Cora’s TBR Challenge Check-In

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Happy August, fellow readers! Are you getting in a lot of summer reading?

I’m still woefully behind, as has become usual for me 🙂  And I had an e-reader mishap, in the bargain–somehow An Extraordinary Union got reset back to the first page, and I have no idea where I was! I suppose I’m going to have to start that one over, but the first half was so good I don’t think I mind too much.

I’ve also begun reading Darcy Burke’s novella To Love a Thief, which has been languishing in my TBR for nearly 7 years! So progress is being made, and my working/writing schedule has become less frantic for a bit so I’m confident that this progress will continue, at least for a while 🙂

Author Commentary: No Rest for the Wicked, Chapter 1

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Welcome to Author Commentary! Each month I’ll be re-reading a chapter from one of my books and talking a bit about what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I made certain choices, any easter eggs that might be hiding, research I’d done for that part, etc. This month I’m starting No Rest for the Wicked, which is available for free at your favorite e-tailer if you’d like to pick up a copy and read along.

No Rest for the Wicked, Chapter 1

We open with Joanna Pearson standing outside the door of her husband’s rooms, working up the courage to knock. This is a good place to talk about the premise of this series–that one or both of the main characters in each book are the mortal, Regency incarnations of modern superheroes. Joanna is loosely based on Marvel’s Black Widow, who was trained as a Soviet spy, then switched sides and moonlights with the Avengers. This Natasha-esque character would ordinarily be calm, cool, and collected even in the face of danger, yet here she stands in a hallway trying to get a grip on the anxiety washing over her at the prospect of seeing her husband. Hopefully that tells you something about how strongly she feels about him, if not exactly what she feels for him 🙂

Before Joanna can open the door, a group of children rush out and pass her as if she’s not there. Perhaps they were used to seeing random people turn up there, or perhaps she blended in well with her surroundings. But I purposely chose to have Michael teaching in this scene because 1) it’s a great occupation (says the former teacher, lol) and 2) Catholics were banned from teaching, publicly or privately, by the Penal Laws until 1782. The story takes place in 1808 and Michael, loosely based on Daredevil, is Catholic. The fact that he’s also a lawyer comes both from his comic book counterpart and the Penal Laws, again–it only became legal for Catholics to practice law in 1793 (also the year it became legal for Catholics to enter Trinity College, Dublin, where Michael was educated thanks to an anonymous benefactor).

He spoke without turning around—he’d always been good at detecting her presence—so she addressed the back of his white linen shirt in the soft Dublin brogue she’d been practicing. “Michael. It’s been a long time.” This line in particular was meant as an homage to Joanna and Michael’s origins. He knows it’s her without looking (though in this story Michael has not yet lost his sight as Daredevil had) and she’s been working on blending in as a good spy would.

“I need to speak with the Demon of Dublin’s Hell.”  I wanted rather badly to call Michael the Devil of Dublin’s Hell because the possibilities to make puns and references was practically unlimited. But there was already a devil in the real neighborhood of Dublin that was called Hell. It was a wooden statue mounted on a gate that led to Christ Church Cathedral, taken down sometime early in the Victoria era and carved into snuff boxes. So Michael became a demon instead 🙂

He took the letter and broke the wax seal, his brown eyes slowly scanning the page. “Sir Arthur Wellesley?” The future Duke of Wellington really was getting ready to disembark with his army at Cork in July 1808, and I thought he would make an excellent spymaster. If we carry the modern superhero analogy further, that would mean his grace was playing the part of Nick Fury, assembler of special teams.

…her features as placid and unrevealing as the plain black dress she wore. Double meaning there–black was for mourning, and a woman might wear black when she’d become a widow. A widow’s black for my Regency Black Widow 😉

“An associate of mine is making her way to Dublin as we speak. She can take up the Demon’s post and look after The Liberties in your absence.” Cara Campbell, who Joanna is referencing here, is an homage to Jessica Jones, whose middle name is Campbell. I chose Cara as her first name to replicate Stan Lee’s penchant for alliterative names.

“He is assembling a group of individuals…” I spent the whole day walking around saying, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative,” when I wrote this part, lol. Except I couldn’t tell anyone what I was working on at that point, so I probably sounded like a madwoman quoting and cackling!

The chapter concludes with the pair striking a deal: Michael will heed his invitation from Sir Arthur and travel with Joanna to Cork, while Joanna promises to explain her 5-year absence after their business has been seen to.

She stood beside him, the top of her head barely reaching his chin. In my head, Joanna looks like Scarlett Johansson and Michael like Charlie Cox, neither of whom are overly tall. But in the comics, Daredevil is something like 6’4″ so that’s what I went with that for this story. The comics are also where the pairing came from–Black Widow and Daredevil have never even met in the TV/movie side of things, but they were an item in print 🙂

Exclusive Content And Where To Find It

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This is what happens when I get organized, lol. I end up with lists! In this case, though, everyone benefits. In each place I live online, I post something you’ll only find there and something you’ll find other places but in that spot first. This list tells you what you’ll find and where, for those who’d like to follow me places other than here. Any content not mentioned is shared across platforms.

courtesy of Nick Youngson & Alpha Stock Images

The Regency Salon, a group for historical romance readers
Exclusive content: monthly article/blog/Q&A/poll
First Look content: covers & blurbs of new books
Posting Frequency: varies

Twitter
Exclusive content: Retweets about history and the romance genre
First Look content: #1lineWed and #TeaserTues when I’m working on a book
Posting Frequency: daily

Newsletter
Exclusive content: electronic birthday gift (if you provide your birthday), $10 Amazon gift card giveaway, polls (different from the ones in The Regency Salon)
Posting Frequency: quarterly

Website
Exclusive content: detailed info about all of my books
First Look content: upcoming events I’m participating in
Posting Frequency: as needed

Other
You can also find/follow me on:
Goodreads
Bookbub
Pinterest
Amazon
Amazon UK

And announcing a new feature!

Here on the blog, I’ll be posting author commentary on each of my books! I’ll do one chapter per month until a book is finished, then we’ll begin another book. I’ll talk about the choices I made in that particular chapter, Easter eggs, what the characters were thinking but didn’t say, and whatever else might be fun or interesting to know.

Which book would you most like to start with? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Cora’s TBR Challenge Check-In

We’re halfway through the year, fellow readers! Are you halfway through your TBR challenge?

As usual, I’m not. But I seem to be getting back on track. After judging in the first round of the RITAs, dealing with a busy period at the day job, taking a history class in a condensed semester (History of Modern India–very interesting, but a lot of work in 6 weeks!), and taking a literary detour to read about dog training (new dog, Bo, came home nearly two months ago, but he’s big and strong and has almost no training), I’m finally getting back to my TBR books.

After several attempts, I’ve finished The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde in audiobook, read by Richard Armitage. I started it six months ago, and though it isn’t a long book, I kept getting sidetracked by other things (and, if I’m honest, by Richard Armitage’s voice  😉 ). It was good, as I’d expected, and the narration was fantastic!

Unfortunately, Jekyll & Hyde was only the third TBR book I’ve read this year, out of the 24 I set as my goal, so I have a way to go in the second half of the year. Perhaps this is the year when I learn to balance my reading time with my writing time (and my Bo-training time!), and manage not to run right up on my deadlines  🙂

Bo, my new furkid, pretending that he hadn’t just disemboweled a squeaky hedgehog toy.

Last Chance for Christmas Ever After!

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Christmas Ever After, a collection of sweet Regency Christmas stories, was always meant to be a limited time publication, and now its time is running short. Tonight is your last chance to read it with your Kindle Unlimited subscription, and it will be unavailable in ebook after April 16. But you can still grab it before then for just $0.99 USD at Amazon.

Excerpts & Heat Ratings & Covers, oh my!

One of the things I put on my massive To Do list back in December was to update some of the pages on this site. This week I finally got some of that done, namely adding heat ratings on each book’s individual page and a link to the first chapter, so you can read it from your browser without any special software. You can find the list of my published works here or by clicking Cora’s Books in the menu at the top of the page 🙂

Another item from my list was to have a new cover made for No Rest for the Wicked. I’m toying with the idea of writing another, longer story for Joanna and Michael, but when I looked for a photo to use on the cover I couldn’t find one with the same two models. So I looked around some more and found a new couple, dressed in clothing from a later era but with the exact right feel. So I went ahead and contacted the cover artist we used for The Heart of a Hero series, and she made No Rest for the Wicked its new cover. What do you think?

 

Cora’s TBR Challenge Check-In

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We’ve hit the end of February, fellow readers. How is your TBR Challenge going?

I, predictably, am a little behind. And just when it looked like I was going to get caught up, Mr. Migraine became a regular visitor when our weather got weird. And now I’m trying to get the books I’m judging for the RITAs this year finished in time. So I’ll likely be behind for a little bit longer.

But I have three books to go back to once my RITA reads are completed. I started listening to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, read by Richard Armitage. It’s a short book, but I keep getting distracted by the narrator, lol, so I need to try again with a better attention span. I also started reading The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History, which has been interesting so far. I’m about halfway through Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union, too, and I can’t wait to get back to it!

Cora’s 2019 TBR Challenge

So it took me slightly longer than I anticipated to get my TBR Challenge stuff organized for this year. I lost Max to cancer a couple of weeks ago, much sooner than his medical team or I expected, and I’ve been trying to cope with that without letting everything else fall by the wayside. I’ve been more successful with some tasks (feeding myself, going to the day job) than with others (doing fun stuff, putting away Max’s things).

But now I think I’m ready for books again, and better late than never (though I hope these past few weeks aren’t an indicator of how the rest of the year is going to go).

1. How many books from your TBR pile will you read? I tried setting two numbers last year: one for books I’ve had for a while, and one for new books. A major reason my TBR pile is out of control is because I procure books faster than I can read them, and so many of my new books end up collecting dust on a shelf or languishing on my e-reader. But the 2-month rule ended up making the whole thing stressful, and reading should be fun. So I’m going back to one number: 24 books from my TBR pile this year.

2. How long have your books been waiting? For the purposes of this challenge, the books I read must have been acquired by me or placed on my library TBR list before January 1, 2019. This means I can’t buy new books in January and count them toward my TBR Challenge come September–which I found myself doing at least once during the first year, and kind of defeats the purpose of the challenge. But using this date lets me include everything I’ve acquired up until the new year began, meaning everything but my newest books will count toward my total.

3. How will you hold yourself accountable? Like years past, I’ll post here once a month to share my progress and see how you all are doing. I found that creating a Goodreads shelf and the dedicated page on this website to be enormously helpful, too, so I’ll do both again. I’m a very visual person and being able to see the collection of books that I’ve read gives me a nice sense of accomplishment, which makes me want to read more TBR books.

4. What about adding more books to the pile? Like previous years, I’m going to keep track of how many books I purchase with another Goodreads shelf. Numbers are powerful (especially to me, with my background in math), and it will be good to have a new total to compare with 2017 and 2018.

So not a lot of changes from previous years, but that’s because this setup has been working nicely for me so far. We’ll see if that continues for 2019.

Who else is committing to whittle down their TBR piles with me this year? What’s your goal for getting those old books off your shelves and apps and e-readers?

Cora’s TBR Challenge Check-In

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It’s the last day of 2018, fellow readers! Did you meet your TBR Challenge goal?

I didn’t even come close this year. Goodreads says I only read 14 books from my TBR pile out of the 36 I’d hoped to read, and only 19 books overall. I feel bad about that–I love books and reading, and this is the lowest total I’ve had since I started keeping track. But I know exactly what happened. I didn’t read enough during the first half of the year, and the second half was very stressful: writing deadlines, my own health issues, expensive car repairs, and Max’s trips to the vet wore me out. When he was diagnosed with lymphoma a few weeks ago, that did me in. I was/am just too tired to read.

I also purchased 52 books this year, so not only did I not get my TBR pile down much, but I added a considerable amount to it! I have been periodically culling the herd, so to speak, by deleting books from my ereader that I know I’ll never read and boxing up paper books for donation to my local library. That makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, at least–even if I’m not reading those books, I’m getting them off my list  🙂

Happy New Year to all of you! I’ll be back later in the week with a new TBR goal for 2019.