But first of all, I must share a little bit about my mother herself.
Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.
And now, without further ado . . . the cover!
Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.
But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?
Coming April 25, 2014
From Rooglewood Press
What do you think? I am so pleased by how this cover turned out. The model looks just like the Colette I picture in my mind when I read the story, with a strength of character in her face, as well as a dash of good humor. I love the color scheme and the fonts, and the little swirls add just a touch of whimsy (and the wrap-around spine and back cover are equally pretty . . . though you'll have to wait until spring to see them!).
Don't let the frilly cover fool you, however . . . this is an intense story that kept me glued to the page and breathless when I read it! But it starts out gently enough, with Colette introducing both herself and her story in her own, distinct manner. Would you like a glimpse of the opening?
Until That Distant Day
Opening of Chapter 1
I was born believing that the world was unfair and that I was the person to make it right.
One of my earliest memories is of Papa setting me atop a nail keg in the forge; I could not have been older than two at the time.
“Colette, give Papa a kiss,” he said, tapping his cheek.
“Come and sit on my knee.”
My response to every order was the same, asked with genuine curiosity. I did not understand why his watching friends chuckled. Why should I press my lips to Papa’s sweaty, prickly cheek? Why should I hop down from the keg, where he had just placed me, and run to sit on his knee, a most uncomfortable perch? I felt justified in requesting a reason for each abrupt order, yet he never bothered to give me one.
Mama, when thus questioned, provided an answer in the form of a sharp swat. This I could respect as definitive authority, although the reasoning behind it remained dubious.
My little brother Pascoe was born believing that the world was his to command. As soon as he acquired his first vocabulary word, “No,” he and I joined ranks in defiance of established authority.
Many impediments cluttered the path of destiny in those early years: parents, thirteen other siblings, physical ailments, and educational difficulties. And as we grew into adulthood, more serious matters intervened, even parting us for a time. But I will speak more of that later. For now, let me assure you that, no matter the obstacles thrown in our way, our sibling bond seemed indissoluble; the love between us remained unaffected by any outside relationship.
Pascoe and I were young adults when revolutionaries in Paris threw aside the tyranny of centuries and established a new government based on the Rights of Man. From the seclusion of our little village in Normandy we rejoiced over each battle fought and won; and when our local physician, Doctor Hilliard, who had first mentored then employed Pascoe for several years, was elected as deputy to the National Assembly from our district, a whole new world opened at our feet.
My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the back of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house. Perhaps it wasn’t truly my domain, for it did not belong to me. I was merely the doctor’s housekeeper and could lay no real claim. Nevertheless, the kitchen was more mine than anything had ever been, and I loved that small, dark room; especially during the hours when sunlight slanted through the bubbled-glass kitchen windows, making bright, swirling shapes on the whitewashed walls, or each evening when I arranged my latest culinary creation on a platter and left it in the warming oven for the doctor to discover whenever he arrived home. That kitchen was my home. Not the home I had grown up in, but the home I had always craved.
On that particular day, however, it did not feel the safe haven I had always believed it to be. Loud voices drifted down from the upper floor where the doctor and Pascoe were in conference, disturbing my calm. When I closed the connecting door to the dining room, the angry voices drifted in through the open kitchen windows. I couldn’t close the windows; I might smother of heat. Yet I needed to block out the sound, to make it stop.
So I slipped a filet of sole into a greased skillet and let it brown until golden on both sides. The hiss and sizzle did not quite cover the shouting, but it helped. Then I slid the fish onto a waiting plate lined with sautéed vegetables fresh from my kitchen garden; and I topped all with an herbed wine-and-butter sauce. A grind of fresh pepper finished off my creation.
But my hands were still trembling, and I felt as if something inside me might fall to pieces.
Pascoe often shouted. Shouting was part of his fiery nature, a normal event. He shouted when he gave speeches at section meetings. He shouted about overcooked meals or inferior wines. He shouted when his lace jabot refused to fall into perfect folds.
But never before had I heard Doctor Hilliard raise his voice in anger.
Doctor Hilliard was never angry. Doctor Hilliard never displayed emotion. At most, he might indicate approval by the glance of a benevolent eye or disapprobation by the merest lift of a brow. Yet there could be no mistaking the two furious voices overhead. I well knew Pascoe’s sharp tenor with its sarcastic edge; but now I also heard the doctor’s resonant voice crackling with fury.
I managed to slide the hot plate into the warmer alongside a crusty loaf of bread and closed the door, using a doubled towel to protect my shaking hands.
Behind me the connecting door was flung open, and Pascoe burst in as I spun to face him. “Gather your things; we are leaving,” he growled. His eyes blazed in his pale face, and the jut of his jaw allowed for no questions. He clapped his tall hat on his head as he passed through the room.
I donned my bonnet and sabots and picked up my parasol. “What has happened?” I asked just above a whisper.
“I’ll tell you once we are away from this house.” His lips snapped tight. His chest heaved with emotion, and he grasped a portfolio so tightly that his fingers looked white.
I could not recall the last time I had seen my brother in such a rage.
I hate to break off at such an interesting moment . . . but again, you'll have to wait until April to see how that confrontation continues!
In the meanwhile, you can check out the book page for Until That Distant Day, and keep checking it for fun updates between now and the release date. We also have this pretty blog button:
Big thanks to all of the bloggers who participated in this reveal!
Jessica Greyson at Safirewriter
Heather Manning at My Writing Desk
Jillian Haggard at Covers and Ink
Hannah Williams at The Writer’s Window
Melanie Valderrama at Mel’s Shelves
Annie Douglas Lima at Letters from Annie Douglas Lima
Meagan at Blooming with Books
Katie at Too Read or Not Too Read
Rosie at Writings of Rosie
Tammy at Bluerose’s Heart
Rebekah at Backing Books
Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Jenny at The Penslayer
Rina at Rina’s Reading
Beka at The Writer of Dream Things
Erin at Notes by Oywen
Clara at Darling Diaries
Amber at The Wonderings of One Person
Margaret at Creative Madness Mama
Faye at Labor Not in Vain
Lydia Mazzei at The Overweight Bookshelf
Stephanie Ricker at Quoth the Girl
Jennette Mbewe at JLMbewe.com
Miranda Uyeh at To Be a Person
Diane Estrella at That’s What I’m Here For
Serena Chase at Edgy Inspirational Romance
Brooke M at i blog 4 books
Julie Graves at My Favorite Pastime
Samantha Jo at West of Newbury Street
Grace M at Fictionally
Crystal G at Just Another Book Lovin’ Girl
Megan at Hardcover Feedback
Meagan at The Curried Nut
And especially Amber Stokes at Seasons of Humility, who helped organize bloggers for this feature!
To celebrate this exciting reveal, my mother is offering an enormous giveaway prize. She is going to give one lucky reader ten of her backlist novels! That's right, ten print novels and novellas, including her award-winning Faithful Traitor, the bestselling Highland Legacy collection, and her three part Longtree series. So be certain to enter your name in the giveaway. And tell a friend about Until That Distant Day!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cd52420/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway
Hello, Mrs. Stengl! Here is my question... how much research is required when writing a historical novel? Was your Colette inspired by any real person?
(returns from Mrs. Mbewe's blog) Happy birthday!!
Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!!! :D The cover is beautiful! I'm. So. Excited. :D
Mrs. Stengl, after seven years, what motivated you to start writing again??
I love the cover!!! How does it feel to be coming back to writing again? Is it different then when you first started writing?
Looks great! I always found the French Revolution an interesting time in history. Can't wait to read it!
This story sounds wonderful, and I love the character's names. What a cruel place to break off the excerpt! It did the trick, though, for I am very interested in the story. Loved the differences between Collette and her brother and am glad that this story seems to be a story not just of romance but a relational tale about family. Congratulations.
Questions: Was it a particular challenge to write a novel after seven years, or was it relatively easy? I have read Lonely in LongTree and remember it was in the third person POV. Is Until that Distant Day told exclusively through Collette's eyes, or do other characters relate events as well? Is the French Revolution one of your favorite time periods in history?
Keep up the outstanding work. God bless you.
Can't wait to read this. Quite a different setting (time period and location)compared to the books I normally read. I love the discription, from this passage, about the meal, their personalities and her memories of her father (though I'm going to have to look up and figure out what a nail keg is!). The pictures that go with the book are just beautiful!
I, Laynah, am listed as anonymous (above), but I also agree with Meredith that I'm glad this is not just a story of romance, but of familial relations, too.
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Stengl!!! What a wonderful way to celebrate!
Congratulations on the release of your book. It has such a fascinating premise, and I, like others, love the fact that its not only about romance but family as well.
What inspired you to write a novel in such a difficult and violent era? :)
A very happy birthday to Jill - what an exciting day! :)
And thank you very much, Anne Elisabeth, for the sweet S/O! It was my pleasure to be a part of this wonderful cover reveal and to recruit a few more participants. :)
How fun to hear your thoughts on the cover, as well, since you know all about the heroine and the story!
@Allison: Hi! How much research? Always a little more than I've already done . . . At least, that's how it feels. One problem with researching history is the contradictory accounts of eye witnesses. It can get rather confusing! Ultimately I have to remind myself that I am writing fiction, and there will be mistakes in it no matter how hard I strive for perfection--and let it go. :-) Colette is possibly based on several real people I know. She is not me, but I like her very much, which helps.
@Anna: Hi! Thank you! I'm really excited about this cover too! I have been playing around at writing all these years but never pushed myself to finish anything. Getting seriously ill last winter reminded me that "tomorrow" is never a guarantee. I intend to write anymore books there is no time like the present to do it!
@Laura: Yes, the publishing world has changed a great deal since I first started writing. For one thing, I submitted my first mss to the publisher in printed-paper form, mailed from England to Ohio. We did not have Internet. I waited a year to hear that it was accepted. I'll have to blog that story sometime. :-)
@Morgan--Thank you! :-)
@Meredith--I'm so glad you like the family emphasis of my story. I love writing about family dynamics as well as romance.
Starting to seriously write again after so many years of just playing at it was WAY harder than I had expected. I know I would not have kept going if I hadn't had my cheerleader/coach daughter alongside to keep me motivated. She taught me how to plot a novel--a skill I had never learned while writing short romance books.
This book is entirely from Colette's POV, which is tricky. But she is a lot of fun to write.
@Laynah--I'm so glad you like the excerpt and the pictures! A nail keg is just a barrel used to hold nails. Her father is a blacksmith, so he made a lot of nails! :-)
I'm glad you like the family emphasis of the story too!
@Hannah & Amber--Thank you for the birthday wishes! It has been a lovely, busy day!
Amber, thank you so much for your help with the cover reveal! :-)
Hannah, difficult times bring out the best and worst in people, which makes for great drama. I certainly would not have wanted to live in France during this time period, but I love imagining what life was like for the ordinary people who experienced it. I love books that bring history to life, and I enjoy *trying* to write such stories myself. It's not as easy as the great writers make it look, however! :-D
A surprising funny: My word verification for this post begins with 1792 . . .
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