Ana welcomes Adriana Kraft!
Fourteen years ago last spring, my husband and I sat down with a blank computer screen and began to sketch out our first romance novel. Why? I’m not sure even we can answer that question any more. We’d each always harbored a dream of writing fiction. We’d been writing together in our academic and research careers for over a decade by then, so we thought maybe we knew something about the craft. We were looking for something exciting, different, and fun to do – and, believe it or not, we thought it would be easy, compared to the painstaking publications we were used to.
Wrong. Romance is a world all its own, with literary conventions like point of view, scene breaks, dialogue tags, arc, pacing, character development and of course (in our case) those sizzling sex scenes to create. We had a lot to learn.
We have a few mottoes that guide our lives: “If not now, when?” and “Never give up” are two of them. We did our on-line research, located Romance Writers of America, joined, and sent me off to my first romance writer con, in Washington D.C. I can hardly describe the immediate sense of belonging and camaraderie I experienced that weekend, to say nothing of the steep learning curve. I’d never heard of a “pitch,” but by the end of the pitch workshop, I had drafted, incorporated feedback, polished, and memorized a pitch I used the next day with a New York editor, who was gracious enough to request the full manuscript of our first romantic suspense. Looking back, I think she may have said that to everyone she met with.
We threw ourselves into workshops, continued writing and editing, read everything we could find on the craft of writing fiction, and began to send query letters to editors and agents. We count ourselves lucky to have received several helpful responses during that phase, suggestions for how to improve our work, where else to send it, but never a nibble or an offer. On the bulletin board over our desk, I posted something I’d heard Judith Viorst say at a conference: She submitted her creative writing diligently for fifteen years before she ever received a contract. Never give up.
One editor’s response was pivotal. “You write sexual tension extremely well,” she told us. By this time, erotic romance was bursting onto the scene, and we decided to try adding that to our repertoire. Several writers and editors encouraged us to keep on writing even while we awaited that first elusive contract.
Five years after we started that first novel, we sat down and wrote out the following goals for ourselves:
· To get paid for writing
· To write what we want (happy endings, hot sex, strong women, healthy relationships, lots of fun, healing and personal growth, good stories, exciting plots)
· To be under contract for something by the end of 2005
· To get published in print
· But not to spend time holding out for print publication.
By that time, we had drafted six romantic suspenses and seven erotic romances. In late November, 2005, just ahead of our self-imposed deadline, we received a contract for an e-pub of a romantic suspense, in the days before e-readers swept the market. I’m happy to say we reached all the goals we listed that day, with over thirty romantic suspense and erotic romance novels and novellas currently available, many in both print and e-book format.
Willow Smoke, now considerably revised and with a new cover for its re-release, was that first contracted book. We’re thrilled to bring readers a true “heroine with heart” in Daisy Matthews, who shows up as a teen-age street kid in Cassie’s Hope (Riders Up, Book 1), but has now grown up and deserves a happy ending of her very own.
When the chips are down, there's nobody there. Willowy blond Daisy Matthews has survived the Chicago streets with this mantra but is unprepared for the much older Nick Underwood's urgent pursuit. The wealthy businessman receives a thoroughbred in payment for a bad debt and is thrust into Daisy's world. She teaches him about horse racing; he teaches her about love. When Daisy's seamy brother-in-law threatens Nick's safety, she doggedly tries to stop him by herself, but flees to the familiar streets when he attacks. Can Nick find her in time – and if he does, will she still want him?
“So tell me,” Nick said, “where can I find a horse named RainbowBlaze?"
"RainbowBlaze!" Daisy gasped and glared at him again. "Why? What do you want with her?"
"Damn, you've got to be the most protective woman I've ever encountered. If you must know, she's my horse."
Daisy opened her mouth as if to speak. She glanced quickly at the chestnut mare. "There must be a mistake," she stammered. "RainbowBlaze belongs to Michael Barnes."
Nick crossed his legs and leaned against the stable wall, giving Daisy Matthews a slow satisfied smile. He'd found his horse. And he had a new employee. This could be more interesting than he'd imagined.
Furthermore, being his employee made Matthews safe to be around. He had a firm rule against personal involvements with employees. He flashed a look at the slender woman's nipples that showed faintly through an orange tank top. Didn't she know what she looked like?
Too young. He closed his eyes. He might be old enough to be her father. His eyes sprang open and he appraised her again. Maybe, maybe not.
"The horse did belong to Michael Barnes." Fright flickered across the blonde's face and quickly disappeared behind a steely gaze. "Mike's fallen on bad economic times. Turned out he couldn't pay his debts. Showed up at my office with a bill of sale for some damn race horse and begged me to take it to clear what he owed me. Against my better judgment, I agreed." Nick raised his open palms upward. "So, here I am."
Daisy's hands, resting at her sides, curled into fists.
"You look like you'd like to slaughter me for your supper." Nick stood. Ignoring the woman, he pointed at the horse with the oversized socks. "So I take it this is RainbowBlaze." He glanced back over his shoulder at the woman. She gulped and nodded. "Is the horse any good? How much can I get for her?"
Daisy sputtered and Nick suppressed a laugh.
"She's a damn good mare. She'll run her heart out for you, if you treat her right. But she won't work just for anyone."
"Sounds like you've got a thing for my horse, kid."
"Suppose so." Daisy studied the dirt at her feet. "I've known her since she was foaled. Was there to help her mother give birth. I've been there every step of the way when Rainbow was with Cassie Travers, and then when Michael Barnes bought her it was with the understanding that she'd come to Sam's barn and be with me."
When the woman stopped to catch her breath, Nick said, "You didn't answer my question. How much is she worth?"
Daisy shrugged. "Maybe," her voice quaked, "fifty thousand. Maybe more."
"Hmm. Michael said a hundred grand."
He watched the spirit flow out of the young woman. Her glistening eyes grabbed at something inside him that he hadn't experienced for a long time. Not thinking, he reached for her chin.
"That horse," he said softly, "means a lot more to you than a hundred grand, doesn't it?"
ABOUT ADRIANA KRAFT
Adriana Kraft is the pen name for a husband/wife team writing sizzling romantic suspense and erotic romance. The award-winning pair has published over thirty romance novels and novellas to outstanding reviews. Romantic pairings include straight m/f, lesbian, bisexual, ménage and polyamory, in both contemporary and paranormal settings.
ADRIANA KRAFT ON THE WEB