Sunday, October 18, 2020

Going In Another Direction

 As most of you know, I had to go car shopping again, due to a disastrous encounter with a semi-truck. I've owned a Jeep for decades, so of course, I went to my comfort zone when looking for a replacement to my Renegade. 

What happened next surprised me. 

I checked out the used and new Jeeps on the lot and nothing spoke to me. I was extremely frustrated, but my salesman was not. He asked me to expand my horizons and to trust him, both of which I am usually loathe to do. So I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and told him to surprise me. Here's the result: 

Yes, it's an adorable Mini Cooper! 

After years of driving a silver car, the color of this one is called "Coffee." And it's the farthest thing from a Jeep. I've gone sporty instead of utilitarian. 

Maybe it's time to do the same with my writing. I turned in the last book in my Revolutionary Women trilogy, which will be released in January. When my publisher asked me what was next, I had no answer. Which translates to--it's a perfect time to stretch my creativity into something new. 

As Rachel Maddow says, "Watch this space." 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

What's In a Name?

 Like most authors, I spend a considerable amount of time thinking up names for my characters. In fact, the main character in my most recent book, A British Courtesan in America goes through several names in an attempt to mask her identity. Coming up with suitable names is one of the most fun parts of starting any story. 

But how about names when it comes to a car? I've never been the kind of person who assigns a pet name for my cars. I let the manufacturers do that. But my cars do seem to have an identity. When I was in my 20s and about to buy my first-ever car, I wanted to get a Jeep, which I viewed as a quintessential American car. My mother said I should get something a bit less masculine than a Wrangler and steered me to a Toyota. 

Years later, it came time to buy a new car, and I did what I always wanted. I bought a Jeep. Not a Wrangler, but a Liberty. It spoke volumes to me, and not just about how liberating it was to finally buy the make of car I'd always wanted. It was rugged, reliable, and strong, just as its name implied. I was sorry to have to get rid of it after thirteen years of service. 

I bought a newer and smaller Jeep this time. A Renegade. A friend of mine told me it was descriptive of my personality. I'd eschewed joining a sorority in college in favor of belonging to the Students for a Democratic Society. I write about the Sons of Liberty in my Revolutionary Women series, the bad boys of the Revolution. So a Renegade seems to have fit. However, unfortunately even a Renegade loses when it's hit by a semi-truck. 

So, I'm once again in the market for a new-to-me vehicle. The one that's caught my eye this time is a Patriot. Seems fitting, in these perilous political times. I'll let you know. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Karma Or Plot Twist?

 I try not to mix politics with my authorly correspondence, but the events of this week are the stuff of a good suspense novel and too good to pass up. The professional political correspondents are calling the influx of Covid among the Republican loyalists as karma, but we novelists are calling it a plot twist. 

A plot twist, by definition, is an "unexpected development in a novel." In politics, it's called an "October Surprise." However you define it doesn't really matter. It's what comes next that is intriguing. 

My author friends and I have spent the last few days coming up with all kinds of "what comes next scenarios." So far, we have about four different ways this could go. I'd love for all the Tom Clancy or James Patterson aficionados to weigh in and give me your ideas. 

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? 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Satisfying Cravings

So far, I've managed to avoid the COVID Ten, those extra pounds that some folks put on during their enforced isolation. I've worked very hard to remove excess baggage on my person during the first half of the year, and don't want to slide the other way. But then, I discovered Peanut Butter Sundae ice cream. Thankfully, it's only a seasonal flavor, so it will be gone from the store shelves soon. But for a peanut butter fan like myself, it's the only ice cream flavor that makes sense.

I get cravings in my writing life, too. always wanted to write a story about mail order brides, but never quite got it going until I discovered ghost writing. I'm now in the process of putting together my fifth novella about a mail order bride. It's satisfying my craving to write in this genre without all the money and hassle that comes with producing it under my own name. My satisfaction comes in the form of payment up front for my work. 

I just put the finishing touches on the final book in the Revolutionary War trilogy, so I am wondering where to go next with my work. Shall I dip my toe again into Contemporary, which is still so popular? Is there a way to combine my love of history with a Contemporary story line? How about a female history professor who unearths something startling when she decides to explore her ancestry? It could be fun. I'll have to give it some more thought. 

I get cravings in my reading, too. You would think, with this enforced isolation, I'd be ahead of my goal of reading 50 books this year, but I can't seem to lose myself in a book. I pick them up, read a couple chapters, and put them back down. I'm craving a series where I can totally immerse myself and not have to worry about the state of our union. So far, though, no luck. 

What are you reading these days? Recommendations, please.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

It Could Be Worse

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Not only can I escape the current situation we Americans find ourselves in by losing myself in a book, I also have the ability to write my own books and can create my own worlds. 

It may seem like a great idea to leave this current situation behind and run back in time, there are some things that need to be considered first. When I write my historical books, I tend to spend very little time talking about how people performed the basic functions of bathing, going to the bathroom, catching or growing their food, Although they were basic necessities, they aren't glamorous, and they have no place in a feel-good romance. 

I was reminded of that fact the other day, in conversation with a friend who had just finished reading my latest book, A British Heiress in America. The heroine, Pippa, has a penchant for cheroots, thin, dainty cigars. While in today's world, a woman smoking tobacco is commonplace, in the late 1700s, it was never done, so she has to pilfer her cheroots anywhere she can. 

My friend asked how Pippa could have possibly gotten away with it without anyone noticing, since the cigar smell is pungent and tends to cling to one's body and clothing. Her comment then led to a discussion about all the other odors emanating from a person's body during this era and how the scent of a good cheroot might be welcome since it would mask all the others. 

So, when this world we're currently living in gets you down, think about all the good things it offers.
Count your blessings. 
 And flush the toilet. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Have Some Pie

In my youth, my older sister and I were responsible for preparing the family dinners. She usually did the main cooking and I made the desserts. I enjoyed baking, but my skills, as a ten-year-old, were pretty basic. I made cookies and tapioca pudding, that type of baking.

So, I realized I needed help when my writing and my story lines took me to pioneer baking. I'm working on two manuscripts simultaneously, and both of them involved baking pies, of which I know nothing. It was time to call in the big guns. One of my writing buddies is a pie-maker extraordinaire. She shows off her pie-making capabilities on her Facebook page, and I drool over them. Unfortunately, she lives on the other side of the continent, so I've not been able to taste any of her creations, but when I needed some assistance in my fictional pie-baking, she was there for me.

Together, we created a strawberry pie for my hero to enjoy while the heroine was convincing him to let her stay on the farm and help out. After all, the way to a man's heart, and all that...

Hopefully, the hero will realize the heroine is more than a pretty pie. Thank you, Micah, for all the help.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

We're All In This Together

I don't know about you, but I've been hearing from my family and friends on a regular basis these days. If it's done nothing else good, at least the Corona Virus has brought my family closer. We have weekly phone call check-ins now, to make certain everyone is still safe and healthy. And my friends, who are the family I've chosen, not the one I was born into, all check in several times a week, so we can stay abreast of each other and our emotions as we roll along through this crisis.

This past week, I heard from my 85-year-old uncle in Ohio. The last time we talked was months ago. 

So, silver lining to this madness. I'll take it. 

In times such as we're currently living through, it's family and friends that can get you to the other side. I feel a circling of the wagons taking place in America. Stay safe and wear your mask. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Bring On The Heat

It's summer in the south...need I say more?

It you're addicted to the HGTV show HomeTown, like so many of my friends are, you know how hot southern summers can be. Poor Ben can't get through a day without his shirt being soaking wet from his sweat within minutes.

But I'm talking here about another kind of heat. Here's part of a review from my latest book, A British Heiress in America:

 In some of Becky Lower's hottest writing to date, we see a British stowaway make her way to Boston in the heart of upheaval.

My best friend had an aunt named Dot who I had the pleasure of meeting a few years before she passed on. She was well into her 80s when we met, but she got a kick out of knowing an actual author and insisted on reading my books. Her only complaint about them was the sex part was boring and I should learn some new tricks. After reading this book, my friend said Aunt Dot would have been pleased. 

This is the start of a trilogy about three English ladies who, for differing reasons, reach the shores of America during the Revolutionary War. Book One sets the tone for the rest of the series, and if this one is considered hot, the rest of them should be as well. Especially the second one, which is entitled A British Courtesan in America. 

So, I've been spending this week, which is the hottest week of the year so far here in North Carolina, amping up the heat in my second book. Even in the A/C, it's getting hot in here. 

Any recommendations on how to cool off? 

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.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Lockdown Continues

Even though some of the restrictions in my state have been lifted, I am old enough to know better than to run out to a bar with no mask on and start partying. I'll stay at home a bit longer, thank you.

To make things easier, my birthday was this past week, and by a combination of gifts, I was able to purchase a free-standing swing for my back yard. The directions said it would only take 30 minutes to assemble and my handyman was out of town, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I ended up disassembling and reassembling it twice, since if there was a way to put things together backwards I found it. But I did it! Instead of thirty minutes, it took five days, but here it is:

From my new swing, my dog Mary and I can watch the golfers as they come by. My condo sits at the ladies' tee box of the 11th hole of the course, so we watch the golfers line up, critiquing their swings and their outfits. 

Somehow, staying at home just got a whole lot easier. Mary loves being outside, and I can get away from the computer screen for a while and read someone else's work. Until the weather changes and gets cold again, I'm all for continuing the lockdown from my swing. I hope you can find a way to relax and take in some fresh air, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Welcome to the 70s!

My brother and I were chatting a week or so ago, and he mentioned he was planning a cross-country road trip. His reasoning was because gas prices haven't been this low in ages. As he put it, "Gas is down to $1.50 a gallon and my hair's longer than it's been in years. Welcome to the 1970s."

Well put. The Age of Aquarius is upon us. The only thing missing is the Flower Children in Golden Gate Park. We're still a ways off from mass spontaneous crowd gathering.

I sometimes wonder if we'll ever return to the age of incense and peppermints. While I continue to hold out hope, I'll continue to hold my breath as well. In the meantime, I'll lose myself in the Revolutionary War, the western expansion, and a Steven King horror story. And venture out in my Survivor buff only when necessary. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Jumping Through Generations

I am usually a very linear writer. One book at a time, one scene at a time, always in logical sequence. Lately, though, I've been anything but linear and logical. Right now, I'm spending my time reworking a Mail Order Bride book set in the 1850s, winding up  my Revolutionary War trilogy set in the 1780s, and kicking around a contemporary seasoned romance, set in present day. As I jump from one project to another, I have to continually reset my brain to the era in which I'm writing. It's been challenging, but never boring. I picture myself wearing a cowboy hat, a tricorn hat, and a face mask, in order to get into the right mind set.

And, as for writing in sequence, that's flown out the window, too. A good writer friend, who writes scenes as she thinks of them and then puts them in sequence, advised me recently that I need to go back and work in some more scenes on the Rev War book. Which means writing out of sequence, since I was already wrapping the story up in my head. She was right, but it meant going back to the middle and adding in some layers, some scenes, to strengthen the story line. Talk about jumping off the precipice! My first attempt at adding a scene between what had already been written worked out well enough, but can I do it again?

We shall see.

How about you? Are you a linear writer or a scene writer? If you're not a writer, what type of reader are you? Do you read one book at a time, or do you have multiple books going simultaneously? I'm dying to hear.