Pears Watercolor by Victoria Morgan
This world is but a canvas to our imagination - Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inspiration for Changing Fortunes

I love historical romance because while I want a romantic happily-ever-after, I enjoy learning about the time period in which the book was set.  Whether it's learning about how ships were built in the 19th century or the strict rules of social etiquette during the Victorian era, I love books that weave small kernels of historical facts into the story (without giving a tutorial information dump).  

Changing Fortunes was inspired by Lord Alfred Tennyson's infamous poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade.  It fascinated me that the poem glorified a battle that was a colossal failure.  The men who rode were embarking on a suicidal charge, as Tennyson eloquently laments 'into the Valley of Death Rode the six hundred'.  I started wondering about those men and what the survivors might have felt when so many of their comrades had died in battle.  These men lived in a period before post traumatic stress was identified.  Thus my hero, Garrett Sinclair, the Earl of Kendall was born.  I then introduced Lady Alexandra Langdon, a practical heroine who is strong enough to combat Garrett's demons.  Below is a book blurb and a short excerpt.

Changing Fortunes is the story of Garrett Sinclair, the Earl of Kendall who is a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Suffering from post-traumatic stress and survivor guilt, he has spent the last six months trying to drink himself to death. It is not until he learns of a plot to kill him, that he is surprised to discover he wishes to live.

The only person holding clues to the men plotting his murder is Lady Alexandra Langdon, who recently lost her fortune to Garrett in hand of cards. While preferring to see the murderous plot succeed and Garrett six-feet under, Alexandra reluctantly agrees to assist Garrett in identifying his assassins. If the two don't kill each other first, Garrett might survive.

Despite these obstacles threatening to tear them apart, the two are drawn together when Alexandra assists Garrett with his post-traumatic stress and Garrett begins to unravel the secrets to Alexandra's past. Defenses are lowered, hearts are opened, and they find that their life together is worth fighting for.

Changing Fortunes Excerpt:

Chapter One

London, England 1855

         Sometimes a woman runs out of choices.

         Alexandra Langdon glowered at the door, willing herself to turn its brass knob.  She didn't belong inside the chamber.  She risked discovery, expulsion and scandal.  Her stomach growled and reminded her why she was entering anyway.  What did the pampered heirs inside their exclusive chamber know about hunger?  The hollow, empty rumble of it.  The slow insidious gnaw of it.  She had experienced it for so long, it was like a familiar adversary.  One she vowed to conquer.
        That is, if she could open the damn door and cross the forbidden threshold.
        There was money to be had inside the gentlemen's card room.  The Duke of Hammond hosted the grandest balls of the season.  The cream of society attended, and while wives and debutants danced the night away, husbands and bachelors sought refuge behind those doors. Rich men with fortunes to win or lose at the turn of a card.  Alex just needed to possess the winning hand -- and she would.
        Her father had given her a gift and she planned to use it.  It was the only thing he had given her.  For this, she loved and hated him.
        She shook her head, wiped her clammy hands down her black trousers, and for the third time in her life, crossed into forbidden territory.

The Golden Heart

On Friday, March 25th, my life changed -- or rather, my writing career. I learned that my manuscript, Changing Fortunes, is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Finalist in the Historical Romance Category.

I had a Sally Field moment of, 'they like me, they really like me' -- finally. Then I hung up the phone and screamed loud enough to have my dog cowering.  Okay, before I hung up, I might have also screamed to the board member who called me that she had made my day and something about never winning anything...  It wasn't a Sally Field moment, but it was close.

It's an incredible honor to be a finalist in such a prestigious contest.  I feel like my writing has been riding a wave that has finally crested.

I still might get knocked around on this journey to publication, but for today, I'm so enjoying the ride.