c Expand All C Collapse All


Category: Publishing

Any work published before 1928 is in the “public domain”.

Anybody can use the characters, retell the story, etc etc. if a work is in the public domain. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and James Fenimore Cooper fall into this category. So I am completely within the law by retelling Cooper’s The Pioneers and using some of his characters. There are hundreds and hundreds of books in the public domain that you can get for free over the web. A good list is maintained here.

Works that are still in copyright: no, you can’t just borrow the characters. You can’t write a novel about Captain Kirk and Spock on the Enterprise unless you first get written permission from the owner of that copyright — I think that would be Paramount, and I doubt they’d be receptive. So technically fan fiction is illegal, though I don’t think anybody has ever sued over it.

I used Diana Gabaldon’s characters with her permission, both oral and written. Anybody else who wanted to publish a novel using my characters or hers would have to ask first — with the exception, of course, of those characters already in the public domain. So you wouldn’t have to ask me to have Hawkeye tramping through your novel, but you would have to ask me if he had a son called Nathaniel with a wife Elizabeth Middleton who lived in Paradise on the Sacandaga.

  • Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Category: Publishing

    I suppose I would call them (in fact, I have called them, when forced) historical fiction. That is, a lot of research goes into each one and a prime concern is making the era come to life. Beyond that, I hope to keep the reader turning the pages, interested in the characters and the plot. There is a lot of plot; some of it has to do with a love story.   I would not call them erotica simply because I don’t write gratuitous sex scenes.

    Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Category: Publishing
    While we look to the dramatist to give romance to realism, we ask of the actor to give realism to romance. –Oscar Wilde
    I don’t  mind if they are classified as romance. A love story is a love story, after all. I’d consider Pride and Prejudice and Taming of the Shrew romances, too. Of course, if you call them romance novels as a way to insult me or my work, I would have some problem with that.

    Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Category: Publishing

    ITW was optioned once, long ago, but nothing ever came of it. The whole series has been optioned now. We will see.

  • Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Category: Publishing

    For some reason my publishers have been unable to get on top of this issue for the last three or four novels. It first happened when I submitted a long list of final corrections before the deadline for The Endless Forest, and somehow they just never made it in.

    Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) have a big sticker on them saying that the text is not final and should not be used for quotations. This is because they put the ARCs into circulation before the final proofreading.

    For Where the Light Enters, things really went wrong.  First Australia printed the ARC as the book, no corrections. The ebook versions will have the corrections, but not the hard copies are full of little burps. My heart fell when I realized this. I don’t know how it happened, but I am not pleased.

    Then a whole list of corrections somehow — once again — didn’t get incorporated before the novel went to press for the hardcover edition here in the U.S.  Yes, those corrections were incorporated into ebook and audio editions, and they will be included in future hard copy editions, but if you spent a big chunk of money on the hard cover, I would much prefer that you get the final product.

    I am notoriously bad at proofreading my own work, but the publisher still hasn’t quite grasped the depth of my text-blindness.  So apologies, all around. Mea culpa.

    Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Category: Publishing

    My contract with Berkley/Penguin is for three novels: (1) Where the Light Enters (the sequel to The Gilded Hour, published in 2019); (2) a third novel in the Waverly Place series, as yet untitled and (3) and a novel set in the southwest in the years before the Civil War, titled Little Birds.

    Kate, my editor, and my publisher were convinced I needed to do the second and third novels out of order, so I am now writing Little Birds. I realize this makes some readers unhappy, but I think in the end they will see the wisdom of this decision.

    Little Birds focuses on two of Lily and Simon’s adult children (Callie and Nathan) who travel from New York to the New Mexico Territory in 1857.  Callie  has accepted a job as a nurse and midwife in Santa Fe, and Nathan travels with her to see that she arrives safely.  This novel will fill in some of the family history between the end of The Endless Forest and the Civil War.

    The years before the Civil War were politically explosive. The term Bleeding Kansas might strike some bells from history class, and it was also during this period that the western tribes were fighting for their survival. Enough material for dozens of novels.

    As soon as Little Birds is finished I’ll jump into the third Waverly Place novel.


  • I am also a Big Fan! I love multi generational books especially those set in The American Past! Can’t wait for WVerly III….

    • The next novel is called The Sweet Blue Distance, about two of Lily’s children in the southwest before the Civil War. Right now I’m working on the third Waverly Place novel.

      • Monica says:
        Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
        Are you there yet? 😉
  • I just read the Waverly Place books. They were so good! I didn’t want them to end. It’s very sad to see women in this country having to fight for their reproductive rights just like they did during the late 1800s as described in the books. When will Little Birds be Published? Thanks.

    • Thank you Bonnie. I had hoped the themes in this Waverly Place novels would resonate for current day readers. It’s good to know that was the case for you.

  • Your book about women’s right and lack of reproductive freedom at the turn of the century is looking too familiar

    • I agree. What is happening right now about our reproductive rights is so similar to what is happening in the Waverly Place books!

    • Too familiar? To what? Another book? Do tell. In the meantime, here’s a recent longish email I wrote in response to a reader’s doubts about the way I characterize abortion in the 19th century:
      I attach a short CNN article which summarizes some of the research about 19th century birth control and abortion. At the end there’s a citation for a scholarly study which I highly recommend if you’re interested in the details of the way attitudes and laws changed.

      To be brief: yes, I am claiming that abortion was common and seen as acceptable for women of all economic and social classes and religions. I know this is hard to imagine, given the ferocity of the effort to end a woman’s right to choose over the last fifty years or so, but it is in fact true. Things didn’t really start to change until the third quarter of the nineteenth century. Not even the Catholic Church was anti-abortion. The church took the position that a fetus did not have a soul in early pregnancy. It was up to the pregnant woman to declare ‘quickening’ and after that abortion was discouraged — but still not illegal, or even a sin until about 1875. Abortions did not stop, even then. Fatalities skyrocketed, but abortions did not.

      How the official stance changed is a very complicated question that has primarily to do with women’s suffrage and education. I think of the rise of laws against abortion and female autonomy as backlash. Men who could not cope with women seeking higher education, professions, the right to vote, found different ways to reestablish their dominance. Part of that was male physicians who tried to outlaw midwifery, claiming that they knew more about pregnancy and childbirth after two years of medical training than a woman who had been delivering children for thirty years or more. Some of the case studies are enfuriating.

      This is a simplification of a tremendously complex set of social circumstaces, but I think it’s pretty accurate.

      From your email it seems you feel that I was unfair to some part of the female population in that I didn’t portray the feelings of those who rejected abortion. Let me assure you that I read — and very widely — looking for women who had been vocal about this issue, without success. Scholars have had more luck documenting how physicians interpreted women’s feelings about birth control and abortion.

      I’ll end this email with a quote from Reagan’s book:

      We know of some of the talk among women about abortion because doctors described women’s conversations. Physicians were privy to everyday female conversations about reproduction in general, which at times included the topic of abortion. Some medical men were surprised by what they heard of women’s attitudes toward reproduction and remarked on it. For example, in response to newspaper exposure of doctors who did abortions in 1888, Dr. Truman W. Miller defended his profession by exposing female conversation and activity. “I am sure there is no comparison between the number of abortions committed by doctors and the number committed by women themselves,” he charged. “They talk about such matters commonly and impart information unsparingly.” Thirty years later, another physician observed a “matter of fact attitude” about abortions among “women of all ages and nationalities and . . . of every social status.”

      At professional meetings and in medical texts, physicians told their colleagues of women’s attitudes toward abortion and detailed the methods women used. The reports in some cases were no more than a sentence or two in an article about another issue or a remark made during the discussion of a paper presented at a meeting and later published. Physicians presented information about women’s abortions as interesting anecdotes, as patient “history” and prelude to their own medical innovation, or as part of a medical discussion on abortion. As medical researchers learned statistical methods, they collected data on dozens or hundreds of cases in order to answer questions about maternal mortality and morbidity or to test and argue for particular treatments in abortion cases. Physicians who acted as reporters of abortion practices for other physicians and the public, whether shocked, sympathetic, or scientific, appear throughout this book. From these different types of medical reports, I glean medical perspectives and practices and read these sources against the grain to grasp the perspective of women having abortions.

      Thank you for taking the time to write and ask your question in such a polite and measured way. That’s not always the case, and my replies in those cases are not so detailed.

      The CNN article mentioned above:

      The surprising history of abortion in the United States | CNN

      By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

      Mon June 27, 2016

      (CNN) — There was a time when abortion was simply part of life in the United States. People didn’t scream about it in protest, and services were marketed openly.

      Drugs to induce abortions were a booming business. They were advertised in newspapers and could be bought from pharmacists, from physicians and even through the mail. If drugs didn’t work, women could visit practitioners for instrumental procedures.

      The earliest efforts to govern abortions centered on concerns about poisoning, not morality, religion or politics. It was the mid-19th century, long before abortion became the hot-button issue it is now. All of this is according to historian Leslie Reagan, whose 1996 book on abortion history in the United States is considered one of the most comprehensive to date.

      On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which has been called the biggest abortion case to hit the high court in two decades. In a 5-3 ruling, the high court struck down a controversial Texas abortion law, giving a victory to abortion rights groups. But it came as many states have clamored to ramp up abortion restrictions.

      Since 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the United States, states have enacted more than 1,074 laws to limit access to the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive rights organization. More than a quarter of these laws passed between 2010 and 2015. It wasn’t always like this, says Reagan, a professor of history, medicine, gender, women’s studies and law at the University of Illinois.

      So how did we get here?

      With the help of Reagan, author of “When Abortion Was a Crime,” and the nonprofit Our Bodies Ourselves, we set out to learn what abortion was like in America before 1973. What we found was full of surprises.

      The view from centuries ago

      In the 18th century and until about 1880, abortions were allowed under common law and widely practiced. They were illegal only after “quickening,” the highly subjective term used to describe when pregnant women could feel the fetus moving, Reagan said. “At conception and the earliest stage of pregnancy, before quickening, no one believed that a human life existed; not even the Catholic Church took this view,” Reagan wrote. “Rather, the popular ethic regarding abortion and common law were grounded in the female experience of their own bodies.” Though it is considered taboo in Christian traditions, until the mid-19th century, “the Catholic Church implicitly accepted early abortions prior to ensoulment,” she explained. “Not until 1869, at about the same time that abortion became politicized in this country, did the church condemn abortion; in 1895, it condemned therapeutic abortion,” meaning procedures to save a woman’s life.

      Abortions would become criminalized by 1880, except when necessary to save a woman’s life, not at the urging of social or religious conservatives but under pressure from the medical establishment and the very organization that today speaks out in support of abortion access, Reagan explained.

      In the Supreme Court’s latest case, the American Medical Association voiced disapproval of the Texas abortion law when it joined the amicus brief led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Laws that impede the freedom of physicians to provide care using their best medical judgment are not supported by the AMA.

      The association, an AMA spokesman said, “seeks to limit government interference in the practice of medicine and oppose government regulation of medicine that is unsupported by scientific evidence.”

      Back when it was still a fledgling organization, however, it began a crusade in 1857 to make abortion illegal, Reagan wrote. The impetus was manifold. Some of it came “out of regular physicians’ desire to win professional power, control medical practice, and restrict their competitors,” namely midwives and homeopaths.

      But this was also a time, Reagan said, in which women were lobbying for entrance into Harvard Medical School, in part so they could pursue work in obstetrics and gynecology.

      The force behind this 19th-century AMA anti-abortion campaign was Dr. Horatio Storer, a Harvard Medical School graduate who dedicated much of his practice to OB-GYN work before he died in 1922.

      The crusade proved to be a form of backlash against the shifting aspirations of women. It was “antifeminist at its core,” Reagan wrote.

      The AMA pushed for state laws to restrict abortions, and most did by 1880. Then the Comstock Law, passed by Congress in 1873, banned items including abortion drugs.

      But before abortions were banned, a woman known as Madame Restell ran abortion businesses from New York to Philadelphia and Boston. Her main clientele, Reagan wrote, were “married, white, native-born Protestant women of upper and middle classes.” Abortions, birth control and general efforts to manage the timing of pregnancy meant birth rates among white women were falling just as immigrants streamed into the United States. And the idea of being out-populated by “others” worried some anti-abortion activists like Storer. He argued that whites should be populating the country, including the West and the South. Better them than blacks, Catholics, Mexicans, Chinese or Indians, he said, according to Reagan.

      “Shall these regions be filled by our own children or by those of aliens? This is a question our women must answer; upon their loins depends the future destiny of the nation,” Storer said, according to Reagan’s research.

      “White male patriotism,” she wrote, “demanded that maternity be enforced among white Protestant women.”

      During the Depression and beyond

      Even after abortions became illegal, women continued to have them; they just weren’t advertised the same way. Practitioners did their work behind closed doors or in private homes. Or women without means resorted to desperate – and often dangerous or deadly – measures.

      At times, abortion rates increased in the face of the law. The Depression was a perfect example. Specialists passed out business cards and opened up clinics, Reagan explained, and nobody bothered them. In that era, abortion wasn’t seen as a women’s issue, it was an economic issue.

      In the 1950s and 1960s, the estimated number of illegal abortions ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

      Inspired by the civil rights and anti-war movements, the women’s liberation movement gained steam in the 1960s – and reproductive rights took center stage.

      Women with means had been able to get abortions by leaving the country o paying a physician in the U.S. a large fee for the procedure. Others weren’t so lucky. They sought out back-alley procedures or took matters in their own hands: inserting knitting needles and coat hangers into their vaginas, drinking chemicals or douching with lye. These methods resulted in medical emergencies and, in some cases, death.

      Some groups sprouted to help prevent such outcomes.

      In the late 1960s, before abortion was legalized again in the United States, concerned pastors and rabbis set up the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion to help women find safe illegal abortions. An underground abortion service also was established by feminists in Chicago. The Abortion Counseling Service of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, better known by the code name Jane, helped provide safe, supportive and affordable illegal abortions – at first just through referrals. But then trained members began performing procedures themselves. Between 1969 and 1973, the members of the group provided more than 11,000 safe abortions, according to Laura Kaplan, author of “The Story of Jane.”

      Reagan, Leslie J. When abortion was a crime: Women, medicine, and law in the United States, 1867-1973 . Univ of California Press, 1997.

  • Looking forward to anything you write that continues the family history.

  • I am hoping you are going to use those NYC Vanderbilt Mansion photos you have posted here in the 3rd Waverly Place Series Novel! They are my passion and I have visited all that are still around to be seen. Thanks for your fantastic writing!

    • I’m so glad you have found the bits and pieces I’ve posted about Manhattan in the late 19th century. Lots of ideas for the third Waverly novel, just as I’m finished with the bridge novel.

  • The pandemic has been hard on me and everyone else. Plus I was widowed and developed leukemia. Not to complain but with your books on my phone which I listen to constantly, it has gotten me through with a sense of expectation. I am in the middle of the Endless Forest and then will get Swords. I will need to find something else to keep me going and will miss your books and their rich characters and their interconnectedness. Thank you!!

    • Hi Lois — We’ve had a difficult time too but nothing compared to what you’ve had to deal with. I’m so sorry about your and about the diagnosis. I hope you respond to treatment, and I’m truly pleased to hear that my stories have been a distraction. Wishing you the very best.


  • I have just finished reading what I currently consider the last of the Wilderness Books until Little Birds is finished and published. Thank you for a wonderful story in the endless forests and then a continuation of the story through Lily as Aunt Quinlan and the strong nieces she raised. I have loved every moment I have spent immersed in the Bonner stories

  • I’ve read all your books and was never ready for one to end. I admire your work so much.

  • I was so pleasantly surprised to find this site tonight. I have read the first 6 in the Into The Wilderness series several times. I didn’t know there were two more. I will certainly be ordering them soon. Thank you for an extraordinary series that was so well written that my heart was involved in every page.

  • looking forward to every word, these ‘characters’ & stories mean the world to me. Thank you for coming back to the ‘family’.

  • Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.