New Audiobooks and Giveaways!

Audio--Thunder and Roses Screenshot2013-09-18at4.26.17AMby Mary Jo

Producing audiobooks from my back list is time consuming and not inexpensive, but I continue to do them because so many people really like listening to audiobooks. My current goal is to make audio available for all seven of my Fallen Angels books, and we're getting close!  Several years ago I started with audio versions of Thunder and Roses and Dancing on the Wind along with the non-Fallen Angels book The Bargain

The economics of producing audiobooks changed dramatically so I put the audio program on hold for several years, but the marketplace is always changing, so now I've started producing them again. I started with Shattered Rainbows last autumn, and here's a link to my blog and interview with my wonderful English narrator Siobhan Waring. MaryJoPutney_TheBargain1_Audio

Production and distribution take time, so the audio versions of River of Fire (Fallen Angels 6) and One Perfect Rose (Fallen Angels #7) have become widely available at just about the same time. 

I've always loved River of Fire, where my battle hardened hero Kenneth has the soul and talent of a painter.  In order to save his bankrupt estate, he reluctantly takes a position as secretary to famous artist Sir Anthony Seaton, who may be a murderer. 

Dazzled by the creative atmosphere as well as Sir Anthony's prickly but fascinating painter daughter Rebecca, Kenneth dares dream that he might become MaryJoPutney_RiverofFire_Audioan artist himself. But what will Rebecca do when she learns that Kenneth has been spying on the household and may destroy her father? 

(I'm listening to River of Fire in my car now, and thoroughly enjoying it. <G>  Not surprisingly, it takes me back to my art school days!)

One Perfect Rose, 7th and last of the Fallen Angels series, has always been a popular favorite, and I'm delighted to finally have Stephen's story available in audio.  Stephen, the Duke of Ashburton, is brother of Lord Michael Kenyon, the hero of Shattered Rainbows.  Reserved Stephen has always done his duty, but after the death of his tyrannical father and distant wife, he's ready to explore a new freedom.

Then a grim diagnosis send him bolting away from his grand position to come to terms with his life.  Traveling anonymously, he falls in with a welcoming family theater troupe, and becomes enchanted with their adopted daughter, Rosalind, who radiates the warmth he's MaryJoPutney_OnePerfectRose_Audio copy been seeking all his life.  But can they find a happy future together?  (Don't worry, it's a romance!) 

Production has started on Fallen Angels #3, Petals in the Storm, and the final Fallen Angels book, Angel Rogue, (# 4) will go into production immediately after.  The whole series should be available by the end of the year! 

My distributor, Findaway Voices, has given me some free giveaway codes for each book, so I will give away five codes for each of these two new audiobooks to some of you who leave comments between now and midnight Thursday. 

The codes are good only in the US, Canada, and Australia and must be used MaryJoPutney_DancingontheWind_AudioIOS or Android devices, such as a Samsung phone or an iPod or iPad or whatever.  They use a special app that must be downloaded to your listening device.  I managed to do it, so it's not difficult. <G>  

(I'm delighted that the codes now work in Australia–last autumn, the codes were good only in the US and Canada.  I hope Findaway keeps adding more territories!)  

So if you're in the US, Canada, or Australia with a suitable electronic device, let me know if you'd like a free audiobook and maybe you'll win one of these books! 

Mary Jo

PS: Findaway Voices sets up author stores where you can buy direct from them using the Author Direct app.  Here's a link to their MJP store.  The three books I did with Findaway Voices are listed there.

SATURDAY NOTE!  Winners have been chosen and I'll be emailing directly with the codes, but this will take a couple of days.  Sorry!

 

Further adventures in audiobooking: Dancing on the WInd

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

I made a flash announcement here when the audiobook version of Dancing on the Wind MaryJoPutney_DancingontheWind_Audiofinally went live two weeks ago, but I wanted to ruminate a bit more on the process.  This is the third audiobook that I've produced, and each time there have been more things to learn.  

Though I'm still a novice, for me the key points are:

1) The first big challenge is finding The Voice. Someone I like listening to, and who will also appeal to regular audio listeners.  I have a fondness for a lovely deep male voice (calling James Earl Jones!!!), but a man with a naturally deep voice will probably have trouble with lighter female voices, just as a woman with a lighter, higher voice might have trouble with male characters.  A skilled narrator doesn't actually imitate multiple voices, but implies them through accent, inflection, pacing, and other verbal tricks.  Doing that consistently throughout a full length book takes a real pro.

Read more

Breaking news: Dancing on the Wind audiobook

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

Yayyyy!  After numerous delays (I'm never going to produce an audiobook under a Mercury retrograde again!), the audio of my RITA winning Regency historical Dancing on the Wind (Book #2 ofthe Fallen Angels series) has now gone live on Audible.com  and should soon be up at Amazon and Apple as well.  It was recorded at the Audio Factory in Glastonbury, England, the same studio that produced the audiobook of The Bargain.  

 

Rough draft 1I'll probably blog about this at greater length later, but I know some Word Wench regulars like audio, so I thought I'd mention it now.  Plus, I'm happy that it's available after the various delays.  If you like audiobooks, I hope you enjoy it!

MJP

 

A Twin. Again.

Cat 243 DoverBy Mary Jo

Anyone who has read my books over the years has probably noticed that I have an indecent fondness for twin stories.  It’s right up there with amnesia as an ancient, creaky, and endearing, plot device.

When I thought about it, both twin stories and amnesia are questions of identity. For amnesia, who is this person really?  And what is he or she like when memory has stripped away the expectations of others so the unmodified essence of personality can shine through? 

With identical twins, the interest lies on how two people can look so much alike that they might appear interchangeable, but in reality they are distinct individuals.  There will be similarities, so it’s the differences that are so intriguing. 
 
When the marketing people at Kensington asked me if my new release, Sometimes a Rogue, was any kind of anniversary book, I realized "Fifth Twin Story!"  I seem to give myself permission to do one set of twins per series.  <G>

My first twin book was Dancing on the Wind, a RITA winner and one of my Fallen
DOTW coverAngels series.  I did a lot of research on twins, both in books and more importantly, talking to identical twins. 

One thing all the twins said is do NOT have a good twin/evil twin dichotomy, which they really disliked.  I hadn't planned that, which is just as well.  <G>

My best research subjects were a pair of sisters who lived in Colorado.  Not only had they thought a lot about being twins and done their own research, but they were both highly intuitive.  (One could say psychic.)  As with most twin pairs, one was a little more outgoing, the other a little more reserved.  I'll call them A and B. 

They weren't telepathic, but they were so attuned to each other that one could enter a store and know that her sister had been there earlier in the same day.  They could lend energy to each other.  They both had families of their own, but they were a lot happier living in the same city. 

Talking with A and B was fascinating, and that research showed up in DOTW, when the more reserved Kit takes the place of her actress sister, Kiri, who has disappeared, and Kit needs to find out as much as possible about her sister's life to figure out what happened to her.  They are best friends and vital to each other's happiness.  Also, while the world tended to categorize them as the outgoing one and the quiet one, they were more alike than they let others see. 

An interesting thing I deduced from my research is that while female twins were often very close friends, male twins often went through a period of estrangement in adolescence as they began defining themselves as individuals.  Sometimes they become close again later, but I found cases where they were permanently estranged. 

Wild Child 300 dpiNaturally, I had to write about that.  <G>  I needed a situation where one estranged twin must go to the other for help that only the twin can supply: in other words, trading places.  So in my Bride trilogy, the hero of The Wild Child, Dominic Renbourne, is the ten minutes younger son of an earl who yearns not for his father's title, but for the land itself.  He also resents his barely older brother's bossiness, though there is still an unwanted connection between them. 

The reason why Kyle asks Dominic to essentially court Kyle's fiancée had better be a doozy, and it is.  By the end of the book, they've become friends again, and Kyle takes off to find himself The China Bride.  In that book, being a twin isn't much of a factor, but I had to give Kyle a happy ending.  (These were twin books 2 and 3.)

In the first of my Lost Lords book, Loving a Lost Lord, the heroine, Mariah, lived an unpredictable life
Cbridep2with her loving but impecunious gambler father.  Living on the edges of society, she learned to be charming and adaptable, easy to have around.  Very aware of her own shortcomings, she had an imaginary twin sister she called Sarah, who was always available, always loyal, and always a perfect young lady, unlike Mariah. 

Naturally, I was unable to resist giving her a real twin sister named Sarah.  <G>  Because they'd been separated as toddlers, Mariah didn't consciously remember her twin, but she held a distant memory of Sarah in her heart. 

SometimesaRogueMMI found Mariah and Sarah particularly interesting because, unlike my other twin pairs, they hadn't been raised together, so they were freer to be themselves rather than always being measured against their sister.  But living a more uncertain life, Mariah yearned for stability, a man who was utterly reliable.  She found him in Adam, despite the rather irregular shape of their courtship.

Sarah is quieter, but in most ways more confident.  Her mother became hostess to her widowed brother, so Sarah was raised by two loving adults and had a pack of four older male cousins who were like her brothers.  So her upbringing was very proper, though she had a tomboy streak.  And–she knew that somewhere out there was a missing twin sister, and that knowledge was a loss in her heart. 

When they come together again, they're free to be friends, without the competition of growing up together, but they want different things in a man.  While Mariah wanted stability, Sarah wanted adventure and a man with more dangerous edges.  She found him.  Be careful what you wish for!  And this is how Sometimes a Rogue became my fifth twin book.

Of course one can have a trading places dynamic without having the characters be twins. A classic of the genre is The Prisoner of Zenda, where an English gentleman who is a distant cousin of the heir to the throne of Ruritania must stand in at the heir's coronation when the real prince is drugged and kidnapped. 

George McDonald Fraser did a lovely riff on this in Royal Flash, part of his hilarious Flashman series.  A Robert Heinlein novel, Double Star, is basically a science fiction riff on Zenda, with a down and out actor being drafted to substitute for a kidnapped statesman to attend an utterly crucial ceremony on Mars. 

Savannah PurchaseAnother favorite of mine is Jane Aiken Hodge's Savannah Purchase, where the heroine is conned into taking the place of her identical cousin–and falls in love with her cousin's husband.  Being younger then, I had no idea how this could be resolved, but JAH came through brilliantly.

So at least I'm not alone in my fondness for the Twin Trope. <G>  Do you like such stories?  Do you have a favorite, either of twins or trading places? Tell me what you think!  A commenter between now and midnight Friday will receive a copy of one of my twin stories. 

 Mary Jo, who had identical twin first cousins

The Fallen Angels: Together Again at Last

by Mary Jo

Cat 243 DoverYippee!  This week, River of Fire is being released in e-book form, which means that all seven books of the Fallen Angel series are available.  (The seventh book, One Perfect Rose, was reissued by Kensington Books and has been available in an e-edition for the last two years.)

This series is the one that draws the most comments and requests for availability, but like most projects, it began in a rather haphazard fashion.  I’d just finished my Silk Trilogy, and while I loved the stories andOnePerfectRose the characters, the research required for the exotic settings was exhausting. 

Feeling flattened after delivering the third book, Veils of Silk, I decided it was time to return to the familiar fictional terrain of the Regency.  I’d still need to research each specific book, but it would be child’s play compared to digging for information about Central Asia and India in pre-internet days.

I hadn’t actually gotten as far as thinking of what I’d write when my editor called and said that Signet wanted my next book to be the launch lead for the new Topaz imprint, and she needed a basic idea for the story by the next day. SHRIEK! 

ThunderandRosesBut my muse performs best in dire emergencies and overnight she produced the concept for what became Thunder and Roses.  That was also the seed for the Fallen Angels—boys who’d met and bonded at Eton because of their disastrous families, and who had vaguely Biblical names, hence “Fallen Angels,” a charmingly bad boy series title.

Because Signet wanted to build the new imprint, they wanted more books faster than I can really write.  Which led to me revising The Controversial Countess, a long early Signet Regency, into a historical romance titled Petals in the Storm.  It fit into the series structure beautifully, and the trilogy became a quadrology.  <G>

But the Countess had generated a spin-off Regency with one of my favorite heroes, PetalsintheStorm-1so I revised The Rogue and the Runaway into Angel Rogue.  Dancing on the Wind, a new book, was released between Petals and Angel Rogue

Then came Shattered Rainbows, which would have been the last of the original trilogy, but you can guess what happened—the book generated two more spin-offs: River of Fire and One Perfect Rose.  At that point I quit since I felt that 7 books were quite enough for a trilogy. <G>  (You'll have gathered that I get way too attached to my secondary characters.  Especially if they're male and appealing.)

This is probably way too much information, but I do find a certain amazed satisfaction at looking back at how the series evolved.  I also found, over the recent months of proofing and production—that I still like the books just fine.  Though I fixed the typos and a few minor errors of fact (a reader informed me that Persians were not a cat breed in 1815 <g>), the characters and their stories still worked for me.  I hope they continue to work for other readers.

RiverofFire

The series is built around the later Napoleonic wars, with many of the characters involved as soldiers or spies, and then the transition to peacetime.  The first book was set in 1814, the last in 1818. 

Which brings me to River of Fire.  I don’t see the book on many lists of favorites, but I love the story.  The hero, Kenneth Wilding, has the broad shoulders and burly strength of a stevedore–and the soul of an artist.  Though he was heir to a viscount, at eighteen he became estranged from his father because of the wicked manipulations of his young stepmother.  With few choices, Kenneth enlisted as a common soldier.

Because he had education and leadership ability, he eventually received a field AngelRoguecommission and became an exploring officer, risking his life riding alone across Spain so he could draw maps and gather other information.  By the time Waterloo arrived, he was a captain.

With the war over and his father dead, Kenneth returns to an empty title and ravaged estate.  Then a stranger offers a devil’s bargain: financial salvation in return for Kenneth’s special subversive skills.

Reluctantly Kenneth enters the household of the greatest painter in England to unmask a terrible crime. Instead, he discovers something infinitely more dangerous: a tantalizing, creative way of life and an irresistible woman. Everything he has always wanted—and can never have.

Here’s a brief excerpt.  After proving that he knows and understands painting, Kenneth has just been hired as a secretary by Sir Anthony Seaton.   Sir Anthony’s daughter Rebecca does not approve.

    Rebecca thought wistfully of her father's previous secretaries. All had been pleasant young men of good family. Civilized. Easy to have around the house. Not a pirate in the lot.
    The captain said, "While I don't mind acting as a general factotum, I'm curious about why I'm needed for such work when you are so obviously competent."
    "I don't choose to spend my time as a housekeeper," she said in a clipped voice.
    Responding to her tone rather than her words, he remarked, "You don't like me very much, do you, Miss Seaton?"
    Good God, had the man no discretion? Well, if he preferred bluntness, she would oblige. She halted on the landing and turned to face him. He stopped a step below her, putting their eyes almost level. For some reason, that made her even more aware of his physical power. She repressed the urge to back away. "We've only just met, so how can I either like or dislike you?"
    "Since when is it necessary to know someone to dislike him? It's clear that you wish your father hadn't engaged me."
    "You look more like a marauder than a secretary," she said tartly. "And knowing my father, he didn't bother to ask for references. How did you learn about the position?"
    His gaze became opaque. "A friend of your father's told me."
    "Who?"
    "The gentleman preferred to remain anonymous."
    It was undeniably the sort of thing one of Sir Anthony's eccentric friends might do. "Do you have any letters of reference?" she asked. "Anything to suggest that you're not a fraud or a thief?"
    There was a faint tightening at the corners of his eyes. After a moment, he said, "No, though if you don't mind waiting, I suppose I could get one from the Duke of Wellington. He's known me for years, and I think he considers me respectable."

ShatteredRainbowsConventional wisdom says that books about artists and musicians don’t sell well.  Perhaps not, but I loved writing a book where none of the three major characters know how they feel unless they have a brush or a piece of charcoal in their hands.  <G> 

I’m an art school graduate, and while my major was industrial design and I was always a designer more than an artist, I love writing about creativity. 

I think of River of Fire as my "Creative Process book, historical division."  (The Spiral Path is my "Creative Process book, contemporary division."  It’s about moviemaking, not painting.)  Both books are not unrelated to what I feel about my writing. 

So for all of those readers who’ve asked about the Fallen Angels series over the years, the whole series is now available in e-book mode on numerous platforms.  Enjoy!

Now for a question.  It’s possible to do POD (print on demand) copies of e-books.  It costs money to set up, the prices are higher than mass market (perhaps $12-14), and the authors generally make less money.

Nonetheless, plenty of people don’t have e-readers, so a POD book would make print available.  I have an e-reader, but I prefer print myself.  So how do you feel about POD?  Would you be willing to pay more for a good quality print book that is otherwise available only as an e-file?  When I have the time, should I put the first few Fallen Angels books out in POD form?  I’d really like to know what serious readers think.

To commemorate the end of the long road to Fallen Angel e-books, I’m going to give away—a PRINT copy of River of Fire. <g> It will go to someone who leaves a comment between now and Thursday midnight.

RiverofFireMary Jo, adding that credit for the great covers goes to Kim Killon of www.hotdamndesigns.com