Friday, 29 July 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 5

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Five: "I will have my  locket back now," Merrybelle demanded.

Winter has been very cold here. Can't wait for Kambarang.

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Her Grace dreams of summer warmth.

Friday, 22 July 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 4

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Four: Merrybelle was of two minds about the Coming-Out ball of Lady Jane Windermere.

Quick quiz: Coffee, tea or chocolate?

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Her Grace prefers chocolate.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

#Pitchwars Wish List... Land of Broken Dreams?

#PimpMyBio part III?

So the Mentors' #PitchWars Wish List just came out, giving us all an insight into what the Mentors are looking for in a Mentee's project.

When the List of Mentors first came out, I raided it for possibilities. Made a list. Then the interviews came out and I read those with fervor, tweaking my list of potential Mentors. Things were looking good! How on earth would I narrow the list down to six (ne'ermind four)?

Then the Wish List came out... and that was like a bucket of ice.

Me trying to see if my novel will fit someone's wish list.
So I'm hopping blogs, collecting Easter Egg letters and I'm holding up wishlists like a teenage girl gone clothes shopping, and nothing seems to fit just right. That's...

We all know this corner of our dark, wounded souls.
I don't have 21st Century Diversity, I don't portray LGBT relationships, I don't even have sex scenes. I don't do Contemporary. I'm not a Contempo author. I'm a solution-dyed Genre author. My specialty is escapism.

It does, however, pass the Bechdel-Wallace test.

The first strike against me: I've got a blended genre book. Of The Dark has elements from both Fantasy and Romance. I can't call it an outright Romance because the pattern doesn't quite fit. (It's got some definite Women's Fiction themes if that helps (like a woman finding herself and making her own choices in life), but no way one could classify this WF. The other genre elements are too strong.)

If I had to pick just one genre, I'd call it outright Fantasy. I could see it on the Fantasy shelves in the bookstore and a dragon sticker on its spine in the library.  We have a dark, brooding god with the spirits of the dead to do his bidding and a sentient universe full of magic. We have priestesses who can touch that magic and an impending war to disrupt everyone's lives. We have Our Heroine who is perfectly happy to live out the rest of her life in her little country town despite a new-found talent. She's not afraid to tell Our (Anti)Hero to FO.

Could an SFF Mentor help me with this? Very likely. But...

Why isn't this just a straight-up Fantasy? Because the main plot is Our (Anti)Hero trying to convince Our Heroine to marry him. The whole storyline is a Romance trope. We're not talking a subplot of two characters finding comfort amid the darkness of Life. We're not talking character-development kissyface. The whole entire novel is Man Seeks Wife. That sort of thing can turn off a non-Romance reader. (I see several other modern people out there giving me side-eye as well.)
W H Y  he wants her as his bride?
That's what makes it interesting.
Would a Romance Mentor be able to help me with this novel? Absolutely. They'd get the interplay between the two main characters. They'd understand Our (Anti)Hero's drive, his Alpha-ness, and maybe appreciate his determination.  Also, they might get Our Heroine's difficult choices. Our (Anti)Hero desperately needs something from her, but he can't take it from her. She can only give it willingly. And frankly, she doesn't see any reason to cooperate. (Though they may understand why her heart aches, and why she may be tempted sometimes.)

But there's elements that might cause a true-blue Romance fangirl to have second thoughts:

Our (Anti)Hero is not above killing people.
He is not above playing manipulative games.
He [spoilers] later, which is a big No-No in Romance.
This book does not end on an HEA.

These elements are perfectly fine in a Fantasy, almost expected. But Romance? This is not your mother's Mills&Boon.

I've spent a lot of time on character development, and not just on Our Heroine and Our (Anti)Hero.

Our Heroine lives in a village. She's got family, she's a journeyman in her trade (with a mistress/mentor), everyone has their own lives and challenges and issues, and everyone's influenced by everyone else. Someone makes a choice, it's gonna have an impact on others. Events interplay and the ripples are felt throughout the community. I believe this makes for a deep, riveting story. I've had good feedback from CPs and BRs.

This is not a simple book.

Another strike against me: It's not a standalone novel. It's the first novel in a completed trilogy. That alone might make Mentors/Agents/Editors shake their heads.
Readers, OTOH, might adore it.
No, I can't make it a standalone. Yes, the plot arc within the book is complete, but it is part of an even bigger plot arc. I do not want to compromise that uberplot for the sake of a single novel.

I'm afraid this will work against me.

I look at my tepid wet washcloth of a query letter and my straightforward and nuance-free synopsis and wonder how on earth I am going to convince a Mentor to give this book a chance? I have doubts my voice isn't 'fresh' enough to hook The Right Person's attention.

Yet I want to give this a go.


Because I love this book so much. I want to read it over and over and over. Whatever the fate of this book, I will get a print copy of this to keep on my bedside table. I'll read it until it's in tatters. Then I'll get another copy.  I've written other books and I quite enjoy them. But this one is The Book that makes my heart sing.

This book has the possibility of making others happy as well. I want them to lose themselves in a rich Fantasy world. Let them sigh over the bittersweet Romance. Give them a chance to escape reality (which, frankly, can suck).

I believe commercial publishing will give Of The Dark the best chance of reaching many of those readers who want to read a book like this.

I believe it's got the potential. Convincing others of this? That's the rub.

Her Grace wants a Mentor.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Love triangles? How square.

Had a conversation over the weekend with a fellow reader discussing the books we enjoyed and what we didn't enjoy,

We love Romance for the HEA. What we didn't like was love triangles.

I do not like love triangles. Not at all.

I believe love triangles work anathema to the goal of HEA. If it's a true love triangle, somewhere, someone's gonna lose.

You've got Our Heroine and she's in love with two guys, Our Hero 1 and Our Hero 2. Both blokes are painted as decent fellows and it's really difficult for her (and the reader) to choose. Unless it's the kind of book where polyamory is the goal, eventually she has to go with one over the other.

Yay for Our Hero 1, if she goes that way.  May they live happily ever after.

But what about Our Hero 2? What does he get for all his effort?  He loses. He does not get the girl, he does not get his HEA. The author's gone to all this trouble to paint this really decent character, one who is worthy of loving and being loved and then shafts him. I think that a tragedy and dreadfully unfair.

So what about a false love triangle?  Our Heroine is in love with two guys, Our Hero and Dastardly Bastard. We, the readers, know that Dastardly Bastard is dastardly. We know he's no good and he's gonna break our heroine's heart. Yet she's still in love with him.

We hates this too, we does. We look at Our Heroine and sadly shake our heads. What on earth is she thinking, falling in love with Dastardly Bastard? He's a jerk! If she's so besottedly blind as to not see what he's up to, Our Heroine loses some respect from us.

Okay, there's the possibility of DB playing Our Heroine, fooling her, pulling the wool over her eyes, and we'll forgive her for that. We've all been played by Dastardly Bastard at one time or another.

But as a book [should be] the story of Our Heroine's personal growth, part of that is her coming to the realisation that Dastardly Bastard is dastardly and to get the hell outta Dodge, the sooner, the better.

I confess we do love it when she comes to her senses and goes, "These boots were made for walking."  No woman should put up with crap from a man if she doesn't have to.

All in all, the whole love triangle thing? Not my cuppa. I don't wanna see the perfectly good Our Hero 2 get his heart broken, and I don't wanna see Our Heroine spend too much time mooning over Dastardly Bastard.

Her Grace has seen too many good people lost in the battles between Team Edward and Team Jacob.

Friday, 15 July 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 3

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Three: Last night hadn't gone as well as Merrybelle wanted.

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Her Grace has a six-year-old's superhero birthday party to go to tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Why Romance?


Fellow Romance author Brighton Walsh was asked, "Why do you write Romance?"

This is her excellent answer.

For me, it's a message of optimism and hope for the human race. It's the promise of possibilities and success. It's the dream of the Happily Ever After (HEA).

That's why I read it, that's why I write it.

Her Grace is a eternal idealist with escapist tendencies.

Friday, 8 July 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Chapter 2

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Two: At the Boar's Head Inn, a guttering tallow candle lit the dingy back room.

People have been saying nice things about HEYC. Feel free to add your honest review as well.

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Her Grace is glad the Financial Year is over, but still has to file her taxes.