Jilly: Resisting Holiday Romances

Are you a Happy Holidayer? I suspect I’m the token Grinch among the Ladies. While my fellow bloggesses are decorating their homes with emotionally significant ornaments, baking seasonal treats, and recommending feelgood stories, I’m counting the days till it’s all over.

This week we’ve been chatting among ourselves about the Hallmark Channel’s holiday programming, aided and abetted by this article from slate.com, and this review of A Princess for Christmas (Sam Heughan!) on smartbitchestrashybooks.com. I have to confess that even reading these intelligent and amusing pieces sent me screaming in search of Dorothy Parker, or Saki, or EF Benson.

Our discussion did, however, make me examine why Christmas stories make me froth at the mouth. It’s not intellectual snobbery or political correctness. I love genre romance. I adore fantasy and fairy tales. I seek out happy endings, and I’m a sucker for community. I prefer tales told with intelligence and wit, but while that might rule out some of the more saccharine offerings, it should still leave me open to classics like Michaeline’s suggestion, Christmas in Conneticut. Nope, not even that.

I always thought I read romance for the kindness, the community and the hit of happy. This week I realized there’s another huge reason: many romances (and all the ones I love best) involve defying expectations and resisting peer pressure. Continue reading

Jilly: Birthday bon-bons

Happy Birthday to us, and cheers! to all our friends here on the blog: Eight Ladies Writing celebrated its fourth birthday yesterday, 2 September. Where did the time go?

I thought about selecting my favorite posts of the last four years, but it was just too hard to choose. If you have the time, and you are so inclined, check out our archive. We have a bank of almost 1,400 posts for you to browse and enjoy.

Instead, I decided to hold a traditional birthday celebration today, with champagne, cake, candles, ice cream, and gifts. That is, I picked my favorite fictional moments featuring each of those things 😉 .

If you’d like to join the party by suggesting other festive scenes or books, I’d love that!

Here are my choices:

Champagne
Without question, my favorite champagne-related story is Lord Lovedon’s Duel, a funny, feel-good short story by Loretta Chase. The trouble starts at the heroine’s sister’s wedding, where an excess of champagne leads the eponymous hero to amuse his drunken friends by making cruel and untrue suggestions about the royal groom’s reasons for marrying a wealthy commoner. Unfortunately he is overheard by the bride and her sister, Chloe, the heroine. Chloe is incensed on her sister’s behalf. She’s also more than a little tipsy, so she confronts Lord Lovedon in front of his idiot friends, slaps his face with her glove, dashes a glass of champagne in his face, and challenges him to a duel. Lovedon’s response is as kind and funny as his original remarks were hurtful. There’s a glorious epistolary exchange, culminating in pistols at dusk in Battersea. This story is a clever, perfectly formed hit of happy. I wish I could write something half as good. I love everything about it.

Cake
There’s a spectacular cake-fest Continue reading

Elizabeth: New Book Squee – This Time Around

I’ve been going through a reading phase lately, due in large part to the staggering size of the TBR pile that is threatening to swallow up my library.  Since the story I’m working on is a mystery, I powered my way through a number of books in that genre this week, both for pleasure and for inspiration – Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar, Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, and P. D. James Death Comes to Pemberly.  After all that murder and suspense however, I was in the mood for something a little lighter as a palate cleanser before (finally) getting back to work.

Lucky for me, I recently joined Tawna Fenske’s “street team” (aka grass-roots marketing team) , and had an Advance Reader’s Copy of her latest novel, This Time Around,  just waiting to be read.  Like Jilly’s novella squee on Sunday, it is a second chance romance and can be read in a sitting (well, it is if you stay up really late), but the similarity ends there.

Here is the official blurb: Continue reading

Jilly: Heroine (and Hero) Makeovers

makeoversIf the heroine of the book you’re reading gets a makeover part-way through the story, do you cheer her on or sigh and roll your eyes?

You won’t be surprised to learn that the heroine of my current WIP, a young woman who’s spent her whole life passing as a monk, eventually gets found out. Shortly afterward, Reasons require her to dress and act like a lady for the first time ever. In different circumstances she’d have enjoyed it, but the stakes are high and she’s way out of her comfort zone, so she finds the experience highly stressful.

I’m having fun torturing her, though, and working on Alexis’s transformation reminded me how much I enjoy a good fictional makeover. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Self-Publishing 101 – Taglines, Loglines and Concepts

publish_buttonLast week in our Self Publishing series we talked about the Book Cover, the first (and oftentimes only) chance for a book to make an impression on a potential reader

But what happens after the cover catches the reader’s attention?

Jilly’s post on Monday about the Dreaded Synopsis got me to thinking about some of the other elements you need in order hold a reader’s attention, once you’ve caught it

Loglines, taglines, high-concept – these are all tools that can help you position (and market) your story to your audience.  Although we are looking at this through the lens of self-publishing, they are important regardless of the publishing path you choose. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Public Declarations of Love

Scene from When Harry Met Sally

Scene from When Harry Met Sally

Recently I’ve been working on the ending scenes for my contemporary romance.  It’s a nice change of pace from dealing with the Mess in the Middle.  The Problems have all been solved; Obstacles removed; and my hero and heroine are getting their long awaited Happily Ever After.

Naturally this involves addressing that final declaration of love and raises the question:    Private or Public?

In one of the classes I took – or maybe it was a writing book I read or conference session I attended – there was a discussion about the need for the final declaration/confession of love, when our hero/heroine have made it past all the obstacles and are going to finally get together, to be done in public.

The public nature of the scene was supposed to Continue reading

Elizabeth: That’s My Story

A fan of happily-ever-after from an early age.

A fan of happily-ever-after from an early age.

In her post on Sunday, Jilly talked about the kinds of things that would be an immediate turn off when considering a new book. Judging by the comments, we all have pretty strong ideas about what doesn’t work for us when it comes to our choice of reading material. The discussion got me to thinking about the flip side: what would get me to take a chance on a new book?

In the McDaniel program we talked about how an interesting cover can be a great way to catch a reader’s attention (harder for eBooks, but still possible). At the recent RWA conference I noticed that I was drawn to a number of book covers featuring cupcakes or cake (it’s possible I was hungry at the time) while other covers caught my attention with interesting titles and artwork. Regardless of what caught my eye initially, it was the story teaser on the back cover and the first few pages of the story that helped me decide what books I put back down and which ones I was willing to schlep all the way back home. Continue reading