NYC Romance Festival: Sat., June 25

Free Romance Event Alert!

Joanna Shupe here. I’m very excited to be one of the speakers at this upcoming Saturday’s 2016 NYC Romance Festival, along with author Rochelle Alers.

What will I be talking about? It’ll have a little something to do with this:

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WHEN: Saturday, June 25, 2016

WHERE: Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace (between West 160th & 162nd Street), NYC

TIME: 2:00 – 5:00 pm

Cost: FREE!

Here’s what you’ll get: speakers, panels, and book signings by some of your favorite romance authors. Plus, a peek at one gorgeous NYC landmark.

The Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest house, is an amazing place. It’s full of history (Aaron Burr, anyone?) and beautiful architecture. Want to see it? Tours are only $5.

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If you’re in the NYC area, I hope you’ll join me and some other lovely romance authors at the 2016 Romance Festival, which is sponsored by the NYC Chapter of RWA.

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Review of the OUTLANDER Premier on Starz

Property of Starz Entertainment, LLC. Outlander @2014 Sony Pictures Television, Inc.

Property of Starz Entertainment, LLC. Outlander @2014 Sony Pictures Television, Inc.

Alright, so I can’t resist. I can’t even claim for this to be a “what do series adaptations teach us about our writing” post (or maybe I can).

There are folks who can’t quite get into (or through) the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon series, someone, even a couple of people on this blog (ahem, I’m not naming names). But those of us who do love the series, LOVE the series. We’re talking totally obsessed, fan-girl-type obsession.

Because, oh, the deeply-drawn characters, the vivid descriptions, the unexpected twists, the rich setting, not to mention drama, history, politics, adventure, and of course the love story that spans decades!!! See? And I’m telling you, I am not one who has time to obsess over anything. But I’ve been excited about both Gabaldon’s newest release Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Bk 8), and the Starz series. And so, intending to tell my daughter where the good stuff really started, I re-read the beginning of Outlander (Bk 1), and determined to reread An Echo in the Bone (Bk 7) in order to fully enjoy the new one. Except, oops, my “browse” of A Breathe of Snow and Ashes (Bk 6), turned into a full read… Meanwhile, the power of promotion was hard at work. A fellow restaurant patron overheard the cashier ask what I was reading and commented “yeah, they are making a series.” I gushed, of course. Then, wow, when I saw that there was a YouTube video of the cast on a Comic Con panel. I saw Diana Gabaldon, Caitriona Balfe (Claire) and Sam Heughan (Jamie) on CBS morning news. So, when—eeek!—Starz offered the first episode free on demand a whole week ahead of the official premiere? Well, I finally took time for me, and did something completely out of character—I sat myself down in front of the tube in the middle of the afternoon! I can’t tell you how psyched I was as I hit play, and again, at each new scene.

[To access the Starz episode: http://www.starz.com%5D

And man, did Starz and Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore deliver! All the leads are cast perfectly. The only supporting character who might not have been (IMHO) was Murtagh, and that had nothing to do with acting. It’s only that Murtagh is supposed to be quite ugly…and this actor was certainly not. (Murtagh is not named in the episode but he’s the one who saves Claire from Black Jack Randall and delivers her to the Scottish outlaws.)

Truly, Balfe was brilliant, it was so cool to see the actor Tobias Menzies switch between Frank Randall and Black Jack Randall, and seriously, five lines from Sam Heughan and I was in love with Jaime all over again. The Scottish brogue, the teasing glint in his eye, his wise words. And, yeah, there’s the fact that he’s smokin’ HOT. The adaptation is very close to the beginning of the book. As far as I noticed, the only thing left out was the pub scene where Claire meets the elderly plant collector who then takes her out looking for specimens. Hardly important. But even the little things were thrilling, like hearing the correct pronunciation of “Sassenach.” I will say, I never pictured the highlanders in those cute little caps. What I wonder are they called? Truly, my only disappointment was that there were no preview scenes for the next episode! Because I wanted more.

So—yes, I can relate this to writing—why is it that, optioned for the big screen or no—readers so love a book series? Is it the chance to dive deep into character and stay there? Learn more about a certain world in each subsequent story? Watch a relationship flare, steady, and thrive? Is it the comfort of returning to a setting we love, like coming home? To embrace again characters that feel as familiar as family?

Tell me, why it is you love series? Which are your favorites? And, most importantly, are you writing them?

[As a sidenote: yes, I’ve changed my pen name, from Jenna Blue to JB Schroeder. Expect a future post about it…]

Why Readers Read, Why Writers Write

Why Readers Read

ReadA few years ago I took April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week online course.  As part of the prep work, April has writers explore WHY we want to write a specific project.  What about the project is important, what message do we want to communicate, and to whom? In order to answer that question, the first step was to explore why readers read.  Here is a short list of why I read:

Escape – Sometimes I just want to be swept away to another time or place in the hands of a capable author with fully realized characters and setting. Over the years this has become my best form of therapy during stressful times.

Read a powerful love story – Going back to my number one reason of escape during stressful times, nothing warms my soul and puts me in a happy place more so than watching a couple fall in love.

FEEL something intensely – Watching others solve their problems, compromise, explore their humanity, go on an adventure, avert danger, and yes – fall love is highly cleansing. This emotional catharsis takes me away from my own struggles for a moment.

Why Writers Write

WritingJoanna’s post last week helped me own my guilt, but it also had me question (louder than I have before) WHY I write. Are the rewards worth the sacrifices (see: Author Ass, Sleep Deprivation, Dirty House, and Neglected Family). Then it occurred to me I need to write as much as I need to read and for the same reasons. In the last few weeks, I’ve been mulling over things about my writing career specifically in regard to Marketing approach and Brand (a buzz word that truly pisses me off – another topic for another day), but I’ve been distracted, unable to focus on these topics because my family is going through a difficult time right now.  At the height of stress the number one thought that runs through my mind right after “I want my mommy!” is “I NEED to escape into a good book.” Thanks to my little, Divergent is sitting on my end table. I’ve seen it beside my keyboard. I have found it on top of my cookbook during meal prep, and on top of the dryer while dong the wash. Think she’s trying to tell me something? My girl seems to know I need this escape. What better place than a YA Dystopian world?
(more…)

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