Guest Blog by Elizabeth Ashtree, author of Maiden’s Mistake
I was thrilled to have Maiden’s Mistake published by Musa as an ebook, my first experience with epublishing after having a number of books published in print by Harlequin Superromance. It was great fun to write a historical novel after sticking to contemporary romance previously.
One of the most entertaining aspects of writing Maiden’s Mistake was researching and weaving in facts about household plumbing that would have been modern by the standards of 1865. In fact, the water flowing through the house plays a significant role in how the story concludes. The wonder that a pair of characters feel when they first come upon a bathtub and shower with hot and cold running water and a flush commode was delightful to write. Yet, Maiden’s Mistake is also a serious story about a man with a tragic past and the woman who brings happiness back onto his life.
Here’s the short outline for the story:
Knowing he can never have children of his own, Jonathan Everleigh, Earl of Mercia, marries scandal-plagued Juliette Markham, saving her from disgrace. But when he finds his ruined bride is still a virgin on their wedding night, Jonathan vows to annul their marriage. Then Juliette discovers that she actually is with child, this time from her wedding night, and she is as determined to stay married as he is to leave her. When Jonathan’s past catches up with them, the Earl and Lady Mercia must navigate their marital problems, countless dangers, and a final confrontation with the madness plaguing them. If they can make it out alive, love might be there waiting for them on the other side.
In some of my novels, I’ve been exploring the idea of children we love even though they are not our own. So, in Maiden’s Mistake, I wrote a story about a tormented hero willing to marry this disgraced young woman, who’d been taken advantage of by a cad, partly to gain and heir, he’d been told he was infertile from injuries in his youth–a secret he kept from everyone. When she shows up a virgin on their wedding night, he feels betrayed when other men would be delighted. Then, another twist, she becomes pregnant from that wedding night, and he feels again betrayed and wants to know who’d gotten her with child. It seems impossible that these two will be able to work things put to live happily ever after.
If I were to offer writing advice, I’d say the second most important thing about writing romance is to keep the tension and emotion at the highest possible level page after page by developing characters who seem destined to never work things out. The first most important thing about writing any novel is: finish the manuscript. My son is a writer, currently in a Masters of Fine Arts program for creative writing, and he remembers growing up with that advice ringing in his ears. When he said he wanted to write, I told him he needed to finish a manuscript. And he did! That kind of determination — the perseverance to finish a draft even though it may need more editing –is what will carry a writer to publication. I write from a lengthy synopsis, but not everyone has success with that. Partly, I choose this method because I know I’ll need to write a synopsis to submit a manuscript to a publisher — I might as well write one first and use it to guide the story. However, I do deviate sometimes from what I originally planned. Characters develop identities and “speak” for themselves sometimes. I know intellectually that the voices in my head ate not real, but they often seem to belong to actual people with unique personalities who tell me their stories. All I have to do is write them down.