Friday, September 30, 2011
by Olivia Cunning
It's no secret that I write erotic romance, heavy on the erotic. One of my goals is to get my couple into bed quickly. This is made easier by the fact that my heroes are gorgeous and talented rock stars in a band called Sinners.
My heroes have no problem finding a willing bed mate. Or three. The challenge is finding them love after lust and making the reader believe that they are going to make their relationship work despite the groupies throwing themselves at them night after night.
Typically, in a romance book (though there is so much variety these days, that the old standard isn't necessarily true any more), the sexual tension is high, but no one acts on it for a long while. The couple makes moon eyes at each other for pages, they accidentally touch (and almost swoon) and eventually smooch (weak in the knees...) and if they're really into each other, they might do some petting (spontaneous combustion!). Then somewhere after the halfway point they FINALLY get some sex. Sometimes. Sex is often the way the couple physically expresses their love after much romancing. They are probably already in love at this point or nearly in love. The sex scene is the icing on the cake and completes the relationship.
You get icing near the beginning of my books. Lots of icing. And the icing has to carry throughout the whole book without getting boring. It varies in duration, consistency, location and let's face it, acrobatics. Lead singer, Sed, in Rock Hard is particularly athletic. *cough* There has to be some connection between the characters for all the hot sex to work, but they're not in love. They're in bunnies-in-spring lust. And they are acting on that lust (boy, are they ever), so where do you go from there? You've already got to the "good part" (yes, I used to skip ahead to the good parts. I'm so glad there are books that are mostly good parts now...) and you're only on page twenty-four.
Well, we got that first bothersome sex scene out of the way, now we build the relationship. Wow, that's bassackwards, you say. Maybe, but it makes for a hot story and because it's erotic romance, you still get your happily ever after. The couple just gets a whole lot of happy before happily-ever-after was even on their radar.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
By Ashlyn Chase
I used to write erotic romance. Now even though I'm mainstreaming it, I find my heat level is staying pretty consistant. Erotica fans consider me "mild." I like vanilla sex in my books--and other author's books too. I think it's a natural progression in a romantic relationaship. So sue me.
Erotic romance authors are often asked how they write hot love scenes. It isn’t easy! In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to write well. I happen to write erotic comedy but when it comes to sizzling sex, I’m deadly serious. I don’t write porn. I’ve been in those sleazy bookshops with the blacked out windows and bought a couple of their books to “see what I was missing.” Not much! Just some terribly written plotless stories with absolutely no romance by authors in need of an anatomy class.
Here are a few tips to writing a convincing love scene. First of all, try to be sure your characters aren’t as shallow as this: “I like your body, let’s have sex.” It’s great to have sexual attraction between the hero and heroine from the get-go, but to make a love or sex scene convincing, we need do a little better than that.
I like to have one of them do something special for the other to show they care. That usually happens in real life. Dinner and a movie is classic but classic can be cliché. As imaginative writers we can and should be inventive. Maybe he knows she likes puzzles so he pulls out a 1,000-piece puzzle and invites her over to put it together. That says a couple of things. One: I want to spend time with you—lots of time. And, two: I’m paying attention to your likes and dislikes—I’ll meet your needs.
Of course in an erotic romance, the couple won’t get beyond putting together the outer border before they wind up tangled in the sheets. In order for that to happen, especially in a short story, the writer often makes them familiar with each other beforehand from their workplace, mutual friends, or being stuck in a space capsule together for months. And it never hurts that they’ve been burning for each other too long as it is.
One of the hardest things for the erotic romance writer to do is make each encounter feel like it’s the best, most powerful, over-the-top sexual experience your characters have ever had. In order satisfy the avid erotic romance reader’s expectations, you have to get right into that character’s body and describe sensations that often defy description. You’ll find yourself typing words like: aching, moaning, clenching, whimpering, “Oh God, oh God!” pummeling, pounding, stiffening, exploding, convulsing, gasping, rasping “I can’t take anymore,” shuddering, fluttering, shivering, quivering, bucking, and… Well, you get the idea. The reader must be swept away, just like the character.
For the writer to put together a scene like that, and to make it different every time, may take a lot of thought and frequent ice water breaks. For a reader to consider it a successful scene, she must not be able to put the book down. Thus, it might take you all afternoon to write something the reader will devour in a couple of minutes.
Do you need to have a current love life to write erotic romance? No. I think it helps, but I know some single erotica writers who can make you want to wear oven mitts to turn the pages! I even know a virgin who won a contest with her love scene and subsequently published her story. But if writers have a regular bed partner, they can and should take advantage of it.
How? We must tune out the noise in our heads and concentrate on the moment. Yes, I’m including myself in this reminder. Hey, if you’ve been sleeping with the same individual for fifteen years (or twenty-one in my case) you can easily put yourself on automatic pilot. Sex is better experienced fully! Close your eyes so you don’t see the dust on the headboard and really feel the sensations going through your body. If you find yourself thinking about the Mac and Cheese in the fridge, or the sweater you need to hand wash for the next day, know that it will be there later, leave your head and get back inside your body. Feel every stroke and touch.
Let your partner(s) know you’re enjoying yourself. If the roommate or kids might hear you scream, stuff a pillow in your mouth and wheeze. I can’t tell you how many erotic romance authors refer to their significant other as their “research assistant.” Chances are your boyfriend or husband is happy to help and proud to do the honors—especially when you’re both having a blast. If, God forbid, sex becomes a chore you can spice it up with toys or videos. Open your mind. Even if something goes terribly wrong and you fall on the floor, have fun ruling it out.
In any case, I think the best way to write any romance is to read romance. To write hot romance, read hot romance. Make a list of words or phrases that turned you on and make them your own. The next time someone implies that writing romance is easy, dare them to write a two page love scene—preferably one that makes you drool, sweat and attack your boy toy.
One of the things I struggle with as a writer is showing the moment when my hero and heroine realize they have fallen into the huge abyss that is love.
Still, there are signs a person has fallen head-over-hiking boots in love. My heroes tend to be faster out of the blocks than my heroines when it comes to this. Maybe it’s because I have a tendency to write difficult women with issues and no real need for a man. They are strong, independent, and some say clueless when it comes to love. Or maybe it’s because deep down inside I like the idea of a man chasing a woman, wanting her so badly, he’s willing to do just about anything to win her heart. Sigh…yeah, that’s probably it.
So here is a Top Ten list for heroines:
You know you’re in love when…
10. You’re together and you automatically walk to the passenger’s side of the car instead of the driver’s side—even when it’s your car. Let’s face it, guys like to drive and a woman has no need to prove to her significant other that she’s more than capable of navigating the mean streets of Brooklyn or Boise.
9. You go to the liquor/grocery store and buy his favorite beer and snacks without thinking twice—though you might wonder how he drinks beer so thick you can stand a spoon in it and ponder his love of beef jerky.
8. You stop sleeping in the middle of the bed, unless you’re trying to get closer to him.
7. He comes over and you realize you don’t have a stitch of make-up on, or worse yet, haven’t taken yesterday’s makeup off, and you’re wearing an I’m-too-bloated-for-regular-clothes-scary outfit—sweatpants he left at your place and a t-shirt you stole because it smelled like him—and you don’t run screaming into your room to shower and change.
6. You sit through a movie you sooo don’t want to watch knowing the next movie night he’ll sit through a three-hanky romance and not complain about mascara stains on his new shirt.
5. You notice a lot of his hair on the drain in the shower and you warn him he’s going bald so ten years from now, it won’t come as a shock.
4. You find yourself watching the Discovery Channel’s special about the Building of the Hoover Dam for the sixth time without complaining or mentioning that watching it makes sleeping pills unnecessary.
3. You find yourself sharing your food at restaurants—well except for the chocolate desserts—and even though he’s allergic he orders one knowing you can’t decide between Death by Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Covered Cannolli.
2. You look around your empty house or apartment and wonder why it feels weird. You try to figure out what’s missing only to realize it’s him.
Number one: You know you’re in love when…
You don’t kill him in his sleep after you realize too late he’s left the seat up. Again.
Yup, that’s when you know you know you’ve fallen in love… right after you realize you’ve also fallen in the toilet. Ain’t love grand?
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The ingredients for true and lasting love, part chemistry and part mystery are a baffling and often elusive combination. Love at its most basic stage is animal attraction, that indefinable something that pulls us toward another and makes us take notice of one particular person until he or she becomes the most significant object in our universe.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
What does family and military mean to you? For me, the Navy SEAL Family...this one phrase or concept inspires emotions of fidelity, loyalty, and familial bonds surpassing the everyday norm and moving into the realm of extraordinary. When I began my journey into this tight-knit community I knew it would be memorable but I had no idea it would be both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking.
The “awe” comes from the incredibly demanding jobs these men do – everything from covert missions, Intel-gathering, crucial rescues, nearly impossible Ops, and so much more – to the women and children who continue on with or function in ordinary life as they wait patiently and provide constant love, support, and a stable base for their hero. None of these jobs are easy – being in harm’s way or worrying about your loved one. Every family in the military – no matter the branch – has it rough and they sacrifice greatly. My respect for them is enduring.
In terms of rare insights, I found the courage of the wives and children to be as incredible and inspiring as that of their husbands. Behind this often secretive role of the Navy SEAL man beats a flesh-and-blood soul, a complex and complicated man, whose depth of emotion is many, many layers deep; and his wife often has similar unique qualities of strength also steeled with Alpha characteristics, tremendous passion, and infinite dedication. Also, not surprisingly, Navy SEAL men are humble. They rarely speak of their personal endeavors -- it is always for The Team, The Country, and Their Families. That quiet confidence says so much. Together, these husbands and wives create hardcore bonds that cement their present and inspire their future. It is tangible, and definitely easy to admire.
During times of loss, the “heartbreak” of losing members from this tiny world, it hurts all of us. Whether the individuals are well-known or an acquaintance or possibly even a distant part of this group – it is the same training, the same sacrifice, the same pain, and the horror never goes away. These men and women don’t know the meaning of the Q-word. They never...Quit! One bleeds and they all do. No matter what, Navy SEALS always come back harder, faster, and more powerful, and their families have their backs.
It makes me proud and honored to be a part of this unique group whose heart is so big and whose might reaches around the globe. We are part of the Navy, part of the military, and all of us are Americans. As I create romance stories to honor these souls, my only wish is to bring this community pride and to share details on some of the rare insights into SEAL nature.
Thus I pose to you, my friends, what does family and military mean to you? Who do you fight and sacrifice for, and what would you do to keep them alive?
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
When I saw the topic my first thought was to talk about all the things I love (books, dark chocolate, my favourite characters from TV and film). Or how much I love writing romance. Or about eloping with my high school sweetheart at 19 (we’re still together).
But when I went looking for some interesting quotes I found this:
"Falling in love is so hard on the knees." Aerosmith
It’s been a long time since I fell over and skinned my knees, but I do remember the pain. And while I know why (scientifically) people fall in love. What is interesting is that we say we are ‘falling in love’, or that we ‘fell for someone’.
Musicians sing about love, and falling into it.
‘Falling For You’ by Eskimo Joe (this is a live acoustic version which was recorded at a show I went to see earlier this year) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDFXXXLmd9E
"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." Albert Einstein
Falling in love implies that once started it’s an unstoppable event, one that you don’t realise has started until you’re already midair. From there though it could be anything from a graceful swan dive into the waiting arms of your lover, a fall broken by trees that try to stop you from reaching your lover, to an undignified flailing of limbs because falling in love is the last thing you want (and we’ve all read characters like that, who resist until the ground smacks them in the face and then they realise it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them).
Maybe that’s why reading romance is so popular, because no two falls are the same and each is an adventure. I know that’s why I like writing romance—well that and I get to put pictures of hot guys on my computer and call it research while hubby nods and says ‘So he’s in which book?’ (I knew there was a reason I fell for him).
How do you like characters to fall in love: slowly, messily, quickly, blindly, or resisting every step?
Friday, September 23, 2011
UPDATE: The randomly chosen winner of a copy of IMPROPER GENTLEMEN is Di! Please contact me through my website with your mailing info.
To everyone else, thank you for commenting. I hope you'll pop by and enter my contest where you'll have a chance at winning an ARC of SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER (Jan 2012)!
from Mia Marlowe
I've always been an eclectic reader. Even though I write romance, I'm just as likely to pick up a mystery or a fantasy novel for my private enjoyment. I've even been known to burn through one of my DH's techno-thrillers.
But for the past few months with my book club, I've been dipping a toe into the murky waters of mainstream fiction. You know what I mean. These are quasi-literary tomes. They're Oprah picks and the darlings of the media.
While they're admittedly well-written, they are also almost universally depressing.
It makes me wonder afresh why the romance genre takes so many hits from the media. I used to think it was because of the sensual component in our stories, but I don't any more. My book club titles have sex scenes aplenty, but they tend to be joyless, coercive and demeaning. I'm more likely to say "Ew!" than "Ah!" after reading one.
I think the world discounts romance because of our insistence on a "happily ever after." My book club novels are not at all safe on this score. There's no guarantee that a satisfactory ending will be achieved. In fact, it's almost certain things will NOT end well. Sometimes, the author has to go to extreme lengths and make his character behave stupidly in order to insure there can be no HEA.
So I'm wildly in love with romance. No matter how terrible things seem, I can count on the romance author to figure out a way for everything to turn out right. In an uncertain world, I'll take all the certainty I can get.
Sebastian Blake, the Duke of Winterhaven, has good reason to mistrust women. It's why he never keeps one longer than three months. With each turn of the season, he dismisses his mistress with a generous parting gift as per their agreement and finds a replacement. Until Arabella St. George bursts into his life. She's the most intriguing woman he's ever met, and since she won't sign his three month contract, the most irritating as well.
If you're looking for a guaranteed HEA, give A DUKE FOR ALL SEASONS a try.
What book have you fallen in love with lately? Leave a comment for a chance to win my latest release IMPROPER GENTLEMEN!
You can join Mia at Facebook and Twitter!
Thursday, September 22, 2011
But somewhere along the way, the writing process killed my enthusiasm for reading. Yeah, I know. I was as shocked as you when I recognized this.
Two years slipped by, then three, then four before I realized how little I was reading. Between work, family, friends, writing, and sleeping, I had little time left to enjoy what used to be my greatest pleasure. And when I did find time, I would analyze every word, every turn of phrase, every chapter hook.
At one point, I couldn’t read beyond the first page because I would see techniques that I had been told I shouldn’t do or couldn’t do or if you do you’ll remain in the slush pile for the rest of your pathetic life! :)
Earlier this summer, I couldn’t take it any longer. I missed reading. I missed the simple joy of losing myself in heart-pounding love story.
After reconditioning my brain to follow the story and not the words, I’m able to read print books again. Not only am I reading a couple of chapters each night before going to bed, I’m now reading novellas on my Android.
This, my friends, is called Reader Heaven. I’m smack dab in the middle of it and I hope to never leave again.
Thanks to audiobooks I got my reading mojo back. And I want to bear hug publishers like Sourcebooks who strive to provide platforms in every shape and color to reach every potential reader they possibly can.
How about you? Do you use multiple mediums/platforms to read books?
* * *
Tracey Devlyn is an award-winning author of historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). Her debut novel, A LADY’S REVENGE, hits bookstores April 2012. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website at http://TraceyDevlyn.com or http://RomanceUniversity.org.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Naturally, I love to read. When I'm not reading you may find me:
* submitting a list of title ideas to retitle a project
* submitting options for a new tagline
* writing, revising or rewriting back cover copy
* calling an author to discuss editorial notes during a developmental edit
* emailing an author with a recap of our editorial notes discussion
* reviewing a revised manuscript and contacting the author for further revisions
* accepting a revised manuscript and turning it over to be prepped for copyediting
* making notes for the copyeditor
* meetings to review schedules, publication dates and seasonal lists
* mapping a season's list (starts with a batch of sticky notes on the wall, results in a spreadsheet and database entries)
* making sure manuscript delivery dates allow for sufficient time for the sales department to sell in to the retailers and wholesalers
* reviewing synopses
* meeting with buyers
* preparing database entries for submitting launch material for approval
* preparing database entries for presenting launch material at launch
* researching cover comps
* writing catalog copy
* researching specific market trends while thinking about a particular author's career
* researching general market trends to present to colleagues in sales, marketing, PR and design
* reviewing book covers
* looking at photos of proposed models for book covers (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it!)
* reading submissions
* responding to submissions
* corresponding with authors about materials we need from them
* asking authors for title ideas
* sending authors' feedback on their cover designs to the art department and discussing same
* answering authors' and agents' questions about sales, marketing, planning, proposals and market conditions
* negotiating contracts
* preparing contracts to be negotiated
* preparing submissions to be presented at our weekly acquisition meeting, including researching author track record and category and other market research
* reviewing sales numbers as soon as they are updated each week
* writing blogs :-)
* taking pitches
* reviewing/revising metadata
* attending a conference
* planning to attend a conference
* arranging travel to attend a conference
* following up after a conference
* phone calls with my authors, prospective authors and agents to discuss authors' project ideas
* phone calls with agents to talk about what I'm looking for
* answering emails
* I know I'm forgetting about a dozen more things...
* Lather, rinse, repeat. :-)
And then, I get to read, escaping into the world YOU created, hanging around with heroines who become my imaginary friends, falling in love with your heroes, and loving every minute of it!
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
What do you do if you fall in love with someone you can't have for one reason or another? We've seen these stories throughout time and they are often gut wrenching and painful. Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate story of love that is lost, but love you cannot live without. The movie Titanic spoke to many of us because of its portrayal of one new love found and lost in the midst of a great tragedy. But there are those stories of forbidden love, or love that seems destined to fail, that deliver a happily ever after.
In THE STORM THAT IS STERLING my heroine has a rare, incurable cancer. She also has scientific skill that is impressive enough to make the bad guys willing to save her -- for a price -- a drug addiction that will kill her if she ever stops taking it. And she can only get that drug from the bad guy.
Sterling and Becca -- the heroine -- knew each other years before this. He started falling in love with her then but they were separated. When she escapes the bad guy and is near death, he saves her. He then falls in love with her, hard and fast. He's going to save her, he's going to love her. He doesn't care what the odds are. He doesn't care who thinks she might be working undercover for the bad guys. Somehow, someway, he will find a way to make this woman his. If, that is, he can win her heart, as she has his.
Below I am sharing a fun, sexy excerpt -- SEXY :) -- and I hope you enjoy!
Coming in November 2011
In bookstores and in e-book!
Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 2011)
The Storm That Is Sterling.
Jones, Lisa Renee (Author)
THE BOOKLIST REVIEW....
Nov 2011. 384 p. Sourcebooks/Casablanca, hardcover, $6.99. (9781402251597).
The exciting Zodius futuristic suspense series features soldiers enhanced by a GTECH secret military experiment. Sterling Jeter, who is assigned to guard Rebecca Burns, the scientist working on an antidote for the highly addictive and fatal drug ICE. But Rebecca is also the high-school dream Sterling was never able to realize. She has cancer and tangling with bad guys who want her science skills for their ends has left her an ICE addict, too. She wants to take advantage of her time left with Sterling, while Sterling wants to protect her. As danger mounts, they try to sort out who is trustworthy. The GTECH and science details can best be followed with the help of the index, but they do not overwhelm the appealing characters or action. Jones’ suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann. Alpha, military, and paranormal romance readers will want Jones’ entire series.
The cover copy:
He may be invincible to everyone else…
Sterling Jeter has remarkable powers and has shown himself
to be just about indestructible. But beautiful, brilliant Rebecca
Burns knows that even a Super Soldier needs comfort, and so
But she can see that deep down,he’s just a man…
Sterling and Rebecca’s teenage romance was interrupted,
but years later the heat between them flares back to life.
Even though it endangers everything they’re fighting for, it’s
impossible to resist picking up right where they left off…
His cheek brushed hers, whiskers erotically scraping against her skin, his breath warm against her ear as he whispered, “If I instinctively know something so simple as how to order your dinner, think what else I might know about you. What we might know about each other. How to tease each other… How to please each other.”
There was an emptiness inside her that shuddered with hope, with a plea that he would drive it away, fill it with something that wasn’t icy and cold.
He pulled back and looked at her, his eyes dark, passionate. Compelling. “No regrets, Becca,” he vowed, and she knew he’d found those words in her head. Words she’d sworn to live by when she’d left that German hospital without a cure. Words she’d spoken in her head in the lab earlier with him there.
She rolled them around inside her and let them take root, rewarded herself with a deep inhalation of Sterling’s addictive, masculine scent. “No regrets,” she said softly.
A slow smile formed on his lips. “I love it when you agree with me,” he teased.
Becca laughed. “You’re crazy.”
“About you,” he said huskily.
She felt a little schoolgirl rush from that. In the past, she would have felt like the geeky bookworm with the quarterback, uncomfortable and out of her league, but not with Sterling. Never before had a man taken her from such dark emotions to laughter. A place she might just find real escape.
She pressed her hands to his face, her lips to his. Absorbing him. Breathing him in like a little piece of life. They lingered that way, heat simmering between them. Expanding… drawing them in closer to one another without ever moving.
His tongue flickered against her lips, pressed past her teeth as he slid it against hers for a long, sensual taste. “Your kisses taste like honey,” he murmured. “What does the rest of you taste like?”
She shivered at the erotic comment—the promise he was going to find out. He kissed her again. Crazy-wild, hot-kissed her, and she loved every second of it. Loved his tongue, his lips, and his hands sliding through her hair, over her face.
Becca ran her fingers through his thick, blond hair. She loved his hair—a little wild like him. Hot like him too. With each stroke of his tongue, each touch of his lips,
she felt liberated.
Her palms traveled over his chest—warm, hard muscle, her reward. She was extremely, intensely interested in those muscles, like the best science project in the world that had to be studied. She explored his arms, his biceps, how they felt beneath her palms. Inching forward in her chair, she arched into him, for research purposes, of course. To explore how he would feel pressed close to her. Her breasts ached for his touch, her nipples tight and swollen, in need of his mouth. God. Had she really just had that brazen thought? She was a good girl; she always had been.
His hands slid over her breasts, fingers teased the stiff peaks of her nipples. Her hands covered his, silently telling him she wanted more, because she couldn’t ask or demand. Because she was still that “good girl” at heart and couldn’t seem to let it go.
But she didn’t want to be a good girl. If anyone knew the meaning of “life is short,” she did. Becca ran her lips over his jaw, hid her face in his neck, and nibbled as she said, “You know what I want?”
He slid his hands around her waist. “If you say Chinese food, I’m going to object.”
“I’ll give you a choice then,” she said, feeling braver with his jest. “Feed me, or take off your clothes.”
“I’m all for getting naked, if you are,” he quickly agreed.
“You first,” she bargained.
And while the idea of standing in front of him naked, him fully clothed, would make her feel vulnerable, exposed, it apparently had none of those effects on him.
“Okay,” he said, unaffected by the idea as he pushed to his feet and started undressing. And only seconds later, he stood there in all his naked glory, and she sat there, fully clothed.
Visit me for more excerpts at www.lisareneejones.com and myself, Jaci Burton, and Shiloh Walker, have a fun contest to win a NOOK in celebration of our November releases. So I will have that announcement on my blog with a countdown widget and details to win next week!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
As you may know, my debut novel Unleashed will be released in just two weeks and I'm beyond excited. I thought I'd share an excerpt with you, and yes, it just happens to have a bit of kissing in it.
Malcolm opened the door and offered to help her from the car.
Hesitantly, she took his hand. He pulled her effortlessly from her seat. Her breasts gently brushed up against him, a featherlight touch that held a promise of pleasure to come. Their breath mingled on the cool summer evening. Their bodies hummed in unison with anticipation.
“I want you to trust me, Samantha,” he said in a low voice laced with desperation and desire.
He brought her delicate hand to his mouth and gently brushed his lips back and forth across her knuckles. He slowly ran his other hand up the graceful curve of her back and began to massage the soft skin at the nape of her lovely neck. Her breathing quickened, and with every breath, her breasts pressed tantalizingly against his chest.
“Please, give me a chance to win your trust,” he whispered against her trembling hand.
He brushed small kisses along her palm. Malcolm was on fire. Desire coiled inside of him, and the passion between them grew beyond control. He knew that her head told her to run, but every other fiber of her being begged for his touch. He sensed her resolve slipping away, inch by inch. Her energy wave shifted. The rapid drumming of fear had been replaced by heated pulses of desire.
He knew what he was doing was dangerous. He hid secrets from her that she may never truly believe. Yet despite all the doubts, she was still drawn to him beyond all reason. Her eyes searched his for answers. He wanted to tell her, but the right words escaped him.
“Malcolm.” His name came out in a desperate rush through her soft quivering mouth.
He leaned in and this time kissed her gently, slowly seducing her plump lips with his. He took her face delicately in his hands, as though she might break. She opened to him willingly and swept her tongue along his. The slow burn of desire crackled between them. She deepened the kiss and wrapped her warm arms around him. His large frame dwarfed her as she fit easily in his embrace. It was as though they’d been made for one another. His yearning for her clawed at him from the inside out; he needed to touch her everywhere.
He reached out to her mind with his and gently touched the most intimate part of her.
It was as if a bucket of cold water had been tossed over her. Sam’s eyes flew open, and she struggled to extricate herself from his embrace. She pushed her small hands against the hard planes of his chest and held him there at arm’s-length for a moment. He kept his eyes locked with hers. Her energy waves crashed into him violently. Her shoulders shuddered beneath his hands, and her breath came quickly. She trembled. Tears filled her eyes, unable to register what she just heard.
He held his craving in check and kept his eyes from shifting. He allowed her time to process what had just happened. Looking into her frightened eyes, he reached out and again whispered gently along the edges of her mind.
Sam’s eyes widened further. She shook her head and backed away from him in disbelief. Blindly, she ran into the house, leaving Malcolm alone. One glimmer of hope remained.
He’d been looking into the ice blue eyes of a wolf.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I am really good at falling in love. Before I was born, I fell in love with horses, and the condition has never abated. When I was seven, I fell in love with baking and that has been a lifelong joy too.
Somewhere between those two milestones, I fell in love with words and with reading. We had no TV until I was well into the school years. For my parents, this meant part of the bedtime ritual was reading a story to the four younger children. (The older three were probably reading to themselves.) The specific stories have faded, though I recall the sound of my father’s voice as he made great drama out of children’s stories.
By the time I was ten, I had fallen in love with the piano, a love that generalized to music and to some specific repertoire (Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Brubeck).
And then…. And then I found romance novels. All it took was The Wolf and the Dove, and I was gone.
I notice two characteristics about how I’m passionate. The first distinguishing feature when I am impassioned is that all other reality falls away. I’m in the zone—such as a confirmed endomorph (polite term for Utter Spud) is able to understand that term. For example, the taste of brownie batter made with melted chocolate and cocoa absorbs me. Is it dark enough? Does it need half a pinch of salt to anchor the flavor? Can the butter (do not use the m-word in my kitchen) shine through?
I can watch horses swish flies for longer than you can talk with your best friend on the phone while putting off the house chores.
I practiced the piano at least four hours a day for years, and that doesn’t include all the hours I spent messing around at the keyboard, listening to music, teaching piano, accompanying ballet classes, and earning a degree in music history.
And all of that time, in the kitchen, at the horse barn, in the practice studio, flew.
The second characteristic of me enthralled is that I have a sense that this is who I am. Whether anybody hears me play, I am a musician. Whether anybody reads my books, I am writer (though I would rather a lot of people were clamoring to read them). Those passions have become aspects of my identity, not just activities with which I fill time.
And here’s an insight I didn’t get until I started writing romance. The people I’ve fallen in love with were the ones who could appreciate me for my passions, not despite them. They delighted in my affection for words, my appreciation for music, my affinity for the horse and my occasional baking sprees. A fellow who supports me in my passions and allows me to support him in his (and of course, he must have a few) has swain potential. As for all of those other guys… I am too busy writing, baking, riding, or popping over to the UK on research trips to even notice such pale ciphers.
What about you? How do you reconcile the significant others and the personal passions? Uneasy balance, natural synergy, give and take?
To one of our commenters, I will give an ARC of my November release, “The Virtuoso,” a tale of passion and love.
You know those books that have such a clever/intriguing title you want to read it without knowing anything else about it? Talk about love at first sight.
We talk a lot about how important a cover is, and that process is a great topic for a future post. But editors don’t have the benefit of a gorgeous cover to suck us in when we’re first reading a manuscript or proposal. If we’re lucky, we have a fabulous query letter that gets excited to read more. But what can often help complete the package is an amazing title to go along with it.
Every one of my authors is going to think this post is directed him or her today because we’re all going through the process of finalizing titles as we start to set our Fall 2012 list (yes, we’re working that far ahead). But it’s really for all writers at any stage in their career. And for writers going through the submission process, a strong title can help you stand out from the pack.
One of the most important parts of my job is to help position a book for the market. How do we show what the genre is (military romantic suspense? Regency? paranormal?) so readers can identify it, while still making it distinctive enough to stand out from the pack. It’s a combination of art, tagline, back copy and marketing materials. And—you guessed it—title.
So what should you look for when thinking about your title?
- What are the titles of other books in your category? Do some words tend to repeat? No surprise that certain words tend to have built-in appeal: bride, cowboy, lord, lady, duke, etc. There’s a reason why so many category novels are some form of The Greek Tycoon Billionaire Secretary’s Secret Baby. Certain words work. Use them. But…
- Avoid sounding generic. Or choosing a title that’s already been done.
- Are you planning a series? Can your titling lend itself to a theme? But also keep in mind that you don’t want all the books to sound the same.
- What’s the tone? Can you use some clever wordplay? Alliteration?
When brainstorming titles, I find it helps to create a word-association list to start. Even if they’re crazy words, they’ll help me find the tone of what I’m looking for. And when I get stuck there, I’ll turn to some resources:
- my Rodale’s Synonym Finder (best graduation gift ever!)
- imdb.com – Can I play off a movie title?
- iTunes – Can I play off a song title?
- BN.com – Has this title already been used?
- NYT, USA Today and Bookscan bestseller lists – What titles are selling big?
- An online title generator - Sometimes sparks something good, sometimes just good for a laugh (unless you're dying to read Deadly Men on Fast Hotties)
- Colleagues, husband, friends – I’m not above picking brains and bouncing ideas