Justine: Cold-Starting the Writing Process

A few weeks ago, fellow Eight Lady Jeanne shared with us a video of Diana Gabaldon’s cold start process…in other words, how she turns on her writing mojo when she’s stuck. Turns out, in this example, she used a Sotheby’s catalog to simulate her creativity.

Diana’s cold start process is vastly different from Jeanne’s, which gave her to think it would be interesting (and perhaps helpful) if all the Eight Ladies shared how we get going when the words just won’t come. So, starting today, for the next week, we’ll share the processes we use when we need to get writing. (No writer’s block for us!) Continue reading

Nancy: The Subversively Feminist Genre

poldarkOh, the internet. Sometimes it leads us to deep, dark places we didn’t intend to go. Sometimes it lulls us into the false sense that we are reading something thoughtful and informative, only to lower the boom on our unsuspecting heads. Even when we do find something engaging and helpful, there is always the risk of falling into the pit of despair that is the comments section. And so it happened that I stumbled upon a nest of romance genre haters buried deep in a comment thread of an article that had nothing to do with the romance genre.

It all started innocently enough. I’d had a conversation with a friend about the Poldark series on PBS. I’d wanted to love this series, but after watching the first episode, I was left cold and abandoned it. After the conversation with my friend, I decided to do a little research about the series and see if there was something I’d missed or maybe some shift in future episodes that would make it worth another try. In my online quest for knowledge, I came upon an article that announced the shows creators and writers had decided to remove a controversial storyline in the books from the TV series, a storyline in which the protagonist rapes his former love interest. Yikes.

While not all protagonists are heroes, watchers had apparently latched onto Ross Poldark as an heroic lead, and keeping the rape scene would no doubt outrage and alienate viewers. I, for one, applaud that decision. ‘Heroes’ can be tortured, dark, and troubled yet still redeemable. But rapists? In 2016, probably not redeemable in the reading or viewing audience’s eyes.

That was all fine and good and gave me food for thought as I considered whether this series was worth my limited time and attention. Then I made a crucial mistake. (We’ve all done it.) I scrolled to the bottom of the article and started reading the comments. There were opinions about the show, overall praise for the showmakers’ decision to cut the rape scene, and a thread that pointed out that of course Poldark was rapey because romances are thinly-veiled rape fantasies and at least the TV series would clean up the mess created in the romance book series. WTFingF??? Continue reading

Jilly: The Scottish Question

 The Scottish Question (Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons)

The Other Scottish Question
      (Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons)

I have a question. As a reader, when you see a Scottish setting, do you automatically think a story must be historical? If you saw clear signals that a love story was set in present-day Scotland, would that surprise you? Would it ring your wrong-o-meter?

I ask because I recently received some feedback from a contest judge. I’m paraphrasing a little, but she said something like: I gave you a low score because your entry is a contemporary romance set in the Scottish Highlands. Everyone knows that if a book is set in Scotland, it must be a historical romance, so I feel strongly that your story has broken the promise to the reader, who will inevitably feel disappointed.

My entry was in the ‘contemporary romance’ category, I’d taken care to use a modern-sounding title, my characters were wearing contemporary clothing and using present-day language in a twenty-first century business discussion, so I was somewhat gobsmacked and not a little cheesed off Continue reading

Jilly: Kilts – Hot or Not?

Kilts - hot or notImportant question of the week: are men in kilts hot?

The hero of my contemporary-romance-in-progress, Ian, is a proud Scot who lives on a breathtakingly beautiful estate in the Scottish Highlands, so I should have given this question more thought before now, but honestly, I didn’t. Ian moved into my head about fourteen years ago, shortly after I spent a few days at Skibo Castle, so I’ve been living with him for a long time 🙂 . Check out this link and you’ll see why I was inspired. If you’d asked me the kilt question, I’d have said Ian would wear one at weddings and important family occasions – for sure when he marries my heroine, Rose, he will be in a kilt and so will his brother, Cameron, and his best friend, Rob – but for me it was a part of Ian’s identity, not something I chose to make him an insta-hottie. Continue reading

Jilly: Stories That Stand the Test of Time

Universal Themes

Universal Themes

Why do some stories continue to capture the public’s imagination for years, decades or even centuries?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. It started with Outlander. We’ve been talking about the book and the Starz TV series in Kat’s posts here, on our private blog, and in a polite but robust email discussion this week about whether the plot is palatable to a modern audience. Somewhere in the mix, somebody (pretty sure it was Kay) said something like: I always wonder, why this book?

Then last Thursday I Continue reading

Kat: Outlander: A Hero is a Hero…Except When He’s Not

Outlander 2014

“Outlander” (c) 2014 Starz Entertainment, LLC

After four episodes, Outlander is finally heating up. Problem is, the heat is coming from someone other than hero, Jamie Fraser.

Watching the producers adapt Outlander to the small screen, condensing the 800+ book while staying true to the story, has been an education in writing and editing.  Thus far the series writers have done a good job of figuring out what to show vs. tell, but they’ve been slightly less succesful in handling the extensive backstory that’s necessary to the story. The first two episodes have been “a wee bit” slow. Continue reading

Kat: Outlander – The Series

Outlander, Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

“Outlander” (c) 2014 Starz Entertainment, LLC

One of my favorite book series is now a television show on the Starz network. Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a married British World War II nurse who is transported back in time to eighteenth century Scotland where she finds her soul mate, Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser.

For those of you unfamiliar with this fabulous series, the first book (Outlander) is a huge departure from the traditional romance novel in structure (tops out at over 1000 page) and tone (realism is the norm). It breaks other “rules” too (lots of backstory, lots of trouble, among other things). So I was interested to see exactly how the series would be adapted to the small screen. Too many times, I’ve found that television or movie adaptions fall short of the original novels and are disappointing. I was familiar with the casting (and hardily approved!), so in my mind it was a matter of whether the adaption would stick close to the book, and if it did, how the producers would cram 1000+ pages into sixteen hours. Continue reading