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Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Blog: Jo Beverley: Let's Talk About Conflict in a Romance Novel.


People say that conflict is what makes a good read, and it's true, but sometimes people, including inexperienced authors, get the idea that conflict = war, fighting, and head-butting, and that isn't usually the case. I don't know about you, but I get bored of romances in which the main problem is that the hero and heroine just can't get along. I'm particularly irritated if the completely unreasonable one is the hero because I won't be far into the book before I'm muttering, "Just walk, lady. He's a thick-headed jerk and always will be."

Do you ever find yourself thinking that, or do you enjoy seeing the snarly duckling eventually turned into an amiable swan? That's another classic storyline, of course, so it's valid.

To flip the above comment about her walking, my husband has similar advice to most romance heroes. He sometimes helps me with my plot dilemmas, and as I lay out the situation he often says, "He needs to walk. That woman's nothing but trouble."

LOL! He's usually right, whether the wounds be mental, emotional, or physical, the guy would have had a quieter life if he'd never met her. "But," I say, "the rewards in the end make it all worth it."

He's not convinced. "You don't want to meet any of these men in a dark alley," he warns.

But back to conflict. Sometimes the hero and heroine will have strongly opposing views on an important subject, so there will be arguments, but arguments alone don't take a novel very far. Sometimes they're on opposite sides in a fight, be it a family feud or intergalactic war, and that makes for powerful barriers to their happiness. The novel usually works because they are both working to overcome those barriers rather than just shooting at each other.

And that is the key term -- barriers. Conflict in a novel is the stuff that gets between the character and his or her goal. In a romance some of the barriers will be between the couple and their future happiness, and for me as a reader it better not just be head-butting, but that could be because my idea of a wonderful relationships is one mostly of agreement.

We readers don't all love and hate the same books, thank heavens, and so it's good there's something for everyone in romance novels.

There's hardly any fighting between my hero and heroine in A Scandalous Countess, but they have all kinds of barriers to overcome.

Superficially, they're a bad match.

Lord Dracy was until recently in the navy and he has no experience with or interest in fashionable, courtly London society. Now he's inherited an impoverished barony he's duty bound to put all his efforts into restoring his country estate to prosperity.

Georgia, dowager Countess of Maybury (and she hates that "dowager", being only 20) has lived three years as a wealthy, fashionable London lady, a darling of society. It's her world. Her husband's death and the scandal surrounding it have taking that life from her and her chief goal is to get it back. The obvious way is to marry a rich, highly-titled, Town-loving gentleman. She positively dislikes country living.

A horse race brings them together -- and they like each other. They spar a bit, but both recognize that unexpectedly and undesirably, they've found a friend.

Perhaps you can see how that is a new barrier. Dracy wants the best for his friend, and he's not it. Georgia values this new friend, but she sees the danger that he might fall in love with her and she can't break a friend's heart.

The reviving scandal and the machinations of an enemy both push them closer and challenge their plans, and thus a novel grows. You can read their first encounter on my web site here.
http://www.jobev.com/ascancexc.html

The reviews thus far are excellent, and A Scandalous Countess is a top pick from Romantic Times. I hope you enjoy it. I'll give a signed copy of the previous countess book, An Unlikely Countess, to a random pick from comments here about conflict and barriers in romance novels. I'll choose someone at midnight EST, 1 February.

Oh, and lastly, my publisher has produced a short video of me talking about the book. Americans seem to enjoy my English accent. http://youtu.be/V149m0JXGck

Happy reading always!

Jo

Jo Beverley has an Author's page at: http://www.romancebooksrus.com. Come and visit the website!

BLURB:
Georgia, Countess of Maybury has it all, but then her husband is killed in a duel and she loses her homes, most of her possessions, and her reputation as well. Innocent of all charges, she returns to the beau monde determined to regain all through a second brilliant marriage, but a scarred ex-naval officer threatens to tempt her in a different direction.

BIO:
Jo Beverley is one the few authors writing English-set historical romance who is English. She was born and raised in England, and has a degree in English history from Keele University in Staffordshire. She and her husband emigrated to Canada, but have now returned to England. They have two sons.

Though Jo started to write as a young child, it was only in the eighties that she began to think that it was something ordinary people could do, and after a talk at a local library, she settled to seriously writing her first historical romance.

Now, she is the author of over thirty romance novels and many novellas -- see Jo Beverley's booklist which have brought her many awards, including five RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America and awards from Romantic Times including two Career Achievement awards. She is a member of the RWA Honor Roll, and the RWA Hall of Fame.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In Search of the Perfect Heroine

Good Morning,


This is tough, I have no idea what men look for in a heroine, but they don't read romances so who cares.  Well, we must care because she has to be attractive to our hero.  We need to know what men look for in their ladies.

I told a lie in my very first paragraph.  Can you guess what it is?  Men don't read a romance is a lie.  On one of my loops, several readers said they and their husbands often read a romantic adventure together.  I bet you are just dying to know why.  Well, guess what, they are learning new techniques for making love.  They want the sex between them and their spouses to be more satisfying, more interesting to their respective partners.

Okay, I've digressed a bit.  My personal opinion of the ideal protagonist is that she may be us.  Of course, I'm not saying I'm perfect (just close to it--grin), but neither is our character.  We can make her the way we would like to look or act, but she still has to have ordinary flaws like all women have.

There are physical attributes that most guys look for in a woman when they are on the prowl.  Almost all males pant over boobs, the ass and legs, but in the end those features won't hold their interest forever.  No, your heroine better have a personality, be intelligent and strong.  No man wants a stick character, a dummy or someone who can't take care of themselves when he's not there.

A man wants to take care of his woman, (yeah, the caveman) but not to the extent she is reliant on him all the time.  Gentlemen, you wish for a partner that you can lean on when the need arises.  This means the perfect heroine needs to know when to be strong and when not to be. 

Appearance is only important as far as description of the female protagonist is necessary in my story, and also, because everyone wants to read about a hot looking female.  The old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is true between a man and a woman.  What one man or woman finds lovely or handsome may not be another person's idea of either. 

A heroine may be made up of a composite of many people or maybe just someone you might like to meet in your dreams.  Take the best from all women and make her your idol.  Just remember no one is perfect so give her a flaw. 

Have a wonderful week.

Sandra K. Marshall
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1496954556
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/SandraKMarshall
http://www.skaymarshall.com
http://www.sandramarshallblog.blogspot.com
http://www.eirelander-publishing.com

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Guest Blog: Maggie Berkley: My Great Romantic Lead

My vast amount of research on love is limited to one man and twenty-one years of marriage. Not enough for someone who writes urban fantasy romance books. But then again, I do write it with a twist. Happy endings? Not always. True love at first sight? Call it lust. The hero is strong and true? Sometimes you have to shove him into that position. Do romance book characters always have to be sappy sweet or cause vast amounts of heart ache before 'true love' wins over all? Why don't ogres ever get their time in the spotlight?

I've been asked before if I base my main characters attributes on my own relationship. After wiping tears of laughter off my cheeks and catching my breath I finally answer and of course, it's a resounding 'NO'. It's not that my husband wouldn't make a good romantic lead, but seriously, most women would run screaming from him. He's not disfigured, nor is he hygienically challenged but his gruff attitude and dominate demeanor is enough for most ladies to scratch their heads and wonder why I would put myself in that kind of eternal tortuous position. Call me a sucker for punishment. One older lady at my church even called me a saint. Me? I just smile and know there's an off button for my husband's tirades and it's the ever precious, magically wonderful earplugs. Believe me, I use them a lot, for my hubby has an opinion about everything. Don't get me wrong, this is not a slam blog on domineering husbands (mine in particular) nor is a venting outlet. It's more of a love letter. More than once I have to remind myself, 'I do love this man' and in a way, his little spiels of 'this is how it should be' and 'I know best' keeps up that love for without it I would have a hard time remembering why I locked myself a way with him for the rest of my life.

I've been asked many times over my marriage why I married my husband. One lady in particular even thanked me for taking him off the market and saving the rest of womankind. His nature is quite abrasive at times and his opinions about himself quite high. And when he starts on a roll about things he thinks 'could be better if...' I just snort and roll my eyes as I pull my earplugs out, knowing he'll continue rambling on for a full thirty minutes after I stopped listening, sometimes to make a point, sometimes, I feel, just to hear himself talk. But the big secret about him, that all those other women didn't know, is that he's a good man. An honest, tried and true, good man. Those creatures are rare these days, with TV/movies, music, sports and the news telling males that in order for a man to be 'A MAN' he must earn a ton of cash (not always legally), must call a woman a 'bitch' and a 'ho' (treating them like dirt to be abused and walked on), must have some kind of crisis which always involves another woman (because after all, boys will be boys and after a dozen roses and sweet promises all will be forgiven) and always put himself first in everything.

Now my hubby is no movie star nor great white rapper (though he tries at times) and if he called me a 'ho' or 'bitch' I'll smack him a new one. The thought of him cheating, let's say we've had this conversation before and it always ended with me redecorating the room in red, blood red...it will never happen. He does at times put himself first then I have to kick him out of gear and remind him there are two other people living in the house (we have a son, almost as bad as his father). He mumbles and grumbles about being unappreciated then picks up the Playstation controller to do a little kickass Fallout style.

Truth be told, my good man... my unappreciated, gruff, domineering, good man works hard to provide for us. This man whom others have labeled and at times scorned would bend over backward to help someone in need. And though he does complain about things he puts his money/actions when his mouth is. He has a heart for the unsavory, ignored and disadvantaged. He comes to the aid of those in need and has a convection for what's right and just. Where most would just walk past, he would stop and talk to the homeless. He visits the old and incarcerated, letting them know they are remembered and not forgotten. He would, and has, defended me and my honor for the ump degree.

When I'm sad and upset, with fears at times misbegotten, he gives me comfort and warmth. He forgives and forgets ( forgets a little too much at times. Wondering if he has a memory problem. I've been after him to finish remodeling the bathroom for years). Romance is not his forte, but he surprises me at times and keeps his promises. And his sense of humor...let's just say I'll be laughing long after I've grown old and senile, forgetting who that strange man sitting next to me is.

Let's face it, I've married an ogre: big, gruff, opinionated, domineering and at times not so nice, but underneath all those layers is a heart of gold (you just have to dust it off every once in a while to see it shine). Those polished Princes, the ones the world views as great...eh, you can have them. I'll stick with my man. The one no one else wants. In my opinion he's worth the price of a few ear plugs.

BIO:
A long time fan of dark fantasy with a touch of romance and horror, Maggie Berkley grew up in a world all her own, one she created as a teenager during her long times of parental lock down due to a rebellious nature. As a youth she created stories and plays for her friends to act out for anyone willing (and at times unwilling) to watch and as time went by drew upon her love of fantasy and horror to write longer stories and fan fiction. Due to the encouragement of friends and family she decided rather than keep her stories for herself she would publish and in doing so created different worlds to feature her vast imagination.

Maggie lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband of many, many years, an extremely tall teen-age son, one rowdy puppy and two cats that rule their lives with an iron claw.

Maggie currently has two novels out published by Red Rose Publishing. Enter the Night and Behind the Throne, part of the Morgan Crowe Trilogy, as well as a short novelette, Diary of a Vampire. She is currently working on the conclusion of the Morgan Crowe Trilogy entitled Out of the ShadowedLands.

Her website is http://maggieberkley.jigsy.com and readers can also find her on http://www.facebook.com/maggieberkley and http://www.twitter.com/maggieberkley. You can find my books at Red Rose Publishing, on Amazon Kindle, Bookstrand and Fictionwise. If anyone wants to drop her a line they can do it at maggieberkley@yahoo.com.

BLURB: Book Two in the Morgan Crowe Trilogy: Behind the Throne

Alone, pregnant and cranky, Morgan Crowe finds herself surrounded by enemies and with no one to trust when luck finds her on the doorstep of a friend long forgotten. Taken in by the daughter of a powerful King who would rather see her dead, Morgan relies on her instincts for survival and hopes she could live through the next few months in order to give birth, and then she would be up to her normal strength and skill.

As her rotten luck would have it an enemy has found itself in her safe haven and has taken revenge, by taking her only surviving friend and causing her to come face to face with her past. Court intrigue and danger rears its ugly head as the grip on her tightens, causing her to reach out for help and learn that to trust may not be as bad as she thought. Especially when that trust comes in the form a young Werewolf met once on a rainy night that seems so long ago.

But attractions are not that simple are they? Especially when an old rival shows up and the heat between them flares. But Morgan has no time for macho games, especially when her friend’s life is in her grasp.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Action Before Reaction by Janice Seagraves

Action before reaction 
By Janice Seagraves 
My book
Going through edits for the first time was an eye opening experience to my own mistakes.

Have you ever written anything like this?

Example: Megan screamed as a big, ugly boar stuck its head in the tent opening. 

Do you see what's wrong here?

I didn’t.

My editor pointed out that Megan reacts by screaming, before the action. The boar’s head is even in the tent yet, before she's screaming her head off.

 Always, she told me, remember action before reaction.

Correct: A big, ugly boar stuck its head through the tent opening. Megan screamed.

Always put the action first.

Whether you follow up with action, emotion or internal thought, the action (boar) that provoked the reaction (scream) has to come first.

Ah, I got it.

Here’s the scene with the corrections:

Correct: Just as the sky started to lighten, Megan woke to a grunt and a rustling noise just outside her tent. “Who’s there?” She quickly unzipped her tent.

A big, ugly boar stuck its head through the opening. Megan screamed.

“Huh?” grunted the scarred boar. It tried to hook her with its tusk.

“Get out! Get out!” Megan shrieked, scrambling back to reach under her pillow. She heard something ripping as she jerked her head back to the tent opening.

The pig had gotten a tusk stuck in the tent’s door flap. It whipped its head back and forth, trying to get loose.

“Damn wanker,” she yelled. “You’re tearing my tent.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Windswept Shores: http://pinkpetalbooks.com/Windswept-Shores-Janice-Seagraves.html
Also available at SmashwordsDiesel, All Romance and for the kindle at Amazon.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Now That's a Mystery


I read a review the other day that said most fantasies don’t have a mystery in them, and I began to wonder about that. I’m not sure that’s true, because to me it seems most fantasies have the hero/heroine searching for something. If they don’t know what it is, isn’t that a mystery? Even in my romantic comedies, the main characters are searching for a fundamental truth.

But, I have noticed as I write more straight mystery novels and turn to higher adventure fantasies, that the two become inexplicably combined in my fantasies (maybe a touch of magic even shows up in my mysteries).

In a recent new series that I have, strange things start to happen and even the earth angels involved can’t figure out how they’re occurring. For instance, what’s going on when a car appears to have driven by itself, no driver, or when lions suddenly appear in the back yard? What’s with the huge buzzard that keeps crashing into windshields? Then there’s the mysterious question of why the main character’s mother-in-law is being guarded by an archangel.

In my latest co-written work, This Magic Moment, released in December, the hero and heroine are searching for a love that has evaded them their whole lives. More importantly, they are searching for that one thing that will make them truly happy in their own skin. At the beginning, neither person is filled with wonder but beaten down by everyday life. To make matters even more interesting, mysterious things begin to happen, like everyone seemingly knowing what they’re doing all the time. How? Photos show up they didn’t know were taken. It appears someone is manipulating them so they’ll stay in the same rooms at night. Who could be behind all the mysterious occurrences they are now experiencing?

Piqued your interest? This Magic Moment is available now exclusively at Amazon.  The print copy is also available. The other series I mentioned, Walk Right In, is out now in e-book and print, released by L&L Dreamspell, and the sequel, Walk Right Back, will be out any time now. You can read more these and others on my website, www.DarynCross.com . For now, just remember that if someone says there’s no mystery in fantasy, you can ask them if they know how it will end when they begin. Not that’s a mystery.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interview of Author B.C. Brown

Today I'm presenting an interview of romance author B.C. Brown.

 Latest Book: A Touch of Darkness
Buy Link:  http://tinyurl.com/83uyucw
BIO: 
My name is B.C. Brown, or B.B., or that weirdo who writes, whichever one works best for you. I grew up in southern Indiana, in a rural town where local sports dominate, small town history is ever-important, and where everyone is under the delusion that the town is larger than it really is. I've been writing since a young age; my mother kept many of my first attempts and, let me tell you, those are humbling, to say the least. My first novel, a fantasy adventure entitled Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows and published under the pen name B.B. Walter, came out in 2007. I've subsequently published a paranormal romance, A Touch of Darkness (Winter 2010), and have participated in a transgressive fiction anthology, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (Fall 2011).

Q: What's the first thing you did when you received word that you sold a book?

A: *grinning* I danced around the living room with my dog.  Actually, I do that every time I see I've sold a book.  My dog is beginning to wish I'd give up this particular vocation, I'm sure.

Q: What part of a book is hardest to write:
A: Particularly, transition scenes between plotlines are most difficult for me. Segues from primary plot to secondary plot require a certain finesse that I am continually trying to learn how to do better.  There is nothing that draws me up shorter when I am reading someone else's work (except, perhaps, for clunky dialogue) like poorly transitioned plotlines.

Q: If one of your books were to be made into a movie, who would you like to play your hero/heroine? Tell us about your hero/heroine.

A: Jada Pinkett-Smith would be my first choice to play Abigail St. Michael.  The actress has a wonderful range, a statuesque physical appearance and demeanor (despite her lack of physical height- which would mean she'd need to be filmed specially since the character is supposed to a very tall woman), that would be well-suited for Abbey's particular personality.  As far as an actor to play a character from one of my stories, I would have to choose Leonardo DiCaprio to play David Constantine from my fantasy novel, Sister Light, due to his range and ability to emote better than most actors twice his age and with twice the experience.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I am active in my community theater; we put on 3 plays/musicals a year.  And I am a HUGE karaoke fiend.  Despite not being able to sing very well (due to my limited deafness) I enjoy music and thrill in performing live in front of people, strangers and familiar faces alike.

Q: What is your strongest point as a writer?
A: I like to think my strongest point is my verbal and internal dialogue and how I use them to interact with and shape the current scene they're in.  Most comments I receive from fans, critique partners, and from editors and beta readers are on the way I use internal and external dialogue in conjunction with my scenes, often using both to shape or alter a scene in rapid-fire manor.

Q: You're on a remote island with a handsome man, a computer, and a "mysterious" source of electricity to power your computer. What do you do?
A: My question really is: is the man both handsome and a strong communicator with good conversational skills?  If he is, I'd have to...um...work with him to stir up a few good ideas for writing.  If he's not a good conversationalist, well, I'd have to sit on the other side of the island with the computer and write myself some better company!  The best thing about being a writer is the limitless supply of adventure, company and excitement one can conjure in one's life.

Tell us where to find you! 
www.bcbrownbooks.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/bcbrown
www.twitter.com/bcbrownbooks

BLURB: 
Abigail St. Michael, a former cop, has joined the recently growing ranks of metaphysicals, individuals with abilities outside that of normal human nature. When a murderer stalks her town killing children, Abbey uses her ability of touch clairvoyancy to hunt him down. Her only roadblock is that her murderer seems to have his own unique talent, the ability to 'wipe' his victims and their surroundings of any metaphysical energy. With little physical evidence and no supernatural evidence, Abbey is forced to rely on instinct and luck to solve the case. However both Abbey's luck and instinct seem to have taken a permanent vacation as the victims keep piling up with the killer's escalating bloodlust.
EXCERPT: WARNING  - Language 
Lieutenant Jason Davis was a tall man with thinning auburn hair and a mustache that reminded me of a squirrel in desperate need of Rogaine.  You might mistake him for merely being tall, but trust me I know tall since I myself am well over six feet; Lieutenant Davis was freakishly tall.  If I had to gauge a guess-

Don't ask; don't tell.

I'd estimate him around the seven feet mark.I'd once heard he had been offered a basketball scholarship to some prestigious university because of his height, but he'd turned it down to go to community college to become a cop.  Davis said he liked police work.

Bullshit!

Nobody likes police work.We're good at it, and nobody else wants the fucking job.

I'd said as much to him at one point, and he'd only shrugged and ambled away.  If Davis didn't answer a question or comment I'd make, I'd learned throughout the years, it was because he agreed with me but couldn't say it outright.  I'd never had that problem; I said everything outright - even when I should just keep my fucking mouth shut.

I watched Davis as he blew on his fingers, flexing them in the chill late night/early morning air, as I strolled up to him, smiling despite the ridiculous hour.

Really, why couldn't criminals be more considerate and only commit crimes between the hours of nine to five, Monday through Friday?  I mean, jeez, don't they want a nice, normal routine like the rest of mankind?

"Good to see we haven't ruined your amusement, Abbey," he growled.

All right, growled was probably too strong a word for Davis's voice.  For such an incredibly tall man, he had a high-pitched and soft voice, but I knew the tone he implied; it was an ability I'd picked up over the years.

FYI: Always know your boss's tone.

I stared at the man and brought my croissant up for a big bite.  I tore at the buttery, flaky bread with gusto noticing how the golden yellow of the crust contrasted with the chocolate creaminess of my fingertips, the crumbs dusting the dark mocha of my palm like graham cracker crumbs atop hot chocolate.  I'd taken off my glove to eat my croissant.  The damned thing dripped buttery goodness and I didn't want to get the butter all over my glove as I chowed down.

I knew this great little bakery down on 19th street that had the best breads and pastries.

Oh, to die for, I tell you!

This sweet little German lady named Helga owned it.  Yeah, I know Helga is a bit typical a name for a German woman but, hand-to-God, it was true.  I'd met the woman a few years back prior to entering her baking establishment when I'd helped bag her husband's murderer.

 Du-du-du-du:  You are now entering a place, another dimension, known as the Twilight Zone...

The police had speculated that Irving Schleck had been mugged and then shoved down a flight of subway stairs not far from his home.  These brilliant deductions by our fine men and women in uniform were made based on the fact that Mr. Schleck was located at the bottom of the stairwell and his wallet was missing.

Astonishing.

Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary.

It helped that, while the Schleck neighborhood was generally pretty tame, some unsavory elements had begun to creep into the once nice neighborhood a little more every year.

If it walks like a duck...

Davis didn't think it was a duck, and he called me in. Of course, the quote-end-quote real police work had led the fine detectives to a dead end in the case.  Davis only had permission to call me in on the case when all the real leads were exhausted.

No, that's not sarcasm in my voice or anything?!

I'd gotten the call on my work cell.  I actually have a second that I carried for just police work.  For a while, my advisory jobs had become so hectic that the calls began to outnumber my personal ones.  Davis had spoken to the police chief and gotten the force to foot the bill for a company phone.

Everyone referred to it as the "Bat Signal."

I digress.

Davis called me in and, almost a week after the incident, I walked the crime scene for the first time.  I was more than a little pissed.  I was even more pissed when I arrived on the crime scene amidst a light drizzle.

Rain is a problem for people with my unique talents.  Water washed away metaphysical evidence as quickly as it washes away physical evidence.  A violent event can get trapped for longer but eventually time and the elements fade the energy no matter how violent the event.  I mean, I'm not still picking up shit from the Manson murders or anything.

Once I arrived on the scene, I was really doubtful I'd pick up anything left over.  I told the lieutenant my doubts.  He encouraged me to try, regardless; he always encouraged me to try.  It was his special talent, I guess.  So I slipped off my special-made gloves.

Clothing doesn't always protect me from seeing impressions, but the gloves were a damned sight better than me walking around bare-skinned.  That would land me back in the funny farm in no time.  Trust me, I know, I'd been there once already.  I had once brushed up against a woman who beat her two children on a twice-daily basis.  I felt her glee as she did it; her happiness as she felt their little bones crunch under her/my hands...

Oh, God...

I digress.

Davis knew my doubts, but I did my job.  I slipped off my sweet Italian, designer gloves and touched everything in sight.  The railing, the stairs, the curb where he'd busted his damned head, and...nothing.  Nada, zip, nein - no pun intended, Mr. Schleck.  There was nothing left to see.  I told the lieutenant as much, but I was wrong.

There was a cat. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Many people ask how I come up with my ideas. Whenever I'm asked this question I usually have one reply only - just dream. If you can and really want to make your life better, you need to look no farther than your dreams to do so. Take what you're given, the wonders of the world and people around you and turn them into whatever you need/want them to be to make your life more interesting. The perk of being a writer is that not only is writing a way for personal fulfillment and enjoyment, it is also a way to make those around you happy. So, go ahead! Don't worry about what you're going to write, just write it! Deal with the fall-out and work out the kinks later. And if it makes you happy, all the better!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I LOVE MY KINDLE














I have loved books for as long as I can remember. Some of my fondest memories are of going to the library with my mother when I was a toddler. She'd check out books and we’d go home and she’d read them to me. I particularly loved one series, about a duck and a Scottie dog. My mother instilled a love of reading in me, an amazing feat considering she never finished high school and I never saw her read a book, except the ones she read to me.

I love the smell of books. When I walk into a bookstore or a library and inhale that book scent, I feel warm and calm all over. You book lovers out there know what I mean.

When I was a young teen I'd take the bus into the city to go to the library. We had only one library in the area, a large, elegant building stuffed to the high ceilings with books. I loved that place and I knew every inch of it. I visited my old library a few years ago when I worked in the city. As soon as I walked through the ornate doors, the rush I’d felt decades ago whenever I inhaled the familiar scent of books hit me as if time had stood still.

Are any of you familiar with the classic Twilight Zone episode where a bookworm is locked in a library after a nuclear attack? He's thrilled that he's surrounded by all those books with time to read them. Then he drops his eyeglasses and crushes them accidentally and can't see to read. That story still haunts me. I know exactly how he felt.

Why am I telling you how much I love books? Because I've found a new love - my Kindle. I resisted getting an ereader because I felt disloyal to paper books and I couldn't imagine an electronic device could take the place of a book. I finally broke down and ordered a Kindle in August 2010. I love it so much the date it came in the mail, September 18, 2010, is engraved in my memory.

Am I a traitor to "real" books? Like a dangerous lover, the Kindle is so seductive, so addictive. In my office I'm surrounded by bookcases filled to overflowing with books, most of which I haven't read yet. I sometimes feel those books are staring at me and thinking, "How could you abandon us?"

I plan to read all those books someday, yet when I want to read something, I reach for my Kindle. I love pressing that button to go to the next page. I love how I can change the font so it's easier to read. I love the feel of it in my hands, the weight and the compactness. I have a beautiful bright green cover on my white Kindle and I think it looks so stylish. A lot of people don’t cover their Kindles, but I want to protect my baby.

The Kindle works really well at the gym. I prop it on my exercise bike and I read away. Sometimes I'm so engrossed in a book that I go way over my usual miles. The Kindle as weight-loss program. Um. I can see the ads now, complete with celebrity endorsements. Marie Osmond riding an exercise bike while reading her Kindle.

Another benefit of the Kindle over print books is its ease when traveling. Now I can take my slim Kindle when I travel and not have to pack several large paperbacks. I have found one problem when traveling with the Kindle. I have to keep it in a secure place, like the in-room safe. Some hotels charge a small daily rate to use the in-room safe. I’ve paid the fee to protect my Kindle from theft. You can leave a print book in your hotel room and not worry about it. Maybe I’m too security conscious when I travel, but I won’t leave my Kindle out in the open.

There are other drawbacks to the Kindle. I don’t get a warning when the battery is low, as I do with my iPhone. At the gym the other day a woman was reading her Kindle on the bike next to me. Her battery died and she was left with nothing to read.

As much as I love my Kindle and love reading ebooks, I'm a bit cheap. I love free books. Who doesn't? Before I download a free book, I read the description. If it's a book that interests me I'll download it. I won't download a book I'm not interested in reading just because it's free. I have a price point beyond which I won't go. I won't pay more than $6.00 for an ebook. Many publishers price their ebooks at $9.99, more than a print book. That makes no sense and in my opinion does a disservice to the authors. Do I value ebooks as less important than print because I refuse to pay the publishers' high prices? I don't know. But that doesn't mean I love my Kindle less.

How about you? Do you have an ereader or are you holding out in loyalty to print books? If you have an ereader, do you love it and is there a price point beyond which you refuse to go?

Monday, January 23, 2012

TEN Things to Make You Feel SEXY!

TEN things to do/buy/wear for sagging self-images and to make you feel sexy:

1. Buy fancy lingerie...and wear whatever you buy! Don't keep these items hidden in a drawer. Wear them everyday to confirm that "I am sexy" feeling!














2. Buy dresses, top, sweaters, that cling to show off your curves...lower cuts show off your cleavage! Stand tall and strut your stuff!


3. Wear high-heeled shoes to give you that long-legged look to capture a man's attention as your hips wiggle with your confident, feminine walk.













4.Hair styles. Treat yourself to a session at a hair salon. Try a new look; maybe wear your hair long, presenting that "Hollywood" celebrity sexy look, creating a alluring image.

5. Use make-up. Emphasize your best facial feature...perhaps your eyes or full lips.



6. Polish your nails. Toenails, too, can make you feel feminine.


7. Use sweet, wonderful smelling perfumes. Find a scent that you like and mixes well with your body temperature to give off that wonderful aroma a man will recognize as yours.


8. Use satin sheets. That wonderful feeling of satin running along your skin will tingle and spark your sensitive areas.


9. Get all dressed up and have some professional photos taken.




10. Love yourself, believe that you're sexy and attractive, light candles, sprinkle rose petals on those satin sheets, and tease or flirt outrageously with the man of your dreams! Your ultimate goal: a passionately satisfying rendezvous/relationship that affirms your sexual charisma.

Sometimes women in romance books question their sexual attractiveness. In "Gone to the Dogs" by Marianne Stephens, Katie had been dumped by her ex-boyfriend, and that was a blow to her sexual confidence level. In "Anything You Can Do", also by Marianne Stephens, Allison had been betrayed by a man she thought she loved, and was never made to feel sexually attractive. Both women gained strength in their new relationships with men whose passion flamed their own desires. Ultimately, they found true love.

Photos: Photostream, Flickr: p22earl, Tiago Riberio, gabriel.georgina, indiewench, Kylie Balough, and 

"Gone to the Dogs" is available in ebook and print versions
"Anything You Can Do" is available as an ebook and will be in print form in April/May 2012.

For more information about my books, visit:
http://www.mariannestephens.net
http://www.aprilash.net

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Now available in print—Finding Julia. A story to tug at your heat strings.

            What tugs at your heartstrings? Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a signed copy of finding Julie and a set of my Romance Trading Cards.

I was on a loop the other day where there was a big discussion of the old, old hook–the secret baby. The majority of the people posting felt that the mother should definitely tell the father about the child. Give him the chance to step up to the plate. And by
all means, don’t have this fatherless child always be the perfect offspring despite the secrets in his or her life.
But what if there was a real reason for keeping the child secret? What if a disastrous situation kept the other separated from the father of her child for a long time in a situation that could destroy everyone if the truth was known? And what if real circumstances prevented the mother from even contacting her lover, a man who had show her what real love and hot sex could be?
This was the premise in the plot of Finding Julia. Who is finding Julia Patterson? Her lover who she was forced to walk away from? Or Julia herself, finding who she really is before it’s too late.
Where can you buy it?




Here’s the blurb for Finding Julia:
Sometimes life is not fair. For Julia Patterson meeting Luke Buchanan opened the door to a new life and brought her to life as a woman. In his arms she learns for the first time how real passion and emotion can enrich your life. He claims her body with the pleasure of erotic sex and his heart with unrestricted love. But Fate was laughing at Julia, just as she is about to step over the threshold into a wonderful new life. When her almost-ex-husband Charles is diagnosed with a fatal heart condition her divorce is put on hold along with the rest of her life. Turning her back on Luke and the intense passion and emotion they shared is the most difficult thing she’s ever done. But Julia has a secret, one that Charles has discovered and uses like a club. Thirteen years later when Luke walks back into her life the passion and emotion are just as explosive as ever. Will they finally have their chance at happiness or will her secret destroy her last chance at happiness?
And a really hot excerpt:
The kiss went on and on. He explored the inner recesses of her mouth, licked at it, his lips moving against hers as he slanted his mouth first one way and then another. His large hands, with their long fingers, cupped her head with a touch that was both gentle and commanding. She could feel the imprint of each finger against her skull. His seduction on the dance floor was nothing compared to the impact of this kiss. Now Julia knew what it meant to be kissed breathless.
With a mind of their own, her arms crept up his back, pulling him closer, sliding her hands against the soft fabric of his shirt. She operated purely on instinct. Her sole sexual experience had been with Charles, and she began to realize she might as well have had nothing after all. Her breasts ached even more, silently begging to be touched and held. Her nipples tingled, fire built between her legs, and she didn’t know what to do with it. This was all so new to her.
Without releasing her mouth, Luke slid his hands under her sweater, caressing the soft flesh with featherlight touches on her ribs and her spine, tracing lines and drawing patterns as he learned the curves and angles of her body. His fingers branded her every place he touched her. With an easy deftness, he slipped the hooks on her lacy bra, releasing her breasts and cupping them at last in his hands.
At last! She nearly groaned with relief.
When his thumbs rasped against her nipples, she felt them harden—a delicious shiver ran through her body.
The entire time his hands roamed over her upper body, his mouth never left hers. He kept her welded to him as he fed on her taste, stealing her breath. He tasted pleasantly of whiskey and male, a heady combination. An aphrodisiac that made her head spin and her senses riot.
His finger drew patterns on her spine, caressing each bump and space. They came to rest for a moment on the upper swell of her ass, then walked their way up her ribs to her breasts.
Aroused by Luke’s stimulating touch and desperate to feel his naked skin, she brought her hands around to open the buttons on his shirt. Yanking the tails from his trousers, she frantically pushed the garment from his shoulders and down his arms until it fell to the floor. She ran her hands over him, exploring his upper body, wanting to touch him everywhere at once. She skimmed his chest with her fingertips, relishing in the feel of the crisp hair curling on his chest and the hard buttons of his nipples.
The thickness of his cock pressed against her stomach, increasing her own heat. Her legs were suddenly weak and shaky, and she clung to his lean body for balance. His hands dropped to her waist and slowly unfastened the button on her slacks. The rasp of the zipper being lowered was loud in the room. As he pushed her slacks down her hips and thighs, he lifted his mouth from hers at last. Lowering his head, he closed his mouth over one taut nipple.
“Ohhh.” The tiny cry of pleasure rippled from her throat as his lips tugged and pulled on the hardened flesh.

Come check me out at www.desireeholt.com





Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pinterest: The New Craze

Among all the social networking options we have available on the world wide web, I've discovered a new one that is fun, addicting, and organizational. It's called Pinterest.

It's basically like Bing (a search engine using pictures) but better because you can save a picture, an idea, a book, a recipe, a cool haircut, a sexy dress, and all kinds of other things and organize them. When you find something you like and want to save it, you "pin" it to a bulletin board that you've created. You get to name your board whatever you like and believe me, it's so much fun to think of these titles.


Some of my boards are:
Books Worth Reading
He'd Make a Great Hero In My Next Book
Food Creations
Craft Ideas
For The Home
Tricks and Tips
Favorite Places & Spaces
My Style
The One and Only: GB
Favorite Bands

Getting started is free and fast. Go to Pinterest.com and create your account. You can sign in using your Facebook or Twitter account. After that, you'll need to install the "Pin it" button in your browser. Just click and drag the "Pin It" button to your bookmarks bar. At this point, you can now grab any image from any website and add it to any one of your boards.

You can even search the Pinterest site itself and "repin" what others have already pinned, adding them to your boards. You can follow other people you know and see what they've added to their boards. You can share what you've pinned with others, similar to sharing pics on Facebook.

Like every other social networking site, you are able to create a profile page, add a profile pic, and a short bio. You can even create a "Pin It Button" for your website, allowing visitors to pin an image (or more importantly, your book with its direct link) to their board. The possibilities are numerous. You can go here to see more options for promoting your Pinterest boards with others.

My cousin keyed me into this new craze and I'm hooked. I invite you to get hooked with me so we can start pinning together!

*Warning: As with any social networking site, there is a risk of being completely addicted and wasting hours upon hours pinning and repinning.
But gosh darn it's fun!
http://www.pinterest.com/reneevincent/

The entire Emerald Isle Trilogy is now available in print and ebook formats.
Amazon & Kindle | B&N and Nook | Sony | ARe | SmashwordsDiesel | Turquoise Morning Press | Book Strand | KOBO

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview of Author *lizzie starr

Today it gives me great pleasure to present an interview of romance author *lizzie starr!

Latest Book: Keltic Flight

Buy Links:
http://amzn.com/B0062E5XZA
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/keltic-flight-lizzie-starr/1008083795?ean=2940032841715&itm=1&usri=lizzie+starr
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/101141
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Keltic-Flight/book-guWkfLHDBEC0nzZyJWpc0A/page1.html


CONTEST ALERT! Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon gift card. Hey, that’s enough to buy a copy of my first three books.

BIO:
*lizzie made up games and stories to keep her company as a child. So, a witch lived in Grampa's weather research station and was only held at bay by a certain weed. An ancient road grader became a boat carrying wild adventurers to islands filled with sheep that turned into lions and cannibals.

Now, the stories of her imagination have found their way to paper and pixels. Still filled with fantasy and love, these tales take her and her readers far from the mundane world.

When *lizzie has to return to that mundane life, she's the kitchen manager for a small school. Author and Lunch Lady--what a combination! Happily, family and friends have become accustomed to her writer's ways and just shake their heads when she goes off on some fantastical tangent, asks strange what if questions, or just has to find a piece of paper and a pen that actually writes. One of her greatest delights is to watch the joys of creativity fill a friend, and she'll do anything to help them achieve their dream.

Q: What part of a book is the easiest to write?
A: Probably the beginning. Most of my writing is taking an idea and running with it. I do a bit more work on my characters and ideas before starting than I used to, but not much. I learn about my story folks along with my readers. I know where I want the story to start. Perhaps a few things along the way, and the end. Hey, I write romances, the happy ever after ending is a forgone conclusion. But I often have an idea for the moment when everything seems lost—for at least one of the characters.

A beginning is filled with a wealth of oooo, shiny excitement, so it’s easy to write. Now, whether the story ends up with that particular beginning is the real question.

Oh, but I do love writing those moments when my villains get what’s coming to them!

Q: Conversely, which is the most difficult?
A: The blurb. It doesn’t matter if I write it before the book or after, it’s difficult for me to summarize in a way to make a book sound interesting. Guess I could never work for TV Guide.

Q: Who is your favorite character in Keltic Flight?
A: You know, I gotta love my heroes. But, I introduced a minor character in Flight that became a major player in the rest of the series. Yes, Keltic Flight is part of a series—The Double Keltic Triad. Flight is the third book, although the books can be read individually.

Oh, sorry, back to my characters. In Keltic Flight, Nightshade makes an appearance as the flamboyant manager of an exotic dancer (who is the heroine of my next indie book—Wild Keltic Carousel—coming soon). I never thought much about him, until he showed an interesting side in the next book. And continued to do so through the series—and into the next. Someday soon, hopefully Nightshade will get his own happy ever after.

Q: Tell us a little about the Double Keltic Triad series.
A: I never considered writing a series when I wrote my first book (By Keltic Design). But as my hero’s family grew, so did the ideas. The Double Keltic Triad is fantasy romance. Multiple worlds connect to this human world we all know, often through portals that are everywhere, when you know how to look.

I had great fun with Keltic Flight, which takes place in the human world, the Faerie Otherworld, and the world occupied by the fairy folk. I wasn’t the only one risking confusion with faerie and fairy--even some of my fay characters had trouble believing. Characters in Keltic tales come from a variety of other worlds, times, and races. The possibilities are as wide as my imagination--and I’m going to visit as many of these worlds as I can. And bring readers along with me!

Q: What do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I love movies, and there aren’t too many weekends that go past without spending too much to go to the theatre. Really? Popcorn costs that much? Uh huh, I work in food. I know. But I can’t resist that bad for you treat. I like all kinds of movies--except scary. Or too stupid. One of my favorite, watch over and over movies--Galaxy Quest!

Never give up! Never surrender! Great words for writers, too!

Here’s where you can find *lizzie:
http://www.lizziestarr.com (ah, I’m currently in the process of changing up the website, but I’m still me)
http://starrwords.blogspot.com
http://creativityforhappyendings.blogspot.com
http://www.twitter.com/lizziestarr
http://www.facebook.com/pages/lizzie-starr
amazon author page
http://www.amazon.com/*lizzie-starr/e/B003F33Y0W
Google plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/?tab=XX#

BLURB:
Ebook Short Description
To the Faerie Gentry of the Otherworld, the fairy wee folk are but a myth and legend. Until the fairy Korin falls in love with a hal-Gentry maid. Forced to bargain with an evil king to woo her, he risks discovery, and his life, to fulfill the conditions. Book Three of the Double Keltic Triad.

Extended Description
Korin Goodfellow loves the Gentry maid, Nanceen. In order to woo her, Korin bargains with his evil king, who sets seemingly impossible tasks. The first? She must believe in him.

But the folk of Faerie, the Gentry, don't believe in the odd assortment of beings who make up the wee folk. And definitely not in fairies.

Nanceen doesn't know what she believes. Until Korin calls to her, then makes his way into her world, becoming a wingless man she can see, touch, believe in.

Will the rat king's conditions drive a wedge between them, or force Korin to confrontation, to battle, risking his life?

EXCERPT:
Nanceen reached toward the ever-present bowl of chocolate, fished out a piece, and unwrapped the tiny drop. How was she supposed to describe her feelings to another when she had no idea about them herself? She stared at the light brown sweet. Where to begin?

When she looked up, Lara grinned at her. “I think I know exactly how you feel. You’re restless, like you’re looking for something, but you don’t have any idea what that something is.”

Nanceen’s mouth dropped open in surprise. “How... how did you know?”

Lara sighed and snagged her own piece of chocolate. “When I looked in the mirror before I traveled to Iain’s time and found him...” She popped the candy into her mouth and continued around it. “... I looked just about like you do now. It’s your eyes, Nance.”

::Yes. Eyes.::

A gasp passed Nanceen’s lips. “Did you hear that?”

Lara’s light brows drew together, and a thick line of concern formed over the bridge of her nose. She leaned forward. “Is it the kids?”

“No, no. It was another voice. It was...” The drop of chocolate fell to the smooth tabletop, and Nanceen rested her head in her hands. “I think I’m going crazy.”

Lara grasped both of her aunt’s hands, pulled them away, and waited for Nanceen to lift her gaze. “No, you’re not. Though, I do remember it feeling that way. You’ll be fine. Be patient and you, and the one you wait for, will find each other.”

::Find me.::

“You’re a romantic, Lara. I’ve been in both worlds and found no one who even begins to interest me. Perhaps I’m not meant for love.”

Lara eased from her chair, circled the table, and crouched before Nanceen. She rested her hands lightly on her aunt’s shoulders. “Oh, but you are. I know it.”

::Love.::

Nanceen returned the kind embrace and leaned back. “Are you sure you don’t hear the voice?”

“Could it be one of the kids? Belle loves to play tricks.”

“No. Oh, never mind. It must be my imagination. I should go.”

Concern still hovered in Lara’s eyes. “Come back whenever you need to, Nance. I mean it, now. Whenever.”

“Thank you, Lara. That means much to me.”

Lara’s gaze burned into her back as she left the clearing and passed under the thick overhang of tree branches. She wandered aimlessly, following patches of sunlight that appeared on the dimmer forest floor. With her thoughts on the memory of the voice, and the few unsettling words she’d heard, she paid no attention to her path.

A faint haze separated a strange, brightly lit glade from the surrounding trees. When she stepped into the clearing, Nanceen’s skin tingled. Gazing in wonder at the tiny, grassy area, she was surprised she’d never discovered this place. Then, she shrugged and sank to the ground with her feet tucked under her. Her clan’s part of Faerie was no small land, there were bound to be places left for her to discover.

She plucked a tiny purple flower from a plant with yellow- green leaves. The rise of scent from the bloom made her close her eyes and inhale deeply. It was a mix of Otherworldly scents such as she’d never encountered. Her lips stretched into a dreamy smile.

“I’m gratified you like my flowers.”

It was the same voice--only not inside her head. Afraid to open her eyes, Nanceen paused before answering. What if it was just a figment of her imagination, her unknown desires becoming manifest?

“Don’t be afraid.”

“I’m not,” she whispered.

“Open your eyes.”

The voice was a clear tenor that rang with the power of magic. Had one of Faerie found her? Someone from another clan? Was this for whom she waited? Tremors chased each other down her spine. Slowly, she opened her eyes and looked around cautiously. There was no one in the glade.

“What foolishness is this? Where are you?”

“I’m here.”

“Where?”

“Find me.”

She rose and followed the soft echoes of the voice to the far side of the glade. A blurry haze hovered a few inches above the grass and flowers. She lifted one of her hands toward the pale golden glow, reaching to touch, to discover what magic created such a small disruption in the clear air.

“What will I find?”

“Love.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scenic View

How do I set the scene? I look at it through my characters' eyes. Lately they've all been in small towns, but as is the case of Wild At Heart, they ended up in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. I hadn't intended on traveling to another state; Brad just decided to go on his own. And while he was there, he met Emma.


Since I had been to RMNP as recently as 2002, I had a clear idea of what the place looked like. And it only took a few phone calls to my mother and a call to our favorite steak restaurant in Estes Park to get a few details straight.

But usually as I'm writing, the scenery will set itself; all I have to do is describe it.

Now when it comes to describing clothing or home furnishings...that's a different matter. I was not blessed with the fashion-conscious gene, nor the decorating one. If I get bogged down, I'll turn to either a magazine or remember a friend's color scheme that I admired. And once in a while, the character will tell me what she has in her home, if she favors modern glass or antiques.



When it came to my Arbor University series, I modeled it after three universities in Indiana, so I already 'knew' what the buildings and dormitory rooms looked like.


Hopefully by now you've read enough snippets of books #1&2, or even the entire books, so I won't bore you with another.  So here's a snippet of Forbidden Love, which is due to be released some time in the next few weeks.  And let me know if you can 'see' the room?




Blurb:

 Keri Patterson meets an older man, and is instantly transported into her first adult relationship.  But is Kyle Sampson really telling her the truth about his ex-wife?  Is Keri's ambition to someday be a part of an Indianapolis 500 racing crew interfering with her love life?

Excerpt:

"My new year's resolution is to move to the number one slot," Keri announced one snowy, January afternoon. "And spend more quality time with Kyle."

"Mine is to study harder." Stephanie munched pretzels and changed the TV channel. "Gretch?"

A groan came from the other side of the suite. "No more 'Blue Whale' parties. I'm sticking with rum and coke."

"What's a 'Blue Whale'?"

"It's like a Hairy Buffalo, only with Kool-Aid and the clear liquors...vodka, schnapps, everclear, rum. It's lethal. I think I had eight cups."

"No wonder you're hung over." Keri heard Caitlyn open the refrigerator. "My resolution is to get Bryan to pop the question." Amy Callahan had called the night before with the news of her engagement to Matt Slagal and talked to all four girls.

"So have they set a date yet? I forgot to ask her.” Stephanie found a movie and settled back on her bed.

"She wants a June wedding but after she graduates, so sometime in June of '89 or '90. I am so envious." Caty joined Keri and Stephanie, holding a Mountain Dew can. “Is that the African Queen?”

“It’s the best thing on for the moment. Sit down.” Steph scooted over to make room.

"I'm glad everything's working out for her," mumbled Gretchen from her bed.

"Yeah...isn't that romantic how he proposed? I wish someone would throw me a surprise party." Keri shifted to a more comfortable position.

"It's only a surprise when you don't expect it." Stephanie got up during the commercial break and went to the tiny refrigerator. "Why is it that all our birthdays are around holidays? Gretchen and Amy's are at Christmas; yours is around Easter; mine and Caty's are at the end of the school year. There's no surprise." She returned with a Mountain Dew can and flopped down on her bed again.

"Big surprise, hmph. Matt had already asked her about three times. That episode was strictly to give her the ring. Anyway, at least Matt's behaving himself." Caitlyn put a pillow behind her back. "I guess it’s true, if you want to know how your man really feels about you, catch a cold, and see how he treats you. I couldn't believe Matt was so caring, so worried back in September. Who would have thought?"

"Stranger things have happened." Keri yawned.

"Well I don't care." Stephanie wadded up the empty pretzel bag and tossed it into the trash. "I saw the way he treated her at the party last year, and until I see it with my own eyes, I don't think he'll marry her." She took a drink of her Mountain Dew. "He'll find some way of getting out of it."

"Well...there's still three years to go. You're right there. Anything could happen." Caty changed the subject. "So Keri, things back on track with Kyle?"

"Seems to be."



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Blog: Melodie Campbell: Like Screwball Romantic Comedy? - It's All About Conflict!

Is there anything more fun than screwball comedy? I’m thinking of the old days of Rock Hudson and Debbie Reynolds, Hepburn and Tracy. Boy meets girl. Boy is attracted to girl but something crazy happens that makes girl so mad at him, they spend the entire novel or movie getting revenge…until the last scene, when they get each other. A well-written romantic comedy is delightful and makes you feel good all over.

Behind all novels, there is conflict. In Romance, we are looking to get a man and a woman together. But there must be conflict, there must be a reason why they can’t get together or there is no story. Otherwise two people meet and their relationship grows smoothly. A nice happy life for them, but not much for a reader to get excited about.

So how does one sustain a romance plot that will last 60,000 words? Somehow, you have to come up with conflict. There has to be a reason why the man and woman can’t be together, or refuse to be together, even when everyone else knows they belong with each other.

When writing historical fiction, it’s easy to find sources of conflict. The man is the wrong religion, or the woman is not the same class…the father can refuse to allow it…lots of reasons. Shakespeare made an industry of it. But today, anything goes. It’s enough to make a grown writer cry. Drat that sexual revolution. Drat that our earlier taboos are now so much history.

How can a romance writer find enough plot to make the romance conflict fresh?

I use comedy. Here’s how I do it: I call it my law of the ‘worst thing’. Take a situation, and ask ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen now’? Or the most embarrassing thing? Example: A seventeen year old girl moves to a new town and is the new girl. First day of school, very nervous, she drives her mother’s car into the school parking lot. What’s the most embarrassing thing that could happen? She hits another car in the lot with everyone watching. And the worst thing? It’s the prize car of the most popular boy in school. Instant disaster. Later, she’s driving home on a country road, and her car breaks down. Who comes by in the next car, and stops to help? The same guy. He can’t believe it’s her. She wants to die of embarrassment. They never stand a chance as a couple, right?

Move it to an adult romance novel. The new girl at the advertising agency drives into the company parking lot on the very first day and hits the gorgeous eligible bachelor’s new car…you get the drift.

In Rowena Through the Wall, I followed the ‘worst thing’ rule to the maximum. What’s the worst thing that could happen to Rowena when she walks through that wall? Or the wackiest? Rowena goes through lots of ‘worst things’ until she finally gets the man she wants in the last chapter. But even then, I couldn’t resist a twist on the last page. After all, there is a sequel coming.

ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL (No. 2 on Amazon.ca bestseller list, Aug 2011!)  (Romance fantasy, futuristic)

BLURB:
“Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?”

When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn’t count on being kidnapped – not once, but twice, dammit. Unwanted husbands keep piling up; not only that, she has eighteen-year-old Kendra to look out for, and a war to prevent. Good thing she can go back through the wall when she needs to…or can she?

“Hot and Hilarious!”-  Midwest Book Review
“Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum.” - Former editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine

Melodie Campbell’s comic novel Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) is available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.
http://www.amazon.com/Rowena-Through-the-Wall-ebook/dp/B00557Z2QU

Follow Melodie at
http://funnygirlmelodie.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html

View trailer and read opening scene at
http://www.melodiecampbell.com

Follow Melodie’s comic blog at http://www.funnygirlmelodie.blogspot.com

BIO:
Melodie Campbell got her start as a comedy writer, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her work ‘wacky’ and ‘laugh out loud funny’. She has over 200 publications, including 100 humour columns, 30 short stories and one novel (two more coming in 2012). She has received five awards for fiction, and is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada.

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