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A charming village, a struggling hero, a woman who risks heartbreak for a second time….

Some stories write themselves. Some stories fight you.  I posted about this back in April (here) as I struggled with reworking LORD OF HER HEART. Optimistically, I hoped then the book would be out in June. Ha. Even after I revised it, it still needed so much editing! Yikes, I began to think it would never make it out into the world. But as of today –it’s out!!

LORD OF HER HEART is the start of my new “Tales of Little Macclow” series. “Book Two” in the series is already out—my Christmastide holiday story, LORD OF MISRULE, inspired readers to ask for a series set in the fictional village where there may (or may not) be a bit of magic. The story actually takes place eight months after the action in the new book, so if you haven’t read LOM yet, I would say you’ll enjoy it even more if you read the new one first!  The stories stand alone, but there is a continuing chronology that is going to link the series together.

Here is the blurb for LORD OF HER HEART:

An unexpected return. A new risk for old friends.

As Little Macclow prepares to celebrate May Day, Tom Hepston’s arrival stirs expectations and speculation. Tom left the village fourteen years ago. Now he is back, but he hasn’t come willingly and he has no plans to stay. While he’s proud of the naval career he has left behind, he believes the physical and mental wounds that ended it have made him a madman no woman could—or should—love. Can he leave again before everyone sees the broken man he has become?

Sally Royden’s young heart broke when Tom left the first time. After years of hoping for his return, she now leads a full life caring for her sister and serving as the village seamstress. Tom’s experiences have changed him. Can Sally dare hope for renewed friendship? Or more? Or will her heart be broken twice—by the same man?

Little Macclow—tucked away and maybe touched by magic…. Village tales of love’s triumphs.

I’ve done “wounded heroes” before and bad memories are necessarily a part of them. (If you love this trope, I hope you’ll love Tom Hepston!) But I’ve never attempted one struggling with true PTSD before, which is so much more and can be so complex. I took an entire course on PTSD and did a lot of additional research in order to attempt writing Tom’s character. I had to learn some of the ways it is treated now—so I could figure out ways Tom might recover in a time period when the disorder didn’t even have a name, never mind any sort of therapy. Part of the proceeds from sales of LORD OF HER HEART will be donated to the Wounded Warriors Project and other non-profit organizations that support those struggling with the challenges of PTSD.

Do you like the wounded warrior trope? How about second-chances, and friends-to-lovers? One thing that makes this book different is that the main characters are not aristocracy. They’re not even gentry. Are you willing to read about characters who aren’t wealthy, and never will be? Tom & Sally are at the opposite end from those millionaire dukes who are so popular. I hope you’ll see that their HEA future is just as solid as those earned by those wealthy, high-ranked kinds of characters. And I hope you’ll want to visit Little Macclow again for more books in the series!

The book is available for Kindle and in print through Amazon and in other ebook formats through Smashwords.

First of all a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the Riskies’ own Diane Gaston, the recipient of a Washington Romance Writers Award for her body of work. I have not read the citation that accompanied the award but expect she may share it eventually!

And now back to the regular schedule:

Series are my favorite thing to read AND write. They must be the single best way to develop a market for books. I wonder if the idea for series grew out of the way stories were serialized in the nineteenth century (you know, Dickens.) If anybody has an answer ton that question please leave a comment.

I have no doubt that series are a great way to develop a reader base because I love them as both reader and as a writer. Here’s why: because it lets you get to know characters better. And if I like the protagonists in a book there is nothing I want more than to know what happens next to them and in their world.

As a writer I like series for the same reason but from a different perspective. I know what happens to my characters after the story ends. One couple is not as happy as I would wish and in another the wife dies in childbirth and she haunts her husband until he finds someone else to love and also someone who will love their daughter. Nope, not gonna tell you what books they are because no romance reader I know wants to hear that the HEA is not quite perfect.

The Pennistan Series I wrote for Bantam (TRAITOR’S KISS is the first) is still in my mind, years after I have technically finished the series. It’s a series where family members appear in each others books and secondary characters find their own romance.

ONE_MORE_KISS_ResizedMy favorite scene is the final one in the final book (ONE MORE KISS) when the whole family gathers for Beatrice and Jess’s wedding. As the Duke, his brother says, “having Jess here makes us a family again. Having every one here for his wedding to Beatrice completes us.”

It was my chance to give readers a look at each couples life since marriage. Elena makes the Duke laugh more. Gabriel’s wife Lynette is still uncomfortable at the thought that her brother-in-law is a duke. Mia and David “make bickering seem romantic” and Olivia Garrett would rather be in the kitchen coming up with a recipe for salmon that will appeal to her almost sister-in-law, Beatrice.

And Michael Garrett, Olivia’s husband, has the time to talk to everyone who approaches him, and in the process learns more secrets than anyone else in the room. The fact he is the Vicar of the Church in Pennsford might have something do with why people are so willing to confide in him.

Michael and Oivia are the launch point for a new series I am starting as soon as I come home from vacation. The stories (I’m thinking 40K word novellas) will be set in Pennsford and each story grows from a secret a parishioner shares with Michael. He never betrays a confidence but we, as readers in his point of view, will see the story develop from the perspective of what he knows.

For sure you will hear how the stories progress right here.

So what do you like best about series as a reader and/or a writer?

Scene in Kerry, IrelandThis summer I’m starting a new endeavor I may have mentioned before: a new series. I’m not ready to discuss it here yet, because it’s still so shapeless in my mind I can’t quite believe in it. It’s a project that excites me and scares me at the same time, because it’s going to require a lot more research and plotting on a level beyond what I did for my “Three Disgraces” trilogy, which were only loosely connected.

I hope readers will be patient with me as I take this climb. It looks steep, and after a point, I’m not sure what the path will entail. But there’s also the prospect of some amazing views as I get closer to the end.

So I have ordered some new reference books and stocked up on journals and my favorite pen (G-2 Pilot, in blue, not black), because I do my best brainstorming in longhand. I may also play with some easier side projects (I have several ideas for novellas) to take some of the pressure off.

I’m also taking some time to spiff up how I do ebook formatting. Many thanks to Risky Carolyn Jewel who spent an hour or so patiently answering my questions and gave me some excellent suggestions! Although it is technical work, it’s creative too, and that feeds my muse and it’s fun! (Yes, I am a little bid mad, but harmless, I promise you.)

What do you do to psyche yourselves up for a big project?


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