Thursday, October 19, 2017

One Man's Princess

A new Royal Scandals novel is officially on sale! I'm excited to know you'll finally read about Lina Cornaro, the illegitimate daughter of Sarcaccia's popular King Carlo. You'll get to know Lina, a lingerie designer who's on the cusp of great success when her connection to the royal family becomes public, and the man who once broke her heart, fiery Formula One driver Ivo Zanardi.

When she unwillingly finds herself the object of public scrutiny, Lina isn't sure where to turn. When Ivo appears to save her from the paparazzi, she has little choice but to escape on his arm. But can she trust the man who once treated her so coldly? Here's a quick excerpt to whet your appetite:

"I don't usually appreciate the risks you take, but I'm grateful for that one," Lina said.


She slipped her hand into the side pocket of her handbag and withdrew a set of keys. When she raised her head, a drop of rain landed below her right eye, clinging to her skin rather than rolling away.

Ivo brushed away the raindrop, Stilled as her lips parted and her breath warmed the damp hairs where his wrist extended from the cuff of his jacket.
 
In that instant, he knew he couldn't let her go. 
 
The book is set in New York City, Milan, Rome, and (of course!) in Sarcaccia. I can't wait for you to join Lina and Ivo on their adventure.

As always, a huge thanks to all of you who've written to tell me how much you've anticipated their book. And a huge thank you in advance to those of you who share the book with friends and family, and who leave reviews on your favorite retail sites and on Goodreads. Word of mouth has made this series successful and I truly appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Twitter: Royal Following

Read royal romance? You may enjoy following royal news via Twitter. A few of the accounts I watch (all research, of course.):

@MajestyMagazine - Twitter account for Joe Little of Majesty Magazine. Great place to start your royal-watching addiction. Royal wedding/birth/news anywhere in the world? This has you covered.

@RoyalCentral - Daily news on state visits, charity events, and other royal engagements. Focuses primarily on British and other European royalty. Lots of interesting posts if you're fascinated by the day-to-day activities of royal family members.

@RoyalCorrespond - Account of TheRoyalCorrespondent.com, which provides daily updates on European, Asian, and Middle Eastern royal families. Recent updates have included video tours of royal homes, wedding news, and official speeches from kings and queens around the world.

@byEmilyAndrews - Emily Andrews is the royal correspondent for The Sun newspaper in London. The focus is on British royalty, but covers others when notable events occur.

@VictoriaArbiter - Royal commentator for CNN, CTVNews, and other outlets.

@BBCPeterHunt - BBC royal correspondent.

@RoyalReporter - Account of Richard Palmer, royal correspondent for the Daily Express in London.

@QueenVicMirror - Victoria Murphy, Daily Mirror's royal correspondent.

@RoyalHistorian - Official Twitter account of Carolyn Harris, who writes about the history of royal families. Her most recent book is Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting.

@Luxarazzi - Focus on Luxembourg and Lichtenstein, but other news pops up here, as well.

@RoyalPortraits - Follows the Dutch royal family.

@RoyalEurope - Photography agency specializing in coverage of royal families.

@RoyalFocus1 - Twitter of Rex Shutterstock, who's photographed the British Royal family for over 25 years.

@ChrisJack_Getty - Great images of British royal engagements.

If you're interested in historic royal properties--or you anticipate touring a few--check out @HRP_Palaces (an independent charity that looks after many royal properties in the UK), @HeverCastle (childhood home of Anne Boleyn), @PaleisAmsterdam, @LeedsCastleUK, @CVersailles, @DaughtersofHI (Hawai'i) @PalaisMonaco, @MuseeMalmaison, and @ChatsworthHouse.

For royal fashion, there's @HeavenQRF (following European fashions), @LetiziasCloset (following Spain's queen), @CourtJeweller, @RoyalTiaras, @HRHDuchessKate, @KateMiddStyle, @TheDuchessStyle, and one of my favorites, @WhatKateWore.

Don't overlook the official accounts of the royal families themselves. Great ones to follow include @RoyalFamily (UK), @QueenRaina (Queen Raina of Jordan), @Kronprinsparet (Norway), @CourGrandDucale (Luxembourg), @ClarenceHouse (Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall), @KensingtonRoyal (Prince William, Prince Harry, and the Duchess of Cambridge), @TheDukeofYork (Prince Andrew), @HHShkMohd (Sheik Mohammed of Dubai), and @CrownPrincessMM (HRH Mette-Marit of Norway).

Of course, I can't help adding my all-time favorite royal account:

@Queen_UK - 100% fake and 100% hilarious if you enjoy royal satire. An example of a recent tweet:


This list is by no means comprehensive--a click on any of these accounts will take you to Twitter feeds for royal fashion blogs, photographers who specialize in capturing royalty at work and play, and historians who research royal families--but if you're searching for royalty news in the English language, this list is the entry to a great rabbit hole. Enjoy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tools of the Trade: The Tech Side

I frequently receive questions about the technical side of what I do. For instance, what program do I use to write? What kind of computer do I prefer? How do I format books? Today's post is all about tools of the trade. Much of it applies outside the writing business.

The computer question is easy to answer: I'm on a Mac. Two of them, in fact. I write on both a 27" iMac and a MacBook Air. I like the iMac's big screen for editing, because I can see my work and my editor's comments side by side and move easily between documents. I like the Air for its portability.

Why Apple? I've used Apple products since I was in high school. The Mac OS is intuitive to me. Put me in front of a PC and I'm useless.

As to the rest of what I use on a daily basis:

Tool #1: My backup system. After the computer,  it's the most important tool in my arsenal. I have a triple backup method to ensure I never lose my work. Some would consider this paranoid; I consider it practical.

First, at the end of each work session, I use a jump drive to transfer my work from one computer to the other. I could sync the two computers via the Cloud, but I prefer to use this method. If one computer crashes or a file is corrupted as I'm working, I know the other machine has a clean version of my files through the end of the previous session. If I'm traveling, I back up each session to the jump drive and make the transfer when I return home. However, for extra protection, I also email a copy to myself.

Second, I've engaged Mac's Time Machine feature on my iMac so my work is automatically backed up to an external hard drive. The hard drive I use is a the 2TB LaCie Rugged Portable. It can be connected by Thunderbolt or USB 3.0. I've used LaCie hard drives for years and haven't had any failure issues. I test it from time to time to ensure that everything has transferred. So far, so good.

Backblaze Backup Report
Third, and the method I believe is most important, is my Cloud-based backup. If my house burns down or my computer is stolen, having a Cloud-based backup means I can get online from anywhere in the world and retrieve all my work. While there are several companies that offer this service, after a lot of research and experimentation, I went with Backblaze. I can't say enough good things about the company. It was easy to install and it backs up my entire computer seamlessly. I've done tests to see if I could retrieve my work from their system and it's worked every time. If you're interested in trying it, follow this link to Backblaze to receive a discount and/or free months of service.

Note: using a Cloud-based backup can help protect you from ransomware attacks, which occur when a hacker infiltrates your computer and locks down your data, then demands payment to have it unlocked.

Tool #2: Also indispensible? My writing program. My early books were written in Microsoft Word. However, the last dozen or so projects have been written in a program called Scrivener. Scrivener allows me to move through a large document--a manuscript that can reach north of 85,000 words--with ease. I can see my project broken down by chapter, by character point of view, or in whatever other manner I wish. I can move scenes and search more easily than I can in Word, and the program also backs up as I type, so I'm not constantly having to hit Save. There's a corkboard feature that allows me to plan out my scenes, if I so desire. I can also save my research right in the sidebar of my manuscript so I don't have to search for a file while in the middle of writing a scene. Scrivener has a learning curve, but once I got the hang of it, the program made writing both faster and easier.

Although I don't use it (yet!), there's also an app that allows you to use Scrivener on an iPad.

Scrivener

To learn Scrivener, I took a class from Gwen Hernandez, who authored Scrivener for Dummies. She's an excellent instructor and I was able to get up to speed quickly and figure out which features I need and which I don't. For a more in-depth course, one that's taught with video, consider Joseph Michael's Scrivener Coach. There are free trials of the course available on his site.

If Scrivener isn't your cuppa joe and you're on a PC, consider trying WriteWayPro, a program designed by author Lara Adrian's husband. I've heard rave reviews from PC users about its functionality.

Aeon Timeline Example: Murder on the Orient Express
Tool #3: Aeon Timeline. I have a lot to learn about this software program's bells and whistles, but even using its basic features, Aeon Timeline has become one of my writing essentials. As I post this, I've written six full-length novels, three novellas, and one short story in the Royal Scandals series. I need to keep track of overlapping events, birth dates, marriages, and deaths for an extended family. This software keeps me from making mistakes, particularly when storylines take place simultaneously. For an earlier series, I kept my timeline on paper. It spread across several notebooks and needed constant revision. Aeon Timeline is far easier.

Tool #4: My formatting program. My traditionally-published books were formatted by the New York-based publishers who distributed those titles. My first indie titles were formatted by the folks at The Formatting Fairies. They did an excellent job. If you prefer to have someone else do the work for you, they're fantastic. However, I like the flexibility of formatting my work myself, since it allows me to make updates at 3 a.m. if I so desire. (Hey, you never know when you might want to change a link inside an ebook or update the Also By The Author list.) I use a program called Vellum. It's incredibly easy to learn and creates beautiful, professional books in both print and electronic format. The program allows you to preview the work on different ereaders, on tablets, and on smartphones. You can also test the hyperlinks prior to publication. I am not the most techie person and I learned Vellum in an afternoon. There are demos and examples on the Vellum website.

Jaybird X3
Tool #5: My iPhone and Jaybird Bluetooth headphones. I know, I know. A phone doesn't sound like a writing tool. However, my iPhone gets credit in the writing arsenal for several reasons. I use it to take notes or jot snippets of dialogue when I'm away from my computer. I also listen to writing podcasts using the Podcasts app. (Two I enjoy are Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn and Mark Dawson and James Blatch's Self Publishing Formula. Both are chock-full of practical information for authors and other creatives.) The iPhone is also useful for reading on the go. The iBooks, Kindle, and Nook apps allow me to access my books anywhere. There's also the Audible app for audiobooks. I use Jaybird wireless bluetooth headphones to listen. I like them because I don't have to deal with wires when I'm walking the dog (no leash tangles) or when I'm running. They're good for several  hours of use between charges and they stay in my ears. Mine even went through the washing machine six months ago. To my shock, they survived.

Tool #6: My Kindle. While I read on it for pleasure, I also like to use the Kindle to do a final check of my books before they're published. My friends also email their work to my Kindle when they need a cold read.

Writers: what tools work for you? What have you tried and discarded? Any on your wish list? Finally, if you use any of the tools I mentioned, which features do you find most useful? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As Thanks, An Autographed Book

August is vacation time for me. Each year, I make an effort to visit somewhere I've never been. It's great for shaking the mental cobwebs and often provides research material for future books. As I write this, I'm just back from a fantastic trip to Peru, where I hiked the Inca Trail, visited ancient ruins, and had the opportunity to learn about Quechua culture. Look for photos in a future blog post.

I came back to great news: SLOW TANGO WITH A PRINCE received its 50th Amazon review. Thank you so much to all of you who've taken the time to share your thoughts on Prince Antony and Emily Sinclair's romantic adventure in Buenos Aires. It thrills me to know how much you've enjoyed their story. This is a great milestone for the book, as reviews on sites like Amazon help readers find the books that speak to them and more reviews = more information for potential readers.

As a thank you to you, my readers, I'm giving an autographed copy to a member of my newsletter list. The name will be chosen at random on August 29th. Are you a subscriber? If not, sign up now! (All members receive a FREE copy of A ROYAL SCANDALS WEDDING...another win.) 

To register, go here: Nicole's Newsletter 

You'll receive an email asking you to confirm the subscription. Once you do, you'll be entered to win an autographed copy of the print edition of SLOW TANGO WITH A PRINCE and you'll receive info for downloading your FREE copy of A ROYAL SCANDALS WEDDING. Enjoy!




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Indulgences

I've been head down, hands on keyboard for the last few months working to bring you Lina Cornaro's story. I'm doing the final passes through the manuscript now and can't wait until it's in your hands. I think you'll enjoy delving into Lina's relationship with Formula One driver Ivo Zanardi. They have a complicated, passionate history together, and I've had a total blast writing about them.

In the meantime, I wanted to share two fantastic reads that are perfect for summer (if you're here in the northern hemisphere) or that'll warm up your winter if you're in the southern part of the world.

First, many of you know that I am part of a plot group with authors Emily March, Christina Dodd, and Susan Sizemore. We meet yearly to discuss our works in progress, brainstorm, and talk shop. Part of what makes the group work is that we all truly enjoy reading each other's work. While you're waiting for the next installment in the Royal Scandals series, I'm happy to let you know about two great releases from Emily and Christina.

First, Emily March has a new book out TODAY that I'm dying to read. Not only is Emily an incredibly talented storyteller, I love her Eternity Springs series because it has all the heart and rich family dynamics I want in a romance series. Check out her newest, A Stardance Summer, set at a glamour camping site in the Colorado Rockies, and tell me what you think. I suspect you'll enjoy reading about the Callahan family as much as I do. Here's a quick excerpt to whet your appetite:

No. No way. She couldn’t be Derek’s sister. Brick’s childhood best friend’s uptight, nerdy overachieving good-girl little sister must have a doppelgänger. Liliana Howe would never skinny-dip in public.

And yet . . . she’d always been tall. Those legs. But she’d been skinny. She’s not skinny anymore!
 

Somebody abruptly switched off the music. Into the sudden silence, Brick said, “Freckle-Sticks? Is that you?”

I bought my copy this morning and can't wait to start reading.

Second, Christina Dodd's latest romantic suspense novel, Because I'm Watching, is out in paperback. This is one of the best romantic suspense novels I've ever read, and definitely topped my favorites of 2016 list when it came out in hardcover last year. If you enjoy movies like Rear Window, this book is for you.

Enjoy...and stay tuned for news on Lina Cornaro's story. Release date info coming soon!

 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oscar Predictions 2017

It’s that time of year…grab your pens and mark your ballots, because Jimmy Kimmel is about to take the stage to host the 89th Academy Awards. You don’t have to have seen all the movies to win your pool. The key is narrowing your choices on the so-called smaller categories so you get those right and making (mostly) safe bets in the well-known categories. Want to make it even easier? I win my pool more often than not, so feel free to take my predictions and make them your own. You’ll do better than guessing blind.

Without further ado, my picks for 2017:
  
BEST PICTURE  
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight


This is La La Land’s year. I predict it will take home the prize. However, Moonlight has a shot, so if you want to go against the grain, that’s your best chance at picking an upset in this category. That being said, I highly recommend you see Hell or High Water. It hasn’t received the attention of some of the other films in this category, but it’s well worth your time. Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster are excellent, as is Gil Birmingham. 

BEST DIRECTOR
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge  
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

There’s a lot of buzz for Barry Jenkins and his incredible work on Moonlight. However, your best bet is to go with Damien Chazelle for the original musical La La Land. Trivia: if he does take home Oscar, it’d make him the youngest Best Director winner at the age of 32.

BEST ACTOR Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic  
Denzel Washington, Fences

This is a tough category. Casey Affleck won BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for his performance, while Denzel Washington took home the SAG award. The odds say Affleck, so that’s your safe bet. I’m going out on a limb and picking Denzel Washington.

BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie  
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Isabelle Huppert won a Golden Globe for drama, Emma Stone for musical/comedy. I predict the Oscar will go to Emma Stone.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR  
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Dev Patel won the BAFTA, and I loved Jeff Bridges’ performance in Hell or High Water, where the dialogue was pitch-perfect for his character. However, I predict the award will go to Mahershala Ali, who won the SAG and has a lot of buzz. I haven’t seen Moonlight yet, but the clips shown at the SAG awards combined with his acceptance speech made me want to see it as soon as possible.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS  
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

This is one of the categories I consider a lock. Check Viola Davis on your ballot.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY  
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women


This is a close race between Manchester by the Sea and La La Land (though again, I thought the writing in Hell or High Water was brilliant.) I’m picking Manchester by the Sea to win.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY  
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight


All the pundits say Moonlight. I won’t go against them.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY  
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence


Again, go La La Land.

BEST FILM EDITING  
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight


The war drama Hacksaw Ridge and the science fiction thriller Arrival both have a chance here, but given its momentum, I’m picking La La Land.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS  
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


I’m going with the BAFTA winner to pick up the Oscar: The Jungle Book

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers


The safe bet here is La La Land.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN  
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land


This is a tight race between La La Land and Jackie. I’m going with Jackie, simply to break up the La La Land list of wins.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING  
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad


I’ve seen predictions for all three films. I’m going Star Trek Beyond because I am a Trek fan and thought the alien makeup was excellent.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers


Go with the musical: La La Land.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls  
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

This is one of the tougher categories. There’s a lot of positive energy for Lin-Manuel Miranda and “How Far I’ll Go.” However, I predict the award will go to La La Land’s “City of Stars.” Hollywood loves an emotional song about Los Angeles.

BEST SOUND MIXING  
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi


Arrival won the BAFTA here, and La La Land is a juggernaut. However, there are two factors that make me lean toward Hacksaw Ridge. First, it’s a war movie, and war movies do well in this category (gunshots, fighting, machinery, screams…it takes mastery to get that right.) Second, Kevin O’Connell has his 21st nomination here without a win. I think Academy members want to see him take home a statue for his years of great work in this category. If Hacksaw Ridge doesn’t do it for you, go for La La Land. When war movies don’t win, the prize often goes to a musical (Chicago and Dreamgirls are past winners here.)

BEST SOUND EDITING  
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully


The safe bet is La La Land, but I’m going Hacksaw Ridge. 


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia


It’s already won a ton of awards, so I’m going with Zootopia. This should be one of the easier picks.

BEST DOCUMENTARY  
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th


I listened to a radio show about 13th that kept me sitting in my car after I arrived at my destination and made me think about its topic of African-American males in the prison system for some time afterward. However, the O.J. story is familiar to voters, so I’m picking O.J.: Made in America to win.

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM  
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann


Germany’s Toni Erdmann and Sweden’s A Man Called Ove had all the love when the nominees were announced. However, in recent weeks The Salesman, which concerns two actors and their performance of Death of a Salesman in Tehran, has received attention for its politics as well as for the quality of the film. The Iranian director has spoken out against the US travel ban on his country. If you think politics will sway voters in this category, pick The Salesman, which is also the pick of the oddsmakers. If not, go with A Man Called Ove. 


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT  
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets


I haven’t seen any of these, but I listened to an intriguing NPR story about The White Helmets that made me want to find it. I’m picking The White Helmets. If you want to make a riskier pick, go with Joe’s Violin, the story of a Holocaust survivor and the preteen girl who’s given his violin, which also has a shot at the award.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT  
Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode


Ennemis Interieurs (Enemies Within) seems to be the pick of most Hollywood bloggers, though with its upbeat tone, La Femme et le TGV could pull off the upset. I’m defying the blogosphere and choosing the happiness of La Femme et le TGV.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT  
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper


Piper, by the brilliant folks at Pixar, was the lead-in to Finding Dory. That makes it the most familiar short to Academy voters. I give it the win.

My other predictions for the night? Jimmy Kimmel will make at least three Trump-specific jokes, but given the formality of the Oscars, I doubt he’ll hammer the topic as hard as you see on most late night television. There will be at least one mention of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s twins/George and Amal Clooney’s twins. I also predict at least one joke aimed at whether or not there will be a 90th Academy Awards show (possibly made in combination with a fourth Trump joke.)

There you have it, my thoughts on Oscar 2017. Feel free to share yours, and have a wonderful Oscar night.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Audio Review Crew Openings

Are you an Audible member? Do you enjoy listening to audiobooks? If so, there are a few slots open on my Audio Review Crew. I'd love to have you as a member!

Audio Review Crew members receive complimentary copies of my audio books from time to time. In exchange, members post an honest review at Audible.com or Amazon.com for the audio version of the book.

Membership in the Audio Review Crew is simple. You must be a member of my newsletter list and:

1) Have an account at Audible.com 
2) Commit to listening to the audio book and posting a forthright review within the allotted time period, which is usually two weeks (not shorter.)

As long as you continue to listen and review, you remain a member of the crew.

Interested? Send an e-mail to assistant AT nicoleburnham DOT com with the subject line: AUDIO REVIEW CREW by Monday, January 30. Again, there are a limited number of spots, so new members of the crew will be chosen at random. If you’re not selected, your name will be put on a waitlist. When spots open, you’ll receive an email from my assistant to ask if you’re still interested.

I hope to open the Audio Review Crew to those who get their audiobooks at other sites soon (iBooks, etc.), so stay tuned if your preferred vendor is outside of Amazon/Audible.

A heartfelt thank you in advance to all who participate. As I'm sure you know from making your own book purchases, reviews are a huge help to other readers.