Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time….

Don’t lots of good tales begin with “once upon a time?”  This tale started when three historical romance authors kicked around a familiar topic: to blog, or not to blog.  Blogging looked like it could be a fun way to connect with readers, but who had the time?  Not only were we all busy (isn’t everyone?), but I suspect that most writers, at heart, don’t think we’re very interesting.

            But our friends are very interesting!  A group blog would have a wider reach while reducing the amount of work per author.  It’s a rare person who can be witty seven days a week.  But seven authors working together might be able to manage it.  Particularly if some have pseudonyms, which would offer even more possibilities. 

            The first three wannabes did a wish list of other writers we’d like to blog with.  The list included authors whom we knew and admired—other long-term veterans of the storytelling business. 

            We sent hopeful invitations to the wish list.  They all accepted.  Joy!  Bliss!  Panic! 

            To make our lives easier, we also enlisted a taskmistress—a site manager who would learn the techie stuff and keep us in line.  We also found a most excellent web goddess to design a simple look with a touch of historical ambience. 

            And here we are.  All seven of us started in historical romance, or that special subset known as Regency romance.  We all still write historical romance—and proud of it!—though several of us have added other strings to our bows.  We want to chat about the writing life, interesting bits of history, and whatever takes our fancy.

            Mostly, we’d like to write about what interests you, the readers.  Blogging is an interactive activity (though not, we hope, a contact sport!)  Let us know what you’d like to hear about—comments are very easy to post. 

            Do you want to know where we get ideas?  (Everywhere, but the details are interesting.  <g>)

            Would you like a scholarly dissertation on childbirth in the early 19th century?  On the history of contraceptives?  Or how crazed writers sound when they’re on deadline and the !#$%&* computer crashes? (That is not a pretty sight!)

            Ask questions, make comments.  Let’s have fun together.

            Let the blogging begin!

Mary Jo Putney

36 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time…”

  1. I think ya’ll are very, very interesting.
    “Mostly we’d like to know what interests you.”
    You asked for it.
    I want to know how each of you approach structuring a novel. Do you do an outline? Do you decide beforehand in which chapter the hero will reveal his internal motive driving his external goal?
    Sorry, but an inquiring mind wants to know.

    Reply
  2. I think ya’ll are very, very interesting.
    “Mostly we’d like to know what interests you.”
    You asked for it.
    I want to know how each of you approach structuring a novel. Do you do an outline? Do you decide beforehand in which chapter the hero will reveal his internal motive driving his external goal?
    Sorry, but an inquiring mind wants to know.

    Reply
  3. I think ya’ll are very, very interesting.
    “Mostly we’d like to know what interests you.”
    You asked for it.
    I want to know how each of you approach structuring a novel. Do you do an outline? Do you decide beforehand in which chapter the hero will reveal his internal motive driving his external goal?
    Sorry, but an inquiring mind wants to know.

    Reply
  4. Cathy, so nice to see you hear! To answer your question–I usually start with some combination of characters and plot idea and stew on it for a while.
    Eventually I get to the point were I can write an 8 to 10 page synposis that describes the main characters, their interaction, the setting, the plot set-up, and the resolution. But no way do I know what chapter stuff happens in!
    My synopsis is the sturdy skeleton of the novel, but there is about 90% of the story that I figure out as I go along. To be honest, I mostly write by feel–the characters do something when it feels right. Which isn’t very structured at all.
    Thanks for stopping by–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  5. Cathy, so nice to see you hear! To answer your question–I usually start with some combination of characters and plot idea and stew on it for a while.
    Eventually I get to the point were I can write an 8 to 10 page synposis that describes the main characters, their interaction, the setting, the plot set-up, and the resolution. But no way do I know what chapter stuff happens in!
    My synopsis is the sturdy skeleton of the novel, but there is about 90% of the story that I figure out as I go along. To be honest, I mostly write by feel–the characters do something when it feels right. Which isn’t very structured at all.
    Thanks for stopping by–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  6. Cathy, so nice to see you hear! To answer your question–I usually start with some combination of characters and plot idea and stew on it for a while.
    Eventually I get to the point were I can write an 8 to 10 page synposis that describes the main characters, their interaction, the setting, the plot set-up, and the resolution. But no way do I know what chapter stuff happens in!
    My synopsis is the sturdy skeleton of the novel, but there is about 90% of the story that I figure out as I go along. To be honest, I mostly write by feel–the characters do something when it feels right. Which isn’t very structured at all.
    Thanks for stopping by–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  7. Why aren’t there movies of your historical romances? Are you folks approached by moviemakers or screenwriters? I so long to see the swordfight at the end of “The Diabolical Baron” on film. I would think this genre would be fertile ground for film– Am I wrong?

    Reply
  8. Why aren’t there movies of your historical romances? Are you folks approached by moviemakers or screenwriters? I so long to see the swordfight at the end of “The Diabolical Baron” on film. I would think this genre would be fertile ground for film– Am I wrong?

    Reply
  9. Why aren’t there movies of your historical romances? Are you folks approached by moviemakers or screenwriters? I so long to see the swordfight at the end of “The Diabolical Baron” on film. I would think this genre would be fertile ground for film– Am I wrong?

    Reply
  10. Merry–You’re right that a lot of historical romances would made very entertaining movies, but sadly, Hollywood isn’t interested. For starters, any kind of historical movie is really expensive to make, so few are made. When they are, producers like to stick to classics like Jane Austen.
    Very few historical romances are even optioned–contemporary romances are more likely to be optioned, but even then, Hollywood would likes some kind of clever hook beyond the romance.
    I actually did have one of my historical romances optioned: THE CHINA BRIDE. The option expired after a year and that was that, but it did give me bragging rights.
    Historical romances and Hollywood are a complex topic, but the regrettable bottom line is that we’ll have to stick to reading the books and imagining the stories in our minds.
    Mary Jo, flattered that Merry would like to see a movie of THe Diabolical Baron. It would be fun for sure! But..won’t happen

    Reply
  11. Merry–You’re right that a lot of historical romances would made very entertaining movies, but sadly, Hollywood isn’t interested. For starters, any kind of historical movie is really expensive to make, so few are made. When they are, producers like to stick to classics like Jane Austen.
    Very few historical romances are even optioned–contemporary romances are more likely to be optioned, but even then, Hollywood would likes some kind of clever hook beyond the romance.
    I actually did have one of my historical romances optioned: THE CHINA BRIDE. The option expired after a year and that was that, but it did give me bragging rights.
    Historical romances and Hollywood are a complex topic, but the regrettable bottom line is that we’ll have to stick to reading the books and imagining the stories in our minds.
    Mary Jo, flattered that Merry would like to see a movie of THe Diabolical Baron. It would be fun for sure! But..won’t happen

    Reply
  12. Merry–You’re right that a lot of historical romances would made very entertaining movies, but sadly, Hollywood isn’t interested. For starters, any kind of historical movie is really expensive to make, so few are made. When they are, producers like to stick to classics like Jane Austen.
    Very few historical romances are even optioned–contemporary romances are more likely to be optioned, but even then, Hollywood would likes some kind of clever hook beyond the romance.
    I actually did have one of my historical romances optioned: THE CHINA BRIDE. The option expired after a year and that was that, but it did give me bragging rights.
    Historical romances and Hollywood are a complex topic, but the regrettable bottom line is that we’ll have to stick to reading the books and imagining the stories in our minds.
    Mary Jo, flattered that Merry would like to see a movie of THe Diabolical Baron. It would be fun for sure! But..won’t happen

    Reply
  13. The personal is political — remember that slogan? I get my hope, in dark times, from romance novels. These are not cheery times for someone who is politically progressive, and reading the news can be depressing. In the romances I prefer, both hero and heroine grow emotionally. In particular, the men often grow in ways that involve respecting and valuing women more than they do at the beginning of the book. In times when the hard won respect that women have achieved for ourselves is under threat, the popularity of romances in this country is one of the things that makes me hopeful that feminism is alive somehow. Of course, I know this isn’t that rational–novels don’t translate to political power, and the books I choose to read may not be that representative of what’s out there. Also, it’s women who are, for the most part, reading the books, not men. Yet, who knows?
    Works of fiction have made a difference. What do you think? I also was wondering if there is any scholarship about romance novels and reasons for their popularity that you know of. What about literary criticism? I love the use of the humorous and distant narrator, reminiscent of Jane Austen, that I find in romances. How on earth do you develop that?

    Reply
  14. The personal is political — remember that slogan? I get my hope, in dark times, from romance novels. These are not cheery times for someone who is politically progressive, and reading the news can be depressing. In the romances I prefer, both hero and heroine grow emotionally. In particular, the men often grow in ways that involve respecting and valuing women more than they do at the beginning of the book. In times when the hard won respect that women have achieved for ourselves is under threat, the popularity of romances in this country is one of the things that makes me hopeful that feminism is alive somehow. Of course, I know this isn’t that rational–novels don’t translate to political power, and the books I choose to read may not be that representative of what’s out there. Also, it’s women who are, for the most part, reading the books, not men. Yet, who knows?
    Works of fiction have made a difference. What do you think? I also was wondering if there is any scholarship about romance novels and reasons for their popularity that you know of. What about literary criticism? I love the use of the humorous and distant narrator, reminiscent of Jane Austen, that I find in romances. How on earth do you develop that?

    Reply
  15. The personal is political — remember that slogan? I get my hope, in dark times, from romance novels. These are not cheery times for someone who is politically progressive, and reading the news can be depressing. In the romances I prefer, both hero and heroine grow emotionally. In particular, the men often grow in ways that involve respecting and valuing women more than they do at the beginning of the book. In times when the hard won respect that women have achieved for ourselves is under threat, the popularity of romances in this country is one of the things that makes me hopeful that feminism is alive somehow. Of course, I know this isn’t that rational–novels don’t translate to political power, and the books I choose to read may not be that representative of what’s out there. Also, it’s women who are, for the most part, reading the books, not men. Yet, who knows?
    Works of fiction have made a difference. What do you think? I also was wondering if there is any scholarship about romance novels and reasons for their popularity that you know of. What about literary criticism? I love the use of the humorous and distant narrator, reminiscent of Jane Austen, that I find in romances. How on earth do you develop that?

    Reply
  16. I’m just cruising through the comments and am awed at the intelligence and introspection already revealed by our readers. and the knowledge of technology. We’ll ask our webmistress about the RSS feed. I’m clueless. I think Merry’s comments probably need a daily blog for reply, and since I’ve already promised my blog to Kim today, I’ll let Mary Jo ponder the political and see if I can get by with just comments. Not lazy or anything, you know…
    Pat Rice

    Reply
  17. I’m just cruising through the comments and am awed at the intelligence and introspection already revealed by our readers. and the knowledge of technology. We’ll ask our webmistress about the RSS feed. I’m clueless. I think Merry’s comments probably need a daily blog for reply, and since I’ve already promised my blog to Kim today, I’ll let Mary Jo ponder the political and see if I can get by with just comments. Not lazy or anything, you know…
    Pat Rice

    Reply
  18. I’m just cruising through the comments and am awed at the intelligence and introspection already revealed by our readers. and the knowledge of technology. We’ll ask our webmistress about the RSS feed. I’m clueless. I think Merry’s comments probably need a daily blog for reply, and since I’ve already promised my blog to Kim today, I’ll let Mary Jo ponder the political and see if I can get by with just comments. Not lazy or anything, you know…
    Pat Rice

    Reply
  19. Everything you suggested as possible future topics sounds interesting, Mary Jo. I’m a real history nerd, so “a scholarly dissertation” on childbirth in the 19th century actually sounds kind of fun. I’d love to know what fun, interesting or thought provoking facts you guys run into when you do your historical research.
    At the risk of gushing, you are some of my favorite authors, so I’m excited you started a blog.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  20. Everything you suggested as possible future topics sounds interesting, Mary Jo. I’m a real history nerd, so “a scholarly dissertation” on childbirth in the 19th century actually sounds kind of fun. I’d love to know what fun, interesting or thought provoking facts you guys run into when you do your historical research.
    At the risk of gushing, you are some of my favorite authors, so I’m excited you started a blog.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  21. Everything you suggested as possible future topics sounds interesting, Mary Jo. I’m a real history nerd, so “a scholarly dissertation” on childbirth in the 19th century actually sounds kind of fun. I’d love to know what fun, interesting or thought provoking facts you guys run into when you do your historical research.
    At the risk of gushing, you are some of my favorite authors, so I’m excited you started a blog.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  22. Merry, your points were so good I’m going to move what you’re asking and my reply to a main post.
    I think Typepad is supposed to do RSS feeds. If it’s having the hiccups, it might not, so it’s worth trying again, but in the meantime, we’re referring your question to our techie experts. (We authors have basic computer competence, but web goddesses we are not.)
    Michelle, Jo Beverley is the expert on childbirth in earlier eras, so I’ll ask if she’ll post something on the subject.
    I can’t believe what great activity we’re getting within a day of launching. Thanks SO MUCH for coming!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  23. Merry, your points were so good I’m going to move what you’re asking and my reply to a main post.
    I think Typepad is supposed to do RSS feeds. If it’s having the hiccups, it might not, so it’s worth trying again, but in the meantime, we’re referring your question to our techie experts. (We authors have basic computer competence, but web goddesses we are not.)
    Michelle, Jo Beverley is the expert on childbirth in earlier eras, so I’ll ask if she’ll post something on the subject.
    I can’t believe what great activity we’re getting within a day of launching. Thanks SO MUCH for coming!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  24. Merry, your points were so good I’m going to move what you’re asking and my reply to a main post.
    I think Typepad is supposed to do RSS feeds. If it’s having the hiccups, it might not, so it’s worth trying again, but in the meantime, we’re referring your question to our techie experts. (We authors have basic computer competence, but web goddesses we are not.)
    Michelle, Jo Beverley is the expert on childbirth in earlier eras, so I’ll ask if she’ll post something on the subject.
    I can’t believe what great activity we’re getting within a day of launching. Thanks SO MUCH for coming!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  25. Hi, ladies! I’m so very excited that you’re blogging! I learned about this on Squawk Radio, to which I am addicted. Now there are three awesome romance writer blogs, counting Running With Quills. How cool is that? Very very, I think.
    There are some things I’d like to know from your areas of expertise – like, how do you build tension between the main two characters? And have you ever had a character that you matched with one person but found (s)he kept wanting to be matched with another? It would be fantastic if you did regular writing posts.
    But I’d also like to know more about you all – what do you do when you’re not writing? If you cook, what’s a good recipe? When were you most embarrassed? I want to know the women behind the names, please :).
    I confess, though, that my most burning question is: What underwear did your average Regency Alpha male wear in the early 1800s? Since they wore such tight pants, I’m thinking they didn’t swing in the breeze under there, but I don’t think they had tighty whities. Inquiring minds want to know!!

    Reply
  26. Hi, ladies! I’m so very excited that you’re blogging! I learned about this on Squawk Radio, to which I am addicted. Now there are three awesome romance writer blogs, counting Running With Quills. How cool is that? Very very, I think.
    There are some things I’d like to know from your areas of expertise – like, how do you build tension between the main two characters? And have you ever had a character that you matched with one person but found (s)he kept wanting to be matched with another? It would be fantastic if you did regular writing posts.
    But I’d also like to know more about you all – what do you do when you’re not writing? If you cook, what’s a good recipe? When were you most embarrassed? I want to know the women behind the names, please :).
    I confess, though, that my most burning question is: What underwear did your average Regency Alpha male wear in the early 1800s? Since they wore such tight pants, I’m thinking they didn’t swing in the breeze under there, but I don’t think they had tighty whities. Inquiring minds want to know!!

    Reply
  27. Hi, ladies! I’m so very excited that you’re blogging! I learned about this on Squawk Radio, to which I am addicted. Now there are three awesome romance writer blogs, counting Running With Quills. How cool is that? Very very, I think.
    There are some things I’d like to know from your areas of expertise – like, how do you build tension between the main two characters? And have you ever had a character that you matched with one person but found (s)he kept wanting to be matched with another? It would be fantastic if you did regular writing posts.
    But I’d also like to know more about you all – what do you do when you’re not writing? If you cook, what’s a good recipe? When were you most embarrassed? I want to know the women behind the names, please :).
    I confess, though, that my most burning question is: What underwear did your average Regency Alpha male wear in the early 1800s? Since they wore such tight pants, I’m thinking they didn’t swing in the breeze under there, but I don’t think they had tighty whities. Inquiring minds want to know!!

    Reply
  28. Glad you came by! There are other group romance blogs, too–take a look at fogcitydivas.com, which features seven excellent San Francisco area authors. We’re all figuring out that group blogs are less work and more fun.
    Building tension between characters is a HUGE topic. THe best and briefest answer I know is from the wonderful author Patricia Potter, who once said to me, “Sexual tension is wanting someone you can’t have.” (Imagine that in a luscious Alabama accent. )
    That’s it in a nutshell–have these people yearning for each other, but have really good reasons why they can’t just give in and jump each other’s bones.
    You asked if I’ve ever had characters develop a yearning for the wrong person. Nope. By the time I start writing, I know the characters well enough that they behave.
    As to regular writing posts–there will be a lot of things we’ll touch on, but this is a blog, not a writing course. If you hang out with us, you’ll probably pick up some good stuff, though!
    You’ve come up with so many good questions that I’ve put several into my idea file so they can be addressed over time. I’m so deep into deadline frenzy that I can’t respond to everything in detail, but I am a cook, and the idea of posting recipes at some point is a great one. Probably a soup recipe….
    MJP

    Reply
  29. Glad you came by! There are other group romance blogs, too–take a look at fogcitydivas.com, which features seven excellent San Francisco area authors. We’re all figuring out that group blogs are less work and more fun.
    Building tension between characters is a HUGE topic. THe best and briefest answer I know is from the wonderful author Patricia Potter, who once said to me, “Sexual tension is wanting someone you can’t have.” (Imagine that in a luscious Alabama accent. )
    That’s it in a nutshell–have these people yearning for each other, but have really good reasons why they can’t just give in and jump each other’s bones.
    You asked if I’ve ever had characters develop a yearning for the wrong person. Nope. By the time I start writing, I know the characters well enough that they behave.
    As to regular writing posts–there will be a lot of things we’ll touch on, but this is a blog, not a writing course. If you hang out with us, you’ll probably pick up some good stuff, though!
    You’ve come up with so many good questions that I’ve put several into my idea file so they can be addressed over time. I’m so deep into deadline frenzy that I can’t respond to everything in detail, but I am a cook, and the idea of posting recipes at some point is a great one. Probably a soup recipe….
    MJP

    Reply
  30. Glad you came by! There are other group romance blogs, too–take a look at fogcitydivas.com, which features seven excellent San Francisco area authors. We’re all figuring out that group blogs are less work and more fun.
    Building tension between characters is a HUGE topic. THe best and briefest answer I know is from the wonderful author Patricia Potter, who once said to me, “Sexual tension is wanting someone you can’t have.” (Imagine that in a luscious Alabama accent. )
    That’s it in a nutshell–have these people yearning for each other, but have really good reasons why they can’t just give in and jump each other’s bones.
    You asked if I’ve ever had characters develop a yearning for the wrong person. Nope. By the time I start writing, I know the characters well enough that they behave.
    As to regular writing posts–there will be a lot of things we’ll touch on, but this is a blog, not a writing course. If you hang out with us, you’ll probably pick up some good stuff, though!
    You’ve come up with so many good questions that I’ve put several into my idea file so they can be addressed over time. I’m so deep into deadline frenzy that I can’t respond to everything in detail, but I am a cook, and the idea of posting recipes at some point is a great one. Probably a soup recipe….
    MJP

    Reply

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