Lisa Shea and Medieval RomanceSome people spend their childhood obsessed with becoming a cowboy or a fireman. From my very earliest days, I adored creating epic tales of sword-wielding women and honorable men. If left on my own, I would immerse myself in this world for hours on end.
It was never a question of "making time" to do this activity. It was my default state. When I climbed onto the school bus to head to school or home I would instantly become absorbed into my storyline. During high school this trip was a full hour each way, so that's a lot of time to work on storylines! We didn't have gameboys or Kindles back in those days :)
I was an avid reader of fantasy and science-fiction. My school years were in the mid-70s to mid-80s, so Lord of the Rings was extremely high on my list of books to read. Other favorites included the Crystal Cave series by Mary Stewart, the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, the Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L'Engle, and the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin.
I graduated from high school in 1986. I went to Worcester Polytech Institute for a year, ran their science fiction society for a while, then got married and dropped out. Marriage seemed to cause me to lose my story writing desires. For a while, my creative spark was dampened.
Then, in 1995, after a divorce and refreshing of my enthusiasm, I joined up with Bob, my partner of sixteen years now. Bob is incredibly supportive of any task I decide to take on, whether it's swordfighting school, learning to kayak, or finally putting my romance novels down in written form. I found the old drive to write coming back even more strongly than before. Soon I was filling in any spare time I could find - while waiting for the microwave to beep, while driving to pick up groceries, while falling asleep at night - with creation and expansion of plot, dialogue, and characters.
The first novel I finished committing to paper from start to finish was Badge of Honor, and by far this has the most ancient roots. This is the storyline I would craft for myself in my earliest days, with polishing and expansion in the subsequent years. Next came Believing your Eyes. Both of these stories have strong foundations created in my youth.
Once I began the process, new stories literally flooded my mind, and I had to work more quickly to develop one story onto paper before the next one began growing and caused me to forget the full details of the previous one. I worked on Creating Memories, of a woman questioning her own past. Trusting in Faith was fourth, an exploration of family conflicts. A Sense of Duty mirrors Persuasion, the classic Jane Austen tale of love lost. These stories definitely "overlapped" in the sense that I'd be finishing up one when the next storyline would come to me and demand to be written. Often I was moving back and forth between stories to complete them.
So now I had five books done. I was actively trying to submit these to Harlequin. Why Harlequin? I wanted to be on a book store bookshelf, and almost every book on the romance novel shelves I looked at were published by Harlequin. They seemed to have a near monopoly on the romance market. This was in the days of printing out actual hard copy and mailing them out to England, so it was a long process, with about six months between when I sent a book and received a response. Each time I submitted a book to them, while they said they loved my writing style, they declined. They told me to read their books to see why ;) When I read their books, I saw that clearly the books on the market were full of extremely graphic sex. My novels had only gentle romance.
I decided after five gentle but firm rejections that I should see just how well this could work if I gave it my very best effort. My sixth book, Seeking the Truth, was explicitly written with Harlequin in mind. I made it as sexual as I felt comfortable with. This was the most sexually charged book I would write. If Harlequin still felt this was not enough, then that was a fairly clear indication that I should look elsewhere.
Sure enough, despite my efforts, it still wasn't accepted by Harlequin. Which is fine. We are all different kinds of people, and I just am not someone who enjoys writing bodice-ripping, heaving-dripping-body-parts content. So I have come to accept that, and now am working on self publishing my books instead.
That meant as I moved on to book #7 I could release any thoughts of writing to please an external editorial team. I poured myself into Looking Back, the story of a woman shaking herself free of past memories. Next was Knowing Yourself, a fun book of a pair of sisters on a quest for a bachelor. Ninth was Finding Peace about a woman launching out on her own, dealing with the world on her own terms. Tenth was Lady in Red, where the heroine takes on a challenge single-handedly without expectation of help or assistance.
These last four books were greatly overlapping in their writing process. The story ideas were coming fast and furious now, and I was challenged to keep up with the process of putting the ideas down to paper quickly enough!
These are the ten medieval novels I am now in the process of self publishing. I am trying to focus on polishing and publishing these ten before I take on any new storylines. It's a challenge - there are more ideas calling to me from the curtains, if I can just find the time to give them room to flourish and grow!
As always, feel free to write me if you have any questions or comments!
Sequential Order of the Creation of the Novels:
Badge of Honor
Believing your Eyes
Trusting in Faith
A Sense of Duty
Seeking the Truth
Lady in Red
Each book's storyline is completely independent from the others. They are all set in medieval Britain, but they do not share characters. They can each be read in a fully standalone fashion. That being said, there are certainly characters in some of the stories that I am interested in fleshing out in another novel. For example, in Knowing Yourself there are two couples who are described who I'd love to write full novels about. So far I have come up with fresh new stories that sprung to mind fairly fully formed, so I have not had the opportunity to deliberately craft a "sequel novel" to one of these existing ones. We'll see what the future holds!
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