Nancy: What I Learned from Reading Seven Romances in a Week(ish)

Like some of the other ladies on the blog, this year I was a judge for an RWA contest, the RITA. I was tasked with reading seven published books in different contest categories (read: not competing against each other) and given approximately two months to complete and score them. Easy peasy. I would read one contest book per week, record my scores online, and be done in plenty of time.

Er…Um…Well, you know how it goes. I got behind on writing here, picked up books off my TBR pile there, got distracted by a shiny object across the room, and the next thing I knew, I only had two weeks left to read all seven of my entries. Goal: seven romance books in seven days, with a week of wiggle room. Outcome: seven books in ten days. Deadline, schmedline. I finished with four days to spare.

Because I’ve always read in diverse genres and like to mix it up, I’m not sure I’ve ever read that many books in a row in romance or any other single category. This unusual (for me) approach to reading allowed me to compare and contrast the books as a reader and as a writer. Three of the books were quite good. If I’d been reading them in the wild, I would have stuck with them and probably given up some sleep and, for one or two of them, possibly even some writing time to finish the stories. A fourth was also good and I would have finished it, but it would have taken me a few days and several reading sessions to do so. A fifth was just ‘meh’ for me, and absent the requirement to read it for the contest, I might have wandered away from it if I’d had another book waiting. (And honestly, who doesn’t always have another book or ten waiting?) As for the last two books, oy! They would have been DNFs for me if I’d had a choice.

Following are my top takeaways from going all romance, all the time, for seven books and ten days, starting with the good, moving to the bad, and ending with the ugly. Continue reading

Michille: Procrasti Nation Again

The View

Sometimes I have difficulty coming up with ideas for this blog. When I do, I start with my old blog posts to see if any of them spark ideas for new ones. In today’s case, I found one from almost exactly a year ago that sums up where I am now. AGAIN.

In November I was going gangbusters on my WIP. I kept up the progress for a couple of months and then . . . ppppfffttt. The motivation fizzled out. I think part of it came from the realization that, not only did I miss the Golden Heart deadline, but I would have to miss RWA. AGAIN. (big sigh) And part of it is, of course, life interrupted. So now I’m back living in the same place I was a year ago. Continue reading

Nancy: In Praise of Backstory

Last week, Jeanne wrote about needing help figuring out how the characters in her book progressed to a second date in their years’-earlier relationship. In the comments, there were some great suggestions for how she could figure out how the hero convinced the heroine to go out with him after a less-than-stellar first date. In addition to the brainstorming, I liked some other things about Jeanne’s post, such as 1) an excerpt – yay! and 2) some love for the backstory she’s creating for her characters.

We’ve discussed backstory on the blog before. I wrote about it here and here, giving some examples of where you’ve seen and why it’s not such a bad thing. As I’m deep into a story that depends on multiple levels of backstory, and juxtaposed with Jeanne sharing her bit of backstory she’s writing for her WIP, I thought it a prescient time for a reminder of how important this nifty little element of fiction is. According to writing teacher extraordinaire Lisa Cron’s philosophy, backstory is the backbone of story itself. Continue reading

Nancy: Still Workin’ It

Last month at about this time, in my February accountability post, I circled back to my New Year New Writer approach for 2019, something-something zen, something-something balance. Okay, to quote our mentor Jenny Crusie, it’s a process, people!

I’m continuing to clear detritus, both in the business and personal spheres. I’m learning new things about the marketing side of writing, and reminding myself that I actually love learning new things when I allow my brain enough time and space to absorb the lessons. Still, the most important part of this whole process is getting the stories out of my head and onto the page, so here’s a summary of last month’s progress and this month’s plan. Continue reading

Nancy: One Kiss from Ruin…And a Special Surprise!

I’ve been quiet here on the blog for the past few weeks, but I’ve had a good reason: the release day for One Kiss from Ruin, Book 1 of the Harrow’s Finest Five series, is this week on February 28th! As you can imagine, I’ve been a bit busy. But now I’m here to share the good news, a happy dance, and a special friend-of-the-blog preorder with you. (More on that in a minute.)

To the left, you can see the lovely cover of the book. It’s probably not the FINAL final cover, but that’s a story for another day. Today, let’s focus on the happy news. And just as a reminder, here’s the description of this, the first full-length novel, in the HFF world. Continue reading

Nancy: Valentine’s Day Traditions

A few days ago, Michaeline gave us the best possible reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming by sharing a romantic short story with us. What I found disturbing – and admitting this could get my romance writer card pulled – is that I actually needed the reminder.

It’s safe to say it’s not a high-priority holiday in our house.

However, we sometimes enjoy a small Valentine’s Day celebration. When we remember it. And we have a few traditions on those occasions, including handmade cards and a special double chocolate dessert. No flowers (I’m allergic to nearly everything with pollen), and no dinner at a crowded restaurant (amirite, fellow introverts?). In their dating days, my daughter and now son-in-law began their tradition of celebrating every Valentine’s Day in a different city. This year’s destination: Honolulu, HI. White sand, 75°F weather, and tropical drinks. (I raised a smart kid.) Continue reading

Nancy: Clearing the Decks

As I mentioned in my last post of 2018, New Year New Writer – Zen Edition, in 2019, I’m working on balance. Balance between extreme fitness goals and creature comforts, online life and IRL friendships, work and play. One of the things I need to do to before I can even think about balance, though, is whittle down my to-do list du jours.

Some people might suggest not writing a to-do list every day. To those people I would say What is wrong with you? And when I’d recovered from my shock, I’d politely point out our brains must work very differently, and I’d spend the rest of the day wondering how anyone functions without a to-do list. Continue reading