Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Good, The Bad & Ugly (Cute) of Authorship!

 Flash-Fiction Vs Short Story Vs Novella Vs Novel – Which is Your Corner?
Have you ever thought that: shall I go for a short hook or long punch?  
I can’t say as it ever crossed my mind when I started writing what shall I write: long or short novels? 

Hell no, I crashed headlong into an epic WWII romance. The novel itself was wholly inspired by image of US bomber in an old magazine, which if I remember correctly went by the title of Pictorial Review. The bomber was badly damaged, two engine propellers not working, and the aircraft clearly coming in to land at a bit of a tilt. The write-up claimed a miraculous landing, though members of the crew were badly injured and dead among their number. In the foreground was a young woman near the perimeter fence, on horseback and watching the plight of the stricken aircraft. That image inspired me and I wrote my first romance, though I had penned scripts for pantomimes and school plays!

I can’t think why I never sent this particular novel to a publisher. I guess I thought I was too young for a publisher to take me seriously at 25 yrs of age. Funnily enough I dragged out its hand-written tattered remnants a couple of weeks back in order to whip a snippet from it for a themed Challenge. Wow! It drew forth such a good response I think I’ll revise it and see if “it” can get a bite from a publisher sometime. If interested in reading a snippet from my first ever novel, it’s here under the heading Romantic Friday Writers Challenge No. 11.  here.

Found this pic but it's not the original one. 

Oops. I digress. Anyhoo, getting back to the long and short of it: I love writing big blousy novels with sumptuous settings and lavishly dressed heroes and heroines. It can be either a contemporary or historical romance, sometimes a romantic thriller. But, quite recently I was asked to co-host a group blog with a difference, and this blog involves writing Flash-Fiction or that of posting a snippet from a novel to fit a themed challenge. So, I experimented with Flash-Fiction, which entails conveying a cameo/story within 400 words. From this participation I realised it was teaching me to cut to the bone and make every word count: Romantic Friday Writers 

I then embarked on a novella, because again it forces one to cut the waffle, tighten the girth, and smooth down a complete story within 16,000/30,000 words. I did it purely as an experiment, the historical novella now on Kindle at Amazon. Why?  Because I saw no point in submitting a novella to a publisher, and it’s a good way of testing the novella market. The returns on a novella are minimal at best, so why give third-party interest a score on few pennies more than I?  As it happens, it’s doing well without publisher backup. 

But, getting back to the long and short: I recently gained success with a novel that is 60,000 words approx and due out of Whiskey Creek Press July 2012. It’s a glitzy glamorous novel with horsy backdrop.

To top that, I’ve had a request from a British publisher for a full on my 97,000 + word historical novel. To say I’m thrilled and scared all in one go is an understatement. I just love big landscape novels, delicious swashbuckling heroes and charming if difficult young misses and mistresses and all set against authentic backdrop and alongside real-life people from era depicted.      


details and book trailer

BTW: sorry about the waffle in this post! ;)

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Writing Space

In our house the den is the room in which our computer resides. We have a lovely armoire to house the computer, with doors that close to hide everything when we have company. For me, I consider this to be 'home base' for my writing. I have the covers of my books tacked up, awards framed, Post-Its galore with links, tips, advice, and quotes, pictures that provide inspiration, and files for each of the projects I'm working on.

From here I check blogs and loops, e-mail fellow writers and editors, and basically keep up with the writing world.

I, however, don't do much actual writing in this space. Especially in the summer. Being a teacher in 'real life', I get most of my writing done in the summer. And most days in the summer it's simply too nice to sit inside in this room (decorated with family pictures both past and present) at my computer for long hours.

So, several years ago (after my first book was published) I invested in a lap top. Best thing I ever did for my writing career. Now my writing space can be where ever I want it to be. One spot is out back by our pond. The comforting sound of bubbling water makes a nice backdrop. I also like to sit at our patio table. Surrounded by bushes, it's a private retreat, making me virtually invisible to those who pass by. My hands-down favorite spot to write in the summer is my front porch. Here I move from Adirondack chair to rocker, depending on the need to be plugged in at any given time. The porch is covered, so it's also the ideal place to write if there's a little rain coming down.

As I write, I tend to migrate from place to place. Write in the back for a while, move to the table, and then in the afternoon when the sun hits full force in the backyard, I move to the front porch. If my computer runs out of juice, I've been known to trail an extension cord across the yard.

The lap top is used solely for writing. I don't have an Internet link on the desk top, so I don't get distracted (or procrastinate)

with e-mails or blogs. Having a portable computer has made me a much more productive writer, as I don't feel like I'm stuck in one spot. In fact, if I'm stuck on a story line or scene, I'll move my physical location, which often gives me a new perspective and gets the words flowing again.

In winter, I probably use the house computer more often when I write, but there are days you'll find me camped out on the couch or curled in a recliner, clicking away on my lap top.

As for today, I'm thinking it's a front porch day.

So how about you? What is your writing space like?

Until next time,

Happy Reading (and Writing!),


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Writing Point of view (POV)

In her book Mastering Point of View, Sherri Szeman defines point of view as “how a novel is written.” She gives multiple options for traditional POV: first, second, unlimited, outer limited, inner limited and combo.

No matter the genre, commercial romance has specific requirements of POV—generally either first person or a version of inner limited, which is also called third person.

Sherri writes, “The author picks one character and pretends (s)he is in that character’s head, limiting the information presented to the inner life of that chosen character. The author reveals all the thoughts, feelings and motivations of that character, but writs about him in the grammatical third person, using he, she, it or they to refer to his character…

“The author stays out of the head of all other characters in the novel. He doesn’t present any of their thoughts, feelings or unspoken motivations unless they are revealed in dialogue to, or in the presence of, the character from whose perspective he is telling the story.”

The POV rule in Romance has been to limit POV changes through the story. But romance writers can be rebellious and independent. We like to test the rules. I feel the rule of POV should be: as long as the reader can follow who’s talking and walking (and thinking and acting), POV changes are okay.

That said, it’s a good idea to limit the number of POV changes in any one chapter to no more than three. And the changes in POV perspective must drive the plot. A scene written from the villain or killer’s perspective can greatly heighten tension.

I tend to write like I’m watching a film. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so many. Maybe it’s because my #1 writing craft book is “Screenplay” by Syd Field.
Movie scenes offer multiple points of view. There’s also B-footage, those shots of the full moon night sky, or an overhead of traffic on the LA freeway system. But those don’t fit into a modern romance novel.

We need to know that Jane is getting into the shower and, as warm water cascades down her body, she’s thinking about how stupid she was to run away after Jake kissed her last night. It was his last night home before heading off to Afghanistan, and he’d asked her to marry him. She’d not given him an answer, and now it was too late. He was gone and she wouldn’t be able to tell him why she couldn’t say yes, despite how much she wanted to. He didn’t know about Sam. And she didn’t know how to tell him.

Now, we could write the next scene in Jake's POV, describing the anger he feels toward Jane as the 747 jets across the ocean. How she's rejected him. How he wanted to know she would be waiting for him. He'd heard she'd been preoccupied with some guy named Sam. She'd probably been sleeping with him, and that's why she bolted when he'd kissed her. Damn it! If he hadn't tried to undo her bra, maybe she would have been honest with him. Or maybe not. Maybe she really was the town slut, and he was better off forgetting about her.

Then, what if Sam is a three-year old mixed race baby that Jane's been trying to adopt. Sam can't have a POV, realistically. And what if Jake has always insisted that he wanted kids of his own. HIS own. ...

Pretty clear cut points of view. As long as each section is in either Jane's or Jake's POV, the reader gets both sides of the story and can be immersed in the drama.

No head-hopping. No confusion.
Just pure satisfaction.

Should be easy, right?
But is it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

What of Killing/Assassinating a secondary character!

I’m starting this post with a back cover blurb from one of my previous published novels – Deadly Legacy! A snippet from the text is below.

An ex MI6 officer is assassinated, the widow asks questions and his colleagues close ranks, but a living nightmare is about to begin for Cassie Douglas and that of her children. Although struggling to regain sense of normality in her every day life, she cannot and will not give up on discovery of why her husband died a macabre death.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Cassie, her son’s obsession with computers inadvertently unleashes real-time covert dogs of war, and two CIA agents depart Langley in the US, heading for London. Meanwhile, a man called McKinley has already landed at Heathrow, London, and standing on her doorstep. Although a one-time close friend of her late husband, can she trust this man and finally unravel truth from lies or is he the enemy?    

1) The blurb shows us that Cassie’s husband has been assassinated, but how?
2) We know a living nightmare is about to close around her and her children, and they’re obviously under some kind of threat: but what and whom is the threat?
3) McKinley features big, he has a name already, but who is he? 

We all know the blurb is intended to incite initial interest, and in this case, unanswered questions will hopefully lure a reader of romantic suspense/thrillers to pick up said book and read the first few pages.

The following snippet is taken from page 7 - first chapter, where Jamie has to use Cassie’s car because his was involved in a traffic accident the day before:

Cassie heard the purr of the car’s engine, and guessed Jamie was readjusting the seat, the vehicle still where she’d parked it. She stepped forward in readiness to descend the steps to the pavement below, a girlish flush rising to her cheeks at his remembered words in the hallway. 
      A second chance at happiness was better than divorce, surely, even if from time to time he still disappeared at a minutes notice . . .
       After all, he had sworn – only yesterday – that divorce would never keep them apart for long, even if she filed for one. And if she ran away it would be as good as shooting him in the head.
      Terribly dramatic, utter blackmail too, but highly effective when applied with: ‘What more can I say to convince you that I love you, always have, and always will, Mrs. Douglas’.      
      She once more glanced toward her car. Jamie had reversed it a little and the vehicle now moving out from between parked cars.
      The unthinkable happened.
      An explosive blast rocked the crescent.
      The car doors were blown outward and the vehicle rose into the air.
      Shock waves slammed into parked cars and nearby houses; window frames splintered and hail of glass rained down all around.
      Engulfed in a ball of flames the vehicle fell to earth a mangled heap of metal.      
      ‘No, No,’ she screamed.
      Hell had just risen before her eyes and nothing remotely human able to survive the macabre scene before her, yet here she was alive, virtually untouched by the blast.
      From the moment their eyes met in that brief exchange prior to the explosion she’d made the decision to tell him the answer to his question immediately upon his return. Her preferred terms would have been strongly disputed but adhered to all the same, because no matter how much water had flowed under shaky bridges neither had burned any.
       He’d said the night before: ‘The last thing I want is for either to give up on the other’.
      Not once had he used the children as a weapon in his defence to remain head of the household. He’d also striven to regain her trust, his case put forth, and her decision had remained in the balance. She’d done that partly as punishment for the heartache and tears and long nights spent with only the children for company, and for all the times she’d been left pondering the dangers he must have been facing in far distant places.                           
      Immobilised, numbed, fingers toying with Jamie’s wallet, she voiced, ‘I’ll always love you, and you did guess right.’ 
       As faces appeared at shattered windows and people spilled onto the street, a black pall of smoke billowed ever upward. Every movement around seemed to slide into slow motion; nausea and faintness washed over her.
       In the far distance wailing sirens audible . . .           
      Moments later with blood trickling and tears cascading like red rain down her face she glanced to her left. Several fire officers dashed past her; and she noted a paramedic and a policewoman walking toward her. No hope. 
       Why, why did he have to die like this?

I’m hoping to get this re-published, so any feedback, feel free.

I think killing off secondary characters can work very well, providing how the death happens smacks of reality to story in hand and doesn’t feel as though slotted in just for shock factor impact.

O.K., so I killed off Jamie within first chapter, and I know it shocked readers. But, although Jamie’s dead he remains a prime character throughout the novel, simply because the title says it all. He leaves a Deadly Legacy.

In another romantic suspense, Deadly Waters, I have Debbie, whose fiancĂ© died in a car crash before the novel gets underway, and while finding it hard to let go she feels his presence all around her. But it’s not a ghost story. Yet, she’s lured in to doing the things he’d intended doing, and she purchases a 60’ ocean going yacht with the proceeds from his life insurance payout. In doing so it gets her into deep waters in more ways than one, and without telling you any more she’ll discover the truth behind her fiance’s death, and she finds love en route.

So, are you thinking of killing a secondary character, or have you done so already?       

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How Far to Open the Door

Okay. I have to admit. I'm something of a voyeur. At least when it comes to love scenes in romance novels. I am definitely a leave the door wide open kind of reader and writer. I like to know what's going on. In detail.

If a love scene 'fades to black' I feel let down and disappointed. Books with no love scenes at all don't do it for me. A chaste kiss just isn't enough. Even when I'm reading something outside of the romance genre, perhaps a mystery or an action adventure, I like my hero and/or heroine to get a little action of his/her own.

In high school I cut my romance reading teeth on the Harlequin American line. Doors were all the way open. (Perhaps a little too wide for an impressionable teenager, but other than it shaping the way I write, there really wasn't any lasting harm in it.)

Because those were my romance roots, my writing today is usually labeled as spicy. The door is left open for readers to share the experience with the hero and heroine. Sometimes there's no door at all. I tend to include at least one 'out of the bedroom' love scene in each of my books: in the car, on the beach, at the swimming hole, and in the bed of a pick-up truck are places I've used so far. (I did a guest blog at Bianca Swan's on this very subject if you'd like more details!)

Going a little farther on the spectrum, erotica is a little too much detail for me. I like euphemisms for body parts, not anatomically correct ones or 'harsh' language.

Of course all of this is simply personal opinion. Not everyone feels the same way. What's so fabulous about romance is there's something out there pleasing for everyone. If you are someone who just likes a simple kiss with no consummation at all, there are books out there for you. If you like to read on the spicy side, there are books out there for you. And if you want explicit detail, there are books out there for you. Not to mention every taste between.

So, which do you prefer? Doors shut? Or doors wide open? And if you're a writer, do you write what you like to read?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, July 1, 2011

What's in a Name?

Welcome to today's Friday Friend who introduces herself:

Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!  I'm Linda Banche, and I write witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.

Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I'm persistent--that's French for "too stupid to quit".

I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.

So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.

Novel Names

In any novel, the names of the characters are important. "George" conjures up a different image than "Slade".

In addition to the connotation, names also should be appropriate to the time and genre. If you're writing an historical, don't name your heroine Britney or your hero Rock. For science fiction and fantasy, made-up names work since the names are supposed to be out of the ordinary, and names from today's newspapers work for contemporaries.

Since I write Regencies, I stick with fairly plain names. The names of British kings and queens were popular during the era, and I've named my heroes Richard (Lady of the Stars), Henry (Pumpkinnapper), Charles (Mistletoe Everywhere) and Stephen (Gifts Gone Astray). My heroines so far don't quite mesh with the monarch theme. Richard's heroine is Caroline, Henry's is Emily, Charles has his Penelope and Stephen, Anne (one queen here).

The most popular name during the Regency was "George", after the king. But I don't like "George", so you won't see any of my heroes sporting the name, although I might use "George" for a secondary character.

Names are one of the last things I add to a story. When I start writing, I call my hero and heroine John and Mary, and my secondary characters Mr. A, Miss B and Lord C. I also tend to use names I don't like for the villains. On the list of names I dislike are Susan, Lydia, Cecil, George and Jasper.

So, in Gifts Gone Astray, my latest Regency novella, I use a lot of monarch names. The hero is Stephen and the heroine is Anne. Anne's brother is John, their uncle is James, and James's son is Harold. One of a pair of brothers is George, although he isn't the villain in this story. On the non-monarch side are George's brother, Percy, Anne's Uncle Horace, her Aunt Harriet (James's wife), and cousins Oscar and Julia. And I won't tell you my villain's name, so I don't spoil the surprise.

Do you like era-and-genre-appropriate names? What names are your favorites?

Thank you all,



A gift is a wonderful surprise.  Or maybe not.
At the Earl of Langley's family gathering, everyone receives a gift, including the servants. Tutor Stephen Fairfax expects a small token, but the present from family member Mrs. Anne Copley, the widow who has caught his eye, is a dream come true.

Until he opens it. What a gift! How did that demure lady acquire such a book? And she wants to "study" the positions in it with him? If he accepts her offer, tempting as it is, he could lose his job.

Anne has no idea why Mr. Fairfax is in such a flutter. Her present is a simple book of illustrations.  The subject interests them both, and she would like nothing better than to examine the book--and Mr Fairfax--more closely.

Buy Link at The Wild Rose Press:
Also available at your favorite e-tailer, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.