Top Beachy Diverse Vacation Reads

Get in My Kindle: Lady of the House by Charlotte Furness

514LNpfVg0L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Lady of the House – Elite 19th Century Women and their Role in the English Country House

Author: Charlotte Furness

Release Date: October 11, 2018

Description: This book tells the true stories of three gentile women who were born, raised, lived and died within the world of England’s Country Houses. This is not the story of ‘seen and not heard’ women, these are incredible women who endured tremendous tragedy and worked alongside their husbands to create a legacy that we are still benefitting from today.

Harriet Leveson-Gower, Countess Granville was the second born child of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire who married her aunt’s lover, raised his illegitimate children and reigned supreme as Ambassadress over the Parisian elite.

Lady Mary Isham lived at Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire with her family where, despite great tragedy, she was responsible for developing a house and estate whilst her husband remained ‘the silent Baronet’.

Elizabeth Manners, Duchess of Rutland hailed from Castle Howard and used her upbringing to design and build a Castle and gardens at Belvoir suitable for a Duke and Duchess that inspired a generation of country house interiors.

These women were expected simply to produce children, to be active members of society, to give handsomely to charity and to look the part. What these three remarkable women did instead is develop vast estates, oversee architectural changes, succeed in business, take a keen role in politics as well as successfully managing all the expectations of an aristocratic lady.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: I have an affinity for historical non-fiction. As a writer who concentrates on different historical time periods, I love learning about the day-to-day life of people, specifically women, who influenced the world around them. I don’t want to read a book of facts. I want those facts to come to life; I want to see the world in which these fascinating people lived and what implications their choices had on the world at large.

When I first learned that this book was set to be released, I immediately pre-ordered a copy knowing I’d devour it once it arrived. I looked up the author on various social media platforms to get a sense of who she was. I was surprised to find someone who felt real and passionate about the subject matter. She didn’t feel ‘academic.’ She felt like someone who wanted to take this little niche of history and show the world how these women influenced the female role in the aristocracy. In some ways, it’s like getting an inside peek into delicious bits of history about the English upper class. How many of us read romance books about Dukes, Earls, and Vicounts and their love affairs? Now we get to savor a few real stories. And we all know that truth is stranger than fiction!

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WW: Books that Will Change Your (Writing) Life

Happy writing Wednesday, Friends! Today, I’m sharing with you the books that can change how you write (and read). I tagged some of my best writing friends in a Facebook post, and we did a whip-round* to share some of the books that profoundly impacted our writing life. I see a few I need to put on my bookshelf or in my kindle.

Want these books for your collection. Simply click on the cover of the book you want to be taken to its paperback version on Amazon (except Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. I could only find the Kindle edition, and How to Write a Brilliant Romance, because the paperback cost was expensive). 

Here are the books that have impacted my writing the most thus far:

My original copy of this book doesn’t look like this. It has a cover that looks more like a piece of paper. I have no idea how I got this book, someone must have given it to me. I was so young when I read it the first time, I needed a dictionary with me to make sure I understood every word. This book is the foundation of what I know about writing fiction. I still return to the exercises in it.

I came across Anne Lamott on BookTV/C-Span in college, and immediately went out and got Bird by Bird. Anne’s illustrations and voice were so easy to follow, and she shared so much wisdom about writing and the writing life. There’s a reason this is a classic.

I read this book when I was creatively dry, and it helped revive my passion for the written word. I knew many of the things Liz shares, but I wasn’t acting on them. And what she says about how we (in Western culture especially) expect our creativity and art to support us made me stop and think about why I wrote and why I wanted to share what I wrote with the world in the first place. Writing for me is spiritual, and Liz taps into that idea. We agreed to disagree on just what and where that spirituality comes from (I edited every reference to the universe to match my personal beliefs and it was fine).

First of all, this book is fascinated for the glimpse it gives into one successful writer’s life–where his ideas come from, how he got his start, what his writing routine looks like, etc. But more importantly, in the middle section, King gives some invaluable advice for writers on mechanics and style that I found really helpful. It’s full of examples and is simple to grasp. Even if you’re not a fan of the horror genre or have never read any of his books, this one is an invaluable tool to a writer. There is a language warning. King is a little coarse. But the writing is accessible and you can learn a lot from him.

I also own but still need to finish:

Started it, loved it, even follow Dani Shapiro online, but I got sidetracked. I promise I’ll finish this and let you know what I gained from it.

I’ve started it but haven’t finished it. I’m not currently working on memoir (it’s something in the back of my mind, and I love the genre and want to know more about it anyway), so it’s keeps getting pushed to the backburner. I heard Mary Karr on Fresh Air, an NPR podcast, and I loved her.

Now, on to the books my author friends chose:

By far, the most recommended book was Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. Nearly all my author friends chose this book. Here’s how one described it:

As a Harlequin author, I can tell you that the editors rely heavily on this book, and they’re really big on making sure the GMC works for the story. -D. F

Another that multiple authors recommend is Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron:

[Finding Water] especially helped me…when I was feeling quite down about my writing prospects. It reminded me that I can – and need to – enjoy the creative process not just the end result. -DG

Finding water is the third of three books by Cameron on in The Artist’s Way series.

 Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias was recommended for its focus on storytelling:

It’s about storytelling and not about *writing*. It gives lots of really great examples on what techniques you can use to produce emotional response… For instance: before that book, I didn’t really understand what Dramatic Irony was, or that there were different kinds of dramatic irony, and that the different kinds were good for specific situations. It’s a master class in storytelling, even though it’s a book on screenwriting. – A.B.

 Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle was also chosen as one writer’s most impactful book:

It’s absolutely the most impactful book that I re-read often because it reminds me of the kind of writer I want to be…Every writer needs to read this, IMO.

Finally, some made recommendations that speak for themselves…at least, the authors who suggested them seem to think so. Also suggested was anything by Michael Hauge (including his weekend intensive) and The Prescription for Plotting Workbook by Carolyn White Greene.

Did we forget your favorite book on writing? Share it below in the comments. 



*I’m a fan of the late, great Harlequin Romance writer Betty Neels. I discovered this delightful word, whip-round, which seems to mean everyone contributing to a gift, in her novels. This post is absolutely a whip-round, a group of people putting in a little something into a burgeoning writer’s gift basket. I hope you enjoyed it!

Welcome to By Her Shelf!

Hi there, fellow readers! I’m Erica, the lady behind By Her Shelf. I’m an author and life long reader living in the Sunshine State. By day, I manage a group home. By night, I read and write.

I’m a natural book reviewer and recommender. All my life, I’ve had a passion for books and a burning desire to tell people all about the books I’ve loved, am currently reading, or am waiting with bated breath to get my hands on. In fact, I regularly relate entire books to friends and family on phone calls, and I buy and send my favorite reads to the ones I think will love them as much as did. I haven’t found a paid position as a book reviewer, but I’ve managed to keep my book purchases down to only slightly hair raising levels by taking advantage of book reviewing opportunities with Harlequin Junkie, Prism Book Tours, Entangled Publishing ARCs, NetGalley, and book launch teams of various writers. I’ve review books I’ve gotten from all of the above, as well as the books of writer friends and those I buy and read for my own enjoyment. I work as a freelance formatter and editor, which means I get to read many awesome books before they’re available.

With so many books to read and review, I needed a space to share book related goodness–what I’m reading, new books by my favorite authors, author interviews, cover reveals, what you need to pre-order, trends in books, and book related rants. I also wanted a space to share what I’m writing and get feedback on what readers want to read but aren’t finding. By Her Shelf is that place.

Why By Her Shelf?

I tried a million other book related words and phrases before settling on By Her Shelf. Most were taken or didn’t encompass my varied reading and writing life. My reading tastes are all over the place. You probably can’t get an accurate picture of me based on the books on my bookshelf (real or digital). Yet how many times have I glanced at a reader and judged them based on their book choices? How many reading related blogs and shops do I follow because they have an affinity for books and characters I love? I started out thinking we shouldn’t judge a reader by her shelf anymore than we should a book by its cover, but honestly, I want the women (and men! Hey guys!) who read this blog to be the ones who love the kind of books I read and want to know more about them. So feel free to judge this reader by her shelf.

What kinds of books and book related posts will be featured?

You’ll see posts about romances, thrillers, women’s fiction, “literary fiction,” horror (mostly just Stephen King), memoir, humor, and non-fiction. I’m Christian, so some of my choices have inspirational elements, but not all.  The romances I read come with a wide range of “heat levels.” My capacity for gore and thrills varies from book to book. Every now and then, I’ll pick up a book that is so outside my wheelhouse it’s a triangle, but I’ll post about it because it absolutely blew me away. I can’t say there are any genres I won’t post about, but I don’t read books about politics and can’t imagine posting a political book here. There are genres I rarely read, but if the premise is strong and the quality of writing is strong, I will make exceptions.

What kinds of posts can you expect about this plethora of book genres? I’ll post reviews, author interviews, author spotlights, cover reveals, excerpts, shelfies, giveaways, recommendations, and themed posts. I’ll post about upcoming book conferences I’m dying over. I’ll also post on Wednesdays and Sundays about writing–updates, meditations on the writing life, guest posts from authors, and interesting behind the book tidbits–where a book was written or set, something about the author’s process or personal life, etc.

Will only traditionally published books be featured?

No. If I like it, I’ll recommend or feature it. If a book is well-written, has a great plot or compelling characters but just wasn’t for me, I might still review it for the readers it will be right for.

Can writers submit books/content to be featured on By Her Shelf?

Yes. Authors can submit a book review request via my contact me page or direct email (submission page coming soon!). Please send your name, book title, a brief blurb, and what type of post you’d like me to consider–review, cover reveal, interview, excerpt, etc.–to me at mz[dot]zeyzey2[at]gmail[dot]com.

I’d love to feature your book-related sites, blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels. Please send information about your book related project to me at mz[dot]zeyzey2[at]gmail[dot]com.

One last thing. I’m an Amazon Associate. I earn money from qualifying purchases if you use my links. It’s another way to feed my book fund and introduce you to your new favorite read. I won’t provide links to books I’m not interested in or think you may be interested in. I provide links to support the books and authors I like, and to live my dream of being paid to recommend books in a small way.

What do you like to read? Have any questions for me?