Monday, 28 July 2014

True Love

Last week I received my galleys for my next project, FOR RICHER, FOR POORER, out later from The Wild Rose Press.

By the time you get to galley stage, you've read this manuscript dozens, if not hundreds of times. By the time I'd gotten to the final round of edits, I was feeling pretty sick of the book.

Then the galley arrived. Last chance to fix mistakes and make any final edits. My stomach whined at the thought of having to read FRFP One. More. Time. (actually, twice; once forward, once backwards).

But as I began to read, I realised this was the last time I would read the ms before it was published.

As I read, I kept my eye open not only for grammar neeps and name misspellings, but also for plot and character. When I read through, I read it as if I was seeing it for the first time. I read it as the story I'd originally envisioned.

I fell in love with it again.

I finished my edits and sent my notes back to my editor with a cheerful heart, because I knew I'd completed a good story.

The world may love it, or the world may hate it. But for now, I absolutely love this story! I am not ashamed--nay, I am very proud to have this beautiful little tale out for the world to enjoy.

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Her Grace eagerly awaits the finals of the cover art and publication date so she can share the love.

Friday, 25 July 2014

My Regency Romance with Magic: Her Endearing Young Charms

Another born-in-November NaNoNovel.

Miss Merribelle Hales spent years imbuing a silver locket with man-attracting charms. On her way to her first London Season, her locket is stolen--along with a kiss--by a highwayman. Her only clue to his identity: a pair of intense eyes. Without her best charm, how will she ever be able to compete on the Marriage Mart?

Lord Alexander Rochester has worries aplenty. His ailing father's contested estates are woefully in debt, so he must seek a wealthy wife. His courtship of Miss Hales goes terribly awry with a simple kiss that leads to his slapped face and an accusation of theft.

It's a case of mistaken identity. Alexander knows and fears the real culprit. He faces the loss of his father, his estate and the lady he loves at hands of the Handkiss Highwayman.


I love Our Heroine of this novel, the Honourable Miss Merrybelle Hales. She's got attitude and a few flaws. She's not afraid to speak her mind from time to time. Sometimes her sense of self-togetherness is threatened by fear, but very rarely does she give in to that fear.

Actually, I love several of the characters of this sweet little Regency Romance with Magic. Merrybelle's brother George is a standout. Some of his dialogue is among my favourite lines.

Lord Alexander, Our Hero, has a heavy weight on his shoulders, and it shows. Poor lad. He's a lot more fun when he's not being crushed by Hard Knocks.

I love how there's magic, but it doesn't totally dominate the worldbuilding. It sits on juuust this side of plausible.

After Of The Dark, this has to be my favourite novel.

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Her Grace, of all the Romance genres, loves Regency Romance the best, possibly because of the presence of a comedy of manners.

Friday, 18 July 2014

My Novel Known as Aunt Sophie

Christian Nauck could do the graphic novel.
Everyone needs a crazy aunt who can drag them into adventure. For Denise Fagmilia-and-Paterfamilias, that's her Aunt Sophie.

When her mother Madre dies, apparently of illness, Denise Fagmilia is sold into indentured servitude. This is dreadfully unfair, and rather illegal, as Denise does have a living father. Somewhere.

"IF you had a father," she's told, "He wouldn't want you. You have no Talent."  It's true. In all her twelve years, Denise hasn't shown a single scrap of magical Talent.

Before she is sold on, her Aunt Sophie comes to rescue her. Aunt Sophie also brings with her the suspicion that Madre might have been murdered.  In her grief, Denise discovers she does have a talent.She can scry the dead.

As an epidemic sweeps the kingdom and political factions threaten civil war, Aunt Sophie takes Denise from the streets of Hometown to the Palace and audience with the King himself. With her Talent discovered, lots of people want Denise.

Sophie agrees with Denise on one vital thing; Denise needs to be reunited with her father, albeit for reasons other than what Denise believes.  Denise simply wants a family. But Aunt Sophie knows that Denise will help stop a civil war--or start one.

TNKAAS is a NaNoWriMo novel with magic and steampunky flavour. It's sit quite nicely on the shelf next to some Scott Westerfield.

I wrote the first half in a November, and then finished the draft some time after that.  Right now it feels like a YA, but I don't know if I want it to be a YA. It's a little too heavy for a MG. Some readers balk at the thought of an adult novel with a child protagonist. And for further thought, who's the true protag? Sophie or Denise? The novel is from Denise's POV, but Aunt Sophie is very much the mover and shaker here.  I'll have to do another draft and see if I can change the mood.

A note: When I'm drafting something, I'm terrible with names. Completely terrible. I can't even come up with a title. So terrible, I'll concoct these rich, round characters with histories and baggage and goals and dreams, but I can't tell you their name.  Aunt Sophie and her partner Mathu are the only ones in this series who have proper names. Everyone else is named with placeholders.  That's why the two families are called Fagmilia and Paterfamilias.  Even Denise's name is a punnic placeholder.  Eventually I'll source names when I need to. Until then, this is what they're called.

_______________________
Her Grace is happy to let this one age for a while. But it does have potential, if written the right way.

Paring Down

In my writing I tend to edit out all the "unnecessary" stuff, the too-much detail, the unnecessary subplot, anything that slows down the pace, or bores the reader, etc.

The other day I was trying to tidy up a scene that dragged, and I couldn't do it.  I knew I had to cut stuff out, but I couldn't let go.

In frustration, I shut my laptop and looked about my office.

No wonder I was having trouble writing. My office was full of junk. (How'd that get in there?)

I'd become lazy and over-attached. I'd forgotten my own rules regarding stuff justifying its purpose.

Rules for Keeping Stuff

  1. Do I have an actual, planned, scheduled use for it? (note, this is NOT asking, "is this item useful?". Because everything is useful to someone, somewhere. Sometimes we assign a value to something because we recognise that it can be useful... somehow, to someone, somewhere.) The question is, do I plan on using it? If not, out it goes.
  2. Is that planned use going to be within six months (or one year, if it's a seasonal item, like a Christmas tree)?  If not, out it goes.  Some things I've actually calendared in my phone, and have placed a dated label on that item. Once the deadline passes, either I get off my lazy butt and use the item, or I find it a new home.
  3. Exception to the rule: Does this item have Great Personal Value?  (ie, the newspapers from the days my children were born, or my great-grandmother's china figurine.) If so, I may keep it, as long as I have a proper storage place for it, like an archive box, or a special shelf for my keepables.  If I find you have too many items of GPV, you may wish to revisit what qualifies as GPV.

For those of you with a streak of Hoarder in your soul, it can hurt to throw something potentially useful out. If an item truly has a use, somewhere, someone will want it. Sell it on eBay, list in in Gumtree, give it away on Freecycle.

Also, if I have difficulty giving something up, even *gasp* throwing it away, before it leaves my hands, I give it a kiss, thank it for its service, and then free it to the world.

So, once I realised that my physical junk was gravitationally holding on to my intellectual junk, I had a bit of a clean-out. I've got four bags of stuff to either sell/give away, and I've got several items up for auction on eBay.

I have some writing time coming up on Saturday. Now that my office is clean, I'm going to see if it makes a difference to my scene.

______________________
Her Grace loves the idea of minimalism, but finds it difficult to adhere to its principles. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Patience

I'll bet Giorgio Vasari waited it out.
A lot of an author's life involves waiting.  We work hard writing a piece, then we send it out to others.

Then we wait.

And wait.

Currently, I've got a novella awaiting cover art. I've got pages sitting in an agentry queue. I've got a plethora of short stories warming some editor's desk. I'm hoping to hear back from crit partners and beta readers. I'm waiting for a certain editor at a certain magazine to open submissions so I can submit.

For the most part, I don't mind waiting much. It's all about the Hope.While a piece is out there, it carries with it the possibility that it'll be accepted, that someone will love it as much as I do. Every time I send out a sub, it carries with it the chance that it'll sell.

It's the same hope that comes with a lottery ticket. People don't buy lottery tickets for the wins.They buy the lottery tickets for the hope of winning. That's the real prize (except when you win. Then you get money as well).

So yeah. I sit and wait and focus on the hope and the possibilities it suggests. I have to focus on that, because so many, many times I get a lovely little alas-o-gram back from an editor saying that they're not buying this piece, because it's not right for them. Alas. Rejection is a common part of the game, one you grow used to (though never like).

It's not all bad. I think these editors suspect how much I like hope, because many of them send back a little bit of it: "However," they say, "we like your style. Please send us more stories."

And so I do, winging one their way with its little payload of hope.

__________________________
Her Grace is kept alive by hope. And very yummy food.

Friday, 11 July 2014

My Novel with Two Endings: House of the Dark

During my four years of BIC (butt-in-chair) gonna-be-pro writing focus, I wrote House of the Dark.

A decade ago I'd toyed with a couple of scenes, playing with a few ideas.  However, once I'd completely written Bride of the Dark, I threw those scenes out and started again from scratch.

So glad I did. It's a much, much stronger novel because of it.

The original outline called for one particular ending. But when I wrote this draft, I changed the ending. Then I thought, maybe I should write the original ending as well?

So now I've got this novel with two eucatastrophic endings, both wrenching in their own way. Then I thought, which ending made me cry more?  Which one had me bawling as I wrote it?   

That ending is the one I pitch with. It's a beautiful, bittersweet ending. Honestly, I wept for days.

Am hoping my beta-readers also cry for days. (Earlier plot neeps have already kept one up half-the night.  Sorry, Jen.)

You know, I would absolutely love to tell you about this novel. I really would, I love the plot, I love the characters. This is the novel I've been aching to write since the very beginning of my career.  But it's so chock full of spoilers.

I completely believe in the whole Of The Dark trilogy. I do believe it will be published.

This novel also settled to me, irrevocably, that I must be an author. I cannot be any other thing unless I am first an author.

I hope y'all get a chance to read it--  No, wait.  You all will get a chance to read it. One way or another, this will be published.  I believe in these books so much.

I've written other novels and then happily trunked them without a further thought.  But these won't let me go.

Availability will simply be a matter of time.

______________________________
Her Grace would love to write another series as powerful as Of The Dark. But this series will always be her first love.

Friday, 4 July 2014

My first published Novella: "As Good As Gold" (The Enchanted Faerie)

Is a novella a novel, only really small, or is it a short story with pretensions?  I'll leave that up to you.

I found myself wasting spending quite a few years focusing on short stories, non-fiction articles and other small projects.  I'd forgotten novels, somewhat.  I'm sorry that it took me so long to get back to writing novels, but I'm not sorry for what I learned as a writer of shorts.

Long-story-short, a handful of us who'd been published in a serial magazine that flopped after a few issues decided to get together and do a "serial novel" (or is it an anthology with the stories tied together? Again, up to you).

We came up with a theme, a setting, a connecting character and an idea: if a young maiden seeks love and can lay her hands on a hundred pieces of gold, she can rent a magical fairy from a gypsy woman, that will help her find that true love.  Each author (there were six of us), were given a character and told to write a story.

I got Daywen Athalia; I wrote "As Good As Gold".  We pitched it to The Wild Rose Press, and they took it on. They published it hardcopy and ebook, and for the next five years we got paid royalties every quarter.

My story got good reviews.  For that, I was pleased.  I'd done a good job.

Recently, The Wild Rose Press published my story as a standalone ebook. Go buy, either from Amazon, or directly from The Wild Rose Press website.  Leave a review.

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Her Grace is happy to have finally published something longer than a short.  Some day, she hopes to publish a long, preferably by some random penguin.