Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Queen's Dollmaker - Giveaway

Last weekend while out running errands I stopped by one of my favorite local bookstores, Bay Books.  When I went in I wasn't looking for a book like I normally am, I was actually trying to find a birthday card.  Along with a wonderful selection of books, they carry great original cards, so it's often my "go to" spot to find cards.

Bay Books has long been a supporter of local writers and they carry lots of books about our area along with many books penned by local authors, so I was both surprised and delighted to find that they were having a book signing by local author Christine Trent the day I was there!

The store was buzzing with excitement about her debut book entitled The Queen's Dollmaker  and people were lined up eagerly anticipating buying their very own copy.  A table was set up in the middle of the store and stacked with copies of her first historical fiction novel and topped with a large cardboard poster of the book's beautifully designed cover.  Christine was happily greeting people and signing copies for those who had come to purchase her book.

So when I saw all of this going on, the "blogger" in me took over and I approached Christine, during a brief lull in the action, to ask if she would mind me taking her photo and then contacting her later to ask a bit more about her work.  She couldn't have been more gracious and even posed for several photos before heading back to the matters at hand.

Not only did Christine allow me to photograph her while she was busy signing copies of her book, but she also generously agreed to offer me a personalized signed copy to give away to one of my lucky readers! (see details of the Giveaway below)

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I'm more of a flip through and look at the pictures magazine reading kind of gal, but this book has peaked my interest.  Maybe it's the beautifully period clad woman on the cover, or the fact that it was written by a home grown author.  But I think it is more likely the storyline about a woman's triumphs and tribulations historically intertwined with the much maligned female figure, Marie Antoinette.  It also doesn't hurt that it's set in two of my favorite European countries, England and France.  So I look forward to reading this book and being transported to a different time and place.

I also had the opportunity to interview Christine and ask her a few questions.  Her answers are below:

What was your inspiration for the novel The Queen's Dollmaker?

Well, I have a fairly large doll collection, more than 300 pieces.  The collection ranges from Barbie to porcelain collectibles to handmade dolls from Africa.  So, combined with my love of European history, particularly that of France and England.....voila, a novel was born.

What motivated you to change careers and become a novelist?

I’ve always collected books (and dolls, and cats...).  And historical fiction has always been my favorite genre.  Writing a book really just started as a hobby back in 2003.  It was only once I got past the halfway point and realized I might finish it that I actually got serious about finishing it, if that makes sense.  And once I wrote “The End,” I figured it was time to get serious about trying to sell it.

How would you describe a typical day for you as a writer.

A “typical” day?  I’m not sure there is one!  Since I’ve been promoting THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER, I’ve done almost no other writing.  Instead, I’m visiting nice bloggers like you, attending book signings, mailing out promotional materials, etc.

But when I’m buried far deep in another century, I’ll write seven days a week.  And when I am actively writing, I do so to the accompaniment of a spreadsheet that I use to track how many words each day I’m writing as I go along.  It helps me to figure out what my best writing days are, and how long it takes me to write each book.  My other writer friends tease me mercilessly about my spreadsheet.

Then there are the times when I’m going through copyedits, or final proofs, or other activities for my publisher.  And when my publisher needs something, everything else goes on hold.

What has been the most fun or rewarding part of having your first novel

The opportunity to meet other readers has to be the most fun I’ve had yet.  Next to that, though, has been the unexpected support and encouragement I’ve experienced from my friends and family.  They’ve been overwhelmingly excited on my behalf, which is deeply humbling.

When will your next book be released and can you give me a brief
description of it?

My next book is a sequel to THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER.  It follows the adventures of Marguerite du Georges, the heiress to the doll shop, who goes on to become an apprentice to the great waxworker, Madame Tussaud.  Marguerite joins Tussaud’s traveling wax exhibition in Great Britain, putting her dollmaking skills to use in creating realistic wax figures of the famous and infamous.  But her new career nearly melts down when she assists the English crown in a scheme to create wax effigies of important political figures to fool Napoleon into thinking that England is negotiating treaties and alliances with other countries, when in fact something else entirely is happening.  A French spy catches on to Marguerite's game and Napoleon's long grasp puts her in mortal danger.

It’s scheduled to be released next year.  I don’t have an exact date yet.

What is the hardest part about being a novelist?  (ie. character
development, research, getting started?)

For me, the most difficult part is definitely the research.  Historical fiction readers tend to be very detail-oriented and they really know the time periods they read.  They can be very unforgiving about sloppy details, so I try very, very hard to be painstakingly accurate.  For THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER, I literally drew out a timeline of Marie Antoinette’s life that was nearly a day-to-day accounting of her life near the end, just so I could ensure I got everything right as I mixed fictional characters in with the queen’s well-documented life.

What are "you" reading right now?

Actually, I’m in the middle of judging a writing contest, so I’ll be reading several historical romances over the next few weeks.  After that, I’ll return to my To-Be-Read pile, which contains NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES by Leslie Carroll, AGINCOURT by Bernard Cornwell, SIGNORA DA VINCI by Robin Maxwell, and WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel.  But truth be told, I’ve actually got lots of books on my shelves I need to dig out and read for the first time!  Not that it ever stops me from buying more. :)

Is any part of yourself reflected in the characters you write about?

Well, naturally I like to think that I’m a combination of Claudette’s self-reliance, Marguerite’s sassiness, and Madame Tussaud’s innate business sense, LOL.  But, um, my husband says that I’m more like Marie Antoinette, and may have lost my head to say such a thing. :)

Click HERE to visit her website where you can learn more about Christine Trent herself and her novel The Queen's Dollmaker.  At her website you can read excerpts from the book,  find a more in depth interview with Christine, and you'll also find links to various book sellers both in North America and the United Kingdom.

***Christine Trent will be having another book signing at Fenwick Street Books in Leonardtown, Maryland this Friday, February 5th from 5:00 - 7:00 pm.  Stop by to get your own personalized copy and tell Christine I sent you! ***

Now for the Giveaway Details! 

One lucky winner will receive a personalized signed copy of The Queen's Dollmaker by Author Christine Trent!

The Giveaway will be open until midnight PST, Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

For up to 3 chances to win do one or all of the following.  Please be sure to post a separate comment for each.  If you're already a follower you'll be automatically entered to win.  If you're not, become a follower for an extra chance at winning.

1.  Post a comment  

2.  Become a follower and post a comment letting me know.

3.  Post a link to this Giveaway on your own blog for a 3rd chance at winning. 
*** (Don't forget to leave another comment letting me know that you have done this please.)***

If you don't have a blog, please make sure that I have a valid email address to contact you should you be the winner of the drawing. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Frosty the Snowman

This is the view out of the windows here at Casa Tides today!  It has me wondering about the whole concept of global "warming" and how most years we get little or no snow, but the past few years we've been inundated!  Just a few days ago it was 60 degrees here and I was happily walking the dogs in the sunshine!

So I began thinking that maybe it's because I still have all of my snowmen out...maybe I'm the reason it keeps snowing?!  So I've decided to be a good Samaritan, and to pack up all of my snowmen today in hopes that maybe the winter storm Gods will realize that I don't really love snow...I just love snowmen!  The fake kind, with charming faces and chubby cheeks.

Like this little cowboy snowman with his handsome blue scarf and little twigs.

Or this cute pair who are offering to sell S'mores for just 25 cents!

Maybe we should keep this pudgy little one out to help with the shoveling?!

The birds would appreciate this little snow lady on a day like today!

Having some place warm to hang your boots to dry is very important on a snowy day!

Maybe we should sprinkle a little salt from this snowman shaker to keep the sidewalk from getting too slippery.

This little snowman with his nose in the air, sparkly body, and fluffy scarf always makes me smile.

This "snow" dusted snow "woman" is all set for a day on the town with her tinsel trimmed cape, bow tied bonnet, and shining star.

These aren't technically snowmen, but they are a sweet little pair of penguins given to me by my daughter.  Look at those fetching faces!

So if you're getting some of this, would you mind packing up some of these...

Then maybe Old Man Winter will get the hint and we can get back to this...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Picture Perfect

Window at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Two years ago I had the best travel year of my life!  I had only been to Europe once prior to 2008, but with our daughter studying abroad in the south of France, and my husband having lots of frequent flier miles saved up over the years, it was the perfect time to go somewhere!

So during the Easter holiday, which was also our son's spring break, we ventured over to see our daughter in Montpellier, and then we all went to Paris for four glorious days.  I had hedged our bets about where to stay and hadn't made any sort of reservations with only one week left prior to going.  Not a very smart idea considering the fact that Paris is "sort of" a popular destination and it was Easter!

Near the train station in Montpellier, France 

I lucked out and had an apartment rental company, who normally only rents by the week, contact me and offer us the apartment for way less per night then booking two hotel rooms would have cost just a few days before we left.  With 4 people in most European hotels, you need 2 rooms.  Thanks to the wonderful company known as Paris Perfect, our visit to Paris really was perfect!  If you ever get the chance to visit Paris and want to live like a Parisian, I highly recommend you contact them and rent one of their lovely apartments!

As if a trip to France wasn't enough in one year, our daughter also had a 2 week break just a few weeks later and called to see if I wanted to meet her in the north of England for what she described as "a week of drinking tea and watching sheep."  She phoned to ask me to do this just prior to our trip to see her in France and I immediately said "No we can't afford that," to which Mr. Tide replied "GO, you won't regret it!"

Wall surrounding York, England

I spent the next few days hemming and hawing about the cost, flying by myself to a foreign country for the first time, who would watch the dogs...I came up with any excuse possible.  But the thought of seeing our daughter and spending a whole week in England was just too tempting.  So the internet searches for low airfare, cheap B&B's, and discounted train tickets began, and in April of 2008 I was winging my way across the pond...alone!

Before I left, Mr. Tide decided we really did need a good digital camera.  So we purchased the Canon Rebel XTI and several specialty lenses so that I could capture every memorable moment.  Did I mention that one of my best friends in the whole wide world lives outside of London and he and his wife, mother, and step dad had agreed to drive up to meet us in York?!  So getting great pictures of my time spent together with our daughter and our friends was a must!

Now, I'm no Ansel Adams, and I'm as likely to take a fuzzy shot of something unrecognizable as I am to get a spectacular (by my standards)  shot.  But when I got home, after taking over 800 photos, I was amazed at what "I" had taken.  Almost none were out of focus and the color quality was amazing!...Go Me!!!

Overlooking the North Sea, Robin Hood's Bay, England

Since then the camera has become like another appendage, I take it everywhere with me!  And it still continues to produce wonderful photos!  Along the way I've learned a few things, like take risks and view things from unusual angles or try different settings, but I still have a very long way to go.  My next adventure will be trying to use Photoshop to color correct or just have fun with some of the pictures I take.  But for now I'm just happy to click away and capture little snippets of life as they happen.

Here are a few of my favorite photos taken over the last several years. (All pictures on my blog are mine or Mr. Tide's unless otherwise noted)  You can click on any photo to enlarge it.

The beautiful and majestic Fountains Abbey, England

The stunning ceiling at the York Minster Cathedral, York, England

Quinn doing what he does best...being cute!

Our sweet and crazy snow bunny, Kylie

The full moon last night

Mr. or Mrs. Eagle, not sure which, who likes to hang out in our dead tree during the winter months

What are some of the things you enjoy taking pictures of in your spare time?

Down and Dirty

It's supposed to snow here tomorrow...again!  Those of us here in "sunny" southern Maryland aren't used to this much snow, even though it's been weeks since we've had any.  We are, however, accustomed to yucky, cold, rainy weather throughout much of the winter.

In my old house I had a great laundry/mudroom where kids, dogs, and even husbands could all track in mud and moisture without it being a big deal.  It had a wonderful shelf that my dad built with sturdy hooks for hanging even the heaviest of coats and up top you could throw your scarves, mittens, and the dog leashes.

So when we moved into our house now, I had grand plans for the remodel...a second story, a powder room, and of course a mudroom!  But then that little thing called cash flow reared it's ugly head like it so often does, and so the renovation plans changed course and the end result second story, no powder room, and no mudroom!  Trust me, we did get lots of other stuff on our list of wants, but those 3 items ended up on the cutting room floor!

During the summer when the sun is shining and the ground is hard and dry, I don't even really miss having a mudroom.  But give me just one cold, wet, or snowy day this time of year and I'm ready to sell one of my kids (ok please no phone calls to Child Protective Services, I'm just joking) for a big open, efficient place to put your shoes, coats, and where we can towel off muddy, wet dogs!

So if I could indulge my fantasy of having a mudroom in this house for just a moment, these mudrooms are some beautiful examples of what I envision...


I just love the stained glass window, the beautiful baskets, and the old church pew where you could sit and take off your Wellies in this one.


I love how this little mud area was carved out of a corner by the entryway.  The little cubbies underneath the bench seats would hide shoes, toys, or sports equipment nicely, while the stained beadboard would keep wet coats from ruining the walls.


This one is both functional and beautiful.  I love the mix of black and white and just look how happy that little Jack Russell Terrier is to have such a pretty mudroom!


I love the simplicity and fun colors of this one.  That chippy yellow cupboard could hold everything from suntan lotion to winter woolies.  

Photo:  Houzz  

The owner of this entryway/mudroom is certainly more organized than myself, but I can appreciate this pretty built-in cabinetry and the very cool wire baskets.

This one is located right near the kitchen for easy access to backpacks and jackets.  I love the little desk area too, great for sorting mail or filing kid's school papers.

Photo:  {Jessica Leigh}  

And I love this perfect little spot to hang your hat, purse, or just about anything.  It's the mudroom of fellow blogger Jessica Leigh and you can visit her blog by clicking HERE.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kicking The Bucket...Bench

We bought this bucket bench shortly after we were married from a great little store in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  It wasn't terribly old, or worth a lot of money, but I loved it all the same and so we lugged it several blocks to the car and home it went.

The green paint looked great in our last house which had more of the reds, greens, and mustard colors throughout.  It was a center hall colonial on a heavily wooded lot and things with a deeper color just seemed to work better in that house.  But now that we have tons of natural light and we live on the water, it just stuck out like a sore thumb.

So out came the cans of Benjamin Moore Simply White paint, and it was bye bye green and hello white!

Even after just one coat, I knew I had made the right decision!

And here it is in all of it's wonderful white glory!  I love how crisp and clean it looks and how it highlights the little collection of pottery and other items that got lost on it before.

I can't even remember where I found that glass jug.  I should go out and buy some tulips to put in it to remind me that Spring isn't that far away.

And I love this little pitcher I got on clearance from a local gift store.

But the thing I love most on my pretty new white bucket bench, is the little bowl that holds the silver seashells my sister "M" gave me.  It's pewter and my son made it in the 5th grade when he did a project on Pewtersmithing...I've treasured it ever since.

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to see other great pieces of furniture on Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed.

Furniture Feature Fridays

For other great DIY projects head over to A Soft Place to Land for Do it yourself day!


Beauty and the Beach

We all have those special pieces of jewelry.  That pair of earrings, a necklace, or a special bracelet that we seem to grab from our jewelry box each and every time we want to wear something special.  It might be a family heirloom or something someone gave you, or it might be something you purchased for yourself.

I find that the pieces I gravitate towards in my own jewelry box are the unique items that I've found while traveling and also those that remind me of a place.  I have a favorite Mother of Pearl bracelet that I picked up in Bermuda for just $5.00.  I also have pricier pieces that Mr. Tide has picked up from exotic locales around the world while traveling for work.

There is still one piece that I have on my wish list...ok, several!  But I've had my eye on this particular bracelet for quite awhile now and I'm getting very close to "gifting" myself with it, maybe it will be my Valentine's Day gift to ME!  It's so pretty, and it meets all my criteria for a wonderful piece of jewelry that I know I'll wear over and over.  It's unique, beautifully made, and reminds me of the place where I grew up...Maryland.

Maertens Fine Jewelry & Gifts is where my "future" bracelet is being held for safe keeping at the moment.

Pictured above, store owner and jewelry designer, Heather Maertens is the brain child behind Maertens Fine Jewelry & Gifts.  She opened her Solomons Island, Maryland store in 2002, and what was once a small shop with just a few of her custom creations, has grown into a thriving business with a reputation for high quality, unique jewelry with a decidedly nautical flair!

As beautiful as her jewelry is, it's Heather's generous spirit which has touched so many in the area.  She gives both her time and money to local arts organizations, The Humane Society, and Leadership Southern Maryland, just to name a few.  To read more about her charitable works, click HERE.

Below is just a sampling of some of the exclusive designs offered at Maertens. 

Having this beautiful jellyfish hanging around your neck wouldn't "sting" at all.  It's from Heather's newest collection entitled Ghosts Of The Deep.

These gorgeous sand dollar pendants come in sterling silver, 14kt yellow gold, or 14kt two tone with diamond accents.  The small sterling pendant starts at $115.00. 

Photos:  Maertens Fine Jewelry & Gifts

And this is IT...the bracelet I've been lusting after for a long time now!  The Bay Bracelet (shown here in alternating sterling silver and 14kt yellow gold) is beautifully detailed with reminders of the great state of Maryland.  I believe it should be a required purchase for every well dressed Marylander!

To see these and many more lovely pieces of jewelry from Maertens Fine Jewelry & Gifts click HERE.  And if you happen to stop by their shop, tell them Kat sent you and let me know what great jewelry you buy!

Announcing the Winners!

First of all I want to give a BIG thank you to everyone who participated in what I hope will be the first of many great Giveaways here at Low Tide High Style.  I enjoyed reading each and every comment and the wonderful suggestions you gave me for what you would like to see on my blog!  I would also like to thank those of you who became followers and who posted a link to the Giveaway on your own blogs, I really do appreciate it!

Today it is bright and sunny here in southern Maryland so it's the perfect day for a drawing...or 2!  I felt like Santa as I made my list from your comments, then checked it twice...but not to see who was naughty or nice, it was to make sure that each of you was entered for the correct number of times. 

After I printed out the list, I got out my scissors and grabbed my beautiful thrift store stoneware bowl...remember that one?

Then I meticulously cut and folded each name...ok, maybe I wasn't very meticulous BUT I did cut and fold each name and drop them into the bowl!

Then I got out my trusty wooden spoon to stir them and mix them all up!

Mr. Quinn was so excited about picking the winner, but when it came time for the actual drawing, this is what he was doing.

So I had to call on Mr. Tide instead!

And this is who our first lucky winner was!  Kate from Chronicles of a Country Girl...congrats Kate!

Then he reached in again...and yes, I made him close his eyes each time!

And pulled out our second lucky winner!  Donna over at dh designs.  Congrats to you as well Donna!

Congratulations to both our winners and thanks so much to everyone who participated!

Don't forget to check back soon for a chance to win a personalized sign copy by a local author...More to come on that in an upcoming post!