Wednesday, April 05, 2017

book contract news!


So delighted to announce some news about my BRAND NEW SERIES....

I am partnering with Thomas Nelson/ Harper Collins to bring you a brand new series!

I get to usher you to 1930s Boston: to tell the tale of a remarkable and special and anxious and smart and kind young man whose life truly begins when he arrives in the Revolutionary City. also, of a spirited young woman --a New Haven debutante--whose grand dream is to cross off every last "to do" in her "journal of independence." together, they will flirt with love and life and perfect the Lindy Hop.... they'll also solve a murder or two....

From the dazzling neon-striped nightclubs of Scollay Square to a crumbling office adjacent the Paul Revere House in the North End, we are going to Boston! beautiful, wonderful Boston!

Hamish DeLuca and Reggie Van Buren's first adventure releases in 2018!

(And yes, it is THAT DeLuca--- Hamish is Jem and Ray's son ---- all grown up!)

one of the most exciting parts about all of this, is that I was finally able to change the setting on my Pinterest page from secret to public.  Check it out :

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

FREEEEEEE Herringford and Watts novellas

For the next month to celebrate the almost-release of WHITE FEATHER MURDERS, all 3 novella-sized Herringford and Watts novellas are FREE on all major retailers

I know! It's the best!

A Singular and Whimsical Problem is the first adventure published ( thought not chronological) and is a little Christmas jaunt with Jem and Merinda and an elusive cat named Pepper

amazon / barnes and noble / itunes / kobo 

Of Dubious and Questionable Memory takes the girls to Massachusetts in pursuit of a missing woman whose mystery leads them to the heart of Concord and Orchard House, residence of Louisa May Alcott

amazon/ barnes and noble / itunes / kobo

Conductor of Light is my homage to my love of all things theatre and is a cozy closed-room mystery set at the Elgin and Winter Garden theatres here in Toronto.

amazon / barnes and noble / itunes / kobo


amazon / barnes and noble / itunes / kobo 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Where have I Been?

Blogger friends, this is just turning out to be the busiest year.

My next writing adventure takes me back to 1930s Boston so, of course, I am using any opportunities I can to head out to Beantown and its historical wonderfulness in order to immerse myself in the place and walk for hours.   I stayed at the Omni Parker House: which will be familiar to readers of Of Dubious and Questionable Memory as one of the locations Jem and Merinda visit on their Massachusetts adventure.

a few snippets from my recent adventure

And then, Allison Pittman ( my co-author from Starring Christmas) and I found ourselves in Chicago for some major brainstorming and some major Palmer House-ing ( readers of A Lesson in Love and Murder  will remember my use of that hotel -- -it's where Jem and Merinda ( and Ray!) stay when they're in Chicago.

We also found ourselves in the Room Where It Happens seeing the amazing Chicago cast of Hamilton --including new addition Wayne Brady as Aaron Burr.   note: I got these tickets the day the first block of Chicago seats went onsale last June. That's how long we waited.

Chicago, you're so pretty 

the Palmer House 

Rachel and Allison

And for those of you who may be wondering if Hamilton  is everything they say--- it is--- and more.  I have seen hundreds of shows and it is unlike anything I have ever seen.

speaking of Unlike Anything I have Ever Seen,  I am a huge fan of Come From Away.  I saw the original cast in Toronto last fall during their pre-broadway run and am absolutely thrilled that this small Canadian musical with a staggeringly beautiful story and infused with Maritime Canadian music is making a splash on broadway.  Just read what the NYT had to say 

As for theater in Toronto, I will be seeing Mrs. Henderson Presents straight from the West End next week so will keep you posted.

 And this past week I was in the East Coast of our great country for work!

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love the Jelly Bean houses in St. John's, NL 
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And from St. John's, I flew a tiny plane out to PEI. Last time I was in Charlottetown was in the height of summer--- it is decidedly more quiet at this time of the year.

So, that's what I have been up to.    And it doesn't slow down a lot.   I still have work travel for my day job and an Easter Weekend research trip back to Boston.   But, I am also excited about THE WHITE FEATHER MURDERS which releases May 1

There's a nice review in the next issue of Romantic Times

order at Barnes and Noble     Amazon      Chapters 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Theatre Post !

I have had some fun theatrically recently and am so excited to tell you about it.

First off, Come fromAway: a musical I loved in its pre-Broadway run at the Royal Alex is now opening on Broadway. It is set during the aftermath of 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland and showcases the incredible hospitality and resilience of the spirited locals.  If you are in New York, make sure you see it

Two weeks ago, I went to Halifax to see Kim’s Convenience at the Neptune Theatre. I always love an excuse to go to Nova Scotia and my friend Kat has long been this ground-breaking production’s stage manager.   Though I had seen it before in Toronto ( with Ins Choi, the playwright, playing prodigal son, Jung), it was a fresh and exciting experience to see a few new cast members.   This show, too, is headed to New York this summer ( huzzah for Canadian theatre on Broadway).

And, as always, Halifax was good for my writing chops.  I wrote a ton while there….

We are so lucky to live in a time and age where theatre is broadcast on cinema screens.  I absolutely salivated when I heard that the National Theatre was producing Amadeus, which remains one of my favourite plays of all time.   And I was stoked to see it at a theatre a few weeks ago.   It is a tale of madness and religion and obsession and art and the play has freer range to delve into all of these themes in a way that the (also excellent) film doesn’t.   To add, they really amped up the use of Mozart’s music, with  a mobile orchestra on stage. I liked it so much, I am pipe dreaming a trip to London when it plays again next winter….

As a musical theatre NUT, I have always wanted to see Cabaret –especially the definitive Roundhouse Production that plays on the popular Sam Mendes direction from the mid-90s.    It is here for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stop at the Princess of Wales while on a national tour.  I was blown away by the production and the hefty conceptualization of the show but also how chillingly and potently relevant it is to current political tenets.  Honestly, this is why I love theatre: it says things in a big and broad and brash way with stop lights and pageantry.  A magnificent production.

Last night, I was SO stoked to attend a production of Measure for Measure by Toronto’s new Groundling theatre company.   I also enjoyed the chance to see a show in the Winter Garden.   I have been there quite a bit the past few years for tour and research, but most of what I see at the double-decker, is in the Elgin.  Readers of Herringford and Watts will know that I think it is the most beautiful place in the world. So magical, I set numerous Jem and Ray scenes there---

Last night, the intimate audience sat on stage in scaffolded rows while the action took place at the lip of the stage and the empty, gorgeous flora fantasia stretched out in its glimmery coloured lanterns and draping vines.       This was a Shakespeare I had never seen live before and, as per his magic, it stretches out before you, you quickly becoming accustomed to the rhythm of the language and picking up with its ebbing speed. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Author Interview: Stephanie Morrill and GIVEAWAY

So excited about the release of The Lost Girl of Astor Street this week. 
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A new favourite author, Stephanie Morill, was kind enough to answer some questions I had regarding her gorgeous new historical YA

Leave a comment telling us WHY you want to meet Piper and Mariano, and we'll do a random draw for a hardback copy of Lost Girl!

1.)    Lydia’s bouts of epilepsy play an important role in the story and our understanding of her character. To add, they show the glaring injustice befalling victims of illnesses in a time when so much was yet to be learned. What inspired you to include this in the novel?
Epilepsy became a part of The Lost Girl of Astor Street because one of my sons had recently been diagnosed. As I researched his condition, I learned that the 1920s was a big decade of change for those who suffered from epilepsy. One of the first effective anti-seizure drugs was developed at that time, as was the Ketogenic diet, which has been miraculous for my son. As terrifying as it is to experience epilepsy now, it broke my heart to consider how much harder it was before technology like EEGs came along.
2.)    White slavery, bootlegging, the Mob, violence and abuse are themes apparent throughout the book and you never once cringe from blatantly showing their effects on our central characters.    How difficult was it to balance the lighter moments and romance in the book with moments of this dark subject matter?
That was one of the reasons why this book to me so much longer to write than any I had written before. Developing the relationship between Piper and Mariano took several drafts to get right, because of the struggle to balance Piper’s emotional journey. She was going through something devastating like not being able to find her best friend, but then also something lovely like falling in love. While I was writing, it was difficult for me to tell if I was getting the balance right, so it was very important for me to have lots of time between drafting and editing. I was also thankful for writer friends who gave their time to reading early drafts. They were very patient!
3.)    You cite that you enjoy strong heroines --- what is it about the 1920s that loaned itself to creating a strong, independent female who draws sound comparisons to 21st Century sleuth Veronica Mars?

The teenage generation in the 1920s was the first generation to be targeted by advertisers at a young age. There was also a lot more connection and awareness to other lifestyles, rather than being more isolated to your local community. And there was an ever-widening gap between their values and the Victorian era values their parents were raised with. I’ve found that writing about generations where there’s a lot of change can open up a lot of opportunities for strength to shine through.
4.)    Chicago is one of my favourite US cities to visit ( I will be back in March!)  You create a Chicago that sizzles and pops off the page acting as a character in its own right. What research went into this world building and what about this city allured you to create such a stirring landscape?

Oh, I love Chicago. I’m jealous you’ve been so recently, because I’m dying to get back there. When I started the book, I knew I wanted 1920s and a big city. Chicago certainly had plenty going on at that time! I had been several times, and could recall memories of the wind coming off the lake, games at Wrigley Field, and hectic Michigan Avenue. Much of the rest was good old-fashioned research. Google Maps became my best friend. I spent loads of time “walking” around the Gold Coast, plus looking at old photographs of it. The website for Chicago’s public transportation system has fabulous historical goodies. And I was at my library constantly to pick up more research books.
5.)    As a reader I was struck by how Mariano’s complicated relationship with his family aligned with Piper’s revelations about her own family. Like many points in the novel, it reiterated how carefully plotted the story was and how intricately connected all of the characters were.  How did you prepare for such a thrilling, twisting, mystery while balancing such deft character development?
Thank you! Rewrites, rewrites, and more rewrites. And early readers who provided great feedback about what wasn’t working. Without giving too much away, I knew from the beginning that I wanted Mariano to not be exactly what he seemed. But I didn’t know what that looked like, so there was a lot of trial and error involved in making that all fit together.

6.)    I really want the last question to be Will Mariano Marry Me ( but I think Piper might have dibs). Instead, can you tell us a bit about what you will be working on next? If this is top secret, perhaps a period you have always wanted to fictionally explore? 

Of course! I’m in the middle of edits for another book that is set in the same world as Piper’s and has some overlap, but is a separate story. I have ideas for another Piper book, and I’ve done a tiny bit of writing on it, but I really want to make sure that it’s the right kind of sequel.

Stephanie Morrill is the creator of and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.


About the Book:

Lydia has vanished.

Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.

Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.

When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

From the glitzy homes of the elite to the mob-run streets of 1920s Chicago, Stephanie Morrill’s jazz-age mystery shows just how far a girl will go to save her friend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

BOOK GUSH: 'The Lost Girl of Astor Street' by Stephanie Morrill


Oh my goodness, YOU GUYS! Have I got the book for you........

Conductor of Light (Free Short Story) (Herringford and Watts Mysteries) by [McMillan, Rachel]
But first, a reminder that CONDUCTOR OF LIGHT is now available on all major e-readers for FREE.   Publisher and I came up with the idea of a tiny little Herringford and Watts treat to tie you over before WHITE FEATHER MURDERS releases in May.  It is a close-roomed mystery in Four Acts set amidst the tantalizing world of Edwardian Vaudeville.  And there is a bit with a dog.


Lost Girl of Astor Street_cover (2)

Back to gush.

Okay, SO I really, really wanted to read The Lost Girl of Astor Street the moment I heard about it and I was savvy to have it on my radar, it turns out, because it exceeded expectations and then some.

If you like Veronica Mars, the Roaring Twenties, plenty of plot twists and knee-buckling romance, then let me invite you into Piper Sail's fully realized world of flappers and mob-men, danger and high-class sleuthery.

Piper Sail is a renowned lawyer's daughter and resident of the upscale Astor Street in Chicago.  She does a poor job of avoiding trouble at her prestigious private school but is tempered by the influence of her sweet friend, Lydia.  Also peppering her world are her brothers, a rakish journalist named Jeremiah Crane ( you might want to start writing that name in your notebook and drawing hearts around it) and her long-time baseball-playing friend Walter ( ditto with the heart drawing).

When Lydia is reported missing, Piper learns that her friend was a pivotal aspect of a world now seeming to fray at the seams. Nothing is as it seems and with her amateur investigation into Lydia's whereabouts, she is springboarded into a season of self-realization.

While confronting the uneasiness of a world shrouded with privilege and slowly eking out shades of darkness in her own family,  Piper is joined by the absolutely swoon-worthy young detective, Mariano Cassano.

And here, fair readers, I will go tangential with cheeks blushing and fingertips tingling....

MARIANO is a friggin' dreamboat.  He respects Lydia and treats her as an equal as they launch each step of their sideline informal investigation.  He has a dark, broody past that only reconciles with the tenacity and virtue of his present and he is dedicated to his job.  He has a winning smile, a lanky build and every time he tipped his trilby or fingered his suspenders ( maybe I wrote that in..... I don't know if he fingered his suspenders but you all know I think suspenders are hot), I went to lala land ( now playing at a cinema near you).

The chemistry between Piper and Mariano snap crackles and pops from their first meeting when  (SIGH) he arrives to calmly question her about Lydia ( DOUBLE SIGH) while, of course, being all dark-haired and olive-skinned and handsome as all get out.

( Later they dance under the stars after eating pizza in the park, I kid you not).

Mariano and Piper's relationship was, to me, the center of this well-spun tale but the romance does not overcrowd the mystery. As I preambled, there really are several twists---one that happens early on in the story and that earned my respect as a discerning reader.    Chicago becomes a character---from its speakeasies to the L to the high townhouses and manicured streets owned by those who are willing to play into the powerplay world of two magnanimous families: the Cassanos and the Finnegans.

Another highlight of this excessively-readable book was Piper herself.  Unlike Veronica Mars ( who I mention because there are several shout-outs to the tiny blonde one), Piper showcases a realistic insecurity. For as often as she straightens her shoulders and plunges in to danger for the sake of her friend, so she is uncertain in herself and the deductive abilities she is just beginning to find sure footing in.   It was Piper's normalcy that jolted this story with a little something extra for me.  She is winsome in her relatability.

The pages turned easily and while I sometimes found myself assaulted by a modern verve of speech or nuance, I was for the most part transplanted to a vintage whirlwind of murder, flappers and a sort of easy grace of a time past--- a world that doesn't quite know that while it speeds hastily to outdo itself, it is spinning itself on a dangerous axis.

I so hope that we get more of Piper's adventures.  And more of Mariano. Because MARIANO is just music.

Music, I tell you.

With thanks to BLINK for the review copy.