Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Romance Writers Weekly: Creativity Questions

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors?

Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all... About our writing of course!

Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride!

Thanks for clicking on my link from the wonderful Collette Cameron's page, and big huge thanks for this week’s questions from Fiona Ripley.

Here we go!

1.Does humor help or hinder you in your creative process?

I don't necessarily set out to write funny characters, but sometimes they just turn out that way. :) And humor as part of my life—being able to laugh at myself or a situation—is essential. I'm lucky to have married a man with a great sense of humor, and I consider laughter a necessary part of our daily life. 

Humor helps you unwind and release tension, so it's definitely useful during my creative process.

2.What is a favorite go-to book or movie you use to unblock a problem in your writing?

Penny Dreadful's Reeve Carney and Eva Green.
Hmm, this is a great question and there are probably too many films and shows to list. However, as a historical romance author, I'd have to say that watching costume drama gets me into a sense of the history and the setting and sometimes inspires me. Any Jane Austen novel adaptation will do. :)

With my current series, Whitechapel Wagers, watching anything set in London during the late 19th century is useful, so I love watching shows like Ripper Street and Penny Dreadful.

3.What’s the most inspiring book you’ve read this week or month that’s generated a new idea?

So this might sound odd, but I really love reading outside my genre for inspiration. Alternately, I love reading nonfiction history books about the period, though they usually aren't directly related to my current plot line.

For instance, I recently finished reading Thomas Harris's Red Dragon, which is about as far from historical romance as you can get. I loved his spare style of writing, and he inspired me with his ability to sketch a character quickly yet thoroughly by giving them idiosyncratic quirks. 

I'm also reading a nonfiction book called The Fasting Girl by Michelle Stacey about a young woman during the Victorian era who claimed to live for years without consuming any food. The book has given me insight into late 19th century history and women's roles during that era. 

Now follow me over to Leslie Hachtel's blog to see how she answered these questions. :)

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Sherlock's Watson and Wanton Wager

What inspires you?

I'm often asked what gave me the idea for a given story, and I love reading about what inspires other writers. Ideas can come from anywhere, but most stories have a nugget—something the author read, saw, experienced, or overheard. That nugget and the kernel of a story it inspired might linger in a writer's head for years before they get the story out. We all need a little inspiration on Mondays, so on some Mondays at Romancing the Victorians, we'll find out what inspired writers to tell the stories they do, and I'll share my inspiration for my published stories and works in progress.

My hero, William Selsby, in Wanton Wager is training to be a doctor when he enters the British Army and goes to fight in the Second Afghan War, from 1878 to 1880. Injured in that conflict, he returns to England to find his fiance has abandoned him for a much better catch and falls into years of painful recovery, haunting memories of battle, and a bit of self pity. It's only when he meets the heroine, Ada Hamilton, that his true "man of action" nature is revived. 

Brilliant illustrator Sidney Paget's Watson and Holmes.
When I wrote the character of William Selsby in Wanton Wager, I had another literary character in mind. He too was a veteran of the Afghan War and a medical man, and he was one half of one of the most famous crime-detecting duos in literature. In his own way, Dr. John Watson has become as beloved as his friend, Sherlock Holmes. After all, as the recorder and narrator of Sherlock's deeds, we're reliant as readers on his observations in order to follow along as Holmes untangles one mystery after another. 

The Battle of Maiwand - Second Anglo-Afghan War
Watson's war veteran back story has always fascinated me, as it gives insight into the history of the period. Great Britain was involved in several conflicts during the Victorian era. In fact, from the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign in 1837 until its end in 1901, British troops were engaged in almost constant combat, whether in Africa, Asia, or the Arabian peninsula (Farwell, 1). Most Britons viewed such military actions as the price of maintaining a vast empire and the success of Britain's military was a source of national pride. However, it also created a generation of war veterans, some of whom—like ficitional Dr. Watson and my hero, Will Selsby—returned from these foreign conflicts with physical and emotional scars. The question of how their experiences might have affected the rest of their lives, particularly against the backdrop of the complex and changing world of Victorian London, intrigues me.'

Martin Freeman as John Watson in Sherlock.
My favorite recent performances of Dr. Watson, by Martin Freeman in the BBC Sherlock series and Jude Law in the two Sherlock Holmes films of the last few years, capture the "man of action" aspect of Watson. At times, Watson may seem more interested in women or food than Sherlock, but he is at heart a man of action and is ready to defend and assist those he loves. Fiercely loyal, he is also dependable, honorable, and more patient and sympathetic to the faults of others than the brutally insightful Holmes.

Jude Law as Dr. John Watson.
I wanted my hero, William Selsby, to reflect the best aspects of a character such as Watson, a solider with a heart of gold. He's no bad boy with dark secrets, but he is man who will do the honorable thing if given half the chance. And though he's been hiding away from life and emotion for years, he is willing to embrace both when the opportunity presents itself, despite whatever challenges he may encounter along the way.

Wanton Wager is a sensual novella and is available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo for 99 cents.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Romance Writers Weekly: Quick Dinner for the Busy Writer

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well, you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all…… About our writing of course! Every Tuesday we’ll all answer the same questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site, we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride. Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

This week is a little different. We're not answering questions but offering a quick recipe that helps us to keep the family happy and fed while allowing us to get back to our writing as soon as possible.

Maybe you've found your way to my blog today by linking from my friend and wonderful Regency romance author, Collette Carmeron. Welcome!

The recipe I'm sharing is one of my husband's favorites, and I'm thrilled every time he asks for it because I know it will taste good, provide some leftovers, and yet take me only a little bit of time in the kitchen. We've just refer to it unfussily as Mac and Meat.

Mac and Meat


  • About 1/2 box of elbow macaroni (you can substitute another pasta like rotini or ziti, if you like)
  • 1 jar of delicious pasta sauce (I love Paul Newman's Sockarooni, but a sweeter Marinara works well too)
  • 1 lb. of ground beef (ground turkey could work too)
  • 1 cup grated or shredded cheddar cheese (or more, depending on your preference)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (I've made it sans onion for those who are sensitive and it's just as tasty)
  • cooking spray, as needed
  • Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning or basil to taste

1. Bring 2-4 quarts (depending on how much pasta you'll make) of water to a boil. I usually add a dash of olive oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking.

2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente (not too firm, not too soft). Set aside.

3. Add cooking spray to a heated skillet and then add ground beef and chopped onions.

4. Saute onions and beef until browned, adding salt, pepper, and/or Italian seasoning or basil to season the beef as it cooks.

5. Preheat your oven to 350 and prepare a casserole dish by spraying lightly with cooking spray.

6. Once your beef is browned and pasta is cooked, combine together and add your jar of pasta sauce to the mix, stirring to coat all pasta thoroughly.

7. Spread mixture into your greased casserole dish and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top.

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until mac and meat is heated through and cheedar cheese is thoroughly melted.

I usually serve Mac and Meat with a bit of garlic bread or a small side salad (using pre-prepped salad mix, of course!).

Enjoy! And if you've tried the recipe or have a variation on it, be sure to let me know in the comments.

Now let's see what my fellow Romance Writers Weekly author J.J. Devine is cooking up today.