Makin’ it to the Big League: Will This Be The One?
Everyone who aspires to be an author is always looking for the magic ingredient to make their book the one that makes their career. So what should an author write? The answer given by a surprising number of so-called experts is “write what you know.” If I did that, my books probably wouldn’t be too exciting. “Write what you want to read,” might be a better answer for me.
I’ve been a published author for a reasonably short period of time, and during that time, I’ve released several romance novels, but in five different sub-genres. Fire Angel, In Plain Sight, and On His Watch are romantic suspense. Echoes of the Past is paranormal romantic suspense, while Just for the Weekend, Holiday Magic, and The Perfect Choice are contemporary romances. The Captain’s Promise, and my latest release, The Price of Honor are historical romance, and All for Love, a romantic suspense for the Christian book market, will be released next May. I also co-write under the name Misty Matthews, and have two contemporary books out there, Grand Slam, a novella, and Coming Home, the first book in a four book series called Taking a Chance on Love. What am I working on now? I’ve just finished NaNoWriMo with another contemporary romance which I’ll begin editing soon, and have two other romantic suspense novels to finish polishing before I submit them to publishers.
Why do I write in so many different sub-genres? The answer is simply because I like to read different kinds of books. In time, I hope to complete some young adult books, maybe a sci-fi novel, and I definitely want to try my hand at fantasy. Next spring, I plan to publish a collection of short stories for children ages 8-12 based on stories I wrote and had published in the local newspaper twenty years ago. What you won’t see is books which would be considered erotica, because while there are erotic elements in some of my books, I just don’t have that kind of an imagination.
Probably the greatest thrill I get is reading the reviews people post for my books or having someone I know tell me how much they enjoyed reading one of my novels. I have a fragile ego, I’ll admit, and criticism lays me low, but knowing my books captured someone’s imagination and pulled them out of reality into the story for a few hours makes the time and effort it takes to write a book worthwhile. It’s unfortunate that not everyone who reads a book takes the time to rate and/or review it. Reviews seriously affect a book’s life. The more reviews it gets, the better chance there is that someone will buy it or that you can promote it on the more popular book sites.
My latest book, The Price of Honor, is an attempt to share my country and personal history with readers who enjoy historical romance. I’ve always found history fascinating, but I’ve found very few historical romance novels set in early Canada when this land was a French colony. I’ve spent time in both Quebec City and Montreal (Ville-Marie), and I’ve tried to describe and recreate the feel of that new world in my novel. One of my male ancestors came to Canada in 1664 as a member of the regiment sent by King Louis XIV to quell the Mohawk uprising in the colony. When the war ended, the soldiers were offered land if they chose to make New France their home. Poor women of good character were sent to New France as “Filles du Roi,” royal wards given a small dowry by the king to leave France and cross the ocean to marry strangers and populate the colony. But life wasn’t easy in this land where they battled the weather, the land itself, the Amerindians, the British to the south of them, and men back in France whose sole purpose was to get rich regardless of who or what suffered.
In my novel, I’ve taken poetic license to create fictional characters who might have been involved in one of these situations. Set against authentic historical figures and actions at a time when the land was fresh and new, The Price of Honor is meant to both entertain and maybe teach the reader a bit about early Canada.
Will this be the book to make me? I don’t know. There are many other stories of the crises faced by French Canadian colonists in the years prior to Confederation and even afterwards. We might not have had the Wild West the Americans had, but there are stories to tell, and I hope I get to tell a few more of them.
Book Blurb: The Price of Honor
What price is a woman willing to pay to restore a man’s honor?
When her husband is falsely accused of treason and murdered, Isabelle de Caen vows to find those responsible and see justice done. Of royal descent, Isabelle is stunned when the king orders her hasty marriage to one of his favorites, a man she detests. To save herself from a fate too awful to contemplate, she disobeys the king’s edict and commits treason of her own to find the truth.
Childhood friend, Guy Poirier, an aristocrat in New France, has always loved Isabelle. When he discovers her hiding in his cabin aboard ship, he agrees to hide her from her fiancé and help her clear her husband’s name. It doesn’t take them long to realize there’s more at stake here than her husband’s murder. With the fate of the colony in their hands, can Isabelle and Guy prevent a war and find love in the new world?
The comtesse looked up from her papers giving Isabelle her full attention. “Another colonial upstart. I wish the king would put an end to such nonsense. A man is born noble. It’s in the blood, as you well know considering the color of yours. I hope he’s the last of this constant stream of rabble.” She put down her quill pen and turned in the chair. “I’m annoyed with you, Isabelle. I’d hoped you’d see the wisdom in the king’s decision. I didn’t expect you to be so stubborn.”
“Stubborn? In what way?”
“Your attitude towards this marriage, of course. You should be overjoyed the king has offered you to a man as rich and powerful as the chevalier. Churlishness is a quality rarely appreciated in a lady. Behaving like a boorish peasant doesn’t become you.”
“It wasn’t my intention to be difficult. I sought only to honor my father as our customs dictate.” Isabelle’s battered heart wouldn’t let her contain her anger any longer. She’d been raised to be polite and obedient, but this accusation was more than she could endure. “Overjoyed? That’s the last thing I am. This is the seventeenth century. France is an empire. I don’t understand why the king would treat me like an African slave who can be bought and sold like cattle. I’m the daughter of a comte. I carry the royal bloodline. That should count for something. At the very least, it should get me an audience to plead my case.”
Isabelle realized her mistake when she saw her stepmother’s face. Henriette’s fury was palpable and radiated from her. She stood quickly, knocking over her chair, moved to Isabelle’s side, and grabbed her chin painfully, twisting her face to the right and then to the left. Her fingertips would leave their imprint.
“You’ll do nothing of the sort. How naïve you are. Have you learned nothing of politics? This may be the seventeenth century, but because of your royal blood, you have less rights than the slaves you described. Rebellions have been started by people with weaker claims to the throne than yours—what are you? Twelfth now? Many of those ahead of you are old. As they die, your claim to the throne improves. Among other things, your darling Pierre is to blame for your current situation. His treason cost you your freedom. The king can’t allow someone he doesn’t trust to be in your position. After what happened, it would be political suicide. I know it, the chevalier knows it, and so does the king. His majesty’s chosen a man he trusts with his life to father your children. The original plan was to slit your traitorous throat. The chevalier convinced the king to spare you, and this is how you repay his concern?”
Isabelle stared into her step-mothers cold eyes. Could Henriette be telling the truth? Had the chevalier and not the king instigated this farce? Slit her throat? She’d prefer they had to this travesty. Henriette continued talking, oblivious to the thoughts overwhelming Isabelle.
“Look at you. You’re powerless. Why you don’t have enough mettle to push my hand from your chin.” She let go of her and pushed her away with such violence Isabelle had to grab the edge of the desk to keep from falling.
“Surely, there’s another option? Why would waiting a few more months make that much difference?”
“Because of the conspiracy, you foolish girl. Think of it. A member of the royal family, albeit a distant one, conspiring to commit treason? A woman is often blamed for her husband’s crimes. The sooner that connection is erased from memory, the better. Besides, I can’t take my place at court until you’re the new Comtesse of Caen. Your husband becomes Comte de Caen and d’Angrignon the day you marry, and he’s quite anxious to assume his new title. Did you think this was all about you? While he may lust after you, there are plenty of women willing to fill his bed. Vincent offered to give you his name to spare the king any further shame, and somehow managed to convince his majesty it was all his idea in the first place. The man is brilliant. The title is his reward, the position at court, mine. It’s about power—power and politics. Nothing personal.” She laughed at what must have been the stunned look on Isabelle’s face. “Pauvre petite. You’re almost twenty-five and you have no idea how the world works. You’re the daughter of a comte with royal blood in your veins. Strange things happen at court. It’s possible your child could inherit the throne—a daughter could marry the dauphin. Resign yourself to your fate and make the best of it. This can be a wonderful opportunity. You can have everything you’ve ever wanted, and all you have to do is spread your legs.”
Like you? Too disgusted to even utter the insult, Isabelle walked over to the small table where, despite her trembling hand, she managed to pour herself a cup of chocolate from the silver pot, and sipped the soothing drink. Henriette’s words bothered her. Was there more at play here—a real conspiracy against the heirs? The chevalier was an ambitious man, but would he go so far as murder to see his child on the throne? Of course he would. The man is without honor.
Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Eastern Ontario, Canada. She’s an avid reader of all types of books, especially those with a happily ever after. In her imagination, she’s travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.