Posts Tagged ‘launch party!’

Rivals in the City is almost here!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Hello, friends. It’s official: we have a launch party for Rivals in the City!

launch invitation

The specifics, if the image is hard to read:

When: Saturday, March 7, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Where: Novel Idea Books, 156 Princess St., Kingston, Ontario

Yes, the launch party is happening before the official pub date of March 10. What does this mean? Why, it means that at the party, you’ll be able to buy Rivals in the City 3 days before it’s officially published!

There will be wine and nibbles. I’ll be there reading, signing, and almost certainly talking at warp speed. And I really hope you’ll come, too.

Until then, you can read the first chapter for free, as well as a deleted scene. And in less than two weeks, the whole novel will be here.

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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Hello, friends. Well, The Traitor in the Tunnel is well and truly launched.

Thank you so very much to everyone who came out on Saturday, especially to Lauren (who drove 150 km to get here!) and to Sara, who brought me an amazing array of retro Nancy Drew postcards, and a tentacle in my favourite colour:

I didn't know I needed a tentacle-finger until I had one.

At parties, one of the first things I usually do is lose my drink, and this past Saturday was no exception. The difference was that I didn’t have a chance to locate it: instead, I spent the entire two hours talking. For me, this is sheer lunacy. (To give you an idea: there used to be days when I didn’t utter a word until my spouse came home from work.) And when I wasn’t gabbing, I was reading.

So thank you, thank you, thank you! I am exhilarated. I am exhausted. And I feel so much love in the world for Mary, James, and the Agency.

I am, above all other things, grateful.


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Victorian Obsession: Opium

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Oooh, opium. So dangerous. So addictive. So… legal?

Welcome to the last day of the Traitor in the Tunnel blog tour! Today, I’m talking about the Victorian Obsession with Opium, below. It’s a thrilling and multi-faceted story, and I hope you’ll agree.

Victorian Obsession: Opium

What do you think of when I say, “opium”? Poppies, addiction, maybe the British Empire or hookahs? Well, what about babies? Let me explain.

Opium was, of course, one of the great money-spinners of the British Empire. The British grew opium in British East India and sold it in China, where there was huge demand for it. That’s why the stereotype of the opium-addict is often that of a gaunt Chinese man lying beside a hookah. But, as with all stereotypes, that’s only part of the picture.

Opium use was totally unregulated in England until the Pharmacy Act of 1868. This means that the first half of the nineteenth-century was basically a free-for-all in terms of drug use: anyone could sell it, and anyone could buy it. And as in China, opium merchants in England did a roaring trade.

One of opium’s most popular uses was in an alcohol tincture called laudanum, popularly used to calm the nerves, help sleep, and generally soothe the user. It was considered totally respectable, so ladies as well as gentlemen felt free to take it – and that’s what the British did, in vast quantities. And since opium was so effective and pleasant for adults, they also gave it to children.

Some of the widely marketed “soothing syrups” for infants in the early nineteenth century were mixtures like Godfrey’s Cordial, which was made of opium, water, treacle (a sweetener), and spices. Other brands included Steedman’s Powder and Atkinson’s Royal Infants Preservative. These were immensely popular for use with ill babies. It makes sense: when children are ill, parents want them to feel better. Opium lessened the pain, and the sweetness of the syrups made sure the babies accepted them.

Obviously, opium syrups were not good for babies. Even ignoring questions of addiction and brain development, babies given frequent doses of these syrups tended to be small and stunted, and were often described as “wizened”, or looking like little old men. The reason? They were too sleepy to eat, and became malnourished as a result.

It’s impossible to know how many babies died of starvation as a result of opium syrups. But during the mid-nineteenth century, doctors suspected this was the case. Opium syrups were popular not just with parents of sick infants, but also unscrupulous nurses (who wanted children in their care to sleep a lot) and working-class parents (who were too exhausted from long working hours to deal with fussy babies). These are the most difficult deaths to trace, although it didn’t stop people from speculating.

And this is the double standard of Victorian opium use: you could sit in your elegant drawing-room and denounce the sinful ways of Chinese opium addicts, lazy nurses, and the working poor, all while sipping a glass of sherry-and-laudanum to help you get a good night’s sleep. It’s a bitter irony. Rather like the taste of laudanum itself.

For more neo-Victorian fun, I hope you’ll join me tomorrow, at my real-life launch party for The Traitor in the Tunnel. The details:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

from 3 to 5 pm

Novel Idea Books, 156 Princess St., Kingston

I hope to see you there!


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Victorian Obsession: Death

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Hey hey, let’s hear it for Death! (Or, at least, the Victorian Obsession with it.)

Today, the Traitor in the Tunnel blog tour stops at The Story Siren, where I talk about Victorian funeral rites in all their elaborate glory. Go on – you know you’re curious about that photo, at least.

Also, southeastern Ontarians, you are warmly invited to my book launch party this weekend! The details:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

from 3 to 5 pm

Novel Idea Books, 156 Princess St., Kingston

I hope to see you there!

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A very modern Victorian

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Hello friends! This week, I’m writing a series of short essays for my Traitor in the Tunnel blog tour, which starts at the end of this month. The tour will feature some of my favourite YA bloggers, including the Story Siren, I Swim for Oceans, the Booksmugglers, Reading in Color, Steph Su Reads, and the Bookmonsters. Hurray!

My theme for this blog tour is Victorian Obsessions and some of my research for it led me to a series of poems I haven’t thought about since I was a PhD student: Modern Love, by George Meredith. Modern Love is actually a sonnet sequence – a chain of fifty connected poems, each with the same rhyme scheme and all on the same subject.

That’s already ambitious. Yet Meredith goes further. Most sonnet sequences are about love – the development of a romance, the triumph of true love, pure and passionate. But Meredith turns this around completely, because Modern Love is about the breakdown of a marriage; his own marriage. Here’s the first 16-line sonnet, “By this he knew she wept with waking eyes”:

By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:
That, at his hand’s light quiver by her head,
The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangled mute, like little gasping snakes,
Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
Sleep’s heavy measure, they from head to feet
Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
Each wishing for the sword that severs all.

This sonnet blows me away every time I read it. It’s ruthless and violent, fiercely radical and brutally effective. I’d never guess that it was written in 1862; to me, it sounds more like 1962. And it’s a great reminder – especially to me, since I’m now writing about “the Victorians” and invariably generalizing a bit – that every era has its startling exceptions.

What do you think of the poem? Are there other exceptions (Victorian or otherwise) that it calls to mind?

As well as a blog tour, I’ll be having a launch party in Kingston to celebrate the publication of Traitor. Hurrah! The details:

Saturday, March 3, 2012, from 3 to 5 pm

Novel Idea Books, 156 Princess St, Kingston

If you’re local, I’d love to see you there!


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One magickal winner, with more to come

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Thanks for entering the Magickal Agency contest and spreading the word, friends. In choosing a winner, I disqualified anyone who claimed not to like olives. Then I was consumed with pity for the misguided, olive-fearing people (because you can’t really claim to live a full and happy life without olives) and put you back in the contest. All right. So.

The randomly selected winner of the Stephanie Burgis prize pack, which includes the gorgeous UK edition of A Most Improper Magick and a set of bookmarks and postcards, is…

See what I mean by gorgeous?

Shel! Congratulations! Please send me your mailing address and I’ll get the book in the post.

I imagine the rest of you are saddened by this. You should be, because Steph’s book is absolutely wonderful and won’t be published in North America until April 2011. But if more conversation and prizes are what you’re after, there is some consolation…

Come to my online launch party for The Body at the Tower on Tuesday, where there shall be all manner of bookish chatter and prizes, oh yes. The lovely people at Candlewick Press and Walker Books UK will be there, refilling your virtual wineglasses. I’ll be giving away Agency t-shirts and stickers, and my publishers will be giving away books! Yes, I said books! The details, again:

UK/Europe: Tuesday, 28 September at 16.00 BST

US/Canada: Tuesday, September 28 at 4pm EST

The hashtag is #bodytower.

(Of course, you can attend whichever party you like. They’re just meant to be at convenient times.)

And there’s a traditional launch party, of course:

Wednesday, September 29 at 7.00pm

Novel Idea Books, 156 Princess St, Kingston

See you next week, at some point! And remember to click over to Steph’s blog to see if you won her contest.

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Ready – set – LAUNCH!

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

This week, Walker Books publishes The Body at the Tower in the UK! Here’s the gorgeous new cover.

Perfection, non? This is the UK/World edition so if you’re an Australian or New Zealand reader, this is the cover you’ll see in November when it’s released by Walker Books Australia.

Also, plans are taking shape for an actual, real-world, come-see-me-face-to-face-if-you-dare launch party. The details?

Wednesday, September 29

7 pm

Novel Idea Books

156 Princess St, Kingston, Ontario

(click here for a map)

Shall I see you there?

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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Good morning! Last night’s launch party was a smashing success, and I can now confess that I was paranoid for nothing. I had this vision of me standing in a room with 5 other people (bookseller, caterer, spouse, son, and one independent witness to my humiliation). Instead, we packed the house.

The crowd thins out towards the end, when we finally remember the camera

The space was the beautifully restored Victorian building that now houses the Body Now 4 Mums studio. Oscar sold the books, Joanna provided wonderful nibbles (garlicky spanakopita! rhubarb compote! pita with za’atar, sumac and fab vegan toppings! chocolate-covered marmalade! carrot cake! homemade limeade for the kids, in tiny green bottles with straws! and many things I didn’t even get a look at because I was in my corner, signing). The Catastrophizer was in charge of music, but no one heard the CD end because it was so raucous.

I learned a few things about launch parties that I feel compelled to share:

1. Arrive much earlier than you think is necessary. People started trickling in at 7pm for a 7.30 start!

2. Don’t lose the camera in the diaper bag.

3. Invite kids. They made it so delightful.

cutest. rugrats. ever.

cutest. rugrats. evah.

4. Enlist someone to bring you food & drink at the midway point.

5. Don’t expect to have meaningful conversations with your lovely friends. Just sign!

6. Bring more pens than you think you’ll need.

me in my corner

7. Breathe. It’s really happening.

8. Smile so hard your face hurts.

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Today’s the day

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Looking for the “If I were a spy…” contest? It’s here.

The day has come – the North American publication date for The Agency: A Spy in the House! As a result, I am all over the intertubes:

The T2T blog tour takes me to Chick Lit Teens where Jessica reviews Spy, calling it a “true gem”. I’m also a guest-poster here, and my subject today is Victorian Hygiene. Warning: this one’s not for the queasy.

I’m also at Book Chick City, explaining why – despite my love of things Victorian – I’m glad I live in the present day. This one’s also a bit grimy.

Paul Grimsley interviews me at In To Views (the Arty interview)

The Catastrophizer forces me to ponder failure and death (the Angsty interview).

And tonight, we’ll be celebrating with a party. Novel Idea Books will be there, selling copies for those who wish to purchase. Body Now 4 Mums and Kids is hosting us in their lovely harbourfront studio. And Candlewick Press is the hero of the day because without them, none of this would be happening. Please join us if you can!

Tuesday, March 9

7.30 to 10pm

61 Yonge St., Portsmouth Village, Kingston

To recap: today will be a True Gem of Queasy, Grimy, Arty Angst. Party to follow.


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Pre-launch lunacy

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Well, hello. Are you coming to my launch party on March 9? I hope so. Details are here.

In the lead-up to the Big Day, I am doing my best to be omnipresent. (There is no hope of omniscience or omnipotence, but I do what I can.) What this means is, starting on February 28, I will be blogging. Every. Day. Specifically, I will be guest-posting or giving interviews here (don’t worry, I’ll come back each day and link to the correct post):

Sunday, Feb 28 – interview at Bookworming in the 21st Century
Monday, March 1 – guest post at GreenBeanTeenQueen
Tuesday, March 2 – interview at Steph Su Reads
Wednesday, March 3 – interview at Books are Life
Thursday, March 4 – guest post at Books by their Cover
Friday, March 5 – interview at That Chick That Reads & a guest post at
Saturday, March 6 – guest post at Reading in Color
Monday, March 8 – guest post at the Epic Rat
Tuesday, March 9 – guest post at Chick Lit Teens & at Book Chick City, & an interview at In To Views
Wednesday, March 10 – interview with the Catastrophizer
Thursday, March 11 – guest post at the Story Siren & an interview at Shades of Romance
Friday, March 12 – guest post at Rebecca’s Book Blog
Saturday, March 13 – guest post at Ticket to Anywhere

That’s a lot of me. But wait – you’re not off the hook yet. New reviews of Spy are cropping up everywhere!

BookPage says it’s “entirely true to the genre, full of thrills and danger and wonderfully sharp writing”.

Publisher’s Weekly calls it “richly described… Mary’s lively escapades… will hold readers’ attention and whet their interest for the next installment”.

Bookphilia got the metanarrative jokes (YAY!) and confesses, “I did absolutely no work on Friday because I was reading it and couldn’t put it down”.

Its sensibilities are a bit too modern for the BookWitch at first, but eventually she reckons, “if you want a female Alex Rider in Victorian London, then this is for you.”

Persephone Reads calls it “transporting”.

BookLoons loves the “rich setting in Victorian London”.

Heck, even Kirkus Reviews liked it, but I can’t link to the review without a subscription. Take my word for it?

Phew. I’ll see you on Sunday.

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