Cover Reveal ~ Worthy of Legend

Cover Reveal ~ Worthy of Legend

It’s cover reveal day!! Always an exciting day in the life of an author…right up there with that day when, out of the blue, an email arrives in your inbox with the subject line of “Worthy of Legend Cover!” (or whichever book I happen to be waiting for my glimpse of, LOL.)

My heart rate always increases. I click into that email. And then I click on the attachment icon. Oh, the flutters in my stomach every single time as I wait for the image to download–it’s one of those moments where the seconds it takes stretch out soooooo long! But finally, it loads. I may quite literally hold my breath.

Am I going to love it?
Am I going to hate it?
Will it look anything like what I imagined?

For Worthy of Legend, the third and final book in the Secrets of the Isles series, I’d given them some ideas and of course knew it would follow the same general look as the other two books. We’d have the heroine front and center, an island background. My special requests this time: (1) Could we have a night sky, or first-breath-of-dawn sky perhaps? And (2) she could be wearing green, as it’s the only color mentioned for her clothes.

Of course, I gave them some ideas for items she could be holding and also described Lady Emily Scoffield and provided some inspirational photos.

But one never knows how that’s going to play out in the cover designer’s mind. One never knows if our visions will perfectly match. And to be quite honest, both covers for the other books in this series surprised me–but I adore them both!

So finally, that image downloaded, all those questions rampaging through my mind, and I clicked it open, trying not to peek at the thumbnail, honestly, so that I could get the full impact.

And there she was! Lady Emily, holding a small leather-bound journal that plays a critical role in the story, in a puffed-sleeve green dress that would have made Anne Shirley gasp is exaggerated pleasure. With an island backdrop with that lovely starry sky I’d requested (yay!!!!)

Are you ready to get YOUR first look?? Here it is!

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What do you think??

I admit that the model wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured Emily, but I always get over that really quickly, LOL (because this is pretty much ALWAYS the case, ha ha). She looks lovely and sweet with a touch of insecurity–SO EMILY!–so I quickly adjusted my own mental image to match! I love that she’s holding that small leather journal, and the background…spot on. Overall, I’m so excited to add this one to my “My Covers” folder and think it’s the perfect complement to the rest of the series!

Now, a bit about the story itself. Lady Emily has been cut off from her family after siding with the Tremaynes in the whole treasure hunt thing, and she’s got some heavy questions she’s dealing with: Why can’t they just love her? How is she to love them as God does? Will the opinions of these friends change when they realize exactly how little her own family esteems her?

And then we have our hero, the grumpy, candy-loving Bram, Earl of Telford. Bram has already been well established as an over-protective big brother, and he takes that role very seriously. When he sees what a terrible brother Emily has, he pretty much decides that someone has to protect her, and if her brother won’t do it, he will. We also finally discover what he’s hiding behind that gruff exterior–a heart that longs for true nobility and is more than a little inspired (okay, obsessed) with tales of chivalry, especially the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. So when a new treasure hunt seems to have a link to Arthur himself…well suddenly he’s more intrigued by archaeology than he ever expected to be.

I hope everyone is looking forward to this ending to the Scilly-set tales! I greatly enjoyed digging deep into these two characters and really examining what makes anyone worthy of legend. Spoiler alert (okay, not really, LOL): Both of these two characters live up to it!

And of course, now that I have a cover, that means I also can make the pre-order available in my shop! Order your copy now, and it *will charge your card right away and then I’ll ship the orders as soon as I get my author copies, which is usually 3-4 weeks before they’re available from other stores. =D In this case, release day is early September, so you’ll *probably get your book sometime in August.

Introducing Patrons & Peers

Introducing Patrons & Peers

Ever since I was girl, I knew what my calling was: writing. Specifically, to write novels that show people the beauty of faith, the glory of God, and how our lives are richer when they’re lived with Him. I love to use human romances, well-drawn and in amazing settings, to demonstrate how God loves us.

Many years ago I listened to a class from a writers conference in which the amazing Susan Meissner broke writers into three categories: the hobby writer, the ministry writer, and the career writer. My critique partner looked at me and said, “Which are you?” I didn’t even have to think about it.

“Ministry!”

The funny thing is that I actually combine ministry writing and career writing. Which is to say, this is how I make my living…but money concerns are not what determine what and how I write. I will write—and I’ll write the stories God puts on my heart—regardless of whether I get paid for it. I can’t not. My bio says I’ve “long claimed that words are the air I breathe,” and that is the simple truth. Everything I do is in some way geared toward getting the written word into the world, whether it be through my writing, my editing, my cover designing, or our publishing efforts. I do it because I believe stories change the world. Fiction changes culture. My words, if written faithfully and put into the hand of the Lord, can be a tool He uses to touch hearts and lives. That is my prayer—that is always my prayer.

But of course, the reality is that my family needs to eat, which is why over the last few years, more and more of my days has been geared toward that “other” work I do—cover design, typesetting, helping other authors. Which is great work, and I love it…but my own writing time has been pushed into the margins. I’d like to change that, because this is still my primary ministry, my primary calling. Not only do I have writing contracts to fulfill, but I also have so many other stories I’d love to find time to write, stories my readers keep asking for—more in the Shadows Over England series, stories about secondary characters from other books and series, you name it. When I consider carving out the time to write those though, something became very obvious: I can’t, not with the way things are going now. I can barely get each contracted book done in time. Writing more? That’s going to require a change. That’s going to require…you.

And so, I’d like to invite you into this ministry. I’d like to give you, my readers, the chance to more actively participate in my calling, and to share yours with me as well.

So here’s what I’m envisioning. I’ve set up a system where you can help support my writing directly, at whatever level you feel led. In return, you get access to private pages here on my website and even a community through an app on our smart phones. I will check in with you every week by video chat—and members can reply with their own video chats! We can build each other up, share our struggles and our victories. I will let you into my world—not just the public side of it, but what it really means to walk out this calling and ministry day by day. I will share the pitfalls, the triumphs, the prayer requests, the challenges, the ideas and brainstorming, and the big dreams that we have. We can walk out our callings arm in arm.

If this works like I hope and I end up with ability to cut back on my “extra” work, that means more time that I’ll be dedicating to writing, so I’ll be creating more fiction for you. I’ll be able to work on those extra stories in some of my series that readers are always asking for but which I can never work in around my other contracts. It means I’ll be able to spend more time researching and building my faith, so I can work all that into my stories too.

And mostly, for me, it’s about humility and sharing the calling and ministry, opening up…which is often so hard for an introvert like me to do. But I know the value of community. And I want to truly have it with you. That’s one of the things I’ve most enjoyed about things like the tea parties and my Facebook lives—they give us the chance to really connect, to get to know one another. I’ve been wondering how to take that and multiply it, how to really edify each other. I’m excited to see if this is a way we can do it.

So right now, I have two options set up: you can join as a Patron (for as little as $25/year) or as a Peer (starts at $100/year). Both options give you the choice of subscribing by month, quarter, or annually, and each one is also set up with “choose your own price.” So while there’s that minimum buy-in for each level, if you feel led to give a different amount, you can! Everyone who joins the ministry will get access to a private page here with updates and bonus content—some blog-style thoughts and devotionals, videos, and maybe even extra fiction. You’ll be able to share your opinion on things I’m working on and really join me along the journey, every step of the way. We’ll have the privilege of praying for each other, and you’ll be invited to share YOUR journey and calling as well! You’ll receive an invitation to join a special video chat group through an app called Marco Polo (free download on your smart phone!) on which I’ll be doing weekly updates and to which you’re welcome to reply with your own, you’ll get a coupon code for my store good for the duration of your subscription, and other perks aimed at enriching each other’s lives.

If you choose the Peer level, you’ll get all that plus you’ll receive each of my books, signed, as they release—you won’t have to place a pre-order for these, they’ll be automatically sent to you if you’re a supporter during a release. (No more trying to remember if you’ve pre-ordered already or not!) You’ll also receive a special tote bag design that won’t be for sale or available elsewhere, along with other perks throughout the year.

Too often in our society we have this idea that we need to rise or fall alone, do it all ourselves—but that isn’t the kind of Church that we’re supposed to build. We’re supposed to support each other, love each other, give to each other. So this is me being very vulnerable and saying, “This is how you can help me create more.” I need the freedom to focus more on my primary calling. And it’s also the chance for you to share with me and the other members of our community what YOUR calling is, and how we can support YOU.

I hope you’ll join me—share in my life and calling and ministry and let me share in yours. Because I truly believe that if we come together, supporting each other in word and in deed and in giving, then we’ll accomplish some amazing things for the Lord.

Giveaway – To Treasure an Heiress Release Day!

Giveaway – To Treasure an Heiress Release Day!

Happy New Year! To Treasure an Heiress is NOW AVAILABLE! I’m thrilled to be kicking off the new year with this book, the second in the Secrets of the Isles Series! This story picks up chronologically right where book 1 ends, but the focus is now on the “other Elizabeth,” Beth Tremayne…and the hilarious houseguest who inadvertently started the whole series of adventures, Lord Sheridan.

Working together, Beth and Sheridan start to piece together a story of tragic love and piratical adventure. But the true surprise is the treasure they discover in one another.

The Treasure Hunt Is On!!

I had so many people tell me that they enjoyed the Hunt through the Pages of The Nature of a Lady, that of course I had to create a second one for To Treasure an Heiress!

It works like this:

  1. Visit the Hunt through the Pages page
  2. Download the Hunt clues to keep on hand as you read
  3. Answer the questions as you go!
  4. Return to the page once you’ve finished and input your answers into the form
  5. Get entries to the GIVEAWAY!! Any entry (even if it’s totally blank) will get you ONE entry into the giveaway, and each CORRECT answer will get you another.
  6. Submit the form for access to the SECRET PAGE too!

What’s in the giveaway? And on the secret page?? Well, the giveaway is going to be a true treasure-hunt-style surprise…I’m not revealing WHAT will be included, but I can promise you there’s something shiny, something related to the book, something tasty, and that FIVE of you are going to win! The drawing will be on March 1, which means you have all of January and February to read, hunt up the answers, and get those entries in!

The Secret Page will remain live forever, even after the giveaway draws to a close, and you’ll gain access to it as soon as you submit your answers! (It’ll direct you to a page with both the link and the password for the page.) This time around, the Secret Page has a travel journal for both places you’d like to visit in life and in literature that I’ve dubbed “The Wanderlist,” a new recipe and tour booklet, the prologue and first two chapters of book 3, Worthy of Legend, and even a place to chat about the places you’d love to visit someday!

Are you a non-US reader? If so, you can certainly play along with the Hunt and gain access to the secret page! But instead of the secret treasure giveaway, you’re instead eligible for a book giveaway that will run from today until 1/18. The book will be shipped via the Book Depository. Entry form is at the bottom of this post.

Live Event

Join me for a LIVE chat TONIGHT, Tuesday, January 4th at 7pm EDT! I’ll be telling you all the fun behind-the-scenes tidbits, reading an excerpt, answering your questions, and telling you about the new Patrons & Peers system I’ll be launching later this week! Join the event HERE.

Missed it live? Don’t worry, you can still watch it at the link above!

Tea Party

Join me on Friday, March 4th to discuss To Treasure an Heiress!
Reserve your seat now!

International Giveaway

Please ONLY enter this giveaway if you have a non-US mailing address! US addressees are eligible for the main Hunt through the Pages giveaway, which you can enter via the link above.

Introducing the Bookish Things Shop!

Introducing the Bookish Things Shop!

Okay, guys, I am sooooo excited to tell you about this today! For the past month-ish, I’ve been working on expanding my shop, and finally, the results are ready to show you!!

It started when we were on vacation. For us, “vacation” is really just the best brainstorming of the year. 😉 As we were walking on the beach and chatting, one of the topics was how to make even more cool stuff available in my store. I had tons of ideas…but of course, the problem is that I only have so much time. So I can’t just make everything I think of (never mind that I don’t have the skills, LOL). So I decided to look some things up. And next thing I know, I’m hours into browsing products by other individuals and artisans and I have found SO MANY that are a perfect fit!

And that’s what I’m about to show you! I’ve put together a ton of cool stuff. Some of it ties directly to one book of mine or another…some of it appeals to a general bookish audience. A few are especially for writers. I have some Christmas merch too, including new designs I just unveiled this week! A few highlights:

    • Journals and notebooks
    • Pens
    • Book lockets and pendant necklaces
    • Nature-themed jewelry and goodies
    • Christmas ornament
    • Book socks
    • Book light
    • Book earrings

AND…I also just added a wishlist button to the site! So if YOU are the book lover in your life and want to drop a few hints to your loved ones for the next holiday, I’ve totally got you covered. When logged in, you can create as many lists as you like, make them public or private, email them to people, you name it! (If you don’t log in, it will remember you for 30 days as long as you’re on the same device.)

So are you ready to see some of the cool new stuff?? I’ve divided them into a couple different categories–the images below are just a few of them! Check out the full shop HERE.

(All the old stuff is still there too, don’t worry! I’ve just built out new pages and taken new product images in some cases.)

Would you like to see a tie-in item that I don’t currently have? Just send me a note through the contact form with your suggestion, and I’ll see what I can do. =)

Christmas

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Special Editions

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Announcing My Next Series ~ The Imposters

Announcing My Next Series ~ The Imposters

I’m so excited to tell you a bit about my next series from Bethany House, which will begin in summer 2023. I know that sounds like a long way away, but in the publishing world, that’s how far ahead we plan, LOL. I just signed the contract a few weeks ago, and though I have three other books coming out in the meantime, I’ll start working on this one in just a few months. I’ve had a lot of people asking where I was going next, and the answer is finally here!

Here’s the idea for the series that I sent to my editor:

T H E   S E R I E S   C O N C E P T

The business cards can be found floating all around the most prestigious ballrooms and theaters, handed quietly from one gloved hand to the next. Whenever someone has a need to look into a fellow peer and doesn’t want to turn to the rabble of ordinary private investigators, the same name is whispered over and again: The Imposters, Ltd. Everyone assumes that this mysterious company of investigators must be talented actors who can, at least for a limited time, blend in among the ton while they find the sought-after secrets of the crème of society.

Little do they know that the Imposters are in fact two of their own—the esteemed brother and sister duo, Yates Fairfax, ninth Earl Fairfax, and his sister, Lady Marigold. Much like they don’t know that the Fairfaxes have turned to this work because of desperation—their father had squandered their wealth so completely with his constant seeking of diversions that they’re not only forced to earn money, but they’re even cooking their own food and dusting their own furniture. Only the four members of the Imposters know the truth—Yates, Marigold, and their friends Gemma and Graham. And no one else ever can.

Because knowing secrets can be just as dangerous as gathering them…especially when hearts become involved.

 

T H E   F I R S T   B O O K

Lady Marigold Fairfax is known throughout London for her audacious and seemingly endless collection of hats that grab the eye wherever she goes—the perfect cover for her clandestine work. She’s gained such a reputation that now only her hats have to appear somewhere, and everyone just assumes she’s with them; and “Lady M’s” whereabouts are reported in the gossip rags accordingly. Which means that her co-conspirator, Gemma, can make an appearance with a hat in one location while Marigold is in another, providing her with an alibi any time she does something risky. She’s completed countless jobs over the last five years, learning secrets about her peers that both sadden and enrage her. She and Yates are certainly not the only ones who wear a mask, and most are far more sinister than theirs. Then a new client hires them, and this time it’s personal. This time she and Yates have been tasked with digging into a good friend’s father.

She wants to believe that their client, Sir Merritt Livingstone, is only prying because he wants to make sure Livinia is a good match for him. But the more she learns, the more she wonders what the gentleman—himself rather mysterious—is really up to. Is he trying to join her friend’s father in his shady endeavors or stop them? And why does she begin to hope Sir Merritt has no interest in Livinia after all and that it’s Marigold he’s seeking out? But surely that’s a true fool’s errand. Because though she wears many hats—sister, friend, investigator, housekeeper, maid, and any disguise she has to don for her work—she knows better than to think wife will ever join the list, given their family’s fall from prosperity. But when the investigation takes a dangerous turn and her life is threatened, Sir Merritt proves why he was knighted with a streak of heroism that makes her believe once more that some well-kept secrets are noble. Will that be enough to bridge the gap between them?

The next books will follow her brother, Yates–Lord Fairfax–and then their friends Gemma and Graham. And they are going to be SO MUCH FUN. The means by which their father plunged them into debt–seeking entertainment and diversions–means that they grew up around actors and acrobats and circus performers, and of course these eager children picked up on the talents and skills of their constant guests. as well as their cast-off costumes and Edwardian era special effects. There will be hijinx and dering-do, acrobatics and theater gimmicks. There will be funny, clever excerpts from the dossiers they put together on their subjects and clients. And of course, there will be faith and romance.

This idea actually began years ago as a dream I had! I got up and wrote it down and have been letting it simmer for nearly three years now. I’m so excited to get to work on it in 2022, and I hope you’re excited to see what comes of it!

And because this is me, you’ll want to keep an eye out for some Easter eggs too…because you never know when some familiar faces and names may pop up among the society these new siblings are a part of! Who would you most like to see make a cameo appearance?

Announcing…Shadowed Loyalty!

Announcing…Shadowed Loyalty!

I’m apparently in a season of sharing book news instead of my usual Thursday musings. 😉 And today I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about a book that will be coming out next May, called Shadowed Loyalty.

So, let’s rewind about, oh, 13 years. It was the summer when my son was 6 months old–and I had an idea for a mafia story. More specifically, I had an idea for the story of a mafioso’s daughter, the man everyone had assumed she would marry, who had pursued the law instead of the mob, and the Prohibition Bureau agent who tried to steal her heart…for a way to infiltrate her family. Back in the day, I’d called it Mafia Princess, and my critique partner, Stephanie, declared it the novel that would get me published. (Ahem. We’ve been known to be wrong in our predictions, LOL.) My agent was happy with it. We sent it out. It went to committee at a few places. And then…nothing.

Fast forward to last year. Bethany House took a look at several of my old manuscripts, purchased Dreams of Savannah, and told me I was free to do whatever I liked with the ones they passed on. Round about this time, WhiteFire was launching a new imprint–Chrism Press. And I joked to David, “Well, if all else fails, we’ll just see if Chrism wants my mafia story!” After all, Chrism is targeted to Catholic and Orthodox readers…and my mafia family, being Sicilian, are certainly Catholic. I didn’t do a very good job writing that element of it originally, but I can fix that.

Fast forward again to a couple months ago, when the committee at Chrism emailed to say, “We’d love it!” So here we are. Shadowed Loyalty (which my agent approved as a MUCH better title than my original, LOL) has found a home at Chrism and will be making its appearance next May, between the final two books in my Secrets of the Isles trilogy! I’m so excited to be not just an advisor to Chrism, but one of the authors, and to bring new life to this story I’ve had sitting around for such a long time. It needs a ton of work–that’s what I’ll be doing in September, LOL–but I know it’ll turn out to be just the story it was meant to be.

I’ll paste the working back cover copy below, but first I’ll just tell you a bit of the behind the scenes.

Anyone watch NCIS back in the day? Remember the story line that one season with Tony and the romantic interest with the lovely doctor who turned out to be the daughter of the international criminal they were tracking? That’s actually what inspired this book, in a way. Or rather, as I watched it play out, I thought, “So in this framework, the law endorcement officer is clearly the one we’re rooting for. But what if it wasn’t? What if he was the villain? Because come on, from her point of view, he is. He’s out to destroy her family and even if he did feel some affection for her, it doesn’t change facts.” So I starting thinking about other scenarios…and a love triangle involving this agent on the one hand and a hero on the other who was part of her world…and yet not. A stand-up guy.

I don’t recall exactly how I settled on 1920s Chicago and the Mafia, but I spent quite a long time reading several books, choosing the year of my setting, buying and studying a Sicilian dictionary, all that fun stuff. And while my son sat in his bouncy chair at my feet, I hammered out the story for Sabina and Lorenzo and Roman. I learned 20s slang (and decided how much to use or not). I looked up when pizza first arrived in Chicago. I wrote gun fights and speakeasies and corrupt Bureau agents. I included poetry and faith and looking at old friends through new eyes. And most of all, I wrote a heroine who really saw, for the first time, the cost of being part of a family who dwelt partially in the underworld. I examined what it meant to love them and be loyal to them when you came to hate what they were doing.

I have no idea what this book will look like when it’s finished, but I’m excited to dive in and really hone those themes!

Also exciting–I get to design the cover! I haven’t started yet, so the world is still wide open with possibilities for that. Do you have ideas for what you love to see in 1920s fiction? Or a trend you think I should explore? Please share them below! (I know, this is new for me, right? I’ve gotten your take on a couple options before, and I certainly always show you my covers as soon as I can, but I’ve never actually invited anyone into the brainstorming stage before!)

You can track the progress of the book at its page on Chrism Press’s site; as links and covers and all the other fun stuff become available, they’ll be added there. And of course, I’ll keep you updated here as always. =)

About Shadowed Loyalty

Sabina Mancari never questioned her life as the daughter of Chicago’s leading mob boss until bullets tear apart her world and the man she thought she loved turned out to be an undercover Prohibition agent. Now she sees how ugly the underworld can be. Ambushes, bribes, murder, prostitution—maybe Lorenzo, her straitlaced fiancé, had it right when he said it is better to stay far removed. And maybe, if she can understand him and his baffling faith, he will give her another chance.

But Lorenzo isn’t sure he’s ready for that. All his life he has loved Sabina, only to realize she had never felt the same about him. While he’s relieved to see her pursuing God, the Prohibition agent is pursuing her father just as intently, and it falls to Enzo—and his legal skills—to keep trouble at bay. He wants to believe that Sabina can change…assuming they can stay alive until their wedding day.

Shadowed Loyalty, set amid the glitz and scandal of the Roaring Twenties, examines what love really means and how we draw lines between family and our own convictions, especially when following the one could mean losing the other.