Jilly: Not Perfect, But Done

Spring is here! The days get lighter, the weather improves (at least if you’re in the northern hemisphere), flowers bloom, birds sing, and suddenly everything seems fresh and new and exciting. I usually find this is my most creative and productive time of the year, and I’m starting to get that lovely buzzy, sparkly feeling.

If ’tis the season to begin new projects, it’s also the time to make room for them by closing out old ones, so I’m super-happy to report the closure (or imminent closure) of three big time-eaters that have kept me busy for the last year or more.

Please forgive me if I indulge in a little trumpet-blowing 😉

1. Last week, in my non-writing life, I made the final payment required to finish the administration of my late mother’s estate. My mum passed away in January 2018, which means it has taken me fourteen months to finalize her affairs, and it hasn’t been for lack of effort. I can’t tell you what a relief it is finally to be able to draw a line under the whole process.

2. In the next week or so, I’ll send the finished first draft of The Seeds of Power (Christal’s book) to my content editor, Karen Dale Harris. I started writing this story in spring last year as a way to get back into my fantasy world after a complete break of three months. The book is far from perfect, but it has been a joy to write. I really like the main characters, and as they all return later as important secondary characters in Alexis’s story I think I’ll be able to bring added depth to my edits when I settle down to polish that book. Double yay!

3. And on Thursday the finalists for the RWA Golden Heart contest are announced. It’s not that I’m expecting to final (of course I would love to) but that last summer I decided to make a concerted effort to polish up three entries and make them as good as I possibly could. It’s the last year of the contest, and my last year as an unpublished author, so I wanted to close that chapter of my writing life knowing I’d given it my best shot. I’d guesstimate that I put almost six months of hard work into my entries. I learned a lot, and I’m happy with where I finished up, so whether I final or not, Thursday will be a day of closure. I’ll be celebrating my efforts, not the outcome 😉 . I’ll also be toasting Jeanne’s RITA and Justine’s Golden Heart entries.

I plan to publish The Seeds of Power later this year. If I’m going to achieve that I have a whole daunting laundry list of things to do and learn in the next few months. It’s all too easy to focus on the next task, and the one after that, and to forget to take a moment to breathe and celebrate a milestone passed.

So, before I move onwards and upwards…cheers, m’dears!

What did you finish or start lately? Or what do you have planned?

Nancy: One Kiss from Ruin…And a Special Surprise!

I’ve been quiet here on the blog for the past few weeks, but I’ve had a good reason: the release day for One Kiss from Ruin, Book 1 of the Harrow’s Finest Five series, is this week on February 28th! As you can imagine, I’ve been a bit busy. But now I’m here to share the good news, a happy dance, and a special friend-of-the-blog preorder with you. (More on that in a minute.)

To the left, you can see the lovely cover of the book. It’s probably not the FINAL final cover, but that’s a story for another day. Today, let’s focus on the happy news. And just as a reminder, here’s the description of this, the first full-length novel, in the HFF world. Continue reading

Nancy: One Kiss From Ruin Cover Reveal!

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you probably know by now I’m writing a Victorian romance series. The tagline for my Harrow’s Finest Five series is “Smart women, sexy men, steamy passions, and the occasional scandal in 1870s England”. The first book in the HFF story world, Too Clever by Half, is already out in the real world. And very soon, that book is going to get some company.

One Kiss from Ruin, the first full-length novel in the series, will be released in February! Here, for the very first time anywhere on the interwebs, is the book’s lovely cover. And while I shared the first version of the back cover copy way back in 2018, that’s been updated, so here’s the latest and greatest book description.

Once upon a time, they were in love. Then everything went wrong… Continue reading

Jeanne: A Week of Firsts

The Demon Always WinsThe second week of November was a week of firsts for me as an author:

  • My first opportunity to meet with a book club (who had all read my book!)
  • My first author signing event
  • My first piece of fan mail (okay fan email) from a total (well, near-total) stranger

The book club invitation came from a former co-worker. I thought it would be fun, but it turned out even better than I expected. It turns out that there’s something really gratifying about people liking your book enough to want to know how you came up with the idea and wondering about all kinds of details you wove in.

They also invited me to read. After a short discussion, we settled on the first scene from The Demon’s in the Details, the second book in the series, which comes out in January. They must have liked it, because they invited me to come back once it’s out.

The next day, I attended my first author signing event. A little town about twenty miles south of where I live holds a Christmas Festival each year, including a parade and lots of vendors. The historical society arranges a signing event for local authors–first come, first served. As soon as I saw the notice on Facebook, I hopped right on it. Continue reading

Nancy: Release Day Cometh!

Author proof copies of Too Clever by Half.

The time is almost upon us. This Thursday, November 29, the first book in my Victorian romance series Harrow’s Finest Five will go out into the world. I’m having all the feels. Joy. Trepidation. Excitement. Dread. While I’ll continue marketing it, talking and writing about it, and sharing word of its existence far and wide, it’s well and truly time to let go of the story and let it find its own place in the world. Which, coincidentally (or maybe not so much), is what the hero and heroine of this series-launching novella are doing – finding their place in the world.

As you can imagine, I can think about little else this week. But unless you’re new to the blog, you’ve probably already read my posts about the series, the novella cover, and the story description. So what else can I tell you about Too Clever by Half and the HFF series during release week? Continue reading

Jilly: Menu Gourmand

In romance there are basically two kinds of series. The first, which Nancy discussed last Monday, focuses on a community: a family, or schoolfriends, or regimental comrades. In this kind of series, each book tells the love story of a different member of the community. It works really well in historical romance.

The other kind of series follows the adventures of one couple over multiple books and is a natural fit with fantasy and urban fantasy. That’s what I’m busy writing.

At its best, this kind of series is like a tasting menu from a really, really good restaurant. Delicious, ambitious, and not to be attempted by the faint-hearted.

  • Choose your cuisine.
  • Decide how many dishes you plan to offer.
  • Each dish should stand alone as a tasty, balanced, harmonious whole.
  • Every course should be delightfully different, offering contrasting flavors and ingredients but in a cohesive style.
  • The menu should flow, offering a natural progression leading the diner from piquant to savory to a delightful sweet finish and possibly some perfect petits-fours.
  • The content of each dish should be perfectly judged, leaving the diner neither over-hungry, nor sated too soon, but wanting more until the final satisfying conclusion.
  • The sum of the whole should be greater than each of the parts.

To whet your appetite, click here for the Land and Sea tasting menu from one of my favorite restaurants, The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye.

In literary terms, this kind of story is exemplified by Dorothy Dunnett’s Scottish Historical Lymond Chronicles, or Karen-Marie Moning’s Celtic urban fantasy Fever series, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife books or more recently by Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy trilogy.

This is what I’m aiming for: something a little different, offering fine local ingredients combined with flair and executed with skill. If I get it right, hopefully my Menu Gourmand will be mouth-watering, memorable, and a treat worth saving up for 🙂 .

Jeanne: My First Book Birthday

Roses from A&A

Saturday, September 1, was my debut book release. It went well–I even received this lovely bouquet of roses from my daughter, congratulating me on achieving a life-time dream.

Because I’d badgered, I mean, encouraged people to pre-order the ebook, my royalties report on my Amazon Central Dashboard looked like this at the end of the first day:

 

Continue reading