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!

 

Makeover Magic

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

Barring a visit to a Nordstrom's cosmetic counter, I've never had a makeover personally, but I enjoy reading about them, and I love writing them!  Which is why so many of my books have such scenes–not because they're good business, but because they're fun.  

I very seldom write stunningly beautiful heroines, and when I do, they have invariably suffered because of that beauty.  Think of Helen of Troy, the most Helen_of_Troy by Evelyn de Morgan beautiful woman in the world, who became the trigger for a war.  Not a good place to be!  Having the sort of beauty that brings men to their knees can bring power, but also danger.  It's too easy to become an object, and what happens when beauty fades?  

It's safer if a woman is pleasantly attractive, or perhaps striking, rather than classically beautiful.  Most of my heroines are hard-working women who don't have a lot of time or money for prettifying, and they think of themselves as average looking, if they think of the subject at all.  This is why giving them a makeover at the salon of a really talented modiste is such fun.  Instant Cinderella!  

This fantasy is effective because most of us clean up pretty well, so we can relate to a heroine who discovers a new self-image–and new personal power–when she has a chance to look her best.  

In real life and fiction both, the ideal is a man who thinks you're beautiful always, even when your hair needs washing and you aren't quite the sylph you once were.  That's very romantic!  But even though the hero is already drawn to her, it's fun when he sees the results of the makeover, and he's stunned almost speechless.  

Madame Recamier by DavidOf course the details of the scene will provide insights into the characters.  My favorite among the ones I've written is from Thunder and Roses.  The heroine of the story, Clare, is a Welsh Methodist minister's daughter, a hardworking village schoolteacher.  She goes to Nicolas, the local lord, to ask his help in improving the economy of their valley.  Hung-over and wanting her to go away, Nicolas says he'll help if she'll ruin her reputation by allowing her friends and neighbors to think she's his mistress.

Instead of fleeing in shock, Clare takes up his challenge, and they're off!  This includes Nicholas taking her to London and acquiring the sort of wardrobe a mistress should have:  

Before allowing Clare to look at herself in the wall mirror, Marie produced a sprig of creamy silk roses and tucked them into Clare’s dark hair. “Tres bien. Accessories and a different hairstyle are needed, but this will please Monsieur le compte.’’
    When Clare was finally permitted to see herself, she blinked in surprise at her image. The rose challis made her skin glow and her eyes look enormous. She looked like a lady—an attractive lady. Even, heaven help her, rather dashing. She studied the neckline of the gown uneasily. Not only was it cut alarmingly low, but the stays pushed her up in front. Though Clare knew herself to be modestly endowed, in this fashionable gown she looked quite… bountiful.
    Suppressing the desire to cover her bare chest with her hands, she shyly emerged from behind the screen. Nicholas and Denise broke off their discussion to stare. While the dressmaker nodded with satisfaction, Nicholas circled around Clare, his eyes glowing with approval. “I knew this gown would become you, but even so, I’m impressed. Only one alteration is needed.”
    He used the edge of his hand to draw a line across the front of her bodice. “Cut the décolletage to here.”
    She gasped, as much because he was touching her breasts—in public!—as because of the shockingly low neckline he wanted. “I refuse to wear anything indecent!”
    “What I’m suggesting is rather moderate.” He drew another line across her breasts, this one barely clearing her nipples. “This would be indecent.”
    Appalled, Clare glanced at Denise. “Surely he’s jesting?”
    “Not at all,” the dressmaker said briskly. “I have customers who won’t buy a gown unless they’re in danger of popping out. Keeps the gentlemen interested, they say.”
    “I should certainly think it would,” Clare muttered, unmollified. “But it’s not for me.”
    “You smolder better than any woman I ever met.” Nicholas gave her his devil’s smile. “The décolletage I am suggesting is more daring than you want, and more conservative than I would like. Isn’t that fair enough?”

Marriage Spell--Final cover, hi rezThe makeover scene in The Marriage Spell serves a different purpose. The healer heroine, Abby, is tall and well rounded and thinks of herself as a plain country woman.  Then she marries Jack Langdon after saving his life, and it's off to London and a better wardrobe, among other things.

One of the points I wanted to make in this scene is about stays and corsets.  Modern women tend to look back on them in horror, but a well made set of stays would be comfortable, and good underpinnings definitely makes a woman look her best.  (And honestly, are stays any less comfortable than stiletto heels???)

That's still true, I might add.  A really good bra that has been fitted by someone who knows what she is doing will feel good and make a woman look younger and fitter, and who doesn't want that?  So here is Abby's encounter with a first class corsetiere:

    The corsetiere, who wore gray, added, “Without a proper foundation, even the finest of gowns will not look its best.”   Her eyes gleamed as she studied Abby.  “And you, milady, are in dire need of my skills.”
    Apparently talented artisans were allowed such rudeness.  Fortunately Abby had little vanity, because the sisters and the duchess began to discuss her appearance with hair-curling bluntness.  Abby was stripped down to her shift, measured in amazing detail, draped in swathes of fabric, and analyzed as if she wasn’t present.  
    As Madame Ravelle turned to consult a copy of La Belle Assemblée, Abby asked her sister-in-law, “Am I allowed any opinions about what I am to wear?”
    “A few,” Celeste said cheerfully.  “But you will only be offered good choices, so whatever you wear will look stunning.”
    “Indeed, milady has a magnificent figure,” Madame Renault observed.  “With your height and natural form, it’s a crime the way you have concealed yourself with plain garments and inferior stays.”
    “If magnificent means overblown, you’re right,” Abby said tartly.  “Even when I was thirteen, I didn’t have the elegance of figure that the duchess possesses.”
    Madame Ravelle shook her head.  “There is more than one kind of beauty, Lady Frayne.  Her grace is the epitome of ethereal elegance.  Men and women gasp when they see her.  She is like a fairy queen who is briefly visiting earth to grant mere mortals a glimpse of timeless beauty.”
    Celeste laughed.  “That is ludicrously overblown flattery, Madame Ravelle.”
    “Overblown, perhaps, but essentially accurate,” Abby commented.  

   Madame Renault turned to her.  “Your beauty is of an earthier, more sensual kind, Milady Frayne.  When you enter a ballroom, women will see a well-dressed woman, and continue what they were doing.  Men will stare and yearn and consider challenging your lord husband to a duel to win your favor.”

Abby doesn't believe it, but needless to say, Jack is suitably stunned by the results. <G>  

My upcoming September book, Not Always a Saint, has a heroine who is of the beautiful- and-has-suffered-for-it sort.  Jessie doesn't get a real makeover scene, NotAlwaysASaint--finished coverthough when she goes to London, she does need to get a new wardrobe because she's in mourning but needs to find a new husband fast.  In her case, she needs widow's weeds that will make her look both modest and alluring. 

Clothing plays into our stories in numerous ways!  Jessie does get to wear a scarlet gown at one point, and that's what the Kensington art department went with for the fabulous cover.  

Do you enjoy reading (or writing) makeover scenes, or do they bore you?  Are there some you've read and particularly enjoyed?  If so, what books and why?  I'm sure I'm not alone in this particular pleasure!

Mary Jo, who is awfully casual about clothing in real life. <G>

The Birth of Venus, Botticelli

The Making of an Audiobook: Thunder and Roses

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

If you love audiobooks, the Golden Age has arrived. Back in the day, only major books, mostly bestsellers, were released in audio as well as print.  Romances were seldom done in audio. 

But now commercial audiobooks are no longer an ivory tower production.  Amazon changed the face of traditional publishing when it introduced the Kindle ebook reader, and at the same time created the KDP production platform so anyone could publish a book. 

Then they bought Audible.com, the 600 pound gorilla of audio, and Audible created ACX.com, a production platform that allows anyone to create her own audiobook, just as KDP allows us to create our own ebooks.  This means that all those backlist books that were never available in audio can be produced and released directly by authors. 

Audio--Thunder and Roses Screenshot2013-09-18at4.26.17AMBut no two revolutions are identical.  A book can be traditionally printed or produced in e-book form, but either way, you read with your eyes.  Audio is very different experience because it requires hearing rather than vision.  A downside of audio is that we don't engage as closely with the story. When I read, it takes most of my attention.  I'm really IN that book.  Since audiobooks allow multitasking, the story won't usually be experienced as intensely.

BUT–audiobooks are a godsend for commuters creeping along in traffic or driving long distances.  They're also great for people with learning disabilities that make reading difficult. Not to mention, audiobooks are terrific for those doing boring house work or exercise or anything that engages the body but not the mind.

Most of my books of recent years have audio editions, generally produced by Recorded Books, which does quality unabridged audiobooks aimed primarily at the library market.  I liked that they were availables, so several months ago, I decided it was time to experiment with producing one of my backlist books in audio.  I chose Thunder and Roses, first in my Fallen Angels series, because it's my bestselling backlist title.  It's been–educational!  (I had Kim Killion design a new cover in honor of this new venture.  The other images in this post are earlier audiobooks done by others.)

A salient point is that there is a HUGE difference in cost between publishing an ebook and producing The Bartered Bridean audiobook.  An ebook can be produced for almost nothing if the author is good technically and has the time.  Even hiring someone else to do the cover, formatting, and uploading will cost only a few hundred dollars. 

But producing an audiobook costs THOUSANDS of dollars. Why the cost difference?  Because with very, very rare exceptions, authors need to hire narrators, who are usually highly skilled professional actors with a special gift for interpreting voices and storytelling.  The cost for top caliber narrators is $200-400–or more–per finished hour of audiobook.

Nowhere Near RespectableThat "finished hour" is why ACX refers to narrators as "producers."  They don't just read the story into a microphone; they check for accuracy and quality, correct errors, and insure that the audio tracks exactly with the written book so that Amazon can use their WhisperSync technology.  That means that if you're reading a book on your Kindle and stop in the middle of a chapter, then start listening to the audiobook version in your car, it will pick up right where you stopped reading.  Very cool. 

So good narrators puts hours of work into each finished hour, and are worth every penny of what they charge.  They also need to work in a professional quality sound studio in order to get professional quality sound, and good equipment isn't cheap. 

Choosing a narrator is both harrowing and fun, because you go to ACX's database of producers and click on what qualities you want in your narrator.  Male, female, either? If you want a British accent, do you want General, Welsh, Scottish, Cockney, or other?  For an American accent, do you want General, Southern, Western, New York, Boston, or something else?

Most fun is clicking the voice qualities: Seductive/sexy, quirky, perky, sultry?  Or perchance hysterical?  <G>  Lots of choices!

After you define the kind of narration you're looking for, you post an excerpt and ask for auditions. The excerpt should be short and have dialogue with your main characters.  Some authors suggest it should include a love scene.  (I went for a conflict scene, where Clare beards a hungover Nicholas in his den to demand his help.)  Interested producers cruise those listings to find ones they might be suited for, record the audition sample, and send it to the author. 

This is the harrowing part of the process.  I decided to use only Audible Approved producers–elite narrators who have at least 25 productions on Audible, with positive reviews.  So they're more expensive, but they're all going to be good. 

I got about two dozen auditions, and every single one of them was acceptable.  The trick was Never Less Than a Ladychoosing the one that will be best for my book.  This is where it helps to have listened to a lot of audiobooks, or at least audio samples.  If a male narrator, does he do female voices well? And vice versa for a female narrator and male voices.

Pacing is a big issue–really slow narrators make me nuts.  So I wanted a pace that was reasonably brisk voice without being rushed.  With British settings for my books, probably a British born narrator will be best because they can do not only standard British, but regional accents like Geordie (Newcastle area), Welsh, Scots, etc. 

I hadn't specified a gender, but as I listened to the auditions, I realized that generally I preferred male voices for my historicals.  (If I were to do audio of my YAs, I'd choose a female narrator.) 

After much tearing of hair, I settled on Peter Bishop, a British born voice actor who lives in the New York area.  He was extremely professional and easy to work with, so we worked out a deadline for the finished audiobook.  After delivery, the file was double checked for accuracy by Audible.  Finally, in mid-October, the audiobook went live on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. 

This was an interesting and educational project, and it seems to be selling well enough to justify doing more audiobooks.  Next time will be easier, I'm sure! 

Thunder and RosesBut for today, I'm giving away a free Audible download of Thunder and Roses.  It will go to one commenter between now and midnight Saturday.  So if you're into audiobooks, this is your chance! 

Do you like audiobooks?  Have you not thought much about them, but think it might be fun to listen to some of the great stories you loved in the past?  As I said, the Golden Age of Audiobooks is here!  What books would you like to hear in audio form?

Mary Jo

 

Dearly Beloved: the Story Behind the Story

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

Editing and producing e-versions of earlier books is an interesting, nostalgic, and sometimes alarming process.  I agree with everything Cara/Andrea said in her Wednesday discussion of the e-release of three of her Signet Regencies.  Proofing forces an author to confront all the appalling writing weaknesses that she has been struggling to eliminate.  Thank heaven that in popular fiction, a good story can trump wordiness! To a point, anyhow. <G>

I’ve just uploaded the ebook verson of Dearly Beloved, my first true Regency historical romance after I’d written 7 traditional Signet Regencies.  I wanted a rock ‘em, sock ‘em story that would push the limits beyond anything I’d attempted, and I succeeded.  I also wanted to do the sort of deception that Mary Stewart did in The Ivy Tree, where a plot twist makes what came before look different in light of new information. 

MaryJoPutney_DearlyBeloved_800pxYes, I was probably biting off too much, but if I were a reasonable person, I wouldn't have become a writer. <G>  Though I generally avoid Amazon reviews, I just noticed one that said Dearly Beloved was a book people either loved or hated.  Luckily, this particular reviewer loved the book, but others didn't.  Which is fine.  No book is for everyone.

When my agent was sending out the manuscript, at least one editor refused to even consider it because the heroine, Diana Lindsay, goes to London to become a courtesan.  But that is much too simple a description of the story. 

Diana is a woman of instinct and intuition, and it is instinct that drives her from her remote Yorkshire home to find a better life.  Dangerously beautiful, she realizes that being an elite courtesan will give her freedom and power, and London will give her young son more opportunities.

At her first venture into the demimonde, Diana meets Gervase, a haunted lord and spymaster who is entranced by her warmth and kindness.  Soon they are locked in an intense, passionate love affair.  But they each have their secrets, and their approaches to life are catastrophically different in ways that threaten to wrench them apart.

Here’s an excerpt, along with the original cover, which I loved for its tenderness.  I think it looks more like the characters in my head than any other cover I've had:

    In spite of their physical closeness Gervase was remote from her, his expression Dearly Beloved originalharsh and withdrawn.  Diana leaned across the narrow gap for a light kiss, asking softly, “Is something wrong?”
     His eyes were shadowed and he was silent for too long.  “You’re like…an addiction.  The more I have of you, the more I crave you.”
     “And you dislike that?”
     “I don’t want to need anyone.  Ever.”
     Diana felt the chill of his mood dispelling her contentment and she sat up, wrapping her cloak around her.  Without true intimacy, it seemed wrong to be naked in front of him.  Staring into the fire, she wondered what one could say to a man who preferred aloneness, who wanted to be sufficient unto himself.  “You need air to survive, and food and drink and sleep.  To be fully human, one also needs other people.”  
     To even discuss such matters was to betray vulnerability, and there was a long interval before he answered.  “Needing objects is safe enough—one kind of food can easily replace another.  To need people is dangerous because…it gives them power over you.”
     Still looking at the fire, she drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around her legs, folds of cloak spilling around her to the rug.  “Sometimes that is true, but why do you assume that others will always use their power against you?”
     With a brittle laugh, he said, “Experience.”
     She turned to face him.  “Can you truly say that everyone you have ever cared about has abused your trust?”
     Silence.  Then, “No.  The risk increases with the level of caring.  If one cares only a little, there is only a little danger.  The real risk is in…caring deeply.”
     Diana felt pity that he couldn’t even bring himself to say the word “love.”  What had happened to him, that the very thought of loving was so frightening?  “Then you are in no danger from me.  I can see what a bother it must be that your lust is temporarily out of control, but sex is just a “thing,’ like the need for food and drink.”
     She wished he would leave so she could give way to tears.  It was a mistake to love a man who daren’t love in return.  She stood, her voice gently mocking. “Take comfort in the fact that soon I will not be a novelty and you can easily replace me with another woman.”
     Gervase stood also, coming behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her against the hard length of his body.  “Can I replace you that easily, Diana?  Is that all that is between us—intemperate lust that will soon wane?”
     She held herself rigid, fighting the desire to melt back against him.  “I can’t answer that.  Only you can.”
     “But I don’t know the answer.  I don’t even understand the question.”
     Speaking from her own hurt, she said, “You don’t pay me enough to teach you the questions.”
     His arms dropped away, and when he spoke it was in a voice of cool irony.  “Good of you to remind me what is really between us. Since it is only vulgar money, there can be no danger.”
     She turned to face him, her blue eyes stark with unhappiness.  “You said that, not me.  If that is what you choose to believe, then of course it must be the truth.  After all, the customer is always right.”
     He flinched back at her words.  “If only it were that simple.”  Placing his hands on Diana’s shoulders, he drew her to him.  “But even after that spectacular sexual exchange has discharged physical desire, I still want you.  And so I fear you.”
     She softened then, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. “Do you really think I could ever hurt you?”
     He laid his cheek against her tangled hair, the scent of lilac poignant around them.  “I don’t know.  I really…just…do not know.  And that is what frightens me.”

Dearly Beloved: Love it or hate it.  The book was nominated for the RWA book of the year award and won the NJRW best historical of the year award.  It also brought me my first hate mail. 

Here’s a review quote from Terrie Figueroa of www.romrevtoday.com

"Brimming with betrayal, passion, intrigue and love, Dearly Beloved is a novel that no romance reader should miss…It's a novel that will touch your heart, and a perfect example of what a romance novel should be."

I love the quote, though I don’t think the book is for every romance reader. <G> 

The e-edition of Dearly Beloved is currently being uploaded to the usual platforms.  The only current link I have is for Amazon, but Nook and Kobo and the others will follow over the next few days. 

MaryJoPutney_LadyofFortune_200pxI have two more novels that I have yet to edit, format, and upload: Uncommon Vows, (my one medieval) and Lady of Fortune, originally a Signet Super Regency.  They will become available later this year, but I have no idea when!

In the meantime, I’ll give a print copy of Dearly Beloved to someone who leaves a comment between now and midnight Saturday. 

While I have your attention: I’m thinking of making some of my books available in print on demand (POD) editions, which look and cost about the same as a trade paperback.  So, more expensive than mass market paperbacks.  Do you have any MaryJoPutney_ThunderandRoses_200pxthoughts about this?  Would you consider buying the print edition of a book that is otherwise available only as an ebook?  Let me know what you think, please!

Mary Jo, who would start POD with Thunder and Roses, first of the Fallen Angels series

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