Tuesday, March 27, 2018


On March 12th, Simon & Schuster announced they were closing Crimson Romance.

Crimson Romance, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is/was my publisher. While Simon & Schuster still holds the contracts on Courtly Pleasures and Courtly Scandals (released one week after closing), they reverted the rights of my third book, Courtly Abandon (which was scheduled for release on 7/2/18), back to me. This affected the entire staff of Crimson Romance (who got the news about the same time I did) and hundreds of authors.

What does any of this mean?

Courtly Pleasures and Courtly Scandals are still available at this time in eBook. Courtly Pleasures was supposed to available in print on 3/12/18, but that has been delayed and I'm not even certain if they will continue to support the print on demand for this title. Pre-order for the print version of Courtly Scandals was available until this morning, but that was probably just a matter of S&S having not gotten around to canceling it (which kept my hopes up). I am certain Amazon will be sending out the email shortly to any who have reordered alerting them to the cancellation.

My plan was to continue promoting my books as if nothing had happened. My husband is dealing with the next steps because this has been very difficult for me to process. I'll keep writing and he'll deal with the legal issues (which is a gift to me because, right now, I just can't). It's messy and I hate it. I'm only writing about this here to answer, calmly, like a rational person, the questions that will come from my friends and family having their orders cancelled.

The worst part, for me, was that I'd started thinking of myself as on a safe path. I've used the analogy of a race in the past, so I'll continue here: I thought writing a book, learning the industry, promoting my product, etc... was the first race with publication at the finish line. I have said that I never felt like I'd won, but that I'd just started a new race. Well, this has shown me that I'm still in that first race and, from here, it doesn't look like there is an end, just more hurdles. I was in a straightaway and lulled into a false sense of security. My publisher suddenly being closed was a major wake up call and I'm still reeling.

The good news? I have readers, I have two books out that are selling, and I have a completed third book (the best of the three, imo). I'm ready to pitch to publishers again, but I'm a better position than before. I may not be a featured author signing at a convention, but I'll be there with a viable product, sales numbers, and a little more faith in myself. I did it once, I can do it again. And maybe next time around the covers will be set in the right century (I can dream, right?).

In the meantime, if you look up Courtly Scandals on Amazon, it does not have any matches and asks if you meant "courtly sandals" but does suggest Courtly Pleasures as an option. But if you select Courtly Pleasures, it doesn't suggest Courtly Scandals as book 2. You can see both books if you go to my Amazon author page. This wouldn't have happened if Crimson was still supporting my titles.

I wrote this blog for two reasons:
1. So it's all here in a nutshell and I don't have to explain it any more.
2. The purpose of my blog has always been to document my experiences and life lessons along the road to publication. When I signed with Crimson, I decided to keep up that aspect of myself. Publication is just another part of that journey and, if you're a writer trying to figure all this out, my little babbling anecdotes might help you feel less alone in this mess. I started querying with the expectation that my book was the BEST BOOK EVER and I'd be the exception to the long haul of rejections I'd heard so much about. Well, I wasn't. I'm not. I just keep trying. I'm a better writer because of the rejections. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I'm not dead yet.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Mistakes in Print

Typos happen. The author reads through and gives a clean manuscript to the editor only for the editor to show just now messed up it still is. The author and editor fix the mistakes and it goes to a copy editor who finds even more. Then the galley edits come along and everything should be fixed, right? Nope.

And this is just about story inconsistencies, grammar, and flow.

I am solely responsible for the history and REALLY prided myself in taking that seriously. I researched saint days and weather patterns, period dress and beer recipes... I took the time and felt like a credible source when it came to history. Even if a reader doesn't like my story, at least I could say the history is sound.

When I discovered that I mislabeled Katherine Howard (I called her the third wife of Henry VIII) I cried. It's embarrassing and, regardless of everything I did get right, it completely destroys my credibility. It was something that didn't catch my attention in edits because this is an area of history with which I am ridiculously familiar.  I didn't double check the big facts the same way I, for example, looked at period inheritance law for a peer who was not yet an adult because I trusted myself. In the edits, I didn't notice. This is, perhaps, an example of not seeing the forest for the trees (if cartridge pleating and such are the trees, the Tudor dynasty is the forest).

So let me put this out there:
I hope to republish this title and actively want to fix any errors for the next draft. I'm keeping records as they've come to my attention. If you notice something, tell me. I'll appreciate it, I swear. It will all go to making a better book. You can email me on Goodreads or leave me a comment here on my blog.

Just for fun, here's a graphic from a Horrible Histories book I picked up at Hardwick Hall years ago.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Courtly Scandals Inspirations

Happy Ides of March!

I introduced Mary Montgomery in Courtly Pleasures. She was Frances LeSieur's no-nonsense friend, both practical and nurturing. She was a problem solver and a little bit of a meddler with a suppressed wild streak.

Courtly Scandals (due to release 3/19/18 - 4 days!) is Mary's story. Courtly Pleasures ends with Frances heading back to the country and Mary staying behind with her old friend, Anne Cecil, the Countess of Oxford. Mary stayed because she thought Anne needed her, but isn't there long before she realizes there's a world of resentment and judgement within Anne and the friend she was making sacrifices for is a soul sucking harpy not worth the effort.

As I was writing, I realized I was missing something. Without Frances and Jane, Mary seemed so very alone and her romance was so fresh that she needed someone to turn to, someone who would slap any self-doubt or sense of worthlessness out of her.

And that's when I saw this (some mild language):

This is what I was missing. Mary needed a sassy gay friend to redirect her when she was being stupid (and there was a plot line with Oxford that this balanced out perfectly). So I built up Girard, a minstrel of the Oxford house, devastatingly handsome, a true friend, honest, non-threatening, but vulnerable due to his very nature and the world he lived in. I realize Mary has a very modern approach in that she does not judge him the way the traditional Elizabethan would -- however, she'd been at court and was familiar with the fact that that the rules are different for people with money and power.

Girard is not the flamboyant stereotype featured in the video above. I like to think I gave him depth and, though he has a sense of humor and constant twinkle in his eye, there is a gravitas to him.

Courtly Scandals was also influenced by Virginia Henley's The Hawk and the Dove. I read this many years ago, long before I developed my love affair with Elizabethan England and Queen Elizabeth herself. In this book the main character disguises herself as Queen Elizabeth so disrespectfully as to be almost heretical in the period -- but then her version of Queen Elizabeth is very different from mine. While Ms. Henley's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth was somewhat shrewish (not wrong) and mine is more benevolent, if a little capricious (also not wrong), I nodded to the scene in my own way. Without going into too much detail (no spoilers), the revelry at court over the 12 days of Christmas gives an author carte blanche. Anything can happen.

Courtly Scandals is the story of a damsel in distress who figures out how to rescue herself. Sir Charles is the knight in shining armor that discovers he needs rescuing too. The story unfolds with a series of what-else-could-possibly-go-wrong-? moments that bring them together in a bond that begins with attraction and ends in trust. 

If you enjoy Mary's story, I look forward to reintroducing you to Jane in Courtly Abandon, due to release in July of 2018.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Busiest Time of My Year

Courtly Scandals is due to release on March 19th, 2018. My first book, Courtly Pleasures, was released on my mother's birthday, which made the release date that much more special. March 19th, specifically, is not personally significant to me other than it is the spring equinox. While I find that a little magical, what March 19th is, for practical reasons, one of the busiest times of my year. Why? St. Patrick's month.

My daughters have been active in Irish dance for 7 years. Most of the time that means practices in the evening and competitions here and there on weekends. It means wigs, shoes, dresses, and sometimes a fake tan. This is so normal for me that it's not hectic (although dance moms at their first feis might disagree). St. Patrick's day, however, means multiple performances, sometimes two in a day. THIS is hectic. The driving (So. Much. Driving.), the hair, the costume prep, and trying to get them to eat in between point A and point B - it feels like a race where I won't win anything but I'll be letting everyone down if I fail. At least this year I'm not making dance costumes as well.

That said, it's wonderful for the dancers to perform instead of compete. We go to retirement facilities, medical centers, churches, fundraisers, and wineries. The girls love it, the audience is always left in awe of the dancer's skill, and we moms can sit back and enjoy the show.

It's a busy time of year, but, more so, a joyful one. My second book release adds both to the stress and the joy.

While I am not able to post video images of our dancers, I will include here a video of a St. Patrick's day flash mob in Sydney, Australia.

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