Sunday, September 27, 2020

A British Courtesan in America

Lately, I've been obsessed with the Revolutionary War, which brings what's happening in the United States today into sharp focus. Reading about the monumental struggles young America faced, trying to wrest control from a monarch puts the tenuous grasp on democracy we hold today into sharp focus. I began this journey when I realized I loved the time period in the world's history, but I didn't love writing about Regency England. Instead, I'm importing my heroines from England, saving them, one at a time, from a life of rules and decorum, and plunking them into early America, where they come into their own. The second book in the series is A British Courtesan in America. Here's a sneak peek of the cover: 




And here's a bit from the book: 

 Anjanette’s body finally unclenched after six weeks aboard ship. She took a long, cleansing breath as the last of the first-class passengers departed the ship. It would soon be her turn to leave. She’d kept a low profile during the entire voyage and successfully traversed the Atlantic without her identity being uncovered. Her dresses, though well made, were modest and serviceable. She kept her hair in a chignon with no adornments. If anything, she had become a chameleon, imitating the other second-class passengers to better blend in. 

She gathered her possessions and placed them back into her satchel. She fingered her favorite necklace, the last piece of jewelry her final benefactor, Atticus Wexford, had given her. 

“Thank you, darling, for giving me the gift of my freedom.” She wiped the tears from her cheeks and took a deep breath. Atticus had given her far more than a necklace. He had given her the ability to reset her life. To begin anew. They’d been making plans to leave England behind, just as soon as he completed his final mission for the government. Neither ever imagined his final mission would be his last, ever. Fortunately, he had revised his will, leaving her his entire fortune. She wiped her final tears away.


She packed away the necklace along with her old identity. Anjanette Shelby, the most coveted courtesan in all of London, was no more. Liberty Wexford was about to disembark and live out the rest of her days in colonial America. Suddenly, the cabin was too confining, the ship was too small. She needed to breathe in the free air of America. 


The ship steward stood next to the ramp, ticking the names of the passengers off the manifest. He glanced at her and smiled. “Miss Shelby, I didn’t see much of you during the voyage. Did you fare well, or were you suffering from seasickness?” 


She returned his smile. This steward had been kind to her during her trip. “Some, at the beginning of the voyage, but I had a lot of reading to do. Thank you for asking, James.”

 

“Well, you’re free to go. Enjoy your stay in Boston, Miss Shelby.” 


Free to go. 


She glanced at the steward. “Can you recommend some accommodations?”


“Yes, there’s a really nice hotel, The Hartford, just up the street a few blocks.” He motioned to the cobblestoned street leading away from the busy dock. “I can arrange to have your trunks delivered there.” 


“That would be wonderful. Thank you.” This young man had done his best to assure she had a good trip. She poked her fingers into her reticule and brought forth some bills, which she handed to him. His smile grew even larger.


He called after her. “Goodbye, Miss Shelby.” 


She glanced back at him and waved as she whispered, “It’s no longer Miss Shelby. I’m Liberty Wexford now.” 


Her steps were light as she touched the cobblestones, although it took her a few minutes to adjust to being on land again. Were it not for the spectacle she would cause, she’d fall to her knees and kiss the street. Even though the cobblestoned streets and the buildings hugging the sides of the road gave the appearance of any of a number of cities in England, this was America. She had a clean slate here. She straightened her hat, shifted her bag from one hand to the other, and set off for the hotel the steward had suggested. After she found lodging, she’d find a job. 


Boston should look out. Libby Wexford just landed. 


The book should be available for pre-orders sometime this week. I hope your appetite has been whetted and you'll place A British Courtesan in America on the top of your TBR pile.

 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Keeping Going

My recent health issues have had the residual effect of not being able to concentrate on one thing for long before the next shiny object catches my attention. For most people, this would be a real problem, but for a writer, that means I can float from one project to the next without remorse. 



At the risk of sounding like a politician, I am enjoying this phase of my recovery. I had been kicking around an idea for a big book that incorporates the lives of many generations of a family. The idea itself was a bit overpowering, but if I only work on it for fifteen minutes at a time, it doesn't seem so enormous. Combined with my freelance work, and promoting my Revolutionary Women books, I'm finding this new approach to working refreshing. We'll see how long it lasts. 

Here's a sneak peek at the cover for my next book in the Revolutionary Women series. I really enjoyed writing Libby's story. Hope you enjoy it too. 



Saturday, September 12, 2020

Racing Hearts

 As a romance writer, my books contain descriptions of racing hearts, broken hearts, etc. In the course of my lifetime I've had my heart broken a time or two, but it never raced. Until now. 



I spent two days in the hospital this week. Rapid heart beat and high blood pressure were causing me to get very dizzy. After a myriad of tests, I am pleased to report all my internal parts are in good shape, but I need medication to keep my pressure under control. 

One of the meds I had prescribed was for a medication that would coat my stomach to make the pills easier to digest. I woke up yesterday morning with chills, nausea, vomiting and the dreaded diarrhea. I read the info sheet from the drugs I got and the stomach coating one was responsible for all of my discomfort. The on-call doctor agreed with me to stop taking that one, so I did, and I'm much better now. But this will be a short post this week, so I can head to bed. 

Hope you're all coping well during this pandemic and the wall-to-wall political ads. I'm trying to not watch so much news, in order to keep my BP under control. 


Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Evolution of a Cover

 

  

If you spend any time on Amazon scrolling through the millions of available books, you know the value of a good cover. A great design can catch your attention and stop the scrolling for a minute so you can study the cover and read the blurb. The cover is what pumps the brakes and the blurb is what convinces you to buy. These are the two most important parts of any book. Because you need to make someone push the button to buy your book before they can delve into it. And if a reader passes you by, they'll never get to enjoy the story you've worked so hard on. 

There are so many things to take into account when creating a cover. I spend hours culling through stock images, looking for just the right person or couple. One of my good friends has a pet peeve with hair color on the covers. It has to match the description of the characters or she throws the book across the room. So, I'm very conscious of hair color when I'm picking out my models. After all, PhotoShop can work wonders, but if you have a heroine with wispy hair, it's almost impossible to change the hair. My publisher and I decided recently that the blonde model on the cover of A British Heiress in America (at right) could not be changed to a brunette, so I had to change the hair color in the book. 

As an example of a changing cover design, I offer up one of my favorite books of all time–Blame It On The Brontes. This was a challenging book to write, since it told an over-arcing story from the viewpoint of the three sisters involved. Three separate stories from three points of view telling one story. Up until I wrote this story, I'd only written historical, so this contemporary was a real change of pace. However, my first cover attempt looked more historical than contemporary, and confused my faithful readers. 


So, after hearing complaints that this didn't give the right image, I asked for the cover to be changed. Since my three ladies had totally distinct personalities, I thought three pairs of shoes that would mirror their striking differences would be perfect. It didn't exactly work out like I had anticipated and my publisher turned a deaf ear to my complaints about cover 2. Better but not quite what I envisioned. 

I wasn't able to get the cover I'd always thought this book needed until I got the rights back from the publisher and was able to buy the exact look I'd envisioned. Here's the final version of this cover. 



Which version is your favorite? Would any of these covers make you stop and read the blurb? And better yet, make you buy the book? 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Knowing When to Pull the Plug

 I had a conversation with a writer friend a few nights ago. She's struggling with a manuscript she's working on and we got to reminiscing about those manuscripts we've written and then shoved under the bed, never to see the light of day. Sometimes you know within the first couple chapters that this was a bad idea, or sometimes it's the same story that you have written six ways to Sunday but it's never quite good enough. Regardless of when it happens, there's always a point in the story when a writer stops and says to herself, "Do I go on with this or not?" 


I've been putting off writing my latest story idea, too. The premise is there, and I love the idea. I just don't know if I'm going to be able to pull it off. If I pull the plug before doing little more than starting, I'll never know. I can keep ignoring it, but every morning, it's there, on my desktop, a fairly empty file folder, waiting for me to do something with it or throw it under the bed. Next week, I promise, I'll get back on it...

I am reminded of when I was little and I had a bad dream, which I swear to this day was real. My hand had fallen over the side of the bed in my sleep, and someone underneath the bed was trying to pull me out of my bed and underneath with them.


I fought like hell, and for years afterward could not walk to the side of the bed and crawl in. No, I had to take a leap from across the room and land on the mattress. It's taken me years to not be afraid of what's under the bed. Except now I know there can't be any bad folks under there, just bad ideas.

How about you? What's under your bed?


Sunday, August 23, 2020

On To The Next Thing

 Two things happened this past week that have affected my daily routine. For the better, I hope. 

First, I finished the last book in my Revolutionary War trilogy and sent it off to my publisher. So I won't be hanging around with the Sons of Liberty every morning now and raising hell. Kind of sad, since the  Sons of Liberty appeal to my rebellious nature.


Second, the company I've been freelancing with for the past year or so has been affected by COVID and has cancelled some of their not-so-profitable lines. Unfortunately, my articles are part of that not-so-profitable part of their service, so once we writers work through what's left, that's it. I'd been expecting this to happen, since the articles I'm writing are advertising for various services, none of which are being utilized during a pandemic. Still, when the word finally came down, I had to take a deep breath and try to figure out what to do next. The articles were not hard to write, but they were time-consuming, even though they did provide a nice income stream.

So, what have I come up with?

Well, first, I have a big story idea, and knowing it's a big idea, I figure it'll take a year or more to write. So, I'll work on that while I promote my Rev War series. Maybe I can even use some of my research on the Sons of Liberty in part of the new venture. We'll see. 

Second, I'm still ghostwriting a series for my new friend from the UK. I don't know how much more he'll want from me, though, so I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket. I need to find another income stream. 

I've got a couple places to look for work this week, butI'm open to any ideas. 

Will keep you informed...




Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Passing of Time

 I was watching one of those insipid game shows the other day. I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about. Everyone wears a t-shirt with something written on it, hoping they'll get noticed by the producers and get plucked from the audience and get up on stage so they can win prizes. A woman had a shirt showing the years going from 49 to 50. When the emcee asked if it was her birthday, she said it would be sometime this year. She was obviously going to celebrate this milestone event all year long. I applauded her, since I'm a big fan of birthdays. Or rather, birthday celebrations. 



Since I've gotten to a certain age, beyond where the woman on the game show happened to be, I've started celebrating my birthday the entire month of May. And I encourage all my friends to celebrate for the whole month of their birth. My best friend has a birthday this month. Even though she stubbornly holds onto the belief that only one day of the month is special, I've tried the last couple of years to soften her up. I start by sending a card at the beginning of the month. Then, about a week prior to the actual day, I send a second. The third one is sent in the package with her presents. And, if I can get to the card store in time, I end the month with one final card. 


Did I ever mention I used to work for both Hallmark and American Greetings? I love cards. 

So, how about you? How do you celebrate your birthday? Just the one day? The month? The entire year? Or do you ignore it altogether?