Let’s Talk!

I believe I’ve mentioned once or twice that I am an introvert. I sit at my desk the better part of the day, writing what’s in my head, oblivious to the outside world. To avoid disappearing entirely inside my head, I have learned to go out and meet readers at conferences or book signings, and more recently, on social media like Facebook and in newsletters to my readers.

But I keep forgetting that readers who don’t follow my newsletter and Facebook may come here to learn more about me. To you, I owe an apology. I so seldom receive responses here that I forget this blog exists. Like most people (except those who enjoy talking to the wind, as one reader put it!), I need reaction to keep a conversation going.

I will be happy to just post about upcoming releases (NO PERFECT MAGIC, June 27!), but if you’d like to read about other topics, tell me what you’d like me to write about. It’s a source of constant amazement that people actually want to hear what I have to say, but cooped up without a sounding board all day, I’m always happy to chat.

 

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!

 

New Family Genius Release!

Twin GeniusI love writing this series. It has all the fun things I enjoy writing about: family, money, humor, romance, adventure, and danger. Since it’s a mystery, it also has a murder or two, and the romance is in the background, which makes a refreshing break from my usual historical romances.

Above all, it’s the characters in this series who keep me endlessly fascinated. Ana, the eldest sibling who once ran away from responsibility, is now learning to deal with her large family, their fortune, and the mysterious spy inhabiting her attic. She might not actually appreciate the duty, but with the help of the rest of her family, Mallard the Butler, and Graham, spy extraordinaire, she’s managing to keep up with them! Continue reading

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.

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.

Continue reading

Mea Culpa!

The first of my excerpts for Magic in the Stars have been going out, and I’m receiving a puppy_in_a_tam-o-shanterdeluge of lovely mail pointing out that my hero doesn’t know the name of his own dog. Well, people have been a little politer than that.

What can I say? When I write, names change. It just happens. It’s part of the process, and at some point, I hope I catch all the  changes and settle on a final name. (Although the heroine of current WIP has probably gone through a hundred name changes by now!)

But my real fault was in letting the excerpt go up before it was proofed. We organize so much of this in advance that sometimes it’s impossible to remember what I did when, and this is one of those cases. I apologize.

And in case you’re wondering, his dog’s name is Hog. And that’s not him in the picture. <G>

 

Unexpected Magic Series Begins!

Rice_MagicintheStars800After a year in the making and months of consulting over covers and release dates, I can finally show you the cover for Magic in the Stars, Book #1 in my new Malcolm/Ives historical romance series! The pre-order links aren’t up yet, but I can give you a sneak peek at an excerpt.

The original Magical Malcolms series was set in the Georgian era around 1750. I brought the Ives family of scientific, logical men together with a group of exceptionally independent Malcolm women with “gifts” that ranged from magical healing to seeing ghosts.

When that series ended, readers kept asking for books about their descendants.  At the time, my editors weren’t interested, so I sold a contemporary romance with a trio of brothers who may have descended from my Ives family. That became the California Malcolm trilogy.

Now, I’m finally in a position to follow the descendants of my Georgian couples into 1830 because I wanted to see how the scientific Ives men and the woo-woo Malcolms navigate the Industrial Revolution.

So far, I’m playing with astrology and astronomy (Magic in the Stars), a barrister and a Jamaican heiress who instigate riots (Whisper of Magic), and a blind political marquess captivated and appalled by a woman who hears voices in her head (Theory of Magic).

As you can imagine, the stories involve a healthy dose of humor and skepticism as the couples learn to deal with the unbelievable—including an Ives with a “gift” of his own.

I’m really excited about this series and hope you will be too!

Magic Time

calendarMaybe the reason I add magic/odd/psychic elements to my book is because in my search for escapism, I’m hoping to warp time–must try that some day! But in writing historical romance, time is still relevant, unfortunately. I have just written myself into a nasty corner on this Magical Malcolm trilogy I’m drafting. The final book ends on a particular day in history and even my powerful characters can’t take back time. Which means I must go back through the whole book and figure out what they’re doing on which day of the week. Really, when will I learn organization?

Romance Novel Covers

Rebel DreamsI’m in the nail-biting process of deciding on the “look” for the next Malcolm/Ives historical romance series. Do I want naked lady backs? Not particularly, but I do like balogh_Mary Balogh’s lady/landscape covers. But I’m writing as much about the Ives men as the Malcolm ladies (and by 1830, they’re pretty intermixed, magic wise). So a hot guy on the cover, maybe? But how does one differentiate between one 1830 fashion model and another? Wouldn’t they all look alike? What do you think?