Shh, I’m writing a romance

Another week has come and gone way too fast.  Sometimes I think that I’ve blinked and missed it but when I look back at my diary – I’ve been really busy. I did edits on three historical romances, critiqued some really great work from my writing sisters, and created another blog.

You’re probably wondering why I need another blog. I mean, despite my good intentions, I occasionally miss blog days here right. Well it’s not just my blog. My writing sisters have decided that we would like to blog together on one site so I’ve spent the latter half of this week setting up a pretty blogspot blog for us.

As you can imagine, there has been a huge amount of messages zinging between us all but the main subject was not related to the actual blog address, appearance, or content. No it was who got what title. Within our crit group we have affectionately nicknamed a few of our members and there has been great debate over rank. I kid you not, the competition was fierce. Me, I’m Viscountess Wicked, and there was an actual battle for Lady Crack Ho, but since we all like to be use period appropriate names that one was tossed aside.

Our plan with the blog is to create a site that can offer something more than the average blog – writer feedback.

With Friday night creeping up on me I think I might go grab a book, a glass of wine, and relax. Hope you’ve had a great week. What are your plans for Friday Night?

Characters that surprise

I’m not a regular viewer of the British TV series TORCHWOOD but this week I was glued. Why? Well, aside from spotting James Marsden (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) taking a turn as Captain John Hart, I happened to turn on at an interesting spot where I found characters that surprised me.

I could see a fight was coming – Captain Hart was drinking alone at a bar and then Captain Jack (the shows hero) comes through the bar doors. It had all the hallmarks of the westerns I endured as a kid. Except – the hero and villain kissed, and then they had the fight.

torchwood 1     torchwood 2     Characters that surprise

That was definitely not what I expected to happen and the novelty of being surprised kept me glued for the remaining episode (apologies to the RWA Friday Night chatters). Even now, that scene has me grinning and I realise that the stories I love the most have complex characters acting outside the norm.

We all want to surprise our readers but can you think of the last book you read, or wrote, where a character did something that really threw you?

The last story I read that totally surprised me was an upcoming release from Jerrica Knight Catania, For the love of a Viscount, where the hero asked the wrong question. I think I yelled at him. *grin*

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Building Character

My son played soccer this weekend. Not really an uncommon event but it was interesting game. I was particularly interested in how the boys interacted. They sport builds character.

One boy has a habit of stealing the ball away from his own team members. Not really a nice trait in a player but I don’t think he means it. His focus is totally on the ball and the other kids seem to let it slide.

Another child, a frequent goal scorer, I heard him mutter “too easy” when he scored his third goal of the match. Yeah, I agree, his reaction is slightly scary but I’m hoping he’ll grow out of it. He’s a really sweet kid.

My son is not a consistent player and is easily distracted. Yet yesterday he was on fire, his best game of the year, but unfortunately the last of the season. He scored! And his reaction – the biggest, brightest smile I’ve ever seen on his face. Plus two thumbs up!

What I’ve been thinking about is how differently the boys react. How far will the traits they have now change as they age? What type of partner will grow to love them?

I know, at age seven, I might be getting a bit ahead of myself, but when we develop characters to write about, the experiences of childhood affect how they react to situations too.

How far back into your characters past do you imagine when crafting your story?

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Information overload – Reboot required.

As you can see, I made it back from the Romance Writers of America conference.  The flight was as expected, I didn’t sleep but since I was on the Qantas Airbus, I was pretty comfortable and very well entertained.  Half a season of True Blood, 3 movies and I started learning to play bridge.  What more could a sleepless girl want? But I’m dealing with with a total information overload.

The conference was awesome.  The Marriott Wardman in Washington was such a pretty venue, but large.   I did get lost a couple of times. LOL. It’s so hard to pick a favourite presenter or even a favourite session, so I’ll name three.

Sex Throughout History with Delilah Marvelle – if you can catch this author presenting its well worth attending just for the slide show.

The Birth and Feeding of a Series Story Arc with Claudia Dain, Sabrina Jeffries, and Deb Marlowe – should be essential to a romance writers education.

The Setting as Character with Jade Lee – OMG what a funny and great session. I learned heaps from this author.

As with any conference there is so much to take in that there comes a time when its too much. You guessed it ‘conference flu’ hit hard once I was on home soil. Did I worry that it might be serious? You bet. But after two weeks I’m well again and planning to resume torturing myself with my early morning walks.

The best part of the trip was meeting my critique partners in the flesh. They are an amazing bunch of women, smart, funny and all very pretty. I think we will all look great on our future book covers!

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Washington here I come …

I’m as nervous as hell but I’m flying to America on Wednesday. Washington here I come! It’s my first long distance flight anywhere and I’m going alone. I’ve printed airport maps, jotted down directions and updated my phone with my itinerary. I’ve either remembered everything or its far too late at this point. The only bonus is that I should have a car waiting to take me from airport to hotel so I don’t get lost. Lets hope my luggage is as lucky (update: my luggage was briefly detained somewhere on the journey and arrived late at the hotel)

Let’s hope I’ve packed the right clothes. Australia is in the middle of winter and I’m told DC is hot and humid. Wish me luck and I will see you on the flipside.

Writing a historical requires research

Readers are clever people, they know what they like, and especially what they don’t. Some like danger and intrigue and some, like me, prefer things on the lighter side. I write what I most like to read: an escape from the present world and a good dose of hero and heroine attraction.

When I began reading historical romances, I had no idea what a barouche was. I did not know when gaslights were installed in London, and I knew nothing about King George III or his illness, other than what the writer told me. The more you read, however, the more you learn that sometimes works of fiction are not always correct and it should be.

The detail in a historical romance fascinates me but since I don’t live in England, and Australia doesn’t teach a great deal of English History, I have to find my own sources of information. All I can say is thank you, internet. So, in appreciation for the wonderful internet resources out there I am going to plug some of my favorite sources of information on the net.

Google books is brilliant.
It contains thousands of book titles and frequently, partial and full, PDF copies of older books (those out of copyright), from cover to cover. Each entry includes an ‘About this book’ page with basic bibliographic data like title, author, publication date, length and subject. You will be able to download, save and/or print a PDF version to read off-line.

For the historical romance writer, acquiring older works can be expensive and unless you live in the country you are writing about, copies can be hard to track down. With the internet at your fingers, you can find an answer to almost any question but be sure to double check your facts. You don’t want to make a mistake.

Homework for this edition:
Go to the Google books homepage, type in Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, and click search books. You should get a list, now qualify that you only want to show Full View Only and your list will shrink. The top few books should mention the author Francis Grose and list different publication dates. Click on the one you would most like to view and you will get a “Read this book” page. Just follow the arrows and leaf through the pages. It’s that easy.

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