Monday, March 31, 2014

Whole Series Thinking

by M. L. Buchman

I think in series. I have friends who think in short stories. They write these charming little encapsulations of a moment, so polished and precious and refined that each is a joyous nibble. (Almost every short story I used to submit to workshops or anthologies was returned with a simple note: "This isn't a short story, it's the synopsis for a novel. Now go write it.")


For a while, I thought in single novels. One growing arc following a character, and those around her (I write predominantly from the woman's point of view -don't know why, always have). Even in my fantasy and science fiction, there is usually a love interest along for the ride, but it is then just that couple's journey. Then a strange thing began happening. Short stories that I submitted to workshops or had friends read started coming back with a new note on the rejections: "This isn't a short story, it's a synopsis for a series. I want to read this series!"


Okay, now I think in series. My "Night Stalkers" series is currently at 7 books plus two more already under contract for Aug 2014 and Mar 2015 releases. My new "Firehawks" series, launching May 6th with Pure Heat, is the first of three (at least, uh, hmm, just thinking about it, and I already see a 4th and a possible 5th).

Now, I've learned how to finish a novel. To find the end of a hero and heroine's journey that is in many ways just the beginning. It is a joy to feel that I have learned enough about that character to unravel and reveal that internal moment when they can truly step into joy and we can take the first step of that with them.

But I never really thought about closing a whole series until just recently. My "Angelo's Hearth" contemporary romance series set against the backdrop of Seattle and Pike Place Market (long-term favorite haunts) has just reached its 5th-book conclusion. Now, I thought it was to be a 3-book series, which I talked about here. But my characters still had a bigger story to tell.

And that is part of how I think about my own, "whole series thinking." Each story I write isn't a just telling a story. It is a voyage of discovery in which I uncover not only my main characters lives but have to think about those around them and how they interact. That, in turn, makes me interested in their stories. In "Angelo's Hearth," the side characters were sufficiently complex and interesting that I couldn't rest content until I had written their stories. It is in writing those, that I truly discover who they are and what they have to tell me.

Angelo's Hearth started as a simple novel, though it quickly grew to the story of three friends, each very different and yet each wholly engaging:
  • Cassidy in Where Dreams Are Born is the archetypal girl next door. Nice, consider, pretty, and genuinely likeable (to everyone except the hero who she makes completely nuts).
  • Jo in Where Dreams Reside is the calm center. She is known for speaking pure truth (perhaps unusual for a lawyer, but she does -sorry, couldn't resist the lawyer joke, I worked for them for 9 years of my careers).
  • Perrin in Where Dreams Unfold is part chaos, but also pure joy. Her chaos is wrapped in her unhappy past, and joy is the answer she chose to the question of how she wants to live her life.
However, two other characters, little bit-part characters, insisted they too had stories to tell. As an author, if feels like a pinch, an uneasiness. I knew there was more to these characters than fit within the planned series and I had to fuss and fuss with those thoughts until I discovered that they needed to have their story told as well. That gave us:
  • Maria in Maria's Christmas Table: the mother we all wish we had.
  • Melanie in Where Dreams Are Written, in many ways the most practical yet lonely of all, until she finds that she is surrounded by friends who offer a bounty of joy.
A series is not done for me until they, and I, discover what their stories are. For in the end, I don't tell these stories for the characters, not even for my readers. I tell these stories for me. And the five stories of "Angelo's Hearth" have taught me so much about making hard choices for good outcomes, about finding that joy was always inside me if I just knew where to look. I will be forever grateful to the five women of this series and the men's hearts that they won...including my own.

(Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.mlbuchman.com which launches volume #1 tomorrow, April Fools Day. New release news, free fiction, hot sale announcements, and "Musings from the Muse." Should be fun!)



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Old Stuff

My poor blog. It gets neglected for months at a time. Every day, I think about what I could post on it and wish there were more hours in the day, and I wasn’t such a lover of sleep. Essentially on my blog, I excerpt historical information and images from old, public domain sources. It’s more for my benefit than my readers. Often, I’m running searches on my own website, looking for information. Digging through old books and digital archives gives me the same golden, happy glow of when I was a child, rummaging through the closets, trunks, and basements in my grandmother’s house.


My first cousins and I share a passion for history.  It might be a genetic trait. At Christmas we would converge on my grandmother’s house. We would beg for someone to let us in the attic where our mothers’ old hoop skirts and 1950s prom dresses were stored. Once dressed up, we would open my grandfather’s old army trunk. One by one, we would pull out the artifacts forgotten over the years–old pictures of my great-great aunts’ wild hats and my great uncle in Havana after WWII, faded daguerreotypes, and old news clippings announcing accolades or deaths. Somehow we knew we carried a piece of these people and events inside of us. As Malcolm Gladwell points out, we are all products of the generations before us and their particular circumstances in time.



Now as I scavenge digital archives, I feel that same sense of delight and discovery I did as a child in Grandmother’s house, learning a little more about myself from something that happened long ago and far away. 



"With Wicked Little Secrets' intriguing plot, quirky characters, witty escapades and heartfelt dialogue, Ives has created a read that's as thought-provoking as it is romantic. 4 1/2 Stars" -- 2013 RT Reviewer's Choice Best Book Awards - First Historical Romance Nominee!

You can learn more about Susanna Ives’ work at:

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Makes Us Write Romance? by Christy English

 
Whether we're writing about vampires falling in love,




shape-shifting wolves who find their soul mates,




or Regency lords and ladies dancing in ballrooms, many of us on this blog write romances.  What is it about romance that draws us in?
 
I can only speak for myself, but I have to admit that I love reading and writing romances for the happy endings. Life unfortunately does not always lead to joy, but within the pages of a story, we can watch our characters, people we have come to like, discover love in their lives and watch as they work to make that love stay. It always takes work, just as in life, but in a romance novel, the happiness is guaranteed to last. That is a beautiful thing.
 
As much as I love the happy endings, I also love watching my characters get there. They fight, and they fume, and they slowly work on themselves and each other until their walls come down and they see each other as they truly are. The characters in my novels have to learn to trust each other, and as they do, their world opens up, becoming a better place. None of my characters are perfect, but they learn to love each other, flaws and all, and learn how to better love themselves. It is a joy to watch people grow through love, whether on the page or in life. Of course, everything is easier on the page, but that's part of the fun of reading and writing romances, too.
 

 
Christy English is happiest when she is dreaming. Her dreams have taken her to the royal court of Henry II in THE QUEEN’S PAWN, to medieval Paris in TO BE QUEEN, and now to Regency England in MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK, LOVE ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT, and HOW TO TAME A WILFULL WIFE, where she loves to watch her characters find true love, often in spite of themselves. Please visit her on her blog  http://www.ChristyEnglish.com , on Twitter https://twitter.com/ChristyEnglish , or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/christy.english.779

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Huzzah!

Yesterday was a day of celebration for our authors! Romance Writers of America (RWA), the trade association for aspiring and published romance fiction authors, announced the finalists for the 2014 RITA® Awards. The RITA — the highest award of distinction in romance fiction — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas.



Congrats to all our finalists!

Darius
by Grace Burrowes



The Firebird
by Susanna Kearsley



The Bridesmaid
by Julia London



Thrill Ride
by Julie Ann Walker


We'll be cheering for you at the awards ceremony on July 26 at the 2014 RWA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Win, win, win!

It's winning Wednesday! Check out some of the fabulous books and prizes you can win right now! Just click on the author's name.

Shana Galen
Stop by her website to
win a red "Authors Are My Rock Stars" t-shirt (size XL) featuring Jane Austen, a Jane Austen air freshener, and a Mr. Darcy writing pad. It's a Jane Austen extravaganza! 



Shona Husk
is giving away a copy of SEX WITH STRINGS on Goodreads.


Stop by the contest page of her website to win a duo of springtime historical romances from Amanda Forester and Lisa Kleypas. Open internationally until March 31!

And every Wednesday in April, Theresa will give away a prize to a randomly chosen newsletter subscriber. The first giveaway is coming up next week--someone will win this rainbow of historical romances by Theresa, Julie Anne Long, Meredith Duran, Erin Knightley, Anna Campbell, Kieran Kramer, and Grace Burrowes. All newsletter subscribers are automatically entered! To sign up for Theresa's spam-free newsletter and be eligible for the weekly giveaways, visit: http://theresaromain.com/contact/


Paige Tyler
Win a HUGE Ready for Warm Weather Basket full of swag, signed print books and much more at the TALL, DARK AND ALPHA Boxed Set Release Party and Giveaway!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WHAT JADE LEE AND ELIZABETH HOYT REALLY DO

WHAT JADE AND ELIZABETH 
REALLY DO...

Take the Quiz!

1. Elizabeth Hoyt and Jade Lee are...

a) Frenimies since @JadeLeeAuthor tweeted that every loonie on the planet should send    @Elizabethhoyt their story ideas. (so far unicorn/troll love is winning)
b) Beasties.  Because neither Jade nor Elizabeth can spell
c) Besties because who else would share their personal blinged out ear buds with each other?
d) truly and totally uninterested in writing their WIP this morning.

Answer: all of the above

2.  Elizabeth Hoyt is...

a) responsible for the Squidge kama sutra
b) will do anything to avoid having her photo taken including burning poor squidge with her hot coffee

c) is a crazy dog woman
d) is hard at work on Darling Beast, the sequel to Duke of Midnight.

Answer: all but d. She's lost in pinterest right now compulsively watching Sherlock rip off his scarf again and again and ...oh my. That is hot!

3. Jade Lee is...

a) dressed elegantly in make up, heels, panty hose, and a  pantsuit circa 1970.
b) spends hours and hours playing Plants vs. Zombies 2

c) is meticulous about research and spends hours searching for the way salt was made in the early 1800s.
d) is hard at work on The Duke Cunning's Plan, the sequel to What the Groom Wants.

Answer: none of the above! I actually lose hours on PvZ (the original) and I'm obviously writing this blog instead of writing. (Don't tell my editor!)

4. You can soon meet Elizabeth, Jade, and Squidge 

a) stalking Benedict Cumberbatch
b) high on caffeine, chocolate, and pinterest at a cafe near you
c) at Barbara Vey's Reader's Event
d) working out like Amazonian fiends at Muscleman Beach.

Answer: C! Yes, we stalk Benedict, but only in super secret spy gear that makes us invisible! And we're at a cafe near us, so sorry about you. And Muscleman Beach? Seriously? Though Squidge is willing to give it a shot.

How'd you do? 
Post a comment here and someone will win a signed copy of What the Groom Wants plus a Squidge of their very own!



Monday, March 24, 2014

Keeping Me Humble: An Interview with My Daughter (Plus Book Giveaway!)

Last week, my five-year-old daughter--known online as Little Miss R--was on spring break. We had playdates. We went to the park and the library. We covered the driveway with elaborate chalk drawings. We made sheaves of art. And she built fort after fort out of my paperbacks, continuing a family tradition.
"This is a doll of me," said Little Miss R. "Or you. We both have brown hair."
The 85th time I tried to cram in a few minutes of work while she constructed a romance-novel ziggurat next to my desk, we wound up having a rather humbling interview. Since I was at my computer, I typed it all out:

TR: What’s my job?

LMR: Your job is to make books.

TR: What kind of books?

LMR: Books where the people get girlfriends and boyfriends because they love each other.

TR: Do you like that kind of story?

LMR: Um…no. They’re way too hard to read. And there’s lots of kissing and I don’t like that. But I like the covers. The covers are pretty.

TR: *blinks* …How do you know there’s lots of kissing? Did I tell you that? [Please note: she does NOT read my books.]

LMR: I don’t know. Is there?

TR: Yeah. There is.

LMR: Blech! You’ll get germs!

TR: What kind of people do you like to read about?

LMR: I like to read about people who don’t know each other and then they start to like each other. But NOT love each other.

TR: So you like to read about people getting to be friends?

LMR: Yeah.

The "disgusting" romance in question
TR: Did you know I wrote a book where the people get to be friends first? First friends, then love.

LMR: (thoughtful pause) Well…that’s still disgusting.

*     *     *

Any time I need a humility check, I don't have far to look!

Just for fun, let's have a giveaway of IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE--the first book in my Matchmaker trilogy. (Book 2, TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS, is out May 6!) In this Regency version of the Cyrano tale, the wounded hero and wily heroine become friends before they tumble into a love affair--and secrets come to the fore. Eloisa James called them "irresistible, funny, and sexy." Little Miss R called the whole story--well, you know.  

To enter the giveaway, just let me know something you like about romance! Is it how the characters get to know each other? The kissy bits? The beautiful covers? It's all good (unless you're five years old).

I'll open the giveaway internationally, and the winner can choose a print, Kindle, or Nook copy of IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE. I'll randomly choose a winner tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon ET, so please check back to see if you've won. Good luck!

*     *     *
Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book. 
Twitter: @TheresaRomain


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hanging out with your tribe


This weekend, I'll be making the short flight to Sydney to attend the ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) Awards ceremony.

Not only have Heart of Iron and My Lady Quicksilver been nominated for five awards between them (Favourite Sci-Fi, Futuristic or Fantasy Romance, Favourite Continuing Series, Favourite Cover X2 and The Sexiest Hero from a Romance published in 2013), but it's one of the few chances I get to catch up with my writing buddies.

Awards are always fun (my money's on Anna Campbell scooping the pool again!), but there's nothing quite like catching up with your 'people'.

Don't get me wrong, I love living in a small country town, but there is one astronomical downside. I grew up with my nose buried in a book or spending hours on the computer, but there was never anyone else that I knew who wrote or loved reading - particularly romances - as much as I did. In a way, the internet was the best thing that ever happened to me. I joined RWA (Australia) and came across so many like-minded people who thought like me! For the first time in my life I felt like I had friends who understood what I was going through in trying to get published and who loved the genre as much as I did.

ARRA is another organisation I love, who do so much to support Australian romance writers. This is my first time at the awards, so I can't wait to meet some fellow like-minded, unabashed romance lovers. 


Interested in seeing who else made the final cut? The list is here

I'll be up against my writing buddy, Kylie Griffin, in the Favourite Sci-fi, Futuristic or Fantasy Romance category. There has been much lively name-calling and jesting over the interwebs this week, but quite frankly, if she wins I'm going to go bananas; and the other member of our little trio is Dakota Harrison, my first ever critique partner.

Be warned: shenanigans may ensue. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com or follow her on Twitter, @BecMcMaster.

MY LADY QUICKSILVER BY BEC MCMASTER – IN STORES OCTOBER 2013


“I WILL COME FOR YOU…”
He will find her no matter what. As a blue-blooded captain of the Nighthawk Guard, his senses are keener than most. Some think he’s indestructible. But once he finds the elusive Mercury, what will he do with her? 

It’s his duty to turn her in—she’s a notorious spy and traitor. But after one stolen moment, he can’t forget the feel of her in his arms, the taste of her, or the sharp sting of betrayal as she slipped off into the night. Little does Mercury know, no one hunts better than the Nighthawk. And his greatest revenge will be to leave her begging for his touch…

To purchase My Lady Quicksilver