Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Queen of the (Snow) Mountain Is ....

The snow mountain has been defeated!

(That silvery-white bit in the middle of the grass is a drainage ditch. Not snow. WHEW.)

We said goodbye to it on Monday, April 14, after a weekend full of "a whole lotta, much deserved sunshine," just as LESLIE predicted.

Leslie, shoot me an email - kris AT - so I can send some Dinosaur Sensuous Slathering Sauce your way!

Many thanks to all who played. You made the wait to say farewell to the snow a lot more fun.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Winner of Elizabeth Essex book

I'm always late posting winners, but it's still Saturday for me, so I'll call myself on time. Anyway, the winner of Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex is bn100. You left your email address on the post, so I'll be emailing you for more information.

Thanks everyone for commenting!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Looking Forward to Easter!

Easter has become one of my favorite holidays.  Ever since I had my son, the world of bunnies and chicks and egg hunts has taken on a new magic and gained a new shine. 

For us, Easter is a time to celebrate the wonder of spring.  We take time to appreciate the way all kinds of bees are visiting the flowers in our garden and the way monarch butterflies fill our neighborhood skies at this time of year. 

We dye eggs and read wonderful Easter books.  Our favorite is Jan Brett’s The Easter Egg.  The pictures are gorgeous and the story of the bunny who makes such selfless choices to save another creature is truly touching. 

Trying to avoid too much candy, I fill my son’s basket with gifts.  But since it’s the Easter bunny bringing them, there isn’t the same drama around the gifts as there sometimes is at Christmas or birthdays.  We don’t make a wish list for the bunny, so my son doesn’t fret about whether he'll get the things he asked for.  He just appreciates what’s there and it feels relaxed and joyful.

And we celebrate with friends.  We’ll have brunch and an Easter egg hunt in the yard.  Afterwards we’ll probably go down to the beach for a while.  A couple of Easters ago we saw a whale playing in the ocean near our house, and now every year we have to look for the Easter whale.

What are your Easter plans and traditions?  I’d love to hear about them here.   And Happy Easter, and Happy Spring, to all of you!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Super Spring Inspiration

Wonky weather has hit my neck of the woods again--it feels more like summer than spring yet we're predicted to get a "wintry mix" by tomorrow. I imagine we'll all need to reassess the calendar dates we've traditionally associated with each season, but as a writer I've learned that I have to grab inspiration wherever and whenever it's given.
Ask any Superromance author about this and I think you'll find we all have to write whether or not we feel "inspired." And thank goodness--we have a rich collection of stories from a group of exceptionally talented ladies who pour their hearts onto the page with each book.
It's the main reason I'm writing the Whidbey Series--I lived on Whidbey Island for a total of five years. I know it and love it.
Today, after I reach my writing goals, I need to clean out the flower beds of any remaining dead clippings or plants. I also need to clean out a couple of cupboards, but, well, they can wait until the weather turns sour, right?
A Field on my Spring Evening Walks
I'll bet you have a list of things that need to be done today--whether you're "inspired" to do them or not. What's top on that list?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Snow Mountains and Stories

Last week, inspired by a hint of spring, I asked the Superromance readers to join me in a little contest. The goal? Guess the date on which this mountain of snow would melt away.
The first thing I need to say is that it's obvious that those first warm breezes had reached into my head and scrambled my brains, for I firmly believed that this behemoth would be gone by today, my previously-scheduled blogging date. Oh, Kris, you desperate fool. Here's what we're looking at now:

Significant progress indeed, but that's still a heck of a lot of frosty whiteness waiting for the sun. Which means that a whole whack of you are still in the running for the amazing prize of a bottle of Syracuse's own Dinosaur Bar B Que sauce! (Assuming I can ship it to where you live. Otherwise, you get an alternate, TBA, but equally fabulous.)

It's kind of funny (in a sad, "will it never be over?" way) that this remnant of winter is still hanging on. It's almost as if the snow is reluctant to let go - like it has become a part of us, lingering and teasing and reminding. You know. Kind of the way a really good book will never leave you.

All of us have been moved by a story at some point. It seems the ones that are most deeply entrenched are those we read in childhood, which makes sense. We're most impressionable then, most in search of models and guidance and the truth that echoes what we feel. And when we find a book that rings true to us, we never forget it.

Anne of Green Gables. Little Women. Little House on the Prairie. Mrs. Mike.  Looking back on my own childhood, it's no surprise to see it was filled with stories of girls and women facing the odds, standing up for themselves, finding love and family and their own paths to happiness. How many of my life choices were guided by the lessons gleaned from those books? Impossible to tell, of course. But I do know this: I would have been a different person if not for the way those stories became part of me.

The snow will (eventually) melt, as it does every year. The water will seep into the ground, nourishing this year's crop of grass and flowers and zucchini.

Here's hoping our stories will do the same.

What stories have stayed with you? Share them with us in the comments. And if you would like to be part of the snow-mountain contest, add your guess to those on the original post. Keep watching for continued updates!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Looking for recommendations: Sailing romances

This post is inspired by an Elizabeth Essex book I picked up. I'd never read Essex, but she came to my local Lady Jane's Salon and her reading was fantastic. So, when Almost a Scandal passed my way, I picked up it. The heroine is the daughter of a naval captain who dressed up like a boy to take her brother's place on a ship during the Napoleonic Wars. The hero is the first lieutenant. It's romance novel meets Horatio Hornblower and it's fantastic.

It shouldn't really surprise me that I'm enjoying this book so much. I've liked many naval-set romances including Carla Kelly's Channel Fleet series Marrying the Captain, The Surgeon's Lady (a favorite!), and Marrying the Royal Marine. Sea Change by Darlene Marshall was fun and False Colors by Alex Beecroft was so full
of angst that I couldn't put it down.

The problem? These are all historical romances. Which isn't a problem so much as I'd love to read some contemporary romances set on navy ships. I guess you wouldn't have the cross-dressing of Almost a Scandal or Sea Change, but I still think they'd be really fun. I'm looking to y'all for recommendations. What navy set romances should I read next? Historical recommendations are okay, but contemporary are preferred. 

One lucky commenter will win a e-copy of Almost A Scandal. You don't have to suggest a book to be eligible, but you do have to live in an area where I can gift you an e-book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc (which limits me to the US, I think). I'll draw the winner on April 18th and post it on April 19th.

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Aspiring Author Asks...

The following question came to us through our contact page and I thought it would be kind of fun to answer it here.  

I recently read several SuperRomance books and simply loved them! I am an aspiring author, serious about making a living through wiriting for Harlequin SuperRonance and am currently in the middle of my first draft for a novel. I was curious how you wonderful ladies learnt how to write so well? What were some of the books you referenced to learn your craft? Or any other methods you may have used? Your advice would be extremely helpful to me. Thanks! 

Laura Drake: This will sound like a commercial, but the best thing I ever did for my writing was to take Margie Lawson classes.

Oh, and write. A bunch.

Liz Talley: I’ll second Laura in saying Margie Lawson is a good class to take, but only if basics are in place and you’re ready to think really hard about your writing.  I still swear by Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict book. If you don’t have a GMC, you don’t have a story.
Vicki Essex: 
1. Read lots of fiction. Study why you like particular books or phrases or stories.
2. Read lots of craft books. I especially like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne.
3. Write lots. Rewrite. Edit. Polish.
4. Reach out for help the way you have! Lots of resources out there for the aspiring writer.
5. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Mary Sullivan: I would have to agree with Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation & Conflict and also Self-Editing for Writers by Browne and King. Another book I would add would be Stephen King's On Writing.

My favorite course, hands down, was Laura Baker's Laws of Motion, has excellent courses year-round.

Jennifer Lohmann: This seems trite, but my biggest lesson for writing was to learn to finish the book. I've always read a lot and been interested in why one book worked for me and another didn't. The hardest thing for me to learn was that I had to sit my butt in a chair every day or the book would never get done. That's not craft, though. That was me learning discipline!

Besides Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, I think it's good to brush up on your basics of grammar and punctuation (so that you can break them for the best impact!).

Joan Kilby: I have all of Donald Maass's books. He's very inspiring and really makes you think about your story and your characters.

Kris Fletcher: 
  • I would suggest that anyone targeting any Harlequin line take advantage of the many resources Harlequin has made available - the blogs, the community, the pitch sessions, the guidelines. There's an immense wealth of resources on that website, all there for free.
  • Join RWA and a local and/or online chapter. The amount of experience and knowledge available will boggle the mind.
  • I highly recommend Michael Hague's workshops, DVDs, and books. ( His whole take on the inner and outer journeys rings very true to me and has helped me immensely. 
  • Finally, remember that all writers are different. If someone swears by one method or class but it doesn't work for you, all it means is that you need a different approach. Find what works for you and run with it!
Anna Sugden: Definitely everything Kris said! LOVE Michael Hague’s stuff! Plus what everyone else has said about reading – especially the line – and write, write, write!
Many romance authors have writer resources on their websites eg I have handouts from my workshops, so it’s worth checking. I found Lisa Gardner’s site helpful.
Other books I found useful were Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict and Mary Buckham/Dianna Love’s Break Into Fiction. To get started – Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. The Donald Maas workbook is useful, as is Browne & King’s Self-Editing for Fiction. I know many people love Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey and Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, but neither of them did it for me.

Geri Krotow: Everyone has already said what I'd say--but the most important thing about Supers (and a lot of other lines) is that no two voices, no two stories are alike. Find YOUR voice (Barbara Samuel has a wonderful workshop on this), find the stories you have a passion for, and read, read, read. Then write, write, write. And Keep an Open Mind--be willing to revise, revise, revise. Enter the Harlequin contests! I sold my win in the Everlasting Contest way back in 2006. 

Also--enjoy the journey.

Rogenna Brewer:  I like Swain's Techniques of the Selling writer.  Which I first heard about at an Anne Eames workshop (RWA Tape #285 N/A) The Last Techniques I learned Before Selling: Scene and Sequel.  To this day I keep my own Swain cheatsheet handy.  Jack Bickham Elements of Fiction Writing: Scene and Structure is another good one.     

If you would like us to field your writing question, please don't hesitate to contact us.  Also, look in the label cloud (in the sidebar) under writing tips.
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