What ho, nostalgia-teers! This week is a deep dive back into the whirling petticoats of REGENCY LONDON. For reasons I cannot remember, I decided that I was dunzo writing contemporary after my brief flirtation with “Untitled Remodeling-Centric YA” and showed up the next November to put down some words about RAKES and BALLS and SEDUCTION and stuff. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a 19-year-old writer in want of a truly good idea will probably just go with the idea that involves the most frippery.
AND SO: Blackburn’s Bride, which, if I may say so myself, is not too crappy of a title. It certainly fulfills genre expectations. As did the rest of the book! Kind of!
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I found this by Googling “victorian people on porch.” It’ll make sense once you read the post.
The year was 2008. (Duh—see above.) I was a freshman in college who’d managed to amass a really great group of friends while still feeling terrifically lonely. Depression! It’s like that!
Anyway, even though I did go around a lot of the time with homesickness sitting in my stomach like an undigestable glob of gum, it wasn’t the grimmest of grim times. I was just figuring out who I was when removed from the only context I’d ever known, which is thrilling and difficult and an act of creative perseverance…
…kind of like writing a novel! (What a sophisticated segue that was.) Anyway, November came and I was ON IT, because so far in college I had basically nothing to do (I mean, classes, I guess, but compared to being trapped in a high school for a seven-hour block every day, college felt like a breeze), so I loaded up my minifridge with frozen Amy’s burritos and barricaded myself in my dorm room to write. And this time, I was writing YA. Also this time—although I didn’t know it at the time—I was going to win.
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This painting by renowned romance cover artist G.A. Bush really captures the mood of what I was going for.
National Novel Writing Month is a thing I have been doing since I was sixteen. Sometimes I “won” and wrote 50,000 mostly very bad words and sometimes I didn’t “win” but still wrote some mostly very bad words. Anyway, intrigued by my buddy Alex’s post on her collected body of work prior to getting a literary agent, I went ahead and updated my NaNoWriMo profile with all the word counts of all the novels I had written or attempted to write since 2006, and man—almost 250,000 words! That’s…well, it’s a lot, I guess? It’s a very big number. I don’t know if it can bespeak anything to my growth as a writer because I haven’t really looked back at those old “novels” for a long, long time.
Welcome to the rebirth of a “series” of posts I started a while ago and subsequently never made good on. You can read the first installment about my 2006 novel “His Irish Bride” here, but be warned that it’s pretty bad. Today, we will be examining my 2007 novel “Untitled Contemporary Romance About A Nanny for Falls for Her Hot Boss.” I’m positively cringing with anticipation!
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Note: This is a new and maybe recurring feature wherein I return to the trove of writing I churned out as teenager with the time-hardened eye of a 23-year-old. It won’t be pretty. But you might laugh.
Imagine, if you will, a sixteen-year-old girl who has:
1. A unexplainable passion for the Middle Ages
2. No actual, factual knowledge of the Middle Ages
3. Literary ambition
4. Never kissed a boy
If this sounds like a recipe for the Greatest Romance Novelist Ever, you would be wrong. But that didn’t stop me from trying.
In the November of my sixteenth year, I rolled up my unfashionable sleeves and tried to bang out a romance novel about, for reasons I cannot remember, Medieval Ireland. I did not know what I was doing on any front of this endeavor. I had Google everything from “Norman military hierarchy” to “herbal remedies for bleeding” to “how do you French kiss.”
His Irish Bride (I know) stalled at 16,000-some words, the first few you will see annotated below. I never submitted it anywhere (or even finished it), but it did end up being useful later.
But first: the story.
I have no idea why I picked this year. I think I wanted it to be after the Norman invasion, but I don’t think 16-year-old me put together just how after 1066 this setting would be. Also, real talk: I could not point to Ireland on a map. Continue reading →