Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Next Big Thing

The very lovely Synithia Williams tagged me in this fun game. Fortuitously, too, as I was wondering what the heck to blog about today. Here are some questions and my answers about The Next Big Thing, aka my upcoming release, Once a Duchess (I'm trying to develop a proper novelist ego.).

What is the working title of your book?
Once a Duchess
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea came about after I read several historical romance novels that flirted with the idea of divorce. The hero threatens the heroine with it, or he mopingly agrees to grant her the divorce she demands, or what have you. Of course, Happily Ever After swoops in to save the day before a divorce happens. I wondered, what if these people who are perfect for one another did divorce? Could they find their way back together again?
What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Romance, Regency.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Gosh, I don't know! *runs off to imdb* 
OK, for the role of Isabelle, I'm thinking Sophia Myles, with a little Portia de Rossi mixed in. It's my fantasy; I can blend actresses if I want to. A picture of Sophia Myles in period costume can be seen here.
For my hero, Marshall, maybe Richard Armitage, North and South edition. Rawr!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Uh-huh. Fascinating. No, really, do go on.
After a scandalous divorce destroys her reputation, Isabelle fights her way back to respectability and wins a second chance at love.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be published by Crimson Romance on October 15! Get your download finger ready!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About a year.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I haven't seen another story quite like mine in the Regency genre -- which is a good thing! Writing-wise, my style is in the neighborhood with Jo Beverley. I feel kinda uppity saying that. Jo, I'm not worthy (So much for that ego...)!
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
As I said above, I was inspired by the ideas prompted by other novels. I was driven to explore the idea of divorce during a time in which it was rare and hugely scandalous.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My heroine, Isabelle, is a marvelous cook. She isn't afraid to use her culinary skills to work for a living, despite her genteel upbringing. Different, non?
Also, hot sex.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Regency Holiday: Lake District

We've all grown a little weary of sand in our bikini bottoms and bug spray landing in our mouths. The new school year is just around the corner. Summer is winding down, and so, too, is our tour of Regency travel destinations.

I have one last trip in store for you this year, and it's a great one. Rally yourself and grab your sunglasses and a canoe; we're going to the Lake District!

The Lake District is located in northwest England. It's a region of mountains (or 'fells') and valleys, strewn with several dozen bodies of water, with their attendant rivers, streams, and falls. This area is the wettest part of England, receiving about 80 inches of rain per year. Fog is also common around the hills. In fact, the sun only shines a few hours per day, on average. So, what made it a popular Regency destination? Take a peek:

Picturesque as hell!

The Lake District wasn't as rustic as Scotland, but offered great fishing opportunities for the angler who couldn't venture north of the border. Hikes and rambles were popular. Getting out on the water in a rowboat or sailboat was a fine way to see some sights. During the Regency, there was also a great passion for sketching. Drawing was one of the accomplishments de rigeur for young ladies, so most women spent at least part of their Lake District vacation practicing their use of perspective. Sketching a favorite vista also provided a way to commemorate one's trip in a time before cameras. Poets and artists flocked to the Lake District to drink in the inspiring majesty of nature.

Seriously! So. Freaking. Quaint. I can't even stand it.
We must recall that in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Continent was aflame with war. Travel abroad was not only prohibitively expensive for many, it just wasn't safe, either. The Prince Regent -- that man of refined, sophisticated, worldly tastes -- never so much as crossed the English Channel (Though we've seen how he tried to bring a little bit of the outside world to his Royal Pavilion in Brighton.). His country was either penned in by, or involved in, war for most of his lifetime. It was quite out of the question for the heir to the British throne to risk his safety for a sightseeing tour of Paris.

The Prince and other wanderlust-afflicted Englishmen and -women therefore had to look within their own borders for travel destinations. 

Their rest stops might seem fancier than ours, but trust me,
skip the ladies' room and just head behind a tree.
In 1778, a Jesuit priest named Thomas West published A Guide to the Lakes, perhaps the first tourist guide ever produced. In his book, West describes the best viewpoints within the Lake District from which visitors could appreciate the landscape. Stations were built in several of these places to facilitate the aforementioned landscape appreciation. The Lake District of England was, then, one of the first locations deliberately cultivated for tourism. And Regency-era Englishfolk were the first generation to grow up with a love of hitting the road and seeing the sights within their own country, just for the pleasure of it.

I hope you've enjoyed this Regency Holiday series. I certainly had a great time learning more about these historical travel destinations to share with you. I didn't quite get to every stop I wanted to make, so hopefully we can take another jaunt next year. Enjoy the rest of your summer, Bluestockings!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ask the Expert

Today, I escorted Miss Boyce to the school in which she is enrolled for kindergarten. While she became acquainted with her teacher and toured the classroom, I spent quality time crammed into a chair sized for a third grader, filling out forms and chatting with the assistant teacher (We'll call her AT, because I love acronyms [Acronyms are distinguished from initialisms because they are pronounced like a word, whereas an initialism is not. NASA is an acronym; FBI is an initialism. Here ends today's grammar lesson.].).

In between detailing transportation arrangements and emergency contacts, AT asked where I work. I told her I work from home. She asked what kind of work I do. "I'm a novelist," I answered.

Her eyes went wide and round. "Really?" she asked breathlessly. "That's... that's my dream. That's what I always wanted to do. How did you do it? What do you write? What kind of training did you have to get? I mean... how did you do that?"

Previously, my sole area of expertise was how to spend all weekend
in one spot, reading. Progress!
At first I was kind of stunned by her reaction. The questions just kept pouring out of her mouth before I could even answer one. The impression she gave was like she'd just tripped over a treasure trove by uncovering my occupation.

AT (I've decided AT is an initialism. "A - T" flows better than "at" with its awkward stop. Adjust your brain-voice accordingly.) wanted to know how I learned to write a novel. She asked how I knew where to submit my work. She wondered about rejection letters, and how an author gets paid. AT had lots and lots of questions.

And I was able to answer them all.

I wouldn't dream of styling myself any kind of actual expert on writing or publishing, but it was gratifying to realize I had good, accurate information to share with someone who wanted to hear it.When I was new to the novel writing thing, I asked all the same questions AT asked me today. I soaked up answers from wherever I could find them, and I was so grateful when authors were willing to share their knowledge.

This conversation kind of gave me a sense of coming full circle. Just as I'm moving to the next stage in my writing journey, I was able to help someone still at the starting line. As I continue to grow my career and develop my craft, I hope to become more useful to the writing community at large.