Archive for 'inspiration'

More RARM!

That is, a little more from my Read a Romance Month contribution. Please enjoy. :)

 

  1. Tell us about a moment when you felt or were aware of The Power of Romance.

I read my first Georgette Heyer novel when I was fourteen, and even though I understood very little of the period terminology, and in fact barely knew where Bath, England, was, I did manage to decode the erotic disjuncture between what the protagonists are saying, and how they’re actually feeling about each other — how underneath their witty and civilized conversations, and despite the elaborately codified manners of their time, a powerful, primal attraction is drawing them inexorably together. Talk about the sizzling power of romance! It caught me as a teenager — hook, line, and sinker — and, to my joy, has never let me go.

Image: cover of Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer

 

  1. Tell us about an object that has powerful memories for you.

When I was dating the man who was later to become my husband, as February 14th approached — our first Valentine’s Day together — he asked me what I would like to have as a gift. Flowers, chocolates, jewelry . . . all floated through my mind as obvious possibilities.

But then I thought about what I really wanted. I said, “A bread machine.”

Did he say it was a silly idea, or boring, or an overly prosaic one? No, he went out and got me my very own Breadman. Which to me — then and now — is a powerfully romantic gesture. (By the way, we’re still happily married. And I still use my Breadman, too.)

Photo: bread machine

 

  1. Tell us about a word that has power for you. 

That word is “yes.” To me it signifies hope, forward movement, possibility. So my ongoing goal is to say yes to change. To trying new things. To continue to learn and grow. And finally — yes to writing books which I hope others will enjoy and find meaningful.

 

  1.  Tell us about a powerful book you read this year (or one that’s so powerful you’ve never forgotten it).

The Book of Joy, which features the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu in conversation, is a powerfully inspiring treatise on finding balance and peace in a turbulent world. And I must also mention Sarah MacLean’s just-published Day of the Duchess: a beautifully written, powerful testament to the capacity to both change and wholeheartedly love.

Cover: The Book of Joy

  1. Tell us about a person who’s had a powerful influence on your life.

Jane Austen has long been an influence and an inspiration to me as a reader, a student of history, and as a writer of historical romance. Set in an era during which women all too often had little real power, her books make a radical claim for a woman’s right to independent thought, for the importance of happiness, for the overriding value of love over cool pragmatism. These are compelling — and fun! — issues I like to explore in my own novels set during this time, and I’ve got Austen to thank for boldly leading the way over two hundred years ago.

Image: A speculative “spontaneous composite portrait” of Jane Austen by Lance Bertelsen, Iris Howard Regents Professor in English, University of Texas at Austin.

A speculative “spontaneous composite portrait” of Jane Austen by Lance Bertelsen, Iris Howard Regents Professor in English, University of Texas at Austin

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Want to read my full post, and learn more about all the nifty giveaways? Click here.

 

 

 

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“Bloom from within”

A little bit of inspiration as we begin our week. :)

Illustration: "Bloom from within" by Wild Woman Sisterhood

via Traceyanne McCartney on Twitter

 

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“She became a butterfly”

My heroine’s journey in The Bride Takes a Groom. Coming your way in spring 2018.
Graphic: "Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she became a butterfly."

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“If you dream it . . .”

“. . . you can do it.” Wonderful words as we begin our week.

Graphic: "If you dream it, you can do it," via @amandatippytoes on Twitter

via @amandatippytoes on Twitter

 

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“Let it shine”

What lovely words, and what a beautiful illustration, with which to kick off the week. Happy Monday. :)

"Let It Shine": an illustration by Katie Daisy

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“Let’s make a film with a tornado full of sharks”

This seems to me an excellent reminder as we kick off the week. Happy Monday. :)

Photo: signboard: "Next time you're afraid to share ideas, remember someone once said in a meeting Let's make a film with a tornado full of sharks"

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“Insightful, enlightening & entertaining”

I’m a big fan of the brilliant, personable astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson, so naturally I pounced on a recent article about him in the Wall Street Journal. Here are some highlights:

My favorite films of all time are: “The Matrix,” “Contact,” “The Island,” “The Conversation,” “Excalibur” and “All That Jazz.” These were philosophically deep, insightful, enlightening and entertaining.

If I could eat only one food on a voyage to Mars, it would be: pepperoni pizza and a strawberry malted milkshake. I could consume those foods day after day and never get tired of them. They’re actually quite healthy — there’s fat, protein, carbohydrates. I might supplement it with a vitamin, but all the calorie needs are there.

Photo: Neil deGrasse Tyson, via the Wall Street Journal

via the Wall Street Journal

A game-changing TV show is: “The Big Bang Theory.” Twenty years ago, had you walked up to a network and said, “I got an idea for a show. It’s got Ph.D. scientists in it, and we’ll just explore their love life and their social life,” no one would make that a show. Now “Big Bang Theory” is the number one comedy on television, and you’ve got shows — “Scorpion,” “Numbers,” “CSI” — with scientists who are good looking, who have social lives. That was never previously done.

If I had a month off, I would: ask the people who gave me a month off why they pulled me away from what I love the most.

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The entire article was a joy to read, but honestly, Neil had me at “The Matrix,” also one of my favorite films of all time.

More about him here.

 

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Rise and shine

Happy Monday. :)"Rise and shine": a graphic by Katie Daisy

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“Give me the inspiration of a butterfly”

A lovely illumination of the creative process by Grant Snider."Give me the inspiration of a butterfly": a comic by Grant Snider

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My interview with RT Book Reviews

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by RT Book Reviews, in which I dish about You May Kiss the Bridemy writing inspirations, my favorite things to research, and more. Please enjoy. :)

Congratulations on your debut historical! Have you always been a fan of historical romance and the romance genre in general?
 
Thank you! Oh yes, I’ve loved romance novels for a long time. I can easily trace my path toward becoming a romance novelist back to when I was 14 and I read Georgette Heyer’s Lady of Quality, which my mom had gotten from her book club. I was hooked. I went on to become an English major and read voraciously in all kinds of genres, but historical romance has always held a special place in my heart.
 
Who are some authors who inspired your writing?
 
Along with Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen is also a big influence of mine. There’s so much to admire about her work, and as a writer I’m very inspired by how her heroines fight for personal happiness despite the heavy pressure of pragmatism — in an era during which most women had  few opportunities for independent choice. 
 
In Pride and Prejudice, for example, practically speaking Elizabeth Bennet really should accept Mr. Collins’ proposal for the sake of her family’s security, and as for Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price turning down Henry Crawford — how incredibly daring! So I too try to create strong female characters within the historically accurate context of their time. 
 
We love a rags-to-riches story, and Livia is in terrible need of a bit of luck. As an orphan sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle — who do not want her — Livia doesn’t have any beautiful gowns or a dowry to win over a husband. How does missing her mother, father and grandfather affect her relationships?
 
Livia sees herself as someone who’s fundamentally alone, and in a world that’s not particularly welcoming, either. This viewpoint is reinforced when she’s forcibly thrust into the Penhallow family, who initially don’t want her either … So it may seem that her luck has gone from bad to worse! 
 
It’s that very proximity, though, which permits love to blossom — love that will allow Livia to connect deeply with Gabriel Penhallow, and to finally feel that she’s a part of a family, living in a home where she truly belongs.
 
My favorite thing about Livia is her sense of humor — especially when she tricks Gabriel early in the novel! Is there anyone in your life who helped inspire Livia’s antics?
 
Yes! My friend Liz, a quick-witted actress and writer, can easily slip in and out of any persona, and she’s also blessed with a strong sense of self and a wickedly funny sense of humor. I could totally see her tricking Gabriel like that.
 
Gabriel Penhallow is very wealthy and very handsome, but he’s also nearly as stubborn as Livia! How on earth will these two find common ground?
 
Their common ground is actually their differences. I know this sounds paradoxical, but just as Mr. Darcy is intrigued by Elizabeth Bennet’s feisty personality (and fine eyes!), Gabriel Penhallow comes to realize that Livia’s strength, intelligence, and defiant spirit are precisely what he needs to shake him out of his aloof and arrogant mindset. Livia, for her part, finds in deep, steady Gabriel her rock … someone who loves and accepts her for exactly who she is.
 
Livia has good reason to fear horseback riding, but she’s urged to learn regardless. Do you have horseback riding experience?
 
I did a little bit of riding when I was a kid, but nothing that would ever put me in the category of “equestrienne.” I’ve always liked horses, though, and I certainly enjoy reading about them. In fact, I recently reread National Velvet (which I do every couple of years) and still have the same sense of awe and appreciation. Oh, that piebald! My horse hero!
 
Gabriel’s grandmother is the strict and commanding family matriarch, but she also has very sad moments. Where did you draw inspiration for her from?
 
Here again I thought about Jane Austen, and her indelible character Lady Catherine de Burgh in Pride and Prejudice. She’s a grande dame who seemingly has everything — and yet there’s also something a little empty, a little pitiful, about her. My Henrietta Penhallow is like that too; if you look hard enough, past and through her needle-sharp arrogance, you’ll see there’s a big hole in her heart. 
 
What’s your favorite thing to research when it comes to history?
 
Oh my goodness, everything. Food, fashion, manners, terminology, medicine, current events of the time, scientific breakthroughs, transportation, fads and trends, jokes and puns — I love it all. But if you were to insist that I pick one thing? The clothing. Gowns, petticoats, corsets, shoes, bonnets … Styles that are so exotic to us now, and to my mind incredibly sensual.
 
Do you have any advice for writers out there who may be struggling with their own first book?
 
Well, it’s not original, but it works for me. Keep going. Word by word, one after the other. It’s such a simple strategy and yet so profound. As E.L. Doctorow once famously remarked, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” So, yeah: Keep going.

 

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