Monday, January 2, 2012

Questions Authors Hate

from Mia Marlowe...

Welcome to the fifth hour of my New Year Blog Bash in honor of the release of SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER! I'm having a wonderful time and hope you are, too. My guests have been terrific and remember, you can always scroll down and catch the posts you may have missed. And if you leave a comment for each one, you're entered to win in a new drawing each hour! Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you.

I have to apologize to my next guest. I've been talking about hosting my Casablanca sisters, but ML Buchman is my Casablanca brother! I know you're going to love his brand of military romantic suspense. 

As far as what question I hate as an author, it has to be "When are you going to write a 'real' book?" Meaning a non-romance novel. My books have been featured in PEOPLE magazine. One is displayed at the Museum of London Docklands next to Johnny Depp and Errol Flynn memorabilia. My work has been translated into seven different languages and SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER has already been contracted to a Russian publisher. 

Sounds like a real book to me.
Ok, ML. What questions do you hate?
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ML Buchman: There’s a bunch of them, like coworkers who can’t believe that I’m still working despite being published. I just laugh.

But there’s a tricky one, “Where do you get your ideas?” The real problem is that this is an earnest question rather than one based on lack of knowledge, like there is only one J.K. Rowling. It is asked because someone liked my book and they want to know how I came up with “that.”

So, it’s one of the questions I try to answer honestly. Of course, the question is often phrased, “You’re a guy. Who admits his first love is science fiction. Who has never been in the military. So, how do you write military romantic suspense?”

“By accident.” I discovered romance fiction about fifteen years ago when my fantasy publisher took me to Romance Writers of America National Conference to prove that men could write romance. Seven guys, 1,800 women, all very serious about romance. Let’s just say it was an educational time and I consumed the writing, the storytelling, the temporary setbacks, and the happy endings. And the more I read, the more my writing shifted.

My characters began to care more about each other than themselves. They struggled to tell story that I didn’t know how to tell. I’ve tossed several completed romance novels in the trash trying to learn how to tell these stories. It was a goal, a quest. That’s how I started writing romance.

The military came from a foodie suspense novel, “Swap Out!” The hero needed rescuing and his true love’s estranged daughter shows up in a military helicopter to rescue him. I didn’t expect her to be military. I didn’t know how to write a warrior, but she was. So I studied. I read accounts by retired Navy SEALs. I talked to Coast Guard heli-pilots and a woman who served in Iraq as chief mechanic on a Black Hawk.

The more I read of and spoke to these kind, amazing people, the more I grew to respect them. The more I wanted to tell their stories. Also being a geek and a former small airplane pilot, I became fascinated by the helicopters as well. Romance, military, women who fly helicopters. One step more: the first women to fly the secret helicopters of the U.S. Army’s 160th Aviation Regiment, The Night Stalkers.

I think that is why so many authors shy off that question, “Where do you get your ideas?” They aren’t born whole. Each is unique, personal, complex. They arrive as a glimmer in the eye, as a hope that can’t be looked at directly or it might fade, nursed, coddled, built until finally the story is so clear and strong that we must write it. That specific story. That specific tale.

At least that’s how I came to write my first national sale, “The Night is Mine!” Book 1 of the Night Stalkers series from Casablanca. Leave a comment to enter to win an ARC (advanced reader copy), coming out in February.

Thanks, ML Buchman (more at http://www.mlbuchman.com)

And a huge congrats to Mia Marlowe for today’s release of “Sins of the Highlander.” Whoo-hoo!

Paper: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Mine-M-L-Buchman/dp/1402258100 
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Is-Mine-ebook/dp/B006IBG2MK

_______________________________ 
Mia: Sounds fantastic, ML. And may I say, Hoowah! What a cover!
Be sure to leave a comment for your chance to win ML Buchman's THE NIGHT IS MINE. Another winner will be chosen to receive their choice between my eNovellas,
 A Duke for All Seasons or My Lady Below Stairs. While we're on the subject of winning, be sure to pop over to enter my website contest where the Grand Prize is a new KINDLE!

44 comments:

  1. Wow, I am impressed with you, a guy writing romance. And doing his best to do it right. I've put it on my wishlist, I want to know what you have written :)

    I love strong heroines, and one in the militairy will have to be strong.

    auriansbooks at gmail dot com

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  2. ML, I love your struggle to figure out how to tell a love story. FYI, female writers have the same trouble. ;-)

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  3. Hi ML--Great to have you on board with the Casa Crew. Military heros are at the top of my fave list and that cover is sexy as all get out.

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  4. I would love a chance to win an ARC of this book. I'm always looking for new authors and books. I've not read a male romance author before, so this would be a first!

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  5. Well, color me happy!

    I am now intrigued and looking forward to read one of your books, ML! I liked your post and just in case I have you over at our blog, I'll make sure to skip that question :) Since I've never read any of your books, YET, I do wonder about the love scenes though...How hard are they to write? Are they harder then the military action scenes?

    Mia, keep 'em coming, Chick :)

    Mel
    www.bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.com
    A Place for All Romance and Book Lovers!

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  6. That's the weird thing about ideas. They just HAPPEN, and one idea tends to lead to another. Kudos to you for proving that men CAN be romantic!

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  7. Aurian, I've always been a hopeless romantic, or rather a hopeful one. I was raised on Broadway musicals and Fred Astaire movies. A good love story, well, even after I found my own, I still wanted to tell them.

    Mia, I find it so funny that people discount that. Story is hard, but a love story, well told, that's is serious work.

    Sara, Thanks. The cover knocked me for a loop. At first I was shocked, I'd written a book with one of "those" covers. But now, I'm shocked another way, it's such a powerful cover, it just jumps at you, that I can't believe how cool a job the designer did. ...wait'll you see the next cover! As my wife likes to say, "Holy Wow!"

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  8. Wow sounds like a great book, and yep hard question to answer.

    I can't wait to read this one.

    BTW doesn't matter if you are M or F when it comes to writing, I once read a non-fiction Seals book and he was funny at times, sad at times, and had a tad touch of romance through in. Life is a bit everything so writing should be as well.

    hugs,
    WendyK

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  9. Diana, well, there aren't a lot of men out their writing romance. And I don't get it. What always enjoy is what happens between people, that's where I find story. And when they're falling in love, that's when they're most exposed, most vulnerable, most interesting. I love writing about true love, about the ones MFEO.

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  10. Hi Melanie, always glad to come by for a visit. The military scenes are a little tricky, because I'm writing about professionals, about people very cool under immense danger. So the emotions remain understated, yet they must be strong or the reader doesn't feel the tension.

    Love scenes are much trickier. Partly because it is too easy to make it a sex scene. Partly because it is something familiar to us all (at least I hope so for everyone's sake), that to make it interesting and unique about the specific characters is a real challenge. Tapping the right emotional moment to capture their hearts as well as ours, that's a skill that I'm only starting to get a hold on. Looking forward to a lot more practice. :)

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  11. I love to find a "new to me" author!! ...and particularly one with a new and very interesting book coming out!

    bettysunflower@hotmail.com

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  12. ML,

    Thanks for answering the q's and I'm hoping you can stop by b2b to tell us more about your journey to publishing.
    Here's my email, just in case :) you have the time to stop by melanieDOTfriedmanATsbcglobalDOTnet and I'm looking forward to hosting you :) at your connivance.

    Mel

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  13. WendyK, I agree, but I don't. I find that women can write action (stereo-typically the male genre) just as well as men and some better. But I'm surprised at how many men shy away from a good love story. They write a story which includes people who fall in love. But most veer aside from telling a romance, where the love story is central. In 1996 I was one of 7 men to attend Romance Writer's of America national conference. In my local RWA chapter, I'm one of two men. Here on the Casablanca author's list, I'm the first man. I'm disappointed, actually, by that lack. It makes me feel sorry for women that there aren't more men with mushy, romantic hearts like mine. And being a male romance writer who wallows in happily ever after, I don't understand why there aren't more of them. It's fun over here on this side of the fence.

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  14. Hi BettySF, Always glad to be a "new to me" type person. Of course, this being my first romance and my first national sale, I'm pretty much new to everyone. A very exciting time I must say.

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  15. What an interesting story! I wish John Grisham had learned how to write a love scene from us. LOL 1,800 women to 7 men? Interesting odds! It's a wonder more men don't make it to the RWA convention.

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  16. Hi Ashlyn, Yea, you'd think so, but so not. As a man at RWA national in the '90s (I've heard that it's changed a bit since then) I was discounted as someone's boyfriend or lost husband. Agents wouldn't talk to me (literally), editors thought I was joking. My first book was 3 weeks late, so I couldn't even wave one of those around. I actually shut down whole sessions by asking a question. They stopped and cross-examined me before they'd answer my question. Yes, I'm a writer. No, I'm not here with a girlfriend. Yes, I finished a book. Yes, I sold a book...

    I did make some good writing friends there that I've retained to this day. But one of the most interesting things for me was to be sidelined, and then to be told whenever I mentioned it later, that's how our male oriented society treats most women. That was one amazing eye-opener I can tell you, being discounted, dismissed as "less qualified" because of my sex. It's not something I've ever done, but I became hyper-conscious of never doing it ever. And I've thumped more than one male employee about the head and ears for making that assumption.

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  17. Sounds like just the kind of story that I really enjoy. And have to say you have a wonderful conver!

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  18. Thanks so much for sharing! I have alot of your books on my wishlist. :) Happy New Year!
    -Amber
    goodblinknpark@yahoo.com

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  19. Very interesting post and bravo for your fantasy publisher taking you to RWA! I don't usually ask a writer where they got their idea but I do ask them what they were doing when they were inspired to write a particular story, sometimes I find that's an interesting thing too.

    junegirl63 at gmail dot com

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  20. Catslady & Amber...
    THANKS! and wishing a Happy New Year right back to you.

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  21. Awesome! Kudos to you for being sensitive and shame on the 90's attendees who made you feel that way. We have 1 guy in our group and I wish we had more.

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  22. Hi Maria, The publisher who took me to RWA was actually a romance publisher who happened to buy my fantasy, her first and only SF/F author. Then she had me read a sex scene to a room of 80 women. (I didn't yet know the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and she wasn't telling me.) Let's just say it was one heck of an experience for my first-ever conference.

    I actually don't know what I was doing when I got the idea for "The Night is Mine" and the rest of "The Night Stalker" series. Some stories slap me in the face and say, "Hey, you, write me!" This one slipped up from the side, found a ticklish spot just below my ribs, and whispered quietly in my ear. It started as a bit of research for my foodie-thriller "Swap Out!" and it grew while I wrote "Where Dreams are Born," the first of my "Angelo's Hearth" contemporary romance series. Then it slipped out of my fingers as the first line and scene, a scene which never changed but for minor edits from first draft to final publication.
    "The CNN film crew had made it fun. But now…"

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  23. Congrats ML! Sounds like a great book. No need to enter me in the drawing. Glad yo have you with us.

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  24. Congrats ML! Sounds like a great book. No need to enter me in the drawing. Glad yo have you with us.

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  25. Hi Ashlyn, I don't say shame on the attendees of the '90s RWA. A male romance writer was simply out of their reckoning at the time. Leigh Greenwood was the only published male at the conference.

    However, the agent (a very well known romance agent, then and now) literally refused to answer my question in group session despite my first sale tag. It was so blatant that women from the session came to me afterward to ask what had happened. Let's just say that I've never sent a manuscript or recommendation his way.

    But there are paybacks. Later in the conference, we ended up in an elevator together where he studiously ignored me. At the next floor, a woman entered and effusively thanked me for some advice I'd given her during a class session the prior evening, she'd just won a session prize for her opening line. The look on his face was payback enough. Still grinning.

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  26. Congrats on your new release, sounds like a wonderful read.

    lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

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  27. Wow that is definitely a book that I have to add to my tbb list. Love military books

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  28. It's always great to meet a new to me author. Have to say your book sounds like I would enjoy it and you have a fantastic cover and a catchy title!

    catslady5(at)aol.com

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  29. Good interview!

    robindpdx(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  30. Thanks, M.L.! Helicopter-flying warrior heroines, cool... I want to read about them! I always wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter when I was a little girl :).

    I agree it's strange that there are so few male romance writers, but I have to say it does make you and your books all the more interesting...

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  31. Thanks Robin.

    Nynke, if you still want to learn to fly a helicopter, check out http://www.whirlygirls.org/. These ladies are amazing. They have a great video link about 1/2 way down the home page. I always wanted to be pilot. Actually had my private plane license before a doctor discovered I was red-green colorblind. Not badly, but enough that I'd probably never get to fly for a living. Sigh! Hanging up my license was one of the harder decisions I've made.

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  32. Eeeks... I can't believe that people still think that way about romance novels and have the nerve to ask you about a 'real' book.. A book is a book... Not like you wrote an imaginary, non-existent book...

    Congrats on your books! :)

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  33. May, I fear 'tis true. Of course, being male I get a slightly different reaction to announcing I've written a romance novel. Not, "when are you go to write a real book," that so many of my female friends receive, but rather, accompanied by a stupefied glare, "You wrote a WHAT?! Why?"

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  34. I really enjoyed your answer to how you came about writing military suspense romance. Am intrigued.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

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  35. CONGRATS ML on your upcoming release! It looks fantastic! CONGRATS Mia on your latest!!!

    yadkny@hotmail.com

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  36. It sounds like your characters are those readers can really come to care for and root on. Those with flaws and struggles make them more human. You can have all this and still be strong in my eyes.

    Cambonified{at}yahoo{dot}com

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  37. M.L. I am so pleased to meet you! Yet another new author to me, and I loved your post! I am so intrigued to read your book - there are so few men that can write romance. Heck, there are so few men that understand romance, that I just HAVE to read your book, so it's a definite buy on my list!
    Thank you so much for the great giveaway!

    Happy New Year!

    Gena Robertson
    robertsongena@hotmail.com

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  38. Na. I agree! A character, nor a person, is strong without a weakness, is wholly confident, brave, etc. I love exploring that inner conflict that makes people tick, and for me makes the character more fun.

    Gena, I hate to say it, but yep! I've met a lot of men with really great wives who just don't understand the wonder of what they have. Sad really. Of course, sometimes the balance tips... I'm even more likely to cry at a good romantic movie than my wife is.

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  39. Omg I just read your book in 5 hours because I couldn't put it down. It was amazing. i love romance novels and was very excited when my friend gave it to me. Actually my friend well best friend is the woman you talked to who was the blackhawk crew chief. I thought it was so crazy when she told me about you talking to her and am so excited to read the next book that comes out. Wondering though where do I find your other military romance novels or any if they are as good as this one.

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  40. Dear Anonymous,
    COOL!!!!! Say a huge "HI!" to your best friend for me, "Hi, Ms. K!!" She was great to talk to, I can't believe the things she's done! Truly amazing person. And I'm so glad you liked the book. My interview with her was actually after this book was complete and book 2 mostly so. Book 3 is really the one that includes much of what I learned from her. About how a female military flier thinks, acts, reacts; hopefully I got at least some of it right. Regrettably, while I have another romance out, "Where Dreams Are Born," it is not military. For that you'll have to wait until mid-summer when book #2 is released "I Own the Dawn."

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  41. Dear Anonymous,
    Also, Matthew J Booker (also me) wrote "Swap Out!" It's a foodie thriller with a love story (rather than a romantic suspense) in which U.S. Special Forces are trying to kill off America's top TV chefs. And there is a woman with a truly splendid helicopter that rides to the rescue.
    :)

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  42. Yeah she is a pretty amazing person and has done amazing things. I will look for both of those i done need military i just love reading. Very excited for your next on to come out though. I will tell her you said hi.

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