I’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 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?
Prince Charming by Elliott James—urban fantasy
I can’t remember who told me about this book, but thank you! It’s fantasy on a level with Patricia Briggs. The characterization is amazing. The hero is an outcast from an ancient group of Knights Templar who are under a geas to protect the veil between humans and the supernatural. Because the hero’s mother was bitten by a werewolf, he has unnatural tendencies and is despised and hunted by his father’s knights. His conflicts are manifold but his sarcasm is hilarious. Like Briggs, this is not a bloodfest nor erotica, but a strong contemporary fantasy with a fascinating stage of characters on a vampire hunt. The action scenes are beautifully choreographed and hard to skim, even though I usually skim violence the same way I do sex scenes. If you can handle another vampire hunter, check this one out.
How often do you skip the sex and violence scenes in genre fiction?
Because I’ve been out playing this weekend–finally saw Lion King live with the family among other things–I played hooky from the computer. It’s hard to come back from the awesomeness of that music to words that must be pulled from my cranium. So today, I refer you to my Word Wench post on historical world building. Do you have favorite book worlds that you visit?
One of my many frustrations in researching Regency England is the difficulty of picturing 1812 against what I can see in the 21st century. The photo is of Big Ben in 2015. For the fun of it, here are some montages of London in the early years of photography. Those of you who are familiar with today’s London will see a lot that’s familiar. Do these kind of images help you picture what we write about in our novels?
Street life in Victorian London https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlNzeoyAokE
I’d mean to post a floor plan of a typical narrow London townhouse from the Georgian era–which would include the home I’m writing about for my current Malcolm/Ives story. But I couldn’t find anything copyright free. So I’m giving you this fabulous blog link with cut-outs and floor plans for a slightly larger house than I’m writing about. The photo is of Sion Road, because the area I’m writing about is now far too commercial to show what connected houses look like.
The St James area in 1830 was mostly old Georgian homes surrounded by palaces, a very mixed residential area. It’s fun poking through the house descriptions. But my marquess is having a tough time fitting his huge household into a house this narrow!
My historical romances tend to be set in rural areas, because it’s so much simpler to push the characters together with limited surroundings–and besides, I love the sprawling estates! Until I actually went to London and visited some of the town houses, I had images of spacious London homes too. Reality isn’t as fun.
The image here is actually Dublin because I couldn’t ferret one out of my files for London that didn’t contain shopping on the bottom floor. But this is what the older sections of London would look like. Mayfair–where most of our Regency character reside in the new houses–might have larger residences, but only for the wealthy.
Now imagine my busy marquess entertaining his political friends, housing his brothers and his sons, and throwing a new wife into the mix. Can we say “crowded”? What’s the smallest house you’ve ever lived in?
I’m slowly realizing that it’s the little things that add up when writing. So much of my writing is intuitive that I don’t always understand what I’ve done until I go back and read the book. Take, for instance, my current heroine’s perfume. I usually give my characters scents, and normally they’re just convenient additions to the sensory build-up of love scenes.
But in the case of the current unnamed WIP (See the Magic? Magic at a Glance?), I have a blind hero. So the heroine’s scent becomes a very important part of the book layering. If she’s not wearing it, he can’t know where she is unless he hears her voice or recognizes her footsteps. So he needs to notice if she’s not wearing it and wonder why.
That kind of detail—as simple and silly as it sounds—adds the depth and texture that makes a book seem “real.” Yes, I love a fast-paced, witty, dialogue-filled book, but if the author gives me details in one place, I want them to fill in the background elsewhere. The hero can’t stop limping in the middle of the book. (Note to myself <G>) If he does stop limping—then there must be an extra layer to explain it, and as a reader, I’m eager to find out what it is.
Do you enjoy, or even notice, the small details that play out in the books you read?
I have been published for thirty years. I’ve spent those years learning the craft of writing since I’ve never had a single class on “How to Write.” My classroom was and is the books I read. But sometimes… even a class in writing can’t distinguish the nuances a single letter can make in our insane English language.
Although in this case, I blame the French. I’ve never taken French either, although I know Latin and Spanish and can grasp base words. But not once in all these years have I ever stopped to figure out the difference between “coiffure” and “coiffeur.” Huge Duh!
Spellcheck doesn’t like “coiffeur” because it’s a French term, but it’s in Webster’s–if I’d just bothered to look it up. I’d tell you to guess what the difference in meaning is but you’d just look it up, wouldn’t you? So, how many of you knew the difference?
Ack, I’ve just discovered I’ve used the word “thru” in my manuscript! It’s a short cut I often use in texting and tweets and it spilled so unconsciously into my writing that I didn’t even notice until I started editing. Worse yet, Word and Webster accept it as a real word! Ack, ack, one more spelling usage bites the dust!
Pretty soon, we’ll be typing “U” for “you” and “R” for “are.” If you think books as we know them have come to an end, just wait until our pages read “Thru gr8t buks, UR able to lern wizeness.”
At least we’d wipe out that difficult “your” and “you’re” problem !
Self indulgent procrastinating moment here… I’m sitting in my garden, writing… well, staring at the cobwebs. It’s autumn and the spiders must be preparing for winter. There isn’t a twig, leaf, or armchair not covered by webs.
But in this photo, what the spider caught is a seed. Why on earth he’s spinning webs between my porch and my eccentric art table made of stone is beyond me. It’s not exactly food territory. But the little seed was capturing the sunlight and obviously, I needed distraction! And of course, when I tried to capture a spiraling web, a leaf caught in it and I forgot to hunt for more.
So it’s back to the Magical Malcolms and revisions and real work. How do you keep from being distracted by what you really need to be doing?