Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 20 Books Read!

20 down. 15 to go.

I'm still in the middle of two 500 page+ nonfiction history books, but I have finished twenty books total! Also, I think I hit a spate of pretty covers, so there they are below. As always, I'm linking to my reviews.

What are you reading?

11. Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes #1) by Sharon Kay Penman. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Fictional Biography/Medieval/England/Wales. 4 stars.

12. An Extraordinary Union (Loyal League #1) by Alyssa Cole. Fiction/Romance/Historical Romance/American Civil War. 5 stars.

13. A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock #1) by Sherry Thomas. Fiction/Mystery/Historical/Retellings/England. 2 stars.

20. Act Like It (London Celebrities #1) by Lucy Parker. Fiction/Romance/Contemporary Romance/London.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Opening Lines

Not very long ago, writing buddy Krystal wrote a post with the opening lines of her older writings and they were raw and often hilarious.

Recently, as I've been going on a cleaning binge, I piled a lot of writing-related stuff in one place.

(Note: should I ever warrant it, those things would probably comprise "my papers.")

It's a mix of stuff from elementary school through to post-graduate, most of it fiction, most of it unfinished.

Here are a few opening lines from a few key pieces:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Reasons Why I'm Changing Things in My Draft: A List

Reasons why I duplicated my draft document and decided to change a few very essential things when I was already over 24, 000 words:

1. Somewhere around two thousand words ago, I noticed that my characters, Jane Windham and Miles Keegan--who, mind you, are the couple in this quasi-historical romance or historical fiction with romantic elements--were still doing their own thing and not moving towards each other at all. Not even thinking about each other!

2. Because Jane is widowed in the beginning of this story. The very beginning. She's going through grief and legalities and she'd just met her husband's cousin/heir/person I had trouble not naming James and I was pretty damn bored. Jane is artistic and active, but also a definite Mama Bear to her daughter and, like, just no.

3. Miles, of course, lost his wife in Pearl, some five years ago by this point in the chronology. His deal this time around is divesting himself of some business interests, gaining some new ones, and becoming an avid supporter of the Anti-Slavery society in London in 1804--also helping his older brother figure out how to get rid of the family plantation and free all the slaves who work on it.

4. Miles is, in historical romance terms, a bit hard to redeem into romance hero material. Granted, I wasn't writing him last time around with any kind of potential re-shaping into romance material in mind AT ALL. Having the two kids with two different women? Not getting along with his aristocratic family members? These things may as well be par for the course with some historical romance hero types. But Miles ran a fucking plantation for five years and has profited off the backs of people who didn't have a choice in the matter.

Granted, quite a number of the fictional lords in historical Romancelandia aren't much better. Random mention of "Scottish land in the family"--who did they get it from and how many families did they clear off the land? "Irish estates"-- religious and cultural oppression! "Sending a younger brother to Jamaica"--most likely, that younger brother just got put in charge of some land and some slaves. "Egyptian/Roman/Greek artifacts--who did y'all steal those from?

5. Because I didn't outline the thing and as usual, in the saggy middle, I've come to regret it.


1. I've kept the story in 1804 and moved Jane's husband's death back to 1803. Her one year of mourning is almost up.

2. There's actually a lot of good and not boring things in the rest of the 24,000 words that will be put back into the new document when I get to those parts, with only minor editing required. Thank goodness.

3. Ideally, I'd like this draft to be around 70ish thousand words.

4. I found a super awesome source that'll help immensely with some of Miles's storyline, so yay!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


It's the first Wednesday of July and that means IWSG time! Woot-Woot! I hope the Americans in the crowd had a good Independence Day. You can check out the IWSG here!

Let me see--insecurities. 1) Why am I such a slow writer? I'm at 23K on my draft, I've realized it's not  a historical romance but a historical with romantic elements (the romance people who read this will understand), and yeah.
2) I'm not sure how I feel about giving away my work for free, but Smashwords has a month-long sale for July. Both Pearl and "When Mary Left" are free with use of a coupon code for the entire month. Only available at Smashwords.

Frankly, I like being paid for my work but indie authors can't always be choosers. So far, the sale seems to be moving product.

On to this month's question:

What is one valuable lesson you've learned since writing?

So. Many. But I'll focus on how valuable research is because it's on my mind right now. If you want to be an author, researching writing, books, story structure, and publishing is imperative, but sometimes--most times--you need to research for the story itself. Because you don't know everything.

I love historical fiction, didn't want to write it for a long time because all that research seemed so daunting. And then I just started doing it.

My draft takes place in 1804 London. I didn't look much up starting this story, because 1804 is close enough to the Regency era that I can write Fictional Regency-Adjacent London and be fine. I looked up three things: what Napoleon was doing in 1804, what William Wilberforce was doing in 1804, and what date the Epsom Derby was that year. All of these things coincided nicely as a historical cushion for my story and off I marched into the writing mist.

I was writing a scene recently. Here's a bit of it:

             Crestwell turned to him. "Miles, how many slaves does Halbridge Hall own?"
            "Ninety-four when I left. And it was fifty pounds paid to the parish to manumit one slave at the time."
            Cresty winced. "Fifty pounds! Multiplied by ninety-four."
            "It would be a steep payment, my lord," Sebold said.
             "Five thousand pounds, about," Miles calculated. It was a substantial amount of money, more than Miles's annual income.

This little snippet of a longer scene involves two pieces of research. Can you guess what they are?

In the 19th century, in order to free a slave, you had to pay a manumission fee. In this case, they're in England talking about a family property in Barbados, which raised its fee in the 1790s to fifty pounds per slave. In Pearl, fifty pounds is accurate.

But wait a sec, was that still the case in 1804? I wasn't sure. I mean, it wasn't a lot of time in between. I could probably fudge it. I could not mention the exact amount, right? I went through my notes for Pearl, went back to the sources, then ended up on Google Books. I found my answer.

In 1801, Barbados raised the fee: two hundred pounds to free a man, three hundred to free a woman. So now, the conversation was altered a bit and it continues into this:

"How much of the viscountcy's annual income is that?" Crestwell asked.
            "About a third," Sebold said. Silence reigned. A third of the yearly income. Crestwell's face was still, but his eyes blazed. Selling Halbridge Hall was one thing; freeing the slaves would be something else completely.
            "But they've since raised it," Miles said. "Two hundred pounds for a man, three hundred pounds for women." A muscle under Crestwell's eye twitched. 

Now, I'm not mentioning the value of research to pat my own back. Historicals are more research-heavy than most other genres. I've been told "it's not that important to get the facts so correct. You're not writing a textbook." But in this case, that manumission fee affects a vague plotting thing I had in mind. It makes it harder. It makes it more interesting. It actually affects the story, which is what you want your researched facts to do!

So take a second and Google stuff for your story. Take satisfaction in knowing the facts even if you twist them or fictionalize them or they're mentioned in passing or nobody else cares. Know that readers like me Google things about books they've just finished reading.

And yes, I do grumble briefly if something is off. Seriously. Why are authors still messing up British title usage? Google. It.

If only I'd been this research-happy in Research Writing class in college.