Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Hearts Through History’s Pitchfest

NWH RF typewriter 2Hearts Through History is pleased to host our first ever Pitchfest. This is a unique and exclusive opportunity for members of the Hearts Through History RWA chapter to pitch blurbs and the first 200 words of unpublished manuscripts to industry professionals.

We welcome editors Erin Molta and Robin Haseltine of Entangled Publishing. Thank you for taking the time to visit Hearts Through History and read our pitches. We hope you will find something you like. Happy Pitch Shopping!


Title: Celestina’s Burning
Genre/Subgenre: Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 100,000

Italia 1492

Celestina DiCapria jumped, the marble bowl of crisp biscotti almost flying out of her hands. The moan of Montanina, the mammoth black bell in the Tower of Boscoli, echoed through the city of Florence. One strike signaled a beheading was to take place in the prison courtyard.

Bong. Two meant a heretic was set to burn in the Palazzo della Signoria.

Bong. The tail end of the sound hung in the air. Three clangs were rare. Three clangs were a call to arms for the youth to rise against a new tyranny.

“Madre mia.” Celestina set the cookie bowl on the bakery counter. “Mother of God, Montanina is calling me.”

In the room behind her there was a thump. She rolled her eyes. Batting a thick rope of dough against the worktable was her grandmother Simona’s way of making a point. “Forget about that bell. Start more biscotti.”

The hairs on Celestina’s arms stood like an army of Cypress trees. She hated it when Simona shouted at her from the back room.

Outside there was a pop. Celestina dashed to the window. A black dress burned on a stake in the center of the street.

Title: This Is Us
Genre/Subgenre: Historical/WWII
Word count of Manuscript: 105,000

Sneaking into an Army Air Force pilot school to take up one of the planes was maybe not the best idea. After all, there was a war on. The place was literally teeming with uniformed men.
It wasn’t Vivian’s idea. She wasn’t even the pilot. Her friend Zanna needed to log more flying hours, and she wanted company in this escapade. So, here they were.

Dressed in men’s flight coveralls and boots, their curls hidden beneath aviator helmets, the women crouched behind a clump of bushes on the side of the barracks, waiting for a clear shot to the flight line.

“We’re gonna have to just try to blend in. Hank’ll be meeting us in five minutes. Besides, we look like regular cadets,” Zanna said. Zanna’s brother Hank, one of the flight instructors, had arranged clearance for their flight with a buddy in the control tower.

“Cadets with boobies and no facial hair. I’m sure that won’t draw any attention at all on a base with hundreds of men,” Vivian said.

“Just look purposeful. Hank will walk us to the flight line, and then we’ll get in a plane and be on our way. Easy-peasy.”

Except this wasn’t like usual.

Title: The House Carpenter
Genre/Subgenre: Historical/Civil War
Word count of Manuscript: 85,000

Lilly Roberre shook her hand free from Gideon’s and turned to watch the train rumble into the Philadelphia Baltimore depot. A whistle screeched. Bells clanged. Soot stung her eyes and made them water. She wiped the wetness away with the sleeve of her best dress, the cream silk she had sewn for her wedding. It would be ruined. But what did she care? He was leaving. There’d be no wedding.

“Please. Forgive me.” Gideon put a hand on her shoulder and brought her around to face him.
She peered up into eyes as gray as the rain clouds above—a farm boy, turned stranger, in his uniform of Union blue. Ignoring the hundreds of people around them, she ran her fingers along his smooth-shaven cheek. The man she loved was the least likely of soldiers—a dreamer, not a fighter—and he was leaving for war and might never come back. She stood on her toes to kiss him one last time.

Their lips joined and melded together. The length of his body pressed against hers, his heart thumping wildly. Longing burned through the layers of cloth separating them. The world stood still, and all her regrets scattered like the smoke rising from the huffing engine.

Title: Tangled Up in You
Genre/Subgenre: American Historical, non-western
Word count of Manuscript: 89,000

Missouri Territory
April 22, 1840

Nothing in Mercy Hallowell’s years with the finest tutors of New Haven, Connecticut, nor her stint in a New Orleans finishing school, had taught her how a woman in danger should navigate the world. A hasty escape from St. Louis, disguised as a young man, a river rat more precisely, had succeeded well enough in daylight, so long as she held at a distance any person who might spy the woman beneath the disguise. Even in the confines of a steamboat under the shadows of night she kept faith in the protection of her disguise. That faith vanished at the thought of entering the warm, dry and entirely masculine domain of the gentlemen’s cabin.

She stared out at the rain, pounding with enough ferocity on the deck to splash her pantaloons though she stood against the wall beneath the ample eave, another reminder of how her luck had run out. Reaching inside her coat, tucking her hand beneath her vest, she dug her fingernails into an itch. The boy’s clothes, allowing her more freedom in movement, were made of cheap fabric that abused her skin. A flash of lightening crossed the night sky, exposing her.

Title: Lord James’ Challenge
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Romance
Word count of Manuscript: 80,000

Lieutenant Lord James Forster stood at attention before the board of inquiry and wished to hell that someone would start a war. Any time now would be fine. In fact, right now would be perfect.

The admirals ranged across the table from him like a line of battleships with all flags flying. They must have been born elderly. Otherwise, they would have had understood what it felt like to make a tiny error from over-exuberance. This dim room fitted them perfectly; it reeked of tradition. He could almost smell the whale oil and pomade from wigs worn in centuries past. The lone sunbeam that had strayed in through the window did nothing to lighten the atmosphere—even the damned dust motes circled the sunbeam in a stately manner.

“Well?” A stern voice rang out from the darkness across the table. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

What the hell. He took a deep breath. “My lords. The fireworks display might have started precipitately. If there had been adequate precautions against fire, there would have been little property damage.”

He spread out his hands in a gesture of appeal. “And it was only a minor consulate, really.”

Title: Dance With Destiny
Genre/Subgenre: American Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 70,000

Susannah Myers pummeled her husband’s shoulders as her lips pressed together in a tight, angry line. “Running off to war and leaving me alone to care for our four little ones is not right. I can’t do this on my own. How will we ever survive? We are only good if we can face our hardships together.”

William took hold of her hands and stilled them. He kissed her callused fingers and then grazed her lips. She stopped fighting him and laid her head on her husband’s broad shoulder, letting her hot tears fall.

“It’ll only be for a few months, Susannah. Summer’s coming on, so it won’t be so hard for you to get by. There are plenty of chickens for food and eggs, I’ve stocked the smoke house with deer, and Jacob can start on the planting, so you’ll have potatoes and fresh vegetables. I have no choice as to whether I stay or go. I have to volunteer. Daniel was out here just the other day to make sure I’d sign up.”

Susannah straightened up and took a deep breath. She moved away from him, trying to distance herself from the feeling of abandonment. To get used to the feeling of abandonment.

Title: Rebel Girl
Genre/Subgenre: YA Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 35,000

“Over here, Red. I’m in need of more drink.”

Kathleen O’Malley turned toward the person who had issued the order, although she didn’t need to. There was only one man in this tavern who thought he owned the place. Owned her. British General Aloysius Broadman.

Kathleen tried to affix a smile on her face before she arrived at General Broadman’s table. And almost got there. As she reached across the table to pour more ale into his mug, he pinched her bottom. She jumped and her aim faltered, spilling ale all over the table, and onto the general’s uniform. She clamped a hand over her mouth and backed away, eyes wide.

“Beggin’ your pardon, General.” She handed him a napkin.

He snapped it from her hands and wiped away the liquid from his front. His beady eyes grew even smaller, reminding her of one of the rats who lived behind the tavern.

“You ignorant Irish lout. You did this on purpose. I’ll tan your backside for it.”

He reached out and grabbed one of her pigtails, pulling her toward him.

Out of nowhere, a tall, handsome man appeared at the table and removed the general’s hand from Kathleen’s hair.

Title: Gold Lust Conspiracy
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Romance
Word count of Manuscript: 106,000

It was a gorgeous day in May, 1880, the kind of day inspiring hope, the kind you can get lost in. It was the first day Jessie Blackstone dared to dream. Love was a dangerous, intriguing illusion dangled in her face, so she was pursuing it. She didn’t deserve it but she had a shot at happiness. She was taking it. Mama, be damned!

Jessie entered the secluded ‘personals’ closet on the steam engine train, did her business and exited to return to her seat.

Swish! Hot outside air assaulted Jessie. The connecting door between cars had opened and closed. Before she could turn to see who entered, rough hands gripped her shoulders. The intruder spun Jessie around, slamming her against the wall. Stunned, Jessie blinked. A gasp caught in her throat. Her heart skipped a beat. She shook her head clearing her vision.

“What in tarnation!”

A burly man in soiled deerskin leaned into Jessie. A wicked grin exposed what was left of rotting teeth.

Yuck! An array of revolting odors assaulted her, the stench of perspiration and something….dried blood and urine? Smothering steamy breath reeked of cheap whiskey and decay. Jessie shivered despite the hot weather.

Title: Stormy Hawkins
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Western
Word count of Manuscript: 67,000


Startled out of his dreamless sleep, Blade Masters jerked his Stetson off his face and stared into the mouth of two cold steel barrels.

“On your feet, mister,” a sultry voice ordered. “Keep your hands where I can see them.”

Blade drew a quick breath of relief. Female bandits plying the Missouri River usually wanted money, not blood. Still, he’d not expected to be robbed at dawn on the windswept prairie.

The rising sun silhouetted his attacker, and he was hit with another surprise. Instead of black petticoats and lacy neck chokers, this brigand wore denims and a faded boy’s shirt. A battered, wide-brimmed leather hat topped braids as red as a St. Louis firepumper.

She held the shotgun steady as he clambered to his feet, took a half step forward and extended his hand. “Name’s Blade, ma’am. I’m looking for the owner of this fine property.”

“And I’m a can–can dancer,” she scoffed. “You bank boys know darn well this is Hawkins Ranch land.” Pride, as well as possession, rang out in her voice.

Quickly, he assessed what she’d just revealed. She was in financial trouble, and the Hawkins Ranch was big.

Title: Silver Sky at Dawn (Silver Sky Ranch Saga #1)
Genre/Subgenre: Western Small Town
Word count of Manuscript: 53,500 words

Lorena Bernhardt is certain of only two things: her cheating husband’s refusal to change his ways and her undying love for her two children. If Lorena and her children can escape their war-zone of a home with their lives, she knows they can survive anything.

Danny Silver Sky’s heart refuses to heal as he lives everyday with the memory of his late wife on the Oregon cattle ranch he built for her. However, when an icy accident brings Lorena crashing into his life, something rekindles in his broken spirit.

Despite resistance from the women and Danny’s life and the constant worry of Lorena’s ex-husband finding her, can Lorena and Danny leave their unwilling pasts behind in hopes of a future together on Silver Sky Ranch?

Title: The Rake Who Wed Me
Genre/Subgenre: Regency
Word count of Manuscript: 50,000

Algernon Saye, Lord Severn, straightened up from his half-lounge on the ottomane couch, for Marrack’s widow was entering the salon. A tight bodice holding her generous bosom drew his eye. It was a dark affair, with lace that lay against flawless skin. Her skirt flowed beneath it, made of some silvery spangled stuff that clung to her slender hips and long legs.

“Delicious armful, eh, Gerry?”

Severn smiled. Viscount Garland, one of his two rakish companions on the couch, was a noted connoisseur of widows.

The other, Baron Blackpool, was more direct. “Hunt over Marrack territory by day and sport in the widow’s bed at night—not a bad prospect.”

While she exchanged greetings with the hostess, the older man on her arm raised his quizzing glass in the direction of the ottomane couch. Severn acknowledged the gentleman’s regard with a nod and was completely ignored.

But not by Mrs. Marrack.

“Careful, Gerry,” Blackpool murmured, “she’s buried one rake already—and Jack Marrack was a nasty piece of work.”

He scarcely heard, for Mad Jack’s widow was coming nearer, the curve of her full lips enhanced by a pair of sparkling gray-blue eyes—and a question wrinkling her delicate brow.


Check back for updates to see which pitches caught the eye of the editors.

Good luck to all who pitched!


Entries #1, #4, #5, #9, #10, & #11 all received requests for FULL manuscripts from three different editors at Entangled Publishing. Partials were requested from the other submissions. Congratulations to all! Here’s hoping for future book deals.


The Role Of Female Authors Throughout History

Remember how you reacted when you found out that poet George Sand was a woman? You were probably in high school and astounded by the revelation. How about Harper Lee? Come on, show of hands. How many of you were misguided into believing the author of To Kill A Mockingbird was a man? Or, more recently, do you remember when J.K. Rowling morphed into Robert Galbraith?

It seems women in the publishing world have been attempting to level the playing field for hundreds of years by creating pen names that are ambiguous. When dime novels—the first form of mass marketed books—came into existence in the 1800s, the playing field was no different. If possible, the odds were stacked even higher, as the topics in these books normally contained tales of swashbuckling heroes, gunslingers, gold miners or explorers, and generally harsh surroundings. Things that refined ladies would never know of, much less be able to write about.

The Dime Novel, or the Penny Dreadful, as these books were referred to in England, were the precursor to today’s paperbacks and e-books. Although these dime novels didn’t have as their primary focus the world of romance, they did set the stage for the romance industry, as they were responsible for introducing reading for pleasure to the masses.

Dime novels in America were rough-and-tumble books, mostly about the Wild West. The plots were sensational and melodramatic, making for great reading among the streets of relatively tame east coast cities.

These books were printed in a four by six inch format, and were about a hundred pages in length, with a die-cut cover image that usually contained a spot of color. And thanks to the advancement of the printing industry at the same time the growth of education in America was happening, the dime novel was able to take advantage of both and become a major force in publishing. They filled a void in American literature for several decades, as the education of the working class created a need for reading material. They were published as frequently as every two weeks, and the characters developed in them often went from one tale to the next. The first known dime novel was written by a woman—Mrs. Ann Stephens—and was entitled “Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter.” Risque, tantalizing reading in 1839, to be sure.

imagesWith millions of dime novels being printed each year, the search for quality authors and stories grew. The fertile imaginations of woman molded from the same cloth as Mrs. Stephens led to the formation of many memorable characters, such as Harry Hawk, the hero in the dime novel I created for my book, The Duplicitous Debutante.The author of the Harry Hawk series is a well-bred young lady, Rosemary Fitzpatrick, who invents the name, F.P. Elliott, to disguise her true identity.

The Duplicitous Debutante is the sixth book in the Amazon best-selling Cotillion Ball series, and will be available from Crimson Romance and through Amazon and other e-book outlets, in the fall of 2014.

Author Bio:

48988_1025007027_4423_nBecky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it present day middle America or on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s. Contemporary and historical romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Contemporary and Historic RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com

Truly a Feminist!

Rest assured, dear friend, that many noteworthy and great sciences and arts have been discovered through the understanding and subtlety of women…  The Book of the City of Ladies by Christina de Pizan

Christine de Pizan and Son

Christine de Pizan and Son

Born in the late 1364 Christina de Pizan is the first woman known female author who made a living by writing. Truly a feminist, she penned love ballads, books supporting and extolling the powers and virtues of women, and a work about Joan of Arc. She was a widow who supported her three children and her mother all by writing about women.

Christine de Pizan was born in Venice in 1364 and moved to Paris in 1368 where she lived with her father, the astrologer to Charles V. She grew up in the French court and in 1379 married Charles V notary and secretary, Etienne du Castel.  The death of Charles V in 1380 her father lost his appointment and soon died. Christine and her husband took on the responsibility of her mother as was customary at that time. In 1389 Etienne passed away leaving her with three children, her mother and no protector.

She turned to her writing as a means of support. Her first writings were ballads written in memory of her husband. Love poems were in fashion at the time so she continued to write them.

In 1396, the earl of Salisbury took Christine’s fifteen year old son, Jean, into his house. While her son was with the earl, Christine started to study the Latin poets and composed roughly fifteen important works, mainly prose between 1399 and 1405.

When the earl passed away in 1400, Jean moved to Philip of Burgundy. Christine wrote about Charles V and his court. Her work included historical and philosophical threads. Jean introduced her to his benefactor and she continued her writing.

In 1405 she wrote her own biography and attracted the attention of Henry IV who asked her to make his court her home. Galeazzo Visconti of Milan also sent her an invitation for residence. She France was her home. She preferred to stay those who favored her, Charles VI, the dukes of Berry and Burgundy, the duchess of Bourbon and others.

La Cite des dames

La Cite des dames

A champion of women, her 1405 work, Dit de la rose, describes members of the order of the rose who vow to defend the honor of women.  Epitre au dieu d’amour, written in 1399, was a defense of women against satirist Jean de Meun. It was the precursor to a long dispute between Jean de Monteuil and Gonthier Col. Christine two books in 1407, La Cite des dames and Le Livre des trois vertus.  During the French civil wars she wrote a Lamentation and Livre de la paix but after the fall of Agincourt she retired to a convent. In 1429 she came out of retirement and wrote a song in honor of Joan of Arc. She died quietly as the age of 66.

Her Cite des dames has many interesting portraits of contemporary life. Her Livre des trois vertus provides details of domestic life in 15th century France that doesn’t appear in any other historical works.

A Historical Writer Goes Contemporary

As a member of Hearts Through History, I usually write historicals set in America.  However, last spring my critique group (which is now more of a plotting/brainstorming group) got the chance to write a series of five novellas, one by each member of the group.  Most of our group writes contemporary, so we decided the novellas would be contemporary.

Our group went on a weekend retreat and did the plotting/brainstorming for all five novellas.  We started out with the premise of five high school friends who went away to college, and were all together New Year’s eve their freshman year in college.  That night they made a list of the qualities they wanted in a man.  Now ten years have passed and things have not gone exactly as they planned.  Now they are together again at New Year’s, where the make a new list and make a pact to each fine a man by next New Year’s, forming The New Year’s Eve Club.

So what’s this got to do with Seduced by History?  I’m wondering if any of you write both historical and contemporary and any problems you might find in switching back and forth.

For me, I found it’s about all the sex when comes to differences in writing historical and contemporary.  Of course there is sexual tension between the hero and heroine in historicals, but usually as I’m writing historicals, I have to keep the hero and heroine from consummating their attraction.  In my historicals I really have to work to make a scenario where there’s an authentic/realistic reason they might sleep together before marriage.  (One of the reasons a marriage of convenience works so well in historicals.)  I discovered I really had to change my mindset for the contemporary – after all, they are consenting adults.

While I’d anticipated this change in mind set (from a writer point of view), one problem that caught me by surprise was communication. I’m so used to writing historicals, that in writing the novella when the hero wanted to arrange a meeting with the heroine, I had the hero leave the heroine a note.  I wasn’t until I was about three quarters through the draft that it occurred to me that they would have cell phones and had constant and instantaneous communications!  And yes, I have a cell phone, but my husband and grew up without them so we really don’t use them all that much, so it took me awhile to think of the phones.  (And yes, I layered in several phone conversations in the novella).

Since I’ve been writing about cowboys and the American west, I made by hero stuntman on a western movie set, to keep the cowboy theme.  My heroine is a teacher looking for a little adventure when she takes a summer job teaching child actors on a western film set.  At the end, I’m glad to say I must have made the transition as our New Year’s Eve Club novellas are doing well. https://www.facebook.com/TheNewYearsEveClub

Now, to switch my mind back about a hundred and fifty years and get back to my historicals.  If you’ve made the transition back and forth, let me know how it went.

Lady Murasaki Shikiba

Lady Murasaki Shikiba

(c. 973 to unknown)

by Anna Kathryn Lanier 


THE TALE OF GENJI, a novel about the life and loves of the fictional “Shining Prince Genji,” is considered the first novel ever written.  Penned more than a thousand years ago, it is even more inspiring to know it was written by a woman in a society who repressed the fairer sex. In fact, we do not even know her real name, because, as a daughter, it was never recorded.  Instead, we celebrate this remarkable woman by her pseudonym, Murasaki Shikibu.  Murasaki is the name of a flower and also the heroine of her novel.  Shikibu means “Bureau of Ceremonial,” the post her father held.