Visiting the places where authors have created their book has always appealed. Once when we were visiting the Scottish island of Jura, I drove to one end of the island and then hiked along a dirt track for several miles to see the house where George Orwell wrote 1984. Over the years from Beatrix Potter to Louisa May Alcott, I have made treks and I still have many more treks to make –Agatha Christie’s house springs to mind. And because I love seeing the spaces where authors create, I am sharing my space with you all.
My house dates from 1908 and is an Edwardian bungalow. There are three floors – attic where the nursery and servant’s room used to be, main living space and basement. We opened up the attic and moved the bedrooms up there. I love living in an older house. Our first married home was from the 1820’s and a one bedroom Georgian terrace – all stairs and great for a couple but not for a baby. It still had some of the original decorations like the staircase, built in bookcase and the chair and pictures rails in the living room. It instilled in me a love of old houses and helped foster my desire to write historical romance.
My primary writing area is my study where my husband thinks I should always write. He also likes to close the door on my mess as he calls it. When working, I tend to allow research books to pile up and become intermingled with papers. Originally I shared the space with the children’s toys but they are all grown now.
My study walls are coralline as I fell in love with the color when I finally visited Sorrento about ten years ago. The hotel we stayed at had the color on its dining room walls. Sorrento is of course right near Pompeii and Herculaneum. As I had written about the area during Roman times, it was fabulous to be able to visit. About the same time that the study was painted, we reopened the fireplace and so I was able to choose the tiles and the surround. The tiles are Alphonse Mucha’s Evening. There is a tiny bit of coralline in the tiles so it works. When it is very cold out, I have a fire and have been known to stare at the flames, trying to figure out what happens next in my latest Viking.
I have a moveable campaign desk, apparently it is modelled one used by British officers during the Peninsula Wars. I love writing my Regency and Victorian set novels on it. When not in use, it folds away to be a table (or place to balance more books and papers on!) This enables me to decamp from the computer and work in other places in the house. Because I have lymphoedema in my left arm (basically some people get swollen ankles, I have a swollen arm), I like having my wrists supported and working at a desk. If it is a nice day, I will often decamp to the sunroom which gives me a view out of the garden. However, in high summer, it can become too warm and cause my computer to overheat. My study is north facing and so always cool.
If it is not so nice, I will work in the kitchen as the Aga is always on. An Aga is a cast iron stove which is always on and has a hot plate and a simmering plate as well as two ovens (one hot and the other warm) When we first moved to the house, it was solid fuel (it dates from the 1950’s) and my childhood fascination with Little House on the Prairie paid dividends. There are many reasons we converted the Aga to oil, including the tyranny of having to keep refuelling. We recently put in a log burning stove so the dining room is a possibility as well. Formerly the room could be like ice but I have been surprised how efficient the log-burner is.
I tend not to write outside as I prefer to use my time in the garden for thinking. Pulling weeds can be therapeutic, particularly when the characters are not cooperating.
I hope you enjoyed the brief tour of where I write and I get my inspiration from.
Sent as the Viking's Bride
December 18, 2018
Historical ~Ancient World ~Medieval ~Vikings
She’s the wife he doesn’t want…
…and the woman he needs!
Desperate to escape her murderous brother-in-law and protect her young sister, Ragnhild agrees to marry an unknown warrior, and arrives penniless on his remote island. Only, Gunnar Olafson’s belief in love died with his family—he does not want a bride! But as yuletide approaches, Ragnhild transforms his isolated existence. Can she melt her Viking warrior’s frozen heart?
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods including Viking, Regency, early Victorian, and the Roman world. Born and raised near San Francisco, California, Michelle currently lives a few miles south of Hadrian's Wall with her husband, three children and menagerie of pets. An avid reader, she became hooked on historical romance when she discovered Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and Victoria Holt in her school's library. Her website can be found at www.michellestyles.co.uk
I’m gonna have to make an extra effort here because I don’t have a New Year Resolution…
Never had, actually.
When I was in Law School my yearly resolution was to keep up with the tests, but it was out of survival (and stubbornness) more than a New Year Resolution thing.
But as they say, there’s a first time for everything, let’s do it.
I don’t think finally managing to provide my son with a European passport counts (I swear it had haunted me since last September when our Christmas vacation in Italy started to loom closer. He went with his super cool US passport and here I am, back home, starting to stress over it again–major eye-roll) That belongs more to a to-do list, right?
So, let me think for a moment.
- - - - - - -
- - - - - - -
Uh, I got one. I want to hit the gym. We have a very nice one at the complex. I tried it one time before vacation-mood hit in mid-December, and I want to keep going. I hate exercising. And gyms. I really do. The only thing I liked to do was jogging outside, but MS had a different idea about it. Now, if I try to run, after 5 minutes one leg goes on strike and I’m face-down on the road. Not cool.
But I can do different things like the elliptical or the stationary bicycle, and maybe some rowing.
We’ll see how that one goes, but it’s definitely on my Resolution.
Okay. Another thing would be taking more care of myself, of my look, if you will, while working from home.
I am a little ashamed to say that, most of the days, I look like someone who’s about to go and clean up the garage–messy hair, clothes so comfortable that can’t be eye-candy, absolutely no make-up. My husband, bless him, doesn’t care…. But he has eyes! I can clean up nice and he knows it, but I don’t want him to live with the memory of that. Come on. One way could be a sporty look, which is comfortable and dignified at the same time. I’m not making any promise on the make-up, though. I always feel dirty (I-have-stuff-on-my-face dirty, not flirty-dirty) when I do.
All right. I think this could be it!
How did I do?
I’ll let you know in six months how it went….
Thou shalt not steal.
Oh, but Florence had, and would do so one last time.
Ten pieces her grandfather painted for her because he loved her.
Ten pieces her mother lost, along with anything else, for loving the wrong man.
She couldn’t get back everything he’d wasted away, but she’d be damned if she’d give up those paintings.
Easy and genuine, Rhett loves his life–his family, his market, his town. Until he meets a British woman with grey eyes and a cute little smile. The woman he’s been waiting for.
The thing is, to love her is easy, but can he trust her?
When Rhett pushes to uncover her agenda, Flo knows she will lose something–the man she loves or what she’d been fighting for her entire life.
Which road will she choose?
Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.
On my website http://www.viviana-mackade.blog/
Amazon Author page
Thanks for having me on the LoveRomanceReads blog today to celebrate the release of what I believe is my 20th book? Including anthologies? I’m super excited for this book to fall into your hands as it has been one of my most challenging books to write to date. Good challenges and challenging challenges, Typhoon Toby presented them all. Here’s a breakdown…
Typhoon Toby was a challenge and a joy for me to write for several reasons:
My emotional state…
Toby Griffiths appears on the surface to have it all: money, fame, looks, a great career…but once you dig just a little beneath his surface, he’s carrying around some real hurt. Toby is a survivor of emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of someone he trusted, which led him to swear off emotional entanglements other than the platonic musical partnership he has with his best friend Reese Matheson. Now in his early 30s, Toby is having all the feels: regret, loneliness, depression, and little to no self-worth. Along comes a special man who makes him want more and suddenly, all of the things he’s kept a lid on blow like a geyser. That’s when things got tough for me as well. It’s one thing to write a character who’s hanging in there, but when they fall and tumble toward rock bottom, sometimes it hurts. Plus, I was mourning the loss of some of my greatest musical heroes while writing this book. David Bowie, Prince, George Michael…Toby allowed me to grieve for them and celebrate what they’ve meant to me. Be sure to check out the playlist on Spotify. Follow me @rlmerrillauthor for playlists inspired by each of my books.
Major concerns over the sophomore slump are real.
I turned this book in to my editor shortly after Reese was in production and they sent it back. “Let’s wait and see how book one goes and here are some things I think we need to address.” The concerns were real, but then I started to doubt myself. What if it sucks? What if Reese flops and they don’t want another book? What if I’m destined to be a one and done? THANKFULLY folks liked Reese and my publisher gave me another shot and I’m so damn grateful to be here with another book for you.
How can I make Spencer a believable partner who can stand against the Force of Nature?
Spencer…Mild-mannered therapist with social anxiety and shyyyyy. How do you put a guy like him up against a Force of Nature like Toby? You give them an anonymous meeting and then push him until he steps past his comfort zone. But what then? How does a therapist dealing with LGBTQ adolescents and his own issues hold his own? Spencer’s journey is a sweet one and I loved creating this quiet hero.
I loved revisiting the Hollywood Rock ‘n’ Romance Trilogy characters!
I have two words for my readers who have been with me since the beginning. Danny Black. For you new folks? Rock Star. Ginger God. Sexy AF. Okay, that’s technically three, but you get the picture. Danny and his lovely wife Jesse Martin-Black joined Toby and Reese’s world briefly at the end of Hurricane Reese, but they play an important role in Typhoon Toby. I had so much fun bringing them, Nora, Julian AND little Jane all growed up into a new circle of friends and the possibilities for future appearances are endless! I hope you’ll enjoy meeting these characters and I hope you’ll check out Teacher, The Hollywood Rock ‘n’ Romance Trilogy next!
Tap Dancing…How I’ve missed it!
I spent fourteen years of my life dancing non-stop. I dabbled as an adult, but adulting gets in the way of the things we love to do, amiright? Someday I’ll go back to lessons, for sure, and I’ll be starting with tap. Oh, I love tap dancing. It really makes my heart sing. Including this art form in my stories is the best substitution for the real thing…for now. Who knows? If you see me out on the road this year, maybe I’ll have picked up a class! Now that my daughter drives herself everywhere and my son is about to head to high school…maybe? I’ll keep you posted!
Thank you all for joining me here today and special thanks to Carissa for this amazing spot for authors and readers to meet! I hope you enjoy Typhoon Toby and would love to hear what you think. Please subscribe to my website at www.rlmerrillauthor.com to stay up with my latest news. There will be PLENTY of good stuff coming out in 2019 including appearances, more gay romance from Dreamspinner Press, the Worst Valentine’s Day Ever anthology as well as an LGBTQ anthology AND a paranormal romance that will hopefully make you gigglesnort, both coming in June! So…Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance with R.L. Merrill!
Forces of Nature: Book Two
On the surface, Toby Griffiths appears to have it all—talent, money, a brilliant mind, and model good looks. With his best friend, Reese, he’s built an empire as a singer/songwriter.
But beneath that glittering exterior, Toby suffers the lasting effects of abuse. To keep his tempestuous past where it belongs, he insists on anonymity with lovers—no names, no personal information. But a vacation fling in Bali changes all that, and he can’t get his recent playmate out of his mind.
Therapist Spencer Hart left Bali with a bad case of pneumonia and a broken heart. Although he’s recovering, he’s shocked to find his secretive partner on TV, and he’s determined to see him again. Spencer arranges to attend one of Toby’s fundraising galas, and their reunion is tense.
Toby tries to stick to his rules… until a New Year’s kiss with Spencer washes away the last of his resistance. But Toby is a man with secrets, and when the storm comes ashore, it could devastate not just his professional life but his fledgling love affair and his longtime partnership with his best friend.
Will Spencer stand by his side and help him weather the storm as Toby faces his worst fears?
About R.L. Merrill
Once upon a time... a teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ’n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several books later, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or head banging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
For many years, I’ve heard about “pantser” and “plotter” writers. This school of thought holds that a pantser starts each writing day with no clear idea where the story is going. A plotter does what the word implies, she plots out every aspect of the story she’s writing.
Often writers believe they are either one or the other. While I’m sure there are some writers who fit one label or the other, I’m also sure there are writers who don’t.
If the choice is between going with the flow or plotting, most writers probably fall into what I think of as the hybrid category. They do a little of both. While I lean toward plotter, I think my writing process is too messy to carry that label alone.
Yeah, sort of like my desks. As you can see from the photo, they’re a mess. No matter how often I organize them, within a few days stuff gets piled on every available surface.
A reflection of my writing process I’m afraid.
If I’m such a messy writer, why do I think I lean toward being a plotter? Because I love making story outlines. I start with an overall outline–very organized with turning points even. This outline gives me lots of ideas for chapters which in turn give me ideas for scenes.
This is about the time the pantser part of me comes into the picture. Once I’ve established an overall sense of the story, nothing else is written in any organized fashion. The scenes, dialogue, conflicts–they all randomly pop into my head. If I’m not at my computer, I write them down on any available writing surface. Sometimes I even remember Siri can add them to my phone’s notepad.
Often the story races off in an tangent I hadn’t thought about, but that’s okay. I can always tweak the general outline. After all, I’m not chipping on a stone tablet, all I have to do is hit delete. Although I seldom delete. Usually I create a file folder and stuff unused material in it. There’s always the chance I might be able to use the scene later.
The beauty of being a hybrid plotter-pantser whose writing process involves an outline and a hodgepodge of scenes is never having to face a blank page.
While I was writing this, my husband left a Dove chocolate wrapper on my messy desk. Fortunately, he put it on top of my daily planner so I noticed it.
I leave you with this quote which pretty much sums up my messy writing process as well as my messy desks:
“The magic is in the mess.” (Attributed to Dr. Brené Brown)