Here's Charlie, hanging out with a putto in Versailles. 🙂
Perhaps the title for this blog should be "happy anniversary to the Earl of Wraybourne and Jane Sandiford," the hero and heroine of my first book, Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed. It's rather a clunky title, isn't it? Should I change it for the trade paperback reissue next year, do you think? Yes, the remaining trad Regencies are going to be reissued. 🙂
As LWB came out late in 1988, this is my twentieth anniversary as a published author. Not knowing at all what to expect back then, I was stunned when Melinda Helfer, reviewer for a sister publication of Romantic Times (and what was it? Anyone remember? Was it actually Rave Reviews? ) gave it a total rave of a review, ending with "the sky's the limit for this extraordinary talent." Wow. I really think by that she both inspired and terrified me, and whatever I've achieved since is due in part to her, because how could I not try to live up to even a part of her prediction? Alas, Melinda died quite a few years ago now, and is sorely missed as a reviewer. I have no doubt she's looking down from the great library in the sky, expecting the best of her authors.
Now, I'm the author of 33 published novels, and the last one at last made the in-paper NYT list, reaching #10. I'm trying, Melinda, I'm trying!
BTW, the paperback of LWB had one of my worst ever covers. The hardcover wasn't great, with that strange Lolita chick on it. (The pale strip on the left is because my archival copy has faded a bit with the light.) This was my first pictorial cover and I was eager to see what an artist would make of my characters. It boggles my mind that anyone chose that guy to pose for this! I call him Igor.
I've been asked a few times about the differences between then and now, and they're immense. I won't go into the changes in the genre, but they are continuous, of course, because romantic fiction changes as society changes, as women change. But look at technology.
I know I wouldn't have become a novelist without the word processor. I'd never learned to type, and thus was slow and error prone. The whole business of carbons and erasing errors was bad enough over a few pages, never mind hundreds. Also, my writing style is messy. Though I start at the beginning and keep going until I get to the end, in the process, I go back and insert, delete, rewrite. I remember the trouble this gave me even with early computers.
We had PET computers from the early days. The first was a 4 K. Can you imagine? It used a cassette tape for data storage. We also had Commodore 64s and a VIC 20, but I think I wrote on a 32 K, with the larger floppy disks of not great density. The picture is our eldest son playing a game on one of them. It could even be that 4K.
I couldn't even get a chapter on one of those disks, so I'd save 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 etc. But then I'd change something in 1:2 and create disk 1:22 and 1:23. You can see how this went. In theory, in printing, the computer could go in sequence through the files, but I always screwed up somewhere and a chunk or chunks would be missing.
And then there were the dot matrix printers that editors hated, and which took a whole day to print out a book, after which someone had to tear off all the feeder strips. I remember borrowing a better dot matrix printer to print out the first submission copy of Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed. It didn't get published at that time 1984, but whoever you were, dear lady, thank you!
And, of course, there was no internet for ordinary people, and certainly no World Wide Web. Extraordinary to think of now.
Enough of nostalgia — though feel free to share your stories from antediluvian writing technology. And just to tie things up, there's my 2008 book. Georgian not Regency. Sexy not sweet. And a lot more copies out than the 1500 copies printed of that first hardcover. 🙂
Here's my celebratory anniversary challenge.
Which hero of mine would you most like to spend an evening with? What you do with the time is completely up to you and him! Say why. Argue your case. In addition, pick one hero from any other Wench book on the same basis — the hero you'd most like to spend an evening with.
I will pick a winner from among those who chose the most popular hero from one of my books. That person will get a copy of the book, if they don't already have it (and if I have one spare) plus a $20 Cdn gift certificate to the Amazon branch of her or his choice. I thought of making it $20 US, as most of you probably are from the US, but what the heck. I'm Canadian. But I'll give you the equivalent in local currency. It's only a bit less than $20 US. 🙂
I will also pick two other winners from all the people who comment and they will get a book of their choice.
I know this is a bit complicated, so I'll lay it out in another way.
1. Decide which hero from my books you'd most like to spend an evening with. Post a comment saying who that is and also saying why. The name alone won't count.
2. Also, consider the books by other Wenches. Include in your comment one Wenchly hero you'd also like to spend an evening with. Two names, two reasons.
At midnight, Pacific Time, on Thursday 25th November, I'll pick the three winners.
First I'll tally the posts to decide which of my heroes is the winner.
Then I'll write the name of each person who chose him on a piece of paper.
Then I'll draw a name. That'll be the grand prize winner.
Then, from everyone who posted a comment, I'll pick two more winners of books.
And happy Thanksgiving to all here who are American! As you know, we celebrate Thanksgiving earlier in Canada, but as far as I'm concerned that just gives us two chances to celebrate the good things about our lives, and one of those for me is the wonderful 20 years as an author and the readers who make it all happen.
Looking over those years, here's an official RWA photo of the Hall of Fame, alongside the other members, Cheryl Zach, Eileen Dreyer, and Nora Roberts. Julie Garwood wasn't present. I became a member in 1994 after winning 3 RITAs in the Regency category, but they didn't decide to give us RITA statues for Hof F until 1996, when this photo was taken.
Lastly, a special gift to the historically interested. I've uploaded images of parts of a Poole's Gentlemen's Pocket Memorandum from 1819. This was acquired and scanned by Anne Woodley, who kindly gave me permission to share it. I hope it's readable. If not, feel free to save the images and enlarge them. If that doesn't work, let me know and I'll find another way to upload them. The Shutterfly blog is simple, however, and I'll be uploading more pics. The Baronial Hall, BTW, is the apartment I'm currently enjoying as we're between houses. And yes, we do have deer wandering by!
All best wishes,