Friday, June 29, 2012

One Month Away!

Our poor Assassin is under the weather so I'm covering a bit late for her today. "Under the weather" might be code for on assignment, but I'm not at liberty to discuss that. Sorry for the delay, but on with the show.

Exactly four weeks from today, I'll be walking into a giant room in the Anaheim Marriott with the sole purpose of selling my manuscript to an editor with St. Martin's Press. Thankfully, I have an agent to hold my hand (figuratively, not literally) but I'm still scared poopless.

Heck, the entire conference has me a little freaked out. I've been filling in my schedule though it still seems surreal I even have a schedule. Retreats and panels and receptions and parties and dinners and pitching and someone get me a brown paper bag!

I did get a really good idea for the pitch this morning, so there's a slim chance I won't be panicking about this bad boy the night before. (Ask Chance about my epic pitch break downs. She's witnessed two.)

Most of you won't be joining us this year, but everyone experiences this sort of thing. Planning for something big. Packing for a cruise or a cross-country drive. Heck, even planning for the day you give birth is an exercise in not running around screaming with your hair on fire.

What do you do to keep calm? Do you make lists? How early do you start packing? Do you have every outfit planned in advance or do you wing it? (How do you do that???) Let's talk prep work and planning and reducing the hyperventilating.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sex for the Younger Reader

I’ve been working on a story that I started a couple years ago.  At this point, I’m at the beginning and I’m not sure if it’s something that I’m actually going to wrestle into a full story or if it’s just an exercise for my muse, to get me back in the saddle.

As I mentioned, though, I had the idea two years ago.  I wrote two chapters and then stopped.  Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I loved the idea and I loved the heroine.  Vegetarian Willow who remained in her small (SMALL) town to care for her grandmother who raised her because her parents were hippies and off exploring free love and drugs.  And I loved Shane, my hero, a Special Forces soldier who’d risen above his foster care upbringing  but felt empty inside.

But, something was wrong.

So I stopped and wrote AFTER THE SCANDAL.  Now, though, this story is calling me again.  This rarely happens.  Usually if I start and stop something, it stays in the past.  Like the year I was pre-med in college.  Nice memory, but nowhere I want to revisit.

This story though…. I reread.  Still liked the hero and heroine.  But I figured it out, that thing that was bothering me.
The characters are younger.  

A year ago, Willow chose not to go to college.  Her grandmother has had two heart attacks and a slight stroke. They don’t have money for her grandmother’s medical bills and college tuition.  Shane is training to go to war, is almost finished with his Special Forces training.  Another character, Jack, has everything ahead of him.  Scholarship to USC, budding football career, and he’s irreparably changed by the events in the story.  He has to deal with what happens when your life takes a turn you can’t turn back from.

Ter assures me that editors are looking for stories for this age group.  (Sigh of relief.)  But I’m not sure how to write this story.

For the past five years, I’ve written romance.  Read: I’ve written stories where sex is a game changer at some point in the story.  And, in my mind, Willow and Shane have sex.  Shane’s almost 21 and Willow will be 20 in a few months.  They’re adults.  The fact that they both make themselves vulnerable is integral to what happens in the story.  I bet I could do it some other way, but I don’t think it would work quite as well. 
After all, that’s how my mind works.  To me, making love can inspire, empower, and make vulnerable. Sex with the right person is life-changing. I’m not sure there’s another event that does the same thing quite so well.  And for two people who fear they are unlovable, who’ve been abandoned and have sought to find where they belong, I just think it works best.

But, well, sex for the teenage audience is pretty risqué.  Hack away at people, murder and gore and dismemberment, all acceptable.  But take off clothes and people start throwing bibles at you.

So, folks, what do you think about sex in stories written for the young adult/new adult audience?  Is it wrong that I'm going to toss some college age kids in the sack?  How much detail is too much detail?  Is this a strictly, close the door behind them thing? 
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bo'sun Reviews: RAINSHADOW ROAD by Lisa Kleypas

I've read both the Historical and Contemporary works of LisaKleypas and though all are excellent, I prefer her Contemporaries. Once again, her latest release, RAINSHADOW ROAD, does not disappoint.

The blurb from Amazon: 
Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiancé Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy's bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.

This blurb (and the one included on the back of the book) is misleading. To me, this gives the impression that the greatest obstacle to the romance is nothing but a big misunderstanding and if the hero had been a better man, he'd never have created this mess.

Because I love this book and don't want readers to NOT read it for that reason, I want to state loud and clear that there is no false pretense. The hero is not a jerk who takes his friend up on an offer to pass off his girlfriend like used goods. In fact, Kevin and Sam aren't even friends. Sam grew up with Kevin, who was a jerk when they were kids and remains one as an adult. Just in case that "I'm leaving you for your sister" wasn't a big enough clue.

RAINSHADOW ROAD begins when Lucy Marinn is a child. We see the shift that happens in her family, the long-term negative effects that result, and the moment magic enters Lucy's life. Leap ahead to the moment Kevin breaks the news that he's fallen in love with her sister. You can't help but feel bad for Lucy. In addition to losing her boyfriend to her sister, she's kicked out of the home she's built with Kevin and injured in an accident.

This book is a perfect example of the old adage "Make your character's life miserable and then make it worse." Thankfully, Ms. Kleypas gives our beaten and bruised heroine a sweet, charming, hot geek with a little magic of his own. Sam Nolan comes from a broken family, growing up with two alcoholic parents. He likes and respects women and is faithful when dating, but anything that smells remotely of long-term or hints at commitment sends him running.

As expected, there's something different about Lucy. Which scares Sam half to death. He's determined to avoid her, but fate steps in. This book is about healing old wounds and new ones, forgiveness and acceptance, love and magic. If you haven't picked this one up, I highly recommend doing so today.

PS: Though this is the second in a series, I read it without having read the first and had no problems. But if you want to start at the beginning, start with CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR. Just be warned, these books will have you booking your next vacation to San Juan Island. And you might lose a few hours sleep. I know I did.

PPS: The next in the series, DREAM LAKE, will be out in August. I am very much looking forward to this one. A tortured here dealing with a ghost. What's not to love?
Monday, June 25, 2012

Never Say Never--and What I Learned from the Author I'd Never Read

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have crossed to the dark side. If it could happen to me, it could happen to you. Alas, I cannot believe I am writing these words: I have read a Nora Roberts novel.

No, no, don’t bother to check your screen or run your virus check—or even send the police to verify if I’ve been body snatched. It’s me, and I read THE WITNESS.

Let me give a brief summary of my experience in reading a Nora Roberts novel. Usually I don’t make it very far—I’m definitely a person you typically need to hook, either by content, voice, or premise within the first five pages. It’s why I don’t usually go for NR’s books usually. I’m not hooked by her content or voice within five pages; and her premise usually wasn’t that compelling for me either. However, this was different. The heroine was sheltered, very smart, a bit of a computer hacker, and accidentally tangled up with the Russian mafia. These are things that interest me, so I proceeded past my five pages and got hooked by the content of the story.

Then things got more insidious.

We meet the hero, who I was glad we did not meet first because I didn’t like him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t likeable. He was very likeable, I suppose, if you like small town heroes who are “easy-going” and “happy.” I’m not a fan. And I found him very annoying where the heroine was concerned, especially when he was all up in her business and he had absolutely no right to be. And he wouldn’t take back-off as an answer. He kept showing up with pie and insisting in coming in the house. He was an annoying persistent pain-in-the-ass.

But then…suddenly I did like him. He said or did the right thing. I mean, he went back to being a PITA, but he’d do something and I’d swoon. It baffled me. I wasn’t sure I liked it—which incidentally was exactly what the heroine was feeling. And that is when I caught on. OMG, Nora Roberts is totally owning me through this story. I feel whatever the characters feel, I believe whatever the characters believe, I want what they want—and I don’t even realize it. I just want to read it as fast I can. The reason I like the hero when I do is because the heroine does; and when he’s being a PITA, it’s because she’s thinking it too. She’s totally putting me in the moment and showing me the scene in the heroine’s POV without being obvious about it, and I’m hooked. It’s totally storytelling at its finest. The kind of thing we all want to do.

So I was staring at the book, stopped, trying to figure out what was it about this scene that worked. What is it I like about the hero? And what is it that I find annoying? How does she balance it?

Magic, I finally decided.

Okay, not really. I think it was one part mixing opposite personalities. She’s a bit socially awkward and majorly introverted—and because she’s on the run and trying to remain invisible, majorly quiet, private, and constantly trying to protect herself. He comes from a family—a big one—and each is more extraverted than the last. He’s gregarious, curious, and polite to a fault. You hate to say no to him, though she tries. They’re both determined, persistent, full of integrity, and want justice. It’s the natural storyteller’s blend of taking characters who have dissimilar personalities but similar values, then pairing them with backstories that make them both empathetic and full-bodied. Then sticking them in a situation where everything is larger than life since real people who are actually being gunned by the Russian mafia don’t have time to read Nora Roberts’ novels no matter how much they might like to.

Still, you don’t have to have the Russian mafia to make your story compelling. I’m now waist deep in the Lisa Kleypas novel, Rainshadow Road. Kleypas spends more time showing the reader how the characters are alike rather than different. They’re both artists, of a sort. She works with glass; he works a vineyard and makes wine. They’re both extremely passionate and well-read about their life’s work; and they’re both capable of magic with their work. It’s as if they were drawn to their careers in childhood and have a magical affinity for it that they can’t explain, it just is.

Possibly their real difference is that she is a woman who wants a long-term relationship (and thought she had it before her boyfriend dumped her for her sister) and he is a man who goes from woman to woman—and loves them in general, but not on a singular committed basis. Though he has a nice backstory to explain such rather crappy behavior. He comes from a family that isn’t worth anything; it’d be dangerous to have a relationship, et al. Again, it’s all about the characters and backstories—but no Russian mafia, so the circumstances seem much further in reach. The heroine would definitely have time for a Nora Roberts’ novel and I’m sure has read more than I have.

So we’re back to that old standby we’ve discussed many, many times: characters, backstories, and larger than life drama. I have the characters—Nellie and Brody are definitely characters and very vocal about certain things. I have some larger than life drama for them and some scenes planned ahead that I hope turn out like I’m picturing them. It’s the backstories I haven’t fleshed out as totally. I think it’s part of the problem why I have stop and go writing so much—and you know what they say about “stop and go writing”—it can tear up the engine of your WIP if you don’t keep a close watch on it and change the oil more often.

It’s midnight here. I’m sorry.

Do you figure out backstories as you go? Or do you have backstories already figured out before you start writing? Or is it both? You have a backstory, but then you get to the end and realize it wasn’t the backstory at all. I think it’s both, myself. Stories are like life. You spend your whole life trying to figure out the meaning of it, and it’s only after the end you figure out what it was the whole time. You can’t rush it, you can’t assume—you just have to wait till the end like everyone else.

I figure Nora probably figures stuff out in the end. What with her famous line about she can revise anything but a blank page. So that’s what I learned from her—she makes it look effortless, but I imagine there is a lot of effort to it. A lot of things running behind the scenes, like a duck’s feet beneath the water as the duck is gliding along the top.

It’s Monday. Let’s take it a little easy today. What book or author have you ever read that you’d never thought you’d read? (You can even admit to 50 Shades of Grey, if you want, I don’t have a problem with it.) Were you able to learn anything from it? Anything you admired specifically about it? What have you been reading lately?
Friday, June 22, 2012

Woo Your Characters

While Chance is off playing in Denver at RomCon, I'm steeling....err.....liberating her day.

You have this great story idea floating through your mind. Nagging you during the day job. Poking at you while you're falling asleep. You've pondered on the plot, let it boil and brew and now it's time to put words on the page.

You open the document. You come up with a really good opening line. Now you need your characters to engage. To come alive. But for some reason, they're standing around indignantly, arms crossed, looking bored and uncooperative. What gives?

You're rushing them. Yeah yeah, you've been listening to them for weeks. Patiently taking in their complaints about each other. They live IN your head, have been dancing and stomping all through it, so you figure you know them.

Not that easy. You can't expect them to trust you with their deepest, darkest secrets already. Just because they live in your head doesn't mean they trust you to tell their story. Nor does it mean you know anything about them.

To a non-writer, this would sound like insanity. But writers are shaking their heads thinking, "That's what their problem is."

Think of getting to know your characters like dating. Some story god of the Universe has decided you're a match. Writer meet characters. Characters meet writer. Now you have to go through the dating dance. *pauses while Hellie runs from the ship* Don't mind her.

The point is, you can't expect your heroine to get intimate before you've bought her a drink. Don't expect your hero to pour out his heart after a mere handshake. Sit down with them. Have a chat. Casual. No stress. A get-to-know you session.
Let them know you're here to tell their story, not your own. That you'll be true to them and you'll make sure they have a happy ending. Ask them lots of questions. Characters love questions. Even that strong and silent alpha hero. Don't let him fool you. He'll play hard to get, but keep those questions coming.

Get the basic history. Where were you born? Who were your parents. Where did you go to school? What kind of a kid were you? Then ease into something a little deeper. Anything traumatic happen in your childhood?

Pretend you're James Lipton filming Inside The Characters' Heads. Which means you have cards. You have background info and now you must use what you know to learn more. What did he want to be when he grew up? Did she see herself as an adventurer or a stay at home mom. (Which can also be quite an adventure, just ask one.)

Is he in line for a title? Does he want that title? Is she a debutante up for the highest bidder? Does she see marriage as a business deal or is she determined to marry for love? Does he like cats? Does she like dogs? Birds? Lizards? Brussel sprouts?

Ask any and every question you can think of and take notes. You may think that being laughed at in the girls' locker room for wearing granny panties when she was 15 won't add anything to your story. Wrong. That's a tell. A moment that explains why your tomboy, gear head boat mechanic has an extensive collection of lacy underwear.

Dig deep. Engage your characters before expecting them to engage on the page. You'll be surprised how much you learn and how much better your story will be for those awkward, painful days of wooing.

How do you get to know your characters? Do you take notes? Detail their history? Or do you think knowing she had a purple tricycle and took tap dancing lessons for three years is a waste of time?
Wednesday, June 20, 2012


We have winners folks!

Jillian Stone (of AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY)--her winner is SIN! Yes, our very own Sin! Congratulations! (Picked by

Sophie Greyson (of HEAVEN SCENT)--her winner is TERRI! (Just in case you missed her update on the blog!)

I want to thank both of these ladies again for sharing on our blog and bringing smiles to our faces with their wonderful works! Huzzah!

Getting Back to My Roots

Write what you know; but write what you love.

I'm back to writing fan fiction.

I'm not sure why fan fiction irks people. I mean I get the whole the characters aren't mine. I didn't think up the canon story line, nor the relationships that have been developed up to this point. I'm not driven to write fan fiction for every book or series I read. There needs to be unfinished business for me to feel compelled to write something. I need a connection to the characters or the story. I think anything that sparks your creativity and your imagination needs to be fed in some way.

I'd gotten away from this for a long time. I can admit I felt ashamed to write fan fiction, to admit that all the hard work I'd spent in front of my computer was spent on writing something that wouldn't come to fruition. There is a stigma that gets attached to fan fiction writers. People think we're not creative enough to come up with our own characters. Or build our own worlds. Or that fan fiction writers only copy from others because they lack the imagination it takes to write. Writing is hard. Regardless of what you're writing. It takes dedication to write. It takes supreme attention to detail to write fan fiction and write it well. And I could defend fan fiction writers until I'm blue in the face and it won't change anything. People- readers and other writers- will think what they want to think. You can think I have no imagination. You can think I don't have the talent to build my own world, to create my own characters. You can think what you want to think, it's not going to change who I am as a writer. I tried so hard to change who I was a writer and as a creative mind. If I only focused on writing my originals, eventually I'd forget about writing whatever popped into my mind. It's not mine. I don't have the right to play with them. I don't have the right to think about them. And I don't have the right to give them a story. I am a writer. My fingers dance over keyboard keys and fill up blank documents. My imagination runs wild and comes up with stories that I didn't even know I was capable of dreaming. I'm driven to madness by characters whispering in my ear. I'm driven by my ambition to make the story come true.

I am a writer, regardless of what I write.

You see, to me, writing fan fiction is like playing with toys. When you're little, you're taught to share. You go to school, you have to share dolls. One person plays with the dolls and gives them a story. When those dolls are put back in the box and you take them out, you give the dolls a new story. For me, fan fiction is the ultimate gift of imagination. Not all the stories are blow your mind good. Not all the stories are considered canon to the true story line the author has put forth. But that writer who felt compelled to write. The dolls in the box get new life breathed into them. We don't claim to have made the dolls. We don't even really get to claim the story is ours. Fan fiction writers do it for the love. Not for the love of the readers- those readers are in love with the characters and that's what brings them to your story- but love of the original story that gave us the imagination, the love of the characters the author brought to life and the love of sharing.

Our love is the dedication we put into our work. Not unlike the writers who write original fiction. The dedication you pour into every detail, every story line, every plot and subplot. A fan fiction writer is a worshiper of your dedication, of your imagination, of your creativity. We don't write stories to over shadow you. A fan fiction writer couldn't over shadow the author whom we love. We write stories to honor your talent. To give thanks to you for inspiring us, for sharing your characters with us.

So thank you authors. You inspire me. I may never publish. I may never do anything in my life but write fan fiction. But I'm happy and you inspired that in me. To be happy is the greatest gift you can give to someone. That's worth all the money in the world. It's more valuable than anything I can think of off the top of my head. I don't want the notoriety that comes with getting my book on the shelf. Or the countless people you have to make happy to do what you love. All the guilt and doubt. I don't want it. I don't want that overwhelming fear pushing me down when I think about all the pressure I put on myself. I don't want to be perfect and remember all those rules and regulations. I want to write for me and not give a damn about anything else.

And once I was reminded of this, I remembered who I wanted to be. I want to be me. A fan fiction writer. An occasion original writer. An anonymous girl who hides behind a pen name and email. That's me.

So thank you for reminding me. Believing in me. Kicking my ass when I need it and trying to hug me when you think it's appropriate. You're amazing at what you do. I want to be amazing at what I do. You inspire me to do so and never judge me for it.

Fan fiction writers if you read this, never be ashamed. Never hang your head. Never give up. Your story is important. Keep writing it. Your a writer, no matter what anyone says. I'm proud of you. I believe in you. Just keep writing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Review: Destination Weddings

This week I read some books I’d been wanting to read but had put off in favor of other review books. It is no secret that I’m a fan of Monica McCarty because I’ve pretty sure I’ve blogged reviews for her at least twice, both in a heavily (but sincere) gushing fashion. Currently she is in the middle of writing a series of the Highland Guard, which is like Secret Ops set in the time of Robert the Bruce.

Typically I’m not a Navy SEAL or Special Ops fan; however, you put it in 1305 A.D. and I’m on it like white on rice. While the men are capable, gorgeous, and heroic, it’s the heroines I really adore. They’re true enough to their period to feel legitimate, but feisty enough for the average reader to enjoy following their story. I commend Ms. McCarty her ability to weave history with fiction where it feels real, possible, and informative. Plus the bits and pieces I do know of Robert the Bruce—I know she’s right about. She pleases my persnickety need for authentic detail. For you, she’ll please your need for hot and capable heroes, tortured by their tragic pasts, and a heroine worth rooting for.

The current book is THE SAINT, which features Magnus MacKay, one of the elite members of the Highland Guard that protects King Robert the Bruce. He is in love with his enemy’s fair daughter, Helen Sutherland, who is a healer and a darned good one. The book starts off a little rocky because Helen, who has loved Magnus for several years but they’ve had a fall out over a misunderstanding (of sorts) and pride (definitely pride), is marrying his best friend William (also in the guard.) William figures out they’re star-crossed lovers on his wedding day—and ends up having a firm talk with them both. Then before he can consummate the marriage, he and the other Guard members are called away on a secret mission. William dies.

And that is just the very beginning of the problems, my friend.

Dark secrets, guilt, vows, pride—all these very important things are keeping these two apart. Mostly because Magnus is a pigheaded ass hat, but he’s a wounded and sensitive soul, so he’s worth hanging in there for. Eventually they work it out. It has a satisfying ending…and the set up for the next in the series!

The second one I read this week was Jeannie Lin’s new book, MY FAIR CONCUBINE. I’ve loved her books since BUTTERFLY SWORDS, which was a Golden Heart winner, I believe; and I also loved her THE DRAGON AND THE PEARL book. Her books are compact but emotionally layered; her words carefully chosen, but her scenes filled with detail that makes me feel like I am in this ancient land she’s describing, feasting on rice and salted pork.

This one is a little like Pygmalion meets East. Our hero, a man who is trying to save the family name, Fei Long needs to come up with a “princess” to pass off as his sister for a peace marriage. His real sister, who was supposed to have been the princess, ran off with her true love—and when he tracked her down, he found he didn’t have the stomach to break them up and bring her back home. It is with some true desperation he comes up with the idea of a false princess—especially considering he plans to substitute a little tea house girl, one who has temper problems and no self control. However, being she was fired for throwing tea in his face, she doesn’t have a lot of options—so pretending to be a princess to a barbarian tribe (where they’ll treat her like a pampered princess) doesn’t sound like a bad step up in life.

Of course, in his bid to turn her into the woman of a man’s dreams, Fei Long ends up inadvertently making her the woman of his dreams. How is he going to save face, save the family name? What could he possibly have to offer her since he’s had to sell off basically everything that’s not been nailed down to pay off his father’s debts? He can’t afford a wife.

But damn she’s pretty.

And she’s having a similar issue. Even though she knows this is a step up for her—a leap really—she can’t help but wish she was going to be Fei Long’s. Still, how could he ever love a woman as lowly as she?

Oh, the angst, people! You have read these books for the angst! Your hearts will break and be mended whole again! Run, leap, skip to your nearest Amazon and find copies!
Monday, June 18, 2012

An Incomparable Interview with the Incomparable Captain Jack Sparrow and Sophie Greyson!

SOPHIE: I have to say, Mr. Sparrow—

JACK: Captain

SOPHIE: Of course, Captain, I’ve never given an interview in a hospital before. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any author who has given an interview in a hospital before—

JACK: Well, luv--*lolling against the bed pillows and giving Sophie puppy eyes*--this is what the Captain Jack Sparrow experience is like. Always unique, endlessly spectacular. I guarantee, an interview with me and the world will never forget the incomparable SOPHIE GREYSON AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE!
SOPHIE:  Well, it is memorable. I think having me wear the nurse costume is interesting, if a bit deceiving. My heroine, Tarin, is the one who wants to create the first female college of medicine. You see, as a child, she is deeply affected by her mother’s death.  Her mother’s deathbed advice creates a woman in Tarin that is beyond her time.  She is a titled woman destined to move women beyond the constraints of 1848 American society.  A woman determined to have it all despite what her noble father, or society in general, says is proper.  Do you know what proper means, Jack?  *winks*  But she has an uphill battle ahead of her and she cannot afford to be distracted from her goals.

JACK: *smiling* I know! It’s why we’re here. I’m hoping Tarin is able to take a little time to check out my vitals. *pulls on an IV cart, checking on the status of a tan-colored liquid* Perhaps renew my rum drip. Must admit, this is a much better way to keep a constant buzz.

SOPHIE: I don’t think Rafe will like that.  He’s big and jealous.

JACK: Who is that again?

SOPHIE: The hero. Of HEAVEN SCENT.  Big, gorgeous  - looks like Chris Hemsworth??

JACK: Of course, of course, luv. Why don’t you remind me again who he is again…and the story again? And if you can describe Tarin in slow and breath-taking detail, I would appreciate it.

SOPHIE:  Rafe is my smokin’ hot hero, the rebel son of a local shipper who has returned home after ten years away.   Rafe’s time spent serving in the Texas Rangers makes him unlike any other man in Boston.  His outlook on life and women’s place in society is curiously different - so are the circumstances behind his father’s death.  But, he has scars of his own – both inside and out – and cannot allow himself to fall for any woman, much less a woman as beautiful as Tarin.  You know the type, Jack – thick, red hair, green, cat-like eyes, a wit and intelligence to match your own, unparalleled beauty… why you’ll never see finer booty in all the land, Jack. 
JACK: Red hair, you say? *clears throat nervously* I suppose this is one of those stories where she’s all about Rafe at the end, isn’t she? Women and their love of shiny star jewelry. Crazy. Any hope of a little side action for me? 

SOPHIE:  Oh yes – definitely all about Rafe.  As a matter of fact, the couple has an ally in Tarin’s deceased mother, who has a big, heavenly goal of her own – to see them together. *stern look* As for that side action, Jack, you don’t wanna make her mama come down here…

JACK: *holds up hands* I don’t want any trouble. Just more rum. I’m never one to stand in the way of true love. Too dangerous. What prompted you to write this story? Did you run into any difficulties? 

SOPHIE:  My inspiration for the book was the last of my children moving out of the house (Sniff!).  I realized they were all grown up and I questioned whether I had given them everything they needed to have a happy, fulfilling life.  I wanted them each to have jobs that they loved, to marry a spouse they really loved, and to just be happy.  You will see the emotions behind that train of thought in the prologue of my book.  I’m a bit sappy, Jack.  

JACK: So is a lot of this crew.

SOPHIE: Writing is never easy but if I had to name a difficulty with this book, it was finding the time to write it.  Life is way too pushy and doesn’t seem to want to share me with my characters.  But, I had my own crew of great critique partners that helped me push through.

JACK: I understand you self-published your book. What made you decide to pursue this route, and what has been the best part of this experience so far?   

SOPHIE:  The freedom to write what I want, in whatever word count I want, with no deadlines.  I find my imagination and creativity are much more active without the constraints of a publishers guidelines.  Plus, I am very disciplined so while I may have those freedoms, I am also very hard on myself.

JACK: What are you working on now?

SOPHIE:  A nice, tall strawberry daiquiri.  Mmmm!  You should try them, Jack.  As a matter of fact, I think I’ll unhook this IV of yours…

JACK:  *springs up in bed*  NO, luv!  We can’t have that.  I could go into cardiac arrest. 

SOPHIE:  Really?  Wow, good to know. I’ll hook you back up...

JACK:  *falls back against the pillow with a serene smile* 

SOPHIE: So, getting back to your question, I guess you mean what am I working on now writing-wise?  I’m revising a contemporary romantic comedy I hope to have out by the end of the year.  It’s set in Texas, with lots of hot cowboys, a runaway, virgin princess, and really bad pick up lines.  Care to donate a few of those, Jack?

JACK: Luv, I don’t need pick up lines. I just have to walk by and women just fall at my feet.

SOPHIE: Your modesty becomes you.

JACK: *blushes* Moving on. Okay, fast five.

SOPHIE:  Yes, that was a good movie.  But, not as good as Pirates.

JACK: Last great book you read—

SOPHIE:   The Return of Black Douglas, by Elaine Coffman

JACK: Favorite writing tip—

SOPHIE:  Show the five emotions in every scene

JACK: Favorite summer treat—

SOPHIE:  Top Shelf Margaritas!

JACK: The one movie you have to see this summer—

SOPHIE:  The Avengers was my must see this summer.  I saw it three times.

JACK: THREE TIMES? You must have seen my movie at least four, yes? *she sips her drink so she doesn't have to answer; Jack frowns* Must have snack when you’re writing—

SOPHIE:  Cinnamon pita chips

JACK: Excellent. You’ve been a wonderful guest, Sophie, and I can’t wait to commandeer Hellie’s Kindle to read your next book. Do you have any questions for the crew before I turn you over to them?

SOPHIE:  Gulp.  The crew?  Is that like J. Crew or your crew?  Nevermind, I gotta go.  I have to find my hand sanitizer. Thanks for the interview, Jack.  See you soon.  Oh, and a word of advice:  stay away from nurses with… 

JACK: Not so fast. Any woman who is daring enough to try to disconnect my rum IV is surely more than capable of fielding a few questions. Crew?

SOPHIE: Okay, but be gentle! And one lucky commenter will win a copy of my book, Heaven Scent!
Friday, June 15, 2012

The Tale of Two Heroes

Preferences are interesting when it comes to the hero/leading man in fiction. My husband and I have very different opinions on who we like to watch when it comes to television, for example.

There was this show, called “Lie to Me” which featured this guy who had the science of reading people down to such an extent, he made a living on discovering who was lying. Not just for justice, but for money. He was a bit obnoxious. One of the ways he’d provoke a reaction to analyze was to get into people’s faces, say nasty things, bob around and get too close for comfort to the face.

This bothered the husband. He found Cal Lightman, played by Tim Roth, endlessly annoying. He lacked charm. When he was working his mojo, Lightman could be a real ass.

I found this refreshing, much as the character of House struck a chord with a great many viewers because he acted without filters. (Reminds me a bit of several characters we’ve read of. Those with aspergers, for example.)

Anyway, I liked Cal Lightman. I liked his passion and interest in what he was doing. He had a young daughter, an ex-wife, issues with those who worked for him. The show fascinated me.

It was cancelled.

Of course.

Now, there is another show on television, that husband really enjoys. “The Mentalist” which stars Simon Baker. Patrick Jane had a very successful life as a fraudulent ‘mind-reader’ – until his own arrogance caught up with him and he lost his wife and son to serial killer. Now he works for the California Bureau of Investigation.

Husband loves Jane. Finds him charming and witty. He uses similar techniques. Same level of arrogance, just coached in a softer package. Jane dresses sharper, is nicer to his co-workers and is seldom directly insulting. He’s also deeply wounded and emotionally stunted. And bent on revenge. Only reason he’s working for the CBI is to find the killer and take him out.

Cal does what he does for money and because the truth matters. Nothing really personal involved, though being television, it occasionally strays there. Or did.

“The Mentalist” is still going strong.

The thing I like about the show is the supporting cast. I find Jane annoying.

Two heroes, two leading men. Similar shows, similar techniques. In fact, interesting that I see another coming our way staring Eric McCormick, called ”Perception.” Man with mental problems which give him a unique way of viewing how diverse elements make a pattern…helps catch bad guys. Might like it. Not sure yet.

Jane (Patrick Jane) is disarming, soothing, non-threatening. Cal Lightman is odious, grating, confrontational. When it comes to who I’d rather write, it’s Lightman, 100%. Attend a party with? Jane. Read about? Lightman. Though Jane might be interesting since a writer can delve deeper into the thought processes…might make him interesting to write about, too. Not as much as Lightmanm though! ;-)

Both characters are heroes, both do similar jobs, both are nice to look at…but oh, so different!

Anyone else know these shows? The characters? Any preference? Which character appeals more to you? To read, to write, to watch?
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Captain Jack visits with Erotic Romance Writer Roni Loren

*The camera zooms in on Captain Jack Sparrow as he shifts on a stool in the center of a large room. He eyes a St. Andrew’s Cross leaning against the wall and a table of sex toys next to it. A lovely woman sits across from him, an open smile on her face, completely at ease. Marnee scurries over and hands Jack a stack of index cards, waving excitedly at Roni Loren.*

Marnee:  Here you go, Jack.  Now, please.  For the love of God, please.  Just read from the cards.

Jack: Of course, love. Just like always.

Marnee:  But you never just read from the cards.

Jack: *eyes table next to the cross* Is that a whip? Because you know I’m a pacifist. It’s my religion.

Marnee:  *waves her hand dismissively.*  It’s a flogger.  And don’t talk about religion. You’re not fooling anyone.  Now, remember, the cards.

Jack:  *eyes still on the table.*  Where are we?

Marnee:  We’re at The Ranch, a major setting in Ms. Loren’s novels.  It’s an exclusive resort where all your sexual fantasies can be fulfilled.

Jack: *sniffs indignantly, sitting up straighter.*  Not all sexual fantasies, obviously.  I’ve never been here before.

Marnee:  Right. How silly of me.

Jack:  Must I remove my clothes?

Marnee:  No! No no.  You’re just here for an interview.

Jack:  I’m happy to oblige, you know.  In the name of fantasies and the like.  *Glances at the table again*  But, I will insist upon a strictly non-painful approach.  I’m a lover, not a, well, not a lover of pain.

Marnee:  *Pats his arm* Yes, we know, Jack.  Thank you.  I’m sure they’ll let you know if that’s necessary. *Points to the stack of questions.* Remember. Cards.

Jack: *giving Marnee his most charming smile.* Of course. I live for these cards. How could I possibly do these interviews without you fine wenches and these incredibly helpful and informative index cards?

*Marnee rolls her eyes and smiles apologetically at their guest before scurrying off to join the rest of the pirates on a set of couches nearby.*

*Jack clears his throat and smiles his most charming smile at the camera*

Jack:  Good morning and welcome to another Incomparable Interview with the Incomparable Captain Jack Sparrow.  *gesticulates wildly with his hands, gives the best impression of a bow he can manage while seated.*  Today, we welcome the lovely Roni Loren, whose most recent novel, Still Into You, was released last week from Berkley Heat.  Her next novel, Melt Into You, will be out in July.  Welcome, Ms. Loren.  

*Jack leans forward and takes Ms. Loren’s hand, trailing kisses along her palm*

Marnee:  Jack! Just read!

Jack: Right.  Cards.  *Shuffles stack in hand, muttering*  So wordy, these wenches….  Ah, here we are then.  Ms. Loren, please tell us a little something about your most recent releases.

Roni: Well, STILL INTO YOU is about Leila and Seth, a married couple who love each other but realize that over time, they’ve lost the spark between them. After Seth finds out his wife was tempted to cheat, he takes drastic measures to save their marriage. He takes her...*ponders how best to explain this to a pirate*, he takes her captive and brings her here to a fantasy resort to give her three days off from marriage vows. But he plans on showing her that she doesn’t need anyone but him to fulfill her fantasies.

Jack: Captive, you say? That has some real promise. *glances at cards again, forehead wrinkled.* It says here that your books are a series, the Loving On The Edge series.  Why “On The Edge”?  *Lifts head, fingering his cutlass.* I hope not like the edge of a plank?  Because I assure you, I’ve done that and there is nothing sexy about it.

Roni: *smiles* No planks, but as you can see there are ropes, floggings, and restraints. Come to think of it, a pirate would probably be quite popular here at The Ranch.

Jack: *with a roguish grin* I assure you, I'm quite popular everywhere.  I am the Incomparable Captain...

Marnee: *cuts him off* JACK!

Jack: Right.  So, tell me, when do you plan to write about pirates?

Marnee: *groans*

Jack: *holds his hands up* Love, I know sometimes I ask this question and it’s not relevant but I assure you, it fits here.  Pirates tie people up too, you know.

*Marnee’s palm meets her forehead*

Roni: Well, my heroines sometimes have capture fantasies so a pirate scene might fit right in. *discreetly passes Jack an invitation to spend a night at The Ranch* Be sure to wear the outfit.

Jack:  *under his breath* You like the outfit? I am quite dashing, no?  *louder* And what about ships?  The ocean?  Any of that in your future books?

Roni: Not much open water here in North Texas so that might be a bit tougher to work in.

Jack: Huh.  Pity, that.  Well, the wenches here love to hear a good call story.  Can you tell us about The Call and your journey to publication?  *In stage whisper* It’ll help them forget about the pirate question.

Roni: I queried two books before CRASH INTO YOU. One was a YA (I know, big jump) and the other a category contemporary romance. While I was waiting to hear back on the second one, I got an idea that could only be written as an erotic romance. I decided to write it, figuring no one would probably ever see it. But when I finished it, a fellow blogger/writer, Natalie Bahm, contacted me to tell me her agent (Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary) was looking to sign more romance writers. Natalie had read some of my writing on my blog and offered to give me a referral. Sara was already on my wishlist, so I sent her my first three chapters. A few days later, she requested the full, a week after that, she offered me representation. One of the best days ever. :)

Jack: That does sound exciting. And what are you working on now?  Can you tell us a little more about what you’ve got coming in the future?

Roni: I’m currently working on book four in the Loving on the Edge series. Right now the series has four full length and two novellas planned, so it’s keeping me busy. Next up is my second novel, MELT INTO YOU, which is a BDSM menage story that comes out July 3rd. :)

Jack:  Well then, that was a lovely interview.  *Glances at the couch where Marnee is gesturing madly. Squints while he reads her lips.* Oh, right.  Do you have any questions for us?  Or anything else you’d like to discuss today?  *Smiles at Ms. Loren.* I assure you, these ladies will talk about anything.

Roni: I think I better quit while I’m ahead. But, Jack, if you ever want to stop by my blog and be my Boyfriend of the Week, you’re more than welcome. *peeks at archives* Oops, seems we've already had a dalliance. Forgive me. So many men, so few weeks--my memory fails me at times.

Jack:  *grins broadly* I would be happy to visit again, though. Anytime. I endeavor to make myself available to my fans.  After all, there is only one Incomparable Captain Jack....

Marnee:  JACK!

Jack: Yes. Fine then. *scowls at Marnee but turns a smile back to Ms. Loren.* Thank you again for coming and for inviting us to this lovely, er, place.  *Tosses the cards behind him and smiles at the camera.* So, it's to you, ladies and gentlemen. If you have any questions for Ms. Loren, please leave them. She'll be by to chat with us today.

Roni Loren wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. 
If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that's it. She is the National Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat. Website: