Sunday, July 5, 2020

Giving Thanks

I know–it's not Thanksgiving.

But it is Independence Day Weekend. It's time to give thanks for being raised in this country. When I was a kid, living in the country, we just had sparklers for fireworks. It wasn't until I moved to Washington, DC, while in my 20s, that I saw real fireworks. The show during the celebration of our nation's 200th anniversary, in 1976, has never been duplicated, at least in my mind.

This year, it's not safe to gather for a big fireworks display, so my dog, Mary, and I are staying home and hunkering down. We'll stay safe and count our blessings. Mary's thankful for the new FreshPet Chicken bits I bought for her, since she no longer is interested in dry food. I'm thankful I can work from home and only wander out to the grocery and the dump. I'm thankful to my loyal fans who have been waiting for two years for the Revolutionary Women series to be published. I hope the wait was worthwhile. I love each of my spunky heroines. They would have contributed to the cause of freedom, for sure.

We are facing new challenges to that freedom today. As Ben Franklin said about the type of government we had, so long ago. "It's a Republic, if you can keep it."

We are trying, Ben.

I'm thankful that my voice counts, as small as it is. I can peacefully protest, even though that's been called into question lately. I will wear my mask in public, not question the choices of others, and cast my vote in November. That's my right and for that, I'm thankful. 

Happy Independence Day Weekend, everyone!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Virtually Speaking

It's been a busy week with the whirlwind tour accompanying the release of A British Heiress in America. In years past, I would have appeared at the local bookstore, shook hands and shared hugs with readers, signed copies of my print books. Not this year.

No, this year, my launch took place while sitting in my Carolina Room in the lovely Sandhills region of North Carolina. But that didn't make things less complicated. It presented an entirely different way of doing things. In the publishing world, what worked when your last book was released may not work today since the playing field keeps evolving. But not even the shifting sands of publishing saw the Corona virus completely upsetting the way we do things. So my virtual tour consisted of press releases, guest posts, and sending out review copies. Here's a list of some of the places where I've been this week:

Additionally, I've been all over Twitter and Facebook. My good friend, Miranda Liasson, featured me on her Facebook page and it was fun to chat with my old friends from NEORWA. The special offer from my newsletter this past week is still open, so if you received my newsletter, look again.

While it may be a different way of doing things this time around, my dog, Mary, is enjoying not having to share me with others. She's a big fan of sitting on our new swing and watching the golfers.  I hope you enjoy Pippa's story while I get back to my editing of the final book in the series, which will be out in January, 2021. Hopefully by that time, I'll be able to do a live tour instead of a virtual one.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Revolution Continues

I'm often asked why I choose to write about history. If you judge my interest based on my grades in college, you'd wonder at my choice. But I've always believed history is more about the lives of the persons living through it than it is about dates and battles. I blame it on the Titanic, really. I knew about the sinking of the great ship, but being aware of the weight, the year, the amount of time it took to sink didn't give me a sense of what truly happened. It took the story about Jack and Rose to do so.

It's the same with American history. It's not about the battles, but it is about people. Ordinary people, living in extraordinary times. People whose lives never made it into the history books, but who were essential to the outcome of their time. I insist that my books contain historical events, not merely as a backdrop to the story, but as an integral part of it.

In my new book, A British Heiress in America, I relate the origin of Evacuation Day, which is celebrated annually by the folks living in Boston. I was surprised to learn over a thousand residents of Boston took part in assembling the fifty-odd cannons and placing them on Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston Harbor which was full of British war ships. The Brits were so nervous about the firepower pointed at them, they moved the fleet out of the harbor and to Nova Scotia. What they didn't realize was the cannons were all for show. Some were not cannons at all, but logs painted black to resemble cannons, at least from a distance. And those that were cannons had no balls or gunpowder to back them up. It was a huge bluff from the Americans, but had the desired effect.

Recent events on the political stage have put our nation's beginnings into focus, and made me wonder if it's not time to rectify things. After all, the signers of the Declaration of Independence were all white men. Women, people of color, people of a different sexual orientation, have all had to fight for their rights after the fact. Judging from the peaceful protests now taking place in our nation, the fight is nowhere near over. We must evolve with the times. The war is not over. I feel it's just beginning. And, years from now, when another author writes an historical novel, I pray she'll see it through the eyes of ordinary people living in these extraordinary times.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Shifting Focus

My 20th book is about to be released, during the year 2020. I'm trying to let that sink in for a bit.

But even if it is my 20th book, I still have to promote it, so it's time to shift my focus from writing to promotion. And since it's been a couple of years since I released anything new, the shifting sands of the publishing world have made the marketing of this book as difficult as my very first one. Sites with great reputations have grown even mightier, which translates to more money in the promo budget in order to pay to play. This sites I relied on only a few years ago have gone belly-up. There's a constant argument on the value of Facebook ads versus Amazon ads. Viral tours are the only way to go now, especially during a pandemic, so instead of talking to potential readers face-to-face, I'm now setting up blog tours.

Since this book is the first in my new series, I'm especially pleased that it's finally here. The series title, Revolutionary Women, was recommended to me by my best friend, and heralds a trio of stories about the part women played in the Revolutionary War. We hear a lot about our Founding Fathers, but rarely about the women who stood shoulder to shoulder with them during those turbulent times. 

I hope you'll enjoy going back in time to an era when our country was new, bold and brassy. I certainly have enjoyed spending my days there as I wrote this trilogy. Pick up your copy of A British Heiress in America here:

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Troubling Times

I try not to mix business with politics, but the events of the past weeks have made it imperative for me, as an author of American historical, to weigh in.

As a product of the 60s, and having lived in DC for years, I've participated in several protests during my lifetime. The most recent one was a year ago–a small, peaceful protest in the downtown section of my small North Carolina town. This past week, I was once again tempted to join the other protestors and have a voice in America's future. This is especially important to me, since I write about the men and women of the Revolutionary War. However, my age and COVID have made me stop and reconsider joining the throngs of others. Social distancing remains in place in the Lower household. Mary and I are still hunkering down.

But that doesn't mean I am staying quiet. My senators and my house representative have all received correspondence from me voicing my concerns, and I've written letters to the editor of my local paper. There are many ways to make one's voice heard. So, if joining the brave throngs of people in the streets who are facing down the police who use muscle, horsepower, tear gas and flash bombs to maintain 'order' among the peaceful demonstrators is something you consider too dangerous, you can still make an impression. Let the people who represent you know how you feel, and demand their accountability. And then back up your actions with casting your vote in November.

Make our founding fathers proud that we are continuing their "grand experiment." A British Heiress in America is now available for pre-order!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A British Heiress in America Cover Debut!

I don't know about you, but one of my pet peeves when it comes to covers is when the hero and heroine on the cover in no way resemble the hero and heroine in the book. And any author out there who fills out a cover art info sheet for a publisher or who is responsible for putting together their own cover, knows how hard it is to get the image you've been living with in your head for months or years to translate onto the cover.

For the cover of the first book in my new Revolutionary War series, I am lucky enough to work with a publisher who allows me to have a say in what pictures I want to consider. I have spent hours on the various images for sale sites, culling through thousands of pictures to find just the right one. I found a picture that I really liked, but the heroine is a blonde. She plays well against the dark and brooding hero, but my heroine had dark hair. I asked the cover artist to change the hair color. The only problem was the hair style on the lady was so complex and there were so many wisps going in every direction that it became impossible to change. So we decided to do the obvious and change her hair color in the book from dark to light. A simple Find and Replace did the trick and voila! My heroine is now a blonde. The book will be released on June 25. Here's the cover, for your viewing pleasure:

And, here's an excerpt:

Off the Coast of England, 1775

The minute the ship began to move out of the docks, Pippa’s courage faltered, as if it took a swan dive over the railing and began dog paddling toward the pilings. The shores of her home country faded in the distance, along with her ability to change her course. She desperately wanted a cheroot but couldn’t light up and give herself away even if she had one. Instead, she curled up between the water barrels and closed her eyes, hoping her stomach would settle if she didn’t witness the rocking of the ship. She let the up and down motion lull her into a stupor.
“Blimey! What ‘ave we here?” One of the crew of the Gladys Maria jostled a barrel away, exposing Pippa’s hiding place. She fell backward, hitting her head on the deck, the sun blinding her. She winced, at both the crack to her head, and at the harsh sunlight. One hand shielded her eyes, the other cradled the back of her head, leaving her body exposed.
A swift kick in Pippa’s ribs made her yelp in pain. She curled into a ball, but meaty hands grabbed at her and forced her to her feet. She doubled over and grabbed her midsection, retching.
“Well, iffen it ain’t a little stowaway.” The deckhand laughed as he grabbed the back of Pippa’s shirt and tugged her upright. “Cap’n will not be pleased to see the likes of you.”
Pippa swallowed her bile and struggled as the man grabbed her trousers as well as the nape of her shirt and half-carried her below deck. “I can walk by meself, guv’ner.” She intentionally lowered her voice, but still it sounded more like a socialite than a boy to her ears. Could she pull this off? Her limbs were shaking so badly she wasn’t at all certain she could walk by herself.
He dropped her to the floor once they got below deck but still kept a hand at the nape of her shirt, bunching the fabric in his large hand. “So, walk then, laddie.” He shoved her forward, and she stumbled, but kept her balance.
He’d called her a lad. She blew out a breath. At least one man bought her disguise.
“Where to?” As if she had a say in the matter.
He grabbed her arm and hurried their pace. “To the captain’s quarters. That’s where we take all the stowaways.”
She trembled but wrenched her arm away from his grasp. “How many of us are there?”
“Yer the first one I’ve come across this trip, but there’ve been others.” She glanced at the deckhand. His grizzly face was bearded, his sneer revealed a shiny gold tooth, and his matted hair fell to his shoulders. He made her insides quake. Definitely, he was the most fearful person she’d ever come into contact with. “’Tis a pity we’re so far out to sea already. We coulda just tossed you back into the harbor a couple hours ago.”
Pippa couldn’t stop the full body tremor that pulsed through her. She didn’t know how to swim. Young ladies of the Ton didn’t partake in such foolishness. She took a deep breath and faced forward. Not being able to swim was the least of her concerns right now. She had an appointment with the captain, and her fate awaited.
The gnarly deckhand stopped in front of a door and knocked once.
He opened the door and shoved Pippa inside before he followed.
“I was just about to crack open one of them water barrels when I found this mongrel, hiding in the middle.” He clutched her arm again.
As if she could have escaped this small room, with the deckhand standing in front of the door and the captain staring at her as if she were a bug he wished to squash. She held her breath.
“Nice work, Ben. Leave the boy here. I’ll decide what to do with him.” The captain rounded his desk and continued to stare at her. She stared back. English society had thus far limited her to dancing in ballrooms and charming various titled gentlemen, and she was ill-equipped to deal with the likes of the rugged-looking captain. His face was tanned, his body muscled, and altogether, he was the most handsome man she’d ever met. His jawline could slice paper, his blue eyes matched the sea.
Pippa expelled a breath, feeling the walls of the cabin close in. She’d never been alone in a room with a man before. Of course, her first experience would have to be with the most handsome man ever, and she in disguise as a boy. A disguise she needed to keep up for the duration of the voyage. In the ballroom, members of the Ton applauded her using her feminine wiles on a man, but in this case, those tools would not work. She couldn’t charm her way out of her situation.

Pippa is one of my favorite heroines of all time. She steals cheroots wherever she can, and is a bit of an impetuous person. I like to think I'd have done the same, had I been living during those days. I hope this excerpt has intrigued you, and that you'll order your copy when it is released. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Nose to the Grindstone

It's been raining here for four days now. My little swing out back is totally waterlogged, so Mary and I have been forced to stay indoors. Which is good for getting things done. I finished proofing the galley for A British Heiress in America, wrote 1,000 words a day on the ghostwriting job, and completed my required number of articles for the internet. Things started dropping off my to-do list left and right.

I start each Sunday by creating a to-do list for the week. This includes things relating to my writing life, as well as personal things, like writing thank you notes and dropping things off at the post office. This morning, when I came up with my to-do list, it seemed short. Instead of reveling in the fact I had little that needed accomplished this week, I added another item. And then one after that. Somehow, working under pressure makes the jobs get done faster. I need to wrap the final story in the Revolutionary War series, finish the ghostwriting job, and write my prescribed number of articles. And when I finish those little chores, there's the other low-hanging fruit hanging so close and tempting me daily.

We'll see how it goes. The quicker I can get things done, the more time I'll have for the new project.