Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rejection Etiquette

I don’t mind the form letter rejection but I do wish they would add a few pointers, something like edit for pacing, check historical facts, etc. Then there is also the year long wait and that I do mine. Three months I can do no problem but anything over than and I take it as abuse of power/emotional cruelty.

Good example, this is my latest rejection letter and this after six months but she was on holidays so who am I to hold a grudge. For all I know she could have gone off to Tibet to find herself or something equally as impressive.

Dear Simone,
Thank you for your query which I received while I was on vacation. My apologies for taking so long to get back to you. Although it sounds like an interesting historical novel, I’m sorry to report it’s not quite right for my list at the moment. So I’ll have to pass. I certainly appreciate your thinking of me with your work, and I wish you the best in your search for suitable representation.
Agent whom shall go unnamed

I rant but I hold no ill-will, yes it’s true, it’s all I can do not to scream but I shall overcome.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Creating the Setting

This is Kapiton Zelentsov's Russia during 1820's it's close to the England I write.
Europe and its romance
What we thing of as the classic Regency interior

More of the Regency

Early Georgian a touch of the classic element

English Neoclassic 1770-1830 where gilding goes awry

Elements from all these eras influence my setting.
Have a lovely weekend,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Heroes: Alpha Male, Romantic Hero, Byronic Hero, Tragic Hero, Anti-Hero or Other?

I did some soul searching and tons of research after some 'not so nice' comments from Casslyn, Claire and my Judas-of- a-sister all of whom accused me of being ripe with lust for the Alpha-male hero type. I would concede to liking a strong complex hero, but it would only fall on deaf ears so I’ve written this in my defence.

All of it based on facts, even if it is a little biased.

For starters, Alpha males only exist in the minds of the socially lazy and for zoological purposes, what with wolf packs and the like. Now that leaves us with the Romantic, Byronic, Tragic or the Anti-Hero with whom to compare my male lead.

So here's how I'll do it.

I’ll tell you the basic characteristics of my heroes and then tell you how it compares with what I’ve learned from my research of the already established literary archetypes.

1.) My heroes are always intelligent, often cunning and are able to adapt well to change in circumstances, which, according to my reseach, makes then mostly Romantic and Byronic.
2.) He is also introspective, sophisticated and mindful of others; traits that make him a little of all the archetypes.
3.) The gentlemen in my stories are all educated, magnetic and charismatic so in this they are again like the others.
4.) I insist that he be a decent fellow whose integrity is vital to his sense of self and this of course makes him decidedly Romantic.
5.) At heart my heroes embody a sensual creatures which puts them on par with most all of the others.
6.) More than all of that is his ability to love. He loves his family, he loves the heroine and he loves himself. In this he is at odds to some degree with the other archetypes, most of whom are too concerned with their own hubris... except, of course, for the Romantic who usually love some poor creature to both their detriments.

After all, half of them are emotionally conflicted, which is fine but then more often than not it leads to a dreadful case of narcissism and despite what Claire says there is no such thing as healthy narcissism. In fact, I think that’s the precise definition of an oxymoron...Love yourself, by all means but once your loving yourself brings to mind any images of Narcissus well… healthy, it is not.

  • As for the rest, my heroes lack the bipolar tendencies and or moodiness of the Byronic hero.
  • He hasn't the distaste for social institutions which seems to be the norms for the Anti-Hero
  • He also lacks the doom and self-tormented impulses of the Tragic Hero
  • And unlike the Romantic Hero, he believes the privilege his birth and rank allows him to be an honour and most often treats it as an extention of his duty to his family
  • He is quick to laugh and is only dark when necessary which makes him more human and true to life
Not Alpha, Beta, Tragic or Anti-Hero... just one woman’s interpretation of the ideal male lead...

Have a happy wednesday,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The September Blog Chain and the Writers of the Romantic Query Letter

Our three words from Aimee at http://www.aimeelaine.com/ are light, Jane and statue. This is 'LaBelle Dame sans Merci' by Sir Frank Dicksee, It's our inspiration. We think the knight is statuesque. We learned a lot about each other during this process, not all of it pleasant. Turns out, we're both control freaks incapable of compromise, so in order to survive this exercise with our friendship intact one wrote and the other edited.

The Proposal

Connaught Square, Westminster, England 1818

There was the unending clash of well-wishers, dance-card signers and a multitude of both their relations in attendance. He was to announce his engagement to Gene tonight, but then he was taken away by a shaken Harry. His little brother was always getting himself into trouble so David did not question or yield when he approached and said, “A word, your grace.”

He had simply followed him from the ballroom to the privacy of a salon that opened onto the garden. He wasn’t sure what he was looking at when first Harry pointed to the two people held in impassioned embraces on the bench just beyond the marble statue outside the salon door. Then they broke apart and his Gene righted her gown, kissed Lord Raynham and hurried from the garden.

“How long have you known?” David asked his brother without bothering to turn around.

“Would you believe I came here with Hache’s Countess for a little dalliance of my own when I saw them?”

“Thank you, Harry. Now be a dear and go fetch me Lord Raynham.”

“Now, Albion,” Harry said fretfully, “Do you think that wise?”

“Of course it’s not wise you halfwit, but I’m to announce my intent to marry that woman at dinner and I should like to know what the devil it is I’m getting myself involved with.”

“Right away,” Harry said with a sympathetic glance before leaving in pursuit of the unsuspecting lover.

Raynham's explanation was most romantic . They were in love, but her father would not accept the offer of a lowly baron when a wealthy duke was in his grasp.

When he returned, it was to find Gene surrounded by a gaggle of admirers jousting for attention.She was being lead out to the first set before he realized he hadn’t signed her dance card. In fact, he hadn't signed anyone’s dance card and as a result had to dance his first three sets at his mother’s instance with some poor dears who would simply rather not.

First up, were the Stanwell sisters, Elizabeth and Jane. Relatively pretty dark-haired, bright-eyed young women with a strong antisocial streak.

David’s third dance partner, Miss Lilith Spencer, would also be his dinner companion. She was one of his cousin’s sisters-in-law and a friend of David's. She had smiled at him compassionately as he signed Jane’s card and allowed him to sign hers amidst a flurry of self-deprecating banter.

‘All is rotten in England when handsome Albion must dine with one such as me' and the like.

At dinner, David sat across from his Gene at the massive dinner table, he between Lilith and Baroness Malden. Gene was flanked by her dinner partner Sir Timothy Scott and the overly attentive Lord Humphrey Gifford.

Both of whom, in spite of his proximity and hate-filled glares, maintained their positions as charming windbags.

His dinner companions were every bit as amiable and charismatic as hers. The only difference was that they went greatly unheard while he tried to make sense of the little comedy of errors that was his life.

Well, that was until Lilith decided to save him from himself with an astute remark, “You do the lady a great disservice with your open surveillance of her conduct.”

“I beg your pardon,” David said, his face turning for the first time to look at the woman next to him.

“You’re right to censure,” she whispered in an apologetic hush. “Though impertinent, my statement was not intended as interference or said to injure. My aim was to aid, but I see now that I have overstepped my bounds. I will say no more. In fact, I beg your forgiveness.”

“You misunderstood. I was not scolding, I was inattentive and did not hear all you said,” David offered in earnest.

“In that case, I’ll thank my lucky stars for the reprieve and mind my own affairs.”

“You’ll do nothing of the kind,” David said with his most beguiling smile.

“Would you not prefer we discuss Lord Howe’s glorious décor,” Lilith offered.

“Very well, don’t tell me,” said an undeterred David “But by making that decision you have put me in a precarious position of pestering you until you relent.”

“Did you know that the mural that lines the wall of the ballroom is a celebration of Richard Lion-Heart’s victory over the Muslim Prince Saladin?”

“Well, that at least is in-keeping with our host’s sense of humour,” David said with a barely discreet point to the mural over his Gene’s head. It was a bleak depiction of the temptation of Eve. “Never has an apple looked so enticing.”

“Or a woman so weak,” Lilith added with something like melancholy. “Religious text amidst opulence and righteous judgement.”

“The very definition of the church in England.”

“That’s precisely it,” Lilith acknowledged in a sort of enlightened accord, “The entire house is designed to resemble St Peters’. Only here there is no hope for redemption.”

“You know, I think you might very well be right,” David said in kind, “When I entered the ballroom just now I go the distinct impression I was rehearsing for the abyss.”

“And you foresee an afterlife spent in damnation?”

“I’ve never willingly contributed to the suffering of another so I remain optimistic,” David answered truthfully, “And what of your soul, Miss Spencer?”

“I’m as poor Eve there with her apple I’m afraid,” she said again with that hint of melancholy. “Now, my grace, you must engage Baroness Malden.”

“Nonsense,” David said before turning to looking at her in earnest. Her copper locks shining as a jewel under the light of the chandelier. She was perfection made approachable due to her compassionate amber eyes. She was smiling at him, her coral lips plush and alluring.

Then suddenly, he was clearer than he’d ever been.

He returned her smile with his new resolve the same instant their host raised his glass in honour of the good health of all signalling the approach of the moment when David would have to raise his glass and announce his engagement. Then he did it.

David leaned over with calm certainty and said, “Marry me, Lilith.”


Written by Simone and edited by Claire.

Our three words for http://www.benjaminsolah.com/blog/ are Wayne, waiting and watch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Second Romantic Query Letter For My Second Novel Leeds

The Old Typewriter by Avigdor Arikha
September 15, 2009
7 Agents Queried


In the spring of 1816, Broderick Ashbourne, the second son of the Marquess Leeds, and Inez, the woman of his life and the daughter of a lowly merchant, shared a passionate night only to be forced apart in the cold light of reality.

Heartbroken and separated due to their families and mounting personal tragedies, the two settled in to their prospective lives as his troublesome family takes centre stage and she comes to terms with the loss of both of her parents.

Broderick contends with his parting from Inez by rebuilding the fortune his older brother Alan stole when he faked his death to run off with his cousin’s wife.

While Inez contemplates moving on with someone less emotionally taxing, but she loves him… so she waits with hope they'll find away.

Years later, Broderick is back on English soil, as an infamous Lord with rumours of piracy following him. He finds upon his return, a captivating Inez who had, in his absence, evolved from a pretty young girl into an elegant, grounded woman who approaches life with a sense of humour and a thoughtful sensitivity.

The novel Leeds is a 100,000+ words historical romance set in 1800’s England when the two reunite after a chance meeting and spend a soulful afternoon alone discussing loss and love. Unfortunately, before they are able to find new resolve, they are discovered alone and are forced to contemplate a marriage that neither believes the other wants.

They marry, days later, after old passions are made obvious but they are both still apprehensive about declaring the love they so clearly feel. A matter that is only made worst when the misguided Alan reappears, bringing with him new troubles, the most pressing of which being the inheritance of the title now that their father is dead.

There is also a band of those hurt by Alan’s actions out for his blood and it’s left up to Broderick to prevent his brother’s murder, now his victims are aware of his return.

Through it all, Rick and Inez maintain an unflinching support for each other and soon triumph over all obstacles, proving once more that love conquers all.

The manuscript is complete and available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours Sincerely,

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Romantic Query Letter Celebrates the Regency’s Male Allure

The gentlemen of the era that inspires me when I conjure the perfect hero for my novels. Please allow me to present the Emperor ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’

The strategist, general and first Duke Wellington, Arthur Wellesley

The Prince Regent turned King George IV

Prince Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel even if he was born in 1819

George Gordon Lord Byron because without him there would be no great lover

Michael Faraday the Innovative Independent

The Charming Groom Prince Leopold

Have a brilliant week,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Undone Title Dilemma

My Undone stories are Huntley, Ravensworth, Westmorland, Strange and Bessborough. I’ve submitted the first three and have based on advice given to me by the senior editor at Undone Linda Fildew in an online chat will not submit another until I’ve heard back from them.

She says there might be feedback given by their editorial staff that will alter the way I edit/present the rest of my stories. It’s good guidance, I think.

Now, there is a small matter with the title of my stories, a silly oversight on my part really. I’ve always written my stories with a single title – usually it’s the surname or title of the hero – but now I worry for at Undone the titles are more a hook line.

Notorious Lord, Compromised Miss, The Unmasking of Lady Loveless and so on. I wouldn’t even stress the matter had it not been mentioned in an interview Linda Fildew gave on Word Wrench.

Now I’m thinking Huntley: Devout Prince of Pleasure, even if he’s more decent fellow with healthy desires. I’m story boarding a Christmas story, which I’m thinking of calling ‘Albion or the Hedonistic St Nicholas'

I can’t say it without giggling.
Take care,

Monday, September 7, 2009

I love my novels. But, I worry that I’ve lost all objective and The Romanic Query Letter gives me a clear prospective

Delphin Enjolras' A Moment of Reflection

I sit with my manuscript re-reading it to the point of glut no longer able to see any of its shortcomings for love of my charming heroine and her perfect hero. Then the day’s post arrives and soon all I’m able to see is where it falls short. That’s largely due to the steady flow of rejection letters it has generated.

Usually a form letter, ripe with judgment but which offers no personal critique. I’m left feeling like a failure for not writing the letter that advertises their brilliant love story, and I never question the brilliance of their story. It’s a good story: romantic, touching and entertaining… everything it aught to be.

This I know for I was a fan long before I ever thought to put pen to paper, fan of the genre and now of the tale that I wove in homage to that love.

Even with my obvious bias, I’m not completely without credit for I’ve read, with all due diligence, the work of most all my peers from 1995 to present. All of it I tell you, from the brilliant to the abysmal but then it is all so very subjective. I can hardly speak for all. For example, I love, love, love Mary Balogh’s novels while my sister finds Mary to be verbose, without any plot worthy of merit. Her words, not mine.

Still, we are, all of us, quite certain of what it is we adore about our favorites, whether it be the author, hero or plotline and that, I believe, is due to the very nature of the subject matter.
For love is, after all, complex and demands a strong reaction.

Besides, if I did not love my story how, in good conscience, could I expect another to adore it enough to want to represent it?

Here is where The Romantic Query Letter becomes useful, for it gives me purpose in the face of opposition and fortifies my focus on the prime directive. It reminds me that I don’t need objectivity. That’s for the critics. I am my book’s advocate and my only purpose now is to present it in the best possible light so it may shine.

To this end I've decided to submit a few short stories to Harlequin Undone with the hope of getting my name and work out as a catalyst for my full-length novels. I have of this morning story boarded two workable ideas based on their requirements and will start writing tonight with the hope of having something ready by month's end.

So you see I've move on without reservation and now encourage you to do the same.

Take with you my care when you go,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Harlequin Historical Undone

I’ve written five short stories with plans for a sixth. Of the five completed, I’ve sent three and I’m editing the other two. The sixth is meant to be a Christmas story but I have yet to storyboard it. They are all a little shy of 15,000 words with varying degrees of hotness.

Only, now that I’ve written all these stories I’ve noticed a sort of troubling thread on the Undone page... most of the writers with published on Undone are already established authors at Harlequin.

There is to be a live chat on their site on the 4th of September with the Undone editor Linda Fildew and it’s my hope to have a better idea what it is they are looking for.

I’m not worried though for I figure if my stories are rejected I’ll simply post them here as a serial and find another way to get published.

Closed door, open window and all that.

Stay positive,