Sunday, February 14, 2021

Cover Reveal and excerpt

Well, here it is, folks! The gorgeous cover for A Wider World, designed by Anthony O'Brien and featuring another ancient ceiling. (I'm sensing a theme here).

The book will be released on April 25, 2021, but if you're an e-book reader, you can pre-order it now on Amazon. I can't tell you how much pre-orders mean to the way Amazon decides to promote a book.


Chapter One

November 10, 1558

Winterset, Yorkshire


“They said I would not end well.”

“And so you have not.” The young man has an air of self-importance, something he should have outgrown by now—but perhaps not. He has, after all, arrested me; mayhap he should feel arrogant.

I walk toward the fire, smiling as he moves out of my way. “I did not begin well, I will grant you that. And my middle was…middling.” The heat warms my face, masking any flush of anger. “But my end is not yet accomplished.”

He speaks again, his confidence recovered. “For your nefarious history with Thomas Cromwell, for your role in the destruction of the monasteries, and your attempts to dismantle the one true church, for promoting Luther and the English Bible, Her Majesty charges you with heresy.”

I ignore him. “You, who have interrupted my supper with your warrants and demands, who are here to see me to that end—you have no idea of my beginnings.”

Mongrel, they called me. Bastard. Unloved, I should have withered. I did not. I forced myself to flourish, to prove the world wrong.

“The world did not, early on, consider me of enough importance to care whether I lived or died. Now, I have achieved importance in the eyes of some—though only some see my true value. Whether you come to see it remains to be seen.”

The young man—William Hawkins—snorts. A laugh? A sound of disbelief? He drops into my empty chair, his black boots stretched toward the blaze.

I watch him in the small convex mirror, which stands on the cupboard, a memento of my Venetian travels, just unpacked. “You were told I was clever, to beware my words. I do not appear dangerous, do I?” A man of fifty-odd, dressed in clerical black. Thin to the point of gauntness, though seemingly healthy. A man with few attachments in this life, and those well concealed. “I can see you are interested.”

Hawkins demurs, but his eye stretches at my words, and I continue, “The storm will not abate before morning. It is not solely in my own interests that I suggest you ask your men to stand down.”

Hawkins is unwilling but sees sense in the end. I try not to listen as he speaks to his men. Nine of them—as if I require an army to be brought to justice. They shed their wet cloaks and settle themselves in the hall. I’ll have ale brought out; their goodwill will be more easily won than my captor’s.

I look at him again. He gives the impression of wearing armor, but in truth, he has nothing more than layers of damp wool, like the rest of us, with a well-cut doublet on top to show his status. “We may as well pass the evening in conversation.”

Friday, February 5, 2021

Coming Soon - A Wider World

We not only have a publication date, but we have a blurb!

Mark your calendars for A Wider World, the story of Robin Lewis, the chorister-turned-royal-secretary who first appeared in Songbird. He's all grown up now, and in a rather tight spot, as explained below:

Memories are all he has... 

Now they could save his life. 

Returning to England after almost five years in exile, Robin Lewis is arrested and charged with heresy by the dying Queen Mary. 

As he is escorted to the Tower of London, Robin spins a tale for his captor, revisiting his life under three Tudor monarchs and wondering how he will be judged—not just by the queen, but by the God he stopped serving long ago. 

When every moment counts, will the journey—and his stories—last long enough for him to be saved by Mary's heir, the young Queen Elizabeth?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Book recommendation: Empire's Legacy

Even though I'm supposed to be writing, I still read. A lot. 

My public school education was decent, but it wasn't what taught me to write. Reading did that.

One of the best things about becoming a published author is becoming friends with other writers on social media (and eventually outside of social media, once we can travel again).

I've read Marian L Thorpe's Empire's Legacy trilogy before - in its separate volumes - but because she recently commissioned a new cover for the combined trilogy, I was lucky enough to receive her author copy (she lives in Canada and Amazon has issues, and the post office has issues, and it was just easier for me to review it for her). But that means I know have a whomping big paperback trilogy that she'll soon be giving away to US readers on her mailing list. Which you can join here

Amazon files these books under alternate history / historical fantasy. It's a hard genre to pin down, because to most people, "fantasy" means elves and magic systems, but in this case, it's a variation on post-Roman Britain, with different names, a slightly altered map, and a thoroughly reimagined history, including a society (logically) divided by gender. The history is so well done that I feel like I'm reading about a time period I've just never explored - it doesn't feel "fantasy" in the slightest. Which makes sense - one of her reviewers actually calls it "Fantasy for people who don't read fantasy."

Monday, January 25, 2021

Songbird Book Trailer

My publisher put together a quick trailer for Songbird using some of my reference photos, with Bess's signature song, The Cuckoo, performed by Elizabeth Larsen. If anyone has seen my Facebook live reading at Songbird's launch, I paused the reading to have a small breakdown play this at the appropriate point in the story.

This was a pleasant surprise for me, and I hope you enjoy another look into Bess's life.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

What's been going on

I hate it when I go quiet. I'm assuming you're not fond of it either, dear readers - you keep showing up here, and it would be nice if I gave you something to read.

Things are happening behind the scenes, of course. We're down to just final copy edits for A Wider World. The cover has been finished, and I've scored an absolutely mind-blowing quote for the cover from a Tudor author whose work I really respect. Coming soon, I promise.

I've also completed and submitted Lady, in Waiting before my New Year's Eve deadline, and now I'm doing rewrites before re-submitting. (That first submission was so the publisher could see that I actually had something that could be reasonably wrangled into book shape; now comes the actual wrangling). It's going pretty well, though, and I hope to have this draft done by end of February.

What I'm also doing is recovering from a really good online Christmas this year. While sales were down in my vintage Etsy shop, they were booming over on the handmade side. Being prevented from doing holiday shopping sent people online. Go figure! Even with postal delays, almost everything arrived on time.

I had to end Christmas stocking orders early. I sent a batch to a shop I work with in Philadelphia, and would have sent more, but ran out of the vintage quilts I like to use. It's getting harder to find ones that are in good enough condition to use, but with enough damage that I don't feel guilty cutting them up. Luckily, I scored two on Ebay just after the holidays, and a hunter-gathering neighbor found a third for me.

My favorite order of the season was from a customer who sent me a box of quilted placemats made by her recently deceased mother-in-law. She wanted them turned into stockings for the family, and have a holiday table runner made with the leftover. I'm working on the table runner, because we realized it wouldn't happen by Christmas - especially with the postal difficulties - but I think her stockings came out well. I'm not a fan of precise patchwork (not making it, anyway) but the placemat fabrics really lent themselves to my more random design ideas.

Now I must go back to my other writing. Just wanted to pop in, look around, make sure people were still here. Back soon.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Plans for 2021

I wouldn't call them resolutions, which I've always been crap at keeping, but one thing I am good at is meeting a deadline.

The collage here is something I put together as book 3 became clearer in my head. I like a physical representation because I can then convince myself that it's real.

Back in May, when I submitted A Wider World to the publisher, they told me if I wanted my third book to follow along within a year (April 2022), I would have to submit it by the end of 2020. We negotiated that to mean a readable first draft, which I managed to do - by mid-afternoon on New Year's Eve. (I'd actually finished it the day before, but I wanted to accomplish a few last minute tweaks).

I now have until the end of February to do proper edits, and I think that's doable, but only because I didn't get a decent grasp of my main character until later than usual and rewrote the entire first half to get her properly in line. So it's really only the last half that needs hard work, and then shaping and polishing for length, as it's currently about 13k over its word budget. (I've been worse, so not too scared).

Also for early 2021, I've got to do final copy edits for A Wider World. Once those edits are done, I need to get the book to the voice actor for the the audio, and I'd like to do the edits again, because it really gave me a feel for how the project went together. The book launches on 
April 25, the day after my husband's birthday, so he might not be the total focus on the day, because there'll be another FB Live reading - which I'll mention on here, and post afterwards for those who miss it and/or don't do the FB thing anymore.

I'd like to raise my head from the 16th century and get back to the 1930s project I talked about a while ago. I've been working on it in some dim corner in my mind, but once the third book is with the publisher and I'm waiting on their edits, I'd like to start in again. Now that I know I can produce a readable draft in a certain amount of time, I'd like to produce that one, edit it, have it gone over by a few trusted writer friends, and self-publish it in the fall, so I have a book of my "own" out in between books from my publisher. 

Those are the writing goals, but there are also other goals to do with marketing and getting the books in front of people who will leave reviews, which will in turn cause more people to buy the books.

And for all that I love writing, it's not bringing in anything that I can class as an income - yet. And Covid has pretty much eliminated office work as I know it, so I'll be concentrating on doing more online transcription and building up my handmade and vintage Etsy businesses so that they're worth keeping. So long as the post office recovers from its current hellscape, I'll be okay. I have a basement full of vintage from relatives and flea markets that can, eventually, be turned into cash, and I'm hopeful that there may be some masked and outdoor craft events this year.

I'm also going to keep moving - we walked a LOT in 2020, trying to keep from climbing the walls, and we'd like to keep it up. I'll also walk on my own, because that's when some of my best writing gets done, just me, the trees, and my phone, listening to me babble.

So those are my plans for the new year. They are, as always, subject to change, but I've tried to make them achievable goals, spaced out in a way that I shouldn't get too overwhelmed, or at least not too often.

What about you? What do you have in line for 2021, and what are you hoping to change up after making it through 2020?