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May 9th, 2009

According to the livejournal site, it has been 10 weeks.

I feel like I’m in confession. Sorry.

But I have finished two books in that time. And then revised them both. So. Working. But books #2 an#8 in the Regency Silk and Scandals Historical continuity will be coming to you some time in 2010.

It has been a long hard slog. Personally, I blame the Gypsies. Although, according to some recent evidence, they may blame me as well. Let me explain.

First, the definition of a continuity series. It did not occur to me, until last year’s Worldcon, that this is a concept unique to romance novels. During one of Lois McMaster Bujold’s panels, she tried to explain the concept, and the fans in the room made faces, as though they could not decided which idea was more unpalatable, that there were people writing romance, or that there were authors writing in what is essentially a shared universe.

I swear, it is not as if we are passing a bottle and backwashing in the Jack Daniels. It’s all clean and legal and not the least bit unsanitary or incestuous.

Anyway.

Our series is eight books long. The other authors involved are Louise Allen, Annie Burrows, Julia Justiss, Margaret McPhee, and Gayle Wilson. Mills & Boon let us write our own bible on this, so we came up with an overarching story, and about forty shared characters, then set about writing our stories and swapping continuity notes to keep the whole thing intact. It was a helluva lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

Anyone who wants to make a crack about Harlequin Romance and their formula plots will get a sound slapping form me. The formula on this series was:

“Set it in the Regency. There should be a scandal.”
And
“We know you’ll all come up with something marvelous.”

With 3 authors on each side of the Atlantic, this took some planning. We ended up writing about Gypsies and a family curse. I have been doing a bucket of research on the Rom, trying to keep things at least partially accurate. But there are problems in that they do not have a shared tradition because they do not have a shared country of origin (unless you go back hundreds of years, to India.) And their language is a spoken, language, rather than a written one, so spellings vary.

I can pretty well guarantee that whatever I found will look all wrong to someone.

And about half way through the process of writing, I came to the conclusion that my part of the project was cursed. In January, I delayed a deadline because of a toothache that turned into a root canal with a specialist that lasted for three, two hour visits to the dentist. This was followed by a cold and hacking cough that lasted over a month.

Then, the computer problems set in. First, the desk top died of a virus. Then the laptop decided to delete 6000 words of the work in progress, probably due to a stuck delete key. After a couple of weeks of working on the laptop, I discovered that the return address on all my e-mails was a dead account that we have not used for several years. So if you tried to reach me, and I did not answer? There might be a reason.

But at last, the second book was winding down. I had transferred almost all my files. Things looked like there was a chance that they might be getting back to normal. I was finally finishing the book. The next day. I could hit send, and be done. For sure.

As I sat on the couch wondering if I should back up the files for the night… because you never know… although what could happen that hadn’t already happened?

Havoc the labradoodle jumped up on the couch. (Havoc gets away with furniture sleeping because he is too damn cute and exactly the same color and texture as an afghan we have. If he lies still, he is invisible.)

But on that night, he landed on the jump drive of the laptop. There was a crunch. And I had a handful of plastic and a bent computer chip, and was out two days work.

There is a point, after a sufficient number of disasters, where you don’t even cry anymore. If any of you have ever seen Airport 1973, where the stewardess has to fly the plane? There is a moment where her only hope of rescue is almost in the cockpit, only to be sucked back out of the plane to his death.

That look on her face? That was me.

Back to the drawing board. A few more days of work, and I was numb but finished.

But during Easter dinner, my mother announced that my Grandmother, back in the old country, learned to use a shot gun specifically to scare the Gypsies out of the orchard.

Terrific. If I was cursed, it was because my family picked a fight.

Let me go on record to any Rom who may be reading:
I am unarmed.
I come in peace.
And sorry about Grandma.