Remember that I'm the blogger on the 16th of each month at the Sweet 'n'Sexy Divas website. This month I discuss why I write interracial romance. Head on over to see why.
A very interesting topic! And one that, as a romance writer, I thought I'd never have to deal with...until I wrote a book about a female spy, called Secret Love.
This book was published back in 2011, but I got the rights back when that publisher was bought by new owners.
It was re-edited and re-published in 2016. I think it's been improved.
But the old publisher assigned me an editor I will always be grateful for. Dave Field was his name, and when he sent me the first round of edits for my book, he asked me about a crucial scene in which I had the heroine, a trained spy, involved in a gunfight with some IRA agents that she's been embedded with. For one thing, I hadn't mentioned anything about what kind of guns would be used. And I never gave any thought to how agents in those circumstances would act, to be sure their adversaries were disarmed, or otherwise unable to cause any more damage. When he queried me on this, I replied that I write romance, not gun battles. And that my readers would be reading for the romance of the story, and they wouldn't know, or even care about details like that. Boy, was I wrong!
He told me that his wife and his mother-in-law are both hunters who own multiple guns and rifles. They'd both turn up their noses in disgust at my lack of details concerning something that an agent was sure to be well aware of, and trained to do. I read his suggestions about what make and model of guns would be capable of doing what I had depicted them doing, and he also pointed out where I had my agent not performing critical steps to be sure the area was safe, once the bullets stopped flying. I was very grateful to him for supplying me with knowledge that I'd never thought to research. And when this book was being edited for the second publisher, I made a point of putting his name in the forward, to thank him for his input. And I kept the improvements that he'd made.
The second book in the series, Undercover Lovers, has not yet been assigned an editor. I'm not sure when it will come out. But it has a deranged serial killer who is hunting the heroine. There are a few scenes of violence that involve him. Then later in the book, the man she falls in love with is taken prisoner when he's on his last assignment with the agency, and he gets disavowed.
In my book, the plan to rescue him from a dungeon prison in a country that I invented that's in the Middle East, requires multiple agents disguised using burkas, so no one sees their faces. When it was first published, a reviewer was offended and said that I was being disrespectful to Islam and some cultures, by having characters use the burka as a disguise. I have Muslim friends who assured me that this was not disrespectful, so I didn't think too much of it. But shortly after that, I read about two Arab men who had been arrested in the USA for committing robberies while disguised in burkas. I wonder if she criticized them also?
I've written violent action scenes in my third Minnesota Romance, where the heroine is a retired spy; in my two vampire novels, and in the werewolf books that I'm writing now. I try to be just graphic enough to get the scene to appear in the reader's mind, but not so gory that it turns off my readers. I hope I've managed to do that.
To find out what the other authors on our Round Robin list for this month think, please check them out, on Saturday, July 21 or after:
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1i2
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Judith Copek, //http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
So now that I'm half-way through the summer, I'm starting to panic. I can only get writing done during the summer, when I'm only working 1 job. During the school year, I usually work 6 days a week, 2 jobs on 3 of them. I have scant time to even go on-line, let alone do any writing.
I've submitted one book to 3 publishers. They're some big ones, who've rejected me a few times. But I really believe in this book. If they don't want it, I'll shop it around to other publishers. This one is about a werewolf pack, and it took me two years to get this one finished...partly because I was "world-building." So it's almost 100,000 words, by far the longest book I've ever written. I'm about half-done with a sequel, and the story arc for the third book is in my head. But I'm running out of days off! Argh!
Imagine how bemused I was to see not one, but two articles in the paper recently (yes, I'm old. I still read actual, physical newspapers), that talked about how people need to slow down, relax, meditate, and waste time.
Since I can't even watch TV without working on crocheting an afghan for someone else, or doing my crosswords at the same time, I can't imagine what this concept of relax is about. So I wrote about it for my monthly posting at the Sweet'n'sexydivas site. If you want to read it, go to: sweetnsexydivas.blogspot.com/2018/07/make-time-to-waste-timeone-more-thing.html
Note: I'm posting this on Friday instead of Saturday, because we're going camping for the weekend, to celebrate our anniversary. And, as it was the year we got married, it's pouring rain outside. Reminds me of the Poet Laureate of Scotland, Robbie Burns', words: "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglae." But I look forward to seeing your reactions to my blog when I get back on Sunday. Until then, keep romance in your heart!
This month's Round Robin topic is: Why do I write? Why am I compelled to write even through difficult parts? I guess the quick answer is because I enjoy it. I love to act as a conduit and allow the stories in my head to flow outwards into an existence of their own. It's a great feeling. Sometimes I'm even surprised by what I write, when it wasn't what I planned, but still works well in the story.
When I was a kid, I was a voracious reader. I devoured anything I could get my hands on, including all of Shakespeare's play when I was in grade school. Greek mythology was my first love, especially Edith Hamilton's translations. Mom always figured that she didn't need to censor what I read. If it was too mature for me, I wouldn't understand it...or I'd ask her about it. I read The Godfather in one 24-hour period when I was in 7th grade. First time I ever read graphic sex scenes! Phew!
All of that reading meant that I often lived more in my mind, than in real life. I don't remember a time when I didn't have voices in my head telling stories. I figured that everyone walked around with characters telling them about their lives, as mine did whenever I sat still long enough to listen. Or before I went to sleep...or when I woke up. Eventually that developed into having dreams that gave me entire story arcs, which has been the impetus for a few of my published novels.
Mom told me she'd often hide inside the house, behind the open front door, when I was playing with my Barbies on the front stoop. I'd set up an apartment for them there, and with friends and their dolls, or alone, I'd have them act out the scenes I had in my head. Mom said she'd have to run further into the house to keep from me hearing her laughing at the outrageous things I had my dolls doing and saying. I was very much into romance, and spies, and romance. So what do I write? Romance...and sometimes spies.
When I don't write, I feel incomplete. And the stories build up in my head. I work 2 teaching jobs during the school year, and have little to no time to write. I get frustrated, especially when I dream up a new story arc. Then I have to carve out time by ignoring my husband and family for a few hours, while I type away in my laptop. They get irritated with me. So it's either the voices yelling noisily at me, expressing their desire to be let out of my head and into the minds of readers...or my family grouching about me being an absentee wife and mom. Sigh...if I could just learn to give up sleep, I could get so much more writing done!
My fervent wish is that the well never runs dry. I hope to continue writing until I'm too old to type in my laptop. Then if the voices are still loud, I'll hand-write them on napkins, if I have to. Because once their story is written down somehow, the voices for that particular story quiet down. But what I've found is that the side characters then begin to grumble about wanting their stories told also. That's why I've written 4 series' of novels already, and I'm working on a new series right now. The first book is done, and I've submitted it to a couple of places, while I work on the first of two sequels that I already know the story arcs for. Yes, my head is a noisy place, but I like it that way.
To find out what some other authors think about this topic, please visit the next one on the list:
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Come on over to my monthly blog posting at the Sweet'n'SexyDivas website to see what my new-found superpower is! It's a light-hearted look at reality, as seen by me these days.
I'll be posting a Round Robin blog on Friday, instead of Saturday, since we're going out of town for our anniversary this weekend. I probably won't be able to respond to any comments until late Sunday, or early Monday. But rest assured that I'm anxious to see what you think of what I write!
And for those waiting for a new book from me, I've finished my latest manuscript and submitted it to a couple of bigger publishers. I'm tired of small publishers going out of business, or getting sold, and then my books are left hanging. I don't have the expertise to self-publish, since I'd rather devote my time to writing. I have 2 stand-alone novels that exist only in my laptop these days, despite having been published years ago. I'm trying to find a new home for them.
My new book is the start of a series...because as usual, the side characters in the novel became very important to me, and I have 2 sequels' story arcs already in my head. I'm working on one of them now. I enjoy having more time to write in the summer, when I "only" work 1 job. So here's to long days filled with many hours of time to give birth to my characters who want their stories to live in YOUR head also!
Oh, and it involves werewolf shifters. As I did with my 2 vampire novels, I give a different direction to the trope of shifters. I hope I can find a home for it, so you can learn to love Diego and Saoirse as much as I do!
Come read my blog about Minnesota, the state I love to write about so much, that I've written a series called The Minnesota Romances. Read all about the places that I've been to, and why it's my favorite state to camp in. Oh, and leave a comment for a chance to win a free eBook of my first Minnesota Romance, For the Love of His Life.
So I wrote a blog about how I had to change the lay-out of my website, because the provider had made changes that I was unaware of. Then the blog which I had written, and seen on my blog, has now disappeared. I guess I'm still figuring out how things work now.
I had to change the design on my site...of course, just AFTER I ordered 500 business cards printed with the artwork from my old site. But as long as I'm sending folks to my website, I guess it's okay.
Not sure if you read my blog about Illinois, my home state. It's at:
In it I talk about why I set some of my books in places that I'm familiar with. I will post again soon about why I wrote some of my books. I'm still working 2 school-centered jobs, but not subbing every single day anymore, due to forces beyond my control. So I will have some days free, and I hope to be able to do some writing soon. Since I have 3 books about 3/4 of the way done in my laptop, and many insistent voices in my head demanding that I finish THEIR story first, I'll be typing as fast as I can! There's another Reyes book (finally!), another Minnesota Romance, and a new series' first book. Hopefully all will find publishing homes. I also still have 2 books that previously were published, but that I got my rights back to, and I'm looking into self-publishing them.
And remember that on the 16th of every month, I'm at the Sweet'N'Sexy Divas website. Link is on right margin, below the EPIC emblem.
Until next time, dear readers.
Time for the March Round Robin. This month's topic is:
Where do your story ideas come from?
--That's different for every one of my books. My first series, The Reyes Family Romances, began with an idea I had about how a woman has to rebuild herself after a divorce that was not her idea. And with children involved, it gets much more complicated. She has to rebuild her sense of self, and reacquaint herself with her sexuality, which was dealt a heavy blow when her ex-husband rejected her...no matter the reasons.
--Each of the subsequent books grew when I wrote "The end," at the end of a book. The supporting characters in that book would then start whispering in my ear, telling me their stories, and inspiring me to write about them next. It was like finishing one set of voices, allowed another set to speak more loudly. I was at the mercy of my muse who wanted me to write!
My female spy novels were inspired by my secret desire to be an agent, fostered by years of watching Mission Impossible (the TV show, not the movies.) I also watched The Man From UNCLE,
The Girl From UNCLE, and of course, everyone's favorite movie misogynist, James Bond. But I wanted the females to be the spies. So I wrote a couple of novels about them.
My vampire books grew from a combination of dreams. I had a dream about a situation a biologist found herself in, but after a chapter, I got writer's block. Then I had another dream, in which a tall, very pale man with white hair told me that I needed to finish that book. I told him that I was having trouble. He told me that's because I was trying to give her the wrong hero...it had to be him. Then he smiled and showed me vampire teeth. I told him I don't do vampires. Since the Mayan End of Days was involved in the story, he grinned at me and told me to research the Mayans. I woke up the next day and did just that. I found that every one of their rituals involved blood-letting. Weird, huh? Unless their rulers were vampires...
My other series is set in Grand Marais, Minnesota, in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). I LOVE it up there! Husband refuses to move up there because their winters are so harsh and long. So one of the times we were driving home, to stop myself from crying with unhappiness at leaving, I started to entertain myself with what it might be like if you fell in love with a local person, and got to move up there permanently. From that grew For The Love of His Life, and 2 sequels.
I also have a couple of stand-alone books which I pulled from a closing publisher, and plan to look into self-publishing, maybe over the summer when I don't work so much.
So how do other authors get their ideas? Check out the next author on the list to see:
February's topic: Your characters come from your mind, from other people you've witnessed, but can you create their lives without them revealing something about yourself? Have they ever taught you something?
What a great topic! I like to feel that my characters are original, and not merely disguised versions of me. I got insulted when I was first published, and gave free books to some of my sisters-in-law; and one told me she couldn't finish the book, because every sex scene made her think of her brother and me, and that was gross. I was a little bit insulted, since my heroes are interesting men, but not my husband.
That's part of why I like writing romance. I get to fall in love with the book hero, and experience wild sex with him, but I'm also not cheating on my husband. See the thing is, I was a bit of a wild woman before I got married. So what my husband's sister is thinking is me describing scenes with her brother, could just as easily be me combining my fictional characters with things I experienced at other times in my life.
Some of my earlier books were based on the lives of women I know. I worked one's divorce into one of my books, combined with fictional people and events. I exaggerated another's husband's faults, and gave my bestie a better hero for her...in my book, at least. And I reworked some of the events in another friend's life, into the story of one of my characters. I wanted to provide a happily-ever-after for all of them.
So it's inevitable that parts of me would creep into my characters, just like parts of my friends are in some of them. But the physical descriptions are often based on people I've glimpsed in public, or in magazines and catalogs. I use their faces to inspire me into creating the hero of my dreams, and the strong heroine he falls in love with.
That's another thing. I won't ever write about a sweet, virginal, innocent, because, quite frankly, I don't think I was ever innocent. I didn't lose my virtue, as much as I gave it away as soon as I found a volunteer to take it. Turns out I took his as well. (Good trade, in both our opinions.) My heroines don't need to be rescued, because they have a life of their own. They don't want to be dominated and abused, nor do they feel incomplete without a man and/or a family. After the HEA, many of them end up married, and some are even pregnant. But that's just because that's usually the normal progression of love.
As far as my voice, one of my oldest friends, from back when we were in college together, then roommates afterwards, says that she likes to read my books because it's just like sitting around and talking with me. Not that we talk about sexual exploits (not anymore, anyway!) but she says I write the way I talk. I figure only someone who has known me for that many years, would know that. And she buys all of my books.
As far as teaching me anything, I do think I've learned some things from my writing. I've learned to be more compassionate towards men, by experiencing their feelings as I write about them falling in love and ardently pursuing their chosen woman. And when my heroines have exotic, exciting jobs, doing things I'll never be able to personally experience, I vicariously enjoy being them. But then I do that when reading as well. Only now I'm writing what I want to read. And I'm embarrassed to admit that when I reread any of my books, I laugh and cry along with the characters, as if they didn't spring from my imagination, and I didn't know everything there is to know about them.
In my book, For the Love of His Life, Raul has had a hard life, raised by a single mom who worked as a show-girl in Vegas. He's a famous action movie star now, but he's known more for taking his shirt off and looking good in nude scenes, than for any real acting skill. He gets his steady supply of drugs from sycophants who hang around celebrities, hoping the "famous" will rub off on them. When a respected indie director decides to use him in his next movie, Raul goes on a bender to celebrate...and winds up in jail. The director bails him out, then sends him up to northern Minnesota, to be "looked after" by his cousin, a curvaceous blond woman who isn't blinded by the fame of the man she's asked to tend to until her cousin gets up there to begin filming. Raul is the typical fish out of water up there, but there is one thing he's sure of: women like him...or so he thinks.
Raul looked around himself with surprise when they walked out of the same door he had walked in through a short time ago. Then he had been oblivious to anything other than his own bodily discomfort and his anger at the world for his predicament. Now that he had a full belly and a pot of coffee in him, he was impressed at the beauty of the natural surroundings that he hadn't noticed before.
"That is one beautiful lake," he said as he tried to keep up with the blond with long legs that she seemed to enjoy stretching in exercise. He hadn't been doing his usual exercise routine lately, figuring that there would be time enough to get himself into great shape before the movie actually started filming. So he was huffing and puffing as he raced to keep up with the woman who rounded a small building that held canoes and other stuff that he didn't recognize.
She stopped and leaned back against the wall to point at the lake.
"See how pretty the sun looks when it bounces off the...hey! What are you doing?"
Raul had caught up to her then done what he always did...tried to kiss the pretty girl. Only this pretty girl turned her head then moved so that he ended up hitting his face on the wall. He looked at her, aggrieved.
"I was trying to kiss you. What else?"
He was taken aback. "Uh, because you're pretty? And because I figured that's why you invited me out here away from that nagging old bag..."
Veronica's hand shot out and slapped him across the face.
"What was that for?" He rubbed the sore spot that proved it wasn't just her legs that were in good shape.
She advanced on him, her eyes narrowed, "Don't you ever call my grandmother an old bag again! Don't you even think it! You are a conceited pompous jerk with an ego the size of an elephant! Though I can't for the life of me see what you are so proud of...a string of lousy movies that consisted of you taking off your shirt early and often? Dialogue that sounded like it was written by a love-struck twelve-year-old? I have no idea what Jared sees in you, but whatever it is, it must be buried pretty deep!"
He retaliated, "Until you got all high and mighty I was willing to overlook the fact that you look like you eat more of your own pie than you should, and you people up here obviously have no idea that there might be any benefit to using makeup. I was willing to lower my standards to throw you a bone...my bone to be exact. Who knows if you'll ever get another chance to take a famous movie star into your bed? But if you're going to be all nasty and stuff, then forget it."
Veronica giggled, which grew to guffawing and continued until there were tears in her eyes. He stared at her, his anger beginning to fade as her infectious laughter made him smile.
"What's so funny?" He demanded when she stopped for a breath.
"You! You actually thought I wanted you to kiss me? You really thought I was so hard up to get laid that I'd even consider a spoiled, out-of-shape, drunken drug-addict like you?"
He stopped smiling.
"You've probably got more venereal diseases than I can even name! You've been linked to every female you've ever made a movie with! I think you should just be honest about things and make porn, but since the money's better where you are, you're smart to ride the gravy train while you still have your good looks. Lord only knows that won't be much longer, as hard as you are working on killing yourself."
He glared at her, "Are you done yet?"
She nodded, "Uh-huh. I think that about says it all."
"Why did you people agree to put me up if I'm such an asshole?"
Veronica shrugged, "We love Jared and he asked for a favor..."
To find out what other authors thing about the questions in the prompt, go to the next author's blog on the list:
Contemporary Erotic Romance