Thursday, March 5, 2015

I is for Islands

Debra has a bad case of Spring Fever.

Three weeks from today I'll be cruisin' the southern Caribbean. Specifically we'll be spending the day in St. Kitts. Our tour will include stops at the 300 year old Brimstone Hill Fortress, Caribelle Batik Studios, and the capital city of Basseterre.

Other stops on this particular cruise are St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Tortola. The cruise is designated as a repositioning cruise, meaning we depart from Port Canaveral in Florida and return to San Juan in Puerto Rico. This caused quite a few problems with airline tickets as the itinerary was changed after we made our initial reservations, but Carnival really stepped up and offered us on-board credit for the fees we incurred while making the necessary flight adjustments. Which is fabulous, because the credit will pay for all of our shore excursions, with some left over as well.

I cannot wait to get away. Everyone around here seems to be sick, whether it's the sniffles I just can't shake, or the stomach flu, or even strep throat. I'm tired of looking at snow and ice. I am desperate need of some humid, tropical air to ease the constant dryness in my throat and of my skin.

We've been counting down since 75 days to go. Now we're at seventeen days. To say we're getting anxious and excited is an understatement.

We love exploring at all of our stops. We're not lay-around-at-the-beach-all-day people. When we're in port, we want to experience local history and culture. Vacation is not only a getaway for us, but a history lesson as well. When we took a cruise for our honeymoon, I eventually used the various ports we cruised to as the setting for Wild Wedding Weekend. Will I write another cruise story? Probably not, but perhaps I'll try a tropical island one some day. There's sure to be plenty of inspiration as we bask in the sun for an entire week.

Until then, I'm finishing up making transportation arrangements, gathering my wardrobe, and trying to be patient. I know the sooner it comes, the sooner it will be over, and I do want the anticipation and the adventure to last as long as possible.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wild Wedding Weekend - available from The Wild Rose Press

All Abby Walker ever wanted was to live a normal life in her small suburban-Chicago house. After traveling around the world in her youth, staying put in one spot is a dream come true. But when she winds up on a game show as a favor to a friend, her life takes an adventurous turn she isn’t at all prepared for.

Noah Grant has put his small-town Indiana roots behind him. He travels all over the world, enjoying the freedom and adventure. He has no intention of settling down anytime soon, if ever. But then he finds himself married to Abby in a bizarre quirk of fate, and he realizes his life will never be the same. Their passion flares as hot as the sultry Caribbean air. But is passion enough to turn their Wild Wedding Weekend into a lifetime of love?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I is for Ireland (of course!)

Paula’s second Irish novel is published.
This is perfect timing for the letter I, as ‘Irish Intrigue’ was released last week.
Charley Hunter returns unwillingly to Ireland to complete the filming of a TV drama series. She still hasn’t come to terms with the tragic loss of her husband there two years previously, and the last thing she expects is an instant attraction to an Irish veterinary surgeon.
Luke Sullivan’s life is full as he tries to balance caring for his two young children with his busy rural veterinary practice. After the break-up of his marriage, he vowed to leave women well alone, but now finds himself drawn to Charley.
While Charley struggles with the re-awakening of her emotions, Luke faces a series of unexplained crises at his clinic, as well as an impending custody battle with his ex-wife.
They grow closer as their initial interest in each other develops into mutual support and then into love. But how can an English actress and an Irish vet reconcile their different worlds? And will their relationship survive when Luke believes Charley has endangered his children’s lives – and then betrayed him?
‘Irish Intrigue’ is a stand-alone story, not a sequel, but some of the characters in ‘Irish Inheritance’ do make a reappearance, as does Mist Na Mara House, now an Arts Centre under the leadership of Guy and Jenna, the hero and heroine of my first Irish novel.
One new character is Alice Vernon, an elderly actress, who gives Charley some sound advice. In my personal blog last week, I wrote about the small incident that sowed the seed for this character. You can read this at:
So far, everyone who has read ‘Irish Intrigue’ has said how much they love Alice, and I’m already wondering how I can bring her into my third Irish novel, which I’ve just started.
And here to whet your appetite, are some photos of the beautiful Connemara countryside in which both novels are set.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ignominy As Conflict

Jennifer is publicly shaming her characters...

I is for ignominy. I love that word. I love the way it sounds and the way it rolls off the tongue. I don’t love the meaning, though. It means “public shame or disgrace.” However, as an author, ignominy makes for great conflict.

Think about it: your hero or heroine suffers from public shame or disgrace, either in present day or in their past, and that shame or disgrace sets the ball rolling for a wonderful story, as well as makes it quite a challenge for the hero and heroine to get back together.

Although I’ve never named it as such, two of my characters suffer ignominiously. The first is John in Skin Deep, which is re-releasing on March 10. His parents have never accepted him and shamed him mercilessly as a child. That childhood framed the man he is today in the story and influenced how he behaves. Only when he learns to get past it, can he open himself up to love from Valerie, the heroine.

In The Seduction of Esther, Nathan is the one suffering from ignominy. During his marriage, his wife cheated on him publicly and as a result, he does not like anyone knowing about his love life or love interests. He does not want to be embarrassed again. Which would be fine, except that he falls for Samara, who turns into a complete klutz every time she becomes attracted to a man. There’s no hiding from that!

What kinds of conflicts to you like?

Monday, March 2, 2015

I is for Intimacy

Ana peeks under and through intimacy from a writer's perspective.

My Webster's Dictionary defines intimacy as "The state of being intimate."
Intimate is defined as "marked by close acquaintance;" "relating to one's deepest nature;" "very personal;" "sexual."

Romance writers strive for intimacy in their novels because romance readers crave a close, personal, vivid experience when reading. We write deep POV to show our characters' natures and reveal their innermost, secret desires and fears.

We also write with a narrative intimacy to convey a wide range of emotions. We strive to show our heroine's moods, the hero's reaction to a turn of events.

To be able to wring pathos from our heroine's certainty that she'll never be united with the hero, we have to know our heroine intimately--and then write in her POV the scenes where she accepts love's gifts and defeats. Likewise, we get to know our hero (as intimately as one can know the opposite sex), get in his head and stay there in scenes where his prowess / honor is challenged and his passions are enflamed.

It's the emotional connection we're after. The intimate. And nothing is more intimate than love scenes. The duet that builds up to the climax (literally) and then lets the reader savor the afterglow. An author has to already be on an intimate level with his/her characters to write a satisfying sex scene.

Erotic romances usually stage the first sexual encounter early in the story, before deep character development. But the intent of an erotic romance is panty-wetting. Love can blossom after the "best sex" the hero has ever had. The dive into the intimate recesses of emotion might be revealed until after the mind blowing f**k, but it will have to be portrayed on the page, or IMO, the story will not deliver satisfaction to most readers.

Sexual intimacy has to be justified by emotional intimacy. By the characters' recognition that their lover is the only one who can make them feel complete, who fills the emptiness that has been stalking them, who heals undeserved or long festering emotional wounds, and who loves them with conditions that free them to love themselves.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snippet Sunday - A Peek into Debra's Current Release

Chapter One

“I want you to be my sex tutor.”
Jason choked on his beer. “What?”
Chloe Harris waited until he met her gaze again. “So, will you do it?” The background noise from the crowded bar filled the charged silence as she held her breath, waiting for his answer. Country music blared from the speakers set around the dance floor. Glasses and bottles clinked. Conversations overlapped, individual words indistinguishable in the cacophony.
“Do what?” he asked, as if he hadn’t heard right the first time.
She sighed. “Be my sex tutor.”
His eyes narrowed. “Why do you need a sex tutor?”
“To make sure I’m doing it right.”
This time Jason’s beer spilled down the front of his shirt. He dabbed at the spot with a napkin. “Dammit, this was a new shirt.” He closed his eyes for a moment. When they opened, his expression was pained. “I can’t believe I’m going to ask this. Hell, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation. But what makes you think you’re doing it wrong?”
She shrugged in what she hoped was a nonchalant manner. “I don’t know. I mean, everyone always talks about how great sex is, but to be honest, I don’t know what the fuss is all about.” Maybe it was her. Maybe she was doing it wrong. “So.” She toyed with the napkin under her drink. “It’s kind of on my bucket list. To have a night of really great sex.”
He closed his eyes again. It almost looked like he was praying. The dark sweep of his lashes curled over the lids. Why did men have such impossibly beautiful eyelashes, while women spent oodles of money on mascara and torturous curling devices? Obviously God had a sense of humor.
Finally he opened his eyes. Even the dim light in the bar couldn’t hide their vibrant blue. “Bucket list? You’re only twenty-six.”
“Twenty-seven. It’s just something I want to do before I’m thirty.”
“That gives you three years.”
“Well, there are other things on my list, too. I want to get this one out of the way.” To silence the ever-present whispers of self-doubt plaguing every relationship she’d ever had. She leaned closer. “C’mon, I hear you’re really good.”
The bottle froze halfway to his mouth. “Where did you hear that?”
“Maureen Brockman and Leslie Granger both said you were fabulous.”
With deliberate care he set the bottle down. “You asked them how good I was in bed?” The words were forced out between clenched teeth.
“I had to do my research. I want someone who knows what he’s doing.” She settled back in the chair. “So, will you do it?”
“You can’t be serious.”
Chloe lifted her chin a notch. “Why not?”
“Because this is totally insane. If you want to do something crazy, get a tattoo.”
“That’s on my list, too.” She looked at him, then down at the table. She traced the pattern of the wood grain with her index finger. “I just want to do this first. And I figured you’d be the perfect guy to help me.”
“What in the world would make you think that?”
“Well, for one, you’re a high school science teacher, so you know all about chemistry and stuff.” She batted her eyelashes in an exaggerated manner.
“Ha ha.”
“All kidding aside.” Her serious tone underscored the words. “I know you. I trust you.” More than she trusted herself.
Something played in his eyes, but he shook his head. “Chloe, take a minute to stop and listen to yourself. You’re asking me to have sex with you.”
“I know.” It had taken months to work up the courage.

One Great Night - available now from The Wild Rose Press.

Friday, February 27, 2015

H is for Holidays

Margaret looks at how holidays have influenced her books.

A relative once said to me, “I always know where you’ve been on holiday because of where you set your books.” And it’s true. In the early days of my writing career I always wrote about places I’d visited or by borrowing books from the library. Mostly, though, I combined it with holidays.

I waited for ages once to question two scuba divers who I’d spotted in the sea off the coast in Cornwall. Fortunately it was worthwhile because they willingly answered all of my questions.

On another holiday I visited a private airport because I wanted to know what it felt like to fly in a helicopter. I had a fantastic time talking to two guys and if it hadn’t been for petrol rationing at the time they would have given me a ride. I’m not sure I would have accepted. I’m definitely a feet on the ground sort of person. Although I have to admit I’ve been in a helicopter since (persuaded by my husband and children) and to forget my fear I concentrated on taking photographs.

The very first time I went on a cruise ship was not for a cruise (I couldn’t afford it in those days) but because my hero was a doctor on a cruise ship. I sent a letter to the cruise line asking if I could look over one of their ships. They happily agreed and I was given a guided tour of the whole ship, including the hospital where no one is usually allowed unless they are ill. And as we were down in the south of England my husband and I turned the whole trip into a holiday, spending several more days along the coast.

The Lake District has featured more than once in my books. It’s one of the most beautiful areas in the UK and I’ve spent many holidays there – for both research and pleasure. My recent e-book, Rachel’s Redemption, was set there following a holiday. I was able to visualise the exact spot where my hero kissed the heroine for the very first time.

Although the internet has changed the way I do research I cannot help wondering whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s good for finding quick answers. But is it good for our health? Wouldn’t we be far better off in the great outdoors?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

H is for Houses

Debra wonders what our characters' home say about them.

Where do your characters live? Is it a sprawling ranch house? A high rise condo? An apartment over a store? Is it in a big city? A small town?

What does their home look like on the inside? Traditional and cozy? Sleek and modern? Sparse because they spend more time at the office than at home? What is the color scheme? Cool blues or greens? Earthy browns and tans? Soft whites and greys? Do they have artwork on the walls? Picture of their friends and family on the mantel? What kinds of books or DVDs or CDs are on the shelves?

Our characters' living space can give us a lot of insight into their personalities. We can learn a lot about them by exploring the place they call home.

Therefore, when describing the space, we shouldn't skimp on the details. However, every detail should have a purpose. Are there piles of clothes on the bedroom floor and dishes in the sink? Our heroine is messy. Are the glasses lined up in parallel rows and the couch and loveseat form a perfect right angle? Our hero is precise and organized.

The sea scape on the bathroom wall tells us even though our heroine lives up in Wisconsin now, she misses the sandy beaches of her childhood home in Florida.

The Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, and Brad Paisley CDs tell us our hero likes country music. The weight set in the spare room and the fruits and vegetables in the fridge tell us being healthy is important to him.

Do the pictures of nieces and nephews on the end tables tell us the heroine longs for a family of her own? Or that family is important to her?

It's easy to get carried away in describing a place. We let our imaginations run wild as we create the perfect space. But don't forget, the space needs to be perfect for our character, not a magazine spread.

Even the phrasing can matter. In This Feels Like Home, the heroine never referred to her condo in the city as home. It was her house. Or her condo. Or back in Chicago. As her relationship with the hero deepened, the word 'home' was used for his apartment to show the growing connection between her and the hero. Home is a more emotional word than house: each brings different connotations.

In our stories, each and every word matters and should have a purpose.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!