Saturday, September 29th, 2012
… to enter the Design Miss Gwen’s Coat of Arms Contest!
You can find the rules here. The contest closes on Monday, October 1. I’ll be posting the entries on Tuesday, October 2 and opening it up for general voting.
I can’t tell you how impressed I am by the entries I’ve already received!
Friday, September 28th, 2012
Happy Friday! Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:
— Isabelle Holland, The Marchington Inheritance.
Remember that care package my roommate sent me over the summer? I’ve been eking it out, book by book. This one felt bizarrely topical, since it was set in New York and involved a UN meeting.
— John Harwood, The Seance.
I scared myself silly last year with The Ghost Writer, Harwood’s debut novel. While both do an excellent job of channeling the creepier side of Victorian storytelling, I was impressed by how different the two books were. I definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys classic ghost stories.
— Georgette Heyer, Sylvester.
This book is really about the growth and development of the hero. Heyer takes a man who has the external hero qualities (title, consequence, etc.), shows his flaws, and forces him, painfully, to realize his shortcomings and grow up. With, of course, all of the usual madcap humor.
— Liza Picard, Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840–1870.
A lively whirl through the various facets of daily life in mid-nineteenth century London.
— E.F. Benson, The Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson.
Classic British ghost stories– after all, we are heading towards Halloween.
What have you been reading?
Thursday, September 27th, 2012
Say hello to The Passion of the Purple Plumeria!
Coming to you August 6, 2013!
At some point, I will get a higher resolution, corrected image (can you find the typo?), but I couldn’t resist sharing this with you right away.
There was an attempt to put a parasol into the picture, but, as usual, Miss Gwen didn’t cooperate….
You can find an excerpt from The Passion of the Purple Plumeria here.
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
As I try to hammer my way through the first few chapters of my second stand alone novel, I’ve been thinking a lot about book beginnings, all the false starts that we forget about once the book has safely taken shape.
The header on all of my old files for The Ashford Affair is Ashford Redux— “redux” because the version that you all will be seeing this April was my second take on the material.
When I first started writing Ashford, back in the spring of 2011, I was focused on the character of Addie, a poor cousin who, through the upheaval of a World War and all that follows, finally finds her place in the world, coming out of the shadow of her charming, but sometimes poisonous, cousin Bea. The original narrative was begun in the first person, in Addie’s voice. (The Prologue, which you can read here, was originally written entirely in the first person.) I wrote nearly a hundred pages that way before realizing there was just something that didn’t work. It was missing something.
What it was missing was Clemmie, my modern heroine. I can remember the exact moment it hit me. I had been visiting my friend Liz in Florence (hi, Liz!), where she had spent hours talking me through the Addie and Bea relationship, trying to help me figure out just why I was so stuck. I was sitting in the airport in Florence, waiting for the connecting flight that would take me to Charles de Gaulle and from there back to New York, when the idea hit: I needed to have Addie’s story gradually discovered and filtered through her granddaughter.
Clemmie had already existed in the original version, but as a side character, seen through older Addie’s eyes. Shifting the focus of the story from Addie to Clemmie and the entire book from the first person to the third person made everything snap into focus. I sat there in that tiny waiting room in the airport, scribbling madly into my notebook. When I came home, I opened a new file on my computer: Ashford Redux.
It’s hard for me, now, to remember what that original story felt like, told in the first person by a very elderly Addie. It was a good writing exercise, a good way to get a sense of her voice, but the story really didn’t come together until Clemmie appeared and acted as the glue. (You can read the first Clemmie chapter here.)
Right now, my work in progress exists under the working title Herne Hill. I’m hoping I won’t have a Herne Redux… but with a work in progress, you never know.
Monday, September 24th, 2012
Last week, I posted about historical friends to lovers plots. This week, it’s on to contemporary-set novels.
If you like friends to lovers stories set in the now (or near now), you’ll probably like….
— No one does friends to lovers stories like Kristan Higgins. My favorite is Fools Rush In, but you can’t go wrong with The Next Best Thing or Just One Of The Guys.
— I recently read Robyn Carr’s Sunrise Point, which did a beautiful job building the friendship between the hero and heroine on their way to falling in love.
— For an oldie but goodie, there’s Judith McNaught’s Remember When, in which the heroine rediscovers a childhood friend who shows up just in time to save her from disastrous public humiliation.
— In the realm of British chick lit, there’s Kate Saunders’s Bachelor Boys, where it takes a while for old friends to realize they’re just right for each other (her other novel, The Marrying Game, is also arguably a friends to lovers story).
— I haven’t read any Sarah Mayberry yet, but I’ve heard she writes excellent friends to lovers stories.
Which contemporary friends to lovers stories would you recommend?
Friday, September 21st, 2012
Happy Friday, all! Here’s what I’ve been reading this week.
— Harriet Evans, Happily Ever After.
I’ve been reading Harriet Evans’s books since a friend gave me A Hopeless Romantic as a gift years ago. I think of her books as the next stage after chick lit: that frank, open tone, the addressing of day to day modern lives, but dealing with deeper emotions and larger issues than traditional chick lit. This one was the best of the lot so far, showing the full progression of the character’s growth from a naive just out of university girl to a grown up editor in her thirties, charting the various stages along the way.
— P.G. Wodehouse, Blandings Castle.
This was really two collections in one: a series of short stories centered around Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle (think an older version of Turnip Fitzhugh, or a septagenarian Bertie Wooster), and then a bunch of short stories about Englishmen in Hollywood. The former batch, on Wodehouse’s usual turf of country house shenanigans, were sheer genius.
— Kristan Higgins, The Next Best Thing.
This is an old favorite re-read for me, contemporary romance set in a small town in Rhode Island.
— Teresa Grant, The Paris Affair (aka The Princess’s Secret).
One of the perks of being a writer is getting to read books before they come out. The Paris Affair is the follow up to Vienna Waltz and Imperial Scandal, the third Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch mystery set in the midst of the intrigue immediately following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
What have you been reading?
Thursday, September 20th, 2012
… to submit an entry for the Design Miss Gwen’s Coat of Arm’s contest!
The winning entry will be featured on an item (mug, t-shirt, tote bag) of the winner’s choice. Just email me with a jpeg of your design by October 1.
To kick off the heraldic display, here’s Miss Eliza’s version of Miss Gwen’s coat of arms:
Anyone have any suggestions for a motto?
Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
In the not too distant future, a list of some of the sources I used while researching The Ashford Affair will pop up on the Diversions page. It’s by no means an exhaustive list (compiling these things months after the fact always leads to omissions, some deliberate, some accidental), but it gives you an idea.
Here’s a preview of that bibliography….
Monday, September 17th, 2012
Among the wonderful “if you like” requests was one for novels featuring friends to lovers plots. As I started listing them, I realized that this category was much larger than I’d imagined– so I’ve broken it into two. This week, I’ll be listing historical romances featuring friends to lovers, and next week I’ll itemize my favorite contemporaries with that theme.
If you like historical-set novels featuring friends to lovers plots, you’ll probably like….
— Jane Austen’s Emma, the classic friends to lovers tale (hello, Mr. Knightley!);
— Georgette Heyer’s Sprig Muslin, one of my all time Heyer favorites (the group scene at the end is sheer comic genius);
— Joan Wolf’s The Pretenders, a Regency romance in which a pair of friends cook up a fake engagement for their mutual convenience and find themselves forced to go through with it;
— Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mister Bridgerton, in which it takes Colin Bridgerton rather a while to realize that Penelope Featherington is more than just a friend (see also, Julia Quinn’s Just Like Heaven);
— Jessica Benson’s The Accidental Duchess, in which our heroine winds up married to the wrong brother, and discovers that his feelings for her are more than friendship;
— and also in the Regency realm (since there are many, and listing them individually is taking up a lot of space), Loretta Chase’s Last Night’s Scandal, Mary Balogh’s Irresistible, Sarah MacLean’s A Rogue by Any Other Name, and my own Masque of the Black Tulip.
— Moving forward to the Victorians and Edwardians, the books that come to mind include Sherry Thomas’s Ravishing the Heiress, an arranged marriage that turns into a genuine friendship before maturing into a love match; Meredith Duran’s Wicked Becomes You; Laura Lee Guhrke’s Scandal of the Year; and Lisa Kleypas’s Seduce Me at Sunrise.
I have the niggling feeling that there are a bunch of medieval-set friends to lovers novels if I could only remember them….
Which historical friends to lovers stories would you recommend?