Highlights of the Deerbourne Inn series

I’ve been diligently reading all the books in the Deerbourne Inn series put out by The Wild Rose Press and my, oh my…I’m happily sucked into this fictional town of Willow Springs, Vermont! The stories, the people, the romance…ahhh!

Novellas (stories 40,000 words or less, and typically 75-150 pages long) are a great escape from the grind. I write full-time but also love to read, and I’m limited by my reading speed. I do enjoy full-length novels, but I have to say that novellas are my new secret passion! I can finish in one or two sittings and feel a lovely sense of accomplishment (and enjoyment).

Welcome to the  Deerbourne Inn , a lovely B&B in the heart of the Mad River Glen, Vermont.

Welcome to the Deerbourne Inn, a lovely B&B in the heart of the Mad River Glen, Vermont.

What’s interesting about this series is the stories span genres…mystery, suspense, paranormal, romance…and time (historical and contemporary). Since many, but not all, have romantic elements, the heat level is a spectrum from sweet to spicy to hot.

Willow Springs is in the Mad River Glen of Vermont. All the stories revolve around the townsfolk and visitors. Each story has at least one character staying as a guest at the Deerbourne Inn, a rustic, renovated B&B in the middle of town. There is no need to read them all in order. I’ve jumped around. Each story is its own. But as you read more, you may have little moments like me where you go “Ah! I remember him/her from the other book.” Each story adds flavors and layers and depth to this town.

P.S. I enjoyed researching for my own book in the series. For a few pictures from the Mad River Glen hop over here.

I’ll keep updating this page as more books are released. Without further ado, may I present the Deerbourne Inn:

Note: My own sexy scale is indicated: [sweet, spicy, or hot]

By Reservation Only (Barbara Edwards): [Mystery, Sweet]

The first book in the series sets us up with the Inn, and we learn about its owner, Nate, a former NYC chef. Along comes a mysterious woman searching for clues to her past. And…there is a mysterious arsonist among the townsfolk! HIGHLIGHTS: Lovely set-up, and mouth-watering meals! A wee bit of mystery tossed in.

Hope’s Dream (Peggy Jaeger): [Romance, Sweet]

A delightful winter cozy! Hope lives in town and works the ski slopes and at a bar to take care of her ill mother, though medical bills prevent Hope from pursing her career dreams. Along comes lawyer Tyler, who needs to get her to sign some estate papers that would be a windfall of income to Hope. Love strikes, and the more he is with her, the more muddled his situation gets (he hasn’t exactly told her the reason why he is in town). Well, you guessed it! Love. HIGHLIGHTS: I enjoyed Ms. Jaeger’s writing style and the sweet, slow burning romance that built up between Hope and Tyler. The imagery made me envision the crisp, powdery slopes of Vermont and warm cozy firesides.

Freedom’s Path (Linda Carroll-Bradd): [Historical Romance, Sweet]

This is the first (I hope of many) historicals in the series. 1855. Freedom-fighter Sidonie works as a maid at the Inn. An Army Corporal, Colin, comes to town under the guise of salesman to root out abolitionists. The cause is personal to Sidonie, as her grandmother escaped bondage years ago. Love builds between these two, opposites, but Colin has an empathetic heart. Then another slave-hunter comes town. Will Sidonie be caught? Will Colin turn her in if he learns of her involvement? HIGHLIGHTS: I enjoyed the suspense, Sidonie’s bravery (she hangs special quilts as “code” to other abolitionists), and the spark between her and Colin. This book was a pleasure to read and I liked the ending.

Spirited Quest (Julie Howard): [Paranormal, Sweet]

Paige runs the town newspaper, a dying art, and she is still figuring out what to do with her life in the wake of a divorce. In her early-50’s, she has spunk and a strong personality. Her niece, an acclaimed blogger and “ghost whisperer” comes to town to visit with the Inn’s local ghost. This story is paranormal meets suspenseful mystery (is the ghost real? Is somebody stalking her niece? Is she in danger?). HIGHLIGHTS: I loved the perspective of Paige and that she never really believed in this ghost nonsense. Well-polished writing kept me turning the pages.

Lyrical Embrace (Amber Daulton): [Romance, Hot]

Erica is on the run from an abusive ex in NYC, with a load of his cash in her bag, and her violin at her side. The last thing she wants is a romance. Enter Dylan, former rockstar and player. But Dylan wants a quiet life back home in Vermont, teaching kids music. Sparks fly fast with these two. Enter trouble: has her ex found her? Is Erica ever going to be safe and find a happy ending? HIGHLIGHTS: I liked that Dylan was not your typical bad-boy. This story is hot and heavy, but well-written and believable. I liked the secondary character development as well.

Soul of the Storm (Jean M. Grant): [Romance, Spicy]

Not sure I feel justified to review my own work! A quick summary: Charlotte is haunted by a past: a sister lost on a hiking adventure but her friend persuades her for a week away in VT to rest, not dwell on a mistake. She blames herself and her lying/cheating ex-husband. Matiu is aching to return his restless spirit back home to New Zealand, and works many jobs in town to pinch pennies. Neither are looking for love but both can’t deny their attraction and shared love of the outdoors. When the Search & Rescue team falls ill and a snow storm blows in, can Charlotte help Matiu on a rescue? Will love help her summit one last peak? HIGHLIGHTS: Flavors of Matiu’s Maori upbringing and a fun story for outdoor enthusiasts (hiking, kayaking).

Lion Dancing for Love (Laura Boon): [Romance, Hot]

Caitlyn is in town visiting her friend, while on a year-long “holiday” trying to find herself and avoid going home to California in the wake of a bad break-up. Corey is a wholesome (adorable!) young widower. The two have an instant (well, they try to deny it) connection. Their romance is believable and enjoyable. Is Corey ready to move on, and can love keep Caitlyn in town? HIGHLIGHTS: I enjoyed both characters’ backstories (Caitlyn is Chinese-American and let’s just say she gets this widower to dust off his dancing shoes to help her in a special Lion Dance). I learned a bit about this important ceremonial dance and I adored Corey. This is another hotter romance when it comes to love scenes.

Forever in a Moment (Charlotte O’Shay): [Romance, Spicy]

Sam’s fiancé dumped her days before their wedding and she’s looking for an escape from her too-serious, too-predictable life in NYC as a lawyer. Enter her “honeymoon” for one in Vermont at Christmas, a broken down car in the snow, and a ruggedly reclusive dairy farmer named Jed. These two can’t fight their attraction, but with Jed’s painful past and her own secret, can these two get their act together for a HEA? Can Sam say goodbye to the routine and start anew in small-town VT? HIGHLIGHTS: The fresh, first person/present tense style by the author really highlights the voice of the characters, brings them to life on the page. I loved Sam’s candidness and Jed’s sincerity (Ah, a hot, sensitive farmer!). The love scenes are sexy but not too hot. A fresh, keep you in your seat read!

Witches’ Cliff (Peggy Chambers): [Paranormal, Sweet]

Penny’s returned to town after leaving with her mother after her birth and the stigma of being witches. She descends from a family of witches and lives in Salem, MA. On the heels of a marriage proposal she is uncertain about (he’s a bit slimy), she comes to town to seek guidance of a different kind…from an ancestor. This requires climbing the Witches’ Cliff (where witches were tried and tossed off) on Halloween and summoning her great-many times over-grandmother. Oh, there’s also a handsome electrician who has eyes for her and another local witch she is skeptical about: is she friend or foe? HIGHLIGHTS: I enjoyed the paranormal elements, Penny’s down-to earth attitude, and the overall story line.




Soul of the Storm: Releases March 20th! (Cover reveal & excerpt...)

Friends (and strangers, doctors, people I bump into…) keep asking me why I’m having three books come out this spring back-to-back? Because I am crazy? LOL. That’s a long story and I will explain it in a future blog post. :) But for now, hey look, a new cover! A release date! And an excerpt! And of course, a bit more about Soul of the Storm, too:

SouloftheStorm_w12963_ib.jpg

Charlotte MacGregor lost the thrill of conquering mountains five years ago when her sister disappeared on a hiking adventure without her. Still guilt-ridden, Charlotte heads for a vacation to rustic Vermont with a friend—where she's surrounded by reminders of her devastating loss and plagued with unanswered questions.

Matiu Christiansen is an outdoors buff. He works multiple jobs to save for his dream of owning an outfitter in New Zealand. He's never quite felt at home in the United States and he yearns for his Maori roots, but his attraction to Charlotte puts a kink in his plans to move home later this year.

Thrown together by coincidence, Charlotte and Matiu form a kindred bond through their shared love of the outdoors. Can Charlotte surmount her demons to assist Matiu on a rescue when a late-season snowstorm hits? And can Matiu help Charlotte heal from the pain of the past?

Soul of the Storm is part of the new Deerbourne Inn series by The Wild Rose Press. With an idea already brewing for a healing story set in my native region of New England, I jumped on board with this series of shorter stories/novellas that take place in the quaint fictional town of Willow Springs, Vermont. It’s hypothetical location is near the town of Warren, VT, so after doing some research in the Mad River Valley (would you expect less from this traveler?), I got writing! This was one of my favorite stories to write to date.

And now for a teaser…

She went to feel her ring on her finger with her thumb…but the ring wasn’t there. That old habit would not die even years later.

A dog bark intruded. The man crossed to the back door. “Reka, sweet girl, take your nap. Only a few hours here and then home, okay?” He spoke to her like a father to a toddler. The dog barked again. “A swim and walk this morning weren’t enough for you?”

He approached the dog, petted it, and whispered affections.

Charlotte made a soundless “Aww” and kept perusing.

The man returned, nearer. Residual sweat traced his brow. He pointed to a selection of books in the middle. “These are the best. Depends on what you’re looking for. Honest reviews or glorified fantasies?”

“Honest reviews, always.”

He stroked a hand through his neck-length black hair, the longer top layer falling over his forehead. He squatted and withdrew a few books from the lower shelf. “You could go with the popular or famous names, sure, but I like these authors.” He handed her one.

A book on South America sat in her hands. She muttered, “Thanks. Don’t need that one.”

“Oh, already been there, eh? All good, all good.” He took it and shoved it back on the shelf. “Where do your dreams lie then?”

She swallowed. No, I wasn’t there in that way. I was supposed to have been there. Five years ago. Instead she said, “Well, Vermont for now.”

“You’re in luck. I’m from Willow Springs.”

Soul of the Storm releases on March 20th!  Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo  ~  GooglePlay  ~ Walmart

Soul of the Storm releases on March 20th! Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ GooglePlay ~ Walmart

Introducing: A Hundred Breaths...cover reveal! Releases Feb 18, 2019

I can’t hold in the excitement. My eagerly awaited (well, okay, eagerly awaited by me! I’m not sure about readers) prequel to A Hundred Kisses is set to release on February 18, 2019. Just 7 weeks from now. (insert screams of delight). How about I share that cover art and blurb with you, aye?

BeFunky- AHB collage 2.jpg

Why the prequel and not a sequel?

When I wrote A Hundred Kisses it was set to be a standalone book. In fact, I had been writing stories set in 12th century Scotland for over a decade. After three practice novels, and much learning of the craft and business, I decided to leap forward to the 13th century and sprinkle in paranormal/mystical elements. Therein I found the magic! From that exploration arose Deirdre and Alasdair’s story: a ruthless baron, a dark past, a curse, deep secrets, and the mystical power of the Ancients. Not bad for a first book! ((A little plug for Rosalind Ashford who narrated the audio book — her voice swept me away.)).

I felt compelled to dig deeper into the mystical Silver Veil because Deirdre’s mother, Gwyn, also had a story to tell. And it so happened to be a pivotal time period for the [end of the] Norse (Viking) reign. The stars aligned and what came forth was a story about a merciful Healer, a scarred man hellbent on vengeance, and several unrelenting Nordmen.

What next? I’m writing the final book in the trilogy (hint: it’s about Deirdre and Alasdair’s child). Each story in my “hundred” series explores the powers of the Ancients: Healing (water), Feeling (fire), Seeing (Wind), and the grounding force of Earth. Each book is steeped in Scottish-Norse-English history.

I hope you enjoy this latest one. It’s set to release on February 18th (a great day-early birthday present for me!). It will be available as an e-book and print, with audio forthcoming.

And like any novel, I take my research serious! A Hundred Breaths delves into the Norse culture and I was fortunate to tour an actual Viking ship, the Draken Harald Hårfagre, last year. Gwyn and Simon’s journey also takes them to Dryburgh Abbey (I visited this abbey on my trip to Scotland in 2008).

No book announcement could be complete without an excerpt! I enjoyed writing this book, especially the villain. My best bad guy yet!

“I’m your wife, and still I am guarded?”

Simon shrugged though she couldn’t see. He’d given up on excuses. “What must I do to prove I won’t flee? I signed your marriage contract. I said my vows.” Her voice broke on those words.

Was she crying? He laid the tray of food on her table and approached. He didn’t touch her, as much as he wanted to link his arm within hers as they’d done during their walks. He reached inside his ganache and withdrew her small, simple dagger. Unadorned with jewels or carvings, it possessed a bone hilt and a blade worn from use. Likely from tree limbs, flowers, and household use. His smith had sharpened it and cleaned the hilt.

“Here,” he said, placing it in her lap. Gildy had retrieved the sheath from Gwyn’s laundered gown.

Gwyn stared at it, her fingertips dancing butterfly wings hovering over the hilt. After a moment, she drew her hand around it and pulled it from its leather sheath. She rose and whirled on him, the dagger pointed out before her, barely pressing into his chest.

He didn’t retreat as he met her fiery, misty gaze.

She made no move to remove the dagger’s tip.

“A smidge to the center, Gwyn, and you’ll be square over my blackened heart.” He held her glower. The heat blazed in her entrancing blue eyes like the devil. He fought a smile.

The Road to Publication: A bit about Small Press

On the heels of the 2018 Writer's Digest conference in New York City, I returned home rejuvenated, riding that post-conference high. I had networked, conversed with talented writers (shout out to #5amwritersclub on Twitter!), participated in informative and motivational sessions, and listened to inspiring keynote speakers. Writer's Digest offered a commendable conference and it was 100% worth going [plus a few days in NYC with no kids, yup!]. At this stage in my publishing career I chose to attend mostly business and motivational sessions rather than craft  (though we could always hone craft and I swapped notes with other writers).

I left also feeling a bit meh. Why meh? Because not one session in the dozens offered addressed small press publishing. There was plenty of information on the agent to big publisher route (the dream of many an author) and the indie/self-pub route. But the hybrid in between the two? Nope. Shaking off my self-doubt and negative self-talk (hey, there was a session on that!), I decided why not share a bit more about the small press experience. I've had a wonderful journey with The Wild Rose Press and I've learned in life to turn struggles into opportunities. If I was feeling a bit down, I guarantee there may be others who felt the same way OR don't know that small press is an amazing route for publication.  So here's my take on it! (Keep reading, it's good)

A rainy, gray day in the lowlands of Scotland. A sheep and its buddy. Eventually we'll find our herd if we keep walking.   Fun fact that makes me smile: My first books are historical romances, and my editor at The Wild Rose Press hails from Scotland...and her surname is the descendent of my heroine's name. Ponder that interesting coincidence for a moment!

A rainy, gray day in the lowlands of Scotland. A sheep and its buddy. Eventually we'll find our herd if we keep walking. 

Fun fact that makes me smile: My first books are historical romances, and my editor at The Wild Rose Press hails from Scotland...and her surname is the descendent of my heroine's name. Ponder that interesting coincidence for a moment!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...oh, wait. Not that. Leave that to Chuck Wendig, one of our keynote speakers. Okay, a long time ago, in years far, far away (circa when I was ahem, 20, uh like twenty years ago)...

I had just written my first two manuscripts. Not knowing much on the biz, I researched and jumped into the querying trenches. Back then, it was mostly by snail mail with a SASE (anyone remember those?). I dabbled in querying agents and directly to editors at publishers (at a time when that was a more common method). Got some rejections, feedback, and a few requests. Ultimately, it went nowhere. Enter my blooming science career, parenting, and on and off writing for a decade. I finished a third manuscript. Did the same, but this time, email was the way to go. I even met with agents at conferences. I honed my craft, took in feedback from agents/critique partners, and filed away more research on the biz. Despite more queries and more requests, that book was still not "there" yet.

On to manuscript #4. Rinse and repeat the above, but at a more intense level. I was wearing my game hat by now. I had skills, was refining my craft, learning, growing. I got so close I could taste the offer! Still after close to 40 rejections (a small number, I know), I grew frustrated. The traditional route of agent to big publisher was not in my stars (yet...there is always a yet, for we don't know our future). I'd gleaned knowledge through the rejections/feedback but was still not capturing the eyes of agents. Yet, in the words of my always-first-to-read beta, "this manuscript was IT!" Yes, she texted that after reading my polished, revised version number 100 (or it felt like it). 

I took a leap and queried two small press publishers. The Wild Rose Press, a publisher with a very good reputation and who has been around for over a decade, said yes! That book, A Hundred Kisses, is now out in print, e-book, and audible/audio book.

What is a small press and what do you get working with one?

I will tell you because I did a lot of web-searching on indie vs. self vs. small press. Even Google searches lead to conflicting definitions.

Small Press highlights:

  1. Direct queries to editors, deleting the middle person (versus finding an agent).

  2. No agent fees/percentages (you get your full percentage of royalties).

  3. You earn royalties on sales, but with some you may receive advances, too. Royalties vary, and as a new author, don't expect a bestseller. Publication and developing readership is a marathon, not a sprint.

  4. Quicker turn-around time on all aspects of publication from query to release date. The Wild Rose Press prides itself on publication within a year from contract date.

  5. Niche markets -- many small presses specialize in and cater to one or a few genres. Those romance readers are dedicated and loyal (and I read a stat somewhere that romance is nearly 35% of the fiction market). The Wild Rose Press started as an e-book/print book publisher for romance, but has now branched out to other fiction genres, and audio book formats.

  6. You build a network of like-minded and cheerleader authors (I've established great relationships with many of the authors at The Wild Rose Press).

  7. Personalized support from the editors ( = TLC!). The Wild Rose Press has writer/promotion forums, weekly author chats (open to public), and makes efforts to meet with the authors at conferences or meetings. No question is too big or too small to your editor.

  8. Cover design, copy-edits, assistance with promotion.

  9. A team of editors and staff that are quick to respond and support you in your publication needs. Okay, this is like #7, but I just had to say it again.

  10. No-up front out of pocket expenses.

  11. Though supportive, be prepared to do a lot of your own marketing and promotion (this is even expected from big publishers, as I've been told). But also be prepared to have a team ready to support you in those efforts.

  12. Numbers of books published per year vary by publisher. The Wild Rose Press has published thousands of books by hundreds of authors in its 12-year span.

Enter manuscript #5. I had spent a year writing a contemporary Women's Fiction book, different from my usual historical romance. I queried the heck out of it with agents. By now, I knew my stuff (disclaimer: we are always learning and improving). I attended conferences and workshops, delved into the Twitter world, read books. I had my A-game. But over 70 rejections later, still nothing. And for the agents that did request it, the feedback was surprisingly vague. As painful as rejection is, getting specific, detailed agent feedback on a full request is gold in your hand! Though it's subjective, I find it to be the best information on what to do with my book: edit it more, change up the plot/characters, or follow my gut and leave it be? After another year of revision and input from countless beta readers and critique partners, I honed that baby the best I could. Feeling a bit defeated and hesitant, I sent it off to my editor at The Wild Rose Press. Though started as a romance publisher, they also publish other fiction genres, including Women's Fiction. I thought, "Why not?"

Guess what? My editor LOVED it. In fact, I need to go work on my first round of edits right now...

They are also publishing the prequel to A Hundred Kisses. So now I have one book published, and two more in contract. I have another manuscript pending decision. And you can guarantee that this fall, I am going to get working on the sequel to A Hundred Kisses, turning that series into a trilogy. My momentum is on...and it happened with a small press. Where do I go from here? I'm not sure. Can any author say where they will be in a few years? Just a few years ago I was in the query trenches. Now, I'm overwhelming satisfied and happy with the support and care I've gotten from my editor and fellow "rose" authors! Right now, I've found my publishing home.

I'd love to hear about your publishing experience.

Best,

Jean