Looking for an editor to clean up your work?

Welcome! You’ve come to the right place!

I’m EMS Flynn, and I’ve been a copy editor for more than four decades. Are you looking to make sure your fiction, nonfiction, novel, article, or marketing piece is the cleanest and most concise it can be? I can help you.

Over those four decades (and more), I’ve copy edited academic works, financial works, romance novels, literary short stories, high-tech manuals, comic books (well, that one was proofreading, which is very different), and more. I have a wide range of editing experience. Not only that, I’m a published author, so I’ve been on the other side of the process.

Now the numbers game… You’re nervous about having someone edit your work, and I don’t blame you. Check out the testimonials elsewhere (like here at http://emsflynn.com/testimonials/) on my site. I have happy returning customers.

I also offer line editing, which involves actually doing story breakdown (content editing). The price for that differs according to work, so we’d have to discuss that after I see the material. Line editing doesn’t involve grammar or punctuation; it examines structure overall and problems with the story itself. I also offer developmental editing, for varying lengths of work. There’s more, so if you’re looking for an editor with lots of experience who could help you, drop me a line.

Questions? Click here!

The Story Behind the Story: Interstellar Angel by Laura Navarre

It’s been said that there’s a man out there for every woman. But… suppose there were three men out there for a take-charge goddess? How would you write about that? And how would you write about that in a universe where your father is worshipped as a god? That was the challenge Laura Navarre took as she moved from writing dark romances for Harlequin to her new Astral Heat Romance.

What’s the theme behind your story?

I write redemption stories about deeply damaged dark heroes who find salvation through love. I also tend to write books about characters with father issues, and this one has a doozy—a galactic sci-fi heroine whose father is worshipped by billions as a god, which makes her a goddess herself. A fate she’ll kill to escape, because goddesses like Kaia are worshipped in chains.

Laura Navarre had to learn how to write about an erotic relationship between one woman and three men. Writing can be very difficult.

What’s the logline?

In a galactic mating contest where desire is deadly, the only guys she wants are the three she can never trust.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

Interstellar Angel was pretty much inspired by the character of Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens—a dark, broody villain who happens to be the galaxy’s most mesmerizing telepath and sexy as fuck! He was the spark for my telepath hero Ben Nero, who originally aspires to save his dying race by submitting to his planet’s draconian breeding program.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

I’d actually never read a reverse harem romance, or even a menage romance, before I wrote this series. So I was totally bewildered by the fact that I seemed to be writing a book with three heroes. Not to mention the fact that my rebel princess seemed to want all of them…and then they all seemed to want each other… 😊 So I had to learn about male–male romance and the sexual geometry of MMMF as I went along.

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

This story is Star Wars meets reverse harem by way of The Hunger Games. My scourge-of-the-galaxy space pirate Zorin was originally supposed to be the villain, but he was so sexy he became one of my favorite heroes! I’d also never written an age gap romance before, and Zorin in his late but hunky 40s is a lot older than the twenty-something threesome he falls for. There’s also a student–teacher kink, because Zorin was Dex’s mentor way back when, and always off-limits for that reason. Not to mention the fact that in this galactic empire, men are literally crucified for unconventional sexual unions.

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

I actually can’t think of anything I’d change. The Astral Heat Romance series is a total genre pivot for me from traditional historical romance, which I wrote for Harlequin for years, to indie sci-fi reverse harem. I launched Ascendant Press specifically to publish this series, and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all turned out! 

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

Hmmm. Kate Mara as my fiery rebel princess Kaia, Adam Driver as the galaxy’s most powerful telepath Ben Nero, Domhnall Gleeson as my icy imperial enforcer Dex Draven, and Michael Shannon (who played the noble villain General Zod in Man of Steel) is my inspiration for Zorin.

What else do you want readers to know?

Interstellar Angel is a steamy slow-burn MMMF sci-fi reverse harem action romance with plenty of M/F, M/M, and MMF action and the launch book in the quick-release Astral Heat Romance series. It’s a cliffhanger series with sizzling outer-space action, a guaranteed happily-ever-after (eventually), and the hottest thing I’ve ever written. As in, ever! 

The series has won awards in the first two contests I’ve entered. Its most recent win was a second place finish in the Romance Writers of America’s Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal On the Far Side Contest (futuristic category). Renegade Angel, Book 2, releases December 1, 2021, and finished second in the Chesapeake Romance Writers’ Rudy Award (erotic romance category).

Bio

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, Laura Navarre was an award-winning dark historical romance author for Harlequin, while her diabolical twin Nikki Navarre wrote sexy spy romance. In a daring bid to escape a global pandemic, armed only with an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and a professional background in weapons of mass destruction, Laura voyaged through a wormhole to an alternate universe where she crafts turbocharged, epic, hyper-erotic science-fiction romance starring three super-sexy heroes, one seriously kickass heroine, and plenty of sleek, sizzling outer-space action.

Buy link

https://books2read.com/InterstellarAngel

The Story Behind The Story: Confessions of a Domestic Goddess by Deborah Schneider

Sometimes, a writer needs to tear a book down to the studs. Such is the case with Deborah Schneider’s Confessions of a Domestic Goddess. Her new novel was first put together many years ago, but didn’t find a publisher. However, as the market changed again, Deborah thought with a little bit of reno, she could flip her original manuscript into something perfect for today’s audience. Yes, her characters, their motivation, and their conflict needed a coat of paint and a bit of teardown, but the story’s bones — its setting, story, and the romance at its heart — provided the perfect frame for the book’s remodel. Here’s how she did it.

Years ago, more years than I’d like to remember, I wrote a contemporary romance. It was, in fact, chick-lit. Those were breezy, funny books in the tradition of Bridget Jones’ Diary. They were about young professional women trying to manage their careers, their love life, and various life problems. 

I shopped the book around a bit (these were the days when you actually sent out queries through the mail) and didn’t get much interest. I put the book away and wrote other books. 

That book sat in the computer files on my desktop. I thought about it once in a while, and then moved on to write historical romance, some fantasy, steampunk, and gothic romance. 

Deborah Schneider remodeled her manuscript to yield a contemporary romance between a local reality TV hostess on the verge of the big time and the home renovation professional working on her family’s rustic island home.

Then there was suddenly a wave of new books about young professional women trying to manage their careers, their love life, and various life problems. These were funny books and called “rom-coms” after the same type of popular films. 

A lot had changed in the time that book was stored, and it needed work to update it. The characters, motivation, and conflict needed to be changed, but the setting, the story, and most important, the romance were strong enough to stand the test of time.

The theme didn’t need to change, because a career woman who has created a persona that she might not be able to live up to in real life has universal appeal. In fact, now with social media so prevalent in our society, giving friends and acquaintances a highly edited version of our life, the story seems even more relevant. 

The main character, Bailey Holmes, is on the cusp of national fame. Her Pacific Northwest local TV show is going big time with a major new network deal (think something like HGTV), a lucrative sponsorship, and with the new shows centered on her hand-crafted dream wedding, the future looks bright.

That future is shattered when she catches her fiancé cheating on her with a member of her staff. To make things worse, the entire breakup is witnessed and recorded by a woman with the most popular wedding podcast in the country. It doesn’t take long for Bailey to become a nasty meme that goes viral instead of a media darling.

At this point, Bailey Holmes fits the book’s logline: What do you do if your life is a fixer-upper?

At this point our heroine is at a low point in her life, and she decides to take a break and go home for a while. She leaves the big city to visit her family in the San Juan Islands. This is the “point of no return” for her. She’ll have to decide to change her life, to move forward, or lose everything she’s worked so hard to accomplish. 

The San Juan Islands, and especially Orcas Island, have always been some of my favorite places in the Northwest. Spread across the Salish Sea north of Seattle, the islands are filled with nature and wildlife that attract people to the beautiful landscape and slower pace of life. The setting is a huge part of this story, and now is the location for the “Bachelor Bay” series that will include at least three more books.

Because I already had all of the characters, the plot, and the setting, the main things I needed to change were the inciting incident and the motivation for the main characters. Bailey — if I were casting a TV movie of this book, it would star Kat Dennings of 2 Broke Girls as the heroine — has a lot of baggage to deal with, and she has to rebuild her show and her life and tear down the false image she’s created for her fans. 

When her family offers her the opportunity to renovate the rustic family camp on the island, she’s eager to accept the challenge. But she has to deal with a gorgeous, opinionated, take-charge man who aggravates, frustrates, and entices her all at the same time. Max Cumberland is a perfectionist who takes pride in his restoration business. If you’d like to see my inspiration for Max, search online for Cole Monahan, who is a model. 

When these two type-A personalities clash, there’s trouble in paradise. Their sexy sizzle of attraction goes from simmer to steamy, and often boils over on the set of the show. The couple is forced to compromise and work out solutions so they both can succeed.

The rewrite of Confessions of a Domestic Goddess required me to take apart an already finished book and strip it down to the basic storyline, then build it back with more details, expert help from a talented editor (take a bow, Elizabeth Flynn), and the courage to admit when something in the book just wasn’t working. 

The phrase that writers use to describe the elimination of story elements they love but that just don’t work is “Killing your darlings.” It’s been suggested that the more painful the process is, the better the book. For me, being forced to consider the reader’s point of view is important. We don’t write books to keep them in the files, we write books to share the stories.

More important, we can rewrite books to make them better, more relevant, and fun. That’s the most important thing I hope readers take away from Confessions of a Domestic Goddess. This book is sexy, sassy fun! 

Deborah Schneider’s Bio:

Award-winning romance author Deborah Schneider writes western historical and contemporary rom-com romance. Under her pseudonym Sibelle Stone, she writes steampunk and paranormal stories, filled with magic, strange machines, and fantastical creatures. She’s published seven books and a novella. Deborah worked for one of the busiest library systems in the country for over twenty years and was named “Librarian of the Year” by Romance Writers of America. She lives in the Pacific Northwest town known as “Twin Peaks” in the movies and television show. 

Buylink: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HRCFHSM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_W3VQTPY1PKTK0B67G9HA

100 Writing Days of Summer: Join Me in a Summer Writing Program and Heat Up Your Work in Progress

Would you like to be writing a novel or memoir this summer? There is help, camaraderie, and expert inspiration that you can tap into all summer long. It’s a writing program called 100 Writing Days of Summer and I’m very pleased to be one of the participating authors. (You know I edit, but I write, too.)

Folks are at baseball games, they’re visiting restaurants, but most of the writers’ conferences aren’t gathering in person this summer, even though it’s prime writing time. School is out, the days are longer, office hours are shorter, the margaritas are colder. (You do you; I’m an iced coffee writer.) Your office can be on a picnic table in the back yard, on a boat, even in an RV. Have laptop, will travel (and write).

Here’s how it works:

  • It starts June 21 and runs all summer long.
  • A panel of eight established, successful authors (me included!) are all going to share their best ten writing tips, so you can turn a corner on problems you might be facing in your current WIP
  • The Author Panel’s expertise ranges from award winning and bestselling novelists, memoirists, YA authors, children’s book authors, fantasy, and flash fiction
  • Julia Roberts – the organizer – is a creative process expert and coach, and she will be your summer mentor in the Facebook group, on Zoom calls, and in the daily emails. Julia Roberts is also the founder of DecodingCreativity.com, the Write Without the Fight Facebook group & 5-Day Challenge, already taken by thousands of writers since its inception three years ago
  • Each email contains an expert writing tip or writing mindset advice, a picture prompt, and group updates
  • Julia will also host 10 two-hour writing sessions and coaching for anyone in the group who gets stuck or frustrated
  • The pop-up Facebook group will be our own “Conference Room B,” where we can meet other writers, socialize and connect.

100 Writing Days of Summer has all the elements of a writers’ conference, combined with the benefits of coaching and a writing retreat. If you’re stuck yourself, if you know someone who needs the coaching, or if people are asking you how they can get started, joining me, Julia Roberts and the other Authors of the Panel is a great way for any and all to learn, connect, and write!

We’ve got hashtags! You should be able to see what’s going on by checking out #100WDOS or #100WritingDaysofSummer/.

The Story Behind the Story: The Grain Merchant by Zara Altair

Most often, the mystery stories we read are set in a contemporary world, except perhaps in a place we don’t know so well. Their detectives are marked by their similarity to or difference from us. Zara Altair, however, has created a protagonist who lives much longer ago and farther away than mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles or Cabot Cove. How does that sort of hero come to be? How different are his life and the murders he must solve from what is ordinary to us? Zara Altair has built her world in Ostrogoth Italy of 512 CE, with habits, relationships, and politics that are fascinating — and so different from what we know.

What’s the theme behind your story?

Murder and politics in a small town in ancient Italy. 

What’s the logline?

In a small town in Italy in 512 CE, a Roman patrician must solve a murder and quell civil unrest while local politicians plot to stop him. He can trust no one as he tries to discover the murderer. 

Meet Argolicus the Roman patrician who thinks his way to finding a killer.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

I wanted our hero, Argolicus, to stop living with his mother. I moved him to the family’s domus in town, which would pull him back into politics, which he doesn’t like.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

Two major changes happened as I was writing. At the beginning, Argolicus meets a woman whom his mother has set up as his potential bride. I knew that they wouldn’t marry, but as I was writing, she and his best friend fall in love at first sight. That was a surprise. 

As the antagonist and opponents close in, Argolicus’s mixed birth—Roman and Ostrogoth—becomes a big issue. Opponents imply that he is not only the wrong man to save the town, but is conspiring with the Ostrogoth king to destroy Roman tradition. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

Argolicus leaped off the page when I was reading the Variae by Cassiodorus. I was doing background research on Theodoric’s rule in Italy. Argolicus was a real person at the time of Theodoric’s reign in Italy. He is mentioned nine times in Cassiodorus’ Variae (iii 11, iii 12, iii 29, iii 30, iii 33, iv 22, iv 25, iv 29, iv 42) as praefectus urbis of Rome. His childhood and ongoing friendship with Cassiodorus and Ostrogoth neighbor Ebrimuth come from my imagination as well as his retirement in the very southern tip of Italy, the setting for the mystery series.

Argolicus is a learned man who turns detective at the bidding of friends and neighbors who know him as trustworthy, wise, and fair. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the self-restraint of Epictetus, the theology of ArDomhnall Gleesonius, and the empirical insights of Marcus Aurelius, all sharpened to an edge by ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers politics, and digs into the deepest secrets of the human heart.

Proba is a new character created for this book. I have women friends who are geeks. I wanted a strong female character who was good at math. I wanted her to be realistic for her time and culture, but with skills not normally attributed to women at that point in history. She keeps track of her father, the grain merchant’s, transactions, so she is in the culture but with an unusual role. 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

Every writer feels they could do better. We are always learning and improving our craft. Overall, I am pleased with the story. Argolicus makes a new friend, reconsiders his position in society, and, of course, discovers the killer. 

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal? 

Argolicus would be played by Domhnall Gleeson; Nikolaos, his slave tutor, by James McAvoy; Proba, the daughter, by Ashley Rickards; and Ebrimuth, Argolicus’s friend, by Kyle Lowder. 

Bio

Zara Altair writes traditional mysteries set in Ostrogoth Italy featuring Argolicus, the Roman patrician who thinks his way to finding a killer. The Argolicus Mysteries are The Roman Heir, The Used Virgin, The Peach Widow, and The Vellum Scribe, with more on the way. A mystery lover since childhood, she has written about writing for a number of publications, including ProWritingAid and International Thriller Writer, and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She lives in Beaverton, OR, where she reads, walks among trees, and shares space with a cat. She coaches mystery writers at Write A Killer Mystery. To join her mailing list, visit http://bit.ly/ArgolicusReads.

Buy links

Amazon | Kobo | Google Play |iBooks |Barnes & Noble

Story Behind the Story: The Way Home by Eliana West

A letter from the past will change their future… For this story, Eliana West was inspired by a conversation about family history with her sister, and the way these things happen sometimes, the story she wanted to write bloomed right then and there! The result is a delightful novel, providing a happily ever after for two characters whose heritages are echoed in America’s history.

Eliana West says interracial romance isn’t just for Black readers.

What’s the theme behind your story? 

The theme for all of the books in my Heart of Colton series is forgiveness. These are stories about forgiveness, redemption and of course love.

What’s the logline?

A letter from the past will change their future.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

I was talking with my sister about our family history and the story came to me almost fully formed. I also wanted to figure out a way to tell a story about the complex relationships between the descendants of enslaved people and the descendants of those who enslaved them. 

How did the original idea change as you went along?

My hero’s backstory changed quite a bit and new characters that evolved as the story went along, secondary characters that really became crucial to the story. Otherwise, the bones of the story have always stayed the same. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

Taylor Colton is kind of a combination of the Property Brothers and Ben Napier from Hometown on HGTV. For all of his success, he’s pretty insecure. When I had the idea for Taylor, I pictured him as a hero who struggles, not wanting to be the hero at first. For Josephine Martin, I wanted a heroine who worked in tech and a character with a strong will and a big heart. Ada Mae is based on my great aunt, and I drew a lot of inspiration from her personality and life. 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

The first draft of this story was just terrible and I had a point where I didn’t think I could salvage it. I took my time and did a major rewrite and now I’m so pleased with the result. I’m not sure at this point that I would do anything different.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

Oh boy, that’s a good question. Maybe Chris Evans for Taylor Colton, and Jaylen Barron for Josephine Martin.

What else do you want readers to know?

What I’d like readers to know is that interracial romance isn’t just for Black readers. Interracial romance is for any reader; diverse romance is just that diverse. If you haven’t read an interracial romance, give one a try. 

My books may be a challenging story for some people. I write stories that confront some uncomfortable aspects of race and history. But at the end of the day, these are romances, love always wins.  

Bio

Eliana West writes contemporary interracial romance. Her first book, The Way Forward, establishing the Heart of Colton series, was published by Tule Publishing in 2020. When not writing, Eliana can be found exploring the many wineries in Oregon and Washington with her husband, traveling around in Bianca, their vintage Volkswagen Westfalia. She is the founder of Writers for Diversity (https://www.facebook.com/groups/writersfordiversity), a community for writers of all genres, creating diverse characters and worlds. Check out www.elianawest.com

Buy link

https://books2read.com/u/38RpRZ

Story Behind the Story: Denied by Mary Keliikoa

Writers of mysteries have to calculate a lot of odds. What are the chances a clue introduced early will be too big and lead to an unsurprising reveal? What are the probabilities of success for the novel if a secondary character isn’t appealing enough? And there’s always the risk of not walking the line deftly enough between revealing too much information and providing too little information. Mary Keliikoa tackles all in her latest novel, working from a solid framework while adapting new ideas on the fly. 

What’s the theme behind your story? 

The theme is really about how people are not always who we believe them to be. In Denied, Kelly Pruett finds she has a bit of a misperception about her father, and Kelly’s client, after a falling out with her own father, will find some truths about him as well. In fact, thinking about it, the entire book is filled with characters who present differently than who they might be—which is the foundation of a mystery, right?

What’s the logline?

The search for a missing father and the truth puts PI Kelly Pruett into a high-risk game of chance with a killer willing to gamble everything to win. 

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you? 

Mary Keliikoa didn’t change her framework while writing her latest mystery, but left herself room to write by the seat of her pants.

That’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but I’ve always loved the iconic feel of Portland Meadows, which is a horse racing track. It had been around for decades, and I thought the idea of it being a place for pooling lots of different characters around gambling and debt and what we do when we get into trouble around those things, started niggling in my mind. From there, the story just started coming in. What happens if you do have debt, and what other areas in your world will you leverage to get out of it.  

How did the original idea change as you went along?

The original idea really did not change. I knew pretty much from the beginning how I wanted it to go—what the motivations were and the twists. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

Denied is book 2 in a series, so many of the characters were developed in book 1. But as for the character specific to Denied, they tended to show up! For instance, when I was writing the scene where Kelly is checking out Vince’s house to see when he might have last been there, Vince’s girlfriend showed up. I hadn’t necessarily intended for her to show, but she did with all of her characteristics intact. I tend to fall on the side of pantster—writing the story without having a plot set in place—and that is definitely the fun of that. My brain works best when my fingers are moving, and it’s a surprise sometimes just as much for me as my readers when certain people decide they want to join the party.

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

Denied is my favorite of the series, and it’s because it really dives into a subject that I care about—healing relationships with parent and child. There is nothing I would change in the book and I feel that it has a lot of heart.  

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?  

I like Reese Witherspoon for Kelly Pruett, Mark Ruffalo for Jeff, her ex, maybe a younger version of Ellen Burstyn for Arlene, and Chris Hemsworth for Kyle. And Floyd could be played by any lovable basset hound!

What else do you want readers to know?

Just that I think you’ll really enjoy Kelly’s journey. She’s very much trying to make her way in the world as a single mom of a deaf daughter, and stepping outside of her father’s shadow. He was a great investigator, and she is always trying to measure up. But in this book, she has a little help from her sidekick basset hound, Floyd, and her love interest. And she finds out some big truths about what family means. If you enjoy Sue Grafton or Janet Evanovich, I think you’ll enjoy Denied!

Bio

Mary Keliikoa is the author of the Lefty- and Agatha award-nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series and the upcoming Misty Pines mystery series, featuring Sheriff Jax Turner, slated for release in September 2022. Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Music of the ‘60s. A Pacific Northwest native, she has spent a part of her life working around lawyers. Combining her love of the legal scene and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails.

When not in Washington, you can find Mary on the beach in Hawaii where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel, that is.

Buy links

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/denied-9781603817837/9781603817837

B&N:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/denied-mary-keliikoa/1138693315

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/denied-9

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Denied-Mary-Keliikoa-ebook/dp/B08V3G2Z73

Story Behind the Story: Coming Home by Carmen Cook

What’s the theme behind your story?

Friendship and redemption. All my stories seem to have underlying “The family you make” theme, and that’s definitely part of Coming Home as well. But more, it’s about having the ability to recreate yourself, no matter the circumstances.

What’s the logline?

Unexpected Risks. Unconditional Love.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

Coming Home, which brings a music superstar back home to rediscover her roots and love, is the next novel in Carmen Cook’s Sapphire Creek series.

These characters have been lingering with me for a long time — through several other books, but remaining in the background. I’d been thinking about what would get Erin Chase to stop touring and spend some solid time in Sapphire Creek rather than any of her other homes around the world. She needed to be wounded in a way that Sapphire Creek was the only place she would want to be. And then there’s no-nonsense Zach, who has a habit of fixing everything for everyone around him. What in the world would he do with this superstar who doesn’t want to be fixed? With someone who makes their living making music, when he’s hiding the secret that his hearing has been damaged. They’re so similar in some ways, but face life in completely different ways. It’s been fun to play with that part of each of them.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

The subplot of the drugs in the small town of Sapphire Creek starting in book 1, Coming in Hot. I hadn’t really planned on focusing so much on it, but readers really want that plotline to be tied up. They want to know who the villain is, so even though I knew, I needed to start thinking of a way to incorporate that more heavily into the story (which led to a couple of short stories as well, so I could set up the needed characters).

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

Both Erin and Zach were introduced in earlier stories. Erin, specifically, has changed the most because her entire world was flipped on his head after the bus crash made her question everything in her life. That was pretty obvious and external. Zach has changed a little more subtly. Partly because he hasn’t been around the cast of characters as often so everyone is getting to know him again.

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story?

Why or why not? I am pleased with the results. As I mentioned earlier, the path to this story shifted quite a bit, and toss in a global pandemic that threw off my writing schedule, I’m very pleased with how the story shaped up.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

Oh gosh, that’s a hard question. I loosely modeled Erin after Carrie Underwood. For Zach…maybe a scruffed-up Justin Theroux.

What else do you want readers to know?

I do live readings on Instagram each Sunday at 10 am Pacific, featuring excerpts of different authors’ stories. I call it Revenge Garden Readings (or Readings from the Revenge Garden — I go back and forth) and have an IGTV channel featuring these readings. Early on in the pandemic, I was looking for a way to connect with readers and other authors and decided to (virtually) invite everyone to hang out in the garden with me. It’s been so much fun, and I’d love to have everyone join me. You can find me at https://www.instagram.com/carmencook_/

Bio

Carmen Cook grew up in Montana, riding horses and dreaming of life beyond the mountains. As soon as she could, she started traveling, heading across the country for college before backpacking through Europe. She then moved to the Pacific Northwest, where she promptly threw down some pretty deep roots by getting married and having kids. It wasn’t long before her imagination started running away with her and she began to write. Each Sunday she hosts Readings from the Revenge Garden on IGTV. Follow #ReadingsFromTheRevengeGarden to stay up to date on all the readings and featured authors.

Visit www.carmencooknovels.com to sign up for her newsletter to keep in touch.

Buy link

https://books2read.com/u/mgzVyz

Story Behind the Story: The Steel Rose by Nancy Northcott

Historical fiction requires the ability to effectively place wholly made-up characters in a world in a way that gets all the details right. Nancy melds the details of fact and the intricacies of plot with stakes that are relevant today, carefully laying out her series with one well-researched plot point after another. I remember when Nancy, whom I’ve known for literally decades, was just starting to build this series, with her great fandom of Richard III especially evident in its pages.

What’s the theme behind your story? 

I’m never sure how to answer that. I suppose it’s trust. The challenge for both the hero and the heroine is learning to trust their judgment and each other.

What’s the logline?

A wizard’s misplaced trust. A king wrongly blamed for murder. A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name.

The Steel Rose is the second book in The Boar King's Honor trilogy by Nancy Northcott.
The Steel Rose by Nancy Northcott is the second book in The Boar King’s Honor trilogy.

The heroine is a magically Gifted seer, Amelia Mainwaring. One of her ancestors, Edmund Mainwaring, unwittingly helped murder two royal children, the boys known as the Princes in the Tower. He flung himself on the mercy of their uncle, King Richard III, who told him to keep silent because of the political situation. King Richard died at Bosworth Field without ever giving Edmund permission to reveal the truth about the boys’ deaths. 

The Tudors came to power after Bosworth. They blamed King Richard for the boys’ deaths and anything else they could. If Edmund had tried to speak up, he would’ve been executed for treason, and the truth would’ve died with him. Tormented by guilt, he cursed his direct heirs to not rest in life or death until the family cleared the king’s name. Now the souls of his heirs are trapped in a wraith-ridden shadowland after they die. This includes Amelia’s twin brother, Adam. She’s desperate to free his soul.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

Since this is the second book in a trilogy, I was thinking about the structure of the first book. As you know, the first book in a series sets the parameters for those that follow. The first book, The Herald of Day, had two plotlines. One was the hero and heroine’s quest to clear King Richard and break the curse. The other was about their efforts to restore the true timeline after a power-hungry wizard changed England’s history to create a dictatorship of the mageborn.

So I needed a plotline about the blood curse and one that would involve high stakes such as those in the altered timeline of Herald.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

It stayed pretty much the same after the initial plotting session. I’ve been a Ricardian (one who doesn’t believe Richard III was anywhere near as bad as Shakespeare painted him, for those unfamiliar with the term) most of my adult life. I have a pretty good working knowledge of the controversy surrounding the king, so I’ve had the idea for the arc about the blood curse in The Steel Rose for a long time. I also knew I wanted to use a particular magical artifact at some point.

The larger plot, centering on the Battle of Waterloo, did require some adjustment as I read more about the battle. I knew that I wanted Julian, my hero, and Amelia to be involved in the Allied victory, and Napoleon’s return to a France economically devastated by his earlier wars gave me a way to use that magical artifact for something important. The research pushed a fairly amorphous initial idea into a concrete shape.

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

I knew Amelia would be a seer and the hero, Julian Winfield, would be a descendant of one of the characters in The Herald of Day. I also wanted them both to be different from the characters in the prior book. The heroine of Herald is a seer, but she’s untrained and not confident when the story opens. The hero is bitter about the curse hanging over his soul, but he’s comfortable at court or with a blade in his hand.

While Amelia is a seer, she has had years of training in her power and has a fair degree of confidence with it. As she uses it in The Steel Rose, however, it changes, and she must adapt to those changes. She must also figure out how to interpret visions she doesn’t understand.

Julian is a nobleman, but he’s not a Mainwaring and so isn’t cursed. He wants to help Amelia lift the curse, though, because Amelia’s twin brother, Adam, was one of his closest friends. Since they’re researching curses, one of them needed to be bookish, and I chose Julian. He also breeds horses, and leads Britain’s secret network of magically Gifted spies. He’s a book guy but one who packs a punch.

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story?

I’m happy with it. I had a relaxed deadline, and my editor was patient with my recurring need to “check just one more thing” during the revision process. I had time to make the book just as I wanted it.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal? 

For Julian, Luke Thompson, who plays Benedict Bridgerton on the TV series Bridgerton. He’s handsome but seems able to blend with a crowd, as Julian would have to, and he knows how to project thoughtfulness as well as being physically active.

For Amelia, I would choose Elizabeth Olsen. She’s attractive, has an unassuming but confident demeanor, and can project sympathy, thoughtfulness, and courage.

What else do you want readers to know?

I’ve read quite a few Regency romances and am particularly drawn to those featuring Waterloo or its aftermath. I enjoyed the research, and I learned a great deal. I should add that my version of the fate of the Princes in the Tower tweaks history to suit my story. I actually think there’s a very good chance those boys lived into the reign of Henry VII, who followed their uncle Richard on the throne.

Nancy’s “shameless hucksterism” prompted her to point out that The Herald of Day is free starting April 28 and for a couple more days thereafter (whether or not you’re in Kindle Unlimited) to celebrate the release of The Steel Rose. If you’re not reading this on April 28, 2021, just be sure to check the price before you commit!

Bio:

The Steel Rose is the second book in Nancy Northcott's The Boar King's Honor trilogy.
Nancy Northcott, author of The Steel Rose

Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up to become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance.

She has written freelance articles and taught at the college level. Her most popular course was on science fiction, fantasy, and society. She has also given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s Richard III. Reviewers have described her books as melding fantasy, romance, and suspense. Library Journal gave her debut novel, Renegade, a starred review, calling it “genre fiction at its best.”

In addition to the historical fantasy Boar King’s Honor trilogy, Nancy writes the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances, the Arachnid Files romantic suspense novellas, and the Lethal Webs romantic spy adventures. With Jeanne Adams, she co-writes the Outcast Station science fiction mysteries.

Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.

Nancy’s social media links:

www.nancynorthcott.com

Twitter: @NancyNorthcott

Facebook:  https://facebook.com/nancynorthcottauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3468806.Nancy_Northcott

Buy link: readerlinks.com/l/1794929