Monday, 11 November 2019

Romance Across Time - Regency Romance

By Sharon Bryant

The Regency Period in the United Kingdom occurred during the early 19th century. Architecture, technology and the arts flourished under the patronage of the wealthy, including the Prince Regent himself. The upper classes enjoyed power and privilege whilst the poorest people lived in squalor. The Napoleonic Wars took place during this period. The mini-renaissance enjoyed by the upper classes together with the strong stratification of society provide endless inspiration to romance novelists and readers alike. Not surprisingly, Regency romance is the most popular historical sub-genre. I hope you enjoy reading these novels as much as I have.

The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick

The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman to pose as his fiancĂ©e for a few weeks while he is in London on business. A practical man who doesn’t wish to be bothered by the fortune-seeking mothers of the ton, he knows a paid companion will provide the perfect solution to his problems. A simple business arrangement with a woman who can act convincingly. Unfortunately, such a lady is proving impossible to find. Eleanora Lodge needs a job quickly if she is to avoid becoming destitute. Independent and feisty, she has trouble finding work, until the earl offers her the role and convinces her to accept. Eleanora quickly suspects her fake fiancĂ© of hiding secrets. Her new job is fast becoming far more dangerous than she first thought.

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

Minerva Highwood doesn’t expect to marry. Plain and bookish, she is easily flustered in the company of handsome men. Minerva knows she has made a momentous archaeological discovery. She must travel to Edinburgh immediately to present her findings to her peers. If she can persuade Lord Payne to take her, she will also be removing this dissolute rake from the company of her beloved sister. She doesn’t mind being ruined. No man wants her in any case. If Lord Payne won’t take her, she’ll go alone. Lord Payne admires her courage and resourcefulness, but has no desire to ruin an innocent. Nor can he allow her to travel unaccompanied. The journey this unlikely couple take is a real page-turner filled with dry humour, plot twists and romance.

Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie

Shy Lily Rutherford has a secret. Bullied for it as a child, she doesn’t recognise her considerable character strengths. Lily becomes the victim of an opportunistic crime resulting in great societal pressure on her to marry Edward Galbraith, a well-known rake. Edward also has a secret – a terrible event in his past has ripped most of the hope and happiness from his life. He will offer Lily his name, but can never offer her his heart. Lily’s joy de vivre and caring nature make her a woman the reader would love to have as a friend. Readers also ache for Edward who tries to look after her, and would offer Lily more than simple caring, if only he could.

Do you read regency romance novels? Which one is your favourite?

 Love to love: Nights out with my husband.

Love to laugh: With my new grandson.

Love to learn: More about the craft of writing.

Monday, 4 November 2019

5 Characteristics of a Romance Villain

By Cassandra Samuels

Villain: A  character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

Don't we just love to hate a good villain?  This week I'll be exploring the world of the bad guy/gal and what's needed to make a good one. Villain in this post also refers to villainess.

In romance the villain is someone who could stop our love birds from getting together. Someone who could be the cause of past, present or future trauma. Or who might endanger either hero or heroine.

1. Villains have to have a backstory, something that made them into this person they have become. They can often be charming and quite likable until you learn their true motives. What are their motives and what brought them to this point?
courtesy of Cat Planet
2. Villains have a lot of the same characteristics as the hero, it's just that they are misdirected. They are often convinced that they have been hard done by or wronged in some way and therefore their anger and revenge is justified.
3. Villains will not stop until they get what they want, to the point of obsession.  Often their revenge will be the only thing that is keeping them going. They have committed their life to the pursuit of their justice.

4. Villains have to be a worthy opponent to your hero. It's important that your villain's actions prompt the hero to act, even if it is out of character for him. Otherwise why would the hero bother to act at all?
screen shot from the movie The Scarlet Pimpernel
5.Villains are smart and calculating and can't be fools, although they may play the fool to disguise their true motives. Ultimately, though, you want your villain to be as well fleshed out as your protagonists.

What do you look for in a great romance villain? What is your favourite romance villain from a book?

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Love to Love  attending the Historical Novel Society conference

Love to Laugh at my husband and his dry sense of humour.

Love to Learn about writing and being an INFJ personality type

Monday, 28 October 2019

HNSA Conference 2019

By Marilyn Forsyth

I’ve just returned from the biannual HNSA Conference (at Parramatta this year), with my head buzzing. Wow! What a weekend! Hats off to the committee for a fabulously well-organised three days with a wealth of writing experts discussing their craft.

Thanks Pamela!

The Friday craft workshop on Making Research Work for You with the oh-so-knowledgeable Pamela Hart was brilliant. I’ve come away with so many great tips on researching. Honestly, I can’t wait to get started on her suggestions. If you get a chance to take part in any workshop of Pamela’s, just do it!

The Introduction to the weekend was made by the beautiful Kate Forsyth (who I could listen to endlessly because her passion for writing comes through with such heartfelt enthusiasm).

Paula Morris gave the Keynote Address on the theme of History Repeats. The key thing I took from this was something I already knew, (and I’m sure you do, too) but it certainly bears repeating: “History exists in voices, and voices disagree.’

Paula is very funny and not nearly as stern as she looks here!

Jackie French was the worthy Guest of Honour. I particularly liked her suggestion that ‘If writing a book sounds too terrifying, think of it as writing a scene each time you start to write. A book is a series of scenes.’ I will also keep in mind (in my timeslip work-in-progress) her advice that ‘It’s important to know what REALLY happened, rather than what we wish happened’, as so many people (myself included) learn their history from historical fiction.

Here are just a few snippets from the panel discussions I attended (some may be paraphrased):

Stoking the Flame (sizzle vs slow burn): ‘It should be a meeting of the minds before a meeting of the bodies.’ Elizabeth Ellen Carter. (So succinct!)

Love that these ladies dressed up for the occasion!

Learning from History: ‘Having an emotional connection to a place will come out in the words you put on the page.’ And ‘Atmosphere is created through characters; how they relate to what is around them, how they feel, what they see, hear and touch.’ Winton Higgins. (Important things to keep in mind.)

Personal Histories: ‘Setting is a tapestry upon which the story is woven.’ Ella Carey. (So eloquently put!)

I am Camera (point of view): ‘Ask yourself, which character has the right to tell this story?’ Julian Leatherdale. (I take this as meaning the character with the most at stake, which makes sense to me!)

Walking Side by Side (collaboration between historical novelists and historians): ‘There is power in standing (in your characters’ shoes), in standing where your characters have stood.’ Gay Hendriksen. (I’m a strong believer that nothing can beat actually walking the grounds of your book’s setting.)

The hands-on session of Medieval Armour and Armouring was a real hit! The opportunity to handle replica swords, daggers and shields, and to try on chainmail and helmets was way too good to pass up. AJ and Matthew really knew their stuff! 

There was also a fantastic fencing display over lunch.

At the Conference Dinner, the ever-affable Anna Campbell showed off her considerable photographic skills with stunning photos of Scotland’s Small Isles, an area of inspiration for her with her popular Lairds Most Likely series. Huge congratulations to Christina King, winner of the ARA Short Story contest, and to the two winners of the Inaugural Colleen McCullough Residency on Norfolk Island, Sally Colin James and Chris Bell (so jealous!), also announced on the night.

Random photos...

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. Roll on 2021 for the next one...

What do you love about conferences?
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Love to Love spending time with friends, old and new. 
Love to Laugh at Enisa and I trying to catch a taxi at 10 pm on a Saturday night in Parramatta! (What were we thinking???)  
Love to Learn the thought processes of other authors.