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I hear it all the time. Historical fiction, especially with a colonial setting, does not sell. This statement reminded me of the reason I began my writing career. As a teenager, I cut my adult reading teeth on authors like Kathleen Woodiwiss. Granted, she used more detail than I cared to read, but her main writing staple had both of the main characters married in the early pages of the book. I loved that. Whenever a book has the characters realizing their feelings for each other in the last few pages, I find myself glad for the happily ever after ending but disappointed overall. In my mind, this is where the story begins. I want to see these two characters weather life as a committed unit. Since I am an avid reader, I searched for authors who thought as I did. They were rare.
A book’s setting is high on my lists of ‘have-to-reads”. All an author has to do is place me in Colonial America or England, and I am home. It doesn’t matter what is thrown at the main characters. I will sweat it out with them, good or bad, until the last page. Many times when I read a book, I would finish the book, sigh, and flip back to page one. Why not? I knew where all the good parts were and how many pages it would take to get there. The second read through is to look for all of the clues the author hid and that I carelessly raced over in my effort to discover what was happening next.
Over the years, I hiked to the bookstores once or twice a month. During each trip, I found myself with a smaller stack of books at the cash register. I understand that everything travels in a cycle, and authors can only write so fast. Maybe a lengthy fan letter should have been sent to a few of my favorites. You know, to encourage them to spend more time at the keyboard. I know there are other great genres out there, but I had a favorite, and it was hard to make the transition. This character flaw coupled with empty nest syndrome was just the combination I needed to launch my writing career.
With a few hours of uninterrupted computer time at my disposal, I sat down and thought about details I enjoyed reading in a book. A hot guy and a gorgeous girl were at the top of the list. A rule of thumb is to write what you know. Having grown up in the eastern United States, this seemed a good place to start. Conflict and supportive characters expanded the plot. One person described my writing style as old-school. I have a vague idea of what that means, but it sounds appropriate. Old-school or new, it goes without saying, as for my main characters, wherever I take them or whatever turmoil they face, they are going to take on the challenge together.
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You can purchase Shades of Gray on Amazon.