Sunday, July 28, 2019

Kindle Countdown Deal!

This is the first time I've tried a Kindle Countdown Deal and it's for one of my favorite books, Blame It On The Brontes. From now until Tuesday, July 30, the price has been lowered to 99 cents for the ebook version. So, if you've been thinking about buying this one, now's the time.

            Sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne are back together again to eagerly dig into their dead mother’s fortune. 
         Only their mother has other plans for their contentious reunion. 
         Unknown to the trio, Mom decided her fortune wouldn’t be divided until one very critical thing happened. The sisters have to reunite in their childhood home for one year in Puffin Bay, Maine.
         And they have to get along. 
         But long-buried resentments, old rivalries, and would-be boyfriends are about to provoke their biggest feud yet, threatening the sisters’ financial claims and the lineage of a family that hasn’t known peace in decades. 
         Will a year be enough for three brash sisters to figure it all out? 


Charlotte raised her binoculars, searching the ocean for the only boat on the water that mattered to her. Nothing yet, but soon, The Brontëand Gray would be on their way home, to her. She really didn’t need visual proof that he was coming into shore. She could feel it in her gut. Goosebumps, which had nothing to do with the breeze wafting in from the water, dotted her skin.
Charlotte’s heart constricted with a twinge of loneliness. Her mother was gone forever. The keen sense of loss was something Gray would certainly understand. For the first time in her life, her mother would not inhabit the house with her, tidying the comfortable rooms, taking care of everyone and making them feel at home. She needed Gray to help take away the feeling she was all alone. She needed Gray, plain and simple.
For the next several days she would fulfill the role of hostess to her two sisters, who were returning home for the somber event of laying their mother to rest. As the eldest, Charlotte accepted the mantle that fell on her shoulders, although she was not happy about it. Their mother had been the one to keep the lines of communication open between the three of them, and Charlotte now wondered what would happen. Certainly, she had no plans to talk to her sisters, beyond what was necessary this week. 
She climbed over the wet, sun-bleached granite boulders ringing the shoreline. 
“Hi there, Char.” 
She gazed into the faded blue eyes of Puffin Bay’s oldest resident, Autry Jones. He sat in his usual summertime spot, on the slatted wooden bench in front of the post office. His white beard rested on his chest, and his captain’s hat shielded his eyes from the harsh glare of the sun. 
Charlotte smiled at the old codger. “Hey, Autry.” 
She had a lot to do before Gray’s boat arrived at the dock, but she always had time to talk to Autry. 
“The sea cough up anything for you today?” 
“No, nothing. But I wasn’t really searching for sea glass. I’m not going to have time to make any jewelry this week, what with everyone coming in for the funeral.” 
Charlotte lowered herself onto the bench beside him. Autry bumped his arm up against hers and tore his gaze away from the ocean. “One thing you don’t need to worry about is groceries this week. Mrs. Spradling headed to your house a bit earlier to drop off a mountain of food, as she does every time someone in this town passes. Sorry about your mom. Such a good woman.”
“Thank you. She was kind-hearted, even though she stuffed our childish heads with romantic nonsense. Hell, instead of hearing Dr. Seuss books when we were kids, we got yet another chapter of her favorite romance novel. And, every night after supper, Mom took us to the widow’s walk to see if Daddy’s boat was in port.” 
“She did her best to raise you girls while your daddy was earning a living from the sea.”
“I know, and I miss her terribly already. Are you going to be at the memorial service? Emily and Anne will be coming home for the funeral. The two of them should be pulling into town later today.”
“Ay-yup. I’ll be there. It’ll be nice to see you girls together again. Should be good weather for a funeral. I hear Grayson turned his boat toward the shore, too.” Autry’s pale eyes twinkled.
“I figured he’d come in from the sea, but Mom’s viewing isn’t until tomorrow, so I don’t expect to see him until then.” She shifted on the seat under Autry’s keen gaze.
“You can’t think of any reason he might want to come in early? Charlotte Bronson, you and Gray may think you’ve been fooling the town for eighteen years, pretending the two of you don’t care for each other, but you can’t hoodwink an old coot. I was young once, too, and I know what love is.”
“But we haven’t been in love for years. We try to avoid each other.”
Autry continued to stare at her without saying a word. 
She shook off the rush of schoolgirl giddiness that came with the idea Gray was turning toward port early in order to see her. She ran a hand down her braid of dark hair, now liberally laced with silver. Maybe she could do something about the streaks before he arrived. If only I could erase the past as easily as I can get rid of the outward signs of aging. Then maybe Gray and I could fall in love again. Remembering she had a million things to do, she leaned over and kissed the old man on the cheek before jumping up. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Pass the Pepper, Please!

 I'm so pleased that this week saw the re-release of A Widow's Salvation. As the Akron Beacon Journal said in their review, "It's high time Pepper has her turn at romance." 
After serving as a secondary character in the previous seven Cotillion Ball books, Pepper gets her own story, a year after her husband, Michael, died at the first battle of the Civil War. This war affected everyone living in America during the time, so it would have been unusual for the large Fitzpatrick family to not have one fatality. Since I was so entrenched in the series, as I hoped my readers were, I didn't want to do away with any of the Fitzpatrick men, so Michael seemed the logical choice, since he was related only by marriage. Here's the way the story opens: 

New York City, July 1862

Pepper Brown yanked open her bedroom armoire and stared at the sea of black. Her widow’s weeds, as people called them. They were showing up in increasing numbers on the streets of New York, on women of all ages. The Civil War, which both sides had thought would be over in a matter of weeks, marked its one-year anniversary today. Which meant today was also Pepper’s one-year anniversary as a widow. She drummed her foot on the floor while she perused the black dresses. Was she ready to move on? Michael had thought she would be. In fact, he extracted a promise from her before he left for the war. One year and not one day more, he had said. Her mother thought so, too, or she wouldn’t have planned their outing for today. All Pepper now needed was the courage to convince herself they were right. The churning in her stomach told her she had a ways to go yet.

She straightened and turned her back on the black.

“Molly, please come help me dress,” Pepper called down the hall to her lady’s maid. “I’m going out today.”

“Aye, ma’am.” Molly, a young Irish girl with light brown hair and matching freckles across her pert nose, came quickly into the room. “Which gown would you be liking?” She began fondling the various dresses in the armoire.

“None of these. I’m done with these dresses. Besides, most of them are maternity gowns. I want to wear something fresh, something different.”

Molly nodded vigorously, and the little white cap on her head bounced askew. She righted it before she spoke. “Perfectly understood, ma’am, and you should be stepping down to half mourning. Perhaps I can find a nice gray or deep purple gown among your other things.”

Pepper shook her head. “No, no half mourning for me. What kind of silly term is that, anyway? I’m going out with Mother, and I want our day to be special. I want to wear something bright. I think the periwinkle dress Jasmine created for me right before Michael’s death will do. Yes, the periwinkle.”

Pepper smiled at Molly’s horrified intake of breath. She obviously disapproved, which meant it was the right decision.

“Periwinkle? Forgive me saying so, ma’am, but isn’t it a wee bit too much of a difference?”
“Why yes, it is, Molly.”

I am constantly surprised, and amused, at the way history works with my stories. Pepper was now a single mother raising three young boys, so she possessed the inner strength of every mother who's ever raised a child. What I didn't see coming when I began the story was how the Civil War led to the advancement of the use of prosthetic devices. Who better to take on the task of getting grown men to use a prosthetic leg than a mother? There are several scenes where Pepper whipped these men into shape and got them to walk again. I hope you enjoy Pepper's story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Worth The Wait?

Since the demise of Crimson Romance, I haven't been able to release any new books, only re-publish the ones they returned to me. A few loyal readers have reached out to me over the past year, asking when I'd put out something new, and I had no answer.

Now, I do. Sort of, anyway.

I labored this past year writing two manuscripts set in the Regency era. Labor being the key word here. They were both very difficult to write and now have taken up residence under my bed. But in each book, I introduced a secondary, minor character to move the story forward and became entranced by these characters. One of my beta readers told me I should toss the Regency and write the story of the secondary woman. I'm glad I listened.

I decided to take the minor character from the first book and tell her tale. But instead of having her be in England, I transported her to America during the Revolutionary War. I figured her penchant for a good cheroot would not be so frowned on in America. The book idea came to me so easily, and I really enjoyed writing it. I entered it into a few contests to get some good feedback and to see if it held up under the scrutiny of others. And look what happened!

I am a finalist! Haven't been able to say that in a while. We'll see where this leads, but right now, it's under scrutiny at four different publishers and I'm working on the next one. My secondary character from the second rejected Regency is a courtesan who finds her way to Boston one year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. She's left her profession behind. Or so she thinks. Can anyone really leave their past behind?

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

House Hunting

My sister and her husband are in the market for a new house. If you've ever been through the process, you know the steps you have to take. While your current home is on the market, you start narrowing down your options on where you want to relocate. You create a list of 'must-haves' and another of 'pie-in-the-sky wants.' You spend hours on the internet sites, looking at homes in your price bracket and winnow down your choices. You also winnow down your lists of essentials, since no new home will have everything on your list. Eventually, you tire of looking at houses and settle for something that's not quite right. Or, you put your foot to the pedal and keep going.

That's the point my sister is at right now. Out of steam, nearly out of options, and ready to settle.

Which reminds me of a story idea I had recently. (Of course it does.)

The story began well enough. Several people had read the original manuscript which featured my heroine in a secondary role and told me they'd like to read her story. I spent a couple of days filling out my beat sheet to see if I had enough of a story to do justice to my character. My list of 'must-haves' was forming. So, I began working on the story. But unlike the manuscript I just finished, which came out of my head with no problem, this one isn't so easy. Do I winnow down my 'must-have' list, throw in a pie-in-the-sky idea, or tire of the plot and settle for something that's not quite right?

Right now, I'm liking my hero much better than the heroine. So it's time to put my foot to the pedal and keep going. Figure out ways to make her more appealing to me, and consequently, to my readers. With two extraordinary characters living through extraordinary times in America, you'd think it would be an easy task. But just like searching for the perfect home, you sometimes have to tear up those lists and begin anew. While my sister tackles finding a home, I'm going to go tackle my beat sheet.