Anne of the Fens: Giveaway Winner!

Anne of the Fens by Gretchen Gibbs

On Friday, we ran an Interview and Giveaway of Anne of the Fens  (The Bradstreet Chronicles) by Gretchen Gibbs. I’m happy to announce the winner of the free paperback copy is Anne Wein! 

Thanks to all who expressed interest in the book.  Anne of the Fens is available in paperback and ebook at all online retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  iBookstore, Google Play Books, Kobo, Powells, Books-a-Million

You can read more about Gretchen Gibbs here and Anne of the Fens here.

What others are saying about Anne of the Fens

“Gibbs weaves a story of a young girl coping with adult feelings and questioning her religious beliefs. Anne of the Fens takes the reader on a historical journey from the marshes of England to the wilds of a new land.” ― Gayle C. Krause, author of the award nominated YA novel, Ratgirl: Song of the Viper

“Set against the dark, threatening landscape of pre-English Civil War, when men and women were hanged or burned alive for their religious beliefs, Anne of the Fens is a very quick read and easy to fall into.” ― Jenny Maloney,

“Take one part spunky adolescent, two parts woman-to-be, a generous helping of smarts, and you’ve got Gibbs’s extraordinary protagonist. Whether she’s reading forbidden literature or making her way through the dangerous fens, we are right there, rooting for her. Anne of the Fens is a breathless ride.” ― Carole Howard, author of About Face and Deadly Adagio

“With wit and an eye to sumptuous detail, Gretchen Gibbs catapults us into 1627 England. This is a terrific book, and Anne’s story is both romantic and harrowing. From its opening scene at Lincolnshire’s fair to its unpredictable end, I couldn’t put it down.” ― Donna Reis, author of No Passing Zone and Certain


Anne of the Fens: Author Chat & Giveaway

image004Last Friday I posted about Gretchen Gibbs’ newly released Anne of the Fens,  a YA historical romance. What follows is my interview with Gretchen, but first let me tell you about our Giveaway: Readers who leave a comment following this post are entered in a contest to win a paperback copy of Anne of the Fens. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, May 12, so check back then. (Be sure to give me some way to reach you.)

Now, here’s Gretchen, who’ll be responding to comments and questions when she returns from her morning tennis game.

Congratulations, Gretchen, on publishing Anne
of the Fens!
  I’ll start with the hardest question: I think readers most want to know why they should read your book!  
“Thanks for inviting me! I can tell you some reasons why I think readers will like Anne. First, people say it’s a page-turner, what with a secret room in a castle, a handsome scoundrel, and a chase scene through the fens, no less. Anne of the Fens by Gretchen GibbsSecond, the novel’s a love story. Who can resist a romance? Third, it’s about a fascinating woman who became America’s first poet, Anne Dudley Bradstreet. She came to the Colonies on an ocean voyage fraught with hardship, and she bore eight children under circumstances of extreme deprivation. I thought, what kind of adolescence would such a strong woman have had?”

How did you get interested in Anne Bradstreet?   “I’ve always loved poetry, but IMaggie_Cover_Thumb
discovered Anne in a different way. My first novel, The Book of Maggie Bradstreet, told the story of the Colonial witch trials from the perspective of one of my ancestors, a young woman who found herself caught up in them. Anne Bradstreet was Maggie’s grandmother, and once I had told Maggie’s story I began to get interested in Anne as a character. I owe my interest, ultimately, to my mother, who discovered we’re descendants of the Bradstreets.”

What kind of research did you do for the book?   “I read a lot about Anne; there are several good biographies, the latest by Charlotte Gordon, and a number of books about Anne’s poetry. Then I discovered that intriguing, key fact: The family emigrated because of the traitor they housed. Not much is known about her childhood, but she wrote a few things in a notebook that her own children scribbled over. (She said she had been religious, but became ‘loose from God’ at fourteen or fifteen, when she was taken over by her carnal feelings.) I also read some English history, as I was unfamiliar with Charles I and his struggles with Parliament. I’m sure most Britons know all about that period, but Americans are apt to associate the name ‘King Charles’ with a handsome breed of spaniel!”

Given that kind of unfamiliarity, was it hard to set your book in England?   “I spent some time in England, where I found myself quite taken with the fen lands. Many people love mountains, and I admire them too, but I am often drawn to flat areas; oceans and big sky country, as they say in the American West. The fens were like that; they’ve been drained and filled in dramatically in the 400 years since Anne’s harrowing adventures, but there’s still that flatness. Tattershall was the only castle made of brick I’d ever seen – warm, and beautifully restored. Nearby Boston was a great town, with a street called “Wormgate,” and St. Botolph’s church, the largest in England, if you don’t count cathedrals. Seeing it helped me visualize the book’s first scene, where Anne runs after Sarah around the corner of the church.”

So what’s next? Anne of the Fens is the second in the Bradstreet Chronicles. Will there be a third?   “I’d love to write about Anne’s great-grandfather, who was from the nobility that Anne’s father was so proud of. At fourteen, he was a British spy. He was imprisoned twice in France, escaped both times, and became a Knight of Malta, which is where he lived.”

Thank you Gretchen. You’ve given us a real feel for Anne Bradstreet and your own enthusiasm.  “It’s been fun.
I’m happy to chat about Anne.

Read more about Gretchen and her young adult historical novels at

Don’t forget to comment here for a chance to win a copy of Anne of the Fens, then check back next Tuesday for the winner.

Anne of the Fens: Romantic Suspense

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00020]I’m happy and proud as a mamma to announce the release of Glenmere Press’s latest title, Anne of the Fens, historical romantic suspense written for teens as well as adults who can’t get their hands on enough great YA fiction.

Author Gretchen Gibbs – author of The Book of Maggie Bradstreet, a novel that brought the Colonial witch trials to life for readers – now explores the life of yet another of the young Bradstreet women, both of them Gretchen’s own ancestors. Well researched and lovingly portrayed, Anne of the Fens is about the spirited young Anne Bradstreet, who as an adult became America’s first published poet, and whose work and words are honored to this day.

The story in Anne of the Fens  is one of thrilling suspense, as Anne tries to help a fugitive escape. The novel is new to The Bradstreet Chronicles, Gretchen’s series that can be read in any order.

Anne grew up in a turbulent era of religious intolerance in early 16th century England. We know a lot about her, through her poetry that became famous throughout the English-speaking world, as well as through abundant historical records about her Puritan family’s quarrels with King Charles, their flight to the New World, and the important role they played in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Here’s a snippet from Jenny Maloney’s review of the novel on Criminal Element:

“Anne Dudley is a fifteen year old who has very little experience when it comes to trouble – that’s more her sister Sarah’s issue. Raised as a Puritan, Anne knows it is wicked to lie, cheat, steal, and lust after men. Still, she is caught in a world that is anything but Godly and pure. Her religion prohibits the reading of certain books, like William Shakespeare.  And, on the other side of things, King Charles I is demanding taxes and limiting her family’s freedom because of their religion.

When Anne discovers her father is hiding a Puritan fugitive from the King’s justice, she finds herself learning how to lie. She sneaks the man, John Holland, food. During their midnight meetings, she discovers that perhaps she feels more than just duty towards him. However, as she gets to know John and becomes better at telling lies, she starts to wonder if she isn’t being lied to.”

I asked Gretchen Gibbs to provide a bit of background for the story and explain how she came to write the novel. Next Thursday, May 7, I’ll introduce her and post our interview.

In that post I’ll also let you in on our giveaway – a contest to win a free copy of Anne of the Fens.

Book Expo America 2014: A Few From the Floor

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) at Book Expo America 2014

Faces you’ll recognize from MWA’s crowded booth.

From the perspective of the Book Expo America 2014 exhibit floor yesterday, all is going very well indeed in book land. I did my best to catch a few shots from my mobile, but what with the crowds and the juggling of bags and books, my efforts were undermined.

I attended with two Glenmere Press authors, and it was a grand coincidence that the first person we bumped into was the owner of our small town’s indie bookstore – Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe  – a gorgeous and recently expanded store that supports local authors as it does joyous readers who come to our town for the pleasure. On the floor at BEA, he, and we, thoroughly approved the apparent confirmation that the well-being of print books, and bookstores in general, is stabilizing.

Author signings at the MWA booth.

Regularly scheduled author signings at the MWA booth.

The so called eBook threat may still bob around at ceiling level, but you wouldn’t know it down on the floor, among the folks in healthy sized lineups waiting for free print copies and author signings.

Our friends over at MWA and RWA were enjoying mobs of readers, and they’re true pros at scheduling signings and keeping the crowds both happy and orderly.



Yet it’s true the show is experiencing undercurrents, this year as in many others, at meetings off-floor and behind the booth tables. Murmurs about Saturday’s fan-based BookCon with a childrens’ author list largely white and male. Grumblings about the deadlock between Amazon and Hachette Book Group that has incited protest from The Authors Guild and from authors hit in the crossfire.


NetGalley's booth at BEA 2014

NetGalley’s BookExpo booth

As a small publisher, I attended with a slightly different perspective. I met with my wonderful reps and marketing mentors at INscribe Digital, the fabulous eBook distributor that gives small publishers the means to achieve status at retailer sites. I checked out three of our authors’ books on the shelves of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) booth, where I got helpful guidance from the personable and knowledgeable Terry Nathan. I also talked to the folks at NetGalley, where our books are available as e-ARCs for reviewers, booksellers, and librarians.

If you weren’t out on the floor yesterday, I encourage you to go today, or on Saturday when fan-based BookCon debuts. Be sure to pick up a copy of Publishers Weekly Show Daily, a good way to get your bearings on the day’s signings and events.

There yesterday? Going soon? Went last year? Got better pictures? Do tell!

What’s With the Book Cover Makeovers?

Harry Potter Gets a Makeover Why do authors and publishers go for the big makeover in book covers? It isn’t as if Harry Potter and Hunger Games aren’t selling. You expect new covers when there’s a switch in publisher, or with the release of a new edition that involves content changes, but otherwise, why go for a face lift when the original hasn’t aged?

In the case of the big sellers, maybe it’s simply because they can. To be sure there’s a marketing and sales angle – that bottomline to bolster. But maybe it’s also just fun to get fans excited all over again. And excited they are! Check out book cover makeovers on GoodReads and you find polls galore and heated discussions over which version is best.

Still, even for books with, ahem, more modest expectations, there are very good reasons to go for a change. No question a new cover can stir interest and increase sales, but if we’re going for improvement, what do we expect of the switch? Maybe to better give a hint of the story. Raise an intriguing question in a reader’s mind. To more precisely set a tone. Correct for gender neutrality. Go for more current design20140314_ebook_thumbnail trends. Or simply to create a design so pleasing to the eye that readers want to hang it on their walls.

Here’s one, for example: our friend Carole Howard’s About Face, currently featured on NetGalley’s “Judge a Book by its Cover” blog.

Ever wish you could trade in your old book for the edition with a new face? Ever discover a classic in gorgeous new garb?

Thanks to the LA Times for the side by side Harry Potter cover display used above.

Popup books – feeding the kid in us

Mommy? popup with art by Maurice Sendak

MOMMY? by Michael Di Capua Books – Scholastic with art by Maurice Sendak, scenario by Arthur Yorinks, paper engineering by Matthew Reinhart

I didn’t have time, Easter Day, to read to the four visiting little ones, but that’s the good thing about family. With very few exceptions – like when they were tearing around the yard finding Easter eggs or examining the compost heap – at any given moment one kid or another was draped over a grownup’s lap absorbed in “hearing” a book.

It was a beautiful thing. And when it’s not a grand holiday with a lot of cooking and cleanup to interrupt, I do have time to read to them, and I absolutely love the fact there are so many ways to do it.

Popups don’t usually make the list of book publishing media, but I think they qualify as a category. As a couple of dozen paper engineers ply their art around the world, I’m increasingly amazed by what they produce. The Sendak book shown above (I’m pleased to say it’s from my own small collection – these books are pricey!) is one example, but the 2-D image I’ve supplied hardly begins to demonstrate the experience of thumbing through one of these hand-crafted books. But hey, we’ve got video to show us what it’s like.

Whatever you think of Game of Thrones (much to appreciate there, though I don’t count myself a fan) if you haven’t been amazed by popups in the past, here’s a trailer you’ve got to watch for the popup effect. If you enjoy popup books too, I hope you’ll tell me about your favorites.

Social media overwhelm? Oh wait. . . there’s Twitter’s Fiction Festival!

Twitter Fiction Festival 2014When you’ve got a book to promote or better yet, more than one; or you’re trying to brand yourself as a writer or help readers find your book, there’s no better way to do it than social media networking. Right? Okay then!

Problem is, if you’re writing and publishing and promoting, there’s so much of it to do, and so little time. It’s a killer. Social networking invades the space and time we set aside for writing. It’s terrifically exhilarating until it isn’t. But just when you’re throwing up your hands, crying “No more! No more!” there’s the next new train to jump on. It’s exhausting.

Time to get back to telling stories. And lo, there’s a fresh new social-media way to do it!

Twitter’s upcoming Fiction Festival is for every kind of story teller, but the authors selected for featured spots alongside a group of famous authors may well be pitching ideas that transcend the written page. (And you thought you were up to date because the world can read your book on an Android or iPhone.) If you’re interested in new ways to share stories and get a lot of attention for doing so, enter your pitch by Feb. 5th and you might win a featured spot.

You don’t have to already be on Twitter or have a huge crowd of followers. And so what if your pitch doesn’t win you a showcase spot. Join in, join in, and do it anyway! You do have to be able to tell a story in 140 character segments or in photos, or six-second looping videos. Because now, of course we have Vine and Twitpic and who knows what else to make that a breeze.

During the Twitter Fiction Festival, authors have six days to tell their stories in itty bitty slices. Which of course means figuring out how to leave watchers on the edge of their seats, gasping for the next installment, which you can post in five seconds (or 5 hours, if you really must catch a few winks of sleep).

Last time around we had Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jennifer Egan telling a Sci Fi story, and Lucy Coates telling a hundred myths in a hundred tweets written in headline form. (Read more about it at The Christian Science Monitor.)

Are you in? Do tell. And I hope you’ll come back and share pitches and plots once things get rolling on March 12.

Impromptu Capture of Women

Some of the Women of Mystery at the Twisted book party, L to R: Kathy Ryan, Cathi Stoler, Clare Toohey, Terrie Farley Moran, Anita Page, Lois Karlin, and Laura K. Curtis (our hostess).

From the Twisted book party, L to R: Kathleen Ryan, Cathi Stoler, Clare Toohey, Terrie Farley Moran, Anita Page, Lois Karlin, and Laura K. Curtis (our hostess).

I’m not sure the last time all of us were all in one place together–might have been several years ago, when we were fewer. Forgive any action-shot blur, to get seven of the WoM in one cellphone shot was tough enough! This picture was grabbed during the quickest break from the launch party for Laura’s debut romantic suspense novel. (We have mentioned having a few new releases happening around here, haven’t we? *counts fingers in disbelief* We really have been chatting together for years now, so to see our own making progress is a joy that doesn’t get old for me And in 2014, the birds tell me, we may have more to crow about still.)

It was wonderful to get to see everyone, and swell times were had. Such swell times that I actually forgot the parking lot holding my car was closing and I had to run to get there. As I waved frantically at the booth, hoping someone was still there to see me and return my car, a smug guy emerged who only hassled me good-naturedly about being another of those late-returning Friday night merrymakers. Ladies, your company was enchanting… and distracting!

P. S. That is my pin head oddly hovering above Cathi’s, and that hand over Laura’s shoulder also belongs to a Woman of Mystery. Glo’s become very private since the accident at the radium factory, but trust me, she looked radiant.

Nick of Time by Cathi Stoler

nickoftimeIf I was  allowed only one word to describe Cathi Stoler’s just released novella, Nick of Time, that word would be slick. Nick Donohue is the kind of guy my mother would have called debonair. He knows his way around the finer establishments of Europe better than I know my way around my tiny apartment. He dresses perfectly for every occasion. He always knows the right thing to say. To top it off, Nick’s a sap for a pretty girl but he doesn’t let his involvement with her and her problems prevent him from jumping in to help his brother when serious financial issues arise.

This is a fast paced story giving the reader barely time to take a breath as Nick moves from crisis to crisis. And, at novella length, it is handy to have around during this busy season when you really don’t have time to re-read War and Peace. (You did read it at least once, right?)

If having a brand new novella written by one of the Women of Mystery isn’t exciting enough, I have to tell you that Nick of Time was produced and published by Glenmere Press, a snazzy new imprint that is dedicated to working closely with the authors it accepts for publication. And the best news is, TA DA, Glenmere Press is owned and operated by none other than Woman of Mystery Lois Karlin. You can click here to check out the Glenmere website.

So there you have it. Two Women of Mystery and a really charming man. Lest you think I haven’t described Nick properly, I’ll let him tell you:

“I’m Nick Donohue, citizen of the world, gambler by trade.”

What more do you need to know?


Cathi Stoler is Keeping Secrets

Keeping-Secrets-by-Cathi-StolerOver on Criminal Element, check out the Fresh Meat review by Doreen Sheridan with a Sweepstakes giveaway of Cathi Stoler’s new book – released today! – KEEPING SECRETS, the second novel in her Laurel and Helen New York Mystery series.

Here’s Sheridan’s take on the reporter and private eye in this story about identity theft, greedy bankers and dirty politicians:

“It’s great to read a contemporary mystery with two strong female leads who are friends without being sidekicks to one another. Cathi Stoler writes about the problems faced by modern women sympathetically, but in a way that also reminds us that certain dilemmas are timeless. The burgeoning love triangle between Laurel, Matt and Aaron, for example, is echoed in Helen’s navigation of her own tricky relationships with Mike and Joe. The romances are just as colorful as the mysteries unraveled here, and just as satisfyingly resolved.”

Hop over quickly; the sweepstakes ends at 9:29 a.m. ET this Monday, November 4. All youNick-of-Time-by-Cathi-Stoler need do to enter for a chance to win a copy of Keeping Secrets and Cathi’s novella Nick of Time (out Nov. 25), an international gambler’s tale of intrigue, is make sure you’re a registered member of Criminal Elements and leave a comment at the Fresh Meat post.