Houston, we have a go...
Cerridwen Press has given me an actual release date for my Regency: A Smuggled Rose. It will be coming out July 7, 2007 (7/7/07). Assuming no disasters, of course. This entire process has me mystified. They decided to sort of delay the release a little because they were organizing their traditional Regency releases by "story tone". Now I'm wondering what sort of tone I have. I suspect it's dark, although it didn't feel all that dark to me when I wrote it. It is certainly not as dark as some things I've read, although there are some sort of dark strands running through it.
I never think of myself as a dark writer, although most of my stories have some very, very dark undercurrents. So, I'm really curious to see how I end up being viewed by readers and reviewers. It will also be interesting to see if others think that major, underlying themes are individuality and the pursuit of freedom. I've been told that this is a theme in most of my work, but I usually think of it more along the lines of an individual's place in Society and how far does one need to go to be accepted or acceptable. Personally, I'm not willing to go all that far. I'm afraid my own streak of independence is often--and uncomfortably--echoed in my characters.
Which is odd for someone who always reads all the documentation which comes with everything, like electronic equipment, and generally tries to follow the rules (as far as I understand them). You would think a person like that would be a conformist, not a non-conformist. Certainly not an individualist who can't stand to be told what to do (unless it is written down in the user manual).
But I guess, underneath it all, I prefer individualists who mind their own business and don't expect me to live up or down to their expectations. I really hate expectations. I hate being told what to do. Just tell me the rules and I'll see what I can do to fit them in. Then leave me alone.
Which pretty much sums up how most of my characters feel about things. So, yeah, I guess individualism and independence are a major themes for me. I can't seem to get away from them.
And theme is important. It can add a lot of depth to your writing. The good thing is that most writers have themes, even if they don't realize it. Cool. The only problem is, most people totally don't get what a theme actually is. They confuse it with their character's goals or personalities. Not the same thing at all. Theme is what is *shown* by your story and develops as the characters' goals and personalities play out through the course of their adventure. It is doubtful your characters--even at their most enlightened moment--would be able to verbalize the theme. Unless they are Melanctha in a Gertrude Stein story, of course ("You have to know what you've got when you've got it"--but Melancthan knew what she had when she had it, and she lost it anyway--and knew she lost it, so...even she--clearly--didn't grasp the theme entirely.) But I digress...
Back to my publishing trauma. I'm now in the process of having to create a, gulp, blurb. I'm totally hopeless with titles and blurbs, so this is not easy. I actually hoped my editor would foist some sort of title and accompanying blurb on me. :-) That would have been great. But she didn't, so I had to come up with a blurb. So I'm looking at two blurbs.
I'd love to know what people think of them and which they prefer. It will probably only confuse me further, but I like to think hearing someone else's ideas will suddenly clarify Life, the Universe, and Everything for me.
Occasional rose smuggler, Margaret Lane, wants nothing more than to go to London and enjoy a London Season. But after being disgraced by a member of the Ton when her brother failed to honor a gambling debt, the best she can hope for is to be forgotten by Society.
Michael Peyton, earl of Ramsgate, wishes Society and all his responsibilities would go to blazes. He has agreed to an arranged marriage with a woman who cringes whenever he enters the room, and the best he can hope for is to avoid it as long as possible. He never dreams his irresponsible brother would get wounded by the Excise and that a beautiful woman like Margaret would rescue him.
Unfortunately, Margaret's past soon catches up with her, and Michael is faced with a fearful dilemma. If he cannot protect her while still fulfilling his promise to another woman, he may lose both his honor and Margaret.
Occasional rose smuggler, Margaret Lane, dreams of a London Season, knowing her hopes are unrealistic. A rejected suitor’s gossip has destroyed her reputation and trust, and smuggling roses from France to make ends meet further damns her. So, with lowered expectations, she hopes Society will simply forget her, until she rescues a man from the Excise. Soon she discovers no one has forgotten the rumors about Miss Lane, particularly not the man’s brother, Michael Peyton, the earl of Ramsgate.
Finding his brother in the hands of a well-known doxy is no relief to Michael, who has his own social burdens including a young fiancée who cringes at the sight of him. But when he discovers the rumors about Margaret are pure fabrication, he hits upon the perfect solution to repay her. He grants Margaret her heart’s desire, a London Season, hoping to cleanse her reputation by having his mother and fiancée present her at Court.
Unfortunately, when they arrive in London, the past catches up with Margaret, and Michael must protect her and deny his own heart’s true desire. If he does not honor his duty to another woman, he may lose Margaret’s trust, and love, forever.
That's it - which would you prefer? Would either one make you part with your hard-earned money?