met a ton of new people, and, even more amazingly, new fans! I, little ol’ Margaret, now have fans. What, what? But, yes, I do, like the oh-so-fabulous Annie, who even had lunch with me when she was in town.
solidified relationships and friendships within my Shenandoah Valley Writers critique group and more, and basically surrounded myself with writer friends the whole year through.
had the loving support of my family, including my very own computer-science-professor-in-shining-armor husband, who read BOTH of my books, just to support me (and help me find typos). He’s that awesome of a guy.
Thank you to the friends and family who’ve supported me, and the new readers who’ve picked up one of my books this year.
Thank you to the book bloggers and reviewers who graciously gave their time to review my books.
Thank you to Tessa Shapcott, my editor, for her invaluable guidance, and to Joy Lankshear, my cover designer and formatter, for making my books look better than I ever imagined they could.
Thank you to the fellow writers I’ve met on Facebook and Twitter, whose companionship brightens my day every day, and whose wisdom is lighting this crazy, twisting and turning path I’m on.
Thank you to the people who’ve liked my books enough to join my street team, Locke’s Flock, or to review them on Amazon or GoodReads, or even just to tell someone else about my books and/or me. All of those seemingly little things make a HUGE difference.
Simply put, I wouldn’t be here without you, and I wanted to express my gratitude as 2015 closes out and 2016 gets ready to begin.
It’s Writer Wednesday, and this week we’ve got … me, Margaret Locke? Well, sure – that’s one of the benefits of hosting your own weekly shindig: you can, uh, take over that hot seat whenever you, er, want to. Hopefully y’all will stick with me, and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled roster of awesome writers next week (in fact, next Wednesday the amazing Tamara Shoemakerwill be here, so don’t miss it!)
I thought it’d be fun to answer not only some of the questions I didn’t address the first time around, but also to tell y’all a bit about A Matter of Time, my new time-travel Regency romance. So without further ado…
What inspires you to write?
As a teenager addicted to historical romance novels, I often had to defend my reading material of choice. I even wrote an essay for my tenth grade English class explaining my love for the genre: I read romance, because no matter what happens (and some pretty crazy things happen), you know those two people are going to end up together, and achieve that coveted Happy Ever After. For this anxiety-prone child of divorce, that was the ultimate comfort. Two flawed people could encounter all sorts of bizarre obstacles, and still stay together, still find everlasting love? Yes, please.
As to why I write it? Because I still seek that hope, that comfort, that security every day. Also, I’m a bit of a control freak. So an encouraging, reassuring story (with funny/witty parts, or so I hope) dictated entirely by me? Sign me up!
Writing allows me to explore my own thoughts and beliefs through watching/learning what my characters do. In A Man of Character, I examined the ideas of fantasy versus reality, perhaps in part because people have long challenged romance as presenting impossible ideals. In A Matter of Time, I delved into whether feminism is compatible with wanting to prioritize love and marriage (for the record, I am an ardent feminist who happens to be madly in love with my husband and who finds my identity in that relationship, and I’m good with that. So my answer to that question is a resounding yes.)
Name one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book.
I spent a lot of time looking up various details about the Regency period, fervently attempting to get everything historically accurate. I’m sure I didn’t, but any errors are my own (still positive I don’t have the title thing down pat, in spite of marvelous help from The Beau Monde).
In addition to history books, I read numerous fascinating blog posts (there are tons of historical bloggers out there – my praise and thanks to them!). One post, from the UK’s Jane Austen website, discussed the making of hot chocolate in the Regency era, a tidbit I found so fascinating I had to stick it in the book. Definitely much more complicated than nuking milk in the microwave and adding powdered mix!
Name two things people don’t know about you.
I’ve lived in Germany twice, and used to be quite fluent in the language (given it’s been fifteen years since I’ve regularly spoken auf Deutsch, I can’t claim that anymore). The first was in 1989, right after high school, in which I spent four months with a fantastic host family in Wülfrath (a small town near Düsseldorf and not all that far from Köln (or, as we say, Cologne)). The second was ten years later, when I’d won a DAAD grant for dissertation research, and I was to spend a year in Hamburg as I tackled the issues of gender and power and how they related to Ottonian queenship. I only stayed four months, but that’s a story for another blog post…
I met actor Wallace Shawn once in the Alderman Library on the University of Virginia’s campus. I and a bunch of fellow grad students were so star-struck that at first none of us would approach him. What if we were wrong, and it wasn’t him? (Inconceivable!) Finally I worked up the courage to ask – was he the Sicilian from The Princess Bride? He nodded his head and rather shyly said yes (or perhaps he was just irritated at the question and the crowd.) I was so giddy I just kind of hopped away. I didn’t compliment him on any other movies he’d done, nor did I ask for an autograph. I just ran, grinning like an idiot.
I’d like to think I did a bit better when I met Colin Morgan in 2013, but I probably didn’t – though at least I thought of something good enough to say that I earned a high-five from the man.
What fellow romance author do you recommend reading, and why?
As I’ve ventured down this authorly path, I’ve been blessed to meet many a romance writer, some who are traditionally published but less well known, or perhaps traditionally published but in e-format only, or, like me, who are indie published.
I highly recommend contemporary romance author Kathryn Barrett’sTemptation – great book with a premise I hadn’t yet encountered (Amish hero, but not an Amish romance per se). And Katy Regnery is another contemporary romance writer who’s shot up the charts in the last year (in part because I’m convinced she’s secretly super-human, given how quickly she can churn out well-written, emotionally intense novels!).
But there are so many more – check out my Writer Wednesdayinterview tab to find other great names.
What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?
Get an editor.
I didn’t understand at first that there were different types of editors. I didn’t think I needed one, since not only was I fairly decent at the whole grammar/punctuation thing, but I have several marvelous friends and critique group members whose eagle eyes catch all sorts of goofs.
I didn’t realize that what I was thinking of was copy-editing/proofreading, and that there were other levels of editing, including the most global one, the developmental edit (which it turns out my first book really needed!).
I wish I’d hired Tessa Shapcottbefore I sent A Man of Characterout on the query market. My guess is I would have had more success, more requests. Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong, though the original, unedited manuscript did garner some interest and a publication offer. But the version I crafted after receiving Tessa’s developmental suggestions resulted in a much better book.
Having gone through this writing and editing process twice, I know for sure that my developmental editor’s advice is worth its weight in gold, as both of my books are far stronger because of her advice. Not perfect, I’m sure (that burden is mine alone), but stronger!
If you’re a newbie like me, sinking a lot of money into a book is the last thing you want to do if you have no clue whether or not you’re going to make that money back. But here’s the thing: if you’re indie-publishing and you don’t get your works professionally edited, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. If you’re aiming for traditional publishing, you might also be sunk if your work isn’t solid enough to catch an agent or publisher’s attention. Gone are the days when agents/publishers were willing to dig and dig and dig for the diamond amongst the coal. You’ve got to pressure that puppy into a mostly finished gem yourself. Make use of the tools around you – critique groups, beta readers, and mostly definitely an editor!
And now … A Matter of Time, a time-travel Regency romance in which a modern-day Austenite’s dreams come true when she lands in the arms of a Regency duke – only to realize some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when he proves less than a Prince Charming.
Here’s the official scoop:
Love comes when least expected.
Nobody would blame widowed doctoral student Eliza James for giving up on Happy Ever After; at twenty-nine, she’s suffered more loss than most people do in a lifetime. But Eliza’s convinced her own hero is still out there, waiting for her, just like in the beloved romance novels she devours. Every girl deserves a Darcy, right?
Only Eliza doesn’t dream of a modern-day affair: she wants the whole Regency experience. When a magical manuscript thrusts her back two hundred years into the arms and life of one Deveric Mattersley, Duke of Claremont, however, Eliza soon realizes some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially when her duke proves himself less than a Prince Charming.
Deveric Mattersley has no interest in women, much less marriage. Determined to atone for his sins after convincing himself he’s at fault for the death of his first wife, he decrees himself content to focus on running his family’s estates, and on raising his son–until the mysterious Mrs. James appears. Who is she? What does she want? And why does she make Dev’s blood run hot in a way no woman ever has?
Can a man with a past and a woman from the future forge a love for all time?
“I fell in love with this book, just as I did with the Jane Austen classics. There’s a new Mr. Darcy in town.” – Annie, ARC reader, reviewer for The Write Review and ChickLitPlus.com.
You can pre-order A Matter of Timetoday on Amazon for only $2.99! Paperbacks available on official release day, November 30th, 2015.
A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (shh, don’t tell mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen that she’d write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things (such as earning that master’s degree in medieval history), not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person).
Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:
This time, we’re shaking it up a little bit. Instead of a standard interview, Kathryn Barrett is taking over the whole shebang (with my blessing, of course, especially since she was already subject to my quizzing in March) and giving us a little insight into her novels, including her latest,True Gold.
It’s kind of fun sitting back with the rest of y’all and seeing (okay, reading) what she has to say.
(Also, if you haven’t checked out her first book, Temptation, you should! I adored it – and have both Redemptionand True Gold in my stack of books to read next!)
You gotta have friends…and so do your characters
Like any author, I love my characters, but sometimes, I love their friends more. My third release, True Gold, features a character who first appeared in my last book,Redemption. He’s the head of the company the main character works for, and he makes a brief appearance at the end, a supportive boss and friend. But as I was writing Redemption, I wanted to know more about this guy, who first appeared to me as a shadowy figure, a quiet man who didn’t have many friends, but who’d formed a friendship with Claire because they were very much alike in temperament.
My first book, Temptation, also features a friend of the main character Laura, who was also the hero of Redemption—Matt Grayson, a Hollywood A-list actor and director who, I knew, had been recently reunited with his true love.
When best friends pop in for brief appearances in my books—or even in the many book ideas that for now exist only in my head—I want to know their story too. When I first started writing I’d often be led astray by these friends. At its midpoint, the book I was writing became dull and difficult, so I let myself be distracted by the shiny new friend who’d appeared. Who is he? What’s her story? What’s he hiding? The tantalizing secrets they held intrigued me, tempted me away from the current work in progress. Finally I had to get tough with myself and just finish the book, promising myself I’d go back and write the other stories—discover what that character was all about—later.
I think friends are easier to include than family members. There’s a reason why so many romance heroes and heroines are orphans: parents are often an inconvenient complication in a plot—unless they’re estranged, they need to show up once in a while if the story is to be realistic. But a friend can pop in long enough to offer valuable advice a character needs to get beyond the Black Moment she’s found herself in.
Other authors I like write the same sort of loosely connected stories: Nora Roberts, Susan E. Phillips, and Judith McNaught, whose books first convinced me I needed to write romance. And the best thing is, there’s never a shortage of story ideas. As long as a character isn’t totally friendless, there’ll be someone in my head, waiting in the wings for his story to be told. And then, I get to check in on my previous characters, too, as they inevitably make an appearance in their friends’ books.
What about you? Do you like to read or write about friends of previous main characters?
Connor Forrest is a self-made billionaire only one generation removed from the emerald turf of his mother’s Ireland. Jaded by the high risk, high tech investment world he inhabits, he has little time for introspection, poetry, or true love. A piece of perfectly thought out logic, on the other hand, makes him weak in the knees.
Rebecca Evans is a brilliant computer programmer disguised as a ditzy blonde. She’s looking for love, but people are not as predictable as mathematical equations.
A fall in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park sends her straight into Connor’s arms, but getting into his heart is a much harder task.
Can Connor learn that true love, like gold futures, is worth a little risk?
Kathryn Barrett reluctantly put aside childhood dreams of becoming an author and took a more practical approach, majoring in Business Administration in college. But after marrying an Air Force officer, she realized a career in high finance didn’t suit an itinerant lifestyle. She happily returned to her first love, writing stories that feature larger-than-life characters, family relationships, and of course, a happy ending.
Her award-winning novel Temptationwas published in 2013, followed by Redemption in 2014.
Having lived all over the world, Kathryn and her family have recently relocated to northern Virginia. She enjoys long walks with her squirrel-obsessed dog, traveling to tiny European countries, cooking vegan feasts, and, only occasionally, she still reads the Financial Times.
Here she shares with us answers to three writerly-related questions, and tells us about her newest release.
Name one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book.
For my last book, Redemption, I had to learn about the two careers of my main characters. Claire worked in a department store and Matt was a film actor/director. So I finally put my business degree to good work as I imagined what those board meetings would be like, with talk of same-store sales, marketing campaigns, etc. (and yes, much of it was left on the cutting room floor, so to speak!). I also learned about the film industry and the technical details of filming. It was fun figuring out how this beautiful, fictitious department store in Philadelphia could be utilized as a film location!
What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?
I wish I’d known that knowing grammar and basic writing skills wasn’t enough. I’d written loads of non-fiction: articles, essays, and I totally kicked butt writing papers in college. But when I tried to write fiction, I had to learn a whole new way of writing, and just knowing how to construct a sentence didn’t cut it. Plotting, characterization, scene structure, and so much more goes into writing a novel—but fortunately I found many books on the craft of writing fiction that helped.
What’s your favorite romance novel of all time, and why?
I would have to say Paradise by Judith McNaught. I picked it up in the base exchange when my husband was serving overseas and I had two toddlers at home. I stayed up all night reading it, laughing, crying, and then laughing again. I was so emotionally affected by that book that I was determined I would write a book that would touch someone else the same way.
Kathryn’s Latest release:
Redemption is the story of a relationship that re-blossoms ten years after it ends in disaster—a disaster that was filmed in Technicolor, as it unfolded on a movie set. Now Claire Porter has just started a new job as CFO of a Philadelphia department store chain when she learns that a film company wants to use the flagship store as a location for their new film. She is determined to keep this from happening, and to keep the star of the film, Matt Grayson, out of her—and her son’s—life.