fish head.jpg

Not a very savory title for a blog, but that's what's on my mind today.

Went to the Romance Writers of America's national conference in July in Atlanta, and as usual, they loaded us up with the newest wave of romances to hit the officially published hit list. To be honest, most historical romances are set in the Regency (early 1800s, Napoleonic wars, oppressive society, etc.). Romances set in other time periods come in a distant everything

It's hard for me to understand the draw of stories which frequently star a duke as the hero. There weren't that many dukes in England, but just about every second historical romance features one (we're talking hundreds here). Duke dizziness aside, add to that a closed society where everything women said, did, or thought, was subjected to scrutiny.

Lately, there have been a lot of Regency-set novels where women get away with murder, literally, and still snag a duke. Go figure. I'm thinking these chicks would never be allowed to swan through a Jane Austen novel, but that's just me.

Sooo, the one novel I've managed to finish since I came back from the conference (I do have to spend time writing too :-) - is great. It is set in the Regency, but there are spies. I'm always a sucker for spies. The story is is a page-turner - AFTER Page 61.

Before Page 61, I was befuddled. Couldn't figure out where all the house party hemming and hawing, flirting, hateful stares, etc., etc. was going.

This, my friends, is what we in the business call "Fishhead."  I once took a course from a published writer who said to take your finished MS, lay it all out on the floor and then take the first 50 pages and hide them. If the plot still makes sense, then just lose those first 50. Hah!

So, now, I'm wondering. Why would such a fine, published author leave fishhead in her tale of romance? This is not her first rodeo, and she has been one of my top favorites over the years.

Of course, I have no idea how the editing process works with the powers that be in the New York charmed publishing circle. If anyone knows, email me and I'll send you a free romance novel of your choice, and I'll share your insights here.

I admit I don't really know, but I do have some suspicions. The name of the game now seems to be to crank out 3-4 novels a year. Sometimes these poor authors have several series going at once, so that number could even be 6-8. Fishhead is the least of their worries.

My all-time favorite author produces one finely crafted gem every other year. Spies galore, and fishhead is not in her vocabulary.