Tag Archives: The Mannequin

#SALE • THE MANNEQUIN • Sweet Victorian romance

This weesgrmannequin6x9k, you can read The Mannequin for only 99 cents (or free via kindleunlimited)! This countdown deal is available Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 15, so don’t wait.

~ Suzanne

Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

What reviewers on Amazon are saying: (198 five-star reviews!)

“I loved this story and all its twists and turns.” – maebelle

“[A] poignant tale of love, loss, and heartbreak.” – Juli D

“Engaging, romantic, fast paced, happiness, sadness.” – Colleen CF

“I would compare this to books written by Georgette Heyer or Barbara Cartland.” – Thomas Quarles

To read a sample of The Mannequin, click HERE.

To go directly to Amazon, click HERE.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 12.22.20 PM

 

Historical Research • Grace Unmasked

Krakatoa_east_of_javaWhen I was writing Grace Unmasked, I did some research on what historical events had taken place in 1883. I was hoping to incorporate something of interest, of course, to add to the historical ambiance. The eruption of the volcano on Krakatoa caught my eye, and triggered a childhood memory. My parents had taken the family to see a disaster movie entitled Krakatoa, East of Java, and I’d been riveted. The plot of the movie didn’t stand out to me as much as the special effects at the end, when the filmmakers sought to portray the explosive eruption and the resulting tsunami. I found a copy of the movie and watched it again. Considering what was available in terms of special effects in 1969, I was still impressed.

I did a little more research on the eruption itself, purchasing a used copy of Simkin and51lwTNmqYPL._SX381_BO1,204,203,200_ Fiske’s Krakatau 1883. In it, there are many fascinating eyewitness accounts of the event, and facts about the aftereffects. For example, the violent eruption destroyed most of the island of Krakatau. The explosion could be heard over 1/13th of the earth’s surface. The resulting ash cast the Sunda Strait (which connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean) into darkness for almost 24 hours, and giant waves over 40 meters (appx. 131 feet) above sea level destroyed everything in their path. In addition, over 36,000 people were killed. The volcanic dust veil created spectacular atmospheric effects over a vast distance and lowered global temperatures as much as 1/2 degree Celsius in the following year. In fact, temperatures didn’t return to normal until five years later.

Sunda_strait_map_v3News of the disaster traveled quickly because of the telegraph system, and papers around the world carried the story the day after the massive eruption had occurred.

Now, Grace Unmasked is set in England, which is nowhere near Krakatau. So how did this event find its way–albeit indirectly–into the narrative? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

~ Suzanne

MANNEQUINTWOFINALCOVER

On the heels of an unjust accusation, Grace flees from her country village to the anonymity of London. Although she intends to seek sanctuary with her cousin Joe Fiddick, she discovers he’s also suffered a setback and needs more help than she can offer. Desperate, she solicits assistance from Joe’s friend–the notorious rake, Lord Henley. Will the price of the handsome baron’s help be more than she’s willing to pay?

Grace Unmasked is available for the Kindle HEREScreen Shot 2016-01-09 at 12.22.20 PM

 

Eating Elephants and Writing Grace Unmasked

“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”

– U.S. Army General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr.

sgrmannequin6x9How do you write a sequel to a popular book that’s sure to please everyone? You can’t, of course. When I planned the sequel to my bestselling book The Mannequin, however, I re-read the reviews to get an idea what readers enjoyed most. Ultimately, I concluded that lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place. I didn’t want to tell the same story a slightly different way, so I vowed to begin fresh. Easier said than done!

1920px-Château_de_Versailles,_salon_des_nobles,_Pygmalion_priant_Vénus_d'animer_sa_statue,_Jean-Baptiste_Regnault
Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786

You see, when I wrote The Mannequin, I didn’t start out to write a novel based on Cendrillon (Cinderella), La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), or Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. As the story unfolded, however, I wove in some familiar elements, hoping to strike an emotional chord. In the development of Grace Unmasked, however, I wanted to draw on other inspiration. I chose the mythological figure of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with his creation. Many 20th Century plays, musicals, and movies have been written about Pygmalion, most notably George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the musical My Fair Lady, and even Gigi.

800px-Mary_Anderson_as_Galatea_by_Napoleon_Sarony_1883
Actress Mary Anderson as Galatea (1883)

Since Grace Unmasked is set in 1883, I had to find a version of Pygmalion written early enough to warrant a mention in the narrative. I chose Pygmalion and Galatea, a play written by W.S. Gilbert. (Download a .pdf copy from Boise State University website HERE). The three-act blank verse production opened at the Haymarket Theatre in December, 1871, was quite popular, and sparked many imitations. Although Grace Unmasked is not a retelling of the myth, I touch upon a similar theme.

One other interesting aspect of Grace Unmasked is its length. I’d wanted it to be longer than The Mannequin (over 64,000 words), but I hadn’t planned for it to exceed 96,000 words!  As Abe Lincoln said, when asked how long a man’s legs should be, “Long enough to reach the ground.” I wrote until the story was done…for the most part. That is to say, there are a few characters who might warrant a third book in the series. 😀

~ Suzanne

MANNEQUINTWOFINALCOVER

Blurb: On the heels of an unjust accusation, Grace flees from her country village to the anonymity of London. Although she intends to seek sanctuary with her cousin Joe Fiddick, she discovers he’s also suffered a setback and needs more help than she can offer. Desperate, she solicits assistance from Joe’s friend–the notorious rake, Lord Henley. Will the price of the handsome baron’s help be more than she’s willing to pay?

Grace Unmasked is available for pre-order at a special price HERE. Release date Tuesday, May 31, 2016.

Excerpt from Grace Unmasked

MANNEQUINTWOFINALCOVERWhen Henley entered the breakfast room, he was somewhat startled to see a young lady standing in front of window, looking out at the garden view. He’d known Miss Fiddick would be joining him for breakfast, but he hadn’t pictured her looking quite so fetching from the back. She turned as he cleared his throat, and gave him a beaming smile. Dressed as she was the day before, he hadn’t noticed her even white teeth, tiny waistline, or clear blue eyes. Albeit grudgingly, he acknowledged to himself the girl had possibilities. It was a shame her charms would be wasted as the wife of some country farmer or school teacher. Inwardly he shrugged. Never had anyone’s business been less his problem.

“Good morning. How are you feeling?”

“With the help of liniment, I should survive.”

“I’m very glad.” He gestured toward the chafing dishes and platters of food set up on the sideboard nearby. “I hope you’re hungry.”

“Indeed, I am.” She glanced at his arm. “May I help you with your plate?”

“That’s very thoughtful, but Morris will assist me.”

After they were settled at the table, the girl began spouting a long list of things she admired about his lifestyle, including indoor lavatories, hot water, and milled soap. Then came an equally long litany of gratitude, from his leniency regarding her deception, to the kindly ministrations of Ursula, and thereafter for her clothes. He let her conversation flow past, unheeded, as he ate the egg dish Mrs. Evans had prepared.

“Lord Henley, had you heard the quagga has gone extinct?”

He glanced up. “What?”

“The last one in the entire world just died in Amsterdam. It’s rather sad, really.”

His eyebrows drew together. “The quagga, did you say?”

“Yes. It’s a species of zebra, native to South Africa.”

“I’ve not heard of it.”

“I rather doubted you had.”

Her tone held a note of reproach, and he chuckled. “I suppose this is your way of pointing out I’ve been neglecting you?”

“I’d never dream of making such an accusation.”

“No, of course not, but you’re right. You should know that I’m exceedingly absorbed with myself. It’s a personal failing of mine.”

She gave him a little smile. “I shan’t let you off that easily; I expect I was prattling on.” She shrugged. “I’ve no idea how to converse with a baron.”

“Neither do I, actually. Whenever I talk to myself, it’s usually about the weather.”

flourish

Blurb: On the heels of an unjust accusation, Grace flees from her country village to the anonymity of London. Although she intends to seek sanctuary with her cousin Joe Fiddick, she discovers he’s also suffered a setback and needs more help than she can offer. Desperate, she solicits assistance from Joe’s friend–the notorious rake, Lord Henley. Will the price of the handsome baron’s help be more than she’s willing to pay?

Grace Unmasked • Book Two of The Mannequin Series is available HERE for pre-order at the special price of $0.99.  Release date: May 31, 2016.

 

Grace Unmasked • The Mannequin Book Two

MANNEQUINTWOFINALCOVEROn the heels of an unjust accusation, Grace flees from her country village to the anonymity of London. Although she intends to seek sanctuary with her cousin Joe Fiddick, she discovers he’s also suffered a setback and needs more help than she can offer. Desperate, she solicits assistance from Joe’s friend–the notorious rake, Lord Henley. Will the price of the handsome baron’s help be more than she’s willing to pay?

This sweet Victorian sequel to The Mannequin will be published on May 31st, 2016, but is available to pre-order at the special price of $0.99 HERE.

TRR Readers’ Choice Awards • Nominations

The Romance Reviews holds an annual Readers’ Choice Award competition for authors who have fifty of their closest friends and readers nominate their title(s). I have several books that need your votes in order to make it to the next round!

Under the category of Historical Romance are The Mannequin, Rake & Romance, and Lord Apollo & the Colleen.

sgrmannequin6x9

RAKE&ROMANCEAPOLLOSGR

 

 

 

 

 

Under the category of Fantasy Romance are Dani & the Immortals and Whimsical Tendencies.

sgrDani&theImmortals6x9

You can either go to the entire list and scroll down until you see the category/title, or click the links to take you to book page for each individual title. It would be quite lovely if you could vote for my books. Getting to the next round means my book will be read by actual judges! Thank you in advance.  ~ Suzanne

 

#99cents Countdown Deal • The Mannequin

sgrmannequin6x9On spring break? Look no further for a romantic read at a bargain price! Bestselling Victorian romance The Mannequin is 99 cents from Tuesday, March 15 – Monday, March 21.

Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

Click the cover, above, to read a sample, or check out the excerpt, below.

~ Suzanne

Excerpt:

“The best physicians in London can’t find anything wrong with him physically, but his emotional state is extraordinarily precarious. He recently lost his entire family in a ferryboat accident, and he’s become dangerously withdrawn. He won’t speak, barely eats, and takes no pleasure in anything. He’s wasting away, and his grandmother is worried he’ll die. I called on him myself and found him quite unresponsive. I’m not sure he can be reached, if truth be told.”

“Why, of course I’ll visit the lad, but I’ve no experience with this sort of thing.”

“He’s actually a young man of twenty-two, and here is the sticking point: if you accept this position, you can say nothing about his condition whatsoever, to anyone. Discretion is critical, and secrecy paramount. If anyone inquires, you may tell your family and friends only that you’ve accepted a position as companion to the grandmother. Do you think you can do that?”

She gulped. “Yes.”

“Considering who you are, Miss Ashfield, I believe you’re uniquely qualified to take on this challenge.”

“I’ll try my best to justify your faith in me, Mr. Preston.”

The vicar gave her a piercing look. “I give you one piece of advice. Wounded animals are often injurious toward the people who try to rescue them.”

Her eyes widened. “Should I be concerned for my safety?”

“Only here.” He tapped the center of his chest, over his heart. “Stay true to yourself, and all will be well.”

flourish

 

Writing a Series

dreamstime_xs_12523211I’d just finished writing a sequel to Ruse & Romance (Rake & Romance) when I began to get requests for a sequel to The Mannequin. I had plenty of story material to go on, and so broke ground. As I was writing, I was turning over in my mind a subject for my blog. I decided a post about writing sequels and series might be interesting, and how I keep track of all the characters. In a television series, the creators keep what’s called a show bible. This bible contains information about the characters that’s already been established. That way, if the staff writers want to bring in a brother for “Rachel,” and she’s already mentioned in Episode Two she’s an only child, the writers would have to bring in the character as someone else…a cousin perhaps.

For me, I keep a character list, with names, physical descriptions, and any other established information about the players in a manuscript. Keeping a character list is a good idea, even in a standalone manuscript, because writers often change things like names and hair or eye color as they write. If a hero has blond hair and blue eyes in Chapter One, by Chapter Fifteen, his eyes shouldn’t magically change to hazel just because the author either forgot what he or she wrote, or neglected to revise what had come before.

So, around 10,000 words into “Mannequin Two,” I began to compose a post about sequels. Idreamstime_xs_13228376 pulled up my character list for The Mannequin, opened the manuscript to make sure the list was up-to-date, and low and behold, I discovered a critical problem. An offhanded mention in book one that a certain character only had younger brothers threw a wrench in the motor of my sequel. I’d neglected to put that information into my character list, and so began to write the sequel with three sisters and one brother.

What to do? A rapid sex change for the siblings was in order, but I needed the female character to remain. So, she became a cousin. Problem solved, but what if I hadn’t caught the casual reference? My mistake cost me a great deal of time, since I had to greatly revise what I’d written, and annoyed me to boot.

dreamstimefree_3691720
(c) Stockman21|Dreamstime.com

So, now I keep my character list document open as I write, revise it as I go, and make notations of any information (even offhanded) about the players. With a sequel, I begin with my character list for book one, rename it for book two, and continue to add new information. Live and learn, I suppose.

Happy reading.

~ Suzanne

Rake & Romance will be released on Friday, January 29th! To pre-order your copy at the pre-release price, go HERE.

RAKE&ROMANCE

Blurb: Juliet’s plans to wed Lord Elbourne come to naught when she discovers he’s obliged to wed an heiress instead. To salvage her dignity, she enters into a ruse with the heiress’s brother, whom she views as a rake. Unfortunately, he’s also the most attractive man she’s ever met.

Cody Gryphon will do anything to see his sister Stephanie wed to Lord Elbourne, including entering into a temporary engagement with her romantic rival. Although he intends to return to Texas as soon as his sister is wed, he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Juliet’s charms.

Can a rake and a debutante find their happily ever after?

 

 

 

Excerpt from THE MANNEQUIN

sgrmannequin6x9“Before I introduce you to my grandson, let’s chat for a few moments.” The Dowager Duchess crossed over to a seating arrangement and gestured toward a chair. When they were both comfortable, the duchess continued.

“I asked Mr. Preston if he knew of a girl with courage and indomitable spirit. Are you such a person?”

“I believe so.”

“Yes, you very well may be.” She took a deep breath. “My grandson, the duke, is lost in a very dark prison of his own making. Although I’ve tried everything, I’m completely helpless to reach him.”

“I understand there was a tragic accident?”

“A ferry boat carrying my son and his family capsized en route from Dover to Calais. Most passengers drowned, but among the survivors was my grandson, Aubrey. He lost not only his dear parents, but his beloved younger sister, Elise.”

As she spoke, the woman’s voice cracked, and her eyes filled with tears. Rosamund found her own eyes brimming with tears as well.

“Oh, no. I’m so terribly sorry.”

“Thank you.” The duchess blotted her eyes with a lace-edged handkerchief, and then nodded toward the oil painting hung over the fireplace. “That’s my son and his family, in happier times. It was painted about five years ago.”

Rosamund gazed at the painting of a handsome couple posing with a strapping young man of perhaps sixteen or seventeen, and a pretty little girl around ten years of age. They appeared to be so vibrant and full of life, it was difficult to imagine anything calamitous could have befallen them.

“I haven’t given up hope that Aubrey may go on to live a normal life someday, which is why none of our acquaintances know the extent of his condition,” the duchess said. “If they did, they would think him mad.”

“I’m eager to meet His Grace.”

“He spends his daylight hours in the music room.” She stood. “Come with me.”

The woman’s stiff satin skirts rustled as she walked. Rosamund followed her from the drawing room and down a long hallway until they reached a pair of arched double doors. The duchess put her hand on the doorknob, and paused.

“You’ll be shocked at Aubrey’s appearance. Please don’t let it disturb you.”

“I won’t.”

As the doors swung open, however, Rosamund shivered with apprehension. The velvet curtains had been drawn over the windows, and the darkened room beyond resembled a tomb. The dowager duchess smiled serenely as she escorted the visitor inside.

“Aubrey, dearest, allow me to introduce Miss Ashfield. She’s a neighbor.”
Rosamund could barely discern the outline of a man sitting in a chair, but he neither stirred nor made any response.

“Miss Ashfield, why don’t you and my grandson have a nice long visit? Someone will fetch you in an hour.”

“Y-Yes. Thank you.”

The duchess sailed from the room with her head held high. Rosamund’s eyes were slowly adjusting to the darkness, but she nearly tripped over a footstool as she walked further inside.

“Forgive me, Your Grace, but this won’t do. I simply must have a little more light.”

She moved over to a window, opened the curtains, and tucked each fabric panel behind the drapery holdbacks. As illumination flooded the space, she turned back toward the duke.

And recoiled.

flourish

Intrigued? The Mannequin is available at Amazon HERE.

#1 Bestseller • The Mannequin

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 4.53.23 PMThe Mannequin was a featured BookBub deal on December 28th, 2015, and it’s been a #1 Bestseller on Amazon since then. BookBub sent me a follow-up questionnaire, asking how I’ve publicized my bestseller status and it occurred to me I should at least announce it on my blog, right?

I’m so pleased readers have discovered my work. A great many reviewers have drawn comparisons to Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, and The Secret Garden, and indeed, I reference fairy-tales within the work itself. I didn’t start writing the novel with those stories in mind, however. I began writing The Mannequin with the scene in the library, where Rosamund sees a debilitated Aubrey for the first time, and is overwhelmeCatherine_Walters00d by the task of trying to reach him. From there, I let the story unfold.

The latter part of the book was inspired by the courtesan Catherine Walters (“Skittles”), whose wardrobe and trendsetting style drew the avid interest of aristocrats. Understandably, her perfectly tailored riding habits created a demand for the garments, and drew custom (business) to their designers.

I’m especially pleased with the reviews thanking me for writing a book without the overt sexuality and harsh language that’s frequently found in romance books these days. Although there’s certainly a great demand for those often marvelous stories, I made the decision as an author to take a different path. I believe my work is finally beginning to find its market, and I plan to keep writing stories with plucky heroines, dashing heroes, dastardly villains, and a cast of supporting characters who lend warmth and humor.  ~ Suzanne

P.S. YES, I’m thinking about the sequel!

sgrmannequin6x9Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

Available at Amazon HERE