Tag Archives: Romance writers

A new experience…

I’ve said many times on this blog how taking a risk or having a new experience is a worthwhile endeavor and yesterday I talked the talk, walked the walk. I participated in my very first Facebook release party. It was last minute thing. I was asked because one of the authors couldn’t make it so, my NHRWA sistah Susan A. Wall asked me to fill in and I was happy to.

Those 30 minutes went by faster than a speeding bullet (a head nod to Superman here!)

Apparently, a very large group of readers, fans, and fb followers attend these sort of things. Who knew? 

I had to ask a few questions, answer a few, and give something away, because we all know folks like freebies and giveaways. ( Shameless self promotion coming) I’m actually doing a giveaway right now of THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME on Goodreads. Here’s the link:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/138470-there-s-no-place-like-home

So, anyway. It felt good to connect with some new people and to experience this new fangled way of promoting my work. This just solidifies in my mind that Social Media has changed the world. And the future. I simply can’t imagine ever going back to the old fashioned ways of promoting things like sending out postoffice mailers, flyers, postcards. Having book premier cocktail parties ( expensive!!) seem to be a thing of the past as well.

One thing that will never go out of style is meeting the fans, the readers, the people you write for. Giving a talk at a local library, visiting a book group, volunteering to be a guest lecturer at a school, even doing a physical book signing at an actual book store are all things I want to keep doing to promote my work, and will.

That’s a promise from me to the people who read  and support what I like.

But this virtual stuff is pretty cool, no?

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Mothers…we all have them

Today is one of those days my husband refers to  Hallmark-made days. A day – he feels – greeting card companies institute and promote. I think I read somewhere  there are more cards sent on this day than on Valentine’s day and Easter combined.

And I believe it because we all have, or have had at some time, a Mother. We wouldn’t be here right now if we didn’t.

Since I am such an avid reader, Mother’s day got me to thinking about all the famous and infamous mothers in literature. There have been a bunch of memorable ones and like I’ve said before, Google and Wikipedia have lists for everything, so did a search for the Best Mothers in fiction.

Here are some of the tops names. See how many you recognize and if you agree with their inclusion in the list.

It’s interesting, I think, to note that two of the moms are defacto moms, not biological ones. Mammy, in GWTW, is Scarlett O’Hara’s nanny, and is African American to Scarlett’s lilly white, but she is closer to her than any mother who gave birth to her. Mammy is the sound of  Scarlett’s  conscious on most decisions, and cares for her charge more than Scarlett’s mother ever did. Mame Dennis is Patrick’s Aunt, but she raises him after he is orphaned and brings him to maturity, offering him a world of excitement and adventure to squash his staid upbringing. She instills in him a sense of fun and whimsy he’s never had before, all the while showing him unconditional love and devotion.

I also find it interesting that two of the moms – Mammy and Marmee – are raising their “children” during times of war and national strife and economic downfall. They valiantly attempt to protect their young from all the horrors of war – famine, poverty, loss – and help their children grow into productive adults. Ma Ingalls has to face uprooting her family to travel west for a better life. She copes with floods, drought, sickness, blindness, famine and poverty within her family, yet always manages to make their lives a little bit better through her kind actions and thoughtful heart.

Mrs. Lancaster must deal with every parent’s nightmare : a sick and potentially dying child with cancer. She wants nothing more than to make her daughter’s life light and happy despite the tragic diagnosis, and through her caring and loving ways, she epitomizes the intrinsic and internal strength of will every mother possesses.

That’s what I come away with from having read all these books: the strength of the “mothers.” Be it internal, external, religious or spiritual, all these women have strength, Strength of character, of morality, emotional strength, fortitude, and determination. There is not one mother on this list who wouldn’t fight to the death to protect their young. The instinctual force of maternal protection inhabits every one of them.

Today, think about your Mom, or the person you consider Mom. In a way it’s a little sad we have to earmark one day a year  to remember her – we should be paying her homage everyday, and in the perfect world without stressors and strife, we would. But today, call her and tell her what she means to you. Sending a card or flowers is nice, but in reality, the thing your mom wants most is the gift of your time – of you!

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A little present and a tease….

May 6, 2015 is the official release date of my second novel THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Yippie!

Most of you know the Wizard of OZ is one of my favorite books of all time because it is so rich with psychological subtext and family drama, two of my favorite things to read. The title for my book comes from Dorothy’s famous line, spoken at the end of the movie, and I have always felt this statement is true. There really is no other place like your home. Home means warmth, shelter, comfort, safety, acceptance, love and nurturing. My heroine in THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, Moira Cleary, is at a crossroads in her life and has come home to rest, recover, and reconnect with her beloved family. She has been globetrotting around the world for over 4 years with a traveling symphony, when something happens to question the lifestyle she has made for herself. Coming home provides her with safety and surrounds her with love. Love of her immediate family, and of her best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton.

Here’s a little present from me to you. Hope you enjoy it and are intrigued enough to order your own copy of THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

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“Remember when your cousin Tiffany got married in the backyard here?”

Confused, Moira nodded.

Quentin rubbed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “When the Reverend told Cole ‘you can kiss your bride,’ and he swooped her off the ground, spun her around and kissed her silly? Remember what you said?”

“I think I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.”

He nodded. “The exact quote was, ‘I hope someone kisses me like that some day.’”

Her grin was quick at the memory. “Pat snorted and said I’d better be satisfied with licks from the horses and Rob Roy because no guy was ever gonna kiss me.”

“He wasn’t known for tact back then.” He rubbed a hand down her back as he held her. “Remember what happened later on behind the barn?”

Because she did, she couldn’t stop the heat from spreading up her face like wildfire. When she nodded again, he said, “You wanted to know what it felt like to be kissed like that and since I was your best friend, you thought I should be the one to do it, because you – quote – felt safe with me – unquote.”

“What was I? Eleven?”

“Thirteen. And I was more than willing. Almost broke my heart in two when you said afterward, ‘I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’”

“Q—”

“Hush.” He kissed her forehead. “Ever since that day, all I’ve wanted is a second chance. Now,” he pulled her body closer, wrapped both arms around her small waist, his hands resting just above the dent in her spine. “We’re both a little older, a little more mature. Some of us are much more experienced—”

“And conceited.”

“Experienced,” he said, the laugh in his voice quiet and seductive, “and things can be so much better.”

 

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Titles…

Someone asked me the other day how I come up with the titles to my stories and novels.  They are all different and don’t really follow a common thread. Book titles, I feel, are like your children’s names: you want them to be unique, but not so unique they become albatrosses or points of ridicule. I discovered through research  (okay, through Google!) there is an entire industry devoted just to this: how to pick the correct words to capture a reader from the get-go; the word combinations never to use in a title; the words that have the most impact on sales.

I know some writers who use song titles for their books and expound on them in the story.  I love this idea. I know another author who writes down every combination of a phrase based on what the book is about until the perfect title presents itself. I also love this idea.  Some experts say never to have more than one word or two at the most in the title so that it grabs the reader’s attention.  Long winded names can be turn offs to people glancing at the book rack in Barnes and Noble. The key, advertising executives always say, is “short, punchy, and memorable.”The original working titles for my favorite all time book, Gone With The Wind, were Tomorrow is another day and Ba! Ba! Black Sheep.

Now would GWTW have been such a mega hit if it had one of those titles? Who knows. I certainly don’t think the movie would have done as well with the sheep title, do you?

To Kill a Mockingbird was called Atticus before Harper Lee – thankfully – changed it.

And my favorite title change – more about why in a bit – was Pride and Prejudice. Austen originally called it First Impressions.

Now my titles are usually the first thing that pops into my head when I’m working a new plot through. I don’t try to be cute or fancy or erudite. I just “see” the title in my head, and that’s it for me. I’ve never had an editor or even a reader tell me the work was mis-named or would have been better suited to some other title. Maybe this is arrogant on my part, and okay, I’ll agree with that. They are, after all, MY titles. But again, just like when  you name a child, you want the title/name to be a reflection of your thought and love. You want it to be able to convey something of what the book is about when you are trying to capture a potential reader’s attention. Skater’s Waltz has two words and is actually a piece of music. There’s No place Like Home, has 5 and it’s a sentence in one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz. My third book, which I am thrilled to announce just went to contract, is First Impressions. See now why I like that Austen changed her title?

Titles are like names. They should be individual, coherent, and special. They should capture a reader’s attention and their desire to want to read more. Think of your favorite book titles. Do they fit in with this thought? I know mine do.

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I hear voices…

My new book is slated for release on March 4; I’m finishing up the final galley edits on book 2, and have just submitted book 3 to me editor ( and  boy, don’t I love saying that!). And I still have 5 books in current production – which means they are at varying stages on my laptop, anywhere from outlined to first three chapters, to almost done with first or final draft.

Yup, I write a lot.

A lot!

I’ve got voices yelling at me at all hours of the day and night inside my head, screaming to be let out. Sounds like a schizophrenic’s nightmare, but no, it’s just li’l ole me and my overactive, non-quiescent imagination.

There are just not enough hours in the day sometimes for me to try and quiet all these people down. And the only way to do that is to commit them to paper – or in my case – laptop. With my upcoming retirement in April, I pray I finally have enough time to devote to all these characters vying for my individual attention. As it is now,  I am just skimming the surface of my desire to write full time. Once my paying job goes the way of the dinosaur I won’t have to squeeze in writing while I wait for the laundry to be done, or after I’ve gotten the groceries bought and put away, or decided what to make for dinner and then make it!

The house will – hopefully – no longer endure the invasion of the tumble weeds that roll out daily from underneath the furniture; I won’t be able to write my  name in the dust settling on the furniture, and when I walk across the carpets, dust bunnies won’t fly up from under my steps.

I plan on being able to write to my heart’s desire during the typical workday. I am usually good mental-wise from 4 am until about 1-2ish. Sharp and focused, I can write the most coherent stuff during those times. After 2-3 I start to wane, so that’s when I plan on doing all the other stuff that needs my attention – like clean, cook, pay bills, etc. At least that’s my plan.

We’ll see how it goes. But until then, the voices are  yelling at me again, so off I go to quiet the crazies….

 

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Almost half way thru NaNoWriMo…

30 days can be regarded in a number of ways. It’s a full month on a calendar ( if you disregard February and forget the 31 day months); it’s a little over 4 exact weeks; it’s a pay period for most workers, a menstrual cycle, and a billing rotation. It’s the amount of time most people set aside to get a haircut. Psychologists tell us in 30 days we can form new and better habits, changing out old, bad ones. Many contact lenses need to be replaced every 30 days, and you should really change some of your makeup monthly as well.

All those things can be done in 30 days. Most with relative ease.

What’s not so easy to do in 30 days is write a 50,000+ word novel/first draft.

Don’t get me wrong: it can be done. And has.

But it really isn’t that easy.

We’re almost at the halfway time mark of this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. I’m doing well – better than I expected, really. Right now I’m sitting in my local Subaru dealer getting my car inspected and fixing a recall problem.

And I’m typing. At this moment – this blog entry. But until a minute ago I was working on my NaNo WIP. I’ve found I bring my laptop with me everywhere I go, including to work, and when I can manage it – lunch hours and breaks in the day, – I open my NaNo file and … go.

The goal of 50,000 words can seem daunting. For most, it is. But for people like us who write for a living/hobby/obsession, it’s not as bad as it seems.

Breaking it down to a little over 1500 words per day – or roughly 6-7 pages of  double spaced text – it can be done.

And remember – this is a first draft. It’s not the finished, polished, ready to submit one. That comes later with editing.

I find with this draft I usually do a lot of dialogue. I can always put in the subtext, tags, and descriptions later with the editing, but I like to know what my peeps are gonna say first and take the story from there. Dialogue comes quick to me – probably because I never shut up in real life! But seriously, whatever comes easiest for you – dialogue, exposition, description, or even backstory – go with it. Let it flow and let it go. Like I said, you can always go back later, after the challenge, and make it better.

But get those words on the page now. That’s what the important part of the challenge is. Training yourself to type everyday, to create on a  timeline, to focus your thoughts and words.

So, how far are you at this halfway mark?

 

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Why I write romantic fiction

Those who know me personally already know the answer to this one. Sometimes, though, it’s good to lay it all out so everyone knows the same thing.

For most of my life I’ve loved reading mysteries. As a kid I read Nancy Drew and the Trixie Beldon mysteries like they were sustenance for my starving body. As I got older I discovered Agatha Christie and by the time she died I had read every one of her novels and short stories at least twice. I never really read what was called “love stories” until after I had my daughter. I was browsing through the book store one day, looking for a new author – since most of the ones I liked had died! – and I spotted a Nora Roberts paperback. It was Irish Thoroughbred. I read the back jacket and it seemed like I’d like it, so I took it home and read it. In three hours. I was absolutely hooked by the way she wove a story. The same day I went back to the bookstore and bought the other three titles they had in her name. They were devoured within three days. For the past 25 years I have read everything published by Roberts, including her JDRobb works. By opening my reading world to romantic fiction, Roberts introduced me to a wealth of  other  romance novelists who have made my life so much sweeter and more exciting with their writings.

When I decided I wanted to try and write romance, I sat down and made a list – really! a list – of why I loved reading it so much. These were the highlights:

  • there is usually a happy, relationship-resolved ending. And who doesn’t like a happy ending?
  • the female characters are always independent, smart, many times funny and witty, go-getters, nurture-ers, thoughtful and someone I would like to be friends with.
  • the male leads are usually – but not always – alpha males, successful in almost everything but love ( hence the heroine!), smart, charming, family oriented ( usually) and someone I would like to have in my life. The beta males are pretty hot, too.
  • the secondary characters seem real to me, not walk on’s who come in and then go, usually just to deliver a message, like so many other kinds of novels I’ve read. You never see them again and they serve no purpose in the character’s life except to tell them one piece of info. In romance writing, the secondary characters are real people, just like you’d have in your own life. And they serve real purposes in the main character’s lives.
  • the sex is written from an emotional viewpoint, and not a clinical one. I’ve read enough “popular fiction” where the obligatory sex scene describes a going into b and then c happening. Boring. In romance, we get to hear and witness the character’s emotions, responses, desires and dreams. And a really good author will make you feel like the character’s emotions could be yours as well.
  • the stories told around the romance are fun, sad, exciting, mysterious, thrilling, though provoking and sometimes even just sweet.
  • who, after all, doesn’t love LOVE? Being in love, feeling loved, loving someone else. Even the Bible says “Love one another.”

Those are the main reasons I like reading – and now writing – romantic fiction. I’m sure if you ask ten different romance authors their reasons, you will get ten or more different answers than mine.

Some of my favorite Romance Novelists:

Nora Roberts, Tami Hoag, Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, Lisa Kleypas, Kasey Micheals,

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