What's better than free books? Not much.
I recently taught a workshop with Alisha Rai at the Romance Writers of America conference in Denver about writing synopses that grip editors and agents and sell your book, During that, I promised that I would link to a presentation I'd put together for another workshop walking through the mechanics of what a synopsis needs. If you're looking for that presentation, you can find it here. (Please enjoy the Queer Eye GIFs.)
Authors, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've been keeping a reading list off and on since I was in college...let's just say many years ago. I will always regret that I haven't been consistent with it because I love having a record to look back on and remember those hidden gems that I loved but might have forgotten.
When I look back at this past three months of reading, I'll have plenty to remember fondly. Click on any of the titles below to find out more about these recommended reads. Follow me on Goodreads or leave a comment below to let me know what you think I should read next.
A quick note for those readers headed to the Romance Writers of America national conference in Denver this year. I'll be signing books at the Pocket and Gallery signing at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 19. Bring your coffee and come get a copy of The Light Over London signed!
I will also be teaching a workshop on writing synopses that sell with Alisha Rai on Saturday, July 21. Come for the practical advice, stay because Alisha is a delightful person with great hair and lipstick game.
I can't wait to see you at all RWA!
With the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just days away—and the speculation over who will wear what at the wedding of the year at its max—I thought it would be the perfect time to take a look back at four of Britain's royal brides of the Victorian era.
Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg on February 10, 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St. James Palace. She famously proposed to him, befitting her status as the monarch. Queen Victoria's wedding is also notable for setting the trend of wearing a white wedding dress.
Victoria, Princess Royal
Queen Victoria's eldest daughter was married to Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia (the future German Emperor and King of Prussia Frederick III). The marriage was arranged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Frederick proposed to Victoria in 1855 when she was 14 years old. Their betrothal was announced in 1857, and the wedding took place on January 25, 1858.
Alexandra of Denmark
Princess Alexandra of Denmark, or "Alix" as she was commonly known to her family, married the Prince of Wales on March 10, 1863 at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. That same chapel will play host to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.
Princess Louise (my favorite of Queen Victoria's daughters for her work as a sculptor and her love of the arts) married John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne and the heir to the Duke of Argyll. This was extraordinary for a few reasons:
- Louise chose her husband, expressing no desire to marry a prince as had been proposed by several members of her family
- It was the first marriage between the daughter of a sovereign and a British subject that had been given official recognition since 1515
The pair were married at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on March 21, 1871. Her veil was made of Honiton lace which she deisgned herself.
In my wide-ranging interview, I invited Kassia and Simon into the world of romance and genre fiction. We spoke about how I came to write my first books, the importance of marketing and social media for writers, and the pros and cons of self-publishing in this genre. I also talked about the impact of the #metoo movement on the world of romance.
A very happy birthday to the woman who has, well, two birthdays!
Queen Elizabeth II was born on this day in 1926. It's her actual birthday, but she also has an official birthday or June 9 when the weather is usually better for Trooping the Colour. This has been a common practice among the British monarchy for several rulers.
If you'd like to celebrate the queen's actual birthday, I strongly recommend you head to The Court Jeweller. The blog chronicles the royal jewels of royal families across the world and, as you can imagine, the queen features heavily.
Many happy returns of the day, Your Majesty.
Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved the glamor and drama of old Hollywood. It probably started with To Have and Have Not. I watched it when I was around 12. There was something about Lauren Bacall, all smolder and vulnerability, with her beautiful hair and deep voice. I wanted some of her grown-up sophistication for myself, and so I snapped up as many of her movies as I could find. The Big Sleep, Key Largo, Dark Passage, How to Marry a Millionaire.
From there I discovered Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in Laura. (One of my favorite movies.) The list goes on and on and on.
As I got older, I began to learn more about the other side of Hollywood that is often sordid and sometimes tragic. I've listened to most of You Must Remember This, an excellent podcast about the film industry, Los Angeles (where I grew up), and the people who created the movie myths we still believe today. However, I only knew bits and pieces of one of its most extraordinary women.
Hedy Lamarr was widely recognized as one of the most beautiful women in the world during her heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. An Austrian actress, she was scandalous and alluring. She was also an almost unrecognized genius, but the documentary Bombshell is trying to change that.
Lamarr was an inventor with an inquisitive mind. During World War II, she came up with a technique called frequency hopping that would allow the navy to deploy torpedos that couldn't be jammed by German submarines. Her invention, largely neglected at the time, has become the basis for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and military technology being used today.
Her fascinating, sometimes deeply sad story, is told through interviews with Hedy, her family, and others. You get a picture of a woman who was pigeon-holed into being just a beautiful face because, to paraphrase one interviewee, you don't get to be Hedy Lamarr and be smart. She was difficult and complex and funny and so many things, and now the movie-going audience who loved her films is getting a chance to see a more complete version of her.
A quick note for those readers in the Boston area: I'm coming to you guys! I'm going to be teaching a couple workshops at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference from NECRWA. My workshops will be:
- Sell Your Book in 3 Pages: How to Write Gripping Synopses
- How to Maintain a Brand While Writing Across Subgenres… Or Not (with Megan Erikson and Kristen Strassel)
Unfortunately, those sessions are only option to conference registrants, however, I will be supporting my fellow authors at the conference signing which is open to all member of the public. If you come say hi, I'll have some The Look of Love bookmarks to give away!
It's always been easy to tell what sort of mood I've been in based on the types of books that are on my completed list. Lots of romances? High stress time.
Plenty of mystery? I've probably been writing to meet a deadline and have been looking for something completely different.
Loads of history? Guess who's doing research.
January, February, and March (or Q1 for those of your who are business minded) was a mix of all of those things. I read a few standouts across several genres, and they're definitely worth a shoutout. Keep reading for those recommendations, and be sure to follow me on Goodreads and BookBub for more!
If you like your history glamorous...
The Riviera Set, by Mary S. Lovell
If you like intrigue on the high seas...
If you like gritty Western romance...
If you like dark thrillers...
If you like your female detectives witty...
If you want to be swept up in a YA saga...
I'm very happy today to be sharing with you a first look at my first historical women's fiction, The Light Over London, which will be coming out in paperback and ebook this fall. Split between present day and World War II, it's a story of love and loss, secrets and discovery. And there's a dreamy cover to match this beautiful story.
Available for preorder in print and ebook
For Cara Hargraves, burying herself in the past is easier than confronting the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is the perfect salvation. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship; among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform—the same one Cara’s grandmother wore during the war. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara embarks on a journey to untangle the affair, and just maybe uncover her grandmother’s deeply guarded secrets, too.
In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until the wealthy son of her mother’s best friend returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. But their whirlwind romance is cut short when Paul’s unit is deployed.
Desperate for a larger life, Louise defies her parents and joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit. As bombs fall on London, she relishes in her growing friendships with the gunner girls and knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to Paul are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.