Emails have been on several loops recently about the release of Barbara Cartland’s 160 unpublished manuscripts that will be released in paperback and as e-books. This is the paragraph most quoted by emailers:
“Cartland was one of the most prolific novelists of the 20th century, publishing 723 books before her death at the age of 97. She also left behind 160 unpublished manuscripts. The Eternal Collection will be made up of dozens of her classic romance novels, while the Pink Collection will include more than 100 of the unseen books. M-Y Books has worked with Cartland’s son Ian McCorquodale to release the new material.”
The article can be seen here:
I remember the first time I read one of her sweet regency romances. It was in the 1980’s. I had a husband and four children, was writing, directing the Blue Ridge Conference, working as a desk clerk at a resort (with lots of free time to write and study), and taking one Master’s Degree course at a time. My life was full. The graduate courses were tough on my brain, heavy reading, so when I had a spare moment, I wanted something light to read. I discovered Barbara Cartland books.
These were delightful stories and I didn’t have to tax my brain but just relax and enjoy. They were my escape into treating myself with light entertainment.
I began to think there should be romances written by Christians who included a faith element. I don’t know how the subject came up but that began to be discussed by the editors at Blue Ridge. David C. Cook decided to publish six Inspirational Romances and I was ready. My first was A Whole New World.
Soon afterwards, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson began published Inspirationals. I don’t know the statistics, but the popularity of inspirational romance novels is obvious. For thirty years I’ve published in several genres, but my IR’s have been published by David C. Cook, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Guideposts, Barbour, and now Harlequin Heartsong.
My beginning (training) for those began with my reading Barbara Cartland novels for pleasure.
One person jokingly (I assume, since she included a smiley face) said that Cartland had written about every storyline imaginable.
Probably true. But it also reminds me of a conversation I recently had with my son. I mentioned the plot of finding a letter in a secret compartment of a desk. He said, “That’s been done.”
I said, “Yes, so has everything else.”
Even a long time ago, Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (1:9 – NLT)
So what hope is there for us writers?
Think of all the romances, mysteries, suspense, etc. out there. Romance ends with the hero and heroine getting together in the end, but what and where and when and how and why in between their meeting and getting together is where the originality and creativity come in.
Reminds me of questions that tourists often ask about these mountains. “Do you just take them for granted since you see them every day?” The answer is, “No.” They’re different each day. With four seasons, there’s always change in the mountains, in the sky, even the time that light appears or how soon it gets dark. There’s a sameness in a way, and yet every day offers a new and difference scene.
Our stories are that way. There’s a sameness and a certain formula to writing in most genres, such as romance, mystery, suspense, etc. and yet each is different because we bring to our stories our own set of skills, originality, and creativity.
There’s room for each and all of us.