It is a grey, damp day in my corner of the world. Most people around me carry on mumbling about April showers and how sick they are of the weather. When you live in a place ruled by the four seasons, the weather plays a definite factor in how people live and how people connect, or commiserate, over nature’s whims. Toronto’s weather is not for the faint of heart.
I relish it.
The changing of the seasons is an opportunity to reconnect to ourselves and our goals. There is a chance to start over four times a year and use the energy of the equinox or solstice to center your focus so you can manifest your goals.
Back to today’s rainy weather – while I’m very much looking forward to the sunny days of summer (sans smog alerts, *sigh*) – they are also full of pressure of having to do something because the weather is so nice.
But, not today.
Today, the world functions at a low hum. I can hide away and tinker at the keyboard to my heart’s content. Well, at least until the children come home from school.
Fellow writers and readers, would you concur about rainy days?
What does this mean?
I love the idea of women having some kind of opportunity to be themselves in a world so defined by patriarchy.
So, when I started toying with the idea of a protagonist who is a Countess and not a widow, I immediately began to research how this could be possible in an era such as the Regency.
Apparently, it was completely possible. Some women received the designation for life only. Which meant the title was for the duration of the Lady’s life and her children would not inherit said title or lands. A well-known peeress in her own right was Her Grace Lady Henrietta Godolphin Duchess of Marlborough, whom inherited her father’s title as a Duchess of the realm.
Once I realized that being a peeress in her own right wasn’t quite so outlandish, distinct yes, but not out of the realm of possibility, the character for my first novel would not let me go.
My protagonist is a Countess in her own right. And, interestingly enough, when I was plagued by doubt while writing her, I was also in the midst of marathon watching one of my all-time favourite shows, Downton Abbey and it was as if the universe had a special message for me.
If you know the show, you know the show! In a short scene near the end of the third season, Robert (Earl of Grantham) describes the family structure of his cousin and her husband, Shrimpy. Apparently, his grandmother was a Countess in her own right. He actually used those words! Well, then I knew I was absolutely on to something.
So, Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Ashbury, Countess of Bentwick in her own right took flight. And, does she ever soar.
How do you feel about a Lady in the Regency era having a title of her own, even if for life only?
I abandoned this blog for quite some time. I am a mother of two school-aged children, a wife, a high school teacher, and a woman on a journey of growth.
Amidst the many areas which demand my time, I spent any free minute I could find to finish my first historical romance – Capturing a Countess’ Heart.
Then I spent countless hours editing it and learning SO MUCH in the process…about historical romance…about writing…about myself.
My diligence was rewarded with a seven month period of working with an editor from Harlequin Historical. And, while Harlequin decided not to publish my work, it was the best learning experience I had.
I diverted from writing for a brief time while I pursued another goal of becoming a certified yoga instructor. And, I’m ecstatic to report that in two short months I will be a teacher of yoga (another passion of mine). It was precisely my yoga teacher training which led me to the crystal clear understanding that I cannot give up on my goal of publishing my work.
There are many walls in my way…I’m too old, I don’t have the social media presence, I know nothing about marketing, much less formatting a manuscript into a readable digital or paper copy book!
These are nothing but lies.
Part of my learning is being unapologetic about using my time for writing. For publishing. For becoming part of an on-line community in which I can interact with like-minded lovers of Historical Romance, readers and writers and bloggers!
But all of this requires just one thing in order for it to be accomplished. I need to call myself a writer.
So, here I am. Caryn Emme. Mother, wife, teacher, yogi, WRITER.
Let the publishing journey begin!
Becoming a writer has been a life-long dream. And, the thing is, I am a writer. An unpublished writer. Ugh.
I’ve blogged here and at Bookmarks. I’ve written short stories and a children’s novel.
More recently, I followed my heart and wrote what I love: a romance novel. A Regency to be exact. I have a shaky platform and virtually no writing credentials – at least none that publishing houses would take seriously.
So I have edited my manuscript, sculpted it by using every bit of research on editing I can find. And, I am so very proud of the final product.
Except, it’s as ready as I can make it. With numerous beta-reads, proof-reads, editing for continuity of character, plot, theme, setting and dialogue, there’s not much more I can do.
Now I face the prospect of publishing – which strangely enough has had me stuck for the past two months. I’ve used the excuse of summer holidays and busyness with the family to delay the inevitable. School’s back in. I’m working part-time – I have the time to see my dream through.
The choice now seems to send it off for more rejection letters OR perhaps, I will finally dive and tread my way through the self-publishing sea.
I believe it will be the latter for me.
There is a fine line between a man who knows what he wants and will not stop until he gets it, and the man who makes a lot of noise expecting others to get him what he wants.
The first kind of man inspires confidence and admiration because those in his circle know he will achieve his goal with dignity and grace.
The second causes groans, tension, stress and the inevitable eye-roll.
How to make sure your hero is the first kind of man, not the second? Here’s a checklist for you:
How to spot a brat in your hero? Here’s another checklist:
What are your definitely/definitely-not traits when creating the hero for your novels? I hope you’re inspired to keep writing swoon-worthy men.
I thrive on knowing my characters deeply so I can better shape their story. Except, I end up writing the thoughts and reactions of almost all of my characters – simultaneously.
This is a big NO, NO and is referred to as head hopping.
Head hopping is when the narrative doesn’t remain within one character’s POV – but the scene moves from the perspective of all of the characters involved. Sometimes, in the midst of editing hell, I throw my arms up and think, isn’t that what the benefits of an omniscient narrator are?
Part of me becomes quite perplexed because I’ve read more than my fair share of romances where we get information from both of the romantic leads within the same scene – and I think, why does every piece of advice to writers out there include a finger wag at head hopping, meanwhile these very successful romance writers do it consistently throughout their novels?!? Frustrating, right?
I guess the saying that you have to know the rules before you can break the rules holds fast on this one.
As I write instalment two of my series and as I edit (again!) instalment one, these are some of the rules I’ve developed for myself to prevent the proverbial head hop:
So far, keeping these rules in mind has helped me to remain focused and each chapter has improved tremendously. Each chapter is stronger, feels tighter and I feel that the narrative voice confidently takes the reader through the story.
It’s worth looking at the amount of head hopping in your own writing and asking yourself if it is serving the story.
What techniques do you use to keep your POV focused?
In a world full of distractions, each seductively pulling our attention away from the things that are important to us, it becomes tantamount to find the strength to keep focused on our goals and dreams. And, it is even more important to keep focused on the present moment.
In the most purest of ways, it is only the present moment which matters. When we train ourselves to still our mind, we open ourselves to the abundance of creativity and sheer vibrance of life which exists in the universe.
I have finished my first manuscript, Capturing a Countess’ Heart. And am hoping for publication in the traditional form. If it doesn’t happen, then I will self-publish because I truly believe it is a story which readers of romance will love.
In the lull, I have been toying with beginning draft one of book two in the series. I have been down on myself for not continuing on with my blogs. I have allowed the busyness of life take over: children, career, marriage, friends, home etc.
I wasn’t happy. I am happiest when my hands are on the keyboard giving birth to the whirlwind of words encircling my mind. I just couldn’t find my focus.
Then I enrolled in Power Yoga Canada’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution. My yoga studio is a haven for me. I find peace the moment I enter, and when we begin a class in Supta or Child’s Pose, my entire being releases onto the mat and I breathe the busyness of my day out. And, for 60 minutes, I think of nothing. Nothing but syncing my movements to my breathe. Nothing but flowing.
What I learned through these 40 Days was the beauty of meditation. I didn’t meditate regularly, or for long periods of time. But, I have felt a tremendous change in my focus with the meditation I have accomplished. I will keep meditating and I will allow the abundance of the universe help me, guide me, still me.
I will also bring this into my writing. The stillness will bring the words forward – without worry, without fuss. It’s a beautiful thing.
I am ready to start draft one of book two (and very excited to do so). I am ready to begin the publishing process for book one too – with a publisher or on my own.
Stillness. It’s where your words are found.
How do you prepare for writing your next novel, short story, poem, blog post, journal entry? What inspires and prepares you to write from your true self?
I receive a rejection letter which makes my heart sing.
I have complete and utter faith in my novel.
I am on a journey of learning about my craft unlike anything I have ever experienced.
So when the rejection letter reads to take heart because my voice shows potential, I am elated.
I receive detailed editorial feedback and am encouraged to re-submit my project. A major publishing house recognizes in my manuscript, a novel worth publishing.
While I know there are more rejection letters to come and the publishing world is fierce, I also know the option to self-publish is always present.
I will keep perfecting this MS and start on the next instalment of my series because I cannot wait for the day I finally get to share it with all of you.
Point of View is one of those features of writing that when done well, it flawlessly takes readers through a story and brings us into each character. When not, it frustrates readers.
Poorly edited POV is akin to being thrown into a story without the security of being safely steered through it.
This is why I have been deeply editing my manuscript. I love stories that really take us into character and I am making the changes necessary to bring that depth into my first Regency. And, it is tough. So very tough.
However, the universe seems to always have answers for me when I feel lost. My answer came on Pinterest this week in the form of a post at She’s Novel by Kristen Kieffer published April 23, 2015: How to Write in Deep POV + get inside the mind of your character
In her post, Kieffer writes:
Deep POV is a technique used to get inside the mind of a character and make a deep emotional connection with readers. To do so, the author must remove nearly all traces of authorship from the page. The less that the reader remembers that they are reading, the more effective the Deep POV. You want to hold your reader enthralled.
She proceeds with a list of ways to write in Deep POV and provides very helpful, concrete examples.
Here’s an example of the changes I’ve made to my manuscript using Kieffer’s suggestions:
OUT of DEEP POV:
Lady Catherine, the dowager Countess of Bentwick, had hid her disappointment well when she discovered the Duke was with other gentlemen discussing politics. Obviously, he was not hunting for a wife this evening and so she had to move on and try to find Charlotte’s match elsewhere.
Charlotte hid a small smile behind a gloved hand when her mother’s brows furrowed upon discovering the Duke was with other gentlemen discussing politics. “Do try to hide your disappointment mother. Somersby is not looking for a wife and I would at least like to marry a man who wants to marry.”
Catherine smirked. “No man wants to marry.” She leaned towards her daughter. “I don’t believe you realize how dire our situation is my darling.”
What do you think? Any suggestions or sources you like to read to improve your writing? Do you prefer deep POV or not? Would love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading! Any comments on this or another Grace Burrowes novel?
Summary from Goodreads: Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year’s crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another’s proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead. Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?