Posts tagged with: Regency

Working Together

While working together isn’t a true collaboration such as you think of when reading James Patterson with (take your pick), an anthology or boxed set takes a lot of coordination and working together. I’ve never done a boxed set, but I’ve been in two anthologies now (Christmas Revels and Christmas Revels II) with fellow Ruby Louisa Cornell as well as friends Hannah Meredith and Anna D. Allen, and I believe the rules are about the same.516G7UFRUDL._AA160_

Rule #1.  Make a plan early. It was decided Christmas Revels, and now Christmas Revels II, would be English Regency Romance Christmas novellas. I’ve read enough Regency romances to know I never wanted to write one. I wanted to write a late Victorian Christmas novella. Hannah whacked me with her whip and told me I was writing Regency for this. See Rule #4 below.

Rule #2. Make a schedule and stick to it. We started late with Christmas Revels, so it didn’t appear until December 1st. As everyone knows, Christmas season begins when the back-to-school displays are put away in late September. December 1st was late to the party. We decided for Christmas Revels II we would put it out October 1st and made a schedule accordingly.

Rule #3. Expect your schedule to get blow out of the water by somebody. Hannah underwent hip surgery September 22nd, so she was out of the picture at a critical juncture. I blew by a couple of writing deadlines because my second attempt at writing Regency was a disaster. For an important character, I used a position not seen in England after the Middle Ages. In trying to fix it, I kept running into walls. Big stone walls six feet thick. I fixed the problems, and brilliantly too I might add, 😉 but it made me a month or two late.

Rule #4. Somebody must be in charge. For us, that person is Hannah. She’s organized, talented, and has the leadership qualities that brought the Allies through D-Day. She collects and disburses the money. She has vision. She cracks a mean whip. We couldn’t have done this without her.

Rule #5. Everybody brings something to the table. Besides our lovely, brilliantly written, funny, murderous, sigh-inducing stories, we each bring a talent to the project. Hannah is organized and handles the big items, including big advertising sites. Louisa knows everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, in the Regency romance world and found us mentions on blogs. Plus she wrote the award winning story in Christmas Revels, and it was her debut! Anna has an incredible amount of technical talent needed for self-publishing. And I have some experience with Goodreads giveaways and other advertising sites, as well as having a contact for plan B when one step of plan A didn’t work out.   

Conclusion: We published 3 1/2 weeks late, but still early enough to hit most of the Christmas season. Our stories are top rate. Our publication values are excellent. We’ve met our Number One goal, which is to bring enjoyment and the Christmas spirit to everyone who reads our stories.

One lucky person leaving a comment will win a print copy of Christmas Revels, including Louisa Cornell’s award 51yashW6a+L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_winning story. US only please.

When she’s not writing in the Regency period, Kate Parker writes the Victorian Bookshop Mystery series. The next, The Conspiring Woman, releases November 17th.

Show and Tell Wednesday: Marnee Blake on Regency Adventures

Today we have a special Show and Tell feature from Marnee Blake, a 2015 Golden Heart historical romance finalist.

Now, if finaling wasn’t commendable enough, you should know that this blog was made in the midst of a power outage. Neither snow nor rain nor big bad storms shall keep this Firefly down. 🙂

So without further delay, welcome Marnee! Take it away.


My manuscript, A DANGEROUS CHEMISTRY, is a 2015 Golden Heart Finalist in the Historical Romance category.  It’s a Victorian-set historical with a bit of a campy, action movie vibe.  My debut, ALTERED (coming in Dec from Entangled Embrace), has a similar action-y feel.  But, an action-y NA scifi thriller is one thing.  The same for a Victorian romance?

Well, it’s a little bit like Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.

That movie was a bit gritty and edgy, but still very Victorian.

And it’s got a little bit of Kingsmen: The Secret Service going on, too.

I don’t know how many of you have seen this movie, but hubs and I loved it.  And Colin Firth.  See the movie for Colin Firth.  Granted, Colin’s not in my book.  But, my book has lots of the same sort of fast-paced fight scenes.  More kissing, though, and way less gore.

The setting is unlike most Victorians, too.  It’s more this…

Old door of a poor house, Sperlinga - Sicily

Old door of a poor house, Sperlinga – Sicily

And less this….

Great Hall Ballroom in Rundale Palace, Latvia

Great Hall Ballroom in Rundale Palace, Latvia

The story follows a scientist who is working to purify water with chloride and the illegitimate daughter of a St. Giles crime lord.  They band together to rescue a kidnapped girl and end up untangling an international intrigue. Oh, and falling in love.

So, tell me: what unusual settings do you want to see in historical romances? Or, what historical settings are your favorites?

Thanks, Jeannie, for having me! It’s an honor to hang out with the Rubies!!

Jeannie again: And thank you, Marnee, for the great teaser. Chemistry? Action/Adventure? Historical Romance? I’m thoroughly hooked!  Congratulations once again!


Marnee Blake is a 2014 & 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist. She used to teach high school students but these days she only has to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn’t writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book. Marnee’s debut, ALTERED, an NA scifi thriller, will be released by Entangled Embrace in December 2015. Her writing is represented by Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Ruby Debut Release: Heiress Without a Cause by Sara Ramsey

Today I’m thrilled and privileged to host our very own Sara Ramsey as we discuss her inaugural release, the fun and fabulous regency romance Heiress Without a Cause.

After winning the Golden Heart in 2009 and being named a finalist again in 2011 (with the first two books she wrote, but lets all pretend we aren’t green with envy over that), Sara is launching her delightful Muses of Mayfair series with those Golden Heart recognized novels, featuring artistic, rebellious highborn ladies and the rakish lords who love them.

Sara grew up in a small town in Iowa, and confesses to an obsession with fashion, shoes (of course), and all things British. She graduated from Stanford University in 2003 with a degree in Symbolic Systems (also known as cognitive science) and a minor in history. After graduation, she worked at Google for seven years in a variety of sales, management, and communications roles. She left Google in 2010 to pursue her writing career full time.

And now she can add “published author” to her impressive CV.

Heiress Without a Cause

One title to change his life…

A disgraced son with a dark reputation, William “Ferguson” Avenel is content to live in exile – until his father dies in the scandal of the Season. With rumors of insanity swirling around them, his sisters desperately need a chaperone. Ferguson thinks he’s found the most proper woman in England – and he won’t ruin her, even if he desperately wants the passionate woman trapped beneath a spinster’s cap.

One chance to break the rules…

Lady Madeleine Vaillant can’t face her blighted future without making one glorious memory for herself. In disguise, on a London stage, she finds all the adoration she never felt from the ton. But when she’s nearly recognized, she will do anything to hide her identity – even setting up her actress persona as Ferguson’s mistress. She’ll take the pleasure he offers, but Madeleine won’t lose her heart in the bargain.

One season to fall in love…

Every stolen kiss could lead to discovery, and Ferguson’s old enemies are determined to ruin them both. But as their dangerous passion ignites their hearts and threatens their futures, how can an heiress who dreams of freedom deny the duke who demands her love?

Tips for Finaling in the Golden Heart: Regency Edition

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Continuing our series on tips for entering the Golden Heart, today’s post is all about finaling in the Regency. Join us, dear reader, as we discuss the strategies that made our Regency entries sparkle!


Step 1: Choose the right category: Regency vs. Historical.

The Golden Heart contest rules define the Regency category as: “Romance novels in which the majority of the story is set against the Regency period of the British Empire.” Technically, the Regency period is limited to 1811-1820 (the period during which the Prince Regent, later George IV, effectively ruled Britain while his father, George III, was mad). Some people argue that there is a “long Regency” period from approximately 1795-1830, corresponding with George IV’s sway over the fashions and mores of the ton, and the lines are definitely blurred between late Georgian romances, Regencies, and very early Victorians.

However, your judge could be someone who loves a good Regency-flavored book and doesn’t care whether it’s set in 1809 or 1821 – or your judge could be a stickler for the most limited view of what a Regency is and mark ‘incorrect category’ if you fall outside that narrow window. If you aren’t sure whether your entry fits into the Regency, or if you are writing about an ‘exotic’ setting (say, a woman following her lover through the Napoleonic wars, or a couple in British India), you may want to choose the Historical category instead.

  • Elizabeth Essex (finalist in 2009 as Elizabeth Baldwin) says: For me the ‘setting’ of a Regency novel is not just the time period but its “English-ness.”  While your story may be set almost anywhere in the world during this general time period, whether it’s London, the countryside, France, British India or even the high seas, Regency readers expect the world the characters inhabit to be defined in relation to English values of the period.  So think British-centric.


Step 2: Think about what judges want to see in a Regency.

Why do you love reading and writing Regencies? Is it the historical setting? Do you love the rakes, bluestockings, heiresses, spinsters, disgraced dukes, battle-scarred Waterloo veterans, etc.? Or maybe you are just really jealous of the clothes? The aspects of the Regency that made you fall in love with the genre are the ones you should play up in your own writing – and you should make sure some of those themes show up in the first fifty pages of your manuscript. Chances are the judges love those themes too.

  • Elisa Beatty (finalist in 2009, winner in 2010) says: I think it’s a safe bet to say what judges look for in Regency is very different from what they look for in Historical.  Readers who love Regency—and that’s a lot of people, judging by sales—usually love Jane Austen, or if not Austen, then Georgette Heyer or Julia Quinn.  They love wit. They love irony and razor-sharp dialogue. They want a bit of bite.

At the same time, Regency readers want to see the surface restraint and polish of the time period, and woe betide any Regency writer who hasn’t mastered the nuances of polite interaction in the early 19th century.  (Not to mention the fashions, the dances, the carriages, the foodstuffs, the jewelry, the behavior of servants, the political and military intrigue….Do your research, Regency writers!!)

At its best, Regency finds the perfect balance between elegance and irreverence.  Which is perfect for the time period—a time of strict rules but also bad, bad private behavior, a time of nearly-suffocating social propriety but also the liberating spirit of Romanticism. It’s the interplay between restriction and freedom that makes Regency so darn much fun.

  • Anne Barton (finalist in 2008 and 2009, winner in 2011) says: Stephanie Laurens gave this cute tip at a workshop a few years ago. She said that in any Regency novel, “The author must give the reader three dresses.” Her point was that Regency readers typically savor descriptions of elegant gowns . . . as well as glittering ballrooms and picturesque landscapes. Readers want to be skillfully transported to that place and time.  This can be difficult to do in a contest entry where you’re trying to establish the characters and the conflict in fifty pages or less, but a few authentic details and fresh descriptive phrases go a long way.

At another RWA workshop this year Stephanie Laurens and Victoria Alexander discussed the reasons that the Regency genre remains so popular.  Their theory is that the social values of the historical period still resonate with the modern reader.  Then, as now, a woman could marry for convenience, marry for love, or choose not to marry at all. As writers, we need to make sure that our stories resonate with a reader living in today’s society. Yes, we can (and should strive to be) historically accurate—but we can’t forget that we’re writing for someone living in 2011.  She needs to be able to put herself in the heroine’s slippers.


Step 3: Make sure your research and characters live up to the Regency promise.

You know your book is Regency, and you’ve chosen the right setting. But have you done the research necessary to add all the little details that make a Regency feel authentic? It’s easy to get sucked into research, so it’s important to find a balance between research and writing time, but the best Regencies have enough period detail to satisfy the expectations of Regency readers.

  • Louisa Cornell (finalist in 2008 and 2009 as Pamela Bolton-Holifield) says: Research and character development go hand-in-hand when it comes to writing Regency historical romance. The rules and manners of Regency society make it (in my opinion) one of the most intriguing, challenging and romantic eras in which to set a romance. How many eras are there where a hero can become aroused at the sight of a well-turned ankle or the touch of your heroine’s bare hand? Make sure you do your homework when it comes to what your hero and heroine would and would not do and say. And if they break the rules, give the reader a believable (translation PASSIONATE) reason for them doing so.

When it comes to the other side of research – the historical details you use to put the reader in the ballroom, in the bedchamber, in the drawing room and in the clothes – my theory on their use is simple. Do TONS (pun intended) of research on every detail. Immerse yourself in every aspect of the Regency. Accumulate every sort of spice and flavor you can before you write. But when you do write, use those details as seasoning. Too much and the reader will be overwhelmed by it. Too little and the book is bland. Remember, the Regency is all about good taste.

Helpful Hint: Join the Beau Monde chapter of RWA – You cannot put a price on the help the members of this chapter will give you. I also recommend reading books such asThe Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan and Regency Etiquette – The Mirror of Graces (1811) by A Lady of Distinction.

  • Sara Ramsey (winner in 2009, finalist in 2011) says: I second the suggestion of joining the Beau Monde – that online chapter has some amazingly knowledgeable experts on all things Regency.

I also second Louisa’s research book suggestions, with a couple of additions: The Regency Companion by Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L. Hamlin, and English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century by C. Willett Cunnington. There are also some fabulous original sources out there for developing both your knowledge and your voice. I haven’t tracked down all of them, but reading Glenarvon (Caroline Lamb’s thinly veiled attack on Byron), Harriette Wilson’s memoirs, and other contemporary books are all available either in print, in libraries, or via Google Books.


Step 4: Develop your Regency voice.

You have your setting, research, and characters – but does your voice feel emphatically Regency-esque, or does it sound like a Southern belle wandered into a Deadwood saloon? Both your narrative voice and your characters’ dialogue should feel appropriate to the times. That doesn’t mean you have to write like Austen or Byron, but even if your voice has a punchier, more modern feel, it should immerse your readers in the story rather than making them wonder when the cowboys and outlaws (or Bridget Jones) are going to show up.

  • Louisa Cornell says: Retired opera singer here, so I know a bit about “voice.” How do you develop your Regency voice? Same way you get to Carnegie Hall. PRACTICE !! And study – they don’t tell young opera singers about that part! For a writer, I would say READ, READ and READ some more. Read Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen first. Then read every past and current writer of Regency historical romance you can. You aren’t reading for the story and you don’t want to copy anyone else voice or style. What you are reading for is the rhythms of speech, the sweep of the descriptions and all of those little things unique to this genre. THEN, sit down and write.  Take everything you have learned and put it down in your words, your style and your vision of the Regency. Do that – do it passionately and it will show up on the page. Show the reader what you love about the Regency, what you love about your hero and heroine and they won’t be able to put your story down.
  • Elizabeth Essex says: I think an author’s ‘Regency’ voice must spring from the character’s unique voices, and for me that comes from a very specific knowledge about the portion of the world your characters inhabit.  A London miss will have a very difference voice, vocabulary and view of the world than someone who has always lived in the Cheshire countryside, or who grew up in British India.  They will have different points of reference in their lives.  Similarly, a man who has spent his formative years on a ship of the Royal Navy will have a different vocabulary, and more importantly, an entirely different outlook upon life than a London-bred man of the same age.  When you make your research as specific as possible to the character you want to portray, you give them greater authenticity.


Step 5: Give the judge a great ending.

A strong opening is crucial, both on the contest circuit and in the battle to suck editors (and someday readers) into your story. But for the purposes of a contest like the Golden Heart, knowing where to end your entry is just as important. If you’ve judged a contest, you’ve probably run across an entry that ended mid-chapter or even mid-sentence. While that’s certainly a type of cliffhanger, it may not leave the impression that you want.

We’ve included the endings from our Golden Heart entries in a separate post (check below this one) to demonstrate the point, but here are some thoughts from our group:

  • Sara Ramsey says: End your Golden Heart entry at a great chapter or scene break, one with rising conflict and a sense of forward momentum. You don’t have to enter exactly fifty pages; if your previous scene ends at forty-seven or forty-eight pages, leave the judge there, wanting more, rather than stuck in a bit of frothy dialogue on page fifty. This is actually a good technique for your entire manuscript – end chapters with a sense of conflict and immediacy so that the reader can’t put the book down.
  • Liz Talley (finalist in 2009) says: Ending on a hook – really this helped me the most I think.
  • Ashlyn Macnamara (finalist in 2011) says: Begin with a hook, and end with a hook, even if the perfect killer hook comes before your allotted 50 pages. It’s far better to keep your entry short and leave the judge hankering for more, than to fill out your page allotment and end on a blah note.


Step 6: Write the best book you possibly can. Then write another one.

It’s sad but true: most authors don’t find fame and fortune with their first manuscript. Entering the Golden Heart is a fantastic goal, and if you final, it can be a huge boost. But keep your real goal in mind: is it to final in the Golden Heart? Find an agent? Sign a publishing contract? It’s easy to get wrapped up in tweaking the first fifty pages over and over again to final in a contest, but don’t lose sight of how wonderful it can be to write something new.

  • Valerie Bowman (finalist in 2011) says: If you’ve been entering the same manuscript(s) in the GH for 1 or more years, seriously consider writing something NEW. I kept working on the same 3 mss and they didn’t final no matter how much I changed them. Last year I decided to write something completely new with the purpose of being a GH finalist. I thought long and hard about my hook, tried to make the first 50 pages really rock, and brought everything I’d learned to the table. It worked! Sometimes you just have to let go of a story no matter how much you love it and how much potential you think it has. A new story can be so fun and freeing!


Step 7: Join the discussion below!

What do you think? We’d love to hear all questions, comments, thoughts, arguments (classy, ladylike arguments, of course ;), and suggestions. The Regency ladies will be stopping by throughout the day to answer comments. Best of luck to all of you who are entering the Golden Heart!

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For more information on the 2009 Regency finalists, check out their sites and release dates below:

Anne Barton: Her debut, tentatively titled The Proper Miss’s Guide to Bad Behavior, releases in early 2013. Her website is

Elisa Beatty: Her website is

Elizabeth Essex: Her next release is The Danger of Desire, coming November 30, 2011. Her website is

Liz Talley: Her next release is A Touch of Scarlet in October 2011. It’s not a Regency; instead, Liz has five Harlequin Superromances on the shelves. Her website is

Louisa Cornell: Her website is

Sara Ramsey: Her website is

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