received the cover for my latest book, Once Upon A Scandal, and I love how closely Crimson Romance, my publisher, adhered to the story. It’s a rather crazy plot, with spies, a faked death, and a reemergence for our heroine, Jane, as her mysterious French cousin.

To be honest, it was not a story I was going to write, but I was thrilled to have so many people ask for Jane’s story following her appearance in Once Upon A Wager.

And then she became this very strong-willed, angry character all on her own, a complete departure from her Wager persona. And Benjamin, the hero, crept out of his perfectly coiffed façade, and insisted on his own voice, as well.

I wish I was making this up, but characters in your head really do demand to be heard, don’t you think?

As always, thanks so much for reading.

All the best,

Julie

Once Upon A Wager Nominated for National Award

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I was really excited to learn today that my debut novel, Once Upon A Wager, has been nominated for a 2015 RONE Award in the Historical, Post Medieval category. Given out by InD’tale magazine, the awards recognize the best in indie and small publishing house books. The public phase of voting runs from today, April 20th, and will be open for one week.

If you have the chance to visit their site, I’d love to have your vote!

http://indtale.com/2015-rone-awards-week-two

Also, I’m working on final edits now for Wager’s sequel, Once Upon A Scandal. It’s being released on June 22nd. If you’d like to receive a free advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review, I’d be happy to send it along!

All the best,

Julie

On Arbury Hall and Crawling Out From Beneath My Rock…

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Asbury Hall in Nuneaton, Warwickshire

Just a few days ago, I emailed my second book, Once Upon A Scandal, to my publishers. To quote my husband, upon its completion, “Does that mean you’re going to go to the grocery store?”

Writing on deadline is really hard! My exercise routine went out the window, I ate everything in sight, and the diet coke distributor in my area must wonder why sales have doubled.

But it’s done, and I’m so excited to see what people think. It’s the story of Jane Fitzsimmons and Benjamin, Lord Marworth, and  they go on quite a ride, I must say. It will be published on June 22nd, 2015.

For now, though, I’m returning to Annabelle and Alec’s world. Readers might not know that most of the characters and locations in my first book are real. The people, of course, have passed on, but the places still exist.

Arbury Hall in Nuneaton, Alec Carstairs’s country estate, is currently the home of Lord and Lady Daventry, and I’m thrilled that a copy of my book was requested for the library there. The acclaimed author, George Eliot, was born in 1819 on one of the estate’s farms, and she immortalized the Hall as Cheverel Manor in “Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story,” one of the short stories in her first published fictional work, “Scenes of A Clerical Life.” The  Hall was also the setting for the film, “Angels and Insects,” a 1995 Victorian-era romance.

Which by the way, I am ordering on Netflix tonight, now that I have a little time on my hands!

All the best,

Julie

In the Middle of A Busy Time, A Remarkable Story

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Martin Pistorious

So I’ve realized of late that I’m not very good at social media. It’s not that I don’t have things to say; it’s more that I worry that anyone else will find them of interest.

But the story I’ve linked to above is more that worth sharing. I first heard it on NPR. I was on my way back from dropping off our car pool when the story was broadcast, and my 13-year-old son and I sat in our driveway for 10 minutes in the cold, just to hear it through to the end.

Martin Pistorious was born a healthy child in South Africa, but when he was 12 years old–so close in age to my own son–he suffered a debilitating illness that robbed him of speech and  then ultimately, all movement and any semblance of brain activity. For 10 years, there was only the shell of his body remaining after his mind had left it.

Except it hadn’t. Two years into his paralysis, his mind woke back up, with no way to express itself, no way to escape from the prison of his body. Can you imagine?

What happens next is nothing short of miraculous, a triumph of the human spirit over the limitations of the body.

I hope find it as inspiring as I have…