Romance Written Right

It’s been a season of transitioning at the Proctor house. We’ve transitioned into our new life in Charleston, SC, thanks to a work promotion for my husband (Hooray for the beach!) and me? I’ve transitioned into . . . SOLITUDE. For the first time in sixteen years all of my children are in school. I admit, it was a day I thought I would celebrate, but in truth, I spent several weeks feeling weepy, not knowing exactly what to do with myself. It wasn’t so much that I missed my kids. The youngest was ready for Kindergarten. He’s thriving. I know he’s where he needs to be. I just didn’t know how to be alone. How to make choices when the only person I had to consider was ME. How to spend my time effectively.  So I didn’t. I watched hours of Netflix. And took really long naps. And of course, I read stacks and stacks of books.

And so, in an effort to dust off this, an infrequently used writing space, I’m here to recommend a few of those reads to you. We’re focusing on Romance for today–romance that in my estimation is written just as it should be.

The Fall of Lord Drayson (Tanglewood, #1)The Fall of Lord Drayson, by Rachael Anderson

When Colin Cavendish, the new earl of Drayson, informs Lucy Beresford that she and her mother need to vacate the house they’ve called home for the past two years, Lucy is fit to be tied. They have no money, no relations they can turn to for help, and nowhere to go. How dare the earl break the promise his father had made to the Beresfords without so much as a twinge of conscience?

Fate plays her hand when Lucy discovers the earl unconscious and injured in the middle of the road. When he awakens with no recollection of who he is, Lucy seizes the opportunity to teach the earl a much-needed lesson in humility and tells him that he is nothing more than a mere servant. Her servant, in fact. 

And thus begins the charming tale of a pompous lord and an impetuous young woman, caught together in a web so tangled that it begs the question: Will they ever get out?

Guys, I loved this book so much. I often complain that Regency novels all feel the same. You can only tell a Regency Romance so many ways when limited by the social constraints and customs of the time. But this novel felt fresh and entertaining and funny, which is something you don’t always see in this genre. I can’t wait to read more of Anderson’s work. FIVE out of FIVE STARS.

Buy The Fall of Lord Drayson on Amazon

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The Start of Me and You, by Emery Lord

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? 

This one is an adorable Young Adult Contemporary romance that was nerdy and sweet and pretty much perfect in every way. The chemistry was so good, the characters felt authentic and oh, so real, and the writing was effortless. I wouldn’t call this one fluffy–it has some depth because of the personal struggles the main character faces, but it’s not heavy either. It’ll make you swoon in all the right places and leave you smiling and happy. A sweet feel good love story perfect for fans of contemp YA. FIVE out of FIVE STARS.

Buy The Start of Me and You on Amazon

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

sugar cookieIt took me a long time to find my sugar cookie groove. The whole chilling/rolling/cutting factor was too intimidating. I’m generally one giant Pinterest fail when it comes to anything complicated in the kitchen (Or anything crafty. I’m terrible at crafts.) so avoiding sugar cookies made sense. But this recipe? I can handle it. Mostly because, these cookies don’t require all the fancy rolling and cutting. Instead, you simply shape the dough into balls, then squash them with the end of a glass to make them nice and round. No cookie cutters required.

 

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
4 Tbsp. milk
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and milk. Mix well. Mix together dry ingredients, then add to the butter/sugar mix slowly. Chill dough for one hour. 

To make round cookies: Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Use the end of a glass and gently press on each ball, until flat. (If you don’t plan to frost your cookies, you can roll the balls in sugar to add a little more sweetness… If I’m not frosting, I  like to use sugar crystal sprinkles, added to the flattened cookies just before baking.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. (I never bake longer than 6 minutes. I like my cookies soft… the full 8 minutes tends to make them crispier.)

Frosting? I wish I had a concrete recipe I could give you… I generally start with a stick of butter, then add powdered sugar (around 3 cups) until I get a consistency I’m happy with. I’ll add vanilla (2-3 tsp.) and a little milk or cream (2-3 Tbsp. or more, if needed) to keeps things moist. Food coloring to make things pretty and I generally call it good.

*A note: These are not like Pinterest Perfect sugar cookies with fancy pants designs iced on. They’re more like Lofthouse cookies… super soft and sometimes crumbly. (And just as good.)

The Whitney Awards (and Storymakers!)

(This is an update better late than never, guys. After a BIG family move from North Carolina to Charleston, SC I’m finally making it through my endlessly long to-do list.)

Back in May, I attended the Storymakers Conference (my favorite writing conference OF ALL TIME) in Provo, Utah. The past two years I’ve been in charge of the conference so my experience mostly involved problem solving, fire dousing, and drinking large quantities of Cherry Pepsi. But this year? I wasn’t in charge of anything, and oh how lovely it was. I went to classes! I learned! I spent time with my writer friends! I have some really amazing writer friends, so this was absolutely the very best part. How about some photo evidence?

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(This is a teeny tiny sampling. I’m terrible at taking pictures.)

I’ve said this oh, so many times, but if you’ve ever had any interest in writing and publishing and you could make it to Provo in the Spring? COME TO STORYMAKERS. It’s a great conference for writers across all different genres, skill levels, and career paths. Start planning now though, because registration (Which I’m in charge of for 2018, so trust me on this one!) WILL sell out, and probably within just a couple of weeks. Check out the website, sign up for updates, follow the conference on Facebook, whatever you need to do to stay in the loop.

After the conference, I attended the 2016 Whitney Awards Gala, where Love at First Note was a finalist in the Contemporary Romance category. And guess what? I won!

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It was an honor to be nominated and a joy to win. My acceptance speech was all about my sister, Emily, who, in general, is both my biggest cheerleader and toughest critic (in the best possible way). But for this book? She went above and beyond as my musical consultant and inside source. As a professional musician, she knew just how to teach me the ways of the symphony and pick the best music to reflect Emma and Elliott’s journey. This book was for her, and I’m so glad she was there with me the night it was honored in such a lovely way.

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