Upcoming Releases

I haven’t posted in a while, because the last two months have seen me with my head down, writing hard!

I’ve been working on two books:

Kat Holloway Below Stairs Mysteries Book 6, which is finished and now on my editor’s desk (pub date and title TBA). Yay!

The second, The Sinful Ways of Jamie Mackenzie (Mackenzies Book 12) is still in progress with a pub date of November 16.

You can pre-order Jamie’s book here:

Kindle
Apple
Nook

Kobo and Google pre-order links to come.

I will of course have it in PRINT as well as audio, closer to release date.

This book will take us into the early 1900s, with Jamie, Ian Mackenzie’s oldest, at 28. He’s been kicking around the world having adventures, and now he’s home to settle down, or so he thinks.

Running into Evie McKnight (a new character), a young lady he’d met under bizarre circumstances ten years ago, sends him straight back into adventures. The problem is, she’s engaged to another man. Jamie reasons that such things didn’t stop his father when he’d courted Jamie’s mother, and they’re not going to stop Jamie.

You’ll see Ian and Beth in this book, as well as Jamie’s sisters (Belle and Megan) and several of the cousins playing important roles as Jamie falls madly in love.

I plan to do stories for most of the next generation: Next up will be Megan or Belle. Hart’s oldest son is not sure he wants to step into the ducal shoes, Gavina (Cam’s daughter) wants to live life to its fullest, and Aimee (Mac’s adopted daughter) is facing the difficulty of her background as she blossoms into a beautiful young woman.

The lads will find heroines strong enough to love Mackenzies, and the ladies will encounter their own hot heroes.

A note: The series is now entering the 1900s, which I realize is a run-up to WWI. I have made the decision that no Mackenzie will be killed in the war. This series is about romance, adventure, and family, and I want everyone to be smiling when they finish each story. If any books are set in those years, the family will of course be touched by it, but they will come out of it together.

More books coming up

I sadly had to move the next Captain Lacey to spring, because me writing schedule this summer got discombobulated. I have a beautiful cover for it (Murder in the Eternal City), and I’m tentatively setting the date for March.

In May, another gladiator book (The Ring that Caesar Wore)

But first, more Shifters! I like having February as Shifter month, and so Tiger’s Daughter will be out then. Stay tuned for pre-orders on that book.

That’s what I’ve been up to since last post. I’d hoped to travel a little more this summer, visiting Canyon de Cheyelles, the Grand Canyon, or Vermillion Cliffs, but I spent it all in my office writing. But I realize I needed to chill in a calm place and not run around frantically. I’m glad, because I went from not writing (for almost three months! ack!) to finishing one book and closing on the end of a second.

This retreat has been incredibly good for me for both stress and creativity.

Much more to come!

Hooray for an Office!

My silence for the last month has been because of moving! My mom to a new apartment and me and husband to our summer house in the mountains.

After a buttload of work, we are finally all settling in. And I have an office!

I found this lovely desk at a local furniture store. I wanted something small, because I figure I can only clutter it up so much before I have to clean it off. Right? It also happily has ports to plug in my laptop and phone.

The folding chair next to the desk is what I was using before I got the office chair. Great for camping, bad for writing. I have it here for the cats–they love lounging in it.

I also have my guitar nearby so I can play and practice when I’m not writing.

Already my productivity has gone up. I was in despair because writing has been sidelined for the last couple of months–not suprising–but for me, going more than a week without working on a story is unheard of!

Yesterday, after I got my chair, I started revising what little I’d written in the past months and today I am getting through the rest of that revising. Plus I’m brainstorming other stories in the notebooks beside the laptop.

I also have a nice view off the balcony to a quiet road. A pair of crows talk to each other in the trees outside (all day long …).

If you wonder why I’m so excited to have an office, it’s because it’s my first one. For the previous years of my career, I’ve been writing in the living room or dining room, or in a cramped space in a hobby room. Which is fine, but the living room and dining room are traffic areas of course, and I either have to have headphones with the volume turned way up or yell at people to be quiet and stop distracting me. Not fair to them or me.

Now I have an office of my very own, with a door. Which I can’t shut, because, you know, cats. But it’s in a cozy corner upstairs, free of traffic and distractions (except for cats). I’m thrilled!

The office needs more decor (the whole house does), but that will come.

I’ll have more news when I get back into the groove of things. It’s nice to be back to work! (For real.)

Virtual Conference–Inspiration

I spent last week at the Historical Novel Society’s virtual conference (in place of its in-person conference). The HNS is for all authors of historical fiction–mysteries, romance, thrillers, mainstream fiction, adventure fiction–any fiction as long as it’s historical.

Because I’ve been helping my mom move, I didn’t get to “attend” all the sessions I wanted to so I will have to catch the recordings, but that’s fine.

I have been inspired by the sessions I did get to, including two master classes on historical fiction and publishing. So much great information, plus it gave me a lot of confidence in what I’m writing now plus ideas for new things in the future.

(Sometimes people are surprised that I go to conferences and attend sessions and classes, but there is always something new to learn. I don’t care how long you’ve been in your chosen field–the day you think you know it all is the day you truly don’t.)

I find that I’m enjoying virtual conferences. The HNS said that this one had more attendees than ever. I did a virtual master class in dollhouse miniatures in early May, and it was wonderful. The attendees for that one were so enthusiastic that the miniatures organization is contemplating more online workshops (please do! Sending out hopeful vibes …)

I do miss the in-person conversations, dinners and lunches out, just hanging around the lounge and chatting with my writing friends, but I find that I have better focus in the classes and absorb more of the information when I’m learning at home, plus there are “face to face” questions and discussions via Zoom.

What I don’t miss is the hours of flying, annoying connections, bad food, mediocre but expensive hotels, and the time zone changes (east coast conferences for me are a pain in the butt, because not only are the flights long, but I lose three hours, so I always have to travel a day or two beforehand.) Paying only for the conference and focusing only on the conference is wonderful.

I’m hearing that many others are enjoying the online virtual conference experience, so much so that many organizations are thinking about keeping them virtual or going “hybrid,” with some in-person attendees and others joining online.

In my opinion, the hybrid conference would be wonderful. I can’t always take the time to get away (as I said, flying in one-two days in advance), and it gets expensive–writers conferences in the U.S. can set you back $1-$2K, and if you fly in internationally that price sharply increases.

How wonderful to attend conferences around the world without having to spend tons of extra time and money on it. (Time zones can still be challenging–an 8 am session Eastern Time for me means getting up at 4 am, and those in Australia attend most of the sessions in the middle of the night).

That is not to say I’m never going to an in-person conference again. Meeting up with friends and talking face to face with my editor and others in the industry is awesome–nothing can take its place.

Business woman lecturing at Conference. Audience at the lecture hall.

But virtual conferences allow me to learn, connect, and experience without having to say no because of the time and travel factor.

Have you done virtual conferences this year? Are you eager for more, or done with them?

Custom House Murders Audio is a Chirp Deal!

Get Audio of The Custom House Murders for only 99 cents on Chirp! Add Blood of a Gladiator, which is discounted to $2.99. Chirp Only! for a limited time.

https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/the-custom-house-murders-by-ashley-gardner-and-jennifer-ashley

https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/blood-of-a-gladiator-by-ashley-gardner-and-jennifer-ashley

Unboxing: Death at the Crystal Palace!

Look what arrived today! These are not ARCs–they are the Real Thing!

Seeing my new book for the first time never gets old! Even after 120 books. 🙂

Out July 6! In bookstores everywhere (plus online). E-books also online everywhere, and audio too!

New German language Shifters Unbound

Dear German-language readers: A New Shifters Unbound in German is out today: Der Traum der Bärin (Original Title: Iron Master, Shifters Unbound, 12). Available in e-book and print from:

Amazon.de

Kobo

Google

Apple

I hope you enjoy it!

Change

I’m told that if you make changes in your life, you should do it a little at a time. Don’t go all in.

Well …

Suddenly, at the end of a horrible year, we are renovating and trying to move in to a summer home (buying furniture, carpet replacement, new bathroom fixtures, and so forth), my mom is moving to a senior apartment (and we are heavily involved in the move), I have to change my logins at every account imaginable because my email provider is changing, and I’m setting up an on-line store where I can sell signed copies of my books and other goodies. Plus looking for a new agent. All in the past couple of weeks.

I like change usually, because I don’t like being stagnant. I like to experience new things, learn, grow …

But so much at once is overwhelming. Writing has taken a back seat, I have to say, which is frustrating.

What I’m trying to do is break down everything into bite-sized pieces. Take one job at a time. Fortunately my husband is very helpful, coordinating all the renovating on the summer house and keeping stress off my mom. Oh, my mom just got a new phone too, and I am helping her understand how to use it, and transferring all her data from old phone to new (which is complicated because the phone is an older model and didn’t automagically transfer everything for her.)

It has been quite a month, which is why I haven’t been as chatty.

My goal is that by mid-summer everyone is settled and starting to relax and have fun. I can dream.

I so want to get back to writing! The stories are in my head, time is marching on, my schedule is waving its arms, and writing is my refuge from the stress of Real Life. Mackenzies and Captain Lacey take me away!

Abstract environmental backgrounds with bamboo and water droplets

How do you cope with change? My choice is to run away screaming, but not really practical at the moment. 🙂

The Madness of Lord Ian is $1.99 today

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Book 1 of the Mackenzies / McBrides) is a Bookbub deal today for (ebook, all vendors).

Let me wax nostalgic on the writing of this book. Madness of Lord Ian came to be solely because I fell in love with Ian Mackenzie. I never set out to examine issues, make a point, or to present a neurodiverse hero (that term wasn’t widely used then), or anything of that nature. Ian and his brothers simply walked into my head, and I had to write about them. (The demanded me to–you know how Hart can be.)

At the time, I was deep into other series (Immortals, Nvengaria, Shareem), and in fact it was several years before I was able to start Ian’s book. I was lucky the publisher even accepted it. It was the second book of a 3-book contract, and the contract just said “a historical romance.” I decided to slide Ian in and cross my fingers. (Fortunately, my editor loved the idea and the book.)

I researched my butt off for this entire series. Not only about Asperger’s Syndrome, but the Victorian world and its politics, asylums and the mental health “treatments” of the time, Ming pottery, Scottish history, French history (including the Paris Commune and its demise), gambling, horse racing, the history of Scotland Yard and trials, … and that was just for Ian’s book.

As I moved on in the series, it was art history, oil painting (I learned how to oil paint to find out what Mac would do to prep and mix colors and so forth), horse training and breeding, Victoria’s court and ladies-in-waiting, Irish history and politics, Monaco, ballooning, the history of India and its British occupation, cultural history of the Punjab, automobile history and mechanics, and … so much more.

I never in my wildest dreams thought anyone would like Ian or Ian’s book. He wasn’t a usual romance hero, all growling arrogance and aggression (I saved that for Cam and Hart). He was quiet (usually), and observed everyone else (but not passively).

One thing I wanted to explore with Ian was exactly how a person who did not conform to the norm of the Victorian Age would be treated. Asperger’s and Autism wasn’t recognized until well into the 20th century. How would Ian be viewed, and how would society, including his family, react to him? His father (who was a terrible person), punished Ian for being himself, and locked Ian away when he feared what Ian would reveal.

Ian’s brothers, on the other hand, loved and supported him. The first thing Hart did when their father died was retrieve Ian and bring him home. The book (and series) was also about family dynamics and love.

When the book came out, I expected a few people would like it, and I’d move on with the series, writing them mostly for myself.

I never, ever, ever expected The Madness of Lord Ian to sell as well as it has, or be talked about as much as it has been, both the good and the bad. Some people think it’s the worst book ever. Others cite it as their favorite book and hero of all time.

I remember watching the reviews and avid discussion on this book roll in, my mouth hanging open. How the heck did this happen? My publisher did next to no marketing for the book, and I (because I expected nothing), was happy just to see it release. I probably sent out a newsletter to my small mailing list and that was it.

However, word of mouth, including from reviewers who loved it, picked it up and ran with it. Ian was loose in the world, and many people embraced him. I was pleased but completely and utterly stunned. Still am!

Ian went on to be published around the world, and his brothers’ books are to date my bestselling historical romances. The Duke’s Perfect Wife hit the New York Times bestseller list, and all the books were nominated for (and / or won) multiple awards.

A graphic from the Mackenzie’s Spanish publisher.

I am happy that so many readers have embraced Ian and his family. I spun off three stories about the McBride brothers when I became interested in the family of Ainsley (who married Cameron Mackenzie in The Many Sins of Lord Cameron).

I then went back in time to talk about the Mackenzie ancestors who participated in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 and fought in the Battle of Culloden: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride, Alec Mackenzie’s Art of Seduction, and The Devilish Lord Will.

Currently I am working on the Mackenzies II, which will follow the offspring of Ian, Mac, Cameron, and Hart (and some McBrides). Jamie Mackenzie (the oldest of the sons) will have his story told first in The Sinful Ways of Jamie Mackenzie, hopefully out this year. (More on that as I get into the book).

Now I’m researching the Edwardian era, women’s education, the history of astronomy, composers of the early twentieth century, and more.

Bookmark made by @inkandmadness for a reader.

I am so grateful to all the readers of Ian Mackenzie who love him. If you have not read Ian’s book, it’s a great time to pick it up at only $1.99! (Price is for a very limited time).

Thanks for letting me talk about Ian Mackenzie, one of my favorite heroes. I do love him!

A Captain Lacey Moment

I opened my email yesterday to find a message announcing the re-opening of an exhibition in one of the royal palaces in London:

This painting is a Rembrandt, and exactly the one Captain Lacey sees when he visits Carlton House.

This is the Blue Velvet room at Carlton House, with the Rembrandt on the back wall. The picture of the room is from A History of the Royal Residences by WH Pyne, published in 1819.

When I toured Buckingham Palace in 2019, I was thrilled to find so much of the artwork, including this Rembrandt, from Carlton House, which was torn down about 1827, alive and well. I saw chairs, tables, clocks, and paintings that are depicted in the drawings in Pyne’s book, which I describe in A Mystery at Carlton House. (Another source for me was the Royal Collection’s archives, which lists what artwork and furnishings George IV purchased).

By the time Carlton House was pulled down, the Prince Regent, now king at last, had already started remodeling Buckingham House, to which the treasures of Carlton House were moved. Many also went to Windsor Castle, as did some of Carlton House’s interior architecture features.

It truly was exciting for me to walk among George IV’s acquisitions that Captain Lacey also viewed. I could hear the captain admiring a piece–or wondering why it was supposed to be beautiful–listening to Grenville explain the artwork’s history, while Brewster waited outside, rolling his eyes a bit and reminding himself he wasn’t supposed to nick anything.

A chance to step into one of my own books was one of the highlights of that journey.

Carlton House, after it was demolished down to the ground, was replaced with Carlton House Terrace, a row of luxury homes designed primarily by John Nash.

These days Carlton House Terrace houses the Royal Society, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and other arts societies, private clubs, and other things. I think one of the houses is a wedding venue as well.

The view of the rear of Carlton House Terrace from the Mall.

(All the photos of Carlton House Terrace are by me, from September 2019.)

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Lacey’s London!

Mountain Retreat

We went to the mountains for a break from the heat (where I live it has already cracked 100 degrees). Last night it rained in the foothills and snowed on the peaks! So beautiful.

This is the area where Janet from my Stormwalker series went to university, before she took off to see the world (and met Mick). This whole area inspired the character of Janet and the series (which yes, I will get back to!)

I’m enjoying the beautiful pines and watching the crows, one of which could be Janet’s grandmother.

We plan to stay up here over the summer, because the desert heat is getting to us, and we’re paving the way. Hope to be up here for longer soon!