Teryl Cartwright is a relatively new author having written one other romance novel and two plays along with news articles and childrens curriculum. Teryl states on her website that it is important for her to write about what she knows—relationships, family and faith. This way even though the story and characters were fictional, many of the emotions and thoughts were not.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the author and will be giving it away here on my blog. I also asked Teryl if she would answer a few questions and she was glad to oblige.
SBR: When and Why did you begin writing?
TC: I’ve been writing on and off since third grade, but only got serious about writing novels in 2002. A friend had convinced me to try the online National Novel Writing in a Month Contest and that book was the first completed novel I had ever done. (It also turned out to be my first published novel, A Sensible Match, after many, many edits!)
I had written short stories, articles, plays and such before that, but there is such a difference to hold a complete book, imperfect as it was. Over the years I had so many half done books sitting around and I found out that I needed to actually finish a book in order to go to the next steps of editing and sending it out.
I began writing to have some control over my life. I mean, I always think of the perfect thing to say or do in real life after the fact, so for me, it’s great that in a story, the characters can do and say what I want, when I want. It is such a wonderful outlet for my imagination too. I get paid for daydreaming or making movies in my head. Ironically when I write, sometimes the words and story come out so differently than when I started that I am the one surprised as if I’m the reader. So the reason I started to write, to have more control, is actually not the end result.
SBR: If you had to choose, what writer would you consider a mentor?
TC: I haven’t met too many other writers yet, so my mentoring has come through the words in other authors’ books. I should also explain that mentors to me are the cheerleaders of our lives. They don’t criticize, coach or edit, they just get you excited to keep working on your stuff. If I had to choose, my mentor then is a nonfiction writer named Roger Von Oech. He writes about how to be creative. If I need to get a different perspective on my writing, if I have writer’s block or if I have a sudden lack of confidence, I dive into his books, A Whack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants. The titles say more than I can! Don’t get me wrong, I need critics, coaches and editors too, but I get inspired by those writers and their books after I have a first draft done, not before.
SBR: What book(s) are on your nightstand?
TC: M.C. Beaton’s Death of A Witch, Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion and Talisman Ring and Scottish Customs by Margaret Bennett are all currently stacked on the nightstand.
SBR: Do you have a favorite author?
TC: Georgette Heyer and Louis L’Amour are my favorite historical fiction writers. They pay attention to the time period and make it a character of the story without overshadowing it. I just can’t read authors that put every single research detail into their books because I want to get to the story. And these two also really know story and pacing–and have a sense of humor.
I’ll just share an inside joke in Courting Constance—two characters’ names are tributes to my favorite authors—Harriet Guyer (the quiet girl) is named after the more wordy Georgette Heyer while man hungry Marianne Beaton is a fun accolade to M.C. Beaton, who always has several of those desperate women chasing after her hero, Hamish MacBeth, in her books.
SBR: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Courting Constance?
TC: I wish I could have also added another “flashback” to the beginning of the courtship and I might have added a scene with Edwin (Abby’s husband) and Geoffrey talking about the sisters they love, Abby and Constance respectively. I also think it would have been fun to have Constance try one or two more things—but I felt it would be padding the story and bog it down. I call Courting Constance my “kitchen sink” book because I threw in about everything but the kitchen sink. You might not think that a writer can read a story she’s written and feel surprised, but I can still leaf through pages and have something jump out at me that I forgot I put in or find something new to laugh at. Basically, I’m pretty happy with the book though and even the small changes the editor wanted are starting to grow on me.
SBR: What are you working on for your next novel?
TC: I would love to do a Scottish novel set in the same time frame (early 1800s) as Courting Constance and A Sensible Match. There was so much happening in Scotland then in terms of advancements (culturally and technologically) and in light of events such as the Highland Clearances. The problem is that research resources seem much more limited than those for Regency England. I understand now why Highland romances are generally set in Medieval times, because it’s so much harder to find references for the time I want to research. Until I can find what I need, I am working on books in other genres such as western and sci-fi. But I will write a Scottish romance soon–even if the first one can’t be the one I want to do right now.
Thank you so much for letting me share some thoughts and time together with you! Teryl Cartwright
Book Synopsis & Review:
Courting Constance is a historical romance novel. Constance was engaged to Geoffrey but he called off the engagement after seeing her flirt with another man just weeks before the wedding. Constance decides that she wants him back and follows him to Bath in order to court him secretly. She isn’t going to do it with flowers and candy as most men would do to court women, instead she decides to use music and food. What follows can be described as a comedy of errors or as the author shared the tagline with me – If you had to win a guy in 10 days in Regency England, how would you do it?
I will admit that I’m not usually a huge historical romance fan but Courting Constance had me chuckling from the first chapter. Between her antics in trying to court Geoffrey and Geoffrey trying to get revenge on Constance for the flirting had me in stitches. Constance is definitely a “modern” woman for her time and isn’t afraid to go for what she wants in life. And what makes the story more comical is when society thinks that she is courting Geoffrey’s best friend (and next door neighbor) Lord Robert Fenway…who wants to help Geoffrey but has also taken a liking to Harriet.
Oh what a tangled web Constance weaves in the name of love! But along the way she realizes that sometimes you have to let love go so that others can be happy. However, even this realization causes problems for headstrong Constance. In the end she learns to open her ears and close her mouth and listen.
I definitely recommend this book and give it 4 stars. Next time you are in the mood for a little historical romance, pick up this book, you won’t be disappointed.
I am giving away the copy of this book that Teryl sent me. The contest is open to all US and Canadian residents. Just leave a comment and I will draw a name on September 11th.