Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Last Word – Part One

Recently, I’ve been doing edits for one of my critique partners who sends me the chapters as she writes them. I was reading along merrily getting wrapped up in the story. Then I got to the end of chapter six.
It ended with a bang. Now I was desperate to find out what was going to happen.

Unfortunately, my critique partner hadn’t written it yet so I had to wait until she did, to find out the outcome of the scenario. She didn’t disappoint.
The incident got me thinking about chapter endings and how to end each one of them with that final burst of energy. That last paragraph or line that makes readers lower the book with a momentary sigh, or hastily turn to the next page.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite chapter endings from some authors I love and see if we can discover what techniques they use that demonstrate this really well. 
Be aware that some of these endings might contain some spoilers as to plot points, etc.


1 – Suspense – Mary Lu Tyndall is one of the best I’ve ever read at using this type of bang. The first time I read her “Legacy of the King’s Pirate” series, I could not stop turning pages. Just one more chapter. Just one more chapter. Which is exactly the response you want from readers.

Here’s an example from her novel The Falcon and the Sparrow.
Scraping sounded in the hall. A hollow boot thundered like an approaching storm. Blood iced in Dominique’s veins. The click of the door latch echoed through the room, and in walked Admiral Randal.

Here’s another great end from The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz.
At last they were gone, slipping away into the wall of woods. Invisible, but ever present. Silent. Perhaps deadly.

If that’s not suspenseful I don’t know what is. Chilling, and at the same time, almost poetic.
2 – Foreshadowing This is one of my favorite techniques. Adding a hint of a “something’s not quite right here” is a perfect way to hook a reader, especially at the beginning of a novel. Here’s an example from Julie Lessman’s A Passion Denied.

Brady strode into Eileen and Pete’s apartment and drew in a deep breath for the task ahead. An angel instead of a man. His lips quirked into a sour smile. That would certainly be nice. Especially at a moment like this. His jaw tightened. As if he could qualify. Angels didn’t have his past.

She leaves us hanging, wondering just what Brady’s past is, and why it haunts him so. What a cliffhanger!
3 – Humor A fun device and one that will keep readers turning pages every time. Mary Connealy shines here and always manages to end many of her chapters with a fun LOL line. Here’s an example from Out of Control.

Julia Gilliland was a half-wit, and no amount of Christian charity would change that one speck.
Another example from Melanie Dickerson’s The Healer’s Apprentice.

If, as an apprentice, Rose could impress Frau Geruscha with her skill, she would become the next healer—needed, respected. She could avoid the indignity of marrying someone out of desperation. So she’d never experience love. Most married people didn’t, either.

Sarcastic humor, mixed with what was, in the era, truth.
4 - Internal Monologue – Ending a chapter with a characters thoughts is one of the best and most popular techniques. One of my favorite examples comes from Julie Klassen’s The Silent Governess.

Slowly I became aware of their hooded looks, their unconscious shrinking back from us. Now they would believe the traveler’s accusation that my ability had been a trick all along. All their applause and ale and wagers accepted dishonestly. In his eyes—in theirs—they had all been made fools by us. By me. By my silence.

These are just a few examples of ways to hook your readers with chapter endings. Next week I will continue this with even more techniques and examples that will keep your readers turning pages. So stayed tuned!!

Happy Writing,


Now it’s your turn. Share one scene or chapter ending from either your own novel or one you’ve read recently and we’ll chat up and comment about chapter endings. What worked for you and what didn’t?

***GIVEWAY – I’m giving away a copy of Chameleon, by Jillian Kent. A stellar Regency romantic mystery with a lot of great chapter endings too. Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing and I’ll announce the winner in next week’s blog post. Don’t forget to leave your email!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Difference Between His Grace and M’lord - The Peerage

Almost every historical romance set in England features at least one member of nobility. This is someone who has a title in front of their name and usually a mansion in Yorkshire (or some other shire) and, of course, several dozen servants. These titled nobility are every London debutantes ideal for a prospective marriage partner.

But what exactly are dukes, earls, marquesses, viscounts, barons, and baronets? And if your heroine is planning a dinner party, who sits next to whom?

To find out let’s don our Regency gowns and bonnets and step into a London ballroom. See the candelabras and hear the orchestra playing a lively reel? Allow me, the Duchess of Stratfordshire (a girl can dream, can’t she?) to introduce you to several of our distinguished guests.
First on the list, my husband, the Duke of Stratfordshire, the highest ranking gentleman in the room. I did quite well for myself didn’t I, seeing as there are only twenty seven dukes in existence at any given time? As you’ve probably guessed, the duke’s wife is called a duchess. Both are formally referred to as “Your Grace.” Our eldest son uses one of His Grace’s subsidiary titles, in this instance, the Viscount of Manchestershire and if he were to have an eldest son, he would be given a different subsidiary title. Alas, our other children only have “Lord” or “Lady” in front of their names, such as Lady Adriana.

Shall we move on? There are still introductions to be made. Say ‘how do you do’ to the Marquess of Flintshire. Unfortunately, he is a great leap down the peerage from the duke, but still quite eligible and worth a sizable fortune. He is formally addressed as Lord Flintshire and when he weds, his wife will become a marchioness, known as Lady Flintshire. Their children’s titles will be the same as a duke’s children.

Ah, there is the Earl of Cummings. Earls are the bread and butter of the peerage, numbering in the hundreds. The earl’s wife is called a countess and addressed as Lady Cummings. Their elder son uses a subsidiary title and their younger sons are addressed as merely “Honorable” Their daughters are addressed as “Lady” before their given names, for example the charming Lady Annabelle who just waved to me from across the room.
Let’s continue on and meet the Viscount of Summershire. A relatively new title, sometimes awarded for success in politics. The viscount’s wife is a viscountess and addressed as “Lady Summershire.” Their eldest son uses a subsidiary title and the rest of their children are merely “Honorables.”

Last, but not least, is the Baron of Huntington. Although he is the lowest ranking peer, he is still quite charming I can assure you. He’s always referred to and addressed as “Lord” and his wife is a baroness. All children are simply “Honorables.” There are no subsidiary titles, since no lower rank exists.
You really want to meet a mere “sir”? Very well, here is Sir Anthony Lansdowne. He is only a baronet, a hereditary title. He is addressed as Sir Anthony, never Sir Lansdowne. His wife is Lady Lansdowne and their children have no titles. See young Mr. Lansdowne partnering Lady Annabelle. They make a charming couple, do they not?

There you have it. That’s the aristocracy for you. Dukes, earls, marquesses, viscounts, barons, and baronets. I hope you’ve enjoyed our ball.

And now, I fear I must away. I have to make sure our butler has everything under control for the dinner later this evening. Au revoir!

-Amanda (aka Duchess of Stratfordshire, or you can call me "Your Grace")
Here I am with Lady Annabelle, who although terrible shy, agreed to pose for this photo. Isn't my gown lovely?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Blog Shake Up!

I’ve decided to balance out my blog posts and make some of them less focused on writing and more on history, since I write historical romance. I believe this new focus will be of interest to those who, in the future, may read my novels and want more information about the eras I write in. I’m planning on featuring two posts about the writing craft and two posts on history every month. So it will be a different selection every other week. Some topics in store are:

Edwardian Era Recipes

An Evening at Downton Abbey

Upstairs and Down – The Role of Servants

The Difference Between His Grace and M’Lord –The Peerage

The Delights of the Season

These are only a few of the fun posts I have in store, as I venture into a new chapter in my blogging. If any of you have topics you would like to see me cover or that you are interested in from the Regency and Victorian eras, just let me know. I look forward to this new experiment and hope you all enjoy the change!

Next week, we’ll feature our first history related post.

Until then!
Happy Writing,


P.S. Isn’t that picture gorgeous? I love the flounces on the her blouse. Oh, to be able to dress like that everyday! J