Cheryl St.John: Irish Brides Set Sail

When Harlequin does a continuity series, a group of editors come up with a concept and invite the authors they want to participate. The authors are given what is termed ‘the bible,’ a two or three page synopsis of each story and a brief sketch of each character. An overall concept is included, explaining how the threads connect the stories.

After that, it’s up to the authors to put their heads together and collectively figure out how they’re going to make this idea work—and how they will create their individual stories to keep the plots logical and the stories exciting enough to carry them through however many pages.

I’ve participated in several Montana Mavericks continuities, both historical and contemporary, as well as a contemporary continuity about a fertility clinic. One of the most critical parts of this whole process is the brainstorming and chemistry between the participating authors. A good group makes all the difference, so I was delighted after Love Inspired Historical asked me to write the first book in the Irish Brides trilogy I learned Renee Ryan and Winnie Griggs were the other two authors.

I’m fortunate that Winnie is my sister Filly here at Wildflower Junction and Renee is a member of my RWA chapter, so the three of us already knew each other. Working with them was a joy, and I can only hope they feel the same way about my participation. We plotted and shared and wrangled plot points until each of us had a great story to write.

The premise and setting set me back for only a few minutes. Three orphaned Irish sisters leave their homeland and travel to America in hopes of finding a man they discover loved their mother. They need a place to live as well as a new start. I’d only ever written American-set stories and only a couple set as early as 1850. As soon as I began my research I was hooked. The history of these sisters came to life for me, and I had the privilege of setting up each character—with Renee and Winnie’s guidance of course.

I prepared myself for the narrative and dialogue by watching every Irish movie I could fit into my schedule. Quite a hardship I assure you. My favorite is always Far and Away, but there are other great ones.

I enjoyed populating the sailing vessel, the Annie McGee with colorful sojourners and creating conflicts for my character, Maeve Murphy. I slipped in one cowboy, who is traveling back home–couldn’t resist. The tale of The Wedding Journey unfolds onboard the ship, as Maeve is given a position as the physician’s assistant, and their trip is underway. Renee and Winnie have written the stories of Bridget and Nora, Maeve’s older sisters, whose tales begin once the ship docks in Boston Harbor.

Once my story was finished, Harlequin asked me to write a free online serial for their website, and gave me free license to come up with a prequel to the Irish Brides. Again I dove into research for something to snag my interest and found stories of the poor starving Irish being sent to penitentiaries for stealing food or not paying their landowners. The story sprang to life from there.

In 1850 Ireland, Darcy Keegan secretly plans to escape the drudgery of the prison where her father is warden to start a life elsewhere. Her plans are thwarted by a young boy who’s been imprisoned and whom she can’t bring herself to leave until she knows he will be safe.

Vaughn Donnelly has recently returned to Castleville to add a wing to the penitentiary, and is captivated by the young lass he observes in the prison yard. His job prevents him from staying, so love and marriage are out of the question–or are they? When he intervenes on behalf of a lad being mistreated, he wins the admiration of the Irish lass he admires.

Their shared concern for the laddie quickly turns into something more–read Donnelly’s Promise FREE on the Harlequin website: CLICK HERE

By the time I finished with these two stories I thought and dreamed everything with an Irish accent! I had so much fun with these characters and their tales of love that I can’t wait for readers to discover them.

The Wedding Journey is available for pre-order.

Thanks for stopping by!

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29 thoughts on “Cheryl St.John: Irish Brides Set Sail”

  1. I am really looking forward to this set of books! I have been reading Donnelly’s Promise and I love it!

  2. Cheryl,

    I’ve been reading DONNELLY’S PROMISE, and you do an amazing job with the accent! I can hear each character so clearly it’s like watching THE QUIET MAN. And I love the story and Darcy and Vaughn.

    I look forward to reading this series. By the way, the covers for each of these books are gorgeous.

  3. I’m so tickled you’re both reading the serial! That’s exciting.

    Thank YOU, Kirsten. I worked to get the accent right without making dialogue difficult to read )kiss of death). You made my day.

    I agree. These are some the the very best covers LIH has ever done. The colors are incredible.

  4. Having had the privilege of already reading and loving The Wedding Journey, 🙂 I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. You, Renee and Winnie have created a lovely trio of sisters.

    And I love that you dreamed with a brogue! Glad I’m not the only one. 😀

  5. Cheryl, I can’t wait to read this. I’ve already pre-ordered for my Kindle. The covers were what first snagged me, then the blurbs. It looks like a fantastic continuity series. I enjoyed hearing about how your story came about and the people you put on the ship. It further teased my desire to dig into Maeve’s story. But then that doesn’t surprise me. You’re a master at giving just enough sneak peeks and whipping your readers into a frenzy.

    Wishing you tons of success with this.

  6. Cheryl,
    WOW, these are wonderful covers! Just beautiful! I’m excited about this series–I love series books. I really enjoyed hearing about how you, Winnie and Renee worked together to create this fantastic storyline. Congratulations, and here’s to tons of sales.
    Cheryl P.

  7. Cher,

    It was such a joy to work with you and Winnie, as well. “Works well with others” absolutely defines who you are. By the way, I think I watched Far and Away at least ten times during my research process, but never caught the accent. You lucky duck!

    Your online read is fan-tabulous. What a great way to kick-off the series.


  8. oooh, Linda, thanks for ordering and for the good wishes for success.

    Thank you, Cheryl! As you can imagine, my fellow writers were a dream to work with. I love series books, too.

    Renee, I’m SO looking forward to holding your book in my hot little hands. I can’t wait! I didn’t know you were watching Far & Away that often, but we did talk about the movie. I love love love the beginning. Behind the scenes of that movie, when Nicole and Tom met: The crew played a trick on her when she lifted off that big bowl protecting her innocent eyes, and he wasn’t covered. So the look on her face is real.

    lol Priceless

    Love to you.

    Vickie, we did enjoy our brainstorming.

  9. Hi Cher, what a great concept…three terrific books by three terrific ladies. And I know each of you LOL. Can’t wait for this triple-treat. Love to all of you…

  10. Interesting post, Cheryl. This series sounds terrifc and the covers are just a delight! So looking forward to reading these.

  11. Wow, the Irish Brides series sounds wonderful. They are going on my reading radar. I like stories about embarking on a new adventure and starting life in a new place. There is something appealing about a fresh start.

  12. This series will be a must buy for me. I am always surprised how well most continuity series work. It can’t always be easy to write within someone else’s framework coordinating your part of the story with other authors. You have two good cohorts in this one.
    I think the first of your books I read was part of the Montana Mavericks historical series. That continuity series, both historical and contemporary worked pretty well.

    This series will be of personal interest. My father’s ancestors came over in the mid-1800’s, forced out of Ireland by the potato famine. In their case, they arrived and settled in Canada. I hadn’t realized until a trip to Quebec City how involved Canada was in “rescuing” the Irish trapped by the English and the potato blight during this time. There is a monument in the city dedicated by the Irish and the Canadians who helped them, I think. Trying to look up the memorial turned into a time suck. I discovered there is a large memorial we missed. Looks like we’ll need another trip up there. Maybe we’ll look up the “cousins” who live just south of Quebec City. Of course, last I heard, they didn’t speak english.
    Interesting articles on the irish , Canada & the famine memorials:
    I never did find the information on the monument we saw. At least it triggered my looking into our family’s history a bit more deeply.
    The covers for the series are lovely. I will be looking for them.
    Thanks for many enjoyable books to read.

  13. What a beautiful set of books!! And I read some of the online read too, Cher. As usual, wonderful writing. I love to hear about how you come up with your ideas!!

  14. You’re fortunate to know your family history, Patricia. There are so many little known areas and people we don’t know about. We live in an exciting age, where information is at our fingertips. It definitely feels like an overload sometimes, but our descendants will definitely have a record of what we did. Oh boy, will they.

    Thanks for the links. I’m off to look now.

  15. From the famine memorial, I read this: “Ireland is the number one country in the world in the category of per-capita charitable giving.”

    People who have suffered have a heart for others with similar plights. Doesn’t it stand to reason the Irish are a generous people?

  16. Cher,

    I love all of your books. They are amazing. Must say the covers are breathtaking also. You always give a wealth of knowledge and the flow of your writing is great. Love you dearly.


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