I love this time of year! The holidays are behind us, and a new year always seems to promise a fresh start and a new way of looking at things (my birthday is also only a couple of weeks away, definitely a time for reassessing). I liked reading everyone’s resolutions yesterday. My own are pretty much the same–I’m finally (finally!) within about 3 pounds of my Ultimate Weight/Dress Size Goal and now I’m determined to stay healthy. More yoga classes, more bike riding, more getting off my backside and going outside, finding more energy to write more books. And eating more salad! While I’m dreaming, I’d also like to travel more and spend more time with friends. And maybe start a tango class.

But my short term goal this week is just to get started on the new book. I finally finished revisions on old projects and am at a slow promo month (no book out until March!), so it’s time to dive into a whole new project. I love it when they’re all new and bright and shiny, no sagging middles yet, no rushed endings, no characters running out of my control, just brand new notebooks and possibilities.

This book is a sequel to my Elizabethan-set The Winter Queen, and is set at the Court of Mary Queen of Scots in the early 1560s. I’m excited to be re-visiting these characters in my first Scottish setting, and I’m even more excited about all the fun research! Next to my desk right now I have Anka Muhlstein’s Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart: The Perils of Marriage, Antonia Fraser’s classic Mary Queen of Scots, Jane Dunn’s Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens, John Guy’s Mary Queen of Scots, and (thanks to Michelle Willingham, who kindly brought it back to me from her Scottish trip last summer!) the Official Guide to Holyroodhouse. Guidebooks and postcards are invaluable for envisioning a setting. I’ve also been putting together my character collages and soundtracks and all the things that allow me to procrastinate on starting a book. 🙂

This is my setting:

And my hero and heroine!

And some musical inspiration:

And that’s what I’m doing this week! What are you up to? What are you writing or reading this week?