I finished my romance novel edits in December, as I wanted to do. Now I just have to format it and get a printed copy for my pre-readers (husband and a few friends) to check out and provide feedback. Then I’ll have another round of edits and I’ll be ready to query a publisher.
I have to get my query letter up to snuff between now and then. Given that I went through 4 versions of the first query letter I did, you’d think I’d be an old hand at making them, but the fact that Flames of Prague is set over a 20 year span and really has two separate plot lines in two sections (which tie together) really screws me up on the query letter. I have no idea how to approach it. Maybe I need to just write two separate query letters–one for each half of the book–then stick them together. That is how I wrote the book (although that makes it sound slapped together when it’s not; it’s about one family, only in two generations, so it flows together).
I began work on another historical romance yesterday. As my book on writing romance said, when you get done writing, write something else. Don’t sit around waiting to hear back from an agent or publisher. Always having something to work on is what keeps you going when the rejections come in.
I had a vague idea of a Hospitallar and a young woman having a brief romance, but didn’t know where to go with it from there. I also didn’t know where or when to set it. The era of the Crusader kingdoms is a bit earlier than I like, and while the Hospistallers were not limited to the Crusader period (they still exist under the name of the Knights of Malta), that was their heyday.
This weekend my husband and I watched the movie Ironclad. It’s actually a very good depiction of medieval warfare and the men’s armor and clothing is accurate. Unfortunately they dressed the main woman up like a Renaissance Faire whore with some sort of off-the-shoulder metal-studded bodice. Guess the costumer was tapping her inner Xena.
I hate when a movie is good right up to the point they turn all the women into strumpets. We will not speak of the maid servant running around with her hair constantly in disarray and a Frederick’s of Hollywood push-up bra popping her tatas up like only modern underwire and elastic can accomplish.
But, I digress. Said Xena-esque heroine really gets her strumpet on by seducing the resident Templar knight. Not that I blame her–I mean, he’s a man I’d like to seduce too–only I could have done a much better job because I’m a romance writer–unlike the person who wrote the terrible dialogue for the script.
And then, as I was trying to go to sleep that night, the idea for my new book came to me. Not a Hospitaller, but a Templar, and not the Crusades but the fall of the Order around 1308. And not in the Holy Land but in England. I started doing a little research on the Templars in England and I think I have a setting for my new knight.
Fleeing the arrests of the Templars, Sir Guy is going to go north, to the border country, where his foster brother has a residence. He gets there, only to find his foster brother is dead. The brother’s widow, however, gives Sir Guy shelter, disguising him as her new household priest. Some time passes, they become friends, and then, one night, the manor is raided by Scots (this is the period when Scotland was fighting for her freedom from England, so cross-border raids were a frequent part of life for people on both sides of the line). Brother Guy and the lady are taken… but not for long. He starts fighting bare-handed, then she pulls out her husband’s sword and tosses it to him, and shit gets really serious. They sneak out of the house and ride through the freezing night to the nearest lord with a proper garrison to raise the hue and cry. Did I mention, because they got raided at night, they’re in nothing but their underclothes for this long, cold journey on horseback? Yeah, that’ll be where things become romantic.
I’m not sure where things go after that–although I’m thinking an illegitimate child–but, then, I never know how a book is going to end when I start it. It just happens. I’m a big believer in characters–and even plot–developing naturally, as opposed to outlining everything in advance. However, there are many writers who are in favor of the later school of thought and wouldn’t be able to go anywhere with their stories if they didn’t have it planned in advance.
And you better believe all descriptions of clothes and armor in my books will be historically accurate!