Friday, February 12, 2016

F is for Focus


Margaret talks about focusing on characters

 

In short romances the focus is inevitably on the two central characters, the heroine and hero, the story of how they meet, the problems they encounter, their emotions, the resolution, and the inevitable happy ending. It needs to be a good medium between narrative and action. Too much narrative slows down the pace; readers soon get tired, and perhaps even cast the book to one side before they’ve finished it – which is the last thing any author wants. And too little doesn’t give enough information. It’s all a matter of finding a suitable balance.

 Flashbacks are good – so long as they’re not too long and involved. No one wants to read what is not important to the story, so again a happy medium needs to be found. The bare facts perhaps, so that readers know the reason heroine or hero are behaving as they do even though they don't know all the details. It’s sometimes good to leave things to the imagination.

It’s also important that secondary characters are not allowed to take over. They should only be used when essential to the story – to move it forward or reveal information that can add a twist. If a secondary character does become important then perhaps it’s because they deserve their own story – which happened to me when I wrote Rachel’s Retribution, resulting in my book, Abby’s Bodyguard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

F is for Forever

Debra remembers her first 'racy' book.

I read it in junior high. I think it was seventh grade. Which, in retrospect, was more than likely way too young to be reading a book like this. But I was instantly entranced, not to mention a bit scandalized. I'd read July Blume before. But nothing like this. Things like Freckle Juice and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

Forever was a whole new ball game. It had romance and love and sex...and a penis named Ralph. Which, as a barely in my teens girl, was pretty darn shocking.

Even now, more than thirty years later, I still remember reading this book for the first time. Passages and phrases have stayed with me. (And not just the 'naughty' parts.)

As I sat down to write this post, I pulled out my copy of the book and paged through it. In some ways it was like an old friend. One that I haven't thought about in a long time, but still brings to mind fond memories. Familiar.

I guess first times are like that, right? They are things we never forget. We'll remember them...forever.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

F Is For Forecast

Jennifer reviews Jane Tara’s book...

Okay, I’m cheating a little, but I’ve been dying to review this book and I’m using the title rather than the author so I can do it now.

Jane Tara’s book, Forecast was such a fun book to read. It’s a quirky contemporary romance where the heroine is a psychic who an accurately predict the weather (down the specific address, by the way), and the hero is a professional weatherman who is sidelined by an injury. The network hires the heroine and, well, I’ll leave it to you to read the rest. Here’s the blurb:

The Shakespeare women were what the locals of Greenwich Village called "gifted."

They did tarot readings and cast spells from their infamous shop Second Site. And each morning, Rowie would perform her popular weather prediction on the pavement outside.

Sure, Rowie's predictions were helpful for forecasting the weather, but when it came to love, her abilities were more like a curse. Why bother dating a guy if you knew at the first kiss he was destined for someone else? And how would she ever meet anyone while she was stuck working at the family shop?

Rowie was resigned to never finding love. Until Drew Henderson, New York's hottest weatherman is injured and the network decides to replace him with a gimmick—the Psychic Weatherwoman.

The very scientific Drew is furious. The witch might light up the TV screen. But how dare the network make a mockery of meteorology.

Now Rowie's overbearing grandmother Gwendolyn won't talk to her. Sixteen generations of Shakespeare women have worked in the family business. How dare she make a mockery of her gift.

But Rowie loves her new job, and won't let anyone ruin it. Until the day Drew Henderson kisses her, and she can't predict his future. In fact she can't predict anything.

I had so much fun reading about these people, I wanted to move in with them. The book is fast-paced and is the first in the Shakespeare Sisters series—I can’t wait to read the rest of them!


Amazon
5 Hearts

Monday, February 8, 2016

F is for Fun

Ana muses about what aspect of writing is fun.

Since I became a writer, reading is not quite as much fun as it used to be. My internal editor is always lurking, and if activated too many times, will force me to quit reading.  I still swoon over vivid descriptions, fast-paced dialogue, and unexpected plot twists. Maybe it's just that too many easily-accessible e-books are insufficiently edited.

Writing is work. It demands like a day job: butt-in-chair discipline, time away from other interests, brain-straining. Is it fun?

I liked CSA gardening, except when I had to pick baby lettuce with freezing fingers.
I like my soup business, except when a rush holiday order goes missing in shipment, and when I'm on speaker phone hold for an hour and get disconnected just when I reach customer service. Or when I'm held hostage for a forced upgrade of invoicing software.

I like plotting, the scheming of 'then what happens next?'
I like character profiling.
I like re-reading a paragraph that I've polished.

First drafts are work. Second drafts are exciting.
Learning that it's okay to have confidence in my writing is thrilling.
So yes, writing is fun work.
The best kind of work.
The best kind of fun.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Snippet - A Peek at Debra's VALENTINE'S DAY AT THE CORRAL

The latest in Debra's Holidays at The Corral Series released on Friday.


“Gail?”

She groaned. Someone had recognized her? The stairs were only a few feet away. So close to freedom. Maybe she could pretend she hadn’t heard her name. She took another step.

“Gail Robbins?” The deep voice was closer now.

Crap. She turned.

Double crap. Scott Callahan, the new president of Thompson and Sons, the accounting firm where she worked, stood before her. She bit back another groan. Of all the people to run into.

He smiled. “I thought I recognized you.”

“Hello, Mr. Callahan.”

“Scott.”

Even though theirs was a small firm, being on a first name basis with the head of the company seemed too familiar, so she merely nodded.

“Fancy meeting you here.”

Not the word she’d use. More like awkward. Or embarrassing. Running into your boss at a speed dating event? Gads.

Wait…

“What are you doing here?” The question popped out before she could stop it.

He chuckled and tapped the name tag affixed to the lapel of his tailored suit jacket. Had he come right from work? “Same thing you are.”

Her mouth dropped open. “You’re here for the mixer?”

His green eyes twinkled. “Yep.”

“Really?” Triple crap. Her mouth had a mind of its own. If she wasn’t careful, it would get her fired. Not to mention the fact she’d snuck out of work early to go home and change before heading to The Corral.

He quirked an eyebrow, which drew her attention to his face again. Up close, he appeared more boyishly charming than stern executive. Younger too. Considering his position, she’d assumed he was in his mid-forties. Now she reassessed and put him closer to her own age of thirty.

“Does that surprise you?”

His age? She jerked back to the conversation at hand. “What?”

“You sound surprised I’m here for the speed dating event.”

“I am.” In for a penny, in for a pound. Not like the situation could get any worse. She might as well be honest.

He laughed. The deep, throaty chuckle was…sexy.

Gail blinked. Where had that come from? You shouldn’t think your boss’s laugh was sexy. Or the wayward lock of sinfully black hair falling over his forehead, loosened from the sweptback style as if he’d just run his fingers through it.

“I have to admit, I’m surprised I’m here too.”

“That makes two of us.” She bit her lip. “I mean, me. Not you. Me being here is surprising. It’s all my cousin’s fault.” Ugh. The more she tried to explain, the more tangled her words became. And now she was rhyming.

“Ah, we have something in common. It’s all my sister’s fault that I’m here.” He grinned. “Tell you what, how about I buy you a drink, and we can swap stories about our meddling relatives?”

Once again Gail gaped. Had he just asked her to have a drink with him? Her first instinct was to say no. For one thing, she wanted to get the hell out of there. For another, he was her boss. Mingling socially didn’t seem…proper. Then again, was it worse to refuse to have a drink with your boss? That couldn’t be good for a career either.

He leaned closer. The spicy yet subtle scent of his aftershave tickled her nostrils. “Come on, help a guy out.”

Odd phrasing. “Help you out?”

“Yes. Please save me from the woman dressed in a pink jumpsuit checking out my ass.”

Gail laughed. How could a girl say no to that?

Friday, February 5, 2016

E is for Endings


Margaret talks about the importance of novel endings

 

The ending of a romance is as important as the opening pages. No matter what has happened, what trials our heroine and hero have gone through, what obstacles have been in their way, it is vitally important that everything is resolved before the inevitable happy ending.

Achieving this is not without its problems. Heroes and heroines face difficult decisions. Always there is the seemingly unattainable. Their first meeting is rarely a happy one. We tread their path with them as they go on their voyage of discovery. There are many ups and downs and the reader is sometimes left thinking there cannot be any future for them. How can they possibly overcome their differences?

It is up to us, the writers, to make sure they do. Our characters need to accept that they must change, that they need to give a little. Heroes in romances are generally (but not always) men at the top of their profession, who live a life of luxury, who treat women (perhaps) as commodities. Not necessarily deliberately but their wealth has made them a little wary of the opposite sex.

It takes a long while for them to trust a woman, to wholly trust her, they’ve had too many disappointments in life. And so the path of a romance is with the hero learning to trust his woman, but also, equally as important, for the heroine to earn that trust.

There is the inevitable ‘black moment’ before hero and heroine finally confess their love. And I’m not talking simply about admitting it to each other, but to themselves as well. It could still be a long time before they let their feelings be known.

The joy of writing a romance is going on this voyage of discovery with the characters, living it with them, being sad when they are sad and happy when things go well, especially when everything comes together at the end. I’ve had tears in my eyes but also many smiles. Many feelings of satisfaction.  

 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

E is for Edward

Debra is firmly in the Team Edward camp.

I know we've had the vampire discussion before, and I know some of you aren't big fans, but I couldn't let E go by without giving tribute to my favorite vampire: Edward Cullen.

Okay...now that's out of the way.

What I really want to discuss is Stephanie Meyer's intriguing twist on the original Twilight novel in honor of its 10th anniversary. She rewrote the story and switched the genders of the lead characters.

Here's the blurb:

Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight with this special double-feature ebook! This new edition pairs the classic love story with Stephenie Meyer's bold and surprising reimagining of the complete novel with the characters' genders reversed. In Life and Death, readers will be thrilled to experience this iconic tale told through the eyes of a human teenage boy in love with a female vampire. This edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new cover art. Fans of Bella and Edward will not want to miss the opportunity to see these iconic characters portrayed in intriguing new roles.

So now instead of vampire Edward, we have vampire Edythe. Bella has become Beaufort (Beau). And the other secondary characters have swapped genders throughout the book as well. I have not read the book (yet?), but apparently the story is exactly the same with just this reversal of gender.

Hmn? I'm not sure I get it. I'm not sure why she did it. I'm not sure if I'm going to read this new version...although I probably will at some point just out of curiosity. It's gotten some good reviews, but the first ones that pop up on Amazon are poor reviews (one and two stars).

I don't think I'd ever, ever do this with one of my own books.

At one point Meyer started writing Twilight from Edward's POV (the original is in first person from Bella's view point) but the beginning of the mss got leaked and she stopped writing, but made the draft available on her web-site. This I loved. I loved getting into Edward's head and seeing the story unfold from his POV. What I would have really liked, and several reviewers agreed with me, was to have her finish that particular endeavor instead of doing the gender swap thing.

All in all, an interesting choice to say the least, but who am I to disagree with a bestselling author?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com