Wow. It’s the end of an era. The end of the Jaunty Quills!
I was one of the founding members back in 2005 – November, I think it was. There were seven of us, all new writers for Avon Books, though several of us had been published by other houses before. Each one of us took a day of the week, and blogged on that same day every week. It was a lot of writing to do, given our other deadlines and commitments, but we loved it – we enjoyed connecting with other lovers of romance fiction, loved dishing about the things that mattered to us: our families, our books, our favorite movies and TV. Some of us were watching Lost. Others were into Grey’s Anatomy or 30 Rock. The movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had just come out, and so had Little Miss Sunshine and Brokeback Mountain. Those take you back, don’t they?
There were so many things to love about being one of the Quills. We developed new friendships among ourselves, and even now, we still consult with each other when we have trouble with plots or characters. We occasionally got to meet in person – sometimes at the RWA convention, or at RT or another conference, and it was always a good time – just like old friends getting together after a long absence.
We were a dynamic group, reinventing ourselves as some members moved on to other things, and new authors joined us. Our main goal was to be fresh, informative, and entertaining to our readers. Our blog became a mellow place for us to discuss books and life events. We shared a lot of details about writing, and gave you excerpts – not only of our newest books, but also deleted scenes that nobody else got to see. And that’s because our jauntyquills.com readers were always special to us. You were like our second family.
I’m not the fist to say that change is a fact of life. No matter how we start out, our lives take lots twists and turns – some good, some not so great. And hopefully, we can learn from those changes and move forward. Which brings me to my farewell. Nothing lasts forever (except Grey’s Anatomy, I guess). I was a critical care nurse before I became a professional writer. And now I’m a grandmother, taking care of my two new grandsons while their parents work (two of my kids had baby boys the first week of June!) I’m quite happy to be out of contract so that I can make my own deadlines. I can spend lots of time with the babies and write when I have time. So I still release books and novellas, but I’m not writing two books a year any more.
What changes have you had to deal with in your life? I’m going to pick two responders Sunday and send them any book they choose from my backlist. (You can find them at www.margomaguire.com) Adios, my friends!
Last week, my Holiday Pleasures historical romance quartet was re-issued as an ebook bundle. The four books in the series–Season for Temptation, Season for Surrender, Season for Scandal, Season for Desire–were released in time for the holidays in 2011 through 2014. If you haven’t read the series, the bundle offers these four books at a significant discount over buying them all separately. You can find more info here.
It’s been fun to take another look at my first historical romance series. Season for Temptation was my historical romance debut, and it’s got rompy energy out the wazoo. (Not a Regency-correct term.) My style’s changed over time, which you can see if you read all four books in order, but I’ve never had so much fun writing a book as I had coming up with the love story of James and Julia.
In the months before Season for Temptation came out, I amused myself by making comparison tables on my blog. Since at the time I was one of about five people who had ever read SFT, I pretty much amused ONLY myself. Now that the Holiday Pleasures series has been re-issued, I thought it’d be a good time to revisit those comparisons again.
From May 2011:
Lately I’ve been working on the page proofs for SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, and also listening to Harry Potter books on audiotape. (They make great company when you’re cooking, for example.) This is probably why I’ve begun to notice a number of eerie similarities between SEASON and the Harry Potter series–similarities that, I think, cannot fail to turn SEASON into an international publishing phenomenon.
But wait, there’s more!
See what I mean? I can’t fail. I fully expect to see children wearing cravats and waving sword-sticks at the movie version of SEASON FOR TEMPTATION sometime in 2014.
Alas, there was no movie version in 2014. But I continued to be inspired to create parallels; viz. this post from August 2011. Clearly I was into the table functions of Word.
I’ve been watching a lot of Food Network lately, maybe to inspire myself to cook more during these dog days of summer. (Not that the inspiration is very practical, since I usually watch cooking competitions that involve bizarre ingredients like canned haggis.) This is probably why last night, instead of sleeping, I started thinking of how much my favorite show, Chopped, has in common with SEASON FOR TEMPTATION.
If you’ve never seen Chopped, here’s the format: four chefs, three rounds of competition (appetizer, entrée, dessert). In each round, the chefs have to base their dishes on the cray-cray ingredients out of a mystery basket, and after each round, one chef is eliminated from the competition.
So how is SEASON like Chopped? There are several scenes set during meals, and I think the parallels are fairly uncanny:
See what I mean? That. Is. Amazing.
If you’ve read SFT, what do you think of my comparisons? Or if you haven’t, what other goofy and/or inappropriate things would you like to see a romance compared to? I can’t promise I’ll create another table, but I DO promise to give one of you a print copy of a Holiday Pleasures book. Winner’s choice! One winner will be chosen at random from among all comments on this post, and will be announced on Sunday. International entries welcome.
So this past weekend former Quill, Emily McKay, and I presented a writing workshop in San Antonio. At the conclusion of our lecture material, we brainstormed a new book idea (not one either of us planned to write) so the participants could see the how-to in action, so to speak. But during the brainstorming, something totally cool happened and it reminded me of how marvelous it is that there are so many different writers out there so that we have so many different story options as readers.
The story we brainstormed, we pulled straight from the gossip pages – did y’all hear the rumor a few weeks ago about Prince Harry dating Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter movies)? The internet lit up with this rumor and for a few blessed hours we seemed to have an awesome power couple in the making. Turns out, it was all a rumor. But we ran with that idea as our would-be plot scenario: What happens when a rumor starts that the royal “spare” is dating the actress from a beloved children’s series? Well, if the crown is currently in turmoil, then they make a bargain with both parties to continue their false relationship to busy the paparazzi to deflect from the actual problem.
So that was the story we bounced around. We got lots of scene ideas and possible conflicts and goals for the two main characters. And then someone asked, well, what if when the crown approaches him about the fake relationship, they leave it up to him to pursue her and she’s not in on the secret? At this point, I got all kinds of excited. This was my kind of conflict. Secrets, the hero as the pursuer, a feisty heroine who will NOT be happy when she discovers whats actually going on. Then we had two clear choices that made for two very different stories.
Which story would you pick? The one where both the hero and heroine are in on the secret and trying to fake it together? Or the one where only he’s in on the secret and it’s up to him to get the heroine into the relationship (fake or not!)? Why do you think you would choose that over the other option? *Also, how cute would they be as a real life couple? So cute!!!
We’re all readers here at the Jaunty Quills and I thought it might be fun to geek out today and chat about some books we’ve read recently. So answer the following questions and let’s chat. I’ll pick two commenters to win a copy of my novella, Her Gentleman Thief.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently? For me, it would have to be our own JQ, Kristan Higgins, Catch of the Day. It was just delightful with a heroine I could relate to (in so many ways) and a hero I wanted to spend a lot of alone time with….
What’s your favorite book series? Is it stupid for me to comment that this is a hard question? Don’t answer that. I can’t not mention Harry Potter or the Hunger Games, but I’m going to disqualify those and make myself pick a romance series, I’d have to say it’s a toss up between JD Robb’s In Death series and Suzanne Enoch’s Lessons in Love.
What does a book have to have to make it on your keeper shelf? I have to not only love the book and the story, but both characters. There have been plenty of books I’ve read where I’ve really loved either the hero or the heroine but not both, but to be a keeper, it’s got to be 100% love fest.
What’s the saddest book you’ve read? I don’t generally pick sad books because I don’t like to deal with much angst when it comes to my reading material, I remember I read a book (many years ago) called The Marriage Bed by Stephanie Mittman and I sobbed through the whole book.
Who is your go-to author when you need to fall into a book and you know they won’t fail to satisfy you with a great story? Suzanne Enoch or JD Robb
So how about you? Let’s talk books and you might win a free one for yourself!
ORIGINALLY POSTED: August 11, 2010
When I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it was way back when the second book had only been in stores a few months and most of the world hadn’t yet been bitten by the HP bug. It took a few chapters, but when we got to Diagon Alley I knew I’d stumbled upon something special. I remember feeling like I witnessed history in the making, feeling assured that once the books caught on, we’d have another Narnia Chronicles on our hands. The most vivid emotion though was that this book was the first time I’d read something as an adult that made me feel like books used to when I was a kid. I realize that is a terrible sentence, but hopefully you know what I mean. In short, I was mesmerized.
I quickly devoured the book, then the second, then waited impatiently for the third (which totally blew me away) and about this time word started spreading and the world was about to catch HP fever. It was the first time I remember ever dreaming about characters from a book and it happened more than once. The characters, the world was so real to me that when I was intrenched in one of the books I was completely surrounded. I remember catching myself before telling a friend that the next time I went to England I wanted to make a special trip to Hogwarts.
This last month, that silly fantasy of mine came true. Or as true as it can within our Muggle world. While in Orlando for the RWA conference, me and Emily and my mom made a side trip to Universal Studios to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We got up super early, we hired a car to take us to the park and we walked the long way to the entrance of the park. But we’d been smart and we’d pre-purchased our tickets so we were able to just walk right in. We made a beeline to the HP area (mostly we followed the crowd because that’s where everyone else was going too!)
And then we rounded a corner and there it was, across the way, but Hogwarts rose up from a hill just like I’d seen in my mind so many times. I’ll admit it, I got a little misty and giddy and started snapping pictures. We kept our trek through the park, passing by some really cool looking other areas, but we were on a mission.
Suddenly we were there, right up to Hogwarts door. There’s a ride in the castle, but I had read enough stuff on-line before hand to know that my motion sickness would probably cause trouble, so mom and I headed into the tour line where we were able to just walk through the castle while Emily went on to the ride. (she’ll have to tell you about it when she returns from her family vacation) Inside the castle we saw the hall of portraits where some of the pictures moved and talked. Then we saw Dumbledore’s office and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and the entryway to the Gryffindor common room with the Fat Lady’s picture. It really was totally magical and my only complaint was that I wanted it to be longer. I wanted to see the Great Hall with the floating candles and I wanted to see the actual common room and the floating staircases.
But never fear once we were out of the castle (dumped conveniently into Filch’s Emporium, a gift shop where I purchased my own copy of the Maurader’s Map) we walked strait into Hogsmeade. Now technically this was a mixture of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, but it was just fantastic. We bought wands and we had butterbeer (so tasty!) and we saw the Hogwart’s Express (another misty moment for me!) and we bought chocolate frogs in Honeydukes and went into the Owl Post. And I have to take a moment to personally thank all of the English families that were there that day, their lovely British accents really added to the experience for me. Then in the bathroom (which they called “public conveniences”) you could hear Moaning Myrtle whine and cry.
So how about you, what fictionalized world would you like to see come to life? If you could step into any book you’ve ever read, which one would it be? One lucky commenter will win a collection of books I brought back from the conference.