Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing Historical Romance the Wright Way

Writing Historical Romance the Wright Way

by Jacqueline Seewald

Historical romance is part history and part romance. It’s important to do thorough research so that the history comes alive. Your setting must be authentic. Read about how people actually lived in that era, absorbing a variety of vivid details. Also, read many historic romances set in the particular time period. Before I wrote TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, I’d read hundreds of Regency romances.

That brings me to another important point: don’t set your novel in an era unless you find it fascinating. In addition, if you can find them, it’s a good idea to read diaries of real people who lived in those times.

Good reference sources are books that describe everyday life as people actually lived it during the time period. When you write, try to avoid anachronisms, things that are out of place time-wise. Shakespeare got away with it, but none of us have his reputation!

Historical accuracy and authenticity are important. However, watch out for including too much history in your novel. You don’t want to bore your readers. Remember, this is a romance novel first and foremost. Keep your story focused on your hero and heroine. The plot line has to follow the development of their relationship.

Regarding dialog, you don’t want to use modern phrasing. Yet you don’t want to use dialog that’s stiff or stilted either. Regency romance, for instance, has its own vocabulary. You really have to become familiar with it if you plan to write one. When you name characters, try to give them names that are appropriate to the era as well. Avoid anything too modern.

I hope these suggestions prove helpful to your writing. Comments and questions are always welcome!

For an example of a sensual romance set in the Regency era, you can check out

Friday, September 24, 2010


Two weeks ago, I chaired my second writers’ conference, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2010 Colorado Gold and this week, I began working on the 2011 conference. And, I began to ask myself if I was insane.

But, I don’t think I am. I’m simply a fierce advocate for writers’ conferences (RMFW in particular) and I love to be part of the planning and implementation. For me, there is no better place to learn the craft of writing, except for critique groups.

Writers’ conferences provide the perfect environment for attending classes on craft, learning new marketing tips, and networking with other writers. Each presenter offers new insights. Each person I connect with offers the possibility of a new relationship. Mentors and role models renew my spirit. If you’ve never been to a writers’ conference, I urge you to pick one and go.

If you’re a new writer or consider yourself a significant introvert, investigate conferences before you choose. Look for a small group rather than signing up immediately for a large national conference. If you have friends who attend, look at their favorite conferences so you will know someone.

If you select a group where you have no acquaintances, take the plunge and get involved. Go to any ice-breaker events or orientations and learn the details on how the conference functions and how to best meet people. Then do so. At my first conference, I was a complete wall-flower, skirting around the edges of gathering rooms, afraid to talk to anyone for fear that they might not like me or that I would say the wrong thing. Then I discovered that a simple question focused around writing (such as “what do you write?”) was an instant conversation starter. I also discovered that a lot of other writers felt just like me.

If you’ve been attending a conference for a few years and still feel isolated, offer to volunteer for a conference task. This instantly connects you with others who are working on the same project and you’ll be surprised at how fast you get to know people and form new friends. And with each new friend formed, you also gain confidence.

I’ve been attending RMFW’s Colorado Gold since 1994. I credit the organization with teaching me craft, nurturing my development, and giving me strength. As conference chair (a direct result of volunteering for some small task many years ago), I now have the responsibility for making newcomers feel welcome and for making sure there are opportunities for all attendees to learn and to build relationships.

And that makes me curious. What factors, for you, make a conference outstanding rather than just so-so? What do you look for when you’re deciding on a conference to attend? What tips the decision (cost, location, educational offerings, social events, guest speakers)? Are there conference nightmares or gotta-brag-on experiences you want to share?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS: Book Giveaway Announcement

TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS: Book Giveaway Announcement
By Jacqueline Seewald

I drew one name at random for this giveaway. It is Toni Zuma. I’ve left a note on her website, a message for her to contact me.

I want to thank everyone who provided a comment. I appreciate every single one.

Another way to read this novel for free is simply to put in a request at your local library. If they don’t have funding for new orders, they can still do an interlibrary loan. Libraries are the best bargain around!

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Author Introduction!

Hello Fellow Expression Authors and Reader Friends,

Since I am new to Five Star and Author Expressions, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you.

My name is Pamela S Thibodeaux. I am first and foremost a Christian, mother, grandmother and up until August 2009 - wife. As I embark on a new chapter in my life, I am grateful and excited to be a part of the Five Star Expression family of authors.

My debut Women's Fiction novel, The Visionary is scheduled for release through Five Star Expressions in Nov. 2011. If I had to describe The Visionary in twenty-five words or less I would say: This 75,000 word women’s fiction novel is a cross between Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love and Danielle Steele’s Malice.

Like Malice, The Visionary is a contemporary novel which deals with the issues adult survivors of child abuse encounter on their road to recovery. However, like Francine Rivers, The Visionary shows the awesome power of God to heal these most wounded of souls.

Here's the blurb.... A Visionary is someone who sees into the future,Taylor Forrestier (pronounced Foresjay) sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by Architectural Digest and Architectural Review as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disgustingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?

Although The Visionary is my debut women's fiction novel, it is not my first publication. My 4-part Tempered Series is available in ebook & print from Com Star Media. My single title, The Inheritance as well as 6 short stories are available now through White Rose Publishing. I also write nonfiction articles, essays and devotions. I am the Co-Founder of Bayou Writers' Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana and a former member of ACFW, Golden Triangle Writers Guild, RWA, & Coeur de Louisanne.

That's my life in a nutshell, LOL! I look forward to getting to know you all much better and welcome your input.

Until later, take care, be blessed and remember...when the going gets tough, the tough go to God.

Pamela S Thibodeaux
"Inspirational with an Edge!" TM

Friday, September 17, 2010

Paper Dreams

Today, I'm sharing my blog post with mystery writer Dorien Grey. By way of introduction, if it is possible to have a split personality without being schizophrenic, writer Dorien Grey qualifies. When long-time book and magazine editor Roger Margason chose the pseudonym for his first book, it set off a chain of circumstances which has led to the comfortable division of labor and responsibility. Roger has charge of day-to-day existence, freeing Dorien—with the help of Roger’s fingers—to write. It has reached the point where Roger merely sits back and reads the stories Dorien brings forth on the computer screen.

After having published thirteen books in the popular Dick Hardesty Mystery series, the western/romance/adventure novel, Calico, and the imminent publication of the third book in his new Elliott Smith Mystery series, he is busily at work on yet another Dick Hardesty mystery.

Welcome, Roger and Dorien

Books are the writer’s dreams set to paper. They are formed, as are all dreams, in the imagination. But unlike sleep dreams, the writer has some degree of control over them. If unable to direct the dream’s every aspect, at least the writer can consciously influence them by nudging them in certain directions. I know that some writers plot out every single step and detail of a story before actually sitting down to write. It works for J.K. Rowling, who has made more money from transcribing her dreams of Harry Potter into more money than I will ever see in ten lifetimes. But it would never work for me. The element of spontaneity, both in sleep dreams and writing, is far too crucial for me.

If writing can be compared to flowing water, the detailed-plotting method seems to me like one of Los Angeles’ drainage canals—straight as an arrow and contained within concrete walls. I prefer mine to be like a meandering river: I know where it’s going, but while I can see the bends coming up, I have no idea what lies beyond them. And I am always aware that I am not on the journey alone: the reader and I are Huck and Jim on the raft, flowing through the story together. I can’t imagine it being any other way.

People frequently ask where I get the ideas for my books…and even my blogs…and my answer is always the same: I quite honestly have no idea. They just appear. (If I can be allowed another metaphor here, I’ve often likened my “creative process” to be like the gas bubbles rising to the surface of a tar pit. I’ll be minding my own business, thinking of almost anything except where my next story/blog idea is going to come from, when I’ll be aware of something rising to the surface. I’ll watch while it emerges and forms a bubble of thought and finally bursts, leaving me with a topic or plot idea.) I love it!

For me to try to explain how these bubbles form and exactly how I handle them when they do appear is as impossible as explaining how we dream what we dream when we’re asleep.

All dreams are born and are nourished in the nursery of the subconscious, and there they remain until they are ready to emerge, either as a sleep dream or as a book or a painting or a sculpture or a symphony. Dreams are our humanity, and I cherish them, whatever form they take.

For a greater insight into the "real person" behind Dorien Grey, the curious are invited to check out his website ( and his various blogs: Dorien Grey and Me and A Life in Photos among them.

There is nothing Dorien loves more than hearing from a reader. If you'd like to contact him, just drop him a note at

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and Me: The Lure of Regency Romance

Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and Me: The Lure of Regency Romance
by Jacqueline Seewald

I love reading all kinds of romance novels. I enjoy a varied diet. But I consider Regency romance the most delectable and enjoyable, a veritable bonbon of pleasure. I’ve read many hundreds of novels in the genre. In this regard, I am like many other devoted readers. Regency romance has endured for a long time and I believe will continue to be popular.

First, for those who are not familiar with Regency, let’s define it. When we talk about the Regency era, we mean the brief period lasting between 1811-1820 in England. However, for the sake of the novels, the era begins at the tail end of the Georgian period in about 1800. It includes the scope of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, a period of turmoil, social unrest and political revolution.

The novels of Jane Austen have caught the imagination of both readers and writers for centuries. I’ve read each of her novels more than once but love PRIDE AND PREJUDICE best for its wit, charm and integrity.

Georgette Heyer was one of the writers who created her own novels set in the Regency era. These romances have also influenced many readers and writers. Her novels even introduced their own unique vocabulary.

At the time I initially wrote TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, I was working as a librarian with easy access to a multitude of reference sources. So my research proved both enjoyable and relatively easy. Now the internet offers so much valuable information on the Regency era which makes research more convenient. Here are just a few of the wonderful websites I recently located:

Some of the characters in my novel are based on real historical people. However, I did place my own spin on the novel. For instance, at one time Regency romances allowed no sex scenes. I prefer to read and write novels that do have sizzle. I also have a paranormal edge to the book.

I created a heroine, Maeve, who is part gypsy and has psychic abilities. Adam, the Marquess of Huntingdon, doesn’t believe in such things. He is a world weary cynic, but he would certainly like to make the mysterious Maeve his mistress. Maeve leads him a merry chase.The novel is a sensual historical romance with elements of mystery, the paranormal, romantic suspense and humor.

Here is what Jayne Ann Krentz had to say about the novel:

Dear Jacqueline:

Thank you for letting me read Tea Leaves and Tarot Cards. I enjoyed it. Following is a quote that you are free to use:

"Jacqueline Seewald's Tea Leaves and Tarot Cards delivers an unusual and intriguing heroine together with fast-paced historical romantic-suspense. Seewald is very much at home in her early 19th century setting."

I wish you the very best with the publication of Tea Leaves and Tarot Cards.

Jayne Ann Krentz
(Amanda Quick)

This novel is now available at a discount from Barnes and Noble online:

You will also find it listed with,, and in the Five Star/Gale catalog:

Since the novel has just been published, I am giving away a free copy to celebrate. For the next week, send your comments here and I will select one poster at random who I will then contact and the announcement will be made.

So drop by. All comments and discussion most welcome!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

For anyone who has ever wanted to write a book, for whatever reason, National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo, may be the place to start.

For readers of this blog who, like millions of others across the nation, feel a book inside, struggling to get out, the NaNoWriMo event is your chance to follow that dream.

But NaNoWriMo is not just for beginning writers. It’s a challenge that may give authors a chance to loosen up, let the chips fall, and take a risk.

During the month of November, libraries from Alaska to Florida and all over the world will be hosting the event. Our librarian, who nurtures local talent, hosts a kick-off event every year at one of the county libraries. I’ll be joining a panel of other published authors to talk about the craft of writing, after which we will hand back one-page submissions of people who requested an earlier critique. This may sound counter-intuitive, because NaNoWriMo, by its very structure, encourages seat-of-the-pants writing. Our library administrator, however, believes a bit of knowledge will only feed the writing frenzy.

Some of the previous years’ participants who took pen to paper for the first time have seen results. They went on to do revisions, and were eventually published by well-known houses.

If you’re a published author, looking to get your name into the community, your library may be the very place to start. Ask if you can organize a kick-off event, then follow through. You can display your books on a table to give the audience inspiration, and give you a bit of publicity.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top Ten Ways Writer's Conferences Inspire

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It can pick you up when you have fallen. Jump-start your engine when it’s been stalled with plot problems. Shock you to life when you’ve been paralyzed from a rejection that dashed your hopes.

Writers and readers alike seek inspiration to get over life’s speed bumps, so it’s hardly surprising that there are 120 thousand inspirational books listed on Amazon.

For writers, there’s Dare to Dream, Cup of Comfort, Bird by Bird, The Writer’s Life, Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, Dare to Dance, and hundreds more.

For me, nothing fluffs my creative feathers better than a writer’s conference. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ annual conference starts in four days. As a matter of fact, Pamela Nowak, one of our Author Expressions contributors, is the conference chair and she has terrific speakers and workshops planned. I’ll be presenting a workshop on writing strong scenes and my workshop and the conference couldn’t come at a better time. I broke my collar bone and dislocated my shoulder on August 4th and am still mired in the pain and challenges of recovery. I need a jump-start, tune-up, new transmission, overhaul, and fresh paint all around.

Here are Top Ten Reasons why writer’s conferences inspire:

10. Break free from the house. Writing is a solitary profession.
9. Learn that you’re not alone. It’s encouraging to learn that other writers have problems similar to yours, that you’re not the only one who has problems plotting or developing characters, for example.
8. Find new writer friends. Friends who write in the same genre as you do, friends who are also interested in critique, friends who have experiences and stories to share.
7. Find exciting new books to read, both fiction and nonfiction craft books.
6. Discover new technologies and processes. New software and products are being introduced at warp speed. Which best serve needs of the writer? Just ask at a conference, and you’ll receive instant feedback.
5. Hear success stories from writers like you. I’ve heard about writers who received ghastly rejection letters that made mine look tame. I’ve heard of writers who struggled so much that they had to live in their car, then went on to success. Learning of hardships overcome is wonderfully inspiring.
4. Sharpen your craft. Conferences offer instruction and workshops that address the challenges of plotting, writing and marketing your fiction novel.
3. Meet editors and agents. It’s exciting to meet the gatekeepers, to talk with the people who buy the books. They share market insights and explain their daily needs and challenges.
2. Connect and laugh with your writer friends. Life is richer with friends. They support us when we’re down, celebrate with us when we’re up, and they remind us that life is good.
1. Network/share information. Knowledge is power. Conferences offer intellectual stimulation and insight into the publishing industry.

Do you enjoy conferences? Please share your best memory of a writer’s conference, and how it inspired you.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricane Force Winds

A big wind is a' blowin', in case you haven't heard, and by the end of this Labor Day weekend, there will be lives changed. As a Floridian, I can testify that hurricanes do that: pummel everything in their paths to unrecognizable conditions. Make a stew of it all: one part sewer pipe; one part feather-exploding bed pillow; three parts mud.
I've had my own personal hurricane going on inside me. My foot surgery, 13 weeks now, is a category four. And I can't escape to a shelter. After a hurricane, you think about running out to pick up a gallon of milk, and you have to think about flooded streets and downed power lines. With my category four foot, I have to think about how far I'll have to walk; how I can elevate my foot; how much will it hurt.
A creative hurricane has also hit me this week. The manuscript I'm working on is still not ready for other eyes: so far to go, so much to discover beneath the muck. I even wondered for a couple of days, when my foot was throbbing and my book was reading like a fifth grade essay, if I was doing what I really wanted to do. Was I living the way I wanted to live? Was I being the person I wanted to be? Was I writing about what I wanted to write about?
So I took to my notebook: my hurricane shelter. And I asked myself what it was I really wanted say in my story.
Here's what came out:
I want to write about how hard it is. How hard it is to even figure out how hard it is. How hard it is to get it right. How hard you have to try.
And then, beneath the floodwaters, I discovered: I was living my story. I was asking the same questions my character was asking.
Can that be a sign I'm on the right path?
Or just a cat-four hurricane ripping through my life?
Have you had a creative hurricane? What insights resulted? How did it change your writing?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Series, Sequels, and Spin-offs

I love series books. I’ve been known to discover Book One in a series and go to the bookstore and buy the next 14 books all at once. If I start a book and realize there were precursors, I’ll put it aside and read the earlier ones until I catch up. I want to meet the characters head-on in their first appearances.

In the mystery genre, series books feature a protagonist and a group of secondary characters that grow throughout the series. People may come and go, relationships may change, but the books build on each other. By my definition, the books in these series are sequels. The same protagonists come back as the stars, moving forward with their lives.

In romance, though, ‘series’ tend to be spin-offs, rather than sequels. There might be hints and references to what happened before, but the major players in Book Two were probably secondary characters in Book One.

(I did write a true sequel to a romance, primarily because I wasn't "done" with the characters, and also because nobody told me it was against the "rules"—but that's another story.)