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ARCs, Podcasts and Chocolate Celebrations

Whew! I just sent off the copyedited manuscript for The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. One step closer to the published book!

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(Art by the wonderful Sally Jane Thompson!)

And just a quick reminder: you can still bid to win an early, signed ARC of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and raise money for refugees as part of the fabulous Writing for Charity Refugee Benefit Auction! You can also bid to win an early, signed ARC of my next romantic adult fantasy novel, Congress of Secrets – or bid on any of the other fabulous offerings there from authors, editors, and agents.

And if you’re in the UK, now would be a great time to sign this petition to help child refugees, too.

On a lighter note, I was really happy to be invited to be a guest on the fabulous Functional Nerds podcast (which I’ve now gotten completely hooked on!), and you can listen to that episode online now or download it to your own phone or computer. It was a really fun conversation about music, history, books and writing, and I had a great time. Thanks, John and Patrick!

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Now I’m getting ready to spend an afternoon running errands in town with my two-year-old…and, oh yes, scheduling a chocolate celebration in town, too, for having sent off those copyedits! Woot! I Have Plans. Chocolatey, chocolatey plans. Mmmm. :)

Masks and Shadows Makes its UK Début!

Aaand whew! The beautiful paperback of Masks and Shadows is finally available in the UK, too! You can order it from Foyles or Amazon UK already (and I hope it’ll go live on Waterstones.com and Blackwell’s soon, too – for some reason those two sites are still calling it a pre-order for now).

Since this book is only being published right now by my American publisher (which holds World English rights), you probably won’t see it stocked in many British stores…but it gave me great delight to see that it is already in stock in the Foyles on Charing Cross Road! :)

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Meanwhile, I have been sooooo grateful for every single review already posted for Masks and Shadows on Amazon, B&N.com, and Goodreads! Thank you guys SO much. Reviews make a huge difference! Any time you have five minutes to write even just a very short one (whether good or bad), you’re doing a huge favor to the author in terms of visibility.

(And don’t worry – I have a VERY strict policy of never reading any reviews with low star ratings – it’s not good for me or for the reviewers! – so even if you don’t like the book, you can write an honest review without worrying that you’re going to hurt my feelings. I won’t even know about it! But I’ll be grateful to see the review numbers grow anyway.)

Today has been a big catch-up day for me. I’ve been catching up on housework after our long weekend away; I’ve been catching up on admin from our house-move; I’ve been trying to finally, FINALLY catch up on my email…and on a totally fun note, I’ve been catching up on episodes of the (fabulous) Functional Nerds podcast (which Patrick had been recommending to me for ages!), because I’m going to be interviewed by them this weekend. (I’ll let you guys know when the podcast goes live!)

Good luck with your week!

Holiday Happiness and Advance Copies of My Next Two Books

Way back in January, when I got my first check from Bloomsbury, I knew exactly what I wanted to do to celebrate it and reward both myself AND my family: book a family holiday! So I did…and this weekend, it finally happened. We stayed in a cottage in the middle of pine woods, with a little lake just behind it, and 14 fluffy ducklings swimming around that lake with their parents. (Also with a shop nearby that conveniently sold bags of duck and swan food!) We took nature walks and went swimming and drove out to a safari park and and and…

It was an amazing weekend for the boys and for me and Patrick. I loved it.

Now that we’re back, I’m crashing with the M.E., but it was totally worth it. So I’m spending my time lying on the couch sorting through photos and editing a short story that will be published later this year, while I look forward to getting copyedits for my next MG fantasy book sometime in the next few days.

And speaking of my next two books…

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Shannon Hale and Mette Harrison have organized an amazing auction to raise money for refugees. All of the money raised will go to Lifting Hands International, a charity that gets lifesaving supplies directly to refugee camps. (And I really do mean EVERY cent of the money raised will go there, because an anonymous donor has chipped in to pay all the administrative fees! So you can be confident that every penny you pay will be going directly to the cause.)

You can see the whole catalogue of items (and register as a member of the auction, so that you can make your bids) here. There are so many amazing offerings from authors, editors, and agents…

And I’m offering two items, too. If you’ve read Masks and Shadows and want an early copy of my next adult book, Congress of Secrets, you’re in luck: you can bid to win an early, signed Advance Reading Copy of Congress of Secrets here! I’ll send you the signed ARC as soon as I have it, probably in June – nearly 5 months before the book’s publication!

And if you’re waiting impatiently to read my next MG fantasy…you can bid to win an early, signed ARC of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart here! You’ll get the signed ARC in the mail as soon as I get my own copies – probably in August, which is around 8 (!!!) months prior to publication!

And whether you bid on one of my items or on any of the other amazing offerings in that auction, you’ll be doing real good for people who desperately need it. This is a cause I care passionately about, and I really hope you’ll check out the full auction!

Now my littlest boy is home from his morning of childcare, and it’s time to put down the computer and start playing with trains and reading picturebooks with him.

Happy Tuesday!

Reddit AMA today!

Hi guys!

This is just to let you know that you can Ask Me Anything over at Reddit today between 3-5pm EST (a.k.a. 8-10pm UK-time).

Here’s the link to the AMA.

I’ll be there answering questions from 3-5 EST, but if that time doesn’t work for you, don’t worry! You can post your questions to that forum earlier in the day and I’ll answer them as soon as I get there. (The link should stay up afterwards, so you’ll be able to read the whole AMA at your convenience.)

Meanwhile, I’m spending today playing frogs with my two-year-old, packing for an upcoming family holiday, and sighing happily over more photos of Masks and Shadows in the wild. (This one is from a B&N in New Brunswick, and the placement made me ridiculously happy!) (Lois McMaster Bujold’s book next to mine! Ahhhhhhhhh!) (Oops. Please excuse the squeaking noises over here… 😉 )

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Please keep those photos coming! They are making me so happy.

And thank you so much to everyone who’s already reviewed Masks and Shadows. I appreciate it SO MUCH!

Happy Links and Pictures

Thank you so much to everyone who commented, emailed me, signal-boosted my book around the internet, bought a copy in your local store or online – basically, everyone who made Masks and Shadows‘s book birthday such an amazing day for me!

Of course Patrick and I took the book out to celebrate in the morning. 😉

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(That’s the desktop photo on my laptop, now!)

We sat in a lovely, sunny café garden, where I drank my latte, ate a yummy almond-cinnamon slice, and just soaked in the amazing fact that this book I love is finally out there in the world, to be read and shared by everyone else. And I feel so lucky right now!

To make the celebration complete, we wandered down to our local bookshop afterward, and I treated myself to two other new books by different authors. (Elizabeth Bonesteel’s The Cold Between and Nora Roberts’s The Obsession, both of which look fun in very different ways! I’m planning to take them both away with us when we go on our family holiday this weekend.)

Even while I was wandering around our town in Wales, though, I also had blog posts popping up in other parts of the world!

At SFSignal, I wrote about about Finding the Fantasy in History.

Over at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, I wrote about my favorite bit of Masks and Shadows (and my decades-long obsession with opera).

And it totally made my day, as I worked on dinner last night, when I saw this post on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog talking about this week’s “can’t-miss selections”…and not only was Masks and Shadows one of them, but they gave it a lovely write-up, saying, “Spies, alchemy, blackmail, and beautiful music make for one irresistibly catchy medley.”

If you guys want to chat about Masks and Shadows or anything else tomorrow, make sure you sign up for a Reddit account today, okay? My publicist at Pyr warned me that no one’s allowed to post on Reddit forums until they’ve had an account for at least 24 hours – and the AMA tomorrow is at 3pm EST (8pm UK-time). I’ll hope to see you guys there! And I’ll post a link to the forum itself here that morning. (I just signed up for my own Reddit account last night!)

Now my two-year-old (who has a nasty stomach bug, poor baby) is watching Dinosaur Train on the couch beside me. We were up a few times in the night, so I’m awfully tired today…but I’m still feeling buoyed up by book-day happiness…and by this lovely photo sent by a friend in New York City, who photographed the “new fiction table” at the front of her local Barnes & Noble!

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It’s really real! And out there in the world! Woooooooot! :) I love seeing pictures of my books in the wild.

(And now I’m going to make a second cup of coffee.)

Masks and Shadows Day

Masks and Shadows is out in the world today…and I am almost too overwhelmed by emotion to write this post!

But I’m going to share the official blurb for this book…and then the backstory. 😉

Masks and Shadows

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire.

Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls.

Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

***

And now the backstory…

I finished the first draft of this book in 2004. (!!!) It won me my first agent and got some glorious, gorgeous rejections from editors who loved it but couldn’t get it through acquisitions meetings…because at the time, having a castrato singer as the male romantic lead was seen as too uncommercial and quirky for their marketing departments. Every rejection ended with some tormenting version of the line: “But we’ll look forward to reading it when someone else publishes it!”

I cried – a LOT – when I finally made the professional decision that it was time to move on as a writer, even though I still loved those characters so much.

But I never forgot Masks and Shadows. Two years ago, I took it out again…and realized that I still loved it. And this time, the timing was just perfect.

I have absolutely loved working with my wonderful editor, Rene Sears, on deepening and strengthening this book. (Trust me, this is not the same book that could have been published in 2004! I’m actually glad, now, that I didn’t sell it all those years ago. I’m a better writer now, and this is a much better, stronger book now, too.) And oh, am I grateful for the whole wonderful marketing team at Pyr Books that gets the book completely. When I first saw the final cover (illustrated and designed by the fabulous Nicole Sommer-Lecht), I cried again, with recognition and gratitude.

Look: that’s my book! That’s it exactly.

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Every book I’ve ever sold has been a book of my heart. But this particular book has been with me, in one form or another, for over twelve years of my life.

And this is a very big day for me.

You can buy the book now from any bookseller, online or in person, in North America, and also from The Book Depository and Wordery (for free worldwide shipping).

For British readers who prefer not to use The Book Depository or Wordery: the ebook is already available on Amazon UK, and the trade paperback will be available there and on Waterstones.com on April 20th. (I am so sorry for that delay!)

If you read Masks and Shadows, I would love to hear what you think. And if you want to chat about it – or anything else! – in real-time, I’ll be doing an AMA Reddit this Thursday, April 14th, at 3pm E.S.T (8pm UK time). You can ask me anything! It would be wonderful to see you guys there.

If you have the time and energy to leave a review anywhere online (Amazon/Goodreads/your own blog/wherever!), I would be really, really grateful. All reviews – good or bad! – help authors, so do please feel free to be completely honest while also knowing that you’re doing me a huge favor by talking about this book in public!

But most of all, thank you guys so much for keeping me company on this journey.

Big Week, Updates, and Inspirational History

This has been an intense second week of school holidays, with lots of excursions and events to make up for the fact that the kids spent all of last week stuck at home, ill. Between aquarium trips, family swimming expeditions, and more, I’m not even trying to do any writing of my own this week…

…but inside my head, the countdown is still ticking away: just four more days until Masks and Shadows is published! (And in fact, I’ve already heard from someone who’s gotten her pre-ordered copy early from her local bookstore! Eeee! If you’ve preordered the book yourself, could you please let me know when it becomes available? The fact that this is mostly happening in a different country from the one I’m sitting in right now makes me so, so hungry for news and updates! :) )

And today I’m over at Nocturnal Book Reviews, talking about some of the fascinating real history that inspired my novel. I hope you enjoy it!

An Important Thank-You Note

Today I’m over at Fantasy Café with a very important thank-you note to the women who first showed me the way into the fantasy & science fiction field, the women whose books I devoured as a teenager, just as I was figuring out what kind of books I wanted to write, myself.

You can read the full post here – and I’d love to hear (either here or there) about the authors you loved most as a teen!

Finishing and Favorites

Whew! I sent off my edits for Congress of Secrets yesterday, a whopping one day before my (extended) deadline…

…And today (appropriately enough!), I’m over at Shelf Pleasure, talking about my five favorite romantic fantasy novels. (But I have to admit: I absolutely cheated. There are more than five novels mentioned in my list! It was just too hard to narrow that list down.)

What about you guys? Have you read all the novels on my list? And which are your favorite romantic fantasy novels, whether or not I mentioned them? I’d love to hear about it either here or there.

Two Kinds of Happiness

So, yesterday began with worries about my older son’s health that clung to me all day…but this morning (knock on wood! I hope I’m not jinxing myself by typing this), he woke up without a fever for the first time in six days…and a couple hours later, completing my happiness for the day, I opened up my subscription copy of the April issue of Locus Magazine – and found a wonderful review of Masks and Shadows inside!

I’ve been reading Locus ever since I was fifteen years old (not only for fun and for professional awareness, but also because, before the internet arrived, it used to be my main way of discovering new fantasy novels to read) – and I always loved reading Faren Miller’s review column there, because not only does she write really thoughtful reviews, but I always felt that her reading tastes matched mine pretty well – so if she liked a book, I should really give it a try!

So you can imagine how happy I was to see that she’d reviewed Masks and Shadows – and liked it!

Here’s a clip from the review:

“…An eloquent and offbeat mix of dark fantasy, alchemy, and spycraft with dire schemes of assassination, remarkable music, and the thoroughly unconventional love story of a castrato male singer and a widow who leaves the wilds of Saxony for the court of the prince whose mistress is her sister.

“As in Chappell’s novel [reviewed earlier in the column], key scenes take place during a masquerade – no less wild and licentious for its courtly setting – and Burgis explores the nature of shadows, over the course of interwoven plotlines with shifting (and complex) viewpoint characters. Here too the tension mounts, to an even more terrifying climax with a remarkably satisfying resolution.”

That review made me remarkably happy!

Masks and ShadowsAnd don’t worry – I promise I will not post every review of the book here! But this particular review meant so much to me that I couldn’t help sharing it. That’s partly because I’ve been reading that column in Locus for so many years – and partly because, to be honest, I’ve been really nervous about the reception of my first adult historical fantasy novel. It’s always scary to take a professional cross-genre leap! So it means an enormous amount to see it so well reviewed in one of the places that’s always meant the most to me, personally, as an f/sf reader.

Whew.

My seven-year-old isn’t fully recovered yet…but I think (fingers crossed!) that he’s really getting better now.

And my nerves about my upcoming novel publication may not have been completely extinguished – but I’m feeling really, really happy about it right now.

Happy Friday!