Sunday, February 17, 2019

I've Done It Again!

I am so thrilled that for the second year in a row I have made the Books We Love top-ten Best Seller list!

My awesome publisher, Jude Pitman and BWL's art director, Michelle Lee, have devised this badge for the winners. Here's mine!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Round Robin for February, 2019

Here we are, already in February – the month of St. Valentine’s Day denoting love. It is, therefore, most appropriate that our topic this month is on love, sex, and relationships. What seems acceptable, what do you think current readers want, and what (for you) is going too far?

As a reader, I enjoy a broad range of genres from my own Regency romance preference to out-and-out thrillers and bits of this, that, and the other in between. I wonder if others, like me, look back on their reading history and realize how much their tastes have changed over the years. When I was much younger I quite enjoyed horror stories, now I hardly touch them and am more likely to go for a cozy mystery.

It doesn’t matter what genre I turn to, love, sex, and relationships, in one way or another, come into all of them. It’s a bit like playing the shell game, it doesn’t matter what cover you lift you're sure to find one of them there. It's entirely possible to have love without sex, sex without love, and relationships of one kind or another everywhere.

When I started writing, I was very wary about writing sex scenes. Did I need them? Could I or should I write them, or should I write closed door sex scenes because I write Regency romance? In fact, on that topic, has anyone read any of the steamier Regency romances lately? It seems to me there are more and more of them which makes me ask, are those authors writing more sex into their stories because they are looking to attract new readers or keep existing readers, or is because that's what the market (and maybe their editors) demand?

I read a few Regencies while on holiday recently, including two books by the same author and found the sex scenes repetitive and boring. Ho hum, rinse and repeat. I will not name the authors as my opinion is merely that. That both titles were New York Times bestsellers, indicates that many, many people think very differently to me. In my own writing, I let my characters tell me what they want and go from there.

This aspect of writing confuses people who don't write, and I'm often asked, as an author don't you tell them what to do? Well, no I don't. I don't like writing sex scenes without commitment between the couple and the hope, even the expectation, of a fulfilling relationship to come. That is something we don't very often get to see in romances. You get the meet-cute, the growing attraction (usually shown as dislike), misunderstandings leading to a breakup before the couple declares their love for each other (or at least admit it to themselves) which may or may not lead to a sex scene. The actual relationship develops later, and I think this is why so many series have become popular. Readers want to know what happens to that couple they have become so invested in.

I have a mix throughout my books. Hardly any sex in my Edwardian trilogy, the main characters are already married. Some steamy moments in my contemporary western romance, and varying degrees of sex in my Regencies. However, the third book in my Regency series will have a much lower key on the sex scenes, because that is what my characters are currently dictating. None of what I write is out and out erotica. While I don’t mind reading it occasionally, that’s something I leave to authors who are more comfortable writing it.

So now you've digested my take on the subject, hop on over to these excellent authors and discover how they feel.

Rhobin L Courtright

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Our first Round Robin blog for 2019 asks: How do you develop different personalities in your main characters? How about secondary characters? Do you have a favorite secondary character or one who has moved on into their own story?

I just love building characters and use several techniques for developing them once they have introduced themselves to me. That might sound odd, but I see my characters and know their names and physical details before I even start writing. But for ‘the rest of the story?’ Ah. That’s where the character building and developing comes in.

My first go-to is to give them a birthday. From that, I use their astrological signs to determine their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t necessarily include their birthdates in my text, I just get to know them better and definitely pay attention to their weaknesses as this is often where I find my characters’ flaws. If my characters have siblings, I’ll refer to The Birth Order Book to see what else I might discover about them depending on where they come in their family's line-up. I do a character interview, and this can be a surprising exercise as I find totally unexpected aspects of my characters, which all add up to a more rounded, fully three-dimensional character.

One of my secondary characters was Lady Juliana Clifton from my first Regency title, His Dark Enchantress. She was my hero’s sister and kept intruding at every turn, especially when Lord
Clifton’s love interest, Emmaline, was on the page. I think there might have been some rivalry going on there, each vying for His Lordship’s attention! Once I promised Juliana her own book, she went away. She got her own book, His Ocean Vixen, the second book in my Berkeley Square series. The third book in the series, His Unexpected Muse, will be released this coming March and again, the characters featured are secondary characters from the first book, Lady Olivia Darnley and Lord Peter Skeffington.

The characters who populate our pages are with us for far longer than it takes to write the book they feature in, and I know I’m reluctant to let them go. See what these other authors have to say about their characters.

Skye Taylor
Margaret Fieland
Helena Fairfax
Dr. Bob Rich
Fiona McGier http://www,
Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines http;//
Judith Copek
Rhobin L Courtright

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Some Thoughts at Christmas

We have had a wonderful year of topics for our Round Robin blog and we are winding up 2018 with short stories or excerpts from a longer story that highlights the Christmas spirit. I have only ever written two specific Christmas stories, both for my grandsons, and which have over the years sunk without trace. Maybe that's a good thing! I couldn't think of any passages in any of my books which could really be likened to the spirit of the Christmas season but have to say that after moving around so much as an army brat, Christmas to me has always meant a family gathering, wherever it happened to take place.

During the war years, this was always at my grandmother's house where a blackout curtain had to be draped across the windows in front of which stood our live tree. My cousins and I looked forward to decorating it, including clipping the holders for real candles onto the branches. We never knew which dad or uncle might be home on leave, but if none of them was, then my grandmother lit the candles. Health and Safety today would have a bird about those candles! Decorations were always branches of fir, mistletoe, and holly. I don't remember who started it, but it became something of a tradition to outline the edges and veins of the holly leaves with silver paint and this kept us kids occupied while my gran, my mum, and aunts prepared food. 
Ivy Cottage

For a number of years, I lived in a 300-year old Cotswold house. When I first saw the house I thought the living room, with its exposed oak beams and open fireplace, would be the ideal place for a family Christmas, and it was. One year my boys took charge of acquiring the tree. I never asked where it came from, I don't think I really wanted to know, but it was so tall they had to take about 3-feet off the top so we had a tree and a bit. Another Christmas my daughter bought her eldest brother a beanbag and packed it in a big appliance box. Give cats and kids a box and they will have endless fun with it. I laughed myself silly as my son converted the box into a bus and his sister and one of the dogs squished in behind him. As they were young adults at this point there may have been some alcohol involved. 

A few years ago I was pet and house-sitting at a lovely country home in England. That year was wild and wet and with so much flooding washing out roads and leaving debris everywhere, I decided to not risk the trip to visit my family but stayed put. I've never minded being alone but appreciated the phone calls with my children even more on that particular Christmas Day. To keep the flavor of the season I had my table decoration and a
Christmas dinner from Sainsbury's grocery store and finished the day curled up on the sofa with the two dogs watching TV.

For me, Christmas is not so much about giving gifts as spending time with family and friends and none more so than when I can spend that time with my nearest and dearest. My DDH (dearly departed husband) and I did not buy each other big gifts but instead donated what we would have spent to charities of our choice and simply spent the day alone together. One year we binge-watched all the Star Wars movies. Another year we had a turkey and trimmings picnic on the living room floor, never to be repeated as it proved too much of a temptation for our two dogs. 

Christmases come and Christmases go, and now I'm happy to enjoy a gentler side of the season. I don't worry anymore about the commercialism of it all as that's something I have no control over. It's up to each individual how they choose to celebrate, or not, after all. What I like is having come to a place in my life where I am happy to celebrate the joy and peace of the season and so I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Round Robin Blog for November

The question we were asked this month is: How has writing rewarded you? What has it cost you?

I can honestly say that writing has rewarded me far more than I ever expected. In terms of what it cost me? Maybe a few friendships along the way but life is all about checks and balances and I have made many more friends in the writing community.

Being an army family we moved to the beat of its drum so I never knew how long we would be in one place. The reward, though, of each new school was discovering its library and there, I excelled because I read books way above my grade and so became popular with the librarians who were often the English teachers, too. Yes, I sucked up big time in order to get my hot little hands on more books than the curriculum required.

In my early teens, I switched from reading to writing. I was absolutely convinced I had what it took to be an author. Sadly, my tales of Virginia, Girl of the Golden West, went nowhere due, in retrospect, to the largely purple prose of the author. I tinkered with writing, gaining along the way prizes for essay writing at school and good passes in English Literature and Grammar (taught as separate subjects back then).   

Once I left school, writing faded into the background as I discovered boys, movies, and rock n’ roll – not necessarily in that order. However, I was always writing something, even if it was only an annual report for work until I decided to write a book for my daughter. The book was If Wishes Were Horses and took me two years to complete but it satisfied me in a way that reading didn’t. There was nothing better than curling up with a notebook (yes, I wrote in longhand) beside a blazing fire with the dogs snoring on the hearth once the kids were in bed, or shutting myself in my room on Sundays with a flask of coffee and a pile of sandwiches.  

Over the years I know my writing has caused coolness in some friendships because of the days when I’ve said ‘no’ to this or that proposed outing because I wanted to write. The times, mostly with family, when I have been uncommunicative because I was deep in my story have not necessarily been understood. Joining a writing group was the best thing I ever did because, being with other people who ‘get it’, is just the best. Overall, writing has given me much more in terms of satisfaction than just about anything else, so for me there has been far more reward than cost.

Check out these other fine writers and see what they have to say: