Monday, May 16, 2022

Thoughts on publishing


Publishing is subjective.

Maybe you've heard that, maybe you haven't. If you're not a writer who's attempted traditional publishing, you may not comprehend those words the same way.

I was cleaning out my email the other day and ventured into a folder called Query 2015. If it was a physical folder, it would be very dusty. I might have even recycled it by now. I don't think I've opened it since late 2015, when I got an agent for Songbird (which at that time was called The King's Creatures).

I sent out well over 100 queries. I'd say 75% of those queries never even got responses. Another 15% said no. The remaining agents requested samples - anything from 5 to 50 pages. 

If those pages grabbed them, they would have requested more. Only one did, and I'll talk about that later.

But the rejections for Songbird were so inconsistent it was hard to figure out my next steps. 

"Good plot, Couldn't get into the characters."

"Strong characterization, but lacking in plot."

"The Tudors as an era are played out and tired. Can this story be set in another period?"

"The Tudor field is overcrowded. Can you write this in another era?"

"I can't see the settings or costumes. Would be willing to read if you rewrite it in more of a Philippa Gregory style."

"Too much description for my taste."

Is it any wonder that I put it away until fall 2018, because I just couldn't think about it anymore without my head exploding?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Coming Apart: Coal Towns

 

Scovill Run, the town where my main character and her family live and work, is fictional, but it's based on many towns encountered in my research, towns either overtaken by the dirty business of mining, or spring or of nowhere to support a mine.

The towns were almost wholly owned by the mining companies. There were no other jobs tolerated outside mine work. Men who refused to go underground had to leave to find work. Houses were tied, so a family never really owned their home, it even rented it properly. No rent was paid; part of a miner's salary was out toward the rent. The rest was deposited at the company store, where all provisions had to be purchased, often at prices higher than found outside the town. But since miners were paid in scrip, not cash, transportation was not the only problem.

On the outside, a coal patch town might look like any other. There were houses, churches, and a shop with a post office. A community center where events took place, movies were shown and elections were held.

But the government of the town, such as it was, was in the hands of the coal company. They had their own private police force, the Coal and Iron Police, which terrorized families all over Pennsylvania. They dealt with efforts at unionizing with an iron hand, and if they went overboard on their administration of justice, there was no recourse. The CIP was disbanded in 1931, but they had almost complete control from the Civil War up until that point.

Education in a coal town was minimal, going only through the eighth grade. Most boys left school before then, to work in the mines. By the time my book starts, it is illegal to hire a boy under the age of fourteen, but of course it still happened, and it was at least an improvement on the days when boys started on the breaker, sorting coal, at the age of five or six.

By the time the Depression was in full swing, the demand for coal had begin to slack - oil was the coming thing, and many household in the cities were changing over to oil heat. Still, coal was necessary for industry, and the mines kept operating, but often the miners' hours were reduced to a point just above poverty, and, dependent on the company for food and housing, and deprived of education and any opportunity of other work, they had few options.

Monday, May 2, 2022

April Roundup

 

Where does the time go? That's what I want to know.

It feels like I've been constantly busy, but when I sit down to write these posts, I look back and wonder what exactly all that busy has been.

This month, I finished (again) final edits on Coming Apart. I sent out multiple requests for endorsements from authors - those lovely complimentary words you find on book covers - and actually got a few in response. Still waiting on a few others.

In case you've ever wondered, there are three responses to any request: yes, no, and no response. No response is by far the most common.

I've also been working away on the sequel to Coming Apart, and a prequel novella which I want to use as a newsletter sign-up. (If you're already a newsletter subscriber, don't worry - I'll announce it there and insert the download link. If you're not already a newsletter subscriber, why not? I won't spam you or give away your email address - you're trusting me, and I'm well aware of the responsibility involved - and I'll only email once a month unless I've got a book coming out or some special announcement.

Like a prequel novella. So sign up here, if you're so inclined.

I've also been working on some edits for other writers, which is not only a good way to give back to a community I love, but also brings in income and teaches me to be a better writer. Editing someone else's work without changing their voice is hard. 

Last but not least, I've been figuring out behind-the-scenes stuff like putting A+ content on Amazon (those are the pretty graphics you see on some book listings, an option formerly only given to traditional publishers - see example) and I'm working on a launch plan for Coming Apart. I know it's not until October, but this one is a bit of a departure in the audience - more women's fiction than historical, though it's both - and I want to get this right.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Coming Apart: The Houses


There are three houses in Coming Apart, and they all mean different things. 

The first is Ava's house in Scovill Run, the coal town in upstate Pennsylvania where she has lived her entire life. Scovill Run is fictional, but based on many coal towns in my research, all of which grew up around the mine, and none of which were particularly nice places to live.

Ava's house is one half of a twin. There are two bedrooms upstairs, and a sitting room and kitchen downstairs. There is no electricity, and water is supplied by a shared pump in the yard. The other plumbing needs are taken care of by an outhouse. Most of the heat in the house comes from a wood stove in the kitchen; there is a coal stove in the front room, but it is only used on special occasions, because coal is expensive and the men who mine it can't often afford it.

Claire lives in Philadelphia, in one of my favorite houses on Delancey Place. All the houses on the street are either brownstone or brick, three and four stories. They were the houses of the wealthy then, and for the most part, that block continues to be single-family homes. The house I chose for Claire stands out because of its round front. I've always liked it, and jumped at the chance to let her live there. 

Not only that, it was up for sale several years ago, so I have a pretty good idea of the interior layout.

There is a third house in the book, which will only be explained in oblique terms because of spoilers, but it is a house I actually lived in during the late 1980s. It's also in Philadelphia, several blocks south of Claire's house, and was built before the Civil War to house mill workers. 

It's what Philadelphia calls a trinity house (Father, son & holy ghost), with one room on each floor. The entire house was no bigger than a standard two bedroom apartment. But it was pretty cool, living in a place that old, and knowing that the underground railroad had used several of the houses on the block as shelters for runaway slaves making their way to freedom.

I have pretty clear memories of this house, but again, it also was up for sale a few years ago and the renovations that were done after my time there as a renter were pretty significant. They couldn't make it bigger, but they made it nicer. One of the few things that's still the same is the clawfoot tub in the third floor bathroom, which my roommate had painted gold on the outside. Thirty years later, it's still gold.

I wonder what my characters would have thought of a gold bathtub?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Coming Apart: The Husbands

Daniel Kimber and Harry Warriner are as unalike as their wives.

Daniel Kimber is a miner. That's all he's ever done, and all he wants to do. But the Depression and the Scovill Mining Company's attitude toward union organizing means his job is always at risk. He started in the mines at the age of ten, and to him it's a big deal that his eldest son stayed in school until twelve before going to work. Daniel worships his wife for her strength and ability to manage their family on next to nothing. He's never looked at another woman - they met in grade school and paired off almost immediately. .

My choice for Daniel is Colin Farrell in a more scruffy moment. Daniel doesn't actual have a mustache, but there's something in the bleakness of his expression here that works for me.


The only son of a wealthy businessman, Harry Warriner made it to nearly forty before acquiring a young wife who met none of his mother's exacting standards. He knows his place in Philadelphia society, but it isn't what he would have chosen for himself, if he'd had a choice. Marrying Claire is his one rebellion, but he doesn't always see how difficult it has been for her to fit into his life.

Harry, at the start of the book, is fifty years old, with a precise trimmed mustache and spectacles. He can't see two feet without them. His upbringing has made him very restrained, but he does love Claire and wishes he knew how to make her happy.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Coming Apart: The Sisters

Coming Apart has two main characters, sisters Ava Kimber and Claire Warriner.

Both were born in a fictional upstate Pennsylvania coal town of Scovill Run, a small town entirely owned and operated by the Scovill Mining Company. Their mother, Lillie, was an Irish immigrant; their father was a Polish coal miner. Ava and Claire are children numbers four and six of Lillie Kovalevski's seven children.

Three years older than her sister, Ava married young, to her childhood sweetheart, and duplicated her mother's life of hard work, grinding poverty, and frequent pregnancies. She is often angry and always exhausted, but she wouldn't trade her hardships for her sister's blessings.




Claire graduated high school, got a job in Scranton, and managed to snag herself a wealthy husband. She moved to Philadelphia and has rarely been seen since by the family she left behind. 

Not surprisingly, Ava holds a bit of a grudge that her sister has more or less abandoned them, but she's also too proud to accept any help that would be offered, because she's managing just fine, thank you very much.

Claire may be thirty years old and wealthy beyond anything her family can conceive, but she's not happy. If she could only give her husband a son, maybe her mother-in-law would stop bullying her, and maybe she wouldn't be too embarrassed by her background to go home and visit the sister she misses desperately.

Both these photos were found while wandering the internet. Claire is pale and blonde and perfect; she has little else to do but keep herself looking that way. I found the inspiration photo for Ava when researching 1930s hairstyles. It's the only thing that's not accurate - Ava hasn't cut her hair, but the "I tolerate no nonsense" expression on her face is completely Ava.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

What comes next: Coming Apart!

I'm really excited about the next book. I know, I'm excited about every book, but that's because every time I write one it makes more space in my head. It gets crowded in there. 

This is the one that in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. The original title was My Sister's Child, but I changed it because there is a psychological thriller out there with the same title, about a woman who kills her sister and takes her baby, and even though they are very different genres, it's a recently published book and I didn't want to use the same title. 

So now it's called Coming Apart. One of my favorite things is that I am able to use a family photo (my great-aunt Margaret and Uncle Dick) for the cover. Even though the title has changed, the ambiguous photo of woman and child - which sister's child is he? - will be the same. I can't wait to show the cover design, but I'm waiting until we have a final page count, so my designer can change the title and also do the full wrap cover for the paperback.

While still historical, this book has no real historical figures in it, and so, in the weeks and months leading up to publication, I'll be sharing character bios, location information, and some of the fascinating Depression-era history I've uncovered while writing. 

Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 2, 2022

March Roundup

 

How have we finished the first quarter of the year already? It still feels like February. Hell, some days it still feels like 2020.

All things considered, though, it's been a productive period. I had three things written on the white board by my desk for January-March, and I crossed them all off:

Publish Lady, in Waiting ✔
Final draft Coming Apart ✔
Send ARCs and endorsement requests for Coming Apart

Coming Apart, by the way, is the new title for My Sister's Child. I changed it because there's a thriller by the same name where a woman kills her sister so she can have her baby, and I know that the genres are totally different, but that wasn't a confusion issue I wanted to risk.

One thing that was on my list for the first quarter as a possibility was researching whether or not to do hard covers of my Tudor Court trilogy. I still haven't decided. I can't tell you the last time I purchased a hard cover book that wasn't for research purposes, and I'm not sure if the sales would be worth the effort involved. On the other hand, I've already purchased the ISBNs, so maybe I'll just wait until I have some extra money to throw to my cover designer to adapt the covers (of course they're just slightly different dimensions so I can't use what I have).

The third item on my list of achievements there was a nerve-wracking one. ARCs (advance reader copies) get send out to early reviewers and authors who might consider reading and endorsing the book. Endorsements go on either the front or back cover, or sometimes on what's called a "praise page" just inside the cover. I sent to a few indie authors whose work I like, and also to a few traditionally published, including a few writers who I know are out of my league. I haven't heard from most of those yet, but hope springs eternal.

My goals for April include sending out more ARCs and requests, formatting Coming Apart's paperback so I can get a final page count so I can in turn reach out to the designer to finish the full wrap cover (page count is necessary so that the cover fits properly, and Amazon and the other printing sites are very specific about their wants). 

I'm also accidentally working on the sequel to Coming Apart, because I was no sooner finished the book than the characters woke me up and told me they weren't done with me yet.


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

How to support an indie author #842

If you're interested in paperback copies of my books and would prefer not to purchase through Amazon or other online retailers, please leave a comment here or use the contact form on this page.

I'm happy to support my local independent bookstores, but it's difficult to get them to stock books by indie writers because we can't afford to give the wholesale discount that a large traditional publisher can. 

As an example, I just changed the discount percentage for my paperbacks because my cut of a $15.99 paperback was... $0.80. 

All the rest was split between the bookstore, the printer, and shipping costs - not to mention that bookstores prefer to be able to return unsold books, which will then either be destroyed or returned to the author. For an additional cost.

I don't expect to get rich from writing, but I'd like to buy the occasional cup of coffee. Am I wrong?

Paperbacks are $14.99 (same as Amazon, but which include a bookmark, a signature, and shipping). Ebooks of all three titles are also available for $4.99 each. I can walk you through how to download them onto your Kindle or other device. Discounts available for purchases of two or more books.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Help Wanted (Needed?)


Apparently I can write, but when it comes to graphic design, I'm a bit challenged.

Decision-making regarding graphic design, even more so.

I use photographs of ceilings for my book covers, and within the next few months, I'll be combining Songbird, A Wider World and Lady, in Waiting into an e-book box set. (Not doing a paperback because it would cost a bomb and come in at over a thousand pages, and no one has the hands for that).


These are my top contenders for the new cover. Each one has their merits - and none of them are connected to the stories. In the cases of Songbird and A Wider World, the ceilings are actually from buildings (Hampton Court and a destroyed monastery) that are locations in the books; for Lady, in Waiting I chose a ceiling that meshed with the story - Margaery's home of Winterset, and the painted ceiling she envisions for the hall.


I don't have that requirement for the box set cover. It just needs to look period appropriate, which all these are, and work with the font used on the covers, which they will. 

BUT I CAN'T DECIDE.

Which one is your favorite? Help a graphically-challenged author out. Please.



Wednesday, March 2, 2022

February Roundup

 

Keeping track has been fun this month. Not. 

It's hard to pay attention to what feel like trivial things when the world has basically set itself on fire.

But work matters. Words matter. And stories can take us away from the flaming dumpster that is life, at least for a little while.

Lady, in Waiting

This got released on February 14, and the evening before, I survived a live reading on Facebook. It wasn't that bad - at least, I think it wasn't, I'm not watching it - and it always surprises me after the fact that I get so worked up over doing them.

I also was interviewed on the Joined Up Writing podcast about the new release, and my transition from small press published to being an indie author. Check it out here if you're interested.

My Sister's Child

Completely finished going over this draft, tweaked it a bit, and sent advance copies to several people who have offered to give me quotes for the cover. This is the nerve-wracking part, folks, letting real writers read my unpublished stuff.

Since I had to turn Sisters into a Kindle-ready book to send to them, I also loaded it onto my own Kindle for another read, because your eyes catch different things in different formats. In ebook, I notice repetitive words and excess words far more than I do on the screen of my computer. So it's undergoing another round of tidying.

The sequel is almost completely planned (as much as I plan). I've done most of the research for national and local events which will affect my characters, and I've got the high and low points of the story marked down. They will connect themselves as I write. I'm not sure how I know this - it's part of the magic.

Songbird and A Wider World

Nothing new to report. Still marketing both, and Songbird did have an unexpected number of sales in February, which is good because even though the books can be read as standalones, it is the entry point to the series for those who read in order. Hopefully, these new readers will keep going.

Once these final edits of Sisters are dealt with, I'll start working on the audiobook for A Wider World. I have the files; I just need to learn how to make them sound as good as they can. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Video of Live Reading

 


And here it is - the video of my live reading from A Wider World and Lady, in Waiting. It ran a little longer than expected, because I did Margaery's introduction from the previous book and also answered a few questions at the end.


Let me know what you think!

Friday, February 11, 2022

Live reading!

 

Okay, folks, it's happening again. I'm doing a live reading from Lady, in Waiting on Sunday, February 13, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. eastern.

I wasn't certain I would do a reading again - before it was mandated by the publisher, so I had to - but it turns out I kind of enjoy the terror in a strange way, so...

There's no point in having stage fright for only a few people.

Sunday is the Super Bowl. I'm not watching, but many of you are, so you can always tune in for the replay. Also, if it's at all an issue, I promise to be done by half time.

The link for the event is here.

If you have any questions you'd like answered, please post them here or on the event page on Facebook, because if I'm wearing the glasses that allow me to read from the Kindle, I won't be seeing what pops up on my phone screen.

I may be wrong, but I don't think you need a Facebook account to watch. (If it doesn't work, watch this space instead - unless it's a total trash fire, I'll be posting the video here within a few days of the reading.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Chapter One

 

One week out!

Because I love free samples (the "look inside the book" feature is the best thing Amazon's ever done), below is Chapter One of Lady, in Waiting.

I hope you enjoy the beginning of Margaery's story, and if you're so inclined, you can check out the rest here.

###

If my father hadn’t lost his head, my life would be very different. In point of fact, he did not lose his head; it was severed from his body with three strokes of an ax.

I should know. I was there.

One day I was a happy child, the center of a loving family, and the next my father was dragged from the house, accused of treason, and executed. My family left England, and I grew to womanhood far from home.

With such uncertain beginnings, a young woman might find herself capable of anything. She might wish to escape her situation so badly that she proposes marriage to a man she’s just met, thinking it will give her some measure of control over her life.

#

Less than a week after our wedding, my husband left for England. My grandmother and I followed on the next ship.

We had been out of England eighteen years, during which time Winterset had become Robin Lewis’s home. It was one of the reasons I married him. When he first appeared at our isolated home in Normandy, I resented his presence, but I quickly realized he was a solution, not another problem: he was more acceptable than the men put forward by my mother and her husband, and if I married him, my grandmother could return to her beloved estate.

Tall and bony, with red hair gone thin in the back and a decided way about him, Robin was not my dream husband, but then I’d never dreamed of marriage. I knew only the sort of man I did not want, and if Mama had her way, those men would soon be lining up in the lane, eager to claim my inheritance.

Family money aside, most men wouldn’t consider me a prize. While I was young, and looked well enough, I had been raised away from society and my manners showed it. I read books that young ladies did not read. My opinions were strong, and I had been known to raise my voice in company and interrupt my betters.

Such behavior was not cherished by my mother, and my stepfather found me troublesome in the extreme. He tried various methods to break my will, and I ran away to my grandparents after one incident, having forced a stable lad to swap clothes so I could travel unnoticed.

After close questioning, my grandfather declined to return me to their care. With my grandfather, I could live as I pleased—within reason. After his death, Grand-mère deflected my mother’s marital plans until I made one of my own. Then she fell in with my scheme, deeming it no worse than theirs, and possibly—when she realized we would return to England—far better.

Robin was the one who balked. He claimed to be too old and set in his ways, and that I would not be happy. I bribed him with Winterset, and a promise not to disturb the peaceful life he’d built there. I was an heiress, I blithely assured him, and could make a new marriage when he died of old age.

But I didn’t want that. I didn’t know Robin well—he did not allow himself to be easily known—but I liked him. In time, I thought we could learn to care for each other.

#

Saturday, February 5, 2022

I've got mail!

 

There's something special about book mail. Any book mail.

When it's your own book mail, it's even more special. 

Yesterday I received my author copies of Lady, in Waiting, in addition to a box of Songbird - only had one copy left, and I'd like to be prepared for people who want to purchase the entire set.

I just love seeing all the covers together! The font (which is called Gondola, by the way) is as much a part of them as the actual ceiling art.

Signed copies of any of my books are available for $15 each, including shipping (same as Amazon, but with a signature and a bookmark!)



Wednesday, February 2, 2022

January Roundup

 

This has been an interesting month. Sometimes I feel like a lot got done, and other times I feel like I've been spinning my wheels and spattering myself and my surroundings with mud.

But here goes. Accountability for the win:

Lady, in Waiting

1. Got the e-book uploaded and set up a pre-order. (You can get yours here).

2. Finished working with formatting friend and got the print book uploaded and set up for order. (Link above).

3. Did an abundance of scheduled social media posts for January and into February to make the world aware of its existence. (How can anyone not know by now? I feel like it's all I talk about.)

My Sister's Child

1. Edited 38 out of 44 chapters. Will finish these edits by end of first week of February and then put this book to rest for a while.

2. Mostly planned out the sequel. Mostly. I'm not a natural outliner, but the story has some shape and I'm trying to work with it. If I have hooks and some wire, I'll have something to hang the rest of the story on.

Songbird

1. Audible finally transferred the audiobook back to me, so my narrator and I got together to change the opening and closing credits. I learned how to upload an audiobook to Audible and Findaway Voices, which will distribute the audio to everyplace BUT Audible (including your library, if you ask them to buy it).

2. Asked my cover artist to update the audiobook cover to remove publisher name. Re-uploaded cover art to Audible/Findaway.

A Wider World

1. Audiobook isn't mastered yet, but nevertheless got updated cover so it's ready when I am.

Looking forward to February 14 and getting Lady, in Waiting out into the world!

Monday, January 31, 2022

Happy birthday to me

I'll let you in on a little secret. It's easy to give a gift to a writer.

You don't have to buy their books (although you could, and they would be endlessly grateful).

Here's what you can do to make a writer happy that won't cost you a dime:

If you've read one of their books, leave a review somewhere - Amazon, Goodreads, even just on your own social media.

Share the writer's social media posts. In a world full of books, word-of-mouth is still the best way for a reader to find their next read.

Libraries are how most writers learned to love books, and we don't mind library sales at all. Ask your local library to order your favorite format - most indie authors have books available in ebook and paper, and some have audiobooks as well (working on that - Songbird is done, A Wider World is in the works). The library buys the book, the writer earns royalties, and you - and other borrowers - get free books! 

 

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.

Characters

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.