Justine: Finding My Own Cover Models and Staging a Shoot (part 1)

photo shootThis will be the first in a many-part post (which will happen over several months) about finding my own cover models and doing a custom photo shoot for my future book covers.

It stems from a lovely conversation-in-the-comments the Eight Ladies had with Ron Miller from Black Cat Studios, who designs many (if not all) of Lois McMaster Bujold’s covers. He talked about the creative process and showed us, via a series of links, how he goes from a simple picture of his wife or daughter (frequent models for him) to the final cover.

This and other conversations on various Facebook groups got me thinking that it might be worthwhile to find my own cover models, because here’s the problem in historical romance: there is a lack of original stock photography (assuming one wants a lady or man in proper historical clothing…I could always go for the 80s prom dress look as some authors have done, but that doesn’t suit me). Continue reading

Justine: Finding a Pot of Story Gold

story ideas, history in story, historical events, writing, eight ladies writing, corn lawsHappy St. Patrick’s Day! One of the best things that can happen to a writer is to find a pot of “story gold.” That wonderful, juicy tidbit of information that lends credibility, interest, or detail to your story. My pot of gold? The Corn Laws.

(Yeah, I know…you’re scratching your head, saying, “Eh?” Stick with me, though!)

The Corn Laws were British tariffs assigned to imported grain or corn (anything that could be ground), but especially wheat. They were the result of a political dispute between the Continue reading

Justine: The Benefit of Contests

writing contest, royal ascot, regency romance[First, a little housekeeping. Kat and I have switched days, so starting today, I’ll be posting on Tuesdays and she’ll be posting on Fridays. My apologies if you were looking forward to her post today…you can catch her this Friday! And now…onto my post…]

I’ve been working with the same beginning for awhile now:

  • Scene 1: Susannah and her uncle face off; he tells her she’s marrying his friend, she says no.
  • Scene 2: We meet Nate, learn he’s out for revenge with Susannah’s uncle as the presumed traitor and target, and must court Susannah (whom he’s never met) so he can get inside the uncle’s house to find damning evidence that’s been eluding him for years.
  • Scene 3: Susannah and Nate meet on the street (but do not reveal themselves to each other), then Susannah shops for a dress (necessary) and brainstorms with her seamstress friend an alternative to marrying her unwanted intended.
  • Scene 4: Susannah meets the marquess (the unwanted intended) and his mother at a dinner hosted by her uncle. Sparks fly.

The sum total of these four scenes is about 10,000 words…and Susannah and Nate don’t even know who each other are yet! Continue reading

Justine: My Niggling Conscience When Writing Historical Characters

historical fiction, writing historical fiction

Coat of Arms of the Duke of Manchester

Frequent readers will know it’s no secret that I love history. Case in point: my first in a new recurring series about interesting things from the Regency.

It is therefore surprising to me that I struggle when writing historical fiction. Not because it’s hard to remember what the different pieces of clothing are called on a 19th century woman or what sort of conveyance a person would take to get from London to Bath: rather it’s because I want to be historically accurate, and so have decided to use locations and individuals who actually existed two hundred years ago. For example, Viscount Sidmouth, the then Lord Secretary of the War Office, is a secondary character in my current WIP, and the next book I’ve started outlining is about the wife of the 5th Duke of Manchester (who, it is told, ran away with her footman, although that’s not the plans I have for this duchess).

So what’s the problem? I’m giving them characteristics and actions, sometimes very unsavory ones, that didn’t happen according to history. In some cases, they’re marrying different people, and in an extreme case, dying way before their time. My meddling in the lives of these once-real people is weighing down my conscience. Continue reading

Justine: Introducing the “Regency Showcase.” Today: Rotten Row


Rotten Row (to the right) and W. Carriage Drive (on left) by James Valentine circa 1894.

As a new regular feature (how “regular” it is remains to be seen), I will share a neat little tidbit or photo of things I’ve learned about the Regency, which is the historical period in which I write. For those of you more…well, historically challenged, the Regency Period is technically defined as the years between 1811 and 1820, during which the Prince of Wales (and future King George IV) ruled England by proxy as Prince Regent. His father, King George III, while still king, was suffering from a “madness” that rendered him incapable of fulfilling the duties of the crown (historians now suspect he suffered from porphyria, an enzyme disorder that can cause mental instability). Loosely speaking, though, the Regency period lasted from about 1795 through the beginning of Victoria’s reign in 1837 (or from the later French Revolutionary Wars to the beginning of the Victorian period).

It was a period of decadence, opulence, and over-indulgence on the part of the ton, or upper ten thousand (the aristocracy), and for me, it’s devilishly fun to write. Continue reading