5 Top Tips For Writing Historical Romance and Getting Published by Valerie Bowman



Valerie Bowman, St Martin’s Press bestselling author of The Irresistible Rogue, The Untamed Earl, The Unforgettable Hero and coming soon The Legendary Lord, shares her top tips for getting published in romance…


1.Join Romance Writers of America. RWA is a nonprofit trade association whose mission is to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and by increasing public awareness of the romance genre. This group taught me everything I know and I’ve made some of my very best friends there. I cannot recommend it enough!  www.RWA.org

2. Read. Read. And read some more. If you aspire to be published in historical romance, read a lot of historical romance, especially the newest historical romance being published. Find debuts and see what sort of stories they’re writing. 

3. Browse the internet. Some of my favorite sites for writers include agent Kristin Nelson’s archived blog http://nelsonagency.com/pub-rants/. It is one of the best sources of information for writers out there. Some other sites I love are: http://writerunboxed.com/, http://pred-ed.com/, and http://queryshark.blogspot.com/. But the fact is there there are hundreds of fantastic sites for writers and they’re all at your fingertips. Find, read, and learn.

4. Did I mention reading? You not only need to read historical romance, but I also highly recommend that you read books on the craft of writing. My favorites include: Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie Wainger, Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, and Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I spent a summer several years back reading every single craft book I could get my hands on. It did wonders for my writing. In addition to reading books, if you can swing it, I highly recommend writing workshops by Michael Hague, Bob Mayer, Margie Lawson, and Donald Maas. 

5. My biggest tip for writing and publishing historical romance, however, is:  sit down and write. There’s no substitute for actually writing the words on the page. In fact, I’d argue that finishing a book is probably more important than how good it is…at least at first. When I started writing, I finished two manuscripts from beginning to end before I did any of the other things I mentioned above. Why? Because i wanted to prove to myself that I had the stick-to-it-ive-ness to actually finish. Don’t let research or perfectionism slow you down, either, just type (or handwrite) and FINISH!

VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her two rascally dogs. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is also the author of the Secret Brides series, starting with Secrets of a Wedding Night, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.

“The story that unfolds is filled with humor, a twisting plot and the vibrant characters that have become Bowman’s hallmark… exactly what readers want.”
−The Washington Post on The Irresistible Rogue

“With its lively plot, heated sexual tension, surprising twists, engaging characters and laugh-out-loud humor, Bowman’s latest is another winner.”
−RT Book Reviews on The Irresistible Rouge

“With a romance novel as good as this one, it’s difficult to accept anything less from other Regency romance novels.”
City Book Review on The Untamed Earl


Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

billyme2.jpgPublished by Penguin 2013, 423 pages, £3.85

3 stars

I’m at my parent’s house, spending some days away from the grinding city. Over the past two weeks I have read a few books; YA fantasy, regency romance, political criticism… all of them fairly intense. It was rainy and I wanted something light and cosy. So I went to my TBR shelf and picked up Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher (married to Tom from McFly- I know I couldn’t help plugging that in, even though it has nothing to do with her writing abilities, but for some reason it made me feel comforted. I am was a total McTween). Anyway, the book did deliver, but don’t expect too much. It was like a fluffy cupcake; sweet, airy, easily digested.

The story follows Sophie May, a regular nice and quiet gal working at a tea-room, in rural Kent.  She also has a tragic past that is revealed in flashbacks. Basically she has put her life on hold, is too scared to take risks and leave her vulnerable mum. Billy Buskin is a famous actor, who used to be a a teen heart-throb but is determined to make his career ‘serious’ now he’s all grown up. He is filming Pride and Prejudice (you’ve guessed it ding ding ding, he’s Mr.Darcy) and becomes a regular at ‘Tea-on-the-hill’.

Its love a first sight. Sophie gets swept up into his mad world of acting, which is full of mean managers and vindictive leading ladies. You really do feel for her when the insecurities, loneliness and paranoia starts to kick in. Then you become interested to see how the couple steer across some rocky problems.

There is something homely about Fletcher’s writing. I think it was probably the British references; Marks and Sparks, lemon drizzle, lippy, cardie… However, there were a lot of cliches that made me cringe, one example being a flamboyant gay character thrown in. Sophie and Billy’s relationship didn’t really feel real. There was no heat or tension developed between them. They were basically ‘going steady’ from day one ( I promise I wasn’t born in the 50s). Billy’s gorgeousness is constantly emphasised, but it wasn’t enough to make the reader fall in love with him. He was like a cute puppy, constantly cheerful and upbeat. There were some swoon moments, but not enough to get your pulse racing.

These lukewarm emotions invade most of the plot. Another sad crisis strikes Sophie at the end, but it just wasn’t sad enough and was something I saw coming.


The Ex Factor by Eva Woods


Published by Harper Collins, 8 Sept 2016, 368 pages,  £7.99

4 stars

I started reading this during the final two days of my trip in Berlin. And I didn’t stop. I was glued to my kindle and didn’t really take any notice of what was going on around me. The usual sweat-faced and back-aching, return journey was a dream… 

Eva Woods’ (aka crime author Claire McGowan) writing is swift, twisty and enticing. Its a hilarious account of four thirty-somethings’ dating life in London. It got me grinning like a loon on holiday, and even more so when my brother thought I was reading ‘A History of The X-factor’ (song contest). Its very suited to Sex and the Citians or those who are general fans of light romance/ chick-lit. And of course its perfect for travel and holiday reading.

Four single friends, who have ties going back to school and Uni, get together and embark on a dating experiment to date each other’s exes. This girl group is the stereotypical Rom-Com assortment: wild-child Marnie who came up with the idea, comfortably single Helen who prefers nights in with her cat, smart and cynical lawyer Ani, and newly divorced and vulnerable Rosa.

It starts off as a ‘why not just grit your teeth and do it because nothing has actually been working and it could be fun’. But of course it spirals into chaos. 

I was a little cautious, because I have found in the past that chick-lit can get a bit too light for me. Little drama and mediocre characters become dull rather than soothing. But no, this book kept bringing in change, making the pace feel very snappy. It had constant switching between four very different POVs, new characters filing in, and changes in the plot. There are also lots of unresolved issues and mystery that keeps tension pulsing. What I liked most was how it dealt with jealousy and insecurity between friends. You know who I’m talking about- the friend who has got it all figured out, or the one who always looks effortlessly fantastic and is so fun and interesting.

So if you want a good laugh and time off with other people’s drama then here is the ticket.

I really don’t want to turn thirty…

Many thanks to Cara from HQ Stories for my review copy xxx


About the Author

Eva Woods lives in London, where she writes and teaches creative writing. She likes wine, pop music, and holidays, and thinks online dating is like the worst board game ever invented.