Elizabeth: What Have You Been Reading

CarpeLibrumIt’s a real challenge to combine being a writer and a news-junkie these days, and it’s especially difficult to carve out time for pleasure reading.  However, as we’ve all heard time and again, reading and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly (though fortunately not as sticky), so making the time to read is a priority.

Anyway, after attending a book signing a few weeks ago and adding a few more volumes to the TBR pile, I was motivated to get reading before the pile turned into an avalanche.  Fortunately, the current cold, rainy, cuddle-up-with-a-blanket-on-the-couch weather has been perfect for reading.  Cupcakes and napping too, but mostly reading.

So, here’s what I’ve read lately: 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

Elizabeth: What Did You Read Wednesday?

Additions to my TBR pile, courtesy of the RWA Conference

Additions to my TBR pile, courtesy of the RWA Conference

Although I spent many years as a book-a-day reader, I haven’t done much pleasure reading in recent months. My typical daily schedule is (1) day job, (2) work-in-progress, (3) pleasure reading and, since I am a regrettably slow writer, I rarely get past item (2) before it’s time to call it a night.

I was schooled on the error of my ways by none other than Eloisa James at the recent conference when I mentioned that I was rather behind in reading her new books as writing was taking all my time. She said “let me give you some unsolicited advice” and then (paraphrasing) said as a writer, you need to make time to read.   It is advice we’ve all heard before, in posts on this very blog even. Continue reading

Jilly: Good Book Squee – Historical Romance

27431042_sWhere do you stand on intelligent, well-written historical romance?

By the time you read this, Justine’s UK research trip should be well under way. If things go to plan, we’ll have spent Friday in Brighton exploring the Royal Pavilion and other Regency landmarks with 8LW friend Rachel Beecroft, and Saturday investigating the narrow streets and smugglers’ haunts of the ancient Cinque Port of Rye. Today? If it’s Sunday, it must be Dover!

Justine will be following in the footsteps of a generation of US historical romance authors, walking the terrain of Kent and Sussex to soak in a million tiny details that she’ll use to give her stories an authentic and unique feel. There’s a strong tradition of quality historical romance writing in the US, and I’m constantly impressed by the way the authors skillfully mix historical accuracy and characters with agency to create novels that feel credible but appeal to a 21st-century reader. I especially love stories that go beyond Dukes and governesses and gowns – some of my favorite historicals may have Almack’s and corsets, but they also have spies, soldiers, suspense, mysteries, politics, business-people, dancers, actresses, and social change.

I’m really looking forward to reading the 8 Ladies’ contribution to this excellent tradition – Justine’s Three Proposals, Elizabeth’s The Traitor, and Nancy’s new series – but while they write, edit, polish and pick new titles, I’d like to celebrate some of my favorite US historical romance writers and (if I’m lucky) collect some new recommendations.

Off the top of my head, how about: Continue reading

Justine: The Name Game, Part 2

eight ladies writing, justine covington, fiction, writing, family names, romance writingLast Friday, Michaeline posted about character names and how she picks them. I’ve had a bit of a name conundrum myself, which I’ve been avoiding like an ostrich with his head in the sand, hoping it’ll all go away.

Okay, I exaggerate. My naming problem isn’t a big one. Susannah’s last name is Humphries. As I think about my next book (and the next, and the next), all of which are about other family members directly related to Susannah (and sharing the same last name), I realized that Humphries just isn’t a roll-off-the-tongue name. And, as my husband pointed out, it has the word “hump” in it.

One could argue that I’m either a) getting ahead of myself or b) planning well, but I want to have a family name that Continue reading

Jilly: Who’s Next?

Who's NextHow do you feel about series? Do you like it when a secondary character from one book becomes the hero or heroine of the next?

For me, it totally depends. Sequel bait is high on my list of no-nos, right up there with plot moppets and TSTL heroines, but when a character I’m already invested in gets their own story in a world I already know, I love it with a passion.

What really makes me snarl is when a new character suddenly pops up towards the end of a book. We’re at a critical stage in the plot or sometimes even in an epilogue and suddenly (WTF?) the heroine’s sister or the hero’s cousin arrives on some slender pretext and gets shoe-horned into the story Continue reading