Spotlight on Rejoice and Resist

Today at last I can give you pre-sale links to the third of the three anthologies I’m in this coming holiday season. Rejoice and Resist is a box set of nine stories set in different times and written in different genres, but all using the Final Draft Tavern. And it has been sitting at the top of the Amazon bestseller list for Shortstories and Anthologies since it went to pre-release on Monday.

Come share a drink in the Back Room of the Final Draft Tavern, where for nearly a millennium, the Marchand family and their cat, Whiskey, have led travelers through time and space: rebels and dissenters, heroes and villains, artists and lovers. These seven (longish) short stories feature characters united through the ages by resistance to tyranny, and celebrating the right to speak truth to power. Rejoice and Resist will amuse and entertain, but also inspire you to call out oppression, demand human rights, question the status quo, and stand up to be counted.

Travel backward and forward through time with multiple authors and fiction genres: drama, horror, women’s fiction, historical fiction, time travel, historical or contemporary romance, and paranormal. Shoot through the lens of a photographer or the pistol of a highway brigand; meet death with a ghost-writer, or a president and his cabinet with a deck of cards; brave life in a new country, or just in a new era of civil rights; or conceal yourself in time with an orphan of the apocalypse.

Whatever role you take in the struggle toward justice, step through a secret passageway and pull up a barstool, let the closest Marchand pour you a libation, and celebrate the holiday season with the Speakeasy Scribes.

And join us tomorrow at our Facebook party to meet the authors (online, at any computer, for nearly twelve hours of conversation and fun).

Here’s the Amazon US buy link. I’ll add others over the day.

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So many plots, so little time

My latest set of short stories has hit the New Release Bestseller lists on Amazon UK and Amazon US, and my newsletter short story was opened by more than 200 people. I enjoy the short story format. Two main characters, one tight plot arc, and a gallop to a happy ever after you can enjoy over a lunch break, with a cup of coffee in one hand and the ebook reader of your choice in the other.

Could some of those stories be novels, as some readers have suggested? Yes, of course. Mostly, I manage to keep the word count tight by hinting at backstory, any part of which could be shown on the page.

But… if I write the books that occur to me as I go along, what will happen to the 45 or so plots I created before I wrote my first historical fiction novel?

I need to buckle down and write novels. At the moment, I’m still working in my day job 72 hours a fortnight, and writing in my spare time. I’m managing just under two novels a year. In due course (sooner if I suddenly start to sell lots more books), I’ll leave the day job, and make fiction writing my full-time work. Then, I reckon, I should be able to write at least four novels a year. Maybe five.

Here are the ones I have in the pipeline. Novels only. Short stories and novellas arrive like manna from heaven and get squeezed into the gaps. (The numbers are the order I’ve published.)

Standalone: not part of a series

2. A Baron for Becky (published)

A Monstrous Masquerade The tentative working name for the book about what Jonathan Grenford was up to between the end of Concealed in Shadow and the last quarter of The Bluestocking and the Barbarian (you may recall he was fetched from overseas during his mother’s house party.

The Golden Redepennings

1. Farewell to Kindness (published)

4. A Raging Madness (published)

5. The Realm of Silence (in progress)

Unkept Promises

The Flavour of Their Deeds

An Unpitied Sacrifice

Children of Wrath

The Children of the Mountain King

6. The Bluestocking and the Barbarian (being rewritten into a novel)

The Healer and the Hermit

The Rake and the Reformer (or The Saint and the Sinner)

The Diamond and the Doctor

The Lamb and the Lion

The Maid and the Mercenary

Danwood’s Daughters

Lord Danwood’s Dilemma

Lady Henry’s Choice

Charity Begins at Home

Smuggler’s Coast

Deborah and Destiny

And three others that don’t have titles yet

Lion’s Pride

(seven novel plots, no titles yet) — returned soldiers, all linked because they worked in a loosely connected group as Exploring Officers for Wellington

Series about three sisters

And also about the villain from the first three books — no series title yet

Lady Charlie Charms the Marquess

Lady Freddie Fascinates the Reverend

Lady Ernie Engages the Soldier

Miss Henwood Dices with Death

A Game of Mist and Shadows

(historical suspense with spies and thief takers)

3. Revealed in Mist (published)

7. Concealed in Shadow (work in progress)

Veiled in Darkness

The Wages of Virtue

3. (Revealed in Mist — Prue’s story belongs in both series)

Practising Charity

Finding Faith

Delivering Hope

And more…

Then there are the other three series that are no more than ideas on a piece of paper.

  • A half-formed idea about a series of eight novels under a series title The Curse of the Three: three linked families whose enmity dates from generations back and who each have a clue to a treasure.
  • Four West-Indies related stories in a series, one linked to Farewell to Kindness.
  • Four reverse fairy-story ideas.

Right. Better get on with it then.

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First impressions on WIP Wednesday

I’m just finishing the short story to go out with my next newsletter, so I thought I’d choose something from that for my WIP Wednesday.

Give me an excerpt that tells me what one of your characters thought about another the first time they met.

My story is called A Gentleman Honours His Debts, and starts when the Earl of Bridgethorne takes passage on the ship where his bride has been hiding since she ran away a week after their marriage. This excerpt is a bit of backstory.

Leticia Fanshaw was one of three wallflowers Dickon danced with that first evening at the Bellowes house party. He’d almost passed her by; her discomfort when they were introduced rousing his pity but dousing any potential interest. This year, unlike the previous five, he had a stronger motive than the pleasures of the dance for his exercises on the dance floor. This year, he was in the market for a bride.

Not that he intended for any of Society’s matchmakers to know that, and fortunately his reputation helped keep his new motives secret. All the haut ton knew the Earl of Bridgethorne enjoyed dancing, and his skill made even the most awkward of partners look graceful. And he was kind, dancing with at least three of four of the least popular maidens at every event, as well as matrons, widows, and the more popular debutantes. Never more than one dance with each partner at any one event, a restriction that limited speculation about his marital intentions, and made courtship slightly harder now those intentions had changed.

Still, five years of conversation while standing out in line dances had given Dickon some definite views about the kind of bride he wanted. Not too proud, or too absorbed in her own beauty, which disqualified most of those to whom his fellows were drawn. Not foolish or inane or passionately fixated on an interest he did not share. He would have to converse with his wife, at least occasionally. Indeed, he hoped that, if he chose well, they might become friends. And, while he did not require physical perfection, he would, of course, have to be sufficiently attracted to the lady to do his duty by his title and estate, since an heir was the whole purpose of the exercise.

Five years of conversation had convinced him that the gem he sought was probably hidden among the wallflowers. Not an antidote, or a shy nervous creature afraid of men. But a woman whose intelligence and character had frightened off the fools who fell in love with the transitory sparkle of Society’s annual stars.

So when Miss Fanshaw blushed, stammered, and dropped her fan, he almost made his bow and his excuses, touching his hostess on her arm in the prearranged signal to present him to the next group. But was that fear in the look the young lady shot sideways to the aunt and uncle who were sponsoring her? And surely he imagined the menace in her uncle’s responding glare?

“If you would excuse us, Lord Bridgethorne and I…”

Dickon ruthlessly interrupted Lady Bellowes. How she would roast him later! “May I have the honour of a dance, Miss Fanshaw.”

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Reading my way through a cold

I’m slowly surfacing from hibernation with a winter cold. The irritating cough lingers, and I still flake mid-afternoon and yearn for a nap, but at least the fog has lifted from my brain and the plot elves are functioning again.

I’ve put the time to good if lazy use by catching up on the books I’d downloaded to my kindle app but never read, and raiding my library’s electronic catalogue for entire series that I read years ago and wanted to read again. I’ve binge read most of Jo Beverly’s Company of Rogues, Shana Galen’s de Valère series, Elizabeth Boyle’s Brazen series, Stephanie Lauren’s Lester Family and her Adventurers’ Quartet, Anna Campbell’s Dashing Widows Club, and individual books by Shana Galen, Jane Ashford, Sally MacKenzie, Grace Burrowes, Allison Lane, Callie Hutton, Sandra Schwab, Tessa Dare, and others.

(Yes, I read fast.)

Who are your favourite go-to authors when you’re proper poorly?

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News update

I’ve finished the raw drafts of my two novellas for Holiday anthologies, and sent them to other authors in the project for a beta read.

I’ve finished, but not yet sent back, my proofreading comments on the wonderful Blind Tribute, an historical novel set during the US civil war.

I’ve applied for an ISBN for A Suitable Husband, and will get it up onto Smashwords for the wider distribution they offer.

I’m back into writing The Realm of Silence,  next in The Golden Redepennings Series.

I have beta reading to do, a newsletter story to finish, and a print book to finish formatting and send to a prizewinner, but my writing life is calming down somewhat.

Just as well, since the rest of my universe is descending into chaos. Sigh.

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Love between the classes

This month, most of the Bluestocking Belles are publishing the novellas that were part of our 2016 box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts.  My contributions to the set were A Suitable Husband. and The Bluestocking and the Barbarian. I’m not releasing Barbarian yet. I want to expand it into a novel. But I have A Suitable Husband up on prerelease and it will be published on 30 September.

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Perhaps among the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party, she will find a suitable husband?

Marcel Fournier has only one ambition: to save enough from his fees serving as chef in the houses of the ton to become the proprietor of his own fine restaurant. An affair with the duchess’s dependent would be dangerous. Anything else is impossible. Isn’t it?

So far, I just have it up on Amazon, but I’ll add other links over the next week or so. Read on for an excerpt.

✶´`´*★ ☆EXCERPT – A SUITABLE HUSBAND☆ ★.¸¸,.✶ 

“He does not look at me and see a woman. No one does.”

 Lady Sophia spoke decisively. “You are blue-devilled, my dear. Who knows whether any of us will meet a man who can see past our elderly exteriors to the treasures we all are? If we do not, you and I shall be old maids together.”

“Yes,” Lady de Courtenay agreed. “Perhaps we should set up house together. Certainly Sophia and I have no more wish to live forever on the sufferance of our brothers than you do on the Haverfords’. Who needs men, after all? Selfish, conceited creatures, always jumping to conclusions.”

This time, Mademoiselle Grenford’s laugh was more genuine.

Lady Sophia said, “Rest for an hour. Read a book. I will order a pot of tea and some cakes, and Grace and I shall deal with anything that arises.” Her voice was coming closer.

 Swiftly, before she could open the door and find him listening, Marcel retreated down the hall and around the corner, all the way back downstairs, thinking furiously.

 First, he must order a tray set with the most delicate of cups, the finest tea, and some of the little cakes from the test batch he had made that morning, in preparation for the real challenge of Christmas Day’s dinner. Each was a work of art with its own sugar flower, and it had not escaped his notice that his mademoiselle liked them.

Then, while his assistants made the tray, he must make peace. This war must end. If that meant giving Madame Pearce her way on the tower, then so be it. He could not be part of causing pain to his mademoiselle.

His! How foolish he was. He was a chef. She was an aristo, of a family with a duke, despite her humble words. Yet un chien regarde bien un évêque. A dog can take a good look at a bishop. The English proverb was similar. A cat may look at a king. What would Mademoiselle Grenford think if she knew Marcel saw her as a woman, as she put it?

Perhaps bread to go with the cakes? Bread sliced thinly and buttered by his own hand and topped by some of Madame’s conserve. A peace offering from them both.

Determined, he gave his orders to his kitchen and braved the kitchen of Madame Pearce. An odd quest, but would not a knight dare anything, brave any danger, undergo any humiliation, for the lady he must adore from afar?

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Book tour for A Raging Madness

A Raging Madness went live three weeks ago, and is still in the Hot New Regency Release list on Amazon.

It’s the second in The Golden Redepennings series, and stars Alex who waltzed in a wheelchair in the first. He’s recovering from a crippling injury that nearly cost him a leg. Ella, the heroine, is escaping in-laws who have been keeping her drugged and imprisoned. Together, they search for answers and a future.

Follow the book link for buy links and the blurb, and I’ll keep adding links as they go up.

I’ve been on a virtual tour to promote the book. Check it out here. There are prizes!

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Six more weeks until a new book baby

I’m preparing to publish the novel A Raging Madness, which is set in Regency England, mostly on canal boats or in a tumble-down manor house in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

The book is currently with the proofreader, and will be released on 9 May.

So what does that mean ‘preparing to publish’? For me, it means a four-tab spreadsheet to help me keep track of my planning, lots of emails and messages as I beg people for guest spots on their blogs and set up a couple of Facebook parties, a print book cover and advertising images to design, a short story to write for my April newsletter, which will go out as soon as I have buy links, and a bit of soul-searching as I try to figure out how to second-guess the juggernaut that is Amazon and the shifting mass of chaos that is the bazillion-book market.

I’m off on holiday next Friday. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. No day job, but family to spend time with and places to go. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, here’s the book blurb. Below are the covers I’m redesigning for the rest of the series plus the blurb, such as it currently is, for Book 3. Click to the link above if you’d like to read the first chapter of the new book.

Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

The Golden Redepennings started with Farewell to Kindness, and continues for seven books. Farewell has a new cover to match A Raging Madness.

The next in the series is The Realm of Silence.

When secrets are revealed, lives change forever

Susan Cunningham’s carefully managed life spirals out of control when her daughter Amy disappears from a select ladies’ academy in Cambridge. Susan will do anything to find the missing fifteen year old, even accept help from Gil Rutledge, who once made her childhood miserable and who stirs her as her deceased husband never did.

Gil seizes the chance to pursue the runaway up the Great North Road. It’s a holiday from responsibilities he never wanted; a temporary escape from his mother and sisters, his dead brother’s bankrupt estate, a life he is not trained for and didn’t expect. And the chance to spend time with the one woman he has ever loved.

Catching up with Amy is only the start. To save her, they must stand together against French spies and prisoners of war, English radicals, the British army and navy, and their own families. And even risk their hearts.

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A letter to the new year

Dear 2017

No point in beating about the bush. Your predecessor’s performance left a good deal to be desired. In fairness, I need to acknowledge that I didn’t follow the fundamental rule of performance management. I didn’t make my expectations clear, so 2016 had no idea what would get it booted out the door with a sigh of relief.

So, 2017, let’s start our brand new relationship with a few basic suggestions from me.

First, while I know the body is not as young as it used to be, I’d like it to keep working for a while longer. If I agree to be careful how I prune trees and lift loads, can you agree that this year won’t include strained and inflamed muscles, tendons, and ligaments. And a new allergy? Really? What was 2016 thinking?

While we’re discussing health, I’d much prefer my personal romantic hero to stay healthy and active, too. You know what I’m talking about, 2017. I saw you have a chat with 2016 when you passed one another in the doorway.

PRH and I ended 2016 with our 45th wedding anniversary (on the 27th of December). It seems hardly possible that I will love him more at the end of this year than I do now, but I have 45 years of experience to tell me that’s the deal.

2016 gave me a new grandchild, and she is an absolute darling. I’ve no complaints there. Keep in mind, 2017, that I need to close this year with all thirteen grandchildren healthy and happy. Thank you for your consideration.

The other gift from 2016 was Clarity 2016, the conference I attended for my day job. I enjoy my day job, but I was worn to a frazzle by the time my Christmas holiday started. I’m making your performance in this area easier, 2017, because I’ve dropped one day of work a fortnight, beginning my transition to retirement.

No. Retirement is not the right word, is it? Because then there’s my fiction writing. In 2016, the output was sparse: several short stories and novellas and one novel, Revealed in Mist. This year, I want to publish A Raging Madness (which is nearly finished, so that’ll happen), and also two more novels. Ambitious, I know. And that’s not including Never Kiss a Toad, which at around 1500 words per week, should be completed by the time you end.

Dear 2017, help me keep to my minimum 1000 words per day, and I’ll meet the goal easily, and finish the year with Concealed in Shadow and The Realm of Silence published. Plus more short stories and novellas. I’m planning to put a short story in every newsletter from now on, so that’s six, and I’ll undoubtedly give away some more made-to-order stories.

Okay, 2017, I think that’s it.

Good luck. I’ll do my bit. I hope you’ll do yours.

Kindest regards

 

Jude Knight

 

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