Monday, August 31, 2009

3 -- 2 -- 1 -- PARTAY!

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy


The big day is here at last! Time to celebrate the "OFFICIAL" Launch of The Treasures of Venice! So break out the cyber-bubbly, bring on the hunky cover models and turn the music up REALLY LOUD!

Here's the back cover copy to whet your appetite:
He's a charming Irish rogue who never met a lock he couldn't pick...

Keirnan Fitzgerald is desperate to locate the missing Jewels of the Madonna. With danger at every corner and time running out, he must use whatever means possible to to uncover the stolen jewels in time to save his sister's life...

She's simply in Venice to relax and heal her broken heart...

Samantha Lewis is shocked when a dashing stranger approaches her in a Venetian cafe, pretending to know her. She's ready for something new and exciting in her life, so she throws caution to the wind and accompanies the Irish charmer into his dangerous world of intrigue, theft, and betrayal...

As the centuries-old story behind the Jewel's disappearance is revealed, Samantha must decide whether the man she's so compellingly drawn to is her soul mate from a previous life, or if they are merely pawns in a relentless quest for a priceless treasure.

And here are what reviewers are saying about The Treasures of Venice:

"With references to reincarnation and eternal love, THE TREASURES OF VENICE is an atmospheric novel that really brings the sights and sounds of Italy to the reader..." The Romance Reader's Connection.

"McGary’s satisfying, fast-paced romance is filled with passion and deception that resonate through the centuries." BookList

"The Treasures of Venice is a captivating story of romance, suspense, and historical legend. Painted against a beautiful backdrop of romantic Venice , Loucinda McGary quickly draws you in with the legend of the Jewels of the Madonna. The suspense mounts as the legend is unfolded, and the characters are drawn vividly and honest, full of courage and integrity. I was entranced from page one and loved it!" Wendy's Minding Spot.

"The reader will stay emotionally involved in every aspect of THE TREASURES OF VENICE, as the characters are memorable and the premise is chillingly believable. With a trace of the paranormal being an added bonus, the story is even more mesmerizing throughout its entirety. This subtle indication of something supernatural occurring makes me want to believe, as it suggests the existence of true love being everlasting... Ms. McGary understands human nature, and she skillfully lets their lives play out for the reader with exceedingly genuine realism...THE TREASURES OF VENICE is daringly adventurous plus overflowing with heartfelt emotions and
passionate desires." Single Titles

"Samantha and Keirnan's romance is the stuff dreams are made of, and their adventures while trying to track down the jewels and rescue his sister will keep you on the edge of your seat. " Romantic Times magazine.


Are you excited yet? I certainly am!!! To help me celebrate, please tell Aunty what song you think we should play first at this party! And what kind of goody are you bringing to share? Share?!?! I guess that leaves out the cover models!

One lucky commenter will receive an autographed copy of The Treasures of Venice!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Power of Distraction

The Power of Distraction

No sooner had I decided what to write about and typed the caption, than I got distracted. I was thirsty and needed a cool beverage to sip as I wrote my article.

Downstairs in the refrigerator, I discovered the pork chops I had intended to marinade for dinner still in the wrapping, sans marinade. So I whipped up my famous homemade marinade and got them started. [One package of Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing mix; ¼ cup of olive oil; ¼ cup brown sugar; ¼ cup red wine vinegar; a teaspoon of thyme; half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper; ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp allspice and a pinch of salt.] In case you were thinking of asking, which would only distract you from reading the rest of this informative article.

Then my hands needed washing, so I proceeded to the sink. In the sink, I discovered the dirty dishes from lunch. So I did the dishes and went back to the fridge for my tasty beverage. By the time I had it ready, I thought about how nice it would be to have a few minutes to read while the cat was outside--not trying to insert himself between me and my book, which is his nonverbal way of saying, “Hey, you’re not paying attention to me. Look at me. Pat me. Pay attention to meeeenow!”

I got about fifteen minutes of peaceful reading in when (speak of the devil) I heard scratching at the door. I got up from my comfy spot on the sofa and let him in. Now, I decided to go back to typing this article…only by that time, I needed another cool beverage. *sigh.

But I don’t want to paint distraction as the enemy. Distraction is actually a very important part of the human experience. And as writers we may forget, but we’re actually providing hours of distraction for someone else…hopefully, several someones! We may never know if we’re relieving their boredom or giving them a welcome respite from a hectic day, or providing a healthy escape from a sad situation. We’re there when they need us in our own special ways.

My own introduction to the romance genre came during a sad situation. I was taking care of my terminally ill parents and desperately needed some kind of distraction. A fellow nurse, who knew what I was going through shoved a book in my hands and said, “Here. Read this.” I’m glad she didn’t tell me it was a romance novel or I’d probably have said, “Well thanks for thinking of me, but no thanks.” That book was the first in Diana Gabeldon’s Outlander series. Talk about a healthy escape! Time travel, adventure, an intelligent, thoughtful heroine…and it was so well written, I didn’t know I was reading a romance novel until I was well into the sequel!

Oops, just now as I was thinking about what to write next and made the mistake of checking my email. I got a couple of links from friends I had to check out, then thought of two things I needed to research, did some on-line shopping…and so it goes.

Oh, Shiny!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Loving Mr. Darcy" Launch in 3 DAYS!!!

On September 1 my second novel will be officially released! Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley continues on where the first novel – Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One – ended. And, in just 4 months the third book in the series will be out. What a year this has been! My head is spinning and I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that I am now a multi-published author. Surreal.

I am very excited about this book and where I have taken the Darcys. It is a larger novel than the first, both in page number and content. The Darcys travel all over England, socialize with dozens of friends, deal with trials, and explore historical places, all while growing deeper in their love and anticipating the birth of their first child.

Look for both novels at major bookstores and online sellers. It will be in Target (along with my first novel that is still there) in October. Naturally you can click over to my website to learn more of the specifics, read excerpts and reviews, find links to purchasing places, and mark the dates for my virtual book tour stops: The Darcy Saga

I also want to invite everyone to participate in my Loving Mr. Darcy Launch Fete! For 3 fun-filled days I will be hosting group discussions, posting quizzes, and sharing excerpts. Fun is the key! And there will be a giveaway of two signing copies of my new book. August 30 – September 1 at my website. Make a note and come on over.

On September 3 it is my day to party hardy here on the Casablanca Authors Blog! Four of us have books coming out this month so the excitement and festive atmosphere is uncontainable! I hope you will join us everyday to celebrate our successes and the accomplishments of Sourcebooks. For my day I’ll be bringing along some Regency fare to munch on, wassail and spiced punch, and fireworks to launch. PLUS I’ll be offering one book to a lucky commenter from today and Thursday’s blogs! You don’t want to miss it.

On October 24 I will be joining fellow Sourcebooks author Loucinda McGary – The Treasures of Venice – and a group of authors from our Sacramento Valley Rose RWA at a book signing! It is being held at the Citrus Heights Barnes & Noble. Note the date if you are in the area and we will supply more information as the day approaches.

Whew! So much happening! As I said, I am very proud of Loving Mr. Darcy. The reviews are gradually flowing in, but here are snippets of a few:
“In true Jane Austen style, this story is filled with period details and witty dialogue. The Regency comes alive again in LOVING MR. DARCY. Lizzy's birthday celebration, picnic festivities and endless vivid images of the time, bring enough elements of the setting to mind that when these characters speak, the reader can see and hear them. Georgiana, the Bingleys, and Elizabeth's sisters, as well as countless other familiar faces, appear again on these pages. They are true to character and act as an Austen fan would hope they would—or expect them to. All in all, LOVING MR. DARCY is a very pleasant read! Well done!” Romance Reader at Heart – a 4 rose read

“A refreshing and romantic continuation of a beloved novel! Mrs. Lathan not only tells us a story, she also educates us on a myriad of Regency era rituals, gadgets, and habits. It gives the reader a sort of a snapshot of Regency life and lends a very rich and color filled backdrop for the continuing story of Darcy and Elizabeth. Another fun, frolicking and romantic romp through Regency England with the delicious Mr. Darcy and his lovely and lively wife Elizabeth. A lovely peek inside a sweet, sensual (and hot!) marriage between two people who burn for one another and inspire one another.” Awaiting Diana

“If there is one thing that Sharon Lathan has written perfectly it the detailed descriptions of regency life. It is all described so beautifully, and adds a real depth to this love story. I must say there is a lot to love in this regency romance. Loving Mr. Darcy gives readers a look inside the marriage of Darcy and Lizzy. The hot, steamy love affair between two very passionate people. The attention to details will leave readers with a firm memory of Sharon Lathan’s talented writing, the characters -new and old- will leave you wanting more, and the everlasting love between Darcy and Lizzy will leave more than one reader swooning. For the fans of Jane Austen and the regency romances, Loving Mr. Darcy is well recommended.” A Bibliophile’s Bookshelf

“This is one of the most romantic take off on Pride and Prejudice that I have read. There are many takes on Lizzie and Darcy: some authors put them at odds with each other, or they’re made into amateur sleuths, or even power hungry and doormat couple, etc. While each one is enjoyable to read for its variations, Sharon Lathan’s take on the couple is my all-time favorite. It’s how I imagine Fitzwilliam Darcy to be with his shyness coming off as arrogant. He’s sweet and loving, sexy and insatiable, strong and kind. He’s everything that a dream man should be. Lizzy is wonderful in this story also. She hasn’t lost her witticisms. I was afraid that the book would be overly sweet, but Ms. Lathan did a superlative job of making this couple very much in-love without making the book ridiculous. Sometimes, I can’t help but squeal in delight at the antics of this Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. I love it. I bet you’re going to love it, too. It’s a Pride and Prejudice version that cannot be missed.” This Book For Free

"This story also includes more of the Bingley's which I loved, especially some of the realizations Carolyn Bingley comes to, that was wickedly enjoyable. But the Darcy's also encourage the Bingley's in a way that enhances their own marriage. You'll enjoy appearances from many of the characters you loved (and loved to hate) from the original novel. This story touches a part of me, deep down in my soul, it captures the essence of romantic and eternal love and I think anyone who reads it will feel richly blessed by the story. People need to feel good, if you need a little romance or need some hope that true love it out there, then read this series. If you are like me and love Pride and Prejudice sequels then this series should be on the top of your list - trust me!” 5 Crowns at Royal Reviews

Are you intrigued? I hope so! Remember: The Darcy Saga to get all the news, including my blog tour dates and giveaway information. Comments encouraged so I can enter your name into the drawing! Be sure to leave your email address. Say whatever your heart desires, or tell me who your favorite romantic couple is.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fun Friday!

Writing is not a serious business. I mean really, among all the serious professions in the world - nurses, doctors, lawyers, firefighters, police officers, counselors... all the people who save our lives and take care of us day in and day out - writing romance novels for a living rates right up there with acting and finger painting on the serious scale. And thank goodness... we all need to lighten up sometimes. But even for writers, amid deadlines, commitments, real life and all of its turmoil - many of us here at the Casablanca blog have had a difficult year, to say the least - we all need to laugh more, have fun, be goofy, get our jollies.

So I am unilaterally declaring today 'Fun Friday'! By the way, did you know that the word 'Friday', in the romance language tradition, is - according to Wikipedia - "The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris, 'day of Venus'" Or, some prefer to think of it as from Freya, the Norse goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Either way, it is a dandy day for a bunch of romance novelists to celebrate!

So, here we go for a silly and fun end of the week.

Wanna be a Regency romance writer? You dooo? Well, all you have to do is go to this site, the Regency Romance Plot Generator and take it for a spin. Honest! You will come up with a plot, and all you have to do is write the book from it!

But more fun is to be had! On the main site you will find not only the plot generator, but also a Gothic novel title generator and other things. Go to: Stuff and Nonsense.

But... but... you sputter, there's more to writing a Regency romance novel than some randomly generated plot! You need characters... lots and lots of characters! And you need place names, and house names and maybe a treasure for your characters to seek, or a war for them to fight, and colorful language...

Have no fear, folks. Do I have the place for you to go! Serendipity is its name, and generating random stuff is its game. This site is so much fun, you'll lose hours of possible work time. Honest! Need a French character name? Japanese? A place? City? Description for a castle or a style of clothing.

Even - and this is almost the most fun - a colorful cuss phrase?

Here's what I came up with, in just a couple of minutes:

Okay, so the title of my Gothic book, using the Gothic Romance Title Generator from Stuff and Nonsense is (dah duh-duh-duh! with a flourish)

Return to Dread!

Heroine's Name: Floriane Brideau
Hero's Name: Prince Xavier Domenic
Villain: Humbert Falkwing
Villain's favorite Cuss-Phrase: Almighty mother of a pestilent platypus-abusing squid!
Village: Scarmead (I'm not making this up... that's what I got on the Stuff and Nonsense random placename generator. Pretty good for a placename in Return to Dread, dontcha think?)

One of my favorite generators on the Serendipity site is the Plot Twist Generator... things are clicking along in Return to Dread when (plot twist coming up) "Without warning an assassin arrives, waving a newspaper."

So it is Fun Friday. Want to have some fun yourself? Check out the Regency Romance Plot Generator on Stuff and Nonsense, and for lots of other generators, (where I got the character names and the villain's cusswords) check out this page: Serendipity, where you'll find all the rest.

Haven't had enough, you little minxes? You say you're looking for more cool freaky Friday randomosity? Check out Seventh Sanctum. They can random generate anything!

And have fun!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where the Bad Guys are Werewolves! And the Good Guys are Too!

Five more days and To Tempt the Wolf is OFFICIALLY released!!! Chance at free copy of book for commenting! Extra chances for tweeting, posting this on blogs, and reviews of any of the wolf books! :)

So here’s a hint of what you’ll discover beyond the cover of one sexy man and wolf.

What do you do when you find the sculpted body of a man lying naked on a winter-chilled beach? Take him home with you, of course! With every intention of nursing the poor half dead guy back to health.

But you soon discover he’s extremely protective, a little bossy, sexy as all get-up, and talented. He can cook over an open fire when electricity is a problem. Can keep a body toasty warm on cold wintry nights. Can repair windows. And? Washing his clothes won’t be a chore. He’s out of them almost as much as he’s in them. So he’s a pretty handy guy to have around when: a severe winter storm threatens, stalkers are a problem, the electricity is out, ex-boyfriends come around, car accidents happen, and a family member is in real trouble. And lots, lots more.

As a wolf, he’s housebroken. Well, breaks a few things in scuffles with bad wolves, but only when he’s in rescue mode. And he’s careful about biting. Usually. Accidents don’t count. Don’t let him do all the grocery shopping though, unless veggies aren’t on the menu.

He’s got lots of issues. But that’s what makes him human. Mostly.

Yep, Hunter Greymere’s a hunk for all reasons. And Tessa Anderson? She’s not quite what she seems either. Which is what has Hunter stirred up from the beginning. But not only him.

It’s an urban fantasy—werewolf style—full of suspense, adventure, mystery, and sizzling romance set along the Oregon Coast, because I used to visit there when I was in college in Portland and loved it. Hunter’s from California because that’s where I’m from originally, and still miss the pines and listening to the wind winding its way through their needles. Which is why everywhere I live, a growth of pine trees suddenly appears. Truly! :)

And if you’ve been reading the series, Leidolf has his part in this story, too. He’s just as arrogant as Hunter, but you see more of a humorous side also. So if you dare, take a chance on the wild side.

Every girl ought to have a werewolf hunk to call her own. Don’t you think?

I'm on a blog tour now, and giving free books all over the place. This week I'm at:

And if you comment here through Monday, you'll get a chance at a free copy of your choice of an autographed book!

Terry Spear
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


By Deb Werksman

I recently added another criterion to my romance fiction submission guidelines (you can see them in detail here:

Now, in addition to looking for:
  • a heroine the reader can relate to
  • a hero she can fall in love with
  • a world gets created
  • a hook I can sell the book with in 2-3 sentences
I'm also looking for:
The author has a career arc.

It has become more and more difficult to acquire just one book. That doesn't mean every contract will be a multi-book deal, but it does mean that I'm looking for authors who have ideas for further books beyond the one being submitted. It takes 3-4 books to build readership, and those books have to come out regularly, whether that be once a year, once a season (2 seasons per year), three per year, etc.

So as you submit your work, please be sure to include the ideas for the next couple of books (even if they're not part of a series). The better sense I have of how you see yourself growing in the category, the better pitch I can make at the editorial meeting.

Keep in mind, it's nearly impossible to build an author with books that are in different categories/subgenres. So, you need to decide which category/subgenre you want to start in (or stay in, or move to) and plan to be there for as long as it takes to build your readership.

I've been to a lot of conferences lately, and I run into authors who have a romantic suspense, and an historical fiction, and one YA and then there's a non-fiction manuscript. It may be an extreme example, but each one of those actually goes to a different buyer and a different section of the bookstore.

I tell these authors to pick one direction and plan to stick to it until they're well enough known to be able to make a leap to another subgenre or category. However, readers will not necessarily follow you from one subgenre to another. So it may be easier to branch out and add another subgenre/category, rather than move altogether.

At that point, and all along, you'll want to be thinking about your career and planning for it. People ask, but should I write in the most popular subgenre even if that's not the one I excel in? My answer is, you should write a book with a hook that so strong that no matter what the subgenre is doing, that book will break out!

In this publishing environment, it's tougher and tougher to succeed, but being career oriented--looking at the big picture and being in it for the long haul--are going to make a difference--at least when your submission hits my desk!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guest Blogger: Samantha Gentry -- Research Can Be Fun

Please welcome my good friend Samantha Gentry! She has many years of writing experience under her belt and always a joy to learn from. Along with writing sizzling hot books! You can find her at

My name is Samantha Gentry. My thanks to Linda Wisdom for having me here today with the Casablanca Authors as her guest blogger. For my topic, I'd like to talk about research.

There's no denying that research is a part of writing whether non-fiction or fiction. And within the parameters of fiction, the genre somewhat dictates how much research is required. Certainly, historical fiction requires extensive research into place and time in order to be accurate with details down to the simplest clothing items. Techno thrillers, legal thrillers, and medical themed novels need to be accurate in terminology, science, and procedures.

But there is an area of research that is often considered trivial or inconsequential in the overall scope of your story. And that's the location where your story is set. Certainly the setting is important, but as a matter of research it seldom makes it to the top of ther list.

A contemporary novel set in your home town requires little in the way of research for location. You live there so you know about the terrain, weather, the businesses, the good neighborhoods vs. the bad neighborhoods, streets and highways, tourist attractions, places of special interest and historical interest. That's easy.

But, what about setting your story somewhere that you have never been? If that is the case, you have options available. The most obvious for accuracy is to visit the location—take in the ambiance, make note of the geographic elements, study the activities of the residents, and grab the tourist brochures available in the hotel lobby. All major metropolitan areas have certain 'must see' tourist attractions that are common knowledge around the world. The Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower. Well known tourist attractions can certainly be included in descriptive passages of your setting or become part of a scene where some action takes place. That gives the reader an immediate mental image reference to go along with your descriptive passages.

Travel and tour books can be a great help for general research information. The Auto Club (AAA) publishes tour books for all the states that includes information about the major cities in that state and certainly the tourist areas. A real estate search of a city will give you knowledge of the various neighborhoods. A city's website will tell you about the educational system, shopping, cultural events, sports activities, etc.

My most interesting research experience was for one of my Harlequin Intrigue novels, THE SEDGWICK CURSE, a romantic suspense written under my other pseudonym of Shawna Delacorte.

My story was set in a small stereotypical village of the type found in the Cotswolds in the English countryside. A large estate inhabited by the Lord of the manor—land and a title that had been in the family for centuries. An annual festival that had been held on the estate grounds every year for over two hundred years. And murder involving the titled rich and powerful.

I needed to research several things. Certainly accurate information about the physical setting I'd chosen. And then specifics (beyond what I'd gleaned from various British crime drama series on PBS' Mystery) about the way local law enforcement interacted with the privileged aristocracy when investigating a murder.

I had already been to England several times and had another trip planned, so I included spending one week in the Cotswolds to do the research I needed. **This is where the fun part of the research came in. :) ** I found a charming centuries old hotel in the town of Tewkesbury and used it as my base to explore the surrounding area.

My research started when I walked into the local police station, said I was a writer doing research for a novel, and asked if there was someone I could talk to about how a local murder would be investigated. I was passed on to a Detective Sergeant who was very helpful and spent about two hours with me, which was an hour and forty-five minutes longer than expected. I garnered far more information than I needed for that specific book, but great research material for future needs.

The next step in my research was the immediate location for my fictional Lord Sedgwick's estate. This was a major stroke of good luck. About three miles north of Tewkesbury is the village of Bredon that had everything I needed, including a large estate that hosted a village festival every year and the weekend I was there happened to be festival weekend. I was able to wander around the grounds, take pictures, and get information about the estate straight from the owner's mouth. One of the buildings on the grounds, the Tithe Barn pictured here, is part of the National Trust and dates back to the 1300s. It is accurately described and used in my book, as are most of the features of the real counterpart of my Sedgwick Estate.

Obviously, traveling to a foreign country to research a location isn't that practical. If the location is a well-known tourist attraction, you will have lots of research material available to you. But what if your desired setting is a typical small town or village in a specific area? That brings us to the more practical solution of creating a fictional small town as the setting for your story.

I have set many of my Harlequin and Silhouette books in fictional small towns. But the one thing these fictional small towns have in common is that they are all patterned after a real place that I've been in the state where I've set the story. And in lieu of that, there's always the ability of taking something like a beach town or mountain village and transplanting it to another state for the purposes of your story.

If there's someplace you've been, a vacation you enjoyed, and you want to recreate the feel and ambiance for your story setting without fear of getting some of the facts wrong about the real place, the best way to handle it is to create a fictional location. Do some basic research on the general type of location you've selected for your story such as a fishing village on the coast of Maine. That will give you basic generic facts for that type of setting. Then you can take the feel of the real life place you visited and impose those memories and impressions on top of your researched facts for a fully realized story setting. Your characters can then impart that sense of place to the readers with the words and actions you give them in addition to your descriptons.

Do any of you have any research tips for story setting that you'd like to share?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coming Out

by Libby Malin

In my book Fire Me, Anne Wyatt tries to figure out how to earn a living "doing what she loves," first pursuing a crazy strategy to get herself laid off so she can collect severance pay, all the while struggling with how to merge her artistic background with making money.

In my next book, My Own Personal Soap Opera, soap opera head writer Frankie McNally has to come to terms with "loving what she does," that is, writing passionate and sometimes outlandish stories that enthrall millions but don't impress the literati crowd she'd hoped to join when she went to college.

Both books share the common thread of young women finding their way in the world, settling into careers -- after they first figure out what career is right for them.

Who hasn't been there? Or rather, what writer hasn't been there?

Writers, I believe, struggle with both the questions that face my protagonists -- how do I earn money doing what I love, how do I love what I have to do to earn money?

Most writers have "day jobs" -- for me, it's freelance writing and editing. I feel blessed to be able to earn income this way. But if I could design a bumper sticker for my car, it would read: I'd rather be....writing fiction. My guess is most fiction writers feel the same way.

Along with a writing career's practical challenges are emotional or psychological ones, too. Just letting people know you are pursuing fiction writing can be hard. Will they look at you like you're crazy, full of yourself, temporarily deluded, surely to come back to your senses once you realize you're not in other writers' league?

Because they're afraid of the answer to that question, a lot of writers don't share their aspirations with friends and family right away.

In fact, I think that getting past this hurdle -- being willing to admit you aspire to be a writer, that you are a writer -- is a big first step toward realizing your dreams as a writer.

For many years, I was in the closet as a writer, penning short stories and even a novel without telling many folks at all that this is what I really wanted to do. It was a hobby, an amusement, something I did in my spare time the way other people might knit or golf or build birdhouses. :-)

Close family members knew I wanted to write, and it was my sister who kept telling me to write romance. After years of her gentle persuasion, I finally took her advice. I decided to try to get a romance published. I thought it would be easy. LOL!

It took me several manuscripts and more time than I'd imagined, but I did get a first novel published, a young adult mystery with a small press, and I was on my way. Still, it took me several published books before I'd answer the question: "what do you do?" with, "I'm a novelist."

When did you start telling friends and family you wanted to write? When did you start telling people you were a novelist?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flying High

I'm gearing up for the blog tour for Wild Blue Under which releases November 1, but I'm already working months ahead. That's how it works in this business; something you wrote months ago hits the shelves while you're writing to your next deadline.

I'm thrilled to say that I have a next deadline! :) My big news of the week was that I accepted an offer to write another series, this one about genies. Still the same tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted paranormal tone, but think I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones. I have half of the first story done and I have to say I'm having as much fun with this story as I did with the Mer ones, though it was hard to leave Mariana (Reel, Rod, and Angel's sister) treading water in the South Pacific. She's got her story to tell and I'm working on that one around the contracted stories, so here's hoping there are more underwater tales to come.

People ask me where I get my ideas and what happens if I run out. Hopefully that won't happen, and thanks to some early morning, semi-awake brain function today I've already got an idea for another series based on what happens with this first genie. Nope, not another genie series, but that's all I'll say at the moment until I start fleshing it out.

This is one of my favorite reasons for writing paranormal; that I can take an idea or a mythology and put my own spin on it. Is anyone really going to be able to tell me that mermaids don't talk to lizards or that the three-wish stipulation wasn't just propoganda to make mortals think before they recited a list of "gimme this," "I want that," "Ferrarri," "sailboat," etc.

And, of course, I have a few stories I wrote before selling the Mer series that I'd like to work with to give them their chance to see the light of day. So, hopefully, the Idea Well won't dry up in the near future.

So where do your ideas come from?

And if you'd lik to see the working titles and blurbs for the genie series, check out my blog:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Do You Remember Mix-Tapes?

By Robin Kaye

I was reading a blog recently and the author mentioned finding a box of his cassette tapes, most of which were mix-tapes. My mind immediately went back to my teenage days when conversations revolved around who liked who, how lame Barry Manilow was, and how hot Jim Morrison looked before he died. Now, he died well before I was into him and the Doors, but still, you have to admit he sure looked hot before he died…well, maybe not just before he died, but you know what I mean. Back then, if I was not making mix-tapes, I was listening to the tapes my boyfriend dejour, best friend, or I made.

What about you? Do you remember the hours you spent picking the favorite songs? Wondering what the guy you were crushing on, or a guy you were dating—would think of your hard work. If a guy made me a mix-tape, I knew he was hooked. Why I didn’t think the same rule pertained to me is still a mystery. Making a mix-tape for someone was a big deal. It wasn’t something you made for a casual date. In a way, these mix-tapes, for me at least, were musical love letters.

I remember hanging out in my sister’s bedroom (she had the stereo) sitting cross-legged on her blue carpet among a sea of album covers. I’d spend hours making lists of the perfect songs only to spend almost as much time deciding on the proper order and pacing of the songs. I’d calculate the song times to see if I had a close-to-perfect fit for a 90-minute Memorex, and shuffle the songs around if I didn’t. The taping itself was a stressful time. I’d count 4-second spaces between songs and pray that the sound of me pressing the record button wouldn’t make it onto the tape.

Today kid’s sit in front of the TV playing video games, or listening to their iPods. We’d listen to albums over and over again. I literally wore out albums and even now, at the end of certain songs, I automatically start singing the next song on the album. I spent hours reading the liner notes learning every word to every song. I dissected music like English majors dissect Austen, Shakespeare and Longfellow.

Music has always been the soundtrack of my life. When my parent’s divorced, I have a memory of sitting behind humongous speakers and crying to a song about a couple getting divorced. Every pivotal moment, relationship, and turning point in my life can be tied to a song. When two friends died in a plane crash, Billy Joel’s Only the Good Die Young was played over and over and over again along with the songs we listened to together while I mourned their loss. Every time I’d move, I’d listen to a mix-tape that would remind me of the home and friends I had just left. When I started dating and working with musicians, I’d listen to their demo tapes. I remember a particularly arduous trip moving from Philadelphia to Florida. I listened to the tape of my ex-boyfriend’s band for almost the entire 16-hour trip.

Mix-tapes were also statements of who we were and how we felt. I made tapes for a parties. One of the most memorable or the least depending upon how you look at it was Tequila Night. The party was renamed Tequila Weekend since everyone brought a bottle and somehow finished it. There were breakup tapes, head banging tapes, depression tapes, and road-trip tapes.

Now, I make playlists on my iPod. Although similar, it is not quite the same. The closest I came was making CDs for a Kiwi friend of mine to introduce him to some of my favorite bands. It wasn’t really a musical love letter. Perhaps it was a musical flirtation.

Were you ever, or are you now a music junkie? Did you make mix-tapes and if you did, do you remember what were on them? Do you have some lying around somewhere collecting dust? Or even now, do you make playlists? If you do, what’s on your favorite? Curious minds want to know.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

Greetings! As I was working on blogs for my blog tour launching HEALING LUKE in September, I saw on the list Danielle sent me "Books and Needlepoint". So I wrote up a blog post tailored for readers who needlepoint... only to realize later that the Books and Needlepoint opportunity was an INTERVIEW. I didn't need a blog post! Well, not wanting waste the effort I'd put into the blog post, I thought I'd share it with you today! :-)
So without ado...
I'm honored to have the chance to guest blog here and tell you a bit about my book HEALING LUKE. When I first learned of my opportunity to blog here, I wondered what I might have to say that would be of interest to readers who also needlepoint. Sure, way back when I had more free time (as in before children, writing deadlines and part-time jobs), I used to needlepoint. I learned from my grandmother and loved the relaxing rhythm of the needle and yarn. But I could hear you all saying, "So what? We all needlepoint. That's why we're here."
Then I remembered a scene in HEALING LUKE where Abby, the heroine, has Luke, a man's man if ever there was one, try sewing as part of his physical therapy practice.
Ah-ha! Luke wielding a needle and thread was far more interesting.
Here's a snippet of that scene:
"What the heck am I supposed to do with those?" Luke scowled at the needle and thread Abby offered him.
"Plant a garden," she quipped with a sarcastic edge. "You’re going to sew, of course."
He scoffed. "Like hell I am."
When he tried to stand up from the sofa, she planted a firm hand on his shoulder and shoved him back down. Luke knew he could fight her on the point if he really wanted to. One hundred pounds of woman couldn’t stop him from leaving if he were truly determined, but his male pride insisted he put up at least a token resistance to sewing.
Geez, if he didn’t owe her big for this morning’s debacle, he’d be gone in a heartbeat. Sewing!
He gritted his teeth and sank back into the couch. His hand already hurt from the hour or so of stretching and strengthening exercises she’d put him through.
Abby held out the needle and thread again. "Your OT thinks you need to practice using your left hand to develop that hand’s dexterity and fine motor skills." She paused, tipped her head, and regarded him with a certain smug confidence. "Sewing fits the bill, but I guess I could find something simpler if you’re not up to the challenge. Even I have trouble threading a needle sometimes."
Ouch! A sucker punch right to his ego. Damn, she was good.
Abby started to turn away.
"Yeah, yeah, all right." He took the sewing things from her and stared at them for a moment. "So what am I supposed to do?"
"For starters, you could practice threading the needle."
Luke arched an eyebrow skeptically but said nothing. Abby knelt in front of him, in the V of his legs and demonstrated the technique. Then she passed the needle and thread back to Luke. "Now you try."
He blew out a slow breath. How could he concentrate with Abby between his legs? Her placement gave him far too many ideas of other things he’d like to try with her. Even the goal of poking the thread through the needle’s eye called graphic images to mind. To make matters worse, she propped her arm on his leg while he awkwardly gripped the thread between his right index and middle fingers.
As he squinted, hoping to bring the thread into focus, he was keenly aware of her hand on his thigh. The contact rattled his thoughts and kicked up his pulse. If her hand moved just a few inches up… well, he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions.
"Come on. Try again. Lick it." She patted the outside of his leg, and his libido went ballistic.
He cocked an eyebrow and sent her a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look. Lick it? He bit his tongue and swallowed the moan that swelled in his chest. She was determined to taunt him with graphic images, apparently. He closed his eyes to take a deep breath and collect himself. He’d imagined therapy sessions with her would be hell, but this was a torture he hadn’t been prepared for.
So how does the sewing therapy work out? What happens when Luke's brother walks in and finds his brother sewing? Does all the sexual tension building in Luke from Abby's proximity lead to a first kiss?
Did you really think I was going to answer all those questions? :-) Sorry! You'll have to read HEALING LUKE for yourself to find out!
I had a blast writing the sometimes contentious, always smoldering relationship between Abby and Luke. Even I got frustrated with Luke's stubbornness in the early stages of his therapy, but I knew if anyone could work past Luke's protective barriers and penetrate the wall of his fears, Abby could! She proved to be a tougher, more patient, more determined character than even I had planned for her to be. Funny thing how sometimes the characters take over, and the writer has to keep up with where the characters take the story!
Well, thank you for the chance to share an excerpt of HEALING LUKE today. Writing this blog has inspired me to pull my needlepoint out of my closet and renew my love of the needle craft my grandmother gave me.
For more information about HEALING LUKE or my other books, please visit my website at .
Happy reading to all,
Beth Cornelison

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Favorite Scenes

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

As readers, we all have certain scenes in books that really "ring true" or for whatever reason, we find especially memorable. Well, as writers we have the same thing... Or maybe I should just speak for myself, I do anyway!

Sometimes I know I'm going to LOVE a scene while I'm in the midst of writing it. This was the case when I was writing the scene in The Wild Sight where the heroine, Rylie confronts her biological father for the very first time. Same with one of the scenes in the train station in The Treasures of Venice (I won't say which one, coz ya know it might spoil part of the fun). Other scenes kinda grow on me, and the more I re-read (and sometimes revise) them, the more fond I get of them.

Not long ago, I asked my critique partners and a couple of my beta readers which scenes in The Treasures of Venice were their favorites. My CP and fellow Bandita Jo-Mama picked one where the heroine, Samantha was not buying my hero Keirnan's charm routine. She said she liked it when Sam wouldn't take any more of his bullsh-- er, um GUFF.

Sam refused to let him skate by with a non-explanation. “Enough with this cloak and dagger stuff. I’ve played along with you for an hour, and even though you seem to speak multiple languages, I can’t quite believe you’re a spy.”

Apparently he was immune to authoritative scowls because he ushered her into the hall, grinning. “Nothing as glamorous as that. I sell and lease commercial real estate. Helps to know some key phrases.”

She felt a twinge of disappointment at his admission to being a mortal man after all. She needed to stop watching so many movies. However, when the door shut behind them, she remembered the urgency in his voice back in the square.

Determined to get some answers, she crossed her arms over her chest. “Okay, but I don’t believe all you wanted was to drag someone into the Doge’s Palace to talk about paintings.”

He scanned the empty corridor and sighed. “All right, I understand your curiosity. I really do. The thing is…” He shifted from foot to foot as if weighing his options. “I was being followed and I figured the easiest way to dodge them was to make them think they had the wrong guy.”

Wrong guy, indeed. No matter what kinds of strange and exciting feelings he elicited inside her, Sam knew beyond a doubt Keirnan Fitzgerald would meet none of her long-term commitment criteria. Not that she would even consider looking again so soon.

“So meeting a woman in St. Mark’s square and taking her into the Doge’s Palace was a way to lose your tail?” She definitely watched way too many movies, and worse yet, she blurted out the next thought that leaped across her mind. “Please don’t tell me you’re a thief who’s coming back later to steal these paintings.”

Keirnan clutched at his chest in mock horror. “Samantha, you wound me with such aspersions! I assure you, I am not a thief.”

Sam felt a little embarrassed, yet recognized the diversion. “Then who was following you?”

He pressed his lips together into a tight line and guided her toward the stairs before he finally admitted, “I’m not exactly sure.”

She wasn’t buying that line either. “But you have a pretty good idea, don’t you?”

When he didn’t answer, Sam paused at the foot of the staircase.

He darn well owed her a few answers!

“So if you’re not a spy or a thief, why are you being followed and how do you know your way around this place so well?”

What about you? What are some of your favorite scenes in Casablanca books? And yes, you can pick your own. :-)

Oh, and the squealing you heard was Aunty. Two friends of mine received their pre-ordered copies of The Treasures of Venice YESTERDAY!!! (Aunty pouts because she still doesn't have her author copies.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do you believe in magic?

"Just when I think I don't know where a story is headed, some tiny detail comes back to me, and it takes on a life of its own."

If anyone was ever going to quote me on something, that would be the quote I'd like for them to use because it describes my writing process to a T.

How often have I given a character a particular skill or talent that I had no particular plans for, but just when I think I've lost my way, I suddenly remember that trait and, voila! the answer pops into my head. It's as though the secret to the saving of the day was there all along, just biding its time, waiting for me to see it. When that happens, the rest of the tale simply clicks into place and all I have to do is write it.

That's happened to me several times during the writing of Hero, my current WIP. Sometimes I get stuck and I have to leave it for a few days, but during that time, my brain has been chipping away at the problem so that when I come back to it, the answer is right there in front of me.

Those who plot out a story and outline it in detail may not get those "AH HA!" moments very often, but we who fly by the seat of our pants experience it frequently. I start out with a vague idea of "H & H will go here and do this and then something will happen." That's about as detailed as my synopses are if I write them before I write the book. Very vague! Our editor, Deb Werksman, probably hates that. I always warn her that if I send her a synopsis before I write the book, it will most assuredly change by the time the book is finished. I can't come up with all the details until I'm actually into the story, but those moments when the key elements just fall into place--even though I never intended it that way--are magic.

The magic is what keeps me writing. If those things didn't happen from time to time, I'm not sure I could keep going. It would take all of the fun out of it for me to have no moments of discovery. The way I write a book is more like the way I read a book. I'm looking for those moments of "Oh, now, THAT'S cool!" whether I'm the one who's written them or not. Sometimes I find them and sometimes I don't, but if I do, I keep reading (or writing!)

Another thing I enjoy in a book are those parts that give me goose bumps. Not the "I'm terrified and I know something horrible is going to happen" moments, but those passages that literally give me a thrill. They don't have to be scary or exciting, they just have to give me that feeling. There are places in some of my books that do that to me every time I read them, and if another author's work affects me the same way, I keep reading their books over and over again. When I'm writing something and the goose bumps hit, I stop and let the wave pass over me. Then I'm doing the cha-ching! thing because that's the kind of reading experience I'm looking for. It's not something I can plan, either. It just happens and when it does, I know I've done what I set out to do, which is to make my readers feel the emotions of the characters and get right into the story with them.

And, to me, that's magic!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Regency Era Places

by Sharon Lathan

Studying a past place or era is a challenge to be sure, but also lots of fun. One has to immerse into the atmosphere as much as possible. Luckily for those of us who write in the Regency – that 9 year span of time encompassed by the far longer Georgian Era – we have hundreds of website resources to help us get it right. Everything from the clothing to the language to the lifestyle to the places and more can be found somewhere if you dig far enough.

My newest novel, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, does as the subtitle implies; that is, takes the reader away from the confines of their honeymoon country Manor house to the broader world of England. My first chore was to tackle learning about London of the day. May sound tough, but it really wasn’t. This city – simply called “Town” - was the European hub for the Industrial Revolution. She was a city on the move, and because of that and so many other realities, life in Town was thrilling. And it was wonderful to write in a few of the star places that my Society couple visited. Allow me to share a few of my favs……

The Salon of Countess de Lieven: Both the infamous Countess and her Salon were central to the social life of London. I wrote an essay on Salon history and Countess de Lieven at my website if intrigued. Many Society ladies held Salons, these intimate gatherings of artists and aristocrats alike not always free of scandal nor the intellectual meeting of minds as intended, but an invitation to one was prized. And none more than the Countess’ Salon, as the Darcys discover.

Theatre Royal, Covent Gardens: London boasted several theaters, but the Royal Theatres of Covent Garden and Drury Lane were the very best. Operas, plays, ballet, pantomime, and more were performed on the several times rebuilt stage from the early 1700s to today. The greatest actors of the day became celebrities. The lavish box seats were owned by the wealthy at an astronomical cost. Performances here were the highlight of social interaction and in my story the place were Mrs. Darcy makes her first public appearance.

The British Museum: Established at Montagu House in 1753, the British Museum of the early 1800s was already a world-renowned marvel. Darcy takes Lizzy to the museum as part of her birthday extravaganza and among the wonders that she would have seen are the Rosetta Stone, the only surviving copy of Beowulf among a library collection that was the largest of rare documents in the entire world, classical Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities and sculptures including a number from the Parthenon, and thousands of treasures from literally all parts of the world.

Astley’s Ampitheatre: Every wonder where the modern circus comes from? You can thank Phillip Astley. Astley was a master equestrian and skilled trick rider. He desired to teach others how to ride and perform as he did, and the concept caught on. Astley quickly became a wealthy man, but did not stop there. He created the circular ring we now associate with all circuses so that the paying customers could view the horses and other marvels being performed. Those marvels included acrobats, clowns, jugglers, tightrope walkers, and all the other now typical circus entertainments. His theatre opened by royal decree and grant in 1773, and the rest is history! Astley’s innovative brilliance spread throughout Europe and to the Americas, and it also gave Lizzy her ideas for Pemberley’s Summer Festival!

Man, it is hard to stop! I could talk about Gentlemen’s Clubs such as White’s, the pinnacle of Society matchmaking that was Almack’s Assembly, Hyde Park, St. James’s Palace, Pall Mall, and… OK, I’ll stop! London is replete with exciting historical places to set a story. I had to limit myself this time around or the Darcys never would have left to embark on other adventures away from Town. If your interest is piqued, be sure to grab a copy of my saga. The first book is easy to find already and Loving Mr. Darcy will be released in 14 days!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Singer Songwriters

I don't know if it is true of anyone else, but I find that sometimes songwriters manage to write a wonderful story, all in the confines of a three or four minute song. It's a remarkable ability, and one I admire. Pair the song with a memorable tune, and you've got a winner that will remain in the common memory long after the artist is gone.

I was reminded of that this last weekend since I was posting on my own blog about the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock (no, I was not there, my mommy would not have let me go even if I was aware of such a thing... LOL) and posted Matthews Southern Comfort Band's rendition of Joni Mitchell's classic 'Woodstock'.

The last verse goes:

By the time we got to Woodstock/We were half a million strong/And everywhere there was song and celebration

And I dreamed I saw the bombers/Riding shotgun in the sky/And they were turning into butterflies/Above our nation

We are stardust/Billion year old carbon/We are golden/Caught in the devil's bargain/And we've got to get ourselves/Back to the garden

Given what the US was going through then, the Vietnam War, the symbolry of bombers turning into butterflies is powerful. I only wish I could write like that, so pithy and yet so meaningful.

James Taylor is another of my favorite songwriters. In Carolina In My Mind, he talks about going home in a powerful way:

Dark and silent last night
I think I might have heard the highway calling
Geese in flight and dogs that bite
Signs that might be omens say I'm going, going
I'm goin to Carolina in my mind

Who hasn't heard the highway calling at some time in our lives?
So... I'd like to hear from all of you a snatch of lyrics that affect you, a song that feels like a story, anything you like about the music that calls out to you because of the words.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Researching Romance

And the winner is!!! Rebecca Vickery! Of one bouncing newly minted book: To Tempt the Wolf!
Thanks to everyone who came by and commented!!! But don't despair if you didn't win! Today I'm at Star Crossed Romance with a 2 book giveaway!
Review of To Tempt the Wolf by Lynda Scott
"Ms Spear has created a fast, adventurous novel full of sexy romance. The chemistry between Hunter and Tessa is apparent right from their first encounter even though both try to fight it. That's something we've come to expect from a writer of Ms Spear's caliber. She has a deft hand creating very human, very sensual characters that step right off the page."

To Tempt the Wolf~~First Contest! Comment and have a chance to win a free copy of the book!!! I just received my books so it's time to celebrate!!!

Here's the cover for Seduced by the Wolf, coming in April!

Isn't he gorgeous??? *sigh* Okay, back to the topic: Researching Romance.

Not only do I research romance concerning the everyday person, but I research romance between wolves. Have to if I’m to make my werewolf world real.

So here are some romantic notions you probably have heard about, but what do the experts say according to Stacey Colino of Real Simple Magazine, not verbatim, of course...

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? If the couple have brief absences not very often…a day spent with the girls, a night out with the boys, then yes, the yearning to get back together can be stronger. But long periods of absence make the heart wander. According to experts.

Yet when we’re writing, it can create conflict when the reader is dying for the couple to get back together. Every moment spent together can create conflict also, but some apart time can be good, too, to add that much needed strife.

Saying I love you all the time can get tiresome and boring. Hmmm, not according to experts, if you really mean it and it’s not a goodbye message as in “Have a nice day.” Saying I love you with meaning, really means something.

Now in a fictional romance, the “I love you,” can’t come early on or we have a resolved love story too soon. So in our fictional stories, a meaningful “I love you,” must come nearer the end.

Playing hard to get: Experts say, nope, not the way to go. Even in fictional stories, I don’t really care for heroes or heroines who “play” hard to get. If a deeper reason motivates them not to make a commitment, that’s what makes the story a winner. In real life, same thing. Playing a game with relationships is not romantic.

Being Best Friends: Now experts had mixed opinions on this. Yes, some said or you can’t trust your partner. No, some said as you need to have other friends to really share things with. I’d say it was a little of both. In fiction, the same thing. The story is deepened when we have the hero/heroine confiding in their friends as to the feelings they have concerning their partner, when they haven’t been able to express it with the partner. It allows us to see this other side of our characters when they’re with their friends.

And last, you can learn to love somebody. Maybe, according to some experts. No, according to others. Maybe it depends on the couple?

But then there is the wolf equation. Thought I’d forgotten about them, didn’t you? Never. :)

Wolves are romantics too. They have a courtship phase like many animals do. But with them, and that’s why I think they’re so special just like any species like them, they stick with their mate for life. Now how romantic is that? Pretty darned so, I’d say. And you know what else?

When momma has the babies, he might still be the alpha male, but SHE is in charge. :)

So what do you think makes for a romantic relationship?

Terry Spear

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male.”

To Tempt the Wolf is coming Sep 1!!
NOR Reviewer Top Pick~5 Hearts!!
Top Pick~~Novel Thought!!
Romance Studio~~5 Hearts!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Importance of Writers Meetings

I'll be attending my RWA chapter meeting today because 1, I wanted to be there to support friends who were speaking and 2, because it’s one of my few purely social days.

Writers tend to be introverts. After all, we’re chained to our computers weaving spells and creating characters our readers love and it’s not a group effort. Just our ten fingers doing the job.

The best thing about being there is that I’m with people who understand me. Who understand what I go through when I’m stuck in a scene or when that line just sings when I write it or even when I’m afraid I could be out there muttering “you want fries with that?” because we all have the same fears.

That’s a writer’s lot in life. We’re supposed to worry, but maybe that’s a good thing because it keeps us sharp. Keeps us focused on what we’re doing and making sure it all falls into place.

That’s why I enjoy going to the monthly meetings. Because the people there get me and I get them and while I’m there I don’t feel as much an introvert as I really am.

So while we writers are holed up in our comfy caves that offer us whatever we need to create our books, we also need to get out from time to time.What about you? Do you feel that need for like minded citizens at times or are you happier in your personal caves?


Friday, August 14, 2009

Stealing the Words Out of Your Mouth

By Libby Malin

When a dear friend commented to me that she was reading my book, Fire Me, two emotions immediately coursed through me in quick succession -- joy and panic.

Joy because I was delighted someone I loved was going to read the book. Panic because I couldn't remember if anything in the book drew on any experiences I'd had with this friend!

Don't get me wrong -- I'd never reproduce any real life experience in a novel in a malicious way. But most writers do end up drawing on real life experiences as a springboard at least for the imaginary tales they tell. I'm one of those writers. An overheard conversation, an observation about an attitude, an experience that's odd, funny, or poignant -- any of these could find its way into one of my books.

It's not that I transcribe real life conversations verbatim. But if they stick in my head for some reason, I might pull them forward when just the kind of mood or temperament they typify is called for in my story. I'll embellish the "real" and expand on it, maybe enhancing it to make it more attractive, bigger, better...or less so.

So I sometimes find myself worrying if any of my characterizations or dialogue will end up seeming like a mirror to friends or relatives who might recognize some glimpse of something....vaguely familiar.

But "vaguely" is the key word here. Even a perfect person or a perfectly beautiful situation can be shaped by the writer into something that suits her particular story.

Someone once mentioned to me that she'd seen a tee-shirt with a message that went something like this -- Be Careful What You Say. I'm a Writer.

I might just have to go find me one of those!

Have you ever worried someone might recognize bits of themselves in your stories? Or have you seen yourselves in your friends' stories?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

He's Baaaack!

Hey, Chumley Masticar here. Miss me?

I’ve been on an extended publicity tour, if you must know. The Caribbean, West Indies, a spin around the Cape… all in the effort to spread the word about my story, In Over Her Head.

Oh, yeah, I get that it’s got a guy and a girl and they fall in love and whatever, but you know? None of it would have been possible without me. I give you these examples:

Who suggested Reel save Erica’s life?

That would be me.

And who told him how?

Also me.

Who did Reel send on the reconnaissance mission? He didn’t go. Oh, no. He sent ME.

Who did he direct to keep Puff Daddy busy so he could clue Erica in to all they’d be facing when facing The Council?

Again, me.

Who had his back when ol’ Nigel got a hook in his craw about Reel turning Erica?

Right again. That would be moi. And the list goes on.

So I have my public. Adoring fins all over the globe have tread in line for tides for my autograph, women tossing their shell phone numbers at me, fish fry flipping like they were outrunning a catch net… it’s been a love fest from one ocean to the next.

And the best news is, you haven’t seen the last of me. Isn’t that great?! Shows how important I am to our author and the readers. “More Chum!” they clamored.

Well, I’m humbled (if you can believe that) to say that I get a nice, prominent part in Wild Blue Under. Now I was a little miffed that Rod wouldn’t take me along when he went to Reel’s house. I mean, Reel did promise to set me up in a humdinger of a salt water tank with white sand and gently swaying fronds, perfect temperature, extra bubbles, all the scraps I could eat, but no. Rod, Mr. By-The-Book Tritone was having none of it.

So, at least I did play a rather important part in his and Valerie’s story, and you’ll all be able to see what it is on November 1. Pity it has to be so long, but do remember that In Over Her Head is still floating about--as am I. Perhaps I’ll swim into a bay close to you sometime soon.

Until Wild Blue Under, I bid you adieu.

And since we need a topic for discussion, and Robin so kindly made my author’s mouth salivate all day long yesterday, perhaps you’d like to share your favorite seafood recipe?

I trust none are made with remora…

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

By Robin Kaye

In my next book, Breakfast in Bed, Rich Ronaldi really can’t cook. He’s never been allowed in his mother’s kitchen. He doesn’t know what a pyrex pan is. He’s never been taught how to do dishes. He never set a table. The man is spoiled, sure, but he was also deprived an education in life 101. His mother thinks nothing of it. Rich is the prince, after all. If food isn’t microwavable, Rich is afraid to touch it. When he realizes the only way to be an equal partner in a relationship is to be able to put something more on the table than microwaved coffee, he finds a Domestic God Coach to teach him to cook and clean. I had such fun writing about Rich’s adventures in the kitchen and every other room in the apartment. And believe me, they were adventures!

When I was coming up with the story for Breakfast in Bed, I thought long and hard about people who say they can’t cook. I’ve always been amazed by seemingly intelligent people who say they can’t cook. I mean, really, how hard is it? You open a cookbook, read a recipe, and follow the directions. We’re not talking rocket science. I always thought that those who say they can’t cook simply won’t cook. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t do yard work. I don’t say I can’t do yard work because if need be, I could start the mower and cut the grass. I just choose not to—vehemently. I understand those people who are passable cooks, they can get by, they haven’t poisoned anyone…lately, but they don’t like to do it. It’s like me and lawn work, I’ll be a terrible landscaper. I have no desire to do it or passion for it. I enjoy a beautiful garden, but not enough to be cutting, clipping, mulching, and pulling weeds myself. No way!

I think people fall into one of two categories. There are those who eat to live and those who live to eat. Those who eat to live usually don’t make great cooks. They lack the passion it takes to put your heart and soul into a dish. They usually look at food as fuel, they’ll go as far as saying there’s good fuel and bad fuel, but they’ll eat pretty much whatever is put in front of them. If forced to fend for themselves, they’ll throw together something that covers the bases and call it good. Then there are the people like me—those who live to eat. The worst part of being a foodie, other than the fact that we’re usually a little plump, is that we tend to be picky about what we eat. We have cravings and if those cravings aren’t satisfied, well, life can get pretty ugly. We’re not the type to open the refrigerator, look inside, and be satisfied eating whatever leftovers lurk within. No, if we feel like eating the leftovers, that’s fine, but if not, frankly, we’d rather starve.

Foodies remember vacations by fabulous meals and restaurants. We mark holidays by what we make for dinner. When we think of menus, we not only consider what dish’s taste will complement the others, but how it will look on the plate. I always make a fresh pork roast with a Grand Marnier cherry sauce for New Year’s Day dinner. It looks beautiful on the plate along with curried rice (a deep, rich, yellow color) and French cut green beans with almond slivers or roasted asparagus. Foodies even dream about food. I’ll never forget the morning I awoke after having dreamt of a wonderful breakfast—odd but wonderful. It was a bed of sweet potato hash browns with onion and curry served with a scoop of black beans cooked with cumin and a hint of cayenne, and topped with a fried egg. It sounds strange, but I’d eaten it in my dream and it was divine! I got up, cooked it and now it’s one of the family’s favorite breakfasts.

Foodies are also pretty persnickety when it comes to dining out. I can’t stand going out to dinner and eating food I know I can cook better. When I dine, I want a feast for the palate, the eye, and the ear. I want soft music, good conversation, beautiful presentation, fabulous taste, and spectacular service.

So where do you fall in the spectrum? Do you eat to live or do you live to eat or some place in between?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Erotica vs. erotic romance

Today I'm going to give you my take on the difference between erotica and erotic romance. Is there a difference? Heck, yeah! I've been writing (and publishing) hot, steamy romances since 2004, so consider me informed. Please feel free to agree or disagree! Do you think there's a difference?

Erotica vs. erotic romance:

I really think the difference between erotica vs. erotic romance needs to be explained. To me, romance in the name defines the story as a love it between male and female; male and male; female, male and male; werewolf, vampire and stripper or what have you. Erotica is a sex story in which sex is the goal and motivation and there need be no conflict unless they disagree on positions.

Confusion is what keeps us from being recognized as a romance genre. This is what conservative judges "see" when they read graphic language even though some national bestsellers, use it. And you should know that "pure" erotica (pardon the oxymoron) venues, like the stores with blacked-out windows, want nothing to do with us and would probably appreciate our making the difference known too.

I once ventured into one of these stores with my paperback, promo matchbooks, and a press release for the manager. I was practically thrown out. “Our readers don’t want those books,” he said. “They want ranchy porn. Your books aren’t.” So, there you go, right from the erotica experts. Our genre isn’t pornography no matter what some people will tell you.

And just to be sure, I read one of these badly written books. A man on a motorcycle comes up beside a beautiful blonde in a convertible at a stoplight. She looks him over and cocks her head, inviting him to follow her. Of course, he follows her to her penthouse and they do it all over the sofa about half a dozen times. This is described in what would be graphic detail except the writer needed an anatomy lesson.

The only secondary character was the maid who walked in and walked out, disgusted. The woman mentioned her husband would be home at 5 o’clock so they carry on until about a quarter to five and the biker leaves. End of story. Would you call that guy a “hero?” I wouldn’t. Is the woman a “heroine?” Hardly. Would I rather read a story with a plot? A conflict to overcome? Some three dimensional characters? Absolutely! Give me a good erotic romance any day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

That mysterious thing called Voice

I've been thinking a good bit about the concept of a writer's voice lately. Finding and honing your personal voice is so important, and yet explaining voice is so hard to do. Then I thought of this analogy...maybe it will help people understand voice (or my interpretation at least).
Think of all the people you meet every day. Neighbors, co-workers, family, grocery store clerks, waitresses, friends of friends, people in line with you at Starbucks. Most of the people you know or meet are nice people, decent, upstanding, law-abiding citizens with pleasant personalities. They form a sort of homogenous average. These people are the average submission to an editor or the average book on the shelf. They are good books. Technically clean, well-thought out, interesting enough to keep your attention. But... sigh. No real spark. Nothing that makes them really pop and stand out. Nothing that makes them mocha chocolate chip instead of just vanilla. There is nothing wrong with these books. They are good, enjoyable, escapist fiction, just like the average person you meet is friendly, pleasant and law-abiding. They simply don't stand out as memorable. Just as you may forget the nice lady in line at Starbucks by next week, an editor will likely reject that book because, although there is nothing really wrong with it, it didn't sing to her, it didn't sparkle and shine and beg to be bought.
Now some books/submissions are the really annoying guy next door, or the whiner in the next cubicle at work, or the skanky girl your brother is dating that you can't stand. Some books have something fundamentally wrong with them that turns you off immediately. Horrible grammar, endless repetition, flat, lifeless characters who make stupid, groundless decisions. These books make us cringe, make editors slap a rejection letter in an envelope without a second thought.
Finally, there are those rare diamonds. The people who become your best friend, your spouse, someone who is a joy to work with. The people who stand out from the rest because of their sense of humor, their vivacious personality, their heroism, their genuine interest in you. They have a special aura, a light in their eyes, or a certain magnetism that draws you in. You want to be with them, party with them, confide in them, vacation with them. These are the books that you stay up all night to finish. The authors who make you laugh out loud, cry, keep the light on at night. The books you want to take on vacation, own in hard cover on your keeper shelf to re-read on a rainy day. These are the books that go to auction and editors fight over. The breakout bestseller that becomes the all talk at the water cooler.
But think about this— have you ever read one of those best-selling, well-buzzed books and thought, "What's all the fuss?" Have your ever wondered why Mr. Annoying Nieghbor's wife thinks he hung the moon? Ever wondered why your husband doesn't think your best friend is as funny as you think she is?
Just like certain people resonate with you when they don't resonate with someone else, an author's voice is that undefinable something that makes some books memorable stand-outs, while others are just pleasant diversions. Just like your personality is what makes you uniquely you, an author's voice (which is a reflection of their personality and world view) is what makes one author stand out from the rest. Your keeper book may be someone else's ho-hum.
The words an author chooses, the way she arranges her sentences, the tone, the mood, the pace, the literary gimmicks...all the choices an author makes in writing her story shine through the writing as her voice. Your writing voice is as important as your personality. Just as you should be true to yourself in life, be true to your voice in your writing. Ultimately it is your voice— not incorporating every contest judge's feedback and every critique partner's suggestion— that will make an editor take notice. Voice is not something you learn; it is something you already have. Learning to let that voice shine through your work and not be suffocated in trying to make your writing conform to someone else's vision is the best way to get your work noticed!
Happy reading!
Beth Cornelison