Nerves are frayed

I guess the feeling never changes.

Nerves are frayed, all kinds of thoughts run through your mind, and your nails never grow long enough to shine with a bright coat of varnish as they're kept bitten to the core.

Yes, it's the feverish anticipation for a response from a publisher. I must admit that I've only submitted one query with a partial in all my years of writing. Yet here I am, checking my personal email several times a day for news. Any news. Hopefully good news!

This sub left my mailbox 15 weeks ago. Now I'm kindly informed by a helpful, successful writer that the cut off time for tentative enquiries as to your ms's whereabouts is 20 weeks! Ouch! My, how much does that test anyone's patience?! LOL

I hope to submit a query for Doubtful Allegiance once I'm closer to the end. This is likely to be by June. No point submitting it earlier, as my daily working life might interfere too much to allow me to devote enough time to guide it to a fantastic ending. But I'm keen to get it out there. And then get on with the contemporary story. Or even delve back into the Scottish Middle Ages.

It's both exhilarating and worrying, knowing a professional is about to assess your baby. Exhilarating because it's something you have created, nurtured and set free. Worrying for exactly the same reasons. None of us like having their work ripped to shreds after spending months, or even years, trying to get it just right, just the way we love it.

I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed. Hopefully, it's good news. :-)

Historical vs Contemporary Mystery

After several years of playing around with historical WIPs (at home and in writing courses), I finally completed and submitted a ms in the winter. Of course, the subbed version varied much from the first drafts; even the storyline took a different turn than originally intended. But it all worked in its favour. As it's been 14 weeks since I submitted, I'm going to wait another two before I send a query email. I just want to know what's going to happen with it. Yes, patience is not one of my strong points, I'm afraid...

Since January, I've been working on re-editing an older WIP which is 2/3 completed. Thankfully, my eagle-eyed crit girls seem to like it so I hope to move forward quickly with it and get it finished by the summer when my daily workload's going to explode for three months.

But during a recent trip to the continent, I travelled with a group of three old friends by car to Austria. On the journey back after a couple of fun, but a bit hectic days, we all were more quiet and tired. While one friend read the printed-off version of my completed ms (she said she really loved it, though she'd never read a historical before. She was so hooked so she read it in 3 days! ~bounce~), I took out my notepad and started a story I'd thought about on the flight out. A modern mystery/thriller.

I know there's a lot I've yet to research - secret service stuff, guns, etc - but I'm excited about this new project. I regularly read contemporary thrillers, so hopefully my structure will work out fine.

As it's a nice day out there, and the laptop screen likely to glare and be unreadable, I'm going to take my notepad and continue with this one today. Makes a nice change to the unruly Middle Ages.

Happy Sunday, folks! :-)

Hurrah! Spring has arrived!

Dare we hope?

Barely 10 days ago we had a sudden freeze with several inches of snow, and Easter was a complete washout. Not that I had a chance to notice, having to work Good Friday and Easter Monday. But it was a shame for friends who wanted to go camping. Soggy fields and mudbaths are not the signs of a good weekend away.

But finally the tide appears to have turned. The last few days turned milder. And it stayed dry! I know! I could scarcely believe it either. :-)

Today has begun sunny, with a few fluffy clouds scattered across the sky. So far so good. Time to get the washing on, to hang outside. And this lovely spell is said to continue. So DH and I will spend some time in our garden. Last year, we did this a few weeks earlier but our long, cold winter made my poor plants shiver. And a couple even died.

I think today will be the day to visit the garden centre, and to fill our small square outside with colour. There's nothing more uplifting than a garden in bloom, full of sunshine.

I hope everyone else also has a chance to enjoy spring. :-)

Historical Research

Writing believable historical fiction requires at least some idea of the customs, politics and way of life of the period you choose to write about. The importance of such knowledge varies, depending on genre and storyline, but getting the basics right is vital for your credibility as a writer.

In general historical fiction, where the politics of the day might interfere with the MC's life, it is crucial to get your facts right. And there are no excuses! Nowadays, it's fairly easy to read up about kings and queens, political parties and the differences in roles between nobility, gentry and the working classes. There are huge resources available online, that even just a decade ago seemed unobtainable. And, of course, there's always the fat volume of a history book to browse in and take notes. Most libraries can get you copies of the most relevant tomes.

Without turning your story into such a history book, you would want your characters to be as close to the real thing as you can make them, so ensure to read up on their types of behaviour, clothing, setting and day-to-day customs. Explore how they would address each other, and their superiors or villeins. Ensure that, if you use real life characters such as kings, they were indeed known to be in the area you set them, or at least that there is no record of them being elsewhere. It only takes one reader to know the facts. Join interest groups of the same genre to swap information. Many of those groups are fountains of knowledge and the members are always happy to share details and tips.

In historical romance, research is still of importance, even though the plot would focus on the two MCs rather, with the external influences of the day filling out the background. Yet it can jar a reader's enjoyment when details such as address, clothing, assumed behaviour or a monarch's name are out of synch.

Never underestimate your readers! They come from all walks of life, with many readers of historicals having gained huge insight into what was acceptable during a certain age - and what seems totally out of place. Some don't mind if you get things wrong, but others might throw your book against the wall. And we don't ever want anyone to do just that...

Shortly, I'm going to start posting links to helpful websites and groups for historical fiction, romance and mystery research. You may also find other, more specific groups of enthusiasts in yahoo or google groups. Go and ask to join them! You won't regret it.

Happy exploring!


Excerpt uploaded

So, to start this blog off in style, I've posted a small excerpt of my current WIP, A Doubtful Allegiance. Set in 1140s England, in the middle of a civil war, allegiances change like the wind. So who can my heroine trust?

This ms is 2/3 completed but after a break of around two years, I've just returned to edit it from chapter one, and of course to complete it. I've just posted my chapter four to my crit group, a wonderful bunch of girls who always spot the slightest misstep. Their eagle eyes help me alot.

But in order to move on with the story, I have to re-visit Normandy. Alas, only in the world of the internet. Not on my list of places to travel to this year. Best get on with it. The county of Perche awaits!

Writing historical romantic mystery

Oh, it's such fun - creating lives of people in days long gone. The adventure. The dangers. The possibilities.

I love bringing the past to life and intend to showcase some of my writing on this new blog. The Highlands of Scotland. England under the yoke of a civil war. Normandy under the rule of a family descended from the Devil. Oooh!

Please be patient while I set it all up. More to follow soon!