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:
This month's question: What is your preferred voice when writing? First person? Second person? Third person? And why? Also, What is your preferred way of exposing your characters, their thoughts and emotions? How do you switch between characters?
Interesting question, and one I'm sure you know if you've read any of my books. I have written in first person, but for my novels, I prefer third person. And as I tell my kiddies that I tutor, second person is very difficult to do well, since it involves using "you", instead of "I," or "she." I've never tried second...maybe I will someday. But third person works best for me.
Why? Because in my romances, I like to give the thoughts and feelings of both characters in the romance: the male and the female. I know first person gives a more "immediate" feel to the writing, and can make the reader feel as if she/he is the one doing the experiencing. But in my opinion, that's a limiting perspective, because if some action takes place in a room where the narrator-character isn't included, then the reader has no idea what transpired there. With third person, the reader knows what all of the characters are doing and thinking. And I try to make the switch obvious, though "head-hopping" is so frowned upon among editors, unless you're super-famous, (*cough! Nora! cough!*)
For example, in Her Last Resort, Stella enters a resort that she is to meet her daughter in, and finds an empty room. Ivan, the owner, enters the room soon after she does:
Since there was no sign of Ivan, Stella headed up the staircase
that led to a dining room lit by a huge wall of picture windows
with a panoramic view of a beautiful lake. No one was seated at
any of the tables set for meals, but it was obviously a popular restaurant
judging by the worn spots on the hard wood floor that led
to the tables closest to the windows.
“Hello?” Stella called, seeking someone to check in with. “Is
anyone around? I’m looking for Ivan.”
“You have found him,” a large booming voice said from behind
her. She turned to get her first glimpse of her host.
* * * *
When Ivan walked into the dining room from the bar, he was
busy working through the details of his part in an upcoming yearly
party. He usually supplied many of the servers, and his chef
liked to contribute one of the courses. He looked up in surprise
when he entered the room and unexpectedly saw the back of his
newest guest. She had an attractive figure with an athletic build,
and the sundress she was wearing showed off her toned arms and
the curve of her shoulders. When she turned to face him, he was
immediately struck by two unusual sensations.
The first was a distinct feeling that he had met her before.
That’s impossible. I’ve never met the mother of my good friend
Kelly. She told me that her mother and father got divorced when
she was young, and that her mother traveled a lot for her job.
Maybe that’s it? Maybe I saw her when I was newly-arrived in
the US? I used to travel a lot also.
When the woman smiled, he was too involved with his thoughts
Is it just that she resembles her daughter so much? Their coloring
is different of course. Kelly is blonde, while this woman has
light brown hair with the faintest streaks of gray. Kelly is lightskinned,
but this woman appears to be from the Mediterranean,
based on her olive skin and her dark brown eyes. They have similar
features, and her smile shows the origin of Kelly’s dimples.
The second feeling was harder to dismiss, literally. Ivan had
gradually become resigned to the reality of being a fifty-year-old
man whose hormonal surges were a thing of the past, but at this
moment, he felt himself hardening, as if he was a teenager again.
She’s so beautiful. I want to strip her naked and push her over
His breathing sped up and he could feel and hear the pulse of
his blood as it abandoned most of his body parts to rush down to
where it felt it was needed the most. His nostrils flared as he tried
to control the urges he’d thought were behind him.
Damn. I hope my reaction is escaping her notice. She’s expecting
to be greeted by her genial host, not by a sex-crazed lust
monster. I must get control over myself.
He cleared his throat, wondering if it had really been only a
few seconds since he’d walked into the room but unsure because
the smile on her face was fading as she waited for him to speak
* * * *
Stella smiled at her host, wondering why he seemed so hesitant
to speak again. She waited politely for a few moments, then
spoke to break the silence.
“Are you Ivan? Kelly told me to ask for you if I arrived before
she did. I sent her a text when I pulled into the parking lot, but she
warned me that cell phone signals are problematic up here.”
“They are indeed,” he said, forcing himself to concentrate on
her words and how he should respond. “Kelly hasn’t arrived yet,
but she asked me to show you to your cabin and to give you a tour
of the grounds, so you would know where to find whatever you
* * * * *
Did you have any trouble following who was speaking/thinking? But you can see the freedom that third person gives me, to let the reader in on what everyone is thinking and feeling. I like that.
To find out what the next author on the list thinks, please visit:
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Sorry, faithful readers. No book news to report. The ones I have almost done, are still in my computer, and in my head, but alas, no time to get them any further done until the summer. I had the past 2 weeks off both jobs (subbing daily and tutoring 4 days a week), and the first week was spent with my family. The grandson, at 6 months, loved tearing paper off the gifts...the gifts, not so much. :-D Then last week, I spent my time doing things off-line. I shopped, to spend all of my gift cards (love to shop with someone else's $!). I colored pages in my fashion coloring book, I crocheted, I read, and I visited with the MIL, who I never get to see. I also played some games with the family members who live here still. And spent time convincing my husband that I still adore him.
Quote from Ray Bradbury's short story, Remember Me? "Two weeks of luscious foods, rare wines, long sleeps, wondrous architectures, and a man (or woman) wakes ten years younger to hate going home to be old." Yes...this. Sigh...
Work commitments, this time. Why can't I just be independently wealthy, so I could write books all day? Sigh...
The topic for this month? What characters in other author's books have not left your mind? Have you written a character who wouldn't leave you? Why do you think this happens?
Once again, great topic! One of the characters I think about still, is Lestat, from Anne Rice's books. He was kind of a jerk in Interview With a Vampire, but I really got to know him, and like him, in Lestat. This is when he opens up about what it's like to be eternal, and why on earth, if you are immortal, would you care to interact with ephemeral beings? Humans are important to vampires for one thing: blood. Other than that, we don't live long enough for them to bother to get to know. The flip side of that is that if they grow to love an ephemeral mortal, they will experience heartache when that person grows old and dies. Talk about a buzz-kill for your immortality!
Why does Lestat live in my mind still, over 20 years later? I think because we all want to be immortal, but none of us bother to think about what that would mean. The resources of our tiny planet are already strained to support the living. How would we find room for all if people started not dying? And the question I've mentioned before as one of my favorites, can be paraphrased as, if you could live forever, would you improve and become a better person? Or would you become an even bigger jerk, now that you don't fear someone might kill you?
As for my own characters, I fall in love with each of my heroes...that's part of why I like to write romance. I love to experience that new thrill of falling in love...all the while, remaining true to my husband, of course! :-D
Some of my characters continue to "talk" to me after I finish the book they're in, but usually it's because they want me to write them into a sequel, where someone else's romance will be the focus, but they will be allowed to continue to show me their lives. And these days, since I'm working so much, and have NO time to write, some of the characters in books I have almost finished, are taking turns either sulking, and not talking to me at all...or yelling at me loudly, trying to force me to listen to them and finish their stories. They want to live in the minds of readers, and they can't do that until I finish their books!
Head on over to the next author on the list, to see what characters are still living in her mind:
OOPS! Worked and had family commitments all day yesterday! Forgot to post. Sorry!
The topic for this month is: When you are stumped on moving a plot line forward, what do you do to reinvigorate your imagination?
I do lots of things, but most of them don't involve sitting at my computer and trying to summon creativity, like it's some ancient god that needs worshiping. Instead I go for a walk. Or I work on a crossword puzzle. Or I work on putting a few more rows on the afghan that I'm crocheting. Or I hop into my car and go for a drive. Or I take a shower.
See the thing with my muse is that if she knows I'm courting her, she's flighty. Instead, I have to appear to be doing something else, and thinking about things other than writing. Then the characters will start talking in my head to get my attention. Because they really do want their story to be told. So then I listen. I "watch" as they act out their parts, and they talk to each other.
In extreme situations, I've even stopped writing that story entirely. Then I'll have a dream. When I wrote my Mayan vampire stories, I started with two chapters. Then I got stumped. Nothing helped...until I had a dream a few weeks later. In it, a tall, white-haired and very pale man told me in a thick Russian accent, that the reason I was stumped was because I was giving the heroine the wrong hero. I had started with a Native American doctor. "No," he told me, "It has to be me." He smiled, showing me his vampire teeth. I told him I don't do vampires...too overdone. He told me that since the story involved the Mayan end of tonne, and the predictions of the end of time, that I needed to research the Mayans. When I woke up the next morning, I started to do just that. And what did I find? That every ceremony they had involved public blood-letting...especially by their nobles. Why all of the bleeding? Well, if their gods were vampires...the rest of the story wrote itself, along with a sequel that just flowed out of me.
Find out about what I'm currently working on, (another paranormal, from another dream--go figure!) by visiting my posting at my regular posting on the 16th of the month:
And read about what other authors do when they have trouble moving their plots along by starting with the next author in the Round Robin:
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Here's another survey, this one for cover art. Please help out your favorite authors by taking it, to share with us what you do and don't like on your covers. As authors, we have some input into what our covers are like, but only self-published authors can choose their own art completely.
What do you think? Let us know!
Hopefully everyone has taken the Romance Readers survey from my most recent post. Authors need to know what you like to read, so we can let you know when we publish what you want. Win-win for all of us.
This month's Round Robin question: Whatever genre you write, do you have a different one that you love to read? What do you think attracts readers to certain genres?
For this question, I'm going to take off my writer's hat and put on my reader's one. I LOVE to read Sci-Fi books, with and without erotic content (though I do prefer with!)
As a kid, I read all of the Dragonriders of Pern books by Anne MacCaffrey. There were some hot scenes in there involving dragon sex, that boggled my adolescent mind! I also devoured the Ann Rice vampire books, which only hinted at sex, but posed interesting questions, like, "If you were going to live forever, would you improve as a person, or would you just become more of what you were as a mortal?" In other words, if you were a selfish jerk as a mortal, would there be any inclination to become a more giving person, or would you become a bigger jerk, since you'd have much longer to do it? I love the philosophical issues that get raised in Sci-Fi.
I also am a huge fan of Margaret Atwood, having read her Handmaid's Tale long before it became recently trendy (and a series.) But my favorite books of hers are the trilogy that begins with Oryx and Crake. I'm not a fan of what the Europeans call our Frankenfood, the genetically-altered stuff we consume in the U.S. This series examines what the ultimate result could be, if some genius decided that not only could we improve our food animals with genetic engineering, but we could improve the human race as well...according to his parameters. It's a gripping read.
To me, Sci-Fi takes what we live with now, and extrapolates to what might be if we stay on the path we're on. Since I'm not happy with much of the choices humans have made recently, especially with despoiling the environment and over-populating our planet, I'm always interested in exploring how things might turn out for us, whether for the better, or for the worse.
Unfortunately, that's not usually the kind of story that my mind gifts me with when inspiration strikes. Most of my romances are Contemporary, and based in reality. I do have two books about vampires, and my female spies books are a stretch of my imagination, since of course, I've never been an agent. Recently I had a dream that presented me with an entire story arc that involves extra-terrestrials. I'm letting those ideas percolate for a while, but I'd like to try my hand at writing that one soon. And I'm working on a werewolf story that I'm enjoying writing.
So what do you think? What attracts you to my books? The characters, or the erotic scenes? Would you be interested in reading a Sci-Fi book if I wrote one? What's your favorite genre?
Find out what other authors think by visiting the next one on the list:
Hello everyone, I hope your summer is going well. Mine is, since I'm only working 1 part-time job now, so only 3 days per week. I'm in the middle of edits for my second female spies novel, Undercover Lovers, and it's looking great! Plus I'm trying to carve out some time for finishing a couple of books I have mostly done in my laptop, and writing the shifters romance that has been percolating in my head for months. Then there's the sci-fi story that my brain "gifted" me with in a dream a few weeks ago. In other words, not enough hours in my week!
Plus I'm seriously trying to lose some weight since I have the time to do more frequent Jazzercise classes during the summer. I've been doing 2 classes per morning for weeks now. I think I've lost a few pounds, but Lordy! It's so hard when you get older! My body must think I'm gonna starve soon, since it's holding tight to every pound!
Here's a fun survey for a hot summer day. If you're here on my site, I expect you're a Romance reader? Click on the link below and give us your totally anonymous opinions on Romance novels as a reader. This is being collected by a sister member of EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Coalition group that I've been a member of for years. We try to be sure our members know what the trends are in eBooks, and what our readers want to see. Help us out by letting us know what you think! And thanks.
Romance Reader Interest Survey
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Contemporary Erotic Romance