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.

You're welcome to share this post with your friends and random strangers.

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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.

On sale now in ebook and paperback from and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

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

Thursday, 7 July 2016

PimpMyBio part II - Pimping the Pitch

Okay, so my previous #PimpMyBio was more about me as the author.

Here's more about my book:

Title: Of The Dark
Genre: Adult Otherworld Fantasy (with strong Romance-style plot elements)
Status: Finished and ready to rumble

I just had to say how much I love my Fantasy story Of The Dark. I really hope I can convince a mentor and maybe the right agent to fall in love with it as much as I am so we can find an editor who’ll love it and get it published so the whole reading world can have another great book to love and share and fan-fic and cosplay and give me a good reason to go to more conventions and meet other fellow book-lovers.

But most of all, I wrote this story full of love and angst and frustration and growth so that somewhere someone else will read it. I hope that a book of mine can, for a few hours, make someone happy. That’s why I write.

Does my book start in the right place? Of course it does! It starts the moment Our Heroine does something that draws the attention of Our Anti-Hero. Immediately things go SNAFU and that's what makes a book so much fun.

We got a country lass, a journeywoman healer called Adrastea who actually likes her job and her family. Unlike her poor mother, she's respected by the village because Adrastea’s got mad doctorin’ skillz. She’s good at that because she sees how things fit together, how they work.

She sees the lines that connect the universe together, but never gave it much thought because she never realised that few other people could see them as well.  One day when she’s got to locate something in the cellar where it's dim, she sees the lines connecting to the object she’s got to find. They look so solid, she wonders if she can touch them.

Ba-da-bing, she can! Level up for discovering useful skill. Minus XP for not ever realising it in twenty-plus years. (Meanwhile, the GM cackles madly, because Adrastea's touching of these lines Has Consequenses. Everyone roll 2D10 against Luck.)

So, not five minutes later, she’s called upon for a bit of help. Some kid’s fallen in a water tank and the rescue’s going pretty bad. He’ll need some serious doctorin’ if he makes it out alive.  Scene’s some mad chaos as lots of people try to rescue this kid without any form of organised plan. Panic can do that.

One thing she notices is the local priestess attempting to pull on the lines that keep the tank together. She’s not strong enough, so Adrastea steps in to help, 'cause that's what she does. Helpful lass is helpful.

Success is a matter of a point of view. Water tank comes apart, kid gets rescued, everyone’s covered in mud. Priestess is horrified because there was a chance this day would come, and she hoped it wouldn't. This portends bad things afoot. She tells Adrastea to hie thee hence to the sacred spring and go for a wash. No askin’ politely, no explanations why.

Adrastea, bemused, heads off.

But it’s a long way to the sacred spring, so she just stops by the local creek to de-mud-ify herself.

But she’s not alone. Mor-Lath, God of the Dark, appears. The moment she touched those lines, he knew who she was and where. He’s been looking for her for a long time.

Mor-Lath wants a bride. Adrastea’s just the one. It's not so much a proposal, as a tellin' her the way things are going to be.

Adrastea freaks out and runs away. She tells her mother (because sometimes a grown up girl still needs her momma), her aunt and the village priestess.

Everyone's rather concerned about this and keep it hush-hush. After all, he's the Dark One, who haunts all their ghost stories, the one who drags all sinful souls down to purgatory. Also, this village worships the rival god, so there's a bit of the whole Conflict of Interest thing going on. If anyone else finds out about this, we're talking some awkward moments at the next Village Council meeting.

Then someone realises that despite his rather forceful wording, the Dark God's proposal isn't the be-all-and-end-all it seems. Adrastea has a choice. He can't coerce her. He needs her to accept his proposal willingly.

Does she want to become the Dark God's wife?

Her answer is no. Very much no. Her immortal soul is in peril.

(You didn't think it would be that easy, though, did you?)

Okay, so the story isn't told in that voice. It's more the gently unobtrusive "I Are Serius Fantasy" voice. I've passed this novel through my workshop and even had a freelance editor give it a once-over to ensure I haven't made any Really Stupid Mistakes with it (I hope). I've plotted this tightly, I've done my best to give the characters roundness and life and hope I've tied up all the loose ends that needed tying.

While there are strong Romantic elements in the plotline, I don't know if I would call this a Romance, and I'm not pitching it as such. But the plotline is all about their tumultuous courtship and whether or not Adrastea can deny the God of the Dark his Bride. Sometimes when two people come together, it's not so cut-and-dried that they'll end up together--or if they should.

This story might please readers who thought Bella Swan needed more backbone.

Since we win over the hearts of mentors with the strength of our novel, I'm hoping Of The Dark hits the spot for someone.

Friday, 1 July 2016

First Sentence Friday - Her Endearing Young Charms Chapter 1

Donna's really good book.
I've been inspired by Donna Everhart, author of "The Education of Dixie Dupree", who's been posting the first sentence of each chapter of Dixie Dupree on her blog. Normally I'm not into Women's Fiction, but Dixie Dupree sounds really interesting, full of voice and character.

So I thought I'd do the same for Her Endearing Young Charms.

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter One: As she watched her brother George snooze, Merrybelle Hales wished she had a grease pencil.

And if I remember, I may also remember to tweet this. If I don't, feel free to tweet it for me.

On sale now in ebook and paperback from and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

Her Grace loves a good opening line.