Thought I’d share a couple of pictures from a book sale/signing I did earlier this year at the Grand Blanc, Michigan, location of the Genesee Country District Library system.



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(Cross-posted from my Facebook page.)

I’ve been tagged by Kim Zollman Rendfeld to list five things about my main character in my current work in progress. Like Kim, I’m going to fudge a little because my WIP isn’t really my WIP, but I am doing final edits on The Fortune, so I’m going with my protagonist in that–Jack Mallory.

1) Jack did not come by piracy in the usual way. To search for his mother who had been kidnapped by pirates, he followed the axiom, “It takes one to know one,” and went “on the account” by acquiring a vessel through leading a mutiny.

2) Jack has some serious emotional baggage and has a penchant for emotional self-flagellation. Throw in a stubborn streak and a messed up love life.

3) Jack is not your usual brawny hero. He’s rather slight of build and refined in looks. But rest assured, ladies, he’s easy on the eyes. 

4) Jack is an only child. His siblings either died at birth or shortly thereafter.

5) Jack’s best friend is Josiah Smith, who nearly killed Jack when they first met. Smith serves not only as Jack’s quartermaster aboard the Prodigal but as a surrogate father to Jack.

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Congratulations to the winners of my recent book giveaway at!!

Each of these lucky readers will receive a signed copy of my second novel, The Alliance:

Louise in Newfoundland

Emma in West Sussex, Great Britain

Champaklal in Lancashire, Great Britain

Thanks for entering! Your copies will be mailed this week. I hope you enjoy the story. If you haven’t already read Book 1 in my Jack Mallory series, I encourage you to check out The Prodigal. And keep a weather eye on the horizon for Book 3, The Fortune, later this year.

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Are you a writer looking for a way to perfect your query and land an agent? Check out the second annual Query Kombat over at author Michelle Hauck’s blog. This link will tell you how to enter. May 22 is when you can submit your query and sample pages, so check it out soon!

And I’m proud to say that I will be one of the judges in Query Kombat. Check out the whole line-up of awesome judges at Michelle’s blog today: Meet the Judges.

Good luck to all contestants!!

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I was recently tagged by fellow Fireship Press author, Kim Rendfeld, to participate in a series of blog articles where authors introduce the main character of either a work in progress or an upcoming release. I want to thank Kim for this opportunity to introduce (and re-introduce to previous readers) Jack Mallory, the protagonist of my two previous novels, The Prodigal and The Alliance, as well as my next novel, The Fortune, which will be released later this year.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Jack Mallory is fictional. I had a very specific story to tell, so I wanted a character with no historical “baggage,” so to speak. The historical aspect of the story is important for the setting–piracy, the world of wooden ships and those who sailed upon them, and Colonial (South) Carolina and its plantation society. Jack’s life reflects that history.
2) When and where is the story set?
The Fortune, like the other two books in the series, takes place both at sea and on land, specifically in the colonial province of Carolina, focusing on Charles Town (modern-day Charleston) in the early 1690’s.
3) What should we know about him/her?
Jack came from a loving family, born in London, England, where his father was a tanner. Jack and his parents set sail to America as indentured servants. It was during this journey that James Logan and his pirates attacked, killing Jack’s father and kidnapping his mother. This singular act has ramifications for Jack throughout all three books. It’s the very core of his personal struggle with balancing good and evil: to resort to a life of piracy to avenge his father and learn the truth about his mother’s relationship with her kidnapper, and to try to recover the honest life he lost on that fateful journey to America.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
In The Fortune, Jack’s main conflict is his struggle to abandon his life of piracy and embrace a new, honest life on land with those dearest to him, specifically Maria and Helen. But his plans go awry when he is arrested. From there a series of events are set in motion that will determine which path he will ultimately have to take: a continued life of crime or a peaceful family life on land.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Besides the struggle mentioned in the previous two answers, Jack’s goal in The Fortune is to finally learn the true nature of his mother’s relationship with James Logan, to know whether or not his efforts to rescue her had indeed been heroic or a tragic mistake.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
As you know by now, the title is The Fortune. Another title that has dual meanings–not just the name of a vessel critical to the story but to a plot point as well. The cover art will be revealed soon, along with a jacket blurb to whet your appetite. Check back here or at my website,, to see it or visit/”like” my Facebook page. 
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
Look for The Fortune this fall. A specific date will be released following the cover reveal. If you’d like to receive an email from me to notify you when it’s available in electronic and print forms, use the contact form below to provide me with your email address. 
I have tagged author Dianne Ascroft as the next one in this game of blog tag. Learn about her main character next week over on her blog!

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Over the next 30 days you can enter to win a signed copy of The Alliance. Just click on over to to enter.

And even if you have yet to read the first book in my Jack Mallory Chronicles (The Prodigal), you will still enjoy The Alliance.

Best of luck!!

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(You can also read this article on my official website:

The “writing process” blog hop continues this week. I follow on the heels of Alaric Bond who invited me along. At the end of this article I, in turn, tag two other writers who will be posting their articles next Monday, March 31.

What am I working on?

I’m about to start final edits on the third novel in my Jack Mallory series, entitled The Fortune. The Fortune picks up where The Alliance left off, and among many other plot threads, the overall personal arc of Jack Mallory’s search for the truth about his mother’s life with James Logan will be resolved, as will his on-again/off-again romance with Maria Cordero. Different from The Prodigal but similar to The Alliance, the story will take place equally on land and sea, with the latter setting bookending the land-based story. There is plenty of action and intrigue, and a new point of view character that I think the reader will really enjoy. I know I did!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Two key things led me to write The Prodigal: 1) I wanted to write an Age of Sail novel that deviated from the overly-used narrative of the Royal Navy, and 2) I wanted to write an old-fashioned action/adventure novel, the kind that had a clear beginning/middle/end and a clear-cut objective for the protagonist and thus the reader. So many novels in this genre have loose plots; typically the hero just going from battle to battle with no real overall story or character arc.

I also found that many novels in the Age of Sail genre are long on action but short on character development. Besides beautiful prose, what appeals most to the readers of Patrick O’Brian’s best-selling nautical series are his main characters, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. O’Brian’s character development is the key to that series longevity and commercial success, not his knowledge of the era or how many battles are fought in the stories. It is this same depth of character that I strive for in my series. Readers don’t just know what is happening to a character in my stories; they also know what happened to a character before the story even began and thus what motivates them in their current situation. Human beings are all about emotion, and characters in a  novel should be, too.

Why do I write what I do?

Whether we are talking my Jack Mallory series or a graphic novel or my Civil War novel, I write what I do for one reason and one reason only: because the subject interests me. In other words, I will never write what is considered “popular” in order to sell my writing. So don’t look to me for zombie or vampire stories or stories about English royalty in the Tudor era. For any writer to be convincing and compelling in their writing, they must be passionate about their subject matter. My Age of Sail novels are the result of me wanting something more from the nautical genre than the majority of material out there. Perhaps that’s not what the reading public wants, but I write first and foremost for myself. It has to be that way or the writing will not ring true.

How does your writing process work?

Generally with any idea for a novel, I know the beginning and the end, but the middle is always fluid because of character development. Like the reader, a writer doesn’t necessarily know everything about a character at the start of the novel; it is a journey, just as any real life relationship is. We learn about people as we explore them over time.

When it comes to research, generally I have done some of it beforehand, but I prefer to do the real detailed research after I have the rough draft done. By doing so, I can focus on specific areas, instead of wasting time on things that may never make it into the story. This saves time and money (and, trust me, research is not cheap, not if you want to do it right).

If I am able to, I will always travel to places that figure prominently in my stories. While writing my Civil War novel, The Edge of Hell, I traveled to historic sites and battlefields in Tennessee and Georgia. No amount of reading, whether primary sources or secondary sources, can give the writer the same sense of “being there” as standing on the actual ground over which your characters have walked, fought, and bled.


While researching my Jack Mallory books, I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, and the Outer Bank of North Carolina. Leighlin Plantation and Wildwood Plantation were directly inspired by the real life rice plantations of Drayton Hall and Middleton Place.


Going to any of these historical places is not only informative but highly inspirational and motivating. It helps me see and feel not just the setting but the characters who inhabit these settings. Visits such as these help me flesh out the subsequent drafts of my stories, filling in holes and often changing certain directions of the narrative as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this look into my writing process. Please check out next week’s articles by two of my writing buddies, Michelle Hauck and J. Lea Lopez.

Michelle Hauck (  lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer’s Double Edge. She’s repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

J. Lea Lopez ( writes character-driven stories that don’t shy away from the bedroom. When she’s not doing that, she’s usually attached to a pair of headphones and typing furiously as part of her transcription business. She blogs about all sorts of things at Jello World, and she attempts brevity and (occasionally NSFW) sass on Twitter and Facebook.

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