Posts from the ‘Writing’ category

Keeping On Track

Woman Reading a DiaryA fast pace, well-written book encourages me to write. I get excited and want my books to be just as fun to read.

A book that doesn’t satisfy frightens me; I’m afraid I’ll pick up their bad habits. So, I quit reading and pass it on to the used book store or delete it off my e-reader.

Do you delete books ever?  What are your reasons?

My Thoughts on Wendy’s Book

authorphoto-sideWhen I was on vacation in Alaska, I received a sweet email from my former editor at HarperCollins.  Back in 2011, Wendy Lee had offered me my first (and the second one too) contract with Avon, and we stayed in touch after she left. In the email, she wanted to check on my mailing address as she planned to send her newest book. I was thrilled. During the time we worked together I knew we thought a lot alike and liked the same things about books. She was so easy to work with, and I was certain anything she wrote, I would enjoy.

Her newest book is ACROSS A GREEN OCEAN and coming out February 2015. I’m not sure if the cover on her ARC (advance reading copy) will be on the final one (that’s why it’s not shown here). [updated 1/18/15 – it is! Check it out at Amazon. Click here!] The cover is beautiful, soothing even. Looks like a painting of pastels, blending of greens and blues. It’s a photo of a young man fishing off a pier with mountains in the background and the sun reflected in the water, all hazy and soft.  As soon as I reached home, I started reading it. The book was exactly what I needed to read.

For the last few months, I’ve been dissatisfied with the books I normally read. There were a couple I enjoyed, but I felt I was in a rut. I’m a big romance reader and rarely stray from them except when friends insist I read a book.

A couple years ago, Wendy had told me a little of what her book was about, and I was intrigued.

Believe it or not, I’m a big lover of reading about family dynamics. Lots of romance novels delve into how family react to each other. Even my books touch on it, especially the last novel, CIRCLE OF DECEPTION.

Wendy’s ACROSS A GREEN OCEAN is about the Tang family and how they each cope with the death of their father/husband and more. The story is written in third person, present tense. Funny thing is I read a couple chapters before I even noticed it. The style is easy to read and pulls you in quickly.

I think each character had something I could relate to:  the mother worrying about her children, and if she could’ve done things differently so the siblings could be closer; the daughter who had done all the right things, but now realizes they weren’t making her happy; and the son. Ah, the son. He’s running away from himself even before his dad passed away.

So much of it fascinated me. The way they reacted to and thought about neighbors, friends, family and co-workers. How the parents wanted to live the American dream, yet didn’t feel comfortable with it. And when the son makes the big decision to go to China to meet his father’s old friend, I read faster to find out what he would learn about his father, and how he handled being in a country where he looked like he belonged but didn’t. All of it pushing me to rush to the end to see what happened next.

I’m not Asian, nor have I visited a country that spoke a language other than my own, yet I know how it feels to be out of my element in a crowd and lose a loved one.

See, my father died the Saturday before I received the book. He’d been having health problems, but his death was sudden. In fact, I was still in Alaska at the time. So as I read, the book allowed me to compare my reactions to my dad’s death as the characters dealt with theirs. Death will do that. Make you look inside and hunt for answers to questions you never knew you had.

As you can tell, I’m not a reviewer.  I’m an author and reader. But this book has so much to offer and I wanted to let others know. I highly recommend it to anyone. Just remember it is not a romance. I will point out the ending was perfect for the book. I was satisfied and that’s saying a lot.

You can find Wendy at her Website.

I Love Readers

Postcard three books1Really, what author doesn’t love readers? Well, knowing how cankerous us authors can be, there is probably a handful out there. But then I don’t understand why they even try to be/are published.

Anyway, I was reading Suzanne Johnson’s blog, and she kindly pointed out to an Amazon reviewer a misconception some readers have about authors.  Click here to read the post. We’re always flabbergasted when we receive complaints about things we can’t control.

Sure, we can go to our editors and ask them to reconsider, but their marketing people have been doing the job many years, have the education to back them up, and the savvy needed to make the decisions. While, like me, authors usually just want to write and make enough money to live on. We are dreamers.  Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) recited part of a great poem that most authors can relate to.

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
—World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

By Arthur O’Shaughnessy

And yes, I feel a list coming on. Here are the things authors have no or little control over if published by a traditional publisher. Self-published books are totally a different kettle of fish.

1) Price. I’ve been fortunate that my publisher would ask me on occasion if they can mark down my books. Standard price is $3.99 for the e-book. So when they marked it down, it has been as low as $1.99. Only once have I let them mark a full novel down to 99 cents. Others can price them that low, but I value the work and time involved in producing my full length books, and I deserve more than 25 cents (usually less) for each one. We’re not talking about tens of thousands of dollars. It’s more like around $1,000 a year. Can you live on that amount in the U.S.? Hell, no, not if you want electricity, food, a roof over your head, etc.

By the way, it takes five months for me to write a full length book. And I work a full time job. Yep. Over 40-48 hrs a week and then I come home and write all evening and sometimes early in the morning. Let’s say on the low average, six hours a day. I write weekends, holidays, and of course, weekdays. So 365 days a year. Yes. Family obligations keep me from writing at times, but I still find time in the mornings or evenings. So six hours a day times 365 days equals 2,190 hrs a year. Let’s say last year I made $1,250 off all three books (probably less than that), I average 0.57 cents an hour. WOW! I’m living the high life, heh?

Oh,that amount isn’t all at one time. I get paid once a month on e-books (some months are skipped -no sales), so those $30 royalty checks can get us excited at home. That means we can go out to eat. YAY!

2) Cover. Once again, my publisher does ask my opinion and if I didn’t like something, they would give me a chance to say no, though I never did. Though I wish I had on my blue book (CIRCLE OF DANGER). It looks so different from the other two. We can only hope that the picture grabs the readers attention. It is the hotter of the three novels.

3) Formatting. Thankfully, Avon does a wonderful job in that regard with my books. There are several publishers who do not. They use double spacing (like an unpublished manuscript) between each line. Or they use double between each paragraph. To me, a break after a paragraph in a book means a POV change or time shift. A favorite author of mine’s publisher does that. Why? I have no idea. Anyway, this is usually beyond our control.

4) Title. You didn’t see that one coming, did ya? Yep. We have little control over that. Some authors have no say so at all. Thankfully, Avon is a class act. My editor asked my opinion and listened to what I said and then we worked together on the right title. CIRCLE OF DESIRE was originally OUT OF THE SHADOWS. I like the original title because spies and mercenaries work in the shadows. With Collin’s help, Olivia was pulled out of the shadows into the light and realized the person she worked for was a bad guy. Cool, isn’t it?

Anyway, the editor felt my title didn’t do the book justice as it was a romance, a hot one, and we needed to bring it to the reader’s attention. She thought the play on the organization’s name would help connect the other books. Boy, oh, boy, it did.  When it came to the second and third book, we (my second editor came in the middle of edits of CIRCLE OF DANGER) agreed DANGER and DECEPTION worked perfectly for the other books.

5) Odds and Ends.  I’ve seen one star reviews for the reader having trouble downloading a book (if through a reputable bookseller, it is most likely your computer/tablet/internet connection – besides, most authors are not IT experts), for receiving a book looking used (purchased from an independent seller, claiming to be “new” – I swear we want you to receive a new book, but there are others wanting to make a buck off an author’s hard work, without compensating the author. So buyer beware of unknown third parties.), and for the book not being the type of story or the direction they wanted. The last one I say, be sure to read the description of the book and the first few pages before buying. If you did, then I suggest either buy another author’s book or do what many authors have done, write your own. HA!

What’s That In Your Pocket?

CircleofDesire mm cOver the years in romance and erotica, I’ve seen (or is that read) the size of a man’s penis go from average to King Kong in length and width (ouch!). I’ll never forget reading a historical romance where the guy’s cock was so big he had to wear a sheath around it whenever he rode out to battle the enemy. Funny but oddly sexy.

Anyway, I came across this interesting article called Does Size Really Matter? It’s worth a read and maybe the next time (if you’re a writer), you’ll think twice before giving your hero a huge “pleasure rod.”  If you want to know more about penises and sizes, click here and read what Wikipedia said about it.

This all makes me remember a scene in CIRCLE OF DESIRE.

She [Olivia] leaned back in the chair, looking at him [Collin] with half-closed eyes. “Listen I hate men. No, I’m not sexually interested in women. I already have a pussy. Why would I  want another one? I put up with men for one reason only. Their cocks. Big throbbing ones. A real live hot, hard cock is ten times better than any synthetic one at satisfying my needs. I like playing with them and then leaving before they want more. Was that what you wanted to hear?

The burning sensation in her stomach said it all. She hated this discussion. She hated that he couldn’t bring himself to care enough to protect her. Why she expected any man to protect her when she’d done it for herself all this time, she didn’t know. She just did.

Love that woman!

Bah! Rules!

Woman Reading a DiaryFor the last few weeks I’ve been listening to some NYT bestselling books on audio. It’s inspiring all the way around.

As I was telling a buddy the other day, when I decided to try my hand at writing, it was out of desperation for something I liked to read. I had read all of my favorite writers’ books at that point (they can only write only so fast) and wanted to read what I knew for sure I would enjoy. Other authors start writing because they read something awful and said they could do better. But me, I wanted something just as good.

Though I’m not up to the excellence as the ladies I read, I continue to work on improving my books while keeping true to my voice.

One of the things I’ve learned while listening to the audios is that they’re not perfect. Close enough, but I catch a few things. And when I say I catch a few things, I’m saying they’re minor. It proves to me to stop sweating the small stuff.

Side note: One of the ways an author self-edits her book is to read it out loud. You catch so many errors that way. Helps smooth out the writing. But we’re all human and still miss a few.

Yes. There are grammar rules and they should be followed. Yet, at times you can break the rules if it will make the scene more dramatic or funny or whatever.  In other words, there must be a reason to break the rule.

My critique partner can tell you, I don’t believe in characters saying each other’s name over and over again, especially in a scene where there is only two people. Wouldn’t you get ticked, if your better half said your name at the beginning or end of every other sentence? You’d think they were mad at you or being sarcastic. But in one of the books, the hero refers to the heroine quite often by a nickname. It caught my attention, but didn’t irritate me (or the heroine). It actually helped the reader to remember there was a difference between the two lovers.

I caught inconsistencies in facts, but it didn’t bother me because the story was so wonderful. Yes. Great writing can help you overlook the small errors too.

So here’s to me hoping that my writing improves to the point people forgive me of all my small mistakes and understand the choices I make in my books.

Thinking Ahead

Angry, Frustrated WomanThe other day I downloaded a book I was waiting for (read it in two days and it was regular size – a little under 400 pages I believe – it was wonderful – thank you, Cherise Sinclair) and while purchasing it, another book caught my eye and I bought it. (Addict, right?)

I have to say the other story was interesting but the number of errors were horrendous. They were simple mistakes that could easily been caught by a critique partner. Many times throughout the book (yes, I read the whole thing – see, I do try) the author placed a “was” and then a verb like: “He was stood and waved at the girl . . .”

To make matters worse, I had download three more books (thank goodness, two were free – feeding the addiction – HELP, NANCY!) from other new-to-me authors, and OMG! I can overlook a handful of errors, but they were riddled. The agony!!

Not saying that mistakes don’t happen in traditional published books (each one of mine had one or handful – sadly), but I seriously thought about asking for a refund on one of them it was so bad and I could tell this was a beginner-author, but decided to use it as a lesson.

ALWAYS “LOOK INSIDE” BEFORE DOWNLOADING!!!

Writing With Tequila

Margarita on Flag of MexicoHow often have you heard that writers are crazy? Often, right?

Just think, every writer lives in her head easily 90% of the time. She makes up worlds that she tries to control, at least in the beginning. Then the characters take over. They may not do what we want most of the time, but like in my case, being a romance writer, they always come around to my way of thinking. You know, that LOVE can help any person get through the rough times and appreciate the good times.

Then when a writer deals with the outside world, there are so much she can’t control (reviewers, editors, agents, sales, family, etc.) and that can drive a normal person to drink, no less an oversensitive person (most writers).

I’ve been writing for years, and I can tell you the thought of downing a bottle of tequila sounds ideal most days. Yeah. I can understand why Stephen King was an alcoholic for years.

Don’t worry about me. I’m a sober writer though certainly loony. You can only imagine how nuts I would be drunk. Then again, I love everyone when I’m drunk. But we won’t go there.

Expectations In Romance

?????????????????????????????????????????????????As anyone who reads romance knows, there is always a happy ending. The heroes or heroines never die, and they never break up. Sure, they may never marry, but as a reader you know they will be together forever.

But I’ve noticed over the last several years there are other trends in particular of romance.

Back in the seventies through the nineties, the couple would wait until three quarters of the way through the book before having sex. Of course, there were exceptions, but then they often didn’t do it again until toward the end when all misunderstandings were cleared up.

Then in the new millennium, they started having sex in the middle of the book. GASP! I remember I could open some books directly in the middle, and there would be the love scene. It was so funny, not the love scene, usually pretty hot, but that I could find it so easily.

Even now I can read a mainstream (traditionally published) romance, and it will go like this: sexual tension, kissing, petting, almost a home-run but there’s an interruption by an external force or by a realization (She’s a virgin! She’s my brother’s fiancée! He’s the wrong brother! He’s a rake!) and maybe happens more than once. Eeek! So again, it would take until halfway through the book to have sex.

I so hate that. Sure they can’t go like bunnies all the time in a romantic suspense, (otherwise, that would be erotica), they do need to run and worry about something other than the hero being able to get it up. The horror! So with their clothes on, most of the time – I’ve been known for making my heroes go without – they need to have other types of action happening around them and to them.

There are other trends that I’ve seen romance writers do. Heroines are wetting their underwear/thongs a lot. Surprised the girl doesn’t have an infection. Heroes have that bead of moisture on the end of their penises. Not every man has that happen, every time. Then again, I haven’t been with every man.

I know why these trends happen. One writer will read another writer’s book who mentioned a bodily function or reaction the other hadn’t thought of before. So in her next book, she mentions it and then the race is on! Everyone is wetting panties and having beads everywhere.

So writers. If you read it in one, two, or three books, does it make it true or necessary? Please make your book’s a little different. Mix it up. Think about your own experiences and expand.

And if you’re a virgin and writing about women who have a great sex life, kudos to you! You’ve got a great imagination, but you might be surprised that it is a whole lot different than you believe. Actually, usually a whole lot better, though a lot messier. And a woman doesn’t multi-climax every single time.

If you do, you’re unique and I hate you.  (HA!)

Of course, it is fiction that we write.

Heroes With Mommy Issues

psychoOne of my old favorite romances is a medieval that the hero was a bastard (figuratively and literally). His distrust of women stemmed from his mother’s abandonment when he was a child. That theme ran through many romances back in the seventies and eighties, probably for centuries before that too. Nowadays we see less of that (the bastard resenting the mother who had them out of wedlock), but we still see it in other forms.

The hero whose wife or mother cheated on him or his father or the wife that didn’t want children or did want children when he didn’t. Or the hero with a step-father he hates and the mother he resents because she married the man. You get the idea. The list does go on.

It’s really a shame that moms get such a bum wrap. Being a mom, I can tell you that most of us try not to make mistakes but we all do.

But moms (and dads) are so important to our lives and using them as the deeply rooted reason for the hero’s (or heroine’s) actions could be considered an easy out for some, but really that’s right on track. Our parents have a tremendous impact on how we react to stress and challenges, and how we deal with and love others.

One thing about writing, the author almost has to be a psychologist.

Perseverance or The Need To Scream At the Top Of My Lungs

MM900046560Last year was a turkey of a year and let’s leave it at that. I rather dwell on good things, and that’s how I’m looking at 2014.

I’ve written a novella. The hero is Ice from The Circle series.  His lady love isn’t even mentioned in the books. A totally new character. And since it is a novella, it concentrates on the discovery of love more than on the suspense. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Next on my agenda is to complete Jack’s story. As you may know, I had already started on it but got sidetracked by many things including the novella.  Plus I’ve decided that Jack’s will be a novella too. Maybe a little longer than Ice’s, but still short.

Then I plan to work on Liam and Charlie’s. They so deserve a happy ending. After that I might do a short story for Ty Roman with a thread revealing what happened to Brody and Lucian Reilly. (How many people know who he was and what book he appeared in?)

You’re probably wondering why am I writing the rest of the series as novellas? Because I have two series that I would like to sell to publishing houses and my time should be and hopefully will be spent completing them. Besides, I didn’t want to wait on writing the rest of The Circle Series. So novella is the second best thing to do.

I have so many stories to write. I can’t wait until I retire so I can do this full time. Please hang in there with me.  You won’t regret it. I think.

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Young model

John Takahashi
also known as Ice
CIRCLE OF DISHONOR

Thanks to the fabulous Katherine Bone (Katherinebone.com) for inviting me to take part in the My Writing Process Blog Tour. And I’m told this post will also show up on Novels Alive TV. Pretty neat website. You need to check it out.

Now for the first question. What am I working on?

I’m completing CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE. For those who have read the other Circle books, this is Jack’s story but in novella size. Before DEFIANCE, I had finished Ice’s story, CIRCLE OF DISHONOR.

They should be out this summer. Here are their blurbs.

CIRCLE OF DISHONOR:  After the death of her husband, Lena Matthews wants to explore the dark, sensual side of life. She dreams of having the mysterious martial arts teacher, John Takahashi, in her bed. His every move screams of how well versed he is in carnal knowledge, and she’s willing to be the perfect student.

John, known as Ice in the more deadly parts of the world, wants the shy woman watching him from the coffee shop. But if he introduces her to his lifestyle, the trap he set for his enemy may snap shut on them both. Yet, he’ll risk it all to make her his.

CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE: Katerina Savalas hates to ask anyone for a favor, especially The Circle operative, Jack Drago. She needs his protection, and he’s the only man in the small town capable of fighting off the local criminal demanding that she handover the treasure map she’s found.

Only problem is Jack rather drink and wallow in self-pity than be the hero she remembers. Being assigned in the hayseed town, he’s aware that his days are numbered, and he believes she’s making it up. Treasure maps, yeah, right. But when someone burns down her house and almost kills her, he refuses to let his curse kill another woman on his watch. Or he will die trying.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, I guess every author likes to believe their books/series are different from everyone else’s.  Let’s see. When I’m asked what I write, I normally answer Romantic Suspense. But that’s not totally accurate. In fact, recently I started branding myself as Action – Adventure Romantic Suspense. My books are fast paced, sexy, and often violent. Usually I say they’re like James Bond or La Femme Nikita. So how many romance books out there can say that?

Why do I write what I do?

Because they’re the type of stories I love to read and watch on TV and in the movies. The guys are alphas and know how to handle themselves. They’re willing to protect women in a heartbeat. While the heroines can kick-butt or at least have the sense to stay out of the way if they don’t know how.

How does your writing process work?

At the start, I begin writing the book with a general idea of where I want to go. Then about halfway through I check my white board where I have written several notes of what should be happening in each section of the book. It’s broken down to twelve parts with the usual highs and lows for a three part story. I use Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CATand  Michael Hague’s Six Stage Plot Structure (both are for screenplays but can be used to write novels) to make sure I’m on track. Then I go back and tweak what I missed in the beginning and then finish the book. Sometimes, if I feel stuck, I’ll write out a short synopsis and add a few bios of the characters. That usually clears my head and I can finish without worrying what I forgot.

I know, I know. Not a very exciting post. But I leave all the excitement to my characters.

Updating My Brand

I’ve decided to update my brand just a little. From Hot Romantic Suspense to Action  * Adventure Romantic Suspense. Simple and sweet, heh? Sure my books are still hot, but I believe the covers normally give readers that idea anyway. But I wanted people to understand my books are not about serial killers or slow paced suspense. Nothing really wrong with them, just not my cup of tea.

Logo Plain revised1

As mentioned numerous times, they’re along the lines of Nikita and James Bond. My books are normally fast paced with lots of car chase scenes and lots of sex. They’re for adults who are not afraid of being themselves or fantasying about having more fun and being daring. You’ll get my drift after you read one.

Anyway, I’ve ordered some more book bags and changed up my logo a little. What do you think?

By the way, this is my 100th post for this blog. I’m keeping my promise to myself by not posting all the time, and so far it averages out to around twice a week. Not bad. I’m sure you have plenty more blogs to read than mine and most are waaay more interesting.  HA!

Hero Angst of The Circle Books

Beware – some spoilers mixed in.

Who doesn’t love a hero with a problem?  It could be the trouble-making heroine he’s fallen in love with or it could be the garbage he brought to the story from years before. Sherrilyn Kenyon is great at making the hero suffer as a kid and young adult. I’m sure there are other authors who do the same. Personally, I believe I pick on the heroine more than the hero, but I thought I would go over the angst that came out of my stories for the men.

CircleofDesire mm cCIRCLE OF DESIRE

In his twenties, Collin Ryker was the lead operative of the internal group of deadly mercenaries called the OS (Onyx Scepter), the heart of The Circle. When he realized his guardian, Theo, the head of the organization his father built, was insane, he convinced most of the operatives in the OS to follow him and split off from The Circle. The decision had been a hard one as when his parents had died in a car bomb, Theo had been there for him.

He’d lost his whole family when that car exploded and had to deal with survivor’s guilt. He worked at being like the father he admired by being emotionless and cold in his decision making. To him, that was a sign of a great leader. But when it came to Olivia, he loved fighting with her. They argue and actually try to kick each other’s butts, not abusively, as they love testing each other. The end results brought about some great love scenes.

I have to say he’s the only hero of The Circle series who has the least angst.

CIRCLE OF DANGERDanger cover2

Arthur Ryker is the leader of The Circle, and mercy, he has some big time angst. Let’s start with the scar on the side of face and body, and the blind eye. They are reminders from when his life fell apart. He’d been near the car that exploded with his mother and father inside. He’d tried to save them.

Then there is the psycho old leader, Theo. He blackmailed a teenager Ryker, promising to not rape a young girl if he obeyed him in all things, including a despicable act that Ryker had thought to never experience again. He has to live with his decisions.


Final Hi-Res CoverCIRCLE OF DECEPTION

Finally, Rex Drago’s angst has nothing to do with Theo. His is actually tied in with his height. You say, height? Yeah. His dad had the short man syndrome and resented a son who was taller than him by the time he reached high school. Even in elementary, he was taller than the other kids and adults treated him as if he was mentally handicapped. A child of that height should be older and smarter they thought.

He feels he’s not smart enough to be the second in command of The Circle.

Oh, and then there is the relationship between him and his bad ass brother, Jack. He tries to love his older brother, but with too much “water under the bridge,” it may be too late.

Side note about the series:

If you noticed in The Circle series, there is a thin string of the King Arthur legend references. The heaviest are in the first book. Psycho Theo dresses up like a knight, and he believes a sword proves he deserves to be a leader (feeling guilty much?). Of course, The Circle is in reference to the table that all the knights sat around. Last, but not least, Ryker’s first name in CIRCLE OF DANGER. Arthur.

There’s another reference to King Arthur’s legend in the books?  Do you know what it is? I’ll give you a hint. It’s a name.

Does It Work?

I just finished reading an interesting article (not on line, sorry) about what authors should do in marketing their books. *sigh* It wore me out. So many things that has nothing to do with true writing. There’s no way I’ll do all that. I just want to write.

The most marketing I plan to do is 1) post on occasion here or a friend’s site, 2) tag this post to Facebook and Twitter, and 3) write, write and write.

Who knows. I may never get famous that way, but if my books are good enough to stir up excitement, they’ll do it on their own. My goal is to keep writing and improving each book that I publish (myself or by a publisher).

Okay. Enough said. Time to get back to writing. Time to cause mayhem and chaos in the romantic suspense (action/adventure) world. Someone must DIE!

Lassie, Come Home!

AmericanCollieDon’t worry. I haven’t gone away. I’ve been mostly at the must-be-there-to-have-a-roof-over-my-head day job, but something new has happened to me. I have a new critique partner!

*waves at Nancy*

So far, I haven’t broken her or run her off. Personally, I believe she’s a keeper. We’re alike enough not to frustrate each other but different enough to make the reading of each other’s work interesting.

Some of you may be wondering why it would keep me away from the blog? Well, technically it shouldn’t, but I’ve noticed I’m writing more. As in romance. And that’s a good thing. If you missed it on Facebook, I mentioned, in an offhanded way, that I wouldn’t be there as often as I had in the past. I rather write and edit stories.

Hopefully this means I’ll have two novellas out this summer and another one by Christmas. And somewhere along the way I have two contemporary books to finish. That is, if some editor doesn’t ask for my medieval romance, THE CAGED HEART. Hey, you never can tell.

They might.

Uh huh, maybe.

It can happen!

Even pretend confidence can work.

Top Sex Mistakes by Women

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I came across this article and thought it had a lot of common sense points in it. Plus they had a few links to books. Love articles that do that (when the books are written by different people and not an info-commercial for one how-to author).

You’re probably wondering why I read articles like that. It’s all part of research, baby!  If my characters make mistakes, I want them to realize it quickly. HA!

And the title of this post makes me laugh. Think about it.

Do You Have A Question?

MM900395769The other day, I was thinking how people may have questions about my books? Maybe you’re curious about how I choose the names and places? Why I matched up the characters the way I did? What do I plan for future books?

Well, if you have any questions, ask away.

Romance Writers Make Lousy Liars

Beautiful Woman Enjoys CoffeeOf course, you’re wondering, why would I say such a thing? Think of it this way.

One of your friends arrives at the restaurant for your girls’ night out with her clothes in disarray and hair mussed. She tells you, “I’m sorry I’m late, but I had a flat tire, and this handsome stranger helped. It was raining the whole time he changed the tire and I couldn’t just let him leave in those wet clothes. So I invited him back to my house to get dry. While he waited, wrapped in an old robe my ex left behind, we drank a cup of hot cocoa to get him warmed up. He talked about watching the latest Julia Roberts’s drama and I talked about how much I loved cleaning house. Time got away from us. If you don’t mind, I’ll order a small salad to go. He promised to stick around until I return and then we plan to talk some more about our growing feelings for each other.”

How do you know she was lying? Let’s list the lies starting from the end and working our way up.

1)      Really what man wants to talk about feelings?

2)      Has a man ever waited around for a woman while she visited a friend? Well, we would have to give her that one. If a guy thought he’d get lucky, he would stand one-legged, flapping his arms and singing Gangnam Style. “Hey, sexy lady…”

3)      And what woman would admit to another she loved cleaning house. Her friend would be obligated to see her institutionalized.

4)      For a heterosexual male willing to watch Julia in anything she didn’t look her best, we’d have to wonder.

5)      Geez, there are other ways to warm him up. Hot cocoa. *snort* Get real. I smell that wine on your breath.

6)      Old robe of ex. That would be cut up and used to wipe up dog poop.

7)      Everyone knows there is a drought going on.

8)      Who are you kidding about a flat tire? You teach “car repair for the independent female” at the local community college.

But the biggest lie she told you was when she said SORRY. We saw what she looked like when she stumbled by the hostess. One button missing on her blouse and her jeans are unsnapped. The back of her hairdo is standing straight up. We know what that means! Who in their right mind would feel sorry for someone who drank all afternoon and had great sex with a big hunk of … oh, crap. What was my point?

Oh, yeah. The truth was she was in a middle of a great scene in her current WIP and wanted to get back home to write some more.

[reprint of November 12, 2012 post on the Romance Magicians blog. One of my favorites.]

Yakety Yak!

MM900309746Does being a ‘talker’ make an author a better writer?  My personal opinion is no.

Being a talker (as in a person who talks to talk) for most of my life, I wasted a lot of words to get to a point. Sure an author needs to be able to expand and describe scenes, people, clothes, etc., all in effort to give a book more color. But I’ve found people who can say so much in so few words to be freaking geniuses.

Maybe that’s why I’ve become quieter.   😉

New Year’s Plans

MC900444923If you’re like me, you rarely make New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year. Usually, I find myself deciding in the middle of a year what to do the next year. I’m a firm planner-ahead person. Funny, considering I’m a pantser (write by the seat of my pants) writer.

This year I decided not to go to any conferences in 2014. This will be only the second time in ten years I haven’t been to a conference (National and/or regional). The last time was the year I received The Call (2011). That year all of my funds went to an entire Family Vacation. We try to do that every other year. This coming year though is a milestone for hubby and I. Our fortieth wedding anniversary and we plan to go on a train ride through parts of Alaska. Can’t wait!

Another plan is to self-publish three novellas that will continue The Circle series. Of course, I have other plans, but if you’re like me, there are a few we keep to ourselves. You know, to keep from having egg on our face if the plans fall through. I don’t know about you, but I rather eat eggs than wear them.

Oh, I will be at Heart of Dixie’s Romance Readers Luncheon and possibly at Southern Magic’s. But those are local and don’t cost me as much, though I will say I spend a lot of money on the basket I give away. For details about the luncheons, go to their websites: heartofdixie.org and southernmagic.org

Baffled?

Woman Reading a DiaryLove that word along with bamboozled, hoodwinked, charlatan, flummox and so many more. All words you don’t hear people say anymore. You’re more apt to read it in a historical novel. I wonder what words we say now that will be quaint fifty to hundred years from now?

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. I’m baffled by the popularity of a certain series of books — and no, it’s not Fifty Shades of Grey — and I won’t give the titles as I never say negative things about other authors’ books. Well, not on line and rarely verbally. I chalk up the success of the books due to the world having a wide range of readers. As there are people who love my books and others who do not, and I’m happy to say the loves way out number all of the others. Thank goodness!

Whatever.

When it comes to my reading taste, as I mentioned here before, I vary from inspirational to paranormal to erotica (BDSM) to historical to contemporary romance. Preferable that all have the word romance in the genre.

I guess only half the time do I follow the crowd in reading the popular book or series. When Harry Potter came out, I had no interest in reading the books and only watched the first movie. Not my thing. No matter how beautifully they’re written. Same with Charlene Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series. They just didn’t interest me. Nothing against the books or authors . . . *shrug*

Though I did/do read Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. And I read Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander and Fever series. All of Kresley Cole’s series including the new one she started (and I can’t wait for #2), The Dacians. Anne Stuart’s Ice series (wish there were more of those).

I can’t go in details about why I’m baffled without giving away the series, but I will say the decisions the female lead made irritated the crap out of me. I kept saying, “Dumb, dumb, dumb.”  Each to their own.

What Can You Learn?

MH900442424One of the many lessons I’ve learned writing over the years is that you have to keep an open mind. There is so much to learn, and sometimes the smallest things will turn on the little light bulb above your head.

For me, I wanted to improve on sexual tension. (And I’m still working on it.) Sexual tension is a large part of what makes romance books wonderful to read. I’m not talking about the sexual tension of the couple bouncing the balls in bed, but what if sex isn’t part of the story? For example an inspirational romance where the couple may kiss but nothing more. I’ve read some inspirational novels with great tension. Shocked? Don’t be. I read a large variety of romance. Or if you’re shocked that inspirational novels have great sexual tension, then you’re reading the wrong ones.

So in this case, it is more like the promise of sex tension. Or maybe it should be called attraction tension. Yeah.

Isn’t that one of the great things about first falling in love? Where the attraction is strong you know it will lead to something more, but for whatever reason you can’t go that extra step and see/feel each other naked. That kind of tension.

Yes. I know my heroes and heroines have no problem doing the deed without blinking an eye, but I want that tension in every moment they’re together, even after they do the mambo between the sheets. I’m a firm believer that a romance novel isn’t over after the first love scene. That’s when the tension heightens. Hey, they know the score and they want more. But there is a time and place to make love, and when those times aren’t available, the couple should be aware of each other and what they want to repeat.

When other authors do this, I know it makes me read faster. Not only do I want them to stop the killer (or werewolf or duke’s spy . . .), I want to see how much deeper they fall in love (it is a romance) as they’re swapping saliva and other interesting fluids. LOL!

I’m working hard to keep this post PG-13. One day, I may have to switch the blog over to 18 and over. Then Katie bar the door, my four-letter self will go wild.

Accents: How Do Ya’ll Say . . .

MC900438068Have you ever read a story where the author used accents? I see it on occasion, and thankfully, nowadays most authors use it sparingly. In CIRCLE OF DANGER, Liam is a secondary character who’s Irish. He’d lived in the U.S. for about ten years, and his accent mostly showed up when he was emotional. So he may say “bloody” when mad or use “me” instead “I” when he’s in a teasing mood. As you can see, I used colloquialism as a way to convey the accent.

No need for abbreviating like people do with Southern accents. Ya’ll un’erstan? That’s just it. Using too many abbreviated words or even slang, can become confusing to the reader and slow down the story. Let them hear the accents in their own mind. One of the tricks to remember is that many accents have rhythms. Sometimes movies can be helpful to get the hang of that.

Everyone in the world has accents. Californians, Oregonians, and Washingtonians claim they don’t. Sorry, but you do. Mostly it’s just the accepted accent for the media. But in the South, we often think some of you sound like a Yankee. HA!

And not all Southerners are hillbillies.

Misconceptions

MP900387516 I love writing stories about misconceptions. You know where the hero appears to be a bad guy (and may be one) and he has a problem trusting that there are good people in the world. So cynical. And the woman is good, but people say ugly things about her and how her family is trash, so she has to be trouble too, right? Love it! Even reversed.

We all know in the real life nothing is as it appears. That’s why people fight and argue and are ugly to each other. We can only judge others by our own experiences. If our past involves having people betray or berate us, we expect it from everyone. Our insecurities can be a booger.

As most writers know, editors care little for conflict that could be solved by a simple conversation. I’m sure there are some stories written where the hero and heroine trust and love each other enough for that to happen pretty quickly. You know, talk and believe each other.   

Oh, no, not my characters. I love seeing my couple suffer as they learn to trust. And trust isn’t a stable emotion. In the beginning it doesn’t take much to blow all their hard work to hell and back. If you don’t trust yourself (Should you really believe in this man or woman? You’ve been hurt or seen others hurt over and over again.), how can you believe they won’t betray you? Again?

Bride and groom kissing.

The gradual move from distrust to believing what they say keeps me reading the book. And of course, the sexual tension keeps me turning the pages too.

Yes, love can conquer all ― that’s why I write romances ― but true love takes time and the length of one book usually does it.

They Kissed as He . . .

The last few years I’ve seen a trend for the hero to be six foot five and taller. Yes, I know that my hero, Rex, whose story is in CIRCLE OF DECEPTION, is six foot five and even a secondary character, Liam, is six foot six. But for me those are exceptions in my manuscripts. I usually keep my fellows anywhere from five-eleven to six-two, and still that’s above average for the American male.

Anyway, with this tall man trend going on, I’ve read love scenes where the man would have to be a contortionist to preform sexually as the heroines remain shorter than average (5′ 5″) in most of the stories.

Think of it this way, the hero is thrusting (I’m trying to keep this PG-13) and he decides to suck on something taut in the female chest area. There’s some adjustment that’s needs to be done. I’m not saying he can’t do it, but let’s say his thrusting slows because his center must shift quite a bit as he bends like a paperclip.

Then there is the sweet cuddling scene. They can be in bed or standing next to each other. The heroine is five-three and she snuggles her face into the hero’s neck. Is she standing on a box?  If he’s six-five, her nose should be buried in his chest hair. Of course, he could bend down or he could lift her, but I rarely read anything like that.

Oh, oh, and when she feels his hardness (you know what hardness I’m talking about) against her hip/pelvis as they dance or hug . . . LOL! Is he stooping?

Here are some celebrity couples and their heights.  This will help you figure it out. I have a feeling that some of the couples have to get inventive in bed (and out).

And don’t get me started on how a six-seven man can hide or steal just anyone’s car. Seats in the average car will not accommodate those legs, no matter how far back the seat is pushed back. That’s why most tall men drive trucks or over-sized vehicles (e.g., Hummers).

I also drew stick figures (6’5 vs 5’4″) to give you an idea of the differences. Be sure to remember, I’m an author, not an artist.

IMG_0075So I suggest you keep your fellow average height. You can always make your heroine shorter if he has to tower over her. Then I sometimes wonder about guys who . . . no, I’m not going there. I might start a fight then or hurt someone’s feelings.

Starting With a Whimper

MH900423167

I had planned, and even wrote a little bit for a new blog post today, but didn’t finish it. My sinuses are dealing me fits. In fact, one eye is almost swollen shut. Ain’t I pitiful?  LOL!

Whenever I get sick, I feel my age. I guess everyone is like that. Use to I could keep going even with a 101 temp, but no more. Chances are when I finish this short post, I’m carrying my dragging ass to bed. *sigh*

It’s hell growing old.

Starting Over

January 1, 2013, I will move my old blog site at Blogger to this new site with WordPress.

Why a new blog site? I had started the old one in 2008 and during the following four years, I’ve written over 1000 posts in that blog alone not counting posts in Romance Magicians. But the majority of the posts are before I was published. Now I feel I need a new start. With the popularity of Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter, blogging isn’t as important to me as it use to be.

I will probably use this blog for passing on news about my books more so than voicing opinions.

The old blog will remain for the next year with no new posts, and chances are I’ll see about the cost of getting it placed into a book for my own purposes and then I’ll shut it down and delete it.

I’ll see you then.

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