Elizabeth: How Does It Hold Up?

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, we recently went through a “Marie Kondo-ish” exercise at work.  According to the posters on the bulletin board, shredding unnecessary paperwork and clearing the detritus off our desktops was all we needed to do to be happier, more productive, calmer little worker bees.

Uh, sure.  Right.

I’m fairly tidy, so the exercise was a moot point for me, but some co-workers managed to shed an amazing quantity of stuff.  So much that it was hard to imagine how they had fit it all in their tiny cubes and offices to begin with.  The jury is still out on whether they are indeed happier, more productive, and calmer.

We have a number of Marie Kondo followers at work who have gone through their homes asking “does this bring me joy” for each item there and ruthlessly weeding out anything that doesn’t generate an immediate “yes” answer.  They seem happy and the thrift stores that get all of their donations are no doubt happy as well, so it’s a win for everyone.

When one friend told me she was turning her sights on her bookshelves however, I gasped in horror.

Get rid of books?

Who does that? Continue reading

Jilly: Cold Comfort Reading Recommendations

cold-comfortDo you have a favorite book or author you always read when you’re feeling under the weather?

I’ve been out of sorts for a day or two, but during Friday night I hatched out the mother of all colds. I’m not properly ill, just the usual—head full of cotton wool, sandpaper throat, sneezing the house down—and feeling very sorry for myself.

I had a couple of possible posts in mind for today.

My first topic was the preponderance of gratuitous sex scenes in the mainstream romantic fiction I’ve been reading lately. I love a well-written sex scene, but I expect it to follow the same rules as any other scene–it should be particular to the characters and it has to move the story. Two people repeatedly having a good time together, however inventive they may be, does not of itself move the story forward. It takes up pages of real estate that could better have been used to make the relationship and eventual HEA between the H&H unique and unforgettable.

The alternative was to discuss a romance I just started. It’s standard paranormal romance, not erotica. I’ve only read a chapter or two, but it’s a continuation of a series so I’m already familiar with the characters. I’m reading on, because I like the author, but I’m filled with trepidation because there’s a huge gap in age, experience and status between the H&H. He’s mid-forties, a good guy in a dominant leadership position. He’s freaked out to find himself head over heels in lust with a nineteen year-old girl Continue reading

Justine: When Favorites Aren’t Favorites Anymore

eight ladies writing, justine covington

(c) Justine Covington

This past week, while on a family vacation, I decided to go back and revisit one of my most favorite romances — The Bride by Julie Garwood. It’s the story of Jamie and Alec Kincaid; she’s an English bride, he’s a Scottish laird, and she’s having some trouble “settling in” to her new home in the Highlands. Not to mention someone is trying to kill her. Alec, who swore he wouldn’t love his wife, falls head over heels for her in no time. It’s a cute story with lots of verbal sparring and a feisty heroine, yet when I finished it the other night, I wondered to myself, “Why did I like this book so much?”

Time has taken it’s toll on The Bride…time and my newfound knowledge about what generally makes good or not-good story. The biggest chafe I had when rereading this was the point-of-view. Garwood wrote it in omniscient, so within a single scene, she skipped back and forth between Jamie, Alec, and even several secondary characters. It wasn’t necessarily disorienting…I always knew who was “thinking,” but what I didn’t like about it was the lack of mystery. I knew everything that every character was thinking, and it was a bit of a let-down. I know POV isn’t something I ever thought about when reading this book in the past (and I know this because when I took my first stab at writing something, my POVs were all over the place — I figured it was “the norm”), but it’s certainly something that’s front and center to me now, particularly because my current WIP has three distinct POVs. Continue reading

Justine: The Infinite TBR List

to be read list, what to read, what I'm readingI have a TBR (To Be Read) list that is waaaaay too long, IMHO. I didn’t realize this until I started organizing the books on my bookshelf. There’s quite a few, and that was before I counted what’s on my iPad and Kindle reader, too.

Most of them are romance. Some are general fiction, but there are a few non-fiction, either about writing or something history-related that is either research or will hopefully be inspirational for a future story. Some of them were given to me at RWA this past summer; others I picked up because of good reviews or because they sounded interesting. Some were free downloads and I figured, “What the heck?” All of them are worth learning from — either what to do or what to avoid. Continue reading