Finishing the Book

Writing Weather

An author’s greatest joy (besides coming up with a strong idea for a story) is finishing the book. It may take only weeks or it may take months (or years!) but there is nothing so satisfying as coming to the conclusion of that first draft of a manuscript.

I have just finished a manuscript for a regency novel which will be published sometime in 2014. It’s a sequel to the first regency I’ve written in a while, Moonlight Masquerade, which will be published by Revell Books in March.

My Baby
My Baby with all its rough edges


This story, tentatively titled Duke by Default, took me to late spring and early summer 1815, right before the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars—Waterloo. The battle looms at the edges of my story. But mainly my story concerns the season in London, a bit of botanical gardens, and lost love and new found love.

Every writing journey begins with Chapter One…

After the initial euphoria of THE STORY IDEA the hard work of getting it written begins. Then comes the next phase, which I will shortly be undertaking: reading through that rough, ill-shapen, wordy thing called a first draft and making it into a diamond of the first water, to borrow some Regency parlance. This stage involves rewriting and reworking, checking up on all kinds of facts that I just skipped over in the first draft, deciding on names for a lot of the secondary characters which I left as blanks in the first stage.

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And ends with The End.

In a month’s time, hopefully this first draft will have transformed into a wonderful love story which will keep my reader on the edge of her seat, emotionally connected to my hero and heroine, and giving a deep sigh of satisfaction when reaching The End at the last page.

 

Barbara Cartland’s “Curse of the Clan” Set in 1822

100_8609Dame Barbara Cartland wrote over 723 books.  Known for setting her novels in the Victorian era, she was an exceptionally popular novelist, peaking in the 1970s.  (I remember my mother reading her novels.)  After recently picking up two Cartland books at a used book sale, I was pleasantly surprised to find  The Curse of the Clan (published in 1977) to be quite satisfying.

Imagine my further delight that the novel is set in 1822.  Set in the late “Regency” to be sure, the tale follows an orphan who is elevated to the title of Scottish Duchess.  Her fearsome, yet handsome husband marries her to gain revenge upon a neighboring clan who foisted an adulterous, now-dead, wife upon him.

The story boomed along with vivid action and upon reflection, would make an excellent movie, if historical films were popular. The scenes at the orphanage, a carriage accident (which affected the plot), a shooting attack, revelation of her true parentage, then the winning over of the husband…all would make for a delightful, picturesque movie.
I got a real kick out of finally trying a Cartland book, and wouldn’t hesitate to read more –especially if I can ferret out which were set in the early 1800s.

Have you read any of Barbara Cartland’s books? What do you think?

Christmas Regency fiction – Is there any? by Susan Karsten

Hi, all!

When the topic of Christmas and other holidays in regency genre books came up, I merely opened the hutch of my escritoire (regency for desk) and pulled out four collections (see below)

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These are not CBA (inspirational) fiction, but rather ABA (general market, not inspirational, and probably a little racy).

I hope our inspy Regency genre grows to the point where collections like the above will be highly sought-after and we will have a chance to have a chance for our faith-filled novella  to be published in such a collection.

What do you like best about Christmas-set fiction?

Please give an answer in a comment.

Susan Karsten

Tales from St. Louis ~ A Report on the ACFW Conference

View of over half the arch from Kristi's hotel room. Kristi here. I had the great pleasure of attending the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in St. Louis this weekend.

This was the view from my hotel window. Pretty cool.

Unfortunately, despite being spitting distance from the arch, I never actually made it over there. Oh well. It’s still pretty.

Meeting Some Familiar People

Kristi Hunter and Kristy Cameron at ACFW galaOne of the best thing about conference is meeting up with people you normally only “see” in cyberspace.

If you’ve been reading this blog long, you know “friend of the blog” Kristy Cameron. Something you might not have known is… the girl is tall. But I love that hair. That’s how I found her from across the room of 600 people.

I also ran into some of our favorite Regency authors.

Kristi Ann Hunter and Sarah LaddSarah Ladd was a finalist for the Carol in the debut novel category with her Regency The Heiress of Winterwood. 

The category was won by a contemporary book with Regency ties, Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley, in which a young lady channels Jane Austen’s characters to help her get through life. (Amazing book, I highly recommend it.)

Kristi Ann Hunter and Julie Klassen in Regency garbI also met up with Julie Klassen, looking amazing in her pink Regency ball gown. Julie was honored with the Mentor of the Year award at the gala.

As you can see, she’s another blonde that towers over me. If you ever have the honor of meeting her, think of something more witty to say than, “Wow, you’re tall.” I already took that one.

Kristi's Regency DressYes, I am also dressed in Regency era garb. My amazing and wonderful mother made me a dress for the genre dinner (where we got to dress up in time periods and characters). Now I’ll also have it for things like book signings or other events.

She even made me a matching shawl and reticule.

Mothers are awesome.

Upcoming Book News

Other than Sarah and Julie I didn’t see any of our other Regency authors this weekend. Julie has a new release in December, so keep watching for that.

I know many of our readers are expanding into the Edwardian era, in part because of Downton Abbey. This is a growing area in Christian fiction, so if that interests you be sure to check that out. I know I saw some titles set in Edwardian England from Carrie Turansky and heard of a series by Roseanna White coming out next year.

My Own Happy News

Kristi's Genesis award and ArchI also brought home my own special souvenir. Here is the Genesis award I was blessed to win with the beautiful arch as a background.

In case you’ve missed me making the announcement elsewhere, I’m happy to say you can pick up this award winning story for yourself next Fall when it comes out from Bethany House.

 

 

 

All in all it was a pretty amazing weekend. Were you an author able to go to the conference? Got a question about the weekend that I might could answer? Leave it in the comments.

Titles from my Favorite Regency Writer, by Susan Karsten

Hi, Regency fans! I got into reading regency fiction when my children were young. I needed something enjoyable, light, and clean to have on hand whenever I had a few spare minutes to read.

One day, at my library, I stumbled across a book from the House for the Season series, by Marion Chesney — the rest is history — regency era history. She’s still my favorite regency fiction author, and I only wish she still wrote in the genre. Following is a list of her prolific output (Enjoy!):

 

  • Regency Gold (1980)
  • Lady Margery’s Intrigue (1980)
  • The Constant Companion (1980)
  • Quadrille (1981)
  • My Lords, Ladies and Marjorie (1981)
  • The Ghost and Lady Alice (1982)
  • Love and Lady Lovelace (1982)
  • Duke’s Diamonds (1982)
  • The Flirt (1985)
  • At The Sign of the Golden Pineapple (1987)
  • Miss Davenport’s Christmas (1993)
  • The Chocolate Debutante (1998)

Westerby[edit]

  1. The Westerby Inheritance (1982)
  2. The Westerby Sisters (1982)

The Six Sisters[edit]

  1. Minerva (1983)
  2. The Taming of Annabelle (1983)
  3. Deirdre and Desire (1984)
  4. Daphne (1984)
  5. Diana the Huntress (1985)
  6. Frederica in Fashion (1985)

A House for the Season Series[edit]

  1. The Miser of Mayfair (1986)
  2. Plain Jane (1986)
  3. The Wicked Godmother (1987)
  4. Rake’s Progress (1987)
  5. The Adventuress (1987)
  6. Rainbird’s Revenge (1988)

The School for Manners[edit]

  1. Refining Felicity (1988)
  2. Perfecting Fiona (1989)
  3. Enlightening Delilah (1989)
  4. Finessing Clarissa (1989)
  5. Animating Maria (1990)
  6. Marrying Harriet (1990)

Waverley Women[edit]

  1. The First Rebellion (1989)
  2. Silken Bonds (1989)
  3. The Love Match (1989)

The Travelling Matchmaker[edit]

  1. Emily Goes to Exeter (1990)
  2. Belinda Goes to Bath (1991)
  3. Penelope Goes to Portsmouth (1991)
  4. Beatrice Goes to Brighton (1991)
  5. Deborah Goes to Dover (1992)
  6. Yvonne Goes to York (1992)

Poor relation[edit]

  1. Lady Fortescue Steps Out (1993)
  2. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime (1993) aka Miss Tonks Takes a Risk
  3. Mrs. Budley Falls From Grace (1993)
  4. Sir Philip’s Folly (1993)
  5. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue (1994)
  6. Back in Society (1994)

The Daughters of Mannerling[edit]

  1. The Banishment (1995)
  2. The Intrigue (1995)
  3. The Deception (1996)
  4. The Folly (1996)
  5. The Romance (1997)
  6. The Homecoming (1997)

PS: This is not Christian fiction, but is pretty clean.

Would love to hear from other Chesney fans in the comments. Fondly, Susan

Friendship and Folly – A Review

I discovered the most delightful regency romance the other day on Amazon. Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady, Book 1 of the Merriweather Chronicles.

Something that intrigued me from the first was the introduction, where the author explains how she found this manuscript in an old trunk of her grandmother’s, a trunk filled with old journals and manuscripts. She edited the most complete manuscript and has published it as “Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady.” Whether Meredith Allady is her real name, her grandmother’s, or a pseudonym–or pun (Meredith, A Lady?) matters not. Friendship and Folly

What I discovered when I began reading it is a wonderful story told in what I found is an extremely authentic Regency-style, which I why I think it truly is a discovery from someone’s old trunk and not a well-researched historical. There are allusions to historical events and things only someone who lived in the era (and those of us who have done a lot of regency-era research ourselves) are privy to.

The Christian-spiritual thread through the novel is also in keeping with someone writing from that era, very much like Jane Austen. People pray and quote Scripture in a very natural way. It shows how Bible-illiterate our generation has become. The most moving scene happens during the crisis/climax and is very much a Christian lesson.

The story also has the wit of Jane Austen.

If you go on Amazon, though, the author warns those who don’t enjoy Jane Austen or an old-fashioned writing style to please stay away. On Goodreads.com, she tells readers: “For all those readers who loathe the ‘epistolary’ style of narrative, Meredith tenders her heartfelt apologies; but there it is.”

I for one was caught up from page one of this regency story and am glad to see that there is a Book 2 in the Merriweather Chronicles.

Regency Reference Books

A Walk down Memory Lane

by Ruth Axtell

I was recently emptying out and cleaning a bookshelf, one that held my non-fiction. I realized that most of my reference books are books I’ve acquired over the years (decades) to aid me in researching whichever story I happen to be working on at the time. They are grouped by subject, so they are like a roadmap of my writing career.

Winter Is PastFor example, along half a shelf were books on Sephardic judiasm, judiasm in the first centuries A.D., synagogues across Europe, the formation of the Methodist church, and portraits of the great 18th century revival. These books cover the period when I researched and wrote my first-ever regency historical, Winter Is Past, a love story between a Sephardic Jew in London and a Methodist nurse. Talk about star-crossed lovers.

Another shelf has books on the history of the American sailing ship, piloting, seamanship, and small boat handling, for a historical romance I did about a wooden boatbuilder (Lilac Spring).

Getting back to regencies, here are some of my favorite reference books, which I collected The Dandyin those years preceding Google: Quacks, Fakes and Charlatans in Medicine (used primarily in researching The Healing Season, a story about a surgeon in regency times); Moers’ The Dandy (great resource for information on Beau Brummell and all those who aped him);  Colley’s Britons, for a general history of the nation; and The War of Wars, a very thorough history of the Napoleonic wars. The Streets of London from the Great Fire to the Great Stink is a detailed description of street life in regency London (which I also needed in writing The Healing Season). The London Encyclopedia, which I was fortunate to get used, is a wonderful resource on just about any geographic building and landmark in London and its environs. I used a 16th century mansion, Osterley Park, within a short train ride from the center of London, for the country estate of one of my characters in The Rogue’s Redemption. I was able to tour the place in person, but if I hadn’t, there it is listed in The London Encyclopedia, complete with a print of it on page 568.

London EncyclopediaFor a different kind of London residence, there’s a print and entry for the Millbank Penitentiary, built in 1821. It was pulled down in 1903, so you need a reference like The London Encyclopedia to pinpoint what buildings did and didn’t exist in London 200 years ago. I set my first regency in Belgravia, until a critique partner pointed out to me that this London neighborhood had not begun to be developed until AFTER the regency. Oops! Thank goodness for sharp-eyed and knowledgeable critique partners.

John Russell’s London, is another fun, fact-filled history of London and its various neighborhoods over the centuries.London

For regency fashion, I have Ackerman’s Costume Plates 1818-1828, which has detailed prints of late-regency gowns.

This is only a portion of my historical research books, which I don’t pull down from the shelves so much anymore. These days it’s easier to “google” an item in question. But having read these books cover-to-cover at one time or another certainly gave me a more in-depth knowledge of the 19th century than just googling disjointed pieces of information would have.

What are some of your favorite reference books for history?

 

War of Wars Streets of London Ackerman's

The Nonesuch

I’ve enjoyed reading this month’s posts about “keeper” regencies—those stories we go back and reread. Even though we’re familiar with the story line and it’s hero and heroine, we once again fall prey to its magic as we open to page one.nonesuch_sml

One of my favorite regencies, which I revisit every couple of years or so, is Georgette Heyer’s The Nonesuch. I’ve loved all the Georgette Heyer regencies I’ve read, but a few stand out. I think this latest reread may be my fourth of The Nonesuch. Why is it so special? As Laurie Alice Eakes wrote in an earlier post about her favorite regency, the story line is not terribly unique. In The Nonesuch, the heroine is the classic poor, yet well-educated and high-born, lady, a bit past her prime (aka marriageable age) at 26. The hero is “top-of-the-trees” (aka out of her league). They meet by chance in a village way up in Yorkshire, where she is governess to a spoiled beauty.  He is the typical perfect catch who at 35 has not yet been caught by any woman of marriageable age. He is also a Corinthian, which means he is an athlete, excelling at all the sports popular with regency bucks. The heroine is suspicious of Corinthians because of those who engage in the regency version of extreme sports (like racing their high-perch phaetons), often leading younger men astray. But she is hard-pressed not to be impressed with this Corinthian, who is not only handsome, but considerate, mature, thoughtful, and with a sense of humor to match her own. He also singles her out, so no matter how much she tries to guard her heart, it’s a losing battle from the starting line.

The Nonesuch is a classic Cinderella tale of an impoverished heroine winning her prince’s heart. I am sure I will be rereading it again sometime in the future as well as other Georgette Heyer regencies (Frederica and Faro’s Daughter come to mind).

Last month I blogged here about revisiting and re-editing a regency of my own, The Rogue’s Redemption. It’s now available online at Amazon. Here is a copy of the cover:

What do you think of this rogue’s killer blue eyes? Does the heroine stand a chance?

raxtell_roguesredemption

 

For a description of this and other books by Ruth Axtell, visit her website at www.ruthaxtell.com

Ruth Axtell (2)

The Miser of Mayfair ~ A Regency Read

Kristi here.

I didn’t grow up reading a lot of Regency books. It wasn’t until I was nearly twenty that I discovered the era and fell in love with it as a story setting. As I studied the authors that I fell in love with, I discovered a whole list of traditional Regency writers that inspired the authors I knew.

My list of books to look up is long, but I will be forever thankful to the friend who pointed me to Marion Chesney.

Her A House for the Season series was recommended to me and I pass that recommendation on to you.

The first book in the series is The Miser of Mayfair. It isn’t your typical set-up.

The Miser of Mayfair by Marion ChesneyThe setting for the series is a home in London, available to rent but plagued with bad luck. This makes the rent ridiculously low, something Mr. Roderick Sinclair needs desperately if he’s going to take his ward to London for the Season.

The ward, Fiona, is not your typical heroine either. It’s very possible that she is a good bit more than she initially appears to be. Which is a good thing, because if she’s going to make a good match, she has an enormous amount of obstacles to overcome. Not the least of which is a lack of funds, connections, or proper wardrobe.

Enter the wily butler, Rainbird, who plots with Fiona to make her and the beleaguered staff of Number 67 Clarges Street a success.

For me, the book was a refreshing look at the Regency world. The style, plot, and story structure are very different than books I see published today, but that only adds to the story’s charm for me.

Unless you’re lucky enough to find an old copy in a bookstore, The Miser of Mayfair is only available through a Kindle reader. If you’re looking for a fun, easy read while you travel this month, give it a try. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can even borrow it for free.

Have you read The Miser of Mayfair or one of Marion Chesney’s other Regencies? What did you think?

A Little Vivaldi for Your Day

Camy here! I just turned in the manuscript for my Christian Regency romance coming out next year from Zondervan, and I finally have a title–Prelude for a Lord.

It’s about Lady Alethea Sutherton, who owns a mysterious Stradivarius violin that was bequeathed to her by her neighbor and dear friend, an Italian widow. Living in Bath with her aunt, Alethea is hoping to receive her inheritance in two years and be independent, but then someone tries to steal her violin, putting her life in danger. She needs the help of Lord Dommick, gifted in music and especially the violin, to stop whoever is trying to harm her.

One fantastic part about writing a book about two musicians is that the music of the time period becomes almost like another character in the book! I am a fan of Vivaldi, but I especially listened to a lot of his music in writing this book, both for inspiration and because his music played a significant role in the musical training of the heroine.

One really lovely violin concerto is featured in one of my favorite scenes, where Lord Dommick plays Alethea’s violin for the first time. Alethea’s Italian neighbor and friend, Lady Arkright, had been trained in music in Italy at the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi had been employed from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. After Lady Arkright married her husband and moved to England near Alethea’s home, she taught Alethea to play the violin, including many of her favorite pieces from her teacher, Vivaldi. Lord Dommick knew all this, and so when he first plays Alethea’s violin, in honor of the deceased Lady Arkright, he chooses Vivaldi’s violin concerto number one in G minor.

One great thing about the internet is that you can find recordings for so many pieces of classical music! Here is what Lord Dommick played to Lady Alethea in this scene in my book:

Do you have any favorite classical music pieces?

Camy Tang writes romantic suspense under her real name and Regency romance under her pen name, Camille Elliot. Her first Regency, Prelude for a Lord, releases in summer 2014. She is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of the Sunday worship teams. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.