Author's Forward

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Hello, Wattpad!

I hope you're excited to read my very first Wattpad-exclusive novel: "A Woman of the Sea".

I have always wanted to write a LGBTQA+ historical romance. Always. As a queer woman myself, I love tales that prove that people like me have always existed. We have always been here, and we have always been deserving of love, and we have always been living lives worthy of stories.

And, of course, as a huge Jane Austen/Regency Era nerd, I loved the idea of exploring that world. I've traveled quite a bit in Bath, visiting the landmarks of Austen's life, researching her contemporaries, and learning about the daily lives of not only Austen herself, but of her family and friends - bankers and naval captains, preachers and merchants, spendthrifts and penny-pinchers, wealthy heirs and independent spinsters.

So it's no surprise that when I finally got the chance to sit down and write my historical romance, this is when I chose to set it - smack in the middle of the kind of life female writers would have lead in the early 1800s.  The choice to lead a creativity-driven life for an unmarried woman of the age would have been a hard one. 

Today, most women don't require marriage to ensure financial security and a roof over our heads. We can support ourselves, work our dayjobs, and still fulfill that writerly urge. It doesn't have to be an either/or for us.

Back then, not only was it unseemly for women above the working class to even read novels, but if they wrote they almost always published under a male pseudonym, or, like my beloved Austen, by title. Proving that she was the daughter of a landed gentleman and therefore qualified to write about the loves and lives of the gentry, Austen's debut novel "Sense & Sensibility" listed the author on the title page simply as "A Lady." For her follow up "Pride & Prejudice", the byline read: "By The Author of Sense & Sensibility".

Begun in 2008, "A Woman of the Sea" was originally written to accompany my Masters of Communications & Culture thesis project on the value of women writers, and self-representative characters in fan fiction as a necessary writing exercise and tool for new and developing writers. (Yup, I totally wrote my MA thesis on Mary Sues and why they rock.)

And it gave me a place not only to have lovely romantic historical moments with non-straight characters, but also speak to the role and challenges that writing presented in this era.

This was the third novel I had ever finished. Originally titled "First Impressions" (you Jane Austen fans will get the reference), this was the next book I submitted to my agent after my debut "Triptych". 

I always meant to return to "A Woman of the Sea", but other publishing opportunities arose after "Triptych" was nominated for LAMBDA Literary Awards and named one of the Best Books of 2011. My heroine Jessie Franklin remained in the wings, waiting for her turn. After some back-and-forthing about this book, my first agent decided that my attention was better spent elsewhere.

 I did several more drafts, but ultimately the book was shelved when I moved on to my second agent, and I was offered the chance to expand the series of books that eventually grew into The Accidental Turn Series and then The Skylark's Saga .  (You can read samples of all of the novels in both series here on Wattpad).

Now that both of these series are written complete (at least, on my end!), I was able to dig this beauty out of the pile, blow off the dust, and crack the cover. And you know what? I thought it was pretty solid!

I've spent the last month giving it a spit-shine and a polish, adding several chapters and a whopping total of 30k more words, and I'm pretty proud of this tale.

And you know what, Wattpad? You guys are awesome. There is a fantastic community of writers, readers, and folks who support one another, and I thought that it was about time I joined the ranks for real.

So, I hope you enjoy this tale of romance, culture shock, and writerly indulgences. Please don't hesitate to leave lots of comments, point out what you loved - or maybe didn't! - or ask any questions you may have. I love hearing from readers and am always down to interact with you wonderful people, and make this novel the best version of itself. You can also find this book on GoodReads and track your reading progress there.

Thank you for reading.

--J.M. Frey

www.jmfrey.net

scifrey.tumblr.com

@ scifrey

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The cover of "A Woman of the Sea" is courtesy of Watty-Award winning writer Rodney V. Smith 

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