Justine: (Is It?) All About the Book Cover

Recently, Nancy debuted her cover for the first novel-length book in her series, and Kay posted about the redesign she recently did for a previously published book. I find myself in slightly different territory…I don’t have a book published (although it’s coming later this year), yet I’m already redesigning the cover. Why, you may ask?

Marie Kondo. That’s why.

My cover does not “spark joy.” Don’t get me wrong…it’s a pretty good cover. But as time goes by, and the more I look at other covers in my genre, the more I think Continue reading

Justine: Finding My Own Cover Models and Staging a Shoot (part 1)

photo shootThis will be the first in a many-part post (which will happen over several months) about finding my own cover models and doing a custom photo shoot for my future book covers.

It stems from a lovely conversation-in-the-comments the Eight Ladies had with Ron Miller from Black Cat Studios, who designs many (if not all) of Lois McMaster Bujold’s covers. He talked about the creative process and showed us, via a series of links, how he goes from a simple picture of his wife or daughter (frequent models for him) to the final cover.

This and other conversations on various Facebook groups got me thinking that it might be worthwhile to find my own cover models, because here’s the problem in historical romance: there is a lack of original stock photography (assuming one wants a lady or man in proper historical clothing…I could always go for the 80s prom dress look as some authors have done, but that doesn’t suit me). Continue reading

Elizabeth: March Regency Story Snippet

A Receipt for Courtship, 1805

Normally, this would be the day that I post a new monthly short story, but Jilly and Nancy both posted story snippets in their recent posts, so I thought I’d continue that trend this month instead.

My Writing Exercises post last Wednesday featured a couple, stuck together in a cramped closet.  Coincidentally, I’ve been working on my Regency romance, which just so happens to include a couple trapped together in close quarters, so I thought that might be a fun scene to share.

As a little set-up, Michael (Wallingford) is searching for the source of some treason accusations.  He and Abigail are married, but it was a marriage of convenience and they are in the process of getting to know one another.    Abigail is, as you will notice, not your typical, demure Regency miss.

Would love to hear what you think (what works and/or what doesn’t).

Enjoy. Continue reading

Justine: Some Historical Fun in the Kitchen

Program note: I have a set of blog posts planned over the next several weeks geared for the newbie writer. I’m calling it “Back to Basics,” as I find myself going back to the storytelling basics as I work on my new contemporary romance. Also, beginning next week, Nancy Hunter and I will be alternating Tuesdays. I’ll start with my first “Back to Basics” piece, then she’ll blog the following week. We hope you’ll tune in!

In the meantime…I’m taking you back in time!

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Last week, I followed a link from Isabella Bradford and Loretta Chase’s site Two Nerdy History Girls and after much clicking and reading, I found these amazing videos of cooking in a real Georgian kitchen.

256px-Kew_Palace_-_Queen's_Garden

Kew Palace (rear) and Queen’s Gardens. Image courtesy WikiMedia Commons.

The kitchen, located in a separate building from Kew Palace, is one of the few original Georgian kitchens restored as it was last used over 200 years ago. Here you can learn Continue reading

Justine: The Road Map to…

"The Cotillion Dance" by Caldwall. 1771. Courtesy The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

“The Cotillion Dance” by Caldwall. 1771. Courtesy The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

I am reading Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion right now…I’m about half way through, and it occurred to me the other night at this midpoint that I’m not quite sure who Kitty is going to end up with.

Note: I am NOT finished the book, so please don’t be a spoil-sport and spoil it for me! I’m happy to talk more about the exciting conclusion when I wrap it up!

At the outset, I believed it to be Jack Westruthers, whom Kitty has been in love with for an age, but who she now “hates” (I think that should be in quotation marks – after all, she’s wanted to slap him twice so far) because he’s always ignored her.

However, Jack is a bit of a cad. That might be an understatement. Or an overstatement. I’m not sure yet whether he’s playing Kitty or his cousins Hugh or Freddy. And Freddy…lovely Mr. Standen, future Viscount Legerwood, Kitty’s fiancé-for-pretend (gee, this sounds familiar), who originally seemed the stuck-up town beau, is turning out to be quite a charming guy, even if he is suspicious of Kitty’s cousin, the chevalier.

What I find so interesting at this juncture is Continue reading

Justine: Regency Research Books

The beautiful Regency-era music room at Kenwood House outside London. Photo (c) 2015 J. Covington

The beautiful Regency-era music room at Kenwood House outside London. Photo (c) 2015 J. Covington

I just returned from ten fabulous days with Jilly in England where I saw all manner of museums, country houses, old ships, and gorgeous churches, big and small. The only downside is the horrible jet lag I’m suffering with today. Combine that with a deadline to return revised manuscripts to two contests I finaled in and a Kindergarten “promotion” ceremony on Wednesday for my little one means I’m recycling a previous post.

I plan to post soon about the dozen or so books I picked up while I was in England, but for now, here’s a recap of some of the ones I’ve read over the last year and enjoyed.

“What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist — the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth Century England” by Daniel Pool
This book covers the gamut. Card games, how to address your peers, the Church of England, MPs, you name it. Everything is covered at a high enough level that you learn about it, but you won’t necessarily become an expert. The most helpful insight so far: learning how many players it takes for a game of loo. Continue reading

Justine: Finding a Pot of Story Gold

story ideas, history in story, historical events, writing, eight ladies writing, corn lawsHappy St. Patrick’s Day! One of the best things that can happen to a writer is to find a pot of “story gold.” That wonderful, juicy tidbit of information that lends credibility, interest, or detail to your story. My pot of gold? The Corn Laws.

(Yeah, I know…you’re scratching your head, saying, “Eh?” Stick with me, though!)

The Corn Laws were British tariffs assigned to imported grain or corn (anything that could be ground), but especially wheat. They were the result of a political dispute between the Continue reading