Another week, another blog entry, and the challenge I’ve set for myseslf today is that I can’t work on Her Last First Kiss, until I post this blog entry. Absolutely no idea what to put here, but tomorrow is breakfast with N, and I want to discuss a couple of things, which means I have to write a couple of things, so I’d better get on with this one.
This morning, I sent in a piece for Heroes and Heartbreakers, about Joanna Shupe’s latest entry in the Knickerbocker Club series, Baron. When I first heard there was going to be a series of historical romances set in New York’s Gilded Age, I literally cheered, and the three stories I have read in that world so far have not let me down. I’m now working on another piece, about the Knickerbockers series as a whole, and looking forward to having that to share soon.
Ten days ago, I noticed a new feature on Sandra Schwab’s illustrator Facebook page (she is also the author of one of my all time favorite gothic romances, Castle of the Wolf. Always count the gargoyles. Always. My desk has two.) – a contest for a free heroine portrait. At first, I thought, “wow, that would be cool,” scrolled past, and then scrolled right back, because we miss one hundred percent of the shots we don’t take. I typed a description of the qualities that make Heroine special to me, and hit send before I could talk myself out of it. (I am very good at talking myself out of things like this.) Back to work, business as usual, looking forward to reading about everyone else’s heroines. I have always been a heroine-centric reader and writer, so of course I want to hear about what other writers are doing with their heroines.
Imagine my surprise, later, when my direct message box pops up, with the notification that I won. :Blink: Did I read that right? :blink: Okay, I did. :blink: Oh good gracious, now I have to talk about her. I have to say her name. Well, technically, I already did, and that gave me some nervous tingles, because it’s not like there’s some super secret character naming cabal, and Hero and Heroine’s names aren’t super weird (I hope) or super boring (I hope) but I’ve been guarding them, because they’re part of this whole book baby, and I want to do right by it. By them. I did the only logical thing. Shut the window and paid very close attention to Doing Something Else. I am also very good at Doing Something Else.
Doing Something Else, in this case, lasted only so long before the part of me that screams “Ronkonkoma,” while running down the metaphorical pier at top speed, to cannonball into the water, kicked into gear. My cannonball, in this case, was to look at the information Sandra needed for the portrait, attach a reference picture I’ve been using when I need to describe Heroine, and hit “send.” There. Done. Now Do Other Things.
Fast forward to a few days later, when my direct message box pops up again, and my breath caught at the image beneath Sandra’s “How’s this?” Oh hey, Heroine, there you are. Her face was perfect, the colors exactly right, she had her pistol, and it was her. I’d know her anywhere. Heroine. I knew exactly the point in the story this would have been, and I actually shivered. I couldn’t wait to share her with everybo….wait a minute. There’s her name. On her picture. If I put this out there, everybody will know. Doom will fall. Doooooooooooooom. Writer people, you may identify with some of this.
I took a moment to regroup. 1) since this manuscript’s ultimate destination is publication, that means that I’m going to have to put Heroine’s name out there sometime. Nobody writes “Hero” and “Heroine” throughout the entire book. People are going to know her name. 2) it’s only her first name, and it’s the name she actually uses, not the name that would be on an official document, and yes, the actually used name is indeed a period appropriate pet form of the formal name, so the history police are going to have to shush on that one. 3) this is overthinking and we are cutting down on the overthinkings.
Toward that end, Ronkonkoma:
That’s her. That’s Ruby. Heroine. Part of the prize is the ability to use the image as a teaser, so that’s the next thing, selecting a short passage to go along with the image. That will mean I’ll have a teaser to share here. To show writer friends and readers. To put on the Coming Soon page (which needs some serious updating anyway.) I can’t back out if it’s there. If it’s real. The Ronkonkoma part of me already has plans to commission a Hero portrait (hey, baby steps) because they’re a pair, the two of them, and Heroine has good aim. I do not want to be on her bad side.
So. The picture is there. The next draft is in progress. I know where I’m going, how I’m getting there, and what happens along the way. This is not only back on the horse, but once around the ring, moving forward. It’s real. Of course, it always was. The fact that the stories and characters who populate them exist in our heads doesn’t mean they aren’t real. This only means that, now, other people know it’s real. Small change, but a big one all the same.