A Most Unsuitable Earl Trivia

Ethan (Lord Edon)’s book!

The idea for this book came me when I was writing the beginning of The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife. It was in this snippet:

The duke pointed in the direction of a young lady dancing with her partner.  Nate tried to determine whether she was interested in the gentleman she was currently dancing with or not.  She was smiling and seemed to be talking amiably to him.

“Isn’t that Lord Edon she’s dancing with?” Nate asked.

Rumsey frowned.  “Hopefully not for long.  His most notable accomplishments are gambling and women of ill repute.  I fear he’s taken an interest in her dowry.”

At that point, I knew Rumsey’s daughter would end up with Ethan. What I didn’t know was how much I’d enjoy writing Ethan. After all this time, Ethan and his friend, Christopher Robinson, are my favorite two Regency characters.

***

This is the original cover:

When I decided to give my entire backlist a “face lift”, this book was one of them. (As you can see by the “Regency Collection” series title, my original intention was to write only a few Regencies.) At last count, I have completed 31 Regencies (2 of which are completed but haven’t been published yet).

***

I like Ethan’s mother. Her role was meant to be comical, but some people find her annoying. This is why I say that I have a weird sense of humor. Some people really hate it. They find it immature. No need to keep sending me messages letting me know how immature my humor is. I’m already aware of it. I grew up on Mel Brooks who did parodies. I enjoy movies that are parodies. Yes, they’re stupid, but they’re hilarious, too. I also enjoy “I Love Lucy”. That is my favorite TV show of all time, and Lucy got into a lot of trouble through the situations she put herself in. All of this influences my humor. It had a hand in the relationship between Ethan and his mother.

***

When I wrote this book, just about every single Regency out there I came across had a rake in it. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat if the hero was only pretending to be a rake?” And that’s how Ethan was born.

As a side note:

The whole “rake” thing in Regencies and the “hero who sowed his wild oats” theme in historical westerns is exactly why I started writing romances to begin with. I was tired of the experienced hero and virgin heroine theme that kept popping up. On the other end of the spectrum were the super squeaky clean romances which had the passion of a rock in them. I loved reading romances, but something had to change. After searching bookstores and talking to the employees who couldn’t help me find the books I was looking for, I ended up writing them myself.

***

Ethan needed a heroine who could complement him. While he was outwardly a rake, he was inwardly prudish. I did not go into the book expecting that, but as I wrote the story, that is how his character developed. So I needed to balance this out. That is why Catherine ended up being a wallflower who was secretly a seductress. I thought it would be fascinating to work with two people who were opposites. She allowed him to be the person he truly was, and he allowed her to be the person she truly was.

***

This part always cracks me up and is a good example of my weird sense of humor:

“Just what I need for a son-in-law,” Catherine’s father muttered.  “He’s nothing but a pansy.”

At that, Ethan’s eyes flew open and he eased into an upright position.  “I am not a pansy!”

“Of course, you’re not, my dear,” his mother replied as she hurried over to him and wiped the sweat off his forehead with a handkerchief.

Even though Ethan’s mother drives him crazy, he loves her, and he knows she has his best interest at heart. That’s why he lives in the same house with her and takes care of her.

***

In this book, Catherine’s father didn’t approve of Ethan. As I continued to write Regencies, that ended up changing. I can’t remember what book it’s in, but I have a part where I reference that her father paid Ethan a compliment (or something along those lines) and it shocked Ethan. I wish I could remember what book that was in. But yes, after years of terrorizing Ethan, her father finally grew to like him. Much to Ethan’s relief, he no longer has to worry about being invited over for “fencing”. 😛

***

While Ethan promised to never gamble again, later books reveal he didn’t keep this promise if he was sure he’d win. He even joined the bet in Taming the Viscountess, and this was the one time he actually lost.

***

The scene where Ethan and Catherine are at the circus is also in Her Counterfeit Husband when Jason is trying to figure out the truth about his past. I wrote Her Counterfeit Husband before I wrote A Most Unsuitable Earl, and I was looking for a way to mix the characters into the same world without them being aware of each other.

***

In this book, Ethan is reading “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in Lyrical Ballads, With a Few Other Poems. I read this book twice in high school (in two different schools since I was in Ohio up until my senior year; I moved to Florida my senior year). In a college, I had a teacher who used to quote from this story quite a bit. He would say, “Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink; water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” I can quote that off the top of my head because of him. I actually enjoyed this story, and to this day, it’s one of my favorites, though it’s far from being a romance.

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No Job is 100% Secure, and This Goes for Writing, Too

Today’s post is inspired by this video via the Dave Ramsey show:

As a quick disclaimer, I realize not everyone can make money doing what they’re passionate about.

With that aside, let’s get to the post.

Passion AND write-to-market writers can suffer from a loss of income.

The vision that the marketing gurus will sell writers is that writing to market is a secure way of making money. This is a myth. Does it happen to some writers? Of course, it does. However, writers have also made money writing books they are passionate about. I know this because I’m one of them. Granted, the amount of money I’ve been making has decreased since 2015, but I’m fortunate to still make something. And guess what? Recently, I read a book where an author who embraces the writing-to-market approach is making less money, too.

What does this mean?

It means that regardless of whether you write for passion or write to market, you do NOT have a secure source of income.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that writers who embrace passion over writing to market understand this better because the expectation when writing for passion is that you might not make money. The expectation when writing to market is that you will make money. And just because you can market well, it doesn’t mean you’ll always be raking in the money. I’ve come across writers who have plugged in the tried-and-true marketing strategies outlined by the indie community, and sadly, they didn’t make much money. That’s why so many writers end up disillusioned and quit.

Also, don’t assume that if you manage to make good money writing stuff to market you’ll be happy. What if you pick something you don’t like just because it’s popular? What if that paid off, but now you’re hating it? What if this is your only source of income? What if you end up feeling trapped?

I know of an author who writes a genre she absolutely hates. You see, early on, she decided to pick a genre she didn’t care for because it was hot. This was due to the “write to market” advice she received. The advice worked. She’s making a living at it. But the thing is, she HATES writing now. She cries because she is trapped. Now, I don’t know if she would have been able to build up a following and make a living if she had written in a genre she enjoys. No one can know that because we can’t go back in time to find out. She wishes she could write something else but is too afraid to do so since it’s hard to start over. She feels that the stuff she is writing now is “secure”. So she is determined to keep on with it.

I sympathize with her plight, but I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone. There’s nothing worse than having a soul-sucking job that makes you miserable. If you are tempted to write something you hate, I urge you to carefully think it over. Remember, job security is a myth.

Changes in the indie publishing landscape will impact income potential.

In writing, you’re going to have obstacles, regardless of whether you’re writing for passion or writing to market.

First, you’re dealing with the fact that it’s harder to get visibility because the amount of books available exceeds the amount of people who will buy them. This is a simple supply and demand issue. The higher the supply, the lower the demand. That will impact the price of things. This is why books are cheap. There are so many of them. Authors can argue about the price of books all they want, but I took Economics in high school and college, and no amount of arguing is going to change reality. Unfortunately, even with competitive pricing, you’re still going to have trouble finding an audience because of all the books out there.

Second, you have a lot of marketing savvy writers out there who know what they’re doing. You can’t just put your book up and expect people to find it. You have to work to get noticed. That makes it harder to sit back and let the money just roll on in. I get the frustration. I don’t have a great marketing personality. I understand why writers have trouble in the marketing area. Unfortunately, with an ever-increasing supply of books, marketing is important to your income potential. I’m not saying that marketing will magically do the job, but it has to be something you’re doing. Gone are the “gold rush” days of indie publishing when getting noticed was easy. (Yeah, I miss those days a lot, but what are you doing to do? You can’t rewind the clock.)

Also, there are unexpected factors that come into play. Readers who used to have discretionary income are finding their budgets tightening up due to the impact Covid has had worldwide. People have lost their jobs. There are businesses that have shut down. This is going to affect how much people can spend on books. I think this is going to propel more people to embrace subscription reading services. As a result, I think we’re going to see more subscription reading services in the future.

I don’t see how any of the wide retailers can require exclusivity because Amazon’s market presence is so great. Kobo has already started a subscription plan with Kobo Plus. How long will it be before Apple, Google Play, and Barnes & Noble do it? I dread this day, but I’m afraid it’s inevitable. People are used to paying a flat rate for unlimited content now from places like Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, Pureflix, Kindle Unlimited, Kobo Plus, and so on. We are in an environment where people have gotten used to a subscription plan for access to whatever is available. Some writers will end up having to take a cut in pay in order to have their books included in these plans. There’s no way a retailer is going to be able to pay a 70% royalty rate on a book that gets read in a subscription program.

Regardless of what you write, this is going to impact income. Sure, you can have your own website and sell books directly. That is something I recommend anyway, but even so, the bulk of readers prefer to buy books from their retailer. Most don’t want to go to a different site, download the file, and then upload it to their device. It’s a pain. I don’t like doing it, either. I’ve only gone through the hassle one time. This was an author I personally enjoyed a lot and this author only had the book on that one personal website. If this author had been on my preferred retailer, I would have bought the book from the retailer. If I (an author myself) am reluctant to go outside of my preferred retailer for a book, then think of how many readers will be reluctant to do it.

After reading all of that, you might think I’m a gloomy person. I don’t consider myself to be gloomy. I see myself as a realist. Job security in general is a myth. No one can promise that if you do something, your books will sell. There are too many variables at play. I only listed a couple of them. In writing, you’re going to have your good months and your bad months. Knowing your writing income isn’t secure will help buffer you from anything that is going to come your way. Hopefully, it’ll prompt you to save money. You want to have a cushion to fall back on should things fall apart. Be optimistic but also be wise.

Beware of your stress level

The last thing I want to address is the issue of stress because if you don’t watch your stress levels, it’s going to have a negative impact on your health and your relationships. In order to come back against a job loss of any sort, you need to be in good health and be in a good emotional place.

I recently read two books by writers who focus on writing to market. I don’t know if these authors know each other, but I was surprised by how much they stressed over either losing money or not making more. For them, the bottom line really is money. They didn’t come out and say this, but by the way they wrote, I could tell they were stressed out over how well (or not well) their books were selling. These are authors that make a lot of money. We’re talking serious six-figures here, like at least half a million a year. And something to note was that even though they are making all of this money, they are not satisfied. It’s always about making “more and more”. That’s why any month that yields less than what they expect freaks them out. Is that how you want to spend your time? Writing and marketing with such fervor that you’re in a constant state of stress over what is happening to your bottom line?

That’s not how I want to spend my time. I might not have made what they did, but I was in that exact same stressed-out state in 2016 and 2017. I was a mess. Money does NOT bring peace, and it does NOT bring happiness. Sometimes it brings misery in ways you don’t expect. I don’t think these two authors realize what is happening to them. I didn’t back then until I hit serious burn out. After I made the switch to writing for passion, I’ve had dry spells, but I never sat down and cried for hours because I was so stressed out over trying to make more money. Thank God I’m no longer in that trap.

Writing can be fun. It can be something that brings you a lot of joy. It’s all in how you look at it. I am all for making money. If you can make money doing something you love, you should be doing it. I’m very luck in that I still make something. It’s a tremendous blessing. But I realize this job is not secure. Who knows if I’ll end up taking a job outside the home in the next year, or two years, or more? I have no idea what the future will bring. That’s why I’m trying to make the most of this time while I have it. My goal is to get as many books out as I can while this season in my life is here.

So really, the question I’m asking you is this: how do you want to spend your time? We don’t get to live forever in this particular life. I’m 46. My mom died at 48. That has made me aware of the brevity of life. You can spend your time being miserable writing stuff you hate, or you can spend your time writing stuff you love. It’s really up to you. But this whole thing of writing something because it’s a secure source of income is a myth. My advice is to get beyond the myth. Look at things realistically. Consider how you want to spend your time. I know people who have lived a long time and are miserable. My mom might have died at 48, but she was happy. In my opinion, she lived a more fulfilled life. It’s not the number of our years that matter; it’s what we did with those years.

At the end of your life, you are going to be left with the books you wrote. What kind of books do you want to see in your catalogue when you look back on what you did? I can already tell you that books I wrote for passion are my favorite ones. Give me passion any day of the week over misery and stress.

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Updates on What I’m Doing

First of all, thanks to the person who reminded me about the Crossover Page (where I list all of my series and any overlaps) and the Larson Page. I went through and updated those this morning:

Crossover Page for all of my romances

Larson Page

Now to the post…

I have A Perilous Marriage done and up now on pre-order.

I’m not 100% happy with the description, so I’m going to see about tweaking it. I have read books and watched videos on how to make a good book description, and I am still not any good at it. It’s frustrating. Some authors have a gift for this kind of thing. I, unfortunately, am not one of them.

A Perilous Marriage is Book 1 in a brand new Regency series titled Marriage by Necessity. I originally introduced the hero in Kidnapping the Viscount. For quick reference, here’s the cover to help jog anyone’s memory in case they’re wondering what book I’m talking about:

I’m the kind of person who needs a visual aid when trying to remember what someone is talking about.

Anyway, in Kidnapping the Viscount, Charles was the brother who kept unwittingly getting in the way of Heather and Gill as they were trying to find their way to their happy ending. (I got a kick out of how much her brother kept jumping to conclusions, so I thought he’d be perfect for a plot where the hero assumes the heroine killed his best friend.) A warning though, A Perilous Marriage is not a comedy. It’s a more serious book.

A Perilous Marriage is due out May 27. If you prefer to pre-order, here is where you can find it.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

I actually finished An Earl In Time.

I didn’t think I was going to get done with the first draft until at least this summer, but once I received help from an author friend who excels in stuff like romance, magic, and gothic elements, it turned out to be a breeze to fix the problems that was bogging me down. I already knew the ending when I started this book, so that was easy to tackle.

I contacted the cover artist about changing the subtitle from “A Time Travel Romance” to “A Fairytale Romance”. While this book is a standalone, I want the ability to write other Regency Fairytale Romances in the future if other ideas happen to come to mind. This Regency has been placed in my regular Regency world. Toward the end of this book, I give a very brief mention of Lord Steinbeck (hero of The Earl’s Wallflower Bride who shows up here and there in other Regencies) and another later mention to Lord Clement (hero of The Earl’s Scandalous Wife who also shows up here and there in other Regencies). Keep in mind, these are just mentions. I couldn’t resist the pull to throw a couple of my other Regency characters into this book, especially since it fit in to do it.

It was fun to do something different within the world I enjoy. I find it helps to keep the creative wells going strong when I allow myself to dip my toes into other areas from time to time.

I started The Cursed Earl

This is Book 2 in the Marriage by Necessity Series.

apm-ebook-cover-1 the-cursed-earl-mbn-2  Heiress of Misfortune MBN 3 ebook cover

I suspect this one will be a comedy. The hero is new to the series, but he’s friends with the hero in A Perilous Marriage, and I introduce him in that book. I originally went with Eric, but then I thought I’d go with Algernon, which I established in A Perilous Marriage. Long story short, I thought Eris (based off a friend I know in real life) was too similar to Eric and could lead to come confusion. So he’s now referred to as Algernon.

Anyway, the heroine of The Cursed Earl is also introduced in A Perilous Marriage. She is Charles’ cousin who is in London to find a husband. Algernon is very superstitious, and he’s convinced he’ll die on his 25th birthday. Since his father and older brother are dead (they never were older than 25, hence is fear), he is tasked with the responsibility of having an heir. Reina is secretly in love with him, so she offers to help him with his duty to the crown.

I’ve only just started this, so I’m not really sure how things will go, but since Algernon is a member of White’s, I’m going to bring in Lord Edon and Mr. Christopher Robinson somehow. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

While I’m discussing the Regencies, I want to mention this before I get to the historical westerns.

I was browsing through the pre-made covers on The Book Cover Designer. I saw two pre-made covers that screamed, “Pick me, Ruth! Pick me!” I gave it a few days to think of what stories would go with the books because the only way I can justify buying a cover is if I have a story for it.

There were only two by this cover artist, and I want three for the series, so I’m getting the third book cover done soon.

This will be the Marriage by Obligation Series. I am going to tuck this series between the Marriage by Fate Series and the Marriage by Fairytale Series because the timeline for this series fits there.

As excited as I am about this series, I can’t start on it until after I finish the Marriage by Necessity Series, so we’re looking at October-November of this year before I start on Secret Admirer.

Here are the books:

Secret Admirer (Marriage by Obligation Series: Book 1)

Remember Cressica from The Perfect Duke?

She was the oldest sister of Nicholas Lidgate, the Duke of Ravenshire. A couple of people mentioned wanting to read her book, and she’ll fit in perfectly in this book. Another thing that plays perfectly for this specific book is the ladies group that Cress (short for Cressica) just joined. The group is an elite social club, and it’s important that Cress marries the right gentleman.

Well, I thought it would be fun to do a heroine falling in love with a servant plot. I loosely approached these in Fairest of Them All and One Enchanted Evening, but the differences in social status between the hero and heroine didn’t factor into the plot. I can use that here because of that elite social group. What I need to do is figure out which male servant I want to be the hero.

Midnight Wedding (Marriage by Obligation Series: Book 2)

I haven’t thought over this one too much yet, but it’s a spin off of the idea for Kidnapping the Viscount, except in this case, the heroine has help from someone in her family in abducting a titled and wealthy gentleman with the intention of saving themselves from financial ruin. This one could go many ways, but this will fit the original idea I had for Kidnapping the Viscount. The original version of that book was a lot different than how it turned out to be.

So in this book, the hero is NOT going to be happy. The heroine is going to be incredibly naive as to just how precarious her position is when she goes through this kidnapping idea her idiot family member(s) had. I recently read a blog post about how ladies could be ruined and financially devastated so easily in this time period if the marriage was dissolved and she’s left with a child. Knowing all of this puts into perspective the reason why certain laws had to be put into place to protect women. The Regency era wasn’t friendly to women in a lot of respects.

The Duke’s Return (Marriage by Obligation Series: Book 3)

I don’t have the cover yet, but I plan to introduce the hero in Book 1 of this series. He’s going to leave the heroine of The Duke’s Return on their wedding day for some reason (haven’t decided yet). He returns in The Duke’s Return, and I’ll see how things go from there.

Now for the historical westerns…

This is Book 3 in the Nebraska Prairie Series:

20200920_ThePurchasedBride  20200921_TheBridesChoice  20200917_interviewforawife3

This was originally meant to be about 30,000 words, but I’m nearing 40,000 words and have more to go. I have a vague idea of how things are going to end. I have probably 5,000 more words to write in order to fully establish the relationship between the hero and heroine before I can come in for what will conclude the story.

At any rate, I should be able to have this out in July.

I haven’t made any progress in this one over the past month or so because I’ve been so focused on An Earl In Time. Now that I wrapped up An Earl In Time, I can get back to this. It is due out in November.

I haven’t forgotten this one. I plan to start on it when I finish Interview for a Wife. That should be (hopefully) in June. I’m looking forward to getting to this one since it’s okay for me to pair up Jeremiah with Katie.

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