Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Meet Margaery Preston

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Lady, in Waiting, I wanted to give you an unusual teaser - this is part of the chapter in A Wider World where Margaery Preston meets her prickly, difficult, but overall well-meaning husband. After spending almost 400 pages in Robin's head, it was difficult to render him in her point of view without making him look like a jerk (because some of his later behavior could definitely be interpreted that way). It's a long chapter, so I've inserted a jump after the first scene; you can read on, or not, as you choose. 

I hope, of course, that you choose.


Robin Lewis, 50ish, solitary by nature, exiled from England. When in England, he lives in the Preston family house, Winterset.

Margaery Preston: 24, has spent the last 18 years in France with her family. Now she has only her grandmother (and a mother who wants to marry her off). She would like to go home, and being impulsive, seizes the opportunity.

Lady Margaret: Margaery's grandmother. She has raised Margaery almost from birth, and misses her English home.

Sebastian: Robin's manservant. Devoted, opinionated where Robin's needs are concerned. 

For your reading pleasure, a portion of Chapter 68:

Our horses’ hooves struck sparks on the stone flags of the courtyard of the Preston house. Before my boots touched the ground, a child ran up and took the reins. Sebastian dismounted and followed as they were led toward the stable. The wide front door opened before I could knock. A liveried servant led me to a gracious chamber off the main hall. “M’lady will be right down.”

I waited, admiring the room’s appointments, which were luxurious without being lavish. Somehow, despite the difference in architecture and furnishings, it felt like Winterset. I wondered how it came about, the talent for making a home. I had made improvements to the house, but it was not this comfortable.

The door swung open, but instead of Lady Margaret, a young woman strode into the room. Taking no notice of me, she peeled off her gloves and flung them on the table.

“Good afternoon.”

She whirled. “Good afternoon, monsieur.” Her eyes narrowed. “I know you.”

“You do?” I remembered her: the small daughter of the slaughtered Preston son. “You were very young when we met.”

“You took our house.” Her eyes were her grandfather’s, sharp and canny; she’d grown into the nose at least. “I’m not likely to forget.”

I attempted a smile. “It was an arrangement with your grandfather to keep you all safe.”

Her mouth curved into a smile as sincere as mine had been charming. “If by safe you mean bored to death.”

“Good afternoon, Master Lewis.” Margaret Preston was in deep mourning, but her round face wore a genial expression. “How wonderful to see you again. Margaery, Master Lewis is our guest.”

Brows like slashes of ink rose to her hairline. “And has been these many years.”

“A moment, sir.” Lady Margaret marched her granddaughter from the chamber, and I listened to the rise and fall of their voices outside the door. She returned, her hands clasped at her breast. “My granddaughter is not much in society. Her manners are appalling.”

“I found her refreshing.”

“Like cold water to the face,” Lady Margaret said. “Please, come through to my parlor.” Another pleasing room, this one more feminine but with comfortable chairs and an inlaid table before the fire. Lady Margaret put aside an unfinished bit of embroidery so our refreshments could be set out. “Tell me, how is Winterset?”

“Well, when last I heard,” I said. “It’s under Fowler’s care at the moment, as I’ve been traveling. He reports to you?”

“Most regularly.” Lady Margaret sipped her wine. “But he doesn’t live there, and you do. I miss my house.”

After eighteen years, Winterset felt like my home. “I’ve been very comfortable there. I regret I’ve had to be away so much these last years.”

She gazed into her cup. “It’s time for us to return to England.”

“For me as well.” I explained the queen’s failing health, and her having—at last—made Princess Elizabeth her heir. “But if you plan to return, I’ll send word to Fowler to start packing my things.”

“Let us see how it goes,” she said. “We will not make a quick removal. Stay in the house for as long as you require. And until you are ready to take ship for England, you must be our guest.”

“It will only be a few days,” I said. “I have already arranged passage on the Unycorne, leaving from Honfleur on the sixth of November.”


Friday, January 14, 2022

Lady, in Waiting - Available Now!


Here we are, folks, the moment I've been waiting for! (And you've probably been waiting for me to be quiet about, but that's neither here nor there because I AM EXCITED and feel the need to SHOUT about this book).

Lady, in Waiting is now available for purchase through most online stores by following this universal link. You can also ask your favorite bricks-and-mortar store to order it for you, or if you're a library fan (and who isn't?), you can ask your library to order it in either ebook or paperback formats! (There will be an audiobook further down the road, and I'm considering producing a set of hardcovers for the series, but again... later).

The ebook will be published on February 14, but for anyone who wants the paperback, I'll let you in on a teeny, tiny secret. I screwed up. When you upload books to Amazon, they're done separately. I uploaded the ebook first, and I set the publication date to February 14. They asked if I wanted to set up a pre-order. I did. I thought I did the same thing with the paperback. I did not. The paperback is live, on Amazon only. If you want to get a jump on everyone else, head on over and grab your copy. 

After that embarrassing admission, I'm going to slink back to my writing cave and figure out what I did wrong, so I don't do it again next time. 

(And if you buy early - or at all - please be kind and leave a review; consider it a virtual way of giving me a cookie).

Monday, January 10, 2022

Let it snow

It's actually begun to feel a bit like winter around here. We've had snow and rain and gray, dreary days - perfect for curling up with a cup of coffee and a book. That's how I'm thinking of it, anyway.

There are other things going on besides books, but right now it feels a lot like March 2020, and I've pretty much decided to batten down the hatches, eat from our freezer and pantry, and keep a low (physical) profile for a few weeks. Getting sick has begun to feel almost inevitable, but that doesn't mean I'm going to run any extra risks. Double-vaxed, boosted, masked - and I'm still going to stay indoors and quietly promote my books and hope that you all have decided to stay home and read, as well.

All that to say, the pre-order for Lady, in Waiting is about to go live ANY DAY NOW and I can't wait to share my dysfunctional married couple with the world. I had so much fun writing Margaery and Robin, and I can only hope they're as much fun to read!

I'll post again as soon as I have the pre-order links. Stay safe, stay well, stay indoors!


Sunday, January 2, 2022

Looking Ahead

Happy New Year! Here's where we all get over-ambitious and set out lists of things that we know we're going to accomplish, which generally turn into vague idea of things we'd like to accomplish somewhere around February, and by April, they're just faint, guilty memories. 

Have we all done that? Yes, we have.

I'm trying to set out (writing) goals for this year that are achievable, because the only way to build this into a proper business is in increments. (Yes, there are lucky writers who strike it rich on their first book, but they are so few and far between - and the circumstances for each writer, and their books are so different - that it's not worth considering.

The best way to market a book, I've been told by those who should know, is to write the next damn book. Because what happens if someone buys your first book and loves it? They go looking for more. And if there's no more there for them, they aren't going to remember your name by the time you publish a second book. 

So these are my (hopefully reasonable) 2022 goals:
  1. Publish Lady, in Waiting in February.
  2. Once the rights to Songbird's audiobook have fully reverted (it's an Amazon complication, and we're getting there), make brief edits to the audio and re-upload those specific portions on both Audible and Findaway Voices, which is an audiobook service for everyone who doesn't buy through Audible.
  3. Finish mastering the audiobook files for A Wider World and get them uploaded. This was something started by my old publisher but not finished by the time we parted company. I bought a course on working with Audacity and mastering audio files that should get me through this project.
  4. Publish My Sister's Child in October.
  5. Write sequel to My Sister's Child.
  6. Research for The Son in Shadow, which will be the fourth Tudor Court book, but which will not be published until after the second 1930s book so that there's a significant basis for each series.
You'll note that there's nothing here about money or sales or marketing. I'll market each book as I see fit and as I can afford, but sales numbers and response to ads is not something I have control over. What I can control is my own production, and the more and better I produce, the more those uncontrollable aspects will improve.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2021 Roundup

I used to do roundup posts, way back when this was my sewing blog, and it was a good way to keep myself organized and accountable. I think I'll start doing monthly posts this coming year and see if, by announcing it publicly, I actually get everything done that I plan.

This year, continuing pandemic weirdness notwithstanding (or perhaps because of), was a pretty productive year.

I submitted Lady, in Waiting to my publisher and finished edits.

I finished a solid draft of my 1930s book, My Sister's Child, which I'm editing now.

I got my rights back to Songbird and A Wider World, and I figured out the formatting and self-publishing process and got both of them back up before the end of the year, and I've actually sold some books!

In non-writing, I did a few craft shows, and apparently it felt as good for customers to be back out again as it did for the crafters, because they were overall good experiences, plus - again - I sold some books!

Since it's almost the new year, I'm trying to get a few more odds and ends tidied away, not to mention actual, physical tidying of our house, which looks a bit like a craft store exploded in the downstairs. Which is not good, since the sewing room is upstairs.

What about you? What's your biggest accomplishment for 2021, other than making it through with sanity mostly intact, and hopefully still liking the people you share space with? Let me know.

Back soon with my goals for 2022.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Happy Holidays. Get some rest

I'm happy to announce that both Songbird and A Wider World are now available again in paperback from all the regular online venues, and if you so choose, you can order from your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore or even ask your library to purchase either or both. Did you know you could do that? You can still read them - for free - and I'll still get a royalty! Win/win!

Aside from the technical hijinks (which are beyond my capacity to explain at this point) of getting the books back up for sale, and the inevitable slippery slope to the holidays, not much has been happening here. (Though books and holidays are enough).

I did do one local craft show in town, well managed and with Covid protocols in place, and then a quick appearance at the local farmers market. Sales were good, and it was enough to reinforce that while I enjoy making and selling and interacting with customers, I enjoy writing more. But writing isn't going to pay the bills anytime soon, so I'll still be doing both, as and when the world allows.

Happy holidays to everyone. Signing off until the new year, when I'll have a roundup of what I've managed to accomplish in 2021, pandemic notwithstanding, along with a snippet from A Wider World that will lead directly into February's release, Lady, in Waiting.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

What a long, strange trip it's been


This thought occurs with increasing frequency. I just passed the third anniversary - December 6 - of pitching the manuscript for Songbird for the first time on Twitter. It was a pitch event called PitMad, where you tweet a pitch to your book, and the only people who are supposed to like it are agents and publishers. 

I got three likes on Songbird's pitch. Two were agents, one of whom hasn't gotten back to me yet, so I assume she changed her mind. The second agent wanted the book drastically rewritten in a very different voice and I turned her down. The third like was from my former publisher, and if you've been following along for some time now, you know that went pretty well.

But now I'm on my own, and looking back at these three years, I see how much I've accomplished. Not discounting the help of the publisher, I still produced Songbird and A Wider World, both the writing and the editing, and participated in the process of publishing. Not liking Songbird's first cover, I commissioned and paid for the new cover (and then the cover for A Wider World), because I felt they suited the books better. This was good, because when I left my publisher, I owned the rights to my covers and only had to have their logo removed. 

I wrote, and edited, and prepared Lady, in Waiting (book 3) for publication, which, now that I'm independent, will be coming out in February, rather than April, 2022. I've also completed a very workable draft of my 1930s novel, My Sister's Child. This will be completed and ready to release in October, 2022. 

It really boggles my mind that I worked on Songbird for such a long time (it existed pre-internet) and yet once I started showing my work to the wider world - no surprise where that title came from! - it turns out I can produce much faster in a way that does not, at least in my view, take away from the quality of the work. One of the first things I posted on this blog when I began to talk about publishing was the statement "get out of your own way." 

I keep learning, over and over again, just how much I was in my way, and how even now, there are still ways for me to step aside and let me get more done.