Thursday, April 26, 2018

New books

It's been a long time since I've blogged, mostly because after writing books, I don't feel like there is all that much to write about! But I am excited about my newest release, A Mother's Choice, out in June, and I thought I'd share a little bit about how it came to me.

I had the original idea for the book several years ago: a mother who has to give up her baby for adoption, the single mom who is going to adopt, and the ongoing relationship they have over the next seven years. I don't want to say more about it because it's not a straightforward adoption story, and it has several twists that I think are important to keep secret.

The working title was The Other Mother and I wrote one chapter before I petered out, realising I needed a lot more thinking time--and just time in general. Then, last summer, I realised that I was never going to write a 'big' book like this (think Diane Chamberlain or Jodi Picoult) with all my deadlines stacked on top of one another. There just wasn't enough time! So I moved my deadlines and determined to write at least 30k to send to my agent, which, amazingly, I did over the course of six weeks.

My agent loved it, and so did the editor at Bookouture, and so I somehow managed to finish the book (I'm still not sure how; it's all a dazed blur!) in a record six weeks and sent it off. It needed a lot of revisions, but everything I write needs revisions, and so I managed those and then got the official 'call' from Bookouture in November, which was such a thrill. Even with 60+ books under my belt, it's always amazing when someone connects strongly with your story--especially one that is so emotional and personal to me, as A Mother's Choice is.

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing snippets from the book but I thought I'd leave you with some of the prologue, which was one of those things that just flowed out of me:

Morning light slants through the hospital window as slowly I come through the door of the nursery, my body aching with both fatigue and fear. My heart is beating in a painful staccato as I approach the plastic bassinet. I am swathed in scrubs and latex, due to the possibility of infection, but my arms ache with the need to reach and hold, and then to never let go. But I can’t; I know I can’t.

A nurse smiles at me sympathetically and gestures to the bassinet, as if granting me permission to approach, or perhaps simply pointing out the right baby. But of course I know you, my child.

My child. The words buoy me inside as if I am filled with lightness, with air, so I feel as if I am floating. My child. How could I not know it? How could I not feel it? It inhabits every fibre of my being, every cell. I pulse with the knowledge, the fragile joy. Incredulously, I smile.
And there you are – small, so small, swathed in a white flannel blanket, a tuft of light brown hair under a little knitted cap, your fists by your face like flowers, your lips pursed like a tiny rosebud, cheeks soft and round. Perfect. I know every mother thinks the same, of course she does, but no one feels it like me. No one.
I stand in front of your bassinet, battling both tears and euphoria, because it’s too soon to feel this way, or maybe it’s too late. I reach out one hand and rest it on the plastic crib, longing to touch your soft, pink skin, your round cheek, already knowing how smooth it will feel. I love you. I will do anything for you.

I didn’t expect to feel it so strongly, flooding me with both need and purpose. I’d separated myself somehow, over the last few harrowing months, because I had to. Because it felt safer and stronger, a necessary element of this whole torturous process, to keep myself a little bit distant. But now...
Now everything has changed. Everything. I lean forward, willing your tiny eyes with their sparse, golden lashes to open. To see me for myself, a mother.
And then they do, and I fall into their deep blue depths. I fall and fall, everything in me swelling with love as my heart starts to break.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wednesday Writing: Return to the Island

So having cleared my desk for a few days, I am going back to a far too neglected story, which is a serial for The People's Friend. I first started writing serials for The People's Friend back in 2001, and while I have slowed down some with my other writing obligations, I am glad to keep with them because I love the magazine so much. Today I am working on Return to the Island, the third serial in my Amherst Island trilogy--and dear readers, I know you have been waiting for the novel form of On Renfrew Street! I will deliver, I promise! In the meantime here is a snippet from part 4 of Return to the Island, which is set in Ontario, Canada right after the Great War.

Ellen pressed her cheek to Rose’s in farewell before walking with Jed back to the Lyman farm.
     “How is your father?” she asked as they walked through the copse of birches, the pond shimmering under the July sunshine. “Is he coping all right? I haven’t seen him much of late.”
     “He’s fine,” Jed answered. “Struggling on as everyone seems to be these days.”
     “Thank you, Jed, for going after Peter last night. I’m ashamed that I didn’t even think about how the noise of the firecrackers would upset him.”
     “Why would you?”
     “I heard the shells too,” Ellen reminded him. “I know I didn’t fight like you or Peter or any of the island boys did, but I remember the Front.”
     “Of course you do.” Jed sighed and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound…”
     “It’s all right.”
     As they approached the Lyman farmhouse, Jed went for the wagon while Ellen waited by the front steps, enjoying the sunshine on her face and trying not to give in to the worry that was cramping her stomach—the Wilsons, Peter, the guests coming tomorrow… For a few minutes she wanted not to have to think about it.
     “Ellen.” Jed’s voice sounded surprisingly light as she opened her eyes. He stood in front of her, the horses hitched to the wagon. “I thought you’d fallen asleep there for a minute.”
     “For a minute I almost did.”
     Jed stretched out his hand and Ellen took, trying to suppress the flurry of feeling his dry palm sliding across hers created in her. The last thing she needed was to reignite her old feelings for Jed. 

Check out the serials and short stories in The People's Friend, which comes out every week. They're wonderful! 

If you want to read about Ellen and Jed from the beginning, Down Jasper Lane is available digitally here. It is my homage to the beloved Anne of Green Gables, an orphan story set in turn-of-the-century Canada, but with a different twist. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday Throwback: The Other Side of The Bridge

This was the first historical timeslip I did, and I really enjoyed researching the setting of Greece in WW2, and in particular the involvement of the British SOE in the Greek Resistance. In present day, newly separated Ava Lancet moves to her grandmother's farmhouse in a small village in the mountains of Greece and discovers the mystery surrounding her grandmother's life... and how her grandmother's courage can teach her to face up to things in her own life.

I'm revisiting it today because it has been refreshed with the older cover, one I've always liked. What do you think? You can buy it here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wednesday Writing: A Slightly Scary Secret Project

So I have a lot of deadlines. But between them I have been squeezing in a secret writing project (not that secret, really, just something I'm keeping a bit under wraps...!) that I'm excited about because it's the kind of book I really, really like writing--similar in theme and vein to This Fragile Life and When He Fell, if you've read either of those. It's psychological and a bit dark but with a hopeful ending--I hope! I don't have a publisher yet, but I am hoping to find one soon. I've written nearly a third of the book so far. Here is the first paragraph:

The first time I see Jamie I think he is a thug. A threat, which is both sad and strangely laughable, considering what I later became to him. But in that first glimpse of his lowered head and drawn up knees, I prickle and tense instinctively, as if he could hurt me, which of course he did, much later. It was simply that none of it happened the way I thought. The way I wanted.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tuesday Treasure: The Wealthy West

Thanks to Spotify, I have discovered lots of new music to write to, and when I am feeling reflective as well as both sad and hopeful, I like listening to The Wealthy West, the moniker for an indie folk singer named Brandon Kinder.

His music has been used in various indie films and TV commercials, and you can understand why. The song 'Home' is the anthem for my work-in-progress, set in the Yorkshire Dales, a story of a woman's reluctant homecoming to her father's farm. You can listen it to here: Home. It's one of those songs I've liked the first time I listened to it, which is actually rare. It usually takes a couple of listens before I like a song, but from the first I played this one over and over.

Anyway, give it a try if you like a mellow, reflective, and poignant type of song.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday Writing: My Next Romance

I'm writing a Harlequin Presents right now, which is always a fun break from the more realistic stories I write for other publishers. Harlequin Presents are pure fantasy grounded in real emotion, and I love being able to explore heightened situations plus a whole lot of glamour!

My current Presents is a sheikh romance with a twist--a case of mistaken identity when it comes to the bride. I know some people get worked up about the lack of realism in sheikh romances, especially considering the state of the Middle East today, and in particular women's rights in the Middle East, and I always try to be conscious of that in my sheikh romances, while preserving the kind of fantasy that women relate to, starting back with Rudy Valentino in The Sheik. Here are the opening paragraphs of my current romance:

He came in through the window. Olivia Taylor looked up from the blanket she’d been folding, her mouth dropping open in wordless shock. She was too surprised to be scared. Yet. He was dressed all in black, his body underneath the loose garments tall, lithe, and powerful. A turban covered his hair but beneath it Olivia saw his face, and the determination blazing on those rough-hewn features.
     Her mind buzzed and she drew a breath to scream when he moved swiftly towards her and clapped a hand over her mouth. ‘I won’t hurt you,’ he said in Arabic, his tone brusque and yet also strangely gentle. It took her a moment to make out the words; she’d learned some Arabic living in the Amari household, but not that much. She’d been hired to speak English to the three youngest princesses.

He continued speaking, and her shocked mind struggled to make out the words. ‘That is my solemn vow, and I will never break it. Just do what I say and no harm shall ever come to you, I swear it on my life.’

And in the meantime, you can enjoy one of my sheikh romances that is already out--a duet called Seduced By A Sheikh. You can buy them here.