Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Looking Back at 2012

What a wonderful year 2012 has been for me! Despite my struggles and those of so many others here and around the world, good fortune also sent smiles my way.

Home By Morning was released on Christmas Eve in 2011, so most of its sales took place in 2012. In fact, thanks to my wonderful readers, it sold so well that by March the figure exceeded 100,000 copies! I knew nothing about this. Although I watch daily sales, I'm not very good at keeping track on spreadsheets, etc., so it wasn't until last month that I learned of its success when Amazon named me among twelve other authors who had achieved the same level of distinction. I discovered it when I received this handsome award from them--I think of it as a literary gold record. I am honored and grateful.

In July, the next book in the series, Home By Nightfall, hit the cyber shelves  and my readers embraced it as well. However, there was some confusion among those who didn't realize it was part of a series. Each book stands on its own, but of course for the full experience I guess, it would be best to read Home By Morning first. Readers will learn why some characters from the first novel had to be dispensed with in the second.

Now I'm hard at work on my next project. I'll have more news about that in the months to come. And I'm pleased to announce that Home By Morning is being translated into German and will be released in Germany this spring. Amazon Publishing has been busy developing their presence in Europe, which is really exciting.

In addition, the first title of my backlist to be translated into Spanish will be making its appearance in the next few weeks. I just received the file last night. I need to arrange for e-pub formatting and having a cover designed. So Harper's Bride will now also be available as La Senora Harper through all my usual outlets. As soon as I have a cover I'll post it here and on Facebook.

Now I'm off to make cookies--yes, I actually bake sometimes--and put the cat's new furniture together. We'll talk again soon!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What A Summer, Good and Bad

I know I've been MIA for a while. It was a busy summer, with highlights and lowlights. First, my trip to Book Expo America at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York took place in June. A reader's and writer's paradise! Thousands of square feet of books and more books on the Hudson River. In July, the second book in my Home series, Home By Nightfall, was released by Amazon and my readers' response has been thrilling! I am honored by all of your kind words and kind reviews.

In August, I planned a trip to Seattle to meet with my author team. It would be a long weekend and because I love the city, I'd planned to do other fun things too. The weather was beautiful. I checked into the hotel on a Sunday night--and never left that room again until Tuesday morning. At first I thought I just had a cranky stomach. But the problem didn't go away and all I had to eat in those two-and-a-half days was a little water and a cup of soup from Kell's (Irish penicillin). Finally, I decided I needed to check out and come back to Portland. I wasn't getting better and I figured I could suffer at home in my own bed as well as I could up there. It's a three-hour trip back and by the time I got here, I passed my own freeway exit and continued to a hospital about 15 miles south.

Well. I got to the hospital at about 2:00 pm and was in surgery around 4:00 for an emergency appendectomy. Bummer, right? It was the last thing I expected. But what with complications and a post-op infection, I was in and out of the hospital three times, and spent a total of nine days there over the course of about three weeks. During most of September, I couldn't make my tired brain think about anything except getting well. I'm just now finishing the last course of antibiotics I was given, and I think I'm pretty much mended, but not 100%. I'll get there yet! And now I'm back at my desk, working on the third Home book, which will be out in 2013.

That brings me to the next topic of our meeting here. Some people read Home By Nightfall without knowing about the first book, Home By Morning. Each book stands on its own, but there are characters who appear in both books and it might be more illuminating to read them in the correct order. So . . . I'm giving away three sets of both books to the first people to respond to this offer. In paper or Kindle format, your choice! Send me an e-mail at alexis@alexisharrington.com, and be sure to tell me which format you'd like.

Now get ready for Halloween--and don't forget, there are only 87 shopping days until Christmas!

Friday, July 20, 2012

An Exciting Giveaway!

Heads up, friends! Here's a chance to own these two books in your choice of formats.

Home By NightfallI'll give the first ten people who email me at alexis@alexisharrington.com a set of these books, Home By Morning and Home By Nightfall, in either paperback or Kindle format. Just be sure to tell me which you want. This is your chance to get wrapped up in the stories of two women, both facing life-altering, heartbreaking dilemmas, and those who either love them or want to see them fail.

Again, this offer is limited to the first ten people who e-mail me, so don't let the dust gather on your keyboard.

"Alexis Harrington has the incredible ability to turn dusty, destitute locales into lush gardens with her beautiful prose and heart-grabbing stories."   
---Romantic Times Book Reviews

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Old Character is Unearthed

Flavel House Museum
Way back in 1994, I wrote a book titled A Light For My Love. I spent months researching the topic of the book, the shanghaiing of men (kidnapping, really) to fill out crews on sailing vessels before the advent of steam-powered ships. It was a worldwide practice, but two of the worst cities in the US where this occurred were Portland and Astoria, Oregon. Men were drugged in saloons, barrooms, and boardinghouses, then often dropped through trap doors in the floors of these establishments and taken to ship captains via a series of underground tunnels that led to the seawalls. By the time the victims sobered up or came to, they discovered themselves to be far out at sea with no way back, and no option but to work their way to another port and try to get home again. No one was exempt--plowboys and cowboys who found themselves in the wrong dockside bar were just as prone to the danger as anyone else. No sailing experience was necessary. There was good money in it for the procurers; even a cigar store Indian wrapped in a tarp was sold once, as were bodies stolen from a mortician's backroom. Since this activity occurred under cover of darkness, captains might not find out what they'd gotten until it was too late to do anything about it. Although there were a vocal few protesting the crime, the law tended to look the other way.

It's an obscure subject, but a fascinating one. Those tunnels still exist beneath the streets in both Portland and Astoria. Here in Portland, they have even been the subject of supernatural ghost hunts on TV shows, and tours are available.

In my book, the heroine, China Sullivan is working with Dalton Williams, a shanghai survivor himself and a radical reformer working to end this practice, when an old friend of her brother's returns to Astoria on his own merchant vessel. Jake Chastaine, who grew up wild in a poor section of town, is back to prove to those who had no faith in him (especially China) that he has succeeded far beyond all their predictions of his failure.

Flavel family mystery unsealed
The other Flavel house, built in 1901. Photo by Daily Astorian

(I'm getting to the point of this story, honest.) China's work with Dalton includes fund-raising to open a safe boarding house where sailors can stay when in port to avoid the dangers of being shanghaied. While I was in Astoria doing research, I came across a once-beautiful house that had fallen into dilapidation through neglect by the bizarre owners. I envisioned China living in what is The Flavel House Museum (see above). It has been lovingly restored to its past glory by the Clatsop County Historical Society. The other mansion, which in my book I called Harbor House, is owned--for the time being, anyway--by Flavel descendants, only one of whom might still be alive. No one is sure. This mess is what I pictured China and Dalton dealing with to create Harbor House. None of the owners have been near the place since 1990 as far as it is known. The first week of July, the City of Astoria invoked its derelict building ordinance, and the house was finally entered and inspected by city officials. According to The Daily Astorian, they found a hoarders paradise: stacks of newspapers going back 100 years, all kinds of assorted junk, a dead dog in the refrigerator, and beneath it all, what was once beautiful architecture. The details are truly amazing, and even though I've tried to keep up with that house's events over the years, I learned things I didn't know about. If you're curious, take a look. There's also a slide show of the house's interior, plus a chronology of the peculiar family's life on the lam with their 90-year-old mother and two dogs.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Here It Is!

Home By Nightfall is officially on sale now at Amazon.com! And here's the trailer to give you a tantalizing peek at the story.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Here It Comes!

On Tuesday, July 3, while you're waiting for the annual fireworks to start, you can read about fireworks of a different kind in my new Amazon release, Home by Nightfall. In this second of the Home series, learn what happened to Riley, the Braddock brother who had been declared dead by the army, a casualty of the Western Front battlefields in France. Susannah, believing she was a widow, married Tanner Grenfell. Now she's woman with two husbands and a heart divided who must make a choice: should she remain with Tanner, who has given her love and support for the past two lonely years? Or will she return to the love of her young womanhood, a man who doesn't remember her or anything about his previous life, even his own name?

I wrote the opening chapters for this book about five years ago. I had just finished reading both and A Farewell to Arms and All Quiet on the Western Front. Erich Maria Remarque's account of the German side of the Western Front made the biggest impression on me. It's written from the perspective of a regular infantryman, not military strategists with grand ideas and their willingness to keep feeding the meat grinder that was World War I. Ultimately, Remarque's protagonist did not survive. Riley Braddock does, but the cost is high.

This love triangle is agony for the three parties involved--who will stay? Who will go?

Find out on July 3rd!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rollin' On The River

Today was a straight sightseeing day in New York. We took the water taxi down the Hudson River which was surprisingly choppy (ick). I'd hoped to get over to Ellis Island and Liberty Island, but due to time constraints we had to settle for the drive-by version.

I'm such a pathetic landlubber. Some of you might remember that I'm a huge fan of Deadliest Catch, the Discovery series about commercial crab fishing in the Bering Sea. It gets really, really rough up there--20-30 foot waves and worse--but I've always thought that if given the choice between having to ride on one of those fishing vessels or going overboard, I'd probably jump in and gladly freeze to death in a matter of minutes. So between the diesel exhaust and the chop, I was able to catch only a part of what our tour guide told us about the passing sites. She admitted that the current had been smooth all day long but as early evening settled on us and the temperature cooled, the waves began stirring. Oh, joy. Fortunately, I survived without mishap but I was so glad to be back on solid footing again.

The rest of the day was interesting and heartbreaking. I visited Ground Zero in April of 2002, just about seven months after the horrible catastrophe that none of us will ever forget. Back then, most of the streets around the site were closed to both traffic and pedestrians. Over the whole area, the smell of burned metal, wiring and, well, just burned everything permeated the air. Underfoot, although the streets and sidewalks had been cleaned, a layer of fine grit crunched like coarse sand. This is all understandable if you think back to the video and still photos we saw. The dust and debris were choking clouds that floated in the air and eventually settled everywhere.

Now, the World Trade Center Memorial is under construction, as are new buildings. Visitors must pass through security very similar to TSA's in airports, complete with plastic bins and x-ray equipment. In the footprints of the former North and South Towers are amazing waterfalls, surrounded by walls that bear the names of all those known to be lost in the tragedy. Because, as we were told today, approximately 4,500 people were never found, this memorial is also a cemetery. Somewhere within that site, their remains lay. So it isn't a park, which was clearly demonstrated when I saw a member of the security staff tell a woman to put her shoes back on--this is a place of respect that demands sensitivity to the victims, their families, and the visitors.

There is so much history in this city and I'm sorry I don't have the time this trip to explore more of it. That just makes the idea of returning all the more tantalizing.