Sunday spotlight on the past three years

The two on the far right are from a previous career. The rest have been published in the past three years. The collections bulk it out, with stories by other writers. On the other hand, I don’t yet have print copies of two of the anthologies I was in this holiday season.

As I race toward the release of my third story collection (If Mistletoe Could Tell Tales), I’ve been thinking about my brief (so far) career as an independently published historical romance writer.

My first post on my blog was three years and three months ago, on 16 September 2014. ‘Tentative first steps’, I called it. At that point, I was still writing Farewell to Kindness, my first novel. Candle and Min Avery had not yet wandered into the Assembly at Chipping Nidwick, and I had no idea that a month later I’d be consumed by their story, that two months’ later I’d be writing it, and that three months’ later the novella Candle’s Christmas Chair would be my first published historical romance.

Things have not turned out the way I planned at the beginning. Based on those two books, I figured I could manage three novels a year, while working full-time in the day job. I didn’t allow for the sheer volume of work required of an indie publisher and all the marketing needed in the bazillion-book marketplace. I didn’t factor in the changing needs of family, or the ill health that was about to dog my PEH (personal romantic hero) and I.

In the event, I’ve managed to write and publish four novels in three years, and I’m nearing the end of the fifth. I’ve also written and published eight novellas and a dozen or so novelettes or longish short stories.

And I’ve blogged. I’m a bit more structured today than I was in the beginning, with four regular weekly features. But they cover the same ground.

I’ve also talked about the writing process, about my books, and occasionally about the philosophy that underpins the kind of stories I chose to write.

I’ve written to you, and you’ve written back to me, in the comments and in emails. I’m grateful to have you with me on this journey.

So what is in store for 2018? Better health, I hope. I have committed to a book for Scarsdale publishing and four (count them, four!) anthologies. The Realm of Silence will be completed before Christmas and in editing in January. I’d love to think I could finish the next in the series, Unkept Promises, as well as Concealed in Shadow, the sequel to Revealed in Mist. So many plots. So little time.

As I said in my very first post way back in 2014: watch this space!


Sunday retrospective

timetravelIn the last half of November in 2014, I was sent Farewell to Kindness off to beta readers and began writing Candle’s Christmas Chair.

The Epilogue to Farewell to Kindness threw me a curve ball that took me more than nine months to find in the bushes. I lost the heroine of what was then still called Encouraging Prudence. (And figuring out what my characters were trying to tell me has turned that book into two: Prudence in Love, and Prudence in Peril.) In ‘When you break eggs make omelettes’, I posted about the conundrum of stories that escape their author, with a long quote from Juliet Marillier.

I posted about happy endings, agreeing with those who criticise them as unrealistic, and pointing out:

The critics are, of course, quite right. Happy endings do not happen in reality. And neither do sad endings. In fact, endings of any kind are a totally artificial construct. My personal story didn’t begin with my conception; my conception was simply an event in the story of my parents, and my story is an integral part of that. Nor will it end at my death. What I’ve made (children, garden, quilts, books) will carry on after me.

Whenever we write and whatever we write, we impose an artificial structure on reality. We choose a point and call that the beginning. And we choose another point and call that the end.

My post about psalm singers might be worth a look. They played an important role in the communities of the 18th and early 19th century, and in my novel Farewell to Kindness. I give a bit of history and a couple of YouTube clips of songs as they might have sung them (one psalm and one considerably more secular).

‘How to tell what novel you are in’ was a link and quotes from a series of Toast posts, including How to tell whether you’re in a Regency novel, and How to tell whether you are in novels by a number of other authors. A sample?

7. A gentleman of your acquaintance once addressed you by your Christian name as he brushed his fingers against the lace filigree of your fichu. You still blush at the recollection.

And in my last post for November, I talked about the cycle of the liturgical year, and how earlier times fitted this cycle to the rhythms of the season and the demands of agriculture. Before most people were driven from the land and commerce began to rule over piety, church holy days meant holidays. And even into the late Georgian, the week long feast of Whitsuntide remained.

In Farewell to Kindness, the action of a third of the novel happens before the backdrop ofWhitsunweek (also known as Whitsuntide).

Carl Spitzweg - Das PicknickApart from walks, fairs, picnics, horse races and other activities, the week was known for the brewing of the Whitsunale. This was a church fundraising activity–the church wardens would take subscriptions, create a brew, and sell or distribute it during the week of Whitsuntide. It has a certain appeal. It would certainly be a change from cake stalls and sausage sizzles!

Whitsunweek was the week following the Feast of Pentecost (WhitSunday), and seems to have been the only week-long medieval holiday to survive into early modern times. It usually fell after sheep shearing and before harvest, and it was a week of village festivities and celebrations.



Sunday retrospective

steampunk-eye1The middle week of November 2014 was all about the edit.

I posted when I decided to kill one of my favourite characters.

I wrote several posts about editing:

I also wrote a post about heat-ratings. Both more and less sex than people expect seems to upset people. What is an author to do?

And I referred readers to a nice post from Danielle Hanna, about using lists and careful analysis in developing your characters and your plots.

And on the day I finished the draft for the beta readers, I wrote a post on beta readers


Sunday retrospective

timemachine_1Did I really do a post a day for the first week of November 2014? Maybe it was because I was editing, and practicing avoidance. I even posted about that in a post called Procrastibaking.

It was all about the editing for me that week, with three posts on the topic:

The day I finished the edit, I linked to some random thoughts about writing from Christina Dodd.

Another post that week was a brief glossary of terms for budding romance novelists.

And the last post I want to direct your attention to today was called Is that a rooster in your pocket? Yes, it’s a brief and cheeky discussion of historically accurate inappropriate language, with some links to some superb resources.



Sunday retrospective

time-machineToday’s Sunday retrospective reaches back to the second half of October 2014, when I was writing the last third of Farewell to Kindness. I was reporting progress—and hiccups—as I went. I finished the month with a photo of the printed first draft of Farewell to Kindness and the heading #amediting. A couple of days before that, I posted a list called ‘Editing the book’ — everything I needed to do between finishing the first draft and sending the book for beta reading.

Criminal injustice was the post I wrote when I found out about the sea change in the British criminal justice system, and how this affected my plot. In 1807,  the old system was no longer working and the new system had not been invented.

Our modern view is that one law should apply to all. It doesn’t always work. Money buys better lawyers, for a start. But the basic principle is that we have laws that lay down the crime and the range of punishments, and judges who look at the circumstances and apply penalties without fear or favour.

The pre-19th century situation in England was far, far different.

I also posted on why I changed the name of my heroine in Farewell to Kindness in a blog post with the longest titleI have ever written: Ewww, just ewww: or the cautionary tale of the perils of naming characters in a whole lot of books at once and then starting one without reference to the real world.

I waxed philosophical about romance writing as a genre in a couple of posts that largely picked up what other people were saying:

  • Fear of vulnerability reports on research that suggests fear of vulnerability underpins the common dismissal of the romance genre by readers of other types of fiction
  • Romance novels are feminist novels has excerpts from a much longer article that directly confronts the view that all romance novels are trivial, and turns it on its head.

The first review I published on my website was for the wonderful Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal. Four months later, I was thrilled to find author Amy Rose Bennett as another potential Bluestocking Belle, and we’ve been colleagues and allies ever since.

And I also published a review of Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt. In less than a fortnight, I’m hosting a Belles’ Book Club discussing another of the Maiden Lane series, Scandalous Desires. Elizabeth has agreed to pop in for an hour, so don’t miss it. You can join the event here:


Sunday retrospective

Backwards Clock

Backwards Clock

I was a busy blogger in October 2014, and some of what I wrote about might be worth a second look.

I reported on research:

I also wrote about

And that just brought us to the middle of the month.

There were a few process and excerpt posts in there, too. Take a look around. Enjoy.

I’ll leave you with the contents of my post on having a jackdaw mind.

Elizabeth Boyle writes on synchronicity in the writing process; something I’m experiencing every day as I write Farewell to Kindness, and pieces go ‘click’.

…in writing, it is often a sort of synchronicity of pieces: a treasure exhibit, a line from a biography, and a literature degree that left me with a profound love of myths. None of them are truly connected, but they all came together for this story. I have come to believe that nothing in life is inconsequential. It all has value eventually. Just keep your eyes and imagination open.

At last, my jackdaw mind is finding a use for all those shiny facts and snippets.


Sunday retrospective

time-machine-blog-imageIn this new regular feature, I’m going to link to posts from a year ago or more: sometimes mine, sometimes those I’ve commented on.

Today, I’m looking at September in 2014, when I chatted a bit about what I was doing (let’s not worry about that) but also wrote about the price of sugar in 1807 (and how I found out what it was) and the difficulties in finding out about seating etiquette at a formal late-Georgian dinner.

The timeline of stories that I posted remains accurate, though I’ve added some and changed the order in which I am writing.

And I asked my few readers way back there at the beginning of my blogging what they thought about lo-o-o-o-ng books, since I appeared to be writing one.

And I wrote a post that read:

Elyse writes in defence of romance novels on Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.

I’ve quoted the last paragraph, but read the whole thing. Cheers and cookies, Elyse.”