Jilly: Labor of Love

Happy Labor Day weekend to everyone in the US. Happy weekend, and happy end of summer, to everyone else.

Thinking about Labor Day led me to realize that it’s ten years since I decided to quit the day job and write fiction full time.

I left paid employment at the end of 2011.

I published my first novel, The Seeds of Power, in December 2019.

I never thought writing fiction would be so hard, that I’d have so much to learn, or that it would take me so long to get my first book published.

I’ve never worked so hard, earned so little, or had so much fun.

I love it. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Best work decision I ever made.

What’s the best work decision you ever made?

Jilly: Silver Linings Saturday

While Michaeline’s away dealing with family matters (check out this post for more information), I’m borrowing her Saturday slot to ask: what good experiences did you find to alleviate the grimdark this week?

Whatever your circumstances, if you found joy in a burst of birdsong, or the spring sunshine, or an unexpected message… if you found something—anything—that lightened your heart, please share it in the comments and give somebody else a much-needed moment of feelgood.

I took a little while to make my list for this post, and to my surprise just searching for the good moments in another stressful week left me feeling uplifted.

Of course the most important thing is that all my family and friends are still home and well. Everything else pales beside that. I’m deeply thankful, and I hope that you have all been equally fortunate.

I’ve had another week of no new writing. I’m supposed to be working on the my new Elan Intrigues novel, but the opening scene is really intense. The heroine loses everything she cares about in one candid exchange, and I simply haven’t had the emotional bandwidth to do it justice. I plan to do better this week. Hopefully that scene will be next week’s silver lining. Continue reading

Jilly: Seizing the Day

Time flies when you’re having fun 😀

I won’t be doing much writing or blogging this weekend, because I’ll be helping my husband celebrate his 60thbirthday. This will be the fifth Big Birthday I’ve celebrated with him, and we’re both wondering where the time went.

On his 20thbirthday we were at university. I made him a chocolate cake in the shape of a hedgehog, with chocolate buttons for spikes. It seems like yesterday. Now we’re retired and enjoying the luxury of a kind of golden age.

So this is a quick post to say life is fleeting. Blink and you’ll miss it. Don’t forget to take time to celebrate your successes and enjoy the good moments with the people closest to you.

What will you celebrate this year?

Elizabeth: Happy Holidays

Christmas postcard with Santa Claus and bag of toys in a basket suspended by greenery from an airship, with "Greetings to one and all - Merry Christmas." Color postcard, ca. 1916. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. N39376.

Christmas goes so well with an airship or two! (Image via Missouri History)

I hope you have all been enjoying our year-end short story challenge.  Michaeline kicked things off on Saturday with her magical story Farewell to the Old, Long Live the New, Nancy left us hanging on Monday with Part 1 of her story They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? and Jeanne kept us entertained Tuesday with her trope-tastic story The Queen of the Tropes.   I’m always amazed at the wildly different stories we come up with based on the same set of words.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’ll be posting my own story next week, but for now, I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday season, however you celebrate (or don’t).

Jilly: Crouch End Kong

Once every decade or so I see a painting or a piece of glass or art pottery and know immediately that I have to buy it. Usually it’s something colorful or intriguing or just plain crazysauce. This time it was all those things, and a creative inspiration as well.

For some time now King Kong has been a writing craft prompt for me. It started around five years ago, courtesy of a post on Ilona Andrews’ blog. She linked to a song by a comedy duo (I can’t find it now but I think it may have been Flight of the Conchords) about the movie. Their point was that the rebooted version spent forever on setup and backstory, when all the audience really wanted was Fay Wray in a slip dress and Kong atop the Empire State Building. The song was called something like “Get to the effing monkey.” It made me laugh and think hard about good storytelling and pacing and reader expectations, so when I went to RWA Nationals in New York in 2015 I bought a plastic Kong that still stands on the bookcase next to my writing sofa.

Told you that to tell you this: recently I was in Crouch End, a neighborhood near my home in North London. Crouch End has a modest high street, a few nice shops and restaurants, and a much-loved nineteenth-century red brick clock tower. I glanced in a shop window as I passed, then backed up and looked again in open-mouthed joy as I realized I’d just seen a pop art painting of Kong on the Crouch End clock tower.

If ever there was a painting with my name on it, this was the one.

The shop only had a poster but the artist, Sara Sutton, agreed to paint a new one for me as a commission. I collected it last week and hung it on the wall next to my writing sofa, opposite the bookcase.

I love it sooo much. Whenever I look up from my keyboard I see it and smile.

Do you own objects, souvenirs or keepsakes, classy or tacky—that inspire and motivate you? Or is it just me?

Justine: Celebrate Your Accomplishments

crossing finish lineIt’s the beginning-ish of October, and the start of a new month is a great time to share accomplishments. I, for one, am celebrating a goal I have never yet achieved in the six years I’ve been writing my book:

I sent my novel to my editor.

To be honest, I don’t think my husband ever thought I’d get there (there were days I was doubtful, too). But I had a flash of inspiration in September (read: I finally figured out how to end the book), and with some determination and focus, I got there. The feeling was euphoric. My mom happened to call a few minutes after I’d hit SEND on that email to my editor, and when I told mom, I started crying. It was an incredibly satisfying moment that had been a long time coming.

What victories are you celebrating, big or small? Did you finish a chapter? Figure out a plot twist? Type “the end” on your manuscript? Publish your first book? Get a contract? Let us know in the comments!

Nancy: Third Husband’s the Charm Debuts Today!

This is your friendly reminder that this is the day Third Husband’s the Charm goes on sale, and at a special release day price to boot. If you get your copy today, you’ll be all set for your weekend reading. (It’s also available in paperback, but that will take a few more days to get to you.) Go to my book page to learn more and to find links to retailers.

Third Husband’s the Charm

An irreverent cad. An abandoned wife. A secret marriage. But is anything really what it seems? Percy, the Captain Lord Granston, and the widow Finola Simmons both have their reasons to pretend to be married. But living as husband and wife leads them into temptation, and they come to an agreement: they’ll keep each other’s secrets, embark on a brief affair, and both get what they want before their fake marriage ends. It will work like a charm, as long as neither of them falls in love.

Elizabeth: Bookstore Romance Day

This past Saturday, August 17, was Bookstore Romance Day.  I had no idea there was such a thing but, to be fair, this was its first occurrence.  Though I had no idea about the event, I had in fact signed up a few weeks ago to attend an event on Saturday at a local bookstore that featured a panel of romance writers.

It was purely coincidental.

Honesty compels me to admit that I did not, in fact, attend the event, blowing it off to go see Hamilton instead.  I have no regrets.

Anyway, back to Bookstore Romance Day.

According to creators of the event:

Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.

Judging from my newsfeed on Monday, the day was a definite success.  Bookstores across the country hosted a variety of events including panel discussions, romance book clubs, and author-bookstore matchmaking.

Sponsors of the event included Romance Writers of America, Sourcbooks Casablanca, and Avon and a number of well-known authors participated, including Loretta Chase who was part of an evening romance writer panel at the Harvard Bookstore. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Celebrating 8 Ladies

It seems like it has been a lifetime since we 8 Ladies finished up the McDaniel Romance Writing program and started up this blog.  We’ve got over 2,000 posts under our collective belts and hundreds of thousands of words on the page, so I thought now would be a good time to step back and celebrate some achievements.

Many of us have had the thrill of seeing our names listed at one time or another in the RWA Romance Writers Report – winners of various chapter contests – and we were delighted to watch one of our own accept a Golden Heart™ award in New York in 2015.

If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you’ll have noticed that there is currently a flurry of book-finishing, marketing, and publishing going on.  2019 is shaping up to be a busy, busy year.

Here are just some of the highlights: Continue reading

Nancy: The Little Book That Could

Last week, Jeanne shared news of The Demon Always Wins finaling in two contests! I’m excited to announce that the first book in my HFF series, Too Clever by Half, is a finalist in one of those contests, GDRWA Booksellers’ Best Contest, in the novella category!

This came on the heels of a very good sales week in the beginning of May, when I offered Too Clever for free and the next book in the series, One Kiss from Ruin, at a discounted price. The promotion put Too Clever at #1 in a few Amazon categories for approximately three days, which meant thousands of downloads (and page reads in Kindle Unlimited, which are continuing). It raised series visibility, drove some traffic to my newsletter, and actually made some money (because of much higher than usual book sales on One Kiss).

All in all, my little series-launching novella has had a good month. It’s especially gratifying because a year and a half ago, I wasn’t sure I would be able to turn the early draft of the manuscript into a readable book. I didn’t make the contest rounds with the story because, frankly, it just wouldn’t have done well. My beta readers were a godsend, pinpointing the issues, which included a hero who didn’t have much motivation for what he wanted (to win the Duke’s Trust prize to fund Harrow School scholarships), and a heroine who started out pretty self-involved and didn’t arc throughout the course of the story. While such character issues would be problematic for any fiction genre, they are absolute deal-breakers for one as character-centric as romance. Continue reading