Posted in Books, For Writers, Writing

Tamara Hughes’ Writing Process.

I’m turning my blog over to Tamara Hughes today to give her a place to share her writing process.

onceuponamasqueradeTamara Hughes is the author of Once Upon a Masquerade, a Victorian murder mystery romance set in New York City. She lives in Minnesota with her two kids and hubby. When she’s not reading or writing romance, she’s watching romantic movies and TV shows, playing poker, or cooking. (Oh, and spending time with her family. Yes, that too. Ha.)  Visit Tamara at

“Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Lola! I love talking about romance books and writing so this should be a lot of fun!

1)     What am I working on? – I’ve recently signed a contract with Entangled Publishing for a three book series with a pirate theme. While the first one is done, I’m working away on the second story and having a great time. Argh. Pirates be so much fun.

This story, tentatively titled Beauty’s Curse, involves a brooding pirate who plays the violin and his attempts to protect a woman who’s nice as can be but a whole lot of trouble. Bad luck seems to follow her wherever she goes.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre? I like unique settings for my historicals (this one begins on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean and ends in the Bahamas). I also loved heroines who are imperfect. Usually they’re a bit clumsy or silly, maybe gullible. I suppose I just relate better to these types of women. Overall, my stories are fast-paced adventures.

 While my paranormal romances aren’t published yet, they all have very unique paranormal people in them. I try to come up with twists on what’s out there or something altogether new.

3)     Why do I write what I do? I love exploring ideas I’m not already familiar with. Historicals have built-in elements I can play with. For any given time or place, there are different rules of etiquette, interesting clothing, and the way a man and woman interact with one another… It’s almost like a dance. I find it very interesting. Men of the past were also more protective and chivalrous, which is so romantic.

 As for my paranormals, I think my reasoning is the same. I can make up a new species of being and explore who they are and what makes them special. Do they interact with humans? And if so, how does that dynamic work? I love thinking through all of this stuff.

4)     How does your writing process work? My process seems to change with each book, but as it stands right now, I start out with a basic premise or idea. I open a new document and I play with where this story could go. When I feel like I have enough to build on, I cast my characters. Basically, I Google images and try to imagine what these people might look like. Then I create a character sketch for each main character. This is a list of questions that range from what their internal and external issues are to what they like to eat and what type of clothes they like to wear.

 From there I attempt to plot the book in an outline form, incorporating the external plot, resolving internal issues, and of course the progression of the relationship. Once this is done, I attempt to write the book. Lately, I’ve been writing a “solid” first draft, meaning not junk. I really think through the scenes as I write them and try to make the wording fairly good. I have my critique partners read the chapters as I write them to let me know if I’m going in a good direction. When the first draft is done, or mostly done, I start at the beginning and edit through. I begin with my critique partners’ suggestions and any big changes I feel are needed, and work my way into the minor things like searching for overused words or phrases. Finally, I do one big read-through before I hand the manuscript to my editor.

Thanks for stopping by!





Posted in Books, Talking with, Writing

Talking with Tamara Hughes

Today I’m welcoming Tamara Hughes to talk about Once upon a Masquerade, her debut novel from Entangled Publishing.

onceuponamasqueradeI love the color palette of this cover and what a tag line. Want to meet a Cinderella with a secret? Read on.

New York City, 1883

A Prince Charming meets his match…

Self-made shipping magnate Christopher Black first spies Rebecca Bailey at a masquerade ball and is captivated by her refreshing naiveté and sparkling beauty. She’s a stark contrast to the hollow behavior of the ton and the guile of his former fiancée, but the closer he gets to her secrets, the further she pushes him away.

A Cinderella with a secret…

Rebecca is drawn to the charismatic Christopher from the first, but she cannot risk him discovering that she is really a housemaid impersonating an heiress. Her father’s life depends on it.

A Happily Ever After that could never be…

When Christopher’s investigation of the murder of his best friend leads him straight to Rebecca, he fears his ingénue may be a femme fatale in disguise.  Now he must decide if he can trust the woman he’s come to love, or if her secrets will be his downfall.


Tamara, what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved Cinderella stories – a woman who manages to rise from an awful situation, and ends up with her happy ending. But I wanted to add a twist or two to make it a little more fun. Like a murder mystery. So why not have my Cinderella in the middle of it? The prime suspect.

And to add a little humor, I like my heroines to be very human. In this story, Cinderella is a little clumsy and socially awkward. (A lot like me I’m sorry to say – only I’m more than a little clumsy.) So when this Cinderella sneaks into a ball to meet her Prince Charming, she’s bound to make mistakes.

A ball scene? There must be music. Do you listen to music when you write?  If so, what?

It depends. I find my writing process changes for each book. For most of my books, including this one, I wrote in silence. Sometimes my plots are pretty intense, so I need all my focus on keeping everything straight to weave it all together as tightly as I can. That said, my current work-in-progress is a whole other deal. I’m finding I get inspiration to write from listening to music. My music selection is pretty eclectic, from pop songs to heavy metal. (I’m currently writing a paranormal.) Some of the songs include: Clarity by Zedd, I’m Not a Vampire by Falling in Reverse, Say It by Evans Blue, and Rescue Me by Kerrie Roberts.

Wow, do I feel out of touch.  Looks like I’ll be busy on Spotify later.  What is your favorite part about being an author?

I love sitting down to write. Don’t get me wrong. I find writing really hard – some days impossible. But there’s something about bringing a scene to life on paper that’s amazing. And days when I can make myself laugh, those are really great.

Those are perfect writing days. Since we’re not writing now, let’s play “Dump the purse” – what’s in yours? 

Hmm. Let’s see…all the usual suspects…wallet, Kleenex, lotion…band aids because I’m a mom (even if my kids are teenagers now), a little notebook in case an idea strikes, enough change to choke a horse, the dimensions of my living room lampshades (which I intend to replace someday, maybe – that note’s been in there so long, the ink is starting to blur). Wow. Now I feel boring. Thanks for asking this question, Lola. Ha!

That was productive at least. Let’s have some fun. My kids built a time machine out of Legos.  When and where are we headed and why? 

First of all, wow! Your kids are amazing!  (Blush – yes, they are.) As for the when and where, I was amazed by what I found researching New York City in the 1800’s. You read very few books about this time and place, and I’m not sure why.

In Once Upon a Masquerade, I write about a large masquerade ball hosted by William and Alva Vanderbilt to celebrate the completion of their home. That event actually happened in history. The New York Times had written about it, describing the costumes, the house, the dancing. The article really got my imagination going. In fact, the Hobby-horse Quadrille described in the book was an actual dance performed by guests, dressing up as horses and riders and romping around the room.  I hope you found illustrations! The party sounds amazing.

And while it doesn’t occur during the book, the Brooklyn Bridge’s grand opening also happened in 1883, with fireworks exploding over the water. Crazy, but one week later, a woman tripped on a narrow staircase on the bridge, falling into a large group of people. Someone screamed the bridge was collapsing, which caused a panic that led to twelve people being trampled to death.

Thomas Edison also made great strides in the use of electricity for lighting in 1883. He built a central generating station and lit a small town in New Jersey.

All in 1883. Not to mention a few years later, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled.

Gee, can you tell I’m excited about this stuff?

I sure can and now I’m excited too.  What a fascinating time and place and you’re right, it’s one we don’t often encounter in books even though it was a terrific time of sweeping societal changes and extravagance.  Thinking of which, dessert time!  Give me your “either—or” answers

  • Chocolate, fruit or other? Depends on my mood. Fruit is yummy, but chocolate is a need sometimes, not just a want. Oh, dark chocolate…definitely dark chocolate…  And it’s so good for you… So good… I may have to go get some now.
  • Warm or cold? Warm inside, cold outside – I live in Minnesota doncha know.
  • Buttercream or fondant? Buttercream, no contest. Does fondant even have much flavor? It’s pretty, but buttercream, now that has flavor…Mmm, buttercream… You’re making me do it again… I’ll be right back.
  • Cookies or brownies? Cookies – gooey, thick chocolate chip…or monster cookies…those are good too. Oh, what I’d do for a cookie.
  • With nuts or without? Depends on what dessert you’re talking about, if you know what I mean. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

And now I’m blushing again.  Thanks for stopping by Tamara.

You can get Once upon a Masquerade at:onceuponamasquerade





About the author: A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh. To learn more, stop by her website: You can also find her on:




Amazon Author Page:

If you’re feeling really lucky, Tamara is offering a $25 Amazon gift card (U.S. only) and 3 copies of Once Upon a Masquerade (international) as part of her blog tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For additional chances to win, check out the full schedule: