Thursday, April 28, 2011

Of Wimseys and Wellesleys: Knights (and Baronets)

For previous entries in this series, follow the tag at the end of the post.

Say the word "knight," and it conjures an image of a man in plate armor, ready to joust for the honor of his lady fair. But there were still knights in the 18th and 19th century (and to this day). Just minus the armor.

A knighthood is an honor given to untitled men (but in the 18th and 19th centuries generally of at least genteel birth) as a reward for service to the Crown. I haven't done a detailed study, but my impression is that most reasonably successful generals and admirals of the Napoleonic era were at least made knights. Wellington's first major honor was being knighted in 1804 in recognition of his early successes as a major-general in India. So from that point until he was granted a peerage in 1809, he was addressed as Sir Arthur Wellesley. As with the younger son's courtesy titles we've discussed in the past two weeks, the "Sir" goes with the first name. He's Sir Arthur, not Sir Wellesley.

Wives of knights, however, don't follow the same pattern. In 1806, Wellesley married Catherine Pakenham, whom he'd courted as a young man before leaving for India. In the intervening time they'd grown into different people, extremely mismatched different people who had a thoroughly unhappy marriage. But that's neither here nor there. We're just here to learn what to call them. And in this case the right answer is Lady Wellesley. Not Lady Catherine, not Lady Arthur. Lady Wellesley.

Incidentally, at this point there were two Lady Wellesleys. (Ladies Wellesley?) The other, Hyacinthe, was married to the oldest Wellesley brother, Richard, who'd been granted the title of Marquess Wellesley for his service as Governor-General of India, superseding his former title of Earl of Mornington (inherited from his father). This situation wasn't as confusing as you might think, for two reasons. The first is Hyacinthe's background: she was a French actress who was Richard's mistress for years and years before he actually married her. As such, despite her status as marchioness she wasn't accepted in good society or even within the extended family the same way that the well-bred and well-behaved Catherine was. The second is common sense--just like you might have two friends named Bob Smith, and avoid any confusion by talking about Work Bob and Bob from High School, English society of 200 years ago was perfectly capable of saying "Lady Wellesley, the marchioness," or "Lady Wellesley, Kitty Pakenham that was," or whatever to make their meaning clear.

Note that knighthoods are not inherited honors. If Wellesley had been killed while he was still a knight, his firstborn son would NOT have become Sir Arthur in his turn.

A side note about baronets: While I don't have any Wimsey or Wellesley examples of them, you'll see them a good bit in 18th and 19th century fiction. In Jane Austen's work alone, Sir Thomas Bertram in Mansfield Park and Sir Walter Elliott in Persuasion are both baronets. Baronets follow the exact same form of address as knights--the key difference between them is that the eldest son of a baronet DOES inherit the honor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Of Wimseys and Wellesleys: Courtesy Titles, Part 2

Today we look into what happens when the daughters and younger sons of last week's post get married.

I'll start with the sons of dukes and marquesses, since they're more straightforward. Obviously, their names don't change upon marriage. Lord Peter is still Lord Peter. But when he marries Harriet Vane (a commoner, daughter of a country doctor), she becomes Lady Peter. Not Lady Wimsey, because younger sons' courtesy titles attach to the first name, not the surname. And not Lady Harriet, because it's his title, not hers. Incidentally, their children don't have titles, courtesy or otherwise. They're just very well-bred and well-connected commoners.

Daughters of dukes, marquesses, and earls are more complicated. The rule, as I understand it, is that when a woman with a courtesy title marries, she takes her husband's title if it's higher in precedence than hers, but keeps her own if hers is higher. This means that if she marries a man without a title, she doesn't become Mrs. Husband's Name. Instead, she's Lady HerFirstName HisLastName. In the case of the fictional Wimsey family, Lord Peter's sister, Lady Mary, marries Charles Parker, a police detective and one of her brother's closest friends, and becomes Lady Mary Parker. (NOT Lady Parker.) Her husband's name doesn't change. Basically, a man can convey his courtesy title to his wife, but a woman can't pass hers to her husband. Is this sexist? Of course it is. If you're going to write historical fiction, you'll run into far worse instances of it.

Wellington's one sister also married commoners (untitled gentlemen might be a better term), becoming first Lady Anne FitzRoy (wife of the Hon. Henry FitzRoy, son of a baron) and then after his death Lady Anne Smith (wife of Charles Culling Smith).

If Lady Anne or Lady Mary had married a peer (a holder of an actual rather than a courtesy title), then she would've taken his title even if it were a lower rank of the peerage (baron, viscount), because substantive title always trumps courtesy title. I.e. if Lady Mary Wimsey had married Baron Stuffy, she'd be Lady Stuffy rather than Lady Mary.

It's when courtesy title holders marry each other that things get really complicated. Then, if I understand this correctly, you go by their relative precedence. Dukes' daughters trump dukes' younger sons, who in turn trump marquesses' daughters who trump their younger sons and so on. So Lady Mary Wimsey, as a duke's daughter, has precedence over any man's courtesy title. Therefore, no matter who she marries, unless he has an actual title of his own, she'll outrank him and continue to go by Lady Mary. But if Lady Anne Wellesley, an earl's daughter, had married the younger son of a duke or marquess, she would've become Lady HisFirstName HisLastName, because dukes and marquesses trump earls.

At least, I'm almost sure that's how it works. But I'm open to correction if not.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Wolf & Huntress

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! I'll be late on reading others' posts today, because I have three services to sing the Hallelujah Chorus at. But I'll get to them, once I'm all sung out. (I'm on the West Coast, so I always set up my Six Sentence Sunday posts the day before rather than getting up before 6 AM my time to meet the East Coast deadline for getting them live.)

This week we're returning to my historical fantasy WIP, Wolf & Huntress. In this scene from the opening chapter, our heroine, Cass, gets the first hint that she has the ability to hear werewolf telepathy.

The wolf was at least as big as the largest dog Cass had ever seen, fully waist-high on the tall Campbell who marched at his side. The beast’s fur gleamed silver in the moonlight, solid but for the black tips of his ears and tail. He bared his teeth, sharp and white, and in the near-silence Cass could hear him snarl.

And more than snarl. A voice she’d never heard before echoed in her mind. Sealgair bitches...murderers...smell their blood.

(Sealgair is Gaelic for hunter. As for why that's what the wolf calls Cass and her sister, well, hopefully someday I'll sell the book and y'all can read it. :-) )

Feedback and comments always appreciated, and please visit the Six Sentence Sunday blog to see the wide range of contributions.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Small Book of Regency Baby Names

I've often cracked, when naming characters in my novels, that the Big Book of Regency Baby Names is actually a slender pamphlet. And now I've got actual data to back that up. I'm reading a book called The British Army against Napoleon: Facts, Lists, and Trivia 1805-1815, by Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan. It's pretty much as dry as it sounds, though the trivia interspersed with the lists is fun, and it's full of useful info to someone like me who's currently writing a novella set in the aftermath of Salamanca and a novel spanning Bussaco through Fuentes de Onoro.

The chapter on the life of an officer includes a list of the fifteen most common first names among British officers serving in the Peninsular War. They were:


Just shy of three quarters of all the officers serving had one of those names, and over a quarter were named John or William.

As for their last names, here are the ten most common:


Very Scottish, and I'm betting I've got some extremely distant cousins among their number. (Yes, Fraser is a pen name, but it's on my family tree--the name I pull out at Highland gatherings whenever I run into the kind of people who want to check your pedigree before selling you a tartan scarf, and, yes, I really have met a few.)

I'd love to see an equivalent first name list for the wives and sisters of those officers. I'm guessing it'd include Jane, Catherine, Anne, Charlotte, Caroline, Sarah, Frances, and Mary for sure, but I'm not sure what would round out the top 15. Eleanor? Harriet? Lucy? I know Georgiana and Cassandra were in use (obviously--see the Duchess of Devonshire and Cassandra Austen), but I don't think they were that ubiquitous.

I try for realism in character names. I wouldn't limit myself to just those top 15--though TSL has William and AMOI James--but I'm name nerd enough to check the etymology of a name to make sure it's not too modern and sensitive enough to social nuances that I'm not going to give an English character a blatantly Celtic name, and if I picked anything really unusual I'd be sure to justify in my own mind, if not on the page itself, why that character's parents ventured off the John/William/James/Jane/Catherine/Anne beaten path.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Of Wimseys and Wellesleys: Courtesy Titles, Part 1

Both of the protagonists of my little series on titles and forms of address are younger sons--Lord Peter is the second son of a duke, Wellington the third son of an earl. And younger sons make useful protagonists for fiction. Eldest sons of peers, destined to assume their father's titles, have careers in estate management and the House of Lords marked out for them by accident of birth. While an aristocrat's younger son is backed by his family's influence and support, he has a wider range of professions open to him, a certain freedom the head of his family lacks.

So they're great to write about. But the rules for what to call them (and their sisters) can be a little tricky. You must learn the ways of the courtesy title.

A courtesy title is given to certain close relatives of a peer. They remain legally commoners, lacking such perks as a seat in the House of Lords, but they're addressed as lord or guessed a courtesy. We'll hold off on the special courtesy titles given to eldest living sons of peers for the time being, revisiting them when we meet Lord Peter's nephew and Wellington acquires a peerage and a son. Today we'll concentrate on daughters and younger sons.

All daughters and younger sons of dukes or marquesses (the two highest ranks of the peerage) are addressed as Lord or Lady Firstname. Therefore, as the second son of the Duke of Denver, Peter Wimsey is Lord Peter or Lord Peter Wimsey. He is NEVER Lord Wimsey. The "Lord" goes by the first name. Also, any man who is NOT the younger son of a duke or marquess is NEVER Lord Firstname. That's probably the most common error I see in fiction, calling John Biscuit, the Earl of Pastry, Lord John instead of Lord Pastry. That's wrong. WRONG. Don't do it. Daughters follow the same pattern, so Lord Peter's sister is Lady Mary Wimsey. (NOT Lady Wimsey.)

So, in a way, you're always on a first name basis with daughters and younger sons of dukes. You show that someone is intimate with your character by dropping the Lord or Lady. There's a nice bit in Dorothy Sayers' wonderful Gaudy Night where Harriet Vane, Lord Peter's eventual wife, calls him Lord Peter in front of others as they're solving a mystery together even though she's called him, and thought of him, as just Peter for ages. Ever polite, he matches her by calling her Miss Vane throughout the scene.

Earls' children are tricky. The daughters bear the courtesy title of Lady, just like dukes' and marquesses' daughters, but the younger sons do not bear the title of Lord. So Wellington, as a younger son of the Earl of Mornington, was NOT addressed as Lord Arthur before he started accumulating titles of his own. His sister, however, WAS Lady Anne. I don't know how this quirk got into the system, but that's the rule. In everyday speech younger sons of earls are just plain Misters, but they too have a courtesy title of sorts--"the Honorable." So, should you find yourself flung back in time and needing to talk to Wellington as a very young man, before he became an officer, call him Mr. Wesley (NOT Wellesley--the family changed their name around the time he started his rise in the world, and I'll discuss how easy it was to change your name in a future post), or Mr. Arthur Wesley if you need to distinguish him from his brothers. The Honorable only comes into play if you need to address a letter or otherwise make formal written reference to him. Then he's The Honorable Arthur Wesley (often abbreviated to Hon.).

Got that? Good. If your characters are the children of the two lower ranks of the peerage (viscounts and barons), sons and daughters are both Honorables. Simple. It's just earls who are confusing.

Stay tuned next week for what to call these younger sons and daughters and their spouses after marriage. Then we'll start to trace Wellington's rise with a post about knighthoods, and maybe I'll fit in that digression about name changes. Beyond that, we still have plenty of ground to cover.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest blogs of the week

I'm having a busy couple days guest blogging and would love a few more comments.

Yesterday my awesome critique partner Rose Lerner interviewed me about, among other things, Austen, Whedon, Wellington, and hot Founding Fathers.

Today I'm at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales talking about travel, my first book (the one I wrote in 4th grade), inspirations, and the surprising joys of writing a character you DON'T like.

And I'm also at Happy Writer, talking about how I've come to terms with not being an overnight success.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Of Wimseys and Wellesleys - a (mostly) new series

The following is the first in a series of posts originally posted at the blog I had under my legal name before I was published, but since they're relevant to historical romance writers, I decided to repost them here, where they'll have a wider readership and hopefully be of interest to other readers and writers who like to geek out over the small details.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the writer of a historical novel set in 18th or 19th-century Britain must be in want of a duke. Even if, like me, you declare yourself a populist, a good small-r republican who doesn't understand what's so fascinating about inherited aristocracy, they have a way of poking their graceful dukely heads up and insisting upon a role in your stories. Or if you can resist the siren song of the duke, you may find yourself writing a less exalted but still lordly creature like an earl or a viscount. And your peer of the realm will have, or acquire along the way, a family.

In every case there is a correct and incorrect way to refer to your peer and his family--his widowed mother, his wife, his daughters, the cousin who's next in line for the title until he fathers a son of his own, etc. And a great many writers get it wrong. They just stick "Lord" or "Lady" willy-nilly into their characters' names. If their hero is John Smith, Earl of Smithton, they'll call him Lord John on one page, Lord Smith the next, and maybe Lord Smithton somewhere in the next chaper. (Hint: only one of the options is correct.)

Admittedly, British titles and forms of address are a confusing and convoluted system, especially for us Americans who have no equivalent in our culture. But I believe it pays to get them right. The more little details you get correct, the richer and more believable your fictional world will be. Also, you'll earn the appreciation and praise of readers like me who've memorized the system and find the errors to be nails on a chalkboard.

There are sites, readily searchable via Google, that explain the rules. But because stories are easier to remember than rules, at least for me, I've decided to do a blog series exploring proper forms of address using one fictional example and one historical one.

Representing fiction will be Lord Peter Wimsey, protagonist of Dorothy Sayers' Golden Age detective novels. He's the younger son of a duke, and over the course of the series, we meet a good chunk of his family--his widowed mother, his brother the current duke and his wife and children, their sister who starts the series single and marries another secondary character, and, last but far from least, Lord Peter's eventual wife. Between them all, they cover most of the possible forms of address within a duke's family, but they're fairly straightforward and tidy for all that.

For complexity we'll look to history, to the life and family of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. He didn't inherit his title (obviously, since he's the first duke). He was the third surviving son of an earl, and for his military accomplishments was made first a knight, then a viscount, an earl, a marquess, and at last a duke. Know what to call him, his wife, and their two sons at every point of his career and you'll be well on your way to mastering the entire system. And once you throw in the extended family--divorce scandals, a peer who didn't get around to marrying his wife till AFTER all five of their children were born, name changes for the sake of inheritance, and everything else that could complicate the lives and fortunes of a big and often dysfunctional turn-of-the-19th century aristocratic family--well, in my experience there's nothing like juicy 200-year-old gossip to help you remember who could and couldn't inherit a title and how you ought to speak of a duke's children as opposed to an earl's or a viscount's.

So, until I run out of material, I'll be running a biweekly series on the Wimseys and Wellesleys and using them for examples of how to get your own dukes and their families right. I welcome questions and corrections--I think I've mastered most of the rules, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm still missing a nuance here and there.

Next time, we'll start with both our protagonists as children and learn the difference between younger sons of dukes and earls.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - more from Jane's Second Soldier

This week we're back in my historical romance novella WIP (1812 Spain, with the British army fighting Napoleon's forces), working title Jane's Second Soldier. Jane is with her new husband, Ben, who rescued her from the bully who was assaulting her when the story opened. He had to marry her right away to protect her, and they've had the problems you might expect from a couple who marry as near-strangers while one of them is still mourning her first love. But here they're having a moment of pure fun together for a change:

“That girl there–she’s offering kisses to every soldier who marches by!”

Ben turned and saw a pretty, dark-haired girl in a doorway, giggling and indeed bestowing mostly chaste kisses upon a line of happy redcoats.

“She’s well enough,” he said, “but you’re prettier.” And he set his hands on either side of Jane’s face and kissed her, there in the crowded, sunlit street. She stood stock-still for a moment, then melted against him, her hands coming up to span his shoulders.

For several precious seconds she leaned into him, and Ben forgot the noisy crowd around them, forgot the war, forgot his duties, forgot everything but the woman in his arms, her lips warm and soft under his, her hair sweet-smelling in the hot August sun.

Just to offer a little eye candy, I picture Ben as looking a bit like Sean Maher:

Comments and feedback always welcome--though please keep in mind that this is still in rough draft stage. Also, drop by the Six Sentence Sunday mothership to view other authors' work.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reading log

It occurs to me that it's been quite awhile since I posted on any of the reading challenges I've set for myself, not because I haven't been reading, but because I've been too busy and/or too laid up with carpal tunnel issues to blog about it. So, to catch up a bit...

For my research reading challenge in March, I read The Scottish Highlanders and Their Regiments, by Michael Brander, which sounds like it should be a dull list of facts and statistics, but in fact is anything but. It's a set of anecdotes about Highland soldiers in the British army of the 18th and 19th centuries, full of the details of daily life that help a novelist enliven a story.

Also on the research front, I read The Yellow on the Broom, by Betsy Whyte, a memoir of the childhood of a Highland Traveller. One of the characters in my historical fantasy WIP grew up with a band of Travellers. Thus far I haven't been able to find much documentation about 18th and 19th century Travellers (as opposed to the Roma, who are better-documented) beyond the fact that they existed, so I plan to read everything 20th century I can get my hands on and do my best to extrapolate backwards from there. It won't be perfect, but at least I'll have tried.

On the leisure reading side, I finished my April book for my 2011 buy-and-read challenge (wherein I buy and read at least one book a month, to keep things from gathering dust in my to-be-read pile forever), Julia Spencer-Fleming's One Was a Soldier. It's the seventh in a series, so you don't want to start here, but if you'd like a good character-driven mystery series with a strong sense of place, go get In the Bleak Midwinter and start reading. I rarely read contemporary fiction--I live here/now, why do I need to read about it?--but Spencer-Fleming's characters are so vivid and appealing, and their upstate New York community is a character in its own right, one different enough from my own everyday world to give me that "going on a journey" feeling I crave from my literary escapism.

I'm also revisiting some of the Sunfire YA historicals that introduced me to the romance genre back in the 80's. I was charmed by Amanda, the inaugural Sunfire, and I expected to feel the same way about Sabrina. It's by the same author, Candice Ransom, and I remember finding it swooningly romantic when I read it at 15.

Unfortunately, it didn't work as well for the adult me as Amanda did. It's a shorter book--around halfway through Sunfire's run, the page count got slashed by about a third--and the hero and heroine's relationship development suffers as a consequence. I didn't feel like they knew each other well enough to commit to a life together by the end. Oh, and the heroine looks exactly like I wished I looked when I was 15, and like the heroines I wrote into my unfinished teen manuscripts, complete with rarely-found-in-nature coloring--black hair that shone almost purple in the sun! aquamarine eyes!

I'll keep reading Sunfires, though. It's always fun to revisit one's youth.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Release Day!

Today is release day for my SECOND novel (which I think means I get to call myself multi-published now, woohoo!), A Marriage of Inconvenience.

I got a lovely review at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Also, Carina Press is offering my first book, The Sergeant's Lady at half price through April 29.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Release Day Eve

Since A Marriage of Inconvenience releases tomorrow (and can be purchased from Carina, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or All Romance, just to name a few), it seemed only fitting to post six more sentences from it before moving on to my current works-in-progress.

This week, something from James and Lucy's wedding night. Lucy's nerves are at war with her desires:

Freeing her hair was not the work of an instant, and Lucy was captured in the circle of his arms as James gently, carefully unwound the braid. His breath was warm against her neck, and after a tense moment she sighed and rested her cheek against his. Her nerves seemed heightened somehow; she was exquisitely aware of the contrast between the skin along his cheekbones, almost as soft as her own, and the faint rasp of beard stubble too short to see.

Still unbraiding her hair, James rested his face more closely against hers, then drew back to nuzzle her, nose to nose, and kiss her again. It was a gentle yet probing kiss, their tongues in a sort of leisurely, playful duel, and it did not end until he leaned back to fan her long hair around her, running his fingers through it.

“I’ve been wanting to do this since the day I met you,” he said.

As always, comments are welcome, and stop by the Six Sunday mothership for links to other authors' posts. Also, my blog tour for this book just started, and I'm giving away two copies this weekend. Stop by Romancing the Past to read a longer excerpt or by Risky Regencies, where I talk about my inspiration for the story and what makes A Marriage of Inconvenience a risky book. Leave a comment at either or both for a chance to win.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Marriage of Inconvenience Blog Tour

A Marriage of Inconvenience releases Monday, and over the next couple of weeks I'll be visiting some of my favorite blogs to talk about the book, my writing, and my inspirations. At most of my tour stops, I'll be giving away a copy of the book to one lucky commenter. Here's the schedule as it stands now:

Saturday, April 9
Excerpt at Romancing the Past

Sunday, April 10
Q&A at Risky Regencies

Monday, April 11
Publication, the Second Time Around (With Bonus Cabana Boys!) at Romance Writer's Revenge

Tuesday, April 12
Horse Shopping With My Characters at History Hoydens

Wednesday, April 13
My First Time (um, that's my first time FINISHING A MANUSCRIPT, get your minds out of the gutter) at the Carina blog

Thursday, April 14
First Person vs. Third Person at Debuts & Reviews

Excerpt at The Season for Romance

Friday, April 15
Houses in Historicals at Historical Hussies

Saturday, April 16
Control Freaks in Love at Fresh Fiction

Sunday, April 17
TBD at Elaine Golden's blog

Tuesday, April 19
TBD at Rose Lerner's blog

Wednesday, April 20
TBD at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales

An Overnight Success (or Not) at Happy Writer

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April Madness Update

So far I'm actually managing to write every day, just as I vowed for April. On two occasions it's been less than a page, with me just sitting down at the keyboard to pound out a few paragraphs or a snatch of dialogue before bed so I don't break my streak.

Thing is, I feel like that's more worthwhile than it sounds on the surface. It keeps the manuscript at the front of my mind, keeps my focus on what needs to happen in the NEXT few paragraphs or pages. And it reinforces my commitment to myself to be a writer producing new work even without the immediate pressure of a contract and deadlines.

I'm still playing with the Dragon software. This weekend I really need to sit down with the manual and figure out how to train my Dragon, though. I'm getting sick of its persistence in typing "Lassie" and "Klansmen" when the lassie in question is a girl, not a collie, and the clansmen are a good 60-70 years too early and on the wrong side of the ocean to be committing racist atrocities while garbed in white sheets. Oh, and when I worked on a to-do list, it kept typing "right" when I wanted "write" no matter how many times I said "show recognition window" and chose the latter from the options presented.

And don't even get me started on the Dragon's problems with capitalizing dialogue tags when the speech being tagged ends with a question mark or exclamation point.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday revisits A Marriage of Inconvenience

This week we're back in my April 11 release, A Marriage of Inconvenience. Last week we saw the hero, James, through his sister's eyes, and this week James gives us his perspective on Lucy, the heroine. (This is from a bit earlier in the story, before James and Lucy are engaged.)

“So, brother,” she said with unconvincing casualness, “what’s the trouble between you and Miss Jones?”

“Nothing,” he said. “She’s a very sweet girl.” Now, that was damning with faint praise. The more he knew Lucy Jones, the less he would describe her as anything so insipid as “sweet.” No, her flavor was sharp and complex, with the faint bitterness of fine wine.

Comments and feedback are always welcome, and do stop by the main blog and check out other writers' excerpts.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A happy anniversary - no foolin'!

Unpublished writers dream of The Call (always with capital letters). That's the happy day when an editor tells you she wants to buy your book, and you are magically transformed from writer to Author (I always capitalized that one in my mind, too). I dreamed of The Call for years. I'd even rehearsed exactly what I was going to say to Mr. Fraser when I called him to tell him the news.

A year ago today, as I was walking back to my office after lunch, I remember thinking about my current submissions, and how some of them were approaching the editor or agent's usual response time. I decided I was OK with not getting The Call that day, because it felt a little weird to have such a major, life-changing event on April Fool's Day. Also, I was recovering from laryngitis and could still barely talk, so I would just as soon not have to deal with any calls, mundane or momentous.

Less than an hour later, I noticed I had a new message in my Gmail folder, so I got to a stopping place in my work and checked to see what it was, expecting a note from my husband or something from one of my writing email loops. To my absolute amazement, it was from Angela James at Carina offering to publish The Sergeant's Lady. She even apologized for sending The Email instead of giving me The Call--she was home with a sick kid whose coughing made phone conversations difficult.

I was thrilled and amazed. I'd been submitting manuscripts for years and was beginning to believe for the rest of my life I'd follow the same ritual of sending out queries and getting rejected. Now someone wanted to buy my manuscript?! That really happens?!

But I didn't act out that script I'd spent years envisioning. I couldn't scream for joy, because laryngitis, and also because I'd recently started working in a cube farm. I couldn't CALL my husband--again, the laryngitis--so I opened chat windows with him and one of my critique partners to squee and boggle. I just looked up the chat transcripts (I love how Gmail makes it easy to save EVERYTHING), and I have to share the opening of the conversation with my CP:

2:07 PM
me: hey!

2:08 PM

S: ??????

me: Carina Press wants to buy TSL!



me: bounce bounce bounce bounce

Good thing I'm more articulate in my books, huh?

A year later, I'm happy to be where I am. Like other big life events in my experience, getting published changes everything and yet changes nothing--it doesn't (usually) solve your old problems, and you still have all your old blessings, but there's a new layer of joys and challenges. And nothing, but nothing, beats people other than your critique partners and family reading and loving your work, whether it's that first editor who wants to buy it or a reader who sends you fan mail once it's out.