Category Archives: Writing

Lady Anne Books 2 & 3 – Now Available!

At long last, books 2 & 3 of the Lady Anne saga are now available as ebooks for the fabulous price of just $3.99 each!

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time, and I am so proud and happy with these books, both for the content – this is some of the best work I have done – and the covers, which are exactly what I wanted from the beginning.

Both books are now available: see my website, http://www.donnaleasimpson.com for links where they can be purchased online!

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Happily Ever After – or – Happy, For Now?

One of my favorite daily reads is Romancing the Blog. I find it an interesting place with a fascinating variety of contributors (including myself on occasion) and a good overview of the romance fiction world from readers, writers and industry insiders (editors and agents). Today’s entry was one of those I found particularly fascinating, as it dealt with that romance novel staple, the HEA, or Happily Ever After ending.

http://www.romancingtheblog.com/blog/2009/07/08/happily-ever-after%E2%80%A6almost/

What I found particularly interesting was that Leslie Parrish echoed my own thoughts, that forcing a one-size-fits-all happy ending on a story is unrealistic and counter-productive. But as her examples were all from contemporary fiction, I wonder how applicable her findings (that readers prefer a ‘happy for now’ ending over an HEA that isn’t realistic) are to historical romance novels?

Personally, I would prefer the realism over a forced HEA, but I wonder, what do devoted historical romance readers feel?

158-The-Conquest-3-q75-500x375

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The Guilty Author

I’m one of those people, you know, the kind who will run herself ragged doing stuff that ‘needs’ to be done or feel guilty for it. I’m a rule follower. I’m a sign obeyer. I do not litter, I wait for the walk signal, I won’t sit on the seats on the bus reserved for senior citizens.

I’ve learned, in my life, that the very minute I play fast and loose with the rules (you know, like taking 9 items into the 8 items or less cashier line?) I end up in trouble.

How does that translate to my writing life?

Well… ‘everyone knows’ that an author should scrupulously outline her books, conducting ‘character interviews’ to learn more about characters to keep them consistent. She should plan ahead. She should…

Should, should, should!

Dammit, but I’m tired of being a good little rule follower. And the thing is, I don’t even know if it makes my books any better in the long run. See, I’m not such a good planner. I get muddled, and have too many threads going, and end up spending a lot of time on ‘the plan’.

I wonder, should I just throw out the rule book?

What inspired this chain of thought was a bit on Carolyn Hart’s website, her page ‘On Writing’. she says,

I do not outline. This isn’t to say that I start off on the first page with nothing in mind. I know these particulars:

  • The protagonist. The personality and attitudes of the sleuth determine the background, style and possibilities of the book.
  • The victim. The personality and identity of the victim determine the cast of characters. Those who surrounded the victim in life will be suspects after the death.
  • The murderer. I know who committed the crime and why.
  • I have a working title. I can’t write a book unless I have a title. It may not be the title of the published book but the working title gives me a sense of the book.

That’s all I know. When I start Page 1, I have no idea how I will get to Page 300. This is where the importance of character comes in. The story will unfold because of the dictates of character.

The drawback to this openended fashion of writing is the panicked feeling that there is no way to get there (the conclusion) from here (the beginning). I wish I were smart enough to plot in advance. My mind doesn’t work that way (or doesn’t work well enough to do it that way!). But one of the great joys of writing is coming up against a blank wall and then little squiggles of thought begin and suddenly something happens, a character appears, a door opens, a message is left and hey, we’re off and running again.”

When I read that it was as if the window opened and bluebirds tweeted. You mean… you mean someone else feels that way????? She has described so exactly my deepest process, the “panicked feeling that there is no way to get there (the conclusion) from here (the beginning)”, then “little squiggles of thought begin and suddenly something happens, a character appears, a door opens, a message is left and hey, we’re off and running again”. That is all so familiar to me, and for the first time I felt the ‘sisterhood’ feeling, that sense that someone else out there felt as I do.

It was a relief, frankly. I’ve heard so many writers detail their writing process, the detailed notes, the copious notebooks, the planning, and I feel inadequate.

But I’m a good writer. I’m a natural writer. I don’t know how to shape my day if I don’t write. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. There is no vacation from this, because it happens whether I want it to or not. Words flows from my fingers to the keyboard, and when I get stuck, if I go away and keep my mind ‘open’ (can’t explain the process any better than that; I keep my mind ‘open’ and little bits of idea will cling to the problem, solving it, if I just pay attention) it all begins to resolve like one of those pixilated pictures that they gradually resolve into an image.

I need to trust myself more. I think that all the time. I need to trust myself and make my own rules. There are no rules. I will write how I write, and not beat myself up for not following Writing 101;Thou Shalt Follow The Rules.

I need to make that my mantra; writer, trust yourself!

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Great Mystery Series and the authors who left them behind – Part II

The other day I posted on great mystery authors who have passed on, but there are other ways mystery series end. Sometimes an author just runs out of juice, or has some other reason for calling it quits.

I’ve come across two such cases with favorite series lately.

First, and sadly, the inimitable Gillian Roberts has packed in her Amanda Pepper series. In her own words “It seemed time for both Amanda and me (and C.K., too) to move on to new challenges. The parting was bittersweet for me—but I suspect that Amanda was overjoyed to be given a little time off from crime. And so, All’s Well That Ends.”

Of course, I’m wondering, what will happen at Philly Prep when it appears that all of a sudden all the murders have stopped happening?? Everyone must have gotten used to all those corpses piling up.

Ms. Roberts goes on to say, “I’m saying farewell to her, at least for now, but I hope I’m not saying goodbye to you. These days, I’m obsessed with seventeenth century Mexico. (I did say I wanted something different, remember.) Even if you’re not a historical mystery buff, I hope you’ll give the book a try when it’s ready. I’m hoping to create a mystery with unique characters, a good story, and some amazing history that’s relevant to our world today.”

Now, I’m most definitely not interested in 17th Century Mexico, but for Gillian Roberts I might give it a go.

Another sad departure, for me, is Selma Eichler’s Desiree Shapiro series. Selma says, on her site, “After months of vacillating like crazy, I’ve decided, for a variety of fairly substantial reasons, to take some time off from my writing. So although I’ll miss Desiree—after all, she’s been a big part of my life for more than fifteen years now—Murder Can Crash Your Party will be the final book in the Desiree Shapiro series. And I say this with more than a tinge of regret. ”

Sigh. That’s okay, I suppose. Grudgingly I will concede that the authors do have a right to call it quits. Just barely, I’ll admit it. The bright spot is, I have not read every book in either series yet, so I have some to savor. Truthfully, my main problem these days is finding time to read, when I barely have time to write!

So farewell Desiree and Amanda. I’ll miss you both.

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Spring and blogging

I’m so excited… spring is most definitely here (tulips and daffodils and all) and a robin is nesting above my front porch light. But my writing is so much fun right now, too.

I’ve finished Book Three of the Lady Anne books and it’s been approved. I’ve got another three book Regency romance proposal at my editor’s, and I’m working on my own secret pet project. And I need to finish Awaiting the Magic for all those patient readers who are still, a year and a half later, asking about book four of the Awaiting Series.

So much lovely work, so little time, and all when the sunshine is beckoning and the cats want to go outside!

Is anyone else having trouble concentrating on work when white puffy clouds drift across the blue sky outside the office window, and robins sing songs about the joy of life?

Sigh.

On the work side, join me tomorrow at the Casablanca blog for my post on how I used Zodiac signs to create characters for Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark.

http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

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Awesome Book video!

So, in looking for a YouTube video about the Georgian era to share, I came across this book video of Eloisa James’s book Desperate Duchesses. Love it!

So, since Eloisa just ‘friended me’ on Facebook or MySpace (I have the memory of a backward louse these days) here is her video!

So cool!

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Getting your Words Worth

No, this post is not about the poet, William Wordsworth.

As I wrote Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, I became fascinated by how many words were either much more modern than I had suspected, or which modern-sounding words have old origins. So I decided I would document my word searches, and talk about the origins of the words that I either found I could use, or was forced to discard.

For instance… would you, in a historical novel that takes place in 1786, use the phrase ‘tongue tied’? I had severe doubts about this, and not because it is a cliche. I suppose it could be damned as that, but I was curious, how old is the phrase?

This is what I found out: Shakespeare used it in Sonnet LXXXV

It must have been current to him, and likely older, so I used it! Hey, if it’s good enough for Willy, it’s good enough for me. No jokes, folks!

So here it is, in its proper usage:

Sonnet LXXXV

William Shakespeare

My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still,
While comments of your praise, richly compiled,
Reserve their character with golden quill
And precious phrase by all the Muses filed.
I think good thoughts whilst others write good words,
And like unletter’d clerk still cry ‘Amen’
To every hymn that able spirit affords
In polish’d form of well-refined pen.
Hearing you praised, I say ”Tis so, ’tis true,’
And to the most of praise add something more;
But that is in my thought, whose love to you,
Though words come hindmost, holds his rank before.
Then others for the breath of words respect,
Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.

I’ll have lots more to add to my Words Worth feature, so if you’re interested in words through time, stay tuned! I, too, ‘think good thoughts whilst others write good words’.

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