Michaeline: Toyokoro’s Ice Jewel Setting

slabs of ice washed up on a cold beach in Japan

Jewelry Ice on a beach in Toyokoro. Photo by E.M. Duskova

Geoff’s new wife was an Instagrammer, and he had known it before the wedding, so he should have known what he was getting into. In theory, spending their honeymoon in a winter wonderland had sounded like a very good idea – long cold walks, followed by nice warm sheets. In practice, here he was on frozen beach at dawn while Dahlia capered across the black sands in her red parka and her ridiculously large camera. His nose was cold, his fingers were cold, and his ears were about to fall off. Continue reading

Michaeline: Exploring Your Setting

Swans standing on a snowy river bank.

Hungry swans on Tokachi River. (Photo by Michaeline Duskova)

So, this is going to be a “hive mind” sort of a post where I pick your brains. The question is, “What’s the most interesting thing to do in your region during this season?”

For me, it’s the swans on Tokachi River. Every year, they migrate here to enjoy the clement weather (only -24C/-11F last night – I don’t even want to think about the cold they are escaping!). For a few months, they congregate on the river next to the hot springs, splash around, eat the goodies tourists throw to them, and just generally look as picturesque as they possibly can. Being swans, that’s pretty damn picturesque. Continue reading

Jilly: The Seeds of a New Story

How was your week? Did you learn anything new?

It’s been good news/bad news here. The good news is that after a frustrating few days when I couldn’t get a grip on my new story, on Tuesday things fell into place. A propos of nothing I had a flash of insight that gave me a premise for the book and the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) for all the main characters. As a bonus, I even figured out who owns the story.

The bad news is, it seems farming and gardening are important to the new WIP, and I have a brown thumb. My mother and grandmother were excellent gardeners, but I don’t even have houseplants, because they take one look at me and give up the ghost.

It would have been great if the Girls had sent up a plot I knew something about, but I’m not complaining–I’m grateful to get a workable idea. The garden stuff is important, but it’s a vehicle for the characters and conflict, and as long as I get those right, everything else is fixable. My current plan is Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 3 Weeks To Go

I began the countdown to NaNoWriMo 2017 with last week’s post on outlining, which generated some good discussions amongst our commenters from both ends of the outlining continuum.

Kristi said,

“More and more over the last few days I’m starting to think of outlining (at least the way I usually do it) as a first draft. It’s just lacking details.”

That makes sense to me.  Whether your first pass through a new story is via an outline or via a purely “pantser” style process you’re just trying to tell yourself the story.  However you start out you will (hopefully) wind up with a draft that you can then flesh out into a full-blown story.

The outline for my upcoming story currently looks a bit like a movie script.  For each potential scene there are notes about location and timing, the characters who are involved, who “owns” the scene, and what the outcome of the scene will be.  In some cases where I felt especially inspired, I even managed to capture a few lines of dialog or action that I thought of while sketching things out.

One thing that slowed me down a bit during the outlining process was not having the setting(s) for the story nailed down.  I know where it starts and ends and have some ideas about the middle, but I definitely need to do some more work in that area.

Conveniently, this week my focus is on:  Setting Continue reading

Michille: Romance and Natural Disasters

800px-Hurricane_Isabel_from_ISSWith Harvey mostly a memory leaving a staggeringly colossal disaster area behind it and Irma targeting Florida and another potentially colossal disaster for the U.S., I looked at disasters in romance novels. I read one recently that was set in a flood (freebie from RWA Nationals in a previous year), but I got really annoyed with the author because the hero and heroine kept standing around in floodwater while the rain was pounding down, discussing their history, wondering where his brother was and if her sister stayed at work, sharing scorching kisses and wishing for a bed. I’m not thinking that the folks going through Harvey were standing waist deep in floodwater reminiscing about a high school football game that took place 10 years ago. The memory of that book and the coverage of Harvey led my brain down the path of how an author could set a romance in a natural disaster and do justice to mother nature, the devastation and tragedy, and the romance without minimizing or horrorizing (is that a word?) the tragedy or the reader. As in, people are dying and these two idiots just want to do the horizontal tango. Continue reading

Jilly: The Mistress Problem

I’d really, really like to find a different form of address for the gentlewomen in my WIP, especially my heroine.

Lately I’ve been working on a sequence of set piece scenes toward the end of the book. The setting is a fantasy world, historical, before the invention of guns. Horses ‘n swords. Vaguely Tudor-ish, with a few creative liberties taken. The action takes place at the most important event in the city’s calendar. Everyone who’s anyone is present: royalty, aristocracy, military, and a lucky few gentlefolk. All the guests are addressed formally, even (especially!) when they’re hurling deadly insults at one another.

The problem is my heroine, Alexis Doe. She’s 25. Unmarried, but old enough to be a wife and mother. Of no acknowledged family (her name indicates she’s illegitimate), but invited as a guest of the Princess Dowager, scary and powerful grandmother of the Crown Prince. Alexis has no title, but her connections would carry a certain level of cachet and she would be addressed with respect. As far as I can see, she would be called Mistress Doe.

I did a fair amount of reading around, looking for possibilities, and I found a fascinating article describing research done by Dr Amy Erickson at the University of Cambridge (click here to read more about Mistress, Miss, Mrs or Ms: untangling the shifting history of titles).

Apparently both Mrs and Miss are abbreviations of Mistress. Continue reading

Jilly: Georgette Heyer’s Bath

We spent last weekend visiting the beautiful city of Bath. We stayed in a hotel that was once owned by the Duke of Wellington and walked into town to hear a friend’s choir sing in the stunning fifteenth-century Abbey. It seemed as though everywhere I went, I followed in the footsteps of a much-loved Regency romance. Sometimes it was Jane Austen; more often it was Georgette Heyer.

Most of the time it was Black Sheep. It isn’t my all-time favorite Heyer, but I think it has one of the best settings.

By the time of the Regency, Brighton had become the fashionable place to spend the summer and Bath, which had once been the ton’s favorite resort, had become a kind of posh backwater inhabited by invalids and those who couldn’t afford the expense of living in London. Which makes it the perfect choice for Black Sheep. Continue reading