Aura of Magic Release!

I’ve worked all winter to produce the next three Unexpected Magic books and I’m still not really ready to let the first one go! But I need to start pulling all the strings and pushing all the buttons and send Pascoe Ives–the bastard diplomat of the family–and Brighid, the Countess of Carstairs into the world.

Coming March 14, 2017

Here’s the short version of their story:

Widowed after years of a loveless marriage, the Countess of Carstairs rebelliously embraces her dream of establishing a forbidden school for midwives—until the crown’s envoy intervenes. Caught between his mystifyingly incorrigible children and the king’s demand that he end the riots in the countess’s village, Pascoe Ives needs help, but asking the aid of the irresistible countess only adds ghosts and assassins to his woes.

You can read the excerpt here

And let me know if you’re enjoying the series, please!

Be Afraid of Fear

Afraid of ghosts?

Fear is part of human nature—witness the fight or flight instinct in all of us. I am cautious by nature and would easily become agoraphobic if I hadn’t realized at a very early age that I would never accomplish my dreams unless I stepped out into the unknown. Constantly pushing my boundaries keeps my mind active and allows me to follow a career I love. But I’m a reader, and books have opened my mind to possibilities I would never have envisioned without them.

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Books Emerge from Research

grimshaw_battersea_bridgeI am spinning wheels on the current Unexpected Magic work in process, which means I’m diving deep into research mode, looking for a way out of the corner I’ve written myself into. Having started my career by driving librarians crazy with inter-library loans attempting to dig out esoteric information, I am always amazed by the enormous amount of material to be found on-line today. I treasure a map I bought in London back before internet days showing me when particular areas were built and giving me all the lovely street names. Today, I can go online and get an interactive map like this http://tinyurl.com/hwnzr8a where I can zoom up on any area for street names, then broaden to see how my characters will travel from Mayfair to Battersea. And I can find famous paintings of the bridge itself, which was reported to be extremely rickety at the time I’m writing about. (see painting above)

And then I can dive into detailed descriptions of 18th century Battersea and learn things like this: On the site of Bolingbroke-house was erected, about two years ago (1797), a horizontal air-mill of a new construction, and of very large dimensions: the shape of the dome or case which contains the moveable machine (fn. 45), is that of a truncated cone; …having just space to turn round within it: the extremities of this machine are called floats, as in the wheel of a water-mill; …there are ninety-six floats, and the same number of shutters in the dome, which, when open, admit, even when there is little wind, a sufficient current of air to turn the machine, and, by a particular contrivance, shut when the wind is so violent as to endanger the structure. This mill, at its first erection, was used for preparing of oil; it is now used as a corn-mill, and is occupied by Messrs. Hodgson and Co. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-environs/vol1/pp26-48

Recognize the Hodgson? I refuse to dive down the bunny trail to see if it’s any relation to the items we find in our grocery store now. I need to get back to work. I’m so easily distracted! If anyone else hunts down that history, let me know, will you?

PS: Okay, I dived deeper and found this absolutely fabulous visual map of the Thames riverbank in 1829! Have fun!

 

Holiday Cheer

patriciarice_incomparablelordmeath_800I thought you might enjoy a quick holiday read to get you into the spirit. Heaven only knows, I’m ready for a warm and fuzzy escape from the newspapers. So I found a way to tell Lady Bell’s backstory (from Rebellious Sons) through the eyes of star-crossed lovers. INCOMPARABLE LORD MEATH’s novella will be out November 1! Let me know if you want more novella sized stories. Not all tales work in a longer length, and I’d enjoy hunting for more short ones.

Westward Ho!

Lord_RogueI finally buckled down and did it—edited and prepared LORD ROGUE and CHEYENNE’S LADY for an e-book edition. These books were nearly 150,000 words originally, written back in the day when books were books and men were men. <G> LORD ROGUE holds a place in my heart because it was written about St. Louis and the Mississippi River, an area I lived in off and on for over twenty years. The period of 1812, the year after the Great Comet, was particularly lively with the war with Britain, Indian unrest, a chieftain who could predict the future, the first steamboat down the river, and an earthquake that made the river run backward. And because I had all those lovely words to play in, I used all those incidents! The hero of this book is such a contradiction in so many ways, that I’ve loved him for years. Take a quick look at the first pages and see what you think.

To celebrate my finally finishing these books, I’ve repackaged my other Americana: my Rita nominee, DENIM AND LACE, my sagas SHELTER FROM THE STORM, MOONLIGHT MISTRESS, and WAYWARD ANGEL, plus CHEYENNE’S LADY, my one and only gunfighter story, into a six book series.

If you want to just taste the western waters first, LORD ROGUE will be 99c for this month only.

I’m not entirely certain why historical romance has abandoned our fascinating Moonlight_and_MemoriesAmerican history for England and the Regency era. We had lovely fashions, wealthy mansions, and noble heroes as often or more so than England. But for some reason, we seem to think of that era in our country as prairies and covered wagons. Take a walk on the wild side and see if you don’t develop a taste for a hero who can hold his own in any company!

Judgment Call

Rice_TheoryofMagic800My romances often reflect issues I grapple with personally. But because the books are upbeat and often humorous, the issues aren’t immediately obvious. Sure, my blind marquess in THEORY OF MAGIC has anger issues. He’s disabled in a society that considers disability a matter of shame. His heroine (and quite frequently, his family) point out that as a marquess, he’s fortunate in a society that walks over the poor and helpless, but in 1830, wealthy white privilege is a matter of fact, not social commentary.

Still, I tried to show the very human tendency to judge others on the basis of appearances or hearsay, without any evidence to prove that opinion right or wrong. I’m as guilty as anyone. I scorn books with poorly written blurbs or bad covers, assuming the writing will be equally unprofessional. I am a literary snot. I know this, but it’s an easy way of dismissing the barrage of information crossing my computer screen. Continue reading

Diversity

Rice_TheoryofMagic800An old argument, currently revived and raging around the internet, is the one where some people insist authors cannot write about any ethnicity/race/religion/sex but their own—which pretty much leaves the entire library to white male writers since there are far more of them than anyone else.

Yes, I agree that a strong female/African/Muslim point-of-view character would probably be stronger were the author of the same persuasion. But to tell me I can only write from the heroine’s POV because I’m female… Uh uh, I don’t think so. If all my heroines were of the same ethnicity/race/religion/sex as me, my only titles would be the Misadventures of a Spotted White Non-Affiliated Lady of Uncertain Genetics. There’s a big yawn for you.

Let’s face it, folks: Fiction is making stuff up. That’s what authors are paid to do—to pull ideas, characters, stories, times, and places out of their heads and put them on paper for others to enjoy or talk about. If I write about a Martian hermaphrodite, and you happen to be a Martian hermaphrodite and disagree with how I’ve written my character, that’s your choice. I’m good with that. Go ahead and disagree. Write your own story. But understand you’re not the only Martian hermaphrodite on the planet. I stand behind my character because s/he came out of my head, s/he’s mine. S/he is Not You.

My imagination comes in all colors, sizes, shapes, and levels of historical authenticity. I research my characters to the extent necessary for the type of book I write, which is usually directly related to the type of book I read. So, yes, it might be nice if writers write what they know—as long as readers accept that what we know is often in the  books we read.

And do these cultural control-enthusiasts expect us to only read what we are? Can I not read, appreciate, and understand the Martian experience because I’m from Earth? I’m not looking for rants, but any and all thoughtful perspectives.

And while I’m here, THEORY OF MAGIC comes out July 26. It’s about two very large, quite white, English people of Anglican orientation, and I’m pretty sure I’m not any of those unless spotted counts as white.

Family, Friends, and Duty, oh my!

I think everyone understands the delicate line we all walk between looking after our own

Anne Gracie, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney

Anne Gracie, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney

interests and looking after friends and family. So I hope you’ll understand that I’ve been treading that line a lot lately. It’s really hard to keep our balance when the unexpected occurs, even harder when tragedy strikes. We’re pulled toward those who need us most and forget the mundane. If you want to see what has me spinning, please read the post in the Word Wench blog about losing Jo Beverley.

My book characters probably reflect some of my own dilemma on how to handle this tight rope, because they’re human, and I want them to take familiar human paths, but I’ve never really considered this a theme until this week. As WHISPER OF MAGIC gets ready for release and I struggle through the current manuscript, I have become aware from my own struggle for balance that family, friends, duty, and my characters’ own selfish desires all provide conflict in my books. Awareness apparently comes through living and losing.

Whisper of Magic by Patricia RiceI don’t know how much of “me” can be found in WHISPER’s Lord Erran Ives, a brilliant barrister with a dangerous gift of persuasion. But his struggles to find the dividing line between his own needs and his family’s should be familiar to most of us. And of course, because he’s young and this is romance, when a lovely woman with a celestial voice is thrown in his path, his struggles are completely derailed. And now that I think about it, the ending might be symbolic for all of us trying to keep our heads above water!

Do you have any secrets for balancing “me” needs and “family/friends” needs?

 

Writing Acrobatics

I know readers seldom think about a writer’s thought process when creating a book, but since that’s what I do all day, that’s what is on my mind most of the time. So pardon me for occasionally wandering off on mental writer acrobatics.   typing in water
I am currently drafting the latest genius mystery. These are told in first person from my main protagonist, and third person from whichever of her family has a point of view in the story.

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