The author of the Maggie Hope Mystery series
writes about KBO, cocktails, code-breaking, and red lipstick.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oprah Loves Maggie has named Princess Elizabeth's Spy "Book of the Week" and an "unputdownable mystery."

With deft, empathic prose, author MacNeal creates a wholly engrossing portrait of a coming-of-age woman under fire. Whether you read Mr. Churchill's Secretary, the first installment in this series, or you're just making Miss Hope's acquaintance, she'll draw you in from the first page. By the end, you'll be her loyal subject, ready to follow her wherever she goes—especially through the pages of a third installment.

Read more:

Princess Elizabeth's Spy also made the New York Times Trade Paperback Bestseller list and will be translated into Chinese! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Keep Calm and Have Faith

I recently learned from the wonderful blog World War II in Color about Faith, the Church Cat of St. Augustine's in London, who was awarded a medal for bravery during the Battle of Britain, for shielding her kitten during the Blitz. JR at World War II in Color says it better than I ever could:

"This is Faith, church cat at Church of England (Episcopalean) Church of St Augustine's and St Faith's, Watling Street, London. She was awarded the Dicken Medal in Silver, and a silver medal from the Greenwich Village Humane Society of New York, for her her courage in sheltering her kitten (Panda - he was black and white) in a hidey-hole in the rectory basement, to which she had retreated from her more comfortable position upstairs, in the course of a severe bombing raid on the night of 9 September, 1940. The church and rectory were, basically, battered and burned to destruction by the Luftwaffe, but Faith continued to shield her kitten, under a heap of smouldering rubble, until rescued by her human friends the following day. Shortly afterwards, the remainder of the church fell down, destroying her position of refuge. Faith resumed her life as church cat, dying peacefully some years later on her mat in front of an ecclesiastical fireplace. The kitten, Panda, went on to a successful career as resident cat in a care home. Yes, I know - this will seem silly to many In Here. But consider. Apart from the fact that it is true, Faith's story became widely known in London at the time, and must have contributed to the morale of many hard-pressed Londoners. Her courage and endurance reflected something that Londoners hoped to find in themselves - and generally did. I am a cat person, by the way ... Best regards, JR."

Monday, August 20, 2012

"O.M.G., Mr. Churchill!"

Not only is the expression O.M.G. over 100 years old, but it's one Winston Churchill knew.

In a letter dated 9/9/17 Lord Fisher wrote to the Right Hon. Winston Churchill: "I hear a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis — O.M.G! (Oh! My God!). Shower it on the Admiralty!"

Just goes to show — sometimes language that sounds modern really, like, isn't.

Friday, July 13, 2012

His Majesty's Hope: A Maggie Hope Mystery #3

And here it is — The cover for His Majesty's Hope, to be published in the spring of 2013!

(This is the entire painting, which will wrap around both covers.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy V.E. Day!

Happy V.E. Day! 

Our friend posted this picture of his father on V.E. Day by the Arc de Triomphe today to celebrate — he's the soldier on the far left and served under Patton. 

Now his son, our friend Charles Rivkin, is revisiting the same spot today, as the U.S. Ambassador to France.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mr. Churchill's Daffodils

From a friend in Manhattan who gardens — Winston Churchill daffodils. Apparently, they smell as wonderful as they look.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Author Accessories

LOVE this!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Keep Calm and Read On

I was introduced to this amazing photograph by James R. Benn, a fellow World War II novelist and author of the Billy Boyle World War II series, and a new novel, Souvenir

Isn't it amazing? According to Jim, it's a bombed library at Holland House, Kensington, London, 1940.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mr. Churchill's Secretary named one of Target's "Emerging Authors" books!

I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that Target has chosen Mr. Churchill's Secretary as one of its April 2012 "Emerging Author" picks!

(Above is a picture from our local Target....)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Wall Street Journal: "Keep Calm and Drink On: Celebrating Winston Churchill Day"

Still celebrating Winston Churchill Day, now with a piece on Mr. C. for the Wall Street Journal's "Speakeasy" — "Keep Calm and Drink On."

It traces the "Keep Calm and Carry On" meme, which is really just another way of stating Churchill's own wartime philosophy KBO (Keep Buggering On), or, for the more delicate ladies, KPO (Keep Plodding On).

Happy Winston Churchill Day!

Today, April 9, is Winston Churchill Day — the day commemorating when Sir Winston was posthumously made an honorary U.S. citizen by President Kennedy, in 1962.

I'm honored that the Huffington Post asked me to write a piece on celebrating Winston Churchill Day, to mark the occasion. I was absolutely delighted to write it — especially to include cocktail recipes by or inspired by Sir Winston.

Special thanks to the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, Esquire Magazine, The Flatiron Lounge, The Way Station, Fort Defiance, and The Churchill Tavern!

And here's my own contribution to today's fun in the HuffPo article — The Mr. Churchill!

The Mr. Churchill
11  of  12
This cocktail is my own creation, to celebrate both Winston Churchill Day and the publication of my novel, Mr. Churchill's Secretary. It has quintessential British spirits gin and Pimm's No. 1 Cup (a gin-based infusion of herbs and quinine), as well as Sir Winston's favorite champagne. Drink and toast to all of the real-life secretaries, including Elizabeth Layton Nel, who toiled for Sir Winston over the years.

1 part Pimm's No. 1
1 part Hendrick's gin
Splash of lemon syrup
4 parts Champagne or sparking wine

Shake Pimm's No. 1, Hendrick's gin, and lemon syrup with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and top with champagne. Garnish with a thin wheel of cucumber.

Lemon Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup of sugar
finely grated zest from 4 well-scrubbed lemons

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and lemon zest to a boil. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved, around 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely before using.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Where Would Winston Churchill Drink? London's Most Glamorous Cocktail Bars from Author of Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Where would Winston Churchill drink? Well, he'd have a wealth of choices today in London. Still, I had the huge honor of choosing the top 5 of "London's Most Glamorous Cocktail Bars" (hey, someone had to do it....) for, and here are the results!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mr. Churchill's Secretary receives 3/4 stars in USA TODAY!

According to USA TODAY, "Mr. Churchill's Secretary delivers the goods — covertly, of course." It's also called "delightful" and "sweet as it is intriguing"!

Also included is a terrific photo of Mr. Churchill (who really never took a bad picture).

See the full review here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Codes and Quilts at Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park and the UK Quilters Guild are presenting a special exhibition of 100 new pieces created specially for Bletchley. Some were made by people with links to the park (a grandparent might have worked there) or by people inspired by the institution. There is also a "Secret Messages" category, where the quilts contain code.

It looks absolutely FANTASTIC, especially those quilts with code. More information from Bletchley here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Aaand... another author in the family

Yes, it's "All About Chess" by Mattie (aka Matthew) MacNeal.

Another Mr. Churchill's Secretary Review—and a Thought

Unbelievable—a starred review ("Debut of the Month," no less!) of Mr. Churchill's Secretary from Library Journal!

LET’S TOAST the new authors making their debuts in 2012! The variety of venues and characters ensure dynamic new mystery reads. A shout-out to Susan Elia MacNeal’s intrepid female math wiz ( Mr. Churchill’s Secretary)...

The review may be read on Library Journal's site, here, but this is the best bit: 

VERDICT: Watch out for the smart girl who can crack codes with her slide rule. 

Let's hear it for the smart girls.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mr. Churchill's e-ad

From Random House, the gorgeous new electronic ad for Mr. Churchill's Secretary....

Click the link and watch what happens!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mr. Churchill's Cat

Winston Churchill's cat, Jock, now has a Facebook page! (There has been various Jocks, marmalade tabbies, at Churchill's home, Chartwell, since the 1940s.) Jock says, "I will do my best to give you a real insight into what really goes on at Chartwell!"

Winston Churchill named Jock after one of his favorite private secretaries, Jock (John) Colville. I used Jock Colville as the inspiration for my character, John Sterling. I was able to use his wonderful memoir: The Fringes of Power: The Incredible Inside Story of Winston Churchill during WWII for a behind-the-scenes look into what day-to-day life was like on Churchill's staff.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mr. Churchill's Secretary's First Review!

From Kirkus Reviews, a lovely nod! 

It will go live on the Kirkus site on January 18th, 2012. The review will also be published in the February 1st print edition.

The best bit is this:

Brave, clever Maggie’s debut is an enjoyable mix of mystery, thriller and romance that captures the harrowing experiences of life in war-torn London.