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. 

Cover Redesigns ~ The Culper Ring!

Cover Redesigns ~ The Culper Ring!

Earlier in the summer, I tried to order some more copies of Ring of Secrets, only to learn that they’d gone out of print. As in, forever. No more paperbacks would be produced. Noooooo! So naturally, I immediately emailed my agent, and we struck up a conversation with Harvest House. Long story short, two days later I found myself in possession of the rights of the three Culper Ring novels, as well as the two novellas that were actually always mine to begin with. 😉 This wasn’t something I’d planned on, but it’s certainly nice to know I can now keep them available for everyone!

One of the stipulations of the reversion of rights was that I would have to provide new covers for them, as the original files were not available. Shucks, right? A cover designer hates being told she has to make new covers for some of her first books. 😉 So today, I’m super excited to reveal ALL the new covers at once! (Okay, so the novellas only got small tweaks, since I’d been the one to design those to begin with.)

Of course, I still have some of the old covers in stock, but once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. So below each new cover, there are a couple links. One to the book’s new page with the new cover, where you can purchase paperback to ship as soon as I have them in hand, and one to the OLD cover’s page too–those are now on sale so I can clear out my stock. 😉 (Well, except for Ring of Secrets, because I only have 2 of those left anyway.) Please note that the new paperbacks are still in process and not in hand. I’m working on these as quickly as I can and hope to have them here and shippable within 2 weeks. You can order now, and they’ll ship as soon as I get them!

If you’re looking for ebooks, they’ll be back up at retailers soon–or you can grab them now from WhiteFire! Links for those are at the bottom of the page!

So let’s jump right into the cover reveals with…

Ring of Secrets

This first book in the Culper Ring Series is set during the Revolutionary War, in 1780. Winter is a character living a deception in order to stay alive as a Patriot in Loyalist-held New York…and help other Patriots in any way she can. I wanted an image that would capture both the playful, “brainless” image she projects, but also hint at the secrets she was keeping. And of course, a beautiful era gown was called for! I admit that orange had never been my favorite on the original, though the overall design was lovely, and I did like the model they selected. For my design, I also chose a different script for the font, made it larger to cover the whole cover for easier reading in thumbnail, and added a fun wax seal on a corner of old paper for series branding. So all that takes us from this…

to this:

I don’t know about you, but I really love the gown here! The color is just lovely, and I love the little pops of brighter colors in the flowers–especially that it ties in just a bit with the original orange, but redder.

Then of course, we have the only-mildly-updated…

Fairchild’s Lady

which went from this:

to the very similar this:

As you can see, the biggest changes there were to put the new title banner and series corner on it. Otherwise, I just kept my original design.

Moving on. =) When I received the cover for Whipsers from the Shadows, my daughter declared it “Cinderella!” LOL. I always found it funny that the gown they chose (which I love!) was in use on several other Christian novels too–apparently there are a few major design firms in the same city that all rented costuming from the same theater! How funny is that? For my redesign, I played with quite a few different ideas. Maybe I wanted Gwyn to be painting? But painting requires light, and I wanted to get those SHADOWS in there, so I opted for an exterior scene with a lovely, moody gate instead. And of course, an era dress. (Oh, fun note–all the gowns on the new novel covers are ACTUAL historical pieces! The Met has many public domain images from their collection, and that’s where I found all these! I just found models to “wear” them digitally.)

So here we go!

Whispers from the Shadows

The lovely Cinderella original:

and my new version:

The second novella, A Hero’s Promise, actually got a facelift last year, when I put a model on the original cover, which had just been the Capitol building before. So for the new version, all I did was flip her around to better flow with the rest of the series and change the color of the banner for the same reason. Here are both the new-old version, ha ha, and the updated one.

A Hero’s Promise

And that brings us to the final cover!

I always loved the original cover of Circle of Spies, especially because (a) the model was the designer’s niece, and (b) the seamstress who designed and created the costume had emailed me when I did my original cover reveal to introduce herself and say what fun she had working on Marietta’s gown! So it was sad to let this one go, but obviously necessary.

Because Mari is in half-mourning for most of the book, the dress had to stay gray. But I decided to put her in her sitting room instead of having the theater background, and I do quite like the model I found and the expression on her face. She gets to be in profile, to keep the theme of the models turning different directions throughout the series. So here we have our two versions of

Circle of Spies

More small notes from Roseanna-the-designer; I love that the title banners and series seals not only change color but actually do a reverse-rainbow. Fun, huh? And I also made a point of integrating a bit of color from the other books into each one. Maybe no one else in the world will ever notice that, LOL, but I love the way it binds them all together when you view them side by side! And so, I’ll leave you with that image. And you can let me know what you think of the new face of

The Culper Ring Series

(Just a quick note about availability–these WILL be on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc., but I haven’t had a chance to list them there yet. So for now, you can grab them here. They should be available everywhere in the next week or two!)

Announcing my next stand-alone!

Announcing my next stand-alone!

I know, I know, book 1 in my new series just released. But in this industry, we’re always working years ahead of what you see to guarantee more fun reads in the future. =) And I’m so excited to announce that I’ve just signed a contract for a stand-alone that will come after my Secrets of the Isles series is complete, before a new series begins!

If you’ve read The Codebreakers, you may have been a bit curious about one of the other cryptographers I mention in the series–Remington Culbreth, who gets progressively more serious and somber as the books go on. Well, I planted him there on purpose, mwa ha ha ha, because I already had a story in mind for him. 😉 Let me tell you a little about it.

Way back in 2004, I’d just graduated college. It was summer, and for the first time in four years, I didn’t have a job. My husband was working in Baltimore and commuting from Annapolis, which meant he was out early in the morning and got home just in time for dinner. Our goal had always been that he would work and I’d write and raise the kids, so that summer was kind of our practice run.

One night I woke up with a story idea. Now, I have never in my life gotten out of bed to go write, but I did lie there awake for an hour or two as this story idea crashed over me. I got up when David did, grabbed my laptop, and started writing. It was a contemporary story about a young man from the DC area, whose family was wealthy and important, and a young woman of mixed race born and raised in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, whose grandmother was a cleaning woman and whose mother owned an inn. Louisa had big dreams but gave them up to help her family. She and Rem fell in love one summer, but then life happened and took them apart, and when he reenters the scene years later, nothing’s simple anymore. He wants to give Louisa back some of her dreams when he sees what a bad decision of his had cost her, but she’s afraid the dream itself is too costly now.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean on Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina

In the course of three days, I wrote 150 pages of this book. It consumed me. A few years later, when I’d learned SO much about writing and publishing, I did a complete overhaul of the story, and yet again it consumed me. I rewrote the entire book in two weeks. I showed it to my agent, who loved it. I pitched to a few editors at a conference and it went to committee but didn’t get a contract.

Then I got contracts for historicals, and this contemporary got pushed into my file of finished stories that may or may not ever see the light of day.

But every single year, when my family goes to the Outer Banks on vacation, those characters come back to me. I imagine Louisa standing on the porch beside me. I see Rem jogging toward the waves. I couldn’t let them go.

Springer’s Point Beach on Ocracoke

Well, a couple years ago, my best friend Stephanie said, “Oo, oo! I know what you need to do! Set your OBX story in the 1920s!”

Cue Roseanna gasping in that “Why didn’t I think of that???” way. So over the last couple years, I’ve spent my vacations toying with how best to reset Louisa and Rem into the world of 100 years ago. In the contemporary version, Rem had been an analyst for the CIA…so naturally, in the historical version, he would have been a cryptographer. I mentioned to my editor at Bethany House that I had this idea for a stand-alone at the time when I pitched The Codebreakers, and he wisely said, “Sounds like a great story, but we wouldn’t want it to feel like a tagalong to this series, so let’s put some other books between them.” But I put Rem in Room 40, so he was already in the world. And I kept thinking. And thinking.

Last September as we were strolling the empty beaches, I was thinking how unfair it was that all the really interesting things in the Outer Banks happened not during the First World War, but rather during the Second. And I had this flash of inspiration. A timeslip! Louisa and Rem set during WW1, and then a second line with another character I’d already thought up, in WW2! YES!!!!!!

After I turned in the manuscript for my second Secrets of the Isles book in January of 2021, I sat down and hammered out how this would work. Yet again, the idea COMPLETELY consumed me. And it all came together more perfectly than I’d ever imagined it could. I was so excited. So. Very. Excited. My usual way to pitch a project to Bethany House is to write a synopsis, but instead I found myself planning out each scene and how the two timelines would interact. I ended up with a detailed 20-page outline of the book, plus a manageable synopsis for the team to review, LOL.

I fell in love with the gorgeous, sprawling live oaks in the maritime evergreen forests on the island.

To my utter delight, the pub board at BHP was excited about the idea too! So, 19 years after I came up with the idea, Yesterday’s Tides will be published! The title may change (though I LOVE this title, and it fits it perfectly, so hopefully not), and the story has so many new elements, but I’m more in love than ever. Because not only do we get Louisa and Rem and Ocracoke…we get Room 40. We get themes of how the First World War shook the world in ways that triggered the Second World War a generation later. I get to explore how Yesterday’s Tides really do affect today’s currents. All the things, y’all! ALL THE THINGS.

So last week, my family took a semi-spontaneous trip to Ocracoke for research. There’s a memorial service each year to commemmorate the sinking of a British ship off the coast during the early years of WW2, which will be where my book begins, so we wanted to catch it. And while we were there we did a lot of exploring and research, both general and specific.

I still have book 3 of the Secrets of the Isles to finish writing, which is fun and I’m enjoying it–but then I’ll get to dive into this one! I can’t wait! You can expect it to release around Jan-Feb of 2023.

 Are you a fan of timeslip stories with dual timelines?

How about serialized reads?

How about serialized reads?

I’ve been giving some thought lately to serialized content and wanted to get the input from you, my darling readers…since it would be all for you anyway. =)

To explain a bit what I’m thinking, when I say “serialized reads,” I have in mind episodic fiction, based in my fictional world. Each “episode” would be round about a chapter-length. Access to these reads would be a subscription. So you’d pay a very small monthly fee, but that would give you access to ongoing, perpetual, new, and exclusive content.

Would you be interested in something like this? If so, would you take a minute to fill out this form, so I can begin thinking about what stories everyone would most enjoy and what “small fee” would be reasonable? Thanks!

If you’re having trouble viewing the form below, please fill it out HERE.

Giveaway – The Nature of a Lady Release Day!

Giveaway – The Nature of a Lady Release Day!

There’s a lot of information here,
so here’s a quick list of what you’ll find in this post!

1. How I came up with the idea for The Nature of a Lady and why I love it

2. The “Hunt through the Pages” is on, and it has some awesome prizes

3. A science and faith resource page

4. Companion articles on subjects from the book

5. Facebook LIVE event link

Inspiration for The Nature of a Lady

I can’t believe it’s here! Finally! Release day for The Nature of a Lady, book 1 in the Secrets of the Isles series!

After seven books in a row that took place during a war, I was ready for a break–something pure fun. And that’s what this series is! Oh, not to say there aren’t some serious subjects contained in these pages. But writing these stories have been pure joy for me. We’ve got pirate tales, treasure hunts, mistaken identities, new love, old love, hometown rivalries…yep. FUN.

Hilariously, I actually got the idea for this book when The Number of Love released. My author copies arrived, and I was signing and packing up the books that readers had pre-ordered through my store. As I was looking at packing slips and signing books accordingly, I noticed quite a pattern. Namely, I have a LOT of readers named Elizabeth (or some variation thereof). Enough that at one point, I pulled another sheet forward and went, “Oh, look, another Elizabeth.”

Another Elizabeth.

The words stuck in my head. All day. Into the next. Another Elizabeth. Wouldn’t that be a funny concept for a story? Maybe it could be about a group of people all sharing the same name…could be a contemporary…it would be fun as a YA…but that’s not my style. No, so what would make sense as a historical?

I was out on the swingset with the kids when the next piece clicked into place. Edwardian era. A girl–a noblewoman in hiding, maybe–shows up at a flat she just let. The landlady greets her with “Oh, another Elizabeth is it? Hope you’re more dependable than the last.” This Elizabeth soon discovers that the previous occupant left all her stuff…including her troubles. And our heroine meets the same basic physical description too. So she gets confused with the previous Elizabeth. Then the brother of the original Elizabeth shows up…

Well, the flat turned into a holiday cottage, the name of the book got changed from Another Elizabeth to The Nature of a Lady, and the story certainly became a lot more fleshed out as I decided what sort of trouble the original Elizabeth–Beth–left for the new Elizabeth–Libby. And gracious. So much fun!!

My first step was a fabulous setting, and I settled on the Isles of Scilly (pronounced Silly), 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall. Figured I’d toss in a hunt for pirate treasure, give the hero Oliver (Beth’s brother) a rival he’s in constant battle with, have that rival be a would-be-old-flame of my third POV character, Mabena, Libby’s maid…and then just go along for the ride.

I hope you love the result as much as I do! These characters…they really gripped my heart, my mind, and my imagination. They ask questions about things that matter. They deal with tragedy and chronic illness. They struggle with anxieties and what friendship really means, how to find their place in the world. They ask questions about the universe itself. They find and deepen faith; and there’s a grandmother character I think you’ll adore.

Hunt Through the Pages

To celebrate the release of The Nature of a Lady, I thought it would be super fun to do something a little different from my usual giveaway. This time, I’m inviting YOU into the treasure hunt!

“Hunt through the Pages” while you read the book, find the answers to 20 questions, and turn them in for access to a SECRET PAGE! What’s on this page? Exclusive videos, a downloadable recipe booklet, a bonus scene featuring the story of the eldest Tremayne brother, which I’ve called “The Heart of His Brother,” and a sneak peek of the next book, To Treasure an Heiress!

PLUS, if you get your entries in by July 19, 2021, you will be entered to win one of TWELVE prize packages! (Each correct answer is one additional entry!)

Visit the Hunt through the Pages page here on my website for the full rules, to download a printable PDF of the clues, and to fill in your answers and be entered to win one of those twelve prizes!

The Prizes

Twelve winners will receive a “treasure chest” full of:

  1. A vintage teacup with saucer and a dainty spoon
  2. Two servings of flavored loose-leaf tea
  3. Honey and sugar cubes
  4. Cakebites
  5. A pearl and leaf necklace
  6. A Zoom link to join me and the other winners on Saturday, July 30 at 7 pm EDT for an hour to chat about the book and enjoy our tea together!

 

So grab your pirate hat, an eyepatch, and get your best “Arrr!” ready to roll off your tongue! We’re huntin’ pirate treasure, matey, and it’s bound to be fun!

On Science and Faith

Throughout the pages of The Nature of a Lady, Libby struggles a bit with how to reconcile her love for the scientific method and discovery with the faith of her mother, which seems very closed-minded to her. Oliver, a faith-filled vicar but also a bit of a botanist, helps her see that the two don’t need to be at war. This is a conversation I’ve heard played out many times over the years, though, so I thought it would be fun (and hopefully valuable) to chat some more about it.

If it’s a subject that interests you, please join me on the Science and Faith page. There you’ll find an article I’ve written, a conversation I had via email with other authors with scientific backgrounds, and some resources for further reading.

Companion Articles

In the weeks leading up to release day, I’ve also been posting articles on subjects corresponding with the book! You can find links to all of them now in one handy location. Check them out here!

Live Event

Join me for a LIVE chat on Tuesday, May 4th at 7pm EDT! Behind the scenes, an excerpt, a treasure hunt, and more! Join the event HERE.