Dreaming of the Next Book

Now that I’m weaning myself off the honeymoon period from releasing The Last April, I’ve been dreaming of my next book. There always is “the next book” for authors. Kind of like how “there’s always a band” for The Music Man.

I was in our living room, cuddling with the mini-schnauzer while working on my November writing challenge from @pageflutter on Instagram, when I sat straight up with an exclamation.

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I don't know what happened to November, but I kept up with the first week of @pageflutter's November challenge, and wrote the rest of the month tonight, a day late. 😂 . . . I keep thinking I must be doing this wrong, because I see these inspirational responses, and mine are all basically cliffhanger-style hooks for stories I may never write. . . . I think my favorites might be Days 9 – 11, 13, and 19. Pinch and zoom to see the details! . . . #amwriting #authorlife #authorsofinstagram #writerslife #writersofinstagram #writersofig #indieauthors #ilovewriting #writersofinsta #writerscorner #monthlychallenge #writingchallenge #pfsixwordchallenge #sixwordstorychallenge #justkeepwriting #bujo #bujolove #bulletjournal #bulletjournallove #bulletjournaling #minimalistbujo

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“Hunting Miss Trentwood!” I shouted at my husband, who jumped, and then grimaced. No, that was too close to the title for the first book, Haunting Miss Trentwood. But I knew something was there, and abandoned my writing challenge to ideate on possible titles:

  • Hunting Miss Trentwood
  • Seeking Miss Trentwood
  • Seeking Mary
  • Hunting Mary Trentwood <– the tentative winner

In this proposed sequel (my first ever), we follow Mary and Hartwell as their relationship is tested by the pressures of London, Queen Victoria’s Jubliee celebrations, future mothers-in-law, Victorian spiritualism, and hey, Jack the Ripper might make an appearance (at least in newspaper headings).

I’m just starting to revisit my old written notebooks for my Haunting Miss Trentwood research, but the excitement for writing a book is returning!

Can’t see the embedded instagram post of my research notebooks?

Anyway, it’s a good way to end the year, I hope, dreaming about my next book.

P.S. I’m revamping my newsletter to a semi-monthly review of things I’m into that you should totally know about and hopefully be into as well. If you’re not getting my newsletters, you can sign up and read the archives here.

Happy reading,

Belinda

Lucky 7 Excerpt from my Young Adult Civil War manuscript

letter-writingThere has been a “Lucky 7” excerpt writing meme spreading across the interwebs since 2012 if my cursory Google search is accurate. I thought it would be fun to share some of my progress.

In case you don’t know, the rules of the Lucky 7 meme are:

  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next seven lines as they are – no cheating.
  4. Tag 7 other authors.

Now, I’m nowhere near page 77 of my manuscript, so it’ll have to be page 7. These memes always make me nervous… what if they select a part of the book that’s kind of, well, boring? I suppose the idea is to open your eyes as a writer and make every page in your book compelling.

Anyway, here is my Page 7 line 7 excerpt from my young adult Victorian fiction, without preamble or context:

He opened his eyes in time to see wide skirts sweeping from the room. That confirmed it. He wasn’t at Camp Chase. The only woman allowed in the prison had died a few months ago of the very disease she had been helping her doctor husband fight.

Waking up away from Camp Chase should have brought him some relief, but that woman’s harsh accent filled him with dread. He had never heard anyone speak like that before, not even in the prison. Was he with friends, or simply in a smaller, more lavish prison?

“He’s awake?” he heard a younger voice from down the hall, most likely Alina. Whereas the older woman sounded annoyed, Alina sounded excited. “Have you spoken with him? Can we keep him?”

I don’t have seven writers to tag, so please forgive me. I’d love to see excerpts from:

  1.  Drew Farnsworth
  2. Caitlin O’Sullivan
  3. Eliza Wyatt
  4. Evangeline Holland

10 Irrational but Nonetheless Persistent Fears I’ve Picked Up from Reading Adult Historical Romances

  1. Apparently, I either have to be so beautiful everyone chases after me, or so unique no one knows what to do with me, in order to get anyone’s romantic attention.
  2. Because I’m fairly certain I’m neither of the above, I shall be forever alone.
  3. I will never be able to breathe properly around my love interest, either because of my unmentionables (damn corset) or because he looks so delicious I hyperventilate into a faint.
  4. When I fall in love it will be with someone who probably doesn’t deserve it.
  5. My romantic interest will have a rake’s past, and therefore, the sexual infections that come along with all those bed adventures.
  6. One or both of my parents will die before I meet my romantic interest, meaning I will doubt his interest in me over my inheritance (which, let’s be honest, will probably not be very much).
  7. When I catch my romantic interest’s gaze across the room, our gaze will burn so hot we might cause people to spontaneously combust.
  8. I will want to have sexy time with him every time I see him. This will prove to be inconvenient should I see him in church.
  9. My romantic interest will have a brooding past, which the books tell me is supposed to make him irresistible. I now fear for my sanity.
  10. The first time I have sexy time with my romantic interest, it will either be mind-blowingly good, or so bad I’m crippled.

What about you?

Best, Belinda

Romance is About Making the Tough Choice

When I first typed the title to this blog post, a Freudian slip occurred and I typed “touch” rather than “tough.” Seems to me both are accurate when it comes to romance, heh. Anyway, I’ve been thinking lately about how people make decisions, and why.

The fact is, romance is a tough decision for some people. “Timing is everything,” I always hear people say. But romance is so more than just timing. Romance is about personalities, wants, needs, desires. Conversation. Physical attractiveness. Mental and emotional attractiveness. Financial compatibility. Family traditions, cultures, expectations. Friends.

Romance, or rather, a meaningful romantic relationship, is a tough decision when you consider all these factors! Yet, people date all the time. People find someone to date, to spend time with, to hang out with friends. People break up with, cheat on, abuse and take advantage of those they date as well.

Way to be a Debbie Downer, Belinda

Those  aren’t the relationships I like to write about. Part of the reason why I write (young adult) quirky  Victorian romances is because the culture is more accessible to me, from a relationship-longevity standpoint.

Don’t get me wrong, just because people stayed married (legally-speaking) for decades only to be truly separated by death, doesn’t mean they didn’t have problems. Well-born Victorian men were notorious for cheating on their wives because they were told it was their nature, they were expected to have a mistress. On the other hand, Victorian women were fed the bull that they were the reason society was as civilized as it was; that the men who courted them would treasure them and therefore they should do their best to give him a wonderful home. Sounds like Mad Men a little, doesn’t it?

I’m stereotyping and simplifying, of course.

Then why write about Victorian romance at all?

The fact is that despite these factors, I choose to write quirky Victorian fiction because I’m allowed to fantasize about a time when men and women made commitments to one another that were meant to surpass time and aging and death and famine and cheating all that. My idealist teenage-reader-mind soaked up Louisa May Alcott, LM Montgomery, Janette Oke, Jean Ferris, Ann Rinaldi, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell… these classic women wrote about heroes who took time to get to know their heroines and determine they were a match.

Not just financially (thank you, dowries), but emotionally, personally, familial…ly… The motivations behind the romances in my books are people are looking for a match. Not a perfect one, for sure, no one is perfect. Even the phrase “don’t look for someone perfect, look for someone perfect for you” implies this person is imperfect and these imperfections may, one day, make you want to throw a vase at him. But there is something fun and magical in reading a story about two people who just might have finally met each other and recognized kindred spirits. It’s something I hope for my friends, family, and myself.

So romance is a tough decision, right? But with the right person, things align. And in a perfect world (that is, fiction), we get to relive those moments over and over again.

For those of you who haven’t yet read Catching the Rose or Haunting Miss Trentwood to see just  how I write about meaningful romance, you might be interested in the promotions below.

Haunting Miss Trentwood is discounted on Kindle. And guess what, Catching the Rose is also discounted on Kindle!

The audiobook version of Haunting Miss Trentwood will be discounted from $19.95 to $5.95 (even less to audible.com members) Saturday August 25 to Sunday September 2.

The newly released behind-the-scenes chapter called The Seance from Haunting Miss Trentwood will be free on Kindle Monday August 27 to Tuesday August 28.

Best,

Belinda

Book Review Extravaganza

Dear Reader,

I read five books last week. Rather than splitting up my reviews so each book gets a dedicated post, I instead posted my reviews on Goodreads and am linking to them from here. They’re all some form of historical romance; three are Regencies and two are Victorian. I’m always surprised there aren’t more Victorian romances… it makes sense, I suppose, because society totally freaked at how loosey-goosey the regency was in terms of morals… but the fun thing about the Victorians is that they actually continued those loose morals… they just stopped talking about it as frequently.

As a quick ROW80 update… I wrote another chapter to The Rebel’s Hero, but I don’t like how it ended. So that needs a rewrite. I’m also keeping to my goal of writing 750 words a week… pretty much blasting that out of the water. So that’s cheering.

Enough of that. Onto the reviews!

His Sinful Secret (Notorious Bachelors, #3)His Sinful Secret by Emma Wildes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Julianne and Michael are brought together by an arranged marriage, and they start their familial duty of producing an heir for the duchy as soon as possible. Through their entanglements in bed and the pillow talk after, they realize that it just might be possible to have that long-sought-but-rarely-found sort of marriage within the aristocracy: a happy one.

ImpulseImpulse by Candace Camp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As always, I love Candace Camp’s stories because she allows the hero/heroine to get to know one another, to feel confident that they have found a healthy match/complement in each other, before hopping into bed.

It’s just refreshing.

The BargainThe Bargain by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think it’s Putney’s heroes that make me love her writing. Here we have David, who is very good at what he does, killing people efficiently to save his own skin. But the hardships of war didn’t dull his sensitivities toward a Jocelyn, beautiful woman who shies away from marriage the way a horse shies from a snake. He might have been a major, but David is a wonderful beta hero who kept me smiling and wishing he were real so I could take him home to meet my mother.

The Education of Mrs. BrimleyThe Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think what I loved most about this book was that even though Nicholas could have completely taken advantage of Emma, he always gave her a choice. Now, he could have been a true gentleman and not required Emma to pose for him, but then the story wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting. Talk about foreplay… the slow undressing of the heroine for months built up the tension between them like crazy.

The Fire Rose (Elemental Masters, #1)The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The story began slowly, and the description sometimes got in the way of the plot, I felt. At its heart, this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. We have the beast, Jason Cameron, a elemental wizard who got too big for his britches and tried a spell he didn’t know how to uncast. We have the beauty, an heiress who was working on her PhD when her father died and left her penniless.

A decent retelling of a familiar and well-loved fairy tale, I wish there had been a little less world-building and a little more relationship-building.

View all my reviews

I LOVE Historical Romance Web Comics

Dear Reader,

If you haven’t realized that I am a huge geek, I am outing myself right now. I have been a fan of web comics for the last… oh… seven years or so. Three of my favorites happen to be historical romances. Be prepared, as this post is a huge love rant for all of them.

The Phoenix Requiem

Sarah Ellerton is a genius. Hands down. Ellerton is the writer and artist behind The Phoenix Requiem, a “Victorian-inspired supernatural fantasy story about faith, love, death, and the things we believe in.” Heavy, right? Not really, it’s a joy to read.  The reason why I love The Phoenix Requiem is because of Ellerton’s detail to clothing and culture; her hero is charming and adorable, her heroine is serious and lovely. From the website…

On a cold December night, a gentleman stumbles into the town of Esk, gunshot wounds leaving a trail of blood in the snow behind him. Despite making a full recovery at the hands of an inexperienced nurse – and deciding to make a new life for himself in the town – he is unable to escape the supernatural beings, both good and bad, that seem to follow him like shadows.

As they try to discover why, the nurse must question her beliefs and risk her own life in order to protect her family, her friends, and those that she loves.

The comic is now complete, and you can read the whole thing from the start. I plan on buying all the volumes once Ellerton puts them in print. That is three (or longer) years of work that she released for free, and as a fellow independent author, I want to support her fantastic work.

Dreamless

Dreamless is another of Sarah Ellerton’s comics, this one written by Bobby Crosby. Set during World War II, this is a tale of star-crossed lovers who share their dreams. Literally. Eleanor and Takashi don’t sleep the way the rest of us do.

When Eleanor sleeps, she is in Japan, seeing what Takashi sees. When Takashi sleeps, he is in the United States, seeing what Eleanor sees. They can’t speak to one another, exactly, but they can hear what the other, and the people around them, are saying. Read the complete web comic to find out what happens to this young couple in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor.

And finally, we have…

The Dreamer

The Dreamer is a web comic by Lora Innes, an artist who lives in the same city as me and seems to know some of the same people I do, going off her blog. I have never met her but it would be pretty sweet if I could! One of these days I will make it to the Columbus Comicon. One of these days. From the website…

Beatrice “Bea” Whaley seems to have it all; the seventeen year old high school senior is beautiful, wealthy and the star performer of the drama club. She begins having vivid dreams about a brave and handsome soldier named Alan Warren–a member of an elite group known as Knowlton’s Rangers that served during the Revolutionary War.

Bea begins to research Colonial America only to discover that her dreams recount actual historical events that she knew nothing about! She grows increasingly detached from her friends and family as she tries desperately to figure out what is happening to her…

This comic is in the middle of its story, so unlike Dreamless and The Phoenix Requiem, you can’t pick this one up like a book and blast through all the pages until reaching the satisfying conclusion. The interesting thing about reading web comics is that it’s a lot like reading a series while the author is still writing them. Remember how antsy you felt when waiting for the next Harry Potter? Same thing. Except it’s on a weekly basis.

So there you have it! Those are the historical romance stories I keep up with weekly in my RSS reader. Are you reading these comics or others that I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

All the best,

Belinda

Book: Private Arrangements

Title: Private Arrangements
Author: Sherry Thomas
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 351 pgs.

Summary: Everyone in London envies Lord Camden and Lady Gigi Tremaine’s marriage. It is the epitome of the proper marriage, as they never make a scene, they respect one another’s freedom, and they aren’t too lovey-dovey. Oh, and they haven’t seen one another for ten years. Now that Gigi wants a divorce, Camden returns to London with an obnoxious request in exchange for her freedom to marry again.

Excerpt:

pg 1 – Only one kind of marriage ever bore Society’s stamp of approval.

Happy marriages were considered vulgar, as matrimonial felicity rarely kept longer than a well-boiled pudding. Unhappy marriages were, of course, even more vulgar, on a par with Mrs Jeffries’s special contraption that spanked forty bottoms at once: unspeakable, for half the upper crust had experienced it firsthand.

Why should you read this book?

This book is a romance, no doubt about it. The intimate scenes are hot, and most importantly, imperative to the relationship between Gigi and Camden. As a married couple that hasn’t seen one another for ten years, there are past disputes that have to be resolved, old wounds re-opened, and ten years of desire to be satiated. Which they do, but always with a purpose.

For those of you writing romance, read Thomas’s book for an example of well-written intimate scenes that not only further the plot, they shove the plot forward with gusto, making you feel everything the characters feel and more. This is the first romance in a long time where I felt like the author really knew what they were doing. I’m definitely adding Thomas’s backlist to my TBR.