Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I had to smile when I saw this topic. John used to roar at some of mine. Petals was the one that used to tickle him. Buds, maleness - member no, I don't use that one for the male, I did try but as I wrote it I kept thinking of Today in Parliament. "The Member stood..." no couldn't do that, too funny.

I dream up all kinds of names. I simply don't like the real names. It sort of sounds too clinical and, for me, ruins the romance. Also it can get really tedious. I can't tell you how many times, when reading a book recently, the word "cock" appeared. Sorry, but it sounds so off-putting. I know people like to use the correct words, well that is their choice but please let me stick with my buds and petals and throbbing maleness. Ooh, I've come over all hot and bothered!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Anatomical, anyone?

My vocabulary list of sexual body parts is limited. I rejoiced when 'penis' became an acceptable. I've studied the entire fine-print poster of George Carlin's dirty words, but many of his phrases feel foreign to me, like they'd need to be explained. This could be due to my generational upbringing and marrying when I was nineteen. I must not have had a broad enough range of experiences.
I dislike repetitive use of the word 'cock' in modern erotica. For some reason, I feel that word belongs as an euphemism in historical romance, i.e., "And his cock crowed."
Half of my WIP is set in 1490's Brittany. I researched the Breton words for penis and vagina, and used them in love scenes when in my past-life hero's POV. This expanded my vocabulary and, I hope, added some historical realism.
All in all, I want to craft love scenes where sexual tension is built up through dialogue and intimate foreplay. When coupling finally occurs, I hope my reader is so engaged, she can 'feel' the thrusts and moans without needing a tutorial in the act of sex. I'm more interested in how the H/H relationship intensifies after each coupling.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reduced to Tears

I'm a cryer. I have to admit it. There are some Hallmark and AT&T commercials that make me cry. Beautiful music can move me to tears.

The first time I ever recall crying over a book was when Beth dies in "Little Women". I was probably in fourth/fifth grade, and I remember sitting at the kitchen table reading. Mom was making dinner. I distinctly remember getting to that part in the book, feeling the tears welling, and escaping to my room so no one would see I was crying over a book. Since then, I've cried over lots of books: sad parts, happy parts...

I was deeply honored when a review of my first book indicated readers should keep plenty of tissues nearby. To be able to move someone else to tears with my words is an unbelievingly humble thing.

Certain movies make me cry no matter how many times I've seen them. In college my roommate and I watched the movie "Beaches" with Bette Midler. We each lay on our respective dorm room beds, crying silently until the movie was over. It was then we turned to each other and saw tears streaming down the other's cheeks. To this day, if I even see or hear something about that movie, I call my roommate to say hello and tell her how much her friendship means to me. (I'm going to have to give her a call.)

"Apollo 13" is another one that does it for me. The tears start to trickle as soon as the space craft enters the atmosphere. And we wait. And we wait. And the time comes for them to have reemerged, and still we're waiting. When they finally splash down, the tears are coursing in earnest with the sheer cathartic relief of having the crew safely back on Earth.

The first time we saw "Titanic" - the James Cameron version - in the theater, I cried for half the movie. Now this is a three hour and then some movie, so basically I was crying for over an hour and a half. I started when Jack gets accused of stealing the "Heart of the Ocean" necklace and gets carted off. I didn't stop until the credits rolled. Now the tears start in various places: when the sweet old couple is laying on their bed wrapped in each other's arms; when the Irish immigrant mother is reading to her children on a third class bunk: when Jack slips away beneath the waves...

You know...sometimes a good cry is just the thing.

Until next time,

Happy Reading and Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Crying Game

It’s happy endings that make me cry, especially in films.
I can remember one of the very first films I cried at – an old film about the San Francisco earthquake (with Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jeannette Macdonald). At the end, when they’re all camped out above the burning city, a boy runs up the hill shouting ‘The fires are out!’ and they march to the top of the hill, look out over the ruined, smouldering city and sing ‘San Francisco, open your Golden Gate …’ well, I’m in floods of tears!
Another film which ALWAYS makes me cry, even though I’ve seen it many times, is ‘Apollo 13’. The astronauts, after an agonising wait, finally break the radio silence. Years ago, I watched it actually happening on TV and cheered. But in the film, it’s the reactions of all the families and the Houston crew that make the tears flow, every single time!
I cried at the end of ‘The Incredible Journey’ when Shadow, the golden retriever, eventually appeared. I cried when Hugh Jackman found Nicole Kidman after Darwin had been bombed in ‘Australia’. For heavens’ sake, I even cried at the end of ‘Toy Story 3’ when the toys found a happy new home!
I cry at the end of ‘Carousel’ when Billy makes his peace with Julie, I cry when the family escape to safety over the mountains in ‘Sound of Music’, I cry when Emile re-appears at the end of ‘South Pacific’– in fact, a lot of musicals make me cry.
It doesn’t happen as much with books – except when Jane Eyre finally comes home to her Mr. Rochester.
If a reader ever tells me that the happy ending of any of my books has made them cry, then I’ll know I got it right!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What makes you cry?

Do you cry at Movies or Books?

I confess to being lachrymose, I cry at anything. It does not take much to get me to “fill up”

Take for instance last night I watched a movie about soccer. Would that make you cry – bring it on Margaret – where are the tissues. I am a sucker for all that baloney. I just can’t help it. Sentimental, moi? Of course.

Believe me, I take after my Dad. He was a “cry baby” too. We used to go the pictures (movies) on a Wednesday and a Saturday; you can bet we both shed a tear. We liked Horse and dog films, guaranteed to weep buckets.

John and I spent a Christmas in Cyprus. For the first time EVER we put our dog, Nell, in a kennel while we were away. You know what, we were daft enough to watch Lassie Come Home…oh the sobs across that warm Cypriot night. People were closing their balcony doors.

I can remember age seventeen and trying to be cool on the bus – going to work, dressed in my finest, reading a book by a famous British author called “A J Cronin. The book was “The Citadel” the hero’s lovely wife is run over and killed. Bucketfuls, mascara everywhere. How embarrassing. For the next week I didn’t take the bus but walked to the office. Three-mile walk, no easy job in stilettos, let me tell you.

But you know what - I enjoy it. Book, film, TV drama – and don’t get me started on real life. Goodness, people come and tell me their troubles, knowing they are going to get a full-blown reaction. And do I actually cry at my own stories? Well of course, come on if the author doesn’t cry it’s darn tooting the reader won’t!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pass the tissues, please.

What makes me cry reading a book or viewing a film?
When a character I've come to care about dies. I can't help it.
My husband is a Marine veteran in an honor guard that serves at veteran funerals. When the bugler plays taps, my waterworks turn on.
I'm not afraid of death. I just feel so sad about the passing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Special Guest Alison Henderson

My Journey to Publication

Hello, Ladies! Thanks for inviting me to join you today to talk about my road to publication. It may not be the longest on record, but many days it felt like it – more than twenty years from the day I scribbled the first story outline in a notebook until I held a published book in my hand.

I’m not one of those writers who always wanted to write. I never considered writing fiction until I took an extended leave from work when my daughter was born. (She’s now a graduate student.) At that time, modern romance fiction was new, and I was swept away by the books of early mistresses of the genre like Kathleen Woodiwiss and LaVyrle Spencer.

I read everything I could get my hands on, and by the time my daughter started pre-school, I decided to try writing one of my own. I quickly became hooked on the creative process. When I had nearly finished my first manuscript, I met LaVyrle Spencer at a booksigning, and she steered me to my local chapter of RWA. I started a second manuscript, which ultimately became Harvest of Dreams, my first published book, and signed with an agent.

I thought I had it made. The path to publication would be smooth and short. Right? Wrong.

It turned out my agent had limited contacts and failed to sell my first, second, and third manuscripts. In retrospect, I can see that those manuscripts weren’t ready to sell, but I hadn’t yet learned what was wrong or how to fix it. Also, about that time life intervened, as it often does, and I had to go back to work full time. I parted ways with my agent and put my writing on the back burner.

For the next several years, I occasionally tinkered with the second and third manuscripts because I still loved the stories and couldn’t bring myself to give up on them. (The first book was a wonderful learning experience but unsalvageable.) I entered a few contests and finaled and learned a tremendous amount about writing, but I couldn’t figure out how to balance a full time job, taking care of my family, and writing.

Unfortunately, during this time the popularity of my subgenre, Western historicals, steadily waned, and with it my chances of seeing these stories in print. Then, in 2006, Harvest of Dreams and its sequel, A Man Like That, placed first and second in the Lake Country Romance Writers contest, and the editor/judge requested a full of A Man Like That. I fired it off right away and sat back to wait. And wait. And wait. Twenty-two months and three polite email inquiries later, I received a bland “not as excited about it as other projects I’m considering” rejection. Back to the drawing board.

I decided to put the historicals aside and try writing contemporary romantic suspense. While it was tremendous fun, I was still too stubborn to completely give up on my Westerns. By this time, e-publishing was growing by leaps and bounds. I saw that an editor from The Wild Rose Press was judging the Western Historical category of the 2009 Hearts Through History contest and entered both manuscripts. Harvest of Dreams finaled again. Although it didn’t win, the comments of the published judges were so encouraging I decided to query Wild Rose Press anyway. Several weeks later, I received a contract.

Three weeks ago, eighteen long years after its conception, Harvest of Dreams was finally released. I’m also pleased to announce that the day I began promotion for it, I received a contract for the A Man Like That. Now other readers can get to know the characters who have been so close to my heart for long.

Thank you again for having me today, and I invite everyone to visit me on the web at http://www.alisonhenderson.com/.

Harvest of Dreams Blurb

Alone on her farm in the middle of a blizzard, young widow Lisa McAllister labors to give birth to her first child. Help arrives in the strong hands of a stranger wearing a six-gun. Lisa has no reason to trust this man who makes a living by violence, even if he is on the right side of the law. Men and their guns have already claimed the lives of her father, brother, and husband, and she’s determined to protect her son at any cost.

Jared Tanner, a security agent for the stagecoach, has been on his own since he was twelve. Against his better judgment, his feelings of protectiveness toward Lisa and her baby turn to something deeper, and he is tempted by the possibility of a family of his own. Can their tender new love survive when an act of ultimate violence threatens to tear them apart?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moral Support

As I looked back at my various books, I realized that most of my characters do have a best friend they rely on throughout the book in one way or another.

In my debut, This Time for Always, the heroine Sharlie has a group of friends at the bar where she works. When Logan comes back to town intent on buying that very bar, her friends, Zach and Pete in particular, provide support and comfort.

In Wild Wedding Weekend, Abby's best friend is Claire. The relationship between Noah (the hero) and Claire provides some of the conflict in the story. Although toward the end Claire helps Abby through an emotional time, and provides a way for me as the author to let the reader know how Abby is feeling without having to do a ton of internal introspection.

In This Can't Be Love, it's Zach (the hero) who has a buddy. Jake provides relationship and career advice to Zach. Again, this relationship also helps to cut down on long streams of internal dialogue.

For another manuscript, "Family Secrets", Erika has a best friend. Per the usual, the friend provides support, advice, and encouragement, and saves me from too much internal thought on the heroine's part.

My current WIP ("This Feels Like Home") features Jake as the hero. We first meet Jake in Always, and get to know him a little better in Love. Being the hero in the third of a set, Jake does have an established group of friends, who will play background roles in his story. My heroine, Amber, has a cousin who will be her "sounding board" when it comes to her romance with Jake.

Secondary characters help move the plot along, provide support for a hero and/or heroine, and can be used to save readers from loads and loads of internal introspection from your main characters. Pretty important jobs, I'd say. (And sometimes it's fun to give those background characters stories of their own!)

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best Friends

Sometimes it’s useful for the heroine to have a best friend if only for a purely practical reason i.e. she can voice her thoughts and feelings in dialogue which is infinitely preferable to a long narrative of thoughts and soul-searching.
Jess, my heroine in ‘His Leading Lady’ met up with an old school friend who became her confidante and Abbey in ‘Fragrance of Violets’ confided in her sister.
Thinking back to my early novels, my heroines in those didn’t have best friends. Maybe in those days I didn’t have my heroines doing as much soul-searching as I do now. Or maybe because I’ve realised dialogue works better than narrative.
What’s interesting is why the hero doesn’t usually need a best friend. Is that because men don’t talk to each other about their feelings?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Funnily enough I don't often have good friends in my books. It's odd I suppose from someone who is fortunate in her good friends.

In my historical novels I have servants and these are more or less also friends of my heroines. They counsel and aid, rescue them from scrapes, or try to, but are seldom listened too by my feisty main character. I can visualise them wagging a finger at the heroine's escapades! They are trustworthy and loyal but they are never in a competitive role with my heroine. She rules and everyone knows it.

A close and loving friendship is forged between Kate and her mother in law (and since I have a marvellous relatinship with my daughter in law I know it can happen)in Dangerous Enchantment.
Dame Caradoc has had a hard life and although not as intelligent as my heroine, has a natural understanding of the right thing to do. She is very knowing and I think that it can be important that at least one character can see the reality of the situation.

In one of my early novels for Robert Hale, Fiona, my heroine thinks that Fiona is her best friend. She adores her and then she finds out to her cost, that Fiona is a spiteful and indeed dangerous adversary.

Perhaps one day I will give one of my main characters a good friend - perhaps.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Does your heroine have a BFF?

In my WIP, my heroine Angel has a best friend, her assistant Ramona. Ramona is blunt and sassy, smart and supportive. She is outgoing and looking for Mr. Right. She corners Angel into agreeing to a first date with the hero, and renegs on her promise to extricate Angel on a pre-arranged signal--exactly what friends are for. She serves as confident and comic relief. I adore her!

In a pending romance, my heroine has no best friend. She is emotionally wounded, a loner, and has to reach out to barmaids and debutantes to get the assistance she needs to reclaim the hero after rejecting his love.

So, I think it depends on the heroine's journey.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Friends with Monya Clayton

Welcome to our Friday Friend, Australian writer Monya Clayton, who's going to tell us about her research for a historical novel in the days before the internet.

So I Decided to Write a Historical

This, dear readers, is a map of the city of Charles Town, South Carolina (pardon me, just Carolina at the time) in 1704. A small part of the modern city, and at that time the only walled city in the Americas. My daughter found it for me on the infant Internet about 1995, before Google, before I myself owned or could use a computer.

I had this idea for a story, you see, about a young Puritan woman on the way to New England (um, it was Massachusetts Bay Colony), whose ship is sunk by pirates and she herself captured, off that coast. Mercy Penhall grew in my mind like a friend, a strong character in spite of the fact she couldn’t speak. And the reluctant pirate Edmund Gramercy was as kind a soul as was possible in his circumstances and in his times. That was the beginning of the story. And after then I started chewing my pencil. Pencil because in those pre-computer days I wrote my first drafts in pencil, then typed the second drafts onto the portable mechanical typewriter, and the final draft onto the electric typewriter. Final draft, hah! I was completely ignorant of the publishing world in those days. Edits were an unknown quantity.

I’m an Australian. What did I know about the British colonies of what is now the U.S.A. in the early 18th century? Practically nothing. I was deeply interested in history, loved good historical fiction, had read some historical romances, seen some historical movies. I knew men wore long wigs. I possessed some vague knowledge of the beginnings of British colonisation, of the Puritan faith and the Salem witch trials. What I knew about the topography of eastern America might fill a teacup. There my knowledge ground to a stop.

No Google. I looked up my encyclopaedias. South Carolina, Charleston, New England, Virginia. Piracy. Puritanism, Quakerism, the French Protestants called Huguenots, who were among the original settlers of Carolina. Costumes of the era. Weapons. The war. What war? Originally I picked 1704 because it possessed the only date I recalled, for the Battle of Blenheim in Europe, an incident of the War Of The Spanish Succession against France. Discovery: the war was called in the American colonies Queen Anne’s War. Believe me, it was pure serendipity to find the map above dated 1704! I closed my set of books with my mind chock full of incomplete facts. Obviously I needed to look further afield.

At that time we lived in a farmhouse in sub-tropical Queensland. We shopped in Gympie, 14 miles away, and borrowed books from the library there. I did a little more research in their reference section – while my husband patiently waited in the car! Then, to spare him, drove down to the new library in Noosa on the coast and enjoyed myself hugely, investigating their reference section and borrowing their books. Found one about ships and shipping in the 18th century. I searched opportunity (charity) shops and second-hand shops in both towns, found some old National Geographic magazines. One had a great article about Charleston, another about the Sea Islands, another about the massacre at the New England town of Deerfield by the French and their Indian allies.

Right. I was getting the background together. Still incomplete, though. I wrote to the U.S. Embassy in our capital, Canberra, asking for addresses for Historical Societies and Museums in the areas I needed to find out about. I addressed the letter to “The Cultural Attache”, hoping it was the right title. And, bless him, he sent me back addresses to the Societies in Charleston and Richmond, Virginia. I wrote to Charleston. They wrote back: they were a self-supporting organization. If I wanted to ask questions, the cost would be $5 U.S. per query. Plus postage, plus the cost of getting money there by international bank cheque. No PayPal either! I understood their position and wrote instead to another address provided by the Embassy, the State Department of Archives in Columbia, capital of South Carolina.

And a dear man there sent me reams of photocopied material about the city, the state, the Sea Islands, their history. (I sent him a thank-you copy of an Aussie book and, MUCH later, a pdf copy of my finished novel.) And, immersing myself in all this fascinating information, I was in danger of neglecting my story out of sheer fascination with the research. Deer hides etc. were their first export item, then they planted rice fields. Cotton came much later. (Richmond, Virginia, didn’t answer my letter at all. I can see their point of view: What business did this unknown woman in Australia have writing a story about the historical U.S.A.?)

I discovered one fact which was all important. My point of view must change to grasp all these historical truths. I must stop thinking like a 20th century person. Roads existed but they were few and poor. Almost all transport was by ship. There was little communication among the original colonies so anyone moving from one to the other needed a darned good reason to risk the sea voyage. I also must stop thinking like an Australian. The Carolina coastlines were not like ours, which are mostly sand beaches with occasional mangrove bays. Their rivers were big, so were their swamps. (Australia is the driest continent on earth, it has one large river system, the Murray-Darling, and isn’t big on swamps either.) South Carolina is sub-tropical like southern Queensland. Cold New England and cool temperate Virginia were beyond my experience, and again their coastlines varied. Everything in Virginia developed around the great Tidewater. New England was barren ashore, with, in autumn (fall) and winter, wild seas, wild storms, and SNOW. I’d never seen snow.

The native animals were/are also different from our marsupials, of course; bears, deer, alligators, possums, raccoons, wildcats. More geographical research… And I’d hardly started on the people! The Europeans among whom my story was set, that is. I became conscious of the enormous differences the lay of the land imposes on its peoples. Aboriginal Australians were/are a totally different culture to Native Americans. Yet out of this part of the research emerged the secondary character of Mercy Penhall’s friend, Soulange de Vaugeret. Finally I finished the final (ha, ha) draft.

I did say I was ignorant of the realities of publishing. I joined the Romance Writers of Australia. I began to send the completed manuscript to publishers. Australian publishers prefer local content (after all, our population is only 20 million). The cost of postage overseas was murderous, but I continually posted the typewritten book to London and New York in turn. Often it languished in slush piles. Often I wrote letters enquiring of its fate. I received a (very) few almost encouraging answers. We would like to print it, but… and I’m reading between the lines here. But it doesn’t fit our present requirements. (Won’t sell enough copies.) But it has no – er - sensual scenes. (Not a bodice ripper! We thought it would be a bodice ripper.) It’s difficult to market an unknown author. (I wasn’t famous.) And so on. The writers among you will know the sort of thing I mean!

In the meantime, life went on. We left the farmhouse and moved inland to be closer to our children and grandchildren. My husband built a shed on our allotment in a small town more or less in the middle of them all, and we lived in it for three years while we built our own house. At the time, when I could find a moment, I was writing a contemporary. Son number two, the I.T. professional, had by now provided me with a computer he pieced together out of spare parts and was making me learn to use it. This was pretty painful for someone born in 1941. The first time I looked at the screen full of all these unknown symbols I asked him, “What am I supposed to do? Fly it?”

He started me off learning to play Solitaire on the thing, so I could get used to using the mouse. Aussies used to call the game Patience, and oh boy, did it require patience. I’d never played it before, you see, so I was learning the game as well as the computer. Very tentatively I began to use Word. I came to a full stop the first time because there was no paper carriage to roll to the next line… The printer was pretty temperamental but hey, my words came out one end of it! Then, in 2003, while I recovered from the insertion of a steel pin into an injured ankle, he put me on the Internet. And wow, I began to discover new worlds. Including places called “e-book publishers”.

I sent a query and first three chapters of my pirate saga to one of these, a newish firm called The Wild Rose Press. The historical editor asked for the whole manuscript. I waited. Nicole McCaffrey, an historical romance author herself, was unabashedly enthusiastic about the story, which soothed my rejection-wounded soul no end. Then, she added gently, we need to change just a few things… And I became familiar with the hard-work world of editing, cutting, adding, changing and (shudder) correcting galleys. At least it could all be done on the computer! Nic became, and remains, a good friend. She emailed me the cover designed by Kim Mendoza, not of a half-naked couple in a clinch but a dignified and striking picture of a large ship bearing down on a smaller one. AND Nic mailed me a poster of the cover. Then I received my free pdf copy of the novel, and, a few months later, a print copy…

Girls, it was worth all the work and all the research!

And, as was to be expected in the course of so much primitive research, I transferred a couple of mistakes to the final draft. I doubt if many readers noticed either. One - I mentioned lemons twice - in the 350 page novel. I live in a warm climate and lemons are a fact of life. It didn't occur to me they would have been practically unknown to most Europeans in the early 18th century. I do know now limes were grown in the West Indies about that time or perhaps a little later. And when I did mention it at our local writers group meeting, an English-born member confirmed for me that all citrus fruits were imported to England from Spain until the 1950s! And before then, I believe, citrus originated in China-Asia, but I'm not about to research it again now!

Two - This is a fact any Americans who study the history of the Puritans would know, particularly New Englanders. I described their place of worship as a "church". The Puritans fled to America partly to escape the churches of the Catholic and Church of England faiths. They called their - er, churches - meeting houses. Or meetinghouse, one word. I knew Quakers used the word meeting instead of "congregation" and called their places of worship "meetinghouses". So I should have worked out the Puritans would have done the same before them! Smack my fingers!

I don't doubt there are other historical errors in the m.s., but gosh, we're stuck with the book as it is now.

My own blog - shamefully neglected - is: http://monyamaryclayton.blogspot.com/
and there's an older one at: http://monyamary.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Romance in Real Life

I know we're supposed to be talking about movie romance this week, but I have a real-life romance story I just had to share.

As a romance writer/reader, my life is full of romance. On most days I'm either reading a romance or, when the muse is strong, writing one. These days, however, my life is filled with romance in a different way. A real way. Not just words on a page, but real, live romance.

My husband is a fabulous man. Of course he is. I wouldn't have married him if he wasn't. But lately, he's been really romantic in one particular way.

When I work out, I always listen to music. I usually get stuck in one groove or another and listen to the same thing for a while. These days it's the new Toby Keith CD, Bullets in the Gun. I simply program in the best running songs, and away I go. Once the "meat" of the workout is done, I'll throw in a couple of other tunes for my cool down.

One of the hands-down best songs on the CD is "Kissin' in the Rain". Toby has a knack for not only putting down hard-driving in-your-face music, but romantic ballads as well. This is one of those romantic songs.

Every time I play it while I'm working out in the basement, if my hubby's home and he hears it, he comes down the stairs, takes me in his arms, and we dance. My sweaty sheen doesn't bother him one bit. (Which is saying a lot, because if he were the sweaty one, I wouldn't go near him with a ten foot pole.) We simply dance, right there in the basement, among the clutter and old furniture and the furnace and the washer and dryer. Seriously, it's one of the most romantic things ever. I've always known he's my soulmate, and this is definitely one of the many reasons why.

So,thanks, Toby, for a beautiful, romantic song.

Until next time,

Happy Reading! (or dancing)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Favourite on-screen romance

My favourite on-screen romance is (as you can probably predict) between Jed and Abbey Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing) in ‘The West Wing’.
In the series, they’ve been married for over 30 years so how can it be a romance?
Simple answer - because they are still deeply ‘in love’.
Over the years, they must have changed and matured, but their relationship is still dynamic, passionate and intense, flirty too at times. They continue to be stimulated and challenged by each other, and they enjoy each other too.
They’re also completely attuned, instinctively aware of the other’s feelings, reactions, deepest desires and worries. When Jed decides to run for a second term as President, Abbey has serious misgivings because of his health issues, but knows it’s what he has to do and puts her own fears to one side to give him her wholehearted support. When Abbey voluntarily forfeits her medical licence (after helping to conceal Jed’s multiple sclerosis), Jed is shocked, knowing the enormity of the sacrifice she is making. They understand each other perfectly.
Some of the best on-screen moments are when they communicate in a private way even when they’re in the public domain – sometimes just by eye-contact, or a smile, or a hand on the other’s arm. Beautifully and so naturally done.
They argue, too – or rather (as Stockard once said), ‘You don’t fight with someone unless you care about them, especially in a marriage. They’re not nasty fights. They’re responsible, energetic discussions.’ Abbey knows exactly which buttons to push, Jed knows what she worries about and what will make her cross.
We never see more than a chaste kiss between them – but we’re left in no doubt that off-screen they have a very active sex-life! For one thing, the on-screen chemistry between them sizzles! Abbey makes seductive references to ‘a special garment’; Jed has a frustrating day trying to find a gap in his hectic schedule for some ‘time-out’ with Abbey after 14 weeks of enforced celibacy after he was shot. We see them both making their way to the White House Residence after the Saturday morning radio-talk and we know exactly what’s going to happen there! Of course, I (and many other West Wing fan-fiction writers) have been more than happy to give the fans the benefit of our imagination of those scenes we never saw!
Press Secretary CJ Cregg once asked Jed why he had abandoned his ambition to become a priest. His reply was “I met Abbey” – just three words, which he didn’t need to elaborate, explain, rationalize or justify. Those three words said it all. He gave up all idea of the priesthood because he had met his soul-mate. The romance between them began – and continued.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Best on Screen Romances

Best on Screen Romance

For me the ultimate romance is Casablanca. Bogart lets Bergman even though they are both madly in love. Cue, tears, isn’t it lovely to have a good cry. I always remember Love is a Many Splendored Thing, another great love story, when the Jennifer Jones character walks to the hill where she used to meet he lover, he’s been killed, yet she thinks she sees him there. Unforgettable.

Of course I could go on and on, who could forget An Affair to Remember, whenever this film is on I watch it. Sleepless in Seattle which was inspired by the aforementioned, oh yes have to watch it! All have such wonderful leads. The minor characters in these films are excellent too.

Off screen romance? Well my own must get a mention. I had thirty-eight happy years with my late husband. We met on a blind date; we laughed a lot on our first date. We laughed a lot through our life together too. John introduced me to many exciting things that I hadn’t known before. Camping, travelling, France! Oh yes, ours was an unforgettable romance too.

I love writing about romance, perhaps because I have experienced real life romance. I always somehow fall in love with my hero, which considering I have written twenty-four novels, must mean I am pretty fickle!

Michael in Bitter Betrayal was a man I couldn’t get out of my head. Both he and the heroine have been torn apart by some very spiteful people. Neither feels able to trust the other but there is still something there…a little spark that will not e extinguished. I think that must be what romance is all about – a spark that one day with burst into flame? What do you think?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Most Romantic Romances

Most days, my list of most romantic romances includes the sultan and his concubine who are entombed in the Taj Mahal, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and my WIP's heroine and hero.
Today, though, my husband and I top my list. It's our anniversary. It's Sunday, so I cooked, vacuumed and did laundry. He moved the beef cows and feeding hay right now. Soon we'll take a shower together, make love and fall asleep in each others' arms.
Just like my H/H.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Friend Mary Eason

Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger Mary Eason! Mary, welcome to Heroines with Hearts...

Great love stories. Are they about the romance or the sex?

When I first started reading romance novels, (I’m about to truly date myself), there was very little sexual activity in the story itself. For the most part, it was all “hinted” at. Then came the “bodice rippers” where the writer took a bit more leeway with the description.

Today, there’s something for everyone. Do you love a good “romance”, with a story that tears at your heart and make you fall in love right along with the hero and heroine?

Or do you prefer a sexy romance, filled with lots of “steam”. A romance that doesn’t have to necessary be happily ever after, but just happy for the moment. Sometimes, getting there is the best part of a story.

Today, with the wide variety of romance genres that we have, there’s truly something for everyone.

Now, as a writer, I have to say, I’m drawn to creating stories filled with raw emotion. Whether it be romantic suspense of just contemporary romances, I love to fill my stories with the seemingly insurmountable drama in my characters lives that creates great emotion for the reader and well as for me the writer.

IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER is now available through New Concepts Publishing.

IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER is a contemporary romance that brings together two people who have lost at love and are afraid to trust again.
Blurb: Everything Kate Bradshaw believed to be real about her marriage to her husband Alex slowly slipped away from her as the newspaper reports explained the sordid truth in black and white. Their marriage and Alex's seduction had been nothing more than a lie, a means of accomplishing one thing--Alex's revenge against the man he believed responsible for killing his one true love—Kate’s own father.

SHADOW GAMES is now available through Champagne Books.

SHADOW GAMES is a romantic suspense drama that is filled with cutting-edge suspense, lies and espionage. The spy world truly is a game of shadows. SHADOW GAMES brings one woman back to the past she thought she left behind in order to save the one man she couldn’t forget.
Blurb: He was the love of her life. The father of her child. Now he was missing. Presumed dead behind enemy lines.

CIA agent Booth Tanner was the best of the best and now he’s as good as dead. The only person who can save him now is the woman who’d written him out of her life three years earlier as a lost cause. Then Rachel Weiss receives a text message that is brief, chilling, and enough to send her back into the shadowy world she thought she’d left behind for good.
So, what do you think? Are great love stories about the romance or the sex? I contend that great love stories can be filled with romance and sex but they always, always leave the reader wanting to know what happens next in the hero and heroine’s lives. And if you’re like me, you’ll end up reading those books over and over again.

Hoping your 2010 has been filled with great love stories…
All the best…

Mary Eason

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Frankly My Dear...

I'm going to have to go with Scarlett as my favorite heroine: both in literary form and on the big screen.

To be honest, I can't put my finger on exactly why. There's just something about her. She's fiesty, she's determined, she's headstrong, yet at the same time she's vulnerable and scared: her entire world and way of life is changing right in front of her eyes. And when she finally figures out what (who) she really wants...well, Rhett walks out.

If it weren't for the sequel (Which was okay in literary form and a disaster as a mini-series...ugh.), we'd only be able to guess at what happens in the future.

But even without the sequel, we have a pretty good idea. Like I said she's determined and willing to fight for what she wants. No matter what. And she's not one to give up easily, as we are reminded in Margaret Mitchell's closing words: "After all, tomorrow is another day."

And indeed, it is.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Favourite Heroine

My long-time favourite is Katherine Swynford in Anya Seton’s novel ‘Katherine’. It’s based on the true 14th century story of the daughter of an obscure knight who became governess to the powerful John of Gaunt’s daughters. She fell in love with him (and captivated him too) and bore him four children (out of wedlock). It’s a testament to Katherine’s strength of character that she never wavered in her love and loyalty even when, for political reasons, John married the Infanta of Castille and was forced to put her aside. Katherine accepted her role, knew John could never marry her, but lovingly brought up their children. In the end the most powerful Duke in the realm went against all the medieval mores and DID marry his beloved mistress (and also had their four children legitimised). John and Katherine were soul-mates, and their story is one of love (eventually) conquering all. It’s a long time since I read the book, but just writing this short summary has made me reach for it from my bookshelf. I’ll have to read it again, admire Katherine’s courage and constancy and, like her, fall in love with John again!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Favourtie Heroines

If we are looking at older novels then I do like Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice. Yes she does make mistakes but she is so spirited, you have to admire her courage and her intelligence, plus she captures one of the most attractive men in fiction, Mr Darcy, so she has to be special.

I always had a sneaking regard for Amber in Forever Amber, she is not really admirable but she is gusty. Her main flaw is that she clings to her love for Bruce who is the worst hero in fiction. Amber deserves someone so much better but she never finds him. A lot like Scarlet O Hara, admirable in many ways, but really you want to shake her the way she clings to her infatuation for the totally drippy Ashley Wilkes. How clever of Margaret Mitchell to show to her readers what a waste of time he is, and yet fails to let Scarlet see it until it is too late. A truly remarkable story.

I often wonder what it is with these women who can’t see the right men for them. Temp Brennan in Kath Reich’s’ “Bones” series just can’t seem to see that Ryan is so perfect for her, come to think of it he ought to make up his mind too, so perhaps it’s not always women.

When I was a kid I loved Nyoka, Queen of the Jungle. She was a female equivalent of the Tarzan figure, and did many brave things, running around the jungle in this skimpy outfit, Saturday afternoon matinees would not have been the same but for Nyoka. Incidentally here’s a laugh for any passing Brits dropping by, Nyoka’s fiancĂ© in the comic strip was called Larry Grayson!

A woman I admire in my own novels is Kate Merryweather in Dangerous Enchantment. Kate will protect the boy who should be king with her life. She does everything she can to keep him safe, even deceiving the man she eventually falls in love with. It was a courageous thing for Kate to do, for had the powers that be realized the truth, I am afraid Kate’s head would soon have parted from her shoulders.

So there you go lots of heroic ladies for us to admire!