Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Richard and Rose ride again!


Richard and Rose are back (again!). They've been on Amazon for a while, and now they are going wide. So whatever platform and media you want to read them in, they're here!
Wherever possible, the covers feature the actual books that I fictionalised for the series, and there's a lovely portrait of Richard and Rose on each cover, which I commissioned especially. My favourite covers yet! What do you think?

The Story of Richard and Rose

I'm going to rattle through this, and maybe I'll put it on my website, too.
Richard and Rose started when my babies were driving me crazy with Thomas the Tank Engine and Fireman Sam. Much as I love them, I needed something of my own to keep sane.
Originally I planned to write a story for my own amusement, about a murder-solving couple in the mid-eighteenth century, my favourite era. They would be at the lower ranks of the aristocracy, and pass unnoticed in society, the better to observe.
I went to Calke Abbey, where the first book, Yorkshire is based. The place is astonishing, preserved as the higgledy-piggledy mess it was when the National Trust took over. I knew I would write about that one day.

So I had my heroine, the unassuming Rose, set foot in the ruin when her brother inherited the title of Earl of Hareton. All was going well.
Then I "saw" the scene. I saw a popinjay, a dandified man of fashion who was for all his flamboyance, definitely male. Even then I didn't recognise him as my hero. He had a quieter twin brother, so I tried to make Gervase the hero. But it didn't work.
I went back, and put Richard in his place and the whole book came to life. I wrote it in a fever, and I knew there would be more than one book. What happened after marriage? Would they be happy?
And I wrote it in the first person, a technique I have never used before or since, but the story demanded it. I did try to change it to third person when a publisher took an interest, but it didn't work. The book died on me. So it stayed in first person and I found another publisher, a tiny one.

I sold the book to a company called RFI West, but someone wrote to me and told me not to sign, because there were rumblings. I didn't, and when RFI West broke apart, I sent it to a spinoff company, NBI. they published the first three books, Yorkshire, Devonshire and Venice.
Then the owner disappeared, together with the money. So when that ended, I sent the books to Mundania. Meantime I had joined Samhain with another series, and after Mundania spent nearly two years mulling over the books, I got the rights back and sent them to my editor at Samhain, Angela James, who'd been gagging to get her hands on them.
So far so good. But Angela left, and the replacement editor and I didn't see eye to eye on anything. She was a great editor, but she didn't want my books, she wanted something else. We parted ways, and I got an editor who I could work with, but it was too late. The previous editor had torn apart my idea for the last book, Lisbon. After she left, I rescued it, but Richard and Rose nearly never had an ending, and I had already dumped one book half written, I was so dispirited with the way things were going. I'll never make a writer, I thought.
And then last year Samhain closed. I was gutted. But I persevered, got the rights back and now they're out as self-published books.
What astonishes me is that people still love them, still want them. After all this time. So thank you, and here they are again!
Excerpt
So how about a bit from the first chapter of the first book I ever had published?
I sat in my best riding habit in the dirt at the side of the road, a man I hardly knew sprawled next to me, his head in my lap. I looked ruefully at my skirts as blood seeped into the material. I’d bought it especially for this visit, and now it was ruined. Mr. Kerre and the coachman kicked and pulled at the overturned roof of the stricken vehicle. The canvas covering was peeling away with age; its thin top splintered when the men aimed hard kicks at it. Mr. Kerre had pulled out his brother, the man whose head now lay in my lap. They had more difficulty reaching the other occupants.
Our horses were safe enough, their reins thrown over the branches of a nearby tree. The unhurried shifting of their hooves matched the movements of the coach horses standing close by, cropping grass.
Blood saturated my riding gloves as I held the gaping wound together in what seemed increasingly like a vain attempt to stop the bleeding. I daren’t move in case the outpouring worsened. Cramps spread across my back, and the hard pebbles of the road dug into my legs.
My breath misted in the crisp autumn air, and I feared my patient would begin to shiver in that uncontrollable way I’d seen before in others. He might have lost so much blood he wouldn’t recover before we got him back to the Abbey. The thought, rather than the cold air, made me shiver. I hardly knew this man but I might not get to know him any better.
He opened his eyes and looked directly at me, staring uncomprehendingly until he recovered his senses. I saw intelligence return to his face, and then something else. Something warmer.
I stared at him transfixed. No, oh no. This couldn’t happen, to me, not sensible, shy overlooked Rose Golightly. But I had no way to stop it, and I couldn’t look away now. This wasn’t right, but my treacherous heart turned over when he smiled. “It’s you,” he murmured weakly.
How could a visit anticipated so eagerly, regretted so bitterly, end in this?
You can buy Yorkshire here:
   

Sunday, September 16, 2018

September musings

Goodness, so much of the year gone already! I had a birthday last month, so that was nice, kinda. I've never liked birthdays, though, I'd much prefer if people just sent a card and left it at that.
I've been working like crazy, on the new contemporary series for Tule, and for the brand new historical series from Kensington.
I love writing, but there are so many other things you have to do. I say I suck at marketing myself, but so many other writers say that, too. I have to just get on and do it. Then I find myself talking to the nicest people, and I know I'm mad not to talk more often. Like most writers I know, I'm not the most outgoing person in the world. Except in the books, that is!
I got a new cover for the last book in the Shaws series, Boundless (like Juliet - "My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep, the more I give to thee the more I have, for both are infinite" - le sigh). While it's not my favourite cover of all, it's still pretty, and that blue is to die for!
So, working. My new editor at Tule is amazing. She is pushing me to make the books the best they can be, and I love her for it. I don't have a release date yet, but I'll let you know when I do.
And I've been quietly making Richard and Rose go wide. So in a few weeks the whole series will be available from every outlet. That series has been through so much, so I've done a little history of the series in another post. Together with the covers, so you can see how they've changed over the years.

 



Thursday, August 02, 2018

Everything Is New Again



Things are motoring along this month.
I received the edits for the first contemporary romance with Tule, and I did the pulling apart and putting back together thing. That’s often a really interesting exercise, and this time it was instructive, too. Honestly, if I had nothing left to learn about writing, I’d give up. My new editor has given me some fantastic pointers, and I turned my manuscript red making changes that I’m really excited about.
And I’m writing the first of the new series. I’m loving this cast of new characters, but as always with my work, some will reveal themselves more the longer the series goes on. To me as well. I know them when the series starts, but sometimes a character will reveal himself halfway through a book and I have to start all over again, putting my new understanding of him into the book from the start. Male characters are particularly prone to that, since they tend to keep their vulnerabilities to themselves! But the only way I can discover those is to  write the book.
I have a new cover to show you, too. This is the cover for Boundless, which is out at the end of the year, and is the last of The Shaws. After this they are all married, and for the time being it’s time to say goodbye to the Emperors of London. However, I’d love to write the stories of a few people, Poppy for instance, and Ivan and especially Augustus Vernon, who lives in Rome. I have a lovely story for him all planned out.
And now the Emperors and the spinoff series is coming to an end, it’s time to let you in to a secret.
Remember Alexander, the hero of the first Emperors story, Rogue in Red Velvet? Yes, Alex. Well he started life as Freddie, the cousin of Richard Strang of the Richard and Rose series. At the time a lot of people had asked for his story, and I wanted to write it. However the Richard and Rose stories are in the first person, so I had to change that. I wrote Alex’s story in the third person, and gave it to my then editor at Samhain.
Well, she rejected it. The rejection came as a terrible shock, especially when the reasons the editor mention could all be fixed. But I did have an inkling that might happen. I gave Samhain a different story, which thankfully they liked, and rewrote Freddy’s story, but I did the tweaks I wanted to, not the ones my editor had mentioned, since they didn’t fit with his character.
After I’d written it, I found Lyrical Publishing, and recalled meeting its then owner, RenĂ©e Rocco at a convention. I liked her very much, so I sent the manuscript to her. However, I couldn’t call the hero Freddie, or at least, since Samhain had rejected it, I could, but that would have tied the book to Richard and Rose, a series I had brought to an end with Lisbon. So I changed the names and started a new series. Halfway through the story I “got” the backstory to the whole series, about the hidden children of the Old Protector. That made me really excited to start the series.
The Emperors concept had come to me some time before, but not the story about the Stuarts. Then came the Dankworths, with their loyalties to the old regime.
I had a really exciting concept, and fortunately, my new editors agreed. So kudos to Helen Hardt (yes, that Helen Hardt) and Martin Biro, who believed in the series and let me run with it. Since Helen hit the heights with a fabulous series of books, I now have a new editor, who has been brilliant with The Shaws and is going to help me with the new series, too.
It’s very exciting.
As I told you before, I was really considering giving everything up. But I think I’ll carry on a while longer!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Giving Up?

At the beginning of April I was seriously considering a break in writing, or at least, in publishing my work. With the closure of three of the publishers I worked with, and the ending of a series, it seemed like a good time to take a breather. The publishing market hasn't got any easier over the years, and it's hard work, keeping up to date, keeping the website current, getting the newsletter out, and oh, yes, writing.
Dauntless came out at the end of June, the third of the four books in The Shaws series, so I planned to give myself a little time to plan my next move.

But then three things happened that made my decision redundant.

First, I have a new agent! Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon is handling my contracts for historical romance. I'm thrilled to have her on my side, even more since I met her in San Diego recently. I'm waiting now, on two submissions, both historical series.
It's hard to wait, but I need to be patient. Or so I'm telling myself!

Second, I have a new contract for contemporary romance! I haven't published any contemporary romance for a while, so it's really great to get back to it. I have signed a contract with Tule Publishing for a quartet about four brothers who find their loves. But it's not that easy for them, or where would be the fun in that? At the start of the series only two brothers know each other, but they find that their mother had some shocks in store in two more siblings they had no idea about!
I've handed the first manuscript in, and I'm working on the second. Stay tuned for more developments, and release dates!

Third, I have a new contract with Kensington! I am writing a whole new historical set of characters. These are the forgotten ladies, the ones at the back of the ballroom, the ones people don't notice. But they notice plenty, and this helps them in their new quest. In an age when there was no police force, and when many officials were corrupt, and wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near a ballroom, they set out to fight injustice and solve crimes. Led by a woman too rich to marry, they form the Society for Single Ladies, and give themselves a new start in life. Oh yes, and since I write romance, they'll be finding love as they give up the idea of love entirely!

I am so thrilled about these developments, and it just goes to show - never give up, keep trying, if your heart is in the work.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Exciting news for June, 2018


So, where to begin?
At the beginning of April I was seriously considering a break in writing, or at least, in publishing my work. With the closure of three of the publishers I worked with, and the ending of a series, it seemed like a good time to take a breather. The publishing market hasn't got any easier over the years, and it's hard work, keeping up to date, keeping the website current, getting the newsletter out, and oh, yes, writing.
Dauntless comes out later this month, the third of the four books in The Shaws series, so I planned to give myself a little time to plan my next move.

But then two things happened that made my decision redundant.

First, I have a new agent! Jill Marsal of Marsall Lyon is handling my contracts for historical romance. I'm thrilled to have her on my side, even more since I met her in San Diego recently. I'm waiting now, on two submissions, both historical series.
It's hard to wait, but I need to be patient. Or so I'm telling myself!

Second, I have a new contract for contemporary romance! I haven't published any contemporary romance for a while, so it's really great to get back to it. I have signed a contract with Tule Publishing for a quartet about four brothers who find their loves. But it's not that easy for them, or where would be the fun in that? At the start of the series only two brothers know each other, but they find that their mother had some shocks in store in two more siblings they had no idea about!
I've handed the first manuscript in, and I'm working on the second. Stay tuned for more developments, and release dates!

I am so thrilled about these developments, and it just goes to show - never give up, keep trying, if your heart is in the work.

 

The RT Booklovers' Convention

As usual, I went over to the US to visit friends and to attend the RT Booklovers' Convention, which this year was in Reno. This, I discovered to my dismay, was to be the last RT Convention. I've been going since 2007, and I can't begin to tell you how much the convention means to me. But, alas, it is no more. Kathryn Falk and Kenneth Rubin have decided to retire the RT brand. From Romantic Times to the Convention and all the offshoots, they will cease to be at the end of this year. It's a blow for the romance community, but I can't help but be thankful for all the things Kathryn and Kenneth have done for me, and the community as a whole. I've written about it at more length in a blog post.
But the convention itself was its usual blend of madness, business and sheer fun, leaving me wrung out at the end.
But here are some memories I can take away from this year's convention:

With the lovely Cindy McGee

 

Our panel. A great success!


The gang's all here!

New Release

This Month sees the release of the third book in The Shaws series. It's Dru's story. The middle child, stuck between two sets of twins, Lady Drusilla Shaw has always felt a bit left out. But once she meets Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, her life changes. For the better?

The Shaws are one of Britain’s most influential, dynamic families, but one Shaw prefers to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, the limelight can shine behind-the-scenes . . .
 
Lady Drusilla Shaw may be a bit introverted, yet she has the observant mind of a writer, capturing all of society’s quirks and scandals. But when the novel she’s been working on disappears from her room, that is just the beginning of her problems. Confident, magnetic Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, has taken an interest in Dru, and when he proposes, she is both thrilled and anxious. Her book depicts a ruinous family story that is uncannily similar to Oliver’s real-life, not to mention libelous. The manuscript could surface at any moment—and eventually it does, in published form, for all to read . . .

Oliver is bewildered by his new wife and her blasted book. Worst of all, how can he love a woman he no longer trusts? But when it becomes obvious that someone is taking their cues from the book in a series of attacks, he has no choice but to stick close to her. Their explosive connection in bed should take care of the heir-making, but for that to happen, Drusilla has to stay alive—and so does Oliver.

Excerpt:

Every time Drusilla attended a ball, or the theater, or any other society event, she had that expectation. Would she meet him tonight? The man who would make her world shine, the one she’d written about all her life? The fact that she’d met most of the eligible men in society, that there were no more left to meet, didn’t stop that traitorous feeling of maybe this time, maybe tonight …
While a maid was helping her divest herself of her hat and cloak, an elbow dig from a nearby countess who did not even attempt an apology was enough to persuade her to take a step back.

Unfortunately, her heel caught in the ruffles of her petticoat, and she tumbled backward. Just what she needed—an undignified tumble. At least she wore enough layers to protect her. She’d probably take a few members of the peerage with her. Then the gossip writers would report on that and nothing else, and her aunt, the formidable Duchess of Kirkburton, would be severely displeased. And her mother would be disappointed.
She should have never come. She could have pleaded illness and stayed at home with her writing.
But none of her doom-laden prophesies happened. Instead, a pair of strong masculine arms caught her and drew her close to a wall of muscle. While the contact lasted barely a few seconds, its impact jolted her into total awareness. The dreamy cloud that surrounded her most times melted away. All she felt was a wall of muscle and being held in a secure grip. She would have given anything to subside into his arms, and for a moment she did just that. His arms closed around her, giving her a satisfying sense of security.
Dru forced herself to pull away. When she turned, she confronted a pair of startled gray eyes set in a face so ruthlessly masculine she wondered if a hard-bitten soldier had somehow forced his way into a society ball.
His unmistakable air of command easily dominated this hall full of the cream of society. Here, more titles and wealth abounded than anywhere else in the country. This man did not get his air of power from his wealth.
Recalling her manners, she dropped a curtsy. He responded, bowing slightly, but they hadn’t been introduced, so they could do nothing more.
For all that, she knew him. Their paths had not crossed. The Duke of Mountsorrel attended few society events, but he could not elude them completely. However, he avoided single eligible ladies as if they bore the plague. His severe dress spoke of the Puritan, but he was no City merchant. If observers looked closely, they would see that his dark blue twilled silk coat and the matching waistcoat were the finest fabric and the best work money could buy.
He turned away, only to confront Livia, who stared at him blatantly. Her curtsy was even more perfunctory than the one a shaken Dru had given him. She received the same stiff bow before he turned around and left.
* * * *
A cupboard. Oliver found he’d entered an anteroom that was little more than a closet. So leaving it with dignity was out of the question. And he could find only one door. That damned woman had stumbled on purpose, he was sure of it, and her accomplice had been waiting for a chance to block him. Such snares would trap a boy barely out of petticoats, but Oliver should have known better.
He hated balls and social occasions with a passion he usually reserved for murderers and cabbage. Especially now, when one touch of warm female flesh had driven his body into hard, needy arousal. It didn’t matter that the woman had been respectably clothed. He wanted her anyway.
Oliver took in the room with a comprehensive glance. That was all the place deserved. A hard chair and a table, and rough pegs on the wall. No doubt the unfortunate footman on duty spent hours here, but Oliver saw no trace of occupation. No book, no newspaper, not even a glass. He would have allowed the footman who occupied this room something to do. Even Charles’s attendants had a more comfortable life, and God knew they had plenty to do.
Well, he’d tried. Even thinking of his brother had not caused his raging erection to subside. One touch, that was all it had taken. One accidental tumble. As if he’d never felt a woman’s soft body in his arms before. Lady Drusilla Shaw did not even sport the abundant curves he preferred in his women. Her waist was impossibly slender. The notion of hoisting her up, his hands circling her waist, and driving into her took him by complete surprise. It sent a thrill of recognition all the way up his spine to the center of his mind. He would probably never rid himself of that vision now.
Yes, he knew who she was. One of the Emperors of London, hence her unusual name. They were all named after emperors and empresses of the past in a conceit invented by their parents. He’d seen the tribe working, watched the way they smoothly covered all parts of a ball. Many would be here tonight, since this was Emperor territory. They would watch him, he knew. Unmarried women abounded in the family, although their numbers had decreased of late.
He would not succumb to her ladyship’s less than voluptuous charms. She had the appeal of a dainty, pretty woman, one who would break under his big body. No, she was not for him.
He couldn’t even pace properly in this tiny space. So he put his self-control to work, leaned against the wall, and folded his arms.
Oliver waited until the murmur outside had changed to a dull roar and the influx of guests he’d arrived with had left.
Then he stepped out of the room, dusting off his waistcoat, and tried to slide into the maelstrom that surrounding him. To a great extent he succeeded. As he glanced up, he saw two women standing side by side, goggling over the banisters on the next floor. Lady Drusilla and her sister Lady Livia.
Those women should be hanged at dawn. Or banned from attending society events. Either would work for him. They had not the least idea of how to behave. Were it not for their fine clothing, he’d have assumed they were country girls up for the season.
With all the dignity he could muster, he ascended the stairs and greeted his hostess. The Duchess of Kirkburton, while diminutive in stature, towered over society as one of its best established and most influential hostesses.
Dressed in white satin with a plethora of ruffles, lace, and embroidery, her grace should have been swamped. However, her personality defeated any attempt to overwhelm her. Graciously she offered her hand. Gallantly, Oliver bowed over it, wishing he were anywhere but here.
He would put a bold face on his worries and concentrate on finding his life’s partner.
“Your grace, I’m pleased to see you here. Welcome to my house.”
Said the spider to the fly. Used to schooling his features, Oliver stretched his lips into a semblance of a smile. “It is entirely my honor, your grace.”
Her bosom tightly constricted in stays that must have made breathing difficult, the duchess inclined her head. “It is a great pity you were not in town last year, sir. My daughter Helena would have been perfect for you. However, I do have another daughter, and she is dazzling the world. I would be honored to introduce you.”
What an odd thing to say! Lady Helena had made an advantageous marriage recently. Why would her mother resent that? And she clearly did, from her frosty words as she skipped over one daughter and right to another.
The duchess’s unmarried daughter was ten years younger than he, perhaps more since she had barely been out a year. While others might not balk at the age difference and some would welcome it, Oliver needed a mature female, someone of sense and gravity. Perhaps he should set his sights lower. A vicar’s widow or a young woman of genteel family might prove a better duchess, if only because she was closer to the realities of life. She would have a lot of reality to manage. He had no intention of keeping secrets from his bride.
With a tug to set his waistcoat to rights, his invariable habit when making a decision, he bowed to his hostess and strode forward into the ballroom.

You can find Dauntless here, together with the other books in the series and the buy links - currently up for preorder, but it won't be long before the day of release!

https://lynneconnolly.com/the-shaws/


Friday, June 01, 2018

Farewell to the RT Booklovers' Convention


The RT Booklovers’ Convention has been a large part of my professional life for over ten years now. As soon as I could afford it, I visited the convention, and every year since. Now it is no more, I will mourn it and be grateful for what it meant to me and others like me.
I live in the UK, but I found my publishing home in the US. At first with tiny e-publishing houses, then with larger ones, I saw the convention grow, and my role with it. I met a lot of people who helped me with my career, and I had fun doing it.
RT was the first to acknowledge the importance of the e-publishing movement. While many readers today can’t imagine a world without it, at first the romance community rejected it as a valid form of publication, a red-headed stepchild to the behemoths of the great publishers, who, back then, ruled the roost.
My first RT was in 2007, in Houston, Texas. I went across the pond myself. Terrified and excited, I checked into the hotel, and from the first moment met a fantastic group of people. I had found my tribe.
From then on, as RT grew into a huge convention with more than 2000 attendees, I grew with it. With the esteemed Kathryn Falk, owner of the convention as my mentor, I got more book contracts, became better known and sold lots and lots of books.
Kathryn is my friend, and a woman I admire enormously. She has always championed the cause of romance, whether it’s indies, erotic, or any other unusual variety. She ‘got’ us, although I once asked her if she’d ever considered writing a romance. “No,” she said. “But I love reading them.”
So we kept writing books for her to read.
Her ranch in Texas is a model of a smallholding. She bred chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and deer. Some of them have gone by the wayside, but many have stayed, and while she’s the same optimistic, confident self whatever she does, she tailors her approach to her interests. No wonder her staff (and the animals she cares for) love her.
Kathryn’s confidence and ebullient personality was reflected in the convention she created. Quirky, huge fun and experimental, Kathryn was the first industry person to see what erotic romance meant to the community, and paved the way for the huge success it experienced in the early 2010s. She saw the indie community struggling, and worked out ways to help.
But she never abandoned the other side of the industry, the traditionally published authors who go through similar struggles to everyone else, but aren’t as noisy.
Everyone had a chance to connect. That, in the end, was what the convention was all about; making friends, the kind that last.
I’m going to miss the RT Booklovers’ Convention more than I can say.

However, the convention lives on in the new Booklovers’ Convention, run by one of Kathryn’s stalwarts, Jo Carol Jones. Next year it takes place in New Orleans, and plans are already well advanced. So onward!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Big Changes for May!

Last year, when Loose-Id announced it was closing, I had a real “why go on?” moment. I considered slowing down, or not writing at all for a while. Taking a break, if not from writing, at least from publishing. I had written for Samhain, Ellora’s Cave and Loose-Id, and they had now all gone.
While I admire people who can make a success of self-publishing, I really don’t want to take that course, at least not for everything I write. I love writing, not all the fuss and bother that goes with self-publishing. I do enjoy designing the occasional book cover, but apart from that, I’d rather avoid the production of my own books. And promotion is not my thing. Not of my own books, anyway. I have tried, but I guess I’m not outgoing enough.
I’d rather write, create the stories and bring the characters that invade my mind. Bring them to life and and tell their stories.
I still have a great relationship wih Kensington, so I could be happy telling my stories there. But The Shaws series is coming to an end this year, and I sent them something new, so I’m biting my fingernails rying to be patient while I wait for their response.
I had a historical romance that seemed to turn itself into a series. So I sent it to several agents, my dream agents. And waited for the rejecions to come rolling in. Instead, I got requests for more, and offers. I accepted an offer from Jill Marsal of Msrsal Lyons, and I’m now thrilled to announce that she is acting for me as my agent. I’ve always admired her, and she represents some of my favourite authors.
Here we go on a new adventure.
What will Kensington think of the new series, and will Jill find me a home for the new trilogy?
The waiting begins.
However…
I like to change things up a bit from time to time and write in a different genre. I had an idea for a contemporary romance series, and I sent it out to Tule, a publisher with some awesome authors on its books. And they accepted it! Everything seems to be happening at once. The new series will feature a pair of brothers, who discover that their supermodel mother hwd produced two other siblings they never heard of before. I created a designer of sport cars, and he came to life on my keyboard. I get so excited when that happens!
I’;m currently in the States, on my annual perambulation around the country. So far I’ve been to New York and Washington, DC, both of which are still as fantastic as ever, and now I’m in Los Angeles, staying with lovely Rosechel Sinio, who owns the amazing Lil Book Bug store in Lancaster. They are setting up tables for an author signing, (not mine!) so I get to meet another lovely writer.
Although the writing life is far from easy, it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I should have known better than to doubt it!