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BY THE SEA
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Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much, either on my home page or on FB. The truth seems to be that I'm not, apparently, a blogger. That surprises me, because I can certainly talk a blue streak (ask any one of my forbearing friends). I'm sure that if I still wrote for a New York publisher, I would be feeling pressure to blog something -- anything -- just to keep my name out there. It's what you do. But I'm an independent writer now, and I don't have to if I don't want to. That's the good news. The bad news is that I feel guilty when I sneak out in my PJ's with a cup of coffee to watch a butterfly basking on a blade of grass in the mid-morning sun. (Who invented guilt, anyway? It's such a drag.)
If I had something profound to say, I would blog it. If I thought it could change the world, I would blog it. If I thought it could change just one mind, I would still blog it. If I thought you really wanted to know my favorite food, movie, song, book ... I might blog that. But if you've already read any of my books, then you're probably the kind of reader who would like simply to jump into another world, vividly drawn, for a few hours of entertainment. You're not looking for an answer to the meaning of life, not in a romantic work of fiction. What you're looking for is to swipe or turn the last page of a novel with a sigh of contentment. Why would it matter to you if my favorite color was green?
Still, like most authors with websites, I've posted a biography with photos -- although in it, I'm pretty sure I didn't mention my favorite food (cabbage, no kidding), movie ("Music and Lyrics," no kidding), song (Clapton's "Old Love"; it gives me goosebumps just to type that), or book (Seton's "Katherine," mostly because I was so young when I read it). So there you have it, after all. My favorite things.
If ever there were a need for holiday joy, it's now. Events this past month have left us, once again, in an anxious frame of mind. It's all too understandable, but we owe it to ourselves and to those we love -- and especially to those who have been so hurt by these tragedies -- to honor the spirit of the season. That spirit surely includes giving: of ourselves, our time, our resources. Let's be generous. Let's be kind. Let's show those who know only how to take and destroy that we know, and practice, a better way. Let us love our neighbor.
May you experience peace and serenity in the coming year.
It's that time of year again ... when we run around madly with too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Ten times a day, this thought zips through my brain: What was I thinking?? I'm as guilty of overly optimistic time management as anyone, but really. I actually thought a kitchen renovation, since we'd done one before, would be a piece of cake. At Christmastime. I'll be doing dishes in the laundry room and wearing out the Shop Vac before too long, so I'd like to take a moment now to thank you for reading my books and letting me know that you're enjoying them. It means a lot to me to hear from you.
May your season be merry and bright, and may all good things come to you in the coming year.
There is no better time to thank you for your wonderful notes, postings, and e-mails; they have made this past year a delight for me. I hope that my books have given you the chance to slip away into another world for a while -- a world where misunderstandings are straightened out, wrongs are made right, children listen to their parents (eventually), and men and women find their ideal mates, all of it in a seaside setting.
May you and your loved ones enjoy a year of peace, happiness and good health, and may every blessing be yours.
The final eBook in the BY THE SEA series is now available! Book Four, The Heirs, is set in modern-day Newport and is a return to my usual mix of mystery, romance and foggy nights, with a formal ball or two thrown in for good measure (the novel is set in mansion-filled Newport, after all). Like the other three books of the original print saga, The Heirs has been extensively revised and updated. Some revisions are the direct result of fan feedback: I learned, for example, that readers aren't big fans of ambiguous endings, so I've worked hard to wrap things up in a satisfying way.
I should add that this last, fourth book, like the first three, can be read as a stand-alone work. If historical novels aren't your thing, then The Heirs with its modern setting should suit you very well. If historical novels are your thing, then by all means, pick up Tess, Amanda, and Laura. And if you want a big, fat, satisfying read that will have you following the lives of several families (think Downton Abbey), then all four books of BY THE SEA should be just the ticket. To introduce you to the saga, I'm offering Book One, Tess, free at all the major eBook stores.
Have a fun and happy Halloween, everyone!
If it's a new month, it must be a new book: Laura, Book Three of the BY THE SEA series, is now available in eBook format. Of all my books, I think Laura required the least research; I have the subject down pat. I know what it feels like to live aboard a boat and out of touch for years at a time, and to pour body and soul and every blessed cent you have into making sure the thing just keeps floating. I know what it feels like to be alone with only your mate and a cat, 600 miles from the nearest shore. I definitely know what it feels like to be exhausted, sleep-deprived, and scared out of your wits in a brutal storm. (The guy who said going to sea is like being in prison with a chance of drowning wasn't kidding.)
I also know the absolute bliss when the wind is fair, the night is warm, and the moon is bright enough to read by. When the canopy of stars overhead, and Bethoven's 8th in your head, overwhelm you with a sense of your own insignificance. I'm willing to bet that everyone has felt that kind of intensity in some form, whether at a concert or in a church, with a lover or holding a newborn.
Laura Powers may have been brought up on a farm with the expectation that she'd become a proper Midwestern schoolmarm, but she has other ideas. She's too restless, too eager to find ... something, in her life, that takes her far from everyday routine. And she does -- but not where and with whom she thought she would find it. I hope you enjoy Laura. It comes from the heart.
I want to thank all of you who have taken a leap of faith and bought "Tess," Book One of my four-book series BY THE SEA, and made it a #1 bestseller in multiple NOOK fiction categories, including NOOK Press's Summer Favorites. "Tess" is set in a century I don't usually cover (late nineteenth), but in a place I do (Newport, Rhode Island). Still, I know that readers are used to downloading contemporary mysteries from me, and "Tess" is something else entirely: a rags-to-riches story of a stunningly beautiful Irish maid in one of the biggest mansions on Newport's Gold Coast. Tess's story doesn't end on the last page, though; look for more about her in the next three books.
Book Two is "Amanda." I like Amanda. She's an American heiress who can be a maddening, royal pain, but ... I like her. Her heart is in the right place, and Geoffrey Seton, impoverished English aristocrat, gradually becomes aware of that. Very gradually. "Amanda" was a lot of fun to write, and I hope it will be just as much fun for you to read. "Amanda" is in eBook stores now.
I should add that the four books of BY THE SEA no longer resemble the original out-of-print saga titled "The Challenge and the Glory." I have revised, edited, broken up and reordered the paperback. (I've been busy!) So be aware of that, should you run across an old copy in a used-book store.
Book Three, "Laura," will be out before long, but meanwhile, here's wishing you some lazy, enjoyable reading in the chaise lounge or beach chair of your choice.
Early Summer, 2013
Summer marches on, and with it, the first release in my four-book series, BY THE SEA. In its original print format, all four books were included in a saga titled "The Challenge and the Glory." (Long title, big book; the manuscript ran nearly a thousand pages.) But since the saga spans four entirely separate periods (the summers of 1895, 1920, 1924, and the 1980's) it seems logical to publish each story separately. They're all connected, though, tracing the loves and fortunes of three separate families in Newport, Rhode island.
Book One is called TESS: she's an Irish maid in one of the castle-sized "cottages" that the Vanderbilts, Astors, and others with equally absurd fortunes built in their efforts to trump one another. The staffs for these mansions were huge, controlled by women who revelled in their husbands' millions and could teach today's CEOs a thing or two about ruthless management and crushing the competition. Tess has none of their advantages, but she has brains, beauty and a good heart.
The first three books of the series (TESS, AMANDA, and LAURA) fall in the category of historical fiction/romance. Me! Writing historical fiction! The dozen eBooks I've released before this have all had contemporary settings, but I grew up reading historical fiction and there's still a place in my heart for the eras before iPhones and Facebook. The fourth book, THE HEIRS, is set in modern times and involves a mystery.
I loved writing this saga. Loved doing the research for it, loved creating heroines without wealth who by dint of their intelligence and determination were able to realize their dream, or at least make it possible for their descendants to realize theirs. Look for the other books in the series to follow about a month apart from one another. Please let me know what you think; I'd love to hear from you. And if you'd like to "Like" me on Facebook, I'd appreciate that, too.
To see larger versions of the covers for the next books, just click on the images to the left.
Happy summer to you!
We've all heard the expression "a man's home is his castle." But what happens when a man's castle turns out to be someone else's home? That's the situation in DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, my latest contemporary eBook release.
William Braddock, Baron of Norwood, has earned a fortune that dwarfs the one his English grandfather lost in the Great Depression, but there's a little something still missing that he needs to acquire: the family castle. Like an idiot, Will has promised it to his grandmother. He can afford to buy it back, all right. Problem is, it's been moved to the other side of the ocean.
It's inhabited, still, by the whimsical couple who bought it and by their daughter and two granddaughters, the elder of whom is fiery Elinor MacLeish. Elinor is the stuff of men's nightmares —stubborn, feisty, impulsive, reckless, and not particularly submissive. Not to mention, she's an American. Just to complicate matters, she's also attractive, sexy, intriguing and an exhilarating opponent. She has Will on his ear in no time flat.
But Will hasn't got where he is by giving up easily. A good thing, too, because besides the whole MacLeish clan, he finds himself crossing swords with yet another adversary who has his own agenda. And overseeing all the skirmishes and battles are a pair of ghostly lovers whose ties to the castle are far, far more ancient than those of anyone else.
I hope you enjoy DREAM A LITTLE DREAM. It's a modern fairy tale with a "definite Gothic touch," as Library Journal put it. Fun and lighthearted, it's just the book for curling up with on a long winter's night.
Some years wander sweetly, almost aimlessly, to their close, and some years are like asteroids shooting past as they roar to their end. I remember, decades ago during an overnight sail on a starry, moonless night, being absolutely dumbfounded by a piece of space debris that shot out of the heavens and burned up in a massive, chartreuse flash before us. It happened so fast! Did it really happen at all? It was so magical, so fierce, so awesome that it was scary.
That was my 2012. Out of the blue, my ebooks suddenly took off, and that was magical for me. But the year brought fierce loss as well: of beloved friends; of a gentle old cat. And all of it happened in the blink of an eye. Every year is like that, of course: beautiful and fun and awful and sad, a hurtling forward at what seems to be ever-increasing speed.
Which is why I want to stop, just stop, and take this moment to wish everyone a very happy holiday season. Whatever your belief, may it bring you comfort and joy.
It's nearly Halloween. Summer's been over for a few weeks now, but you'd never know it, watching the weather. A hurricane hybrid that's being described as "epic," "historic," "unprecedented," "The Perfect Storm 2.0," "dire," "record-shattering" and "Frankenstorm" (except this isn't funny) is bearing down on the northeast as I write this. So many millions will be affected by Hurricane Sandy in so many ways that it's almost impossible to comprehend.
We in Newport are bound at least to lose power, and I wanted to thank you before that happens for your gratifying responses to the release of my backlist as eBooks. EMILY'S GHOST, BEYOND MIDNIGHT, and TIME AFTER TIME, all ghost stories, are on Barnes & Noble's Top 100 NOOK Books Bestseller list right now. They're definitely in the spirit of the season (okay, yes, that's a pun) and fun reads, so if you haven't read them, pick one up and enjoy.
I've just released another book, TIDEWATER, which has just appeared on the B&N NOOK bestseller list today. One reviewer called it "compulsively readable suspense" and another likened it to Hitchcock. It's definitely at the darker and more emotionally charged end of my books, but I've tried to keep an element of charm and surprise in it. As always, the relationships between all of the characters were my main focus. Ex-lovers, mother-daughter, husband-wife: put them all together in a pot, mix well, turn up the heat, and you have a cauldron of boiling emotions. This was a tough book for me to write, but my editor thought it was my best to date. I'd love to know what you think.
In the meantime, I've just done a fun interview with Rachel Harrington, paranormal romance author, that appears on her site. Here's a link to it.
Thank you again for letting me know that you're enjoying my books; I treasure each and every one of your e-mails.
I want first to say a big, huge thank you to all of you who have been buying my books as they're released. A MONTH AT THE SHORE and A CHARMED PLACE continue to enjoy being on the NOOK Top 100 bestseller list at Barnes & Noble, and SAND CASTLES reached #4 there a few days after its release on June 15. I wish I could hug every one of you.
A little about the idea behind SAND CASTLES: a decade ago we had an addition built to our tiny four-room cottage and -- this was my brilliant idea -- we kept on living in the house for the entire nine months it took. (Any of you ever see the movie "Money Pit"? Then you'll know a contractor is merely toying with you when he promises to have something, anything, done in "two weeks.") If you've ever had a contractor take over your house -- whether to install kitchen cabinets or to update a bathroom -- then you know what it's like suddenly to be living on intimate terms with total strangers who're slugging their third cups of coffee before you've had a chance to brush your teeth.
In SAND CASTLES, Jim Hodene has won millions of dollars in the Powerball lottery. (It happens. Someone recently won 290 million dollars on a ticket bought in the same Stop & Shop where my husband occasionally buys us a ticket -- because what man isn't convinced that his ticket will be THE ticket?) Jim and Wendy Hodene live in Wendy's too-small ancestral house in Providence, Rhode Island, and Wendy gets the bright idea to make her beloved house bigger rather than to move into a ready-made new one.
That's where the trouble begins. Forget about the dust and rubble that's fraying everyone's nerves; far more dangerous agendas are at work than the threat of tripping over a box of nails. Mysterious phone calls; a husband who turns out not to be who he claims; a newly hired contractor of steely will and deep integrity who has other interests than Wendy's on his plate; a fragile and beautiful woman who appears out of nowhere to cause endless chaos -- all are land mines scattered along the path that Wendy must follow before she can find true happiness.
This is a book about love and loyalty and money, and who has too much and who has too little of it. Happy reading!
First: thank you for your wonderful response to my release of A CHARMED PLACE in eBook format. It reached a charmed place of its own -- #5 -- on Barnes & Noble's NOOK Book Bestseller List and has remained on the list for the past two months. Some authors might feel ho-hum about that, but I was -- and am -- astonished. And grateful. And ... just happy. Thank you!
My latest release is A MONTH AT THE SHORE. It's been out for two weeks and is #6 on the NOOK bestseller list as I write this. (Still astonished, still happy.) I know that the low introductory price has a lot to do with the success of those releases, but I hope that readers are enjoying the stories themselves. When I began to write, I decided to include what I myself like to read. So each book is a love story, but one that's caught up in a mystery and with a good dose of family drama. I have one overriding goal in mind: to make my characters real and believable. Superheroes need not apply, and neither do vampires, angels, girls with dragon tattoos, or shapeshifters. (Okay, once in a while I might have an opening for a ghost.) But I want you to be able to relate to the characters -- a sister, a mother, a son, a brother. A husband, a boyfriend, an ex. Love them or hate them, I want you to know them. As one reader wrote in her review: "I feel as if they're extended family."
I got the idea for A MONTH AT THE SHORE after dropping in at a small garden center in a town in Massachusetts. The nursery was such a forlorn affair: pots of dried plants thrown haphazardly on a table; shrubs in bone-dry containers; a paint-peeled shop with absolutely no curb appeal. Maybe they were short-handed, maybe someone was ill. Maybe they were exhausted and just didn't care anymore. I wanted to sprinkle magic dust over the whole nursery and make it all better. And so was born this novel.
It's the story of three outcast siblings who band together to try to save Shore Gardens, the family nursery that was allowed to slide into ruin by their tyrannical father. He's gone now, and foreclosure looms while developers wait like vultures. Laura and Snack Shore, who have long since fled the town, have promised their sister Corinne, who stayed, that they'd give her a month to try to restore the place to its former charm. One month! So the last thing that Laura needs are the attentions of privileged Kendall Barclay, president of the local bank -- or his appalling discovery at the nursery that leads to a murder investigation.
A MONTH AT THE SHORE has my trademark blend of romance, mystery, and family drama. Hope you enjoy it!
Okay--anyone who's ever wanted to live in a rose-covered cottage by the sea, raise your hand.
Yep. Me, too. Of course, if you've read my "bio" on this website, you know that I've lived on the sea, in an old wood boat. And now I live overlooking the sea, in a cottage up on a hill. But for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to live by the sea--close enough to hear the waves lapping on a shore not far from my bedroom window. When a dream is that intense and that long-lived, there's only one thing to do about it: write a book about it. And so was born A CHARMED PLACE, set in a sleepy beachfront town on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Maddie Regan and her family share a summer house there that's been passed down for generations. Rosedale cottage is nothing fancy (Hyannis and the Kennedy compound are several towns away) but Maddie grew up with happy memories in the house, and she'd like nothing more than to keep on enjoying them.
She has a teenaged daughter who's straight from the pages of Reviving Ophelia; a brooding and bitter ex-husband who's changed his mind and wants back in to the marriage; and a mother who's still grief-stricken over the unsolved murder of Maddie's father. Maddie's plate, in short, is overflowing with touch-and-go emotions. The last thing she needs is for her college sweetheart to rent the local lighthouse for the summer. The fact that her family blames the man for just about everything except the erosion of the beach in front of their cottage is just one more complication in Maddie's life.
There are long-buried secrets here, and lost passion waiting to flare all over again. If you've ever wanted to live in a rose-covered cottage on the shore ... if you've ever been driven up one wall and down another by an impossible teenager ... if you've ever had to deal with the heartache of a shut-down marriage and the friction of a difficult relationship with a parent ... if you've ever wondered about that man from your past who might have been The One--then this book is for you.
When we fall in love, we want to believe.
Holly Anderson is perfectly happy in her funky career as a folk artist--until she meets Sam Steadman, who doesn't seem to be happy doing anything. Sam's come to Martha's Vineyard to track down the con artist who has just scammed his struggling parents out of their nest egg. Holly shouldn't believe in Sam but does. Sam doesn't believe in Holly but should. And those two are just for starters.
Holly's mother has just been dumped by her husband of thirty years--but she still believes. Holly's father has fallen for the con artist who duped Sam's parents; he believes, big-time. And the con-artist, young, smart and gorgeous Eden Walker? Eden believes in Eden. Period.
Holly has a sister, Ivy. Ivy has a husband Jack. Jack's another piece of work.
Should any of these women believe in any of these men? As I was writing SAFE HARBOR, I admit that I had my doubts. By the time the story was done, some of those doubts were justified and some of them weren't. I think you'll enjoy this one. The book is fun, fast, and heartbreakingly true. Let me know what you think; I'd love to hear from you.
The holiday season is upon us. How do I love it? Let me count the ways. I love that Newport is quiet again. That the air has a bite to it. That we can have cozy fires. That I can wrap myself in soft sweaters and watch Masterpiece Theater without feeling guilty that I'm not outside Doing Summer Stuff. That the garden's asleep. That the birds are safe there, with heated water, lots of food, and shelter in our shrubs. That I can experience, once again, the sweet joy of arranging a Christmas village on our mantel.
But the season is really about family, isn't it. The noise, the laughter, the fights, the hugs -- all the ups and downs of mixing it up with people you know so well, but who will always have the ability to ... well, surprise. I was thinking very much of family dynamics when I wrote KEEPSAKE, in which one man has the power to throw an entire family -- an entire town -- into a state of dread. Stonemason Quinn Leary is determined to clear his father's name of a murder he didn't commit, and he's willing to walk over anyone who tries to stop him. But Olivia Bennet, the town princess and a school rival when Quinn fled Keepsake with his fugitive father seventeen years earlier, is a grown woman now, and she's not afraid to cross her arms and say "Not so fast." Can you be soul mates and bitter enemies at the same time? You can if your loyalties are divided. This is a story of conflicting loyalties, and of second chances for happy ever afters.
I should add that the Christmas village arrangement on my 2011 mantel is a nod to the opening scene in KEEPSAKE in which Quinn arrives at the village green just in time for the Christmas tree lighting. I didn't have a little gazebo for my village, so I made one. Total cost: fourteen cents. Sometimes it's the humblest objects that bring the sweetest pleasure.
Click on the Christmas button at the top of this page to enter my Christmas site and see the 2011 mantel arrangement, complete with deer in the pen, gazebo, Santa, and kids -- just as it appears in the opening scene of KEEPSAKE.
The calendar tells me it's Fall, and if the weather would just cooperate here in New England, we could get on with it. (Who wants to rake leaves when it's 87 degrees out?) Fall is the season for riotous color, bracing winds, wooly sweaters, touch football and crunchy apples. Cornstalk decor. Stacked-up firewood. Pick-your-own pumpkins -- the season, in short, for Halloween.
When I think of Halloween, I think of witches. When I think of witches, I think of Salem. Which is why I've decided to release Beyond Midnight in e-book format this month. It just seems right. Some of my stories are lighter in tone, some of them darker (never fear; all of them are fun). Beyond Midnight is a spooky tale, one in which the owner of a prestigious pre-school in Salem, Massachusetts finds her family and fortune imperiled by a modern-day witch hunt. I'm especially fond of the characters in Beyond Midnight. We've all been teenagers, known clueless fathers, mourned a true love, been charmed by a toddler. They're all here, and their stories are our stories. We'll wring our hands for them, watch them develop, and in the end, we'll rejoice with them.
Enjoy ... the story, and the season.
Thank you for your enthusiastic response to my decision to make my books available in eBook format. I've loved hearing from you again, and your online posted reviews and ratings are very welcome and appreciated. TIME AFTER TIME, a lighthearted romp, is the kind of beach read that will leave you smiling; you'll hardly notice the sand all over your blanket and in your food. I'll write more -- and I'll upload more books -- as soon as the weather breaks. Meanwhile, I'll be on the beach myself, wiping the sand from the cup of my lemonade slush.
There are valid explanations for some behavior, and then there are excuses. I can't offer a decent version of either one to account for the long lapse in my novel writing. I don't have a dog, so he couldn't have eaten my homework. I haven't been hospitalized (well, okay, briefly, after I jumped off a moving bike and broke my leg, but other than that). And I haven't been hijacked by pirates while sailing the local seas (New England hasn't had a decent pirate in over 200 years). So how to account for my writing coming to a screeching halt after my last book, A Month at the Shore, was published?
I'm going with the joy of freedom. I was taking a break to consider a new direction in my writing, and meanwhile my husband decided to take an early retirement, and then ... well, that freedom thing became addictive. It was awfully nice to pretend I was twelve again. Except, of course, that I wasn't (see my previous reference to the bicycle incident).
It's only recently that I realized I don't have to give up my freedom in order to write. In a word: e-books! The concept has changed my view of the world. Finally I can write what I want, when I want, how I want -- and as an added bonus, I'm married to a computer geek who's been just itching to make my previous and future books available for Kindle, NOOK, and other e-readers. If that's not a working definition of "freedom," I don't know what is.
As readers of my books know, some of my novels have paranormal elements in them, and some of them don't. Some have a more humorous feel, some have a more serious feel. I'm what one reviewer called a "writer that's hard to pigeonhole," and I like it that way. What all of my books do share are vividly rendered New England settings with heroes who are quietly strong, heroines you can relate to, and normal family and friends wandering through to balance off the quirky ones. No superheroes, serial killers, or buckets of blood are featured in my stories; I've found you can have page-turning suspense without them.
So in the coming months, look for the first seven of my previously published books to come out in e-book formats, with the rest to follow. EMILY'S GHOST and EMBERS are available now as e-books, and BELOVED will be available in April. I'll keep announcing books on this page as they roll out in Kindle and NOOK.
So -- hello again. It's nice to be back.
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