Endings and Revivals in the Blog Department

Harry Willson Watrous, Just a Couple of Girls circa 1915,

As many of you are now aware, Susan Holloway Scott and I have decided to write “The End” on the Two Nerdy History Girls blog. The blog brought us many delights and benefits. Among other things, we got to meet virtually and in person a great many more history lovers than we ever dreamt was possible, made contact with historians and historical bloggers worldwide—many of whom welcomed us into their libraries, museums, and historic houses—and, of course, discovered tidbits we put to work in our books. But the blog also took time, and as the years passed, the demands of our main job—our novels—were increasing. Clearly, something had to give, if we wanted to give proper attention to our writing careers.

It feels good to get the time back, yet it’s sad, too, to say goodbye to a project that was so much fun for both of us, and whose support from readers was beyond what we’d ever imagined.

The good news is, you will get to see interesting and amusing, (I hope) historical nerdiness here, direct from my website, and more posts in general, though never enough to flood your inbox. As one who spends far too much time hitting the email Delete button, I am sensitive to this.

But while you may get Loretta Chase blog posts a little more often than before, I shall aim to offer more amusement as well as more substance. Along with new stuff, you can expect some enhanced editions of blogs from the 2NHG archives. I’ve done this occasionally in the past, and it gives me a chance to offer more pictures, among other things.

But mainly, one hopes, saying Goodbye to 2NHG means saying Hello to shorter times between my books.

Me & William Smith, the man whose map changed the world. His work was one of the inspirations for Miss Wonderful.

Oh, and one more thing: Please consider this a fresh opportunity to ask some of those questions that arise when you’re reading my books. Like, What’s a ticket porter? How could an English couple get married in somebody’s house instead of in church? What on earth is a pelerine and why would anybody want to wear one? Why the lurcher? If your enquiring mind wants to know, please use the email form and send me your question.

Difficult Dukes #2 is Recovering from Its Sulks

Willems, Florent Joseph Marie, The Important Response 19th C.jpg

A few readers have contacted me recently, to ask about the second Difficult Dukes book. Those who subscribe to this blog may remember a plaintive post last spring, wherein I lamented the book’s refusal to cooperate with its author.

Matters did not improve.The Duke of Ashmont’s story did not proceed smoothly during the summer and early fall. Oh, I managed to write the first quarter of the book, and there were some good scenes, but something was off. I had no idea what it was, only that every new scene, instead of bubbling up naturally as a result of the scene before, had to be dug out in bits and pieces. And then it still looked ... off.

Here is the thing you learn after 30+ years’ writing professionally: When this kind of creative slowdown goes on for so long, something essential is wrong.

In my case, since what’s essential in my stories is character, it’s always the protagonists who are displeased with my take on their behavior. Unfortunately, they do not offer helpful suggestions or even clues. Instead, they sulk like the immature things they are (thanks to me) until I figure them out.

If I’d written them correctly in the first place, they would be mature and therefore would not sulk and everything would move along at a reasonable speed, always allowing for the periodic, “OK, what happens now?” And as to that, I do have a story arc in mind, but each scene needs to evolve naturally from what went on before. This means the specifics aren’t clear until I get there. And scenes don’t ring true if I don’t truly understand the characters, because the lack of understanding causes them to behave in ways that are not true to them.

Finally, after a series of consultations with my professional team—no, we couldn’t pinpoint the problem immediately; it took some work—we narrowed things down to the heroine. It finally became clear that she had two different personalities going at the same time, and one was wrong. No wonder she was furious with me.

I gave myself a dope slap, went back and revised all the scenes (yes, from page one) ... and lo and behold, the story came alive. At last. At any rate, the hero and heroine seem to have stopped hating me.

Behold me now, chastened, but with confidence restored. I shall do my very best to get this book finished in time for a 2019 publication date. Can’t promise that will happen, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

Difficult Dukes #2 and Other Things

 from Egan, Pierce & Cruikshank, Isaac Robert,   The Finish to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic

from Egan, Pierce & Cruikshank, Isaac Robert, The Finish to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic

Sometimes the writing gods gaze down benignly upon me and send encouraging rays of sunlight and gentle breezes to waft me on my way from the beginning to The End of the story.

Sometimes I have all I can do to launch my boat. Then, having launched, it promptly sinks. Or I fall overboard.  Repeatedly.

“There is always a point in the writing of a piece when I sit in a room literally papered with false starts and cannot put one word after another and imagine that I have suffered a small stroke, leaving me apparently undamaged but actually aphasic.”—Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

All of this is to say that Ashmont’s story is still in the process of being written and he’s being a ducal pain in the neck about it.

In other, better news:
A Duke in Shining Armor has continued to receive stellar reviews, most recently in the current (9 April 2018—Naomi Judd on the cover—lots of red) issue of First for Women, currently on the shelves of many, many supermarkets. (Yes!) The review is titled “7 books we’re loving now.” There I am with the likes of Margaret Atwood and Jodi Picault.

The image was sent by my dear friend Claudia on Cape Cod.

And what do you think my amazement (and fear) was when I found out it had been reviewed in the New York Times Book Review? And when I discovered only mild snark in the review?

Another happy moment was seeing the book reviewed by the Historical Novel Society, which covers all historical fiction, not romance exclusively.

From the writer’s traveling cave:

Between storms

I’ve lived in New England all my life, but must say that the cold, snow, and dark started wearing on me a few years ago, and my husband and I started heading south during late winter. This year, due to an unfortunate series of events, we left later than we liked. But we did narrowly escape the cascade of blizzards.

We are in our last days in South Carolina. We’re on an island, and there’s a lot of marshland. Plus we have a golf course, more or less  in the back yard, which has the usual water features. In this part of the world, though, the water features harbor critters you don’t see on New England golf courses.

As I write this, it’s early evening. Today we’ve had a series of thunderstorms and we’re on the lookout for tornados. My computer is unplugged from the electrical outlet, and we’re listening to thunder, thunderous rain, and intermittent hail.

An alligator. Not ours. This one's from Florida

During the late morning thunderstorm, we watched an alligator swim toward our side of one of the golf course’s lagoons. It’s still a looong way away from us, but it was pretty thrilling. We have counted three alligators so far, on the golf course, in whose lagoons they lurk when they’re not lying on the bank, sunning themselves. The island is chock full of the kind of swampy territory they enjoy. I know this isn’t a plus for most people, but I have great respect and admiration for alligators and crocodiles, who’ve managed to survive all this time.

I feel lucky to be able to travel and make a writer’s retreat just about anywhere I go. What a job! So, yes, I bang my head against the wall, as indicated above, but you know I’ll keep at Ashmont’s story until it’s done right.

 

 

There's only one Difficult Dukes book so far

I've heard from a couple of readers who are wondering whether they missed a book in the new series. It took a little while to figure out what led to this conclusion. Eventually I realized: References are made in A Duke in Shining Armor to the Duke of Blackwood's having married Ripley's sister a year earlier. Since I often refer to past events that are in my head, and will eventually (I hope) be worked out in ensuing books in the series, as part of the series story arc, it did not occur to me that this particular one might lead to a Missing Book question.

To answer the question: No, there was no previous book. A Duke in Shining Armor is Book One of the series. Ashmont's story—as yet untitled—comes next. Blackwood's, which is quite complicated, due to his already being married (what was I thinking?), will be the third book.

If you ever find yourself wondering if you missed one of my books, please wander over to the Books page, where series descriptions appear, along with individual book information, and the most up-to-date listing of what's been published. There's even a printable book list.

And of course, subscribing to this blog will, with the occasional crazed exception, keep you up to date with whatever strikes me as vaguely related to my books and the process of getting them out into the world. OK. Not sure about how the loos fit into this. But it was London! Where so many of my stories are set! So that settles that.

Image: Thomas Rowlandson, A Book Auction, made between 1800-1815, courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. When mention is made, in A Duke in Shining Armor, of Olympia's memorizing auction catalogs, this is the type of event she would have been fantasizing about attending. All of the antiquarian books she refers to in the story were either in auction catalogs or listings of a particular private library that I found online...because I am about as nerdy as she is.

 

 

 

 

 

News from here and abroad, including Brazil & Portugal

It's been a while, and I have a lot of catching up to do. For instance, what have I been doing all this time since May? For one thing, I was in Europe: a month living in London, a week in Albania, a week in Italy, then back to London and home again, home again. Where the page proofs for A Duke in Shining Armor awaited me.

Page proofs are my last chance to correct errors and crazy, twitchy stuff I can't believe I did, which nobody else caught for some reason. Things like using a certain phrase over and over. This happens in every book, and it's always a different phrase, and every single time, I don't pick up on it until the page proofs come. This may have to do with seeing pages that actually look like book pages, rather than typed manuscript pages. Or it could be my brain. Because. You know.

But the page proofs have gone their merry way, and everything seems on time for the December 2017 release of my first Difficult Dukes book. There will be some public appearances connected with this, which I will tell you about when details are confirmed. Suffice to say that they will involve some of my favorite author friends, and I am very excited.

Also, before long I'll be reporting on my travels abroad. I would have reported while abroad, but the technology issues became daunting. It was all I could do to get a few Two Nerdy History Girl posts in here and there. And yes, I was very busy trying not to waste one fabulous minute, which left not much time or brain power for social media.

Until then, for your visual enjoyment, here are some lovely new editions to look at, from Brazil and Portugal, of Vixen in Velvet.