Books, characters, fiction, mystery, publishing, stories, writing

Secrets of the Past, Published

It’s been one week since Secrets of the Past published!

Old Secrets Cast Long Shadows …
 
When newspaper columnist Pauline Gray agrees to help a retired schoolteacher write her memoirs, she has no idea it will lead to murder. Someone doesn’t want old memories stirred up … and they are willing to kill to keep the past a secret. Now it’s a race to uncover the truth that the murderer is so desperate to keep buried. It will take all Pauline’s ingenuity to solve this case before the killer strikes again—and this time Pauline herself might be the victim … 

I confess: I forgot to post about it on the blog on the actual publication day. I was so busy updating all my other social media sites that writing a post for here slipped my mind. So I decided I would wait and do a “one week” post instead (and then nearly forgot about that as well).

I am so happy to have this book out in the world. It’s a bit surreal to think that I have completed this series. Originally I had intended for there to be 7-8 Pauline Gray books, but as I went along I started to realize that this was better suited for a shorter series, and when I started working on Secrets, it became very clear that this was the final story. The final chapter was a little emotional to write! But I am satisfied with the three stories, satisfied with Pauline’s character arc throughout the series, and pleased to see the project completed.

The ebook of Secrets of the Past is available at pretty much all the usual retailers, via this link. So far the paperback is only available through Amazon, but it will eventually be distributed through other retailers as well. The process takes a bit longer with print than with ebooks.

I hope you have all enjoyed going back in time to 1930s Canton, NY with me, and getting to know all the characters I chose to people this town with, and I hope you enjoy this final book in the series. Happy reading!

1920s, Books, fantasy, fiction, goals, mystery, publishing, Sci-fi, stories, writing

Publishing Plans for 2022

I often hesitate to post about upcoming books and publications, because so often life ends up turning my plans upside down–or the book refuses to be written–or the prior book takes longer to be written than planned and so this book has to be pushed off yet again–and so on and so forth. However, I also do like to keep my readers informed as to what they can expect, and so with the qualifier that these plans are very, very loosely held, here is what to look out for in 2022, and possibly beyond.

Secrets of the Past. The third and final (at least for now) Pauline Gray novella will be coming soon–possibly even this month, though a March publication date is more likely.

Death by Disguise. The third novel in the Whitney & Davies series, following after Glamours & Gunshots. (The current chronological order of the series, for those who are curious, is: Magic Most Deadly, The Third Thief*, Masks & the Magician*, While Shepherds Watch, Glamours & Gunshots, Death by Disguise.) My original plan for 2022 was to have this published by April. Substantial rewrites are making that look less and less likely, but I am still intending to publish it this year, just most likely later than the original goal.

Another collection of short stories in the Whitney & Davies collection, these to feature some of the smaller cases the team solves between Glamours & Gunshots and Death by Disguise. This collection is tentatively titled Sorcery and Suspicion, but we’ll see if the title lasts throughout the actual writing and organizing of the stories!

Those three books make up my publishing plans for this year. I have not forgotten about the Caledonia sequel I hinted at however many months ago (either here or on one of my social media sites, I can’t remember now where I talked about it). That story is still proving recalcitrant, and since it is more important to me to get it right rather than publish it fast, I’ve stopped trying to set a publication date for it. It is still happening, just … not very fast.

I also have two more Whitney & Davies novels planned, and my hope is to publish one if not both in 2023. After that … who knows? We shall see where the muse strikes!

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about the upcoming books, or an urgent request for a story that you are hoping to read, or a character you’d like to see featured in an upcoming story, or if you just want to talk about the books! I always enjoy chatting with my readers.

*found in the short story collection Magic & Mayhem

Books, fiction, Sci-fi, stories, writing

From the Shadows–Sale!

Whisked from her troubled, solitary life to a spaceship centuries in the future, widowed folk musician Riss Waldon must first figure out how she got there, and then if it’s possible to get home. Before long, she is visiting strange and deadly planets and meeting new alien races, and forming friendships with the crew. Even as they strive to discover a way for her to return, she wonders if it possible to step out of the shadows of her past life and stay here. But when the well-being of the entire crew rests on her shoulders, she isn’t sure she’s up to the task. What if she fails them? All she can do is try …

From one sale to another! I decided impromptu today to run a “Black Friday” sale for From the Shadows. From now (Nov 23) to Dec 1, the ebook of From the Shadows is only $0.99 at all digital retailers.

Click here to get your copy of the story readers have dubbed: “science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction.”

*****

What people are saying about From the Shadows …

“The inner and outer journey of Riss is a riveting tale of a young woman who comes out of the shadows of her past, and finds her way on new horizons.

“Although [this book] has a fun futuristic space backdrop, it’s really a quiet story about one woman’s journey from grief to embracing a new life and her own potential.”

“This story makes me feel the way I feel when reading Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, or the Mitford books. It’s a lovely book to curl up with on a blustery autumn evening or a lazy Saturday morning. I didn’t want it to end!”

“Waiting for a sequel…”

Pick up your copy today and see for yourself what it’s all about!

1920s, Books, fantasy, fiction, mystery, reading list, stories, writing

Paperback Sale

To my surprise and delight, Amazon has noticed the lowered ebook prices for the Whitney & Davies series and has obligingly dropped prices on the paperbacks as well–which is something I’ve heard about happening to other authors, but have never experienced myself before now. This is entirely Amazon’s doing, and I have no control over how much or how little they lower the price, or for how long it will last, and they don’t actually bother to inform the authors about this to begin with, so when I say, hey, if you want a paperback you should get it now, that’s not just me being all salesperson-y, that’s because I genuinely don’t know how long they’ll keep the prices lowered.

So! Magic Most Deadly, on sale now for $11.51 paperback!

***

Glamours and Gunshots, on sale now for $5.19 paperback

***

Magic & Mayhem, on sale for $6.99 paperback

***

I don’t know about you, but this sure seems to me to be a great time to get in some early Christmas shopping!

(Disclaimer: if you’ve been around this website for a while you know that I prefer to promote sites other than Amazon for buying my books. Alas, only Amazon is providing these prices right now, so I am reluctantly bowing to corporate rule and promoting it. Believe me, if I could offer you these prices through Bookshop.org or your local indie bookstore, I would!)

1920s, Books, fantasy, fiction, mystery, publishing, reading list, stories, writing

New Book!

Friends, I am so excited to be able to share this news with you. Not only is the next Pauline Gray novella being released this autumn/winter, coming on November 2 is a new Whitney & Davies story!

I’ll be releasing more info about it soon, including the cover and back blurb, but for now I can tell you that it is a Christmas story, novella-length (I originally conceived it as a short story, but, well, it grew), featuring Maia and Len, and it is set between Magic Most Deadly and Glamours and Gunshots.

The title is While Shepherds Watch, and here is at least a little teaser of the cover:

So set your calendars for Nov 2!

I hope to be able to set this up for pre-orders this week, so that you can be extra sure to get yours in time for Christmas, and if I am able to do that I will let you know. Stay tuned for paperback info, a full cover reveal, and the back blurb soon!

And be sure to check in later this month for info about the third Pauline Gray novella’s release date! All kinds of exciting stuff happening here at StarDance Press this season.

1920s, Books, fantasy, fiction, mystery, publishing, stories, writing

Categories and Genres

Genre, sub-genre, categories … when trying to find a home for a story on the shelves of a bookstore or library, the options can sometimes seem overwhelming. Is this fantasy or science fiction? Historical mystery, cozy mystery, or some other type of mystery altogether? Thriller or adventure? Memoir or autobiography?

This is made even more difficult when you have an author who likes to cross two or more genres in one book. And yes, I’m talking about myself and the Whitney & Davies series here. Since the beginning, these books have been hard to categorize. Do they go on the fantasy shelf or the mystery shelf? (One local library solved the puzzle by sticking Magic Most Deadly on the “fiction” shelf–going more generic instead of less, I guess!) It wouldn’t matter so much, aside from causing headaches to librarians and bookstore owners, except that muddled categories can make it difficult for readers to understand what sort of book they are looking at, and thus make them less likely to pick it up and read.

The basic premise of the Whitney & Davies series–taking an already-existing genre and adding a magical twist to it–is not unique to me. My first exposure to the concept was with Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s marvelous fantasy of manners Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot. Other well-known Regency fantasies are Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, and of course Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Then there’s the “gaslamp” or “gaslight” fantasies, which take the same idea and place it in a Victorian or Edwardian England setting. Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series would likely fall into this category, as well as Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent.

However, I’ve not yet found anyone besides myself taking Golden Age Detective Fiction and inserting fantasy into that, and I’ve been racking my brains for ages now trying to coin a phrase to neatly sum up this sub-genre to make it clear from one glance what type of a story the reader is getting. “Mystery-fantasy set in 1920s England” is, let’s face it, way too clunky.

I’ve narrowed it down to two options, although I am open to suggestions for something else! I like “Golden Age Detective Fiction” for its descriptiveness, but on the other hand it is still long and a little bit clunky. Then there’s the short and snappy “Whodunit Fantasy,” but the downside to that one is that it doesn’t necessarily convey the sense of time and place–between wars in England–that the other does.

So I am tossing the choices out there for my readers! Which do you prefer? Which one conveys the feel of Whitney & Davies best to you? And if you haven’t read my books yet, you may still feel free to comment–I’d like to know what type of story you think of when you see either of those two categories.

I would also be curious to know if you have any comparison books or series that come to your mind when thinking of W&D–you know, the old, “If you like _____, you will like Whitney & Davies.” The closest I’ve come up with is Martha Wells’ Death of the Necromancer, and I’m not exactly sure that’s the best match. I think that’s the sort of thing that is difficult for an author to judge about his or her own work, especially when one of the main reasons for writing the books is that no one else out there is!

publishing, stories, writing

Castles in the Air

Last year–almost exactly a year to this day, in fact–I was in Bavaria, visiting Neuschwanstein Castle for the first time. That trip–planned mainly because I wanted to visit the München Christkindlmarkt–came so close to not happening: both Carl and Grace were recovering from the flu; Carl had just gotten back to Cambridge from flying to Texas to see his aunt in the hospital and say goodbye to her (she died of pancreatic cancer the day we returned from Germany to England); we had just made the incredibly difficult decision to cut our time in England short and return to the US after Christmas; life was more than a little overwhelming.

And yet. We knew we’d never have a better chance to do this. For some reason, it was incredibly important to me to see Munich. We decided the fresh Alpine air would do Carl and Grace good, and we also decided that if we needed to spend the entire trip resting in our AirBnB we would. So we went.

The first time I saw the Alps out the window of our rented car, I burst into tears. (Yes, I was obviously emotional from all the other situations. All the same, crying over mountains is not a usual emotional response for me.) The landscape, the scenery as we drove to Neuschwanstein … it was magical. I suddenly understood why the Germans are so steeped in fairy tales and folklore. I could believe in gnomes, dwarves, dragons, and talking beasts here.

After all that, the castle itself was a minor letdown. Fancy … but not real. We were glad to have toured it, and Joy especially was thrilled to see “the” original fairy tale castle, but a castle meant to imitate fairy tales was just that: an imitation. The real magic was outside.

The rest of our trip was incredible–we visited Oberammergau, in large part because of my love for the Betsy-Tacy books, and bought ornaments, gifts for family, and our very own Christmas pyramid there. We did make it into Munich–or München–and met up with an old friend, who took us to lunch at the Hofbräuhaus and showed us some of her favorite Christmas markets, and we watched the Rathaus-Glockenspiel strike noon, and drank mulled wine (Carl), hot chocolate (the kids) and hot gin toddy (me), and brought home the mugs, and bought yet more ornaments, and made incredible, incredible memories.

But perhaps the best of all was the magic of driving around the Alps.

So, when we had returned to Cambridge and I was writing the monthly flash fiction for my Patreon supporters, there was only one story I could tell: that of someone looking for inspiration at a fairy tale castle, and finding it … well, I won’t tell you where. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

Today, that story has been published in New Myths, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with the world. Go ahead and give it a read–hopefully it will make you fall in love with Bavaria just as I did.

Castles in the Air, available now at New Myths