Nancy: On Book Clubs, Best-Selling Fiction, and Career Advice You Might Need to Ignore

Over the past 10 or so years, I’ve tried to get on the book club train three different times. Each time, I left the group after only one meeting. That choice wasn’t because I took issue with the people (they are readers, and therefore inherently lovely😊), their passion for the books, or even the wine. It was because I, as a writer, read so differently than non-writers that I was looking for things in a book discussion that the other members wouldn’t find interesting. Ergo, I had nothing to bring to the book club party (other than the wine, which is important! but not really the point).

The real problem I and many other writers have in joining book clubs is that we’re not looking for book discussions at all. We’re looking for book dissections. Writing craft deep-dives. Story geek deconstructions.

That’s why I’m so glad I agreed to join an online book club with one of my writing tribes. We are all long-time writers, with multiple years and manuscripts-worth of experience. Most of us either are or are in training to become book coaches who work with other writers on a regular and ongoing basis. That training has given us a common language and shared tools we use to evaluate writing. Last week, we had a one-hour online video chat to discuss our first group book, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Our discussion was wonky and geeky and made my little writer heart sing with joy.

Interestingly, though, when I found myself thinking about the book and our discussion in the days that followed, it was usually in the context of current writing career advice and “truths”, how Delia Owens ignored (intentionally or otherwise) much of it, and how none of it is applicable if it isn’t relevant to you and your process. Continue reading

Nancy: Some Love for Women’s Fiction

This past Saturday was Women’s Fiction Day! Don’t worry if you didn’t know and missed it. The celebration doesn’t have to be limited to one day. And if you’re wondering what, exactly, makes fiction women’s fiction and why does it need its own celebration, that’s okay, too. So let’s talk a bit about this often misunderstood and sometimes undervalued segment of the fiction market.

Most visitors to our blog are romance readers. Makes sense, as we 8LW ladies are romance writers. While a few of our followers are die-hard, romance-only readers (and we love you!), many read across a wide swath of fiction. Bonus points if the other-genre fiction has strong female characters with fully-developed inner lives and emotional journeys. If the female characters’ emotional journeys are the central storyline, what you have in front of you is women’s fiction.

Women’s fiction can be written, read, and enjoyed by people of any gender. (Yes, even straight, cis-gendered men can write women’s fiction). The stories can include mystery, suspense, adventure, intrigue, and romance! Some stories include a lot of those elements, and that’s fine. It’s still women’s fiction, as long as the very core story is about a woman’s emotional journey.

If you’re thinking, that’s an awfully big tent, you’re right. Continue reading

Jilly: What Persuades You to Try a New Author?

How would you blurb this bookHow often do you read a new-to-you author?

If you regularly read new writers, where do you find them? What persuades you trust them with your time and money? Do you choose using reviews, or recommendations, or a try before you buy sample? Do you buy based on marketing communications? Amazon mailshots? Bookbub promotions? Goodreads suggestions? Does it make a difference if the book is free or discounted?

In her post last Thursday, Kay said: “I was looking to read something light and entertaining the other day, and all the descriptions and back cover copy seemed riddled with clichés…I just couldn’t force myself to click the button.”

Right there with you, Kay. One of my aims for 2016 is to read more new authors, ideally at least one per week. They don’t have to be debut authors, just ones I haven’t read before, but I’d like to include a good selection of writers near the beginning of their publishing career. I’m also trying to be open to new recommendation channels. I’d love to find Continue reading

Jilly: Read a Great Book Lately? Pass It On!

Read a Great Book? Pass It On!Have you read anything amazing recently? I’m looking for recommendations to help me recharge my creative batteries over the next couple of weeks – stories of any genre so long as they’re fun, positive, uplifting and full of energy.

I think my productivity plan for the remainder of 2015 (Season of Fruitfulness) must have annoyed the universe, because the day after my post Life happened to me. Nothing bad, and entirely my choice, but some good friends needed help that I was qualified to give, and since then it’s taken all my time, and all my mental energy as well. I haven’t added a single word to my WIP and I didn’t participate in either of the workshops I signed up for, because I’ve been using every ounce of my creative wherewithal to solve their problem. Fortunately the Girls came up with a smart solution, so I reckon another week (maybe two) should put this thing to bed. If all goes to plan, by mid-October at the latest my friends will be in good shape, and I plan to celebrate by plunging back into Cam and Mary’s story.

I don’t want to power through the next couple of weeks and then get back to normal, turn on my laptop and find that my tanks are empty. When I don’t have the juice Continue reading

Jilly: Curling Up with a Good Dragon

Dragon chandelier in the banqueting room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton (via

Dragon chandelier in the banqueting room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton

It’s been an exciting, inspiring, exhausting nine days. I collected Justine from Heathrow a week last Thursday, and we embarked on a Regency roller-coaster ride around London and southern England, from the spectacularly OTT pleasure palace otherwise known as the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, through the smugglers’ haunts of Rye and the Cinque Ports, via the Medieval churches of Romney Marsh and the splendors of Canterbury, to the Royal Maritime Museum at Greenwich and the beautiful Georgian mansions of Kenwood, the Wallace Collection and Osterley Park. We swooned over fabulous fans and priceless porcelain. We plotted plots and lusted after libraries. Continue reading