Paper Lantern Lit

HISTORICAL FICTION FRIDAYS #3: Dating Before Tinder—Historical Romance Tips

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#3: Dating Before Tinder—Historical Romance Tips

Until fairly recently in western society, an upper-class bride’s virginity on the wedding night was of such immense importance that girls were cloistered, guarded, and chaperoned. So how do you infuse romance into your historical novel while staying at least somewhat true to the time period?

  1. Remember that human nature never changes. People have always done their best to sneak off and meet each other and always will. It’s a safe bet that 30,000 years ago parents would knock their matted, lice-ridden heads against the cave walls in frustration at their rebellious, sneaky teenagers. Somewhat more recently, I used to climb a tree outside my window to meet my boyfriend—which was precarious because it was actually more of a sapling—until my mother cut it down, leaving me angrily staring at a stump from my second-floor window.
  2. Don’t ignore the social norms of your time period. Use them to heighten tensions and give your characters ways to evade them. In Legacy of Kings, the Persian Princess Zofia—whose virginity is a matter of state when she is betrothed to Alexander—lives in a harem guarded by eunuchs but still manages to sneak out to meet her lover in the storage cellar.
  3. Not all girls were guarded by fire-breathing chaperones. Servants, for instance. And as an orphaned peasant, Legacy’s Katerina pretty much bounces around doing what she wants.
  4. 9780373211722_FCproof (1)Is it a shame or a sin? While sex outside of marriage has usually been cause for shame until recently, it wasn’t considered a sin sullying your soul (a Judeo-Christian concept) in the ancient pagan world. And some periods had heavier soul-sullying than others—the European Middle Ages and Puritan New England (think The Scarlet Letter)—which would create additional tension in the illicit romance your characters are carrying on.
  5. The aromas of making out should be historically correct. When a couple in a Regency novel finally embraces, the female protagonist always seems to smell soap and leather on the Darcyesque character whose lips are locked with hers. The leather part worked for Legacy, as ancient Greek guys were always around leather bridles, breastplates, shield grips and sword belts, but I couldn’t mention soap which wasn’t used until the Middle Ages. Our Legacy boys would have smelled of smoke from fire pits, a river-washed tunic, and maybe even a citrus scent. And it’s always accurate to mention the historical salty tang of sweat.

Next week: Avoiding anachronisms (aka, words that are historically inaccurate) that can ruin the credibility of your world.

Remember, LEGACY OF KINGS is available for pre-order here!

HISTORICAL FICTION FRIDAYS #2: Researching the World of your Historical Novel

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#2: Researching the World of your Historical Novel

Last week I talked about the various aspects of living in a past world that you will need to know to write a believable historical novel. This week let’s explore how you do the research, where you learn about food, chamber pots, warfare, and clothing!

  1. Plan formal research before you even sit down to write. You’ll need non-fiction books on the general life and times of your period, as well as a couple of really well-written novels to see how other authors weave the fact and fiction together. What other aspects of that world are important to your story? Warfare? Religion? You’ll need books devoted to those areas, too.
  2. Use to find research material. Sure, Amazon has loads of books, but bookfinder lists not only all of Amazon’s books but also those from thousands of little bookstores around the world. Many of its books are waaaay out of print and you could never find them without bookfinder (one invaluable book I used for Sex with the Queen was published in 1667.)

Let’s say you want to set your novel in ancient Rome. Put “ancient Rome” in the title search box. Dozens of novels pop up. In non-fiction, there are books on general life times as well as specific areas such as women, warfare, slavery, music, gladiators, suicide, pipes and valves, religion, cooking, sex, law, and much more!

  1. Write up research notes. Bibliophiles will be shocked, but I underline the parts I find useful—well, not in the 1667 book, but in most others—and when I am finished, I go back and type up the underlined parts as research notes. This process helps engrave the facts in my mind more than reading alone can, and I have a huge chunk of written research material at my fingertips as I write and can find anything within the document easily.
  2. Google as you work: While writing Legacy of Kings, if I had Alex or Heph hoist a shield I 9780373211722_FCproof (1)would google “ancient Greek shields,” read about the materials and look at images of construction, shape, and color, then zip back to writing. Google is invaluable for answering questions quickly.
  3. Contact embassies for questions on foreign countries. Sometimes despite google and bookfinder, you are still stumped in your quest. If you need information about a foreign country, call the Cultural Attaché at their embassy in Washington, DC. It’s actually their job to help you!
  4. Contact universities. Google which ones are best known for the history of your time period, call the department, and tell the administrative assistant you’re writing a novel and would like to get some information from a professor well versed in a particular field of knowledge. Academics really understand painstaking research and are usually eager to share their knowledge!

Next week let’s heat this up with Dating Before Tinder: Historical Romance Tips.

Remember, LEGACY OF KINGS is available for pre-order here. (Anyone from the U.S. or Canada who pre-orders LEGACY OF KINGS and emails proof to will receive a signed bookplate from Eleanor herself!)

These Quotes from TORN Are Tearin’ Up Our Heart…

We’re so excited that TORN is finally here! The action-packed sci-fi/dystopian mashup for fans of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium has got some serious romance too—check out these quotes that will make your heart beat faster.
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TORN is available for purchase now! Get it here:


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Ever wanted to write a historical fiction novel, but have no idea where to start?

Well, we’ve got your back: introducing our new set of Toolboxes on writing Historical Fiction, with a very special guest host—Eleanor Herman, NYT bestselling historian AND author of the forthcoming LEGACY OF KINGS!

Each Friday for the next 10 weeks, Eleanor will share her insight on one area of writing historical fiction—and these are the secrets that made LEGACY OF KINGS great.

Take it away, Eleanor!


#1: Building Your Lost World—the Essentials

So you want to write historical fiction? Great! It’s the closest thing to time travel we’ve got and loads of fun, but it’s also twice as much work as regular fiction because in addition to writing the story, you must have an excellent grasp of the historical time and place. You will need to know about several topics for both rich and poor alike to create a nuanced, three-dimensional world for your characters in inhabit.

  1. What do the buildings look like? In creating the settings for Legacy of Kings, I started with envisioning the physical structures: the houses, palaces, and temples. What were they made of? Wood? Stone? Mudbrick? How were they laid out? I saw the family farm of Jacob and Kat as a rudimentary wooden courtyard house. The walled Pellan palace had gardens, breezy marble rooms, military barracks, a training pit, stables, a blacksmith, a jail, kitchens, and a laundry. The Persian palace of Zofia was even more luxurious and had harems staffed with eunuchs!
  2. How do they light and heat their world? Many historical novelists overlook the difficulty of simply starting a fire or lighting a candle (and Alexander the Great’s world didn’t even have candles; they had oil lamps.) Look for an entire post on this important topic coming soon.
  3. What do they eat and drink? Meat was generally for the wealthier classes, and since it had to be fresh to avoid food poisoning, animals were slaughtered in the kitchen, in the street, wherever. But each time and place had its own food-related idiosyncrasies which you will need to discover. For instance, ancient Egyptian priests were forbidden to touch fish and all ancient Egyptians thought that beans were disgustingly unclean. In the Renaissance, wealthy northern Europeans felt that vegetables were low-class and avoided them while wealthy Italians loved them, and just about everyone believed that tomatoes were poisonous (because tomato acids on pewter plates gave people rip-roaring stomach aches.)
  4. What do they wear? You need to know not only the styles of the time, but the materials. In researching Legacy of Kings, I found that silk wasn’t widely available until the adult Alexander the Great opened up major trade between east and west, and before that the few pieces of silk from China that made it to Greece were worth more than gold. So I couldn’t drape my characters—even the royal family—in silk! Finely combed, bleached wool and fine-woven linen were my options for the wealthy, and unbleached, coarse-woven cloth for the poorer sort.
  5. What did they believe about god/gods, ancestors, justice, slavery, the poor, people from other nations, and the role of women in society? The answers will influence both who your characters are and how the plot evolves!

Next week: How to do your research, from learning about lifestyle basics to convincing university professors to help you!

 LEGACY OF KINGS is available for pre-order here! (And anyone in the U.S. or Canada who pre-orders and emails proof to will receive a special signed bookplate from Eleanor herself!

Summer Heats Up with these Swoony Quotes from FEUDS!

Summer is a time for romance—especially of the literary kind! TORN, The heart-stopping sequel to the breathless dystopian/sci-fi romance FEUDS came out last week…so we’re taking a look back at our favorite quotes from Book one!

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FEUDS and TORN are available for purchase here!


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LEGACY OF KINGS is available for pre order at the links below!




Indie Bound

7 Reasons Why Your Soul-Mate is Actually Your BFF….Not Your Bae!


Haven’t found your soul mate yet—that one person who is there for you through thick and thin? Maybe you’ve been searching in the wrong places! I write (and read a lot of) Young Adult fiction. And here’s the thing: even though these books are about teenagers, they are FULL of angsty love triangles and steamy romance. Which don’t get me wrong, is super awesome. I am such a sucker for that stuff! But lately I’m wondering if we’re sometimes giving off the wrong impression about the kind of love that’s most important.

So when it came to writing my own first novel, PROOF OF FOREVER, I wanted to emulate some of my favorite YA books, like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, Peaches by Jodi Lynn Andersen and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver… and celebrate the kind of bonds that I think actually last. Look, we all know girls live longer than guys—so who do you think you’ll be laughing, crying, gossiping and even cozying up with in your later years? Your BFFs, obviously. After all, there are some things that no romantic partner—no matter how swoony—can deliver on.

Here are my top 7 reasons that your true soul mate is actually more likely your BFF than your current (or future) bae:

1. No “Earmuffs”

There are no secrets with true soul mates, and let’s face it: does your partner really know every single thing about you? I guarantee it’s not as much as your BFF knows—because you don’t have to maintain an air of mystery with a close friend. You can trust her with your ugliest secrets, your biggest regrets, your weirdest and most disturbing fears—and she’s known you long enough to realize that those things don’t define you.

2. Your Northern Star

Whether you’re single, just dating or in a committed relationship, it’s easy to get lost in love. Your BFF is your safe space through it all, the person who can best remind you of who you are. When romantic relationships are new or rocky or even just going through their natural evolutions, close friends are the ones who hold you steady through the storm.

3. Who Ya Gonna Call?

No, not the Ghostbusters. Your BFF. Whenever something good (or bad) happens, she is likely the first person you have to tell. Everything is newsworthy to your soul tumblr_lutorcKiXs1qdvzs0mate, big or small. A loving boyfriend will toast important milestones like your promotion, and will tolerate your babbling about shopping, sure—but only a loyal BFF will care exactly which espadrilles you bought, where you’ll wear them, and have outfit suggestions on hand…she’s the one who knows your closet by heart!

4. Team Action

A great boyfriend will hold you and listen when you’re upset… but you wouldn’t want him to clean up your messes for you. That would be crossing some sort of co- dependency boundary that just isn’t cool. And yet, your BFF will immediately jump into the trenches and start helping to dig you out, and that’s what you love her for.

5. Psychic Brainwaves

Your BFF is always listening for the things you can’t say out loud. No guy in the history of mankind has ever been able to successfully read between the lines the way your closest girlfriends can.ProofForever_finalcover

6. Who needs Ted Talks?

Hopefully your lovers will inspire you just as much as your friends will in life, through the great work they do, or their kindness towards others, or whatever… But in a relationship, you don’t want to be a home-improvement project. That’s just degrading. Whereas, in a friendship, you’re willing to be told what to do sometimes, and it’s more likely to make you a better person in the long run—like when your BFF forces you to donate those overpriced silk genie pants to Goodwill, for good. Nobody needs to see those ever again.

7. Ride the Waves

The best part of having a BFF is knowing the importance of forgiveness, especially over long periods of time. The sad thing about break-ups is that often they are permanent. But that is simply not the case when things go south with a friend. You know she’s your true soul mate because even after years apart or after huge disagreements, you can probably find your way back to each other and create an even stronger bond than you had before, if you’re both willing to try.

PROOF OF FOREVER by Lexa Hillyer is available for purchase now! 

Taryn Scarlett’s Lucky Seven!


We are so excited to introduce you to our newest Studio author, Taryn Scarlett. Her series, SIN AND HONEY, a collection of erotic retellings of biblical stories, is coming out this year. SEVEN YEARS OF LONGING is free and available here, and THE TOUCH OF BETRAYAL is available for pre-order here!

1. If you were a dessert, what would you be?

A rose-flavored macaron from Ladurée!

2. What’s the next place on your travel Bucket List?

There are so many places I haven’t been so this is hard to answer. I love old European cities, though, so I’m going to say Spain. I love learning about the history of a place by getting lost in the streets and of course, eating the delectable cuisine. So I suppose you could say an authentic paella sepia (squid ink paella) is what’s actually high on my bucket list.

SevenYearsofLonging_02252015_b (1)3. Which actress would you want to play you in the biopic of your life?

Anna Kendrick, because I’m betting she would have no problem frequently breaking out into song. (And because she’s short like me.)

4. What book has inspired your writing the most? 

Another difficult question! The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is a book that has had a profound impact on my writing; I wrote my thesis in college on Biblical women as well, which you could say led me to writing Sin and Honey! After reading that novel, I felt like a light had been clicked on inside of me, and it’s led my way ever since. I’ve also been very inspired by The Sound in the Fury by William Faulkner, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and of course, the great tome of my childhood, Harry Potter. (In fact—ahem—I got my start writing romance by composing some very illicit HP fanfiction!)

5. Who is your secret cartoon crush? Taryn Scarlett cropped website

Prince Derek from The Swan Princess and Prince Cornelius in Thumbelina are tied in the epic battle to win my heart.

6. Favorite TV show right now? 

I’ve been marathoning The West Wing pretty intensely for a few weeks now, so let’s go with that. (As for TV show currently on the air, probably House of Cards. I like my political intrigue!)

7. When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Basically I wanted to be Jennifer Lawrence and have two Oscars by the time I was 30. (She still has five years to go, guys. It’ll happen.)

SIN AND HONEY is available for free here!

Check out some of our other Studio authors and their Lucky Seven interviews: Jenna MullinsShana Norris, Lida James,Carina Adly MacKenzie, and Anya Allyn.

Fall in Love with these GIRL UNSEEN quotes!

GIRL UNSEEN is only 99 cents—the story of a girl who loses her best friend and then starts to fear she’s losing her mind. These are our favorite quotes from the book—which are yours?

Click here to buy GIRL UNSEEN today.
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11 Tragi-Romantic Quotes from LOST NIGHT

Our latest literary obsession is LOST NIGHT, the free prequel to LOST GIRLS by Kate Ellison. In this New Adult short story, troubled teenage runaways-in-love Bird and Sapphire collide during a reckless and romantic adventure— but Sapphire grows more fearful of Bird’s possessive nature and drug addiction.

Here are our top 11 (because 10 wasn’t enough) quotes, and remember, you can download LOST NIGHT for free here, and the follow-up novel LOST GIRLS is only 99 cents until 7/21 hereLost Night_That's Bird

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