Archive for the Category » Historical Romance «

A Study in Elegant Writing ~~ Book Review

  5 out of 5 stars  ~~  Book Review

We can all agree that historic, Victorian romances are a dime a dozen. Some writers are better than others and the market place doesn’t seem to care. Unless, of course, the reader stumbles upon Jennie Goutet (as I did). 

Ms. Goutet writes with an uninterrupted elegant flow. She never drops out of the genre with a more modern turn of phrase or word. The formality of this period deserves a formal treatment when writing the story. It takes great talent to never break the flow, never break the cadence or flavor. And until you have read Jennie Goutet, Grace Burrowes, and Mimi Matthews, the reader will not notice the glaring difference. 

Selena Lockhart comes with neither dowry nor connections, and she knows better than to expect Society to give her a welcome—especially after her father gambled away his fortune, precipitating the family’s sudden fall from grace and Selena’s betrothed to break off their engagement. It therefore comes as no surprise that her new neighbor, Sir Lucius, treats her with disdain. Why should he look beyond appearances when her own promises so little?
 

A Fall From Grace was a speculative purchase on my part, having never read anything by this author.  I am so relieved that I didn’t miss this author or this book. I look forward to reading some of her other books, which I have on order. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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Interview with author, Mimi Matthews (conclusion)

Mimi with her horse, Centelleo

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MM. Both. The ideas for my novels usually start with a single disconnected scene. I imagine the characters in a specific situation. That scene helps me to understand them and their motivations, but it also helps me to understand the goal of my story as a whole.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MM. At the best of times, yes, when the words are flowing and the story is unfolding without too much mental anguish on my part. It’s one of the primary reasons I write. Because of my spine injury, I suffer a lot from pain. When I’m lost in a story, I can forget the pain, at least temporarily. For that reason alone, writing is incredibly therapeutic for me.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

MM. I’m really excited about my upcoming January release, The Siren of Sussex. Set in Victorian London, it features Ahmad Malik, the half-Indian tailor from my Parish Orphans of Devon series, and Evelyn Maltravers, a bluestocking equestrienne who hires him to make her daring riding habits. Siren is the first in a new series I’m writing for Berkley/Penguin Random House. It will be out on January 11th.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MM. I wrote my first novel at thirteen. At eighteen, that novel got me my first literary agent. That novel didn’t sell, nor did the next one I wrote. After that, I took a very long break from writing fiction while I went to college and law school, traveled a bit, and did some other exciting things. It was only my spine injury that brought me back to writing fiction again.

Jet trying to find the delete button

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

MM. Gosh, I hope not. I love the look, feel, and smell of books—both old books and new ones.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MM. I love an author who can tell a compelling story that grabs hold of you from the start and won’t let you go. Beautiful prose is a bonus.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MM. For me, the process involves lots of work and lots of writerly angst. It usually starts with me loving my characters and ends with me being sick to death of them. Seriously, by the time a book is finished, I’ve reread it so many times I can’t take it anymore. Hopefully, all those rereads and revisions result in a polished story that my readers are going to love.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MM. My own experience with a life altering injury has a huge impact on the stories I tell. I write a lot about people who are experiencing similar life altering circumstances—a devastating loss, a debilitating physical injury, or a change in fortune. My characters have to work through these situations, to adapt and grow in order to ultimately find happiness again.

Stella

Q. What’s your down time look like?

MM. I’m terrible at down time. My laptop is often open on my lap, even when my family is watching a movie. Shutting off technology and learning to relax is something I’m struggling to get better at.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

A. Yes! I recently indulged the urge to write a Victorian gothic vampire novel. I had so much fun. Not sure I’d do it again, but I loved that I could—and that some of my readers even enjoyed it.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MM. Be kind, both to other people and to yourself.

Did you miss Part I of our interview with Mimi Matthews?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Interview with Historical Romance Author, Mimi Matthews

Bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, & Booklist, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

Jet and Stella

MM. I mostly write in bed. This is owing less to laziness than to a cervical spine injury I suffered several years ago. My neck requires lots of propping and support to keep it from flaring up. My room is wonderfully bright and spacious, though, with high ceilings and lots of big windows. I have built-in bookcases filled with history books, law books, and all my favorite novels. I also have a capacious secretary desk, which I don’t use as much as I should. One perk of writing in bed is that my cats and dogs all pile in with me. They’re basically my co-writers.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MM. I have no quirks, rituals, or writerly affectations. My process consists of opening a word document on my laptop. Of course, peace and quiet helps tremendously. And diet Cherry Pepsi, too, if I can get it.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MM. I love to travel but hate to fly. In the past, I used to master by fear in order to go to the places I wanted to go. Now however, I’m not sure I’ll ever fly again. Even thinking about it makes me anxious. The last time I was on a plane it had to make an emergency landing. There were firetrucks waiting for us on the runway. That may have been it for me.

Coming! January, 2022

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

MM. I start with my laptop. That’s pretty much it.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

MM. I like to start by 1pm. Ideally, I start earlier, but 1pm is my “do or die” marker.

One of this blogger’s favs….

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MM. For me, some days all it takes is opening a word document. Once I have the document in front of me, the words often come. If not, it helps to reread the last scene I wrote. Writing sprints can also help if I’m really feeling reluctant.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

MM. I always begin a story with an idea of them, even if it’s just a vague one. As I write and research, they become fully formed in my mind. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so am accustomed to discovering things as I go.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

MM. When I was very small, I used to tell stories to my mom. She encouraged me to write them down. It was a personal exercise, done more for my own amusement than with any view to being a writer one day. I’m not sure I even understood what a novelist was.

Don’t miss the conclusion.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Book Review ~~ Miss Delectable by Grace Burrowes

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   5 out of 5 quills    

When you pick up a book written by Grace Burrowes you are one hundred percent certain you are in store for a good story. Filled with interesting characters and an fascinating plot.  Full stop! 
 
Grace Burrowes has begun a new series, Mischief in Mayfair. Miss Delectable is Book One, and it’s delicious!  Rag-a-muffin rapscallions abound with a hero who rescues them and the damsel in distress.  Book Two, Miss Delightful, is to be released shortly.
Burrowes is very prolific in this genre and what is amazing is how FRESH her plot lines remain.  She is constantly thinking of new story lines that have not been done before. 

Miss Pearson has dedicated years to learning the exacting science of the culinary arts.  She will never hold the title of ‘chef’ as that is strictly reserved for men. She will always be a ‘cook’, no matter how talented and creative she is.  It is, after all, only the 19th century. 
Colonel Sir Orion Goddard is Miss Pearson’s employer’s brother by marriage. They are slightly acquainted and really have no reason to meet each other. Persistent, vague scandal and rumors have haunted Goddard and being a recluse solves many of his problems.  That is, until his young protégé needs placement and only his brother-in-law’s kitchens will do. 

Burrowes gives her readers a good tale, characters that are deeply drawn, a little intrigue and a sweet love story. Recurring individuals keep her fans very happy. 

Available Soon! Miss Delightful  (9/14/21)

Did you miss my Interview with Grace Burrowes?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
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Book Review ~~ The Iron Earl by KJ Jackson

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1 out of 5 quills          ~~    BOOK REVIEW

My biggest complaint with this book was how shallow the story plot was. Pages and pages of how the heroine needed to escape. She was pretty much ‘one note’. Then pages and pages of how rage-filled the hero was. Boring. Mixed in were graphic sex scenes with little romance. The first time for this virgin was just this side of a rape. 
A missed opportunity for the author was to include a sub-plot exploring the relationship between Karta and Dommnel. Their story was interesting and a thread that was, sadly, not pulled by Jackson.
The villain is predictably the step-father until (handily in the last 30 pages) Evalyn discloses that she knows who her real father is and, conveniently, he is of aristocratic blood and owns land and she is his heir. This is sprung on the readers with no backstory of how she discovered her biological father. Sloppy writing. Sigh

The contents did not live up to the beautiful cover. 

Did you miss my Interview with Grace Burrowes?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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Book Review ~~ Band of Sisters

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This is an exceptional, sweeping saga about a group of women, all alumni of Smith College, who volunteered to go to Europe to assist the ravaged French villages during World War I.  What is extraordinary is, if an event happened in this book, it happened in real life. Based on old documents and letters, the new Smith College Relief Unit, composed of women from all walks of life, signed up for six months to try and assist villagers who were devastated by the war raging across Europe. They were later to be affectionately known as ‘the Smithies’. 

Their careers in social work, medicine, teaching couldn’t prepare them for the conditions they found when they disembarked from a train from Paris onto the muddy track leading to the village, Gricourt. The village existed hand in glove with an always changing ‘front line’ of battle between the Allied Forces and the German juggernaut.

Each woman’s life is showcased with beautiful writing from this author, Lauren Willig.  Sometimes novels that are based heavily on actual historical events slip into being dry and dusty reading.  It never happened in this novel, I am happy to report.
A real page turner to the end. A beautiful book of prose and an exciting, action-filled, story.  

Released March 21st
Did you miss my INTERVIEW with Lauren Willig?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica  March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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Interview with author, Madeline Hunter

Madeline Hunter is a bestselling author of more than thirty historical romances. She is a two-time RITA winner. Her books have been on the NY Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller list.  Over six million of her books are in print, and have been translated into fourteen languages. A Ph.D. in Art History, she was, for many years, a professor at an eastern university. She lives in western Pennsylvania, near her two sons.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

MH. About ten years ago some renovations in my home allowed me to create an office just for my writing. It is right off the family room and has a lot of light. My desk is a long, deep ledge along one wall. I am a stacker, so that desk is usually a total mess. I know where everything is, though! And when I organize, I lose stuff so I don’t do that too often (this is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
I suppose if I had a dream work space, it would be a small separate building, or perhaps an elegant office that resembles an English country library from the 19th century, full of books and wood and a desk that isn’t so big that it gets covered in my stacks. Can I have regular office staff to keep it all looking gorgeous too?

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MH. Coffee, then more coffee. Silence. Preferably no one else in the house and certainly not moving around and DEFINITELY not popping in to chat.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MH. I am a traveler. I have been to five continents, and more cities than I can count. Travel really invigorates me and fills the well that I draw on for my writing.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

Available April 27th

MH. I start with either legal pad/pen or computer. In either case, I am just throwing down ideas to flesh out the germ of a notion I have for a book. It is very messy and barely understandable to anyone else except me. I keep doing this, honing the story idea, making sure the characters work for me, and ensuring there is enough story to carry a novel. Eventually I start writing a synopsis and try to synthesize all of that into the actual plot story line. The synopsis goes through more drafts until it is in final form. The synopsis is not an outline. It is the who, what, why of the book, but not necessarily the how.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

MH. Yes, but it has shifted around. I started out a night writer, then became a morning writer, and am currently an early afternoon writer. I have no idea why the times have changed. Ideally I’d be a morning writer because when it gets pushed off, it may not happen at all.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MH. Sit in the chair and just start with one sentence. The rest will follow. Now, that sounds so sensible, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is the actual sitting and doing it that is the problem. If you have a publisher and write to contract, that contract really helps because no work, no pay. However, if you are not beholden to anyone but yourself, problems can develop. I think every writer who starts a project should create deadlines and commit to them. Make them realistic, but non-negotiable once they are set. When I was starting, before I was published, I forced myself to finish a book every eight months. I had a goal and found the time to get it done. It is harder to procrastinate when you see your goal slipping away.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

MH. Wow, this is a big subject. I have had characters come to me in many ways. I have had them walk into other books and start being so dynamic and interesting that I knew I had to do a book just for them. I have had visions of characters and ended up figuring out a story so I could learn more about them. And I learn about them as I write them. I am a big believer that character development is just that—they develop as the story unfolds. The reader learns about them pretty much the same way I did. It is important to me that my characters be distinctive. I don’t want all of my heroes to be cut of the same cloth, for example. It is tempting, when you have a really cool character, to use clones of him again and again. Eventually the readers recognize that is happening, however.

Join us for the conclusion to this Interview ~ January 23rd
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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