Category Archives: SFWG

Cover Story: The Girl on the Golden Coin


Once again, I’m here to introduce you to one of my incredible crit group ladies. Today it’s Marci McGuire Jefferson, who has written an absolutely lovely book about one Frances Stuart, who served as the model for “Britannia” on years and years worth of British coins.

I’m not going to waste your time babbling; I’m just going to turn today’s blog over to Marci and let her tell you all about her book!


Marci Jefferson’s first novel is about Frances Stuart, who rejected three kings and graced England’s coins for generations as the model for Britannia. The book will release February 11, 2014 from Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press. But pre-order this week and comment on Marci’s blog (link below) for a chance to win a pair of sterling-silver pearl-drop earrings like the ones Frances wears on this elegant cover (be prepared to present your receipt).


Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and springs to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches King Louis XIV’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty, she has Stuart secrets to keep and people to protect. The king turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and stop a war.

Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers through the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him an honest man and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England’s coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. Until she is forced to choose between love or war.

On the eve of England’s Glorious Revolution, James II forces Frances to decide whether to remain loyal to her Stuart heritage or, like England, make her stand for Liberty. Her portrait as Britannia is minted on every copper coin. There she remains for generations, an enduring symbol of Britain’s independent spirit and her own struggle for freedom.


“In her wonderfully evocative debut, Girl on the Golden Coin, Marci Jefferson recreates the fascinating story of Frances Stuart, whose influence over England’s Charles II became the talk of a nation. As vibrant and delightful as the woman it’s based on, Girl on the Golden Coin is a jewel of a novel!”
—Michelle Moran, New York Times bestselling author of The Second Empress and Madame Tussaud

“Beauty is not always a blessing, as young Frances Stuart finds out when her lovely face pits her between the desires and politics of rival kings Louis XIV and Charles II. Frances makes an appealing heroine, by turns wary and passionate, sophisticated and innocent, as she matures from destitute young pawn to the majestic duchess whose figure would grace Britain’s coins for centuries. Her struggles to support her loved ones, uncover her family secrets, and somehow find a life of her own amid the snake-pit courts of the Sun King and the Merry Monarch make for lively, entertaining reading in this lush Restoration novel by debut author Marci Jefferson.”
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Rome

“Girl on the Golden Coin is a fantastic novel. I couldn’t put it down. The plot is fast-paced and compelling, with intriguing characters, lush settings and captivating narrative voice. Jefferson’s debut paints an intriguing portrait of Frances Stuart, a novel worthy of the determined, golden spirit of the woman whose face became the model for Britannia herself.”
—Susan Spann, author of Claws of the Cat

“Girl on the Golden Coin is a sexy, exciting tale featuring vivid characters, rich historical detail, scintillating court intrigue, and a complexly rendered heroine in Frances Stuart, Maid of Honor to the Queen of England, who will capture the reader’s heart — as will the man she loves, that rascal King Charles II.”
— Sherry Jones, author, FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS


Barnes & Noble



I’ve got a real treat for you all today! Y’all know that I am a member of the absolute best crit group on the planet, the Amazing SFWG. Last week you may have seen my interview with my SFWG sister Susan Spann, whose debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT, has gotten major (and well-deserved) buzz on several book review and discussion websites. If you haven’t read CLAWS yet, you should — it is a fabulous mystery, set in Medieval Japan.

And now, I’m about to introduce you all to another member of my crit group, the Fearless Leader of the SFWG, whose debut novel hasn’t even been released yet, but has already gotten a shout-out in no less a publication than the Wall Street Journal! Heather Webb has written a fascinating novel about the woman behind one of history’s most powerful men, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, which will be released by Plume/Penguin on December 31, 2013.

I’ve read sections of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, and I can assure you that, if you love romance and history, you will want to buy this book! Until New Year’s Eve, you will just have to content yourself with a glimpse of the cover, which is gorgeous. Too often, covers don’t do justice to the book, but I have to say that I love this cover almost as much as I love Heather’s story.

Here it is — what do you think?


Monday Muse – Seven Crows A Secret


One crow sorrow,
Two crows joy.
Three crows a girl,
Four crows a boy.
Five crows silver,
Six crows gold.
Seven crows a secret that’s never been told.

Well, kids, big news! Bridget, my darling muse, and I got a very interesting email this weekend. And while I am the soul of discretion, poor Bridgie does not do well with secrets. She is absolutely bursting to tell you all what’s up, but I have her bound and gagged in the corner of my writing room, awaiting the moment I get the “all clear” and I can tell what’s going on.

So for now, I’ll just share “Counting Crows” – the poem, not the band – with you, and tell you to tune in again. The big news release should come any day now!!!!

The Next Big Thing: Holding Out for a Hero


My thanks to my incredible writing group buddy, Marci McGuire Jefferson of the SFWG, and her friend Anna Lee Huber for tagging me in The Next Big Thing blog game! Since I do, in my wild novelist fantasies, hope that my book will be a least “a thing” if not the next big one, I am extremely honored and pleased to be playing.

So, with no further ado, here are my answers to The Next Big Thing Blog Questions:

What is the working title of your next book?

Holding Out for a Hero

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I started reading historical romance as a middle schooler, and I’ve fantasized about those dashing lords and rakish rogues all my life. When I decided to write a contemporary story, I wondered what it would be like if a romance-fixated modern woman met someone who seemed to be a modern-day Darcy. But as the story progressed, it turned out that the man of her dreams was a real nightmare! My poor heroine has to learn a few hard truths before she finds her happily-ever-after with a real-life hero.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Humorous Southern women’s fiction

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ve always thought that Cassie, the heroine, looks a lot like Selena Gomez, although Cassie is a few years older James, the English hero-apparent, is a dead-ringer for Henry Cavill. But Mac, the good-old-boy cop from Cassie’s hometown, wasn’t based on an actor. He is a tall, buff red-head — think Prince Harry on a motorcycle. Since Prince Harry probably isn’t interested in a movie role, I’d settle for Eddie Redmayne, who played Marius in Les Miz.

5) What is the one-sentence description of your book?

“If Bridget Jones was a Southern Baptist”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Agency (I hope!!!) If you know an agent, send them my way . . . .

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

5 months, maybe? Seriously, I hardly know, because I have written and edited and rewritten and reedited so many times. And I had other projects going on at the same time, so I wasn’t really keeping track.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Mary Kay Andrews’s books about Savannah, the books of the lovely Haywood Smith, and a bit of Fannie Flagg.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Men in cravats and breeches!

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Holding Out for a Hero has hunky men with British Accents, gorgeous good-old-boys in police uniforms, hot romance, violent crime, ethical scandals, and the First Baptist Church Women’s Missionary Union, bless their hearts! How can you not like that?

Again, my deepest thanks to Marci McGuire Jefferson and Anna Lee Huber. Stay tuned next week, for The Next Big Thing from Darlene Henderson and more!

Something About Candy


I guess the ladies of SFWG are all in sugar shock from trick or treat, because this week’s blog prompt is “Say something about CANDY.” Hmm, empty calories with lots of sugar. Pretty much my favorite kind of food.

It’s funny, how people feel about candy. You know, with most foods, you don’t necessarily like them, but for the most part, you eat them because you know you should. Except for the odd broccoli phobia, people don’t get that emotionally involved in decisions about fruit and veggies. And while some people do get all tied in knots about the ethics of meat, its generally an all or nothing thing. Either you eat most any meat accepted in your background culture, or you don’t eat any meat at all. (Having been raised by a country-bred Southern Baptist grandma, I’m of the ‘If God didn’t mean for us to eat them, they wouldn’t be made of meat’ school. But, as usual, I digress.)

Candy, though. People get all riled up if you disagree with them on candy. Now, my youngest DD is one of those extremely rare females who just doesn’t care for chocolate. (I know, hard to believe.) It isn’t so much that she can take it or leave it, it is that she truly doesn’t like chocolate. And you can imagine the reaction this gets from most people. “Not like chocolate?” they shriek, as if she announced that she doesn’t like pictures of fluffy puppies and kittens. Nope, she doesn’t like it. It’s not a moral failing; it’s just a taste preference.

My husband and I have similar issues on the rare occasions when we buy candy. I like tart — Sweetarts, sour gummies, pixy stix. He, on the other hand, likes things like Atomic Fireball Jawbreakers and those mushy orange marshmallowy peanut things. Note that I refrained from saying ‘those NASTY mushy orange etc. etc.’ But you could all tell that’s what I meant.

Candy is divisive. If DH likes something like mushy orange peanuts, it is hard not to argue with him about it. And he seems to think that one day, if he keeps arguing, he will convince me that sour fruit candies are disgusting.

Maybe it’s because it’s election season, and I’m feeling like that little girl on YouTube who is crying because she’s tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Womney. But I don’t want to fight anymore. I’m going to stop at Target and buy DH a big bag of those nasty mushy orange peanuts. Just cause, while I hate them, I love him. And after all, de gustibus non disputandum.

Something About School

This week’s prompt from my wonderful Super Fly Writing Group (or SFWG to the cognoscenti) is “write something about ‘school.'” Now, one might think that this would be easy to me, as (in the dreaded day job) I am in fact an employee of the local school board. Not only that, my DH is an educator at the college level, and I have two daughters, both of whom are in school. ]

But the sad fact is, that if one thinks that, one would be wrong. Dead wrong. Wrong in a major way. Please note above that I didn’t say I work for the “school district” or the “school system.” I am something of a rara avis in terra (Ooooh wee! Look at Romancemama slinging the foreign phrases here!) Unlike the teachers, the bus drivers, the cafeteria workers and the numerous other dedicated workers who make the schools run, I am actually, legally, an employee directly supervised by the five member School Board. I don’t work for the Superintendent of Schools. I report directly to, and work at the sole pleasure of, a five-member elected board.

Which means, boys and girls, that I don’t like to make public statements about the schools. Anything I say can — and often is — mistakenly laid at the feet of my bosses. As a general rule, I try to let somebody else give sound bites while I take care of business.

So it has been a struggle to come up with something I felt I could say about schools. But, as y’all know, I have been known to have an opinion or two, and I’d like to express one of them. One that I don’t think anyone associated with my day job will disagree with. (Yes, I know! “With which they will disagree.” Thank you, Strunk and White.)

There are a lot of people spouting off about “what’s wrong with our schools” these days. And yeah, there is stuff wrong. So if you — or any of the politicians du jour — think you know what to do to fix ’em, bring it. But one request of you, before you tell me all about your plans to overhaul the whole system.


We here in my local school district are begging for people to help us. We have kids who need mentors, who need tutors, who just need a friendly word from someone. God knows, our teachers are overworked just trying to keep up with the paperwork and teaching the standardized test prep. There are some kids who need a whole lot more individualized attention than any teacher can give.

So tell me all about your charter schools, your standards and policies and rules. I’m all ears. But –and I’m looking at y’all, candidates for public office — spend a few hours in a classroom and then tell me your plans.

We need people who care, not just more plans and policies.