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5 Things with Samantha Grace

Today we have bestselling Regency romance author Samantha Grace visiting. Her newest novel, One Rogue Too ManPose 12y, first in a new series, just came out on January 7th. Welcome to the blog, Samantha!

1) Since romance authors always write about falling in love, when and how did you discover you were in love? I knew I was falling in love with my husband (boyfriend at the time) when he helped me find homes for a litter of kittens the stray I took in had. He made me laugh the whole time by joking and writing goofy signs to get everyone’s attention. Where we lived, the shelter didn’t take cats, so we sat outside a store in 90-degree weather to find them homes. The kitties had shade and water, but we didn’t. It wasn’t pretty! LOL. My husband was so sweet with the kitties. I think a man who loves cats is pretty awesome.

2) Did you have a nickname growing up? My friend’s obnoxious younger brother gave me the nickname Moose Wobblesam1r when I broke my foot and was on crutches. All my friends jumped on board and started calling me Moose. I hated it! Looking back, it’s funny now. I was a 5’ 2”, 110-pound teen girl called Moose. I guess he was being ironic.

3) Where is the most beautiful/romantic place you’ve ever been? Without a doubt, it’s Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I’ve always loved the outdoors and hiking, and there is a short hike to get to the falls. A beautiful mist rose from the base of the waterfall, and there were three rainbows. Locally it’s known as Mosi Oa Tunya, which means, “the smoke that thunders”. At the time, someone in the group said it meant “where angels live”. Either description fits.

4) What are your top three favorite movies? The Shawshank Redemption, Silver Linings Playbook, and Where the Heart Is.

5) What is the most embarrassing song/app on your iPod? I was a latecomer to Candy Crush. I’ve stopped playing it since level 107 became the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, I moved on to Pet Rescue and Farm Heroes. I never post anything to FB or ask friends for help, because I don’t like being manipulated by corporations. I refuse to pay anything or harass friends to play a silly game. All are great mindless activities when I need a mental break, though.

To connect with Samantha…
Samantha Grace Author | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

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I Resolve to Write

Every New Year each of us makes resolutions about our writing. “I’ll write 5 pages every day.” “I’ll sell my first book.” “I’ll snag that great agent.” And while each of these is admirable and there is nothing wrong with them, I think they miss the point of what it takes to be a published author and to continue to be a selling author. Here is the resolution I propose: I want to become a better writer.

There isn’t a writer who would be unable to make this resolution. We all have areas in our writing that could stand some improvement. So if you were willing to make this resolution (and really who doesn’t want to improve their craft?) let’s look at the steps to make the next year your own personal Year of Craft:

1) Take a self inventory of your writing and decide what are your weak points. If you don’t know, ask your critique group or someone who has read your writing. Ferret out whatever it is that keeps your manuscript from making the leap from the slush pile to bestsellerdom, and then conquer it. Plotting your weak point? Emotional depth in your characters? Sagging middles? Pinpoint the problem (or problems) and get to work. Read how-to books, (Need some recommendations? Here are 21 fabulous, author-endorsed, awesome books on writing) take online classes, find authors who excel at your weakness and read them voraciously. The point is to learn how to overcome a weakness.

2) Discover your strengths. Find out what makes your storytelling unique and learn how to capitalize on this skill or skills. It may seem redundant or a waste of time to improve what you are good at, but what you are good at may be the skill that becomes the very foundation of your voice and work. Train like it is for the Olympics.

3) Resolve to finish a book. You will never sell a book if you don’t write it. Consider this: write one page a day and in a year your book will be done. One measly page. 250 words. They don’t have to be perfect, they don’t have to be great—that is what revisions are for. But a completed draft is a far sight closer to publishing than a pile of blank pages. Besides, writing is a craft, like any other art and it isn’t mastered the first time you type the words to the page. It is mastered through writing thousands and thousands of words. Through practice and study. Through writing touching scenes, and page turning hooks, and black moments. By shoring up weak plot points. By sometimes forging ahead without a solid path behind you. But finish the book. You will learn more finishing than you will ever learn starting project after project.

4) Master the craft of revisions. Learn to self-edit. Learn to craft your story, either with a finished draft or one page at a time—whatever works for you. Again, there are wonderful books on this subject, as well as online classes to help.

5) Find your people to get you through the dull days of winter, the bright promise of spring, the beckoning rays of summer and the cool breezes of fall. Join a critique group, attend a writer’s conference, take an online class, join a loop that encourages you. Find that monthly, weekly, daily motivation that keeps you writing the same story from “It was a dark and stormy night,” to “Happily Ever After.”

And the best way to keep any writing resolution? Keep writing. With every word you only get better.

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5 Things with Deb Marlowe

USA bestselling Regency Romance author Deb Marlowe is here today. Welcome to the blog, Deb, and thanks for answering these five questions…

1) Do you celebrate when you finish a book and what you do? I know this is going to sound weird, but the first thing I do when I finish a book . . . I clean the refrigerator. What fun, right? But people—I live with boys! Most days I am the only thing standing between them and a microbial war zone. And when I’m in the last throes of a book, I abandon the fight. There’s just something about the end of a book, you have to surrender yourself to it—and that means letting the men in my life handle the home front. I usually write The End and look up to find chaos. So I pick up my trusty spray bottles and enter the fray… and I start with the fridge, move on to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Shrug. It’s not the champagne and chocolate most people expect, but it’s become my ritual.

DebM2) What is the most embarrassing song/app on your iPod? Most embarrassing song—Pikagirl. I shamefacedly admit that I’ve heard this enough times in the car with Youngest that I know most of the words. I even get most of the Pokemon references. Hangs head.

3) If you could choose any 3 people in history to meet, who would they be? Ooh! First—my historical figure man crush—Giovanni Batista Belzoni—fascinating man! Second—Jane Austen. I think I’d like to bask in all that wit for a day. And third…? Today I think I’ll say Genghis Khan.

4) Where is the strangest place a story idea came to you from? An invitation to my High School Reunion. It immediately dragged forth thoughts of my unrequited high school crush. I then started thinking about how a Regency heroine would handle a similar situation. That started me off on a friends-to-lovers second chance romance that became my first book.

5) What is the very first romance novel that you read? The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was instantly hooked. I went on to read lots of historical romance, sharing them with my mom and my grandma. We devoured Jude Devereaux, Dorothy Garlock, Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood. For me, Romance has always been about female bonding.

You can find Deb on her website, Facebook page, or Twitter. Have a great Tuesday!

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Organization Before Writing Pays Big Dividends

Time spent organizing a project before you sit down to write is always time well spent. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your writing routine:

1) Organize the chapters of your novel into individual sections in a notebook and keep it on your desktop, so it is always within easy reach. Add chapter relevant research and notes to the notebook as you are writing your first draft. This also works very easily if you use the writing software, Scrivener. I find Scrivener’s Project Notes so handy for this type of story miscellaneous.

All the genius that is Scrivener.


2) Chart your chapters, tracking the scenes in each chapter. This makes a quick and handy reference when you need to remember what chapter a scene is in. I love that I can do this in Scrivener by just glancing over at the outline of scenes in the Binder section.

3) List all the characters, cities and places in your story, with a brief description of each. It works as a quick reference as to the hair/eye color of a character, as well as the spelling of a name when you are tired and can’t remember if a secondary character is Alaster or Alistar. Again, because I use Scrivener, I use the Project notes and keep one titled “Characters”. Or go old school and tack this and your scene chart up near your computer for quick reference.

I probably should have just titled this post, My LOVE of Scrivener and How It Saves My Writing Ass. You can find more about Scrivener at Literature & Latte.

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5 Things with Sabrina Jeffries

New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries is visiting today, to play our Five Questions game.Her reworked Deborah Martin novel Silver Deceptions hits stores today, and the cover is just gorgeous! Welcome to the blog, Sabrina…
Sabrina_SD_Cover1) Did you have a nickname growing up? Sadly, yes. My dad called me Debbity-Dog. Deputy Dog was a favorite cartoon in our house.

2) Where is the most beautiful/romantic place you’ve ever been? The most beautiful was the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, where my family used to vacation. Mountains plus rainforest were the winning combo.

3) How do you pick the names of your Heroes/Heroines? I use a book called The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names. I just thumb through it until I find one I like.

4) Do you celebrate when you finish a book and what you do? I do celebrate. I eat pizza and do a jigsaw puzzle. And occasionally margaritas are involved.

5) Print or ebook? Both!

 

You can find Sabrina on her website, Facebook, or Twitter. Or check out Silver Deceptions here.

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5 Things with Erica Monroe

USA Today bestselling historical romance author Erica Monroe is here on the blog today! She writes dark, action-packed romances that take readers to the back alleys and dark street corners of Regency England. She’s here to share with us five things we probably don’t know about her…

headshot1) Since romance authors always write about falling in love, when and how did you discover you were in love? I met my now-husband when we were both juniors in high school. We had similar social circles, but we had never really spent time together until he started to hang out with our mutual friend in the morning. There was something about him that drew me in. He was so quiet and unassuming, but when he’d smile it changed his entire face. I am a very outgoing person, and I made it my new mission to make him smile. But I didn’t really realize that I loved him until a few months into our relationship. We’d had a big fight, and not only did he apologize, but he made sure that all my anger was smoothed over. He was always doing things like that, making sure I was absolutely taken care of, going out of his way to do something special for us, etc. It was then that I understood that I’d found my soul mate (yes, even at sixteen!). We’ve been together now going on twelve years and we’ve been married seven.

2) If you could time travel, what time period would you most like to visit? I’d like to visit romantic era England in 1832, and I’d specifically like to go to London. I would track down all the various rookeries (ie, the poorer neighborhoods) that I write about. While I’ve been to a few, like Whitechapel when I went on a Jack the Ripper tour, I haven’t seen them with the eye of someone who has done research. I’d particularly like to see Spitalfields, the setting of my last novel, Secrets in Scarlet.SecretsInScarlet-EricaMonroe 500x700

3) If you could be a superhero, whatpower would you choose and why? My favorite superhero is Batgirl/Oracle (for Barbara Gordon has been both of these heroes). Batgirl’s power is her eidetic memory, which would certainly be nice considering I’m incredibly scatterbrained. She has the ability to look at great amounts of information and find patterns in them. But if I couldn’t have her incredible analytic skills, I’d really like to be able to teleport places.

4) If you could have only 3 electrical appliances in your house, what would they be and why? The coffee maker, because I am very scary without coffee. The microwave, because while I do like to cook now I don’t think I could survive without the microwave. My laptop, so that I could still write!

5) Where do you go for inspiration when the creativity well is running a little dry? My tastes are pretty eclectic, and that is definitely reflected in how I brainstorm ideas. I watch a massive amount of television, from soap operas to crime shows, comic book-based shows, and sci-fi. I tend to create characters from certain archetypes that I like, and I adapt them to my version of late regency England. I also listen to music (Taylor Swift really helps me), or take a long walk with my dogs.

You can find Erica on her website, Twitter, Facebook (as a person or as a fan page), and on Pinterest! Thanks for visiting with us, Erica…

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5 Things with Theresa Romain

Historical romance author Theresa Romain has joined us today to answer five questions about herself, and her stories, that you probably don’t know. Her newest novel, Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress, debuts on January 6th, and her holiday story, A Season for Desire, is out in stores now!

Romain1 1) How do you pick the names of your Heroes/Heroines? I write Regency-set historical romance, so I need to make sure my characters have names that existed (or plausibly could have existed) in the early 1800s. One way I find names is through contemporary novels—that is, contemporary to the Regency! If a book was written during or before the 1810s, then the characters’ names are ok for the Regency. I also like to skim the names in the crew credits of British-made movies. I’ve come across some surnames I’d never have thought up on my own.

2) Do you celebrate when you finish a book and what you do? Of course I celebrate! I use finishing a book as an excuse not to make dinner, even though I’ve usually been playing the deadline card for the same reason. One of my favorite celebrations is for Mr. R to pick up my favorite takeout on his way home. Then he and I and our daughter watch a movie together, stress- and guilt-free, and I sleep like a drugged person that night. The next day, I start catching up on email, paperwork, and cleaning. That might not sound super-exciting, but I really love being organized. So it’s relaxing for me to get organized, no matter how temporarily.

3) Since romance authors always write about falling in love, when and how did you discover you were in love? Honestly, I didn’t think about it when I was dating my future husband, because I had decided I was NOT going to say the l-word first. But then came a date when Mr. R admitted that he “more than liked me.” He sort of side-eyed me to see if I’d flip out, and when I didn’t, he said he loved me. Out popped my own reply: “I love you, too.” Upon which he told me he didn’t want me to say it just because he had, and I realized that I hadn’t. That I had, in fact, meant every one of those four words.

So there you go. I didn’t discover a thing. Love sneaked up, then jumped out and surprised me.Romain2

4) Where do you go for inspiration when the creativity well is running a little dry? I tend to seek out books and movies that don’t seem to have anything to do with writing historical romance. I really enjoy documentaries about how random stuff is made, or Food Network competitions (Chopped! Cutthroat Kitchen!). And I that’s when I pick up nonfiction books that have nothing to do with Regency history. Anything in the Malcolm Gladwell or Bill Bryson vein—bring on the recommendations!

5) What is the most embarrassing song/app on your ipod? I’m pretty unembarrassable when it comes to music by other people; the music library on my computer includes everything from Leadbelly to Lady Gaga. But I would crumple with humiliation if anyone listened to the carols I recorded with the GarageBand software program about 10 years ago. For some reason I thought my grandparents needed a Christmas CD of me singing. In hindsight, I really doubt I was correct about that.

You can find Theresa on her website, or cruising the internet on Twitter and Facebook

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5 Things with Cristi Caldwell

USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell is here today to tell us five things about herself we probably don’t know. Christi published her first Regency romance just a few years ago, and they have quickly gained in popularity. Her most recent release is For Love of the Duke, and just look at this cover!

ChristiCaldwell_ForLoveoftheDuke_1400

 

1) Do you celebrate when you finish a book and what you do? I sleep! As a mom to a really, really energetic six-year old and twin 10-month-old babies, my days are spent between mommying and writing. I reward myself by curling up for a good nap while my hubby steps in to man the house!

2) Where is the strangest place a story idea came to you from? The birth of my latest book, “For Love of the Duke”, may not be the strangest but kinda funny in how it came to be. I live in an old raised ranch in Southern Connecticut; a house that’s freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer. During one particularly awful heat wave, I was climbing into bed around midnight after a day of writing. I was so incredibly hot…I’d recently come across research on the Frost Fair. I just closed my eyes and then bam…my heroine crashed through the Frozen Thames. I climbed out of bed and barely stopped to breathe for the next 3 weeks while I told the story.

3) If you could have only 3 electrical appliances in your house, what would they be and why? Well, having been the unfortunate victim of appliances ganging up and plotting their demise all at once…I can say for certain:

  • A dishwasher. Mine recently went giving me a whole new appreciation for the dishwasher. I don’t think I ever want to wash another baby bottle by hand. Make it double with twins and oi vei!
  • My washing machine. Really, what did people before washing machines? No, really, what did they do? Mine broke and my house looked like a Shell Silverstein poem with all the clothes lying about.
  • My dryer. Because let’s face it, when you try and air dry…ALL your clothes, it’s really not the same. At all.

4) If you were not writing, what job would you have? My other second full-time job would be my career of choice—Stay-at-home Mommy! My journey to motherhood was not an easy one and it gave me an amazing appreciation for the miracle of children…there’s no more beautiful job…but also, no more difficult one, either!ChristiCaldwell_AMarquessforChristmas1400

5) If you could choose any 3 people in history to meet, who would they be? Oh, as a former history teacher, this is a fun one! Let’s see, first Marie Antoinette. I’m so fascinated by her tragic, unexpected ascension to the throne…a title, by ranking of her birth she never should have wedded into. One of those twists of fate. Bad Boy Alexander Hamilton. I love the romanticism of the story surrounding his illegitimacy and his heroic role in the American Revolution. And I’m a sucker for golden-blonde hair! ;) And last, I’d love a sit down with Henry VIII just so I could have the pleasure of telling him how the whole who-decides-a-babies-gender thing to him! Though, I’m sure ‘blaming’ a king for his lack of sons wouldn’t have earned me any favors! ;)

You can find Christi on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Thanks for stopping by today!

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Five Things About Megan Mulry

Today I welcome Megan Mulry to the blog! Megan is a USA Today bestselling author of both contemporary and historical romance, her newest book RouletteMulry Author Photo just out a few weeks ago. She’s come to share with us five things you probably don’t know about her…

1) What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? The easy answer is probably skydiving, but I think publishing a book feels far more daring and heartstopping. If the chute hadn’t opened, it would have been kind of a one-off; you know what I mean? *splat* But publishing a book—nowadays with e-books especially—it is like being in free-fall, well, FOREVER. That’s why I write fairly quickly and fairly prolifically: if I stop too long to think about all the dangers, I will never jump out of that airplane…or publish the next book. (In related news: Dare to suck.)

2) What’s your strongest/most productive writing habit? I don’t know if it’s a habit or mindset, but something clicked when I first saw this video by Maureen Johnson, aptly titled: DARE TO SUCK. I had always held myself up to these imaginary standards of greatness—which were really nothing more than self-defeating hurdles that stopped me from writing. So every day I write and write and let the words flow and try to silence the inner critic. There is a time and a place for polishing one’s work, don’t get me wrong! As Miranda Neville once told me, “That’s what editors are for.”

3) If you could be a superhero, who would you choose and why? Wonder Woman, duh. The jet. The belt. The rope. The rack. The polyamorous real life creators.She’s a win-win-win-win. Win.ROULETTE

4) Where is the strangest place a story idea came to you from? Most recently, from Mira Lyn Kelly, author of steamy/snarky contemporaries like Truth or Dare, and a good friend.Not that she is strange lol, but she occasionally makes up strange writing prompts for me. Between big projects, especially when I am awaiting developmental edits and don’t want to get too deep into another story, I like to do little sprints—all I need is a name and an occupation and off I go. One of Mira’s writing prompts was “Jerome the Furrier.” Initially, I pictured a 19th-century American story with a French trapper or something. Then I thought, NO! He is the head of some super high-end haute couture House of Fur in Paris…and he is naughty! (Working title was Venus in Fur, of course).And then I started writing Michaela, his Russian corporate nemesis…and then she became Miki, my half-French/half-Russian heroine. The little seed was planted and I couldn’t stop writing about these two. Slight hiccup when I started researching the fur industry and got grossed out by all the rodent carcasses at the pelt factories—so I switched them to a different industry that would still involve France and Russia and ended up making him a playboy publishing magnate, and her the owner of Russian paper mills and timber holdings… and that became Roulette! Thank you Mira Lin!

5) Did you have a nickname growing up? Meegie-moo. My older sister and my mother still call me that sometimes. (Don’t even think about it.)

Thanks for having me visit your blog, Elizabeth! I’d love to give away a signed copy of Roulette to a commenter who is willing to share an embarrassing nickname or an occasion in which they have dared to suck!

 

You can find Megan on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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TBT: Love Letters from a Duke

People always say this is one of their favorites–with Felicity Langley being one of my most beloved heroines. Yet her story would not have been told without some help. So on this Throwback Thursday, let me introduce you to some of the books that helped me write Love Letters from a Duke:

LoveLettersFromADukeThe London Encyclopedia, ed. by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert. This is one of my favorite books to have within reach while I am writing a book set in London.

Names through the Ages, by Teresa Norman. I love the way this book divides names into centuries so you can pick names by generations.

City of Sin, London in Pursuit of Pleasure by Giles Emerson. A detailed book on the various amusements and pursuits of Londoners, including a small section on Frost Fairs.

The A to Z of Regency London. A reprint of Richard Horwood’s maps, it gives you a street by street, property by property look at London. When Felicity goes shopping for thread, I used this map to guide her steps, as well as my own when I toured London while researching this book.

If you haven’t read Love Letters from a Duke, you can take a sneak peek inside here, or order a copy today. Felicity Langley, beloved busybody that she is, would approve.

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