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Author Archives: Laurie Bishop

Congratulations to the Regency RITA finalists for best Regency of 2005!




  • A Reputable Rake by Diane Gaston–Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited – Linda Fildew, editor
  • Miss Whitlow’s Turn by Jenna Mindel–NAL – Rose Hilliard, editor
  • Just Say Yes by Myretta Robens– Kensington Books – Hilary Sares, editor
  • The House Party by Jeanne Savery–Kensington Books – John Scognamiglio, editor

I particularly want to congratulate my friend Jenna Mindel, a critique partner before she moved away from central New York to the boonies of Michegan (smile!). Jenna, I know how much this means to you, and I know how hard you’ve worked for this. A nicer person couldn’t be made happy!

And for those who did not final–keep doing what you do. We are all winners, doing what we love, writing romances for the best readers in the world.

Viva the Regency!

Lord Ryburn’s Apprentice
Signet, January 2006

Posted in Reading, Writing | Tagged | 6 Replies

It seems puzzling to me that the English Regency period is so neglected in popular culture. Certainly it has been celebrated in the movies based on Jane Austen’s books, and there are also the modern Regency romances to consider. But I can rarely find the English Regency represented in other forms, while the Victorian era is everywhere.

A few years ago I became interested in collecting figurines. I wanted to find porcelain ladies dressed in Regency fashion. I have found a few, but for the most part current collectable “lady figurines” are of the Victorian era. The same goes for collectable dolls. The odd thing is that if a Regency figurine or doll appears on the market there is a high interest in it—if my experiences on eBay are of any significance. Believe me, you need your Big Girl panties on (or Big Boy boxers) if you are going to join the bidding!

Another area that demonstrates the popularity of the English Regency and the French Empire period is old fashion prints. Again, the most sought after seem to be those of the English Regency/French Empire era. There are many listings of Victorian fashion plates, but as far as I have been able to see, it is the Regency era prints that generate the most interest.

But still, the Victorian era rules in promotion. Romantic decorating? Magazines seem to equate romantic with Victorian. If a photo of a room with Empire influences is shown, I usually miss seeing a mention of the era. Often the antiques used in a room otherwise decorated in Victorian style are pieces that were also used in the Regency period—Queen Anne, Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and even Regency style.

I admit that this is all my unstudied opinion, and I know the English Regency was short—but it seems to me that there is more interest in it than marketers realize. It is more than our traditional Regency romance novels that seem to be overlooked by those in the business of deciding what we want to buy and bringing it to market.


Signet, January 2006

Posted in Regency, Research | Tagged | 3 Replies

Hi. It’s me. Maybe you missed me yesterday? Well, I did! My brain was involved in a historical I was reading for the annual RITA contest and it didn’t come up for air. I have two extreme ways of being: completely focused, or completely not! Well, anyway…I thought I’d crack open that old discussion about rating/reviewing books.

Here are the rules I try to play by:

Be Objective. This means that I take your personal preferences out of the mix. If there’s a type of romance I don’t care for, I don’t judge on that basis. I look at how this romance compares to the standard of its type.

Don’t be a copyeditor. It isn’t the copyeditor you are judging, it’s the author’s work. A few typos, grammar errors or inconsistencies I can overlook. (I might add that I am doing ‘first round’ judging–the finalists will be judged a second time).

Look for something special that makes the book stand out. That may be the use of historical detail; the characters; the way the story draws me in and keeps my interest; the way the story explores its theme, taking me deeper throughout; the writing itself; the way the story plays out, keeping me engaged until the end–so that when I close the book I feel that it kept its promise and did not let me down.

It is difficult sometimes. We all have little things that we dislike that may or may not be an issue for anyone else–that may in fact be expected in the kind of romance we are reading. Yes, we do talk about clothes in traditional Regencies–not always, but we do. We often are writing about the upper classes in England. They had money, society was important, and they wore fashionable clothes, and sometimes it is expected that we tell what they were wearing. A judge may dislike references to fashion, but she should consider the genre.

I have a problem with cliches–little ones, like “her feet were encased in white satin shoes” instead of “she wore white satin shoes,” and various parts of a woman’s finery being referred to as “a confection of …,” and so forth. Just little word combinations that were fresh once but that have been repeated many times. But I don’t let this throw me when judging. I look at the big picture.

Having said all this, I still struggle. So…I would like to hear what you all look for in a book when reviewing it or judging it. What standards do you hold yourself to? Where do you draw the line between objectivity and subjectivity?

And finally…what do you think makes a winning book?

Laurie, with more questions than answers!

Signet, January 2006

Posted in Reading | Tagged , | 4 Replies

I read the responses to Cara’s day asking what the readers of this blog want. I love research things myself, and I love just composing. The writer part of me is often more eager than the history buff, so I change around a bit.

Today I have something a little different. Since there are writers reading Risky Regencies, some published, some aspiring to be published…I thought I’d talk a little about my own experience.

The details of my back-story aren’t that important. Everyone has one, and they are all good—they all lead to the love of writing. I’ve mentioned before what made me love Regencies—and romantic suspense and good gothic romances—and that was my early reading. I loved Charles Dickens, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Victoria Holt, Helen MacInnes, Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer—by way of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and the Black Stallion. 😉 Readers have the first ingredient that makes writers, by the way.

Growing as a writer—For those who would like to read about this, with apologies to those who don’t: To make it as a writer you do have to write every day, or nearly every day. Like anything else you become better at, it is practice, practice, practice. Many of us start with the love of the written word and write to please ourselves. Eventually our minds turn to the possibility of becoming published. We keep on writing, have our highs and our lows, and one day, after what seems an eon of time and a colossal amount of work, we receive an offer. My offer came from NAL Signet for my manuscript that I called “Cat of My Heart.” It was renamed “The Best Laid Plans” and came out as a Signet Regency in November 2003.

Here comes the “Rolling With the Punches” part: I now need to seek publication all over again. This is the lot of a writer, particularly a novelist, and it is not that unusual. Signet Regencies will no longer be produced, and I have completed my last contract for them.

I still love Regencies, but my current project is a romantic suspense. I am, however, daily attacked by Regency plot ideas! So no one must think I will not write in the Regency period again. I shall. It is only a matter of when.

Those of you who are aspiring writers may find it discouraging to know that being published does not mean a constant state of being with no further concerns about being published in the future. But I can tell you that it is not all that bad, either. I am eager to plunge ahead and see where I end up. Our books are adventures—so our careers must be. And the current state of publishing only makes it more of a challenge.

I’d love to hear everyone’s comments about publishing, either their own story, or about the state of publishing, or what they are targeting and why. Regency historicals are still popular, and this is where I hope to find myself eventually. There are also other avenues. If you love Regencies, where are you focusing your efforts now?

Signet January, 2006

Posted in Writing | 5 Replies

The Merchant Sisters circa 1903

I’ve been having some crazy days lately. I’ve been in this deep reflection stage, pondering the meaning of my life (here is a great opening for Monty Python fans) and imagining that I have made progress.

Reflection is a unique ability of man. I sometimes think it is somewhat of a lost art. Perhaps I am wrong? I’d like to think so…but with the advent of so many “sit there and be done to” mediums, it seems that solitude is less often experienced these days, and solitude is a necessary prerequisite.

I am sitting in front of a computer screen right now, even though at the moment I am talking to myself. But in seconds I could be anywhere in the electronic world, shopping, checking the weather in Burma, perusing my email, looking for a chat room (although I am not a chatter, I could look for a chat room). It is incredibly easy to do these things.

If I want to stand up and go to where I last left my remote control, supposing I can find it (if not, I will experience some unpredicted exercise) I can flick on the boob tube. There are even more boobs on it these days (of any sort you want to consider), and if soaps aren’t your cuppa there are all of those “reality” shows–most of which don’t seem the least bit real to me, but nonetheless. Of course, if one does not want these, or the news, there are movies–some exceptionally good–and “how-to” programs, a favorite of mine, because I can imagine doing something I don’t, can’t, or won’t.

The radio is fairly innocuous these days. I usually tune into my local public radio that serves up NPR and PRI and the like. They actually do foster some thought on my part, rather like reading a good book–but it didn’t used to be there. No, just a few short generations ago, one had to occupy oneself with engaging directly with another person, by viewing a live presentation, or by reading or writing or involving oneself with one’s hobby.

My grandmothers sewed, read, played cards, wrote letters or poetry, took walks or buggy rides. They took walks, took the train, or went boating with their sweethearts/husbands. They made picnic lunches and made them exquisitely–they packed lemonade, cake and homemade pickles, homemade bread and jam, sliced meats, chicken legs, cloth napkins and a wool blanket or a woven tablecloth to lay out, and all was placed in a willow basket. In the evening they played the piano, sung, and read their favorite ladies’ magazine.

I get nostalgic thinking of this world I only lived in, peripherally, as a child. I of course did not experience the horses–tractors and cars and trucks had arrived by the time I arrived in the world–but I listened to the stories and saw the photographs. And when I grew older and was more interested in listening to my transistor radio off in a corner by myself, these experiences were still part of me. They are to this day, as I remember them.

I’d like to thank my grandparents and other grand-relatives for this gift of the past, and I do wish I could somehow bring it back, at least in a small way. And that, I think, is why I write–and why my mother wrote, and why my grandmother wrote.

It is a gift of reflection, and a gift of bringing back to life things we love.

All the best in your life,

Posted in Writing | 7 Replies
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