Today’s Wednesday Writer’s guest is Caroline Warfield, author of Historical Romance/Regency. She’ll be sharing an excerpt from her book Lord Ethan’s Courage, one of several novellas in the Fire and Frost collection. She’s also going to talk about what goes into making such a collection. Welcome, Caroline!
MANAGING A GROUP PROJECT
by Caroline Warfield
When a group of friends gets together and decides to produce a collection of novellas, it is significantly more complex than simply, “Hey folks, let’s make a book!” My friends The Bluestocking Belles have done six and they are never easy.
The first task is to agree on a theme, or an organizing principle, to tie the stories together. I’ve read entirely too many for which the only unifying theme is “Christmas.” We try to connect them a bit more than that, and we’ve gone in a variety of directions. What has consistently worked best is to agree on an event that each of the stories will include. Once it was a country house party at Christmas; once it was a ball on Valentine’s day beneath the crystal chandeliers of the Assembly Rooms in Bath. This year we focused on the 1814 frost fair on the frozen Thames, and decided that our characters would conduct a charity auction on behalf of veterans of the Napoleonic wars and their families. It turned out to be both fun and enlightening.
Frost Fair on the Frozen Thames
By choosing a unifying event, we can write separately. We post the potential shared scenes to a private space on Facebook so we can make sure our details line up, our characters behave, and we describe the event the same. If we have five couples all at the same ball or charity auction, we need to tell the same story from 5-10 points of view. It is much less difficult and more fun than you might think. We can rely on each other for shared characters as in, “Does someone have an uppity aunt who might insult my heroine?” or “Do you have a gentleman who can ask my heroine to dance?”
This year we put the actual auction in shared space. Jude Knight contributed some beloved elders to actually conduct the auction. Several of us posted our scenes of the bidding. Snatches of dialog, bidders, winners, and losers were shared back and forth so that when our individual stories were complete, that scene meshed in all five. To a lesser degree a skating scene and a theatre scene appear in some but not all of the stories. After all, all our characters are in London at the same time. Some of us have characters that have appeared in previous collections as well.
Once the stories are written, we do two rounds of beta reading in which we all read all of them. That has the usual benefit if sorting out plot holes and typos, but also smoothing out the share details. Once that is finished, production starts and that is a bit less fun. We agree on specs and all produce a formatted final document. One person assembles the master manuscript. Other jobs are divided up: proof reading, editing and formatting. Agreeing on a title is hard; hopefully we’ve managed that early in the writing process. We hire a cover artist unless one of us is particularly inspired (as occurred this year). Someone makes promotional memes and we all use the same template.
Someone sorts out an event for the launch. This year we had a blog hop called (not surprisingly) the 1814 Frost Faire on the Thames. We each created a story about one fair booth, a bit of flash fiction involving our characters, and added a bit of historical trivia. There were, of course, prizes. Folks seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.
What happens after launch? We start planning the next one. We’re already doing that; see you next year.
About Fire & Frost
In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.
Love unexpected, rekindled, or brand new—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the frigid winter. After weeks of fog and cold, all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.
In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.
from Lord Ethan’s Courage
Caroline Warfield’s novella
Ethan shivered behind the mews to the rear of Chadbourn House, able neither to return to his hiding place nor to approach the earl. He held the stump of his damaged arm against his chest with the other, trying to keep the chill at bay. It had snowed the night before.
Many months had passed since anything as inconvenient as duty had bothered Ethan, and now that it had, he didn’t care for the feeling at all. Belief someone should tell the earl his sister put herself in jeopardy with her misguided efforts to help injured soldiers drew him there; old fears held him back. He might have hovered next to the mews until he froze to death and they hauled his unloved carcass to a pauper’s grave—or sold it to the body snatchers—if he hadn’t been spotted.
“You there, looking for a meal? Speak up; I almost missed you in the fog.”
Ethan gaped at the groom who came toward him wiping his hands. He didn’t know if the man meant to accuse him of stealing or offer him bread.
“Y’ve come to the right place; follow me.” The man didn’t wait; he started toward the house. “What regiment?”
Ethan, thoroughly confused, followed him. “Regiment?”
“Aye, where’d you serve, man?”
How can he tell I’m a soldier?
“Veteran, aren’t ye? Why else would you hang outside the earl’s kitchen?” The groom held a door open for him.
Ethan stepped up, and mumbled under his breath, “Light Division,” as he passed.
“Craufurd’s? God love y’!”
Warmth wrapped itself around Ethan as they entered the kitchen. “’Nother ’un Mrs. Potter,” the groom called. “Served in th’ Light Division. Not many o’ them left,” he added mournfully, on his way back out the door.
A plump woman gave Ethan a swift no-nonsense examination before he could speak, and scowled at his appearance before waving a dripping spoon toward a table in the corner. The savory stew she set on the table so overwhelmed him that he almost forgot who he was, much less why he came.
Ethan attacked the stew, shoveling it in as rapidly as he could swallow. “Easy now,” the woman chided. “No point in making yourself sick.” She set a plate of warm bread down next to him. “Craufurd’s was it? My man died at Cuidad Rodrigo.”
Ethan kept eating, more slowly now, his stomach clenching. He hadn’t come to share war stories. Cuidad Rodrigo. The words almost drove him back out the door. “I’ve come to see the earl,” he said between bites of bread.
“He isn’t here,” she said. “If it’s work you want—”
“It’s not,” he muttered. He knew the ways of the upper ten thousand. No earl was ‘in’ until he knew who asked and what they wanted. “I won’t keep him long. I’ll just say my piece and be gone.” He considered in bitter humor that he ought to have brought his calling card.
The one-eared footman he saw in the alley came in carrying buckets of water. “Another hungry veteran, Mrs. Potter?” he asked. “What’s his regiment?”
“As you see,” the cook responded. “Served with—”
Ethan had enough bad memories. He rose to his feet. “Tell the earl I have a message, and I’ll—”
“He isn’t here,” Mrs. Potter repeated.
“You can see his man of business if you want work, though,” the footman added.
Ethan did not want work, and he most certainly did not want to revisit bad memories with the oddest collection of servants he’d ever encountered.
“What I have to say is for his ears only. I know the earl isn’t ‘in’. I’ll only take a moment to give him my message and be on my way.”
Both servants stared at him as if he were simpleminded.
“It isn’t how it’s done,” the footman muttered.
Years past caring how things ought to be done, Ethan lost all patience. He stalked out the door to the family quarters, with the footman scurrying behind.
“You can’t go there!” the boy shouted. A stern looking butler started down from the front of the house, and Ethan turned down a hallway, surprised at his spurt of energy. A study was bound to be off the back corridors, and if he made enough of a scene the earl would show himself. He yanked open a door and stopped dead in his tracks.
“You!” the speaker and sole occupant of the room stared at him in astonishment. He had wandered into the library, and stumbled onto Lady Flora.
Want to read more? You can find Caroline’s book at this Buy Link
About the Author:
Traveler, would-be adventurer, librarian, technology manager, Caroline Warfield has many things, but she is above all a romantic. Someone who begins life as an army brat develops a wide view of life. She reckons she is on at least her third act. When she isn’t off seeking adventures with her Beloved or her grandson down the block, she works happily in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to even more adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.
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