Recommendations and Finding Books To Read

Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time on reading recommendations and other ways of finding books to read. For all sorts of reasons, I’ve had spurts of reading wa-a-a-ay out of my regular sunny uplands.

One of the few cheering things at the moment is how willing people are to share recommendations – new books, favourite books, books their children love….

Of course, recommendations aren’t the only route. I find a lot of my experiments by following some byway that takes my fancy. I must tell you how I found the wondrous  Goblin Emperor sometime. Continue reading

Covers: should images be historically accurate?

  1. Cover Design and the Self-published Author
  2. An International Cover Story
  3. Designer Brief from Self-Publisher
  4. The mental image of a character : the influence of covers
  5. Female images : the message on romance covers?
  6. Designer Stubble: the Bane of Regency Book Covers
  7. Making Covers Work for You, the Author
  8. Covers: should images be historically accurate?
  9. A Close Shave (or the gentle art of Pogonomotomy)

Historically accurate costumes?

Is it historically accurate to wear a tablecloth over a Regency gown?Those who follow this blog will know that I often bang on about cover failings. I want my covers to be historically accurate. For me that means: no Regency heroes with beards or designer stubble; no twirling round the dance floor wearing knee-high boots; ladies in Regency costume that isn’t swathed in a tablecloth (see left); and hairstyles and accessories appropriate for the period.

It also helps if the cover models look vaguely like the characters in my story, but that’s a rant for another day 😉

Historically accurate backgrounds?

Life Guards on horseback with Wellington Arch in background, not historically accurate for 1814I’ve recently been mocking up a cover for a book I’m writing. It’s set in London in the period between Napoleon’s exile to Elba in 1814 and his return the following spring. My hero is a serving soldier who’s enjoying his first leave for 5 years.

I thought it could be good to show uniformed soldiers in the background on my cover. I found the image shown right.

Great image for a Regency cover, yes? Continue reading

Reading the Shorter Romantic Novel Short List

A couple of weeks ago I splurged with glee over this. Libertà is sponsoring the award for the shorter romantic novel this year and the short list was out!

As it happened, I hadn’t read any of them, so added them all to my TBR list, in the full expectation of some cracking reads, when time allowed. And then life got complicated.

Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Shorter Romantic Novel

Well, make that disastrous.

There was a water leak in my road. Actually, more of a small fountain. It continued to flow for the best part of twenty-four hours. My basement flooded.

(Not for the first time. And yes, last time it was also down to the utility company which provides my water.) Continue reading

Making Covers Work for You, the Author

  1. Cover Design and the Self-published Author
  2. An International Cover Story
  3. Designer Brief from Self-Publisher
  4. The mental image of a character : the influence of covers
  5. Female images : the message on romance covers?
  6. Designer Stubble: the Bane of Regency Book Covers
  7. Making Covers Work for You, the Author
  8. Covers: should images be historically accurate?
  9. A Close Shave (or the gentle art of Pogonomotomy)

Snape: Shouldn't you be writing right now?Good covers are massively important and buyers, increasingly, rely on visuals (the cover) rather than the blurb. That was the latest advice from an independent bookseller at a Society of Authors virtual meeting in early 2021. The bookseller recommended authors aim for clear, concise, beautiful covers, with fewer words and, hence, more impact.

Professor Snape (left) may not be beautiful—and that’s not a cover, either—but he’s certainly clear and concise. And if he made you feel guilty, he’s had impact, too 😉

Criteria for Good Commercial Fiction Covers

exclamation mark in fireApart from being clear, concise and beautiful, a Good Commercial Fiction Cover Will…

  1. make the genre clear immediately
  2. represent aspects of the story to draw the potential buyer in
  3. shout out the title
  4. shout out the author’s name
  5. work well in thumbnail
  6. and SELL THE BOOK

That’s a pretty tall order and lots of covers fail it. Not only self-published covers, either.

This blog (based on a recent presentation I did for the Society of Authors) aims to help self-published authors work with cover designers like me to get clear, concise and beautiful covers that will sell the authors’ books. Continue reading

Shorter Romantic Novel Award

I meant to use my next blog to cover a few hints on Finding Your Voice but the short list for the Shorter Romantic Novel Award elbowed it out of the way. (In case you didn’t know, the Romantic Novelists’ Association announced the short list for their suite of awards for romantic fiction last Monday.) For Libertà Books are sponsoring that award again this year.

As you may imagine, the whole hive are proud enthusiasts for the genre, both as writers and readers. So many, many congratulations to our short listers.

The Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award

A Will, a Wish and a Wedding, Kate Hardy, Mills & Boon True Love
The Warrior Knight and the Widow, Ella Matthews, Mills & Boon Historical
The Day That Changed Everything, Catherine Miller, Bookouture
Second Chance for the Single Mum, Sophie Pembroke, Mills & Boon True Love
The Return of the Disappearing Duke, Lara Temple, Mills & Boon Historical
Cinderella and the Surgeon, Scarlet Wilson, Mills & Boon Medical Continue reading

Historical Costume 1800-1850 : the Lady’s Riding Habit

  1. Regency Gowns: Who Would be a Seamstress?
  2. Regency evening gowns: delicious detail at bosom and ankle
  3. Regency gowns: clean, alter, mend the damage
  4. Historical Costume 1780s : Polonaise Gown
  5. Historical Costume 1780s : Caraco. But what IS a caraco?
  6. Historical Costume 1800-1820 : the simple Regency gown?
  7. Historical Costume 1800-1820: a spencer for a skimpy gown?
  8. Historical Costume 1800-1820: Keeping Warm in a Pelisse
  9. Historical Costume 1800-1820 : Parasols Up and Down
  10. Designer Stubble: the Bane of Regency Book Covers
  11. Historical Costume, 1790-1830 : Shoes, slippers
  12. Historical Costume 1800-1820: boots and bags
  13. An improper blog : embroidery and the pains of fashion
  14. Historical Costume : 1800-1831 Royal Jewellery to bling it up
  15. Historical Costume 1800-1850 : the Lady’s Riding Habit
  16. A Close Shave (or the gentle art of Pogonomotomy)

Berrington Hall stables with lady's riding habitIn this occasional series on costume, we’ve featured a lot of day wear, but never what ladies wore when they went riding. The image above shows the Berrington Hall stables and a green riding habit on a mannequin. The waist is around the normal place and it doesn’t have full upper sleeves, so it probably dates from the late 1820s or early 1830s though it could be Victorian.

The development of the riding habit

Judging by the Paris prints, the riding habit changed a lot in the early part of the 19th century. In the Regency period, they looked pretty much like pelisses, except with much more skirt. Here are two, dating from 1816 and 1817, courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum collection.

1816 print of riding habit © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

1816 print of riding habit © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

1817 print of riding habit © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

1817 print of riding habit © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Author’s Voice, And Spies: Can They Help?

author's voiceThis week, four things have conspired to make me think again about the author’s voice. First, a friend asked me a question about some editorial revisions he had received. Then I started the second draft of a new book and found myself uncertain about my own voice. Was it too – well – romantic? There will be romance in this book (actually series) but not for a long time after Chapter One.

Author's voiceOn top of that, a very good friend strongly recommended a novel. Excited, I bought it at once. I’m a great fan of her own books and we very often love the same authors. But I am really struggling to get into it. I admit I put it down and walk away a lot. Which pleases the cat. We will discuss it when next we zoom. AAARGH!

And then I started reading a book about spies. Continue reading

Formatting front matter: hints for independent publishers

essential front matter: copyright symbol on computer key

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A while ago, I blogged about formatting ebook text. Quite a lot of people found it useful. So, as I promised then, I’m doing a follow-on blog about front matter—recommendations about what to include and how best to format it.

As with my previous post, these recommendations are based on how I format front matter for ebooks. You—or your book designer—may want to do things differently. Your choice. You have a good reason for doing it your way, don’t you?

Front Matter: what is it?

It does what it says on the tin 😉

Front matter is everything that comes in front of the text of the work.

Some of it is essential.
And some of it is optional.

Essential front matter consists of a title page and a copyright page.

Optional front matter can include any or all of: Continue reading

A Happy New Year, or is it? Kill the doomscrolling

La Dolce VitaI don’t usually make resolutions, but this New Year I have. And it’s one I need to keep if I am to enjoy the next twelve months.

The problem is I am spending far too much time worrying about the State of the World. I cannot stop looking at the news, online articles and other people’s (often ill-informed) opinions. I have even been waking up in the early hours and switching on my phone, to see if I have missed something of vital importance. Which I haven’t, of course.

Apparently, this is Doomscrolling

woman surrounded by social media icons, doomscrolling

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Endlessly scrolling through your phone or laptop for bad news and overdosing on negativity. I have discovered plenty of information from scientists and medical experts about this phenomenon online. It’s not new, but became much more prevalent in 2020.

So it’s not just me, then Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 12 conclusion

  1. Christmas Wishes and 12 Days of Goodies to come
  2. Day 1 of 12 Days of Christmas : A Partridge in a Pear Tree & P D James
  3. Day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas : 2 Turtle Doves & Jewellery
  4. Day 3 of 12 Days of Christmas : 3 French Hens & translations
  5. Day 4 of 12 Days of Christmas : 4 Calling Birds & Song
  6. Day 5 of 12 Days of Christmas : 5 Gold Rings & Tolkien
  7. Day 6 of 12 Days of Christmas : 6 Geese a-Laying & Paul Gallico
  8. Day 7 of 12 Days of Christmas : 7 Swans a-Swimming & Company
  9. Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas : 8 Maids a-Milking & Heyer
  10. Day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas : 9 Ladies Dancing & Joanna
  11. Day 10 of 12 Days of Christmas : 10 Lords a-Leaping & Wimsey
  12. Day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas : 11 Pipers Piping & Ratty
  13. Day 12 of 12 Days of Christmas : 12 Drummers Drumming & Play
  14. Day 13 of 12 Days of Christmas : Was It Worth It?
  15. Twelfth Night
  16. 12 Days of Christmas (slightly revised for Botswana)
  17. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 1
  18. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 2
  19. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 3
  20. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 4
  21. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 5
  22. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 6
  23. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 7
  24. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 8
  25. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 9
  26. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 10
  27. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 11
  28. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 12 Part 1
  29. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 12 conclusion

CHRISTMAS MYSTERY by Sophie Weston: EPISODE 12 Conclusion
Missed the start? Click here to read from episode 1

The nurse lived a good way out and insisted on taking them in for a drink to celebrate the New Year. As it turned out, this included a substantial ham sandwich which Patrick snarfed down like a starving wolf.

“Wonderful,” he said. “Busy day. First chance to eat.”

The nurse beamed and waved them off with a care package of goodies from the meal she was preparing to see in the New Year.

In the car on the way back, Liv relaxed, even when Patrick said, “Why didn’t you tell me to drive you to the Food Bank?”

She was surprised. “You were completely immersed in your research. I didn’t want to break your concentration.”

“Hrrmph.” Continue reading