Sunday, February 18, 2018

Courtly Scandals, Book Two of Courtly Love


Courtly Scandals, book two of Courtly Love, is due to release on March 19th, 2018. It's an Elizabethan historical romance set in the same world I built in Courtly Pleasures. Though it's in the same series, it is a stand-alone story. In Courtly Pleasures we met Mary and she decided to stay behind with court for Christmas. On the first night of Christmas Mary meets Charles, a Yeoman of the Queen's Guard and a true gentleman in character if not in title. Courtly Scandals is their story.


Circumstances surrounding them throw up ridiculous obstacles, one right after the other, but their biggest internal conflict is that both Charles and Mary are givers. They think about other's needs first. They're just too nice. Neither of them are alpha personalities and both would be really annoying to go out to dinner with. It might go something like this:

Charles: Where do you want to eat?
Mary: Oh, I'm happy with anything. Where do you want to eat?
Charles: I want you to be happy. I'm happy if you're happy. What are you in the mood for?
Mary: I'm happy just being with you. What would you like?
Charles: I really have no preference. I know you like that Italian place. Do you want to go there? Or you were talking about cheesecake yesterday, so if you would prefer we could go to Cheesecake Factory. Or Red Lobster has those rolls you like. It's up to you.
Mary: We can go there if you want to. I do like cheesecake. I love that you remembered that. Do you want cheesecake?
Me: For the love of God, choose already!
Them: *look at me, conciliatory*
Mary: I hope you aren't upset, Erin. What do you want for dinner?

Thankfully, through both Mary and Charles's growth (as individuals and as a couple) they get to a point where they can acknowledge what they want. It's not easy for either of them, but if they want happiness, they have to acknowledge their needs and that they deserve it.

Courtly Scandals has a damsel in distress trope, but the truth is they are both broken and rescue each other.

Do you have a favorite romance trope? If so, how do you feel when a writer takes a beloved trope and turns it inside out?

Friday, February 9, 2018

New Release: The Wind Reapers, Book Two of the Blackburn Chronicles

I'm excited to announce that book two of the Blackburn Chronicles, The Wind Reapers, has been released today.

The Tremblers, book one of this steampunk/science fiction/post-apocalyptic/alternative history, action packed saga, came out last month. Reviews have been great. It became one of my new favorite books because it's different. It doesn't follow the steampunk cliches (which I also enjoy) of tea, parasols, witty repartee, and pointless goggles. She incorporates goggles, but they have a purpose, and that could be used as an example of the technology throughout the book. It meets the definition of steampunk in that it takes technology in the time of steam powered industrialism and turns it upside down, inside out, and imagines what could have been possible. Given that necessity is the mother of invention, how far would Victorians have progressed their technological prowess if their existence was on the line?

And author Raquel Byrnes made certain to threaten their existence: cataclysmic earth quakes, poisonous gasses, devastating storms, and a inexplicable sickness necessitated technological advancement. 

In The Tremblers, we meet debutante Charlotte Blackburn, living under the protection of a domed city state in the devastated post-Great Calamity (a series of earth shattering quakes brought on by on by irresponsible mining) remains of what used to be the United States. Through no fault of her own, she is soon a wanted criminal by the despotic leaders of the Peaceful Union. She escapes to Outer City, a community floating high above the wastelands of North America. This debutante learns how to rely on both her intellect and her heart in the face of extreme opposition. From ball gowns to leathers, opera glasses to guns, she goes from helpless girl to a force to be reckoned with, doing what needs to be done, no matter the cost.

The Wind Reapers is book two of the Blackburn Chronicles and brings us to the treacherous badlands outside the domed city states. Hosted and protected (sort of) by a nomadic community in a HUGE spider-like, constantly roaming land vessel, Charlotte learns of a conspiracy that will doom thousands of innocents.

From the back of the book:
Charlotte Blackburn—Hero, hunted, the unwitting symbol of a dark rebellion—she thwarted the deadly intent of the treacherous Order of the Sword and Scroll, but at a shattering cost. Now, she fights to survive among a tribe of fierce Wind Reapers who troll the wasteland aboard massive metal walkers. But a new storm is brewing and Charlotte is once again the linchpin in a deadly plan.

Sebastian Riley has one goal: Help the citizens of his floating Outer City to survive the Ashen Croup, a terrible affliction that drowns victims in their own lungs. But help comes in the form of the infamous Lady Blackburn, a woman wanted for treason who is determined to run headlong into destruction to prevent a coming war—even if it means reaching out to those who want her dead.

Pursued by the shadowy Order and hunted by the furious Reaper clan, Riley and Charlotte brave the monstrous hordes of decaying Tremblers and the terrors of the Wasteland to stop the bloodshed and secure a mysterious calculating engine—a device that can bring about the destruction of an entire nation.

With brutal forces gathering against the unsuspecting citizens inside the Tesla domes, a vicious scientist intent on capturing Charlotte for his experiments, and the whole of the country in deadly peril, one of them must make a sacrifice too terrible to comprehend.


My review of The Wind Reapers: 
This book is a non-stop adventure led by Charlotte, Tesla, and Riley. Technology can only do so much in the face of "blood storms" and a desert veined with fissures releasing searing gas and lava. Outside the dome there are a new set of obstacles and Charlotte doesn't know who she can trust. Having followed Charlotte's journey from naive girl to the point she is at at the start of this book, a competent and somewhat Machiavellian champion for what she perceives as right, this story follows her continued evolution. What struck me the most about this was that the author made the bad guys very real, not archetypal villains. I understood and sympathized with their motivation as well as I understood Charlotte's. This made the right and wrong of the matter very much a gray area. It was thoughtful and threatening, ruthless and emotional. I cried (when a book makes me cry, it has won me over) and cheered and gasped... I couldn't put it down. Wind Reapers is a heartrending adventure that full of hope and fear, a story that challenged me and made me question my own values. 

This is categorized as a young adult title, but the scale of this adventure and the questions it inspires will appeal to all ages.

Book three is (based on Amazon) due to be released next month. I can't wait.
In the meantime I just discovered there are a few freebies available now that go into the backstory of some of the main characters.



Of Books and Blades is the story of young Aston Wells and the events that brought him to the order of the Sword and Scroll.

This Perilous Path is the story of Lizzie and her life before and during The Great Calamity. These are the events that led her to be part of the rebels, fighting for social justice against the Peaceful Union. 


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Writing Journey

This blog started out about my journey to becoming published. With some slight deviations, my posts have been about my writing, the process, and the industry as I came to know it. During the years my writing has changed (I like to think I've grown) but my goal remained the same. I knew that I would eventually publish a book; all I had to do was remain diligent and work smart.

Now I have published a book. My second book is due to be released in March. This blog, however, will continue to be about my journey because it's certainly not over.

When I first signed that contract I expected to be elated. FINALLY! I thought I'd be proud and confident, that I'd want to celebrate. Instead it was overwhelming. Yes, I got the contract... but what would come next? It was uncharted territory for me. I'd become comfortable with the pattern of rejection and revision, getting back on the horse, and trying again.

I realized that becoming published wasn't the end, it's just a step on the ladder. One race finished and the next started.


So, what's next for me?

1. Continued growth as a writer. I became a better writer with each book. Now I'm writing AND addressing edits. It's a learning process and my editor has been very patient with me as we work out the kinks. I've had trouble with little things like when the form of address is a proper noun and when it's possessive. I'm figuring it out. Eventually it is my goal that I'll get a manuscript back without any basic mistakes and only comments about content. Content adjustments aren't embarrassing. Basic English errors are. As far as my journey goes, this part is very organic and doesn't scare me. As long as I'm open to learning, I will grow.

2. Finding balance as a professional writer. With my book(s) out there, I have a new job: marketing. I need to be writing new material, editing the old, and figuring out how to make connections with  my readers. Being me, I tend to obsess over little things and I need to step back and see the big picture, and organize my efforts in a healthy way. I'm working on it. This part is not easy for me.

3. Finding balance as a human. I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher, an Irish dance mom, a reader, an artist, a puppy-mommy, a dress designer/seamstress, a daughter... I'm a lot of things besides being a writer. I thank God for my husband. He's shouldering some of the weight of marketing/social media. The other day I forwarded him an email and told him my brain was full and I couldn't think about. He took it over with no questions. This is a process I have to figure out.

So the journey is far from over and this blog will continue to follow that journey. Thanks for letting me share it with you.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sneak Peak at a Deleted Scene

Many things about Courtly Pleasures changed throughout the writing process. The first version started out with a heavy focus on Frances's battle with depression and was written with all dialogue in Elizabethan (BBC style) dialect. I probably cut twenty or so pages of dress description. There was a maidservant named Bessie who's speech was so indecipherable that Frances, Mary, and Jane would just nod and pretend they knew what was being said. There have been a lot of changes, all for the better.

One such change was the removal of Blanche Parry's point of view. I consider her the fairy godmother of Frances's story. Blanche was a real historical character and I did my best to portray her with respect to the accounts of the type of woman she was. Her effigy at Westminster is featured to the left.

I cut this scene from the start of chapter fifteen, the morning after the masque on the river. If you haven't read Courtly Pleasures yet, do not read any more here unless you don't hate spoilers with the fury of a thousand suns like I do.

If you are interested in reading Courtly Pleasures, there is an Amazon link in the right side bar.

Cheers.

Click the "Read more" link below to read the deleted scene from Courtly Pleasures.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

No Means No

 Click the image for a fun sidetrack.Bodice Rippers.

It's a term I've used in the past to mock the romance genre. It comes from an era of romance where the young virtuous ingenue is seduced by the experienced rake. She fights her own desire and, when she gives in, it is often under duress. It's the scenario where she said no but her body said yes. Now I consider that disgusting, it's rape made titillating. It also summarizes the value system of an era where good girls couldn't say yes... and it taught men that no didn't always mean no.

But romance novels did not create this norm, they were a symptom of it. The female readers during this time responded to these books because it was a representation of the social values they were living. Sexual fantasy was just that, fantasy. But the limits on a woman's right to claim her own sexuality was not a fantasy.

These were the romances I started with. In fact, these stories impacted my view about love and sex. I'm still trying to get over that.

Today's romance novels still frequently have an alpha man. The difference between the old school tropes and today's characters is that he's butting heads with an alpha woman. It's a meeting of equals. Unless you are reading a niche book about BDSM or rape fantasy or straight-up porn, mainstream romance is about a woman who is competent and powerful in her own right. She may or may not be virginal. She may or may not be young. Or thin. Or white. Or heterosexual. And there is no concern about whether or not a woman can acknowledge her own desires. If she says no, it's because she means no. And, an equally important shift, she has the right to say yes.

Romance has changed as the writers have changed. While it is still a market with, predominantly, women writing for women, that is not exclusive. A good story is still a good story, and (imo) the only thing keeping the romance genre limited to a specific section of the bookstore and a specific demographic is the prejudice in place against the genre.

(While I could talk at length about the ingrained prejudice against romance based on sexism and the patriarchal norms still lingering that want to limit women's sexual agency, this is a post specifically about the changing face of romance.)

So bodice rippers have had their time and the romance industry has evolved. It's to a point where the term has been reclaimed by the industry in much the same way as racial or homophobic slurs are used by people within the culture to take away the power of the word. We have taken ownership of the insult and know that, as a genre, we are above it.

*Click the image above to go to the BuzzFeed link, "19 Things Fabio Is Actually Thinking On Romance Novel Covers."

Monday, December 25, 2017

I Wish You a Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas!


I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday and hope for 2018.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Courtly Scandals

Courtly Pleasures is a stand-alone story within a trio of books. Each of these books can be read individually without the reader feeling like they missed an integral part of the story. I, personally, like this about romance. I love getting to know the families and friends of the hero/heroine of a story and then get to see their stories. I love getting a glimpse of the hero/heroine, happy in their life together, during the next novels. It keeps me buying that author again and again because I'm not ready to release that world just yet. And, if I read one out of order, the story is not hurt - it just makes me curious about what came before. In fact, it's fun to see the heroine I loved in book five as a young girl with scraped knees in book two.


COURTLY PLEASURES SPOILER BELOW

When I started writing, I wanted to create a rich world where the readers would want to come back. So far the reviews are strong and I have readers wanting to know what comes next for Frances and Henry. Their love story may have resolved, but the world they live in is continuing. Courtly Pleasures ended at the start of Christmas time. They will spend the twelve days of Christ's Mass at home with their children, Jane, and the goodly members of their household and tenant farms.

Mary made the choice to stay on in London with her previous mistress, Anne Cecil, the Countess of Oxford. Mary is not exactly a servant; she is a gently reared young woman placed in a prestigious household to better her chances of marrying well. As a companion to the lady of the house, she would help with some tasks, but really be there for company. She served Frances in this capacity and now has returned, by choice, to Lady Oxford. Why? Because Mary felt she was needed.

Anne Cecil has recently married the Earl of Oxford and, for her, it was a love match. Although I took some liberties with exact incidences, I tried to stay true to the type of man he was reported to be. As for Mary, I'm not sure what she thinks she can do to make the situation for Anne better, but she's going to, at least, be there for her friend. Whether or not Anne wants her.

Courtly Scandals is Mary's story. It is set over the twelve days of Christ's mass with Queen Elizabeth's court. The cool head and practical nature that was a rock to Frances is useless in the face of unrestrained revelry and Anne's capricious friendship. Mary must adapt and start thinking about herself for once.

While Mary is a fictitious character, both Anne Cecil and her husband, Edward (Ned) Da Vere, the Earl of Oxford, are real. I have portrayed them in their approximate ages and stage of their relationship circa 1572. The image featured to the right is a portrait of the Earl of Oxford, 1575.

If you enjoyed Courtly Pleasures, you will enjoy Courtly Scandals. If you miss Frances and Henry, don't worry, they'll be back again at Holme LeSieur for Jane's story, Courtly Abandon (estimated release date July, 2018).

Courtly Scandals is available for pre-order now. I look forward to sharing the cover reveal with you (I look forward to seeing it myself!).




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...