Nancy: One Kiss From Ruin Cover Reveal!

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you probably know by now I’m writing a Victorian romance series. The tagline for my Harrow’s Finest Five series is “Smart women, sexy men, steamy passions, and the occasional scandal in 1870s England”. The first book in the HFF story world, Too Clever by Half, is already out in the real world. And very soon, that book is going to get some company.

One Kiss from Ruin, the first full-length novel in the series, will be released in February! Here, for the very first time anywhere on the interwebs, is the book’s lovely cover. And while I shared the first version of the back cover copy way back in 2018, that’s been updated, so here’s the latest and greatest book description.

Once upon a time, they were in love. Then everything went wrong… Continue reading

Nancy: The Fine Art of Receiving a Critique

Last week, Jeanne discussed critiquing manuscripts for newbie writers, and yesterday Justine talked about revising (and revising, and revising!) the opening chapters of the first book in her historical romance series. With both of these posts on my mind and no less than three (three!) revisions of my own to complete, from minor tweaks in one story to major revisions in another to something in between on the third, today I’m thinking about the best way to bridge the gap between getting back comments from a trusted critiquer and putting a revision plan into action.

We’ve discussed a lot of the steps I’m going to suggest here at 8LW in the past, and much of the way the Ladies approach critique work is based on the guidance Jenny Crusie* gave us while we studied with her in our McDaniel writing program. But with so many of us knee deep (or eyeballs deep) in the critique and revision process, let’s revisit some of the basics, ICYMI (or ICYNAR – in case you need a refresher). Continue reading

Nancy: Liar, Liar, Page on Fire

Characters lie. They do it all the time. They lie to themselves when they convince themselves they’re after an external McGuffin when they’re really searching for love, or acceptance, or loss of everything so they can start over fresh. They lie to other characters in conversations, and give away the truth in their interior monologues and actions. Sometimes they even lie to readers, especially in the cases of the recently-popular, unreliable narrators in books like Hawkins’s Girl on the Train and Flynn’s Gone Girl.

But what happens when one of the leads in a romance story lies to the other lead? Will readers root for someone lying to our girl/our guy and still want the liar to get the HEA? How long can a character lie and still be considered redeemable? Are there circumstances that make this character choice more palatable?

These are the questions I pondered as I worked on the discovery phase of the next novel in my Harrow’s Finest Five series. This is Percy’s story, for those who have read the novella. And the story kicks off with our heroine (Finola) telling one whopper of a lie to get Percy’s attention and, ultimately, help.

I ran multiple scenarios about when, where, and how my heroine would come clean. I talked to readers. I reread stories I remembered with some level of deception between the characters. After all that, I have lots of thoughts, but my main take-away is that whether the lie is tolerable and forgivable all comes down to “why”. Continue reading

Nancy: New Year, New Writer, Zen Edition

Welcome to the last post of 2018! Hard to believe, isn’t it? And you know what the end of the year means. Recaps and reviews of 2018. Resolutions and predictions for 2019. Here at 8LW, it also means discussing our writing plans for the new year. Today, I’m keeping up that tradition, and expanding it to other important areas of life.

You might have noticed over the past year that I’ve set lots of writing goals, accomplished several of them, and missed the mark on others. Overall, I made good progress, but in the coming year I hope to do better. But I also burned out when we reached December, and next year, I’d like to avoid that end-of-year collapse. You’ll be shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to learn I have a plan to do better in 2019. And it all begins with balance in a few key areas of my life. Continue reading

Nancy: In Praise of Rest

Last week at this time, I was on day five of a virus from hell. A little less than three weeks ago, I was in a doctor’s office learning that, according to some X-rays of my hip, I have an issue that requires a change to my workout regimen for the foreseeable future. And a few weeks before that, I’d had a stiff neck/pinch nerved – possibly related to having my alignment thrown off by the bum hip – that made it difficult to climb out of bed. What all of these ailments have in common, other than making me feel like I’m approximately one hundred years old, is they were, to some extent, preventable.

Given these circumstances, a normal person might think, “What am I doing that’s making me so physically vulnerable?” I, on the other hand, thought, “When will all this be over so I can get back to my normal, totally unrealistic, and probably unsustainable schedule?” At some point, maybe it was around day three of the virus, I knew it was time to abandon my mind-over-matter mindset and listen to what my body, my orthopedist, and the universe were trying to tell me. Assuming you’re less obtuse than I, you can probably see where this is going.

It’s time to slow down a bit. Not forever. But for a while. And probably time to come up with a more sustainable long-term approach that builds downtime into my plans.

So today I present myself as a cautionary tale. Behold what happens when you set up unmanageable expectations. I’ve spent the past nine months riding hellbound for leather to reach a multitude of goals in 2018. And I’ve met most of them, so yay! But follow my lead at your own peril, because you could break something. Quite literally. Continue reading

Nancy: Progress and Plans

Welcome to December! While I’m labeling today’s post accountability thread, you’ll note that in place of the runners jumping over hurdles image I usually include, I’ve chosen a picture of a woman in a zen pose as she looks out at the mountains in front of her. That’s in honor of the kinder, gentler approach I’m going to take this month to scaling all the cliffs in front of me. With the holidays, family obligations, and some exhaustion setting in from the breakneck pace I’ve been trying to keep, I don’t have much choice.

By this time in January, I might be lacing up my Sauconies and hitting the trail, sprinting up the side of the next mountain. But for today, I’m going to calmly celebrate November’s accomplishments and peacefully prepare my December plans. Continue reading

Nancy: Release Day Cometh!

Author proof copies of Too Clever by Half.

The time is almost upon us. This Thursday, November 29, the first book in my Victorian romance series Harrow’s Finest Five will go out into the world. I’m having all the feels. Joy. Trepidation. Excitement. Dread. While I’ll continue marketing it, talking and writing about it, and sharing word of its existence far and wide, it’s well and truly time to let go of the story and let it find its own place in the world. Which, coincidentally (or maybe not so much), is what the hero and heroine of this series-launching novella are doing – finding their place in the world.

As you can imagine, I can think about little else this week. But unless you’re new to the blog, you’ve probably already read my posts about the series, the novella cover, and the story description. So what else can I tell you about Too Clever by Half and the HFF series during release week? Continue reading