Seven Questions: Margaret Locke

I’m happy to welcome Margaret Locke to my blog for her third round of Seven Questions. Her latest book is The Demon Duke, a Regency romance with an unusual hero.

As a teen, Margaret pledged to write romances when she was older. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grownup things, not penning stories. Thank goodness turning forty cured her of that silly notion.

Now happily ensconced again in the clutches of her first crush (romance novels!), Margaret is never happier than when sharing her passion for a grand Happy Ever After. Because love matters.

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and three fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact she’s not an outdoors person.

 Read on to learn more!

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1-Margaret, this is your fourth book. Wow! How has your book-writing process changed between Book 1 and Book 4?

I’d like to think I’ve gotten better. Each book has actually proven a quite difference experience:

A Man of Character I plotted out and wrote and re-wrote for four years before publishing it.

A Matter of Time I drafted as a NaNoWriMo project (my first!) in the middle of working on A Man of Character, but I took a year after the first book’s publication to tinker with the second.

I’d written a draft during my second NaNo of what I thought would be book three in the series (what evolved into The Demon Duke), only to realize a different story needed to come first. So, for the first time, I wrote, edited, re-edited, re-edited, and finished a novel, A Scandalous Matter, in six months. I don’t think that’s something I care to repeat – at least not while I still have kids at home!

For The Demon Duke, as I said, I had a draft, but I took more time to hone it, and ended up changing a fair amount, as my skills in writing (or at least my knowledge of better practices) had increased.

Now I find myself back at the drawing board, no complete drafts in my pocket – but I think I have a better sense now of what works and doesn’t work. Though they take time, character sketches, timelines, spreadsheets listing names and characteristics, and loose outlines work much better for me than winging it.

 

2-Which phase of the book process do you enjoy most and why?

 Definitely writing the initial draft. Everything feels new and fun, and I’m convinced I’m hilarious and this book is awesome and everything is perfect.

Until I re-read it. Until my editor reads it and sends me back revisions. The editing phase is not my favorite (read: nails on a chalkboard / chocolate-deprivation level dislike), BUT I’m learning to look forward to the final edits, as I’ve seen the story morph from “best EVER!” through “this totally sucks, who am I kidding?” to “maybe it’s not so bad after all.”

And getting the print copy in the mail is one of the best feelings there is, hands-down. It all feels real then.

 

3-Novels are a tough form, time-consuming and sometimes underappreciated in the world. What keeps you motivated?

Guilt and fear. What, that’s not a good answer? Okay, the characters bugging me in my head, the readers asking for more stories, the pleasure of that first draft – and guilt and fear.

Guilt, because if I’m not working on a book, I’m often wasting vast amounts of time on things like Facebook and Two Dots (okay, yeah, I admit – I do that even when I am working on a book!).

Fear, because what would I do if I didn’t do this? As someone with almost a PhD (I did everything but finish the dissertation) in medieval history from twenty years ago, what marketable skills do I have now?

But also love.

Because love matters. Love stories matter. And I truly do love writing them. Yes, it’s hard work. I still have a lot to learn, still have great ways in which to improve. But when my own eyes well up, my own giggles escape, my own heart aches at a scene I’ve written? When readers tell me they love my books? When I realize I get to do something I love as my job? That’s what truly keeps me going.

That, and chocolate.

 

4-Do your book ideas arrive in your head in a particular way? As images, as opening scenes or sentences, as characters, as conflicts? Tell us a little about idea generation, brainstorming, and how you come up with a story? Once you have an idea, what are the next steps?

 It varies. For A Man of Character, it was the opening question, What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?, that launched the whole thing. From that question, I mused on what kind of men someone would fantasize about at different points in their life, etc., and sketched out a story.

I think characters come to mind first, and then I imagine what might befall them, or who might suit them best. For example, Amara, the heroine from A Scandalous Matter, evolved as a reaction of sorts against my first two heroines. Both Cat from A Man of Character and Eliza from A Matter of Time were rather circumspect in their sexual attitudes and behaviors. I decided I needed a female character more driven by physical pleasure, and along came Amara.

For The Demon Duke, I knew what his affliction would be, and I knew who his physical inspiration was (Ian Somerhalder of Vampire Diaries fame). From there, I brainstormed on how his struggles might shape his life—and his reaction to love.

I’ve sketched story ideas out in great detail and I’ve done a more pantser approach where I make up everything as I go along. I’ve learned I do best when I let ideas percolate in my head and then eventually write them all down and plot things out. I do tend to have different ideas about different books pop into my head at any given time, though. I guess those characters don’t always care that I’d like to proceed in clear, linear fashion, thank you very much!

 

5-You have been recruited as an experimental space traveller. You are allowed to bring only what you can carry in a small backpack. What do you pack?

 May I bring along Hermione’s Bag of Holding? In which I could stuff, you know, a T.A.R.D.I.S.? No? Well, then, I suppose I’d want a camera with a massive amount of storage, water, pain meds, chocolate, a Kindle, battery chargers, a pen, paper, and a cat.

 

6-It turns out that your experimental space ship has malfunctioned, and instead of traveling through space, you’re traveling through time. What era/year will be your desired destination? And why?

I knew you were going to do that to me! I certainly would like to visit Regency England, to see if it was anything at all like the society we read about in novels (both Austen and modern romances), but tops on my list would be ancient Rome. I’d really love to see it in its heyday. I’d also want to visit Charlemagne’s court, and that of Otto the Great, and go back to learn who built Stonehenge and why, and zip off to Renaissance Italy, and maybe colonial America.

But I think I’d want to be like Scrooge – just popping in and out, invisible. Because a) I wouldn’t want to mess up history, and b) I’m really fond of air conditioning, and I’d eventually run out of chocolate.

 

7-Tell us a bit about your next book (or books)?

 Next up is The Legendary Duke, the second in my Put Up Your Dukes Regency series, based loosely on the Arthurian legend of Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s been years – since grad school days – that I’ve studied Arthurian lore, so I’m really looking forward to that, especially since the third book in the series, The Once and Future Duke, also has Arthurian connections, as you might have guessed from the title.

Oh, and somewhere in there, I want to write book four in the Magic of Love series. Because Sophie Mattersley needs her story told.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Emily!

Learn more about Margaret on her website: http://margaretlocke.com

Get The Demon Duke now on Amazon or at other outlets:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

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Behind every good man is a great secret.

Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society–his worst nightmare come to life.

He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.

Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.

Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?

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Seven Questions : Margaret Locke : A Matter of Time

I’m happy to have romance author Margaret Locke in the hot seat for my seven questions once again. Margaret has just released her latest novel, A Matter of Time, a time-travel romance about a modern woman who ends up in Regency England. With a duke. Of course.

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1.Give us a 1-2 sentence logline for your book.

A modern-day Austenite’s dream comes true when she lands in the arms of a Regency duke, only to learn some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when he proves less than a Prince Charming.

2. This is your second novel. Which was easier to write, #1 or #2? Why?

That’s a hard question. I’d like to think this second novel was easier, just because I’d written one already, and because this is a more traditional romance, meaning the rules/format were more familiar.

However, the first book was a joy to write precisely because it was the first and I had no worries how people might receive it; I just wrote it for me. Now that the response to A Man of Character has been so overwhelmingly positive (hallelujah), I’m super-nervous about what people will think of A Matter of Time, especially since it is different in setting and somewhat in tone.

3. This book has a historical setting whereas your first had a contemporary setting. What was challenging about writing in the world of Regency England?

Trying to get the historical details right!

I’m actually a trained historian, having done all but write the dissertation in my doctoral studies of medieval Germany (though that was twenty years ago, and a completely different era). You’d think I’d have more confidence in my ability to research and represent a period – but I don’t!

I’m grateful, however, to the members of the Beau Monde, who kindly answered all sorts of elementary questions I posed to them, and to the numerous online blogs detailing some of the finer points of Regency life – as well as the large number of Regency-related books I’ve amassed here in my home.

Language issues tripped me up more than I expected – I spent hours looking up words to determine if they were in use in the period, etc., and even so, am sure I didn’t get it all right, whether the speech or the historical detail. Oh well. I’ll keep working at it!

4. Do you think you will branch out into other genres in the future, or does romance have your heart?

Romance is my one true love, and I don’t see myself straying from it. It speaks to me, and always has, and feels the most natural fit. I write in different subgenres within romance – contemporary, Regency, paranormal, etc. – which provides quite the challenge, but I don’t see myself suddenly venturing out into the fantasy or mystery or thriller worlds. It’s not who I am, and not how I write.

5. What’s your favorite time-travel novel?

I love Lynn Kurland’s books. Her Stardust of Yesterday is the ONE novel I kept when I went on a (stupid) several-year romance hiatus about ten years ago; I just couldn’t part with that book. I liked her others in the series, as well. Sheepish confession: I have yet to read or watch Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, but it’s on my list!

6. What are your writing plans and goals for 2016?

Oh, gosh, if I were better at planning and time management, I could answer that! I’d like to get at least one book out, preferably two. I have a draft of Book 4 in the series already written, as it was my National Novel Writing Month novel from 2014, and am currently writing Book 3 (again for NaNoWriMo), but it’s quite the mess and needs a lot of revamping. I also have fantasies of drafting a novella detailing the origins of Cat’s magical manuscript from A Man of Character. But we’ll see: sometimes life has other plans, especially since mom and wife are still the two main hats I wear.

7. What’s your secret superpower?

I have a superpower? If anything, it’s my ability to inhale stunning amounts of chocolate. Oh, that’s not something one should want to emulate? I’d say my powers lie in cheering others on in their writing goals. However, my husband just announced my not-so-secret superpower is talking. In his words, “We could call you Sir Talks-A-Lot.” He’s right. Bwah ha ha!

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Learn more about Margaret and her books at http://margaretlocke.com

Summer of Super Short Stories, Week Four

The prompt for SSS Week Four is up at LCP. You can submit stories of up to 350 words at LCP and secure a chance to win a print copy of The Gantean.

This week Margaret Locke is judging.

The lines prompts for the contest come from The Gantean, and this week’s is:

“You have a choice”

Choice is a big theme in The Gantean— choosing one’s destiny, choosing one’s path, choosing what one will and will not believe–so I’m especially looking forward to the entries this week.

The photo prompt is very pretty, too:

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Image credit: Silence by Eddi Van W  flickr CC 2.0
Image has not been altered from its original form.

Seven Questions: Margaret Locke

For the rest of the year I’m hoping to feature one author every month in a seven-question interview–yes, of course, because seven is the most magical number!

The talented Margaret Locke has agreed to be the first interviewee. Her debut novel, A Man of Character, is now available on Amazon. Get it here. I met Margaret on the Interwebs, specifically via the thriving flash fiction community over at Flash Friday, where a wide variety of writers gather each week to write super short stories and cause general mayhem.

But let her introduce herself in her own words:

As a teen, Margaret Locke pledged to write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever.

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person).

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Margaret answers the seven questions:

1) Pitch your book in three sentences:

Thirty-five-year-old bookstore owner Catherine Schreiber must choose between fantasy and reality after discovering the men she’s dating are living versions of fictional characters she created long ago. Her best friend, Eliza James, a romance novel junkie craving her own Happily Ever After, can’t imagine anything better than being able to draft the ideal man, but Cat’s not so sure. Perhaps the perfect fantasy might just be reality, after all.

2) Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

I started out wanting to go the traditional route, mostly to get that brass ring and prove to myself I was good enough. In the fall of 2014, I queried over sixty agents, and got several requests for partial or full manuscripts, but nothing beyond that. Then a smaller e-book only publishing house offered me a contract. I was ecstatic! I was excited! I was…stunned to realize how badly I wanted to hold a paper copy of my book in my hands. Digital just didn’t seem as real to me, somehow.

After talking with a number of writer friends (both indie and traditionally published), and with great encouragement from my husband, I decided to go indie. It suits my personality more. Yes, a part of me still wants that brass ring, but the rest of me is thrilled to have such control over the whole process. I did do what “they” say to do, even if one is indie, and that is I hired a professional, respected editor (the marvelous Tessa Shapcott) and got a fabulous cover designer and text formatter (Joy Lankshear of Lankshear Designs). Because of them, A Man of Character is much stronger than anything I could have done on my own, and I am eternally grateful for their help.

3) I really like the refreshing and different paranormal twist you gave your plot. Do you remember how that idea materialized?

That was actually the element I thought of first! Back in 2011, while on a date with my hubby, I confessed my desire to write romance novels (instead of just dreaming about doing so). His response was, “Go for it!” On the way home, I brainstormed ideas. At one point, I blurted out to him, “What if I wrote a story in which a woman figures out the guys in her life are characters she created years ago?” He said that sounded like an intriguing premise, so I sketched out an outline and started writing. It was as much a surprise to me as anyone else that my first book ended up being a light paranormal chick-lit-esque romance, rather than the Regency historicals I’d always assumed I’d write (and which are still in my future). But I love Cat’s story. I truly do.

4) What’s your favorite historical romance book?

Oh, there are so many. It’s hard to choose just one! Jude Devereaux’s A Knight In Shining Armor was one of the first time-travel romances I read, which hooked me on that subgenre. Lynn Kurland’s Stardust of Yesterday is another great medieval-mixed-with-modern romance. Then there were LaVyrle Spencer’s historicals, written in the 1980s, which I adore.

More recently I’ve fallen in love with Regency England and the fabulous authors who write Regencies, such as Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries, Sarah MacLean, and Julia Quinn. Picking just one of theirs is hard, but I’d have to say I really loved the somewhat tongue-in-cheek nature and wink-wink, nudge-nudge tone of Eloisa James’ latest book, Four Nights With the Duke.

5) What do you think makes a great sentence?

What an intriguing question. For me, I’d say, “lots of words.” Ha ha ha. No, really, I am always trying to cut my sentences down, as I’m rather verbose on the page (as well as in person). Hemingway I am not. The most beautiful sentences to me are those that are sensually evocative—something that gets me to respond emotionally, through beautiful imagery or delicious language. Occasionally, however, a short, succinct sentence can cut through all the verbosity and get to the core of the matter, can’t it?

6) Your top five overused words are:

I should probably consult my critique group and beta readers on this one, but I’d say:

just, even, slightly, apparently, frisson

Frisson’s in there because I managed to use it seven or eight times in an earlier version of A Man of Character. Because it’s a relatively unusual word, it really stuck out to several people. Thankfully, I’ve now axed it down to one. Because, hey, doesn’t every romance need frissons of something running through it?

Also, based on this blog post, I probably should add “really” to the list.

7) What is your next novel about?

Ooh! My next novel, A Matter of Time, features Eliza James, Cat’s best friend/ sidekick in A Man of Character, who deserves her own story, especially given what happens in AMOC. I have a complete first draft under my belt, thanks in part to NaNoWriMo 2013, but now must revise, revise, revise! I do hope to have it out by the fall of 2015, though.

Learn more about A Man of Character:

What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?

Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do…especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.

Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which—or whom—she wants more.

Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances. 

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Special thanks to Margaret for participating in Seven Questions!

She loves to interact with fellow readers and authors. You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke

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Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke