Monday, December 17, 2012

KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE with Marina Adair



We have a special guest on the blog today. Marina Adair is a National bestselling author of romance novels. Along with the St. Helena Vineyard series, she is also the author of Tucker's Crossing, part of the Sweet Plains series. She currently lives in a hundred-year-old log cabin, nestled in the majestic redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with her husband and daughter.

As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive. She also loves to interact with readers and you can catch her on Twitter at @MarinaEAdair or visit her at www.MarinaAdair.com.
She’s been nice enough to give us a little glimpse into what makes her such a good writer and thrown a little eye candy and excerpt in for good measure. Take it away, Marina!

I am a Hart of Dixie addict!

Every week, my friend Hannah Jayne and I sit down with a bottle of wine—or three—and watch as the lives of our favorite Alabamians play out in the town of Bluebell. Sometimes, when the season is on hold, we watch reruns while eating fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and sipping mint juleps. And I know that we are not alone in our obsession….

So, what’s the appeal?

I mean, sure George Tucker is so hot that one Southern-boy smirk packs enough panty-melting power to wipeout every Victoria’s Secret on the eastern seaboard:   


And the chemistry between Zoe and Wade has every good girl in America wondering what it would be like to take a ride on the wild side.

But it’s more than just mind-blowing sexual tension and hunky heroes that has me tuning in—although Wade’s abs and Lavon’s tats make my girly parts stand up and cheer.

For me, the must-see-mentality is because Hart of Dixie has some of the tightest writing on television. The show is full of conflict, love-triangles, tension and a whole lot of humor and heat. And, as with all great writing, every scene is packed full of character and plot.

The writers make sure that every scene has its own beginning, middle, and end—and that every scene introduces a new problem to drive the next scene forward. If one scene were to end up in the cutting room floor, their entire story would unravel because it is so tightly woven. 

But how do they accomplish all of that in ninety-second of screen-time?

Conflict and motivation.

Motive creates conflict and, in turn, conflict intensifies the hero and heroine’s motives. Before I sit down to write a scene, I nail down what each character wants and how their goals can directly conflict. Once I know what motivates one character, what scares them, and what they are willing to do anything to obtain, then I pair them with someone who wants the exact opposite. This works for individual scenes as well as the overall story arc.

For example, in my book KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE, Gabe is a 100% alpha-Italian who loves his family something fierce. In fact, after his parents died he made it his life’s mission to ensure his family’s happiness. So I picked the one thing that would lite him on fire: someone messing with his kid sister.

Not just any woman could go head-to-head with a guy like Gabe, so I needed a woman whose motivation was equally as important. Intro Regan, a single mom who just moved to town with the goal of giving her daughter the best childhood possible—unfortunately, years back she unknowingly had an affair with Gabe’s brother-in-law and got pregnant. The only way Regan can accomplish her goal is to raise her daughter in the small town of St Helena and the only way Gabe can keep his family safe is to make Regan leave town before his sister finds out.

These motivations are the driving force of every scene, every action, and every line of dialogue.
In this scene, Gabe’s goal is to gain information from Regan on the whereabouts of his cheat of a brother-in-law, Richard. Regan’s goal, at the urging of her friends, is to either make-nice with Gabe or leave the bar before she says something that would further ruin her standing in town.

Excerpt from Kissing under the Mistletoe

Gabe dragged a chair from the next table and dropped into it. This was his town, these were his friends and Regan needed to understand that. “Thought I’d come over and see how St. Helena’s newest resident was faring.”
Actually, he’d come over to see if his brother’s plan was even possible. Not that he would ever sleep with a woman to gain an edge on anything. It wasn’t how he was raised. But Nate had a point. Gabe had met Regan once and, six years later, he could still remember exactly what she looked like, exactly what she had smelled like. If Richard kept in contact with anyone from his past, it would be her.
“Jordan, Frankie,” he acknowledged. When he looked at Regan, heat flickered. He wondered if she was experiencing the same stupid attraction that he was, or if she had a bad case of heartburn.
“Gabe.” Her smile was all sunshine and roses, but she spit out his name like it was a four-letter word. Yup, she definitely had it bad for him.
“Regan?” He feigned surprise. “I almost didn’t recognize you with that smile on your face. You look so serene and . . . tame. You must have called my guy.”
Regan pressed her lips tightly together, but he still heard a faint and muffled “Bah Humbug,” come from her general direction.
 “If you’ll excuse me, I need to be getting home.” Smile back in place, she grabbed her purse off the chair. Gabe was supposed to be winning her over, seeing if becoming friendly enough for her to open up to him was even a possibility. A hard task when all he wanted to open were the next two buttons on her blouse.
“Ah, and here I came all the way over here to buy you a drink.”
“Maybe another time,” she said, smile holding. “It was—” She stopped, slapping a hand over her mouth and looking at the other two women, who, eyes wide, cheeks strained and nodding their heads, were definitely sending her all kinds of signals. None of which he could understand.
Big surprise there, buddy.
“It was…?” he prompted her to finish.
“That’s all, it just was.” She stood, ready to leave.
Now his brothers were sending him various kinds of signals, all of which had a matching hand gesture. He knew the only way to play this was to pretend that he wanted her to leave. So he leaned back in his chair, rested his feet on her chair and sent his brothers a cocky nod before wiggling his fingers at Regan in a smart-assed buh-bye.
Game on.
Regan growled. Swinging her purse, she whacked his loafers off the chair and reclaimed her seat. She signaled the waitress and looked him in the eye. Man, she was sexy when she was spitting mad.
“You know what, Gabe? I’ll take that drink. In fact, let me buy you one as a token of my thanks for all you’ve done for me over the years.”
“Ah, there’s the girl I know and love.” He sat forward and pressed his fingers into her forehead, pulling and massaging until he ironed out the wrinkles of her frown. His other hand tugged her lips up into a smile. “Much better.”
She swatted his hands away and was about to swat him in the junk when Jordan cleared her throat. Both women were giving Regan a reprimanding wag of the head.
Batting her eyelashes she leaned into Gabe and asked, “What can I get for you? Wine? I hear the new DeLuca Zen is fantastic.”
That’s more like it. She was set on staying. His friends were back where they should be—in his corner. The other DeLucas were all but high-fiving him from across the room. And if Regan leaned any further forward he’d be able to see right down her shirt.
Time to volley.
“Actually I’ve got a beer over at my table. I came over to let you all know that there’s an ATL on one missing Randolph.”
“Wait, is he the brown one with the red nose?” Regan deadpanned.
“Yes,” Gabe leaned forward, making sure to take up all of Regan’s space. “He is also a treasured town mascot.”
“I heard about that,” Frankie said, her face scrunching in anger. “Some idiot destroyed the town Christmas display. People are pissed and I don’t blame them. Every kid in town looks forward to getting their picture taken in the sleigh on Christmas morning.”
 “I heard they’re offering a reward for his safe return.” He spoke directly to Regan, who swallowed.
He knew she still had the deer and he wanted to put the pressure on. A woman like Regan would know something was off if he suddenly went soft. Plus, he’d seen her mad and he knew riling her up was the quickest way to get her to open her mouth. It was also the quickest way to gain information. And if he was lucky it would win him another glimpse of those Christmas panties.  
 “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about poor Randolph, would you?” Gabe raised a brow.
“Why are you asking me?” Regan said, her voice close to a shriek. “I’m new here.”
“You are the town Vixen.” He leaned in, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
She closed her eyes and he watched her mouth silently count to three . . . make that ten,  then she dug through her purse. She dropped two bills on the table for her wine and smacked a quarter against his chest.
He eyed the coin and smiled. “What’s this for?”
“For not saying, ‘Have a good night!’”

I am happy to report this tasty-sounding read is already waiting on my Kindle. If you’d like your own copy, click on the book title above to go straight to Amazon. And one lucky commenter today will win a signed ARC offered up from Marina. (Us residents only.) Do you watch Hart of Dixie? Love Christmas stories? Wish you had a wine-making, 100% alpha-Italian of your own? Comment and you just might get one (on paper. *g*)

23 comments:

Janga said...

I love a good contemporary romance, and at last count, I had 75 Christmas books on my Kindle. Combine contemporary romance and Christmas, and I find the book irresistible. I now have 76 Christmas books on my Kindle. :)

MsHellion said...

Wow, that sounds complicated! How are they going to work that out? That'd be a tough situation to work through. Awesome!!

I haven't watched Hart of Dixie, but I always love the clips. *LOL* I mean, it looks like a good show, but I rarely have the attention span for an hour long drama (at least on the week days)--I prefer 30 minute sitcoms like Whitney or Modern Family. *shrugs* I'm already tense at the end of each day--watching hot men making me insane with sexual tension I couldn't do anything about would only provoke me. *LOL* But I love the fact you have this ritual with a friend and some wine...that'd be fun.

I do like Christmas stories--there's a lot of fun to be had there and if you have snow, lots of setting where romantic things can happen. *sighs, swoons*

No. I don't want a 100% alpha anything of my own...*LOL* There needs to be some percentage of beta in there so I don't kill him. *LOL*

TerriOsburn said...

Thanks for being with us, Marina. I haven't watched this show either, but that's because I had to break the tv watching habit in order to get writing done. Which was HARD, but I'm over the hump now and am very careful about avoiding new shows. Especially ones that look as good as this one.

Couldn't do the full on alpha either. On the page they can be fun. In real life, not so much. But that's just me. I'm alpha enough for the both of us. Sadly.

Can't wait to read this one!

Haleigh said...

How much fun. I love when the motivation of the two characters are such opposites that they butt heads the entire book. You've definitely got that going in this excerpt!

I haven't watched Heart of Dixie, but I may have to track it down now! Sounds great and I'm a sucker for good TV writing.

Marina Adair said...

Hi, Janga!

I am with you! I love a good contemporary and mix it with Christmas and I am sold! Thanks ford stopping by and Season's Readings!

Marina Adair said...

Oh, Ms Hellion, you will LOVE Hart of Dixie! It is an hour,but there is so much humor that it seems like 15mins. Great television! And I am also a Modern Family watcher!

Thanks for stopping by!

TerriOsburn said...

That's so true about the motivation stuff. It's taken me YEARS to learn how to create conflict between my H/H. In the first book I ever tried to write they were just nice pretty people who ended up happily together by page 50. LOL! No shocker that book never did get written.

Marina Adair said...

Thanks for having me, Terri. I wont tempt you anymore with Hart of Dixie.I get it. Before I was able to go to full time writing,I had to find time to write,so like you I gave up TV. And now, there are only a few shows I watch...I would always rather be reading though :)

Marina Adair said...

Hi, Haleigh!

You'll have to tell me what you think of the show. Thanks for stopping by!

Marina Adair said...

Terri! In my first book I had obstacles that were so bad there was no way they would EVER get together. So I can at if from the other side.LOL!

TerriOsburn said...

I never thought I'd consider giving up the day job but now I so wish writing WERE the day job. I envy you ladies who get to do it full time. I could have primetime TV back. *sigh* The Voice is the only thing I won't miss and thank goodness that ends this week.

Marnee Bailey said...

I think I'd like Hart of Dixie too! This looks great. And those guys look hot, er, I mean, young.

:)

This does sound like a complicated plot. Those are some serious conflicts to work around. Brava.

I don't go to a "day job" per se, but I don't get a lot of time during the day with the kidlets under foot. When the youngest heads to school, I'll do this full time. I stop short of wishing for that day though. As much as I'm looking forward to writing a lot more some day, I can't quite look forward to them growing up so fast.

quantum said...

Wine (Nappa Valley), Women (Its a romance) and Song (Christmas Carols).
+ a bonus of kissing under mistletoe.

Sounds perfect for me.
And there is an audio version ...... Its now on my wish list!

Motivation driven conflict could lead to a suspense novel or if someone eventually compromises, to a very hot romance. The cover and title suggest a sweet frothy Christmas romance.

I'm currently reading Jennifer Blake's 'Shameless' which has elements of all three components and is brilliant.
Which slot does 'Kissing under the mistletoe' fit, if any?

Great to meet you Marina!

Maureen said...

Santa Cruz Mountains? My Santa Cruz Mountains!? Okay, so they aren't mine, but sorta...I'm just closer to the bay then the mountains!

Welcome to the Revenge! I always make sure we're stocked with some of the best California wines, since I be partial to them...

A series set in St. Helena...wondrous! Love to wander through that wine country at least once a year, usually when I'm in the Sonoma area for the NASCAR race...

I must say, I'm always impressed with writers who figure out the direct conflict between characters before they start writing. I'm usually floundering around and actually, my conflict is usually an outside one, they just have different ideas how to work it all out...

Marina Adair said...

Hi Marnee,

What do you write? And I agree on the kiddos part, I want my daughter to stay young forever.

Thanks for stopping by!

Marina Adair said...

Hi quantum!

Kissing Under the Mistletoe is a hot romance. The cover does look sweet, but it is heart and heat at the same time. Thanks for stopping by!

Marina Adair said...

Hi Maureen~

Yes, your Santa Cruz Mts. Although I live closer to the beach side, right near Santa Cruz. I love that so many fabulous authors live in the Bay Area!

On Wine Country, my husband and I were lucky enough to live in St Helena for the first few years of our marriage. It is still one of my favorite places that we lived...and I love going back for a visit!

Thanks for stopping by~

Maureen said...

I'm in the La Selva area, getting rained on today...but I think everyone in the bay is. I must entice you to the Monterey Bay RWA chapter...we can always use a speaker... ;-)

Marina Adair said...

Maureen!

That would be great! I am actually good friends with one of your board members, Jules. Drop me an email marina(at)marinaadair(dot)com

I look forward to hearing from you. If anything it is two more bay area writers connected :)

Maureen said...

Jules is my new VP! Coolness, we'll figure it out...

bn100 said...

I like Christmas stories. Nice excerpt.

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

Marina Adair said...

Thanks Bn100!

Joya Ryan said...

Great post! LOVE the HofD pics too ;)