Random Trivia About My Regencies Books

I was only supposed to do one series.

ID 76715845 © Sheila Fitzgerald | Dreamstime.com

Back when I wrote my first Regency book (The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife), my intention was to only write one series. I had read some Regencies in the past and enjoyed them. Rose Gordon’s books happened to be among the ones I read right before I decided to take the plunge and write a Regency myself. As fate would have it, I ended up meeting Rose when she left comments on a blog and a forum I co-authored at the time. It wasn’t until we were emailing each other that I realized she wrote the books I had enjoyed. Long story short, we became friends. It was actually my enjoyment of Rose’s books that prompted me to write a Regency series. She helped me with the first series as I was struggling to get acquainted with the feel and flavor of Regency time period. If you haven’t read her books yet, I highly recommend them. Here’s her website.

Anyway, I originally titled the Marriage by Scandal Series as the “Regency Collection” because I meant to write a few books and then return to doing my historical westerns and contemporaries. Due to time constraints, I can’t devote my attention to more than two specific genres over the long run. So I figured once I was done with three or four books, I’d leave the Regency genre and that would be it. Well, I ended up falling in love with the cast of characters I had created in this Regency world, and I didn’t want to leave them. Lord Edon and Mr. Christopher Robinson are the two I enjoy the most, which is why I’m constantly bringing them back. Another reason I fell in love with my Regency world was that I could do stuff in this genre that I couldn’t do in historical westerns or contemporaries. Regencies are fun because the littlest thing is so “scandalous” that it can shock everyone, and a lot of times you can force a couple to marry over the most ridiculous thing. A lot of things that are scandalous in Regencies will only get a shrug in historical westerns or contemporaries. So I dropped the contemporaries and dedicated my time to historical westerns and Regencies.

All of the Regencies take place in the same world, which means I have the same cast of characters at my disposal at any one time, but I decided early on that I was going to do spin-off series instead of one really long one. I know some authors who have 20+ books in a series, but as a reader, I don’t like reading a series that long. My time is so constrained that I don’t get much reading in as it is. Because of this, I prefer 3-5 books if I read a series. I write books the way I want to read them. I also create series the way I want to read them. You’ll never see me do a super long series. I’ll do multiple series within the same world, though.

Lady Cadwalader

ID 65249898 © Andrewgenn | Dreamstime.com

In my Regency world, Lady Cadwalader is the most influential person in London. Lord Cadwalader is a force to be reckoned with, too, but no one surpasses his wife. Reputations rise and fall based on her opinion. The only person who remains unscathed by her opinion is Lord Edon. No matter what he’s tried, he can’t ruin his reputation. This is because a lot of people secretly admire him for having the fortitude to disregard the rules of the Ton. So Lord Edon is just as influential as she is, but he’s on the opposite side of the spectrum in respectability, though that aspect of him has gone somewhat undercover due to his father-in-law keeping an eye on him. The threat of a fencing “accident” will do that to any gentleman.

Lady Cadwalader was never meant to be a permanent “mainstay” in my Regencies. I originally intended to dethrone her. She’s a snob of the highest sort, and I figured she should get what’s coming to her. That was why I came up with the group, Ladies of Grace. I introduced that group in the Marriage by Bargain Series with Book 1 (The Viscount’s Runaway Bride). I figured by the end of the series, Lady Eloise would replace Lady Cadwalader. That was why I inserted little things about the rivalry between the two ladies as the series went on. But as I continued the series, I realized I had grown to actually like Lady Cadwalader. Maybe it’s because she had time to grow on me, or maybe it’s because there is no better opponent to Lord Edon than Lady Cadwalader. Lady Eloise was definitely a snob, but she didn’t have the same flare than Lady Cadwalader did. In the end, I ended up removing Lady Eloise. The Marriage by Fate Series’ purpose was to bring about the fall and removal of Lady Eloise, once and for all.

Needless to say, Lady Cadwalader is very happy with the way things turned out.

“The” Book

ID 153495775 © Irina Volkova | Dreamstime.com

When I introduced the book on how to pleasure a lady in the very first Regency I wrote (The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife), I didn’t expect it to make an appearance beyond the Marriage by Scandal Series. But then I found out some people liked the book, I decided to bring it back. It doesn’t show up in every book I write. I bring it up once in a while if I feel the hero will benefit from it. At first, I debated whether to reveal the author of this book or not, but then I thought I’d clear Lord Edon’s name since he hates how many people assume he’s the author. I figured if nothing else, the reader should know the truth. That was why I revealed the identity of the author in His Wicked Lady (Book 1 of the Marriage by Arrangement Series).

***

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. If anyone has any questions about my Regencies, feel free to ask. I wouldn’t mind doing another blog post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Villain in Romance (A Storytelling Post)

After writing the post on villains, I started to think of why so many people assume that romance is nothing more than “porn for women”. And then the realization came to me. These people don’t understand how the basic elements of storytelling applies to romance. In their minds, romance is nothing more than the hero and heroine meeting, having lots of wild sex, and the book ending. (A lot of people also don’t realize that there are romances out there that don’t contain sex. But I’m not here to argue the fact that romance runs the range from squeaky clean to erotic.) I’m here to point out that romances actually come with a plot.

I know. It’s hard for some to believe, but there is more to falling in love and getting to the happy ending than simply telling the reader, “They met, they fell in love, the end.”

The hero and heroine have a goal. The goal in romance is for the hero and heroine to end up happily together. While that sounds simple enough, it’s really not that simple because your villain (be it a person or thing) will present the conflict. There can be a parent, sibling, an ex, or other person who is actively working to come between the hero and heroine. I’ve done these, and they work well enough. They’re also self-explanatory. They’re very surface level villains.

The best villains for romance, in my opinion, are the ones in which the villain comes from within the hero or heroine. Most romances have these inner demons working within one or both characters. That’s why the villain often used in a romance is an emotional one.

Emotional villains come in many forms. I’ll give a few examples. 1. A hero might have to overcome the pain of a divorce in order to fall in love again. The villain in this case is the fear of going through pain again if the hero opens himself up to the heroine. 2. A wallflower/spinster heroine who doesn’t feel attractive has to overcome her insecurity in order to believe she deserves the love that the hero is offering. The villain in this case is her insecurity. 3. A hero might have been a complete jerk in the past and is working hard to redeem himself, but he struggles with the reality that he is now deserving of the heroine’s love. The villain in this case is the hero’s guilt. He must overcome it in order to accept that all has been forgiven and he is allowed to have the love he most desires. 4. A heroine desires independence but is afraid the hero will restrict her freedom if she were to fall in love with him. The villain in this case is the heroine’s fear that if she gives her heart to the hero, then she will sacrifice who she is. There are plenty of emotional villains out there to present a plot in a romance. It’s all in how that villain is used.

Let me illustrate how an emotional villain works in a romance by taking one of the examples I listed above. We’ll look at the wallflower/spinster heroine scenario.

What would be the best personality type in our hero? You’d want someone who is able to recognize what makes a lady superficial. Our hero is seeking someone he can have a genuine conversation with. He wants someone who has inner beauty that others miss. Since the villain in this story is the heroine’s insecurity, we need obstacles that target her insecurity. The obstacles are there to keep her insecure. Anything that makes her feel insecure will add to the conflict between her and the hero. Perhaps one of the hero’s family members finds her lacking and makes her feel like the hero could do way better. Or maybe the hero ends up stuck with some task at a job that keeps him gone a lot, and she begins to wonder if he’s secretly with another lady (one he finds much more desirable than her). In both cases, her insecurity has been reinforced. Regardless of the obstacles, she is going to have to overcome them until the end of the book where she finally comes to realize that the hero truly does love her and sees her as the most desirable lady who’s ever lived. The happy ending comes when she overcomes that war with insecurity, and since this is a romance, her ability to overcome her insecurity is due to the hero’s love. Without the hero, she is unable to reach the point where she’s confident with herself.

A final word: my advice is to avoid the overused tactics of endless cycles of misunderstandings and the endless cycles of interruptions. I see these used a lot in romance, and it drives me crazy. The hero and heroine should be mature enough to sit down and have a conversation, and they should be allowed to do it without someone always coming in to interrupt them. Use these things sparingly. It’s far more effective to get more creative when coming up with obstacles to throw at the hero or heroine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Villain (A Storytelling Post)

While going through the administrative part of this blog, I saw that someone out there was searching for information about villains, and I thought this sounded like a fun topic to discuss.

So, today, I’m going to discuss the villain. In essence, a villain is the person or thing that stands in the hero’s way.

When we begin the story, we’re introduced to the hero, and usually, we’re given the hero’s normal world. Then, pretty soon, we should come to something that starts the hero on his journey. This is the hero’s goal. Regardless of the genre, the hero has to have a goal in order to give the book a plot. And in order for the story to be interesting, someone or something has to stand in the hero’s way of achieving this goal.

That someone or something is the villain. Some people call this the nemesis. Typically, we think of a villain as a person or a creature, but it can be anything that produces the source of conflict in the story. It can be an animal, such as a genetically modified dog that is hunting a group of hikers. It can be weather, such as a tornado that is making it hard for a father to get to his child. It can be a car that has a personality of its own and doesn’t want the hero to end up with the girl of his dreams. There are many things the villain can be. It can even be something the hero must overcome within himself. This “something” can be mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual. Off the top of my head, an example of a mental villain might be someone with a memory loss having to figure out the pieces of a puzzle in order to prove he didn’t kill his wife. Emotionally, the villain could be the pain someone went through in a divorce that is preventing the hero from falling in love again.

So really, the villain is a pretty broad range of things. The writer’s task is to pair the right villain up with the hero’s greatest weakness. The villain has to present something that could be the undoing of the hero. The higher the stakes, the more exciting the story is. You can’t just throw any obstacle at the hero. The obstacle has to target the hero’s weakness.

In real life, everyone faces problems. Depending on our personalities, we’ll deal with these problems differently. Someone who isn’t all that concerned with finances is going to shrug off a huge repair bill, but someone who is concerned with finances is going to freak out when confronted with an unexpected bill that throws them off of their carefully laid out budgeting plans. Or let’s say we have an issue with faith. Let’s say that someone claiming to be a “prophet of God” insists that Event A is going to happen, but it never comes to pass. Someone who doesn’t believe in God isn’t going to be impacted by this. But someone who does believe in God might be confronted with a crisis of faith where he has to carefully evaluate what he believes in and why.

So when you’re looking at the kind of villain to give your hero, it’s necessary to know your hero’s vulnerable area. This villain is only effective if he/it can punch a hole right into that vulnerable spot. You can’t just give the hero a series of “problems” and say something is happening. There might be something happening, but it’s not the least bit interesting if those problems are just “meh” to our hero. You want to concentrate on one major problem the hero needs to overcome because this one problem is the plot of the book. You can put in smaller obstacles along the way that propel our hero forward to the conclusion of resolving the major problem. But you have to give an obstacle to the hero in every single chapter. You need some chapters where things calm down. The hero (and the reader) needs time to decompress from a high stress event. No one can run on adrenaline all the time.

Storytelling is like a range of hills. The valleys are your low tension events. The peaks of the hills are the high tension events. A short story will only have one hill. A long story will have a series of them. During the valleys, the hero is given time to rest while the villain is working on the next obstacle. Each obstacle should work toward increasing the conflict. It’s like turning the heat up in a pot. The beginning of the story starts at a simmer, the middle is where things are starting boil, and the end is where its boiling. The very end of the story is the climax, and this is the largest hill. It is where the final battle between the hero and villain takes place. If the hero wins, the villain is conquered once and for all. This is the happy ending. If the villain wins, the hero is defeated once and for all. The hero will never reach his goal. It’s game over. This is the sad ending.

One thing I want to note about sad endings is that they are not always bad. Something a sad ending is actually the most effective way to end a story. It can be the twist that is needed to make the biggest impact. The writer’s goal in any story is to give the most effective ending possible. Romance is the only genre that you must have a happy ending for. The couple must end up together. If the couple doesn’t end up together, you have a love story. It is not a romance. I have yet to read a fantasy that has a sad ending, so this might be a rule in fantasy, too. But other genres seem to be more flexible in allowing the villain to win.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments