This past weekend, I got to do one of my favorite writing things. I joined good friends (all writers, go figure) and had a writing retreat: two and a half days of working on my own stories, hearing about others’ work, sharing story (books, movies) recommendations, and discussing the ever-evolving publishing industry. Now all we need are house elves to deliver coffee and wine chairside, and we’ll have perfected the art of the writers’ retreat.
In the early days of the 8LW blog, I talked about my writing retreats with this particular group of writing friends. A few years later, I was lucky enough to gather with the other Eight Ladies in Arizona for a retreat of our own, which inspired me to share my top five favorite things about these outings (spoiler alert: number one on my list is bonding with fab friends). Now it’s 2017, time for our bi-annual reminder that writing retreats are an awesome thing, and if you are a writer as well as a joiner of any kind, getting out of your writing cave and spending time around real, live people might just be the thing to kick-start your creativity and reconnect you to the joy of writing.
Have you ever seen the columns in entertainment magazines where they show two celebrities caught at different events wearing (gasp!) the same outfit? The column writer typically opines about who wore it better and why. A quick google search showed that these columns do, in fact, exist in the digital world, opening up the floor for everyone with a keyboard and an opinion to weigh in on the matter.
We humans love our comparisons. Remember compare and contrast writing exercises in elementary school? Comparative Literature? Ever been given the advice to pitch your book by comparing it others already out in the marketplace?
Recently, I recalled a high school lit project that required us to pick a topic from a list of maybe 10, develop a thesis around it, and use the books we’d read by that point in the course to support it. I chose to write about whether classic books or movies made from classic books were better. (Spoiler alert: It was a literature class. This one came with a built-in answer, especially if you liked getting A’s as much as I did.) So, yes, using two classics, A Tale of Two Cities and Wuthering Heights – both books I loved in high school, by the way – I came to the astonishing conclusion that the books did a better job of presenting themes, metaphors, and character studies. Continue reading
Did you ever answer the question: What would your favorite reading day look like? I occasionally think about this, especially when I’m having a decidedly unfavorite writing day and all I want to do is escape into someone else’s really wonderful story.
My answer to that question varies, but this is one of my favorites: I’m on a comfy sofa, wrapped in a warm blanket, in an old library with soaring ceilings and thousands upon thousands of books stacked to the rafters. You know the kind of place, where you breathe in the smell of yellowing pages and well-worn book bindings. And seated on an upholstered wing chair across from me is a handsome man, a native Spanish speaker, with a well-trained voice (think Placido Domingo in the heyday of his opera singing career). We’re sipping Cognac. And this lovely man is reading Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s book Shadow of the Wind to me. In the original Spanish.
Yes, it’s a very weird and specific fantasy. But it gets even weirder because, it turns out, I don’t read, speak, or even understand more than a handful of Spanish words.
That’s the beauty of books in translation. We don’t have to be fluent in another language to luxuriate in amazing storytelling by authors like Zafón or the author who started me down the path of love of modern Spanish literature, Gabriel García Márquez. And because I love so many of these books in English, I can only imagine how beautiful they must sound in their original Spanish. If you’re not already a fan of Spanish books in translation, come hither and let me try to convert you by recommending a few of my favorites. Continue reading
Anyone interested in hearing Eloisa James, Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Alisha Rai, and Sarah MacLean discuss various aspects of romance writing?
I just spent almost three hours online watching a recording of a fascinating, funny and insightful seminar held last week at Duke University. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. My plan was to skim it for the good bits and listen to the rest later, but it turned out to be all killer, no filler. The only bits I skipped were the rest breaks 😉 .
The event was called Gender, Sexuality, Feminism and the Romance Novel, and indeed all those subjects are covered in an intelligent and engaging way, but there was so much more.
Each author talked about their home environment and what led them to become a romance writer. After that, the Q&A session included: Continue reading
It’s Tuesday afternoon as I’m writing this, so happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate and happy “there-will-be-leftover-candy–on-sale-tomorrow” to those who don’t.
While boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses get most of the love and attention this time of year, I’d like to add authors to that list. After all, where would we be without them, especially without romance writers and their happily-ever-afters.
As I mentioned in last week’s Friday Writing Sprint post, I went to an author book chat / signing at a (relatively) local bookstore on Friday evening. It was a reward for meeting my recent writing word count, though technically, I deleted more words than I added.
The event featured Kristan Higgins and Brenda Novak along with their new books: “On Second Thought” and “Secrets She Kept.” I (briefly) met Kristan at the last RWA Conference in New York when she was doing a reading from her then-latest-book (“If You Only Knew”), but had never met/seen Brenda before (though I am familiar with her work). Both the weather and the traffic cooperated – a miraculous occurrence on a wintery Friday evening – which meant I arrived at the bookstore that was hosting the event a full two hours early.
What to do, what to do? Continue reading
Today is the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, a writer, editor, and literary critic best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre. Part of the American Romantic Movement, he was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He also contributed to the emerging genre of science fiction and was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809, Continue reading
Or The 10 Sexiest Nonsexual Things That Happen in Historical Romance Novels in Eliza Thompson’s opinion. She starts with hand touching that is unimpeded by gloves, which is stage four according to Desmond Morris’s stages of intimacy. She gives an excerpt from In Bed With the Devil by Lorraine Heath. I’ve never read one of hers, but I have When the Duke Was Wicked in my TBR pile. It may have just moved to the top of the pile. Continue reading