Elizabeth: The Perfect Writer’s Conference

We’re about three months away from this year’s Romance Writers of America annual conference and, just before the end of the early-bird registration deadline I finally bit the bullet and clicked “register.”

This was supposed to be a non-travel year for me (excluding work travel, of course).  My travel budget has been earmarked for a long overdue kitchen renovation and, since my writing continues to move only slightly faster than the speed of erosion, the RWA conference wasn’t even on the radar.  Then of course, Eight Lady Jeanne finalled in the Golden Heart contest – again – and I found out Justine would be attending as well.  One thing led to another and next thing I knew the registration button was clicked and the plans made.

The detailed workshop schedule for the conference itself is still being finalized, but the basics are in place.  Like last year it looks like the conference will start out with a set of 3-hour “immersive” sessions.  Based on the discussions we’ve been having on the blog in recent months, I’m thinking Erica Ridley’s Newsletter Master Class will be an excellent option to begin with. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Lark Brennan

Lark was one of the first writers to volunteer to be interviewed when I sent out my call, and I’m so glad she did! Since I always buy at least one of my interviewees’ books and read it before going on to research the author and put together what I hope will be interesting questions, this interview introduced me to a new favorite author.Dangerously Yours HR

Question 1: I truly loved Dangerously Yours. Your world-building was seamless, the characters of Lex and Bodie were engaging and the plot escalated smoothly along a trajectory linked to Bodie’s character arc. That’s pretty much the trifecta. Given that Dangerously Yours is your first novel, where did you learn to write so seamlessly?

Thank you, Jeanne! It’s always a thrill when someone loves one of my books. 

Dangerously Yours was my first published book, but not the first one I wrote. That was a 400 page, single-spaced mess which will never see the light of day again, but it taught me I could finish a book.

Then I discovered RWA and ate up every craft workshop at our three local chapters and the national convention. I kept writing and connected with a fabulous critique partner—Sarah Andre who you interviewed here in December. She, too, was serious about publishing and is still the first person who reads my polished “final” draft. Continue reading

Nancy: Big Reveal: Novel 1 Cover Copy

 Many, many months ago, I shared my cover blurb (aka the 150-word pitch) of my Victorian Romance series kickoff novella and got some great feedback. Since then, I’ve worked on the cover blurb for novel 1 of the series.

This time, I spent even more time on Amazon reading blurb after blurb on historical romance books. I took note of which rhythms and devices appealed to me. At its heart, the cover copy is sales copy; its job is to sell the story, so I gauged my own response to determine which blurbs had me itching to hit the buy button. Then came the hard part: applying those lessons learned to my own book.

As expected, a few hours into the agonizing process, I was pretty sure I’d written the first book in the history of publishing that absolutely would not, could not be captured in a cover blurb. But deep down, I was also pretty sure that every author who’d ever worked on cover copy’d had that same thought. And so I persisted, and came up with this early draft of the cover copy. I’ll work on it with my editor  – who has helped write cover copy for decades – after she has edited the story. But for now, I’d love to get your feedback! Continue reading

Jilly: Villainous Heroes

Have you ever waited impatiently for a book or series starring a character that you’d previously loathed?

I’ve read a couple of villain-turned hero stories and even blogged about one of them here a few years ago (Grace Burrowes’ 2014 historical The Traitor, starring the baddie from her previous book, The Captive), but I’ve never done the foot-tapping, finger-drumming, calendar-watching book launch thing for a very bad guy before.

It’s Ilona Andrews’ fault. I’ve squeed about their writing here before, once or twice 😉 , but their newest trick leaves me open-mouthed and thinking hard.

According to their blog (link here), the project started in 2015 as an April Fool. They put up a spoof cover and tongue-firmly-in-cheek blurb for a romance starring Hugh d’Ambray, the hard-as-nails enforcer for Roland, the grand antagonist of the bestselling Kate Daniels urban fantasy series. It began as a joke that prompted a deluge of requests that spawned an idea that became a book, and what looks like a whole new series, Iron and Magic.

I’d think it was another April Fool, except they’ve posted footage from the cover shoot, run a title contest, and best of all the blog post I linked to above contains a further link to a long excerpt. It’s really, really good and I can’t wait to read the rest of the book. Judging by the comments (more than 1,400 at the time of writing), I’m not alone.

I’ve read the excerpt a few times now, because I’m fascinated to understand how the authors have managed to establish empathy for such a dark character. It would be easier to understand if the character’s bad deeds were in the past, or somewhat diluted as backstory, or happened to a character we don’t care deeply about, but in Hugh’s case his murdering, torturing and various atrocities have been committed across multiple books, right in front of our eyes, against our heroine Kate Daniels and her community. He should be unforgiveable.

So how have they done it?

Spoilers below, so read the excerpt first if that’s your thing.

Continue reading

Michaeline: A Wrinkle in Time

I mentioned it last week, but I’ve been travelling in the States for a couple of weeks, and been absorbing story right through my skin!

(Official trailer from YouTube)

Thursday, I got to see A Wrinkle in Time. My mom mentioned that I loved the book as a kid, and I do seem to remember reading it more than once. None of the details stuck, but the essence? Oh, yeah. The movie brought back all those feelings, and those positive messages of love that the book gave me through my mixed-up tween and early teen years.

First, a quick review of the movie: Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

A week ago, the sun was shining, spring had sprung, and I was getting my sprinkler system ready to go back into action.  Today, however, it looks like winter is not completely done with us just yet.  It’s been intermittently overcast and rainy most of the day and I’ve been quite glad I didn’t pack away the cozy blankets just yet.  Even the cat hasn’t wanted to go outside and has instead been curled up asleep on the couch for much of the day.

Since it looks like I won’t be working out in the yard on my day off tomorrow, I guess I better find something to do inside instead.  Fortunately I’ve got three stories just waiting for me to buckle down and get some words on the page, not to mention a set of random words to play with.  Writing will definitely be on my Friday agenda.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Michille: Recycled Novel in a Year

Start-Strong-Start-Simple-1Today (yesterday to readers of this post), I was noodling around looking for ideas for this blog post. I stumbled on a blog post from two years ago based on a series from one of my favorite blogs: Writers Write. Back in 2016, they were running a series called Write Your Novel in a Year (Anthony Ehlers is the blogger of this series, the link is for the 1st post – this is the last). He had a new post every week and at this time in 2015, they were up to week 14. Continue reading