Saturday, April 26, 2014

WINNER—ALWAYS EMILY

Congratulations, Colleen C! Please contact me with your mailing address so I can send you a copy of Always Emily :-)

maryes@rogers.com

Friday, April 25, 2014

Question Of The Month: The Stories From Your Life Edition

This month, we posed the following question to the Superromance authors: 
 Can you share with us something from one of your books that was based on something that actually happened to you?

Laura Drake: My first Super, Her Road Home, begins with a biker-chick wrecking her bike (and her collarbone) in an accident on rain-slicked roads. But that scene was written originally as a close call where she almost hits a stray dog. THAT did happen to me!  I've ridden 100,000 miles on the back of my husband's bike, and the same number on my own. I've got enough true stories to fuel 100 books!

Jennifer Lohmann:  I'm sure there are lots of things in my books that are from an actual experience of mine, but the one that comes to mind is in Reservations for Two. While wandering the Taste of Chicago with my roommates in college, we happened upon an aerial dance troupe like described in that scene. It was such a magical moment for me and seemed so perfect for the summer, the festival, the food--all of it.

Vicki Essex: There's a particular scene in my second Superromance, Back to the Good Fortune Diner, that involves an inside out T-shirt. That came directly out of my own hilariously humiliating experience when, while my mother was chewing me out for coming home late, her tirade was cut short as she noticed my disheveled state of dress. It seemed she'd gathered the reason for my tardiness from that and decided not to probe further. 

Kris Fletcher: There's a running joke in my July release, Dating a Single Dad, involving two brothers and a long-ago burnt Pop Tart. Of course this came straight from the time in my own childhood when my brother adjusted the setting on our toaster so my Pop Tart - the last one in the the house, people! - was burned beyond consumption. He swears it was an accident. I know better. Not that I'm bitter or anything ...

Pamela Hearon: I draw from my own experiences often when I'm writing.--especially using places I've been as the setting (ie. the cave in OUT OF THE DEPTHS, the summer camp in THE SUMMER PLACE, the Parisian flat in MOONLIGHT IN PARIS).  But the book I'm currently writing has a subplot  drawn straight from first-hand experience.  It involves a couple (based on my husband and I) who strive to get back the life they've always known after he is diagnosed with heart disease and undergoes open-heart surgery.  It's easy to get too caught up in the emotions, so sometimes I have to move to another scene and then come back to the one I was working on.  But I also think it's good therapy to write about the bad things that have happened.  It lets the emotions out and allows me to view them from a distance.

Tara Taylor Quinn: In my case, it’s more like what happens after I write a book.  Too many times I’ve written about something and then it happens.  To the point that my daughter told me once never to write about her!  The one that stands out most isn’t funny.  Yet it helped me deal with a tough situation.  I was writing a novella at the request of Harlequin.  They told me only that the heroine had to have a late in life pregnancy.  It was for a Mother’s Day anthology.  I started researching, began the writing process, and got a call from my brother that he and his wife – both in their forties – were expecting.  They’d taken measures to not have any more children.  In my research I discovered that in later in life pregnancies women are much more likely to have a baby with Down Syndrome.  It has to do with the way the eggs break down. Shortly after I’d finished the first draft of my story, I had another call from my brother.  They’d had an ultrasound done and from the measurements of the fetus arms and legs, the doctor suspected Down Syndrome.  From my research I knew that if we had a Down Syndrome baby, we would be very lucky as people with Down Syndrome have one characteristic that tends to be across the board – perennial joy.  Our dynamo filled with joy is turning nine this year and he is truly a blessing in all of our lives.

Now readers, tell us - if you were writing a book, what incident from your life would you want to include? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's Raining…Books

Mary Sullivan

I've been away from the Superromance blog for far too long. It's good to be back.
Recently, I attended a baby shower. Does anyone else have the same trouble with showers, any kind, that I do? Why is it so hard for a shower to become a truly fun social event?

I drove a carful of women to this shower and, on the way, we all wondered why it was that you could bring a bunch of strangers together for a party and they will eventually end up having a great time, but not at a shower. The obvious answer, of course, is that there are few parties where alcohol doesn't ease inhibitions.

But what about brunches? I attended a pancake and sledding party this winter. Well…I went to the pancake part of the party and passed on the sledding part. While it was true that I was on deadline and couldn't commit the entire afternoon to socializing, the larger part of the truth was that I didn't want to risk broken bones at my age. LOL

There wasn't a drop of alcohol served, just loads of excellent coffee and a variety of delicious pancakes and some baked beans. The people came from very different, unrelated social sources—some from the cycling community of my city and some from the swing dance community. The two factions had never met before, but we had a real blast. It was so much fun. There was an age range from early twenties to early sixties, too, but that didn't seem to hold anyone back. It was a truly successful brunch...without alcohol.

Why then is it so hard to have fun at a shower? We attempt to break the ice, we talk to those sitting beside us, those who know each other well might share some laughs, but we never become a cohesive whole. In other words, we try, but we never seem to really have fun, despite the games designed to loosen everyone up.

The young woman who was pregnant received a LOT of gifts, so it took forever for her to open them. By the time the shower ended, I could tell people were ready to leave.

One absolutely wonderful idea, though, redeemed the shower from being only a duty or chore. The organizers had asked that, rather than putting a gift card on each gift, we should add a book, perhaps our favourite book from childhood, or a current children's book we liked.

That generated conversation more than any of our earnest individual attempts to break the ice with those around us. By the end of the shower, the baby had an excellent library! Such a truly wonderful idea.

I would like to give away a copy of my May Superromance, ALWAYS EMILY, to anyone who answers this question today: what was your favourite book when you were a child?

I will announce the winner on the weekend.

Mine was about a ballerina. I remember how I imitated all of the foot positions in the book. I also owned a 45 that I listened to constantly. On any given day, you could see me twirling about the living room pretending to be a ballerina.

I'm looking forward to your responses!

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 krisfletcher.com - 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.

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!

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, www.fearlesswriter.com

www.writeruniv.com 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 Harlequin.com 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. (http://www.storymastery.com/). 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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spur of the Moment, Totally Random, Just for Fun Contest!

Spring is finally, FINALLY peeking out from behind the snowbanks in my corner of the world. And let me tell you, we are ready for it. Around these parts, we were starting to feel like this: 
We know snow. The biggest snowplow in the world is in use at our airport. And this wasn't the snowiest winter we've ever had - that would be the winter of 92-93, when we got 192.1 inches of the stuff - but it never seemed to let up. Add in a few visits from the Polar Vortex, and many of us were beginning to think that someone could write a novel about our area and call is 50 Shades of White. 

It's finally getting better. The robins are back, the creeks are running, and most of the snow has melted away, leaving behind a carpet of dull grey-brown, half-dead grass. That's okay. We know it will green up soon, especially with a forecast like this one: 
But winter has not deserted us completely. Oh no. For instance - take a look at this snow mountain by the parking lot of my daughter's school:
And yes, it has already melted considerably.

I looked at this mountain as I walked past it today and thought, hmmm. How long will it take for this pile of frozen whiteness to completely disappear? And then I thought - HMMMM! That would make a great contest!

So here you have it, readers. You see the mountain. You see our forecast. Tell me when you think the mountain will be completely gone. (All I need is a date, not the precise hour. I'm not going to stand there hovering :-). If more than one person guesses the correct date, I will throw all the potential winners into a hat and draw from there.  The person who comes closest will receive something else our area is known for:
(That would be a bottle of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensuous Slathering Sauce. PLEASE NOTE: Awarding of this prize assumes I can ship it to where you live. If not, there will be an alternate but equally awesome prize, to be determined when I figure it out. Work with me, people.)

The prize announcement will be made on my scheduled blogging date, April 11. (Note that this assumes the mountain has melted by then. If not, expect an updated photo and a plea for chocolate and/or vast amounts of hard liquor.)

Questions and guesses can all go in the comments. Fire away!





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