Historical Romance Writing for 2021

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be having a video chat with my contemporary romance writing partner, Melva Michaelian, about getting Drama King to the first draft finish line. January is for a fun new co-written project and a revamp of our joint website, then moving on to the discovery draft of Queen of Hearts. I am looking forward to all of that, and also looking forward in 2021 to getting back to writing historical romance.

I will admit to a certain amount of trepidation about getting back into Her Last First Kiss after so long away, but the last year wreaked havoc on the writing life and life in general. I know I am not the only writer to go through this. I am also very much looking forward to getting Bern and Ruby to their Happily Ever After at last, even if there may be a slight detour along the way. Part and parcel of being a historical romance writer, which I very much still am.

Thanks to the year in which my historical romance is set, there are only three ways I can get my hero and heroine legally married. Option one is an absolute no-go. Options two and three are both possible, and I did have a preference, which I thought was the only choice, but…maybe it’s not? This is one of the reasons I am on the search for historical romance writing buddies to brainstorm/critique. Maybe this will mean joining something like the Hearts Through History online organization. That sounds like a lot of fun. If I am not moving forward in a work where I want to move forward, that means there is a block in the way, and I need to know what that block is, in order to find a way around it.

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

Her Last First Kiss is, at present a standalone. That’s the format I prefer, but the market does not at present share my preference. Which is okay. A Heart Most Errant is headed to an editor in 2021, the first of a projected trilogy, with maybe a short story to round things out. Plunder will be the start of a generational trilogy (my favorite form of series) and dealing with one of my favorite tropes: pirates. This got me thinking that it might be fun to plan on a few mini series all themed around certain tropes or settings. I don’t know if I have it in me to write Regency, Victorian, or western, but I am totally here for other tropes like highwaymen, maybe Highlanders, Restoration, Tudor, Stuart, etc. I wouldn’t totally hate it if there were an overarching family or two. We’ll see how that goes. Also a bunch of Georgian standalones that maybe could connect, or there could be a Georgian standalone series? :shrug:

One of the best things to come out of my You Tube binge of 2020 was a statement from one favorite You Tuber, the phrase “when I was writing the script for this video…” I don’t remember which You Tuber, but that got me excited. Writing. The. Script. Writing. I had a brand new spiral bound notebook with heavyweight paper and a bucket full of ballpoints, which now live on the kitchen table. There’s something about writing everything down in rough form first – blog entries as well as fiction.

How much of a difference does it make? Actually, a lot. That kind of surprises me, and kind of doesn’t. I am using the heck out of the margins, in a different color from the text, as a note to self to look for notes to self, etc. Is it some kind of magic? Well, no, but I think it’s going to make going forward and keeping a regular blogging schedule – here, on MelvaandAnna.com and on Buried Under Romance, which is also going through a 2021 overhaul.. It’s also an added impetus to keep searching in the storage unit for my AlphaSmart or procuring a new one, as well as looking into testing out some speech to text, because that feels like it might make things get from brain to screen all the quicker.

2020 has been a flaming dumpster fire roller coaster ride, and there are no gaurantees about 2021 being better, but it is looking pretty good, and these are all things that I can control.

Typing With Wet Paws: Second Week of September Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. Usually, Aunt Anna helps m out with the snappy tittles, but she had a rough anxiety week, so I will cut her a little slack. Do not worry; Nurse Storm is on the case, with my patented paws-on brand of purr-apy. That kind of makes up for the anxiety I caused her by chewing through her CPU’s power cord last week. I did not get zapped, which is good, but I am no longer allowed behind the computer, which is bad (according to me.)

Moving along…and speaking of moving, that is what is taking up a lot of Aunt Anna’s brain at the moment. Things went well with the apartment th Aunts saw, and the property manager likes them, so things went to the next level. That level is applications and deposit, and the property manager said to call him for something called a walk through. I like the sound of that.

Aunt Anna’s Goodreads reading challenge has been holding steady at six books ahead of schedule, That big lead from earlier comes in very handy in times like these. She does have a list of books she wants to read, and TV/Movies she would like to watch, when things are a bit calmer. Since both reading and watching are sedentary activities, I am all for them. I will try and sneak in a purr-apy session or two. I’m clever like that.

Anyway, the stats look like this: Aunt Anna has read sixty-eight out of ninety books, which puts her at seventy-six percent of the way to her goal. Not too shabby, especially in the midst of all the chaos going on.

For those wondering about Buried Under Romance, Saturday discussion is back, baby, and keep an eye out for new reviews, bound to make many TBRs get all that longer.

Aunts Anna and Melva’s favorite one-year-old

Hard to believe it’s been a year since these two crazy kids were unleashed on the world. For those thirsty for the next Love by the Book story, Aunts Anna and Melva have been chugging ever closer to Jack and Kelly’s HEA. After that, time for Heather and Rob in book number three.

Aunt Anna’s figure-out-historical-romance-stuff notebook
(and extra paper because she will need extra paper)

As for historical progress, Aunt Anna found one interesting thing about her manuscripts that are complete and/or near enough to completion to count as such. Most of her stories fall into the following three time periods:

  • Medieval
  • Georgian (up to 1799)
  • English Civil War & Restoration

This doesn’t mean she isn’t interested in writing other eras, because she is (she will be all over the Tudor era someday) but for now, that’s a concentration that’s too strong to ignore. Apart from the medievals, and the pirate trilogy, the others aren’t directly connected, but — could they be? Is similar time period a strong enough connection for you as a reader?

zzzzzzzzzzzz…..

I already covered the most important me part with the stuff about the computer cord. I am not too pleased that I am no longer allowed to sit behind Aunt Anna’s computer, but they are getting me some new toys to make up for it, so I guess I still win. You can see how fitfully I sleep over this. Guess that’s about it for now, and there is a sunbeam calling my name, so say it with me…

Headbonks!

Typing With Wet Paws: Hello, September Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. A lot has happened in the last year, s Uncle Rheuben and the Aunts are coming up on what they call their homelessversary, marking one year since they left their last apartment. they are planning on marking the occasion by putting in applications on a new apartment, and we are all pretty excited about that. Only a little more than a month after that, they celebrate an even more auspcious ocasion, the anniversary of the day they got ME. I am pushing for a photo retrospective for that one, because, well, look at me. I’m gorgeous.

Aunt Anna is looking forward to putting down some roots in a new apartment, and her work hours are pretty easy to figure out – the days when both Uncle Rheuben and Aunt Linda are off at their day jobs. This lines up pretty nicely with some fun new opportunities Aunt Anna found out about from Dragonblade Publishing, aka

The Write Stuff

Aunt Anna is pretty excited about Dragonblade looking for new writers, because A) she is a writer of historical romance, B ) Dragonblade is her dream boutique publisher, and C) Dragonblade looks like the place for innovative historical romance with an old school flair, suited for the modern reader, and Aunt Anna is all about all of that. She’s going to be up against a lot of talent, but she’s actually inspired by that. This may or may not also be giving her some of the same adrenaline rush she usually gets by proxy from watching So You Think You Can Dance. She hopes that show will be back next summer.

Drama King

Funny how this writing thing works with writers. Aunt Anna is firmly back in the saddle with this one, and quite happily back at work in earnest. It’s not too long to HEA for Kelly and Jack, and then it’s time for Aunt Anna and Aunt Melva to send it to their editor to see if she likes it. After that, they start on their next book, which they are calling Queen of Hearts.

Buried Under Romance

It’s been a rough year over there, because real life has been a trip, but Aunt Anna is still super excited to get back to making the blog the best it can be. What sort of content would you like to see on a blog focused on historical romance? Blog tours are great, but what else? Author visits? Excertps? Lists of staff emembers’ favorites?

Goodreads

Aunt Anna is back on track for reading as well, which surprises even her, but that’s how it works. One day, the desire is just back and there it is. As of now, she is still an impressive six books ahead of schedule, andmay even overtake herself in not too much time at all. Among her current reads are:

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Bookish and the Beast -Ashley Poston
Once Upon a Con, #3

and

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Angel’s Fall -Kimberly Cates
Culloden’s Fire #2

Aunt Anna has the next book in that series all queued up after she finishes this one, and then the next one after that, which is actually the first one (don’t ask me, I just work here) are all ready to go. She’s not back at watching TV/Movies yet, but she is making a list of stuff to watch when she does have the brain for it. I, of course, will be there to assist her by sitting on her and motor purring louder than the speakers. It’s what I do.

Discord

A quick reminder that Aunt Anna’s Lion and Thistle Discord server is up and running, for discussion of all things historical romance related, writing, reading, or anything else. If you’re interested, you can find her on Discord at Snowbound Mermaid #5234.

Now we come to the important part, the part about me. We are entering into uncharted territory, because I have never been with this family during a September before, so I do not have a baseline for the whole September experience. We will see how that goes. The notes Big Sister Skye left say that Aunt Anna gets her super powers back sometimes during September, and I can definitelys see traces of that. She’s got an extra spring in her step these days, though some of that could be from the possible apartment-age or looking down the barrel of a really funcompetition (Dragonblade) and actually having her writing mojo back. All in all, I guess that’s okay. As long as she is still there for cuddles and belly rubs. I absolutely require my belly rubs.

Headbonks!

Summer of Love Standout Standalones

Many thanks to all who responded to my last post on a blogging deep dive on some favorite romance series. I had so much fun with that post and the feedback, that my first thought was, “why stop there?” So, I won’t. My first and fiercest love in historical romance (or any fiction) is the standalone. One story, one book, that’s all she/he/they wrote. There’s something special about closing the cover on a book that doesn’t have companion volumes, and letting my own mind fill in the happily ever after, waving our lovers off into the sunset and on with the rest of their lives. Once upon a time, that was the norm. Right now, series drive the market. What will come next? Who knows? What doesn’t change, however, is the power of a great story, . If it’s full and complete in itself, well, for me, all the better, so I want to take you on a tour of some of my very favorites. Since standalone books are naturally shorter than entire series, I am sharing five examples instead of only three, for your consideration. Once again, in no particular order:

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The Wind and the Sea, Marsha Canham

Nobody, but nobody swashes the buckle like Marsha Canham, and I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw this cover in person, and knew I had to have this book. I will always look at a pirate story, and if it’s a female pirate, that book Is on my shelf of its own free will. Add in a Barbary Coast (North Africa) setting, the US Navy (set in 1806) and the big, thick doorstopper size I prefer for books of this nature, this is an adventure for the ages. Canham has other seafaring stories (among others) both series and standalones, but for this particular project, this gets the nod.

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A Woman of Passion, Virginia Henley

Far and away my favorite Henley standalone (though there are a couple I still need to read, so favorite standalone presumptive?) Straddling the line between historical romance and historical fiction, the heroine, Bess, is based on the historical figure, Elizabeth Hardwick. No, she’s not the “Elizabeth” in the Elizabethan era, in which this is set (Elizabeth Tudor, AKA HRH Elizabeth I, is) but man oh man does she have a life. Or should that be men, oh men, because Bess doesn’t marry just once but four times. But is it still a romance? There have been discussions, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves…or read along with me and let’s talk it out.

Can’t get enough of Tudor-era romance? I know I can’t (remember when that used to be a thing? Who wants to help bring that back?) Love shipwreck stories? How about love on a deserted island? No, not Gilligan’s. This is the tale of Lily Christian, who grew up on such an island after a shipwreck stranded her small family, and Valentine Whitelaw (one of my favorite romance hero names ever) the courtier tasked with bringing her home. Lily is smart, strong, resilient and resourceful, Valentine is a man of his time, and there is intrigue aplenty, unmaskign the true reason behind the accident that changed Lily’s life forever. This also has one of my top three romance endings ever.

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Broken Wing, Judith James

Those with small children may want to occupy the kiddos in another room for this one because hecking fluff, doe James ever go there. Where exactly is “there?” Oh sweet summer child. Let me tell you about this book. Gabriel St. Croix is the last person who would consider himself a hero. He has lived and worked (yep, doing exactly what you think, his clients not restricted to one gender) most of his life in a brothel. He’s thisclose to finally being free of that living hell, when a young boy arrives to become his replacement, and, well, Gabriel can’t let that happen. If he stays on, will the boy remain untouched? Yes. Okay, then. That’s not all, though. His reason for staying is about to be ripped away from him, as Sarah Munroe, the boy’s sister, has finally found him, and will be taking him home. Not only that, but Gabriel can come, too. Culture shock? To say the least. Sarah is unconventional herself, and when these two wounded souls meet, the click together to form an incredible romance. Yes, there is an HEA.

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Tapestry, Karen Ranney

Laura cannot imagine ever not loving Alex, not from since she was a little girl, and certainly not after he returns home from the war so scarred that he shuts himself away and wears a leather mask to shield himself and his scars, both physical and mental/emotional, from the rest of the world. But Laura isn’t the rest of the world. She is a take charge heroine who is not going to let a little thing like that stop her from rescuing Alex from himself. If that means putting aside her identity as a daughter of the nobility to sign on as the new housekeeper so she can get close to him, well that’s what she’s going to do. Her job isn’t easy, either, and this is an extremely emotional read…which is one of the reasons it’s on this list. I am sorry to say that the author, Karen Ranney, passed away recently, so a reread of this feels both timely and bittersweet.

So there you have it, five standout standalone historical romance novels that I would love to deep dive into with all of you. Which one catches your fancy? Drop suggestions in the comments, or message me at annacbowling@gmail.com or come join the Lion and Thistle group on Facebook, and tell me your favorites.

Anna

Summer of Love (Stories)

Back before the whole vagabonding thing began, I had planned a Skye-athalon. I would re-read not only my all time favorite historical romance novel, Skye O’Malley, by Bertrice Small,

Always. :sigh:

but the entire two series that flowed from it, first to last, top to bottom, no interruptions, and blog about the whole darned thing. From Tudor era Br4itish Isles to the high seas, Northern Africa, and back again, up through the Restoration that followed England’s Civil War, this is an epic. I love epics. That’s no surprise.

Ah, notebook, we will meet again one day

I was super hyped for that, bought a special notebook and washi tape to keep all my notes in, picked a dedicated pen, and even had the namesake of my favorite novel, Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling, the kitty, not the book, to cheer me on while I read the book, not the kitty.

Fur-ever the queen.

Then life happened. Then it happened again. Then it turned into a dumpster fire, and while all my O’Malley books are safely in storage, my O’Malley books are in storage, so getting to them and the notebook and washi would take some doing, but I still like the idea, so why not do a similar thing with a different series by a different author? That, I can definitely do.

This means I am now in one of the fun parts (spoiler: they are all the fun parts) and that’s picking which series I want to read and share with all of you. I love watching deep dives and readthroughs on BookTube, and t his may indeed be a natural way to jump back into video blogging.

While most of such vlogs I’ve seen are dedicated to some of the brightest stars of today (Julia Quinn, Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, et al) I would love to bring that treatment to some of the grand dames of historical romance, some of which may actually be new to newer readers of the genre. Since I am still vagabonding, I cannot, unfortunately, do this with actual physical books, but that also opens up the whole wide world of the e-reader, and all of Kindle Unlimited is at my disposal. If this works out well, I’ll want to do the same thing with an indie author’s work, and see where things go from there.

So. Which books? Here are a few peeks at my shortlist of possibilities:

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The DeMonteforte Brothers – Danelle Harmon

5.5 books, including novellas, Georgian England. 1770s. aka what the British were doing during the American War For Independence.

Gather the Stars (Culloden's Fire #1)
Culloden’s Fire
Kimberly Cates

5 books. This series is also called the Jacobites, which should give a clue as to the setting, but there are also a few surprises. British Isles

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Fire series
Anita Mills

Also 5 books (I am seeing a trend here) and this one’s medieval, and follows more than one generation.

These days, my cheering section looks like this:

#calicolovestorm

and I am still much more likely to do a thing if I have told the internet I am going to do it, so here we go. I will be reading/listening to all books on my Kindle Fire, through Kindle Unlimited. Shoutout to Lisa at Buried Under Romance for telling me about text to speech so every book can be an audiobook. This will greatly help, as I have found listening to historical romance while playing Sims 4 is my sweet spot.

Which of the three above would you most like to see me cover?

Anna

Romance, Buried Under

Due to technical difficulties on the Buried Under Romance site, I am posting the pictures from my discovery of a vintage book stash here. For the story behind the pictures, please visit Buried Under Romance for my latest Saturday Discussion post, here. These are some, but not all of the books Storm mentioned in yesterday’s Typing With Wet Paws.

Fair warning, these pictures were taken in basement lighting with a Kindle Fire, but that hardly matters because…books!

high angst and romance in Georgian England
Bartlett, Kamada, Dorn Hart, Burgess, Jenkins

These were the best pictures of the bunch, but there were plenty more books in that box, so more pictures forthcoming.

Typing With Wet Paws: Social Distancing Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. Nobody is sick over here, but we are doing the weekend in New England thing again (well, end of weekend and start of week) thing, which is de facto social isolation, or, as I call it, being an indoor cat. Which is what I do every day. Being an indoor cat, that is. Another good thing about being at Chez Grandmere for a few days is that there is no interwebs, so Aunt Anna has more time to pay attention to me. She thinks she’s still going to be writing even offline, but we will see how that turns out. I suspect the chances for feline paralysis is high. The feline, of course, being me. Ah, the belly rubs.

The writing news here is that Aunt Anna sent out her first historical romance submission of 2020, A Heart Most Errant. She is not sure whether the fact that it is set in the wake of the plague in medieval England has anything to do with current events, but she needed to get something out on submission, and she’s been doing her research, and it was time to pull the trigger, so to speak. She will probably make another placeholder image that better fits the mood of John and Aline’s story, but this will do for now. If you like medieval romance, road stories, and books where the history directly impacts the romance, stay tuned for news on this one.

Here is a fun fact. When Aunt Anna was first writing this book, her writer friend from way back, Miss V, said she imagined the hero, John DeWarre, as The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson. Aunt Anna did not agree. (She does think he’s a talented performer, though, and seems like a nice human) She told Miss V that if Miss V put The Rock forward One More Time, as a physical manifestation of John, Aunt Anna, who normally does not “cast” her books, was going to base the hero’s looks after Colin Firth. Miss V learned not to try Aunt Anna on this kind of thing. Aunt Anna wants me to remind you all that she means more like from the Fever Pitch era, not his current age. He’s grumpy and crusty and stuck with an extroverted optimist, out on the open road, because he needs the work.

Aunt Anna also doesn’t normally think in linked books, but she does think that Guy, John’s friend, a fake monk and plague survivor, has potential. What medieval romance tropes do you like? Aunt Anna wants to know. Inspiration is always a good thing.

Also a good thing is reading, which Aunt Anna continues to kick tush in doing. For her Goodreads challenge, she currently has thirty six out of ninety books read, halfway through month number four. She is already forty percent of the way to her goal, which is making pretty good time. Only takes one hand to belly rub me, if I and pressed up against her, so that’s one more hand to hold a book or tablet. If she listens to an audiobook or text to speech, then she can cuddle me with both hands and not need any for holding books. Plus I can listen, too.

Still working on the picture situation on Buried Under Romance, but there are reviews coming, and also interviews, If you are a historical romance author who would like to drop by, let me or Aunt Anna know, and she will make it happen. This also coincides with the Historical Romance Readathon, which is pretty good timing, because social distancing does not mean social media distancing, and Aunt Anna is well supplied with books. This runs March 16-22, there is a bingo board (click the link to get yours) There is also a group read that Aunt Anna plans to join if she can, with Johanna Lindsey’s Hearts Aflame, the second book in her Hadraad Viking trilogy.

It’s this one, and yes, she will also read the first and third because she is a completist.

If this works out well, Aunt Anna is considering her own challenge, so stay tuned in case you like reading challenges. She will post her TBR list as she figures that out. Well, both of them. She likes lists, so more lists are better.

In most important news, I have redeemed myself from last week’s hiding in the recliner brouhaha. This time, when it was time to leave Chez Grandmere, the humans couldn’t find me again, but this time it was because I had already put myself in the adventure cave. I was even taking a nap when they found me. How’s that for making it easy on the hoomans? I didn’t even wake up until Aunt Anna picked up my adventure cave and carried it to the door. I was a Very Good Girl for the whole trip back to NY.

I think that’s it, though Aunt Anna is going to try and get a “walking away” picture for my signoff, since you readers liked Skye’s so much, and you need a good look at the way my tail comes out of a big spot on my butt. Also, I have done some growing up since that first picture.

Headbonks!

Yeah, pictures being wonky, so enjoy this greatest hits pictre.

Let’s Call It Market Research

Only me today, but Storm insisted on being in the picture. Such is life with a beautiful calico girl. She has a thing for the Happy Planner paper. If it’s open, she must sit on it. Must. Even, and perhaps especially when I am opening the planner or notebooks to do Important Writer Things.

Very important Writer Things in this case, mean taking a look into the future, and making a road map to get me from where I am, to where I want to be. Real Life Romance Hero is on the new apartment case. As much as I love the perks of motel life (and there are some, housekeeping most of all) we are all more than ready to put down roots and settle into a real home once more. That will bring regular writing with it (yes, yes, I know, that can happen any time, any place, but it’s a heck of a lot easier when some of the basic things are more reliably covered) and I would like to have an idea of how that will look.

Which is what brought me to the open notebook that Storm claimed for her own. Okay, any paper is hers, but this paper is a clear favorite, above all. The notebooks I had open today were two dedicated solely to writing life stuff. One, not pictured, is for mapping out the current historical and contemporary projects, and a place to record potential future stuff, because the day will come, probably sooner than I think, when I’m going to have to start a new document and begin writing a new book.

In today’s market, that is more likely new books, plural. Series sell. They’re not how I naturally think for my solo work, but I’ve hit a vein of “yeah, but what if I tried it anyway?” and riff on some stuff that might be interesting to try at some unspecified time in the future. There’s a freedom in that kind of thing. No commitments as of yet, current work is still on track, and these particular pages are a place to ask myself what might be fun, how I might like to stretch, or if, maybe, it’s time to let ideas that have been in my head for years or even decades (yikes!) out for a meander.

This dovetails rather nicely with my determination to come from behind on my Goodreads challenge, targeting historical romance novellas (bonus if they are Christmas related) via Kindle Unlimited (because economical measures are win) means that I get to see stories I might not have found if I didn’t have this particular goal. Time travels for instance. Not a lot on the brick and mortar shelves (at least where romance fiction is concerned, but checking on the e-book front? Alive and well, from what I can see. Not saying if this means there is life in my own personal time travel (firmly on the back burner, until I figure out how many ten pound cats I was trying to fit into that particular two pound bag.) but definitely food for thought.

I found myself wanting to make note of this book and that, scribble down names of authors who look like they might have something I’d like. I’m seeing a lot of variety there, medieval, Vikings, pirates, Highlanders, ancient world, etc, along with nineteenth century stories, looser interpretations of the series concept, including shared worlds, and…I like it. This bears some study, and some recording of the study, so expect to see some of that here in the coming weeks and months.

This exploration excites me. It’s what I’ve always loved, and it’s something new. There’s an energy there. What if, instead of thinking about perfectly polished prose and getting everything “right,” I looked at what would be fun? What would I like to do a whole lot of, and train myself to write (to completion) faster? I look forward to finding out.

See you next time!

Writing Notebook: Discovery Draft

In college, I studied early childhood education. The most important thing I learned in four years was that early childhood education and I were a horrible, horrible match. Hence several years in retail and family caregiving. All the while, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: write.

I had known that I wanted to write historical romance since I was eleven years old. More accurately, that was when I found out what it was called. I am pretty sure I was hardwired for this right out of the gate. I would not at all be surprised were I to find out my biological mother loved historical romance. Maybe we’d even have some of the same favorite books. I wrote my first historical romance, very much a pastiche of the author who first captured my attention in this genre, but that’s how we learn, right? By copying the masters when we first start?

When I was twenty=three, I submitted that first book, and got my first rejection. I was also dealing with some raging, undiagnosed depression and anxiety, so I didn’t notice the important bit about that rejection- the editor asked me if I had anything else. At the time, I did not, so that was the end of that, right? Wrong. Depression got much, much worse, real life sucked, and there were time that I thought I would never be able to write the stories I loved with all of my writerly heart. That’s when I discovered Star Trek: The Next Generation.

With absolutely no idea of what I was doing, I started writing first humor, then fan fiction, for a newsletter and fanzine. I wrote. A lot. I made friends, talented writers all, with whom I am still friends, and still a fan of, today. Even then, I described my fanfics as “historical romance with blinkies,” blinkies being a term for any futuristic equipment that had blinking lights.

I wrote and sold four historical romances after that, and even my first co-written contemporary, Chasing Prince Charming, is set in the world of historical romance, so do we see a trend here? What’s stayed the same all that time? Yeah.

When Melva and I meet, via Skype or Messenger, each week, we set out plans for what the next week should hold. Who’s writing what, if there’s anything we need to set up for the other, etc. We know we are heading to the end of draft one for Drama King, and getting the idea soup stock started for Queen of Hearts. We want to write a summer novella, and a trio of Christmas stories, and that’s probably a good 2020 for the two of us.

I want to get a similar plan in place for my historicals. I have been admiring prolific authors of late, many of whom are self-published/indie, and putting out the kinds of books they love the very, very best. That’s where I want to be. I don’t know, yet, if I want to self publish. Part of me thinks it would be an interesting experience, and part of me does not want to crunch any numbers in the outlay department, but there’s plenty of time to deal with that. What’s most important is that I get historical romance novels written and finished, before I can sell or publish them anywhere.

The how of that? Well, that’s where the whole discovery draft of a writing notebook comes into play. What do I need to get from where I am, to where I want to be? Flying into the mist with that one, and I look forward to sharing that process here. The first step? This is it, putting it out there. Next step? Setting up the actual notebook. Throw ink on paper and see what happens when I do.

See you next time

Writing While Packing, and other stories

Yesterday, I emptied the kitchen cabinets of all foodstuffs we do not intend on A) eating in the next week, or B) taking with us to the new place. Today, we view our first potential apartment. Yesterday, Housemate and I drove past it. It’s a gorgeous neighborhood, as Mr. N requested, close to Panera, where I meet with N every Tuesday. It’s near my beloved park, that I have missed over the past year, and on the same street where my delightful acquaintance, D, lives. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a step in the right direction.

That means that, on days like this, when both Real Life Romance Hero and Housemate are at their places of employment, I get to go into full Domestic Warrior Queen mode, which, when combined with Planner Woman mode, is both satisfying and effective. This does not mean that there is no writing going on, because A) this whole “eat the elephant one bite at a time” thing applies to both writing and packing, and B) both processes go a lot faster and more smoothly when I am listening to my story playlists, with songs that keep my story hamster happily running on her wheel, no matter what my physical body might be doing.

I am not sure, yet, what the electronics situation will be when we blow this popsicle stand. A lot of that will depend on when we turn in our router, and our move-in date for our next place, whatever its location. Laptop (in need of repair) set up desktop if we are going to be in a hotel for half a month. Third option, tablet, AlphaSmart, and good old notebooks. Who are we kidding, the notebooks are coming anyway.

One thing that is markedly easier in this move (besides mental health) is that packing books is a heck of a lot easier. With the exception of a few volumes for RLRH, all of the books in our current abode are electronic. They all fit in my (and Housemate’s) purse. The others are all still in storage, and will be unpacked in the new apartment. There are times when I want to pet my physical books, pop in and revisit favorite books, authors, and characters. The ability to do that whenever I want is a big perk of the upcoming change of address. Putting my all-time favorite historical romance novels in the bookshelves my father made for toddler me will be a big indicator that we have indeed landed.

Writing, during this move, is a vert different experience than with the last one. This time, it’s not just the idea of writing, but the actual act of it. I want to get my time at the keyboard or with pen and pencil. My plotting board (big cardboard tri-fold) was a victim of the infestation, but that only means I get to pick up a new one once we are settled, or, more likely, more than one> Melva and I are agreed we are beginning the home stretch of Drama King, and it’s time to start sketching out Queen of Hearts. After that, we want to work on a collection of Christmas novellas, outside of the Love By The Book (LBTB) world.

For my solo historicals, I am chomping at the bit to get to the end of the second draft for Her Last First Kiss, and to hop back on my discovery draft of Plunder. As to finding homes for My Outcast Heart, Orphans in the Storm, and A Heart Most Errant, that will be put on pause until the moving dust has settled, but that’s still happening. The waiting room in my head is getting crowded, with all those characters demanding I tell their stories. I’d tell them to take a seat and wait, but this isn’t my first rodeo, so figuring out the best way to get those stories told is a necessity.

They (ah, the mysterious they) say that necessity is the mother of invention, and, as I go about packing our home and my writing (and art/planning) I have to agree with them. Whether it’s a place to put this oddly shaped thing, do we really need this or that, or it’s better to junk XYZ and get a new one when we have settled, the best thing to do is make a decision and move forward.

So that’s where we are right now. Putting stuff in boxes and bags, then storage unit or set aside for the truck, looking at apartments, and planning on what gets written when. All in all, it’s pretty good deal. Maybe the bedbugs did us a favor after all.