Library Love, from Laurie

I’ve written a love letter, for National Library Week, here.

Libraries are my home and my joy. Libraries were where I lived, when I was a kid. (We moved. A lot.) Now, libraries make my work possible, since I write historical novels and do a ton of research.

It’s Library Week!

Happy National Library Week!

Here at LRK Central, every year we celebrate Library Week, often asking you, gentle Reader, to write something about your relationship with libraries: “A Love Letter to My Library” was in 2009, then “My Fantasy Library”, followed by a dose of Piratical Booty. 2012 was “Thrills in the Stacks”, after which Twenty Years of LRK posed the question: “If a Martian asked you what a ‘library’ was, what would you tell him?” Last year came, “How the Beekeeper’s Apprentice Changed my Life.”

Or, as it says in The Moor:

To the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

For 2015, we’re doing things a little differently—because the hard work is already done.

It started last fall when an 8th grade teacher from Tennessee asked if I would mind (mind?!) if he and a partner built a Common Core program around The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Now, I’d always thought that Beekeeper could be a useful introduction to the Twentieth Century: World War One, the women’s movement, roots of conflict in Europe and the Middle East, the huge social and technological changes—all that plus Sherlock Holmes & villains & hansom cabs &—220px-HansomCab

well, let’s just say this is a book that I would have loved to study in school.

Now, thanks to Mr. Wilson and Ms. Russell (yes!), a generation of young Laurie R. Kings can study it—and, their teachers won’t have to reinvent this particular wheel, because these two fabulous individuals have built a unit with guided comprehension & discussion questions, vocabulary lists & worksheets, supplemental research materials, even chapter quizzes & tests, all in a ready-to-print format. (Yes, with a separate teachers’ answer packet, as well!)


What’s more, they’ve generously donated their hard labor to the world, lodging this superb study unit on my web site (where it joins the Beekeeper book discussion guide and my suggested background reading.)

I just can’t tell you how grateful and excited this makes me. Not only will it bring a lot of vulnerable young minds into contact with the Russell & Holmes gateway drug—er, book (to be fair, Beekeeper is both an ALA Notable Young Adult Book and an ALA Outstanding Book for the College Bound), it also creates another community around Mary Russell and her world: teachers eager for an excuse to teach a rousing good tale in the classroom.

So this year, to celebrate Library Week and the launch of our Common Core Beekeeper unit, we’ll focus on middle schools. I invite you and your friends to nominate any US middle school library to win a carton (28) of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Beginning Tuesday, I’ll draw the names of four of these libraries. The winners are free to hand the books out to their students, put them on the shelves, or turn them over to their teachers to accompany the Common Core guide. They can even sell them on eBay, if they’d rather have the cash.

I am truly thrilled about this whole Common Core project, and I hope you will be too, especially if you have anything to do with middle schools. Go to my web site before Friday to nominate your favorite library, and while you’re there, take a look at the Common Core unit. And as I said, please tell all your friends, especially those with middle school kids.

The nomination form is here.

The Common Core unit is here.


We Love Libraries!

The BUZZZZZ about Library Week!


Next week is National Library Week here in the USofA—with a theme of, “Unlimited possibilities @ your library®”—and this year, wishing to explore those possibilities, we’re doing something a little different. Yes, there will be giveaways, but—we’ll focus on middle schools.

Do you have a middle school student in your family? Do you teach middle school? Know a middle school library, teacher, student…? Nominate your favorite middle school here.

This is in preparation for:

A Very Exciting Project!

…that we’ll introduce next week.

In the meantime, go nominate your favorite (US) library, one that’s either located in a middle school, or that provides a lot of middle school programs, here.  And please please let everyone know about this.  They might win a carton of Beekeepers!

Lost grey matter

Since the airlines (one of three) seem to have misplaced Laurie’s brain somewhere between Houston and Los Angeles (or perhaps in Phoenix), Mary Russell’s War will return as soon as the lost brain has been located and delivered to her door.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of yesterday’s fab event put together by the Mission Viejo library, with decorations, two kinds of tea on the tables (English and Japanese) in the appropriate tea pots, and platters of Girl Scout cookies, with tables laid with white cloths by some young volunteers and books schlepped in and sold by San Diego’s great Mysterious Galaxy bookstore.  Thank you, everyone!Image 1

Larceny in the Library

I was asked to write a short piece for the Random House Library blog, so I used it as an opportunity to confess the sins I committed during the writing and researching of Dreaming Spies.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  Read my confession here.Dreaming Spies High Res JPEG

And the winners are…

We have had (for those of you with short attention spans and/or memory loss) two contests celebrating both April’s National Library Week and Mary Russell’s 20th birthday (Miss Russell’s popularity over this score of years also owing much to the enthusiasm of libraries.)

The first celebration was Book Club in a Box, weekly drawings of Russell collections for libraries with book clubs. Those winners are:

Georgetown Library (TX): Locked Rooms

Linebaugh Library (TN): Justice Hall

Maynard Public Library (MA) who are re-gifting these to a middle school: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

Milford Library (MI) O Jerusalem

Multnomah Library (OR): The God of the Hive

Pacific Palisades (CA) A Monstrous Regiment of Women

Winnepeg Public Library: Garment of Shadows

All of these libraries host book clubs, and all of them now are getting fifteen copies of one or another of the Russell Memoirs to share and talk about.

We love libraries!

A big thank you, to everyone who nominated a library for this contest, and to anyone who participates in library book groups—or in libraries at all.

And the OTHER contest?

The one we all submitted entries for?

…and have been waiting forever to hear about?

Yep, we have those winners, too.

(I really must stop doing these contests, by the way. Not that I don’t adore seeing the creativity and passion of readers, but judging them is HARD. Impossible, really. I mean, heart-felt confessions of love for Mary Russell from smart and articulate readers? They’re all worthy of a prize.

But I told you I’d choose winners, and so I have.)

The Grand Prize: a complete set of the Mary Russell UK hardbacks, goes to M.R. Graham, for her combination poem/art:From Miss Russell I learned

And close behind her, and winning the complete set of Mary Russell UK paperbacks, is the aptly named Madison Strong. Here is her entry:

When I first met Mary Russell, she seeped into my bones.

She sauntered towards me page by page without blinking or batting an eye. I was startled and envious of the unapologetic way she was herself and have since attempted to devour her courage and mind.

I hadn’t known how thirsty I was for knowledge until Mary Russell began spoon feeding me her adventures. I hadn’t begun to itch my Wanderlust until she brought me Arab spices and the slap of ocean wind on my face. With Mary’s eyes, I’ve seen the Holy Land. I’ve seen India, Scotland, France. I hadn’t known how long my hunger for experience, for learning, for companionship had been unsatisfied until she fed her own with dazzling wit and unabashed courage.

Over the years, Mary Russell has become as real to me as my sister. With Mary’s helping hands, I peeled back the pretense around my life. I laughed aloud when Mary Russell’s time at the Bodleian surpassed my own time at my library, hours I had previously been ashamed to admit to. She’s taught me more than the depths of my thirst for knowledge and hunger for experience. She’s taught me about myself in her straightforward style – without apology.

She taught me a woman’s power was more in the width of the binding of her latest novel than the width of her trousers. She taught me to accept my passion for history and my deep seated need to help others. She taught me to face my darkest fears with logic, loyalty, and bravery. She taught me to be perceptive of other’s details – that everyone is interesting. She taught me my ability to love is no less potent simply because I’m not a frivolous romantic.

She taught me not to deny who I really am.

More than that, before she came my way, I hadn’t known it was ok to be a Mary Russell in a world of Lydia Bennets.

When I first met Mary Russell while on suicide watch at the age of 14, I had no idea this bespectacled androgynous child would become the woman to save my life.

But to illustrate how hard I found to decide, I couldn’t help choosing eight runners-up as well, who are receiving a copy of the new 20th anniversary hardback of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I’ll publish some of their entries in coming days, but their names are:

Wendy Bartlett

Sandra Brewster

Kristen Dolan

Bethany Gibson

Winx Goll

Tawni Jensen

Katherine Kim

Rayleen Weed

Thank you so much, everyone who sent in entries. I’m left in awe at your eloquence and your passion.

Laurie and Anne Perry, in conversation?

After a slow beginning, this next twelvemonth is heating up when it comes to events.

June 29030, ALA conference, Las Vegas. I’m sitting the Sisters in Crime booth Sunday, then talking to Sherlockians and at the Author Tea on Monday.  If you’re a librarian, I’ll see you there!

July 24-27, in Corte Madera, the Book Passage Mystery Writing Conference. Isabel Allende, Cara Black, Otto Penzler, Anne Perry, Valerie Plame, Jackie Winspear, Tom Rob Smith, me–I mean: wow!  The list of faculty is here, the schedule here.  And I’m SO thrilled because I get to have an onstage conversation with Anne Perry! I mean, really, why wouldn’t you come?

August 2-3, Bay Area Sherlock.  All Holmes, all the time.  Except when we talk about Mary Russell, of course…

September 5-6, library events in Seattle and Tacoma–details to come.

November 13-16: The all-inclusive, ever-thrilling madhouse that is Bouchercon! And, this year it’s in Long Beach, which will be so utterly and completely fine.

January 9-10 (dates to be confirmed): the Baker Street Irregulars meeting in New York, signing copies of the new anthology In the Company of Sherlock Holmes.

February 12-15, the San Francisco Writers Conference: four days and 90+ sessions of pure genius, plus me!

March 12-15, Left Coast Crime, Portlandia edition.

Contest of wits–and heart


“Illuminated MyStory” by Rori Shapiro

The contest is heating up!



“How The Beekeeper’s Apprentice Changed my Life.”


 “When I First Met Mary Russell, She…”

Drawing, essay, short story, poem.

Video, embroidered pillow, decorated cake—though if it’s perishable, big, or even just beloved, why not just send in some photographs?

The prize? A copy of every Russell Hardback, in the gorgeous UK editions– 

UK Russells



A complete set of the hot-off-the-press gorgeous paperbacks, complete for the first time in the UK editions:

Mary Russell Sherlock Holmes complete set

The deadline? May 30, midnight, Pacific time.

The place to submit your piece? Email it here.

But what, oh what should I do?  How about an Illuminated Manuscript (at top) or an illustrated scene from the books:


by Marisa Fife

Write a memory.

Or a haiku–like Jeannie Patton’s “PaiKu” for Pirate King:

Peg leg is a pain

Reeling around deck in storm

Would kill for two feet.

An alternative cover?


by Sonja Lodder

Or what about joining in with a Russellscape?

maryrusselpicfinal-2-213x300(Russellscape instructions are here.)


“The Beecharmer” by Heather Neill


Well, the rest is up to you.  By May 30th, remember.

Reader talent wins!



Every year, LRK—and her readers!—celebrate National Library Week and our love for libraries with a contest.

The theme of 2012 was “Thrills in the Stacks”.  2013 (LRK’s 20th anniversary as a writer) was, “If a Martian asked me what a ‘library’ was…” (That fabulous winning story, by our own fabulous Sabrina We-Knew-Her-When Flynn) is here.

And in 2014, the 20th  Anniversary of Beekeeper’s Apprentice, it’s

 “How The Beekeeper’s Apprentice Changed my Life.”

Or, considering Miss Russell’s blushes, feel free to tone it down to:

“When I First Met Mary Russell, She…”

Do me a drawing, write me an essay, create a short story a poem or a video paean to Russell & Holmes; piece me a quilt or embroider me a pillow or frost me a cake—anything that stirs your creative juices (though if it’s perishable, big, or even just beloved, you keep it and send me some photographs.)

The prize? A copy of every Russell Hardback, in the gorgeous UK editions:

UK Russells

Deadline: May 30, midnight, Pacific time.  Not one minute later.  I’ll be watching you!

Want some suggestions?  What about paintings?C5001714_small

Or a drawing?russelldrieshair

Or coloring book pagesAmericanColony_Large-1

Or Cosplay!Russell3

Or Pinterest pages

Or hey, what about a


RH-tattoos-768x1024Send me your evidence that Mary Russell has inspired you–and since this is not only celebrating Russell’s 20th, but also celebrating libraries, extra points if you can work a library into your submission.

Send it (or, a picture of it) to [email protected] and remember, do so by May 30, to win a pile of English Russells!

Let the creativity flow!

The Great 2014 Library Giveaway…

…continues, with four cartons of Mary Russell books left to award in our Book Club in A Box giveaway. Giveaway

If you have a library a) that you love and b) that hosts book clubs, and if you haven’t sent us their name yet, do so now.  Email it to me at: [email protected]

The next drawing is tomorrow, Friday!