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 Shoemaker will 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?
Of course I have my big three (Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries), to which I now need to add Sarah MacLean, and then also Valerie Bowman, Tessa Dare, and Erin Knightley, plus oh-so-many more! But those are the very well-know Regency names, the writers most people could find on the shelf in a bookstore.
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’s Temptation – 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 Wednesday interview tab to find other great names.
What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?
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 Shapcott before I sent A Man of Character out 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.
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:
Thanks for putting up with this self-centered Writer Wednesday!
We’ll see you next week when we turn the spotlight back to where it belongs – on all those marvelous writers out there!