Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Writing Tips #3 - Some Basics

Welcome to the third post in our new feature of writing tips. These posts will now have a regular Tuesday slot on the blog, so if you're a new writer in search of some inspiration, or you're just interested in how writers create their books, this is the place for you.

I was chatting to some new writers recently and I remembered how confusing everything can seem when you're just starting out, so here are the answers to some basic questions that were raised. The answers are for guidance only because there are no hard and fast rules, but this is a good place to start.

How long is a book?
I was asked this question by a new writer recently and it reminded me of the time when I found myself pondering the same kind of basic technical question. Different genres and different publishers have different requirements, but here are some guidelines on length.

A short story is usually 3,000 -15,000 words.
A novella is usually between 15,000 - 45, 000 words.
A novel is 45,000 words and above.

Different kinds of novels have different kinds of lengths. If you're aiming at a specific publisher then check their website to see what length they require. Even if you're not aiming at a specific publisher, checking their submission requirements is a good way to see what length is usual for your kind of book. To find out which publisher websites will be relevant, just look at the publication details at the start of a book in your genre. It will give the name of the publisher and the imprint. It will sometimes give their web address as well.If you're self-publishing, you can write at any length for any genre, but you might still like to know what kind of length is usual.

As a general guide, series romances such as those published by Mills and Boon tend to be about 50,000 words. Historical romances tend to be about 70,000 words. Chick lit is usually 80,000 - 100,000 words. Historical novels are usually longer.

If you can't find out any specific details, then as a rule of thumb, 3 printed pages are usually about 1,000 words so you can work it out by looking at any book in your genre.

How long is a chapter?
Again, this varies. There are no specific rules, but chapters tend to be between 3,000 words and 5,000 words. If you have a lot of very short chapters, see if you can combine them, perhaps by putting a line break between them instead of a new chapter. If your chapters are very long, see if you can split them into two.

My own books vary in length. My Regency romances are about 70,000 words in length. My Jane Austen Heroes' Diaries are about 80,000 words and Dear Mr Darcy is about 110, 000 words. In the end, a book needs to be the length that feels right for that book. If you're not sure whether your book feels right or not, then why not follow Christina's advice and find a writing buddy? For more on this, see Christina's post here . If you're looking for more writing tips, then you can read Fenella's tips on viewpoint here

We hope you find this series useful. If you have any specific writing questions, then leave a comment and we'll try to answer questions in future posts.

Amanda Grange is the author of 25 novels. Her most recent publication is Regency Quintet Summer Edition, which contains 5 Regency romances by a variety of authors.  US  UK  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Writing Tips #2 - Writing Buddies

The best writing tip I can give anyone is to find themselves a writing buddy/critique partner - it's been invaluable to me and I honestly wouldn't be published without the support I received from my writing buddies.

It can take a while to find the right one - and do take your time as it's a partnership that is probably going to last for a long time and it has to work - but if you persevere and connect with exactly the right person, you'll never regret it.

A writing buddy should be at more or less the same level as you (so if, for instance, you're new to writing, she/he should be too) and they have to like your type of book, even if they don't write in the same genre themselves.  I have two critique partners, one of whom writes the same sort of thing as me and one who doesn't, and that's worked out really well too as I get two completely different takes on my stories.

Your WB isn't just there to read through your manuscript when you're finished though.  She/he should be with you every step of the way - someone to brainstorm with, bounce ideas off, try out scenes on, a shoulder to cry on when things don't work out and, most importantly of all, a cheerleader for when things go well.  In short, your WB should be one of your biggest supporters, as you are for them!

This partnership has to be based on trust and respect.  You must like the other person and his/her writing and feel sure that they know what they're talking about when they send you critique, especially as it might sometimes be something you don't really want to hear (even if you can see that it's true).  Our manuscripts are precious and very often we don't see the flaws - that's when we have to trust our WB to see them for us.  Naturally you can disagree, in the nicest possible way.  As the author, you always have the final say and you may have certain reasons for putting in a scene your WB wants you to take out.  At the end of the day, it's a sharing of views, a discussion, which should ultimately make your book the best it can be.

So if you haven't got a writing buddy already - go and find one right now!

Christina x

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Jade Lioness

There are some secondary characters who just cry out for a book of their own and Temperance Marston (the cousin of Midori, heroine of The Gilded Fan) was definitely one of those.  Her story, The Jade Lioness, which is the final part of my Japanese trilogy, is now available as an ebook, with the paperback coming in October.

Set in 17th century Japan, the story features Temperance’s adventures after the end of the English Civil War.  Having heard so much about her cousin’s country of birth, Temperance wants to see it for herself, but she hasn’t quite realised how restricted foreigners are in the exotic empire of Japan. In fact, they don’t get to even set foot on the mainland!

For an impetuous young woman like Temperance, that is intolerable and she takes matters into her own hands.  And that’s when she meets Kazuo …  Here is a short excerpt showing what happens:-

The Jade Lioness, excerpt:-

‘By all the gods, a water sprite in broad daylight!’
The voice, low pitched but strong, carried across the water and made Temperance flip to an upright position instantly while she searched for its source. She found it on a large, flat rock on one side of the bay, where a young man stood gazing at her with an astonished expression that swiftly changed to one of delight. He leaned forward for a better view and Temperance reacted instinctively by covering her chest with her hands and attempting to tread water at the same time. Her insides turned cold with fear and she cast an anxious glance towards the shore where her clothes lay discarded, so near yet impossible to retrieve. She’d been so careful before removing them, making sure she was alone, but now suddenly here was this intruder.
‘Hanarero! Go away,’ she ordered, too shocked to care whether she sounded rude or not.
The young man’s eyebrows rose. ‘You can speak?’
‘Of course I can speak.’ Her Japanese was far from perfect, but she could make herself understood well enough even if the finer nuances of grammar still eluded her. ‘Now leave, please, this is a private bay.’ She had no idea whether it was or not, but the lie was worth a try.
He looked around slowly. ‘I was under the impression that this stretch of the coast was wild, no matter which daimyo owns it. But perhaps it is reserved for water sprites?’
‘Yes, no, I mean … oh, please, just leave.’ Temperance tried to imbue her words with imperious command to hide the fact that she was panicking, but it didn’t have any effect. The young man smiled and shook his head. He seemed very much at ease and Temperance realised it would have been better if she’d kept quiet.
‘If you don’t mind, I think I’ll stay for a while. It’s not every day I come across a water sprite, and one who talks to me no less.’
Was it a trick of the sun, or were his eyes twinkling? Temperance wasn’t sure, but she suspected the latter.
‘Please, won’t you tell me why you are here?’ he continued. ‘Are you the guardian of this bay? Is there something special, perhaps holy, about it, or are you one of the unfortunates who have drowned hereabouts?’
‘I am not a water sprite, as I’m sure you are fully aware. I am a perfectly normal human being and if you are an honourable man, you will turn around and walk away now. I shall dive under the water and when I come up again, I expect you to be gone.’ She turned and did just that, hoping against hope that the man would do as she asked without arguing further.
Having spent her entire life living next to the sea, Temperance was an expert swimmer and could hold her breath for a long time, thus giving the man ample opportunity to leave. When she surfaced at last, she was much further out than before and resolutely stared out to sea for a while to give him even more time to depart. She heard nothing, so she finally turned around to make sure he’d gone. She had to put up a hand against the glare of the sunlight in order to scan the shore and a sigh of relief escaped her when there was no sign of him. The feeling of dread subsided.
‘Phew, that was close,’ she muttered, then gave a little shriek as the man’s head suddenly popped out of the water not three feet away from her. Her heart went into panic mode again.
‘I thought I would join you instead.’ He smiled. ‘That way you don’t have to feel embarrassed.’ He looked pointedly at her hands, which she had raised automatically to shield her near-nakedness from his view.
Temperance stared at him, momentarily lost for words, then scowled fiercely while trying to put some distance between them. ‘How on earth did you reach that conclusion?’
He followed. ‘Well, if we are both without clothes, you are not at a disadvantage.’
‘But you are a man and I’m a …’
‘Female, yes I know.’ He grinned. ‘Surely you have bathed with other people before? Or do water sprites not mix with humans?’
‘For the last time, I’m not a spirit of any kind and no, I am not in the habit of bathing with others, especially not men. Why do you think I’m here in this bay by myself?’
‘I was hoping you would tell me that. If you’re not a magical creature, what pray, are you? And why is your speech so strange?’
The man was staring at her hair now, the silvery blonde strands that floated all around her shimmering in the sunlight even when wet. She noticed him studying her blue eyes with an expression of fascination too. Anger took hold of her, pushing the fear aside temporarily. He was teasing her again, he had to be.
‘I’m a foreigner, as you must know, still trying to master your language, and I am not allowed to mix with your people. We gai-jins have to remain on the island of Dejima and not set foot on Japanese soil. I was desperate for a swim, so I borrowed a rowing boat before first light and made my way here. There, are you satisfied now? I warn you, if you are thinking of reporting me to the authorities, I will not come willingly.’
‘Why would I want to do that?’ His grin broadened. ‘I’m a ronin.’
‘An outlaw? Dear God …’

Christina xx

Buy links:-
Kindle UK
Kindle US

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Writing Tips #1 - Point of View

Here is the first in our series of writing tips, by Fenella J Miller.

Authors often find managing point of view the most difficult thing when writing their debut novel. First of all they must decide if they're going to write in the first person, third person, deep third or as a narrator. I will explain what each of these terms mean.

First person is when you are writing solely from the main character's viewpoint and no other. "I ran my fingers through my hair in the vain hope that it would make me look more casual and less buttoned up."  This is writing in the first person.

"John ran his fingers through his hair in the vain hope it would make him look more casual and less buttoned up."  This is writing from John's view point and writing in the third person.

Nowadays writers tend to use what's called "deep third" which is taking the reader inside the character's head without actually being in the first person. Here is an example. "Gillian caught her foot against a chair leg sending an arc of hot coffee into her face. Not the ideal way to start an important meeting. What the hell was wrong with her today?"

Another way to describe writing as a narrator is to say writing as a 'fly on the wall'. Jane Austen used this method – it distances the reader from the characters as you are looking in at them and not participating in the action. "A pretty girl came into the conference room carrying a brimming mug off coffee. When she caught a foot against a chair leg the coffee shot into her face causing her much embarrassment."

I hope this has given you a reasonable understanding of what is available to a writer. Obviously if you're writing in the first person then you don't have to worry about multi-viewpoints and thus avoid the dreaded 'head hopping'. I prefer to write from both the hero and heroine's point of view, but I never change viewpoint in the middle of a paragraph but at the end of the scene, always indicating this with an asterisk.

In a long book, such as the historical saga, the author might well write from several points of view and, if handled correctly, this adds to the texture and depth of the story. However, the rule is always to indicate when you change viewpoint and never do it in mid sentence or mid paragraph. That said, there are several very well-known writers who joyously bound from head to head and break all the rules and their readers still buy their books in the thousands. I would advise a debut author to stick to the accepted rules until they are sufficiently experienced to start breaking them with impunity.

As to how many points of view you should have in your book that usually depends on the length and the genre. I've never had more than four viewpoints, but that doesn't mean a complex book of several hundred pages couldn't work really well with more. Another way of handling different viewpoints is by writing the book in parts – one from each protagonist. I've also seen this done with each part being written in the first person or one in the first person and the other in third. In the end it's down to you, the writer, to decide what suits your writing style best.

Fenella J Miller

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mr Darcy's Diary goes to Brazil!

One of the things I love most about writing is seeing the way my books spread around the world. They don't all go into translation. Some do, some don't. But when they do, it's wonderful to see them travelling beyond my wildest dreams. When I wrote Mr Darcy's Diary ten years ago, I hoped people would like it but I didn't really have any thoughts beyond that. I thought it would sell for a while and then go out of print, but it seems to become more popular as time goes on. It's now available in a variety of languages, and it is just making its debut in Portuguese with a Brazilian edition.

 It's already on pre-sale from the publisher's beautiful website, where it's rubbing shoulders with books by Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Bronte, and it forms the header for Pedrazul Editora's facebook page. I could not be happier! You can take a look at Pedrazul Editora's website here , but I can't resist sharing some of their beautiful images on the blog.

So if you know anyone who speaks Portuguese, you know where to send them!

Amanda Grange

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Georgette Heyer and the Battle of Waterloo

I’ve been thinking a lot about Georgette Heyer recently as I was lucky enough to attend the unveiling of her Blue Plaque at the start of the month (see an excellent account by Elizabeth Hawksley, below). The talk naturally revolved around her many Regency romances, which feature intricate plots, memorable characters, a lot of humour and meticulous historical research. Perhaps her most famous novel, at least as far as the detailed research goes, is An Infamous Army, which is set against a backdrop of the Battle of Waterloo. With the centenary of Waterloo almost upon us, I wanted to take a look at this wonderful book.

Picture the scene: we are in Brussels in the early summer of 1815. It's full of different nationalities as the allied armies gather to fight against Napoleon. English Society is well represented as many families have rented houses in order to accompany their military menfolk. Lady Barbara Childe, a young widow, is behaving outrageously – so outrageously, in fact, that her brother is in danger of taking the whole family home. But Barbara replies that, if her brother goes home, she will simply stay in Brussels alone. 
This kind of spirited heroine is typical, and one of the reasons Heyer’s books remain so popular. Not for them lamentations and fainting! They are articulate, intelligent and independent women who nevertheless fall in love with their perfect man. Barbara meets her match in the Hon. Charles Audley, who falls in love with her and proposes but, although Babs accepts, she warns him she will make a shocking wife. There is a reason for Babs’s seemingly callous behaviour. She was married to a much older man and she grew to hate him, swearing that she would never again allow a man to possess her. But her love for Charles is real and it survives the terrible Battle of Waterloo, which dominates the second half of the book.

The account of the Battle of Waterloo is vivid and detailed. It's often referred to as the best depiction of the battle in fiction and it's so well researched that it was used for training purposes at Sandhurst, the military academy. It plunges us into the battle, making us feel as if we are there.  We see all the historical events in detail and experience the horror and heroism of this decisive battle. Heyer then takes us beyond the battle so that we witness the aftermath and its effect on the characters.  If you’ve been wondering what the Battle of Waterloo was about then you need look no further for a detailed and well-researched fictional account.

I've only scratched the surface of the book in this blog post. There are a number of subplots, with further romances between some of the minor characters, and the whole thing is wrapped up in Heyer's trademark Regency language. If you haven't read it, and you like a lot of history with your romance, then this is the perfect book to read as we remember the battle, which took place on 18th June, 1815.

Amanda Grange

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Two for Waterloo!

Waterloo is a big deal in British history. European history, really. It marks an end and a beginning, and changed the way Europe looked for a hundred years. So when I was asked to write two novellas to commemorate the event, how could I resist? I read so many stories of bravery and heartbreak in my research for these books, I wanted to do the conflict and the people who took part in it, as much justice as I could.
Samhain asked me to write a novella, so I came up with “It Started At Waterloo.” Waterloo wasn’t all about the soldiers. Heroism off the field was provided in plenty by the surgeons, who learned some revolutionary techniques in treating seriously injured patients. 

It Started At Waterloo
Does she love him enough to let him go?
After three straight days working beside surgeon Will Kennaway to treat the wounded of Waterloo, Amelia Hartwell collapses on the nearest bed to sleep. Surely she can be forgiven for not caring that the warm body sleeping next to hers is Will’s.
Amelia’s status-hungry mother, however, couldn’t be more pleased to have an excuse to get the painfully shy, socially awkward Amelia married off, albeit to a less-than-ultra-rich husband.
Will doesn’t keep his title a deep, dark secret. His little-known earldom simply affords him the financial freedom to focus solely on healing the sick. But now that he has a wife to think about—and to admire, thanks to her unstinting bravery at Waterloo—he reluctantly takes up the mantle of earl to do his duty.
Missing her meaningful work as a nurse, Amelia finds herself floundering in society’s glaring spotlight, wondering if Will regrets being forced to marry. Perhaps it might even be better to give him his freedom, even if doing so will break her heart…
Warning: Steamy, battlefield kisses under a tent canvas lead to steamy scenes in the bedroom.
Coming June 16th from bestselling and award winning historical romance author Lynne Connolly
Preorder and Read an Extract From:





And then there is Dreaming of Waterloo...
Fenella has introduced the concept of the boxed set. I didn’t take the plunge until last year, but a contemporary collection, “The Naughty List,” brought me up to date. The books sell like whoa and damn, so when I was approached to write a story with a Waterloo theme, I was more than ready. Even more so that the authors I’m working with are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friends. Mind you, working on a box set has proved the downfall of not a few friendships, but this one cemented ours.
We all had our separate jobs, and we’ve all done them. As well as presenting a fully written and edited novella, we introduced a new London club to the scene. That was my job. A club for officers who served at Waterloo, called The Incomparables, set up in St. James’s, on the site of a club that had gone bankrupt.
Our heroes are all members, but they have very different backgrounds. I wrote about a soldier nicknamed “Lucky.”
Paul “Lucky” Sherstone was a younger son who inherited his title from his brother, but remained a soldier. After an injury early in his soldiering career, he never sustained another scratch. Men vied to be in his regiment, and Wellington threw him into every difficult encounter, turning him into a lucky mascot for the army.
Not surprisingly, Paul arrives home a complete wreck. Dashingly handsome, a popular commander, but inside he’s feeling the strain. And he arrives home to a wife he barely knows. They married before he left for the army. Now Hetty is used to running her own life, and so she doesn’t exactly wait for Paul with open arms.
I loved writing about this couple, and now I’ve started, I want to do some more! The box set isn’t out yet, but we’ve hit the Amazon.com bestseller lists already, so I’m a bit (a lot!) excited about this one.
Here’s the details. Oh yes, and the set is 99 cents or the local equivalent!
The Incomparables: 6 Heroes of Waterloo and the 6 Ladies They Adore
This limited edition box set includes 6 scorching romances that commemorate the 200th anniversary of the June 18, 1815 Battle of Waterloo.

From the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels to the Battle of Waterloo and beyond, join these six unforgettable heroes as they journey back from the physical and emotional trials of war and discover the passion that thrills the body can also heal the heart. 

Coming June 18th from bestselling and award winning historical romance authors Cerise DeLand, Sabrina York, Suzi Love, Lynne Connolly, Suzanna Medeiros and Dominique Eastwick.

Preorder and read extracts from:

All Romance Ebooks
Our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/736061146513329/

Read more about this steamy collection!

Interlude with a Baron by Cerise DeLand
Emma wants only an interlude with the man she’s adored for years. But Drayton Worth has spent five years riddled with guilt for hurting her—and he’s determined to have more than a few nights in her bed.

Tarnished Honor by Sabrina York
Daniel Sinclair is a broken man with war wounds that are physical and spiritual. He’s weighed down by grief and guilt and tormented by his tarnished honor. When he meets Fia Lennox, a beautiful and brave Highland lass in dire need of his protection, he sees in her his chance for redemption…or utter damnation. Because despite his valiant attempts to resist her, he cannot.

Love After Waterloo by Suzi Love
When Lady Melton and her son join Captain Belling and the last wounded soldiers evacuating from Waterloo to London, she expects clashes with army deserters but doesn’t anticipate how falling in love with the antagonistic captain will change her life.

Dreaming of Waterloo by Lynne Connolly
They called him “Lucky,” but not all injuries are physical ones. Plagued by headaches and living nightmares, Paul, Lord Sherstone returns to London to a wife he doesn’t know and an estate he has to manage. He daren’t let her close, even though he is falling in love with her all over again.
Married and abandoned in a month, Hetty learned to manage a large estate and fend off would-be lovers, but a threat emerges much closer to home and from an unexpected place. In need of help she turns to Paul but since his return he has only shut her out. Refusing to give up on the man she fell in love with five years ago, Hetty has to persuade her husband to let her into his bed—and his heart.
The Captain’s Heart by Suzanna Medeiros
A man who is determined to fulfill his duty at the expense of his own happiness, a woman who wants only one taste of true passion, and a case of mistaken identity. Can Captain Edward Hathaway and Grace Kent overcome the guilt that continues to haunt them both and find true love?

For Love or Revenge by Dominique Eastwick
Captain Roarke Wooldridge is about to find out that sometimes love does heal all wounds.But when his need for revenge collides with desires he never believed he would feel again, will he be able to put aside the scars of Waterloo to embrace his future?

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The benefits of a box-set.

Box sets became popular a couple of years ago and are now produced by most writers. I thought you might be interested in why so many writers are happy to sell several books -sometimes as many as ten - for under £2.
When I discovered you could have three or more titles put into a virtual box set and thus recycle single titles I was delighted. The first three I did were in June 2013 and I sold hundreds, making me believe that this was a new and very lucrative way to increase my royalties.
This is the first box set that I had done, and I have since put up another five – all of them so far Regency. Jane Dixon-Smith is my fabulous cover designer and owe a large part of my success to her covers. I spread the word to all my writer friends and they all did the same thing with equally spectacular results. I think we caught the beginning of a trend because box sets certainly don't sell anything like the numbers they used to. However, as soon as I have three or four single titles I bundle them together and put them up. I'm not sufficiently skilled to put in the contents page, so again Jane does that for me. Readers are getting a bargain and writers are getting extra royalties by recycling titles that have already been published. When trawling for something new to read I discovered a ten author crime box set. This included a title by an unknown to me writer - Diane Capri – this was, I suppose, Lee Child fan fiction as it was about two FBI agents searching for Jack Reacher. As there was an introduction from Lee Child this was obviously with his support and permission. I immediately downloaded the box set because of this book, and then found a couple of other writers that I enjoyed. I've now read all Diane Capri's books. I thought this would also be a good idea for a group of Regency writers – we all have our own fan base but by grouping together we would introduce our own readers to different writers and we should all benefit. So the Regency Quintet was born and now a Summer Edition has been published because the Valentine Edition has done so well. The first edition has been far and away the best seller of all my books and although, Amanda Grange, Elizabeth Bailey, Melinda Hammond, Wendy Soliman and myself did this initially as a promotional and marketing exercise we now view it as an important part of our income. The Summer Edition includes Monica Fairview as Wendy had to drop out.
Although initially we thought of this as a way to add extra shelf life to already published single titles, we now think that perhaps putting new titles in a box set and bringing this out first might be a better way to go. The Christmas Edition of the Regency Quintet box set will therfore have at least two brand-new titles in it. What do you think? Do you buy a multi-author book set because they are such incredible value, or in the hope of finding a couple of gems from writers you don't know? What I do know is that I now look out for multi-author box sets rather than single author. A bit like a pick and mix bag of sweets – there might be something delicious you didn't expect to find. Happy box set hunting. Fenella J Miller

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Georgette Heyer's birthplace gets a blue plaque

On Friday afternoon, I found myself standing outside a late 19th century semi-detached house: 103 Woodside, Wimbledon, together with a small crowd of about fifty people. We were waiting for the unveiling of one of London’s famous blue plaques to commemorate the life and work of the much-loved novelist, Georgette Heyer (1902-1974). She had, in fact, lived in a number of houses in London but this house best fitted the English Heritage criteria: Georgette Heyer had been born there; it had changed very little since 1902; and passers-by could see the plaque from the pavement.
103 Woodside gets ready. The plaque is up behind the red curtains and the press are waiting.
There were four speakers: Professor Martin Daunton from English Heritage; Dr Jennifer Kloester, Georgette Heyer’s biographer; Major General Jeremy Rougier, her nephew; and Susanna, Lady Rougier, her daughter-in-law. Stephen Fry, writer, actor, broadcaster, and appreciative reader of Georgette Heyer, would do the honours, formally pull the cord and reveal the plaque.
The four speakers: l-r: Dr Jennifer Kloester; Stephen Fry; Susanna, Lady Rougier; Major General Jeremy Rougier
Professor Daunton opened the proceedings and began by settling the pronunciation of ‘Heyer’- with so many family members present, he had to get it right. ‘Heyer’ rhymes with ‘mayor’, and ‘Georgette’ is pronounced in the French way with the ‘g’ soft, as in the second ‘g’ in ‘garage’. He then gave us the background of the blue plaque scheme and said that the committee had been delighted to honour Georgette Heyer with a plaque.
Professor Mark Daunton: deputy chairman of the English Heritage Blue Plaque panel
Dr Jennifer Kloester, Georgette Heyer’s biographer, spoke passionately about Georgette Heyer’s career and why her novels are so loved for their wit, intelligence, and historical accuracy, adding that they also show the importance of the social mores of Georgette’s own Edwardian upbringing.
Jennifer Kloester speaks
Susanna, Lady Rougier, talked about Georgette Heyer as a person: a formidable woman, always elegant and stylishly dressed, she could be intimidating. In fact, the first time she met her, she was so terrified that her knees were shaking. Fortunately, Georgette Heyer took to her and Lady Rougier recalled numerous gossipy phone calls, and her kindness and generosity. She said that Georgette Heyer wrote her novels extremely fast, usually in a couple of months – a feat many of us would like to be able to emulate.
Major General Jeremy Rougier, Georgette Heyer’s nephew, spoke amusingly about his aunt. He once asked her why she continued to live in Albany on Piccadilly, an address which, in those pre-double-glazing days, suffered badly from traffic noise. She replied that it was equidistant between her two favourite shops: Fortnum and Mason’s and Harrod’s! 
Stephen Fry speaks
Stephen Fry spoke enthusiastically of Georgette Heyer’s stylish and witty novels. He’d discovered them at school and has loved them ever since. He finds them great comfort reading if ever he’s under the weather. (I was amused to hear that Nigella Lawson is another Heyer fan.) He then pulled the cord and the curtains slid open to reveal the plaque. We all cheered. This was followed by a bit of checking to see if the curtains really had opened.
Just checking!
I’ve always enjoyed behind the scenes stuff, so I hung around to see what happened to the white wooden pelmet with the English Heritage logo and the curtains. When the guests of honour had left, Trevor Ramsay, the English Heritage blue plaque installer, moved in with a ladder and an electric drill. His assistant posed herself at the bottom of the ladder. Trevor climbed up, removed the curtains and the cord and threw them down to his assistant who neatly folded them for use next time. He unscrewed the nails which held the pelmet in place and carefully took it down. He then photographed the plaque for his records and that was that. It took a matter of moments, though he told me afterwards that he’d had trouble getting the plaque up. It was larger than usual – due to ‘Georgette’ being a long name, and positioned high up on the circle - and correspondingly heavy.
Trevor Ramsay does his stuff. Note the folded red curtains – they will be used again
Jenny Haddon, Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson from the Romantic Novelists’ Association had prepared a wonderful spread for us in St Mary’s church hall (the church where Georgette Heyer and Ronald Rougier were married in August 1925). It was good to sit down, eat the delicious sandwiches and cakes, drink our tea, coffee, or champagne and talk to fellow Heyer enthusiasts. I was delighted to meet our very own Amanda Grange and we chatted happily about our favourite scenes and characters.
Amanda Grange and Elizabeth Hawksley. I love Amanda’s elegant green shoes! The church where Georgette Heyer was married can just be glimpsed in the background.
The actor Ric Jerrom gave some splendid readings (the scene where Venetia meets Damerel from Venetia, and the terrific denouement from The Unknown Ajax), and we heard a few more lively reminiscences from Georgette Heyer's friends and relatives.
Friday’s Child
The afternoon ended as we raised our glasses to the ever-green memory of Georgette Heyer. It was an exhilarating occasion and I’m thrilled that Georgette Heyer, who has given so much pleasure to so many people, has been remembered in this way.
The plaque revealed.
For more information on the blue plaque scheme go to: www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/blue-plaques  They have an excellent account of the blue plaque installation for Georgette Heyer.
Elizabeth Hawksley