Romance novels tell us not how men are, but how we wish them to be.
A few years back (I’m not telling how many *laughing*) I found myself in the position of watching my (previous) marriage at the beginning of the inevitable downward slide toward divorce.
It was a tough time. Worse, because I was trying to follow my dream of writing. That was what tipped over the apple cart.
What saved me was reading, of course. More particularly, reading a series of specific books – Nora Roberts Chesapeake Bay series. Knowing N.R.’s history helped remind me that second chances were possible. (Or, in my case, third or fourth.)
I would follow that dream, my dreams, in more ways than one. As many times as I tried to convince my ex to expand his horizons, to travel outside his comfort zone, he wouldn’t. (He preferred Las Vegas.)
Now newly divorced, I could. So I did. I had always wanted to visit Great Britain, to see certain literary sites – like the moors of England, Stonehenge, the horse country, and one of the lochs in Scotland – but particularly Ireland. Much of my heritage is based in the British Isles.
Although I consider myself primarily a fantasy writer, I was inspired by Nora Roberts’ books to write a series of my own.
Thus was born The Millersburg Quartet – the first of which was Irish Fling.
That book set the tone for all but the last, Two Up – the
only one not based in reality, although it was born of my creative process.
Dirty Politics was based on my father’s frequent forays into politics, and what I learned of the process. As the old adage goes there are two things you never want to see made – sausages and laws. They’re right. Even on the local level, there are dirty tricks – and dirty politics.
As with the others, Director’s Cut came from my experience with community theater – even
many of characters and events were about real people and real events. It’s also an homage to the man who inspired the character of the ‘matchmaker’.
Two Up was just fun to write. Even though my husband the motorcycle safety instructor has banned me from riding. *laughing* Bikes are more powerful than they were when I was riding in my teens and I’m too easily distracted. However, the hot bath in the hollow in the woods was real.
All the books in The Millersburg Quartet are available everywhere, and all are in print.
In honor of Valentines Day, Irish Fling is on sale for $.99 everywhere – B&N #Nook, #Kobo, #AppleBooks and #Kindle. The entire Millersburg Quartet is also available in print via Amazon.
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When last I posted, I didn’t know what the new cover would look like. I loved the old cover and wasn’t sure what to expect from the new cover. I didn’t know if that cover I loved so much could be matched.
It was not only matched, it was exceeded, and I’m not the only one who thinks so! What do you think? Isn’t it incredible?
I said then that I would name the cover artist when I saw the new cover.
Major Kudos to the folks at Damonza.com!
You can find the new edition at
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“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
So, like most writers, that’s what I did.
I love fantasy but I’d run out of books I wanted to read, stories of action, adventure, magic and – yes – passion. Something between Stardust and Game of Thrones. I love Gaiman’s mix of adventure and romance, and I loved G. R. R. Martin’s political intrigue and action. What surprises and puzzles me is the criticism I get for putting moments of positive romance/sex in my books, but no one has a problem with Martin’s incest/rape storylines. (I understand why he did it, btw.).
What I didn’t want were helpless heroines who needed to be rescued. I wanted strong, capable heroines like the Queens in real life. No one could say that Elizabeth I was a shrinking violet, that Catherine the Great didn’t earn that honorific, or that Victoria wasn’t able to lead her country through difficult times. Or Elizabeth II for that matter. And while some did it alone, others found a partner to stand beside them.
I wanted to write about the price of rule, the sacrifices good rulers have to make for the sake of the people they serve.
I wanted to write about people who struggled to find balance, who succeeded or failed, the repercussions of their actions, and – for one character – his redemption.
In other words, people you could know or relate to, people you could care about. Or hate.
That’s what I wrote. Whether I succeed or not, I’ll let you decide.
What inspired me to write the book? The statues of Nike of Samothrace and another called Night Descending – it was as if she was coming to a landing – and suddenly the first chapter was there in my head. I had no idea what would happen next, I just followed that winged muse until the story was written.
So I gave it to an editor and went in search of cover.
At that time, it was difficult to find a good cover artist – so I made my own. I once was and still am a portrait artist, but with so many selfies, there’s less demand. Apparently, I was a good enough cover artist, my first cover for Song of the Fairy Queen won an award. Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite convey Kyriay’s sheer badassery, her strength and courage.
By that time, the Coming Storm fantasy series and Song of the Fairy Queen were doing well enough that I could afford to invest in professional covers. So I hired a company to do one. Their covers were amazing, including a few by other writers I knew. It was a lot of money for me at the time, but once I saw what they created for me, I knew it was worth it. That cover was perfect.
So, imagine my sinking heart when, after nearly seven years, someone told me that the same image was on another cover. I knew it was stock art and anyone can buy stock images, but mine had been chosen for this book and the other cover was almost an exact copy except for the title. In a way, it’s a compliment to my good taste in covers, but it might explain some of the confusion about elements of the book – the other author writes for a younger audience, or at least that book was.
I was heartbroken. That cover was so good. And I’d paid what was for me, at the time, a lot of money for it.
All that aside, the person who’d brought it to my attention asked if I or the cover artist knew the image had been used on another book and was it proprietary?
I thought the cover artist had the right to know so I emailed them. I explained to them that I would understand if it was a stock image.
They told me it was, but if I wanted a new cover they would create a new one for me for a discount.
Now that’s class and professionalism. (I’ll name them with kudos once I see the new cover.)
At first, though, I have to be honest and say I resisted. I loved that cover. It’s so good, so right for the book.
The quality of their work, though, is incredible. (They’ve come up with some other covers for me since then.)
Given that quality and that they offered a new cover at a discount, made it impossible to turn down.
Now I can’t wait to see what they come up with this time!
Song of the Fairy Queen – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004774N2S
For all my books – https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI
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The problem with ‘message’ novels is that – unless they’re actually non-fiction – they can be a exactly that, all about the message. There are people who like to read them. Not me. Boooring. Depressing.
Or they can be the stuff of romance novels, movies or TV shows, like Sleeping with the Enemy, or countless detective stories. Not exactly accurate. It goes in fads, and lately its been about domestic violence.
After all, you’ve got this charming, sexy, good-looking guy who would give the shirt off his back to someone who needs it. He’s protective – maybe a little over-protective, but what’s wrong with that? If there’s an argument, he’s apologetic, bringing flowers or other little gifts. It’s straight out of Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey. If he pulls away a little, though, it’s understandable, if a little unsettling, but like Bella or Ana it’s internalized. It’s their fault for upsetting him. It becomes more and more about self-worth and self-esteem, his need to feel strong and manly, in control, and hers to be considered loved and lovable. Consciously or unconsciously, he uses that. Little things start to set him off more and more quickly.
Oh, you didn’t realize that we weren’t talking about the hero…
Recently a new friend called me about getting together for coffee, then mentioned that she’d invited an old boyfriend over…and during the conversation added that he’d once given her a concussion. He was sorry, he said, he’d changed. Something happened though to give her second thoughts, though, and she told him to leave, finally having to resort to threatening to call the cops. She was done with him, she declared.
I was relieved, but a little stunned and even a little angry that she’d brought him back into her life.
I get it, though. It’s tough going it alone. Even if you have good friends, it’s not the same. Women still define themselves more by their relationships than their accomplishments. And, you get lonely. You want someone in your life. Someone who will help carry the load, too.
As accomplished as we are, we also want to know we’re capable of being loved.
It’s even more difficult for women with children.
That one in three? Somewhere I read that one in three people know someone who is the victim of domestic violence.
So when I decided to write my ‘message’ novel, I wanted to make it entertaining, informative and accurate. Talking of accuracy, there’s Sleeping with the Enemy. First, where did she get the money to run? The first thing married abusers do is take control of the finances. Second, almost every woman who runs goes home. Where else is she going to go? And it’s the first place that an abuser is going to go to find her. It’s also the most dangerous time for most women – when they leave. There’s countless tales of women who’ve fled and been killed by their ex-spouse – with others as collateral damage. Here in Ohio a woman took a friend with her to meet her ex in a public parking lot. He shot the friend, and then himself. Another married a police officer after escaping her abusive spouse – who then broke into the house to shoot and kill them both. Not all abusers are stalkers, although many are. And most don’t look like the sleazy guy from a cop show. In fact, you may have had one in your home as a guest.
So, I didn’t write your standard domestic violence novel. First, I did my research. No case is ‘typical’, although there are similarities. Years ago I read a newspaper article about a woman who ran a group that rescued domestic violence victims and I filed the thought away. So that became part of the story. Also, I didn’t want to do the usual ‘poor-pitiful-me’ or ‘rescue-me’ novel. That last because it so rarely happens, and when it does, someone else gets hurt as well. I also wanted to show someone who was empowered, capable and a survivor. There’s romance, too, healthy and real.
By the way, count yourself as one of those three now. The reason I know so much? I was a victim, too.
20% of all proceeds from the book – after costs – will be donated to domestic violence shelters.
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