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Happy World Book Day!
Years ago, and I mean YEARS ago before ebooks, I did a lot of international travel for business. But I can remember my first trip overseas very clearly. It was a two week trip to five European cities. I brought six novels thinking I would catch up on my reading—there never seemed to be enough time at home with three small children. I finished one and a half books before I landed.
I know, how could I leave them? It wasn’t easy. My days were filled with client calls speaking to local bank directors, but most late afternoons, evenings and the weekend I was on my own. I filled the time with walking tours of the city, sometimes in groups other times using the track provided by the hotel.
Each time I came face to face with history; the Grand Place in Brussels, the Place de la Concorde in Paris, and Hampton Court in England. As I went on to the different cities I tried to hear the sounds, smell the aromas, and see the sights from a different perspective, a different time. Stories by Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey and Lynn Kurland had me enthralled along with Clive Cussler.
I know, Cussler’s not exactly romance but his Dirk Pit stories always start with some historical fact or thread that's crucial to solving the mystery. I read my books at night and visited places where I could imagine the stories unfolding. I read Anne Rice’s The Mummy on my way to Cairo. Wow! It made me see the Cairo Hotel and the Cairo Museum in a totally different light.
These authors are fantastic and their stories are great, but my heart is with historicals.
Here are my top ten reasons:
I LOVE history. I’m captivated with the past. Sometimes I think I was meant to be born in another time.
I like to read stories where women push the limits of their time and how people around them, especially the men they love respond. I don’t enjoy reading a story where a woman is the victim unless she rises to the challenge and becomes the true heroine of the story.
I’m a romantic. I love reading about the courtship rituals of the past and comparing them to today. I was really surprised when I researched medieval romance and found that many of the established courtship rituals up until the 1950’s were based on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. It made me love knights in shining armor all the more!
I enjoy exploring human emotions, figure out motivations and how they can be so similar to motivations today.
Like Mary Jo Putney, I believe historical stories have a mythical element you don’t find in contemporary stories. There is a license to exaggerate, as long as the situation is plausible, with risks that reach beyond limits, and men that are bigger than life.
After years of writing marketing and product information for an international bank, which was anything but creative, I thoroughly enjoy creative writing. It is such a wonderful outlet for all the stories and characters that run around in my head.
So, you say I get it, you LOVE historicals. If that’s the case why do you also write contemporary stories, too?
My writing partners and I decided to develop a series of stories and produce them in an anthology. We decided we didn’t want unrelated stories but rather stories that were connected in some way, common places or our characters meet up with each. I am the only historical author. If I wanted to participate then I had to write contemporary stories.
My mind was filled with knights, druids, and the fae. I had no idea where to start with a contemporary story. "Write what you know," one writing partner said. "You’ve told us so many stories about your family. Use one of those as the story’s premise."
I wrote Second Change by the Sea, about a couple who after ten years of marriage find their wedding was never registered. That happened to my brother and his wife. While my story has the hero and heroine questioning their relationship, I'm happy to tell you my brother and sister-in-law remarried. I was proud to be their witness, again.
My story, Forsaking All Others, is set during a wedding. My daughter (the little one sitting on her big sister’s knee in the picture above) was the inspiration. She’d been dating her boyfriend for ten years. They got married and I decided to write a story about love and commitment.
Happily Ever After opens with a ruthless book review that is more of a personal attack. I used excerpts from an actual review I got for my first book. I must admit there was satisfaction in taking those lemons and turning them into lemonade!
Writing a contemporary story was a technical challenge. Historic stories use a different voice and an author needs to build the world for the reader. That’s usually why historicals are longer. But after writing my first contemporary I found I enjoyed the challenge so much I had to keep going.
Here is my question to you, historicals or contemporaries. Which do you like to read and why?
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You might be wondering what I’m about. Sit back and let me tell you.
I’m happiest when I’m telling stories either chatting with a group of friends or writing them down. I love to put my hero and heroine in tough situations and dare them to work it out—together, always together. They haven’t disappointed me. Oh, they complain but in the end their love and relationships are stronger than ever.
I’ve been filling up my days and staying busy. While I keep tormenting my druid knight, I’m outlining a new series. The working title is the River of Time. It’s about an elite technology security officer, whose job is to eliminate time travelers, but he falls in love with a time traveling art appraiser and has to choose between his duty and his one chance for a timeless love. I love this story line because it lets me stretch my contemporary voice while working in historic time periods. I think this is the best of both worlds.
For most of you, my contemporary side will be a surprise. Here are five other things you probably don’t know about me.
- I filled up my passport in one year.
I worked for a large financial institution, way before webinars and Skype. As a product manager I visited with clients and potential clients. All my clients were overseas. My sales support program took me to almost every European country (sorry not Liechtenstein) as well as a good many in Asia and South America. Have I got some great travel stories!
- I have a medieval romance story about the seven sons of a seventh son.
Only one book is finished, and published. The Guardian’s Witch. The others are in various draft stages. The heroine of The Guardian’s Witch was born with veil over her face, a caul. Throughout history, caul bearers are believed to have a special purpose—to serve mankind, guide people to understand themselves and the world within which they live. Many cultures believe this makes the child “King by right” with special powers ranging from leadership abilities to natural healers and having greater insight. I was born with caul. I’m still trying to figure out my power.
- I did a rap to “How Many Trucks Can a Tow Truck Tow If a Tow Truck Could Tow Trucks.”
I was a guest reader at my son’s first grade class (he’s out of college and on his own now). I rapped the book while my son was my boom box. We had a great time.
- When I cook I dance.
Our kitchen isn’t large but ever since Paul (my DH) and took ballroom dance lessons I practice between the fridge, the stove, and the table. Caution, don’t twirl or dip while carrying dinner to the table. Ouch!
- My Sudoku book is in the bathroom.
I’m not saying anything else about that.
RWA National - www.rwa.org NYRWA - www.rwanyc.com NJRWA - www.njromancewriters.org Liberty States Fiction Writers - www.libertystatesfictionwriters.com Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal RWA - www.romance-ffp.com Hearts Through History - www.heartsthroughhistory.com RWA Online - www.rwaonlinechapter.org/index.htm Celtic Hearts Romance Writers - www.celtichearts.org Hudson Valley Romance Writers www.hudsonvalleyrwa.com Washington Romance Writers www.wrwdc.com Center for Hope and Safety (for victims of domestic violence) www.hopeandsafetynj.org