Nancy: My Recipe for a Delicious Romance Series

As Justine announced yesterday, this week we’re discussing recipes of both the edible and readable kind. As I’ve planned and written and moved toward release of my romance series this past year, I’ve put a lot of thought into what I like in a romance series. Here’s my favorite recipe.

Start with an ensemble cast of characters who each bring something good to the party. Use their interconnected lives to lead us from the story of one happy couple to the next, but be sure to let their individual qualities shine, even when it’s not ‘their book’. When done well, you’ll have me pre-ordering the books that finally give my favorite secondary characters their own romance, like the duke in Slightly Dangerous from Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn Saga series.

Add a generous dollop of inside jokes, memories, and friendly bonding opportunities. Make me feel like I’m in on all the fun even if I haven’t read other books the series, but feel free to repeat or build on these fun themes across books, providing fan service for loyal readers. Think the running joke of the terrible music created  by the Smythe-Smith Quartet (with the musician line-up changing for each annual performance) from Julia Quinn’s The Bridgertons series.

Sprinkle in a bit of past HEAs. Show me the couples who got together in past books, still together, still happy, still interacting like they did in the book of their own love story. It shouldn’t be so heavy-handed that having read those other books in the series is a prerequisite to understanding the current book, but it should be enough to tempt me to pick up those other books to find out how the settled couples found their own happy endings together. The books in Anne Stuart’s House of Rohan series always include at least a few of the happy couples, made up of reformed rakes paired with strong women, from previous books. These happy couples guide, advise, and generally annoy the bejesus out of the couple currently struggling toward their own HEA.

Mix all ingredients together into a multi-book series, pair with a good red wine, and serve over a long weekend with nothing to do but read!

And now, an actual recipe… Continue reading

Justine: Recipe Week at Eight Ladies

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Image (c) Shutterstock.

This week, in honor of US Thanksgiving, some of the Eight Ladies will be sharing their favorite recipes…and not just food recipes, either (although there will likely be plenty of that…see below!). Be sure to check in each day to see what sort of goodies we’re revealing!

I started thinking about recipes for the kind of books I like while discussing with Jilly some of my favorite romances. My recipe for a good romance includes competent women and men who DO things for them, plus a dash of community.

In the era of women’s rights and #metoo, I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to writing (and reading) romance. Not that I have anything against competent women who can do for themselves, who know their potential, and who go for what they want. In fact, I AM one of those women, trying to make a career out of writing while raising two kids, taking care of two pets, and managing a household with a husband who travels…a lot.

It means I DO a lot…from helping with homework to shuttling kids around to fixing leaky toilets and installing ceiling fans. And most of the time, when something’s gotta give, it’s me and my work. Sometimes, though, I just want another person to do the shuttling/fixing/installing for me, without me having to write a check.

That’s where my heroes come in…both the ones I read and the ones I write.

Without a doubt, I admire heroines that are self-sufficient, capable women. And I like it when their heroes understand, accept, and especially celebrate that. But in my mind, what better way to show your love for a lady than Continue reading

Michaeline: “Inconceivable”

William Goldman (left) and James Caan in 1976. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

“Inconceivable.”

The creator of The Princess Bride is dead. William Goldman, the writer of the 1973 novel and the screenplay of the 1987 movie, died in his sleep at age 87 Friday morning after a battle with pneumonia and colon cancer, according to the Guardian and National Public Radio (US) reports.

I came to The Princess Bride late, and I don’t like the romance – let me just get that out in front. But as a buddy movie, The Princess Bride is full of fun and adventure. Who can forget old tropes transformed into new tropes? The Dread Pirate Roberts, the Spanish swordman bent on revenge, the Gentle Giant, monsters like Rodents Of Unusual Size, the evil King and his henchmen, the wise wizard and his wife with their own deep backstory, and of course, the love interest: Buttercup. The trophy that symbolizes love – the greatest motivator of all.

“Wuv . . . Twu Wuv . . . wiw follow yoooou . . . fowevaaaah!” as Peter Cook as The Impressive Clergyman says. (YouTube: 11 seconds down memory lane.)

William Goldman was famous for great friendship stories. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was another great. He wrote the screenplay for The Great Waldo Pepper (one of my parents’ favorite movies). And he wrote the screenplay from Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives. Friendship perverted.

So, to mark his passing, let’s add a little of that buddy magic to our writing today. If you are stuck on a NaNo scene, phone a friend. If you are putting butt in the chair for your regularly scheduled WIP engagement, add a playmate to the mix, or bring a bosom companion forward.

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Happy (almost) Friday.  For those of you NaNo-ing this month, we’re more than halfway through which, if all is progressing as it should, means a word count of over 25,000.  Quite an achievement.  Some of us (*cough, cough*) may not have been quite that successful thus far, but sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Speaking of destinations, if California is in your travel plans, you may want to reconsider.  The state is still on fire and the air smokey, even outside my office window,  although the closest fire is over a hundred miles away.  If you know any good rain-dances, maybe now would be the time to give one a try.

I have one more day of work to finish up before kicking off a full week off.  Yay!  Not only will there be Thanksgiving turkey somewhere along the way (and maybe pecan pie if I’m really lucky), but I’m expecting to get a lot of writing done, since I’ll be staying indoors where the air is a little clearer.  Always a bright side.

Before I dive into my current manuscript, I think I’ll start things out by giving today’s story prompt a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: Quiz for Y’all—Now What Do I Do?

I finished my last book. I’ve revised it. It’s done.

Usually when that happens, I get a new idea. For a long time now, like clockwork, when the old book ends, the new one appears. It’s like the Girls were thinking about it while I was concentrating on other things, and when I’m ready, they send up the next demand, er, suggestion. The transition is flawless. The second I type “The End,” I can type “Chapter One.”

Not this time.

This time, I the Girls are on vacation, asleep, or, heaven forbid, dead.

I’ve got nothing.

There are ideas I could pursue, extensions of ideas I’ve already worked on. For example: Continue reading

Elizabeth: Remember the Women

‘W.A.A.C. Every Fit Woman Can Release a Fit Man’, 1918 (c). Image courtesy of National Army Museum.

I’m not sure if it was the recent Veteran’s Day and Armistice Day coverage, the last few books I read, or my new copy of Feminism A to Z, but I’ve been thinking about women’s roles and assumptions people make about them lately

In the mystery I finished reading a few weeks ago (which I’m leaving unnamed so I’m not spoiling the story for anyone), the criminal turned out to be a woman. The evidence pointed to the man, the men investigating the crime were confident it was the man, and it wasn’t until Our Girl made them look more closely that the woman behind the crimes was identified. When the investigator asked Our Girl how she knew, she answered: Continue reading

Jeanne: The Chunky Writing Method

Chunky candy barThis weekend my RWA chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers, hosted Allie Pleiter, inventor of the Chunky Writing Method. The Chunky Method is a way of scheduling your writing time to make yourself more productive, based on how you naturally write–in big chunks or small chunks.

The size of your natural chunk can be determined by how many words you can write on a normal day before you run out of energy/creativity. In the absence of writer’s block or incomplete research, which will stop any writer from moving forward, each writer will still hit a point where they just run out of steam.

Big chunk writers, according to Ms. Pleiter, can write thousands of words before that happens. Small chunk writers run dry after only a few hundred words–or even less.

But, she says, don’t despair. By figuring out which kind of writer you are, you can adjust your writing schedule to make the most of the way you write. Continue reading