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I'm in control...or do I just tell myself that?

0e82b11Today is I’m in Control Day. This is one of those amusing, made-up “holidays” like National PB & Jelly Day (April 2) or Blah, Blah Blah Day (April 17). The idea of “control” struck me as a timely blog topic, since I struggle with this concept when it comes to my writing career. Is control reality or myth? Let’s see…

Yes, I am in control

As an author, I control many factors: what I write, release dates, marketing strategies, price point, distribution, cover art, social media content, newsletter outreach and participation at reader/author events. I also have complete creative control.

No, I am not in control

When I sit at my desk and make decisions about my books and publishing career, it feels like I’m in control. I ponder and plan, carefully considering each factor for maximum success.

And then I release my book and realize I have zero control.

I cannot control who buys my books, what reviewers say about my books or if my books will be bestsellers. It’s daunting to realize how much control other people have when it comes to my books–readers, reviewers, bloggers, advertisers and booksellers.

It’s really a collaboration

Absolute control is never a good thing. Relationship experts encourage people to learn how to compromise so that everyone walks away from a negotiation with something that matters to them. I think collaboration might be a better approach than struggling to control everything.

If I collaborate with my publishing partners (readers, reviewers, bloggers, advertisers, booksellers, editors, agents, other authors), then we all stand to benefit. My publishing career will grow and expand. Readers will enjoy well-crafted romantic suspense stories. Reviewers can write honest, positive reviews. Advertisers can trust they are promoting a quality product.

The only bad part about this? I’m going to need a new mug for my Starbucks passion/green tea.

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Five Fascinating Facts about Regency-era Weddings

AWC_1400x2100One of the reasons many readers enjoy historical fiction is that it provides a glimpse into the lives, relationships and traditions of different countries and eras. Weddings and marriage are, by far, one of the most fascinating topics to research.

Here are five interesting facts I discovered about weddings and matrimony during the Regency era while writing my upcoming release, A Wedding Code (The Code Breakers series book 5, releasing April 25, 2017).

For many centuries, marriage was not based on love, but as a strategic alliance between families for monetary, social or political gain. Marriages were often arranged when the bride and groom were still children.

Although the popularity of love matches began gaining popularity in 18th and 19th century England, demonstrating passion for one’s spouse was considered déclassé.

Almack’s, a London social club, became one of the most prominent “marriage marts” of Regency England. Debutantes, who once sought to be presented at the King’s court, vied for vouchers from Almack’s patronesses so they could be presented there instead.

Regency brides did not commission gowns exclusively for their wedding. Most gowns were re-worn. Although any color or pattern was acceptable, blue, white, silver and light-colored hues were most popular. Instead, many brides cherished their wedding shoes as treasured keepsakes.

 

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Brides were given a wedding ring during the wedding ceremony, but men did not wear wedding rings.

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What is your favorite contemporary or Regency-era wedding tradition?

Labor Day Giveaway

Coffee, book and autumnGoodbye summer, hello autumn! Labor Day, which was established as a federal holiday in 1894 to honor achievements of American workers, unofficially marks the end of summer and start of fall. One of my favorite fall treats is Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte so I’m celebrating by giving away a $25 Starbucks gift card and To Be Read pile of signed romance novels from different authors.

Visit my Facebook page and comment with what you love most about autumn for a chance to win. One lucky winner will be announced Monday, September 5.

This autumn holds lots of tricks and treats so visit my website, sign up for my newsletter, or connect with me on social media at Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to watch for the upcoming release of A Cantata of Love on audiobook this fall. You can preview the story, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, here.

#amreading #amwriting #amlistening

Hiding secret messages in music

Do you know how to read music? If so, take a look at this and tell me if you notice anything unusual about it.

375px-B-a-c-h.svgThis is known as the BACH motif, which is an example of musical cryptography, a coded system used to create musical note sequences for names or other messages in musical compositions.

I have been intrigued by the idea of using musical scores and passages to encrypt messages for some time and thought it was a great concept for my Code Breakers Regency romantic suspense series. It provided inspiration for my current project, book 4 in the Code Breakers series, CANTATA OF LOVE.

Part of my fascination with this method of ciphering stems from my love of music. I’ve studied both voice and piano–mainly jazz– and I appreciate the mathematical complexity of music. Coding a message into a song’s musical score or the song lyrics requires a great deal of creativity and presented a tremendous challenge as I plotted the story. While researching period opera singers, such as Mrs. Elizabeth Billington, I discovered that operas were written for singers to show off their voices and allowed for improvisation. That would certainly have made it easy for musicians and performers to send coded messages to specific individuals!

Early examples of musical cryptography include Baroque composers who wove their names or the names of significant individuals into musical selections. The application found popularity with those engaging in espionage, due to the difficulty in breaking musical codes. Other examples of musical coding can be found in the songs of American slaves. Negro spirituals provided a means of communication for those who wanted to escape slavery; references to “going home” or “bound for Canaan” didn’t signify death and heaven but heading north to Canada and freedom.

In 2013, International Science Times featured a story that suggested a musical score written by composer Gottfried Federlein contained annotations that secretly documented the location of buried Nazi treasure.

One online website reports a number of “creepy spy radio transmissions” that feature suspected musical clues and/or codes broadcast over shortwave radios. This practice began around the time of WWI and continues today.

A special thank you to my friend and music composer Greg Bartholomew, who shared his expertise with me on this topic. Here is one of his compositions, Baby Blue Roses. When Daisies Pied is an example of a piece of music ladies would have sung during the Regency period.

Are there any songs you believe contain a hidden message?

JackiDelecki_ACantataofLove_HR[1]A Cantata of Love, Book 4 in The Code Breakers Regency Romantic Suspense series, releases June 28th. You can pre-order on iBooks.

Napoleonic France is no place for an Englishman, especially Michael Harcourt, the Earl of Kendal, who is on a clandestine assignment for the Crown. Already injured and facing imminent discovery by Napoleon and Fouche’s men, Michael finds his escape made even more perilous when he is charged with the safety of a young boy who must be spirited out of Paris.

Desperate to escape the terrible fate that awaits her if she remains in France, Lady Gabrielle De Valmont must disguise herself as a boy and rely on the cunning of a virtual stranger—an Englishman, no less—to smuggle her out of the country. When the Earl’s injury becomes severely infected, rendering him gravely ill, Gabrielle realizes it is now up to her to save them both.

A Sneak Peek at A Cantata of Love

JackiDelecki_ACantataofLove_HR[1]Here’s a sample of the heart-pounding adventure, international intrigue and sizzling romance coming June 14, 2016, with the release of A Cantata of Love, book 4 in The Code Breakers series.

1803 ~ In the seaside town of Berck, France

Gabrielle De Valmont brushed back Lord Kendall’s blond curls and applied the wet cloth to his burning brow. His long golden curls and eyelashes accentuated his bright red cheekbones. In their days of hard travel from Paris, the Earl’s gunshot wound had festered into a nasty infection.

At this moment, he rested. For days, when the fever spiked, he thrashed about, calling out about sending a code book to a woman named “Henrietta.”

Desperate to soothe him, Gabrielle discovered that he would calm with the French songs of her childhood.

She was exhausted from the strain of caring for the Earl and from the constant fear that they might be captured and forced to return to Paris.

They couldn’t hide much longer without being discovered by Napoleon’s or Fouche’s henchmen. When the Earl’s condition had worsened to the point he could no longer travel, Gabrielle had brought them to her former nanny’s tiny village of Berck, south of Calais. They made their arrival into the village under cover of darkness to avoid alerting the citizens.

For eight long days and nights, she had cared for the feverish Earl. Their presence in the tiny town couldn’t be kept secret much longer. They must leave Berck and France soon.

But how could they flee with the French soldiers on high alert, inspecting every boat crossing the English Channel?

Monsieur Denby, Lord Kendall’s valet, had assured her that he had a plan to divert their attention.

Exhausted and despondent, she beseeched the Blessed Virgin for their safe escape and the Earl’s recovery.

She also prayed that the Earl would forgive her and Mother Therese for their deception. She had to have believe that Lord Kendall would never abandon her to her terrible fate.

***

Pre-order A Cantata of Love exclusively from iBooks to be the first to read my new release.

A CANTATA OF LOVE

Napoleonic France is no place for an Englishman, especially Michael Harcourt, the Earl of Kendal, who is on a clandestine assignment for the Crown. Already injured and facing imminent discovery by Napoleon and Fouche’s men, Michael finds his escape made even more perilous when he is charged with the safety of a young boy who must be spirited out of Paris.

Desperate to escape the terrible fate that awaits her if she remains in France, Lady Gabrielle De Valmont must disguise herself as a boy and rely on the cunning of a virtual stranger—an Englishman, no less—to smuggle her out of the country. When the Earl’s injury becomes severely infected, rendering him gravely ill, Gabrielle realizes it is now up to her to save them both.

You can enjoy the rest of The Code Breakers series on audio, narrated by Pearl Hewitt. Click the cover to listen to an audio sample. Available at Audible.com, iTunes and Amazon.

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