Michaeline: The Lure of the Shiny, the Featherbed of Familiarity


A backless, cushioned writing desk

There are many ways to combine the cozy familiar with the shiny new. Some ways work better for most readers than others. But there’s always going to be someone who says, “Oh! THIS is what I was looking for!” (Wikimedia Commons)

I was catching up on some podcasts and the fun folks at SF Squeecast were talking about shiny vs. familiar. It got me to thinking. Some readers say they like the shiny – the new concepts and the things they’ve never thought about before, while others think that one of the great points of reading in genre is that you get more of the same – if you read space operas, you know you are going to get adventure and space ships and if you read Harlequins, you know you are going to get happy endings after some obstacles.

The problem is that most “shiny” people want new things, but not too new and weird, thank you. And “cozy” people can get bored if something is too familiar.

The shiny/cozy problem shows up in all the arts, and two of this year’s Christmas songs illustrate the spectrum. Continue reading

Kat: My Creative Muse is a Five Year Old Cowgirl

hat4Recently, I’ve had the oddest urge to buy toys. No, I’m not talking about Christmas presents.

The obsession began last April while attending an Arizona writing conference. I saw a pink felt cowgirl hat at a western boot store where 8Lady Justine and I were engaged in retail therapy. It was cute, but nothing exceptional. Still, it called to me. I checked the price. It wasn’t horrible, but it made me wonder why I wanted it at all. It was just a kid’s hat.

I walked away to finalize my boot choice, but it wasn’t long before I was drawn back to the hat. I picked it up and ran my finger around the crown, a dreamy sort of feeling coming over me at the soft touch of the felt. Checked the price tag a second time, put it down, and walked away again. Just before we left the store, I took one last look. I won’t deny it. I wanted that silly little hat, but couldn’t figure out why. It’s not like I could wear it. Plus, I’d be burdened with the thing on the plane ride home.

I left the store without it. Continue reading

Michille: Antigone – My MLA Project

512px-Lytras_nikiforos_antigone_polynicesI finished my classes (and 2 papers) for the semester and am working on the proposal for my MLA project. I am fortunate to have Pamela Regis, Professor of English at McDaniel College, romance scholar, and President of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, as my advisor (although it is just as intimidating as having Jennifer Crusie as my professor for 7 of my courses). My project is a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, minus the live burial. I looked at the structure of fiction through time and the story of Antigone through time and then applied those to contemporary popular fiction standards and the story that I intend to write during the Spring semester, which is set in the fictional town of Bachman’s Run. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Beyond Traditional Romance Novels

Image courtesy of vewgraphic@gmail.com

Image courtesy of vewgraphic@gmail.com

The holidays are in full swing here, with celebrations, shopping, wrapping and cooking, so I was planning to talk about traditions in today’s post (or maybe just post a photo of my dining room table covered in platters of cookies and other treats), but then I came across an interesting article on the Kirkus Reviews website talking about “Love, Romance, Gender and Genre” and changed my mind. Continue reading

Justine: Gratuitous Puppy Pics

My mind hasn’t been on writing lately (writing books or blog posts or even a shopping list). Today, I brought home our new family member, Chewie (short for Chewbacca — big Star Wars fans in this household). He’s an 8 week-old black miniature schnauzer and the cutest little thing!

I think some sharing would help me get my mind back on track. So, without further ado, meet Chewie! Continue reading

Nancy: Linkety-Links to Discounted Books (and Related Swag!)

All I Want for Christmas Part 2

Last week, I told you about my Christmas wish list, which consisted of – oddly enough – books. And then Justine posted this awesome writers’ wish list, so Santa has his work cut out for him this year! This week, for those of you who celebrate a gift-giving holiday and still need to build/add to you own wish list or determine what to buy for a special reader in you life, as well as anyone who just wants to give themselves the gift of more books to read, I have links! Follow the breadcrumbs to these online sites to  find low-cost, discounted, and sometimes even free! books (and at the end of the post, some fun book- and writing-related treats).

Amazon book deals link

Yes, I know, Amazon needs no help selling books or Any of the Things, at this or any other time of the year. But just in case you’ve been so busy you’ve missed it, I didn’t want you to miss out on their 12 Days of Deals, book-style. We’re already on day 5 (egads!), but there are still plenty of days left to snag some great low-cost books in any and all formats.

eBooks only links

This can be a great time of year to try new books and authors for a nominal or even no cost. Continue reading

Jilly: Treats from the Peak

North Lees Hall, the original Thornfield Hall (David Lally via Wikimedia Commons)

North Lees Hall, the original Thornfield Hall (David Lally via Wikimedia Commons)

Are you tempted by our Christmas Week Short Story Challenge? Everyone’s invited, and it’s only a measly five hundred words.

The challenge evolved in the comments to my post Man-Caves & Brainwaves, about the rich and varied history of my home county of Derbyshire and its story potential. The rules (guidelines, really, it’s Christmas and we’re flexible) are simple – write a 500-word short story including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following: Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, Volcano, Ghost. Extra kudos for using more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

I’ll be starting off the challenge next Sunday (21 December). Several of the other Ladies are planning to play, and Michaeline will close the week in style the following Saturday, 27 December.

If you have a little reading time, here are Continue reading