27 8 / 2014

maddie-grove said: When and where is the Worth Saga going to be set? I have some guesses and assumptions--early or mid-Victorian, England and Australia and maybe some other countries--but I was wondering. I love your books, btw, especially The Heiress Effect!

It will start out in England. I’m not committing to a timeline yet. Mid-Victorian, likely between 1850 and 1880, but there are some things that will need to be true and I have to do research to make sure I’ve got the right date.

I do not yet know if the place(s) that this book is set will include Australia at this point. I know for certain that the main action will center around a place that is not Australia. I am not sure if I’m going to give that information up yet because I’m not exactly sure how this is going to play out and it might be a spoiler.

26 8 / 2014

clavisa replied to your post:Any new updates you would be willing to share on The Worth Saga? :)

hahahaha “unmarketable premise” hahaha surely you jest I have bought and will continue buying anything with your name on the cover so write whatever the hell you want (it would be super cool to see you genre-bend though!)

There is a much longer post for a point when I do not have half an hour internet access in a cafe in Christchurch, but the way it works is this: the people who will buy whatever I write, even if it is titled “RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT LAWN ORNAMENTS” are one set. The larger that number of people, the more visibility I can get on a specific title. (Which is good!)

But visibility doesn’t do me any good if nobody else wants to give the story a chance.

At this point, I suspect that about 70-80% of my sales are from people who are just looking for some kind of story who happen on mine and decide to give it a try, and woohoo, I’m glad they did that. But I can definitely see a difference in sales depending on how good I am at adhering to common marketing elements—and the better I am at making a book sound like it has common marketing elements, the more people decide to give it a try.

While I wish I didn’t have to care about marketability, if I have more ideas than I have time to write (and I do), the smart thing is to choose the more marketable idea. That being said, if I am really excited about the less marketable idea I will probably say “fuck it,” because you know what, fuck it.

But I will also think very, very hard about how to present that thing in the most marketable way because in addition to being a person who says “fuck it” to things I am also a person who runs a business and has employees who I want to continue to pay a living wage and all kinds of other things along those lines.

I obviously don’t swing too hard to the other extreme, which you can tell because I am not writing a series of books about rakish dukes where every book has the word “duke” or “duchess” in the title. Although I have been tempted. Briefly.

26 8 / 2014

gonewiddershins said: Any new updates you would be willing to share on The Worth Saga? :)

I’m on vacation right now, which means that technically I am not doing work, but in reality, I’ve been plotting things out. Some things I may have not already disclosed:

(1) The Worth Saga is, on the one hand, a story about the Worth family and the search for Anthony Worth. It is also the story of a family, a loose business affiliation, and another family.

(2) The number of full-length books in the series is greater than four and less than eleven. I do know the exact number; I’m not disclosing it because disclosing the number of books might constitute a spoiler.

(3) In addition to those books, there will also be a handful of novellas. One of the novellas will be part of a novella duology; the other half of the duology will not be written by me. ;) We haven’t yet announced this yet so I’m just going to leave this up as a taunting note, but I’m really excited about this partnership.

(4) I will probably not write the Worth Saga straight through. It’s long enough that I’m going to need to take a break from it to keep myself fresh. The Brothers Sinister (4 books / 3 novellas) was about as long as I could handle without a break, and frankly, I have my doubts about that, too.

So I’ll probably be breaking this up with a few side projects. What might those interim projects be? I don’t know—maybe one of the many projects I have that I’ve written about 5,000-13,000 words on.

* an urban fantasy (not a romance) about vampires in the ER? My agent read the first chapter and said the main character was very unlikeable. YES, YOU’D THINK SO. This is not the ER of TV. It is the ER of…the actual ER of America.
* a novella series set around one of the strangest (real/annual) happenings I’ve ever read about?
* a straight-up historical fantasy (also not a romance) with a dragon?
* a New Adult novel that has an awesome hook, but which I have managed to adulterate with enough elements to make it completely unmarketable.

What will I write? I don’t know! All of these things are VERY EXCITING for me. Who knows what I will do? (You don’t get a vote—I’ll probably do whichever of these things I most want to do/feel like I can best bring to a conclusion.)

(5) A complete throw-away line in the Suffragette Scandal is the code name for Book #2 in the series (at present, this is titled “After the Wedding” but I’m not in love with the title, so that may change). I’m still trying to decide if revealing the code name at this stage is too spoilery.

(6) While every book will be a standalone, and while I always promise to never leave the main characters of a book in a cliffhanger situation, I do not promise to never leave other characters completely safe.

(She says vaguely.)

23 8 / 2014

Anonymous said: On your website the description of the forthcoming Turner Series Boxed Set notes that it will include the shorts "Birthday Gift" and "Out of the Frying Pan." "Birthday Gift" is already on your website (and I've read it!), but will you make "Out of the Frying Pan" similarly available for those of us who already own the entire Turner series? You've been really wonderful with that kind of thing, like when you put the e-book enhancements on your website, which as a devoted fan I really appreciate!

First, everything in the Box Set (and there will be a few additional notes/pictures on Unraveled / Unlocked) will be available on my website, just like last time.

But as to that particular story, it’s already available. http://www.courtneymilan.com/turner/outofthefryingpan.php

23 8 / 2014

Anonymous said: I loved Talk Sweetly to Me! One (extremely) minor question that bugged b/c that's how my obsessive mind works. When Rose drops her bags & breaks the eggs, you say "she had a sneaking suspicion that she and her sister would be having omelets for dinner tonight." Does that mean they'll fish the egg contents from the bag (it's probably safe, but...ew) or is there a "not" missing there?

Well, when you break eggs, they don’t all break all the way. Some of them will crack but still be mostly intact.

So Rose means they’ll take the cracked eggs and make omelets out of them.

19 8 / 2014

clavisa said: I just finished Talk Sweetly, and I'm wondering if I'm misremembering or did there use to be a part of a blurb somewhere saying she'd been corresponding with him as an old white dude? I mean, it was great regardless so I understand if you had to cut for length, just curious!

It wasn’t cut for length; I almost never cut things (or add things) for length at this point because there is nobody out there dictating length to me. It was cut because that story line just didn’t intersect with the rest of the story, and there was no way to tell a coherent story that I liked and still hold onto that element. I held onto it for way too long because the cover copy had it in there, but it just didn’t fit with the rest of the story.

(AND IN FACT: main reason I have not sent newsletter yet—with warning for boring asides—I tried something a little different this time around so I could get a preorder on Barnes & Noble. End result: B&N is not updating feed, and so the old cover copy is still up on B&N despite my requesting the change ages ago. Frustrating on my end. ARGH. But at least they actually appear to be selling the proper book file, which I was afraid they wouldn’t be doing for a very long time.)

14 8 / 2014

Anonymous said: Dear Man, do you think a Man can or should read romantic novels, especially those written by women? It seems from my experience that many men rather disdain things they perceive to be "feminine" or "for women," and if they do do those things, they're certainly not admitting it. Why do they feel that way and what is your opinion on it? --Curious Romance Reader

clavisa:

courtneymilan:

ask-a-man:

Dear Curious,

We all know what romantic novels are: stultifying tales of boring female matters—relationships, friendships, and unrealistic depictions of men as champions. But even a Man as certain of his answers as I am can surely open his mind long enough to slam it shut.

Yes, my readers—I, a Man, read a romantic novel. The novel in question was a modern book, published in 1879. It was entitled “Her World against a Lie: a Romance,” and the author was Florence Marryat. 

Men, having undertaken the reading of this novel myself, I beseech you: Do not under any circumstances read romantic novels.

You are far better off believing that women read romantic novels to sigh over unrealistically handsome, charming depictions of men. By all means, retain your innocence on this front. In fact, stop reading now, because I am about to describe the shocking heart of what lies in women’s breasts.

This book starts off with the character Hephzibah Horton—an unmarried woman of some forty years who shows no wish to correct that state, and indeed, supports herself in style through her writing, and admonishes others with things like: “What else can you expect when you put yourself in the power of a man?”

Now, we are all familiar with the figure of the ludicrous, sad, embittered man-hater, gracing many the pages of a fine novel. But Miss Horton is not ridiculous, nor is she embittered; in fact, she makes the men around her look ridiculous. More importantly, the book itself—centering around the trials of one Mrs. Delia Moray—explains in great detail how women in bad situations (according to the book, almost all marriages)—can get free of them by making use of the legal system. It reads as half fiction/half guide for all oppressed women.

I had expected an optimistic, shiny tale wherein a woman was saved from certain disgrace by a man. Instead, I got a gritty tale of a woman beaten by a drunkard who was saved by other women.

In the end, Miss Horton does marry, as one expects of such a genre—but she retains her own name and chooses a husband she may henpeck.

Even I, an Actual Man, quailed before this romantic novel. All you lesser specimens out there might actually perish.

Men: Take my advice and avoid these at all costs.

Sincerely yours,
Stephen Shaughnessy
Traumatized Man

The story behind this: When I got this ask, I thought, huh, it would be fun to read a romance from the 1880s! So I googled for novels written in that time period and chose this one basically at random. (I have ten billion other things to do but whatevs.)

GUYS. THIS 1879 NOVEL WAS MISANDRY AT ITS BEST AND BITTEREST.

I seriously chose it at random. I will write up a more comprehensive review of this when I don’t have ten bazillion other things to do but yeah.

Apparently the author’s husband was an abusive asshole who did things like try to have her living mother declared dead (!!) so he could grab her pension. She wrote to support her family, and eventually got a separation from her husband.

This book should be subtitled: How to get rid of a husband, A MANUAL WITH CHARTS.

It contains passages like this:

image

Yes, romance novels: giving women unrealistic expectations about men since…oh, wait.

(As a note, this book contains graphic domestic violence and a whole ton of casual racism.)

So, how about a future character who reads or writes a novel like this?

Nobody would believe it.

14 8 / 2014

Anonymous said: Dear Man, do you think a Man can or should read romantic novels, especially those written by women? It seems from my experience that many men rather disdain things they perceive to be "feminine" or "for women," and if they do do those things, they're certainly not admitting it. Why do they feel that way and what is your opinion on it? --Curious Romance Reader

ask-a-man:

Dear Curious,

We all know what romantic novels are: stultifying tales of boring female matters—relationships, friendships, and unrealistic depictions of men as champions. But even a Man as certain of his answers as I am can surely open his mind long enough to slam it shut.

Yes, my readers—I, a Man, read a romantic novel. The novel in question was a modern book, published in 1879. It was entitled “Her World against a Lie: a Romance,” and the author was Florence Marryat. 

Men, having undertaken the reading of this novel myself, I beseech you: Do not under any circumstances read romantic novels.

You are far better off believing that women read romantic novels to sigh over unrealistically handsome, charming depictions of men. By all means, retain your innocence on this front. In fact, stop reading now, because I am about to describe the shocking heart of what lies in women’s breasts.

This book starts off with the character Hephzibah Horton—an unmarried woman of some forty years who shows no wish to correct that state, and indeed, supports herself in style through her writing, and admonishes others with things like: “What else can you expect when you put yourself in the power of a man?”

Now, we are all familiar with the figure of the ludicrous, sad, embittered man-hater, gracing many the pages of a fine novel. But Miss Horton is not ridiculous, nor is she embittered; in fact, she makes the men around her look ridiculous. More importantly, the book itself—centering around the trials of one Mrs. Delia Moray—explains in great detail how women in bad situations (according to the book, almost all marriages)—can get free of them by making use of the legal system. It reads as half fiction/half guide for all oppressed women.

I had expected an optimistic, shiny tale wherein a woman was saved from certain disgrace by a man. Instead, I got a gritty tale of a woman beaten by a drunkard who was saved by other women.

In the end, Miss Horton does marry, as one expects of such a genre—but she retains her own name and chooses a husband she may henpeck.

Even I, an Actual Man, quailed before this romantic novel. All you lesser specimens out there might actually perish.

Men: Take my advice and avoid these at all costs.

Sincerely yours,
Stephen Shaughnessy
Traumatized Man

The story behind this: When I got this ask, I thought, huh, it would be fun to read a romance from the 1880s! So I googled for novels written in that time period and chose this one basically at random. (I have ten billion other things to do but whatevs.)

GUYS. THIS 1879 NOVEL WAS MISANDRY AT ITS BEST AND BITTEREST.

I seriously chose it at random. I will write up a more comprehensive review of this when I don’t have ten bazillion other things to do but yeah.

Apparently the author’s husband was an abusive asshole who did things like try to have her living mother declared dead (!!) so he could grab her pension. She wrote to support her family, and eventually got a separation from her husband.

This book should be subtitled: How to get rid of a husband, A MANUAL WITH CHARTS.

It contains passages like this:

Yes, romance novels: giving women unrealistic expectations about men since…oh, wait.

(As a note, this book contains graphic domestic violence and a whole ton of casual racism.)

11 8 / 2014

hmm … would the additional salt in tears affect the resulting soda bread?

I reduced the salt from 2 tsp (in the below recipe) to 1 tsp. For just this reason! :)

11 8 / 2014

There’s no way for me to mention this in universe, but Stephen’s grandmother’s recipe in today’s Ask a Man was modified from this recipe in the 1843 Southern Planter.

Whew. Now everything is properly attributed and I can rest easily.