Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Making of a Launch Party

I can’t believe it’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for this day for months and months, checking my calendar daily to see it creep inexorably closer. And now it’s June 1st and my new book, The Making of a Duchess, is in stores.

This book has actually been several years in the making. I remember when I first got the idea for the story. I was walking through downtown Houston to the baseball stadium with my husband in the Spring of 2008. I have no idea who was playing—the Astros and someone—and he was talking about who was pitching and who was hitting well. I was half paying attention until he told me to watch out. There on the sidewalk was a dead rat.

Yuck, right? I’m sure I gave the requisite squeal and shied away, and then I started thinking about the French Revolution. I have no idea why a dead rat should trigger thoughts of the French Revolution, maybe because so many aristocrats were imprisoned in dirty, rat-infested jail cells. But I remember wondering what it must have been like for those who lived through the Revolution. Were they shocked when the Reign of Terror began or had they seen the storm clouds on the horizon? Were mothers and fathers able to protect their children? What did the children think?

And just like that in my mind I saw the face of a small boy battling a group of blood-thirsty peasants with only a pitchfork. And that was the beginning of my story. I sat down and wrote the first chapter the next day. The Making of a Duchess is the story of Julien Harcourt, duc de Valére. When he’s a child, Julien’s family chateau is attacked by bloodthirsty peasants. He and his mother escape to England, leaving his younger brothers behind to an unknown fate. As an adult, Julien uses all his time and resources to search for his brothers. His frequent trips back to france, England’s enemy, raises the eyebrows of the British government. They send in a spy, and that’s where the fun begins…

Here’s a short excerpt…

Julien bolted upright, tossing the bedclothes aside and rushing to the window beside the bed. He threw aside the heavy velvet draperies and stared into the night. As the eldest of three sons, he had his choice of rooms, and his overlooked the chateau’s courtyard. Normally, it was a pretty picture, lined with benches and planted with dozens of flowers. In July, those flowers burst into swaths of red and yellow and pink. As none but the gardeners typically ventured into the courtyard, Julien was certain he was one of the few to enjoy the view.

Until tonight.

Tonight the deserted courtyard swelled with people. Peasants shouting and brandishing torches streamed into the square. Julien couldn’t understand what they shouted, but he understood what was coming.

He turned, ran for his armoire, and pulled out a pair of breeches. Quickly, he shoved his legs into them and rammed his nightshirt in at the waist. Where were his shoes? He should have listened to his nanny and put them away. Julien fell to his knees, searching.

He heard windows breaking now, heard the shouts growing louder, and knew some of the peasants had overpowered the servants and were inside the chateau. In Paris, his parents had tried to shield him from the rumors of unrest among the lower classes, but he’d heard anyway.

Unspeakable things—things he didn’t want to think about.

There was another crash and a shout.

Mort à l'aristocratie
! That was what the peasants had shouted in Paris before they had torn the nobles apart—massacring them. Every last one, even the babies had been butchered. He had not seen it happen, but he had heard. He eavesdropped on his parents and their friends talking and knew about the fall of the Bastille and the uprisings in the streets. His father told his little brothers this trip to the country was for rest and relaxation, but Julien knew the truth.

And now the truth was inside his home.

I hope you’ll put The Making of a DuchessS on your summer reading list. The launch is definitely the most exciting thing happening to me this summer. What about you? Anything exciting planned for your summer?


  1. One of my Scottish relatives, who lived in Paris at the time, was supposed to have been one who stormed the Bastille. But not sure. He was William Playfair, inventor of the bar graph and other graphs we learned in school. He also was an apprentice to two famous inventor, one named James Watt. He was famous and a scoundrel too. :(

    This summer for me--1st, my son's wedding the weekend before conference, then seeing you all at conference!!! And then the release of Seduced by the Wolf (Book 5)the first week of August. I didn't even realize it would be right after I get back. Which means I'll be having a hectic blog tour in the middle of all that other fun!! :)

    Good luck with your tour--great book, Shana! Love historical romances!

  2. Congratulations, Shana!! Woo Hoooo! As someone who shares your launch date, I'm speaking from my own excitement, yes, but I'm also excited for you! There can't be too many great books!



  3. Summer for me means do what ever it takes to stay CCOOLLLLLL!!!! I love summer as long as I'm in a nice air conditioned area. It's not so much the heat, I can take the heat, it's the humidity!!! That's the killer. Well, congrats on the book it sounds like a good read I will look into it. Something to do while I relax in the cool confines of my apartment. lol

  4. Congratulations on your launch. Wishing you much success.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. I might know why that rat gave you the idea: have you ever seen Mel Brooks' History of The World Part I?

    The French Revolution scene - there are people selling everything and anything in the streets, and one guy has a cart of rats (I think it's Sid Caesar).

    Love love love that movie. And I love love love your excerpt. Congrats on the release, Shana!

  6. Thanks, Terry. What cool relatives you have! Sounds like you have a busy summer.

    Happy release, Ash!

    I'm with you, Jessica. It's hot in Houston today.

  7. Thanks Mason and Danielle!

    Judi, I haven't seen that film. Sounds like I should put it on my list.

  8. Oh, Shana, it's one of my favorite. Definitely raunchy, but very very funny. And I love Gregory Hines Ethiopian Flim Flam dance.

  9. Congratulations on the release, Shana! Love the excerpt! I'm so looking forward to reading this!

  10. Congratulations on your release!! Sounds like an exciting tale!

    The most exciting thing I'll be doing this summer is taking a road trip across country to Orlando... with my kids. Think bloodthirsty peasants in the back seat - hopefully we make it intact!

  11. Congratulations Shana!!!!

    Happy launch day!!!

    Your story of inspiration is fantastic. Who knows where it comes from? I sure don't. But what a wonderful vision and just reading that excerpt piques my interest. Thanks for the glimpse!

    Have a wonderful day of celebration and enjoy the blog tour and fun to come. At times it will drive you crazy, but you will look back on it all with fondness. :)

  12. Congrats on the new release, Shana! It sounds like a winner!