Justine: Mood Music Playlists for Writing Sad Scenes

working to musicI know several of the Eight Ladies (myself included) have used music playlists for writing, either because it “goes” with the book they’re writing or, like with me, there’s a certain Mozart playlist that generates a Pavlovian response within me to write. When I hear the music, my inner storyteller kicks in.

This is all well and good except the music I listen to is pretty upbeat (for Mozart, anyway) and I was having a hard time getting into the right mood to write some really dark, painful, sad scenes (not my typical mojo).

So I pulled up Google and searched “saddest classical music” and the first hit that came up was Continue reading

Jilly: Alpha Males and Guilty Pleasures

Alpha Males & Guilty PleasuresHow alpha do you like your heroes? If your favorites are uber-dominant types, do they inhabit a sub-genre that expects or requires that behavior?

In my reading life I greatly enjoy alpha male asshattery. There are provisos: obviously the asshat in question must be a good guy deep down, he must have brains and a sense of humor, and he must be enlightened enough to respect and enjoy being challenged by a heroine who’s his equal and maybe even stronger.

Even with those provisos met, though, most of my favorite heroes indulge in the kind of high-handed, obnoxious behavior that I would find totally unacceptable in real life. It’s been on my mind this week, because I’m in the first draft of a new story and I’m gradually filling in all sorts of details about my hero. As I’m writing contemporary romance, it’s closer to home, and I’m finding it tricky to get the balance right. I found it a struggle with the previous book, too: after reading my opening scene from an early draft (a McDaniel College romance writing assignment), Jenny Crusie said she’d keep reading, but only in the hope that my hero, Ian, would get hit by a bus. Continue reading

Michaeline: Lessons from the Great Masters: Pride & Prejudice

Darcy looks down on Mr. Collins, who is bowing with great (but false) humility before introducing himself.

Mr. Collins neglects to profit from Elizabeth Bennet’s advice. (The Ball at Netherfield, Darcy and Collins. Via Wikimedia Commons)

As I mentioned in the comments earlier this week, I am reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time. This time around, I’m trying to drag my brain away from the story and the political implications of gender, and really concentrate on the mechanics – how she made the story work. Dear readers, let me tell you, this is very difficult. I get so caught up in the world, it’s hard to remember to pay attention to the underpinnings and scaffolding. But, I have managed to catch glimpses of certain techniques.

Last night, I was reading Mr. Collins’ speech to Elizabeth Bennet at Netherfield Ball – the one where he’s determined to introduce himself to Mr. Darcy and give Darcy good tidings of Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourgh (who is also the woman who gave Collins his job as a clergyman).

The first thing that struck me was how elegantly Austen managed to portray a very complex man in a few sentences of dialog. His guiding star in life is summed up in this sentence: Continue reading

Justine: All I Want for Christmas…Fantasy Style

justine covington, writing, writers, christmasKudos to Nancy for knowing what she wants for Christmas. I rarely do, and irritate my husband when he asks me what I want and I answer, “I don’t know. I don’t really need anything.” (I can see him GRRRRing right now.)

Well, this year is different. I know what I want. The problem is I doubt anyone (even Santa!) can deliver.

My Christmas List — Fantasy Style (in no particular order): Continue reading

Jilly: Treat Yourself to Tom Hiddleston

Tom HiddlestonI come bearing gifts – not for the holidays, which are almost on us, but a dark treat for a dark January day when  festive euphoria has been succeeded by credit card hangover. I prescribe a top-notch top-up for the creative well, a brilliant portrait of a tragic hero by one of the world’s greatest playwrights, complete with clever staging, superb acting, and last but not least, bonus man-candy.

The 250 seat, not-for-profit Donmar Warehouse’s new production of Coriolanus stars Tom Hiddleston as the alpha soldier who should have stayed out of politics. He’s supported by a superb cast including Mark Gatiss (love him in Sherlock). Over-excited young women have been queuing overnight in foul, filthy London weather for scarcer-than-hen’s-teeth tickets, but on 30 January 2014 you can watch it Continue reading