Tag Archives: Nora Roberts

My Ideal Romance Hero

Tall, dark, and handsome is such a cliche. Not to mention, boring. If you don’t think this is true, here’s a bit of dialogue from Chris Pine’s character in INTO THE WOODS,. addressing his wife, Cinderella. “Darling, I was raised to be charming, not sincere,” the Prince tells her when she confronts him about his extramarital affairs.

Yup, that about says it all about that plastic tall, dark, and handsome description. There’s no meat to it; no substance.

Every ideal romance hero will differ depending on the writer writing him. Some writers will only pen total alphas, incapable of human emotion until the heroine comes along and – BAM – turns him magically into a fully functioning, emotional being. Disclosure here: I hate that kind of hero.  A writer friend of mine – whom I adore – described this hero type as an alpha-hole. Perfect descriptor!!!

Some writers pen the six foot, chiseled jaw, warm-eyed hero who has never realized he’s a hunkadoodle. Disclosure again: While I don’t hate this type, it’s hard for me to believe the guy doesn’t know he’s panty-dropping hot. I mean, does he own a mirror, or what?

So. Enough about the heroes I don’t fancy. What do I want in my ideal romantic hero?
A guy who makes me laugh…

A man who not only has a brain but also stimulates my brain and who can discuss topics other than sports…

Richard Geere

A guy who brings you breakfast in bed; a man who bakes you the most decadent treat; a hero who wants to feed you — heart, mind, body and soul.

I know, right!! I adore a man who can cook.

This is Master Baker Paul Hollywood. He can frost my buns any day.

Le swoon!!!

A man who’s not afraid or ashamed to tell you and show you he cares. The following is a line from my favorite JD Robb book, NEW YORK TO DALLAS.

It’s one of the final scenes. Lt. Eve Dallas has just had a knockdown, drag-out fight with a serial killer. She’s battered, bruised, and a little loopy from the painkillers they’ve given her. She’s speaking to her good friend Dr. Charlotte Mira, with Eve’s husband – the panty-dropping Roarke, in the background.

Eve says:

“Want to finish, give my report. Is my face messed up? I hate when that happens. Not like I’m pretty or anything, but—”

“You’re the most beautiful woman ever born,” Roarke said from the doorway, and Eve sent him a woozy, drugged smile.

That’s my perfect hero.

A man who loves you above all others – even himself; who will make love to you when you have wake-up morning breath, sheet marks on your cheeks and eye boogers, desire you even if you haven’t showered, be devoted to you no matter what comes along in life to try both your souls. A man who’s willing to not only put you first but do anything to keep you there.  A hero who sees you, simply, as everything good in his life.

My ideal romance hero is the kind of man I want in my own life: calm, smart, witty, kind, strong willed and soft-hearted, willing to take a stand and fight for it, but able to see someone else’s opinion without censure. A man who will listen, speak up when needed, and know when a hug is all a woman needs. A man who won’t just try to solve my problems, but will help me solve them. A guy who can take charge and take a back seat when the situation calls for it. A man who will let me be me, get me, and support me – in every way.

In all honesty, my perfect romance hero is…my hubby.

Yeah…le swoon!

Since this is a blog hop, click on some of the other MFRW authors writing about their ideal romantic hero.

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Alpha Hero, Alpha Male, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Literary characters, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

#NoraRoberts, #WritingAdvice, and #MondayMorningQuarterbacking…

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First, a disclaimer: this is not a post about football. I would be the last person on the planet to ever post about a game I know nothing about. I can’t even bulls**t my way through a discussion on it, so there.

Now. I was listening to a podcast recently about advice. How to give it, how to take it, when and why you should offer it. For the record, I don’t like to give advice routinely simply because I don’t like getting unsolicited advice. There’s always THAT person who thinks they know everything that will make your situation better and easier, and believe me, they are usually wrong. Having said that, there are two pieces of advice that I’ve heard throughout my writing career that I’d like to offer. One, I listened to.

First, the good piece of advice. I heard this at my very first RWA conference in San Antonio in 2014 from a chat with mega-wonderful Nora Roberts. Her advice to the following question,  “How can I find the time to be a prolific writer like you?” was simply the best thing I ever heard anyone say. It was:

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See how good it is – someone made a Pinterest board for it!

Added to that advice was this little gem which I remind myself of daily:

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Words for a writer to live by.

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Now to the worst writing advice I’ve ever received. Here’s the backstory: I entered a contest and this was part of one judge’s critique. “If you change the name of the heroine, make her younger and give her a tragic background, you MAY ( and yes, she put may in capitals!) have the beginning of a decent story here.  Otherwise, I don’t see this book ever getting published. I also feel your hero is dumb.”

And I paid to enter that contest. Last one I ever entered, that’s for sure!

Well, the laugh is on her,  because I took none of her advice and that book, COOKING WITH KANDY, is coming out in April from Kensington/Lyrical Shine and I didn’t change a thing about the book/characters/backstory.

So here’s the Monday morning quarterbacking mentioned in the title to this blog in the form of my own writing advice- completely unsolicited.

                                                 Write for yourself, first.

I don’t have a Pinterest block to put up on that one, so I just bolded it in the hope that it makes a statement. YOU are your first reader.  If you don’t write something for you, that you love, that sings to you, it won’t do so for anyone else. Remember that. I do. Everyday.advice4

‘Nuff said.

When I’m not giving out unsolicited advice, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, love, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

NaNoWriMo2016 – day 3

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Another day….another thousand words.

So, how are you feeling this morning? Are your fingers still flying across the laptop? Are the words forming in your head faster than you can get them on the page ( or the screen!)? Are your characters pushing you, speaking to you, compelling you to get their story out to the word?

The beginning of every NaNo challenge is heady. You’ve got all this internal….STUFF… begging to come out, and you allow it to, thankfully. But think about the real reason you’re doing the challenge this year. It isn’t just to get you to finish a manuscript, or help you make a deadline. Those things are great, but NANOWRIMO is much more than that…so, hear me out.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is not simply to get you to write  50,000 words in a month. That’s a big part of it, sure. But the real underlying challenge is to instill in you the HABIT of writing every day. Of making a commitment to yourself to sit down and log in some scheduled, uninterrupted time for you to write.  We are all busy, have challenging lives, kids, dogs, life issues, you fill in the words that make it hard for you to do what you love.

But…NaNo wants you to understand the necessity of making writing every single day the norm, the routine, the matter of practice of your life.

What defines a habit? Webster’s Dictionary states it like this: a habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially something that is hard to give up. See those words, regular  and practice? And the ones that follow them – something that is hard to give up? This is what writing should be to you  – something you can’t give up on or let slide, no matter what.  When you take the time every single day to devote a few minutes or an hour, or several hours, to doing something you love – namely, writing – soon it will become so ingrained in you to do so, that NOT writing isn’t even an option or a thought in your head anymore.

My website tag is WRITING IS MY OXYGEN. And this is the truth. To me, writing every day is as essential and necessary to me as is breathing. If I couldn’t breathe every day, I would surely die. Well, if I don’t write every day, I feel as if I can’t breathe – emotionally, spiritually, and yes, even physically.

I once heard famed and uber-amazeballs author NORA ROBERTS liken writing every day to a muscle. She said (paraphrasing, here) “Writing is like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, work it, use it frequently, you loose tone and substance. The muscle isn’t as strong, so you’re not as strong. You don’t function as well as you should or can.” That statement resonated with me on such a high level. And really, Nora Roberts should know about being a strong writer – the chick has over 400 books in print! She walks the walk and talks the talk like no other writer out there. It’s obvious she exercises her writing muscles daily.

So, today when you sit down to write, remember how you feel as you put your fingers to the keys. That sense of happiness, of fulfillment, of simple joy you get as you create those words on the page. Remember that feeling of elation. You’ll want to feel it again, and again, and again, and…. every day.

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, love, NaNoWriMo, New Hampshire, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

Why we love Christmas romance books.

I was in Target the other day doing a little Christmas shopping and I found myself – surprise surprise – in the  Book department. There were no fewer than 15 brand-new Christmas romance  novels from 15 different authors.  Was I surprised? Not really.  We all know romance sells… And a Christmas romance sells even better.

This got me to thinking: Why is it that romance readers love a Christmas romance?

In the purest sense,  Christmas is a joyous time. We all want to be happy, in love, be loved, and give love.  The basic Christmas romance novel uses that universal desire for love and amplifies it. How you ask? Well, I’m going to tell you.

Typically, a romance novel set during the Christmas season will involve a heroine who is just not feeling the love. The love of the season,  or the love of a good man.  Enter our hero. He, too, may not be feeling the love of the season. He isn’t looking for his soul-mate; doesn’t think Santa is going to hand deliver a  girl for him down the chimney and leave her under the tree. BUT. It’s Christmas after all. The time of miracles; the time of wishes being fulfilled.

When our hero and our heroine do meet, it may not be love at first sight, or even second. Possibly not third, either. Some intangible thing, though, will bring them together and when they do find their love ( usually on Christmas morning or under the mistletoe) then the story gets resolved, because Christmas is the time for love to wash away all the evil, all the hurt, all the pain of the year before it.

I will admit freely and unabashedly I am a total sap for a Christmas romance story. The Hallmark channel and Lifetime Movie Network were made especially for me ( or so I tell myself). Their 24 hour a day holiday movies and specials – all about some sort of love/romance as the theme surrounding the Christmas season are favorites with romance novel readers from every walk of life. Happily ever afters abound, and Santa comes on Christmas morning, bringing you exactly what you wanted and wished for (usually a hunky guy in Christmas boxers…but I digress and that’s for another blog post).

Yeah, I know it’s kinda sappy and syrupy and maybe even schmaltzy, but I don’t care. Neither  do the millions of others who support ( read: spend their money on!) this cottage holiday industry.

So, while I settle down  in front of my roaring fireplace where I’m all warm and comfy with new Nora Roberts’ CHRISTMAS WIH YOU book, after just finishing Jill Shalvis’  MERRY CHIRTSMAS BABY , I hope you can take an hour or two this week and read a new holiday romance or watch the Hallmark Channel and/or Lifetime Movie Network. After all, we deserve a break from shopping, wrapping, cooking and decorating, don’t we?

Yeah…we do!

Christmas is coming and so is VALENTINE’S DAY!!!! Comingperf5.000x8.000.indd soon:: 3 Wishes, A Candy Hearts Story from the Wild Rose Press 2/8/16 release. Buy Links available soon!

Blurb: Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.

 

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Filed under 3 Wishes, Author, Candy Hearts, Contemporary Romance, Friends, love, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor

RWA15 final thoughts…

So it’s a little less than a week since I got home from RWA15 in New York. My mind and body were depleted and yet strangely energized as well. Last year – as an RWA conference virgin – I was too excited to appreciate the networking going on around me; too excited meeting my favorite authors in the flesh; too excited to realize what an unbelievable opportunity the conference was to enhance my career.

This year was different on so many levels. Oh, I was still excited beyond belief at meeting my favorite authors- and some new ones – but I took the opportunity afforded  me and branched out in several ways to advance my writing career.

Last year the workshops I attended had more to do with seeing the well known authors presenting them. I took no classes on craft, marketing or the business of publishing. This year, those were the only classes I sat in on.

Last year I stood in line for 2 hours to get Nora Roberts’ autograph at the Literacy signing. This year I volunteered at the event and was thrilled to be assigned to one of my favorite authors of all time, Jayne Ann Krentz. I learned more from watching her  interact with her fans for just 2 hours than I could have learned in years in public relations courses. She showed me – up close and personally – what it’s like to be on the other side of the publishing/writing curtain (like that little Wizard of Oz tie-in??!). As a fan I’ve always seen just my own reaction to meeting a writer one time. Ms Krentz had to deal with hundreds of fans all individually  and uniquely excited, and wanting her to know what her writing means to them – and stay up beat, focused, and gracious, which she was to every single one of them. She never refused to have a photograph taken, or listen to a story about a particular book of hers, or even offer some advice to a fledgling author ( moi!), and her beautiful smile never slipped. By observing how she handled herself during those 2 hours I know precisely how to conduct myself during a book signing. Thank you so much, Jayne Ann Krentz!

From my PRO-retreat workshops I learned how invaluable branding, social media, and marketing are to a writer – whether she be multi-published or fledgling. Anna Alexander and Catherine Bybee were deep wells of information regarding these topics and if I came away with anything to remember during this conference it was this: “A person needs to hear your name 7-10 times before it’s recognizable to them.” Thank you, Catherine Bybee, for this gem. My tweets have increased 100-fold, as have my other social media alerts all because of this statement.

I met with my “dream” agent at a pitch session- something that put terror into my little heart. Not because of the agent, but because I was so nervous about “putting myself out there.” I don’t like to talk about myself – a dumb thing to hear from a blogger, eh?! But on paper you don’t have to look at me and I don’t have to look at you. It’s all fairly visually anonymous. I don’t get nervous when it’s on paper ( or the laptop, really). But face to face is another story entirely. Anyway. Despite my nerves, the agent was lovely, gracious and sweet. I’ll let you know in the future if things progress on this front.

One last memory that will live with me for the rest of my career is the workshop I took with Christie Craig. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog how I think she should be the keynote speaker at next year’s conference and here’s why: this woman is an inspiration in  more than just writing. Her personal journey through life and in her writing career could be made into a must-see television movie for the Hallmark Channel. It would win its time slot for the night, week, month and year. I have always put forth my own writing TAO called NGU NGI ( never give up and never give in.) Ms Craig lives this TAO every day and boy, does it show in her success. I think we can all  use her as an example.

RWA16 will be in San Diego – a town I’ve visited before and loved, so I can’t wait to go. Maybe next year I will be an author participant in the literacy signing. If so, I will remember what I learned from Jayne Ann Krentz about how to conduct myself with fans.

Thank you RWA, Jayne Ann Krentz, Christie Craig, Kristan Higgins, Tracy Brogan, Jill Shalvis, and all the other amazing authors who presented workshops, spent a little time with me out of class to answer any questions, and to my wonderful, talented NHRWA chapter-mates who all journeyed south to NYC this year.

 

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

RWA15…it just keeps getting better

This was truly a total fan girl day for me. I volunteered to help out at the literacy signing and got my dream job: minion to Jayne Ann Krentz.

I know!

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Not only is she a gifted writer, penning a plethora of bestsellers in three names Jayne Ann Krentz, Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, but she is sincerely one of the nicest human beings I have ever met. For two hours she smiled, took pictures and chatted – not to mention signing over 50 books – and impressed the he** out of me with her natural graciousness.  My favorite moment came when, almost at the tail end of the signing, three 20 somethings came up to her and actually screamed – squealed like pigs – her name. One of them had an antique fan that she assiduously fanned her excited self with. This was  – in my mind -a true fan girl moment (x3!)

The room had over 480 authors plus about 2000 super fans. It was very warm and very loud, but also very wonderful.

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I was luck enough to snag a few pix with some of my favorite authors.

Here’s me and the fabulous, funny, and very cute-as-a-button Jill Shalvis:

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Here’s my NHRWA chapter president, the talented and multi-published ( and just plain nice!) Chrystine Butler:

20150722_184826The line for Nora Roberts went out the door and down the corridor, so I didn’t wait for a pix with her, especially since I have the one taken with her last year framed and sitting on my desk at home. Sigh!

Tomorrow we get to the meat of the conference: the workshops, Publishing House events, and the general meeting.

Whew! I’m tired, elated, ecstatic and… well, you get the picture. More tomorrow from the city that never sleeps.

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA

just one piece of advice…

During an interview recently – and I can’t tell you how much I LOVELOVELOVE saying I was “interviewed!” – I was asked about the one piece of writing advice that has stuck with me and gotten me through publishing hurdles, humps and heartbreak. It was actually difficult to come up with just that one exclusive iota of writing  wisdom that has resonated with me.

My first thought is the one I received from a literary agent many moons ago which I’ve written about before. Although this agent didn’t accept me as a client, she wrote a handwritten note at the bottom of her letter (this was pre-email, folks) stating, “…you are an excellent writer and I have no doubt I will be reading your published works one day soon. It only takes one “yes” to make a difference in your writing career…” I have never forgotten those words.

Another piece of writing advice that comes to mind is when I heard Nora Roberts speak at the National RWA conference in 2014. She was asked how she can be so prolific a writer and what was her secret. She replied, “Put your butt in the chair, your fingers over the keyboard and write. That’s it and that’s all.”  Butt in seat, fingers on keyboard, write. Can it be any simpler than this?

I would guess the piece of writing advice I’ve learned to repeat daily to myself, is actually one I gave myself  many years ago and had nothing to do with writing at the time I came up with it. I call it THE TAO OF NGUNGI ( pronounced na-goo-na-guy). It means, NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER GIVE IN. I was going through a difficult period of my life and the days ahead looked bleak and scary. But when I started saying this to myself, it resonated loudly and I was able to get through the period relatively emotionally unscathed.

Now, when I want to have a writing pity party for myself, I repeat the phrase as many times as I need to in order to dig myself out of my depressing black hole. By practicing the TAO Of NGUNGI, I have pushed onwards all this years and finally have a publishing contract.

Never Give up and Never give in. One piece of really good advice – for life and for writing.

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Fan girl crush

Is it weird to admit – at my age – I have a fan-girl crush?

Not the wacko stalker kind. But the kind of crush that makes you smile without knowing you’re doing it or the reason why you are?

Okay, so here’s my confession, then. My fan-girl crush is on Nora Roberts.

Yeah, THAT Nora Roberts. Author of about a gazillion books, all of them wonderful. Creator of the “In Death” series, which features two of the best characters ever put to the page: Eve Dallas and * sigh * Roarke. Master plotter, publishing wunderkind, and one of the most proliferate authors on the planet.

I had the absolute pleasure to meet her, shake her hand, get an autograph and listen to her give a master lecture this past summer at RWA 2014. I think I smiled the entire time. Well, not when I cried when I met her, though. But even through the tears, I was smiling with glee!

I’ve read every book she’d ever had published, some of them two or three times. Why? Because she is – to me – the penultimate master in romance writing. The way she can convey an emotion, a look, a thought, is pure writing genius.

She is a completely humble woman, as well, and she gets a million kudos for that. She could be the most conceited, arrogant writer you will ever meet. But she is not. She is warm, open, damn funny, sarcastically spot-on and just a delight to listen to with her smoker’s gravel voice, and her characteristic way of turning a phrase.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a lecture she is giving – GO! As a writer you will learn more than you ever thought to, be inspired like you never dreamed you would, and be entertained thoroughly.

Yes, I am a 54 year old wife-mother-nurse-writer and I have a fan-girl crush. Deal with it.

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, female friends, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

Putting the “NO” in NaNoWriMo.

Day 3 of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)  has just finished for me. I am at 9716 words – not bad considering I had to work at my real paying job today. I don’t’ want to get boggled down in the numbers game, though,  because for me the real reason to do this challenge is to get into the habit of writing constructively every day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

This challenge is the impetus many writers need to get them going, motivated, and excited about the task at hand: namely, writing the book of their heart. As writers, it is really important we write every day to keep our creative mind active and productive. I heard Nora Roberts explain it this way at conference recently. She was asked if she ever takes a vacation from writing. Her reply is why she is one of the greatest authors of all time. And one of the most prolific. She said, “Your writing is like a muscle. If you don’t work a muscle, if you don’t use it all the time, it starts to get weak and can deteriorate and even die.”

Wow.

Best analogy I’d ever heard for why writing every day is a must. I’ve mentioned before I write every day, whether it’s my blog, my WIP or even just editing some work I’ve already “finished.” To me, not writing is like not eating – I don’t think I could live if I didn’t do it!

So day 4 is about to start. Target goal today is at least 2500 words. Check back later to see if I made my goal.

Or exceeded it.

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The 10 Book Challenge

Recently on Facebook, I’ve seen several posts about people who have been challenged by friends and family to list 10 books that changed their lives. No one has challenged me, but I think this is a great blog topic, so here goes.

The 10 books that have had a profound impact on me during my life are – in no particular order:

1. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Best book about self actualization ever written.

2. The Wizard of Oz ( Dorothy’ Adventures in Oz)  by Frank L Baum. Because there really is no place like home.

3. Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts. First Nora I ever read. This story and this writer gave me my love of romantic fiction.

4. Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss.  First romance with actual sex in it I ever read. Quite an education, in addition to being a great story.

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Helped me focus on the goals I wanted to attain during my lifetime.

6. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. In my opinion, the most perfect book ever written.

7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. As a child raised in the 1960’s and 70’s, this book brought home the meaning of racial inequality like no other to me.

8.  The Oxford American Dictionary. Hello! It’s filled with WORDS!! Fabulous words!!

9. The Bible. This one needs no explanation.

10. Become a Better You by Joel Osteen. This book really did help make me a better person.

So, what are the books that have influenced you?

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