Release Day: A Scandal in Newport

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More than halfway through August already–where did the summer go? I’m still catching my breath after a conference and a short vacation. And seriously, fall doesn’t officially begin until the autumn equinox on September 22! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Fortunately, whatever season this is, summer reads are still thick on the ground. Apropos of which, I’m happy to announce the arrival of A Scandal in Newport, my new novella in The Heiress Series!

The Story Behind the Story: Several readers expressed interest in Thomas Sheridan and Amy Newbold, the secondary couple from Waltz with a Stranger, along with regret that they didn’t get their own story. And after some consideration and an unexpected brainstorm, I decided to write that story.

Not long after hatching the idea, however, my creative life took something of a detour, leading to the creation of my new series, The Lyons Pride. I was still determined to finish A Scandal in Newport, however–especially after including a preview of it in my short-story collection, Awakened and Other Enchanted Tales.

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Marble House, one of Newport’s most splendid mansions

Recapturing the lighter tone and more Trans-Atlantic setting of my first series was a bit of a challenge, but it was one I came to enjoy, especially after delving more deeply into research. Gilded-Age Newport was a fascinating place to study, with its mix of breathtaking scenery, splendid mansions, and colorful personalities. This was where the American elite came during the summer for what probably seemed like an endless round of parties and promenades–all with the object of finding eligible husbands for their unmarried daughters, many of whom were considerable heiresses.

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Consuelo Vanderbilt, circa 1890

In 1895, Alva Vanderbilt landed one of the biggest fish of all: the ninth Duke of Marlborough, for her daughter Consuelo. If, that is, she could convince/browbeat/blackmail the recalcitrant Consuelo into accepting him. Which happened, though not until after a long, dramatic contest of wills between mother and daughter. (The whole of this battle is related in Consuelo’s memoir, The Glitter and the Gold.)

As a happily engaged couple, Thomas and Amy are exempt from the matchmaking stratagems of Newport’s pushy mamas. But trouble manages to find them all the same, and they soon find themselves fighting for their future together.

I hope you enjoy this tale of romance, intrigue, and danger set in America’s very own “kingdom by the sea”!

Happy reading, and enjoy what remains of summer!

“Q” is for “Quiet”

Which, admittedly, is how it’s been here for several months!

Photo by Daryl Samuel, Life size bronze of Rip Van Winkle sculpted by Richard Masloski, copyright 2000
Photo by Daryl Samuel, Life size bronze of Rip Van Winkle sculpted by Richard Masloski, copyright 2000

Chalk it up to a prolonged but necessary sojourn in the writing cave so I could complete my new novella–A Scandal in Newport, a companion story to my first book, Waltz with a Stranger!

I started Scandal further back than I care to admit, and during my hiatus from it, I wrote two other novellas and a novel. My plan has always been to finish it, however, but to do so, I needed time to reacquaint myself with the characters and the tone of my earlier series, which is overall lighter and less angsty than my new series, The Lyons Pride. Overall, I’m pleased with the result–and hope readers will be too, when Scandal makes its appearance later this month!

In other news, I attended the RWA conference in San Diego–a subject deserving of its own post–and managed to squeeze in a short vacation in Santa Barbara. Since my return, though, I’ve been feeling like a human boomerang, zipping back and forth between destinations with very short rest periods in between. So I’m grateful for the pause that refreshes–and hope to be firing on all cylinders again sooner rather than later!

Release Day: Devices & Desires

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His True Love Has His Heart…But Can He Win Hers?

Happy New Year, everyone! And Happy Chinese New Year, which is just around the corner (2/8/16)!

What better time than to announce the arrival of a new book and the start of a new series? Devices & Desires, the first novel in my historical series The Lyons Pride, is out today, on the following digital platforms:

Kindle  Nook  iBooks  Kobo  GooglePlay

It’s also on sale for 3.99 until the end of January, after which it will be 4.99. A print edition is in the works and should be available soon.

The Story Behind the Story: The idea for The Lyons Pride has been percolating since December 2012, while I was promoting my first book, Waltz with a Stranger. Initially a throwaway line in one of the many blog posts I was writing at the time, the idea took root and germinated practically overnight, like Jack’s beanstalk! As I was committed to readying my second book, A Song at Twilight, for publication, it was some time before I could pursue this project, but once I had a hand free, it was full steam ahead!

The primary influence for the series and especially the first book, Devices & Desires, was the brilliant, biting historical drama, The Lion in Winter. It was originally a play by James Goldman, but people are probably most familiar with the 1968 film version, starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn as estranged royal spouses Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who fight over everything from the succession–in question after the death of their eldest son, Henry the Young King–to the loyalty of their surviving sons: Richard (later the Lionheart), Geoffrey (Duke of Brittany), and John (known as Lackland).

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The Brothers Plantagenet: from left, John, Geoffrey, and Richard

I first saw the film when I was in high school, and the performances and razor-sharp dialogue blew me away. And I also read the play to see if I could pick up more nuances that the film might have omitted (there were a couple, but by and large, the film adheres closely to the play). It ended up being one of the films that’s stayed with me over the years, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that it inspired my new series. Who might these people be in Victorian England, approximately 700 years after the setting of the film, and how would their drama play out in a different historical context? And was it even possible for this charming, ruthless, contentious, too-clever-for-its-own-good family to earn the happy ending that eluded its historical counterpart?

The enigmatic Geoffrey, of whose existence I’d been unaware before the film and who predeceased his parents (he died of injuries sustained in a tournament in 1186), became my entry point–as Lord Gervase Lyons. Since Devices & Desires is a homage rather than a slavish updating of The Lion in Winter, I had no qualms about taking Gervase’s life in a somewhat different direction–especially when it came to romance–while keeping the family dynamics and his role in them largely intact. Gervase also owes a debt to Lord Peter Wimsey and Francis Crawford of Lymond, two favorite heroes of mine who use their wit, along with wordplay, as a weapon and as armor. They also happen, like Gervase, to be younger sons trying to forge their own path in a world where eldest sons are usually handed everything on a plate.

To balance cool, cerebral Gervase, I created Lady Margaret Carlisle, herself loosely based on Princess Marguerite of France, who was married to Henry the Young King. Not much is known about the historical Marguerite, so I could develop Margaret as I desired–as a sane, sensible, warm-hearted heroine strong enough to stand up to the Lyons Pride and smart enough to be the hero’s perfect match. Though it takes her a while to see it!

Although Devices & Desires wasn’t an easy story to tell–I completed it during one of the most stressful years of my life–my affection for it and its characters never waned. I hope you enjoy reading it as much–or more–as I enjoyed writing it. Minus the stress, of course.

Happy reading!

Release Day: The Advent of Lady Madeline

 

 

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He Had His Future All Planned Out…Until She Turned It Upside-Down

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Beyond happy and all the way into euphoric to announce that my holiday novella, The Advent of Lady Madeline, is now available on all major digital platforms!

(There will be a print edition too, once I’m satisfied with the proofs. Originally, I’d planned to sync the digital and print versions, the way I did with Awakened and Other Enchanted Tales, but that went out the window when UPS and the post office lost the first proofs in transit–and in a textbook case of passing the buck, both carriers pointed fingers at each other and disavowed all responsibility for tracking the lost package, which remains trapped in the Bermuda Triangle of domestic shipping. If anyone deserves coal in their stockings this Christmas…)

But onto pleasanter thoughts: this release is kind of a personal milestone–my fourth romance and fifth book overall. And it will be followed in January 2016 by a novel-length sequel, Devices & Desires, Book One in The Lyons Pride, my new historical series about a contentious, competitive ducal family and their quest for lasting love and happiness.

The Story Behind the Story: In addition to being my fifth book, The Advent of Lady Madeline is my first prequel. Generally, my Muse is more interested in what happened next than in what happened before, so I couldn’t have been more surprised when, after I finished Devices & Desires in late 2014, the hero’s older sister tapped me on the shoulder and suggested–or rather, insisted–that I tell her story, which takes place almost a decade earlier.

Resistance was futile–and to be honest, I didn’t struggle very hard. When a story demands to be written and the ideas come thick and fast, it’s a gift that no writer should take for granted. Best to strike while the iron is hot, and the Muse is cooperating, because you can’t predict when or if it will happen again.

Which doesn’t mean there weren’t setbacks and occasional delays, owing to real-life needs and other scheduled projects. But once the process was well and truly underway, I enjoyed every minute of telling Madeline and Hugo’s story! I even found myself relishing the challenge of imagining all the characters at a younger, more vulnerable age and setting up the situations and conflicts that will explode nine years later in Devices & Desires.

For a time, I toyed with the idea of releasing the novel first, especially when the novella hit a snag that made my goal of having it published by Christmas look like a pipe dream. How vital is a strict chronology anyway? One of my favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold, hopscotches up and down the timeline of her much-loved Vorkosigan Saga, picking up the threads of her characters’ lives wherever and whenever she wants. George Lucas completed Chs. 4, 5, and 6 of his Star Wars series, before doubling back years later to film Chs. 1, 2, and 3. Admittedly, the Star Wars prequels were something of a mixed bag (Jar-Jar Binks…<shudders>), but Lucas’s decision to tell the overarching story out of sequence doesn’t seem to have harmed the franchise overall. (And now Ch. 7 is due to come out this very week!)

Nonetheless, I decided to pursue my original plan, and much to my relief, completed the novella a month before the release date I’d originally had in mind. Now polished, edited, formatted, and given a beautiful cover by the talented Kim Killion, The Advent of Lady Madeline makes its  debut in time for Christmas! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Happy Holidays!

A Wedding In Cornwall is Here!

It’s Columbus Day–and the release date of my e-novella, A Wedding in Cornwall!

WeddingInCornwallGraphicRobin and Sophie, the star-crossed hero and heroine of A Song At Twilight, are finally getting married. Join them and their families as they celebrate this happy, long-awaited, and long-overdue occasion. But expect a few surprises on the road to Happy Ever After…

The Story Behind the Story: To someone who loves words as much as I do and who tends to the naturally verbose <G>, writing shorter lengths tends to be a challenge. My short stories want to turn into novellas, my novellas into novels, and my novels into sagas! I admire and envy writers who can turn out those neat-but-complete packages of 20-40K words that can supplement their longer works or provide just the right amount of zing for the stressful holiday season, like a perfect amuse-bouche between dinner courses.

But in this year of Trying New Things, I was determined to get the hang of it. For some time, I’d been toying with the idea of writing about Sophie and Robin’s wedding, though, at first, I wasn’t sure there was enough material for more than a very short story. Then another subplot idling at the back of my mind–concerning Sophie’s brother Harry and the woman he’d been carrying on with for the last few years–sprang to the forefront and attached itself to the wedding story, and suddenly I had a burgeoning novella on my hands. Even better, I had a solid narrative structure to follow from start to finish (this does not always happen, so cherish the times when it does!).

A Wedding In Cornwall was completed in just a little under two months (that, too, was rare for me, and thus, worth celebrating). Serendipitously, I found a very pretty pre-made cover on BookGraphics.net that was a good fit for the story’s romantic spirit. L.K. Campbell, who formatted my fairy tale collection last spring, was available to perform the same service for A Wedding in Cornwall. So, within a fairly short time, the novella was ready to go, and I was mulling a mid-September release.

At which point, my old computer gave up the ghost, necessitating a data transfer and a replacement/upgrade of my whole set-up. Fortunately, everything was recoverable, and I’m in the habit of sending my most important projects to my email cache anyway, so disaster was averted. Just. Have I mentioned lately that September is not my favorite month? This one was particularly trying.

October, however, feels more auspicious, so I chose a date that I’d have no trouble remembering. And voila! A Wedding in Cornwall is now available for a special promotional price of .99 (for a limited time), on the following platforms:

Kindle   Nook   Apple   Kobo

(A print edition will be released in combination with A Scandal in Newport, another novella in the series, tentatively scheduled for early 2016.)

I hope you enjoy reading this tale as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Alive in October…

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It’s the sound no Mac user ever wants to hear when she presses the Power button.

Dead silence.

To be followed by escalating panic and repeated efforts to reboot by painstakingly disconnecting and then reconnecting all the cables before powering up again, step by step. To no avail.

To be followed by a pilgrimage to the closest Mac serviceperson, who also fails to revive your silent machine and regretfully informs you that the cost of repair would be more than the computer is currently worth.

At which point, you grit your teeth, approve the retrieval and transfer of your files to an external drive, wincing at the cost, and then, still wincing, set out to replace your venerable desktop with something more up to date.

Which is the position I found myself in about three weeks ago. Fortunately, the process of getting everything set up and running again was easier than expected–if not entirely painless. Best of all, my data appears to be intact, which was my main concern.

My computer crisis was just one in a string of difficulties last month, most of which revolved around Broken Stuff. I’m crossing my fingers that October will be easier in that respect, at least!

AWIC WEB PROMO smallOn the up side, I can make the announcement that, barring further disaster (knocking repeatedly on wood), A Wedding In Cornwall–my companion novella to A Song At Twilight–will be released this month! I had a lot of fun revisiting Cornwall and writing about Sophie and Robin’s big day, as well as offering a hint about what lies in store for other characters.

Plus, I’m including a sneak preview of my next series, The Lyons Pride, about a contentious ducal family–inspired by an even more contentious royal family–and their efforts to find love, healing, and lasting happiness!

For more information on future works, just watch this space. Or sign up for my new release letter, over at this website’s sidebar.

Hoping that autumn brings good times and good reads to all of you!

Release Day: Awakened and Other Enchanted Tales (Book Giveaway)

Let all who trust in hidden power,
(The birth is in the stone)
Remember well the mage’s hour:
Find it,
Make it,
Bind it,
Take it,
Touch magic, pass it on.

–Jane Yolen, “L’Envoi”

AwakenedEBOOKSmallestAmazon  Kindle  Nook  Apple  Kobo  Google

I am delighted to announce the arrival of Awakened and Other Enchanted Tales, my collection of fantasy short stories, in print and e-book form! This is a project that’s near and dear to my heart–I’ve actually wanted to do this for some time, but I knew that a) I’d have to fit it in between books, and b) I’d have to educate myself about self-publishing because I’d be releasing it independently. But this spring, all the pieces came together–almost magically. That it happened around the time that the new film version of Cinderella came out is even more serendipitous!

My love of fairy tales stretches back to childhood, when they–along with the works of Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss–were among the first things I learned to read or had read to me. A few years later, I was devouring Andrew Lang’s colored Fairy Tale books and scouring library shelves for more books like them: Perrault, Grimm, Andersen (whose penchant for tragic endings came as something of a shock to me), their various imitators and innovators. I remember an ancient collection called Tales Told Again by Walter de la Mare that was one of my favorite reads when I was eight or nine.

But it wasn’t until about a year or so later that I discovered the delights of the wholly original fairy tale, as practiced by Nicholas Stuart Gray (Mainly in Moonlight), Barbara Leonie Picard (The Faun and the Woodcutter’s Daughter), and Jane Yolen (The Girl Who Cried Flowers). I dedicated Awakened to this trio of authors, who are as interesting as their stories. Intriguingly, they came to writing fantasy almost as an afterthought–Gray started out as an actor/playwright; Picard began writing fairy tales to keep her spirits up while on fire-watch in England during WWII; and Yolen still considered herself more of a poet and journalist when she published her first children’s book. What all three seemed to have in common was a love for the kind of stories they told and a complete lack of self-consciousness or embarrassment about it: “Yes, I write fairy tales, and I don’t have a problem with it. Do you?” Which is perhaps the healthiest attitude any author can have when it comes to his or her own stuff!

Something else these authors share is versatility. Their tales can be dark, atmospheric, satirical, or humorous, with endings that range from triumphant to ambiguous to tragic. But for the duration of each story, the reader is transported Elsewhere, caught up in vitally important matters of Dark and Light, and sent down familiar paths that can turn and twist in startling new directions when one least expects it. That experience is what I have worked to recapture in this collection. (The title story–as many of you may have guessed–is a variation on Sleeping Beauty: a What-If? scenario that begins after the spell has been broken.) And while not every tale concludes with a conventional “happy ever after,” I hope readers will agree that the characters, by and large, receive the endings that they deserve.

Although Awakened represents a new direction for me as an author, rest assured that I am not abandoning romance! I have included an excerpt from A Scandal in Newport, a future novella starring Thomas Sheridan and Amy Newbold from Waltz with a Stranger. And I recently finished Devices and Desires, the first book in a new historical series. More details will be forthcoming, on this site and in my quarterly newsletter, for which you can sign up here at pamelasherwood.com.

Readers, what is your favorite fairy tale or work of fantasy? I will be giving away a signed copy of Awakened to one commenter this week, until midnight PST on April 13.

Thank you all for your interest in my books!

 ETA: MarleneW wins the giveaway for Awakened and Other Enchanted Tales! Please send me your contact information and I’ll get the book in the mail to you ASAP. Thanks again!