Fifteen Weeks, at an end

As of today, the Fifteen Weeks of Bees is officially over. We opened its doors on the first of February, and thanks to the concerted efforts of a large number of highly competent and hard-working women (some of whom were not even related to me, although by now they may feel they are) we kept it up for three and a half months: every one of those weeks saw five or more “Mutterings”, a Russell blog post, a contest or giveaway, and a LRK guest blog somewhere in the blogosphere.  The web site was totally renovated, two book-related videos added, and a long period of free downloads of the Beekeeper’s Apprentice e-book. Several thousand people are still following Mary Russell on Twitter, which has to be a sign of some kind of severe societal madness infecting the world, and we’ve suggested the first element of next year’s contests, illuminating Russell’s MyStory.

Last night, at an event at the San Francisco Public Library that celebrated the 150th birthday of Arthur Conan Doyle, we drew the names of the last two winners of the Fifteen Weeks.

Among the many who sent me their receipt from an independent bookseller, we drew one name to receive the broadside “A Venomous Death”: that goes to Daniel Medow in Michigan, for a copy he bought in the Book Beat in Oak Park, Michigan.

And of the many who sent $60 or more to Heifer International, helping us raise—ready for this?

$10,000 !!!

was Patricia Toner. Patricia will name a character in The Green Man—Pat, we’ll be in touch.

$10,000 for Heifer International. Wow. Plus the monies accumulated through the Amazon and CafePress stores. Thank you all, for helping support this great cause, and thank you, everyone, for putting The Language of Bees on so many bestseller lists across the country.

I’ll have more to say about various events of the tour and about Fifteen Weeks beginning next week, so don’t think we’re entirely finished with you. And Russell will continue Tweeting, if at a lesser rate.

Bless you all, for having fun with this.

Guest Blog: Angieville

Today I’m over at Angieville, where I should have been last week except my brain was in a comatose state.  I’m talking about the joys of touring (yes, really!) and how touched I am by touching people.

Or, perhaps I’m just touched, in the head.

Episode 12 in the Perils of Russell & Holmes

Week Twelve of Fifteen Weeks of Bees, and over at Myspace, Russell and Holmes are being pursued by a pack of importunate American Sherlockians, who chased the duo from their Sussex home to Oxford.

You need to remember, this was 1992, and the number of people who knew that Sherlock Holmes had a wife was relatively small. No doubt our pursuing Sherlockians thought I was a housekeeper, or a nurse—they were standing watch at the gate, and began to bay wildly when first I set foot out of the house. I feigned great age—not difficult to do, at my age—and hobbled to the car, my back bent in apparent arthritis and a large straw hat pulled down, not so much to hide my features as to explain why I didn’t notice ten jumping figures at the gate. I got the door open with my ancient hands, bent slowly—slowly, to retrieve some small object from the door pocket, and then inadequately closed the door and crept back to the house.
Thus, before dawn the next morning, the three who had been set to watch overnight from their hire car recognized the hatted figure behind the wheel of the motor that pulled out of the gate, and hastened to follow—it being too dark to see that the person at the wheel was a foot shorter and seventy years younger. Nor did they notice that the young man closing the gate was in fact the old woman they thought they were following.
Whistling, I went to finish my coffee and leave the house, on what promised to be a perfectly lovely May-Day morn.

Week twelve: research

The excellent Tony Broadbent, whose books I adore (surely Jethro the cat burglar and Mary Russell met, sometime?) asks, what is the proper collective noun for a set of Russells? A hive? A buzz? A sting? He nominates honey-pot—and please note: pot, not bucket.

The lady in question has posted a Myspace blog today, for week 12 of our fast-departing Fifteen Weeks of Bees, which finds things heating up in Oxford town for the world’s greatest detective, and her husband.

And this week’s contest is on YouTube, which is very lonely.

One of the purposes of this blog has been to allow me to talk about the writing process while it’s actually going on. I’m not a writer who likes someone looking over her shoulder (although I did that, more or less literally, with my writer’s improv, and may do so again for BoucherCon 2010.) I do not ask for feedback while the material is still being shaped, from family, friends, or a writers’ group. However, there are times when it’s valuable to me, and I assume of interest to some of you, to step back and think aloud about the process.

One question that often comes up, particularly regarding the historical novels, is research. And I think the question comes not because the person asking it is considering writing their own historical novel, but because they are interested in how one assembles the raw material and, more mysterious yet, how one carves it into a narrative.

In the interest of providing you with the material to craft your own version of The Language of Bees, we’ve posted links on the book page to a whole bunch of the material that went into the story. Cruise through, taste and sample the page on Norse Gods, study the pictures of the Stones of Stenness, wonder at the life and times of Aleister Crowley. Then, when you’ve finished, let me know what you think The Language of Bees is going to be about.

(This is not, by the way, for those of you who’ve already read an ARC…)

Red hot links

We got your red-hot links, right here, ground fine and fired up for your enjoyment.

First off is a video production of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.  Well, parts of it.  Actually it’s a video of the Sussex landscape where Russell and Holmes live, with yours truly reading from the book.

Then there’s a podcast, or an MP3cast, of me again, talking to Rick Kleffel about writing, Russell, and the whole Fifteen Weeks of Bees thing.

And last but by no means least, to fulfill the print quota for the day, I have an interview over at International Thriller Writers about The Language of Bees.

For those of you who read this blog at work, tell your boss it’s research.

The perils of Russell

The Amazing Adventures of (92 year old) Mary Russell continues, in her Myspace blog.  Things are beginning to get exciting—the story thus far:

In 1992, the rural Sussex home that Ms Russell shared with the aged Sherlock Holmes was invaded by “a ravening pack of Sherlockians.” The Intrepid Duo escape them by ruse and make for Russell’s house in Oxford, where all appears secure.

I rang Patrick the following evening—trusting that our Sherlockian pursuers lacked the wherewithal to tap lines and trace telephone calls—to ask him to stow the trunk of memoirs with a third party for the present, and heard of the pack’s confounding by our actor’s cross-country sprint.  Patrick told me he would spend another night sleeping in the Land Rover at our door, then load up our trunks and valuables and abandon his post on the morrow, leaving the actor to his play.

We spent a pleasant three days in my second home of Oxford, visiting with old friends, pursuing our varied studies, and worrying not in the least that we would be discovered—the ancient city is generously endowed with ancient academics, and even the closing days of April are cool enough to justify hats and the occasional scarf.

On the fourth day, my medical student greeted our return with the news that a couple of rather odd Americans had come to the door while we were out.  With sinking heart, I asked if they had worn lapel pins with pipes, deerstalker caps, or 221B. No, she replied—they were dogs.

“Holmes,” I shouted up the stairs, “time to be off.”


Will Russell and Holmes evade the invaders?  Will the bells of Oxford toll their demise (the importunate Americans, that is)? Will Russell be kissed by the Hobby Horse?

Stay tuned next week, as the tale winds to a close with a high speed chase on…punts?

Week Eleven–and we’re loving libraries!

Hey, kids, it’s National Library Week!

Was that a yawn I heard in the back row? Shame on you—especially now that the world is listening to a giant sucking sound as one piece of the economy after another goes down the pipes. Not the library. The library is safe refuge, whether it’s escaping with a good book, researching the job market, having a place to do your homework, or learning a language. WE LOVE LIBRARIES.

If you love libraries—or a specific librarian—too, write and tell us about it, and you could win a copy of The Language of Bees, AND your library win a complete set of the Russell/Holmes novels. I bet they’d let you borrow them before anyone else. Go to the Fifteen Weeks of Bees contests page and look at week 11.  Which this is.

And if you’re interested in winning a copy of The Language of Bees, you really should dig out your video camera and come up with a YouTube submission—I guess LRK readers are shy, because there are so few of them, your chance of winning is good.

And now, you can find out what’s happening in Mary Russell’s adventures, over at Myspace.

Week ten: posts and giveaways

We’re racing now into week ten of the Fifteen Weeks—two thirds of the way through the celebration, and only 22 days until The Language of Bees goes on sale and LRK hits the road!


And it being a Monday, that means Miss Russell is posting over on her Myspace blog, where she and Holmes are arriving in Oxford.


Last week’s hardback was won by Merrily for her deft treatment of the Russell and Holmes crossword puzzle, and this week finds two giveaways—Goodreads, where Right Minded Readers hang out and chat, and Bitten By Books, where I’ll be blogging about things normal and paranormal, later this week.

I’m hoping to finish The Green Man this week, although if I get any more tangled up in the plot, someone’s going to have to send an expedition with chain saws to rescue me…

Stepped out to post

Twenty-seven days until The Language of Bees buzzes across the land.

Laurie is not really here (Jedi hand wave across the screen.) This is not the LRK you’re looking for. It’s a blog tour day, so she’s over at the blog Jungle Red, talking to fellow writer Roberta Isleib about Russell and Holmes and…well, lots of things.

Come over and join us.

Guest Post — A Striped Armchair

Today we’re making ourselves comfy in A Striped Armchair. Please join me there for my thoughts on writing The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and the many doors it opened to Mary Russell’s further adventures.