Hi, here's Jo and Charlie, still nomadic, but hoping to be in our house in a couple of days. All those wonderful housewarming gifts will be much appreciated!
As far as publishing goes, however, I find myself here and there with a book coming out in North America, and promo starting up for the book I have coming out in the UK in November.
Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed, the north American book, was my first published book, back in 1988. It wasn’t the first book I finished. That was An Arranged Marriage, completed in about 1977 but later heavily rewritten. In the ‘80s I honed my skills on some contemporaries because everyone in my writing group was trying to sell to Harlequin. I wrote what now might be a Presents, though my hero was the sweet one and my heroine was the cold, career-driven one. That’s me. Always out of phase.
Then there’s the single mother and the murderer. Challenging, but I still like that book. I might publish it on the internet.
I also wrote a fantasy novel, which again broke so many rules – you can’t do magic like that! And you certainly can’t leave your hero pregnant – that it didn’t find a home. One day I’ll get time to do something with that.
I’m telling you this in case any of you are in despair because your first, your third, your tenth book hasn’t sold. Completely normal, my dears. No, there aren’t ten there, but there were a number of partially completed ones lying around somewhere. (The picture is of the countryside we drove through today — probably Cumbria, but perhaps Yorkshire or Durham. It's right on the border.)
Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed is a classic Regency romance, and I like to think that it’s a good example of the form, which I’d come to understand over time, but again I was driven by my contrary nature. I’d become so tired of the weird ways innocent Regency ladies fell in with ineligible Regency gentlemen that I started with a boringly normal arranged marriage between two well-balanced, amiably people. Nowadays, I’m not sure I’d try!
I wrote the opening in a hurry to have something to give for comments to the teacher of a short course on romance writing. Most things in the book changed over the next four years, but little about that opening, which I'm sharing here.
(This picture is of the Angel Inn Hotel in Pershore, Worcestershire, where we spent a lovely couple of night. Pershore is a lovely Georgian town.)
It was the most talked-about and yet the most tedious betrothal of the year.
The announcement in the Morning Post of April 12th 1813 of the betrothal and forthcoming marriage of the Honorable Jane Sandiford of Carne Abbey, Gloucestershire and David Kyle, 10th Earl of Wraybourne of Stenby Castle, Shropshire and Alton Street in London sent gossips from Edinburgh to Bath scurrying to their favourite meeting places. The ancient lineage of both families was traced. The enormous wealth of both families was assessed. Then the topic was found to have been sucked dry.
What was there to say about two such eminently correct people? Lord Wraybourne was an intelligent, well-educated man of thirty-two, admired by all levels of society. He handled his fortune responsibly, played his part in the Lords without aspiring to political leadership, was an excellent host and an amiable guest. If his manner was detached that was only to be expected from one of his lineage and betokened a proper acceptance of his place in society.
Miss Sandiford was the only child of Sir Jeffrey and Lady Sandiford. The lack of aristocratic station was not mistaken by the knowledgeable as a sign of lower status. The Sandifords were one of the oldest families in the land and one of the richest. In recent generations the family been the epitome of starch-stiff rectitude and despite their meticulous attention to charitable works, sober, dutiful living had led to even greater prosperity.
It was true that few people had met the young lady for she had been educated at home and the Sandifords did not entertain. She had not yet made her debut even in nearby Cheltenham, which was unusual for a girl nearing twenty but it was only the most daring and absurd scandal-monger who suggested she might be deformed or mentally defective. And anyway, shrugged the practical, what would that matter when her portion was bound to be immense.
So the gossips were forced to abandon the topic for the moment to discuss, according to their tastes, the new use of stiffer fabrics in evening gowns or the preparations being made in Portugal by the Duke of Wellington to finally put paid to the upstart Corsican. Their curiosity about Miss Sandiford would be satisfied in time. Lord Wraybourne was a leader of fashion and would surely bring his wife to Town in due course. Then, at first or second hand, they would all be able to assess Lord Wraybourne's betrothed, the new entrant to the ranks of the ton.
(Another Georgian inn from Pershore. The town is full of them. The arch, of course, leads through to the coach yard and stables.)
I suppose that proves that it doesn't matter whether we start with a dramatic situation or a supposedly ordinary one — we can get a good story depending on what actually happens in the book. Or to put it another way, it's what happens IN the book that matters in the end, not the dramatic situation the book opens with. I think. Any opinions on that. I know I do like taking decent people and messing up their lives rather than taking messed up people and sorting them out.
LWB should be out on the 6th, but could already be in stores.
As for Lady Notorious, I'm going to be in various places around England promoting this book, so if you are in the UK watch this space to learn more, but you can also look at the web site.