Shattered Rainbows

Cv-shattered-rainbowsby Mary Jo

The Story:

Shattered Rainbows, book #5 in my Fallen Angels series, is currently free on most ebook platforms and will continue to be free for about another week.  I'm writing this blog partly to talk about the book, but also explain some of the marketing decisions that go into why a book might be free.

Shattered Rainbows is a favorite book of mine. (For the record, Romantic Times gave it a 4 1/2 star GOLD rating and it was a RITA finalist.) I could probably say that  almost anything I've written is a favorites, but that's especially true in this case. Lord Michael Kenyon is one of the most intense and tortured heroes I've ever written, and he has a lot of baggage to work through, complicated by the fact that he's a British Army officer and the battle of Waterloo is a key feature of the story. 

I have no idea why I'm fascinated by British military history in the Napoleonic period, but I keep coming back to it time and time again.  Partly that's because it was a 'good war,' fighting against an authoritarian Continental monster.  Lots of drama for stories!  Characters are tested in the crucible of battle, and in none of my books has that been truer than in Shattered Rainbows

 

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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!

 

Shattered Rainbows: Audio & Interview!

ShatteredRainbowsby Mary Jo

The Sound of Shattered Rainbows

I don't spend enough time driving to be much of an audiobook listener, but I know a lot of romance fans love them, so ideally I'd like to have all my classic backlist titles available in audio for those who prefer the format.

However, producing them myself is very expensive and after doing audio of The Bargain, Thunder and Roses, and Dancing on the Wind, I gave up doing them for a while.

However, the market and the economics are continually changing, so I decided to give it another try, starting with Shattered Rainbows, Fallen Angel #5, which is a particular favorite of mine. A RITA finalist and 4 1/2 star GOLD rating from Romantic Times, it's a complicated story of complicated people and enduring love. Here's the blurb:

 

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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 

Shattered Rainbows: The why, the how, the where

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

Last week I published the e-book edition of Shattered Rainbows on the major selling platforms (Nook and Kindle) and it will be at other sellers soon.  Shattered Rainbows is #5 in my Fallen Angels series (here's an excerpt), and I’ve finished proofing #6. River of Fire, which will be available within a couple of weeks.

For years, I've received plaintive requests from readers about these books, which are out of print.  So—finally, after months of work tucked in around writing new books, blogging, petting cats, housework, living life, etc,. the complete 7 book Fallen Angels series will be available in e-editions around the world.  (Book #7, One Perfect Rose, is already available in a Kensington e-edition.) 

Since a number of people enjoyed the background of how an earlier book in the series was written, here's some of the story behind this story. 

MaryJoPutney_ShatteredRainbows_200pxProofing scans of the books and making minor tweaks has been a lot of work, but also a surprising amount of fun.  I still like these characters and their stories, and I think they’ve stood the test of time fairly well.  (Well, I would think that, wouldn’t I?  <g>)  

One Seriously Tortured Hero

Shattered Rainbows is blessed with one of my most tortured heroes.  Lord Michael Kenyon had a vile family life and was saved by the friendship of the other Fallen Angels he met as a boy at Eton.  He becomes a soldier and comes close to betraying one of his closest friends through the manipulations of the wicked woman he disastrously loved.  He has GUILT! 

I thought it would be a particularly hard book to write, but in fact, it flowed very smoothly even though it’s a long book with lots of plot and research and tormented, complicated characters.  (No book is easy.  But at least this one flowed well.)

I think that SR is the book where I realized that having a compelling plot makes a book easier to write.  Much harder is a very character driven book where there are fewer events for the characters to react to.

Florence Nightingale at Scutari

A Pretty Tortured Heroine, too

The heroine also has her issues.  Catherine Melbourne had married very young to a philandering cavalry officer, and she and her daughter “follow the drum” through the Peninsular campaigns.  There were officers’ wives who did this, though Catherine’s actions as a battlefield nurse owe more to the career of Florence Nightingale half a century later.  For her stunning (and unfortunate) beauty, kindness, and nursing ability, she’s known as “St. Catherine,” a label she wears uneasily because of her own deep sense of inadequacy.  So this makes TWO guilt ridden characters!  No wonder the book flowed smoothly.

Waterloo: The Road to Hell

In Regency romance, the Napoleonic wars are a constant drumbeat in the background, and not infrequently in the foreground.  Heaven knows I’ve contributed more than my share of military heroes and spies of both genders to the mix.  But Shattered Rainbows is my full-on Waterloo book. 

Face of BattleSince I have an inexplicable fondness for British miitary history, I loved researching the battle.  Huge amounts have been written about Waterloo, but one of the best sources was THE FACE OF BATTLE by the wonderful British military historian Sir John Keegan.  His books are notable for his marvelous writing clarity.  In The Face of Battle, he describes the experience of actually being a soldier on the battlefield.  He covers three battles: Agincourt (arrows and spears), Waterloo (musket balls and cannon), and the WWI Battle of the Somme (machine guns and field artillery.) 

Waterloo is called the last great black powder battle, and Keegan describes the clouds of stinging smoke that reduced visibility of the battle to almost nothing.  He explains column and squares and troop movements with vivid power.  Trampled rye crops and muddy ground, and Napoleon's last great throw of the dice.

800px-Battle_of_Waterloo_1815, Wm. Sadler

Given all the research I did for the battle, I’m very proud of myself for keeping Waterloo to one chapter of my book. Even there I cut between Michael commanding barely trained infantry troops and Catherine and her daughter tending to wounded soldiers on the streets of Brussels.  Powerful stuff, and all drawn from the historical record.  (The movie Waterloo is also a great research resource since they had real armies in front of the cameras.)

After the battle, when Michael lies near death from his wounds, Catherine and my Shattered Rainbows original coverfaithful fictional surgeon, Ian Kinlock, perform a blood transfusion to save Michael’s life.  In pre-internet days, it was very hard to find much information, but it was pretty clear that such a procedure was far more likely to kill than cure. 

It was theoretically possible that a transfusion might save someone’s life and this is fiction.  I asked two different doctors about the procedure, and they were both absolutely horrified.  (GOOSE QUILLS??!!! They knew less about the history of transfusion than I did. <G>)  As a romantic metaphor about two people who love each other but are constrained by honor to never speak, the transfusion was great!

The Road to Heaven

The second half of the book is a whole different chunk of research as Catherine learns that she is heir to a feudal island off Cornwall—but her cranky grandfather will leave the island to a male cousin if Catherine doesn’t have a reliable husband.  Catherine is a widow by now, but hiding the fact (with good reason) so she asks Michael to pose as her husband.  (Yes, it’s contrived, but being over the top is in the DNA of historical romance. <G>) 

So they go off to the island and have many wild adventures before achieving their happy ending.  The research fun came from creating my fictional island, which is based on the feudal Channel Isle of Sark. Sark is considered British, but it’s ruled by a hereditary Seigneur.  The current one is 22nd in his line, and his grandmother was Sybil Hathaway, the famous Dame of Sark, who ruled the island during the time of the Nazi occupation. 

Shattered Rainbows, riessueThis was a feast for a writer.  I named my islands Skoal (“skull”) and Bone and gave them a Viking heritage.  Two sections of Sark are joined by a narrow strip of land that rises over a hundred meters (330 feet) from the sea.  In other words, there’s a lethal drop on each side, and children used to cross the neck of land on their hands and knees so they wouldn’t blow over.  Needless to say, I got mileage out of a similar feature in my fictional islands. 

There is one last bit of real history I want to mention.  Many years ago, I visited the Outer Hebrides island of Lewis and Harris off the west coast of Scotland.  It’s a wild, primitive place, and life has always been harsh. Blackhouse, Harris and LewisWe visited an abandoned village of collapsed black houses—a primitive structure with dry stone walls and a turf roof.  The sort of place you’d share with your livestock on a cold and windy night.

This was years before I started writing, but as I looked the stone ruins, I thought it would make a great setting for a chase scene in a suspense novel.

And so it did. <G>

MaryJoPutney_ShatteredRainbows_200pxHave you ever looked at something and thought “That should be in a book?”  And since many of you are writers—have you ever put such things in a book?  If so, tell me about it!

Mary Jo, who loves the cover done by the amazingly talented Kimberly Killion of Hot Damn Designs