Saturday, July 31, 2010

Milestones Blogfest

Thank you to Donna Hole for hosting this blogfest. The idea is to include a submission about "reaching a goal, or accomplishing some achievement."

My personal milestone as an author are as follows:
  • The day I sat down at the computer and actually wrote my first chapter instead of just thinking about it and planning it. I knew I was a writer.
  • The day I reached my 100th page. I thought about all those term papers when I had stressed over having to write 20 pages. Ha!
  • The day I wrote my first sex scene. I thought it would be easy. It wasn't.
  • The day I threw out my original first chapter and wrote a new one. I cried. Cried. Here was the first 24 pages I had written as an aspiring author -- and I was kicking it to the curb and replacing it with 11 pages of dialogue and action. But how would anyone understand my story without understanding the social mores of Elizabethan England? It needed to happen.
  • The day I finished my first book.
  • The day I really finished my first book.
  • The day I really really finished my first book.
  • The day I started my second book.
  • The day I got to page 100 of my second book.
... ad infinitum

I like to think the next major milestone (that deviates from the pattern above) will be either getting an agent or a publisher. And then I can finally get my pedicure (it will be 2 years in August -- my poor toes).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Disappearing From the Face of the Earth


My Mom bought a few old romance novels at a garage sale and gave them to me. I was out of books, and read through one. It was published in 2004. A Medieval historical romance (which is the category I fall in, even though Elizabethan is a specific era and, if they want to generalize, they could say Tudor or even Renaissance. But no, they call it Medieval though it is clearly not. But I digress).

The book was entertaining. The main characters well developed and reasonably sympathetic. The romance/anticipation/seduction was well written even though the actual heat of the book was mild. The history appeared accurate (which I notice and appreciate). It gave the promised happy-ever-after between the knight and his lady fair. In short, it was an entertaining read. Not the best book I ever read, but nowhere near the worst. I was actually able to read and enjoy it instead of critiquing it, which says a lot.

I have read so many romances where the author has 20+ titles to her name. It was exciting to read someone's debut novel. Someday, someone will buy and read my debut novel. Maybe they'll be excited to see a new author. Who knows? I was excited to see what this author had done since.

Nothing.

What happened? She wrote a book. A whole book! That's a big deal. AND SHE GOT IT PUBLISHED! What a tremendous amount of work. She had done something right.
Then what? Was she done? Had she told her one story? Did the book not sell well? Did she have a bad relationship with her agent/publisher? Is she happy with her one book? Did she accomplish her dream? Is she still active under a pseudonym? Did she die? What happened? I want to know!

Alas, I never will know. I did find an author with a similar name who writes BDSM erotica -- probably not the same person. From what I can tell, she has disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least the writing world. I wish I knew why.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What Every Woman Needs.

Rated R for ranting.

The modern woman is capable of everything all at the same time. She is educated, socially powerful, physically fit, elegant, beautiful, passionate, etc... Oh yeah, she is also a wonderful mother. With this wonder-woman ideal in mind, it must be hard to read historical romances where the woman is uneducated and raised solely to obey her father and then her husband. Where the woman is flawed if she fails to produce children sons.

Then again, I can't remember the last historical romance I've read that had a heroine that fit the norms of the social history of her era. More and more, she seems to fit modern norms. Occasionally there is a meek young miss who is submissive and reproductive, but then she grows out of it and develops a modern day backbone.

This does not really bother me. Why? The reader needs to relate to the heroine. She needs to want to be part of the fantasy. She's not looking for realism or else we'd have the heroine have an awkward menstrual moment or pee when she sneezed. We read romance to escape reality. So a historically unrealistic heroine is fine(ish).

What is not fine is the increasing amount of alpha females I read about. Not only is she perfect, both in our era and her's, but she is dominant and everyone accepts that. The poor men that try to challenge her supremacy end up emasculated husks, shivering in a dark corner of their room. Except for the alpha male they end up with.

Alpha + Alpha = bloodbath

An Alpha male wants to dominate. An Alpha female wants to dominate. He thinks he'll cure her dominant spirit with his magical penis. She thinks he's too stupid to realize she's manipulating him, which she's not. This is not a good situation. But, what ends up happening? There is some hot domination, she gives in, and the magical penis prevails.

Eventually, he respects that she's intelligent, but it doesn't really matter because she's learned to trust him implicitly. And the penis.

So that leads me to a question -- is that the fantasy women want to escape into? That the alpha super woman needs a good man to tame her? Hey, I understand the dream of having no responsibilities and being taken care of (being a cat), but that aside, women have fought hard for the right to have unattainable standards of excellence. And even though the heroine archetype may have changed a bit to meet our standards, her fall into love is also a fall into cavewoman-like subservience.

I'm not saying this is wrong, but it seems counter intuitive.

Thoughts?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Longing for Home


I continue to write about Mary and Nicholas, but I keep thinking of Jane. She's in limbo, hanging out at Holme Pierrepont, feeling really out of place. It was all well and good there when it was Frances, Mary, and Jane dealing with the occasional Henry. But now Henry and Frances have a love match and Mary is away... Jane is left alone. She is both longing for the past and longing for the future. Something has to change. Dreams of the past haunt her, but there is no going back. Is there?

For three years of my childhood/adolescence, my family owned and operated the Vienna Woods Hotel in Co. Cork, Ireland. It has gone through multiple owners since then. I am the only one of my family that has not been back. I dream about the hotel and our home there. The woods. The trek down the hill. It is all so familiar yet so distant.

I know that the hotel has undergone some major changes. I know that one of the many owners saw fit to dump all the debris from the construction along the old carriage path through the woods. I'm not the owner's daughter any longer -- I wouldn't be allowed to wander through the back halls and wouldn't be physically fit enough to climb out the window in the pantry, scale the wall of the keg yard, and leap the distance between the wall and the cliff face (if that section is even still there). I won't be able to sneak into the walk in fridge and steal an eclair or practice my piano in the bar. I know if I ever go back the changes will be so extreme it won't be any sort of homecoming.

And yet I long for it.

So does Jane.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Based on the Picture "The Princess and the Pea" by Duloc

This was a fun. The Merry Sisters of Fate are hosting a contest. I found out about it through Valerie. I loved her entry and figured I'd give it a try.

Details:
To enter, all you have to do is write something using the following prompt and post it to your blog. Winners will be chosen at random Monday the 26th.

Yes, the pic is the prompt.

They're giving away:
1) A signed copy of LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater

2) A signed ARC of THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff

3) A signed copy of the audiobook of LINGER (which includes Sam SINGING!)

4) A Merry Fates tote bag

Honestly, with or without the prizes, this was fun. It broke me out of my mold just a little and that's got to be a good thing.

Okay, my entry...

Stella lay perfectly still in the center of her mattress and focused on keeping her eyes open.


So far she had counted over seventy distinct pleats in the canopy above her. Some were not as crisp as others. Most of them were a little fuzzy from the build up of dust. She offered a silent prayer that none of the dust would dislodge. The last thing she needed was a sneezing fit. When was the last time someone had cleaned up there? Disgusting. When the morning came she would definitely complain to Lady Andrus about the state of housekeeping in the castle. Lady Andrus might be embarrassed. Of course, at that moment, Stella wanted to do much more than embarrass her.


But then the housekeeper would be punished and Stella did not want to think about what Lady Andrus’ punishments might entail. It wasn’t worth it. Besides, not many people ever slept this close to their canopy. Or, rather, not many people pointedly did not sleep this close to their canopy.


Stella laughed out loud at her musings. She couldn't believe she was thinking about dusting. She must be going mad. She just had to make it through the night.


Her sheets were warm. Sticky. Her hair had long since plastered itself to her forehead and her pillow felt like a pile of hot mush against the back of her neck. Maybe she could just flip it over? She stretched her fingers and twitched her head reflexively. All she had to do was reach above her head, lift with her neck, and flip the pillow. It would be so easy.


No. The risk wasn’t worth it.


Besides, she didn’t want to be comfortable. If she was comfortable she might fall asleep. If she felt asleep, she might move.


If she moved, the whole unsteady pile of mattresses might tumble.


It was a long way down.


The morning seemed so far away.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trust

I recently had a crisis with my WIP. The romantic conflict was almost resolved and I was only halfway into the book. Did that mean it was only meant to be a short story? Reading through, the characters were very 2-D. The story was only the love story.

I realized I had failed to develop my supporting subplots. When I came up with the premise for Courtly Christmas, the main subplot was the story and the love affair was a part of that, but not the whole. Then I started getting feedback about Courtly Love being too much of a historical fiction and not being romance.

I didn't want to make that mistake twice, so I changed my focus in Courtly Christmas. It was definitely romance. But it was not a good story. It had fallen flat. What was I missing? A plot beyond boy meets girl, they do it a couple times, and live happily-ever-after.

I pulled out my original outline. Would you look at that? There was a mystery to be solved. A bad guy. Strong support characters. All of that had fallen by the wayside. Why? Because I did not trust myself. I had stopped writing the book I wanted to write in favor of pleasing some unknown party. I did not trust myself to tell the story as it was meant to be.

So, until an editor/agent/publisher tells me differently, I'm writing the story that wants to be told.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sad To Be Skipping a Blogfest

Tessa is hosting The Blogfest of Death at:


The entries I have read so far have been great. Check it out.

Sadly, I have nothing to contribute. I have a few paragraphs about one of my leads grieving about two of her children that were much too premature -- but something about dead babies completely out of context rubbed me the wrong way.

I almost wrote something new, but it would be something for a project that is just sort of hovering in the atmosphere around me, yet to be realized in anything more concrete than an "I have this idea..." stage. And I don't have time to write something not immediately applicable because I challenged myself to finish my wip before August 1st (I have to go back to being a teacher).

The good news? I am writing. I found the problem in my story, attacked it, and the characters are back on track, developing how they should instead of how I wanted to force them to be. At this rate, I probably will not finish by the end of the month, but, in the long run, I'm going to have a much better book.

Kudos to all the participants who actually participated. To the people who signed up and did not contribute (if there even are any, I haven't seen one yet for this blogfest, but there have been a lot lately), stop doing that! It makes me grouchy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Little Advice To New Writers

Thank you to the Peevish Penman for their blogfest My Best Advice to New Writers. And since no one ever asks me for advice (and I try SO HARD not to offer unsolicited advice) I happily give mine now.
  • Do not turn in to a troll in a cave. There is a writing community out there and you need to be part of it.
  • Do not wait until something is perfect to share it -- it will never be perfect.
  • You will never be able to read your work objectively. Seek out a critique partner or group.
  • Write, write, write. And don't worry if that writing is not part of your masterpiece. With each word you write, you become a better writer.
  • When creative genius is flowing, don't stifle it because it doesn't match your outline.
  • Do not let yourself be distracted or bogged down in the publishing process. You are a writer. Write. Finish. Then worry about that next step.

Notice that the first three points are on the same theme. Now, I need to follow my own advice. :)
BTW, check out my mad photo shop skills. It is supposed to be a troll in a cave.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Lead Gets Her Drink On

It is a beautiful sunny day. My husband is keeping the children off of me. I am writing. Good stuff.

But wait, there's more.

I have a jug of sangria and I'm writing about my lead character, Mary, getting her drink on.
Now, in my first novel, Frances had too much to drink on an empty stomach and ended up throwing up. Not only was her fuzzy mind fun to write, but the vomit scene was funny and a glimpse of real life that many people can relate to.

Now, I decided to write this scene in spite of the fact that I know that my sister (also Mary) will read it and ask me if I notice a theme about alcohol consumption and how I feel about that. I write this scene knowing that Avalon books will want nothing to do with me. I write this scene because it's fun. My main character is at a crazy party. People are handing her beverages left and right. She's going to make a fool of herself. Sir Nicholas is not going to take advantage because he's a good guy. I'm am not glorifying alcohol consumption, I'm merely including it. Why? Because it happened. In fact, in Elizabethan England, it would have been almost impossible to find a non-alcoholic beverage that was safe to drink.

Excuse me, I need to refill my glass.

So, in honor of me completing this drunk chapter and starting the hungover one (it will happen), I will share some deliciousness with you.

Sangria -- Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja reds, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
  • 1 Lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 Orange cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Shot brandy
  • 2 Cups ginger ale or club soda

I added vodka instead of brandy. I also added halved grapes and diced apples instead of their fruit suggestions.

Now, back to writing. Mary has already had one goblet of lambic. The night is young... but tomorrow her hair of the dog will be Butter Beer (thank you J.K. Rowling and Heston Blumenthal).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Food for Love


My husband bowls once a week. On that night he comes home and I'm already asleep. Because he goes straight from work to bowling, he picks up fast food on the way home. For a while, he liked to get In-n-Out cheeseburgers animal style. Animal style is when they grill the onions in mustard before putting them on the burger. He would come to bed and cozy up to me, smelling like mustardy onions. It was nasty.

I would never try to kiss someone after eating:
corn nuts, Doritos, Funyons, sour kraut, pork sausage, onion rings, buffalo wings, bruschetta, and the list can go on.

Add smoking a cigar to the list.

Of course, I usually brush my teeth after eating anything because I'm a little ocd.

This brings me to my point.
I write about Elizabethan England. I have studied recipes from the era. I've looked at methods of cooking, spices used, and the differences in food stuffs between social classes. I have read primary accounts of feasts, both at private homes and at court.

I am an reasonably adventurous eater, but I don't like my sweet pies to have meat in them. And I don't like my meat dishes to be packed in butter or to stare back at me as I cut into them. As such, I have always adapted the foods they ate to our modern food sensibilities.

Right now, in my wip, I am working on an elaborate feast for the fourth night of Christmas festivities. Instead of cleaning up the Elizabethan use of marrow in everything, I am challenging myself to render a more accurate, if disgusting, representation. Who am I to pass judgment on historically accurate food?

That said, how kissable will my heroine be after eating a pudding made from blood, barley, figs, and honey? That's way worse than mustardy onions. I don't know if I can do it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tales from the Sidelines Blogfest

Thank you to Cheree from Justified Lunacy for hosting this blogfest. The premise is to feature a sidekick. In Courtly Love, I wrote in my sidekicks with the plan to have them spin off into their own stories. Mary was the smart friend, Jane the slutty one (formulaic, I know). Mary has her own story in Courtly Christmas. Jane will be featured, and slightly less slutty, in Courtly Manners (do I italicize the title of a book that hasn't been written yet?).


Jane, physically, is petite, buxom, and has big crazy blonde curls. She was overtly sexual in Courtly Love, perhaps using her sexuality to prove that she really was all grown up. I mean, she's tiny and had gone from the care of her parents into the care of an elderly husband. I chose Heather Graham as the physical model. She has a somewhat childlike face, but there is nothing childish about her figure. Man. It was hard finding a not super sexy image.

I couldn't find a good scene that told us who Jane really was (besides a flirt), so I decided to interview her. I did not participate in the blogfest awhile back about interviewing your character, so this was fun.



Erin: With us today is Mistress Jane Ratclyffe. She is a twenty year-old widow and currently serving as a gentle-woman companion to Mistress Frances Pierrepont of Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire. Jane, thank for you agreeing to speak with me today.
Jane: I am happy to be speaking. It has been over a year since anyone spoke to me.
Erin. I know. We last saw you heading back to Holme Pierrepont with Frances Pierrepont. I believe you were planning to stay there and enjoy the Christmas season with the family.
Jane: That is true. Frances and I became good friends during our time together at Hampton Court. I had hoped that the friendship would continue when we returned to the country.
Erin: Are you no longer friends? What happened?
Jane:
Oh, no – of course we are friends still. She is just… distracted by her husband. Seriously, the two are like rabbits. I’ve begun coughing loudly before I enter any room. It’s rather disgusting.
Erin: Come now, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?
Jane: I’m not saying I don’t enjoy myself – but I’ve never been besotted.
Really, the way they look at each other and always find a reason to touch the other one, that’s a little ridiculous.
Erin: I think it sounds nice. It must be wonderful to be in love.
Jane: Love is overrated.
Erin: I did not realize you were a cynic. Last I heard you talk about it, you sounded very idealistic.
Jane: I’m not a cynic, I’m a realist. Besides, I was talking about sex, not love. There's a difference.
Erin: Okay, so Jane is a realist. What else don’t we know about you?
Jane: Well, you don’t know very much, do you? I mean you know about my liaisons at the palace. You know I’m a widow…
Erin: Yes, tell me about that.
Jane: There’s not much to tell. My parents contracted my marriage to a neighboring landowner. I was sixteen. He was fifty-three. I married him because my father said I should. I became lady of the manor. I wish he had been a knight, for then I would have been Lady Ratclyffe instead of Mistress Ratclyffe. But he had a comfortable house and I had everything I needed, so it was fine.
Erin: Were you happy with him?
Jane:
I was not unhappy. He was a kind gentleman. I think he was rather embarrassed about the whole thing. My parents owed him money, he wanted an heir to take over his landholdings and there weren’t a lot of options. I think he felt the distance in years between us as keenly as I did. But he was gentle with me.
Erin: This is just based on my knowledge of your behavior at the palace, but I would guess that he did not turn you against passion.
Jane: No. As I said, he was kind. Of course, when it comes to passion, I have enjoyed my widowhood more than my duties as a wife. He was very old.
Erin: How long were you married?
Jane: Two years. He died of apoplexy. I was not surprised – he had lost energy and strength in the year before his death. I was sad that I never game him his son.
Erin: Do you blame yourself for that?
Jane:
No. Do you think I should?
Erin:
Er… uh, well, society in your era did put the responsibility of fertility 100% on the woman.
Jane: True – but he never seemed displeased with me. And he was so much older, our interludes were not always successful. Can we change the subject?
Erin: Almost. One last question about that chapter of your life – did you wish to marry… what was his name?
Jane: Edward Ratclyffe.
No, I did not wish to marry him, but that is neither here nor there.
Erin: Did you have other suitors?
Jane: Yes. Please change the subject.
Erin: Okay -- I'm sorry. Let's see... Ah. Do you hope to marry again?
Jane: Yes, I do. But this time I will choose for myself.
Erin: Do you have someone in mind?
Jane: Not yet -- when I was at court over Michaelmas I played around a bit, but nothing serious. Between the groom and the guardsman I had a good time. Next time I go to court, I will be more of a lady and only settle for nobleman.
Erin: Marriage was a tricky business in Elizabethan England. A lot of them were contracted alliances. Love matches were rare. I don't know what you expect, given that you're untitled and penniless...
Jane: That's not true -- I have my widow's portion. One-third of my husband's assets.
Erin: But that's nothing. How do you plan to entice a noble husband?
Jane: Frances has been tutoring me on ladylike behavior and courtly manners. When I go to court again, it will be when I'm ready to be a fashionable, sophisticated, and elegant lady. It seems I have a natural talent for seduction, but this time, they will have to buy the cow.
Erin: What about love?
Jane: -sigh- Love only leads to heartbreak and sadness. Love is not a basis for marriage. Besides, I will love being a lady. Ha! Don't worry for me -- I won't aim too high. But look at Lady Shrewsbury. She was born no better than I, and now she's a countess! It's not impossible.
Erin: Jane, have you been in love before? Had your heart broken?
Jane: Well, Erin, I think our interview is done. You need to go work on Mary's story. I do miss her -- get her back to Holme Pierrepont as soon as you can. In the meantime, I'll lurk around the manor, work on my letters and study the classics -- a lady should be educated, you know. When you write my story, please humor me and do not dredge up my past. My story should be about my future -- the future that I am making for myself.


-blink - Jane disappears, presumably back to Holme Pierrepont, suspended in time on the fourth day of Christmas, 1572 (until I move the story along).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Can't Say It blogfest


Thank you to Shelley for hosting this "I Can't Say It" blogfest. In fact the blogfest theme, in part, inspired how this scene went.

Mary's got a past she's ashamed of (passive voice! but I'm leaving it). Since then she has done everything right, but her past has come back to haunt her. Ultimately, she'll learn to forgive herself and realize that she deserves happiness -- but she's got some growing to do yet.

This is set in 1572 at the court of Queen Elizabeth over the twelve days of Christmas. Though some of the themes may seem modern, they absolutely were relevant then.

Background: The Earl of Oxford was found badly wounded (stabbed) in Mary's chamber the night before. Earlier in the previous evening, she had threatened him and now the court thinks she did it. When he came to (he will recover) he said it was not Mary, but wouldn't name his attacker.


Mary continued, “The new rumor is that I am Oxford’s lover and he lied to protect me.”
Nicholas almost laughed. “Oxford would not put effort in to protect anyone but himself.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Mary punctuated her words with a fist. She rose and started pacing. “But it doesn’t change the whispers.” Mary paused to calm the desperation that threatened to break through. “I am ruined at court and I cannot be. I simply cannot be ruined – I have nothing left of me but my reputation. Without my good name, I can never be accepted as a lady's companion, and without that I have no prospects.”
“What of your family?”
Mary fought to be stoic. She had hoped to discuss this in a practical fashion, but the hurt had just resurfaced and she just couldn’t do it. She would not cry. “My family disowned me years ago.”
“Do you want to tell me why?” Nicholas could tell that this was hard for her to talk about. What could she have done that was so terrible? He had seen his fill of bad behavior at court, but could not think of anything that would break up a family. Well, a normal family.

Mary did not hesitate to answer. She and Nicholas seemed to share an understanding; he would not judge her. Would he? In for a penny… “I became pregnant with the babe of my betrothed.”

Mary had a child? Nicholas was shocked. Many women had nurses raise their children for them, but Mary – she gave of herself to everyone around her, he could not imagine that she would not stay with her own child. “Where is the child now?”

“I had an accident and lost the baby.” Mary took in a sharp breath, stopping abruptly. For some reason she just could not bring herself to say the words that made up the next part of the story – that she was on her way to abort the pregnancy. Go on. Tell him. Shocked at her cowardice, Mary continued, “Everyone in my family’s circle knew of my disgrace and that was enough for my father to cast me out. I was lucky to find a position with the Countess of Shrewsbury’s daughter, Frances Pierrepont.”
Nicholas nodded as he took in the information. It was generous of the Pierreponts to take her in given the possibility of scandal. He knew Henry Pierrepont from a distance, but remembered his wife, Frances better. She had left court before just Christmas, presumably to return to her county estate. She had been an anomaly at court and the courtiers had flocked around her. She had seemed, somehow, clean. Untarnished. Mary had that same sort of honest beauty. He trusted that Mistress Pierrepont was good enough to look past malicious gossip. “Will you return to her, then?”
“She was a pleasant mistress and became a good friend. Holme Pierrepont was almost a home to me. I do look forward to returning… but I hate knowing that I am branded both as Oxford’s lover and his attacker.” Mary paused for a breath and sat back down across from Nicholas. “This is what I had hoped to talk with you about. I will have to leave court after Twelfth Night. That means I have nine days to determine who stabbed Oxford in order to clear my name.”
Nicholas understood everything now. Her anxiety. Her energy. She was a woman on a mission. “Is this why you say you cannot marry?”

“Because of the pregnancy? My family?” What answer did he want? And what answer was she willing to give?
“Yes. Some men want a virgin – but then, some don’t care.” Nicholas paused for a moment, looking confused. “So, is this your reason?”

No. No it wasn’t. She wanted to cry and say it out loud, but she couldn’t. She never had said it to anyone. And Nicholas, this man she could have been happy with, how would he react if he knew she was a failure as a woman? That she could never give her husband the heir he required? That she should never marry. Mary swallowed her impulse and lied. “Yes.”

“Forgive me if I am impertinent, but that does not seem like much of a reason to me.”

Enough of this. “Will you help me?” Mary’s question hung in the air, demanding an answer.

Nicholas sighed to himself. “Of course I will help you.” He just wished the victim had been anyone but Oxford.



Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Muses Have Spoken



I am inspired! It's amazing. I knew the premise of my 3rd Courtly book, but, in watching my DVR recording of 'So You Think You Can Dance,' one of my least favorite dancers inspired me. There was this moment, when he had the girl clutched around the waist, trapped. She planted her feet on his thighs and pushed away. He struggled to hold. She was over him. Escaping. It was awesome.

So, watch out Jane! I knew you were going to meet your childhood sweetheart. I knew you had grown so much beyond him. I did not realize what a struggle it was going to be and how he would fight to hold you to who you were. You've grown -- you're different now. If you are going to reconnect with him, he'll have to accept that.

Very excited right now. I know, I'm only 1/2 through the 2nd Courtly book, but I'm thinking about you, Jane. Your time will come.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Editorial Topiary

I snipped. I cut. I reworded. I downsized. I shaped. I deleted. I added to make up for the new gaps. In the end I did not have a topiary dinosaur -- I had a much shorter novel.

Courtly Love went from a 98,214 word ms into 89,949 word count. Blood, sweat, and tears, let me tell you. It was gruesome.

I chucked the new prologue I had just written. I downsized and combined chapters 1 and 2 into one chapter. For this I used the helpful critiques I won (I won something! W00t!) from Creepy Query Girl's query spoof competition. I downplayed a minor character that had gotten too much face time, but I liked her.

As much as I hated doing all this, it probably was the step that was needed to clear up the question on whether Courtly Love is historical fiction or historical romance or chick lit. I think it is much more clearly historical romance.

Of course, I'm keeping a copy of my 98k ms. I haven't decided which version to send out to agents in future queries.

Kensington Brava (one of the few publishers that accepts unrepresented queries) is having their Writing With The Stars contest. You submit your ms, synopsis, and a cover letter and, after rounds of judging, they will pick 10 finalists from the entries to work with 10 of their published authors in a mentor capacity. Could be great. Could suck. Who knows?

The contest does require exclusivity. You can still query agents, but if one does pick you up, they cannot query other publishers during the span of the contest. The contest does not promise a publishing contract, but it has some good perks. And it's another way to get my book out there. I recently had a publisher request my ms -- but I don't expect that to go anywhere (My husband acts as my marketer so that I can focus on writing. I don't know why he sent to them, because after he told me they wanted more, I read their faq page. My book is too long, too steamy, and too too for their guidelines. They did read my query, so I'm surprised they request the ms.)

Okay, at this point I'm babbling, so I'll sign off and get back to Courtly Christmas.


Addendum:
I chose not to enter this contest. One of the editors I queried just requested my ms -- so I'll see where that takes me. The whole point of the contest, for me, was to get my ms read , and that's happening (happy dance!). I figured I'd post this blog anyway to share the info about the contest. Plus, my blog, in general, is about the process -- and this was part of the process. Wish me luck!
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