Tag Archives: historical romance

Napoleon bares his breast — a cautionary editing tale

Napoleon-coronation

Napoleon Bares his Breast
~ or ~
The Editor Is [almost] Always Right

Two hundred and two years ago — on 7th March 1815, to be precise — Napoleon bared his breast to (what looked like) certain death and lived to fight one more great battle. (And if you’re wondering why we didn’t do this blog two years ago, on the bicentenary, we would plead that this website was a mere twinkle in the hively eye back then.)

A cautionary tale of author and editor

Once upon a time there was an author — let’s call her Joanna — who was writing a trilogy of love stories set in 1814-15, the end of the Napoleonic Wars. (He lost, by the way.) Continue reading

Gritty Saga Research: Jean Fullerton guests

jean-fullerton-author-picTwo weeks ago, we had Katie Fforde digging in the dirt — with and without Ray Mears! — in order to write about life in the here-and-now. This week, we welcome Jean Fullerton who writes award-winning historical sagas about the not-so-very-long-ago.

It can seem worlds away from where we are now, even though some readers will have lived through the periods of Jean’s stories and experienced exactly the kind of gritty reality she describes. And if you enjoy Call the Midwife, you’ll love Jean Fullerton’s books.

Read on to find out more about the lengths an author goes to in order to get it right

Jean Fullerton, East London Author

Fullerton research 20th century nursing guide

District nurse Jean wasn’t quite like this!

 

I was born in East London where my family have lived since the 1820s.

I’ve written ten novels set in East London (published by Orion) and am just putting the finishing touches to my eleventh. This one is set during the Second World War, and also in East London. I’m now a full-time writer but I was a District Nurse in East London for over 25 years. These days, I live with my hero just outside London. Continue reading

Sugar tongs at dawn? Elizabeth Rolls guests

It’s useful, when researching, to be able to consult people who were there. But go back more than a century or so — to the Regency in Britain, for example — and there are no living witnesses to consult. Elizabeth Rolls authorRegency novelists — like today’s guest, Elizabeth Rolls — have to rely on other sources.

You may imagine that “other sources” means dusty history books and written materials. But there’s much more than that.

And getting to grips with the non-written stuff can present the odd challenge if the author in question lives 12,000 miles away, in Australia.

As Elizabeth Rolls does…

Elizabeth Rolls loves her research

To research or not to research?

For me, research is a must. I’ve had a book kick off in my mind over a snippet about the crossroads burial of suicides in the early 19th century. The past is very much a foreign country, but add 12 000 miles into the equation and you have a real challenge. Continue reading

Romantic Series: Guest Blog by Sarah Mallory

Sarah Mallory guest blogs on romantic series

Sarah Mallory

Today our guest blogger is multi-award-winning historical author Sarah Mallory who has more than 40 books under her belt, under various writing names including Melinda Hammond.

Although Sarah was born in the West Country, she now lives on the romantic Yorkshire moors, within a stone’s throw of Brontë country which is, she says, a constant source of inspiration. She is also inspired by history, an abiding love, and the Hive can vouch for her wide knowledge of the Regency and other periods. Get her into a corner (with a glass of something) and the discussion flows wonderfully.

At the request of the Hive, Sarah is going to tell us about her experience of writing historical romantic novels in a series. These days, it’s the received wisdom that readers want series books. So a guide from an award-winning author sounds just the ticket. Over to Sarah . . .

Romantic Series : The Infamous Arrandales

After two years and many thousands of words, I have finished the last book in The Infamous Arrandales series. The Outcast’s Redemption will be published in July. Hurrah! Continue reading

Confessions of a Country House Tour Guide: Guest Blog by Nicola Cornick

Nicola Cornick author and tour guide

Nicola Cornick, Author & Tour Guide

Today our guest blogger is bestselling historical author (and part-time tour guide) Nicola Cornick. She has wonderfully romantic origins that seem to us to be just right for the books she writes — full of the sweep of history, and with heroes to die for.

Nicola was born in Yorkshire within a stone’s throw of the moors that inspired the Brontë sisters. She grew up in a sprawling Edwardian house full of books and went to school in a converted Georgian mansion. Her grandmother nurtured her love of history as well as teaching her to play canasta and grow rhubarb. (Buzz from the hive: clearly even rhubarb can be romantic!)

Nicola has written over 30 Regency historical romances for Harlequin Books and now writes historical mystery.

Confessions of a Country House Tour Guide

Nicola’s Confessions start with a couple of tourist/tour guide exchanges…

“Did you enjoy the guided tour?” 
“Not much. I don’t really like history.”  

“What did you think of the view from the roof platform?”
 “I’ve seen better on the road into Swindon.”
Ashdown House restoration picture by tour guide

Ashdown House

Ah, the joys of being a National Trust guide at Ashdown House! Most of our visitors are absolutely fantastic — interested, engaged, out to enjoy their day and full of questions or indeed information about Ashdown House and the Craven family. Sometimes they are people with a family connection to the house or the estate, and are able to help us fill in a part of the history of the place. We learn a lot from them. Continue reading

First Reader Love Letter to a Favourite Novel

First Love Letter to a Favourite Novel

Libertà’s First Reader Love Letter to a Favourite Novel

Our Love Letter to a Favourite Novel feature is still a work in progress. We’ve now refined it in the light of comments we’ve received from (we hope) intending contributors. We’re really grateful for all the supportive and encouraging suggestions and we hope you will keep them coming.

At this stage, we’ve got a couple of watchwords for ourselves and our contributors as they write their Love Letters: sharing and authenticity.

  • chatting about authors we loveSharing — we want everyone who reads these posts to feel at home here, whether they’re a fellow author or not.
  • Authentic — the piece doesn’t have to be unalloyed praise. Love isn’t always blind, after all. If readers think a character was short changed or there’s something they wish had or hadn’t been in the book, but nevertheless they still love it, they should go ahead and say so in their Love Letter.

You can read more about the latest news on the Love Letter to a Favourite Novel feature on the main page.

Today with a fanfare of trumpet — we could only manage one, sadly — we’re publishing our first reader contribution. Beth Elliott shares her love for R D Blackmore’s Lorna Doone. Continue reading

Finding Your Hero: Guest Blog by Louise Allen

louise allen author writes about finding hero

Louise Allen

Today, our guest blogger is Louise Allen, award-winning author of historical romances set in the Regency period and creator of many a gorgeous romantic hero. But she’s also written books set in the 17th and 18th centuries, plus one set back in AD410! She’s clearly been bitten by the history bug, big time, and her many fans are more than happy to follow her into any period she chooses.

Louise writes non-fiction about her historical interests, most recently the story of the first tourists to the Waterloo battlefield, in their own words. There is also a fascinating guide to walks in Jane Austen’s London — a boon for visitors and much recommended.

Given Louise’s very wide interests, we did wonder what she would choose to blog about…

Louise Allen finds her Hero

Where does a story come from? As a novelist I’m often asked that question and usually the answer is, “I have no idea, it just arrived.”

For one book, however, The Dangerous Mr Ryder, I am very clear where it came from, although the origins of the hero still elude me. Continue reading

The Writer’s Dog : Guest Blog by Anne Gracie

Anne Gracie writer's dog

Anne Gracie

Libertà’s very first guest blog comes from much-loved Australian author Anne Gracie whose captivating stories have won her fans all over the world.

Anne Gracie started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world, writing by hand in notebooks. Now published by Berkley USA and Penguin Australia, her Regency-era romances have been translated into more than eighteen languages — including Japanese manga (which she thinks is very cool).

A life-long advocate of universal literacy, Anne also writes books for adults just learning to read.

 

Move over TK, the Writer’s Cat. Make room for…

Anne Gracie and Milly, the Writer’s Dog

I grew up with animals, all kinds of animals, and a house without at least one animal seems empty to me. I’ve had a variety of pets, including cats, but the one animal that’s a constant in my life is a dog, and my current companion is Milly.

writer's dog Milly 1
She’s a rescue dog and came to me half grown, after I saw her on a dog rescue website, and brought her home, all gangly and uncoordinated.  She’s a little kelpie/cross (about 55cm, almost 2 ft.)

I sometimes tell people who ask about breeds that she’s a Baluchistan Hound. (And if you don’t know what a Baluchistan Hound is, you need to read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.) Continue reading

Why go Indie? Joanna Maitland’s answers

This post on Going Indie was originally a guest piece on Sue Moorcroft’s blog. Many thanks to her for letting us repost it here, complete with new thoughts, several months on…

Back in November 2015, I wrote:

Why go indie? At the risk of stating the obvious, I’d say the answer is freedom.

indie has freedom

Freedom to ride off into the sunset. What’s not to like?

Here’s an example of independent author freedom in action. As originally published, in the Harlequin Undone! series of short ebooks, His Silken Seduction was well under 50 pages. That was the length the line required, so that was the length I wrote. Simples!

When I reread it, for the first time in more than five years, I could see that the characters were just begging for more room to tell their story. Some readers had already told me so, in fact, but I hadn’t been able to change anything, first time round.

As I struck off their shackles, the characters gave three excited cheers at the prospect of freedom and simply took charge of the story.

going indie let a thousand birds fly free

They wanted to show me what was missing before — how they were falling in love in the midst of violence, and turmoil, and the threat of war; and how they had to live each day knowing it could be their last. They still wanted me to share their passion, but also their fears, and especially the terrible choices they were being forced to make, between love and duty.

Above all, they wanted time so that their full story could be told.

How could I refuse? And so, like Topsy, the story growed. And it was a joy, for me as the author, to grow with it.

freedom figure

 

This new, much expanded version of His Silken Seduction now weighs in at well over twice the length of the original. I still call it a novella, but my Libertà partner, Sophie Weston, has reminded me that some authors have published stories of this length and labelled them novels.
Barbara Cartland, for one!

 

Cover of His Silken Seduction by Joanna MaitlandFreedom has other advantages, too. By publishing the new version of His Silken Seduction myself, I have the final say on the cover design. As a professional, I couldn’t say so in public, but I really hated the original cover. To me, it didn’t look Regency, or sexy, or even very female.

The new cover, designed by Jane Dixon Smith, has everything I wanted. It even shows the streets of old Lyons where most of the story is set. And it’s certainly sexy. I hope you like it as much as I do.


The new, expanded version of His Silken Seduction was published as an Amazon ebook on 7th December, 2015. It is available from your local Amazon store.


Reposting this here in April 2016, I’d add:

Going indie is hard work.

You have to do everything for yourself, including marketing your books (via social media, website material, book signings and the like) and you have to do all the book formatting stuff as well. That’s an awful lot of non-writing tasks, even when you use professional helpers, as I do, for editing and cover design.

indie businesswoman goes shackle freeSomewhere in the middle of all that, you still have to find the time to write!

But in spite of everything, I’m very glad I made the jump to indie. And I still say that Freedom is the answer.

If you’ll excuse a groanworthy pun, I’d even add that it’s all about Libertà!

Joanna the shacklefree