Everyone’s having contests. I wanna have a contest, too!

(Ab)using my librarian status, I wrangled an ARC of The Leopard Prince out of Elizabeth Hoyt a few months ago. Having adored The Raven Prince, I was positively salivating to read TLP, and I’m delighted to report it’s definitely drool-worthy. It’s warm and witty and very sexy, with endearing, engaging characters. And all this is evident from the very first paragraph of the book:

After the carriage wreck and a bit before the horses ran away, Lady Georgina Maitland noticed that her land steward was a man. Well, that is to say, naturally she knew Harry Pye was a man. She wasn’t under the delusion that he was a lion or an elephant or a whale, or indeed any other member of the animal kingdom—if one could call a whale an animal and not just a very big fish. What she meant was that his maleness had suddenly become very evident.

Since that’s about all I’ve got of my second book right now – the first paragraph – this seemed a good time to talk about first lines, and what makes a good opening to a book. Hoyt’s is such a fabulous example, because not only does it crystallize the funny/sexy tone of the book in a paragraph, it gives an immediate sense of the historical setting AND hooks the reader with the promise of an exciting event – a carriage accident.

Not that I would compare it to Hoyt’s … Read More »

I’m in this limbo right now between finishing one project and starting another. I got two more contest entries out in the mail today, so I’m set with the contests for now. Next I’m going to start querying agents.

Then there’s book #2, which for some time now has been a lovely, fully developed plot in my brain that I couldn’t wait to begin writing. Now that it’s time to begin writing it, I feel a bit panicked.

First, when I started to really look closely at that brilliant idea, I realized it wasn’t very developed at all. In fact, it had many gaping holes. And once again, my hero is being cagey, resisting all my attempts to pin him down. (Thankfully, my heroine will have no problem pinning him down…)

Second, I’ve been telling myself all through GOTH that everything I’ve learned writing it will make my next book fabulous. And I look at that blank page and think … uhhh, what if it’s not? I’m a wee bit scared. But that’s only natural, I suppose.

What do you do to get over “blank-page syndrome?”… Read More »

So I have a bit more news about my day at Avon HQ in April. The day starts with coffee with the incomparable Ms. Eloisa James! That’s it – April 13th will officially contain more excitement before breakfast than I typically see in a year.

It’s just a few weeks away – I can’t believe it. I’m excited, but also a bit anxious about being away from my kids overnight for the first time. Especially my baby, for a combination of emotional and physiological reasons.

That (and a CP’s WIP) got me thinking about breastfeeding in historical romance. I like a romance heroine nursing her baby, because I think our society can always use another positive image of breastfeeding. I mean, just a few months ago a woman got kicked off a Delta airlines flight for nursing her child and refusing the flight attendant’s demand that she cover her kid with a blanket (the airline has since apologized).

Although I’m by no means a political “lactivist,” I’m always happy to see any affirmation of nursing, even in a romance novel. But historically speaking, most upper class ladies employed wet nurses. I’ve read different reasons as to why – one being because they could become pregnant again faster and produce more potential heirs. I was doing some searching online and found this fascinating 1612 document on “Choosing a Wet Nurse.” Among other qualifications, a suitable wet nurse must have a thick neck, and preferably chestnut hair – … Read More »

I’m sure I’ll be tinkering with Goddess of the Hunt up until the point it’s (I say with unbridled optimism) published – but, for the moment, I feel I can call it ‘finished.’ With some painful cutting, I got it down to about 101,000 words, and I’m starting the query process and thinking about my next novel.

So now that I’ve ‘finished’ one novel, I’ve learned some big lessons about making my next book better and less painful to write. Not that these would be helpful to everyone. A big part of it has been learning what works for me, and what suits my own style best. But as a reminder to myself and just in case it’s interesting to anyone else, here are a few.

  • I’m not a pantser. I need to start with a general outline of the plot. I fully expect it to change over the course of writing the book, but I have to begin writing with a destination in mind, or I’ll just founder aimlessly.
  • Whatever plot I outline should be vetted by several critique partners before I even begin. I’m lucky enough to have extraordinarily clever CPs who will find all the loopholes in my internal logic and also weigh the story’s emotional integrity. Soliciting their opinions and answering their questions is how a vague idea becomes a fleshed-out plot.
  • I will crystallize the “high concept” and “hook” before I write the darn book. I did that back-asswards this time, and it’s been
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So, you all know or will find out – writing a synopsis sucks. Imagine how thrilled I was to learn that MSWord has an “AutoSummarize” feature! Yep, right under the little Tools menu – you can tell it to condense your entire manuscript to a certain number of sentences or words or a certain percentage of the original.

I was so excited – imagine, Bill Gates found a way to take the pain out of synopsis-writing! So here is the Prologue of GOTH, in ten sentences:

Lucy was sorely disappointed. Toby. Lucy whispered. “Lucy!” “No, Henry!” Henry cried. “Lucy, wait.” Lucy stifled a wry laugh. Lucy bristled. Goodness, thought Lucy.

Um, maybe not. It’s fun to play around with, though – if you need some laughs.… Read More »

So I entered GOTH in a contest. The Hearts Through History contest, to be exact. I’m also planning to enter it in The Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot and Orange Rose contests within the month. And I think that will about do it.

I hear such mixed things about what contests can do for you. There are inspiring success stories, like Diane Gaston’s guestblog the other day on Romance Vagabonds (and if you haven’t been over to the new RV site yet, it’s gorgeous! Great job, gypsy girls!) And then there are people who say contests are a waste of time, energy, and money that could be put to better use.

I figure I might as well try a few, see if I get some helpful feedback out of them.
How about you? Yay or Nay on contests?… Read More »

It bugs me when women don’t eat. I like to eat. Whether in real life or in books – I’m suspicious of girls who never seem to eat, or just nibble.

I remember reading something about Drew Barrymore, when she was co-producing Charlie’s Angels. There’s a scene in the movie where the Angels go through the drive-thru and order burgers and milkshakes, because she wanted it to be clear that these women do eat, when they’re not busy kicking Crispin Glover’s ass.

So when I started writing this book, I knew I wanted to write a heroine who enjoys food. And a hero who delights in her enjoyment of food. Because I think a lot of women read their first romance novels as teens, at that “trying age” when they are trying to figure out their developing bodies and sexuality. I try to think about a teenage girl reading my book for clues, and I want to build in affirming messages about body image and sexual awakening — without being heavy-handed, of course.

So, Lucy likes to eat. A lot. And she never once feels guilty or apologetic about it.

Lucy Waltham’s appetite was insatiable.

Henry liked to jest that when she married, he would provide her a dowry of two cows, six pigs, and two dozen chickens – just so her husband could keep her fed. It was only a joke, of course. In all likelihood, her dowry would be worth far less.

But no one would be jesting

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So you all know by now that I’m writing a relatively light, humorous book.

Wait – I have written a relatively light, humorous book. (Must give myself credit there.)

The trickiest parts of the whole novel for me (and the sections I’m revising heavily) involve sex. First, I’ve never written sex before – so that in and of itself is new. Second, I’ve found it difficult to balance the light humor in most of the book with sensuality. I mean, I’m not out to write erotic romance, but a sex scene should be sexy, or else it’s just a waste of pages, right?

So, how to write a humorous sex scene while keeping some bigger emotions in play? I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. I’ve unfortunately learned how to write a sex scene that is unintentionally hilarious. But that wasn’t exactly what I was going for. I’ve also learned how to write sex scenes that take themselves far too seriously and just take too darn long. Thank heaven for brutally honest CPs, is all I can say.

My questions to you: Do you try to, um, insert humor into your love scenes? Can you think of published authors/books that do this well? Or does it bug you to giggle in the middle of a sexy sequence?… Read More »

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Genesis 1, RSV

Ok, so “Goddess of Romance” I’m not. Because somewhere last week (after many more than six days), I sat back and realized I’d finished drafting my novel. And, behold it was …

Welllll…. Not horrible.

But certainly not as good as it could be.

So we’re into revisions. Ideally, this is where I would set the whole mess aside for about a month and goof around with researching and outlining my next book (tentatively titled Goddess of Beauty, or perhaps Siren of the Sea. Dunno. GOB and SOTS are both fun acronyms.) and then come back to my manuscript with fresh eyes and a ruthless red pen. But I can’t take a month off.

It’s at about 105K now, which means I’m playing a zero-sum game. If I add somewhere, I have to subtract an equal amount somewhere else. There’s plenty of fat to be trimmed, but I also need to write two extra scenes and finish the epilogue.

My motto these days: Ack.… Read More »

Sorry I haven’t posted in a week. I’m just writing as much as I can. I’m at the 102K mark, but the little wordcount widget site seems to have crashed. Just a few scenes to go, and then I’m into revisions. Yay!

And RitaSV – OMG, it was so exciting to see your comment! Please, please – send me an email from my website. I wanted to PM you from HG, but you know what’s going on there. 🙁… Read More »