Rain, rain, go away…

I don’t want to confirm any stereotypes of England…but it’s been raining for the last six days.

In June! SIX DAYS!

It’s so grey here near Bath that I’m finding it difficult to write. All my creativity seeps out of my ears and all I want to do is put my dressing gown on (check), put the kettle on (check), and curl up with a good book.

The trouble is, I want to read one and not write one – and I’ve got deadlines to keep! Thankfully my friends, family, and most importantly readers are getting me through. Their little notes of encouragement keep me putting finger to keyboard to create the next most amazing love story.

And as the last book in my Ravishing Regencies goes on pre-order (which you can grab here!), it’s a nice way to end one era and start to plan for another.

As I sit here on the sofa, looking out of the window at the rain, I’m reminded that there are so many amazing things that happens because of rain.

The trees are now green, that sweet smell of wet earth, and the refreshing of crops – all this can only happen because of rain.

So here’s hoping that this rain will bring after it a renewed sense of creativity. I can’t wait to get started on the third (!) book in my new series for 2020!

Historical accuracy in romance

The age old question that many of us historical romance authors face is this: how much accuracy is needed?

It’s a difficult one to answer because there are two main groups of thought, both of which have their own positives and negatives.

Group 1: The Purists

“Write a historical romance without all the details 100% accurate? Nonsese!” They cry. “The whole point of a historical romance is to lose yourself in the time period, to feel as though you could actually be there!”

And in some ways, this is true. Nothing is more jarring when reading a historical book than for a character to use modern day slang, or for a historical character that definitely wasn’t alive then to appear on the page.

But the downside to absolute purist books are that authors can spend hours, days even, hunting down the exact time of cotton thread used in the sewing of a particular type of boot, which is actually only described in passing on one page. It’s a very exhausting way to work for the author, and readers don’t often realise how many hours of work have gone into describing the type of candle wax in a dinner scene.

Group 2: The Narratives

“It’s the narrative story that actually matters!” This group cries. “What does it matter if a character is wearing a gown that was popular five years earlier? It’s the emotions that the character, and the reader feels that matters!”

And in many ways, they are right. Our readers typically assume that we know what we’re doing when writing historical romance, and that means that small slips in accuracy go unnoticed if the story is strong enough.

The downside of this, however, is that for those lovers of the time period, they will quickly notice when something isn’t quite right, and that can mean they put down your book in disgust – and not only never pick one up again, but advise others that they don’t even bother.

So what’s the answer?

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I saw in an author Facebook group this week that someone got themselves tangled up in knots about whether a certain word could be used in her book based in 17th century England if it had not been invented until the 1800s – and the heated debate showed that there are strong feelings on both sides!

On the other hand, have you ever tried to read a 17th century novel – one written during that time, I mean? Sure, there are plenty of words that you recognise, but could you tell your addle-plot from your borachio, your gapeseed from your mulligrubs? Some of my favourites are nipperkin or pickthank.

You see, if historical accuracy is taken too far, then the story actually gets completely lost. So I’m all about balance: I sit between the two camps.

What do you think?

Planning a historical romance series

One of the biggest challenges of being an author is planning a historical romance series. I know that there will be people who disagree with me, but I think this is true for three reasons:

  1. Planning a series, any series, is complicated. You have way more characters to keep track of, you need to ensure that things like time of the year or even years in a decade don’t get all loose, and that your characters’ descriptions don’t change!
  2. Writing historical fiction is complicated. Depending on the level of detail you want to bring into your books, there’s a huge amount of research that you have to put in before you can even think about writing a word!
  3. Creating believable romances is complicated. This is especially true for a series because romance readers always want a ‘happily ever after’ – so how do you get them interested in reading the next book?

Put all of that complication together, and what have you got?

Yeah. It’s complicated.

But planning a historical romance series doesn’t have to be something you avoid, just because it’s complicated. What you need to do is have a really clear strategy to combat those three problems. Here is how I make sure that planning a historical romance series doesn’t need to be the end of your writing career – before it’s even begun!

Keeping track of everything

For me, it’s spreadsheets. For some authors, it’s notebooks. I’ve even got an author friend who has a whole wall whiteboard that she sticks post-it notes on! The point is, find out the best way that you need to keep track of everything – from character names, ages, descriptions, and emotional arcs – and treat that as your Bible.

Have more than one copy of it. And then never let it go.

Commit to the research

Especially true if you’re writing a series, if you know that you’re going to be creating 3+ books in the same historical time period, remember that all the research that you’re doing is essentially divided by three because you can use it as least three times. That makes all those hours worth it.

I’d also recommend typing up your notes so that you can use the ‘Find’ function to hunt down slightly remembered details. You’ll thank me later.

Link your books together

There are a whole bunch of different ways that you can do this for romance series. I’ve used seasons of the year, siblings, and secondary characters becoming primary characters. I’ve read childhood friends and neighbours on the same street. Whatever you pick, it will need to be something cohesive enough to make it clear to your reader that there’s more of your ‘world’ that they can explore, without being so restrictive that your readers get bored of you.

So is that it?

I wish. Planning a historical romance series is one of the most rewarding and challenging things that I think an author can do. Think I’m wrong? Tell me in the comments below!

Editing Away…

You know, I’m going to be honest: editing is exhausting. Honestly, it’s just exhausting! I can easily write 15,000 words in a day, but editing for more than three hours I start to get a headache and I have to look away.

Editing is challenging, especially if you are editing your own work. You know what you are trying to say, and you just kind of assume that the reader will understand you.

You can’t see the mistakes.

You can’t see the errors.

You can’t see the inconsistencies.

And so you spend hours staring at a print out of your latest manuscript trying to work out where you’ve gone wrong, hoping desperately that you’re not going to cut out anything that is golden!

It’s why I depend so much on my Beta editors. They don’t just point out when there’s a wrong word, but when I’ve forgotten that a heroine starts a scene wearing a green dress and ends the scene wearing a blue dress. When I introduce a new character and then never actually follow up with them. When I add a secondary storyline that goes…nowhere.

I could go on, but you can see the challenge. So a big thank you goes out to my Beta readers, my Mum (the best editor in the world!) and any poor editor that has to look through my manuscripts.

Because they are probably awful. Sorry!

It’s Almost Spring!

You know, I can’t be the only one who is desperately waiting for the summer. I love the sun, I love the heat, I love the sound of laughter as picnics spread across green grass, I love birdsong…

…yeah. You get the general idea. I just love it.

So when I start to notice the signs of spring coming, I just can’t help but start to get a little happier. The nights are a little warmer, the sun lasts a little longer in the evenings, the swallows start to return, and I can think about putting away the winter coat and getting out the spring jacket (I mean, this is Britain. It can still be miserable in the middle of summer!).

And yet something in me is a little sad. Because I love being outdoors so much, I find that I want to spend less time at the keyboard and more time topping up my tan.

But this year I have so many amazing book projects that I can’t do that! I have three more books in my Ravishing Regencies series coming, along with a super secret project that I can’t talk about right now, but I will in a few weeks…

So I am trying to get as much done as possible while the days are chilly and frosty, so that you, my lovely readers, have lots of nice books to read!

My ‘keep writing’ secret

One of the questions that I’m frequently asked as an author is: “Where do you get all of your inspiration from?”

And you know what? Sometimes that is a really difficult question to answer.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those people who drives their spouse insane by waking up in the middle of the night with a fantastic idea and having to get their phone open, dazzling screen ablazing, to write it down in ‘Notes’ – only to wake up the next morning to see:

andt he gloves not white but henot care

(An actual transcription from my ‘brilliant 3am ideas’ notes.)

I am also one of those authors who has, at the time of writing:

  • a twelve book series plotted out
  • a four book series plotted out
  • another twelve book series with the first three written
  • a five book series plotted out
  • and an eight book series with the covers designed, but no plots at all.

And you know what? I still have moments at my keyboard where I have no idea where my characters are going.

It can be frustrating, especially when (as I do), you are an author that works full time at another job. Carving out writing time is a real challenge, and I don’t even have the excuse of having children!

So when it comes to writing, I just want to sit down and go: no distractions, no hesitations.

When that doesn’t happen it can be overwhelmingly frustrating – but I am going to share with you my secret for how I am able to keep going.

tk

Yup, you read that right: tk. The letters ‘t’ and ‘k’ appear together very rarely in the English language, so if you decide to search ‘tk’ in your manuscript then you aren’t going to find many, unless you have a lot of pocketknives in your book.

So whenever I get to a sticking point and I know that it’ll frustrate me and distract me from the narrative, I just stick in tk and then move on.

Can’t think what the name of that piece of Regency clothing is? tk

Need an extra name for a character that is literally only in this scene? tk

Want to check whether that town is a real place, or I need to create one? tk

It may sound weird, but it’s a real simple way for me to keep with the flow of my writing. Then when I come to the end of my creative time, which usually doesn’t reach lunch (I’m definitely a morning bird!), I just stick ‘tk’ into the search, and the places that I need to go back to appear.

I never miss them. My manuscript is always better because of them, because I can then take my time to investigate clothing, find the perfect name, and research eighteenth century geography, without losing precious creating writing time.

So there you have it. YES I have tonnes of ideas. YES I have book ideas coming out of my ears. And YES sometimes my brain grinds to a halt and I have to use clever tricks to keep going.

Happy writing!

Writing a bestseller when sick

My loyal readers will groan when they hear that once again, I’m sick!

I’m known for being very susceptible to colds and this is my third, and worst, of the winter season so far. Along with the bunged up nose, slight earache, and dry throat, I’ve also just come out of a 3 day migraine.

Not ideal when you’re trying to write your next bestseller.

One of the challenges of taking your writing seriously as an author is that when you get sick, everything stops. I had a clear schedule for the book that I’m writing right now, and according to it Chapter 16 should be finished tomorrow.

Trouble is, Chapter 10 hasn’t even been started.

Now, there are two schools of thought when it comes to writing when sick or uninspiring:

  1. Write anyway darnit, it’s your job and you should treat it like that! Push through the pain, grab a box of tissues, and let’s DO THIS!
  2. Don’t bother. You’ll only write something terrible that you’ll have to scrap anyway, so dose up on Vitamin C, grab a box of tissues, and let’s RECOVER!

Now normally I fall into camp 1, but the last few days have just been awful – and I mean crying in the dark, praying that the migraine leaves me alone, awful.

I have barely been able to look at a screen, let alone write fantastic fiction.

So apologies to my lovely readers, but this cold has got me beat. I’m going to sign off now, and hopefully next week’s blog will find me in better health!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Those of you who know me may be a little surprised at this blog post – after all, I’m not American but a Brit!

However, I think it’s important to take the time to be grateful for the awesome things in your life, and although I probably shouldn’t need a day literally entitled ‘Thanksgiving’ to do so, it’s remarkable how it focuses the mind.

So without further ado, here is my list of things that I am thankful for right now:

  • my wonderful family – husband, parents, brother, and incredibly large extended family. What would I do without you all?
  • my marvellous readers – without you, my books are just words on a page! You bring them to life when you read them.
  • my computer – still up and running, helping me to craft my historical romances with very few crashes!
  • my day job – not only does it pay the bills, but I can do so while enjoying it and surrounded by fab people.
  • the internet – it may be sad in places, but the research ability it gives me from my armchair is just incredible!
  • cheese and chocolate – my writing reward foods that help me push through difficult chapters when I’m feeling uninspired.
  • my editor, formatter, and cover designers – I don’t know where I’d be without them!
  • Netflix – the ultimate reward after a long day of keyboard bashing.

Do we have some of the same things on our list? Let me know yours in the comments below!

What is it that authors even do?

Believe it or not, I get asked this question a lot – and I kind of understand it. After all, most of our images of an author is someone like Jane Austen, scribbling away on a tiny desk, or Oscar Wilde, resplendent in his elegant clothes while mocking the very class that he comes from.

Nowadays, not so much.

Let me take you on a journey of this weekend as an author, bearing in mind that I work a full time job as a Marketing Manager Monday to Friday.

Saturday morning

It’s a glorious day! It’s also a day when I take stock of where I am, and what I’m behind on, because I’m always behind on something. After running through my Trello boards (sort of like magical online to-do lists that ping me emails every time I’m late for something), I decide that doing a deep plot of my next book is the most urgent thing.

I head somewhere quiet because my poor husband also has work to do, and cosy up. With a little concentration and six hours, I’ve deep plotted (that’s written out a play by play for each chapter) an entire novella. It’s 8000 words. I have pasta.

I then turn my attention to my glorious reader emails. I probably get about 25-30 a day, and so I try to reply to them each day otherwise they pile up, but I’ve been busy. I take the time to reach each one, and reply to most of them.

It’s 4pm. I head home, and decide with my man to ignore work (as much as possible) and enjoy the evening together.

I respond to three more emails and post twice on Facebook before bed.

Sunday

Typically I’d head to church, but it’s one of the few days that I actually get with my husband (who works shifts), so we decide to take a lazy day. I have writing to do, and so I get up at 6am and bash out 7600 words before my husband gets up.

I shower, and apologise to the husband for continuing on. I’ve got the mother of all admin to do.

First I print, read, sign, photograph, and email a publishing contract that I’ve been meaning to do for weeks (sorry Emmanuelle!) for a super secret book project that I’ll be all too excited to announce soon! I pop over my manuscript to her too, and then start the uploading process of a paperback to Amazon.

This takes forever, so while it’s doing that, I respond to five new emails that have popped into the inbox, and update my sales spreadsheet to see how my new release, Drenched with a Duke, is doing. The reviewers love it! I give myself a pat on the back, and remind myself that I need to do four more things before lunch.

I update my bio on Audible, update two images on my newsletter, and realise that Amazon isn’t loading my paperback, so save where I got to. I email another publisher about the paperback of a different series, and drop an email each to my cover designers.

And then I started writing this blog.

Is it what you imagined?

Being an author isn’t always staring into the distance with a clever look on your face and a quill in your hand. When you’re a hybrid author – that’s one who has publishers and publishers their own books – you are not just a plotter, writer, researcher, and editor. You’re also a proofreader, publisher, marketeer, administrator. You sort out the finances and the emails, you chat with the fans and swap ideas with other authors.

It’s exhausting and wonderful and terrifying and amazing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Want to see the fruit of my labour? Just check out my seventeen books here!

Emily Murdoch Launching Kickstarter!

I am excited to reveal that I am launching a Kickstarter for my new series, Ravishing Regencies!

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to get involved in not just a book, but a whole series – bringing it to life and working alongside me to get these Regency romance novellas ready for the world.

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Each of these novellas – from Lost with a Lord to Drenched with a Duke – force two people together through a calamity. This encounter brings together earls, dukes, fisherman’s daughters and courtesans: and of course, romance ensues.

I love these books, but it’s going to cost me almost £190/$250 to publish each one, and that’s just money that I don’t have. That’s why I’m asking for help.

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It is why I am asking you, my incredibly supportive readers, to pledge £19/$25 and join the Ravishing Regencies Team. For that, you’ll receive a huge number of rewards:

  • All eight books as ebooks, 50% off list price!
  • A magical bundle of digital extras!
  • Signed paperback of book 1
  • Exclusive limited edition bookmark!

Want to get even more involved? You can name a secondary character for me if you pledge £75/$100, enjoy an exclusive Skype chat with me the author for £132/$178, or even make a huge plot decision for me for £375/$504.

Of course, if you don’t have £19/$25 then there are options for just £1/$1.50 too. I want everyone who wishes to be a part of the Ravishing Regencies Team, to do just that.

Ready to join the time and make something incredible together? Click here!

Got a few questions before you are ready to join? Some of the frequent questions have been answered here, or you can contact me directly here.

I can’t wait to make Ravishing Regencies with you!

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