Wednesday, 31 March 2010

When Publishing was a Different Animal

And I am not talking about the ninteenth century here, more like 1980!

I doubt I am alone among my author friends, in that we subscribe to the opinion that to 'learn the craft' is an important part of becoming a published author. This involves not only grammatically correct writing, but that to remain in one character's PoV for each separate scene, avoid gerunds, passive voice and the over use of adjectives. Lengthy descriptions and accounts of events, especially in historical novels, slows the pace and pulls the reader away from the story. The first page should begin with a shock, some kind of drama that propels us into the meat of the story and make the reader want to keep reading.

Any arguments so far? No. Because we have these 'rules' drummed into us from the first piece of work we submit to an editor. However, I am in the process of reviewing Cynthia Harrod Eagles' 'Dynasty' series of historical novels which were first published thirty years ago.

Publishing was very different then, where the emphasis was not on writing a technically perfect book, but an engaging, tense, fabulous story that takes the reader into a different world and time.

When Sourcebooks approached the HNR Blog asking for reviews, I was the first to put my hand up yelling, 'Me!, me!, me!' because CHE was the author who inspired me to write historical fiction myself. Reading them again from the beginning is an odd experience, for now I notice all those PoV switches [she head-hops within paragraphs], the passive voice and the dialogue tags that come before speech.

Saying that, this doesn't spoil the books for me in any way, for her characters are three dimensional, the stories still fresh, colourful and exciting and have more than one plotline running through them!! Also, she writes like this:

The dog whined and he was suddenly, horribly sane again. This was forbidden! She was his neice - what was he doing? he wrenched himself away, so abruptly that Nanette almost fell, lurched to his feet and took a blind step away from her, finding the chimney wall with his groping hands. The dog whined again and stood up, and she pulled it by the collar to her and fondled its ears to quiet it, giving Paul time to regain control of himself, to calm his breathing and his pounding heart. from 'The Dark Rose' published by Sourcebooks in July 2010

I may have got the technical aspect fairly straight in my own writing now, but when it comes down to it, I would love to be able to evoke deep emotion in the way CHE does. For me, this is what historical fiction is about. I am having a wonderful time exploring her early characters again, and I'm only on book 2! [Only another 30 odd to go]

My review of The Founding will be in on the HNR Blog in April and The Dark Rose in late June.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lea Schizas - New E-Publisher

A few author friends have contacted me asking about reliable e-publishing companies they were considering for submissions, but needed to know more about their reputation, policies and processes etc. At the time of asking, I knew some names, but could not comment from a personal perspective, however I do have experience of a lady called Lea Schizas who has opened a Canadian E-Publishing Company called Muse It Up Publishing.

Again, the only information I have is what is on the website, but I do know Lea, who is a great author, reviewer, editor, mentor and virtual friend on the groups I chat with between writing, so if anyone considers that as sufficient recommendation, Lea is currrently accepting submissions.

She is looking for Mystery and Suspense, Paranormal and fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance and Historical Romance, Horror and Dark Fiction, Young Adult, and will soon be accepting Erotica under MuseItHOT! And... she is accepting short stories too! Her submission guidelines are here.

I wish her everything she wishes herself for her new venture. And with a credo of 'Quality should precede quantity,' I am sure she will do well.

Lea says if anyone has any questions, to contact her on

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Review of Hooked On You by Anne Whitfield

I don't normally read contemporary romances, not because I have anything against them, but mainly because I am so busy delving into historical novels and reference books for atmosphere, I rarely get the chance to read much else.

I did download one onto my E-Reader written by my dear friend, Anne Whitfield. Called 'Hooked on You', it's the story of every single twentysomething young woman approaching thirty who feels their life is going nowhere.

Katie is all those things and after telling her lecherous boss to shove it, she takes a job with a sports magazine reporter who needs a PA with no ties to travel with him and handle his paperwork.

Having never seen this man, Katie feels it's hardly relevant whether they will get on or not. The fact she has nothing to tie her to London, no life, no boyfriend and her best friend is trying to make up her mind whether to accept a proposal from Mr Perfect, is the ultimate confirmation Katie has nothing to look forward to. So expecting little from this new job but a chance to get away, Katie packs her case and heads up to Cumbria.

However Liam Kennedy is not nothing, he's a thirty something drop dead gorgeous hunk whom Katie is besotted with on sight. He is kind, thoughtful, and persuades her to go fishing, hiking and horse riding with him - hardly passtimes for a dyed-in-the-wool city girl, but she follows like a lamb just for the chance to stare at him. And enjoys it.

When a couple of close will-he-won't-he-kiss-me encounters go disastrously wrong - Katie makes up her mind. She cannot work with a man she has fallen for, especially when he seems quite indifferent to her - so she must leave her perftect job and return to London and her single life or risk turning into a lovesick old maid. However, when she takes steps to act on her decision, things change.

Anne Whitfield's story is beautifully written and her character, Katie has a wicked sense of humour, mostly disparaging herself. So although you feel sympathy for Katie's lack of self-esteem, you can laugh with her too as she's so lively and sharp witted with only a smidgeon of clumsiness.

I have read several of Anne's historical romances and loved them, but this novel suprised me with the author's versatility that puts us squarely in the present. A must read on a sun lounger with a cool drink beside you.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Quotes From The Carolean Court

King Charles I: Never make a defense or an apology until you are accused

Queen Henrietta Maria: Did you know that last night at dinner I was obliged to eat all five courses from the same plate? I've never heard of anything so disgusting.

Nell Gwynn: [after being mistaken for Charles' Catholic mistress Louise de Kéroualle] Pray good people, be civil. You are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore.

King Charles II: [on his deathbed] Be kind to Portsmouth [Louise de Kéroualle] and let not poor Nelly starve.

John Wilmot, Earl Rochester:
Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.

King Charles II: As you intend on poetry, Rochester, why not provide it yourself?
John Wilmot, Earl Rochester:
A short epigram in your honour then, Your Majesty. "We have a pretty, witty King, Whose word no man relies on. Who never said a foolish thing, Nor ever did a wise one"
King Charles II:
Be just, Rochester. The wise words are my own, the deeds are my ministers'.

George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham: Men's fame is like their hair, which grows after they are dead, and with just as little use to them.

John Evelyn: Friendship is the golden thread that ties the heart of all the world.