René Penn

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What I Learned from Colleen Coble’s The Lightkeeper’s Ball

As I get more dedicated to my writing, I’ve grown more strategic about my reading. I would usually pick up whatever looked interesting, what I was in the mood to read, or what was the “in” book. Though, I must admit, I’ve always been late to the party when it comes to the “in” books. andrew-charney-207202

Now I, usually, try to pick books that I can teach me something. Here’s why I picked The Lightkeeper’s Ball—a historical-romance-mystery-Christian novel by Colleen Coble—and what I learned from it.

Why I chose it.

I confess, I stumbled upon The Lightkeeper’s Ball while looking for a new book by Alyssa Cole. Unfortunately, Cole wasn’t on the shelf. But Coble was nearby–Cole, Coble, alphabetically, you can see how close they were on the library racks.

The cover caught my eye. It shows the back of a woman wearing a beautiful, long ruby-red ballgown, clearly from the early 20th century. Because my historical-romance novel also includes a ball scene and a ball gown, I thought this could be good “research.” I read the book jacket…

What is The Lightkeeper’s Ball about?

Miss Olivia Stewart, a daughter of one of the country’s creme de la creme families, goes from New York to California to discover the truth behind her sister’s alleged suicide. She calls herself Lady Devonworth (her rarely used given title) to hide her identity while she tries to find out if her sister was, in fact, murdered. She suspects that her sister’s handsome, rich fiance has something to do with it, but she can’t fight the attraction she feels toward him. How did her sister die? Was he involved? Will her true identity come forward before she figures out the mystery?

You’ll have to read it yourself to find out. But I can tell you this…

Why the book chose me.

It follows the a stranger comes to town story concept, which is what I am using for my novel. I was curious to know how Coble treated it, and I felt good about how I’ve handled it with my WIP.

The book also includes a double-identity—with Olivia Stewart calling herself Lady Devonworth in this “new world”—a device I use in my book, too. I was curious to see how Coble would unveil the heroine’s true identity.

I also noticed the alternating points-of-view between the heroine and her love interest, the hero. Then I thought about many of the other historical romance books that I’ve read. There’s a pattern; they all have both points-of-view. And what about my WIP, which is also historical romance? Nope, I was not doing it. Major flaw.

What I learned as a writer.

I researched points-of-view for romance novels. Many sources, including this one, cited that it’s common to include both points-of-view from the heroine and her hero. In fact, it’s expected by readers.

This is where I started gnashing teeth.

Three-fourth of my first draft was already written, and it was now seemed about as good as milk toast with my heroine’s singular point-of-view. After teeth-gnashing for two hours, I finally came to terms with the fact that I needed to face this big elephant. But how? Instead of going back and adding in completely new scenes, I decided to adjust some of the previously written scenes to come from the point-of-view of Lord Ethan (my novel’s hero). This will make my rewrite process a little more complicated, but I guess that’s why it’s called “rewrite.” For all new scenes that I hadn’t written yet, I would make sure that I included both points-of-view.

I’m just glad I figured out this big issue now rather than later.

RELATED: Here’s what I learned from Gail Carriger’s novel Soulless.

Have you read anything by Coble, or any other author, that helped give you insight with your own work?